Friday, March 8, 2013

Review: The Inner City by Karen Heuler (2/5)

By Amanda Amaya

Full disclosure:  this is the first book that I have reviewed that I couldn’t make it halfway through.  Here is the synopsis:

Heuler’s stories dart out at what the world is doing and centre on how the individual copes with it. Anything is possible: people breed dogs with humans to create a servant class; beneath one great city lies another city, running it surreptitiously; an employee finds that her hair has been stolen by someone intent on getting her job; strange fish fall from trees and birds talk too much; a boy tries to figure out what he can get when the Rapture leaves good stuff behind. Everything is familiar; everything is different.

 Behind it all, is there some strange kind of design or merely just the chance to adapt? In Heuler’s stories, characters cope with the strange without thinking it’s strange, sometimes invested in what’s going on, sometimes trapped by it, but always finding their own way in.

I consider myself a fan of science fiction, horror and fantasy (the fantasy not so much).  But even with my open mind it was difficult to read this book.

This is a collection of short stories that seem to be about strange events, people, and animals.  The first story is somewhat intriguing, about a fish that talks and grants wishes, but it just ends.  I think there is some sort of allegory there, but I must have missed it.

Another of the stories I read, about a woman trying to get a job by just blending in, also seemed sort of an allegory with the main character essentially getting her brain rerouted.

The one story that I really liked, and it is described in the synopsis, is the story regarding a farm that raised a hybrid of dog and human as a servant class.  It was kind of creepy reading about how they built the humans (think a pig with rows of ears on it).  It was creepier reading about what the potential buyer wanted to do with his human/dog hybrid.  It was amusing reading the actions of the human/dog hybrid.  And again, it served as an allegory.

I really couldn’t make it much further in the book than halfway.  Most of the stories did not hold my attention, they were confusing and while the reader could clearly see the allegory in some of the stories, in others there seemed to be no point at all.  It was just odd stories.

I did like the way the Ms Heuler writes, and that, along with the dog story, is what earned this book a two star rating.

About the Reviewer:  Amanda was born in Texas, moved to Pittsburgh for 25 years, and now she’s back in the Lone Star State.  She has been a nurse for a decade.  She loves to read and will usually read anything.  She prefers to focus on self-published authors and may consider writing herself one day.  She is also a newlywed and a mom.  You can check out her work at the and on her blog The Eclectic Bookworm.


  1. Why the 2 stars?
    Books I can't make it through (and there are very few of them because if I think I'm not going to like a book I won't even start it) get 1 star at best.

  2. I recently had the same problem with another bit of modern science fiction. Although I finished the book, I had real difficulty understanding the plot. I wonder if this is a trend in modern sci-fi?

  3. That's too bad this was a letdown. It sounds like an odd collection.

  4. This book makes me want to be a better human! To love and embrace all the universe has to offer! I want to spread love and peace through, not only my words but my actions as well.

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