Mini Reviews: An Unkindness of Ghosts, Half Lost (DNF), The Trials of Morrigan Crow, Seraphina

Through August and September, I plowed through so many books I accumulated a bit of a review debt. Not reviewing them would, of course, not do, so this is my attempt to catch up and clean out the drafts.

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Review: Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

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Station Eleven is the best book I regret ever picking up. It’s absolutely brilliant…and there lies the problem. The vision of the apocalypse, the characters, people’s reactions – it all felt too real. Visceral, human, and deeply, deeply sad. It got under my skin to the point I wondered whether I should stop reading. I’m unused to books hitting me as hard as this. I think the last one was The Unwomanly Face of War, but that was nonfiction, and well over a year ago.

Some of them took turns trying to sleep in the moving caravans, others walking and walking until their thoughts burned out one by one like dying stars and they fell into a fugue state wherein all that mattered or had ever existed were these trees, this road, the counterpoint rhythms of human footsteps and horses’ hooves, moonlight turning to darkness and then the summer morning, caravans rippling like apparitions in the heat, and now the Symphony was scattered here and there by the roadside in a state of semi-collapse while they waited for dinner to be ready.

But at the point it was already too late; if it’s going to stick in my mind like a painful splinter no matter what, I might as well finish. So I did. I went into the book largely blind, knowing only it was postapocalyptic, literary, and slice of life, and I think it may have been for the better, so if this was enough to convince you, stop reading here.

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Review: One of Us by Craig DiLouie

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Wow. I don’t even know how to approach reviewing this. It’s an exploration of “us vs. them” mentality through a SFF lens and, while well-written, in no way a pleasant read. I could only read it a few pages at a time before I had to put it down again. The petty, everyday evil, the worst aspects of humanity laid bare. It was almost too much. But. It felt powerful and important and viscerally realistic in its own brutally unflinching way. Necessary.

He learned what he was, what they were, and that monsters and men were not meant to exist in the same world. If your own mother hates you and drives you away, why should total strangers love you? From the beginning, the masters understood this fundamental truth. They created separate worlds, one for themselves, another for monsters. The system would not end when the mutagenic reached adulthood. The children would grow up to become free folk living in an invisible cage, with no rights or opportunities. Which meant no real freedom at all.

The basic premise is that a sexually-transmitted disease caused a generation of children to be born with pretty significant mutations. Abortion, safe sex education, discussions on rape, medical testing have become a necessity. The plague children have mostly been taken away at birth and shut into Homes, institutions where the employees are mostly ex-cons and other sorts of desperate people that shouldn’t be let near children. They are used for slave labour on farms. As the children become teenagers, they start developing superpowers and tensions are rising.

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Review: Nice Dragons Finish Last by Rachel Aaron (Heartstrikers #1)

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Nice Dragons Finish Last has been recommended to me a lot. Urban fantasy usually doesn’t appeal to me, but the amount of enthusiasm from people with similar tastes was enough to convince me to give it a try. And, well…it’s fun and charming and quite well-written, I would recommend it to many people, but ultimately still not really for me.

“You’re not ambitious, you don’t make plans, you don’t try to take things over. It’s like you were born with no draconic instinct whatsoever. All you’ve done since I let you out of training is hide in your room, avoiding the rest of us like the plague.”

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Review: The Monster Baru Cormorant by Seth Dickinson (The Masquerade #2)

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Thanks to Tor and Netgalley for providing the ARC in exchange for an honest review. Quotes provided may change in the final vesion.

For me, this has been one of the most anticipated releases of 2018. I couldn’t wait to return to the world and see where the story takes Baru next, I pre-ordered in case I wouldn’t get the ARC, and when I did, I was almost wary of reading it, anticipating the emotional punch. The enthusiasm from bloggers who got it earlier was contagious. Sadly, while it was good, it didn’t quite live up to its hype.

Who says you have a duty to a nation? Who says you cannot reject an unjust duty? Who says you can decide which evil is small enough to tolerate, and which is too great to allow? Who says you should allow anyone to hold such power over you, the power to use your work for purposes you do not understand?

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Review: Foundryside by Robert Jackson Bennett (Founders #1)

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I received an ARC of this book from the publisher (Crown) on Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. 

(also, this is my first ARC)

A lovechild of Sanderson, Lynch, and Gladstone as I have heard it described would be an apt comparison indeed.

What a fucking book. This one will make it big, mark my words. It has something for everyone. Fans of high-paced, action fantasy? Check. Those looking for likable characters? Check. Magic system enthusiasts, those who want (mild) social critique, those looking for heist books, female characters with agency (who are not all fighters!)…there’s so much to love.

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