Tears in Rain Paperback – Nov 27 2012
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About the Author
Rosa Montero is an acclaimed novelist and an award-winning journalist for the Spanish newspaper El País. A native of Madrid and the daughter of a professional bullfighter, Montero published her first novel at age twenty-eight. She has won Spain’s top book award, the Qué Leer Prize, twice—for The Lunatic of the House in 2003 and Story of the Transparent King in 2005. A prolific author of twenty-six books, her other titles include the short-story collection Lovers and Enemies and the novels Beautiful and Dark, My Beloved Boss, and The Heart of the Tartar.
Top Customer Reviews
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
I should say that as a re-exploration of the psychological traumas of the replicants, Tears in Rain provides deeper and more extensive representations of what it means to be more or less indistinguishable from regular humans, but to live with the knowledge of an imposed and knowable disconnect date. Montero's characters provide a range of convincing emotions and behavior consistent with what we might expect, especially with the expectation that determination and a certain ruthlessness (in the use of violence, especially) would be part of their existence. And more--the political and social implications for a world "divided" between traditionally born human beings and their near-twins, manufactured and so, in traditional terms, not "natural," are explored in some impressive depth and detail. The us/them conflicts between the indigenous (or simply the predecessors with power) and the "other" or alien are ramped up effectively in this novel, which also explores possible resolutions.
So why only 4 stars (and my first choice was 3)? My title suggests it. The novel reads as though it were written by someone for whom English is not her first language. I resisted this feeling, set it aside repeatedly through the first 80 or 100 pages, but it nagged. It seems that whenever there is a chance for the translator to use a cliche or a conventional (and overused) phrasing, that is what we get. The prose is not just flat, it is laid on like advertising fliers. The relentless cheesiness of the language finally defeats what I suspect is a work more powerful and probably better written in its original language, and so for the English speaking reader, it is diminished. Yes, I know, the realm of science fiction writing has been heavily inhabited by poor stylists who counted on the liveliness of their plotting and the charm or menace of their characters to carry docile readers past the sadly flat prose styles--and even Philip K. Dick is sometimes subject to that complaint. But this novel clearly has higher ambitions and considerable intelligence behind it, and I suspect that the author writes far better Spanish prose than the translator does English prose. So the four stars suggest that many serious readers of science fiction, including fans of Philip K. Dick and Ridley Scott's great movie, will find the book rewarding, even though they may share my reservations.
Then something happened. Ms. Montero fell back on something she likely learned in a Freshman Literature class, using a trick I associate with cheesy TV dramas that play out in an hour. The story suddenly became goofy and unrealistic, the cast of characters incredibly small and incredibly flat. What followed was a quick finish that didn't do the story justice and walked through a set of scenes designed to tie up every loose end. I left with a "they all lived happily ever after" feeling, something that has no business in this kind of literature. In short, it just looks like Ms. Montero either lost her nerve or banged up against a deadline. The high level of quality she had dedicated to the beginning of the text just fell away, and she went through the motions to close the deal.
Given the genre and the characters involved I was expecting a pretty muddy ending regardless of its outcome, with all kinds of opportunity to second-guess and reconsider characters long after I had finished reading. That's what good fiction does. It keeps you thinking about it. But instead I found the same kind of ending as the film this book is based upon, a noir, dark distopia that suddenly becomes a shiny happy place. So close to a life-affecting read.
Ah well. Back to non-fiction. Thank you for writing three quarters of a fantastic book Ms. Montero!
What would you do if:
1. You found out you had been created in a lab.
2. Your childhood memories are false, implanted into you by a memorist.
3. You actually "wake" at 25 years of age.
4. You find out, that because you are a replicant, you will only live 10 years and then will die a painful death.
Bruna Husky is a replicant. She is 31 years old and only has four more years to live. She was created as a combat replicant, served her time doing those duties, and is now a detective in Madrid, Spain. It is the year 2109 and someone/something is implanting false memories into replicants, causing mayhem and carnage. Bruna is hired to find out what is happening.
I loved Bruna. I loved Police Detective Paul Lizard. Political issues, moral issues, manmade planets, space aliens (I loved Maio and especially the "greedy guts"), supremacists, memorists, archivists, a close look into an intriguing future that includes plasma guns, travelators, many different wars - all the complexities of this grand novel were pulled together tightly and present the reader with a satisfying ending.
In many ways, this book reminds me of The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi. Another dystopian novel taking place a bit more in the future (23rd century), it takes place in Bangkok, Thailand but also deals with issues of global warming, food and water shortages and a genetically modified protagonist.
I am so glad that AmazonCrossing books are becoming available. "Tears in Rain" is one of these books, originally printed in Spanish and because of AmazonCrossing, translated into English by Lilit Zekulin Thwaites (who, by the way, I think did a super job with the translation).
"Tears in Rain" comes from a quote in the movie Blade Runner, a movie from 1982 that originally coined the term "replicant."
Bruna Husky is a replicant with just four years left of her ten year life span. Once a combat rep, she now makes a living as a private investigator. When a neighbor -- and rep -- shows up on her doorstep raving like a madwoman and later killing herself after attempting to take down Bruna as well, the rep finds herself embroiled in a complicated new case. Her neighbor was not the first of the reps to die in this strange manner. The culprit seems to be a manipulated memory implant, one that convinced the rep that she was indeed human and suffering as a result of a grave conspiracy. In total there have been seven such cases and in each of the more recent instances, the reps have managed to take out a number of people around them as well. Bruna has been hired by the leader of the Radical Replicant Movement to find out who is behind these illegal implants and murders. But as tensions rise between humans and reps, Bruna realizes that case is even stranger than it initially seems.
TEARS IN RAIN is great on a number of levels. The setting and world building are wonderful, the mystery is well plotted, the characters -- Bruna in particular -- are appealing and well realized, and the nods to BLADE RUNNER work without becoming too overly employed or copied.
I personally liked the wiki entries as well. I have to agree with other reviewers to an extent and admit that they do slow the narrative just a bit, but it wasn't anything I found to be overly problematic. In fact, I thought they added well to the world building in particular, which can typically become bogged down and overloaded with the kind of information that's introduced as encyclopedic entries instead. And the fact that they become more and more inflamed with incorrect information, thus shown by the character Yiannis and his edits, also adds to the increasing friction between the humans and the reps.
I should also add that the translation here is excellent. Translated works can sometimes read a bit flat, as though they're missing the author's personality and style. The translation in TEARS IN RAIN felt completely smooth in my opinion.
At its most basic level, this is a mystery. It's a mystery wrapped up in a science fiction package, though, and Montero has blended the genres perfectly. I don't know if there will be more in story for US readers and Bruna, but I certainly hope so.