My first review on this blog was very negative. It was what would be called in fanfic circles a flamer. But when I clicked publish on that review I couldn’t put it to rest even though I still think that my complaints about the book are legitimate. There is more that I can say about DePierres’s sci-fi western, and they aren’t criticisms.
1. Virgin Jackson is a terrible misanthrope. Just awful. Despite her constant grandstanding about how much she hates everyone except for Benny, her horse, and her hot blonde foreign correspondant best friend Cora, and how she would always rather be alone and no one can be trusted (on this point she is almost entirely vindicated)- she spends the entire book being actually quite nice. She meets her boyfriend (she tries and fails to use the term lover as a distancing term) Heart while out having a girls night with a coworker who is isolated because of her unconventional looks and lifestyle. When she discovers that the restauranteur who was close friends with her father has a hobby bdsm room set up in his attic and is having an affair with his head waitress, Virgin wishes them the best of luck. Even Totes, the weird doll obsessed IT guy at Birimun park, Virgin treats with dignity that other characters deny him. I blasted her in my previous review for precisely this because she continues to give him the benefit of the doubt after she finds out he is stalking her. But before she finds out, her tolerance is more commendable.
Even though I could make more trouble for myself by observing that while Virgin pitched a veritable fit over being lumped in with Native American Nate Sixkiller and yet had no such issuse accepting assistance from White South African mercenary Hamish, I won’t. I recognise that they entered Virgin’s life in very different contexts. Sixkiller’s introduction as her new partner was a catalyst for destabilisation, happening when Virgin was comparatively in control of the sitiation and definitely in her comfort zone. Hamish, on the other hand, was a white knight in a sedan in a moment of almost certain death, and he was not tied to her in any authoritarian sense, he literally disappeared when he was no longer needed.
2. In reading Peacemaker I made a shameful mistake of not reading any significance into the (artificial) Birimun park and the Mojave (the last natural) deserts. I just thought yeah, ok, western= desert. And I was wrong. The book doesn’t mention any ecological disasters. There’s no talk about climate change apart from metropolitan pollution. The rainforests didn’t die. We cut them down to make room for more apartment buildings and malls. The significance of the desert in a world like Peacemaker’s is that it is empty. You can look to the horizon and see no one and nothing except maybe some spinifex. You can stand and breathe and think without being pressed against any other people, witbout being crammed into the tiny space of your apartment. You can yell or be silent. In Virgin’s world it is the last remaining place of freedom.
That is my favourite thing about Peacemaker. The image of Virgin, on her horse Benny, staring out at the purples and oranges of the sunset and taking a deep breath as she savours the last moments of peace and quiet before re-entering the city.