Sea of Tranquility, by Emily St. John Mandel
36/60 | Started 08.02.23 • Finished 08.08.23 | 4 stars
This is another one I've been waiting on for a while. I only somewhat recently found out that it's kind of a sequel to The Glass Hotel, so I had to wait on that one and then read it before picking this one up. The Glass Hotel is the back story to some of the characters in this one, but it's definitely possible for it to stand alone.
It is a completely different book.
“The truth is,” Olive said, behind a lectern in Paris, “even now, all these centuries later, for all our technological advances, all our scientific knowledge of illness, we still don’t always know why one person gets sick and another doesn’t, or why one patient survives and another dies. Illness frightens us because it’s chaotic. There’s an awful randomness about it.”
I was not expecting a book about history, time travel, and pandemics. Sea of Tranquility takes place years after The Glass Hotel ends - so much so that now humans are living in glorified space domes on the moon. And there's also a super-secret time travel agency which is actually in operation to prevent people from going back and changing the course of history. And one man decides to break the rules during his inaugural mission.
This is difficult to admit, but in those early weeks we were vague about our fears because saying the word pandemic might bend the pandemic toward us.
And in it all is a pandemic! So much of this hit home, of course - the isolation, the uncertainty, the incredulity. I think Mandel capture it quite well. Despite not being at all like I thought it would be, I enjoyed this and would recommend it to the right person. Good characters, solid writing, great arc. 4 stars.
Loneliness wasn’t a strong enough word for it.