Thursday, May 14, 2015

Book Review: The Predictions by Bianca Zander

Media Type: Print Book (ARC)
Title: The Predictions
Author: Bianca Zander
Publisher: William Morrow
Pages: Paperback; 400
Release Date: May 5, 2015
Source: Publisher / TLC Book Tours
Genre: General Fiction

HDB Rating: 3 Keys to My Heart

Recommended to: Readers who are interested in the life of a young girl who grew up in a commune, and the life she goes on to lead as an adult.

Add it on: Goodreads | Amazon | BookLikes
From the author of the acclaimed The Girl Below comes a stunning novel of one woman’s attempt to outrun the destiny that is predicted for her, moving from a remote New Zealand commune in the waning days of 1970s free-love experimentation to the heady music scene of 1980s London.

Gaialands, a bucolic vegan commune in the New Zealand wilderness, is the only home fifteen-year-old Poppy has ever known. It’s the epitome of 1970s counterculture—a place of free love, hard work, and high ideals…at least in theory. The reality is complicated and sometimes fraught, especially as its children reach adolescence. Poppy is drawn to handsome sixteen-year-old Lukas, who’s increasingly skeptical of Gaialands and the adults who shape its rules.

To help ‘heal’ the commune’s energy, new arrival Shakti harnesses her divination powers in a Predictions ceremony. All of Gaialands’ teenagers receive a card outlining their futures. Poppy, predicted to find her true love overseas, joins Lukas when he follows his dream of starting a punk rock band first in Auckland and then on to London, where punk has given way 80s pop and hair metal. Struggling simply to survive as they navigate the city’s squats, pubs, and burgeoning clubs, she and Lukas drift apart. Poppy finds a life that looks very like the one her prediction promised, but is it the one she truly wants? And if not, can she define her own happiness, even if it takes her in unanticipated directions?

The Predictions is a mesmerizing, magical novel of fate, love, mistakes, and finding your place.

So, truth be told, I'm still not entirely sure where I stand with The Predictions. When I saw the synopsis, the word "commune" jumped out at me. I've always had a fascination with communes and cults. Obviously they aren't the same thing, but the simple idea of living together with so many other people, of relying on all those people, fascinates me. What is it like? I hoped this book might tell me.

Now, and this is entirely my fault, I didn't quite grasp the fact that Bianca Zander's book focused on a New Zealand commune in the 1970's. Not only was I out of my element in terms of the era, but some of the wording caught me off guard too. It took me almost 50 pages to finally sink into Poppy's world. To see the commune as more than just a group of strangers. I found myself with that weird dilemma of not exactly feeling connected, but still wanting desperately to try.

That being said, once Poppy left the commune and fled to London I was thrilled. This was the portion of the book that I really enjoyed. Watching her come into her own. Following her as she would seek out love, make mistakes, and just live her life. Zander did a great job weaving together Poppy's past and present. It was a wonderful reminder that we never truly leave our old selves behind.

While the ending wasn't as satisfying as I would have liked, overall The Predictions ended up being a solid read. I'd never read a book like this before. The concepts of communal breastfeeding, and public nudity made this an interesting ride for me. I like pushing against those comfortable reading walls I hide in sometimes though, and so I'm glad I gave this a shot.

FTC Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for my opinion.


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