By Jacob P. Torres
I’m re-reading Yoon Ha Lee’s Machineries of Empire novels before I read and review my ARC of his third novel, Revenant Gun. Spoilers abound in this review of Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee. Ninefox Gambit was nominated for a Hugo and Nebula Award for best novel and won the 2017 Locus Award for best new novel.
Cover Description: “To win an impossible war Captain Kel Cheris must awaken an ancient weapon and a despised traitor general.
Captain Kel Cheris of the hexarchate is disgraced for using unconventional methods in a battle against heretics. Kel Command gives her the opportunity to redeem herself by retaking the Fortress of Scattered Needles, a star fortress that has recently been captured by heretics. Cheris’s career isn’t the only thing at stake. If the fortress falls, the hexarchate itself might be next.
Cheris’s best hope is to ally with the undead tactician Shuos Jedao. The good news is that Jedao has never lost a battle, and he may be the only one who can figure out how to successfully besiege the fortress.
The bad news is that Jedao went mad in his first life and massacred two armies, one of them his own. As the siege wears on, Cheris must decide how far she can trust Jedao—because she might be his next victim..”
By Jacob P. Torres
Spoilers abound in this review of Kelly Robson’s Gods, Monsters, and the Lucky Peach.
Cover Description: “Discover a shifting history of adventure as humanity clashes over whether to repair their ruined planet or luxuriate in a less tainted past.
In 2267, Earth has just begun to recover from worldwide ecological disasters. Minh is part of the generation that first moved back up to the surface of the Earth from the underground hells, to reclaim humanity’s ancestral habitat. She’s spent her entire life restoring river ecosystems, but lately the kind of long-term restoration projects Minh works on have been stalled due to the invention of time travel. When she gets the opportunity take a team to 2000 BC to survey the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, she jumps at the chance to uncover the secrets of the shadowy think tank that controls time travel technology.”
Han King’s The Vegetarian has been awarded the Man Booker Prize and while I can see the appeal, it left me wanting, not in a good way.
The story revolves around a family in which the daughter becomes a vegetarian after a nightmare. She’s compulsive about it, not eating anything that came from animals and getting to the point where instead of avoiding touching meat, she avoids touching people as well. The smell of sweat bothers her.
The story is short, with three different perspectives: the woman’s husband, her sister, and her brother-in-law.
To be honest, it’s pretty manic pixie dream girl. There’s some hand waving at magical realism, but it doesn’t follow through and the story’s structure feels stunted. The characters are mysoginists and flat. The pacing is meandering, and I didn’t find the story compelling. If it had followed through on some of its more magical and dream-related elements I would have found it more interesting.
Overall, it wasn’t for me. Maybe my tastes just aren’t literary enough.
I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Mary Robinette Kowal’s Forest of Memory is a new Tor.com novella that (according to my .pdf reader) is about 50 pages. It also happens to be great to read while you soak your feet (which may or may not be how I read it). It chronicles the mysterious and unconfirmed week of a young woman who had gone missing.
The story is told from a first person perspective. The narrator, Katya, is a young woman who deals in antiquities, artifacts from previous years that show their wear. She goes up to look at a fairly rare find, a manual typewriter and dictionary, and is waylaid on her way home by a stranger who appears to be shooting—poaching? meddling with?— deer in the forest. She almost runs into the deer, but when the stranger notices her, he kidnaps her.
The story is fun for a number of reasons. The narrator is unreliable; it’s filled with intrigue; and you find yourself just wanting to know what in the world is going on.
It’s set in a future where people are constantly in touch with one another. People live stream everything. The narrator is particularly well known for this, because the authenticity and story that goes along with the items is as valuable, if not more, than the item itself. The very idea that someone could go missing and show up on the other side of the country without anyone knowing is basically unfathomable.
This brings into question a lot of different topics, like whether you can count on an individual’s memory, how interconnected we are, whether you can really have something be valid and authentic without “proof.” Kowal takes an, at times, round about way of talking about these issues, but the overall impact is no less effective.
The story is suspenseful and entertaining. There are moments where it can be slow, but this is often a good change of pace from the more tense moments of the book. The narrator is likeable, if unbelievable.
This was a pretty perfect evening-in book. Kowal managed to make an interesting world with a captivating plot that leaves you just wanting more. Better yet, she did it all in a story you can read in a sitting.
A big thanks to Tor.com for providing me with a copy of Forest of Memories in exchange for an honest review.
I received Thief’s Magic for review about a month ago and hadn’t picked it up. When I did, it seemed like the kind of story I’d like, but it had some unfortunate aspects that didn’t appeal to me. The first part, a story about a boy training in archaeology who uncovers a magical book, was interesting, with a lot of details about the character and the world that I liked. But all of a sudden it shifted. It was as though I’d picked up a totally different book. The parts switched to a story about a girl who falls in love practically overnight. She’s convinced that the use of magic destroys one’s soul, but then goes ahead and almost unthinkingly uses it. The lack of appeal post-shift and the romance wasn’t for me and it was dragging. I put it down. Maybe I’ll pick it up again later, but for now, I’m classifying it as a DNF.