Sunday, September 30, 2007

Mississippi Blues

By Kathleen Ann Goonan.

An aside about spoilers: I often include (what I consider to be) mild spoilers in my reviews. Perhaps it's because I'm excited about some details and want you, who will probably never read most of these books, to be excited too, but I've also often found that the impression I got of a book from someone else's review was completely wrong, meaning that any plot details they mentioned really didn't spoil anything at all, because I ended up imagining a completely different context around them. Maybe someone else can comment on why they're so hated?

Obviously, anything below may especially be considered a spoiler for Queen City Jazz, since the events in this book all come after that one.

Back to the book, which is the sequel to Queen City Jazz and in which Verity commissions two river boats, one of which is very short-lived, discovers her pregnancy in humorous fashion, along with other details of greater and lesser importance, and heads down the Mississippi River with the somewhat childlike former population of Cincinnati, which she feels responsible for, having evicted them from their own city. Also, there are Mark Twain clones, one of whom is occasionally reminded that she is not really Sam Clemens by virtue of the fact that he was not female. Many references to the journey of Huck Finn are made.

If you liked Queen City Jazz, you will probably want to read this sequel. It continues with humor and sadness mixed into a somewhat psychedelic journey down the Mississippi River. (What's up with those clowns?) Verity and Blaze return, as well as many new characters: "Lightnin'" Lil, "Diamond" Jack, Peabody, Mattie, Mark Twain, Masa, James, Alice, the Professor, and others who seem to feel a need to hop onto a riverboat. The journey is dangerous and there are doubts about whether Norleans is even there. (Early on, someone warns Verity that her people will probably die from the information plague that is compelling them down the river if they don't get there quickly enough.) So read it if you liked the first one and want to find out what happens next, or possibly if you enjoy stories about river journeys. I admit that I'm reluctant to read the next one because 1) I hear it's a prequel and 2) I don't want to hear about any more bad things happening to the characters.

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