Last time we saw Scott Tyler come to grips with his new-found power, this time we go a bit deeper into that power and what it can do. I wouldn't cons Last time we saw Scott Tyler come to grips with his new-found power, this time we go a bit deeper into that power and what it can do. I wouldn't consider this a "true sequel" in the sense that you have to read Shift, the first book, before you read this, but you will be missing out on quite a lot if you don't. The setting hasn't changed, although it may have Shifted, Scott still has the same job and works together with Aubrey Jones. Some time has passed since we last saw them, so there has been things happening both on a personal and professional level for our protagonists.
It doesn't take long to realise that the stakes are higher in Control than they were in Shift. This novel is definitely "bigger" in that sense. What I liked about how the stakes are getting higher is how Curran has made this natural. Sometimes you can spot the same sort of sequel trick Hollywood uses, just turn the dial up a notch - make the explosions bigger, I never felt that this was the case here. When things "go bigger" here they do it because that is just how things happen to turn out, it's just natural. There's a very good connection to what happened last time here. ARES is the hub of events, and that means we'll see the characters connected to that organization again. We also get a return of others. I'll refrain from going near any details on who, I will say it's done very nicely and that it doesn't fell like it's cheating.
The pacing of the novel is very good, it moves along quickly but doesn't feel rushed at all. Curran is very good at combining development that gives depth with events that gives movement in the story. And it really does move. As a reader you just have time to settle in when things really start happening. Once it does it doesn't really let up. Pages turn fast as you get into what is going on, and Curran's excellent storytelling ability means you really get invested in finding out what happens next. Something that creates quite a lot of suspense.
Perhaps the greatest strength of the book is that even when you have a mystery that would not exist without the supernatural ability that Shifting is, it doesn't feel like it is constructed to highlight that ability. Curran makes the mystery and the Shifting work together to create high levels of suspense. That a Shift can turn the world "upside down" means that it is hard to see where things are going beforehand. And that creates an extra layer of tension that makes it very tempting to just keep reading, because you are going to want to find out what is going on. Curran creates a really exciting ride that keeps you gripped in for the whole novel.
I've really become invested in this world. I do care about what happens to Scott Tyler and Aubrey Jones. They are interesting people to follow.They are also surrounded by other characters that hold their own. I find that the whole of Curran's cast heightens the whole of the novel. There really isn't anyone here that suffer from being too stereotyped. And, thankfully, the teenagers in the cast manages to come off as realistic while remaining unannoying.
All in all this is a really good Science Fiction novel. It keeps the Action Thriller vibe of Shift while adding to the Alternate History aspect created by the Shifts. It's perhaps bordering a bit on Parallel Universe Science Fiction, but that is a feature, not a bug. Straddling so many aspects of Science Fiction should certainly give it wide appeal. And this deserves a wide appeal. It's a really entertaining novel that has a lot of depth under the surface. The story is fast-paced and entertaining with satisfyingly high levels of suspense. Combined with great writing by Curran that makes for a novel I have no hesitation in recommending. And the Young Adult label should be no means frighten anyone away.
NOTE: I got an e-ARC of this book from the publisher/NetGalley.
Etiquette & Espionage is set in the same world as the Parasol Protectorate seReview originally appeared on my blog: http://weirdmage.blogspot.com
Etiquette & Espionage is set in the same world as the Parasol Protectorate series. However it is not necessary to read any of those books before you read this, it is set before them but is not a prequel. But if you have read the Parasol Protectorate series, you will welcome seeing characters from that series making an appearance. The novel contains a lot of the same combination of humour and action, in a Victorian Steampunk setting, that has made Miss Carriger a name in SFF circles. If you are unfamiliar with that, a short description would be Humorous Alternate History Victorian Steampunk Fantasy. (That is not really an established SFF subgenre by the way.)
The tone of this novel is set early on. By the end of the first chapter we have gotten a good glimpse into the feel of the novel. We have also learned quite a bit about where Sophronia comes from and what kind of person she is. But that is just the beginning of the story, as the book progresses, we follow Sophronia on what is essentially a discovery of one of the hidden sides of the world she lives in. Miss Carriger has a knack for creating characters that it is pleasant to spend time with. I found Sophronia to be a very enjoyable character to follow. She's smart, tough, resourceful, and not afraid to go her own ways when she feels it is called for. That doesn't mean she's perfect, but the flaws she has make her all the more realistic and relatable. Sophronia is joined by quite a diverse group of supporting characters, most of which are more than interesting enough to follow in their own right. Although some of them exist to fulfil certain task in the narrative, they still come across as believable characters. And the whole cast of this novel put together makes for great company in your reading.
From early one it's clear that the story contains both action and mystery. Mostly we follow Sophronia's unravelling of what is actually going on, something that is handled very well,. The revelations come naturally, and that Sophronia is ignorant of what the school really is allows us discover it along with her instead of in infodumps. This makes the narrative flow more organically.
I have to make a brief mention of the setting, or more precisely, the school. I won't tell you what form it physically takes, because I thought that was a very nicely done revelation in the book. But I will tell you that I really liked the way the school functioned. It seems natural when you get it described in the way it is, despite of course being wholly fantastical in nature. Miss Carriger has really managed to create something that feels realistic while still being a wonderful Fantasy creation. In some ways the school itself becomes a character itself, and it has several layers to it.
So to sum up, another brilliant novel by Miss Carriger. A seamless blend of Steampunk, humour, and Victorian boarding school drama -with a good dollop of action, mystery, and adventure. Definitely a recommended read for those who like their Steampunk to have a sense of humour, and anyone who likes a good rollicking story. It is a great starting point for anyone not familiar with Miss Carriger's work. Fans of Miss Carriger who have put off getting this because of the Young Adult label should head for the nearest bookstore at once (, or maybe wait until tomorrow if it's not open). This doesn't fall short in comparison to the Parasol Protectorate books in terms of depth (, although to be fair...there's a lack of werewolf sexing in it.) After reading this book, I must say that the knowledge that there's three more books to come in this series is very welcome, this is the beginning of what looks to be another greatly enjoyable series from Miss Carriger....more
This novel stretches the usual Steampunk setting into the present day. But it is not the present day as we know it, but an Alternate History present This novel stretches the usual Steampunk setting into the present day. But it is not the present day as we know it, but an Alternate History present day that is the home to the denizens we are with familiar seeing in Victorian times. The setting itself is pretty much what you would expect from a Steampunk novel that has the werewolves and vampires from modern Urban Fantasy, but that doesn't mean that this is a formulaic novel. There are lots of great ideas here, and Locke manages to take the elements that make up the novel and make a very entertaining story out of them.
Locke puts a very nice twist on the origin of werewolves and vampires that I found very interesting. In fact he whole worldbuilding is very nicely done, there's much history too it, and it has many very interesting elements. There's actually quite a bit to take in here, and that is something I really appreciated. It shows that Locke can create a vivid world, and has the skill to make it come alive on the page.
The characters are also done in a realistic fashion. Xandra comes especially alive, and we get a very good insight into her. That events take her to places that are unfamiliar and uncomfortable to her adds to both her depth and her strength. She's a strong female, who is both special, and for what she is, also feels realistic. Xandra is definitely a character who is worth spending some time with. Supporting Xandra are quite a few diverse characters, along with some historic persons who add to the realistic feel of the novel. All of these are well realised, and are interesting in their own right. They never feel like they exist just to be "scenery" for the main character.
On to the story. Locke gives us a story that has action and mystery from the start. Central to it is a conspiracy that Xandra is thrown into. Along the way there are lots of twist and turns, the pace is fast and there is plenty of tension. Locke is very good at getting the balance been a fast pace and the building of tension. There is a sense of never quite being in the know that runs through the whole novel, and as we learn more we get dragged into the events. There's a real sense of the story developing before our eyes, and being taken along for the ride. And it is a thoroughly entertaining journey to go on.
This is a very good example of the Steampunk/Urban Fantasy crossover genre done right. The setting is well developed enough to satisfy fans of Alternate History, and the werewolf/vampire elements will be great for fans of that type of Urban Fantasy. Locke has created a great world, and some great characters well worth spending time with. And I look forward to future installments in this series.
In this volume of her A Clockwork Century series, Priest takes us back to Seattle, the setting of the first book in the series, Boneshaker. It's a we In this volume of her A Clockwork Century series, Priest takes us back to Seattle, the setting of the first book in the series, Boneshaker. It's a welcome return, both to the setting, and to the characters from the first book. As an added bonus for those who enjoy this series, there's also mention of the events of Dreadnought and Ganymede. And we get to see how Dreadnought's main character Mercy Lynch has settled into the walled city of Seattle. There's always the danger when an author revisits previous settings through new POV eyes that they tell too much of the setting for those that are familiar with it, and too little for those that are jumping in to a series. Priest manages to follow the narrow path of satisfying readers both old and new here. For me as a return reader, I didn't feel bogged down with information I already knew, but welcomed the reminders of what has gone before. And I can't say I can see a problem for a new reader to the series in following what is going on if they start with this book.
The story itself can be divided into three parts, Rector's journey, the mysterious creature, and the human intruders. But this is much more than three stories that are loosely connected, the three parts both feed off each other and add to each other, and creates a larger whole than the sum of the parts it consists of. That the three strands of the story are quite different in nature, will mean that not everyone will have the same reaction to each one. For me the journey of Rector stood a little bit above the others, but I still very much enjoyed the other two story strands, and without them Rector's journey would have been much less than it ended up as.
As with the previous volumes, Priest is very adept at creating a tense atmosphere. The location, the walled city of Seattle, is described in such a way that it feels claustrophobic at times. Priest is very good at conveying the feeling that anything can happen, and it never feels like you have figured out exactly were you will be led by the novel. Even though I personally figured one element out very quickly, I was never sure I was right about it before much later, and it didn't hamper my enjoyment of the story.
There is some action in the novel, but this isn't Steampunk-Action as much as it is Steampunk-Alternate History. -I must add, Steampunk-Alternate History with some very good worldbuilding. Being a fan of Alternate History, I have enjoyed that element in the A Clockwork Century a lot, and this element doesn't disappoint here either. With each volume in the series Priest manages to subtly add to her alternate worlds texture, making it a little bit more solid, or real if you want, at the end of the novel than it was before you started it.
All in all I found this very much to my liking. It's an excellent follow-up to what has gone before, and as I mentioned above, it is possible to read it without having read any of the previous A Clockwork Century books. Priest continues to be one of the great authors in the Steampunk subgenre of SFF. And as well as being a must for fans of Steampunk, this book deserves to be read by anyone who is a fan of well written SFF.
If you have read Crime Noir, you'll recognise both the atmosphere that this novel creates and its 20th century setting. But it's not as simple as tha If you have read Crime Noir, you'll recognise both the atmosphere that this novel creates and its 20th century setting. But it's not as simple as that, this isn't "just" Crime Noir but rather a mix of genres. Christopher blends Crime Noir with superheroes and parallel universes, and he does it in such a way that his novel retains the rugged realism of Crime Noir.
The story starts off in a way that isn't out of place in any 1930s set crime novel, but that changes very quickly, and we are soon transported into the realm of SFF. Structurally however the story stays in the realm of Crime Noir. It moves rather slowly, and it can feel frustrating at times that the answers to all the questions the novel poses take a long time to get answered. But that is not a flaw, Christopher deliberately holds his cards to his chest while he builds the characters and setting.
The slow pace is wonderful for the atmosphere of the book, and Christopher really pays back the readers patience when he gives us the answers to the many mysteries we are presented with along the way. It's impossible to predict what will happen, or what role many of the characters eventually will have in the story. This makes each revelation more powerful, and adds a lot to the depth of the story. Although the pace is slow, the story never gets dull. Christopher's writing is great throughout, and he's very good at holding on to the readers interest. And more importantly there's no authorial cheating. When the answers come they do so in a way that feels natural to the story, and there is no revelations that come out of the blue.
There is also quite a bit of action in the book, especially towards the end. The action is very well done, it is written in a way that creates a lot of tension, and the change of pace from the slower build up gives it a very nice urgency.
When there's a mix of different genres, like in this novel, there's always a danger that some element of it feels like it is put there as an afterthought. That is not the case here at all, the SFF elements and the Crime Noir flow together seamlessly, and it is definitely all needed to make the novel a whole. I never felt that anything suffered in the mix either, there's full development of all the genre parts of this novel. The crime, superheroes, and parallel universe all are fully developed. And together they make something that feels fresh and exciting.
All in all this is a wonderful debut novel, there's not really any flaws at all. Whether your preference lies in parallel universes, crime, or superheroes, this is a novel that should find its way into your hands at the earliest opportunity. The world, the characters, and the story are all excellent and together they will give you a great reading experience.
So, I'll just get the obvious out of the way first. A novel set in the interior of the Earth will inevitably invoke comparisons with Jules Verne's Jo So, I'll just get the obvious out of the way first. A novel set in the interior of the Earth will inevitably invoke comparisons with Jules Verne's Journey to the Centre of the Earth. Having read Verne's book I can sum up what they have in common pretty fast: They are both set in the interior of the Earth. That's it really, Although I must admit that loving Journey to the Centre of the Earth when I read it made me want to read this book, they are two totally different stories. -Not that invoking Verne is totally misplaced, this story is part of the same Adventure* tradition that most of Verne's work falls into. But enough about Verne, let's move on to Wells -Martha, not H.G.
Wells wastes no time in getting the story started. The first chapter is packed with action, and before you know it you have been pulled into the story and is invested in finding out what is going to happen. That you are thrown straight into the action is not a problem at all. We join the story at the same that Emilie does, and find out what is really happening along with her, this is very well done. Information is delivered in a non-intrusive manner and doesn't interrupt the flow of the story.
The flow of the story is certainly an important element, and it is a very fast flowing story. From the opening chapter until the penultimate chapter there is hardly any part where the story doesn't have something happening. There are quite a few passages with talking, but they are almost drowned out by all that is happening. This is by no means a bad thing, this is true Action-Adventure in the sense that there is always action and/or adventure waiting just around the corner. The journey undertaken by the cast in this novel is in some ways a familiar one, but Wells has made it a very interesting one. And I can't honestly say that I felt that there was any lack of suspense at what was going to happen next.
The structure of the story lends itself very well to creating suspense. And there is absolutely no doubt that Wells is very accomplished at putting the reader (, me at least,) in the position of *having* to read "just a little bit more" to find out what is happening next, something which makes this book a quick read. There are several cliffhanger-type events in this story, and the way Wells has gotten the reader invested finding out the resolution to them isn't really something you feel like putting off. So my advice is to set aside the time to read this until the end when you begin.
Sometimes the characters can drown when there is this much happening in a relatively short novel, but Wells avoids that. We do get to learn quite a lot about the characters as we follow their, figurative and literal, journey through the Hollow Earth, and we get quite close to Emilie. Emilie is really an interesting character in her own right. What we learn about her in the course of the story would make her an interesting person to follow in any setting. I especially like how she is resourceful and quick thinking, but without being "superhuman" or too sure of herself. She feels well rounded and realistic, not far off from someone you may meet in real life, and someone who's well worth spending some reading time on. There is also some very good supporting characters in this story. Anyone who has more than a walk on role is presented in such a way that we get some insight into what makes them tick. And in all honesty, a couple of them would not be out of place as the main characters in their own stories.
For me this was really an enjoyable read. I like this type of Adventure, and there is an added Steampunk(y) element that makes it even better. There's really lots of action and suspense here, and combined with characters that are interesting to spend time with, it makes for a very good reading experience. This will be an especially great read for anyone who likes "Hidden World" fiction, and it will be a great read for anyone who longs for some action and adventure in their stories.
NOTE: I got an e-ARC of this book from the publisher/NetGalley.
Sales's novella is very Hard SF one, but as it becomes clear rather quickly it is set in an Alternate History. This may seem like being a contradicti Sales's novella is very Hard SF one, but as it becomes clear rather quickly it is set in an Alternate History. This may seem like being a contradiction, but Sales manages to make it work very well. Interestingly it is neither the Hard SF nor the Alternate History elements that are the best thing in this story. What stands out most is the feeling of desolation and claustrophobia that Sales conveys through his writing. There is an underlying tension to the whole of this, that together with the chilling Alternate History scenario in the background makes for a very eerie read.
Being a fan of Alternate History, I care about how "what if..." scenarios are presented. It doesn't matter how interesting an idea the diversion from our history is if there's no plausible way to get to the alternative world that the story contains. Fortunately, that is not a problem here. Sales presents a future that seems to be just a flicker of coincidence away from the history we know.
There is something that has to be mentioned about the Hard SF in this novella, namely that it very easy to argue that there is none. This may sound a bit strange of me to say when I have already stated that this is "very Hard SF", but the SF is only Hard SF in the Alternate History setting of the story. If you, like some people I have seen online, argue that Alternate History is Fantasy, rather than Science Fiction, then this would be a Fantasy novella. As someone who has a strong interest in History, I would say that Alternate History is without a doubt Science Fiction (, i.e. scientific speculation about how history could have diverged), and thus I don't hesitate to say that this is a Hard SF story in an Alternate History setting. Without going into spoilers, I will say that there is an element that isn't very realistic. But in the way it is handled here that is not a problem. Rather it feels as an integral part of the alternative timeline of the story, and in my opinion doesn't detract anything from the Hard SF feel of this novella.
The story itself is very well written. Sales manages to convey a lot in a limited amount of space, especially the worldbuilding is excellent. Most of the history of this timeline is presented in its own passages, as retrospectives. I found this to work very well, they add to the main storyline without being disruptive to the flow of the story. I've already mentioned the tension of this story, and that builds nicely as the narrative moves along. It's never clear what is going to be the conclusion to this tale, and the ending comes with a very satisfying twist.
There's no doubt that this story will be a great read for those who are fans of Hard SF, and the Alternate History elements make it worth picking up for fans of that genre. It's connection to the Apollo program will also make this a good read for anyone interested in real world human space exploration.
This book is a bit of a peculiar acquaintance. It is written in a style that is distinctly Victorian, and I would not have been surprised if it was o This book is a bit of a peculiar acquaintance. It is written in a style that is distinctly Victorian, and I would not have been surprised if it was originally published in 1897 based only on how it is written. It is written in a style that is reminiscent of both Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories, and to some extent H.P. Lovecraft's tales. We get a protagonist that tells the story himself after everything is over. Not as a diary, but as if he himself was writing this story of what happened. And I found this helped a great deal to set the mood, and transport me to the time when the story is set.
There is absolutely no doubt that this is a steampunk story, the whole story revolves around clockwork creations. But Jeter has not limited himself to just this aspect, there is also a distinctly Lovecraftian(-ish) element here. Both elements are handled very well, and they compliment each other rather than taking attention away from each other.
Jeter is great at getting the reader going. The narrator's hints at things that for him has happened, but is still to come for the reader, makes you want to read on to find out what has happened. And there are several mysteries introduced early on, and there are more to come. The story takes several twists and turns I did not see coming, and you will never quite know which characters will turn out to be friend or foe. When there is action, and there is quite a bit of it, it is handled very well. The first person narration puts you in the middle of what is happening and at times this takes you on quite a ride.
The only problem I had with the book was the ending. It felt a bit rushed, and although it was pretty fulfilling, I felt it lacked a bit compared to the rest of the novel. But that being said, it is by no means so weak as to make the novel anything less than highly enjoyable. If you are the least bit interested in steampunk this is certainly a must-read novel. And it is Victorian enough that it should be in the collection of everyone who likes science fiction from that period.
There was some major events at the end of the second book in this series, Changeless, so this was an eagerly awaited book for me. And I was not disap There was some major events at the end of the second book in this series, Changeless, so this was an eagerly awaited book for me. And I was not disappointed.
The opening chapter gives us a quick reminder of past events, and also gets us up to date with the story of Alexia. This is a action-filled book, and Miss Carriger doesn't waste anytime in throwing us right into the middle of it. An early mystery is thrown into the mix, and we are off on a fun journey into Alexia Tarabotti's Europe.
It is the traveling that helps make this book so good. By having Alexia travel out of the United Kingdom, in this case to France and Italy, Miss Carriger gets the opportunity to show off more of the world we are in. And she does this magnificently. There is a sense here that this is a fully fleshed out alternate history Europe. Among other things, we get to know much more about the paranormal's special place in UK society, and how some of the other countries in Europe sees them. This adds another layer to the background, or should I say Worldbuilding?, that Miss Carriger has put into the world of the Parasol Protectorate. As a fan of history, both real and alternate, I really appreciate that.
Right from the start of the book we have events that helps us understand better who Alexia is, and how she has become that way. We get to see even more of how her family is, and this especially feels true to having formed the personality Alexia has become. We also get some surprising and intriguing information about Alexia's family background.
There is a parallel plot going on here, that I will not call a B-plot as it is just as fascinating as the story of what happens on Alexia's travels. And it also adds a lot to both characters and the world the story is set in. There's also quite a bit of historical fact, to this alternate world, sprinkled about in the book, something I found very rewarding. (Also keep an eye open for the hilarious names of some of the incidental characters.)
Miss Carriger has continued the story of Alexia Taraotti in excellent fashion. This book gripped me from the first page to the last, and I am already looking forward to the next installment, Heartless, that is coming in June this year. Whether your interest lies in Victoriana, alternate history, Steampunk, Urban Fantasy, or just an action-packed adventure, you almost certainly will find something to love in this book.
All in all this is a very powerful novel. It is brutal in many ways, for some perhaps too brutal, but it never feels gratuitous. It will however get All in all this is a very powerful novel. It is brutal in many ways, for some perhaps too brutal, but it never feels gratuitous. It will however get under your skin in some way. And the story will stay with you for a while, there are underpinnings that demand that you think about them. In many ways this is a novel that defies traditional genre classification. It's Alternate History, Near Future Science Fiction, Dystopic Science Fiction, and definitely a comment on society and human nature. This is a novel that in my opinion deserves to be read by many more people, and I urge everyone who reads this review to give it a try. It should be required reading for anyone who likes any of the subgenres, or themes, that I have mentioned above.