Book Review – On Such A Full Sea – Chang-Rae Lee

On Such a Full Sea (1/7/14) by Chang-rae Lee


  •    Book: On Such A Full Sea
  •    Author: Chang-Rae Lee
  •    Genre: Dystopian Fiction
  •    Year of Release: 2014
  •    Read 352-page hardcover edition in June 2015.

Book Description:

This dystopian novel centres around the character of Fan, who lives in a declining America, where society is seperated by economic class.  Fan is from one of the labour colonies, B-Mor, who mysteriously left the community himself, for the harsh Open Counties beyond.  There is a third type of settlement, the Charters, which are for those of highest economic class, walled cities of plenty, but where one can fall very quickly from grace and be banished.  Fan must navigate an array of situations and peoples as she continues her pursuit of her boyfriend, while the townsfolk of B-Mor continue to react to Fan’s decision to leave.

Book Review:

This was a very intriguing storyline for a dystopian novel, and a positive credit to author Chang-rae Lee is that the various sub-plots and stories within were highly creative and fascinating.  The author definitely has a creative and imaginative mind, and weaves sometimes bizarre situations and characters into the main plot.

However, that was unfortunately the extent of positive commentary one can give for this book.  The storyline often felt very confused and disjointed.  The main character Fan was often just ambling about, moving from one situation to another.  It often seemed good fortune that she got out of dangerous situations, and seemed convenient for the movement of the plot that things occurred.

Furthermore, it was unclear to the reader just why Fan was becoming famous and legendary in her home city of B-Mor.  The novel continued to speak of Fan’s adoration by many people, but it continued to elude us as the readers as to why people felt this way.

Finally, the author interestingly chose to write this book in second person for much of the time, writing from the perspective of multiple townspeople talking about Fan.  Although this might have been done in an attempt to play with style and write from a very unique point of view, it often became confusing for the reader, and made for a more disjointed read, especially when it would alternate between third person and second person.

Overall, although this had some creative secondary characters and story lines, the main characters and main story were not enough to hold the reader and generate a truly enjoyable read.

Overall: 2 stars out of 5 stars.