logo
Wrong email address or username
Wrong email address or username
Incorrect verification code
back to top
Search tags: Emma-Newman
Load new posts () and activity
Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2017-06-04 21:19
All Good Things
All Good Things - Emma Newman

I a stalwart fan of Emma Newman through her powerful work, Planetside. Although the tone and plot of the Split Worlds series are very different, I loved them all, devouring the previous four books in less than one week. After waiting for the final book for almost a year, I found it a satisfying conclusion to the series. As with the previous books in the series, All Good Things deals heavily with themes of feminism, environmentalism, agency, and responsibility.

 

This book is the completion of a long story arc, and I don't believe it should be read without the rest of the series. All of the characters from previous books have returned. As always, I wasn't quite sure if I actually liked Cathy, the major protagonist of the series and the is the driving force of the story. Cathy is a fierce feminist who wants to bring change to the changeless Nether world, but to me it feels like she is driven by a selfish, myopic ideology that often stops her from seeing the harm her actions inflict on others. This selfishness is examined in the novel: Cathy seeks to bring dramatic change, and this is bound to have negative impacts on others. What right does she have to make these types of decisions for so many others? As one character puts it:

"To create change, to disrupt a system of control, one must carry out radcal acts. One must be prepared to destroy so that something new can be created. Those in control will never give up the power afforded to them voluntarily. It must be taken. If that requires the deaths of a few to give freedom to the many-- and survival of the many--then so be it. This is not a gentle act."

But who has the right to decide to make that sacrifice? Does having the power to carry out the act give you the right to do so?

 

Fortunately, the other characters-- Sam, Lucy, Kay, and the gargoyle -- are more sympathetic. However, there's a big "anyone can die" and "anyone can betray" vibe in the novel. There is no easy division into protagonists and antagonists in the novel: everyone is driven by their own motivations and secret loyalties. Because of this, there have been many different antagonists in the story, with protagonists easily morphing into enemies. Sometimes, the changes felt too facile to me, the deaths of characters too superficial, the betrayals too unrooted. I particularly disliked how anticlimactic some of the dismissals of characters we've grown to care about throughout the series were, and how easily the characters were forgotten and set aside.

For all the strong feminist themes of the novels, if you look at who dies or is forgotten, you'll see an impressive number of women. Bea's death was simply pathetic. Kay got refrigeratored, something I find particularly hard to stomach from an overtly feminist series. But it's Lucy I found most troubling. She has been such a strong character throughout the series. To have her thrown away and forgotten because of an out-of-character and clumsy betrayal in which she became the pawn of a man? Not good. For me, the saving grace of the novel was that Will was revealed as the absolute villain of the piece. I was worried throughout that his rape and control would be seen as "extreme love" and that he would end up as the protagonist, as is so often the case in urban fantasy romance novels. As Cathy notes, rape is rape, and it should not be whitewashed.

(spoiler show)

At the same time, I loved some of the twists of All Good Things: one of my favourite aspects of the book is how antagonists morph into allies and how an abrupt twist brought the one true villain of the series into sharp relief.

 

At its core, the novel is all about control and ownership and responsibility, and however surprising the ending, I found All Good Things a satisfying end to the series. If you've read the other Split Worlds books, I don't need to tell you about this book because you're going to read it anyway. As for me, I can't wait to see what Emma Newman has in store for her readers next.

 

~~I received an advanced reader copy of this ebook through Netgalley from the publisher, Diversion Books, in exchange for my honest review.~~

 

Cross-posted on Goodreads.

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2017-05-28 16:20
Brother's Ruin - Emma Newman

This is the start of a new series of Gaslight fantasies.  I found it to be the rare case where the author's skill invoked certain present day realities that added to the urgency and ultimate anxiety of the narrative.  Recommended with reservations.

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
url 2017-05-15 17:05
GR giveaway heads up: After Atlas by Emma Newman
After Atlas - Emma Newman

It looks to be only for UK & Australia, among others, but it's a great book! It's been shortlisted for an Arthur C. Clarke Award.

 

You can find my review here, if you want to see what I thought about it.

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2017-04-03 03:35
Brother's Ruin
Brother's Ruin - Emma Newman

I can never quite articulate why I find all of Emma Newman's books so utterly enthralling, but I'm pleased to say that Brother's Ruin is no exception. Compared to some of her other more serious works such as Planetfall, I found this novella a pure escapist pleasure. The story takes place in an alternate Victorian London where magic battles it out with the Industrial Revolution. Those born with the gift of magic must renounce their lives and instead dedicate their lives to the nation. Families are punished for hiding their magically gifted children, and paid for having their children taken by the mages. Charlotte has been hiding her magical gifts from her family and fiancee, but that's not her only secret: she is also a talented and successful illustrator. Hiding who she is, protecting her ailing brother, and surreptitiously aiding her family's finances, she thinks she is keeping it all together until the mages arrive at her doorstep.

 

It's an interesting world: although the books themselves are radically different, the general idea of magic practitioners as powerful pawns required to serve the desires of their government reminded me a bit of Myke Cole's Shadow Ops series. Given that in this case, mages rival the nobility in power and they don't appear to be enslaved, I'm not really sure I accept that they would give up all sense of private life out of pure duty for their country, but I'll be interested to see where the story goes. The alternate London is well-researched and has sly references to real historical events; for example, Charlotte's fiancee mentions that he has been mapping out cholera outbreaks to help out his peculiar friend John Snow. The book explores Newman's familiar themes of agency and feminism, and there's also what I'm pretty sure will end up as a budding romance. I read the whole novella in one sitting and I can't wait for more. My major complaints: (1) that it's a novella instead of a full novel, and (2) I don't yet have a sequel in my greedy hands. If you're a fan of Victorian magic or steampunkery, Brother's Ruin is well worth a look.

 

~~I received an advanced reader copy of this ebook from the publisher, Tor.com, in exchange for my honest review. Thanks!~~


Cross-posted on Goodreads.

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2017-03-16 08:00
Brother's Ruin
Brother's Ruin - Emma Newman

Brother's Ruin was a wonderful short book and a great start to the Industrial Magic series, which kept myself asking only one thing: Where/When can I get the next one? and Is it going to be a full length book? (Okay, these are in fact multiple things but certainly show my enthusiasm).

It had everything in it to make it a very nice read for me. Set in a Victorian England with a Royal Society which enlists everyone with magical abilities, I knew from the start I was going to like it. The Gunns have fallen on some hard times, as a good price is paid for a talented mage, their worries seem to be over when their son Ben seems to develop magical abilities. He's eager to try out, but what he doesn't know is that he's not the mage, his sister is, and she's been hiding it for years.

I was surprised at how much story fitted in the limited amount of pages this book has. Still, I would have loved to see it as a full length novel. The scene was set nicely, and you can see Charlotte struggling between the desire to keep herself safe (and her life predictable) and helping her family. I'm extremely looking forward to the next novel. I would certainly recommend it.

Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!

More posts
Your Dashboard view:
Need help?