2011 seems to have been the year of the dystopian novel for me. Along with parsing through the deluge of new YA arrivals, I decided to check out a few of the classics as a palate cleanser.
The first part of the book hooked me with its vivid detail of major city plagued by overpopulation. In my opinion, Harrison did a great job of making me feel the grittiness of summer sweat and the sticky press of too many bodies. I was even curious to see where the murder investigation would end up, but it fizzled out midway into the story to end up an almost an afterthought.
The second half read like a novelized pamphlet for birth control; the dialogue between Shirl and Sol sounded forced and exposition-heavy. The squatter family, the Belichers, was nauseating (the point, I'm sure) and, by and large, unsympathetic. I couldn't help but feel propagandized by Harrison's description as I realized how much he made me detest the parents and their seven (number eight on the way!) bratty children. The way Harrison lingered on their filth dehumanized them in a way that made me feel greatly uncomfortable (in a negative way), but it was the last strong emotion I experienced during the novel. The ending of the book arrived and left with, largely, indifference on my part.
I had started reading the book already knowing the pop culture phrase "Soylent Green is people!" so I was greatly looking forward to the big reveal -- only to find that there wasn't one. Turns out Soylent Green in Make Room! Make Room!
is, honestly, just kelp crackers. GASP! Could this be the rare case where the movie was actually better than the book?