Book Review: The Seep by Chana Porter

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Title: The Seep
Author: Chana Porter
Publisher: Tor Books
Publication date: February 16, 2021
Genre: Science Fiction, mystery

A beautiful and thought provoking speculative fiction about aliens and a gentle invasion of earth

At a glance: In the wake of the softest alien invasion ever, everyone seems to have embraced The Seep with open arms. Except for Trina, who is reluctant to change, and it seems to be putting unwanted attention on her.

  • 📖 Couldn’t Put It Down
  • 🤔 Thought Provoking
  • 🏳️‍⚧️ Transgender MC
  • 🛸 Sci-Fi/Fantasy

Read this if… you want a book that will make you think, if you’re intrigued by the prospect of a soft alien invasion, if you’re looking for a book that will push boundaries and leave you thinking about it for months.

Diversity Representation: Trans MC, Lesbian relationship

Content Warnings: Surveillance, grief, alcoholism, drug use, discussion of suicide

Book Review

weird, mildly creepy, magically wonderful, confusing, thoughtful

The Seep was one that really has stuck with me for a while since I read it almost 2 months ago. I just can’t stop thinking about the idea of a slow invasion such as this. It was so creepy how accepting we were of this. If we had an alien invasion of a creature that seemed to have a symbiotic relationship with us, would we just accept them?

Quick Summary: Trina is a trans woman who seems to be the only one on the planet who has rejected the soft, gentle, but still world-changing alien invasion. The Seep claims to be a symbiotic relationship with humans, but Trina is reluctant to submit to the change. In a world where capitalism has fallen, barriers are broken down, and anything you can imagine is possible, Trina struggles with what the meaning of life is anymore.

The Seep was one of the highlights of my end-of-year reads. At the moment, I definitely enjoyed the book, but what really makes me love this book is the fact that it has stayed with me. Since I’ve read it, I’ve thought about this book, or even referenced it quite a few times. It has so many things in it that make you think. It is so relevant to the world today in the weirdest possible way. It is really a stunning book. The way that humans just accept something that isn’t explicitly harmful to them, and the way that we ostracize someone for not quite accepting a new normal so easily, and the way both of those were portrayed in the book so seamlessly.

It’s hard to say anything without giving the entire book away because it is not full of twists and turns. Rather, it is full of harrowing moments of pure humanity. It questions what we think of as love. It begs us to think about what it means to be who we are, together, as humans. It was heartbreaking, hopeful, weird, interesting, and wonderful. In exactly the same way life is.

Summing it all up

SFF/speculative fiction really shines when they are able to take a fantastical element (or a lot of them) and use it to really put a spotlight on humanity. The Seep does a fantastic job of that.

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Book Club Questions: The Seep

  • Do you think if this were to happen in our world that people would react similarly to those in the books? If not, how would they act differently? Would we really accept an alien species into the world if they seemed to be symbiotic?
  • How does this book test your perception of what is considered love? How did you feel about Deeba’s decision to change her life? Which side of the argument were you on? Can you see the other side of the argument? Discuss how this challenges your perception of romantic love vs. familial love.
  • How did you feel about the decision to present yourself as someone who has passed away? Did you find it respectful or disrespectful? Can you see the other side of the argument? Discuss.

About the Author

Chana Porter, writes the NY Times, “uses incongruity and exaggeration to suggest some midnight-dark truths about human life and endeavor.” She is an emerging playwright, speculative novelist, and education activist. Her plays have been developed or produced at The Flea TheaterPlaywrights HorizonsThe Catastrophic TheatreLa MaMaRattlestick Playwrights TheatreCherry LaneThe Invisible Dog,  & Movement Research. Houston Press writes “Porter’s type of risky storytelling is, well…. like a lion’s roar in an all too often timid jungle.” She is a MacDowell Fellow, a New Georges Audrey Resident, a Target Margin Artist-in-Residence, and the recipient of Honorable Mention for the Relentless Prize. She is currently writer-in-residence at The Catastrophic Theatre in Houston. Chana is the co-founder of the Octavia Project, a free summer writing and STEM program for Brooklyn teenage girls and non-binary youth. She has taught her embodied creativity course Writing from the Body at University of Houston, Fordham University, Hampshire College, Goddard College, Weber State, and with Sarah Lawrence’s Global Classroom. Her debut novel, The Seep, out from Soho Press and Brilliance Audio, with starred reviews from Publishers WeeklyBooklistLibrary Journal, and Foreword ReviewsThe Seep is an ABA Indie Next Pick for February 2020.

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If you liked this review or thought you might like this book, check out some of my other reviews for books with similar books that challenge our conceptions and tackle complex topics:

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Wow The Seep sounds like an amazing book!

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