Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Review: "Omon Ra" by Victor Pelevin

Omon Ra by Victor Pelevin is a hard book to digest in such a short time, but my feeling immediately following the completion of it are pretty concrete. It has really cool elements that will attract any fan of off-kilter Science Fiction, but even if you are not a fan of that style of writing, there are things here to like. The big difficulty I have with the slim 150-page novel is that it is a bit hard to decipher in terms of meaning and message. Which would be okay, but I don’t think a novel this bizarre can really stand on it’s own. The novel focuses on Omon, the hero of the novel if a novel like this has to have one, as he pursues his dreams of becoming an astronaut and going to the moon. The only problem is that he lives in Soviet Russia, which is a bureaucratic nightmare that constantly tries to end his dreams and destroy his soul in the process. But against all odds, he and his friend Mitiok, are accepted into military school, but things turn out to be worse in there than they were as a civilian, with Omon, Mitiok, and the other recruits facing horrific conditions, including forced amputations and surreal joke of a Russian space program. While the novel is meant to be humorous, I found very little humor in anything Pelevin has written. Despite the absurdity of the situation, everything kind of comes off as rather sad and depressing, which is the emotion that I think most readers will come away with from the book, especially towards the ending, which stresses the point Pelevin is trying to make about cultures that place more importance on the state than the individual. This is a short read if you have time, and would love to read Pelevin again.

Rating: 4/5

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