Vagina Mundi by Wol-vriey
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
Disclaimer: Got this book free as part of Good Reads First Reads
You can take something horrible and push it so far that you move into the realm of absurdity. Some of my favorite media do this. Kill Bill takes violence to such ridiculous levels (with blood spurting everywhere) that it’s become no different than the cartoon violence of Tom and Jerry. (Which, if you forgot, has Tom being diced up, pumped full of bullet holes, blown up, and pretty much everything shy of decapitation) Or look at Mel Brooks taking something horrible like the Spanish Inquisition and making it OK to laugh at in History of the World Part 1. But you can push something so far that it goes back around to offensive again. I feel like that’s the problem with this book.
I knew I was in for a weird, surreal world from reading the description. But that seemed like a lot of fun. I like Monty Python; I like Douglas Adams. I definitely don’t have any issues with surreal. I think this status update really sums it up well: “The story seems to be Tex Avery meets Bashki which is pretty interesting.”
What made me uncomfortable was the incest, necrophilia, and Femina’s concert tea. Uncomfortable, but not bad.
But what really messed up the novel for me were the 4+ rapes.
I felt like it went from Bizaro to perhaps just intentionally trying to be provocative and missing the mark.
It’s a shame because I liked the overall plot and strange world that Wol-vriey creates. The hotel concept was great. It was also nice to never know what was possible. I liked that the main characters were gay and that wasn’t a big deal anywhere in the world. It was great that all the real main characters were women – but often the voice seemed to be a bit too male. I think it could have been 3 or 4 stars, but there’s all these rapes/molestations that don’t seem to have a point. Like I’d prefer not to have women in fridge moments, but rape happens and so if it were a formative thing rather than something that just happens over and over in this world, it wouldn’t have been so bad. It just seemed to detract from the overall message of the book of women empowerment. (Especially the way the characters dealt with it)
Generally speaking, my reviews have evolved to just what I thought – that’s it. I’m not thinking “I need ot make this x stars” for others. Goodreads says 2 stars is “it was ok” – that’s how I felt. If the description plus what I wrote seems compelling, go check it out, just know there’s a lot of rape – trigger warnings and all that.