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Amulet 8: Supernova by Kazu Kibuishi
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Down Among the Sticks and Bones by Seanan McGuire
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Foe by Iain Reid
Hold The Cream Cheese, Kill The Lox by Sharon Kahn
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How to Say Goodbye in Robot by Natalie Standiford
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The Legend of Korra: Turf Wars Part Two by Michael Dante DiMartino and Irene Koh
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Lowriders Blast from the Past by Cathy Camper and Raul III
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Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
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Cybils Update (November 06)
Cybils Update (November 13)
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Cybils Update (November 27)
It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (November 05)
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October 2018 Sources
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Road Essays
FFCC99: FF99CC and FF9999: orphans in the wildlands by maze and labyrinth
FF9933: orphan wildlands blue highway
From 00CC33 to 33CCCC: a road narrative analysis of Haunting of Hill House, book and Netflix television series
A Map to the Road Narrative Spectrum
Road Narrative Update for October 2018
The three faces of Eleanor

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Foe: 11/06/18

Foe

Goodreads counts Foe by Iain Reid as a horror novel. I count it as science fiction and a Canadian road narrative. Junior and Henrietta (Hen) live together in an old farm house on the edge of a giant corporate canola farm. They have a quiet life of routine until Terrance arrives with news of a space lottery.

Although this is Canadian fiction, the immense canola fields are more in keeping with the American cornfield motif. A cornfield brings to mind scarecrows and Foe certainly has one. But it also has a minotaur, which is unusual for the road narrative (but not impossible).

The entire novel hinges on Terrance's story that Junior has been picked via a lottery to go into space for a period of time. Hen, who is to stay behind, will be kept company by a company provided stand-in, made to look, sound, and act like Junior.

But here's the thing. Reid knows how to use language to its full advantage. While his narrators are delightfully unreliable, the punctuation helps the reader see what the narrator isn't telling.

Let's look first at the title. Goodreads lists it as Foe, meaning "an enemy or opponent" (Apple dictionary). But look at the cover art. It says FOE. It's an acronym for "family on Earth."

To the observant reader, it is obvious from page one that the switch has already been made. Junior, our Junior, isn't who he thinks he is. Junior is already in space and Terrance is there to make sure he's running to specs.

Junior who works for the canola farm and is there to keep Hen sane is a literal and figurative scarecrow. He is from page one.

So that turns the story to Hen. It becomes clear over time that she feels trapped by her situation. The farm and the need to pretend that scarecrow Junior is actual Junior has left her feeling trapped. The safe routine she used to love is now her prison; Hen is a metaphorical minotaur.

Put all together, Foe in the road narrative spectrum is a scarecrow / minotaur - rural - labyrinth. Why a labyrinth instead of a cornfield? For the same reason as first season of Westworld, namely, the artificial mind as labyrinth. Junior, until he is told, is unaware that he is the replacement / stand-in. He is not self aware enough to think himself out of his programming.

Five stars

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