Mini Review: The Prey of Gods by Nicky Drayden

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Genre: Science Fiction, Fantasy

Publisher: Harper Voyager

Length: 400 pages

Format: Physical copy

Rating: 4 stars

Publication Date: June 13th 2017

 

 

 

Publisher’s description

In South Africa, the future looks promising. Personal robots are making life easier for the working class. The government is harnessing renewable energy to provide infrastructure for the poor. And in the bustling coastal town of Port Elizabeth, the economy is booming thanks to the genetic engineering industry which has found a welcome home there. Yes—the days to come are looking very good for South Africans. That is, if they can survive the present challenges:

A new hallucinogenic drug sweeping the country . . .
An emerging AI uprising . . .
And an ancient demigoddess hellbent on regaining her former status by preying on the blood and sweat (but mostly blood) of every human she encounters.

It’s up to a young Zulu girl powerful enough to destroy her entire township, a queer teen plagued with the ability to control minds, a pop diva with serious daddy issues, and a politician with even more serious mommy issues to band together to ensure there’s a future left to worry about.

Book Review

Set in a futuristic South Africa where everyone has their own personal robot making their life easier, a vengeful godess is slowly preparing the end of humanity as we know itand an AI uprising is upcoming. And all of that because of a new hallucinogenic drug which gives humans superpowers.

The Prey of Gods follows an old goddess, a young girl that has the power to overpower her, a teenage boy, a pop star and a politician who is Stoker during the day and Felicity Stokes at night and who has a lot of mommy issues.

This book is a mess but a very enjoyable one. If you don’t like absurd books, I wouldn’t recommend this one but, I personally really loved it. It was very weird but I was hooked right at the beginning, I could tell I was going to end up liking it a lot after the first chapter. I devoured this book in two sittings and I think it’s a perfect book to read during holidays, it’s fun, fast-paced,hilarious and it really doesn’t take itself too seriously.

If you are not sure it’s something for you, download a sample (from Amazon for example) and read the first chapter, if you like the opening, you will probably like the rest! So yeah, I don’t have much to say except that it is really a fantastic debut, it really managed to blend the elements of SF and fantasy very well and that I will definitely read anything else Drayden puts out in the future!

Highly recommended!

Book Review: After Atlas by Emma Newman |2017 Arthur C. Clarke Shortlist Post #5 + AWARD UPDATE

The 2017 Clarke Award shortlist was announced at the beginning of May and, as I did last year, I want to read the entire shortlist.

If you have not seen the shortlist already, here it is:

My goal was to read the shortlist before July 27th (the day the winner was announced) but I kind of failed so…


Award Update

Well, I wanted to review the entire shortlist before July 27th but due to a very very busy month of July, I didn’t have the time to do so. The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead won the 2017 Arthur C. Clarke Award and I am very glad it did, I think it was probably the best work on the shortlist even if I personally prefered Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee. If I had to rank the books on the shortlist, it would be in this order (from the best to the worst):

  1. Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee: an original, complex and very clever space opera book with awesome characters (objectively I think The Underground Railroad is a better book but I love Ninefox Gambit so much that I can’t put it lower in this list!)
  2. The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead: a brilliant and thought-provocking book that 100% deserves the award.
  3. Occupy Me by Tricia Sullivan, a very weird but innovative book that I discovered thanks to this year shortlist, it’s definitely one of the most surprising book I read this year.
  4. Central Station by Lavie Tidhar, a book filled with incredible ideas but that was lacking cohesion in my opinion.
  5. After Atlas by Emma Newman: a thriller with a couple of interesting ideas, I liked it enough but, overall it left me quite indifferent
  6. A Close and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers: I still can’t understand why it was shortlisted, I found it dull and quite boring to be honest.

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Genre: Science fiction, Mystery

Publisher: Roc

Length: 369 pages

Format: Ebook

Rating: 3 stars

Publication Date: November 8th 2016

 

Publisher’s description

Govcorp detective Carlos Moreno was only a baby when Atlas left Earth to seek truth among the stars. But in that moment, the course of Carlos’s entire life changed. Atlas is what took his mother away; what made his father lose hope; what led Alejandro Casales, leader of the religious cult known as the Circle, to his door. And now, on the eve of the fortieth anniversary of Atlas’s departure, it’s got something to do why Casales was found dead in his hotel room—and why Carlos is the man in charge of the investigation.

To figure out who killed one of the most powerful men on Earth, Carlos is supposed to put aside his personal history. But the deeper he delves into the case, the more he realizes that escaping the past is not so easy. There’s more to Casales’s death than meets the eye, and something much more sinister to the legacy of Atlas than anyone realizes…

 

Book Review

I finished this book about a month ago and I debated reviewing it or not for a while. I finally decided to review it to get the final Clarke post out of the way so I can focus on other things but I don’t have many things to say about this book. I think it is an interesting work and I can see why Newman is appreciated so much but I don’t think this book was for me.

After Atlas follows the story of Carlos Moreno, a detective owned by the Neuropean Ministry of Justice in a close future where corporations are able to buy poor people off and turning them into perfect little slaves. Carlos can’t marry, be in a relationship or have children, as written on his contract. Even if he’s not extremely happy about it, he can still live with it (it’s not like he has a choice, he can’t take his own life anyway, it’s on the contract) because he loves his job and he’s very good at it. Well, until the day he has to find the murderer of, Alejandro Casales, a famous cult leader, a man Carlos used to consider as his father.

I will be quick here but I think this book made a poor thriller, it had loads of very interesting concepts and ideas that were used quite well but the mystery part was a let down for me. I don’t read a lot of thrillers but usually, the part where you learn who the killer is is supposed to be a huge thing, a great reveal or something that makes you say “oh god, I did not expect THAT”. Well, it wasn’t the case with this book for me at all, when we learnt about the killer and his motives, I pretty much rolled my eyes, the reveal did not answer most of the questions I had and I left me underwhelmed.

However, some other things in this book were done quite well. I was very interested to learn about the way Govcorps could basically buy human beings and how this whole system was put in a place in this world. Carlos’ story was fascinating, his perspective on his situation and his childhood experience with The Circle, the cult led by Alejandro Casales were horrifying and thought-provocking. The world Newman created felt real, and, in a terrifying future, you could imagine a society like that actually existing and that was one of the strongest aspect of After Atlas in my opinion.

So, even if I wasn’t blown away by this book, the characterization and the worldbuilding were very interesting and the ending suprised me enough for me to considering read the next book set in this universe. Because of those aspects, I can see why it ended up shortlisted even I don’t think it’s one of the best SF books published last year!

Other than that, I don’t have much more else to say, if it sounds intriguing to you, I would still recommend it, just don’t expect After Atlas to be the best mystery book ever.

Book Review: Central Station by Lavie Tidhar |2017 Arthur C. Clarke Shortlist Post #4

The 2017 Clarke Award shortlist was announced at the beginning of May and, as I did last year, I want to read the entire shortlist.

If you have not seen the shortlist already, here it is:

My goal is to read the shortlist before July 27th when the winner will be announced.


 

25986774Genre: Science fiction, Fantasy

Publisher: Tachyon

Length: 275 pages

Format: Ebook

Rating: 3 stars

Publication Date: April 12th 2016

 

 

 

Publisher’s description

A worldwide diaspora has left a quarter of a million people at the foot of a space station. Cultures collide in real life and virtual reality. The city is literally a weed, its growth left unchecked. Life is cheap, and data is cheaper.

When Boris Chong returns to Tel Aviv from Mars, much has changed. Boris’s ex-lover is raising a strangely familiar child who can tap into the datastream of a mind with the touch of a finger. His cousin is infatuated with a robotnik—a damaged cyborg soldier who might as well be begging for parts. His father is terminally-ill with a multigenerational mind-plague. And a hunted data-vampire has followed Boris to where she is forbidden to return.

Rising above them is Central Station, the interplanetary hub between all things: the constantly shifting Tel Aviv; a powerful virtual arena, and the space colonies where humanity has gone to escape the ravages of poverty and war. Everything is connected by the Others, powerful alien entities who, through the Conversation—a shifting, flowing stream of consciousness—are just the beginning of irrevocable change.

At Central Station, humans and machines continue to adapt, thrive…and even evolve.

Book Review

I first read Central Station last year (you can find my original review here) and, at the time, I said that I wouldn’t be surprised if it ended up being shortlisted by several awards. As it sometimes happens, I was right and I decided to read it again as a part of this particular project.

The first time I read it, I thought it was a brilliant book in its ideas but I didn’t actually especially enjoy reading it, my experience was a bit different the second time around but still, I don’t think Central Station is fully a book for me. It’s full of interesting ideas, the writing is gorgeous but, for some reasons, I couldn’t immerse myself in the stories.

Central Station is a fix-up novel, it is a collection of interconnected short stories that were almost all previously published in several SF magazines (mostly Interzone). Throughout those stories, we follow the lives of several people living in Central Station, a space station set in a future Tel Aviv. Everything and everything can be found in Central Station, to cyborgs, data-vampires, genetically modified children or god designers.

Since the stories are connected, the same characters kept on popping up in different ways and that’s the main thing that didn’t work for me. Indeed, the stories were all published separately and they don’t all have the same atmosphere or tone. Oddly, seeing the same characters through very different lights threw me off the stories a bit because some of their behavior didn’t seem on phase with how they were in other stories. However, I havent’ seen this particular thing mentionned in other reviews so, it might just be me interpreting things too much.  Also, since the stories tended to have very different tones, this collection felt messy because it lacked cohesio. Indeed, some stories are very fantastical and other are way more science fiction-heavy and, as a whole it felt a bit awkward.

I also had troubles connecting to most of the characters,they are all very flawed and since the characters I disliked the most were the ones that were appearing the most in this collection, it was hard for me to care for the stories, especially towards the end. However, the main protagonist of the stories aren’t really the characters per say but Central Station as a whole. I liked the fact that it felt incredibly vivid and almost “touchable”. Everything is described in a gorgeous way, you can almost smell the streets, see and hear the inhabitants of Central Station, it feels real and the way Tidhar describes its history is beautiful. I would have read a novel in the city’s POV with pleasure actually since it felt way more developped than the actual characters.

So, as much as I didn’t fall in love with Central Station, it is a very clever work of science fiction, it is a vrey interesting reflexion on humanity and evolution. Central Station is a hub, a perpetual clash of cultures. It’s a place where you can eat shawarmas on the street, go to a Robot Church or take the next spaceship to Mars. It is both the future and the past, it’s about humans through times and their different stages of cyber evolution. It is an ode to older science fiction books and I would recommend it to everyone interested by intelligent and fascinating fiction even if I had issues with it.

At this point I have read all the shortlisted books and Central Station is, in my opinion, a very strong contender for the prize.

 

June Wrap-Up and July Reading Plans

June is finally over which means that I’m done with school for a few months yay! I fully intend to read and post a lot during my free time. I still managed to read a couple of things this month, they were mostly short but for the most part very good books. I read two things in French which was a bit weird because for the past two years, I have read almost everything in English but that’s a nice change.

Books Read

  • I, Robot by Isaac Asimov ★★★★★
  • A Closed and Common Orbit ★★1/2
  • Micromégas by Voltaire ★★★★ (read in French)
  • A Tyranny of Queens by Foz Meadows ★★★★ 1/2
  • Occupy Me by Tricia Sullivan ★★★★
  • Chess Story/ Le Joueur d’échecs by Stefan Zweig ★★★★ (read in French)
  • After Atlas by Emma Newman ★★★
  • Tricked by Kevin Hearne ★★★

I will have a review for After Atlas coming probably early next week since I read it as part of my 2017 Clarke Project. I really enjoy this personal challenge but reviewing tthose books is very long since I take a lot of notes and putting them in order is not necessarily an easy feat, that’s why I haven’t been writing a lot of reviews lately. I probably won’t be catching up on any other reviews.

I really liked I, Robot by Asimov, it was my first Asimov book and it was absolutely brilliant, it was fascinating to see a book published in the 50’s still managed to be so relevant to our present days.

Micromégas by Voltaire and Chess Story by Stefan Zweig (or in my edition Le Joueur d’échecs since I read in French) are both classics that I picked up on a whim, they were both excellent and I would highly recommend them but I won’t talk about them in details because I don’t tend to review classics, I feel like I won’t do them justice. 😛

Tricked by Kevin Hearne is the fourth installment in his Iron Druid Chronicles series and it was a nice popcorn read, I can’t say it was particularly memorable but I read it during the last week of my exams and it was exactly what I was looking for at the time!

 

Best Books of the Month

Currently Reading & TBR

I already finished one book this month and it is Central Station by Lavie Tidhar, it was a re-read and I will have a review up next week. I am currently halfway through Beloved by Toni Morrison and A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab, and so far Beloved is a very hard but excellent read and A Conjuring of Light is boring as hell, I will finish it because I want to finish a couple of series this year but ugh, so far it’s not good.

I also want to read The Prey of Gods by Nicky Drayden that I didn’t manage to read last month and I will probably also pick up One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

 

I hope your month of June was a bit more relaxing than mine and that you managed to read some very good things! What were your favorite reads of the month? 🙂

Book Review: Occupy Me by Tricia Sullivan |2017 Arthur C. Clarke Shortlist Post #3

The 2017 Clarke Award shortlist was announced at the beginning of May and, as I did last year, I want to read the entire shortlist.

If you have not seen the shortlist already, here it is:

My goal is to read the shortlist before July 27th when the winner will be announced.


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Genre: Science fiction thriller, Mystery, Fantasy

Publisher: Gollancz

Length: 272 pages

Format: Ebook

Rating: 4 stars

Publication Date: January 21th 2017

 

 

 

Publisher’s description

A woman with wings that exist in another dimension. A man trapped in his own body by a killer. A briefcase that is a door to hell. A conspiracy that reaches beyond our world. Breathtaking SF from a Clarke Award-winning author.

Tricia Sullivan has written an extraordinary, genre defining novel that begins with the mystery of a woman who barely knows herself and ends with a discovery that transcends space and time. On the way we follow our heroine as she attempts to track down a killer in the body of another man, and the man who has been taken over, his will trapped inside the mind of the being that has taken him over.

And at the centre of it all a briefcase that contains countless possible realities.

 

Book Review

Occupy Me is the only book on the shortlist I never heard of before its nominations, however Tricia Sullivan is not a Clarke newbie since she actually won one in 1999 with her novel Dreaming in Smoke. I’m always willing to read works I never heard of before but when I glanced at the synopsis, I was a bit baffled and rightly so since this book is very hard to explain.

 Occupy Me is a blend of science fiction, fantasy, mystery and thriller and follows three characters, Pearl a quantum angel looking for one of her stolen component that prevents her from leaving Earth. We also meet Dr Kisi Sorle, the man responsible for the theft as he tries to understand who or what seems to posses his body and finally Allison a sixty years old Scottish vet. The book opens when Sorle finds himself waking up in a car he didn’t remember taking and a mysterious brieface that may contains the soul of an old man and other dimensions. He doesn’t know what the briefcase is since his body is regularly hijacked by someone else and he finds himself completely emprisonned in his body. As he boards a plane fleeing in a foreign country, he encounters Pearl who recognizes him as the guy who stole her component (which is actually the mysterious briefcase) and panic ensues. (Fun fact, the book is narrated in the first, the second and the third perspective, one for each characters and it actually worked quite well!)

It would be easy for me to say that this book is completely WTF and I mean, it kind of is. However, so far it seems to be the most unique book on the shortlist and, even if it is pretty messy, this book is loaded with interesting and original things (unlike you A Closed and Common Orbit!). Reading Occupy Me was quite the experience and I’m not sure I would recommend the journey, I personally enjoyed it but I expect most people to be completely thrown off or annoyed by this one.

First of all, the book is pretty much all over the place, as I said it’s a blend of different genres and I sometimes wished while reading that Sullivan had narrowed that a bit. I mean, if she had focused on each part she could have written several novels. I was almost too much materials for that thin of a book and I didn’t feel that every part worked well together. I mean featuring dinosaurs in a science fiction thriller/urban fantasy book was a bit much for me and  I don’t think it was very necessary for the story. I mean this passage from the book says it all:

I spread my wings on the water to stop myself sinking. I couldn’t see the plane anymore. Or the pterosaur. I was alone. What. The fuck. Just happened.”

Tricia Sullivan, Occupy Me

However, even if Occupy Me was a weird one, I still think it is full of very interesting points of discussion. Indeed, Sullivan brings up a lot the idea of a conflict between the new and the old like science versus fantasy and the past versus the present. The main protagonist being a perfect example of that, Pearl is a two years old quantum angel who looks like a 50 years old 6 feet tall very muscular woman, she’s both extremely young and old since she has the knowledge of an ancient being while often acting like a baby. She’s both a fantastical creature and an extremely advanced piece of tech. She’s so advanced that she can access Higher Dimension (refered to as HD in the book) which seems to be our idea of Paradise. In a way she is an organic data center and further in the book we learn that she transports dead civilizations on her body. She is a ship connecting the future and the past.

Kisi Sorle, the doctor is also a good illustration of that, he grew up in a country which was destroyed by oil companies and while he wants to help his former nation, he can’t do that without the support of the ones who destroyed it to begin with. Because of that, he always feels torned between his enemies and what he wants to restore, a division represented by the being who possess him.

This book reminded me quite a bit of The Book of Phoenix, a book shortlisted for the 2016 Clarke, the stories are very different but they have overlapping themes and in distinct ways, they are both angry works shouting at a society based on conflict and dichotomy.

In the end, Occupy Me worked for me, it’s a very strange book and I can’t say that I understood it (I think I would have to re-read it at least once for that) but it made me think and it was far from everything I previously read. I wouldn’t be mad if it managed to win the 2017 Clarke even if it would surprise me a bit since I don’t think it’s one of the strongest contender. I have read the entire shortlist by now (I am currently re-reading Central Station) and for me the winner will either be Ninefox Gambit, The Underground Railroad or Central Station, but who knows? I don’t know what the judges think of the shortlist infortunately!

Anyway, if Occupy sounds like something you might like, give it a try, it might surprise you a lot!

 

Book Review: A Tyranny of Queens by Foz Meadows (Manifold Worlds #2)

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Genre: Portal Fantasy, Epic Fantasy

Publisher: Angry Robot

Length: 431 pages

Format: eARC

Rating: 4.5 stars

Publication Date: May 2nd 2017

 

 

 

Publisher’s description

Saffron Coulter has returned from the fantasy kingdom of Kena. Threatened with a stay in psychiatric care, Saffron has to make a choice: to forget about Kena and fit back into the life she s outgrown, or pit herself against everything she s ever known and everyone she loves. Meanwhile in Kena, Gwen is increasingly troubled by the absence of Leoden, cruel ruler of the kingdom, and his plans for the captive worldwalkers, while Yena, still in Veksh, must confront the deposed Kadeja. What is their endgame? Who can they trust? And what will happen when Leoden returns?

Book Review

 

An Accident of Stars was one of the best books I read last year so I couldn’t wait to read its sequel A Tyranny of Queens.

This book series is a portal fantasy following several characters including Saffron, a seventeen years old girl who stumbles into another world after being harassed by one of her schoolmates. We then discover Kena, a magical world where Saffron encounters wizards, treacherous kings and queens, badass women, dragons and, most importantly, people who understand her.

In case of haven’t read the first book I am going to stay very vague about the events of the first book but, at the end of the first one Saffron has to go back to Earth (for reasons I won’t disclose) and A Tyranny of Queens opens up with her dealing with the aftermath of her journey. In this, it feels pretty similar to Every Heart a Doorway since both works deal with the aftermath of children/teenagers being brought back from other worlds. I really enjoy reading about this aspect in books because it allows us to see the repercussions of the return on the characters. In this book, I felt deeply for Saffron , she doesn’t come back from Kena unscarred, both physically but also mentaly, and seeing her dealing with all the bullshit her entourage is giving her was both fascinating and troubling.

This book also follows other characters that remained in Kena and at first I was very confused because most of the names are pretty similar so I had trouble remembering who was who but after a few chapters, I managed to understand what was going on. Meadows also introduced us to new characters and I have to say that my favorite addition to the cast definitely was Naruet, an autistic male character who has a key role in this installment. It was very interesting to see his perspective on the various events of the first book and I could have read an entire book just focused on him.

I really loved that book however it’s not without its flaws, as I said I was confused by the names at the beginning and I felt like Meadows didn’t leave us time to remember who was who before starting with the political maneuvering and it didn’t help. When you have all those new names thrown at you and you are still figurating who’s is who’s mother/sister/daughter, it’s a little hard. Also a few coincidences felt a bit too easy and convenient, everyone always ended up figuring out what needed to be right on time and a bit too often. It didn’t bother me that much but it’s still worth a mention.

So yes the book is flawed but I don’t really mind. Reading this book just made me extremely happy, it’s not perfect but damn I love it. It’s so original and it deals with issues I can 100% relate to. It is rare to see books dealing so well with a lot of themes that are important to me like casual sexism, bullying and queer relationships. It’s a great exemple of diversity and queer normality: in this world you can be whoever you want to be and nobody is going to judge you for that. All the characters are layered and I could even relate to the “bad guys” which is not always an easy feat.

So would I recommend this? Absolutely: it’s not perfect but damn I wish I could have read it when I was younger and if a sequel is coming, I will devour it.

 

 

I received an ARC copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Book Review: A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers |2017 Arthur C. Clarke Shortlist Post #2

The 2017 Clarke Award shortlist was announced at the beginning of May and, as I did last year, I want to read the entire shortlist.

If you have not seen the shortlist already, here it is:

  • Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee
  • Central Station by Lavie Tidhar
  • The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
  • After Atlas by Emma Newman
  • A Close and Common Orbit by Beckie Chambers
  • Occupy Me by Tricia Sullivan

My goal is to read the shortlist before July 27th when the winner will be announced.


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Genre: Science Fiction

Publisher: Hodderscape

Length: 365 pages

Format: Ebook

Rating: 2.5-3 stars

Publication Date: October 20th 2016

 

 

Publisher’s description

Lovelace was once merely a ship’s artificial intelligence. When she wakes up in an new body, following a total system shut-down and reboot, she has no memory of what came before. As Lovelace learns to negotiate the universe and discover who she is, she makes friends with Pepper, an excitable engineer, who’s determined to help her learn and grow.

Together, Pepper and Lovey will discover that no matter how vast space is, two people can fill it together.

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet introduced readers to the incredible world of Rosemary Harper, a young woman with a restless soul and secrets to keep. When she joined the crew of the Wayfarer, an intergalactic ship, she got more than she bargained for – and learned to live with, and love, her rag-tag collection of crewmates.

Book Review

I wanted to read this book pretty early on in my personal challenge mainly because I wanted to get it out of the way. Don’t get me wrong, I quite enjoyed A Long Way to a Small Angry Planet when I read it last year (as a part of my 2016 Clarke Shortlist project), it was a nice popcorn read that didn’t require a lot of brain cells. I enjoyed it but, now that I have a bit more perspective on last year shortlist, I think overall it was the weakest shortlisted book. It was a pleasant and feel-good book with a nice cast of characters but it definitely wasn’t mindblowing or particularly original. I enjoyed it but it didn’t left me awed which is what I’m looking for in one of the allegedly best SF book of the year.

So, here we are, a year later and its sequel, A Closed and Common Orbit is also shortlisted. I won’t lie, I was a bit annoyed to see it on the list but, as I had not read it at the time, I thought that this book might actually be more interesting than the first book.

A Closed and Common Orbit follows two storylines, Lovelace’s, now called Sidra, the AI from The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet that now inhabits an illegal body kit and how she deals with this new body and the society who wants to destroy her. The second storyline is focused on Pepper’s childhood (she was a minor character in the first book and she takes care of Sidra in this one) as she grows up in a dystopian world where she’s enslaved and her slow journey as she tries to start a new life.

A Closed and Common Orbit is a loose sequel to The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet so I guess you could read it without having read the previous work, you won’t get spoiled because nothing really happened in the first book. However, I don’t think that ACaCO  stands well on its own because it is quite heavily based on our supposed emotional connection to Lovelace/Sidra. I think that if you tried to read this one as a standalone, you could end up annoyed with Sidra’s character pretty soon in the story. Indeed she’s quite whiny and self-centered which was a bit frustrating but, at least I could see where she was coming from thanks to some things that happened in the first book.

I’m not sure a real AI would have acted the way she did because, her reactions always tended to feel very “teenagery” but that’s something I could say of all Chambers non-humans characters, even if they are green and with scales, they don’t seem particularly foreign or different from humans. I mean, if those people are aliens or AIs, what are the odds that they would act exactly like us? You could say that AIs were engineered by humans so that could be an explanation but, at least for the aliens, I don’t see why they would be so humans, it kinds of defeat the purpose of the term alien, especially in this world where humans are supposed to be the least intelligent race. I don’t think it showed well since everyone basically acted the same way. Anyway, I disgress.

I previously wrote that The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet didn’t have a plot but I didn’t mind that when I read it because I was interested by the crew of the Wayfarer and their various interactions enough. A Closed and Common Orbit has no plot either but it was slightly different because I mostly felt very indifferent toward the main characters. I didn’t care about their personal journeys that much and the slight element of plot or “mystery” (if I can call it like that) came into play way too late for me. Considering the number of pages left, it’s not like Chambers really manged to create any kind of suspens and the way it was going to end was pretty obvious.

I know I sound quite harsh but keep in mind that I’m reviewing this book in a “is it really one of the best SF piece of work published in 2017?” mindset. In my opinion it is not. This series has been receiving a lot of popular attention since the release of the first book and I can understand that, I don’t hate it, it’s not even that I dislike it, it’s just that I don’t understand why it’s on this list for. I could recommend this series easily to a lot of people and I’m pretty sure most of them would end up enjoying those books but I wouldn’t ever say to them “those are the best SF books on the market right now”. I guess it’s a popular choice (it was nominated for the Hugo so it definitely has a good fanbase).

At the end of the day, I don’t think it belongs in a list that features The Underground Railroad, Ninefox Gambit or Central Station. The thing that annoys me the most is that it could have if Chambers tried to take a few risks. Some of the ideas and concepts, if explored a bit more, would have been really interesting ( Sidra’s attitute to other AIs and robot-pets, the fact that at one point she mentions that she wants to free them, her feeling of not belonging etc..). It could have lead to something more but it always just was “surface-level” and, if I’m honest, a bit preachy. The way Chambers throws “tolerance and diversity” was a tad annoying at times, I’m all about that in my books but I like when it’s done subtly not when the author tries to shove it in my face.

A Closed and Common Orbit is not a bad book, if I hadn’t read it as part of this project I think I would have liked it more. However, I think it would have worked better if Chambers had turned each separate story into a novella, it probably would have solved some of the pascing issues or helped with the fact that the book was pretty light on plot, as something more condensed, it would probably have been more interesting.

Anyway, have you read that book? Did you enjoy it more than I did or did you find it better than the first one? I would be very interested to know.

 

Next Clarke Review: Occupy Me by Tricia Sullivan

 

 

 

Friday Reads & a few random things #1

Hello!

I don’t usually do Friday Reads but I wanted to post something so here I am! I mean I could have edited the long and rambly review that I am currently writing about A Closed and Common Orbit for my 2017 Clarke Shortlist project but it really needs some work and since I am not in the mood and that I don’t want to do a shitty job I guess it’s not for today!

Anyway, as part of the same project, I am currently reading Occupy Me by Tricia Sulliva, I am almost done actually (I have 10% left) and I still don’t know how I feel about it since it’s one of the craziest book I have ever read. It follows an AI/angel (?) who was “hijacked” and wants to find one of her missing component but it also follows a dude who is possessed by another version of him (?) and who gets involved in a oil company scandal that then turns into a crazy story with dinosaurs, alternate realities and completely wtf moments.

I mean it’s not a bad book but I can’t say that I was expecting that and I don’t know how the hell I am going to review it, in some way in reminds me of The Book of Phoenix by Nnedi Okorafor but under acid. I never heard of this book until it was shortlisted but the reviews about this one on Goodreads are extremely mixed, some people love it, some hate it and for now at least, I’m in the middle.

Anyway, I hope to finish this one tonight and then I will either start The Prey of Gods by Nicky Drayden since my pre-order just came in or After Atlas by Emma Newman, the only Clarke book that I still haven’t read. Since May I have been in excellent reading mood, I want to read everything but I don’t have much time to read because of my finals will be starting soon (which mean that I will soon be on vacations yay!) but it’s still frustating… 😦

So I hope that I will still managed to read a couple of things this week-end, that I won’t procrastinate too much (I need to stop watching so many K-pop MVs, it’s borderline ridiculous at the moment), that I’ll get a good amount of work done and *fingers crossed* that I’ll manage to finish the review for A Close and Common Orbit!

I wish you a great weekend! I leave you with a picture of the two books that arrived on my doorsteps today, I’m sorry for the poor quality but I still wanted to showcase them. I read Raven Stratagem as an ARC but I loved it so much I wanted my own pretty physical copy.

 

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Book Review: Faller by Will McIntosh

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Genre: Weird, Science Fiction

Publisher: Tor Books

Length: 352 pages

Format: eARC

Rating: 2.5-3 stars

Publication Date: October 25th 2016

 

 

Publisher’s description

Day One

No one can remember anything–who they are, family and friends, or even how to read. Reality has fragmented and Earth consists of an islands of rock floating in an endless sky. Food, water, electricity–gone, except for what people can find, and they can’t find much.

Faller’s pockets contain tantalizing clues: a photo of himself and a woman he can’t remember, a toy solider with a parachute, and a mysterious map drawn in blood. With only these materials as a guide, he makes a leap of faith from the edge of the world to find the woman and set things right.

He encounters other floating islands, impossible replicas of himself and others, and learns that one man hates him enough to take revenge for actions Faller can’t even remember.

Book Review

 

If you like extremely weird books where a good suspension of disbelief is fondamental to your enjoyment of the book, this one is for you.

Faller opens up in a floating city where no one can remember who they are and where they come from. Our main character wakes up in an isolated world where he can’t even remember how to read, the only thing he knows, he knows thanks to the content of his pocket: he founds a photo of himself and a woman, a toy soldier with a tiny parachute and a paper with weird things written on it in what seems to be blood but that he can’t understand.

A few days after the “event” now called Day One, people start killing each other for ressources and throwing unwanted people (including children) through the edge of the world. Inspired by the toy soldier and its parachute, our main character decides to jump from a building to see if he can observe things across the edge of his world. Of course things don’t end up exactly how he wants and he falls from his world… into another one.

The book also follows another storyline set in the past and treating with a bunch of scientist playing with quantum physics allowing us to understand the causes of Day One. The novel constantly jumps between each plot lines and I wasn’t a fan of that because it makes for a pretty uneven pacing (and pretty obvious twists).

Faller is a crazy and fast-paced story and it definitely was a journey. However, I didn’t enjoy it  as much as I wanted to, mainly because I found that all the characters made extremely dumb decisions all the time. All the characters were naive and made ridiculous mistakes. That wouldn’t  be such an issue for me if they were not the cause of Earth destruction but, in the case of this novel, those mistakes felt forced, they obviously were there to push the story forward but, if they had been a bit more believable, they would’nt have annoyed me near as much. I couldn’t relate to the main character because most of the time, I just wanted to punch him in the face. I can deal with unlikable characters but I have zero patience with stupid ones especially when the author try to sell them as “brilliant scientist that everyone adores”, just no.

So, I think I would have enjoyed this book if the characters were a bit more developped or just a tad less stupid. The lack of characterization constantly pulled me out of the story  and sometimes made it hard for me to read the book. I still finished Faller because I was intrigued to see how it would end and I’m still glad I finished it, even if the ending felt felt a bit random. I can forgive that, the whole book being utterly crazy., at this point I just like “okay whatever, why not”. So if you are reading this just for the story, you might end up enjoying yourself a lot, however, if you are expecting interesting characters and good writing, I wouldn’t especially recommend.

 

3-ish stars.

 

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. My thanks to Tor Books and Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

 

2017 Anticipated Releases – June

Here are some of my most anticipated releases of this month, I hope you will discover some interesting titles! 🙂

Science Fiction

 

  • Raven Stratagem by Yoon Ha Lee – June 13th – Solaris

Raven Stratagem is the sequel to the wonderful Ninefox Gambit, a complex and fascinating military SF set in a dystopian future where the reality is ruled by maths and immortal people. This series is crazy but if you are looking for something challenging, give it a try. I already read Raven Stratagem and it was a phenomenal sequel.

  • The End of Ordinary by Edward Ashton – June 20th – Harper Voyager

Following a mad scientist whose new  corn-related project may destroy the world, this book sounds utterly crazy and fun. I mean, if I understood the synopsis correctly, the dude seems to have engineered his own daughter and I love reading about mad engineers (since my plan in life is to become one too hehe).

  • Shattered Minds by Laura Lam – June 20th – Tor Books

This technothriller follows an ex-employee of a cybertech company that went mad after working there. She now have urges to kill people and her only mean of control is a drug that is slowly killing her. One day, she has a vision of dead girl and she has to figure out what it means. I have an ARC of this one, I will be reading it shortly! (as shortly as my finals allow me 😥 )

Fantasy

 

  • The Refrigerator Monologues by Catherynne M. Valente – June 6th – Saga Press

Well, being the organized person that I am, by the time this post comes up, the book will already be on the shelves, but, hey, it’s still worth a mention! The Refrigerator Monologues is a collection of looseley connected short stories about wives and girlfriends of superheroes, female heroes and every female characters that were used as devices to make the male hero storyline progress. I’ve read a couple of interesting reviews about this one and I am very intrigued. However, I read Radiance last year and as much as it had brilliant ideas, it was a tad too weird for me so I don’t know if I’ll react the same with this book. I don’t know, we’ll have to see.

  • Down Among the Sticks and Bones by Seanan McGuire – June 13th – Tor.Com

I cannot wait for the sequel to Every Heart a Doorway, if I understand correctly this book is actually set before the events of the first book and follows the lives of Jack and Jill as they enter a new world full of magic. I really enjoyed reading about those characters in Every Heart a Doorway and I am really interested to see where McGuire will take us. I’ve heard great things about it so far and I will read it as soon as I can!

Genre benders (SF&F)

 

  • The Prey of Gods by Nicky Drayden – June 13th – Harper Voyager

I’ve been looking forward to this book since seeing its cover for the first time, giant robots always get me, I’m all about them. However, the more I read about this book, the more I want in my hands right now and I can’t wait for the preorder to come in.

So what’s this book about? Set in South Africa (sounds awesome already) in the midst of AI uprising, an ancient demigoddess wants to regain her status by destroying everything around her. I love me so science fiction blended with fantasy books (The Sorcerer of the Wildeeps being a perfect example of that) and I have high expectations about this one.

  • The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O. by Neal Stephenson & Nicole Galland – June 13th – William Morrow

Neal Stephenson? I will be reading this.

No really, this book sounds so freakin’ cool, it follows the story of a linguist who accidentally encounters a military dude who wants her to translate some documents that may prove that magic once existed. And the government wants to bring it back.

 

What books sound the most intriguing to you? Do you want to mention books that I didn’t featured here, I’m sure I missed some great ones!