Sunday, March 30, 2014

Sister Mine

Sister Mine
by Nalo Hopkinson

Just to get this out of the way: I suspect more of you have read Neil Gaiman's Anansi Boys than Nalo Hopkinson's Sister Mine (if nothing else because his book came out some years ago), and if you have you will note similarities right away: Twins demigods have to help out their dad, who is in trouble. Of course, stories about the half-kids of gods are nothing new; China Mieville's King Rat belongs to the genre, as does the Percy Jackson series. The thing is: This book is much better than Gaiman's. Anansi Boys isn't his strongest effort, and Sister Mine is more interesting and has better world-building.

The book has several twists, as our (mundane) heroine and her sister fight and reunite as they try to find their father and restore his spirit. This quest involves their extended divine family, some human caretakers, and some plain old humans, many of whom have their own angles on how best to help dad out. Not all those angles intersect with what our the twins want, or what is best for them.

The characters feel fully fleshed out, and the settings are vivid. The book has a great sense of place (and I haven't been to Toronto since I was 9). Moreover, the book had a high barrier to overcome with me; I have an irrational dislike of stories about rock musicians, and this novel cleared that hurdle easily. It's also a fast-moving book, raising questions and answering them only to ask more on the next page.