Everything you need to know about this novella can be found in the synopsis, in fact, maybe too much is there. Still, in the world of “Viral Spark” humans have come to rely on machines—specifically digital implants and robots—for pretty much everything. There’s this light, depressing vibe a-la-Wall-E going on in this book that I kind of loved: people cluster like insects in their massive buildings, rarely leaving. Everything from their food to their clothes is 3D printed, and changing the décor of your apartment is just a swipe away on your own augmented reality screen. There is a lovely undertone of a dystopian here that I wanted to see more of, but as this is a novella, the focus remained firmly on the glitches in the main character’s system, and not the world McConnell places the reader in.
“The Point of Me” is definitely one of those reads you have to be in the right mood for given it’s rather heavy subject matter. The story follows James, a young teenager who is diagnosed with cancer. What follows is in part a tale of how such a devastating diagnosis affects him and his family, and is in part a purple-prose spirit journey that delves into a metaphysical fantasy realm, that could, theoretically, be interpreted as a sick young man’s fevered dreams while the various cancer treatments course through his veins. Davidson pens an incredibly beautiful story, one that covers a devastating topic, while trying to offer some hope to both her characters, and those who may be dealing with what James and his family are experiencing. But for as important of a topic as this is, it is a pretty slow read.
This book was a wild ride where the action never stops. Each chapter, or two, in “Of Flesh and Fire” read like an episode of a supernatural college sitcom. Which makes sense as, I believe, that was how this was originally written—as episodic serials to be consumed like crack riddled popcorn. Like, seriously the action never stops from pretty much the moment we meet Nym. The girl is literally on fire when we meet her, and things spiral out of control from that moment on. Honestly, if you like binge-worthy, fast (both in pacing and length), occasionally sweet, stories with magic and vampires, you’ll probably enjoy this book. There are some new elements that I enjoyed, as they aren’t present in most supernatural books when it covers this kind of subject material, but there are other tropes that felt a little too unnecessary for the story. Also, while the book is incredibly fast and easy to knock out during a lazy vacation, there are so many interesting and, frankly, big things going on that I felt like “Of Flesh and Fire” was about 5 books crammed into one very short one.
I don’t really know where to begin with “The Adventures of Warren Steadmill”, which isn’t a bad thing, but rating a book that’s written as a type of parody to classic folktales is just hard! Rosenberg has a distinct style of witty and sarcastic writing that reminds me a great deal of the late Sir Terry Pratchett, even down to the occasional footnote. Everything is whimsical, and silly, and also vaguely serious with some rather dark undertones. But Warren’s tale is a simple one: one of a family growing closer, finding purpose in life, and growing up. Warren falls for a girl and to impress her, he gives up his life of unproductive luxury to become a table maker and win his fair lady’s adoration. But, of course, none of that really works out for him and Warren, poor, sweet, innocent and often dumb, Warren, is left to bumble through an adventure he barely understands that will eventually leave him a hero. Kind of?
It’s not very often you stumble across an epic fantasy that undertakes changing so many “accepted” norms and turning them on their heads as “Imber” does. From the get-go this entire story is in first person, and just in the main character’s POV! That so rarely happens in fantasy that from the onset I found myself grinning. It may seem small, but it’s something Hackett does very well and is so different from the other fantasy books I read that I wanted to mention it up front. But anyway, “Imber” is a story of a young woman who steps into the role of queen under less than favorable circumstances: many of her citizens feel she is too young to rule. Despite that, Nat is determined to be the ruler they deserve, filling her beloved mother and father’s shoes. Her Council demands she prove that she’s ready to be queen, leaving Nat to fill her days with copious amounts of studying, and that’s on top of her learning how to wield a sword and fire a bow. None of these things come easily to her, but she tries nonetheless. But when rumblings that old rumors about ancient enemies might be more than just campfire stories begin resurfacing, swiftly followed by tragedy, Nat acts without hesitation. It may be an extremely impulsive decision, but never let it be said that Nat sends others to do jobs she wouldn’t herself do.
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