Goliath by Tochi Onyebuchi

Rate: 3/5

Medium: ebook (ARC)

Overview (No Spoilers)

Earth being poisoned, ultimately forcing humanity to the stars has been a premise that I’ve read many, many times. Goliath shifts that conventional focus from the population escaping to the often neglected lives of those left behind. Race and poverty are major themes, as such, Goliath was jam-packed with righteous anger and cynicism. While this was in no way a fun read, some books are meant to be uncomfortable. When discussing this read with one of my fellow book lovers she sent me the following clip that captures why books like Goliath are so important. 

The premise of Goliath is fascinating. With the earth deemed too dangerous for routine life, the bulk of humanity escapes to the recently built space stations.The people left behind are given no choice about the matter and are forced, due to a lack of other work, into hard labor where they scavenge building materials from abandoned houses to ship up to the ever expanding stations. Also, due to being exposed to contaminated air constantly, even with the use of masks, the Earthers live short, hard lives. Now after a few generations have lived in the stations, people, mostly white, are now returning. And what started out as a trickle has become a flood, with gentrification in full force as the black residents are being forced out of their communities, along with an increase in government monitoring and brutal targeting by a mechanized police force. Additionally, with the return of the people from space, they bring with them comforts such as clean air bubbles that have been denied to the surface population, further stoking resentments.Tensions escalate throughout this heartbreaking book until violence overflows. 

I found the characters and world in Goliath to be excellent pieces that valiantly attempt to hold together an ever jumping timeline. I spent so much of this read thoroughly confused as to where I was in the story. Without prompting, some chapters utilize flashbacks while others jump forward in time before returning to the overall main story within the relative same timeframe, though sometimes this was also flexible. The flashbacks not only expand upon this intriguing and broken literary world but also fill out the backstories of the cast. That said, the backstories were often filled with gaps that left character’s stories incomplete or unresolved. Moreover, other flashbacks seemed to be totally unrelated side stories until the link to the main characters is passingly revealed. Even having finished Goliath, I would be hard-pressed to tell you exactly what happened and in what order. I have so many questions. 

Overall, Goliath was a thought-provoking read with a unique, heartbreaking take on the aftermath of humanity abandoning a planet they poisoned, though the ever-shifting timeline distracted from the flow of the read.

Additional Insight (Spoilers Abound)

  • I’m still so confused. I’m going to capture what I think happened, but I might have totally misunderstood the actual events.
  • Poor Bugs. His death was so very sad and unjust. 
  • Did Linc really kill the horses? How will Sydney take their loss?
  • Were Jonathan and David killed?
  • Bishop was so interesting, especially as we were given further glimpses of his story. 
  • Did Yale find Bishop?
  • Did David’s mother survive the surgery? 
  • Sydney was another character with a curious background. How did she survive after her father was killed? What happened to her sister Bambi?
  • We only really saw one city. Were returnees coming back all over the world? What happened in other cities or countries?
  • Mercede’s chapter talking about how public health and government monitoring might have been my favorite and one I wish would have been further elaborated upon.
  • Did Jonathan tell David about Eamonn?

Vocabulary Builder

Envenomed: to make poisonous

Sacaton: a coarse perennial grass (Sporobolus wrightii) of the southwestern U.S. that is used for forage especially in alkaline soils

Lacrimal: of, relating to, or marked by tears

Anisotropic: exhibiting properties with different values when measured in different directions

Puerile: juvenile

Apophenia: the tendency to perceive a connection or meaningful pattern between unrelated or random things (such as objects or ideas)

Effulgent: radiant splendor

Reticles: a scale on transparent material (as in an optical instrument) used especially for measuring or aiming

Aureate: of a golden color or brilliance

Cirrus: a slender usually flexible animal appendage or projection

Transmogrified: to change or alter greatly and often with grotesque or humorous effect

Loquaciousness: given to fluent or excessive talk

Purlieu: an outlying or adjacent district

Ambit: the bounds or limits of a place or district

Minims: something very minute

Ensanguined: to make bloody

Charnel: a building or chamber in which bodies or bones are deposited

Twilit: lighted by or as if by twilight

Verdure: the greenness of growing vegetation

Evanescing: to dissipate like vapor

Insouciance: lighthearted unconcern

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