ACCEPTANCE by Jeff Vandermeer. The last book of the Southern Reach Trilogy. I really enjoyed this weird fantasy trilogy, and recommend it to the few people who haven’t read it yet. So many times, these grand idea stories fall apart at the end for me, when the answer to the huge array of questions either doesn’t satisfy or doesn’t seem to connect. This one really felt solid. I would suggest reading them all at once and not spaced out over a year like I did, though.
THE GAMEBOARD OF THE GODS/THE IMMORTAL CROWN by Richelle Mead. I’ve never read Mead’s vampire books, though many people have told me they’re compulsively readable. I’m just burned out on vampires.
So when I saw these books at the library, and they didn’t involve vampires and did involve high tech super soldiers, I picked them up, and man, are they chewy in the best way.
The heroes belong to a high-tech society that’s disavowed all religions and has people investigate any small cult that springs up. They’ve weathered genetic disease and enforced breeding mandates. The gap between first world and third world is enormous, though not always in the way the characters think they are. The characters are very much embedded in their own cultures and mindsets, and wander around happily unaware of their own contradictions. “Pure breed people are diseased and worthy of scorn. Pure breed people are beautiful and rich and are powerful.” It makes for interesting setting.
And in this world where religion has been cut out, the gods are coming back. With real power and real effects on the world. Magic simmers beneath the high-tech. Classism and racism are everywhere. And that’s just background for a complicated romantic thriller between an exiled religious investigator and his super soldier bodyguard. This world is really screwy and really fascinating. There are moments where I bobbled uncomfortably, trying to figure out if the ‘isms’ on display were the authors or the characters, but it always tipped back to the flaws in characters. I’m sad that there doesn’t seem to be a book 3 in the works.
If anyone else has read these, tell me what you think!
THE SECRET CASEBOOK OF SIMON FEXIMAL – KJ Charles. I admit. I’m a fan. I’ll read anything this lady writes. This one is a collection of short stories about a strange, suffering ghost-hunter and his journalist lover set turn of the century. It would have been so easy for her to make this a fun romp of stories, but instead she infuses it with a melancholy, and leaves you off, inevitably, at the first world war. Charles is wonderful about respecting history. She rarely gives you just a window in time; she shows you the wider world and the way times are changing. And of course, the romance is wonderful.
THE SHADOW THRONE – Django Wexler. I adored the first book in this series, and liked this one. I was excited to leave Khandar and come back to Vordan, but in the end I wasn’t as wild about this entry. Mostly because the magic, while present, felt somehow like an afterthought. It seemed to seep through the first book more. I also felt like the story threads were tighter in the first book, but to be fair, the first book had a more straightforward plot: retake the city, and find a mysterious magical force. This ones involves a lot more political infighting and so it feels more scattered by default as Wexler has to show all the factions. I’m still very much looking forward to the next.
SERIOUSLY WICKED – Tina Connolly. This YA was a romp! It’s fun, fast, and eminently quotable. I kept reading snippets of dialogue aloud to people near me.