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What I’ve Been Reading, June 2021 Edition

Electric Hair by Dan 2021


Seems like I haven't been writing these quite as often lately. The reason is that I've been busy with things related to my upcoming YA debut, Dragons Walk Among Us. You can learn a bit about it here and get it on pre-order here.

Enough promo, let's get to the books. Lately, it's been all spec fic for me. Here's the latest round-up.

The Dead of Night by John Marsden

Honestly, Marsden's books aren't the easiest to read. His style is to have enormous, dense paragraphs of intermixed narrative and interior monologue rarely broken up by dialogue. To really appreciate his writing, you have to read it carefully unless you miss some crucial nuance. Having said that, I am jealous of his ability to pack an emotional punch into his writing. In terms of action, not overly much happens in The Dead of Night, although it is very much an adventure tale. On the emotional level, it is a gut punch after gut punch after gut punch. There's hope, too, just enough to keep the characters and the reader going. Highly recommended for fans of YA fiction and aspiring writers looking to add emotional punch to their work.

Dread Nation by Justina Ireland

A surprisingly good alternate history/zombie apocalypse mashup. I don't want to say too much lest I give away some of the gimmicks that make this book so enjoyable. The protagonist is snarky and likable. Highly recommended for anyone interested in a unique zombie novel.

A Desolation Called Peace by our Arkady Martine

The follow-up to A Memory Called Empire is another solid book. Readers of the first novel will find this one easy to absorb. The story revolves around avoiding a catastrophic war with a potent alien species. The book has a lot going for it––likable characters, intriguing subplots, and a weirdly believable futuristic society––but I personally found some of the political maneuvering a bit tedious in the final third or so. There's definitely room left for another installment, which I will read. However, I hope for a bit less political intrigue.

Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir

This is definitely an oddball novel. If you can suspend your disbelief, you're in for one hell of a ride. Also, none of the characters are actually likable until about the final quarter of the book. Then they really do start to become likable and indeed great characters because they have changed so much in the reader's eyes. You might wonder what kept me reading; well, the world that Muir creates is bizarre and just absorbing enough to keep my interest. Plus, the eponymous protagonist is so downtrodden she does have the reader's sympathy throughout the story. Overall, a masterfully told tale.

Walkaway by Cory Doctorow

Doctorow paints a fascinating dystopian near future where digital immortality is nigh. This is the first of Doctorow's books I've read meant for an adult audience. If you can put up with pedantic characters, there's quite a bit to appreciate in this novel. It's chock-full of engaging social and sci-fi ideas. About two-thirds of the way through the book, my interest was beginning to wane, but I must admit the final third through the climax and the resolution is exceptionally well done. If you want to read science-fiction about ideas, this novel is for you.

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