Description per Goodreads: This is a story of Androxen, the sea, a nice bunch of aliens of the Andromeda galaxy, Samira, and some serious citizens of earth. It begins with Androxen of the seas, who can only breed males and so ever on the lookout for siren-mates in a waterful life together. But the old sage androx and the equally mature sea-salt androx are Androxen of another sort. Appalled by the state of seas and land around, they badger aliens for blueprints for an all right world. And as the old salt plots across galaxies with his infallible plotter, unbanded frequency waves tingle with vibes of alien tracks. The rest is history, or rather, geography, as final outcome is an earth with extended platforms. In its past, this planet had been exploited, explored, and exalted in song, word, and deed, but now it could breathe again. Spacelings, normally visualized vandalizing the environs, reverse roles here, getting humans out of the hole and giving the planet an earthly chance. Good, clean humour. But underlying the light tone, there is an anxiety over the crisis confronting earthlings and an earnest hope that it ends in a happy beginning.
Book Review: “Clovers” is one of the more remarkable books I’ve read this year, with more fun than plot or characterization. If you like short stories that play with words, poke fun at humans, aliens, and androxen alike, and you aren’t too concerned with have “deep characters” or an “engrossing plot,” this might just be the next novella for you to read.
Here’s a closer look at it’s Narration, Content, Characters, Artwork, World Building, and my Overall Response.
Narration: Four out of Five. This is the strongest facet of the book. It’s full of puns and wordplay with a touch of seriousness, and there’s quite a bit of consonance and assonance. Some of the words are so long that even I wasn’t sure what they meant within their respective contexts (and I have a longer vocabulary than the “average reader”) but it was delightful to encounter words like “nascent,” “decorum,” and “peripherals.”
However, it did feel like it was too clever at times, making it hard to understand the jokes. The humor wasn’t pointed enough to be satire, which would’ve united the overall humor into a particular focus. Instead, it remained light and general, like a bubble of words with no weight behind it.
Content: Three out of Five. There is nothing particularly objectionable to the content, but at the same time, there isn’t much to it, either. The plot is very basic, there is hardly any dialogue or real description, and most of the focus is on explaining what happens in a light and playful way. I wish there had been a stronger, clearer narrator to give the overall project color and perspective, but aside from her tendency to slip into mathematics or ramble, she didn’t help give much focus to the story.
Characters: Two out of Five. The book is long enough to have major characters, but we never spend enough time with anyone to care about them. Even though the book is “written” by Samira, a fictional character, I never felt close to her or that that I understood or even knew what she was up to (saving the planet, to be sure, but why she cared that much I didn’t know).
In general, the book isn’t about strong characters but about wordplay. If you read for a character-driven scenario, where you want to know what happens because you’re emotionally vested in the lives of fictional people…this isn’t the book for you.
Artwork: Subjective. There is quite a bit of artwork, showing the androxen, the aliens, the ocean, and a number of other things. Like the story, there seems to be no attempt at realism here, so I’d say the two fit each other, though it did nothing to “draw me in” as a reader. (But perhaps that was the point, to write a “story” that is fun but reminds us of the seriousness of the environmental crisis of our planet? I know some authors prefer an “idea-centric” writing, where nothing is done that would distract from contemplating the philosophical theme behind the story, and if this was the goal, it was well done, but that’s definitely not my “cup of tea.”)
World-Building: Three out of Five. As far as I could tell, the world was consistent, but it was rather hard to understand what was happening and how the world worked in the midst of all the mathematical equations and linguistic acrobatics. For example, there were references to how male androxen longed for female companionship, and how they were attracted women who were drowning or whom they encountered in the water, yet there was insufficient explanation of how the transformation occurs that permits the women to properly accept the male advances. The author said this would be explained in the sequel, but for a normal fantasy book, it’d need to have more page-time in this book (explaining the what, if not the how and why). In general, the book is more about the words than the world behind them.
Overall Response: Twelve out of Twenty, for an average of 3. “Clovers” reminds me of a book of puns or jokes, where there is amusement but no serious weight to carry the reader forth from one page to another and nothing compelling you to keep reading. It may just be that I’m not the reader to greatly appreciate something this airy, for the satire and humor pieces I prefer tend to be extended metaphors where the detail adds to the delight, but this novella did make me smile.
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Copyright 2016 Andrea Lundgren
Photo used by permission from the author