Out of the Silent Planet by C.S. Lewis (The Space Trilogy #1) / ★★★☆☆
Summary: Ranson is kidnapped from Earth and brought the Malacandra, where he is to be used as a human sacrifice. He escapes and instead befriends the creatures of the planet- until the men who kidnapped him turn violently against them.
“And I say also this. I do not think the forest would be so bright, nor the water so warm, nor love so sweet, if there were no danger in the lakes.”
C.S. Lewis does this thing while I’m reading his books that makes me feel like I’m slogging through deep, mystifying waters, but the moment I reach the end and see the larger picture I think “Oh! That was brilliant.”
It took my three months to get through this 158 page book, the smallest book I’ve read this year. If a friend hadn’t told me to read it, I probably would have abandoned it, but I’m glad I made it all the way through. The reason this book has three stars was because this book is…deep, and its slow, and I slogged through the middle portion of it. My eyes skimmed over a lot of the explanatory world-building, but perhaps someone who enjoys aliens and sci-fi would have felt more involved in this book than I did. However, I really liked the ending, the allegorical nature of the story, and I loved the way it was framed. I didn’t see the “plot twist” at the end at all (though, again, someone more experienced with sci-fi might have have), and I loved it.
This book also had a fantastic element of dry wit to it. It would always crop up when I didn’t expect it, and it was nice to have during the rather slow, meandering story. I thought it provided a nice balance to the otherwise rather serious and involved nature of this book.
I really liked the main character, Ransom, and he was what immediately pulled me into this book. His narration was witty, curious, and kind, and I think had this book been told by a different point of view, I would have found this book more of a slog than I did.
C.S. Lewis’ writing is, and always has been, rather too dense for me, and I’ve never read anything of his speedily. But he ALWAYS gets me when I don’t expect it with a quote or a a moment that captures some wordless truth, one that always hits me in the chest and really makes me think. Lewis knows how to use words, and even though I find them a bit slow to get through, he shapes them beautifully.
Was I satisfied?
This book was slow for me to get through, I slogged through it for three months, but in the end Lewis hit me with the ending and I fell for the allegorical nature of his story. As always.