4 out of 4 stars
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Two civilizations live on the planet Asura. The Pinnacle is the country that covers most of Asura's surface and the home to the nanite-bodied, superior technological beings that took power over a century ago. The Reclamation is the country where the surviving humans live behind immense walls. There has been no contact between the Pinnacle and the Reclamation for more than one hundred years. Everything changes when one of the slabs of the Reclamation's walls turns into a boy amid an election cycle between the rival political parties named Guardian and Reconciliation. Charles is not just a boy, and he only wants to talk to Dr. Sahaan Ekeer, the Senior Consul to the president of the Reclamation.
Who is Charles? What does he want? Who will win the election when the Reclamation's future is a stake? Will the nanite-bodied invade the Reclamation? Will Sahaan be able to establish amicable relations with the Pinnacle?
The Other, written by Matthew Buscemi, is an exciting science fiction novel full of political elements. Buscemi's writing is fast-paced and straightforward. American contemporary domestic and international affairs inspired the world-building of the Reclamation, the Pinnacle, and their political parties. The story is told from the third-person point of view, focusing on the events and political dynamics after Charles' arrival to the Reclamation. The book has lots of dialogue that is mostly between Charles and Sahaan, the main characters of the book.
My favorite aspect of the book is how Buscemi imagined a futuristic planet with a clash of civilizations basing its conflicts on the United States' contemporary issues. The concept of walls for the security and survival of the humans in Asura is a clear allusion to the current administration's expansion of the wall on the United States' southern border with Mexico. The extreme divide between the two main political parties of the Reclamation—Guardian and Reconciliation—is similar to the current problems between the Republican and Democratic parties.
I also found it fascinating how Buscemi explores the idea of the other in this story. Scholars study the concept of the other to understand why civilizations tend to go against each other in history. The conversations between Charles and Sahaan represent this exploration of the other. Charles and Sahaan discuss the history of their countries in the past century and their respective political parties, lifestyles, environments, technological advances, reading habits, among other things. What is more important is that they talk about their fears. Do the nanite-bodied want to invade the humans? Are humans going to expand their walls? This fear of annihilation and extinction colors the history pages of humanity.
I rate The Other by Matthew Buscemi 4 out of 4 stars. I enjoyed thinking about the similarities between the problems of Asura's two distinct civilizations and the contemporary issues in the United States. Besides, Buscemi maintains objectivity, which is becoming rare, while also proposing an alternative solution. I only found a handful of grammatical errors that can be fixed quickly, so a professional editor reviewed this book. I recommend it to adult and young adult fans of science fiction who like stories with political parallels to the present.
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