Passionately Pursuing the Good Life

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Book Review: The Blind Assassin

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Suicide? Check. Secret lovers? Check. Social, political, and emotional corruption? Check. An alien society on a fictional planet…wait, what?

Yes, while the bulk of the novel involves the story of two sisters in World War I era Canada, there is also a subplot intertwined throughout the novel that involves, among other things, an alien planet. If that doesn’t make you flee for the hills, and you’re willing to suspend your assumptions and just “go with it,” I promise it’s worth it. “The Blind Assassin” is a beautiful novel about human frailty, and how with a simple word or action you can set the course of another person’s destiny…and usually not in a good way.

The actual blind assassin of “The Blind Assassin” appears in a science fiction-esque story that two anonymous lovers are crafting together. On a fictional planet that is brimming with all kinds of social corruption , a certain class of children are blinded and abused, and, oh, they weave the most remarkable carpets! But before you feel too sorry for them, their other senses evolve on near bionic levels and they soon make a niche for themselves as assassins. One such assassin is on his way to complete a job, but manages to fall in love with his target who, wait for it, has had her tongue removed so that she cannot scream while being sacrificed to one of the gods. Cheery planet! Can their love overcome the odds of escaping and surviving in such a troubled society? Depends on which lover’s ending you want to go with.

Largely, though, The Blind Assassin is a story about an old woman who is attempting to set the story of her life straight, and to hopefully right some wrongs in the process. She is portrayed as both victim and assailant in the events that unfold. And in the end, the novel is largely about accountability. Even though we are shaped by our society, our upbringing, and our overall station in life, at what point are we responsible for our actions? At what point should you stop listening to what everyone else says is “the right thing to do” and start trusting in what you believe truly is right?

This novel is hardly “breezy,” but if you are up for a challenge and love great writing, you won’t be disappointed with “The Blind Assassin.”

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