Thursday, July 9, 2015

Review: The Just City by Jo Walton

Publisher: Tor Books
Series: Thessaly #1
Pages: 368
Received: Received a copy from Raincoast Books in exchange for an honest review

Release Date: January 13, 2015
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Goodreads Synopsis:

"Here in the Just City you will become your best selves. You will learn and grow and strive to be excellent." 

Created as an experiment by the time-traveling goddess Pallas Athene, the Just City is a planned community, populated by over ten thousand children and a few hundred adult teachers from all eras of history, along with some handy robots from the far human future--all set down together on a Mediterranean island in the distant past.

The student Simmea, born an Egyptian farmer's daughter sometime between 500 and 1000 A.D, is a brilliant child, eager for knowledge, ready to strive to be her best self. The teacher Maia was once Ethel, a young Victorian lady of much learning and few prospects, who prayed to Pallas Athene in an unguarded moment during a trip to Rome--and, in an instant, found herself in the Just City with grey-eyed Athene standing unmistakably before her.

Meanwhile, Apollo--stunned by the realization that there are things mortals understand better than he does--has arranged to live a human life, and has come to the City as one of the children. He knows his true identity, and conceals it from his peers. For this lifetime, he is prone to all the troubles of being human.

Then, a few years in, Sokrates arrives--the same Sokrates recorded by Plato himself--to ask all the troublesome questions you would expect. What happens next is a tale only the brilliant Jo Walton could tell.

My Review:

Okay Jo Walton has stolen my heart, I have heard great things about her fantasy stories, and I think this was the perfect one for me, I honestly cannot wait to see what will come next in this series. The way Jo weaved this story together was just beautiful, I never thought bringing back Plato's idea of a "just city" would really come back into light, and yet Jo Walton really brought this to life in a way that will mesmerize readers.

The "Just City" is created as an experiment by the goddess Athene and she plans it over many years and looks to take people from different eras that have asked to live in a place that is more to their beliefs. I love how readers are able to see the city from different characters' perspectives, Jo Walton goes from the children growing up, to adults that have been brought here (being able to see the difference from where they came from to this new place. And on top of these characters, readers also see the perspective of the gods that have taken part in putting this project together.

My favourite sections to read through were Apollo's, it was fun seeing him attempt to understand the human race and see that mortals may have a better understanding on things in life than gods do. Apollo arranges it so that he is stripped of his godly powers and he grows up as a human to truly take on the experience. Living in the "just city" truly teaches him a lot about mortals that he would never have known by just watching them.

As the years go by and the city grows more, the children grow and learn more about themselves and attempt to take on the world in a more fair way. I love how Jo Walton has thought this through so intensely and really brings to life how even the most perfect idea of a world still may have issues. Bringing Sokrates into the mix of the city really brings to light more details that would have been left out, the story becomes so much more interesting because you see the questions that no one would think to ask actually coming out.

This is the type of book that will appeal to those that are interested in philosophy especially, but I think that those that are not fully immersed in the philosophical world will still enjoy this story because of everything it brings to light. And this story will truly make you think about how nothing can be absolutely perfect and fair.

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