If this is the end of the 'Ember' series, 'Diamond of Darkhold' is a fitting end indeed to the four-book series. I really hope it's not, though.
It retIf this is the end of the 'Ember' series, 'Diamond of Darkhold' is a fitting end indeed to the four-book series. I really hope it's not, though.
It returns to the point where we left off at the end of the second book (the third being a prequel), and it goes and wraps everything up in a nice, neat package. It doesn't give quite a happy ending, but it gives the closest it can to a...content ending, a realistic ending.
(I'm trying to make this as least spoilery as possible, so if it seems I'm being vague, it's most definitely on purpose.)
It doesn't answer all of the questions (for instance, more about the Builders and the crises that led up to the Disaster), which would be good material for more of the series, but it does a good job of tying things together.
I’ve found that when it comes to alternate history and steampunk as a genre as a whole, it’s very difficult to adjust everything just right without onI’ve found that when it comes to alternate history and steampunk as a genre as a whole, it’s very difficult to adjust everything just right without one major flaw or another. That said, I’m extremely picky with my steampunk books, and I’ve found many really disappointing. The only stars of the genre within the last year include Scott Westerfeld’s “Leviathan” series, and now, “The Iron Thorn”.
I’d been waiting for this release for months, and this book was worth the wait. I was so happy to find this mix of magic, religion, alternate history, and steampunk all fall well into place and interacting with each other more or less perfectly. I could find no flaws within this book that made me take notice at all. Which is really rare, considering how incredibly picky I am with my books in general, much less just within the steampunk/alternate history genre alone. Kittridge’s tip of the hat to Lovecraft worked so well in so many places, I can’t even begin to start to talk about which part worked best. It just kind of flowed. I can’t really find words other than that to describe this brew of genres.
I have to say, her portrayal of The Land of Thorn (also known as Faerie) was chilling in its difference to nearly all of the other versions of Faerie in other books. This place is not a beautiful place, unlike other versions of Faerie. This place is not hospitible, despite the Field of Lilies. It was really refreshing to have a very, very, very disturbing “reality (Lovecraft/Graystone)” vis-a-vis “Faerie (The Land of Thorn/Mist)”. It was like there was no real place for Aoife to run for relief, and that’s so very rare in not only the urban fantasy/YA and steampunk/alternate history genres, but in general literature as a whole. It’s rare that authors are willing to torture their characters so thoroughly, and with such a big payoff – which is a shame, really, since doing this in “The Iron Thorn” worked so incredibly well.
I really can’t wait until the next book in this series – though it looks like no sequel/companion has been scheduled for release as of yet. I hope that changes, as this was definitely one of the best books of 2011 so far.
(crossposted to librarything and witchoftheatregoing.wordpress.com)...more
Bacigalupi won my heart with “Shipbreaker”, but I actually had this book on the shelf not too long before that was released. “Shipbreaker” is for theBacigalupi won my heart with “Shipbreaker”, but I actually had this book on the shelf not too long before that was released. “Shipbreaker” is for the YA market, and is about a post-petrol America, but that’s where the similarities end. “The Windup Girl” is an awful, wonderful future that is SO not for kids, about a new kind of slavery that may await our descendants if we keep going the way we’re going. This book just made me love him even more.
For those not comfortable about human trafficking, you probably shouldn’t read this book. Well, semi-human trafficking. You get what I mean. But even if you’re uneasy, the way Bacigalupi writes it is masterful, and only goes for the jugular with anything that might be considered triggery in the abuse catagory a few times when he could have gone wild with it the entire book. For that I thank him, it made things easier to digest.
This book is far in our future – or is it? Once again, we have a post-petrol world, a world where entire parts of countries and continents are covered by rising seas, and the Thai Kingdom is now the center of the world instead of America with its “generippers” (geneticists who literally rip the genes out of something to create chimera of anything – plants, animals, and now humans for sale) and the calorie companies, the new currency of the future. No longer oil, or dollars, or euro, or yen, but calories, and all the measures thereof. I had to pause at one early point in the book and wiki metric calorie count because I honestly couldn’t keep it straight, but once I did, it was smooth sailing from then on. The currency of the future is in joules, the measure unit of energy provided by calories, and fines are determined by how many you use versus how many you waste (for anti-pollution measures), and power everything from lightbulbs to factories.
Bacigalupi does not make this a beautiful, peaceful future. There is constant tension in the Thai Kingdom between everyone – the foreigners (farang), the Yellow Cards (Malay-Chinese), the gangs, the white shirts (bureaucrats, mostly in the inspector divisions), the market sellers, and the regular Thai people. So much tension that I was kind of on the edge of my seat going “Okay, who’s going to slaughter whom first?” the entire time. When it does happen (and I won’t say how or when), it was kind of a relief, with such a huge buildup. But again, it’s a subtle one, slowly pushing at the boundary of the already stress-taxed people in the book, until literally, all hell breaks loose.
I loved the characters. I want more out of this world, I’ll be frank – but I’m pretty sure we won’t be getting any more from the “Windup” universe. The characters were rich, but I want some kind of prequel telling us about how we got to this point of the calorie companies versus the world, and why everyone hates them (that’s kind of obvious, but still) – but considering what we got, I’m extremely pleased. The arc development of how the characters changed was excellent, and honestly, I couldn’t want more out of a futuristic almost-dystopic book. Seriously. It really is that good.
I could keep gushing on and on about how awesome Bacigalupi’s work is here, but for the sake of brevity, I won’t. Just go out and read it. Even if you’re not a sci-fi fan, go read it. It will teach us about how we can prevent such a future today, and about the basic nature of people (the human animal), period. The human animal. It sent chills up my spine for large portions of the second half of the book, and that’s pretty rare for me.
So, this has made my best of 2010 AND 2011 list, and it’s high up there on both. Congrats, Bacigalupi. Now get back to work on the sequel for “Shipbreaker”, and we’ll call it even.
(posted to goodreads, librarything, shelfari, and witchoftheatregoing.wordpress.com) ...more