A book about stories and the life-changing influence of thinking outside the box is always welcome. Even though I bought and started reading this novel thinking it was actually science fiction, I wasn’t disappointed in the slightest. Michael Zapata tells the story of Saul Drower as he tries to deliver a mysterious manuscript by Adana Moreau, an obscure New Orleans-based sci-fi author, to her son, Maxwell, a theoretical physicist. Saul’s journey from Chicago takes up part of the plot, while the rest is focused on the Moreaus in the 1930s. The beauty of The Lost Book of Adana Moreau is in its exploration of reality alongside profound quirky ideas. Explore my review for a bit more detail into what makes this debut novel special.
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Homage to Science Fiction and Literature
First of all, many of its characters are sci-fi buffs, so The Lost Book of Adana Moreau is full of references to the genre, its works and themes: parallel universes, dystopian landscapes, zombies, jurassic creatures, pirates… Zapata has also imbued the work with a deep love for expression, whether literary or simply human. Bookworms will feel right at home delving into some of the concepts he plays with.
Discussion of History and Stories
Since the narrative revolves around its characters’ lives, it comes in chunky fragments that lead up to a particular end. Within these stories are more stories of people Saul and Maxwell encounter along the way. Now and then, this does burden the pace and overall experience, but the tales themselves are quite interesting and often important to the plot so they’re worth engaging with. Additionally, they deliver the idea of history as a construct and abstract entity, expanding your consciousness further while reading. And through everything the theme of exile pulses in terms of home, race, nation, the mere concept of belonging…
Questions of Reality and Convention
At its core, The Lost Book of Adana Moreau pushes its audience to think about reality and how people’s perception of it can affect them. What is and isn’t “real”? Where does it end, converge, and lead to? What happens when convention is defied as in the case of science fiction versus “normal” literature? A magical opening of the mind! Even this novel’s writing style challenges what the spoken word should look like on a page. Here it takes the form of narration with minimal quotation marks, which is actually more practical in a work containing long personal accounts. However, I got the sense that the book urges conversation about this and many other topics.
The Lost Book of Adana Moreau is a novel of layers. I can’t say I was totally satisfied by the reading experience, but the depths of this work are undeniable. It celebrates sci-fi in an almost geeky way, while unravelling all these wonderful life stories and thought-provoking, even mind-bending, themes. Zapata’s debut book is well-worth the literary world’s attention and praise.
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