[Book Review] Signal to Noise

Signal to Noise / Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Signal to Noise is an all-to-realistic piece of magical realism.  It took me quite awhile to actually get to starting this book, languishing on my to-read list for over a year.  So I made a deliberate choice to include it as a book club pick and read it, hence it's place as my February read.

While the book gives a coming-of-age magical realism front, the story eschews many of the all-to-common patterns.  Moreno-Garcia's prose possesses a rich lyricism that fits well in a story so filled with music.  The story has its bright spots, but much of it is harsh and scrabbling, a story of friends struggling to overcome the hands they were dealt, a story of consequences, and a story of resentment.  For all of that, the story is beautifully told, but one that I personally felt reluctant to read at times, a result of seeking extra escapism in reading than normal as of late.

From Wikipedia: "Signal-to-noise ratio is a measure used in science and engineering that compares the level of a desired signal to the level of background noise. It is defined as the ratio of signal power to the noise power, often expressed in decibels."

Discussion Fodder:
  • What is the nature of magic?  How does it connect to the different characters?  What about their different objects of power?
  • Meche says "Why shouldn't music have power?  My dad say it's the most powerful thing in the world.  Nietzsche says that without  music, life would be a mistake."  What are the different roles of music, and it's power, that manifest throughout the book?
  • At it's core, Signal to Noise can be considered a love story (though not specifically one of romantic love).  How do the different relationships and loves morph throughout?
  • Does the story have a hero?  Does it have a villain?
  • We're warned early on that "magic will break your heart."  In what ways does this come true?

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