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review 2016-08-11 09:55
Epic waste of time.
The Bone Clocks - David Mitchell

This is a gimmick book, which in itself isn't a bad thing if there's a good story in there. Maybe there was a such thing in this, but unfortunately for me all that was buried under heaps of problems.


The first ninety pages were a positive surprise. A man writing a fifteen-year-old girl in first person voice can only end up in disaster, was my first thought and indeed it was too good to last. Because the first time jump and second part started the stalker trend.


Instead of continuing writing Holly's story from her perspective, Mitchell does everything in his power to reduce her into a pawn and object in the lives of men around her. Holly disappears into the background and is only shown through glimpses in the moments most important to her life and story.


A one night stand, a would be husband, the love of her adult life, and then the world saving or ending battle through an alien black woman. That's a bad description but it's the best I can do for the fifth narrator and point of view character. To add insult to the injury Mitchell uses POC to refer to a "Pear Occident Company" and reduces the immortals into small minded trans-phobics with a single line.


Fun times end with a second short part from Holly's point of view and with her aged voice, but it's too little too late. The story, its characters, and the author had already lost me for good.

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review 2016-07-02 07:54
What was that?
Blonde Roots - Bernardine Evaristo

In theory, this book should be brilliant. In practice, it's not. And I can't quite pinpoint why the alternative history doesn't work for me.


Is it because, although Evaristo changed the location names—still highly recognisable—she kept every oppressive symbol white people have used and created against black people in this world? Or is it because the characterisations are terrible? There are some really good moments, but mostly it's probably because the characters have been harnessed in the service of THE MESSAGE instead of driving the story forward through all the real horrors of slavery.


Probably. Bah, I don't know. Read it yourself and tell me a better theory.

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text 2015-05-01 15:10
Puritans in Space didn't impress me.
Saving Grace (Grace's Moon Book 1) - Merry Farmer

I gave it a good 25% or a little more than 100 kindle pages before giving up.


The book is an odd mix of speculative scifi and badly executed survival-slash-caveman romance. The world-building science infodumbs alternate between lewd malegaze and annoying flashbacks to a potentially interesting take on nu-eugenics that drove the only ship capable of interstellar travel to escape earth.


Thing is, the characters worry about saving enough diverse genetic material to rebuild human population on another planet, or in this case on a moon they crash, but none of the characters either pre or post crash are described as POC.


Another annoying thing is how the survival focus isn't actually on survival or even exploration of their new habitat but powerplay for leadership, which would be natural and could be interesting if done right and not by characters that come across more like vapid pod people than actual human beings.


And none of those points seems to be the crux of the story. No, the point is the badly written love-tetrahedron where three men compete for the titular character Grace.


I could have read it, hadn't it felt like fighting to get through every short paragraph.




I received an Advance Readers Copy of this book.

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review 2014-08-22 10:00
The Best of All Possible Worlds by Karen Lord
The Best of All Possible Worlds - Karen Lord

Rameau's note: This review was originally posted on Love in the Margins.


Sometimes late is better than never, right? I saw a lot of positive buzz around The Best of All Possible Worlds when it was published last year, but I didn't get around reading it until now. I was expecting more science and less romance, but I'm not complaining.


What would happen if nearly all the women were gone? That's the premise of this book partly based on articles written about fishers who lost their wives and families in the 2004 tsunami.


In a galaxy where four different but distantly related humanoid races have learned to coexist, one loses its homeworld. The Sadiri have made themselves a sort of ruling class and now have to rely to others for their survival. Their new, temporary home planet isn't enough to sustain the remains of their gender imbalanced race, and the excess of males are sent to Cygnys Beta, a frontier planet for settlers of all racers. It's a melting pot and the characters' appearances reflect that; they're all "various shades of brown".


Grace Delarua is a local biotechnian and a linguistic genius tasked with helping the Sadiri to adjust and preserve whatever the culture they may. This includes working closely with the Sadiri representative, Dllenahkh, and traveling around the planet visiting long forgotten Sadiri outposts.


While Dllenahkh is actively seeking for a wife, Delarua is the commitment phobic, with a good reason as the reader will find out—trigger warning for domestic abuse. Where he is cool and reserved, she is impulsive and giggly. Somehow they mesh.


It was fun watching them react to different variations of the Sadiri culture and to each other. Most refreshing part might have been to read a romance where a simple handholding became a sign of a deep devotion. Their relationship takes over a year (and three hundred pages) to develop.


The words "there aren't enough wives" come up repeatedly, and it's clearly a very hetero-normative set up. There isn't any mention of other genders or sexualities among the Sadiri, even though the exploration team does include a gender neutral character, Lian. Lord vaguely implies to how Sadiri families are adopted but that doesn't quite stand out in the barrage of absent wives.


I fell in love with the short third person voice that starts the book, so I felt a bit cheated when I found out that the rest of the story is narrated in Delarua's first person voice. I grew to like it but the writing didn't quite flow well enough to be addictive.


I hesitate to label The Best of All Possible Worlds as science fiction because it isn't bogged down by the technical details I've come to expect from the genre. Rather than marvelling at the advanced technology, Lord focuses on the social sciences and exploring how societies might develop together and apart, before and after a catastrophe.


Speculative fiction might be a more accurate description of this book, but that's not quite accurate either because it's the relationship between Delarua and Dllenahkh that holds everything together. So, it's a romance that happens in space.


Final Assessment: If you're looking for a slow build romance with explicit handholding on a foreign planet in the aftermath of a societal and environmental catastrophe, this is definitely a book for you. B


Source: Library.

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