Cover Image: Strange Labour

Strange Labour

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Member Reviews

This is an interesting debut. While I didn't thoroughly enjoy Penner's novel, it was certainly thought-provoking. "Strange Labour" follows Miranda as she travels West across the U.S. in the wake of a bizarre and mysterious apocalyptic event. While acknowledging many tropes of the post-apocalyptic sub-genre, the author manages to circumnavigate most of them in a way, approaching or referencing them from a subtly different angle. It's not that Penner has created something entirely new or different with this short novel (though he does get points for a unique apocalypse), but he has chosen a different conversation than that which is typically found in this type of story. His prose is long, meditative, even stream-of-consciousness at times, full of simile, symbolism, and metaphor, whether it be dialogue, thought, or exposition.

There is a slow, steady pulse to it all, which gives a sense of cohesiveness across both character and narrative development, and colors the entire feel of the novel. That feel is slow, reflective, and subdued. The development is slow in part because Penner does a nice job of "showing, not telling," letting the reader put together the world and events preceding the story piece by piece. It is also slow by virtue of the fact that the novel is fairly character driven, and indeed, there is not a whole lot "happening" in the story. Even the minimal "action" in the story itself feels ponderous and a bit removed, as if the reader is meant to reflect on the events, more than experience them. Indeed, though I mentioned that I didn't particularly enjoy the book, I don't think I was necessarily meant to enjoy it. Rather, it feels as though the story is merely a medium to facilitate individual introspection and sociocultural extrospection. In that sense, it is a success. However, it's worth cautioning readers that the novel seems quite bleak, cynical, at times even nihilistic. It is open-ended, without much in the way of "answers" or "statements." Its characters may be hard to invest in or identify with. Again, it is slow, and bleak. This may be frustrating to some, and certainly takes the right mood to appreciate. If that mood is yours, "Strange Labour" is well done and worth a try.
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this was a unique read, the characters were great and I really enjoyed reading htis, I look forward to more from the author.
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I have questions, so many questions... but still, I am oddly satisfied with this book. Post-apocalyptic novels are numerous, but this one stands out from the crowd. The characters feel like they are kept at arm's length, which is something I usually don't get on with, but it really works with this story because you don't want them to get too close. The plot is relatively simple with few explanations. More from Mr. Penner, please!

My thanks to the author, publisher, and NetGalley. This review was written voluntarily and is entirely my own, unbiased, opinion.
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Not bad. I enjoyed the premise and parts of it. But is often slow paced and a little uneven, and because of this it won't be for everyone, It doesn't have the polish of more experienced authors, but story is OK overall. It has an interesting take on dystopia. 

Thanks very much for the ARC for review!
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Please find my review for, <a href="">Strange Labour</a> here.
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I think I owe an honest review, and I honestly found this one boring.  Nothing at all happens in the first three chapters.  OK, so our heroine lives in a post-apocalytic English countryside, and spends her days dodging hungry dogs while looking for old cans of beans that others left behind.  I don't need a shoot-out at the beginning but I need something to catch my interest.

Also suffers from too many adjectives.
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