The Girl In The Road is one of the most interesting books I’ve read in a long time, mainly because I don’t quite know what to make of it.
In a futuristic Mumbai, Meena wakes up with five snake bites on her chest, and opts to flee and return to her birthplace Ethiopia. She decides to follow the Trail, a forbidden, energy-harvesting bridge spanning the Arabian sea.
Mariama joins up with a caravana of strangers crossing Saharan Africa after witnessing her mother’s rape. Yemaya, her soon-to-be confidante, tells tales of revolution and a better life in Ethiopia. One is heading easy, the other west, and their fates are destined to be entwined.
I read that blurb and had no idea what to expect. All I will say is that the cover does no justice to the depth of the book. The terms sci-fi and fantasy have been thrown around at times, but it feels more spiritual, and technologically advanced through being futuristic, rather than something overly different.
It’s actually very difficult to describe the plot with any sense of succinctness. The story is told through two narrators who – often – don’t have a distinct enough style to differentiate them if you’re reading lazily, but the premise is fresh and exciting. Sexuality is fluid and explored, the settings are new and different, but it does jump around a lot.
It’s dark, and at times a real thinker. It jolts around, and has the potential to lose a lot of readers. It’s difficult to connect with the two main characters at times, but the use of language is so gorgeous you kind of stick along for the ride to see how Byrne next describes something.
This is the perfect book for someone out there. It is 100% different, and it’s jarring – I was totally intrigued, which leaves me finding it interesting in a totally unusual way. But someone, somewhere, will read this and click with it. That person wasn’t me, but I’m still completely taken with it.
It’s a horrid thing as a book reviewer to go, “I genuinely don’t know how to describe this book”, but it’s oddly true.
Pub: 20th May 2014 | Little Brown Book Group UK