When the synopsis of “The Hungry Ones” says that the city is alive, that is 100% not hyperbole. Gomel has crafted a semi-cyberpunk dystopian where the city itself is a sentient being where the poor, the outcasts, all live on the lowest levels, and the elite high above the labyrinth in glittering towers of flesh and bone. Where the humans of the city have ‘arms that are sentient whip-like weapons embedded in their palms, and the living brain of the city births’ its own odd looking residents. Some of whom are inanimate objects brought to life, like yarn balls or traffic cones. It sounds vaguely funny, but this book is anything but—in a good way. “The Hungry Ones” is a literary fiction, fantasy horror ride that follows a woman who can’t remember who she is, but has a devastating power that can both stop the zombie-like Hungry Ones plaguing the city, and potentially save the city from a looming war with the country. This book was full of disturbing imagery, unexpected twists, and also beautifully written.
At its core, “The Cretin Gene” is a satirical look at how technology, junk food, and our current culture’s protest and counter protest mentality is making us, not just stupid, but violently stupid at that. It follows an aging cartoonist who is thrust into the limelight when someone looking to disrupt the world order commandeers one of his benign vegetable characters and assassinates someone. The assassination is a front for the true villain to inject society with the actual cretin gene, which has been supplied to the populace via their phones and their food. They essentially go crazy, and can be defeated when you read literature to them, or show them real books. See? Satire. Kind of. Satire is very hard to pull off in the best of circumstances, and maybe this ended up just not being for me, but the satire never really got to be the commentary it was supposed to be, and instead stalled out on caricature characters that got very difficult to read.
The Call for Finis: Pride is a quick novella full of deeper meaning. Told in a type of omniscient third person POV that flows between the three main characters as needed, we’re presented with a story that may feel a bit familiar to some readers. The main character may be Salvia, but the reader is given almost equal page time with the knight Baldric and his companion, Zinnia as they travel the countryside—rather reluctantly at times—keeping Salvia safe as she and the demon within travel to purge a city of sin. It was an interesting look at demons and angels that flipped the traditional view of demons on its head. I really loved the demon, Ultor! The novella is also not subtle about the social issues it incorporates from our current world and places within this fantasy setting, keeping it very rooted in a world that is unnervingly similar to ours at times.
“The Fall” is a modern take on the classic 1984, and boy, how is it! This story is very much a social commentary on the current world we live in (2017, though it still very much applies in 2020) where the populace is controlled by their technology, digesting only the news the government feeds them, preferring to lose themselves in social media platforms and trying to get a larger following, then noticing that the idyllic world they live in is anything but. The parallels to the world we have now (in America anyway) are uncomfortably obvious, and Doellinger is a very talented writer not only to bring all this together, but to craft such a twist and bittersweet ending. But I had a hard time really getting into the book.
Well, that’s it, I finally finished this trilogy. I’ve loved this trilogy from the start. I loved the idea of the angels fabricating an apocalypse just because one of them wants to be the Messenger and was tired of waiting around. I loved the constant struggle Raffe has with wanting to be with Penryn, but also yearning to be back with his brothers, his kind. I love that Penryn is so aware of his struggle, that she doesn’t hold these desires against Raffe and takes the time to stop and think, if our positions were switched, wouldn’t I do the same? This final book had a lot of loose ends to tie up, between Raffe still needing his wings back, Paige starving because she refuses to eat her new food source due to the barbaric experiments done on her, and you know, saving mankind along the way. But for all the new, creepy and action filled areas and new locations Ee takes us to in this book, it took a while to get going, and then ended all too quickly.
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