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The Past Is Red

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Catherynne M. Valente, the bestselling and award-winning creator of Space Opera and The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland returns with The Past is Red, the enchanting, dark, funny, angry story of a girl who made two terrible mistakes: she told the truth and she dared to love the world. The future is blue. Endless blue...except for a few small places that float across the h Catherynne M. Valente, the bestselling and award-winning creator of Space Opera and The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland returns with The Past is Red, the enchanting, dark, funny, angry story of a girl who made two terrible mistakes: she told the truth and she dared to love the world. The future is blue. Endless blue...except for a few small places that float across the hot, drowned world left behind by long-gone fossil fuel-guzzlers. One of those patches is a magical place called Garbagetown. Tetley Abednego is the most beloved girl in Garbagetown, but she's the only one who knows it. She's the only one who knows a lot of things: that Garbagetown is the most wonderful place in the world, that it's full of hope, that you can love someone and 66% hate them all at the same time. But Earth is a terrible mess, hope is a fragile thing, and a lot of people are very angry with her. Then Tetley discovers a new friend, a terrible secret, and more to her world than she ever expected.


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Catherynne M. Valente, the bestselling and award-winning creator of Space Opera and The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland returns with The Past is Red, the enchanting, dark, funny, angry story of a girl who made two terrible mistakes: she told the truth and she dared to love the world. The future is blue. Endless blue...except for a few small places that float across the h Catherynne M. Valente, the bestselling and award-winning creator of Space Opera and The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland returns with The Past is Red, the enchanting, dark, funny, angry story of a girl who made two terrible mistakes: she told the truth and she dared to love the world. The future is blue. Endless blue...except for a few small places that float across the hot, drowned world left behind by long-gone fossil fuel-guzzlers. One of those patches is a magical place called Garbagetown. Tetley Abednego is the most beloved girl in Garbagetown, but she's the only one who knows it. She's the only one who knows a lot of things: that Garbagetown is the most wonderful place in the world, that it's full of hope, that you can love someone and 66% hate them all at the same time. But Earth is a terrible mess, hope is a fragile thing, and a lot of people are very angry with her. Then Tetley discovers a new friend, a terrible secret, and more to her world than she ever expected.

30 review for The Past Is Red

  1. 4 out of 5

    Nataliya

    “I hope everyone I meet is as happy as I am because Garbagetown is the best possible place in all of space and time.” Imagine the infamous Great Pacific Garbage Patch as a solid and organized mass of all kinds of refuse emblematic of human follies, becoming the only tangible patch of solid “ground” in the drowned world, a place where “people could live on a patch of garbage in the Pacific Ocean the size of the place that used to be called Texas” — and allowing Valente to take that image and “I hope everyone I meet is as happy as I am because Garbagetown is the best possible place in all of space and time.” Imagine the infamous Great Pacific Garbage Patch as a solid and organized mass of all kinds of refuse emblematic of human follies, becoming the only tangible patch of solid “ground” in the drowned world, a place where “people could live on a patch of garbage in the Pacific Ocean the size of the place that used to be called Texas” — and allowing Valente to take that image and go full Valente on it. The Texas-sized floating island of conveniently solid and presorted discards of humanity - or, as we are aptly known in the world of people living on the floating garbage island in the world humans ruined in the quest for excess, “Fuckwits” - on which the survivors are making a life while thematically appropriately lauding St. Oscar the Grouch — with neighborhoods such as Candle Hole, Electric City, Pill Hill, and Clotheschester. No, it’s neither feasible nor plausible, but that’s not what Valente goes for here. Her weapons of choice are surreal and oddly mesmerizing and in this case melancholically heartbreaking. “People tend to huddle up in the useful areas of Garbagetown. It doesn’t pay to live too far from any one of the three Ps of postapocalyptic life: protein, precipitation, and potential. The Great Sorting was thorough and sensible. It made neighborhoods out of a floating crapfill, land out of waste. There’s good work and good junk in Scrapmetal Abbey, Upholsterton, Pill Hill, Bookbury, Rubbering, the Babydales. You could make a sturdy cottage out of television season box-sets on the slopes of Mt. VHS. There’s good soil in the Mountains Organic—Bannockbone, Taxidermia, Seedville, and the Spice Tundra—or at least good components that could be convinced to become soil eventually. And of course on the Lawn, out past the Matchstick Forest, slowly encroaching on the Cardboard Flats. You could build a life out of those places. A trade. A family.” And in this world we get to hear the voice - the chillingly unrelenting cheerful voice that might as well be singing “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life”* - of Tetley, “a trash girl in a trash world”, a young woman who once out of love did something for which she became the most hated person in Garbagetown, and now is expected to be grateful for any cruelty anyone is allowed to inflict on her, repeating more and more chilling phrase, “Thank you for my instruction.” And all because Tetley actually cared about that poignantly pitiful existence of Garbagetown, and the terrifyingly cheerful tone may be all that’s left for her. As Valente says in her afterword, “And of course, if you are born into the worst-case scenario, it just feels like home.” * “Technically, no one’s allowed to kill me. But there’s miles of ground to cover before you get to killing, technical or otherwise.” ———— Life's a piece of shit When you look at it Life's a laugh and death's a joke, it's true You'll see it's all a show Keep 'em laughin' as you go Just remember that the last laugh is on you And always look on the bright side of life… ————— The first part of the story, The Future Is Blue, was featured before in Jonathan Strahan-edited anthology Drowned Worlds and then in a short story collection by Valente. Here we have this story reprinted, with a much longer follow-up — the titular The Past Is Red, where Tetley’s depressingly optimistic life continues, with her a bit older and a bit more bruised by the world and yet very much the same Tetley that made a very difficult choice when she was younger. “There are some things you just can’t ever get back. Years. Gannet birds. Husbands. Antarctica.” It’s a story of aspirations and reality and hope and regret, making do with what you’ve got or being stuck with dreaming big, wanting to start over or needing to dig in. And there is no right answer or the wrong answer, except for when people are treated like trash — discarded when it’s suitable for the needs of the “betters” — it’s a reflection on those who do the dumping and not on the supposed value of that “trash”. And yet how can one not long for things lost, for the wondrous beauty of being able to have and discard excess, for things being better and easier — everything that the Fuckwits have managed to destroy in accordance to the name given to them? “Imagine having so much energy to spare after finding food and shelter and clothing and some tiny goddamn scrap of company that you figured you'd make a beautiful silver cup, not because some kid did the best job, but just because she tried the hardest. I tried the hardest all the time, and everyone's just permanently fucking mad at me. Imagine having that much left over that you give one single ghostly shit about the eight-best daffodil.” How can you ground yourself in here and now when your whole existence is a constant reminder of there and then? Hope can be found in everything, and simultaneously nothing matters and everything matters, and that’s the truth. “But she is sorry and small and alone and I have been sorry and small and alone and it appears I am now in the business of collecting small and alone things. I know how to take care of them. I know how to make them grow in a bucket. I have enough for them. Even if I don’t have enough for me.” This story is pretty tame by Valente’s storytelling standards. It’s bare-bones for her, with most of the ornateness of the language shed and overabundance of metaphors toned down. It’s quieter. It’s less indulgent in most ways - although still recognizably Valente-like in bits of melancholic absurdism and striking imagery. And it’s good. It makes you see harsh beauty in the trash and even makes you forget that it’s trash, even if just for a brief while. “[…] The kind of hope I have isn’t just greed going by its maiden name. The kind of hope I have doesn’t begin and end with demanding everything go back to the way it was when it can’t, it can’t ever, that’s not how time works, and it’s not how oceans work, either. Nothing you love comes back. I have hope for Garbagetown, not for some suckspittle scrap of dry dirt that wouldn’t give us half of what we already have.” Fascinated, melancholic and yet dreadfully upbeat in the face of all the garbage in the world 4.5 stars.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Bradley

    I came to this latest book by Catherynne Valente (wonderful storytelling goddess that she is) thinking that I'd be reading another short story collection. This is not that. BUT. It does have a new incarnation of biggest novelette in The Future is Blue from the collection by the same name, updated and filtered through a new lens. You see the previous story was written through the lens of the 2016 election woes, giving us a very bleak post-apocalyptic eco-punk nightmare for our generations to come. I came to this latest book by Catherynne Valente (wonderful storytelling goddess that she is) thinking that I'd be reading another short story collection. This is not that. BUT. It does have a new incarnation of biggest novelette in The Future is Blue from the collection by the same name, updated and filtered through a new lens. You see the previous story was written through the lens of the 2016 election woes, giving us a very bleak post-apocalyptic eco-punk nightmare for our generations to come. The old story was quite apt, living in Garbage Town and having leaders be named after old, partially expired medications from the world of the fuckwits, (I.E., *US*). But no worries, folks. This updated version of that tale is much longer, and quite updated to show us a little hope through the much darker lens of our PRESENT day. You know, the day that just keeps laughing at 2016 because we JUST HAD TO TELL IT TO HOLD OUR BEER. The story is quite an upgrade. Hell, I wouldn't be surprised or even displeased if it became a full novel eventually. Valente has wonderful SF. Clever, detailed, gloriously vicious. And, just so we don't grow so complacent, she makes sure that we taste the full spectrum of emotions including happiness, and even hope when by all rights we really shouldn't have any of that. One little note: I LOVE that little lava lamp. You'll know what I mean when you read it. All in all, this is the superior tale and yet I still don't have a problem re-reading the parts that I had just read in the previous collection. It's just that good.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Gabrielle

    The great Cat Valente is not someone I believe can write a bad book. She has some less awesome books out there, but I would not call those bad, and this little novella is one of her great creations. If you have read the collection “The Future is Blue” (https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...), you will be familiar with the story of Tetley, and her life in Garbagetown, what its inhabitants have come to call what we know as the floating Garbage Island in the Pacific. In this near-ish future dystop The great Cat Valente is not someone I believe can write a bad book. She has some less awesome books out there, but I would not call those bad, and this little novella is one of her great creations. If you have read the collection “The Future is Blue” (https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...), you will be familiar with the story of Tetley, and her life in Garbagetown, what its inhabitants have come to call what we know as the floating Garbage Island in the Pacific. In this near-ish future dystopia, the ice caps have melted and solid land is a myth our ancestors talked about, but that no one living has ever seen with their own eyes. Valente was not done with Tetley when she wrapped up that short story in 2016, and four years later, she wrote of an older Tetley, one who is still lonely, but also still strangely optimistic despite what her life has turned out to be. In this new episode of Tetley’s life, we explore new segments of Garbagetown, discover some of it’s strange customs, but also see more of the world Valente imagines might be ours a couple of hundred years from now. Her world-building is so creative, poetic and whimsical, and I always fall in love with it, no matter how weird and bleak she makes her worlds. There are always such bright colors, such interesting ideas, and Shakespeare… How could I not love it. I know this doesn’t sound like a cheerful story, and it isn’t, but in its own way, it’s strangely hopeful. Like Tetley’s, our reality is not especially great right now, and while it certainly can change, we live right here, right now, and we need to be able to see something beautiful about it, or else how the fuck are we going to make it to a better time and place sanely? It’s not about denying the bad, but about being able to see that happiness is something that belongs to us. I hope that what I wrote about this story make sense, and I hope you read it. It’s beautifully written, quite unique, thought-provoking and anchored enough in the real world to feel like this speculation is not that far off the mark. For better and for worse.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Jenny (Reading Envy)

    "Tetley Abednego is the most beloved girl in Garbagetown, but she’s the only one who knows it." If you previously read The Future is Blue by Valente, this includes that novella in an updated form (recency is everything, it turns out) and expands into a longer story where Tetley grows up and discovers a secret. The earth has reverted to water but the giant raft of garbage has become a fortress of sorts for some who remain - sorting of the trash has created specific communities and rituals that are "Tetley Abednego is the most beloved girl in Garbagetown, but she’s the only one who knows it." If you previously read The Future is Blue by Valente, this includes that novella in an updated form (recency is everything, it turns out) and expands into a longer story where Tetley grows up and discovers a secret. The earth has reverted to water but the giant raft of garbage has become a fortress of sorts for some who remain - sorting of the trash has created specific communities and rituals that are fun in Valente's hands. At first I thought this felt like YA but a few parts of it really are not, including referring to all of previous humanity as The Fuckwits, which is pretty accurate. I received a copy from the publisher through Edelweiss after I went looking for it because I love this author.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Trish

    This is the follow-up book to The Future Is Blue which I reviewed *here*. In this little book, we get the titular story of that book (probably as a reminder or for readers who weren't able to get a copy of the former book since it's a limited edition) plus the titular one that details the further adventures of our favourite girl in Garbagetown. In the first part, in The Future Is Blue, we meet a young girl telling her story. When she turned ten, she and her twin had to set out in the "world" to g This is the follow-up book to The Future Is Blue which I reviewed *here*. In this little book, we get the titular story of that book (probably as a reminder or for readers who weren't able to get a copy of the former book since it's a limited edition) plus the titular one that details the further adventures of our favourite girl in Garbagetown. In the first part, in The Future Is Blue, we meet a young girl telling her story. When she turned ten, she and her twin had to set out in the "world" to get their names. Tetley is the one she got. The special thing about Tetley is that she lives in our future. A future in which we royally fucked up the planet and most of humanity died because of it. Many got vaporized (I presume thanks to bombs) or drowned when the ice melted everywhere and sea levels rose drastically. Now, there are only a few floating places with what's left of our species. One such place is Garbagetown - named after the gigantic garbage patch in the Pacific that it used to be. In the meantime, it has burrows that are named and kinda sorted after the kind of garbage they host (medication, electronics, wax, books, ...). Tetley, 17 years old when she tells the story, did something that makes her not only an outcast but legally enables others to hurt her and she can neither fight back, nor plead or argue - instead, she has to thank them. What she did? Well, that is the story. In the second part of the book, in the titular story The Past Is Red, we meet Tetley once again. She is 29 years old now and tells of what happened to her between the end of the last story and now. Thus, we get to follow her to even more places around Garbagetown, where we meet an AI as well as even more weird people. The great thing about all this is that we don't just get to see a likely version of the future (that kinda reminded me of Waterworld sometimes) but also grapple with vices and achievements from our here and now. America's addiction to all kinds of pills being one example. What is truly marvelous about both stories is the emotional depth. Sure, the worldbuilding is incredibly detailed in a witty way that is so sharp, you can cut yourself. But that is almost "normal" and to be expected with this author. No, I especially loved the emotional punch. In the first part it was mostly (view spoiler)[Tetley still loving her home and always trying to protect people when she wasn't trying to make them love her - which no kid should have to do with her parents (hide spoiler)] , whereas in the second part it was (view spoiler)[her trying to find love and hope for a future and not just for herself while having navigated so many lies and so much cruelty already - I mean, how do you come back from that? (hide spoiler)] . Incredibly powerful storytelling and I'm glad we got the second part, too. However, the first - to me - is slightly better, slightly more impactful. Like a suckerpunch. It just isn't the same the second time around though it still hurts. *lol* As for the writing ... yeah, I don't think I need to keep on raving. There is a reason this author's stories are an instant-read for me. But for those insisting on examples/proof: No more words (from me) needed.

  6. 5 out of 5

    JasonA

    Global warming has melted the polar ice caps and left the Earth covered in endless oceans. Despite the odds, pockets of humanity have managed to survive on the water's surface. Tetley was born in Garbagetown, a floating landfill the size of Texas. She is despised by all of her neighbors for something she did when she was 19. She was trying to save their way of life, but in doing so, she unintentionally killed their hope. I really liked this one. It was a quick read that didn't waste a lot of word Global warming has melted the polar ice caps and left the Earth covered in endless oceans. Despite the odds, pockets of humanity have managed to survive on the water's surface. Tetley was born in Garbagetown, a floating landfill the size of Texas. She is despised by all of her neighbors for something she did when she was 19. She was trying to save their way of life, but in doing so, she unintentionally killed their hope. I really liked this one. It was a quick read that didn't waste a lot of words. I think the biggest takeaway is probably to appreciate what you have. Since it's about global warming, there's also some stuff about consumerism and wastefulness. Hell, the people in the story are surviving off of our trash, you don't need much dialogue on waste with that visual. This one is worth the read, especially for apocalyptic fiction and sci-fi fans.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Alina

    I spent more than an hour looking for a short story I read some time ago which sounded very very similar to this one, only to find out it was The Future is Blue by the same author. It's included in her The Future is Blue collection and in The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year #11. I spent more than an hour looking for a short story I read some time ago which sounded very very similar to this one, only to find out it was The Future is Blue by the same author. It's included in her The Future is Blue collection and in The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year #11.

  8. 5 out of 5

    David Gibson

    The Short Version: An insightful look into a not too far-fetched future of earth. A book that digs deep into the materialism of our modern world and what really matters when you get down to it. A sneaky good title that creeps up and starts rooting around your emotional junkpile when you least expect it The Long Version: I got to listen to the audiobook ARC of this title thanks to NetGalley and Dreamscape Media I’ll be honest this was definitely a book I was only interested in by the cover at fir The Short Version: An insightful look into a not too far-fetched future of earth. A book that digs deep into the materialism of our modern world and what really matters when you get down to it. A sneaky good title that creeps up and starts rooting around your emotional junkpile when you least expect it The Long Version: I got to listen to the audiobook ARC of this title thanks to NetGalley and Dreamscape Media I’ll be honest this was definitely a book I was only interested in by the cover at first. It seemed so cartoony and when I read the description I figured it to be a lighthearted romp of speculative fiction. In listening to it, it was that, but it was also so much more. The story is cheeky and quirky, but it is also very serious in the issues it discusses. The story follows Tetley (odd name I know, and the naming ritual of people in this future is a ridiculous delight). Tetley and everyone she knows lives in Garbage Town, a large floating island of garbage in the middle of the seas which have risen and swallowed up all the dry land. Tetley is the most hated girl in all of Garbage Town (whether or not that’s fair is for you to decide as she recounts her tale). Tetley recounts the events of her life at various stages, with the narrative taking sizable time jumps between each section. It serves as a retrospect of her entire life (up to about middle age) as viewed through her accumulated knowledge at a few distinct checkpoints in her story. Considering the time we live in, with climate change at the forefront of the public consciousness on a fairly regular basis, this book is very timely, and its take on where life might go in the aftermath, might be a bit odd, but it doesn’t seem to be unfathomable either. It’s a scary look at what may be coming our way. This makes the concept for the book, wholly engrossing and engaging. One of the greatest strengths of this story is Tetley. She’s wise, but also snarky and thoroughly enjoyable to follow through her Garbage Town life. Her narration of her story is exuberant and the narrative is dripping with life through every chapter. She unironically recounts the oddities of garbage town as if they are normal, because well to her they are. In this there is a quite a bit of humor. Her character voice is by far the biggest selling point of this book. The world building is on point as well, I could almost smell the dank stench of a garbage island as I listened and I could almost feel the dirt caked on my skin. The author continuously fleshes out the world through every chapter and at no point does it feel overdone or like she’s insisting on her points. Garbage town is a fully realized eco system and the intricacies of it are deftly woven into a captivating setting. But here’s where things get a bit trickier. Pacing is a bit of a concern in this story. The author does a nice job weaving anecdotes from the past along with the present moment, but the second part of the book feels like it meanders a bit in order to explore the larger themes of want and need and human existence. I stayed interested in the story the whole way through, but there were moments where I was waiting for something to happen, waiting for a bit of action. The book sometimes seems a little lost between being a plotted story and being a character study where nothing much happens. It wasn’t detrimental to the experience on the whole, just felt like the story could have been even more elevated with a couple tweaks. I will say that the last quarter of the book is utterly heartbreaking and quite poignant. Somewhere around that point, the plot/pacing get back in step and it wraps up nicely, even if it’s not a full blown happy ending. There’s a big surprise or two in there also. The writing itself is always on point, the dialogue fits Tetley at each stage in her life, and the slang of these Garbage People seems to fit their circumstances. The prose flows nicely and while the book examines some pretty heady topics, the writing never feels heavy, it’s very sneaky in how it offers up its introspection. The narrator was solid and enjoyable, she had a very effective emotional delivery to Tetley’s words and he voices were differentiated, never running into one another. She didn’t stand out as one of the best voice actors I’ve encountered but she did no harm to the book and made the work enjoyable. Overall a solid 4 all around. It’s equal parts hopeful and depressing, and very insightful as it pokes and prods at modern life and the wants and needs of the garbage people who comprise this big blue planet. Component Ratings Concept/Idea: 4.5 out of 5 Protagonist: 5 out of 5 Antagonists: 3 out of 5 Supporting Characters: 4 out of 5 Character development: 4 out of 5 Plot: 3.5 out of 5 Pacing: 3.5 out of 5 Prose: 4.5 out of 5 Dialogue: 4.5 out of 5 Narrator’s performance: 4 out of 5 Ending: 4 out of 5

  9. 5 out of 5

    Jenifer

    If I told you that a book about a despised young woman who lives on a vast floating patch of garbage in a post-global-warming, mostly destroyed and depopulated, drowned version of Earth was also a beautiful book about the universal need for stories and connection, and filled with joy, humanity, and hope- would you believe me? This novel is funny, heartbreaking and yes, ultimately, hopeful. It took me a few pages to get a feel for the strange landscape and colorful language that our narrator, Tet If I told you that a book about a despised young woman who lives on a vast floating patch of garbage in a post-global-warming, mostly destroyed and depopulated, drowned version of Earth was also a beautiful book about the universal need for stories and connection, and filled with joy, humanity, and hope- would you believe me? This novel is funny, heartbreaking and yes, ultimately, hopeful. It took me a few pages to get a feel for the strange landscape and colorful language that our narrator, Tetley, revels in, but once I finished the first short chapter, I was completely drawn in. Highly recommended for readers of sci-fi and satire, as well as anyone looking for some much needed hope among what sometimes feels like inevitable ruins.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Faith

    "But that was long ago and far away. Memory-petrol. Which is all petroleum ever was, when you think about it. A planet's memories of when it was young, burned up to keep warm and keep going." Catherynne M. Valente's THE PAST IS RED is a gut punch in the best way. Tetley's journey from bright-eyed optimist to jaded outlaw makes her the perfect tour guide for the magical and terrifying world of Garbagetown. Generations ago the oceans rose and the entire world flooded except a few floating settlemen "But that was long ago and far away. Memory-petrol. Which is all petroleum ever was, when you think about it. A planet's memories of when it was young, burned up to keep warm and keep going." Catherynne M. Valente's THE PAST IS RED is a gut punch in the best way. Tetley's journey from bright-eyed optimist to jaded outlaw makes her the perfect tour guide for the magical and terrifying world of Garbagetown. Generations ago the oceans rose and the entire world flooded except a few floating settlements. Garbagetown is the most beautiful place on earth and created wholly from humanity's discards. What feels off-putting and traumatic to the reader is just Tetley's everyday. With prose that feels akin to a journey into Oz, Valente takes the reader down a path that twists beyond any that could be dreamed up in our reality.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Carrie

    The Past is Red is both a post apocalyptic and a coming of age story. The world as we knew it is gone, there is nothing but blue ocean and garbage. . We didn't listen, we just wasted and abused until there was nothing left. The fu*kwits who just waste and waste, destroying everything, using up all the Earths recourses. And Tetley our mc, is one of the many humans that living their life in Garbagetown, she's never known and other way. She was born a few generations after the world went to hell. Sh The Past is Red is both a post apocalyptic and a coming of age story. The world as we knew it is gone, there is nothing but blue ocean and garbage. . We didn't listen, we just wasted and abused until there was nothing left. The fu*kwits who just waste and waste, destroying everything, using up all the Earths recourses. And Tetley our mc, is one of the many humans that living their life in Garbagetown, she's never known and other way. She was born a few generations after the world went to hell. She's alone and every day she get's belittled, cursed at, beat and she has to take it. It's the law, she did something that no one can forgive, she took away their hope. She doesn't see it that way because Garbagetown is the most beautiful place on Earth. This be it small packs a punch. I felt as if I had a lump in my throat the whole time reading it. Climate change is happening, we are using up the worlds resources. We are killing the planet daily. This heartbreaking and I just don't understand why people just seem to not care, or chose to ignore it. Wonderfully written, full of emotion. Thank you to Macmillan-Tor/Forge, Tordotcom for my copy. Originally posted on I Can Has Books?

  12. 5 out of 5

    Lashaan Balasingam (Bookidote)

    You can find my review on my blog by clicking here. For many, it’s tough to imagine the future without going through a meltdown. What does it have in store for me? Where will I be next? Will I be happy? Others look beyond themselves and worry about it through lenses that some would never think or dare to do. What’s my carbon footprint like? Am I doing enough to save this planet? Will it stay as green as we always imagined it? For one author, she offers a far-future where not everyone sees life th You can find my review on my blog by clicking here. For many, it’s tough to imagine the future without going through a meltdown. What does it have in store for me? Where will I be next? Will I be happy? Others look beyond themselves and worry about it through lenses that some would never think or dare to do. What’s my carbon footprint like? Am I doing enough to save this planet? Will it stay as green as we always imagined it? For one author, she offers a far-future where not everyone sees life the same way and perspective is what makes all the difference. Originally imagined in The Future is Blue, author Catherynne M. Valente revisits her original short story to expand her protagonist’s journey in a bleak post-apocalyptic world where the past and future put the present in perspective. What is The Past is Red about? Set in a world where seas have submerged lands and leaving only a few territories free of its reach, the story follows Tetley Abednego in what she considers to be the most magical place in the world: Garbagetown. Split into two parts, the first one has her roaming around the garbage-filled home alongside her twin brother, while the second one looks at her lonely hermit life over a decade later. It is a tragedy that turns her life upside down at a young age, after having met up with a boy, that she finds herself on a strange yet twisted path where she constantly remembers her time and her unique vision of the world unlike anyone else. I can’t say that I was fully immersed in this story despite the excellent world-building offered by author Catherynne M. Valente. She paints a vivid picture of a terrifying future that makes it difficult for anyone to not realize the waste, the neglect, and the ignorance that many humans have embraced regarding their planet. Without serving a moralizing story around climate change, she does an excellent job to convey the underlying and alarming issues pertaining to humans and their ignorant behaviours on Earth. It’s mostly through her fascinatingly unique protagonist that she’s also able to relativize the perception of this world built on garbage while also exploring the concept of hope in other characters who still dream to find and live on dry land. It’s the strange resilience shown by the protagonist that gives this world a unique flavour and, through her perception of the world and colourful voice, the story makes for a question-raising journey like none other. Although the narrative structure is confusing more often than not, there is an interesting progression that shifts between past and present to help better comprehend the chain of events that led to the current state of affairs. The creative and highly imaginative prose filled with references to countless consumerist products of our time also makes for an interesting reading experience, despite being a bit heavy to indulge. The main character’s voice remains the single most powerful hook of this novella that really allows the story to be distinctive in its style and essence but it didn’t feel like it connected with me as much as I would’ve liked it to. There are some intriguing moments that appear throughout the story, mostly related to the world-building, as author Catherynne M. Valente does a fantastic job in depicting some truly original settings but the execution is what I mostly struggled with. The Past is Red is an intriguing yet baffling journey into a bleak far-future post-climate apocalypse world that confusingly explores hope and change. Thank you to Raincoast Books for sending me a copy for review! Yours truly, Lashaan | Blogger and Book Reviewer Official blog: https://bookidote.com/

  13. 5 out of 5

    julia ☆ [owls reads]

    The Past Is Red was a pretty cool and quick read, but it wasn't really for me. The premise was interesting and the amount of detail and world-building, especially for a novella, was excellent! Valente painted a vivid picture of life post-humans ruining everything and it was pretty fun reading about how people made a home out of what was left. That said, some of the execution was at times confusing and I'm sure quite a bit of the social commentary just went over my head. The writing style was real The Past Is Red was a pretty cool and quick read, but it wasn't really for me. The premise was interesting and the amount of detail and world-building, especially for a novella, was excellent! Valente painted a vivid picture of life post-humans ruining everything and it was pretty fun reading about how people made a home out of what was left. That said, some of the execution was at times confusing and I'm sure quite a bit of the social commentary just went over my head. The writing style was really super mega not my favorite and that did impact my reading experience and comprehension. There was a lot of emotion in it, though, and Tetley's perspective was sweet and utterly heartbreaking.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Scottsdale Public Library

    This compelling science fiction novel is set in a future in which the planet is fully underwater, with the exception of such floating places as Garbagetown, the home of Tetley Abednego. Tetley, raised in Candlehole, loves two things: the world and telling the truth. Her second love leads her into serious difficulty when she decides to blow up Electric City to prevent a foolhardy attempt at a voyage to find non-existent dry land and is ostracized by the rest of the inhabitants. This darkly funny, This compelling science fiction novel is set in a future in which the planet is fully underwater, with the exception of such floating places as Garbagetown, the home of Tetley Abednego. Tetley, raised in Candlehole, loves two things: the world and telling the truth. Her second love leads her into serious difficulty when she decides to blow up Electric City to prevent a foolhardy attempt at a voyage to find non-existent dry land and is ostracized by the rest of the inhabitants. This darkly funny, often angry tale of a young woman who discovers a terrible secret makes for great reading with adults and mature teens! -Louisa A.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Lata

    Unsurprisingly, the prose is gorgeous as this is Catherynne Valente. The author writes about a society living on a massive garbage barge, as it travels the currents in the ocean. Tetley, the main character, relates how she’s hated in GarbageTown because of something she did years ago (described in the first part of this story). She’s lonely, but lives a fairly contented life, and submits to the anger of individuals when they need to express it. Then, she’s given a marriage proposal, and after me Unsurprisingly, the prose is gorgeous as this is Catherynne Valente. The author writes about a society living on a massive garbage barge, as it travels the currents in the ocean. Tetley, the main character, relates how she’s hated in GarbageTown because of something she did years ago (described in the first part of this story). She’s lonely, but lives a fairly contented life, and submits to the anger of individuals when they need to express it. Then, she’s given a marriage proposal, and after meeting her intended, also discovers an awful secret about the planet. Who would have thought mountains of pills, and all sorts of detritus of the lives of the people who lived many, many years before (basically, us) could be described so beautifully? A lot of knowledge has been lost to survivors of catastrophic climate change, and Tetley loves her life and GarbageTown with a fervency not always mirrored by the remaining humans. She’s got what she needs to be happy, and is not looking for some mythical dry land, or end to their travels on the ocean. This is a sad story, but I feel like there was hope too. Hope because someone still saw beauty around her, and admired the resiliency of her fellow humans.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Kopratic

    I can't give it anything less. Received an ARC from the publisher. Full review to come closer to the publication date. I can't give it anything less. Received an ARC from the publisher. Full review to come closer to the publication date.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Tammy

    The nitty-gritty: Fragments of an old, dead world become something quite new in this emotional and surprisingly hopeful post apocalyptic tale. Catherynne M. Valente is truly one of a kind. I have never read another author that comes close to matching her whimsical writing style, so when I picked up The Past is Red, I knew I would be reading something unique and special. And wow, this blew me away. If you’ve read her novel Radiance, then you will have some idea of what to expect (in terms of style The nitty-gritty: Fragments of an old, dead world become something quite new in this emotional and surprisingly hopeful post apocalyptic tale. Catherynne M. Valente is truly one of a kind. I have never read another author that comes close to matching her whimsical writing style, so when I picked up The Past is Red, I knew I would be reading something unique and special. And wow, this blew me away. If you’ve read her novel Radiance, then you will have some idea of what to expect (in terms of style and boundless imagination). You might recognize the first section in the book called The Future is Blue, which was published as a short story in 2018. Apparently Valente had more to say about Tetley and Garbagetown, which resulted in this novella. In the future, Earth has been devastated by climate change and the land has disappeared under the seas, and except for a handful of scattered survivors, everyone is long dead. Tetley and her twin brother Maruchan were born on a huge, floating island of garbage called Garbagetown and don't know any other way of life. Tetley’s story is divided up into two sections: first, when she is about seventeen, we are introduced to her life in Garbagetown, her fateful meeting with a boy named Goodnight Moon, and an unexpected act of violence that turns everyone in Garbagetown against her. The second section takes place when Tetley, now twenty-nine, is living by herself on a boat, having left her beloved Garbagetown after a series of events. It’s during this section that she recounts those adventures, taken against her will from her home in Candle Hole to a place called Pill Hill where she reunites with Goodnight Moon. The story alternates between the past and present, as Tetley paints a strange yet magical picture of post apocalyptic life atop an ever shifting pile of garbage. The Past is Red doesn’t have a driving plot, so much as it’s a series of slice of life events that happen to Tetley over the course of about nineteen years. I happen to love stories like this, and combined with Valente’s descriptions of her unusual world, I found this such a joy to read. I want to talk about Tetley first, as she is a wonderful character. Valente gives her a childlike innocence that was so endearing. She knows nothing about Earth as it used to be—the world that the fuckwits destroyed with their selfish ways ("fuckwits" being us)—except through artifacts of the past. Throughout Garbagetown are piles and piles of items that survived the floods: books, electronics, maps, cassette tapes, clothing and much more, items we would call “junk” but which Tetley and the others in Garbagetown consider to be treasures. I loved the moments when Tetley discovered something new, like a menu from the Dorchester Hotel, and the way she gleefully read the menu items, not really understanding what they are but reveling in the idea of “chicken drizzled with a balsamic reduction and rosemary honey” anyway. One of Tetley’s most beloved possessions is an Oscar the Grouch backpack, and I loved the way she treats Oscar as a family member, rather than an inanimate object. It’s clear that Tetley is damaged in many ways. She’s physically abused by her “friends” in Garbagetown, after an act of destruction turns her into a pariah, but she knows what she did was wrong and takes these beatings in stride. It was heartbreaking to read these sections, but her optimism and love of Garbagetown allows her to rise about the pain and keep living. Her relationships with people are inconsistent and often disappointing, but she has a few constant animal companions who make her days more bearable. Valente’s world of Garbagetown was unexpectedly magical. You wouldn’t think piles of garbage would be fun to read about, but I was fascinated by the different parts of Garbagetown: Candle Hole (where Tetley lives) is made up of melted candles and smells like them too; Pill Hill is where all the drugs and pill bottles have ended up; Electric City has batteries and machines and solar panels, and you get the picture. There is a floating pier that occasionally stops to visit and put on a show, and there is always the possibility that somewhere out there, dry land exists. Valente’s tale is a cautionary one about taking care of our planet, but I also loved her message about nature always coming back, no matter what humans do to destroy it. Tetley has a hibiscus flower that has bloomed on her roof, and I loved this little touch of wild nature, proof that Earth has started the healing process. My favorite part of the story, though, is when Tetley acquires a smooth black object that looks like a paperweight, but turns out to be oh so much more. If you’ve read the Rampart Trilogy by M.R. Carey, you will love this part, because it reminded me a lot of Koli and Monono and their relationship. This object, named “Mister,” leads Tetley to a truly amazing discovery, which elevated the story to another level entirely. I literally burst into tears at the end, when something was revealed that I wasn’t expecting. I love when books hit me with an emotional punch like this. It doesn’t happen very often, but when it does, I know I’ve found a very special book. Big thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Mike

    This book was bizarre (in a good way). It was my first Cat Valente book, and it certainly has me curious to read more of her stuff. I’d call it almost, but not quite, a New Weird dystopia. Throw in a completely nonlinear approach to telling the story, along with some episodes where the narrator tells you what she would have *liked* to have happened (but doesn’t specify that until afterwards), and the whole thing left my head spinning in a manner reminiscent of *Catch-22*. It’s set in the future, This book was bizarre (in a good way). It was my first Cat Valente book, and it certainly has me curious to read more of her stuff. I’d call it almost, but not quite, a New Weird dystopia. Throw in a completely nonlinear approach to telling the story, along with some episodes where the narrator tells you what she would have *liked* to have happened (but doesn’t specify that until afterwards), and the whole thing left my head spinning in a manner reminiscent of *Catch-22*. It’s set in the future, when the Earth has warmed and the seas have risen to the point where the entire surface has been covered with water. Our protagonist is Tetley (named after the tea), a resident of Garbagetown. Garbagetown is a floating island made of literal trash, where people survive on the remnants of the civilization that wrecked the planet. Tetley is an optimist, a very happy person (she insists) and life in Garbagetown is just *amazing* even if no one appreciates it like her, especially all her neighbors who regularly beat her and whom she then has to thank for their instruction. This book is chock full of social commentary on consumer culture, broadly defined. I certainly felt keenly aware that I was reading the book on my Kindle, or sometimes my phone if it was more convenient, in a comfortably air conditioned house. The literal trash of our society is enough to sustain Garbagetown for generations. And yet the citizens of Garbagetown have learned very little. They dream of a future where dry land will emerge, and where they can all have plenty of food and air conditioning and gerbils and medicine and cars and jacuzzis (most of them aren’t sure what a jacuzzi is, but it sure sounds nice). As Valente said in the afterward, “The oceans can erase our cities, but they cannot drown our existential malaise. That shit’s waterproof.” The cover quotes Ken Liu as calling this book “The *Candide* of our #@$*%?! age,” and I think that’s a better comparison than anything I can come up with.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Milana M (acouplereads)

    Welcome to Garbagetown, the most magical place on Earth where you can love and hate someone 66% the time. Where you can find anything left by the Fuckwits of old times, from batteries and lightbulbs in Electric City to sports equipment in Sportington Gap. Tetley is Garbagetowns most beloved resident, but only she knows that. When Tetley discovers a secret it’ll upend her entire life. I absolutely loved Tetley, a character that’s dark and off beat but full of hope and wonder. I loved how as a read Welcome to Garbagetown, the most magical place on Earth where you can love and hate someone 66% the time. Where you can find anything left by the Fuckwits of old times, from batteries and lightbulbs in Electric City to sports equipment in Sportington Gap. Tetley is Garbagetowns most beloved resident, but only she knows that. When Tetley discovers a secret it’ll upend her entire life. I absolutely loved Tetley, a character that’s dark and off beat but full of hope and wonder. I loved how as a reader you’re discovering Garbagetown, getting to know Tetley and unravelling the mystery of whether Garbagetown exists solely on its own. The character development was incredible and moving in a way some 400 page novels aren’t. Valente’s writing is reminiscent to me of her Fairyland middle grade novels I adore. The Past Is Red had that same eerie quirkiness to it with a loveable main character. No sentence is wasted in this novella, each one adds meaning and depth to the story’s overarching meaning. The Past Is Red is science fiction but it’s not far from reality. In fact it’s a very real possibility because guess what we have our own Garbagetown floating in the ocean right now. Valente, just like I, was horrified by The Great Pacific Garbage Patch (I did my 4th year thesis on for a class in University), and the events of this novella was inspired by our own trash heap. If you haven’t heard of this google it. Valente brings a truly horrific possibility to life in The Past Is Red in their dark, quirky and magical style. An absolute gut punch of a book with a character I’ll never forget. Thank you @tordotcompub for sending me an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review, 5✨. Check out @acouplereads on bookstagram!

  20. 5 out of 5

    Katherine

    If you’re looking for science fiction that will reach into your chest and grab onto your heart, you can always depend on Cat Valente. Decades after the Polar Ice Caps melt, Tetley Abednego lives in Garbagetown, a floating patch of garbage that has been shaped into its own continent. This book brings joy to a future that feels bleak, and grapples with how fragile hope is. Like much of Valente’s work, this book perfectly balances wit and humor with lines that made me put the book down and stare at If you’re looking for science fiction that will reach into your chest and grab onto your heart, you can always depend on Cat Valente. Decades after the Polar Ice Caps melt, Tetley Abednego lives in Garbagetown, a floating patch of garbage that has been shaped into its own continent. This book brings joy to a future that feels bleak, and grapples with how fragile hope is. Like much of Valente’s work, this book perfectly balances wit and humor with lines that made me put the book down and stare at the wall. You won’t want to miss out on this journey through a post-apocalyptic wasteland.

  21. 5 out of 5

    mary ❀

    5 Stars. Everyone says they only hate me because I annihilated hope and butchered our future, but I know better, and anyway, it's a lie. Some people are just born to be despised. The Loathing of Tetley began small and grew bigger and bigger, like the Thames, until it swallowed me whole. Every time I start wondering if I really love Valente's writing as much as I think I do, and after reading this I can just say: it's a resounding yes. The novella actually begins with a short story from a past coll 5 Stars. Everyone says they only hate me because I annihilated hope and butchered our future, but I know better, and anyway, it's a lie. Some people are just born to be despised. The Loathing of Tetley began small and grew bigger and bigger, like the Thames, until it swallowed me whole. Every time I start wondering if I really love Valente's writing as much as I think I do, and after reading this I can just say: it's a resounding yes. The novella actually begins with a short story from a past collection called The Future Is Blue. The rest of the story is kind of a ten years later type thing with Tetley looking back. Valente's writing is lush and lyrical like always. The relentlessly optimistic Tetley lives in a post-apocalyptic world in a place called Garbagetown. But everyone there hates her. What's left for humanity once you destroy hope?

  22. 5 out of 5

    Holly (The GrimDragon)

    Review to come!

  23. 5 out of 5

    Justine Barr

    Wow. I laughed and I teared up several times as I followed Tetley through this strange and beautiful post-natural disaster world (caused by humans and their stupidy, of course). Can I just start this over again because I am not ready to leave Garbagetown yet!

  24. 5 out of 5

    Toya (the reading chemist)

    This was such a fantastic surprise of a story. The MC Tetley was by far my favorite. I will say, if curse words offend you, you'll want to pass. Otherwise, strap in for one hell of a ride. This was such a fantastic surprise of a story. The MC Tetley was by far my favorite. I will say, if curse words offend you, you'll want to pass. Otherwise, strap in for one hell of a ride.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Dani

    Catherynne M. Valente is a certified weirdo. And I say this in the best way possible because every one of her books flips me upside down and tosses my brain into a whirlpool of strange imagination sauce. I love her. I love the way she builds worlds and spins metaphors and flourishes the quirks of her peculiar characters. This book is a magnificent and melancholic story that leans on the whole "humans destroyed earth because of their selfish fuckwit ways and now we live in a post-apocalyptic nigh Catherynne M. Valente is a certified weirdo. And I say this in the best way possible because every one of her books flips me upside down and tosses my brain into a whirlpool of strange imagination sauce. I love her. I love the way she builds worlds and spins metaphors and flourishes the quirks of her peculiar characters. This book is a magnificent and melancholic story that leans on the whole "humans destroyed earth because of their selfish fuckwit ways and now we live in a post-apocalyptic nightmare purgatory situation for the unforseeable future" thing while also bringing in AI and the real-life Great Pacific Garbage Patch the size of Texas and a little hopeless love story between hopeful lovers. Mmm. So good. Tetley, the mesmerizing and somehow optimistic, deeply maltreated outcast of Garbagetown is one of my favorite characters I've experienced this year, and ever. I want more of her and more of her story!! I listened to this on audio and the narrator Penelope Rawlins is easily one of the best I've ever had the pleasure of listening to. The accent brought Tetley's personality and the entirety of Garbagetown to life. I absolutely adored the level of voice acting that went into this audio production. 5 stars! Wherever Catherynne Valente goes, I will follow!

  26. 4 out of 5

    Caitlin

    I don’t think I will ever not be in awe of Catherynne M. Valente’s incredible writing or her beautifully bonkers (and scarily wise) imagination. Or how in this case the world she has created is both a warning of an all too real future that feels more imminent and more terrifying every day, but one that is also strangely, impossibly (emphasis on impossibly) hopeful?? even in the midst of what can only be one of the worst possible (key word possible 😬) futures imaginable for our planet?? HOW she p I don’t think I will ever not be in awe of Catherynne M. Valente’s incredible writing or her beautifully bonkers (and scarily wise) imagination. Or how in this case the world she has created is both a warning of an all too real future that feels more imminent and more terrifying every day, but one that is also strangely, impossibly (emphasis on impossibly) hopeful?? even in the midst of what can only be one of the worst possible (key word possible 😬) futures imaginable for our planet?? HOW she pulls this off is a miracle, but she does!! Cause she is magic!! This hopefulness is of course due entirely to the resilient, infinitely precious narrator, Tetley, who in my opinion deserves to be immortalized alongside the likes of Anne Shirley and beyond. She is an absolute marvel of the highest degree. For such a short book, it has such a huge impact, and brought up such a tide of emotion by the end that I plan to treat this story like the wake up call it is while also cherishing the absolute treasure that is Tetley for all time. Also, I HIGHLY recommend the audiobook experience - the narrator Penelope Rawlins might be the best narrator I’ve ever had the joy of listening to. The way she brought the story to life and the insanely amazing voices she gave the characters - AH perfection!

  27. 5 out of 5

    Books.and.Salt

    ⭐🗑5-star review🗑⭐ In this near-ish future dystopia Tetley Abednego lives in Garbagetown, an island floating across the now-drowned Earth. While most inhabitants spend their lives seeking more, Tetley sees nothing but hope and beauty amongst the trash that the historical Fuckwits left behind. 🌊 I loved everything about this audiobook. The world building is mind-blowingly creative and the characters were all so unique. The narrator had a thick Scottish accent which made terms like "Muder Cunt" sou ⭐🗑5-star review🗑⭐ In this near-ish future dystopia Tetley Abednego lives in Garbagetown, an island floating across the now-drowned Earth. While most inhabitants spend their lives seeking more, Tetley sees nothing but hope and beauty amongst the trash that the historical Fuckwits left behind. 🌊 I loved everything about this audiobook. The world building is mind-blowingly creative and the characters were all so unique. The narrator had a thick Scottish accent which made terms like "Muder Cunt" sound just THAT much better - I think her narration added so much enjoyment to the story. Tetley's positivity and humor despite being in terrible situations was contagious. The author injected so much joy, hope, and hilarity into such a bleak tale. Thought-provoking and meaningful, I think all of us Fuckwits need to give this novella a read. 😊 I gave this book 5 stars on my Goodreads. Many thanks to NetGalley for providing me with a digital copy in exchange for my honest review

  28. 4 out of 5

    Metaphorosis

    4.5 stars, Metaphorosis Reviews Summary Tetley Abednego lives on the only solid surface around - Garbagetown, formed from a great patch of garbage in what used to be the Pacific, but is now just one big world ocean. She's a girl with principles and determination, and when she acts to save Garbagetown's resources from waste, she's willing to pay the price, with a smile on her face. Review My average book rating is just about 3.0, and I sometimes wonder how that is, when I feel I’m giving so many b 4.5 stars, Metaphorosis Reviews Summary Tetley Abednego lives on the only solid surface around - Garbagetown, formed from a great patch of garbage in what used to be the Pacific, but is now just one big world ocean. She's a girl with principles and determination, and when she acts to save Garbagetown's resources from waste, she's willing to pay the price, with a smile on her face. Review My average book rating is just about 3.0, and I sometimes wonder how that is, when I feel I’m giving so many books 2 or 2.5 star ratings. The answer is books like this one. I know little about Catherynne Valente; I liked one of her stories in an anthology once, and have read one or two others. Still, I’ve heard the name often enough that I was interested to pick up this novella. While it’s technically in two parts, they read as an integrated whole. Tetley Abednego, the protagonist of the book, has a fun, but unusual voice, and I feared I’d tire of it before the end of the book, but I never did (here, the book’s short span may work in its favor). She’s a relentless optimist in a truly trashy world, and – aside from a muddled sequence here or there – a delight to spend time with, even when very bad things are happening to and around her. The central romantic element of the story doesn’t quite work, and the love interest’s back story doesn’t quite make sense, but the story as a whole does work and does make sense, largely due to Tetley’s quirky personality. Valente has envisioned a depressing world, but her protagonist is so upbeat that you tend to forget about it, in part because – as Valente points out in an afterword – this is the world Tetley knows and accepts. The fact that it’s a world devastated by ‘fuckwits’ (that’s us) doesn’t really bother her. In short, this is a fun book. Read it. I’ve got some more of Valente’s writing on my TBR shelf, and I’m looking forward to getting it down. I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.

  29. 4 out of 5

    etherealacademia

    "The Past Is Red" is a phenomenal exploration of climate change. In it, the author imagines a future in which the Earth as we know it has long been submerged as a result of global warming. When the sea swallowed the land, most surviving humans took refuge on a giant, floating patch of trash known as Garbagetown. Our narrator, Tetley Abednego, is born generations after this event takes place, and as a result, she is entirely accustomed to life in Garbagetown. The strange, post-apocalyptic domain "The Past Is Red" is a phenomenal exploration of climate change. In it, the author imagines a future in which the Earth as we know it has long been submerged as a result of global warming. When the sea swallowed the land, most surviving humans took refuge on a giant, floating patch of trash known as Garbagetown. Our narrator, Tetley Abednego, is born generations after this event takes place, and as a result, she is entirely accustomed to life in Garbagetown. The strange, post-apocalyptic domain she inhabits is at once horrible and beautiful, and we, as readers, are introduced to both of these aspects through Tetley's eyes. Tetley herself is an extremely likeable character, and her personal journey is so interesting to follow. This novel is satirical, witty, heartbreaking, and hopeful. Valente really captures what it means to be human. "The Past Is Red" was one of my most anticipated reads for 2021. It exceeded my expectations by far, and I'll be recommending it to everyone I know. I'm so grateful to Tor and Netgalley for granting me access to the e-arc.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Megan Bell

    Tetley lives on a floating patch of trash (much like the Great Pacific Garbage Patch that exists here and now), the only solid ground left on a flooded earth. Tetley’s not alone but she is the only one who knows the simple, vital, and lifesaving truth that Garbagetown is the most wonderful place in the world. The Past Is Red is an electrifying parable for this era of climate change, as bitterly optimistic and cheerfully furious as this dire hour demands. All that, and its hilarious and heroic pr Tetley lives on a floating patch of trash (much like the Great Pacific Garbage Patch that exists here and now), the only solid ground left on a flooded earth. Tetley’s not alone but she is the only one who knows the simple, vital, and lifesaving truth that Garbagetown is the most wonderful place in the world. The Past Is Red is an electrifying parable for this era of climate change, as bitterly optimistic and cheerfully furious as this dire hour demands. All that, and its hilarious and heroic protagonist is sure to steal that gorgeous garbage patch in your chest you call a heart. Read for January 2021 Bookland Challenge for Fantasy: New Release (but this is actually post-apocalyptic speculative science fiction).

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