YMMV / Earth Abides

  • Base-Breaking Character: Ish has become this for many more recent readers, partly because of Values Dissonance in his common attitudes. Some readers claim that Ish is an Insufferable Genius who views everyone else in the tribe as below him on the intelligence scale. Others, while acknowledging his condescending attitudes, see him as a Jerkass Has a Point as he is the only one that seems concerned with rebuilding civilization and preserving information that will enable future generations to survive.
  • Values Dissonance: The "horrible secret" that Ish's love interest has been hiding is that she's part black. To his and his creator's credit, Ish isn't bothered by this revelation at all, merely chuckling and telling her not to worry about it.
    • There's a bit of Values Dissonance in the moment where Ish suddenly adds up all the clues about Em's ethnicity: "brunette complexion, dark liquid eyes, full lips, white teeth, rich voice, accepting temperament ... "
    • More Values Dissonance in the chapter "The Year 22", specifically about the business involving Charlie and Evie. It's wrong for Charlie to target Evie sexually because he's got what one character calls "Cupid's diseases", and may spread them into the rest of the community. It's wrong in Ish's eyes because Evie is mentally handicapped and is bound to produce "a lot of little half-witted brats". But nowhere, not once, by any character, is it suggested that it's wrong because what Charlie is doing is rape — Evie is incapable of giving or denying meaningful consent.
      • The Tribe's sentencing Charlie to death is therefore Right for the Wrong Reasons, although when this troper read the scene where the vote was taken he got the impression that the main characters were thinking this even if they didn't want to outright state it (hence the unanimous vote). We are only working with Ish's inner monologue as a point-of-view, and he sees things quite differently from the rest of the Tribe. Consider that there was initial dissent in the deliberation: George in a rare moment of insight theorizes that Evie may not be mentally disabled at all, but 'put crazy' by losing her entire family as a very young child and being left alone for an indeterminate amount of time before Ezra's clan found her—genetically she's fine. Still, whether she's actually mentally handicapped or insane due to childhood trauma, Evie cannot give consent to Charlie.