Book Club Edition: Charlinder’s Greatest Hits

This is actually the post where I reveal everything about the Book Club Edition. I’ve shined up the interior formatting, especially for the print version, I wrote up a discussion guide, I added a little bit to the Author’s Notes, and I have put a new cover on the book. For those who love Venessa’s artwork, it can still be found in the book, just after the title page.

However, I can’t show you the discussion guide without giving SPOILERS, and I hate spoilers, so I’m not very well going to spoil my book. There’s only so far you can get in discussing a book you haven’t read. For the most part, I’m going to round up my favorites from the virtual book tour we did in May.

I want you to read ALL of these reviews, but here are some edited highlights.

Eric Swett at My Writers Cramp

The author takes the reader on an atypical journey through a genre that has become even more popular as of late. It would have been easy to make the story about the journey itself, the hardships of walking such a great distance, but she chooses to make the story about the people and the societies that Charlinder meets on his quest to discover the great truth that has plagued his village since its founding.

Laura Roberts at Black Heart Magazine

In Alyson’s imaginary world, daily life as we know it has been destroyed, but the universe keeps on chugging along as it always will. The people in Charlinder’s village have reverted to a more agrarian lifestyle, keeping chickens for eggs and sheep for milk and wool, though they do not raise animals for slaughter. If they want to eat meat, they must hunt and kill it themselves. This “simpler” form of life keeps the members of his community busy for most of the day, with plenty of physical tasks that farmers have performed around the world for centuries. While this lifestyle may seem desireable, even preferable to big-city life, it is quite a lot of work—especially for people who are used to being able to use technology to get through their day. Would we big-city dwellers, indeed, be able to survive in Charlinder’s world?

Jo Bryant at Chronicles of Illusions has fabulous things to say about the supporting characters.

It’s a very long walk.

There are some great characters in this book. Personally I loved Charlinder’s Uncle Roy. Any man who would send a young man off on his walk half way around the world with a sheep as a companion is the type of character I love.

Queen Anne’s Lace, Lacey for short (the sheep), provides Charlinder with exactly the type of side-kick he needs. Their relationship on the journey also provides a lot of the humour in the book, as well as a lot of insight in to Charlinder’s character.

Martha at Martha’s Bookshelf asks me some great questions, such as:

Please share with us one surprising thing about your experience writing Charlinder’s Walk, or about something else related to your career as a writer.

A memory that jumps out is how the comparison—which is not spoken out loud, but sort of left in plain sight in the text—between Charlinder and Marietta’s son George. It didn’t really occur to me until I was writing the conversation, and this parallel took shape before my eyes. I liked the comparison, so I ran with it.

Inga Silberg at Me and Reading:

After he starts his “pilgrimage” the pace of the book picks up and the reader finds out how the world looks like through the eyes of Charlinder. These parts were the most interesting for me, because the descriptions of the surroundings were captivating and engaging.

During his walk Charlinder meets a girl named Gentiola who opens Charlinder’s eyes on many different levels. Charlinder finds out, that nothing is as it seemed and that you have to be careful what you wish for – it can be unexpected, unwanted and lead you to something different what you searched for.

I think that the strong side of the book was Charlinder himself. His thoughts and how he experienced the world, what he saw and how he acted actually created the whole book. Author did an excellent work with Charlinder’s character.

Kristin at Live to Read:

This book explores many issues through an interesting plot.  A plague decimated the human population in 2012, and now, in 2130, the survivors still do not know why.  Charlinder is the hero of this novel.  He leaves the safety of his home to learn why the world ended.  On his journey he explores issues such as religion and family and learns more about the world that surrounds him than he expected. The character is easy to connect to, though sometimes he is hard to fully understand.  This is not a book that one finishes in one sitting, but the book will remain fresh in the readers’ mind after completion.

Charlinder’s Walk is a book that makes the reader consider important issues and reflect.  Miers’ detail and use of description are excellent.  Her writing is attentive and draws readers into the world she created.

Best Blog Entry according to Novel Publicity is from Kriss Morton at Cabin Goddess:

I am giving this book FIVE stars on the writing and complexity of a tale that flows so well and so beautifully. For the different voices that spoke to me and I could hear. For poetic beauty she wove throughout the book. From a personal rating, I am giving it THREE, not because it is not a good book, it is amazingly written. As stated, the story is well constructed. the cultural questions, religious questions and all the sociological implications are spot on. My reasons are exactly that, just like my religion.

I recommend this read to anyone who wants a really good thought-provoking read. I would recommend this for a book club read because I spent hours talking about this with my fiance. I would recommend this to my elder children to read and question. I would recommend this to people who have no hang-ups like me because it really is one heck of a book.  I would not recommend this book to any of my rabid pagan friends. I would not let anyone young read it because the sex scenes are just to graphic. Necessary to the story for sure but much and to graphic for a young adult read. It is well worth the cost of either paper back or ebook. Fair warning however, this is not a weekend read. This is a book that makes you think all 400+ pages of it. The only thing I would add to the book is a book club guide because as stated above this is a great book club book. Hmm maybe I should write one!

(Book club guide: written!)

Sean Keefer at The Trust Blog:

The overall premise of the book is actually quite refreshing. (Yes that’s an interesting choice of words when the end of the world is the topic, but Miers’ treatment of the subject is novel.)

I found the book to be a breath of fresh air in a genre that all to quickly can become cliché.  Using a little walk around the globe as a method to paint a canvas showing a possible society of the future is completely different and works quite well.

Go out and pick up a copy and give it a read.  Encourage a couple of friends to do the same. Aside from the well-crafted fiction you will find between the covers, you can rest assured that once you and your friends have finished, you will find yourself discussing the themes that Miers raises.  That, in my humble opinion, is what sets a book apart from the ordinary – wanting to talk about it when you are done.

Carrie at Views From Nature:

Charlinder is different from everyone else in his village. As a teacher, and from the way he was brought up he thinks about things in ways the rest of his village doesn’t quite get. I must admit that in the beginning of this story, based on how the character interacted with others, I assumed he was gay. Miers’ use of gender roles to help redefine this new world is thrown upside down when it comes to Charlinder. He does very few of the more traditional “male” jobs in the village. I was quite surprised at the point in the book where this assumption was proven wrong.

*cackles like an evil mofo* No, Charlinder is not gay, but I think it’s awesome that he can be perceived as such.

Lissette E. Manning:

Embarking on his quest, he never imagined the ordeals he’d encounter throughout his journey. Language barriers make it hard for him to understand those he comes across. Food is also scarce. With everything step he takes, he gets further and further away from his place of birth. Doubts and insecurities creep upon him as he treads along the path he’s set before him. Yet there’s one thing he’s sure of – he will get the answers he seeks, no matter the cost.

This was quite a thought-provoking book. Granted, it’s just fiction, but certain aspects of it make the reader wonder ‘What if?’ Heavily fortified with religious themes, the reader finds him/herself immersed in a world that’s very much possible in this day and age. Alyson has painted a very vivid picture of a world in which we’re able to feel each character pain and insecurities. We’re able to glean what the post-apocalyptic world is like through their eyes, as well as understanding the meaning behind the lessons that have been imposed throughout the book.

Ajoop at On Books!

Charlinder WALKS across three continents… that’s right, walks!… over the span of three years with only a sheep, Queen Anne’s Lace or Lacey for short as his companion. He does this by stopping by various villages at various points of time and meeting people from various cultures and communities with different beliefs about race, gender, sex and the Plague itself. By the time he quite literally finds the origin of it all, he wonders if the source of the problem was all he came for and if that alone is enough.

I loved everything about Alyson Miers’ Charlinder’s Walk because of the Walk itself. Charlinder’s journey wasn’t easy and I felt like I was there with him as he crossed several barriers, encountered several hardships, was confronted with so many different types of living and attitudes towards gender, division of labour, sex and life and that, in many ways, helped him grow and fully live up to his potential. I loved Charlinder, with his fondness for knitting, weaving and teaching and how he was bright, unusual and yet completely true to himself. I enjoyed getting to know him as he grew out of his old shoes, ragged from his travel, into newer and bigger ones.

I could appreciate Charlinder’s bond with Lacey, his sheep and only constant source of companionship, especially after Charlinder ventured into Eurasia where there was the language-barrier between him and the locals that presented a whole new challenge! I adored Lacey and grew extremely attached to her.

It was an amazing journey, especially the journey back to North America when I could feel the growth in him and how his experiences had caused him to question his role in the world rather than just the state of the world! It was a teary, difficult and realistically long journey and I loved the insights, details and richness of it!

I started reading Charlinder’s Walk at a photocopy shop, read a little on the bus on my way back from my summer internship and most of it at home on particularly sunny days. This book has traveled places and I loved every minute of my journey with it! Charlinder’s Walk was an extremely long read for me which made me appreciate the length and breadth of Charlinder’s walk even more. With a pleasant writing style, an engaging and diverse bunch of characters and the exploration of Charlinder’s inner struggle alongside the exploration of much broader themes, this is a book that will stay with me for a long time.

Becca Boucher at My Life with Boys and Books:

Charlinder still has to figure out how to communicate when he doesn’t know the language. And  figure out how to assimilate into alien cultures. Along the way he finds out he is stronger than he ever knew and far more valuable. When at home he questioned his role as the village teacher, on the road people marveled at the fact he could read and write. He learns that his world view might have been biased and formed on a one sided history, but that human nature stays the same across the miles.

When he meets the woman he has been searching for he can’t believe what he walked hundreds of miles to find out. Now that he has his answers what are the implications for his village and his friend’s fragile peace? How does he go on with the knowledge he received? He has to decided if the truth really matters. I was so excited by this sweet and amazing tale it’s hard to not to give too much away.

In fact, I loved this book. I wanted it to go on. And that’s saying a lot considering it was over 400 pages long. I was drawn in from the first chapter and Miers had me hooked. I love a good dystopian story, and hers was believable and relate-able.  And because of that somewhat scary in its plausibility.

Miers gives us a lot to think about. Through Charlinder, and the vast and varied cast  of supporting characters, we learn a lesson on how not to take the world and her resources for granted. We are forced to think about tolerance, the roles of society, and how things can change in a relatively short time. And a book that makes us think that deep is one to treasure. I wold love to see this book widely read. It is timely and well written. It showcases some of the best of indie writing and publishing. If you have read it, pass it along. That’s what Charlinder would have wanted.

Emlyn Chand:

Before you begin reading, you must understand that Charlinder is NOT a fast, plot-driven read, nor is it light. Do this book justice, take your time, and you will be left with a lot to think about. Few novels have struck me as such strong selections for book club discussion (and remember, I run a club with over 450 members, so I know a thing or two). You don’t have to search hard to find the themes or resort to conversations along the line of “who’s your favorite character?” or “what would have happened if Y instead of X?” The meaning is right there in front of you ready to be analyzed, contemplated, and enjoyed.

This book would be an EXCELLENT selection for a sociology class at either the undergraduate or graduate level. The over-arching question is not, what caused the plague, but rather what caused society to develop in the way it did, and what might happen in our real world if a similar epedemic set us back several centuries?

Oh, yes, this is a novel for thinking. With smooth prose and a few heart-wrenching moments, Charlinder’s Walk makes a fantastic read if you’re willing to take the time to thoroughly process it. Charlinder didn’t walk across the world in a day, nor can you read about his adventure in such a short period of time. Life isn’t about the destination, after all. Enjoy the journey; enjoy the read and the inevitable introspection that comes along with it. I did.

Kimberly at Turning the Pages:

Charlinder’s Walk was a fantastic read and one I enjoyed immensely. Alyson Miers did an excellent job in terms of character development. I really liked the whole cast of them because they seemed to jump off the page, the whole story did for me actually jumped off the page and I really felt as though I was there with Charlinder as he was on his journey of self discovery.

I thought the overall plot was great, because Miers went about writing a dystopian novel in such an awesome and unique way. I was totally blown away by the way in which she wrote the whole novel. From the first page I was completely drawn into Charlinder’s post plague world. I think that the author Alyson Miers is an amazing new talent and I wish more people were aware of her book because it is was a thrilling read. I hope she continues writing since she certainly has a gift for the written word.

 

Now, what exactly is this book about, you may ask? Here is the blurb which can be found on the back cover of the paperback edition now that I’ve made some adjustments:

In 2012, the Plague brought about the end of the world. In 2130, Charlinder wants to know why when his village begins to fight over the Plague’s origin. Was it a natural event, or did God punish humanity for its sins?

Unwilling to wait for matters to get any worse, and never having been more than ten miles from home, he decides to walk across three continents to find the site of the Plague’s origin and bring the true story home.

In the two and a half years it takes him to get there, he learns how shocking his village’s culture seems to outsiders while the settlements along the way force him to grapple with questions of family, religion, education, sexuality, hierarchy and interdependence. He survives thousands of miles of language barriers, hunger and disaster before he meets Gentiola.

Nothing could have prepared him for the tale of madness, ecology and fanaticism that he learns from her. His place in the world is a question he will ask for the first time.