Why is ‘China Mountain Zhang,’ by Maureen F. McHugh so awesome? To be honest, I have no idea. I hate the politics expressed in this futurist version of Earth. I’m disturbed by how backwards the author has made society. There’s very little tension, except for a few sharp, short key parts, and almost zero adventure. The story is written from five different viewpoints, in four different story lines, and a lot of those viewpoints are so far apart it’s sometimes hard to see how they fit together.
Despite all that, I was hooked as soon as I picked this book up‐ nothing detracts from the gorgeous flow and gravity of the writing here. This author has a fantastic grasp of how to express feelings and what people are going through. The stories of each of the characters are completely engrossing. The lack of tension doesn’t make for a lack of interest‐ I couldn’t wait to find out what would happen to the characters next.
Usually, when I read a book with multiple story lines or view points, I like one better than the others. Sometimes I even skip ahead to read it. That doesn’t happen here. Each of the story lines is completely different, but related enough, in this odd future plot, to create a solid book. All of the characters are amazingly real and alive, and I enjoyed all of them. At no point in the entire book was I ever bored.
‘China Mountain’ Zhang is the main character, I feel, as he gets the most plot time. His story involves his journey through several different jobs, including one in the Arctic Circle, and his time at school. His life seems to drift from place to place, but his pages are always exciting, in a this‐is‐my‐life kind of way, and his emotions are intense. Alexi and Martine come in as the other major viewpoints‐ they are settlers on Mars, facing political and economical troubles. Angel, a flier of the dangerous racing kites, and San‐xiang, an introverted Chinese‐ American girl struggling with identity and growing up, make up the final two viewpoints.
It took me a while to get hold of this book, but I am so glad I have it now. It was definitely worth waiting for.