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Midnight robber by Nalo Hopkinson

Midnight robber (original 2000; edition 2000)

by Nalo Hopkinson

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4011526,637 (3.76)18
Title:Midnight robber
Authors:Nalo Hopkinson
Info:New York ; [Great Britain] : Warner Books, c2000.
Collections:Ex Libris

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Midnight Robber by Nalo Hopkinson (2000)

  1. 10
    Tender Morsels by Margo Lanagan (nnicole)
    nnicole: Both are about incest survivors who must discover their adult identities and carve out their own place in the world.
  2. 00
    Bone Dance by Emma Bull (amberwitch)
    amberwitch: Very different science fiction stories, both tapping african myths

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» See also 18 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 15 (next | show all)
My first Nalo Hopkinson. It took me about 100 pages to adapt to the dialect. Tan-Tan was a flawed character, but woo wee, what a life she had. Loved the douen. Lots more thoughts.

Full review to come.

4 stars ( )
  flying_monkeys | Mar 3, 2017 |
Definitely not for children, as the cover almost implies. ?Not until p. 78 does the adventure promised by the blurb begin. ?áAnd then, it's not so much SF but Multicultural *L*iterature." ?áVery high yuck factor, on several counts. ?áInteresting that the Blacks, though taught the horrors of the ancient days of slavery, did not learn to treat other races with either compassion or respect, even in their new lives. ?áAnd in fact they still treat each other evilly. ?áI'd have hoped for some optimism, but this is just a drain. ?áImo. ?á

If you do want to read it, commit to it. ?áThe ending helps." ( )
  Cheryl_in_CC_NV | Jun 6, 2016 |
Trigger warning: Rape

Tan-Tan is a young girl living on the Caribbean planet of Toussaint. But the world she lives in is only one dimension of the planet. What happens when she and her father fall into the wilderness of New-Half Way Tree, the alternate dimension where Toussaint sends criminals and exiles?

I found the beginning of the book, when Tan-Tan is still on Toussaint, too slow. I didn’t get interested in the novel until they reach New-Half Way Tree. Way too much time was spent on Toussaint, explaining the events that lead up to Tan-Tan and her father arriving in New-Half Way Tree. I felt like most of this could have been backstory instead.

In regards to the trigger warning above… This book is about a girl who’s sexually abused by her father from the age of nine to sixteen. Two rape scenes are included in the text, and yeah, there’s details. At sixteen she kills him as he’s raping her and runs away, while the rest of the town pursues her for his “murder.” Oh, and she figures out she’s pregnant as the result of the rape.

The book’s really divided between Tan-Tan as a child and Tan-Tan as a teenager. But I think that the majority of the thematic material the book’s exploring takes place the second section. I feel like it gets bogged down by so much set up in earlier parts of the book.

One of the more interesting parts of the book is the myth of the Robber Queen, who’s mantle Tan-Tan takes on. The way the stories wrap around her and the way she is shaped by the stories was fascinating. I don’t think I fully got it, but I’m not going to reread the book to reexamine it.

The book is written in Patwa, which made for a different reading experience. I was recently on a study trip to Jamaica so it was compelling to see the language I’d learned about there as well as the culture reflected in a science fiction novel.

There was a lot I found intellectually interesting about Midnight Robber – the language, some of the psychological issues going on with Tan-Tan, the role of stories – but the book never went much beyond “interesting” for me. It makes me wonder if I’m a superficial reader since my favorite thing about the book was the aliens….

Originally posted on The Illustrated Page. ( )
  pwaites | Apr 16, 2016 |
Midnight Robber is the story of Tan-Tan, a young girl growing up on the colony world of Toussaint. Her father, Antonio, has discovered that his wife Ione is having an affair with his best friend Quashee. After walking out on Ione, he agrees to meet Quashee in a duel of honor at the upcoming Carnival. The duel goes badly, and Antonio now faces life in prison after accidentally killing Quashee.

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Tan-Tan helps her father escape through a dimensional shifter to "New Half-Way Tree", an alternate-universe version of Toussaint that is home to the colony's misfits and political exiles.

Tan-Tan grows up in New Half-Way Tree, enduring the sexual attentions of her increasingly unstable father before she flees into the wilderness to take on the bandit persona of the legendary "Midnight Robber" and learn the secrets of the planet's native lifeforms.

This plot is, of course, a standard coming-of-age story, and even the sexual elements are nothing unusual in contemporary young-adult books. What makes Midnight Robber unique is the way it is told and the cultural vocabulary it draws from.

At home we used a foreign tongue

Hopkinson's language is the first thing you notice. Brown Girl in the Ring featured some dialect passages, and that book's success has allowed Hopkinson to broaden the experiment in Midnight Robber. She's written bridging sections entirely in Creole, framing the main story with legends and background information, slipping Caribbean vocabulary and rhythms into her narration.

What's impressive is how she controls her use of dialect. While the characters speak a consistent patois, the dialect ebbs and flows in Hopkinson's expository writing. By carefully varying whether each sentence is in standard English, Creole or a combination of the two languages, she shifts elegantly from simple events to emotional viewpoints, highlighting action or slowing other scenes down.

Hopkinson's use of Caribbean myth extends beyond mere language. The space-age legends she has created provide clues about the history of the Toussaint colony and explain the sometimes unusual attitudes and actions of the characters. This subtle approach is fairly common in science fiction, but readers are still forced to work out the meanings of each legend for themselves before they can connect the stories back to the colony's present-day life. It's extra detective work, but it's fun.

Then she became the myth

These legends also bend the story in unexpected directions.

The Midnight Robber, for instance, begins the book as a figure who waylays travelers to Toussaint's Carnival with words instead of weapons, but Hopkinson's plot uses Tan-Tan's fascination with him in several different ways.

In the end, of course, Tan-Tan assumes the role of the Midnight Robber, and even then the consequences of that act are very different from what readers raised on Robin Hood might expect.

In fact, many of Hopkinson's references will be foreign to the largely North American and European science fiction community, leaving readers to understand many things she describes or names from their context. Still, Tan-Tan's adventures are always clear and entertaining and the myths and legends never smother the SF elements.
  bostonwendym | Mar 3, 2016 |
I keep hearing great things about Nalo Hopkinson, and I keep being... underwhelmed.
I'm upping this to three stars because I felt it was a lot better than 'Brown Girl in the Ring,' which I gave two. But I still didn't love it. However, the language (and use of dialect) here felt much smoother; there was a more polished, professional feel to this book.

A young girl Tan-Tan, lives on a planet colonized by Caribbean immigrants. People live in luxury, with technology to take care of all manual labor. The peace is enforced by an internet-in-your-head kind of device, which sees all...

However, there are those who want to rebel against the system. Tan-Tan's father, the mayor, is bought off by a representative of those rebels... and, umm, that's a red herring plot that goes nowhere and is just dropped.

Instead, we switch focus to how the father, Antonio, is a jealous womanizer who ends up murdering his wife's lover, and is sentenced to be exiled to a parallel world. Although he had abandoned his daughter, and clearly does not really care about her (well, neither does her mother), he ends up kidnapping her into exile with him, and, in a new alien land of poverty, where criminal exiles act like the worst sort of colonizers over the native aliens, becomes her rapist and abuser.

The story is mainly about how Tan-Tan finally escapes that abuse and finds her own identity. (And lives for a while with the aliens, who are portrayed in a unique and interesting way - but all the details about their culture feel weirdly extraneous to the story.)

Things about the story bothered me, and it took a while for me to put my finger on it. After some thought, I think part of it is that for some reason, even in this very different society, all the people Hopkinson portrays behave like the products of poverty, oppression and abuse: rape, child abuse, broken homes, sexism, political corruption, etc - all are rampant, even on the 'civilized' planet. (We don't see one single person who I could imagine inventing or even maintaining the technology that's described.) And on the exile planet, all of that becomes more extreme: with slovenliness, slavery, colonial oppression/racism thrown in. Since Hopkinson makes a point of having every single human character be black, at some point I had to say, "What? You don't think that in any future, black people could form a society any better than the worst negative stereotypes about the 'ghetto'?"

I'm getting the impression that Hopkinson is writing toward an audience of young people who have suffered abuse, who have experienced all the social ills she mentions (this is bolstered by a short story of hers I read the other day), but, although I can't say I've lived a life free of trouble, something about it just isn't working for me. Clearly it is for other people, as she receives abundant praise and wins awards...
( )
  AltheaAnn | Feb 9, 2016 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Nalo Hopkinsonprimary authorall editionscalculated
Dillon, DianeCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dillon, LeoCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gutierrez, RudyCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0446675601, Paperback)

Nalo Hopkinson's first novel, Brown Girl in the Ring, was selected from almost 1,000 entries to win Warner Aspect's First Novel Contest, and after publication it received the Locus Award for Best First Novel and was a finalist for the Philip K. Dick Award. So expectations have been pretty high for her second book, and Midnight Robber lives up to them; it's a beautifully written, innovative, demanding, and wonderful novel.

On the Caribbean-colonized planet of Toussaint, Carnival is a Lollapalooza of music and dance, a Mardi Gras, a masquerade; and the Robin Hood of Toussaint legend, the Robber Queen, is just another costume, Tan-Tan's favorite. Then Tan-Tan's corrupt politician father commits a crime that sends them into exile on the extradimensional planet New Half-Way Tree, Toussaint's untamed quantum twin. As she struggles to survive the violent criminals, mysterious aliens, and merciless jungles of New Half-Way Tree, Tan-Tan finds herself taking on--or being taken over by--the mythic persona and powers of the Robber Queen. --Cynthia Ward

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 17:59:42 -0400)

It's Carnival time and the Caribbean-colonized planet of Toussaint is celebrating with music, dance, and pageantry. Masked "Midnight Robbers" waylay revelers with brandished weapons and spellbinding words. But to young Tan-Tan, the Robber Queen is simply a favorite costume to wear at the festival--until her power-corrupted father commits an unforgivable crime. Suddenly, both father and daughter are thrust into the brutal world of New Half-Way Tree. Here monstrous creatures from folklore are real, and the humans are violent outcasts in the wilds.… (more)

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