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The Only Words That Are Worth Remembering

by Jeffrey Rotter

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Showing 1-5 of 19 (next | show all)
Evoked familial feelings in the characters, but the new world created is not clearly established or very interesting. ( )
  TanyaTomato | Aug 20, 2016 |
In a post-apocalyptic future, Rowan Van Zandt and his criminalistic family are conscripted to travel into space. On a "cape of land called Cannibal" in "Floriday"a rocket is found buried underground and in this they will depart. But things don't work out as planned, which isn't unusual for the Van Zants, who are apparently descended from "musical cowboys with drug problems."

Most history in the story seems verbal, and is consequently misheard, misunderstood, and misspelled. The fate of Manatees, for instance: "The original Floridayans killed them for sport, with motorboats ( )
  Hagelstein | Apr 19, 2016 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I requested this book through Early Reviewers because I thought it was something I'd be interested in. However, when I tried to read it, something about the writing style and the main character made me bounce off of it pretty quickly. I decided to put it down. Perhaps I'll return someday, but I think this is likely just not a book for me.
  kbuxton | Mar 11, 2016 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
The Only Words that are Worth Remembering takes place in the future ruins of the US, where astronomy, including the heliocentric theory, has been forgotten. After Rowan Van Zandt and his twin brother hijack a tour bus, the two face a sentence of hard labor alongside their father in Cuba, now a penal colony. Faced with losing her entire family, Rowan’s mother agrees to a crazy proposition; a space shuttle has been excavated in the ruins of Cape Canaveral, and the Van Zandt family, in exchange for their freedom, must agree to test it.

The novel is told by a future Rowan to his daughter, Sylvia;later parts of the story alternate between astronaut training and Rowan’s eventual escape across the Americas. Most of these “road trip” portions consist of brief vignettes of his stops across the continents, and consequently not much detail is revealed regarding these settings and characters. Astronomy continues to be a major theme throughout, with Rowan drawn to various dismantled observatories.

The biggest weakness of the story is the world-building; it’s difficult to get a real sense of this world and how it came to be. People are loyal to a few major corporations here rather than countries, an numerous references are made to the former “Gunts” and corruptions of current place names. However, it’s never made clear exactly who qualified as a “Gunt,” or how far in the future this is.

The level of technology seems weirdly inconsistent as well; jet airplanes are still common, but basic astronomy is forgotten or suppressed. It’s also highly unlikely that an abandoned shuttle could still be expected to work perfectly after years of neglect, no matter how well preserved. Space launches are extremely complicated, and there’s a huge suspension of disbelief needed to accept that a few random people could learn all the ins and outs via video recording.

The Only Words has some interesting ideas, but they need far more development that what Rotter gives here.

A review copy was provided through the LibraryThing Early Reviewers program. ( )
  lisally | Jul 1, 2015 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
It seems a large chunk of fiction published today is of the ruinous world/ speculative nature. I think the world in this book is ruinous and decayed simply because it is over 200 years in the future. No other reasons needed. It seems much of history has been lost, most city names in America have been changed to something similar. Some of the words Rotter uses, I wasn't able to figure out over the course of the book. The story is about two twins, one more mischievous and the other happy to live in his brother's shadow. Some trouble with the law means the only option for their family is to sign up for a trip to space, actually operating a rocket for eight years to land on a moon of Jupiter, whether they want to or not. It's tough to imagine that space travel is still an option, if city names can't be remembered (or maybe they were just changed... it's hard to tell with this book). Granted the rocket has been unearthed from the past, just as a library is unearthed under a lingerie factory in New Jersey. It's a wacky book, brutal at times. And at a sparse 200 pages, I feel like explaining the whys and how the world is this way would have been an option. But maybe that is what made the plot interesting in the first place: the mystery of leaving things unexplained. The book reminded me of 'The Great Glass Sea' by Josh Weil, another speculative novel with a set of brothers and some weird glass. It also reminded me of 'Station Eleven' by Emily St. John Mandel, but this one is grittier and replaces the love of theater and music with a love of astronomy. Another comparison could be 'On Such a Full Sea' by Chang-rae Lee - both not reaching their potential for the same reasons. In a sea of speculative fiction, this is a decent book, but with more world building (or the explanations to it's destruction), it could have been better but there were some charming details throughout. ( )
  booklove2 | May 19, 2015 |
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