Political, environmental and social commentary is always expected from Ms. Tepper. In Fish Tails, she delivers with a knockout punch. For those who have not read the books in this series, it is still okay to read this one as a standalone. It is going to be easiest for those who have read Ms. Tepper books previously and those who enjoy fantasy. For those who have never read a Ms. Tepper book or read much fantasy, you will be lost.
The names of the characters in this book may be hard to remember, but their personalities are memorable. Ms. Tepper does a good job of building each character to be individual voices with their own style of talking, behaving and thinking. This book is filled with several different players and it's easy to keep them straight because of their uniqueness. There are also subplots within plots. This is a trademark of Ms. Tepper which makes her book a bit meatier to read. In this latest one, I'm not sure if it is because I'm older and more jaded, but her social commentary came across more heavy handed. Whilst I understand where she's going with her agenda, I can't say that I'm completely on board.
In this particular book, she once again provides extremes and weaves a tale of comeuppance to misogynist, a mysterious force righting the wrongs and animals trying to survive despite humanity's destructive nature. What I liked about this story is how it stays in line with her views of sexism and how many patriarchal groups within society are damaging. Whilst there are some redeemable males, they are few and far between. Ms. Tepper labels the majority of males as MOBWOW - "monkey-brain willy wagger" (loc. 1000-1001). In this dystopic world, the evil technology fiends have torn the world apart with their weapons of mass destruction and continue to do so. Aliens are trying to help the world heal itself by ridding the plague. The plague and sickness equates to human beings. This nod towards Ms. Tepper's view environmental issues is also consistent with many of her previous books, including the ones not in this series. Basically, this story is conglomeration of Gate to Women's Country and The Family Tree. Both books were pivotal for me as it explores how humans treat women and animals. One could theorize that Ms. Tepper is a male-hating tree hugger. This is not a bad thing if the reader feels the same.
Her descriptions are vivid and each place pops into high definition. The storyline may be confusing unless one is used to Ms. Tepper's tendency to hop back and forth between timelines and subplots. It is like reading several books at the same time. This makes it interesting for me because each piece is a puzzle to the larger picture. When it all comes together, it makes sense. Ms. Tepper leaves no thread loose on its own. All the questions are answered and the higher purpose for the common good is revealed. Is this a bit of a lecture? Perhaps. It's still an enjoyable adventure. Could there be scenes that should be been cut out? This is hard to say. Because the story did drag at times. However, if some of these scenes which dragged were left it, it would have made the story harder to follow in the end. Could this have been edited down to a tighter story? Possibly, but I'm not a good enough editor or writer to begin to recommend to author of Ms. Tepper's level of writing talent. Overall, this is a good if a bit arduous of a read. Recommended for those who enjoy fantasy with unmistakable feminist leanings.*provided by Edelweiss