Review: Space Opera by Catherynne M. Valente

12:36 PM

Space Opera by Catherynne M. Valente | Rating: ★★★☆☆

"Life is beautiful and life is stupid. As long as you keep that in mind, and never give more weight to one than the other, the history of the galaxy, the history of a planet, the history of a person is a simple tune with lyrics flashed on-screen and a helpful, friendly bouncing disco ball of glittering, occasionally peaceful light to help you follow along. Cue the music. Cue the dancers. Cue tomorrow."

For many years, I'd heard nothing but rave reviews when it came down to Valente's prior releases. Immediately, I saw in it just what everyone had been saying all along--she's got a beautiful prose. In truth, Catherynne M. Valente could probably write about an orange being set on fire and thrown into space and it would still sound so much more stunning than most of her peers. For me, Space Opera was gorgeously executed with a highly captivating premise--it just wasn't entirely my cup of tea and, at times, hit some slower points.

This isn't to say that I didn't enjoy Space Opera. I really did like a good chunk of it! The start pulled me in, but somewhere about 25-75% of the way through I felt myself losing interest. Then, right around that 75% mark, it picked itself up again. Still, Valente's writing is what made me keep up and continue on--it was much less about her skills as an author and much more about my inability to connect with the story for one reason or another.

I definitely appreciated a lot of elements to Space Opera. The humor is outstanding. A lot of readers have compared the humor--and science fiction fused plotline--to one of the most iconic novels of all time: Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. That, sprinkled with various singing competitions and reality shows. If you were to ask me how to explain Space Opera, I don't think I could fully do so without comparing it to that yet stressing on the uniqueness to Valente's story.

After finishing it, I had to soak in the aftermath for a while. I knew two things: there would be a lot of readers who positively adore this book, one of them being my father who devoured it in a mere week, and there would be the group of people who are downright vicious about it. 

I am of two minds when it comes to my opinion of Space Opera. I finished it. At times I really liked it. At times I was bored. Mostly, I was left laughing at the sheer absurdity of the story which is, I'd guess, exactly how you were supposed to feel. Because, in spite of the general silliness to it, there was a lot to be held on the truth front, too.

Ultimately, Valente's writing glows in the dark and stands out to me as Space Opera's best trait. While the story had its weaker points for me, there was still a universe of wonder to be found in it and I feel that it's a book you'll either love or hate but that, either way, it's something you'll definitely want to check out.

I'll gladly be picking up another book by Valente in the future but I don't see this book as a reread.

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