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I think I've reflected on this before, but it is genuinely wild to be so far through this year and this challenge and still have SO MANY UNREAD BOOKS.
As I'm writing this I have SIX BOOKS out from the library, in addition to all the unread books on my shelves.
Sincerest apologies to anyone I actually know whose books I have yet to get to.
#71: THE FIRST SISTER by Linden A. Lewis
I really need to start making note of where recommendations come from (I mean, twitter, broadly, but more specific than that).
I was really into this book! I liked the characters, I liked the set up, and I even liked the switching in POVs, which was shockingly easy to follow for such an easily confused reader as myself.
The story follows First Sister, [name redacted], a member of a religious organization that also doubles as sex work, and Lito, a former soldier in the opposing army. First Sister is assigned to spy on her new captain, while Lito must try to track down his former partner, who is a traitor to their side. Meanwhile, Hiro, the former partner in question, communicates through pre-recorded messages.
There's a lot going on in this story, on both a narrative and a thematic level, but it's relatively easy to follow, which is always a boon in my opinion. I did guess the big reveal before it happened, but that to me is merely a sign that it was well foreshadowed and developed beforehand. I thought that the tensions between various groups was interesting. I maybe would have liked to know a little more about the groups and their conflicts, but I also didn't feel like the information was lacking.
I'm going to give a CW that's also a spoiler, so scroll on if you don't want to see it (has to do with misgendering):
Due to the nature of the plot and also one of the major twists, a character is misgendered through much of the book. This is absolutely portrayed as an act of violence and violation towards them (as well as the body modification that has been done to them without their consent), and once the other characters realize what has happened, they revert to the correct pronouns, but this may be something trans readers should know about beforehand!
Other CWs include: involuntary sex work (and accompanying sexual assault connotations, if not depictions), non-consensual body modification and experimentation, ableism.
Mostly I'm very interested to see where this story goes next, as a lot of the aspects it brings up will, I think, ultimately be determined by how well they're handled down the road. For example, near the end of the novel, one of the characters is revealed to be plural. I'm interested to see how that element is depicted moving forward, now that the character is aware of it.
In conclusion: interesting space opera/sci fi book with genuinely more depth than I was expecting it to have. Go prepared, because there's some triggering stuff, but by all means, give this one a look if it seems up your alley.
#72: GODS, MONSTERS, AND THE LUCKY PEACH by Kelly Robson
I didn't realize before I read this that I was all about women with more than the usual number of legs, but you learn something new every day, huh.
The story takes place a few hundred years in the future, following near world-ending ecological disasters. Our main character, Minh, works in fixing ecosystems, a project that has become less appealing to the people in charge due to the advent of time travel. Also, she's got six tentacle-like legs, which is pretty cool.
There's a lot of interesting themes being explored in this book, which I was definitely interested in. We get flashes of the distant past, where they eventually end up travelling to, and I liked the exploration of the difficulty between preserving and experiencing the past versus trying to do the hard work involved in preserving the future.
I thought the characters were interesting and well-established, though I did feel a little like I was missing some motivation on their part (though that could be me). I particularly liked the character of Kiki, and her mentor-mentee relationship with Minh.
I found I got bogged down a little bit in the first half of the book, particularly, when it came to the procedural stuff and the logistics of the time travel. I'm sure there are people who enjoy this element of science fiction, where the actual science and whatnot gets explained, but I'm a reader who's pretty happy to just be told, "yep, we're time travelling, let's go!"
I've seen some reviews that were unhappy with the ending, and while I understand why they probably felt that way, I liked it - it was bittersweet and while abrupt, does feel like a complete end to how the story had been unfolding up until then.
NEXT WEEK'S AGENDA:
#73: Network Effect by Martha Wells
#74: The Mythic Dream ed. by Dominik Parisien and Navah Wolf