Krait reviews Love in the Time of Global Warming by Francesca Lia Block


Love in the Time of Global Warming follows Penelope – Pen – through a modern dystopian retelling of The Illiad. After a catastrophic earthquake (appropriately named the Ground Shaker) destroys her happy teenage life, Pen embarks on a dark myth-steeped adventure to find her missing parents and brother. Along the way, she encounters monsters, both literal and figurative, puzzles, and three other queer teens. However, despite the premise, the focus in Love is on storytelling and narrative, not on dystopian details. Pen tells stories and weaves narratives out of dreams, visions, and reality. There are some gritty details – searching for water or fuel, struggling to find food – but the book tends to skim over details that don’t further a metaphor or theme. The result is a dreamy experience, but Love lacks a certain level of grounding that I would have liked to see. The action scenes are never visceral and action was sometimes subsumed by vague prose.

Pen herself is a fascinating character, a bisexual teenage girl who speaks and dreams in art and literary allusions. (Several times, I found myself researching the unfamiliar paintings she references). She reveals her longstanding unreciprocated crush on one of her best friends in flashbacks and dreams, and while her sexuality is not the main focus of the book, her attraction to women and the female figure do often feature in her reactions. Her main love interest – Hex – is transgender and the first of three queer teenagers she meets. Their growing relationship is heartfelt, lovely, and slow enough to never upstage the pace of their grand quest.

Francesca Lia Block writes Love in the Time of Global Warming with floating and lush prose, rich with imagery and monsters pulled both from Homer (the Lotus-Eaters, the Sirens, and more) and traditional fairy-tales. Butterflies and small acts of courage are both oft reoccurring themes. If you enjoy gorgeous wordplay, art and literary allusions, I can definitely recommend Love in the Time of Global Warming.

Danika reviews Love In the Time of Global Warming by Francesca Lia Block



Love In the Time of Global Warming by Francesca Lia Block is a post-apocalyptic Fantasy teen re-telling of The Odyssey. Yes, it has a lot going on.

The book is set decades in the future, but for the most part it seems like it could be current day. The main character, Penelope, has survived (so far) the aftermath of the earthquakes and floods, not to mention the giants, that have decimated the vast majority of the world’s living things. After months of waiting in her paranoid father’s stockpiled house, she decides to head out to try to find her family, and her journey seems to be eerily echoed by the story of The Odyssey.

This is the first book of Block’s that I’ve read, and I also haven’t read The Odyssey, so I was a little worried that I’d be in over my head. To some extent, this book reminds me of The End by Nora Olsen. Both are teen post-apocalyptic books that also have Fantasy elements, but overall I think that Love In the Time of Global Warming pulled it off a little better. The writing was very easy to read, and I just kept being pulled along by the story–I finished it in a couple of sittings. I was so enthralled that it seemed to make up for faults that would have irritated me in other books. For example, Pen falls in love pretty quickly (this is a bisexual book, by the way, and the main romantic relationship is between Pen and a guy), but this is the end of the world! It happens. And many of the Fantasy/Sci-Fi elements aren’t really explained. Okay, so the giants were genetically engineered… but there doesn’t seem to be a good enough reason for that. And the elements of magic and people seeming to have powers aren’t explained at all. And, most of all, why does The Odyssey keep predicting what will happen next in their lives? (A note on that: don’t be intimidated if you haven’t read The Odyssey, because the allusions are pretty blatant. The book is actually quoted several times, and characters clearly state that ‘Hey, this is just like what happens in the book!’ That was a minor irritation, but I guess she didn’t trust that teen readers would get the reference. Still, I haven’t read it, and even I got those references through popular culture.) Those elements aren’t really explained at all. And the explanations that do take place, like why giants were created, or that giants caused the earthquakes (?) seemed a little flimsy. And yet! I didn’t really care. I was swept up in the story, and liked the characters too much to fuss about those things.

The characters are fantastic. Not to give too much away, but Pen does bump into other people along the way, and I thought that they seemed realistic and likeable, even though they didn’t have a lot of time to develop. [Spoilers, highlight to read] Hex, her love interest, is trans, and for the most part I thought this was handled well. Pen, who as far as we know has previously only been attracted to girls, is too busy dealing with survival to worry about now being attracted to a guy. And when she’s told, she says at some point, and I quote “I don’t give a fuck”. Which I liked. There was only one moment where she mentally considers calling Hex “her” that I didn’t like, but that was it. [end spoilers] Ah, that’s another parallel to The End: it’s a group of queer teens who seem to survive the end of the world, because queers are naturally magic, as one character in Love In the Time of Global Warming recognizes: “Maybe we have superpowers . . . I mean, besides the basic natural queer superpower”.

Right now Amazon is offering the first five chapters for free, so I definitely recommend you read a chapter or two. If you like the style, you’ll probably like the book! As long as you’re okay with leaving a fair amount of questions unanswered.