io9 Book Club Meeting: Santa Olivia by Jacqueline Carey

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The io9 Book Club is in session! This week we'll be discussing Jacqueline Carey's story of a near-future mutant, Santa Olivia. Let's get started.


Santa Olivia is a big departure for Carey, who is best-known for her fantasy novels in the Kushiel's Legacy series. But main character Loup definitely feels like she comes from the same imagination that spawned Carey's famous heroine Phedre, a prostitute/spy who loves pain and learns languages ultra-fast. Here's what we said about Loup's character when we reviewed the novel last year:

Though Loup is far from a tragic hero, Carey is unafraid to explore her flaws. A lack of fear makes her somewhat "slow," as she puts it, unable to learn from scary experiences the way most humans do. When she's burned by something as a baby, she's not afraid to get burned again. Learning not to do dangerous things is horribly difficult for her.

On the other hand, typical teenage experiences of excruciating embarrassment leave Loup untouched. When she's called stupid and a slut by other girls, she just shrugs it off. She's not afraid of what those terms imply. And later, because this is a Carey novel after all, she'll embrace her sexuality in a way that is both unconventional and completely hot - as well as romantic, of course. Loup is truly a superhero for the twenty-first century, dealing with contemporary politics and social concerns.

I was completely in love with the idea of a teenage girl whose superpower includes being immune to cattiness.

What did you guys think of the novel? We'll be here discussing it all week here in the io9 book club forum, and Jacqueline Carey joins us next week to answer your questions - so be thinking about what you'd like to ask her!

Note: If you'd like to get an early start on the next book we're reading for the book club, it's going to be Paolo Bacigalupi's The Windup Girl (Night Shade Books). I'll make an announcement about this later, with an exact date for our next meeting.


Annalee Newitz

OK so we've talked about the style of the book, and it seems like most of us agree that the ending was flawed.

I'm curious what people thought of this as an antidote to the passivity fantasies of books like Twilight? In Santa Olivia, the female hero becomes a badass, takes charge of her sexuality, is an equal to men, etc.

Is Santa Olivia the anti-Twilight fantasy?