Becky Chambers: A Closed and Common Orbit

20180323_103347I think, in general, my policy is not to review sequels – particularly not in close succession. I’m making an exception here because this is both so great and so different from ‘The Long Way…‘ that I have plenty of thoughts. It is a sequel, in that it picks up directly where the previous book leaves off; but it is also a perfectly formed stand-alone novel in its own right.

Like all the best SciFi, ‘A Closed and Common Orbit’ uses exaggerated concepts to project and explore fundamental human experiences. The focus is much closer than that of its prequel, with alien species providing a background and mirror for the two central characters: a genetically modified human and an Artificial Intelligence.

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Naomi Novik: Uprooted


This is a beautiful fairytale, an original story which weaves traditional themes and motifs so seamlessly that it feels much older. Many of the references are to Polish culture, but they are very familiar to all European folklore.

At the same time, its characters and sensibilities are unmistakably modern, and its structure is extremely readable. Like the best reworkings, it questions the assumptions which underlie its source material, while maintaining complete respect for those sources.

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Tansy Rayner Roberts: Musketeer Space

This continues a suite of books given to me by Fred of Assume Benevolence, who is an excellent source of recommendations. The unlikely premise: ‘Musketeer Space’ is a (mostly) gender-swapped retelling of Dumas’ ‘The Three Musketeers’, set in space.

The resulting book is as silly as it sounds, and also as clever. It’s a ridiculous romp through space in the company of a group of impetuous, glory-seeking adrenaline junkies – who somehow manage to be thoroughly endearing.

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Becky Chambers: The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet

I’ve been putting off reading this for a long time because I thought it was a Worthy book, probably about the destruction of our world. Fortunately, it was placed quite insistently in my hands on Christmas day, and I was prevented from missing out for any longer.

the long way‘The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet’ is beautiful and lovely. Essentially, it’s an exploration of what it might be like if everybody was nice and tried to understand each other. It’s like the Mangoverse in Space.

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Jack Thorne (et al): Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

Another play! (That wasn’t deliberate – in fact I read three other books in between, but I’ve moved house, been camping and had my car rear-ended by a bus so I’m a bit out of step with myself.)

This is the ultimate in fanfiction: written with the complete support and cooperation of the original author, who has done an outstanding job of engaging with her fan base. And as such, it is the very best of fanfic. It ties up some loose ends from the original series, speculates on complex characters’ motivation, develops and resolves some important relationships, and – most importantly – it made me cry, several times.

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Jessie Burton: The Muse

I really enjoyed ‘The Miniaturist’. I remember thinking that there were definite indications that it was a First Novel, and I looked forward to seeing how the author would progress.

I really, really enjoyed ‘The Muse’. It has all the thoughtfulness and artistry and detail of ‘The Miniaturist’, but it reads a lot more smoothly. The characters are fascinating and delightful, and their relationships are both intriguing and completely believable.

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Malorie Blackman: Thief!

Essentially, someone recommended that I read ‘Noughts and Crosses’ but that was reserved by someone else at the library, so I got this one instead. As such, I don’t really feel as if ThiefI’ve given Malorie Blackman a fair hearing, and I will definitely go back and do it properly.

‘Thief’ is OK. It felt very slow at first. I was expecting time travel, which didn’t actually kick in until a good third of the way through. The set up chapters didn’t ring entirely true, but maybe that was partly because my expectations were off – if I’d been expecting a real-life contemporary school story, I might have been prepared to give it more time.

I did enjoy it much more once it was in the future. Continue reading “Malorie Blackman: Thief!”

China Mieville: The City and the City

This has been fairly low down on my ‘to read’ list for a long time, and I’ve kind of been putting it off. I think I was vaguely intimidated by it, because I’d read so many reviews saying how great it was. I was worried it was going to be either too clever or too grim for me. the city and the city

It is neither of those things. It is extremely clever, but it’s also very readable. It’s similar to ‘1984’ or ‘Farenheit 451’ in that the complexities of world-building are conveyed entirely through the plot, which is gripping in its own right; and it’s absolutely as well-written and as original as either of those.

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James Dashner: The Kill Order (+ series)

I’m awarding myself a lot of completionist-points for this, although I did pretty much skim the last one.

I am very aware that there’s not much point in writing reviews if you never write a remotely bad one; and I feel really mean writing bad things. Maybe I’m not cut out for this.

Instead, I think I will write a good review of a different book.

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