The Queue by Basma Abdel Aziz


The Queue - Basma Abdel Aziz I’ll be honest, I didn’t entirely understand the ending of this book, but didn’t diminish its value to me at all. Sometimes, I just don’t get where certain stories are coming from. They happen to be outside of my ability to relate while being incredibly intriguing.

The thing about the Queue is that is dark and dystopian, like so much of my favorite fiction. It’s the kind of book who’s world you’d never want to be trapped in but that makes a reader really appreciate the present. Unless, of course, you happen to live in a totalitarian regime similar to it and probably don’t have access to it anyway. The point is that there are books I’ve read about the realities of places with a strikingly similar way culture but without the science fiction element. I also really appreciated the way the Gate just sprung up out of nowhere and the way the “Disgraceful Events” were never truly elaborated upon. It makes it possible to insert any number of historical events into it and live in that world. It’s not a pleasant world to want to dive into, but it’s important to understand how people end up in it.  There’s always talk about how do people tolerate living in totalitarian regimes, and I’ve appreciated the dystopian literature that brings to light that it happens slowly and all at once at the same time somehow.

The cast of characters that Aziz introduces come together in the queue itself, which is the line at the Gate to get a certificate of “true citizenship” or approval for other things. It sounds like the line to get into the DMV or tax assessor’s office. But they wait FOREVER. There’s also a few people who come visit or hold their places in the queue. It shows just how much control over their lives this Gate or the government has and how quickly they can take it.

I could hardly put it down from the moment I started The Queue. Normally, this is about characters and concern for what will happen to them, but it wasn’t so much the case with this book. I was immediately absorbed into the life in this country, dragged into the way they lived and whether or not there was some turn that would happen for the people who lived there. It was interesting to see how their lives turned into waiting at the queue in the same way that it had been back in Kindred to see Dana turn from a 1970’s woman into one that had resigned herself to life as a slave in the antebellum Maryland. Interesting and disturbing.

I’m glad I read it, even though I didn’t completely understand the end of the story for the characters. I’ll probably reread it one day. I borrowed The Queue from Scribd and it can be found from other vendors by clicking on the cover for options at Booklikes or add to Goodreads for later.

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