Book Review: The Tsar of Love and Techno by Anthony Marra
Official FC Rating:
A few weeks ago I asked my friends for book suggestions. I was really craving a good, good book. Specifically, I wanted something that could rival Ayana Mathis' The Twelve Tribes of Hattie. That book stuck with me like no other (okay, not as much as Harry Potter). Mathis' writing was just terrific. My friends gave some suggestions, but nothing I've read in a while has compared.
Until Anthony Marra. Oh gosh. The Tsar of Love and Techno is a collection of stories, but they're so well done that it feels as though you're reading just one story. I loved The Twelve Tribes of Hattie - it left an indelible mark. But I think The Tsar of Love and Techno might be even better. The two are similar in that the writing is unbelievably good. It's not often that I have to put a book down just to let the writing sink in. Marra, like Mathis, is an exception. I found myself re-reading lines frequently, basking in the mastery of the English language. Really, the writing alone is enough to make this book a top-notch choice.
Luckily for us, the writing is but the tip of the iceberg. Marra weaves together stories that span decades in a beautiful (and often unexpected) way. I was wary when I first picked up the book; I've read collections of stories before and too often they're choppy and lack cohesion. Not the case this time! No, sir! The stories were distinct, each with their own voice, but came together to form a larger story. Love that! Nothing is worse than reading stories and trying to figure out the point, the connections, the themes and finding only that the author was unsuccessful in providing us with those things. I was so glad that wasn't a problem with Tsar. Each story was riveting, and while I was eager to finish (How else are they connected?! Are we going to find out ___? etc), each had its own rising action and climax. The whole book was so wonderful to read. With the benefit of different narratives but the feel of a novel, I really can't recommend a better book.
Marra gives us tales of love, politics, family, and war. We start out by meeting a censor for the Soviets and end in outer space. The first story gave me chills, and the stories only get better, though there's no shortage of heartbreak. I'm scared of giving anything away by revealing how I felt and the end of the book (I couldn't figure out if I'd be happy or not as I approached the end!), but I will say this is one of those books you really, really ought to read. I have literally NO complaints. I liked everything about this book, from the meaty stories right to the font, the page thickness, and the cover. I kid you not. AND Marra even mentions Harry Potter a few times, and you all know that's a ticket straight to my heart.
Conclusion: Get thyself to a bookstore or a library and retrieve this book! You won't regret it.
Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the Blogging For Books program in exchange for this review. All opinions are my own.