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Half the Day Is Night by Maureen F. McHugh
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Half the Day Is Night (edition 1994)

by Maureen F. McHugh

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292438,453 (3.39)1 / 10
Member:isadrone
Title:Half the Day Is Night
Authors:Maureen F. McHugh
Info:Tor Books (1994), Edition: 1st, Hardcover, 352 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:***1/2
Tags:science fiction, read_in_2009, completed, author:female, intrigue, characters of color, waterworld, banking

Work details

Half the Day is Night by Maureen F. McHugh

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While the characters fall flat, the backdrop steals the stage.

With the exception of Mothers & Other Monsters, I’ve read all of Maureen McHugh’s novels and anthologies. (“Devoured” is more like it, having consumed them all in the space of just a few months.) While somewhat enjoyable, Half the Day is Night is not McHugh’s best work.

Perhaps the lackluster reviews I saw previous to reading the book colored my perception of it, but I had trouble empathizing with – or even caring a whit about – the characters who inhabit the story. With the (marginal) exception of David Dai, the denizens of McHugh’s undersea cities are at best bland and boring; at worst, downright unlikable. For example, I found female protagonist Mayla Ling sheltered, spoiled, self-absorbed, and completely lacking in common sense. (When David calls her a tyrant for taking advantage of her employee/ex-boyfriend Tim, Mayla simply shrugs indifferently. “Too bad.”) I cared less about whether she survived the story’s end than whether her selfishness would prove David’s downfall. Described mainly through Mayla’s eyes, poor Tim hardly gets a chance at becoming a well-rounded character.

The real star of Half the Day is Night proves to be its setting - the intricate undersea cities created by McHugh. Dark and dank, and marked by poverty and sharp class inequities, one can almost feel the oppressive weight of the ocean pressing down from above. As always, McHugh’s imagination is a thing of beauty; her detailed depiction of Caribe will stay with you long after the story is done.

If you’re already a fan of McHugh, Half the Day is Night is well worth a read. Otherwise, begin your journey with another of her works. Mission Child is my personal favorite, and Nekropolis, China Mountain Zhang, and After the Apocalypse are all outstanding as well.

http://www.easyvegan.info/2012/05/11/half-the-day-is-night-by-maureen-mchugh/ ( )
  smiteme | Apr 4, 2012 |
This was a great read, mainly due to the depiction of a claustrophobic underwater world. As other reviewers have said, McHugh makes you feel as though you are there. Dai is a great character, trying to make his way and keep out of trouble in a city that is foreign to him. His female co-protagonist, however, I had some issues with. She is a very well-drawn character, and not a weak simpering person, but she makes really bad decisions without thinking them through, and leaves others (mainly Dai) to cope with the consequences. I found her thoughtlessness and selfishness hard to take, even given that she is acting under fear for her life. I would love to know what McHugh was thinking when she drew Ling this way. The twists and turns of the plot kept me gripped despite disliking this major character, and I found the book a fascinating read that took me out of my comfort zone. ( )
1 vote Sakerfalcon | Feb 2, 2012 |
Great depiction of atmosphere; cold, clammy and dripping with condensation. I was there! ( )
1 vote RobertDay | Nov 26, 2009 |
Just as with China Mountain Zhang, once I got into this book, I couldn't stop reading it. McHugh once again draws the reader into a world with social tensions, political intrigue, and sympathetic characters. Neither Dai nor Ling seem to fit in in Caribe, though Ling was born and raised there. And both run awry of the corrupt, inept system. A story of the struggle to find your place and the struggle to extract oneself from places one doesn't belong. ( )
3 vote kayejuniper | Oct 10, 2009 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Maureen F. McHughprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Salwowski, MarkCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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This book is for four women:
Ama Selu, Arla, Evelyn and Pat.
And they all know why.
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Hired as a bodyguard for Mayla Ling, a banker in the underwater city of Caribe, war veteran David Dai finds himself embroiled in a treacherous web of corporate and political intrigue as both he and his employer become targets for arrest and assassination.
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