[Book Review] Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin

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This is an old review, but I still feel pretty much the same about it now as I did then.

Maybe even more in love with it, but yeah… XD

I added all sorts of different covers because they all capture the essence of the book in different ways. Plus they’re gorgeous and why not share? 😉

*This book was also used in a booktalk for class.


Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin • 1969 • Ace Science Fiction • 320 pages

“[A] science fiction masterpiece.”

– Newsweek

Genre/Theme: Science Fiction, Social Issues, Gender Identity, AGS, Speculative Fiction, Feminism (or so I’ve heard… 😕 )

Synopsis: On the planet Winter, there is no gender. The Gethenians can become male or female during each mating cycle, and this is something that humans find incomprehensible.

The Ekumen of Known Worlds has sent an ethnologist to study the Gethenians on their forbidding, ice-bound world. At first he finds his subjects difficult and off-putting, with their elaborate social systems and alien minds. But in the course of a long journey across the ice, he reaches an understanding with one of the Gethenians—it might even be a kind of love…

Brief Summary: Genly Ai is an emissary from the human galaxy to Winter, a lost, stray world. His mission is to bring the planet back into the fold of an evolving galactic civilization, but to do so he must bridge the gulf between his own culture and prejudices and those that he encounters. On a planet where people are of no gender—or both—this is a broad gulf indeed.

Evaluation: 5 thousand zillion of 5 stars XD (I would even give it even more stars because… WORLD-BUILDING UNF)

1-2 things you liked:

  • EVERYTHING GDNLSGnkgdnklgndklsndlsgndSNGDLGNdlkndlgkn *FOAMS AT MOUTH*
  • The theme
  • INSANE WORLD-BUILDING (*PTERODACTYL SCREECHING*) I could NOT put it down!
  • Writing style (especially how the story isn’t linear)
  • The characters (and all their surprises)
  • ESTRAVEN. Nuff said.
  • This is one of my favorite books of all time from waay back when.

1-2 things you didn’t like:

  • The ending (because I was rooting for the main characters to somehow stay together)
  • This isn’t a dislike, but a suggestion and warning: This book is not an easy read and might come across as too clinical or even a bit strange to follow. There are several mini-stories that take place at once, which can throw the inattentive reader for a loop.

Would you recommend this book?: YES. Who would I recommend it to? Everyone haha~ XD I loved this book so much. It does have some sexuality to in it, but no actual sex or make-out scenes so even kids could read it (I don’t know how much they’d be able to understand… but I would have no problem recommending this book to an avid reader regardless of age). As already mention, the book follows closely the strangeness of the Gethens, which are a hermaphrodite race of humanoids that sort of go through a heat cycle every month becoming either male or female ONLY during that time. So… yeah. If the reader is interested in speculative fiction, this is definitely a book they need to have in their mental inventory. 😉

Looking Back (Current Thoughts & Eval): As mentioned before and in many other posts, this is one of my favourite books of ALL TIME for execution of theme, writing style, believability, character development, and world-building. Not too many books get a full five out of five stars from me for those five key areas. There is just something really memorable and… special about this book. It stays with you. It haunts your thoughts. I am and always have been highly interested in the fluidity of gender and sex, so this was a spectacular journey into the extra kind of speculative fiction I love reading about. 🙂

The only that still drives me crazy TO THIS DAY is that ending, because FJLSNGDKANGKLDNAKGNDL WHYYYY and also WAS NOT EXPECTING THAT THANKS NO THANKS 

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But yeah… XD besides that, fantastic book.

EVERYONE GO READ NOW.

emma-stone-excited