The Fiction Fox
Review: Natural Law - Solomonica de Winter
Published: Prometheus, October 2022
My Rating: 2/5 stars
As a Dutchy myself, who reads and writes almost exclusively in English from the age of 13, I knew I had to read this book as soon as I heard about it. Natural Law is a sci-fi/dystopian epos, written in English by Dutch author Solomonica de Winter, to be published on the Dutch/Belgian market. Not only am I very excited to see multi-lingual reading becoming more and more popular amongst young adults, I also feel the author deserves a lot of praise for this feat of writing in her second language, regardless of the quality of the book itself.
Unfortunately, the book itself didn’t work for me, and I ended up DNF-ing it around the 65%-mark. The story follows Gaia, a 17-year old lone-survivor, outcast and the last “mutant” of her kind in a post-apocalyptic New America. In a dystopian wasteland where the written world is outlawed, Gaia embarks on a quest to find the last written text in existence, all the while outrunning different adversaries who would like to see her dead.
Whilst the set-up and concept are interesting, the story failed me in terms of execution. The story feels very similar to early 2010-dystopia’s like The Hunger Games, so much so that it lacks a little identity of its own. Additionally, the quick jumps in time and place in the narrative quickly become disjointed and disorienting, and make for a frankly unpleasant reading-experience.
My biggest problem with the novel unfortunately lies in the writingstyle. Although I commend the author for her grasp of a second language, the writingstyle was absolutely grating and borderline unreadable. De Winter writes in an unnaturally overwritten, almost biblical tone, that often feels like the original text was put through a thesaurus. I can’t quite tell if this was deliberate or not, but regardless, it made this book a chore to read.
Overall: two stars and a massive compliment to a Dutch publisher and young author branching out into a different language then their own. As a standalone novel however, this would’ve been closer to a 1-star book for me.
Find this book here on Goodreads.