“Knight in Paper Armor” is a dark dystopian novel set in the near future, where corporate greed and racism have completely taken over and divided up America (and I assume other countries but they’re never really talked about). We follow Billy, a young Jewish boy with incredible physic powers; able to take away the physical and emotional pain of those he touches, as well as mind controlling them if his darker tendencies get pushed too far. When Billy is finally allowed to leave the facility where he’s being tested on to attend school like a “normal” teen, he meets our female main character, Natalia. Natalia is an immigrant from Guatemala, a fact she has to hide, pretending to be from Mexico instead—though she faces a lot of bigotry for that, too. Billy and Natalia deal with extreme racism from practically the start, their world is brutal in every sense of the word, and the author is not shy about sharing their experiences in great detail. The topics covered in this sci-fi fantasy dystopian are important and very much apply to the world we live in today, but I do not think this book is appropriate for the audience it’s intended for….
I was pretty excited to read this one because so many of my friends and mutuals have loved it. Admittedly, I am late to the party (what else is new) but I really loved the premise of this YA utopia turned dystopian. Imagine a world where death and poverty and hunger and disease have all been eradicated. No one wants for anything and, when you get “too old” you can just turn a corner and reset yourself to a younger time. But when death is a thing of the past, and people’s existences become a bit meaningless, population control becomes a big necessity. Hence the creation of the Order of the Scythe, or a modern-day reaper. What they bring is the only true, permanent death, but not everything is as it should be in this order, so leave it up to a couple of teenagers to uncover that, but not for a while. And, once the world building was set up, the book became far too predictable and frustrating for me, which made me wonder, did I read the same book as everyone else?
I am a big fan of blending science fiction and fantasy together in the same book. Even more so when you have a cyberpunk-esque science fiction setting and magic plus some magical creatures for added measure. And boy does this book deliver on all those fronts! The book itself is like Storage Wars but with, you know, magic in a city literally alive with power and gods for pretty much every little thing you can think of. We follow Opal, who is desperate to pay off her debt and does so by basically buying apartments of people who fail to pay their rent. She may be a mage, but she prefers work as a Cleaner; on the hunt for treasure in these foreclosed locations. I really enjoyed the premise of that; Opal may be a magic user, but she is not the most powerful, well, anything and her magic isn’t necessarily unique. It made the world of the DFZ both magical and grounded, with the author taking the reader on an action filled ride from the lowest levels of this magical version of Detroit, to its glittering dragon consulates, because of course there are dragons now.
“Thrill Switch” is equal parts “Ready Player One” and “Silence of the Lambs” with a sprinkling of “Altered Carbon” for good measure. You have detective Ada Byron who has become an expert on Jazlin Switch, a notorious serial killer who managed to murder people in the real world by destroying their avatar in the virtual space known as the Holos. Ada has dedicated her life to studying Switch and becoming a cop all because Switch killed her father seven years ago. Now there’s a new killer out there copying Switch’s style, but are they really? Ada has to face her fears and stop more people from dying, but in order to do that she needs to team up with Holo “native” and FBI agent, Joon, and venture back into the Holos, a place she hasn’t been to since her father died. Worse yet, she may need Switch’s help in order to unravel the conspiracy this new killer is at the center of. Hawkin does an excellent job blending a virtual MMO style world with a real, vaguely dystopian Las Vegas in order to craft a violent and thrilling (heh) cat and mouse murder mystery. This was a fast-paced futuristic crime and mystery story, but was light on the procedural investigation aspect, so take that as you will.
I’m keeping this review short because there’s really not much to say beyond: I highly recommend all the Murderbot Diaries books. Read them, read them now. And 2. For these bots not being “alive” they sure do have a lot of feelings and I love that for them! The way they hate feeling things and get absolutely panicked whenever someone says the “relationship” word in any context I absolutely live for.
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