Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from Harper Voyager in exchange for an honest review. I also read a large part of this book via audiobook, which was purchased through my own Audible account.
The Book of M is a one of the best post-apocalyptic fiction I have read in recent years, and it’s hard to believe it’s a debut novel. It’s a poignant examination of human memories and connection, filled with powerful and surrealistic imageries. The last pages of the novel still haunt me, and I keep catching myself thinking about the book’s shadowless world. I did have some issues with the book which I will discuss below, but overall, this book marks Peng Shepherd as an author to be watched – I can’t wait to see what she will come up with next. Continue reading “Book Review: The Book of M”→
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from Hachette Australia, all opinions are mine.
Note: This review will contain spoilers for the first Red Rising trilogy (including spoilers of the last book, Morning Star). I promise it will be absolutely spoiler-free for Iron Golditself! If you haven’t read the previous trilogy, what are you waiting for?! Go binge it immediately, it will be one of the best decisions you’ll make this year.
I can say with absolute certainty that the Red Rising trilogy is one of the best series I’ve ever read, and it’s one I regularly recommend to avid bookworms and reluctant readers alike. Aside from its gripping action and high-octane emotional drama, the series is populated by some of my fictional favourites. While I found Morning Star a wholly satisfying conclusion, I was pumped to discover Pierce Brown wanted to expand on the series. We’ve seen numerous fictional tyrannical empire fall before visionary young leaders, yet we rarely witness the aftermath of these upheavals. Iron Gold explores the conflict and unrest which continues to plague the newfound Republic a decade after its establishment.
“War eats the victors last.”
If the first trilogy is an examination of revolutions and wars, this sequel trilogy scrutinizes the slippery slope of governance and politics. In classic Red Rising manner, Iron Gold never deals in moral absolutes. The readers are shown numerous sides of every political debate, and I can appreciate the hefty weight that Mustang carries on her shoulders as the Sovereign of the new Republic. Similarly, Darrow faces a multitude of challenges as he’s simultaneously the ArchImperator of the Republic, and a living symbol of The Rising. Our heroes’s exploits during the The Rising have been made into legend in the decade that followed the fall of society, but we will soon find out that being living gods is a tough act when the fate of the Solar System hinges on your every decision.
Alongside with the challenges of governance, we also see Darrow grapple with being a father and a husband. One of Darrow’s most enduring trait throughout the series is his inability to choose, whether it’s he’s torn between his identity as someone who’s both Red and Gold – or picking between his duties to the Republic and his responsibilities to Mustang and his son, Pax. We also see several other characters struggle with the fine balancing act that comes with a family, most delightful of all being the Barca – Sevro and Victra both retains the essence of their character, honed all the sharper in their roles as parents.
On the flipside to the Republic, the book also follows Lysander and Cassius as they travel to the Rim of the system. The Rim is somewhere I’ve always wanted the first trilogy to explore in more details, so I felt gratified to see it in sharp focus during Lysander’s chapters. The culture of the Rim is derivative of Japanese traditions, in particular the honour codes of the samurai. I have to admit, I was a bit nervous to see the world building head towards this direction –thankfully the influences avoided cultural misappropriation by featuring more than stereotypes and aesthetics. Numerous new personalities emerge from the Rim, with my favourites being the two mother-daughter duo of Dido and Seraphina.
Another reason why I found Lysander’s chapter engaging was the philosophy by which he lived, as they are drastically different from my own. Although I don’t agree with his point of view, at times they infuriated me, I could always understand where he was coming from. I can’t wait to see where future books will take his character and his choices. A mirror to his own story arc, Lysander’s relationship with Cassius is fraught with contradiction and tension. Their brotherhood is tainted by mistrust and Cassius’s betrayal of the Golds ten years ago, yet strengthened by the time they spent in exile together. This series has such a knack for layered friendships and this one quickly became one of my favourites.
Two new voices are added in this series, and they both add another dimension of depth to the world of Red Rising. The first is Lyria of Lagalos, a Red been liberated from the mines – but finds herself shackled by poverty and prejudice that still plagues this new world. Her narration is filled with resentment towards Darrow and Mustang, along with the unfulfilled promises of the Republic. I loved her chapters, especially for the way Iron Gold incisively criticises the ongoing social injustices of the real world through it. The other point of view is Ephraim ti Horn, a Gray who once served in The Rising, but walked away once bloodshed and tragedies turned him cynical. Through his eyes, we see the underbelly of society, where gangsters and thieves are caught in an interplanetary web of crime and deceits. Ephraim is also the first main character in Red Rising to openly identify as gay, and I’m glad to see a step towards more inclusivity in this series.
The world building is expanded immensely in this book, yet it never gets in the way of the constant thrum of action. There are machinations from all sides, open-war and heart-stopping combat, betrayals and triumph, and underlying all of that – a deeply personal narrative about how difficult it is to remain a hero in a broken world. But they bloodydamn try, and I love them all for it.
As I said to CJ on twitter earlier on today, it’s not a Red Rising book unless you feel your very existence is being threatened while reading it. Iron Gold certainly fits that bill, so Howlers: brace yourselves and pray for your faves.
Please tell me whether you’ve read this series, and let me know your thoughts. However: No spoilers for Iron Gold in the comments please, or The Reaper himself will come for you with his slingBlade.
I also posted some phone wallpapers based on the book earlier on this week, check them out here!
When I’m not reading, or even when I am meant to be reading, you can invariably find me snooping on Goodreads or sighing wistfully at online book retailers, searching out for my next preorder. Narrowing my wishlist for the rest of 2017 down to just 10 (ahem, plus two) was entirely too challenging – but perhaps it will be good training for an exercise in self-restraint when the books do come out (haha, who am I kidding).
Want by Cindy Pon: Cindy Pon wrote Silver Phoenix and Serpentine, two Asian fantasy abundant with intriguing folklore and mouth-watering food description. It’s a no-brainer that I’ll be all over Want, her first foray into science fiction. The beautiful cover by illustrated by Jason Chan also demands to be displayed face out on my bookshelf.
The Tiger’s Daughter by K. Arsenault Rivera: One female Qorin warrior, one divine empress, a shared prophecy, a star-crossed love that will conquer demons, a blurb promising ‘even gods can be slain…’ – I am shook, OK, I needed this book in my life the moment I found out about its existence. It’s also blurbed by Victoria Schwab, Roshani Chokshi, and Seanan McGuire, my hype meter is through the roof.
Do you remember Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson? That series where super powered humans emerge in a post-apocalyptic world, quickly dividing society into factions? Well, I have good news for those who enjoyed it – Not Your Sidekick gives you a similar premise, but filled with a whole lot more of diversity and heart. Although it dresses up in superhero capes and fun action – at its heart Not Your Sidekick is the perfect book for anyone who’s ever felt the yearning to be a part of something more.
Comic book superheroes and supervillains gets a makeover in Not Yout Sidekick. Aside from action sequences and save-the-world type plotlines, we also get an introspective and character centred novel. While the book was extremely fun during its engaging action scenes and exposition, it shined brightest due to the lovable and diverse cast of characters. Alongside with saving the day, Jess and the crew also have to contend with romantic mixed signals, embarrassing siblings, and the difficulties of finding gainful employment without work experience. It’s comic superheroes at their most relatable. Continue reading “Book Review: Not Your Sidekick”→
I am honoured to host the first stop in the Australian The Diabolic Blog Tour. Today, S. J. Kincaid will be sharing with us her Diabolically awesome playlist. I love listening to music that inspired or aid the author in the creation of their book, it makes for such a visceral and immersive experience reading experience.
When I was conceiving Nemesis’s character, expanding on that girl I’d written only a single page about and wanted to know more, I was listening to this song and suddenly had this image of an immensely powerful, athletic woman charging down a hallway. That helped me figure out just what Nemesis would be, and what a Diabolic would be.
(Aentee’s notes: I love this song, it’s totally my summer anthem. The lines ‘Where there is desire, there is gonna be a flame. Where there is a flame, someone’s bound to get burned’ captures one of the pivotal relationships in this book so perfectly!)Continue reading “Blog Tour: A Diabolically Good Playlist”→
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Note: This review will contain spoilers for the prequel The Long Way To A Small, Angry Planet. Common Orbit can be read as a standalone, although you will be spoiled for part of Small Angry Planet’s ending.
I read Small Angry Planet earlier on this year and it catapulted into my all time favourite list, it’s a scifi bursting with heart and soul. Needless to say, I have been anticipating the release of Common Orbit ever since.
Companion novels are a mixed beast for me, although I love revisiting the world, I am always afraid I won’t love it as much as the original if the characters I grew to love are no longer around. My fears were quickly dispelled as Common Orbit prove to retain all the heart that made me love Small Angry Planet. It also stood on its own two feet as an excellent, thought provoking novel that examines the meaning of family and identity.
If you’ve been on Twitter this past week, you’ll notice that the community is abuzz with discussions on representation in fantasy. I can barely believe that it’s still up for debate. I am continually disappointed that while white and heteronormative narrative continues to dominate the genre, we still get people leaping to its defense when someone questions about the absence of diversity.
Somehow, there’s an idea that diverse fiction is a genre unto itself, that we should not demand to see ourselves reflected in popular fiction. In my mind, good fiction should be relatable and to some extent, it should accurately reflect the real world – even if it’s a fantasy.
To soothe my anger at the twitter debate, I went on Tor’s website to read through several of the SFF short stories they publish. I love the fiction published on this site because i) it’s free! and ii) it’s always quality and pushes to be inclusive. At the end of the day, the best way to support inclusive stories is to read them and shout your love to the world about them. So here’s a list of great SFF stories you can enjoy by just clicking on the link!
We made a terrible mistake in thinking that replicating memories was sufficient to replicate a person.
Cixin Liu took the world by storm with The Three-Body Problem, one of the first Chinese science fiction to be translated into English. I love how he uses daring ideas on science, and reapplies it to answer questions about humanity. This short story about engineered and inherited memories between a mother and her unborn child captures his style perfectly. Ken Liu delivers a smooth and technically impressive translation, as always. Continue reading “Recs: Diverse SFF Short Stories”→
TBR Takedown is a readathon running on twitter from 20-26th of June. The challenge? To read 6 books fitting into 6 different categories.
My book hauls in the last couple of weeks have been absolutely out of control. I will opt to blame my wanton indulgence on the fact that it’s my blogoversary month. With hauling comes the responsibility to read all of the books, so I’ve decided to partake in TBR Takedown this week in an attempt manage my pile.
I will mostly be trying to knock off library books this week. I am still extremely mortified about my previous set of fines and I cannot look at the local librarians in the eyes.
Non-fiction is something I rarely ever read, but this book sounded too excellent to pass up. Sara Maitland visits the woodlands of Britain, rediscovering their intrinsic links to fairy tales we love. For each forest she wanders through, she tells us of its natural and social history – as well as how aspects of the forests guided humanity’s imagination and oral storytelling traditions. She also concludes each story with a retelling of a well-known fairy tale.
I am about two-third of the way through this one, and it has been simultaneously enchanting and fascinating! However, I do find that it is a very personal indulgent piece of writing, the author often relying on conjectures and assumptions to get her message across. Continue reading “TBR Takedown: The Pile”→
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
As you might know, I have been a huge fan of author Claire North ever since reading the magnificent ‘The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August’ earlier on this year. I jumped at the chance to review The Sudden Appearance of Hope, which has a kickass premise: a woman who no one can remember, living a life of crime and exacting her own brand of justice. This book delivers on so many fronts: unique plot, an almost uncomfortable lens on the state of social media, and a host of complex female characters. Although at times, I struggled with the slower pacing of the book – it was an ultimately rewarding read.
Hope Arden is a completely isolated individual, living at the fringe of society owing to people’s inability to remember her. Her parents started forgetting about her existence within her teens. People she meets forget her the moment their eyes stray from her face. Naturally, this makes Hope a somewhat prodigious talent at minor crime. Yet, it also leaves her floundering about her purpose and identity in life. She’s a woman who can make a thousand first impressions, but will never have a chance to develop relationships or form personal connections. Instead, she grounds herself by knowing things, by listing facts, by counting – much of the book’s bulk is actually bogged down by her compulsive need to list things. Continue reading “Book Review: The Sudden Appearance of Hope”→
Be Warned: I love this book so much I don’t think I can be trusted to be coherent or impartial in this review. The flawless Kynn of Diva Booknerds recommended Small Angry Planet to me last year – as I trust her in all things bookish I purchased it, and it’s been sitting around on my Kindle for months on end. I want to go back and smack my past-self for ignoring this gem of a book for so long. Small Angry Planet is one of those rare books that has both heart and brain, capable of making you think and feel for a long time after its last pages.
I don’t read a lot of science fiction, but I do love the genre for exploring contemporary issues in a different setting. Not to mention that space is boundless in its ability to inspire, and the vastness of the unknown is ceaselessly intriguing. Small Angry Planet captures all of the things I love best about the genre, and further delivered a human (or should I say, sapient) warmth to the story. Continue reading “Book Review: The Long Way To A Small, Angry Planet”→