Reviews for A Nation of Two
Kitsilver chapter 1 . 8/26/2009
Detailed description is one of your strengths, but at times I'm tempted to skim it to get to something new. You show us with ice clogging the river, trees covered in snow, and earth frozen beneath mud that the world is indeed covered by ice, snow, and mud. But certain images, like mud and chapped lips and cold toes, seem to repeat. We see Florina's javelin pointing down, and then twitch in Lyn's peripheral vision, but don't need those details to know that she has a weapon. Florina glances around, narrows her eyes, and squints; it would have been enough to say she glanced around and squinted. The bird grieving over its dead mate is a powerful image, especially with the white stained with red, but its impact is lost in detail: stained with blood, or perhaps snow; wings half open, flapping; tips stained red, turn to slush at the sound of bird song (don't know what that means); pale breast; feathers soft and silky; eyes glinted in snow-light; beak opened and closed; wings snapped. Details are important, but I have to read it a few times to sift through the detail and get what is happening.

Your portrayal of Lyn and Florina, even in just a few lines of dialogue and their reactions to the bird, are well done. It's cute and funny how they interact in the beginning, teasing about bees and sisters. It is kind of odd for Lyn to wonder if Florina's sisters are as adorable as she is, since the sisters are older, but it doesn't detract much. The bit about Lorca grandmothers and dumplings makes me smile. The overall effect is innocence, warmth, and friendship. Then comes their reactions to the bird - Florina wanting to give the bird mercy and letting it live, while for Lyn giving the bird death *is* mercy - which says a lot about their different personalities. In many ways Florina is still a young girl, innocent and as unguarded to the harsh realities of the world as she is to the cold snow. But Lyn is very aware, both of the cold and of the painful future waiting for this bird, and chooses to kill it rather than let it suffer. When she says I'm sorry, I think she is sorry not for killing the bird, but for hurting Florina, who cannot understand. Florina doesn't reject Lyn, but still cant accept that what Lyn did was right.

So overall, I'd say too many details slow the pace and actually lessen the impact of certain images. Saying the same thing in fewer words, choosing certain details over others, may make the piece faster but still keep it richly detailed. No complaints about character, except for that one bit about what Florina's sisters. The bond between Lyn and Florina, and the differences in their natures, are clearly shown with few words and ring true.

In short, I like it. Lyn and Florina are two characters I have a soft spot for, and your writing style and faithfulness to their character make me want to read more. I hope you continue.