The Book of Joan by Lidia Yuknavitch [in Library Journal]
Narrator Xe Sands delivers this Book with control, even detachment: the almost languid tone chillingly amplifies the hideous near-future Yuknavitch exposes in her highly anticipated follow-up to The Small Backs of Children.
At 49, Christine is in her “last year until ascension,” an anachronistic term that signals “dead is dead” for residents of CIEL – “the aftermath of earth-life” that hovers above the ravaged planet. Mere thousands have survived multiple world wars and are now subjects of the vicious autocrat Jean de Men. These leftover humans represent earth’s “former ruling class”; they’ve (d)evolved into hairless, pale, desexualized beings, albeit with an undying “hunger for love.” And then there’s the skin: “The new paper. Canvas. Screen” on which people’s worth and social class are literally showcased.
Into this near-hell floats news from the radioactive wasteland below that the child-hero Joan, who died opposing Jean de Men once before, is not only alive, but she can raise the dead. The new reckoning is coming.
Verdict: Once again spare yet compellingly multilayered (names alone deserve close examination), this new work by the versatile Yuknavitch is sure to attract new fans of post-apocalyptic sci-fi. Libraries will want to be ready with various formats to serve her growing audience.