“The Water Dancer” by Ta-Nehisi Coates

Thanks to Penguin Books and NetGalley for the Advance Review Copy in exchange for an honest review.

This almost felt like two different books to me, and I liked one a lot better than the other.

Hiram is a young slave raised on a failing tobacco plantation in Virginia. His father is the owner of the plantation and sold Hiram’s mother some years previously. Hiram has an interesting talent in that he remembers everything he has seen. This talent is brought to the attention of his father which in turn brings him into contact with characters who will be instrumental in his fate.

The second part of the story concerns a supernatural teleportation type ability Hiram has which is referred to as “conduction”. I didn’t really feel this worked within the context of the novel and it really didn’t add anything to the story. I found my eyes glazing over and the burning desire to skip pages whenever the conduction parts came around.

I also didn’t feel that I got much, if any, insight into the other characters. I really liked Hiram as a protagonist, but I like to get a feel for the motivations of the other characters too and I don’t feel like I did with this book.

The story started strong but when the plot moved onto Hiram and The Underground Railway I mostly lost interest. It’s a shame as it’s such an interesting subject, but I couldn’t engage with how it was presented in this novel.

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