So, I was checking out books from the library here a couple weeks ago, and turned around to see the latest, brand-spanking new Orson Scott Card book staring at me. "Get me! Get me!" it said. So, I did. And it sat, patiently waiting, on my nightstand until I was done with all the other books.
I've had a long and troubled relationship with Card. Some of his books, I adore. Some, I can't stand. I've found that he's gotten much much too preachy in his later life, and that I, as a general rule, enjoy his earlier stuff better. So, I came to this one without much hope for it being very good.
Thankfully, I didn't let that stop me from reading this book. It's excellent. Which really surprised me. It takes from Midsummer Night's Dream, and runs with it. It's set in Baldwin Hills, a middle-upper-class black neighborhood in LA. Mack Street just appears in a grocery bag, out of supposedly nowhere. And is raised by a single woman in the neighborhood and her next-door neighbor's youngest son. After a few years, Mack starts having what he refers to as "cold dreams": the deepest wishes of his neighbors. The problem is, when he dreams them, they come true, but in a really twisted way. He grows up, discovers Puck, Titania and his role in the whole good versus evil of the play.
Pretty simple, but there are a lot of fun twists and references here. And yes, Card gets preachy, but ironically, he puts the words into the mouth of a preacher (and a fairy queen) so they don't sound out of place. At least to me. And amazingly, the ending held up. Not quite what I expected, but it worked, and was satisfying.
My only complaint is that sometimes the plot seems a bit convoluted, and I had to re-read sections over. It didn't bother me, though, in the long run. And I would be curious to know what black people thought of Card's portrayal of them. It didn't interfere with my enjoyment of the book, but I'm sure someone out there will call Card on it. After all, he's a white, Mormon writer from North Carolina.