Sunday, April 26, 2015

Reviewish: Signal to Noise

I loved Silvia Moreno-Garcia's debut novel, Signal to Noise. There, I said it.

I've seen other reviews and so many of them say it so much better than I can hope to, but I'll give this a try.

My experience as a reader far exceeded my expectations--not that I had low expectations! I just don't usually go into a book with my hopes up, that way they don't get dashed, and that way I can provide something closer to an "honest" review that isn't tainted by those expectations (the way people ruin movies for themselves by expecting those movies to be their vision of what the book ought to have been on the big screen).

I went in with an open mind, unsure what to expect. Wait, that's a lie. I expected ONE thing: good, solid prose. I've read Moreno-Garcia's short story collection Love & Other Poisons and that's what persuaded me to seek out getting my hands on a copy of Signal to Noise. She delivered.

Meche is a protagonist you might love or you might hate, but it seems more reasonable to feel a little bit of both for her. She's a complex girl/woman and that is handled masterfully as the story navigates between the late 1980s flashbacks and the 2009 "current" narrative in the text. As is every other character. The only 'flat' figures are background characters who are more part of the scenery than real characters, and even those are often given a touch of color to make them real and present. The back and forth in time works so well to build up the story that's being told; far better than if it had been told in sequential order.

The book walks a very interesting line between young adult and teen fiction (I make a distinction because "adult" has implications, even accompanied by young, that I wouldn't include in fiction I might be showing to a 13 year old) without dumbing anything down or amping up the 'adult' part. It's a great balance.

I look forward to reading more work by Silvia, that's for sure. Especially if one of those works is "about vampires and drug dealers and it’s set in Mexico City, starring a street kid who meets an Aztec vampire on the run."

Plus, this book made me feel a little less weird about how I feel compelled to touch things in thrift stores and other secondhand shops, looking for those sparks from the items' pasts.

As a note, for transparency, and to comply with FTC guidelines: I received a copy of Signal to Noise through NetGalley in exchange for a review.

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