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review 2014-03-12 20:31
The Demi Monde: Winter
The Demi-Monde: Winter: Book I of the Demi-Monde - Rod Rees

If you're looking for a unique and ambitious blend of Cyberpunk, Steampunk, Historical, Dystopian, Sci-Fi, Fantasy madness, you have to check this out. Rees has created a fascinating premise here, and the novel more than lives up to its blurb. I've never read anything like this before, and I think Stephen Baxter's "Discworld's savage, noir cousin" quote is the most apt at describing what you can expect from the first novel in the Demi-Monde series.


You get to explore a virtual reality filled with Historical psychopaths, what could be better?!


I think, above all, a massive hats off to Rees is due here for the fact that he hasn't gone for the obvious figures, instead of the front men he's gone for the true architects behind some of the worst examples of humanity in history, giving us characters with a truly terrifying mix of prejudice, intolerance, cruelty and genius. This novel genuinely puts the "punk" into Cyber/Steampunk, by holding up a mirror to the ugliest aspects of humanity. It's both entertaining and soul destroying all at once.


Obviously, with a cast of characters like this, you're due a read filled with a blend of racism and sexism that is shocking. It is, in many ways,  like being hit repeatedly over the head with a mallet. It works, in its context, but there's an element of repetition that does get tiring after a few hundred pages. We get explanations of the terms used in the Demi-Monde in many different ways, and often an explanation really isn't necessary, the term and the context is enough. What you get as a reader is a blurb at the start of each chapter offering an explanation, an overt explanation in the narrative, a vocal explanation from one of the characters, and also...should you still be in any doubt, a glossary of terms at the back. It gets too much, and for me it lessened the impact of what are clever, sharp observations. The same goes for the endless Capitalisations To Make A Point. It's really not necessary. LessBienism, NuJus, HimPerialism, HerEticalism, I could go on, and on. From my perspective, if Rees had eased back a bit and given the reader a little more credit, his concepts could have had an even greater impact.


But, mallets aside, it was a fascinating read. As a blend of genres it worked really well for me, and it's nice to see something so ambitious in a genre when so many writers stick steadfastly to the tried and true. This is definitely one that stands out from the crowd. It's a little frustrating in places, not least at the end! If you're not a fan of cliffhangers, you're going to be irritated. Fortunately I have the second in the series to hand so I can dig into that straight away and start looking for answers.


Five stars for concept, four for execution. The Caps, the constant TLAs and the repetition knocked a star off what was otherwise a delight of a read.



I stand by that review after a second read, although I'm annoyed at myself for the smug "I have the second in the series to hand" comment as, currently, I don't! I left it at Mum's, and as she lives abroad, and it's a bloody big hardback, she won't send it before we go over there next!


In retrospect, I do wonder if I was harsh in knocking a star off. I struggle with the differing explanations of 'stars' between Amazon and Goodreads. I try to stick with GR as my standard, but I wish they'd let us use halves. This would be the perfect candidate for a 4.5. It's such a unique concept that it really does deserve a lot of love.


I know Rees has had some bad press recently regarding some comments that many people viewed as sexist, but if I'm honest here, half the time any of my favourite authors speak outside of fiction they say something that either disappoints me or winds me up. These days I try not to pay too much attention. Is a novel well written? Does it entertain me? Does it bring something fresh to my bedside table? If someone can score three yesses there then that's really all I'm interested in. As long as they're not, murdering kittens and posting footage on YouTube or anything. Of course, there are exceptions, Harris-gate being a notable example, but in that instance the woman swore at me on Twitter so I feel perfectly within my rights to withhold any more purchases! 9 times out of 10 though? water off a duck's back.  


The Demi-Monde is not for the faint of heart. Brace yourself for extreme fictional racism and sexism in the company of psychopaths. You will encounter, and I quote (just to be clear!) "Anglos, Slavs, nuJus, Shades, Polaks, Krauts, Russkis, Frogs, Eyeties, Wogs, Chinks, or Nips." In a world where, again I quote!; "Women should confine themselves to Feeding, Breeding and MenFolk Heeding." 


"The Demi-Monde is the most extreme and the most pernicious of dystopias." If you think you can survive it, you're in for a rare treat along the way. 

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review 2013-09-25 00:00
Demi Monde Part 1 Winter (The Demi-Monde)
The Demi-Monde: Winter - Rod Rees I think this is a good book, but average. I felt the author had set up some items, but never followed through with them. As a result, he never accomplished a great plot. Just average.

I especially had a hard time with the character arc of Trixie, but I set aside my disbelief to see where he was going with it. That wasn't fully resolved in this book.

I liked the book enough that I will try the second in the series and see if he had a better go at that one
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review 2013-09-23 11:26
Rezension: Rod Rees - Demi Monde 1: Die Mission
Demi-Monde: Die Mission - Rod Rees

Die Demi Monde ist eine virtuelle Realität, die der unsrigen nachempfunden ist. In ihr leben sogenannte Dupes realer Personen. Die amerikanische Regierung hat die Demi Monde geschaffen, um Soldaten auf den Krieg vorzubereiten und sie zu trainieren. Deshalb wurden dort die Dupes von einigen der schlimmsten Tyrannen der Geschichte eingebaut, die sich nun dort gegenseitig bekämpfen. Dieser Ort ist absolut feindselig für alle die nicht dem Ideal entsprechen und somit erinnert diese Welt stark an die Zeit während des 2. Weltkrieges (Rassismus ist dort zb. extrem ausgeprägt).
Nachdem ich den Prolog gelesen hatte, der direkt mit einer Szene in der Demi Monde beginnt, hatte ich erstmal riesige Fragezeichen über dem Kopf, denn es wimmelt nur so von fremdartigen Begriffen. Deshalb habe ich als nächstes erstmal das Glossar komplett durchgelesen, welches ausführlich ebenjene Begriffe und einige Zusammenhänge (zb. Aufbau der Demi Monde, Kulturen usw.) erklärt. Dazu kann ich übrigens nur jedem raten, denn sonst wird es recht schwierig, der Handlung zu folgen, auch wenn sich einige Begriffe aus dem Kontext heraus von selbst erklären.
Rod Rees hat die Demi Monde unglaublich detailliert ausgearbeitet. Durch seine ausführlichen und bildhaften Beschreibungen fällt es gar nicht schwer, sich diese unwirtliche Gegend vorzustellen. Der Schreibstil des Autors liest sich flüssig und der Spannungsbogen ist durchgängig sehr hoch.
Auch die Charaktere besitzen die nötige Tiefe und sind allesamt sehr interessant und vielschichtig und machen teilweise eine große Entwicklung durch, die allerdings nicht immer zum Positiven tendiert.
Ella, die zur Rettung der Präsidententochter in die Demi Monde geschickt wird, ist unglaublich sympathisch und sehr mutig. Außerdem gefällt mir an ihr besonders gut, dass sie intelligent ist und mit viel Cleverness immer wieder Wege aus scheinbar ausweglosen Situationen findet.
Ebenso verhält es sich mit Vanka, einem Dupe aus der Demi Monde, der Ella beisteht, wo er nur kann. Vanka ist recht undurchsichtig, was ihn natürlich umso interessanter macht.
Besonders spannend war für mich jedoch die Entwicklung von Trixie, die größer gar nicht sein könnte und bei der ich neugierig bin, wie sie sich im nächsten Band weiter verhält.
Für mich war es unheimlich spannend, die Demi Monde zu erkunden (auch wenn es mich ganz sicher nicht dorthin zieht) und ich kann es kaum erwarten, auch den Rest dieser Welt zu entdecken und natürlich zu erfahren, wie die Geschichte weitergeht, denn diese endet mit einem bösen Cliffhanger.
Die Demi Monde ist eine ebenso faszinierende wie beängstigende virtuelle Welt, die der Autor mit viel Liebe zum Detail konstruiert hat. Durch die vielen interessanten und vielschichtigen Charaktere, die nie so handeln, wie man es von ihnen erwartet, kommt Langeweile hier nicht auf, auch wenn es anfangs noch ein wenig schwer ist, sich mit den vielen unbekannten Begriffen zurecht zu finden. Absolute Leseempfehlung!

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review 2013-09-10 00:00
The Demi-Monde: Winter (The Demi-Monde Saga, #) - Rod Rees I read about 50 pages and just couldn't get into it.

I usually like books that take place half in the real world and half in some kind of VR but this one didn't work for me. It may have just been too cute. It's not the Third Reich it's something that sounds very similar. (The Fourth something or other that sounds like Reich). There's random capitalization of letters within words and I think too many different concepts trying to fit into one world. Let's take notorious people from history and elements of WWII and various philosophies and mash the up. I think a straight up fusion with retention of the actual names for things might have kept me reading instead of a slightly off mishmash of things with RaNDom NamES and spEllInGs. Certainly it would be less confusing for people who know history. And maybe narrow the focus a bit.

I had it from the library and never opened it but picked it up when it was the free Friday book on B&N's site.
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review 2013-03-15 00:00
The Demi-Monde: Winter: Book I of the Demi-Monde
The Demi-Monde: Winter - Rod Rees

Oh The Demi Monde: Winter, what do I say about you first? It's pretty obvious straight away that this is a very lengthy read. I'm a fan of Science Fiction and therefore I'm used to reading books that border on tomes. Still, I'm certain that many people are going to be scared off immediately by the hefty weight of this book. At 522 pages, this is definitely not a light read.


That being said, the book actually starts out very well. From the first page the reader is thrown into a skewed world that mirrors our own, but is infinitely more terrifying. Imagine a place where the worst villains the most reviled of historical figures, make their home. A land where racism and sexism run rampant. All created by the government to fit into a training simulation for soldiers. The most advanced simulation ever seen, with the power to think for itself. Sound scary? Ella Thomas thinks so too, and yet she's headed in.


Now the real problem I found with this book was that Rod Rees was too ambitious. I know this sounds odd, but he packs so many different tropes into this story that after a while it becomes difficult to follow. I loved Ella. I loved everything about her intelligent schemes and daring escapes. Honestly, if the book had just followed her I would have been just fine. However there are social classes to remember, slang terms for different races, city names, wars, dates, and endless amounts of other information. If I was wondering why this book was so long, I found my answer.


The fact is, there are a lot of great things in this book. Wonderful characters, twists and turns. It just all happened to be buried under a lot of information that felt like it didn't need to be there. I skimmed a lot of this story if I'm being honest. Fact is, the parts I read still made up a whole story that was amazing. So now you see why my rating is where it is. Kudos to Rod Rees for taking on such an ambitious project, but perhaps the next book should have a little less in the info-dump department so the page count goes down.

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