Book Review: The Seep

Chana Porter

Rating: 3 out of 5.

published: 19th January 2021
spoilers? nope


A blend of searing social commentary and speculative fiction, Chana Porter’s fresh, pointed debut is perfect for fans of Jeff VanderMeer and Carmen Maria Machado.

Trina Goldberg-Oneka is a trans woman whose life is irreversibly altered in the wake of a gentle—but nonetheless world-changing—invasion by an alien entity calling itself The Seep. Through The Seep, everything is connected. Capitalism falls, hierarchies and barriers are broken down; if something can be imagined, it is possible.

Trina and her wife, Deeba, live blissfully under The Seep’s utopian influence—until Deeba begins to imagine what it might be like to be reborn as a baby, which will give her the chance at an even better life. Using Seep-tech to make this dream a reality, Deeba moves on to a new existence, leaving Trina devastated.

Heartbroken and deep into an alcoholic binge, Trina chases after a young boy she encounters, embarking on an unexpected quest. In her attempt to save him from The Seep, she will confront not only one of its most avid devotees, but the terrifying void that Deeba has left behind.

Galley provided by publisher

It has been a few days now since I read The Seep and, in all honesty, I still don’t know exactly how I feel about it. It was a well-written book, and I did, in some part, like it (3 stars is a testament to that). But otherwise? I got nothing.

The Seep imagines an alien lifeforce called The Seep, which sort of invades earth, and really just wants to make humans happy, to be helpful. While being a little creepy, to be sure, because this involves such things as taking other people’s faces, never growing old, or turning yourself back into a child, if one so wished. The latter of which being exactly what our main character’s wife has just done.

One thing I liked a lot about this book was that it really was just the sort of story you could see being told about a cishet white man, but none of the characters were cishet white men. If this sounds an odd way to phrase it, well, it’s more about seeing characters who often get pushed to the side in these sorts of things front and centre. And zero fuss made over any of it.

As for the story itself, however, that’s where I’m a little… unsure, let’s say. It’s one of those ones I rated for the writing rather than the story. I neither loved it nor hated it. I’m not even at all sure I could say I properly liked it, that’s how undecided I am on how I felt. Don’t get me wrong — it wasn’t bad. The average rating and positive reviews will attest to that. I’m just not sure it was the book for me.

But don’t let my indecision put you off this book. Something that’s not my cup of tea may very well be yours, so if this sounds like it might interest you, just ignore me and pick it up anyway.

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