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The Inferior by Peadar O'Guilin
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Stopmouth has always deeply admired and envied his older brother, Wallbreaker, for his hunting skills, his ability to speak without stuttering, and the love of Mossheart, one of the prettiest girls in the Human Tribe. Stopmouth's chances of a good match are low, because everyone assumes something's wrong with him because of his stutter. He didn't mind so much when he had the love of his mother and brother, but, after his mother Volunteers herself to be traded to rival creatures for food so that Stopmouth may live, and his brother becomes jealous of Stopmouth's friendship with Indrani, Wallbreaker's second wife, a mysterious woman who came from a Globe, Stopmouth's world begins to change.

Okay, I did my best to summarize this book, but, honestly, it's a really difficult book to explain, because it's so much not like anything else I've read. Basically, somehow the human race has descended to the level of cannibalistic monsters that live off of no food but flesh. Not only do they eat all of the creatures that live within hunting distance of them (Armourbacks, Hairbeasts, Hoppers, etc.), but they also eat other humans. To be eaten by one's family after death is seen as an honor.

Weirder still is the fact that none of these different kinds of creatures can understand the language of any other. Even more curious is the fact that, even if they try, they cannot learn to understand these other methods of communication. All of the different tribes of creatures live in the same ways the humans do, hunting and trading the species nearby.

On the plus side, this is very original. On the downside, I found it nigh impossible to relate to the characters, because they're just so incredibly different from anything I know as 'human.' The way their society functions is completely awful, with the death lottery and the role of females. Caring about Stopmouth and Rockface and Indrani was difficult at the best of times.

Up next on my tbr pile is the second book in the series, which is finally being published five years after book one (weird!). I'm not particularly excited about it, but I'm not giving up on it either. I would like to learn more about how the heck humanity became like this. There were some hints in The Inferior and I think a lot more should be learned in The Deserter about the Roof and the history of humans. ( )
  A_Reader_of_Fictions | Apr 1, 2013 |
Superior dystopian story. ( )
  MarkTJones | Mar 30, 2013 |
I had been warned by book friends and enthusiasts that I had to give this book 100 pages, because the first chunk was full of WTFery and I would be really confused, but then after that it was amazing. I am pleased to say that it didn't take me 100 pages -- I really did like this from the start. Granted, the reader is -- as the author mentioned at the reading I recently attended -- cast into the story in medias res and thus has no idea what's going on for a little while, but that ends up being part of the book's engaging spell. The limited perspective of the narration may make the reader reread a few portions, just to anchor herself in the distinctly alien landscape and plot, but the whole package is worth the effort.

O'Guilin has asked several interesting "what if" questions in order to set up the premise of this science fiction novel that is at once futuristic and paleolithic. What if there was nothing for you to eat but meat, but the meat you could get came from intelligent creatures who were also trying to eat you? That is the place the author begins and his extrapolations result in a novel that is both brutal and thoughtful. Also, what if you were a militant (as in culturally ingrained for generations) vegetarian and you landed in the midst of this world of carnivores? See, you're intrigued already. I can tell. And that is best part of this novel -- the sheer intrigue of its questions and creations. And boy, let me tell you, there are more creations -- including some remarkably imaginative monsters -- by the boatload here.

I'm not saying this is a perfect book. Among its flaws are sparse prose that occasionally stumbles and deductive leaps that don't always land on their feet, but like other sheer-power-of-story YA novels, this book carries one along at such a clip that there is hardly time to notice. And the swift pace of the novel works both within the story and without -- I finished the book in the equivalent of an afternoon, from early lunch to tea time. I'm glad I picked up this book and I think others who enjoy science fiction with a bit of dash, or adventure with a side of speculation, will find it worth their time. Also, I'm already reading the sequel, which might tell you something.

PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENTS: This is a book largely about carnivores; there is much talk of consuming organs, butchering kills, and people of all kinds getting eaten, sometimes alive. Not really a book for the squeamish, and even those with solid stomachs might look twice at their BBQ ribs right after reading this (though I ate mine with relish. No, really). Also, this is the first book in a trilogy and it ends on a cliffhanger. You have been warned. ( )
  beserene | Sep 8, 2012 |
Stopmouth and his family have known one fact all their lives; fight or be eaten. In a world where flesh is necessary to survival, you either hunt other species or get traded to them as food. The arrival of a strange woman who falls out of the sky adds to the chaos, but as Stopmouth learns to communicate with her he begins to discover some strange truths. ( )
  ShellyPYA | Nov 16, 2009 |
The story takes place on a world populated by tribes of humans and aliens. They have nothing to eat except each other. The creativity behind the story is stunning.
  hanque | Oct 22, 2009 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0385751451, Hardcover)

STOPMOUTH AND HIS family know of no other life than the daily battle to survive. To live, they must hunt rival species, or negotiate flesh-trade with those who crave meat of the freshest human kind. It is a savage, desperate existence. And for Stopmouth, considered slowwitted hunt-fodder by his tribe, the future looks especially bleak. But then, on the day he is callously betrayed by his brother, a strange and beautiful woman falls from the sky. It is a moment that will change his destiny, and that of all humanity, forever. With echoes of Tarzan, Conan the Barbarian, and The Truman Show, Peadar Ó Guilín’s debut is an action—and idea-packed—blockbuster that will challenge your perceptions of humanity and leave you hungry for more.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:49:33 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

In a brutal world where hunting and cannibalism are necessary for survival, something is going terribly wrong as even the globes on the roof of the world are fighting, but one young man, influenced by a beautiful and mysterious stranger, begins to envision new possibilities.… (more)

» see all 3 descriptions

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