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What I’ve Been Reading March 2021 Edition II


Spring is Nigh by Dan 2021
Spring is Nigh by Dan 2021


Howdy,


This month I've been up to my nose in speculative fiction. This second batch is a continuation of what's been an excellent month of reading.


Ganymede by Cherie Priest

Ganymede is the third installment in Priest's excellent Clockwork Century series. It's also the weakest book so far. Overall, it's still enjoyable, but the story lacks the previous novels' level of adventure and focus. The issue is that the narrative is divided for the first half of the novel between Seattle and New Orleans. Nothing much is happening in Seattle, while there's quite a bit of excitement in New Orleans. This creates two problems. First off, the Seattle scenes drag compared to the New Orleans chapters. Secondly, in Seattle we run into some characters from the previous novels. I am particularly fond of Mercy and Briar. Learning about what they have been up to is terrific and adds texture to the overall narrative. On the downside, I found myself wishing I was going on an adventure with them instead of the characters back in New Orleans.


In the third act of the novel, which essentially takes place entirely in New Orleans, the action heats up, and the story becomes quite lively. Plus, Cherie Priest pulls out a couple surprises near the end that I appreciated. One thing I enjoyed about this novel and is worth studying by aspiring authors is how Priest continues to hint and tease at the awful truth about the zombie pandemic that is spreading across the war-torn United States. Are the zombies simply an unfortunate by-product of the drug trade? Or are these poor souls the victims of a chemical weapon unleashed to end the Civil War? Progress is made toward answering these questions in Ganymede, but no definitive answers are given. I think this is a great technique. It really piques the reader's curiosity and adds continuity to the series as a whole.


Null States by Malka Older

I just wrote an extended review of this novel that you can read here. It's really excellent, and State Tectonics, the third installment in Malka's series, is on my must-read list for 2021.



The Stars Are Legion by Kameron Hurley

This is a pretty darn awesome book. Weird but awesome. If you're not bothered by gore and uncomfortable subject matter––you can check the author's website for a rundown of subjects some might find disturbing––this book is a must-read. What Kameron Hurley does really well is write unreliable narrators. In this novel, we have two. Zan can't be trusted because she suffers from amnesia of a sort. Basically, she can't separate reality in the here and now from her memories that she isn't sure are real memories. Jade can't be trusted because it becomes abundantly clear early on that she has her own agenda and will do anything to make it a reality. This includes lying to herself. If you want a master class on creating unreliable narrators, read this book and The Light Brigade by the same author.

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