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Bats of the Republic: An Illuminated Novel…

Bats of the Republic: An Illuminated Novel (2015)

by Zachary Thomas Dodson

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2761361,970 (3.5)10



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Showing 1-5 of 13 (next | show all)
This one reminded me a great deal of Reif Larsen's The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet, which I read a few years ago (wow, that was ten years ago, apparently). Very interesting design, neat concept ... but ultimately a real disappointment in terms of plot and execution. ( )
  JBD1 | Jan 3, 2019 |
Sorry everybody this book is my life now. I read an ARC and lost my mind and now I'm going to buy the hardcover and re-read it immediately, despite almost never rereading books, because the hardcover has details and colors the ARC doesn't have, and some kind of moebius-strip folding at the end that the ARC doesn't seem to have, and although I know the book doesn't have an ending I need to reread it over and over until I've memorized all the details and overlapping hints and every word of this stupid book. A lot of reviewers don't like the characters, and I often didn't either, but that's not the point. The point is the story. ( )
1 vote FFortuna | Oct 6, 2018 |
This review and others posted over at my blog.

I love any book that’s as thoroughly and well designed as this book – Dorst’s S anyone? There are illustrations, conversation transcripts, scanned pages from books, handwritten letters and even a real sealed letter at the back of the book! The dust jacket is sort of double-sided with a fantastic alternate author photo too. The color scheme of brown, beige and a sort of bright mint green worked fabulously and I was pleased to find they included a ribbon bookmark. Full marks for design, 10 out of 10, I 100% love the way this book looks! I wish more books were as well thought out as this glorious looking book.

After beautiful title pages we’re given some quotes, the third of which made me laugh out loud (the obnoxious “HAH!” kind):

“I’m not happy.” favorite saying of my grandfather’s

This quote is followed up at the end with another quote that made me chuckle:

“Who are you?” favorite saying of my grandson, probably

The character tree (yes, I know I’m still talking about design elements, but I promise I’ll get to the plot and stuff too) in the front is not only beautiful but helpful. Normally, I give these things a cursory glance when I start a book and then forget they exist (much like maps…which I did to the map in this book), but with Bats I found myself glancing at it periodically. First, it was to remind myself of who was who, but later I started connecting some dots and using it to further highlight parallels I was noticing between the two storylines.

Ok, so, there’s a lot going on in this book. Not quite as much as there was in S, but I’m willing to bet there are tons of details and connections I missed and I think the overall message sailed right over my head. What a fun book this was to read though! I mean, referencing S –again– I missed like, everything in that book and still loved it and I think I’ve talked in the past about how I’m not a very “deep” reader.

Zeke isn’t a very compelling character; he’s addicted to laudanum, he seems unable to make important decisions even when it comes to saving his own life or those of his loved ones and he’s generally listless and unhappy. But the world he lives in was intriguing so I saw him as more of a vehicle to show me the Big Brother-esque world he inhabits and thus he was somewhat less annoying. He lives in a world where his every move could be recorded and flagged and where a person’s lineage (or bloodline) matters.

Similarly, Zadock, Zeke’s distant relative, wasn’t particularly engaging either, but I was interested in his journey as well as the book (within a book, yes!) written about his lady love, Elswyth. Zadock was actually more frustrating than Zeke because at the end of the book I just kept asking him, “What the hell are you doing?” Perhaps Dodson intended the characters around Zeke and Zadock to be more compelling and likeable?

As I mentioned before, the letter that drives the plot of the book is included in a sealed envelope at the back of the book, with “DO NOT OPEN” boldly scrawled across it. Naturally, I wanted to immediately tear into the envelope and knowing that letter was in the book ate me alive the whole time. I’m pretty sure Dodson knew what kind of torture this would put his readers through. There’s even one part where I thought I was supposed to open the letter and I frantically made Sweetbeeps scour the internet to see if he could find out whether I should open it then or at the end. I waited and I suggest you too.

That being said, the letter and the ending left me going “Wait, what!?” I stayed up past midnight (on a work night, ugh) to finish this book and perhaps that was a bad idea. I was overtired and the resolution of the story totally confused the hell out of me. I don’t think the payoff was really worth the buildup. Again, however, I’m not a deep reader and was likely missing something or many somethings.

This book is a blend of post-apocalyptic dystopia, alternate history and found documents and despite my feelings on the ending, it was a great trip through Dodson’s world. I highly recommend this book, especially if you love layered stories and well-designed books! ( )
1 vote MillieHennessy | Mar 14, 2017 |
Hmmmm. An altogether imaginative and beautiful book, which should have been right up my alley, and was, until I became totally bored. Strange-- I found myself gasping at the action and then skimming past whole paragraphs, all in the same sitting. Ultimately not satisfying for me, but a gorgeous story for the right reader. ( )
  jjaylynny | Nov 12, 2016 |
I wanted to love this book. I really did.

I had read several glowing reviews of it. I knew that the writing style was gimmicky and thought I'd give it a chance.

The author writes pretty well. He is descriptive without quite crossing that line of being needlessly verbose. He does draw in the reader.

He writes somewhat well from a grammatical standpoint. He chose to write in a different style with regard to paragraphs in half the book. That was justified by the fact that the book is written in co-mingled portions of the past and the future, supposedly. The style quirk helps one to know which time period is being written about at any given time. Eventually, I became used to that style, but it never became something I loved about the book.

The most annoying quirk that the author exhibited was a tendency to use "Hh" in place of, perhaps, a sigh. Weird. I even googled to see if I could find a reason or determine what it was to stand for; I found nothing.

I was so eager to reach the end of the book, not just to finally be finished reading it, but to reach the final plot device at the back of the book. As one of our daughters saw me dealing with it, she questioned me about it and then asked my thoughts. I was underwhelmed and overwhelmed.

I was underwhelmed because, eh, it just didn't thrill me. It was nothing more than I had begun to expect when I realized there were only a few pages of the book left, and not enough writing space to fully flesh out and rectify what I saw as lack of story depth. Some may disagree, and that's fine. We all have different preferences.

The ending really left me underwhelmed though, by the fact that the resolution was unclear at best, and sloppy and fast at the least. Somehow, I had expected more from the author...and the book.

I don't doubt that the author is a rather jovial fellow, and I acknowledge he has a pretty decent moustache. His photo and bio on the fly leaf were my favorite part of the book. ( )
  BoundTogetherForGood | Jun 16, 2016 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0385539835, Hardcover)

Bats of the Republic is an illuminated novel of adventure, featuring hand-drawn maps and natural history illustrations, subversive pamphlets and science-fictional diagrams, and even a nineteenth-century novel-within-a-novel—an intrigue wrapped in innovative design.
     In 1843, fragile naturalist Zadock Thomas must leave his beloved in Chicago to deliver a secret letter to an infamous general on the front lines of the war over Texas. The fate of the volatile republic, along with Zadock’s future, depends on his mission. When a cloud of bats leads him off the trail, he happens upon something impossible...
     Three hundred years later, the world has collapsed and the remnants of humanity cling to a strange society of paranoia. Zeke Thomas has inherited a sealed envelope from his grandfather, an esteemed senator. When that letter goes missing, Zeke engages a fomenting rebellion that could free him—if it doesn’t destroy his relationship, his family legacy, and the entire republic first.
     As their stories overlap and history itself begins to unravel, a war in time erupts between a lost civilization, a forgotten future, and the chaos of the wild. Bats of the Republic is a masterful novel of adventure and science fiction, of elliptical history and dystopian struggle, and, at its riveting core, of love.

(retrieved from Amazon Tue, 07 Jul 2015 20:56:53 -0400)

"In 1843, fragile naturalist Zadock Thomas must leave his beloved in Chicago to deliver a secret letter to an infamous general on the front lines of the war over Texas. The fate of the volatile republic, along with Zadock's future, depends on his mission. When a cloud of bats leads him off the trail, he happens upon something impossible... Three hundred years later, the world has collapsed and the remnants of humanity cling to a strange society of paranoia. Zeke Thomas has inherited a sealed envelope from his grandfather, an esteemed senator. When that letter goes missing, Zeke engages a fomenting rebellion that could free him--if it doesn't destroy his relationship, his family legacy, and the entire republic first."--Amazon.com.… (more)

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