A review by mattmatros
The Left Hand of Darkness, by Ursula K. Le Guin


I understand why this book was revolutionary for its time--eliminating the concept of gender was obviously an enormous and somewhat outrageous idea in the 1960s--but the narrative aspect of the book doesn't hold up for me. The first third of the novel is essentially set-up, and it's set-up that uses as many alien words and phrases as possible, most of which only serve to distort. (I used to love this device when I was a teenager--ooh, that word I don't understand means this is a smart book! Now I'm not as easily taken in.) The second third of the novel is a drawn-out description of man vs. torture and man vs. the elements. And the final third of the novel is an overly tidy resolution to a story that I wasn't ever invested in to begin with. (Will this alien planet join a guild of other planets? Who cares?) The alien Estraven is, however, a great character and I would've liked a lot more time with him/her.

I'm glad I checked this book off my list, but I don't know if I'll be picking up another old sci-fi novel any time soon.