REVIEW: Hexwood by Diana Wynne Jones

REVIEW: Hexwood by Diana Wynne JonesHexwood by Diana Wynne Jones
Published: Greenwillow Books (1994), Hardcover, 295pg
Source: Bought
Genres: Fantasy, Fiction, Sci-fi

Hexwood Farm is a bit like human memory; it doesn’t reveal its secrets in chronological order. Consequently, whenever Ann enters Hexwood, she cannot guarantee on always ending up in the same place or even the same time.

When Controller Borasus receives a strange letter from Earth he is both curious and alarmed. Someone has activated an ancient machine and is using it for most trivial purposes. Surely no one would dare to tamper with Reigner seals in this way? Yet the effects of such interference resonate throughout the universe, so he decides to go to Hexwood Farm to investigate…

On Hexwood Estate, Ann watches the mysterious comings and goings with interest. She knows something deadly is going on – or is Hexwood simply altering her too? (from Goodreads)

Okay, so, sometimes sci-fi gives me problems. If it’s heavy on the science or if the plot structure is a little different than the norm, it can take me a while to get into it. Dune, for instance, or Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom— they both gave me some trouble when I first started reading them, but I stuck with it and eventually really enjoyed myself. So too is my experience with Hexwood!

Hexwood starts off weird, continues to be weird, and then never really clears up the weirdness. It does get easier to understand, however, around page 50. But one of the main points of the plot is that the characters are part of a field that runs a program that runs possibilities. It’s constantly changing time (seasons, years, etc.), events, people, and so on. It can all get horrible confusing, and I’m still not sure that I entirely understand everything that happened. I’m not sure I’m supposed to, but I would have liked the book better if I did. Eventually I had to stop worrying about what was going on when and just hang on for the ride, and I made it to the end okay.

Besides the confusing bits, the plot is both exciting and horrifying. There’s some really nasty characters in here, and they’re not afraid to do nasty things. Reigner One, for instance, does genetics experiments with children of his enemies, and runs Ender’s Game-like programs to train more children into being his Servants. Skeevy skeevy skeevy! Made me feel all icky, so I was really glad when he got his comeuppance.

There were some good characters, of course, that did good things. I liked Ann and Mordion, one of the Servants, and I adored their little romance subplot. The ending scenes were really fantastic, with lots of action and revelations and tidying up and so on. For all that, though, I never entirely understood what was going on, and I don’t know if that’s a failing in myself or in the text. But then, I’ve never much liked DWJ’s sci-fi books.

(But at least I understood all of A Tale of Time City!)

Read: February 2009

8 thoughts on “REVIEW: Hexwood by Diana Wynne Jones”

  1. I love Diana Wynne Jones because she writes weird and unique stories. Have you read any of her other work (ie. Howl’s Moving Castle – a very unique one)?

    1. Er, yes, I’ve read 16 DWJ books, and I’m working on two more at the moment. It’s not that I don’t appreciate the weirdness, just that it might not have been as well done as some of her other books featuring time travel/mind-messer-uppers.

  2. Oh wow haha! Compared to you I’ve barely read any. And I didn’t know she wrote other “travel/mind-messer-upper” novels. I guess I don’t have a very good spectrum of how “weird” she can be and still pull it off haha

    1. Oh, DWJ loves little twists at the end that mess with my mind. 😀 The best one I can think of is Archer’s Goon— it’s kinda like Hexwood in that there’s time blips and identity confusion.

      A Tale of Tim City has time travel in it, but it’s not really confusing at all. There’s a few more, I think, but I haven’t read them yet. 😀

  3. I totally agree- I had to read this one several times before I felt that I knew what was happening!

    Have you ever read Fire and Hemlock? I don’t think I will ever truly understand the end, even though it has been patiently explained to me several times.

  4. I have this on my tbr pile and I plan to read it soon. I’ve been told it’s confusing before, so I’ll at least be expecting it 😛 But Fire and Hemlock can be confusing too, and it’s still my favourite of her books (and one of my all-time favs).

    I’ve just discovered your blog and will surely be coming back 😀 It seems that we have similar taste!

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