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Infinite Country by Patricia Engel | Thoughts

   Published : 2021   ||    Format : print   ||    Location : Colombia ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆   What was it about the country that kept everyone hostage to its fantasy? The previous month, on its own soil, an American man went to his job at a plant and gunned down fourteen coworkers, and last spring alone there were four different school shootings. A nation at war with itself, yet people still spoke of it as some kind of paradise.. Thoughts : Infinite Country follows two characters - young Talia, who at the beginning of this book, escapes a girl’s reform school in North Colombia so that she can make her previously booked flight to the US. Before she can do that, she needs to travel many miles to reach her father and get her ticket to the rest of her family. As we follow Talia’s treacherous journey south, we learn about how she ended up in the reform school in the first place and why half her family resides in the US. Infinite Country tells the story of her family through the other protagonist, El

Saga by Brian Vaughan

On first glance, this is a series that only some would consider to be their cup of tea. After all, it involves a complex inter-galactic network of living beings, much like Star Wars, with some characters appearing human while many are not. It is a still-running series, like The Walking Dead and superhero comics, so it requires a different kind of reading - one with lots of waiting, recollecting, and rereading. This is also a series that may need the right mindset before you start it, because sometimes you want to read about humans in a real world, and fantasy just wouldn't cut it.

This is where Saga breaks a lot of conventions. Yes, it involves very fanciful-looking characters. Yes, it is sort of in the space-operatic genre, though it actually is not (bear with me here). Yes, it is fantasy too, which is a genre you either read or don't. But, it is also none of those things. It is not about fanciful characters or space opera or fantasy. It is very much about this world that we live in, especially the one we see today, where xenophobia and racism appear to be on the rise, even though we have made a lot of progress over the past many years.

At this point, I have read all the six volumes (a total of 36 issues) but I won't go too much into what the plot arc is because much of it can be spoilery if you haven't read it. But I want to write more about why I connected with this series and what I thought about it, in general. At the core of this book are three characters - Alana, Marco, and their daughter Hazel. Alana and Marco are not from the same planet. Instead, Alana is from a certain planet called Landfall and Marco is from Landfall's moon. (Translated to Earth-speak, that would be two different countries, see?). These two populations have been at war for so long that nobody even remembers why they are at war. (They have even managed to bring the rest of the galaxy into their war, so everyone has a side in this book.) But one thing that is even unthinkable for the residents of this galaxy is a marriage between the members of these two populations, which is the barrier that Alana and Marco have crossed and have caused many heads of state to put a price on their heads.

Unfortunately, this means that Hazel is viewed with a lot of distaste and is called all sorts of names in this book. The three of them are mostly in hiding but this isn't easy when the entire world is behind you. So along their journey, they meet some very interesting characters (ghosts, talking animals, a cat that can sense if you are lying, bounty hunters), they get separated for years due to circumstances out of their control, they make very unlikely friends, and they learn a lot about humanity (or whatever the equivalent of humanity in a galaxy is).

There was so much to love in this series that I'm going to bullet them below:
  • This series' strongest point is just how relatable it is. Despite all the horned, winged, robot-like, and one-eyed characters, I could easily find a parallel in the real world. It didn't require any suspension of disbelief on my part nor did it require me to extend my imagination to be able to "accept" this world.
  • It's laugh-out-loud hilarious! I am very surprised I didn't get a hernia from all the laughing I did.
  • And also very bookish. Alana loves books and has a total bookgasm when she sees her favorite writer's library. One of my favorite bookish quotes in this book is "anyone who thinks one book has all the answers hasn't read enough books." And that, my friends is why we should continue reading more books, but I digress.
  • Alana is seriously one of the most kick-assy women I have come across in a book. She doesn't let anything come in the way of what's important to her and she had all the energy in the world after birthing a baby. (This may be the only thing so drastically different from reality. I was passed out after my labor.)
  • While we are talking about kick-assy women, Saga has an amazing representation in this cast. There is every kind of person on these pages but it isn't any utopia because there is still a lot of narrow-mindedness. It's not as if just because Character X has been discriminated against, that character is super accepting of other discriminated characters. Just like in the real world.
  • Did I already say relatable? I mean, there was so much I identified with in this book. Especially in Alana and Marco's relationship and interaction. It was so uncanny because my husband and I kept going "That happened to me too".
  • Speaking of the husband, he loved the books too. It is not often that we respond the same way to a book. He is tougher to please and I read less science fiction. But in Saga, we both found a lot to love.
I could go on. But the bottomline is that this series is likely not what you think it is. If fantasy is not your thing, you will still enjoy this series. If fantasy is your thing, you will be surprised how little it is about fantasy in general. If you have already read this series, you will know what I mean.