Friday, July 17, 2009

I just finished The Speed of Dark by Elizabeth Moon.

In some ways this is a gimmick novel - the gimmick being that the protagonist is autistic and the book is told in first person from his perspective. But it's a very well done gimmick, so readers won't mind. Moon does a very good job of creating a compelling character and plot, even though she is telling it through the viewpoint of someone who things very differently from most people.

I don't think anyone really knows if her descriptions about what it is like to think like an autistic person are true, but it feels true, and that is all that matters in a novel. Once we get used to the protagonist, we can follow him, and care about him, as he goes through various trials and adventures.

The plot deals with how outsiders deal with autistic people, and how autistic people themselves feel when an opportunity to cure them of autism comes up.

If I had one quibble with this excellent book, it is that the protagonist, Lou, is set up as a little too perfect - nice guy, genius, excellent fencer, capable of fighting off attackers, leader of his group of autistic people, etc. He does grow through the course of the novel, but a more rounder protagonist would have been nice.

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