Saturday, September 5, 2020

Bright and Dangerous Objects by Anneliese Mackintosh

This is not a happy book. I picked it up because I thought the cover was gorgeous and I try to support and boost books written about women in STEM fields, but BRIGHT AND DANGEROUS OBJECTS is miserable. This is not a book about female empowerment, not really. It's about questioning-- questioning your happiness, questioning your sexuality, questioning your partner, questioning your choices, and, when you come to a fork in a road that will determine two drastically different outcomes in your life, what it means to question those choices knowing that once you choose, one of them might very well disappear forever.

Solvig is a deep sea diver and a scientist. She also desperately wants to be one of the first chosen to live life on Mars. She knows it's dangerous, and doing so might mean death, but the allure of the unknown appears to her scientific mind. It's everything she's ever wanted since childhood, and the idea of all of that unfolding before her is tantalizing. But she also has a long-term boyfriend who wants to start a family with her and she's in her late thirties, so time is slowly ticking down-- but is it the biological clock or the Mars countdown that she'll ultimately end up heeding?

In some ways, this book reminded me a lot of GOLDILOCKS. Both books are about women who want to go to Mars who are also facing existential issues related to their gender (including gender inequality). GOLDILOCKS, however, is incredibly depressing, whereas BRIGHT AND DANGEROUS OBJECTS at least ends on a more hopeful note. Even so, those looking for fanciful tales of empowerment and adventure should look elsewhere, as this book is more of a philosophical work in my opinion that touches on the choice that many are forced to make between professional and family life as women.

I did like the book, and I thought it was written well and made a lot of really interesting points, but I did not particularly enjoy reading it. I think at times this book becomes mired in its own desolation, and perhaps that is an excellent reflection of the main character's depression and ennui, but it certainly does not make for good reading. I had to take a break because reading this was making me feel so awful. The summary really doesn't prepare you for how much angst this MC has, or some of the tough topics it deals on (cheating, miscarriage, death of a parent, to name a few).

I'm sure this book will become popular in book clubs because of how much material it offers for discussion, but it's not a book I'd recommend reading if you're already feeling low. The ending is also a bit abrupt and unsatisfying, in my opinion, even if it does offer a slight gleam of hope.

Thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review!

3 out of 5 stars

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