Friday, March 1, 2013

Review: 47 by Walter Mosley

Title: 47
Author: Walter Mosley
Genre: YA / Historical Fantasy / Science Fiction
Publisher: Little & Brown Books
Published: 2006
Pages: 240

Rating - 5 out of 10

On a cotton plantation in 1832 Georgia, 47 is a young slave forbidden from having an actual name. He has resigned himself to his miserable position in life as the way that things work. It is not until a mysterious boy named Tall John arrives at his home that he begins to question everything he has been taught to accept.

This book is certainly unique - I don't think that I have ever read another book that blends Historical Fiction with Sci-Fi. I thought that the historical elements of this book were more dominant, but there are definite, quite obvious science fiction leanings as well.
Tall John tells 47 that he is on a mission to defeat an evil race called the Calash, who are attempting to take over the galaxy, and tells him of his voyages across space and time, presumably being from the future. He says that he has come to this Georgia plantation because the Calash have disguised themselves as the cruel, white overseers and slave owners there.
Despite the bold, adventurous plot device, I didn't think that Mosley was able to completely pull it off. All the scenes where the two genres inter-mingle seem forced and out of place, and the scenes that are sci-fi altogether - when 47 meets people from another galaxy, for example - seem to clash with the rest of the book.

The most interesting thing about this book was trying to piece together what was actually happening. There are hints that Tall John is an escaped slave, not an intergalactic time traveler. Was he inventing these stories, in order to provoke 47 into questioning and rebelling against the world he lived in? Telling the boy stories of the evil Calash and translating them to the hated slave-owners could have been a tactic to get 47 to acknowledge how wrong they were. And, his name alone brings to mind "tall tale."

An interesting read.