A page for more detailed discussions about certain books. Enter at your own risk!
(Click on the next page to see the spoiler post.)
Spoiler Review for The World We Make
If you somehow stumbled on this page and haven’t yet read The World We Make, turn back now! (Unless you don’t care about spoilers.) This is the place to discuss plot points, the ending, and more.
If you want the spoiler-free review, check it out here.
Ok, so let’s get into this a bit more.
I wasn’t sure whether this qualifies as a spoiler or not, but to be safe, I’m putting it here. Originally, this series was to be a trilogy. It ended up being a duology. Jemisin explains in an afterward that everything from the past couple of years just ended up being too much and so she decided to go a different way. Completely understandable and it still works – when I first read The City We Became, I thought that it worked fairly well as a stand-alone book itself. So having just two books is fine. I do wonder what it would have been like had there been three.
The fact that it shrunk down to two also could explain why things felt so sudden at the end. Since I didn’t know she had jettisoned the third book, I was expecting this one to end on a bit of a cliffhanger, setting the stage for book three. But instead, the Woman in White becomes her own city, the cities are saved, Earth’s back on its correct trajectory, and all’s well.
The squashing of Panfilo and his Proud Boys stand-ins brought me much joy. Sometimes, you just need a story where the bad guys lose and lose convincingly, and our heroes come out triumphant. Brooklyn’s a badass and her ability to take the power away from those who would invade her borough and try to claim they represent the city – oh what I wouldn’t give for someone to be able to do that in real life. While I missed getting more time with all of the characters, I really enjoyed Brooklyn’s sections.
I also like getting to know Pamini more as well. The scenes with her and her aunt and uncle made me smile, although I got nervous when ICE showed up. I may not understand all the math and science she brings to the story, but her dedication and abilities are amazing.
I wasn’t quite as interested in Manny’s story this time around. The Chicago connection felt out of place, and I wonder if that was originally intended to be a larger plot had this remained a trilogy. I’m glad that he and Nyc ended up together, but his plot line wasn’t as enticing this time.
What I loved about The World We Make were the scene showing New Yorkers really coming together and the power that community and sense of shared identity brought. It’s a powerful reminder in the fact of all this hatred and racism and fascism surrounding us that those voices are actually just a small subsection of the country. While we might not be able to to make their trucks suddenly vanish into thin air, if we can join together, we can drown out their hateful version of the world and replace it with something better.
So for as abruptly as things ended, I really appreciated having this much more ideal possibility presented. It’s so easy to get completely overwhelmed by all the negative things going on. And it won’t disappear completely and it won’t go without a fight. But we are not powerless, as long as we remember who and what we are.
Spoilers for Tender is the Flesh
Ok, let’s do a quick discussion of the ending and everything that happens with Jasmine, the woman gifted to Marcos.
Oh boy. It was already a bit weird how Marcos treated Jasmine as a mix between a lover and a pet, but I assumed it was going to be a bit of a redemption arc. Despite all the horror he had experienced, Marcos would find love again, he would find a way to communicate with Jasmine more clearly, help her reclaim her humanity, etc.
But nope! He gets her pregnant, then when it’s time for her to deliver, he calls his wife to help and they just steal the baby to replace the one they lost. And there it ends.
I thought this really fit in well with the author’s overall emphasis of the story. It’s not simply a story about the evils of the meat industry or factory farming or a pro-vegan manifesto. Tender is the Flesh really delves into humanity’s ability to quickly adapt, for good and for ill.
We may have felt a bit ill at ease about the things Marcos does for a job, but as readers, we could also find ways to understand and justify it. This is just the way the world works, one needs a job, he has a father to support, and before that a wife and baby. Bazterrica does a good job of showing enough of Marcos’ uneasiness to make us sympathize with him while also understanding why he doesn’t do more. There’s a sense that soon, he’ll be pushed too far and then he’ll take a stand.
Instead, when he reaches that limit, he embraces what society has told him all along. The special meat does not have any rights, it doesn’t think or feel like regular humans do. Even though we can see that Jasmine still has maternal feelings for her child, even though we know she desperately wants her child, Marcos and his wife are more than willing to discard her and use her child for their own needs. They won’t eat him, but they may as well have.