I just finished SIP. I don’t really know what I just read. It was written in such lyrical prose that I had a hard time following it. I did catch the gist of the story, but it was problematic for me.
This is the story of Mira, who has a shadow sipping friend named Murk. In the this dystopian story set in the future, the country is divided into those who sip shadows and those who don’t. It started with a boy who discovered he could get high by sipping his own shadow. When that shadow was gone, he set out to steal other living beings(¹) shadows and the sipping sickness spread.
Except a very few like Mira who have learned to hide their shadow, most non shadow sippers carry guns in an effort to keep the dome they live in free of the sickness. Mira’s own mother’s shadow was stolen years ago and so Mira must find and catch living shadows so her mother can sleep. It isn’t fair. When Mira and Murk find an ex-domer, named Bale, they set out together to find a mythological cure that must be found before Hailey’s Comet come, and it is on it’s way.
This book starts off as a straight out story. We are following Mira in her daily struggle to find shadow for her mother. Here we learn so much about the sipping sickness and what it does to those who are effected. Mira is capable of hiding her shadow but how and why are never revealed.
Mira gets this idea to maybe kill herself by trying to cross the tracks that lead to the dome. The tracks are heavily guarded by Domers who don’t want any sippers to get to them, so they shoot on site, and shoot to kill, any who attempt to cross the tracks. Mira isn’t shot by a domer named Bale, who becomes an ex-domer for that act (of not shooting her).
I understood Bale and Mira, but Murk made very little sense to me in this story. We do learn how he became a sipper but he was a hanger-on drug addict that didn’t do much to move the story forward.
The story moves from Mira’s residence at home with her mother, to the “City of Lost Souls”. This is where the story gets a little crooked. There we meet so many new and weird characters. We are also introduced to seemingly random vigilantes from the dome who are either there to kill or save Bale, I am still not sure.
The boss of the city is a man who runs machines that keep limbs alive long enough for their shadows to be sipped on a daily basis, for a price. In the city all three of our characters find what they are looking for and a lot of trouble.
I did say living things right? The shadows don’t have to do anything but be attached to a living thing. The characters talk about sipping from animals but this made me wonder about trees and plants, and even grass since it too can cast shadow and live or die. Maybe I am reading too much into this fictional story. Rules are rules though, so if an author breaks them I do expect some sort of explanation.
I enjoyed parts of this story. I didn’t like the lack of descriptive details setting the scenes for me. We get vague information, like the rind of a grapefruit is bitter, but that was not enough for me to really see this story. There was also banter between characters that did nothing but annoy me. Like the vigilante girls, one of whom tells stories but is as dumb as a rock. While the other girl is just so mean to this stupid girl.
Looking back now, I see this novel was just not something I should have read. I had so many issues with it, but it had a cool concept and I had to give it points for originality. It is almost like the author just wanted to tell the story and let the reader figure out the details for themselves. This takes guts, I think. I got through this whole book because, behind all my complaints, there was a kind of cool story. I wouldn’t say this was a waste of time either, because there is definitely an audience for this style of writing. It just wasn’t for me.
Sip by Brian Allen Carr
Published by Soho Press on August 29th 2017
Genres: Fiction, Literary, Science Fiction, Action & Adventure, Apocalyptic & Post-Apocalyptic
eARC provided by Soho Press
"It started with a single child, and quickly spread: you could get high by drinking your own shadow. At night, lights were destroyed so that addicts could sip shadow in the pure light of the moon. Gangs of shadow addicts chased down children on playgrounds, rounded up old ladies from retirement homes. Cities were destroyed and governments fell. If your shadow was consumed by addicts, you were forced to sip shadows yourself, or go mad. Now it is 150 years later, and what's left of the world is divided between the highly regimented life of those inside dome-cities that are protected from natural light, and those forced to the dangerous, hardscrabble life in the wilds outside. In rural Texas, Mira hunts shadow from animals for her bedridden, sleepless mother. Her shadow-addicted friend Murk hobbles across the blasted landscape on his wooden leg, molding himself on the image of Jim Morrison he saw on an ancient Doors record. Bale, a former Domer thrown in to exile, joins with them, and together they search for a possible mythological cure to the shadow sickness--but they must do so, it is said, before the return of Halley's Comet, which is only days away"--