io9 Book Club, Winter Edition: Jacqueline Carey's "Santa Olivia"

It's time for the io9 book club to meet again. Get ready for some swashbuckling justice with Jacqueline Carey's Santa Olivia, the near-future story of a half-mutant girl who lives in the militarized border zone between the US and Mexico.

For our last book club meeting, we read Paul McAuley's eco-political epic The Quiet War, so this time around we're veering more towards the escapist. Santa Olivia is a mutant coming-of-age story about Loup, an orphan who has grown up in a tiny, forgotten town between the two heavily-fortified walls that divide North from South America. The main attraction in this town is a bar where off-duty soldiers come to drink (and pester the local girls), and the boxing gym. Every year, there is a boxing match between the townies and the soldiers. The military leaders promise that if a townie ever wins, he'll be allowed to jump the wall and go free in North America.

Loup wants nothing more than to be the man who goes free. Except she's not a man, and no girls have ever competed in the contest. Luckily, she has strange mutant powers from a father she never knew, a friendly coach at the boxing gym, and a gang of orphan friends who want to help her mete out justice in a town where soldiers can get away almost with anything. This engaging, often thought-provoking story combines elements of Wolverine and Million Dollar Baby - and Carey's great talent for creating characters who are larger-than-life but always recognizably human.

For this book club meeting, we also picked a novel that has been out for several months, so it should be a little easier to get from your local library than The Quiet War was.

You can read our review of the novel here.

Here are the details on this book club meeting. You read Santa Olivia. Then we all have our book club meeting on Wednesday, January 6 (when you're fully recovered from the holidays). I'll post, and we can discuss the book in comments. We just got confirmation that Jacqueline Carey will join us for discussion in January too, so be thinking about what you might want to ask! Find out more about our previous book club meeting in the io9 Book Club forum.

Now get reading!

Santa Olivia via Borders