Posts Tagged ‘Jo Fletcher’

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Karen Lord’s latest is such a meandering, poetically wonderful piece of work that it bears reading the blurb first before I ham-fist a review that may be more confusing than helpful…

On the verge of adulthood, Rafi attends the Lyceum, a school for the psionically gifted. Rafi possesses mental abilities that might benefit people . . . or control them. Some wish to help Rafi wield his powers responsibly; others see him as a threat to be contained. Rafi’s only freedom at the Lyceum is Wallrunning: a game of speed and agility played on vast vertical surfaces riddled with variable gravity fields.

Serendipity and Ntenman are also students at the Lyceum, but unlike Rafi they come from communities where such abilities are valued. Serendipity finds the Lyceum as much a prison as a school, and she yearns for a meaningful life beyond its gates. Ntenman, with his quick tongue, quicker mind, and a willingness to bend if not break the rules, has no problem fitting in. But he too has his reasons for wanting to escape.

Now the three friends are about to experience a moment of violent change as seething tensions between rival star-faring civilizations come to a head. For Serendipity, it will challenge her ideas of community and self. For Ntenman, it will open new opportunities and new dangers. And for Rafi, given a chance to train with some of the best Wallrunners in the galaxy, it will lead to the discovery that there is more to Wallrunning than he ever suspected . . . and more to himself than he ever dreamed.

The Galaxy Game is an awe inspiring study of human relations both large scale and small. From the innocent and sweet interactions of new friendship to the cultural and political clashes between differing interplanetary factions, this is a novel that moves and flows under the beat if it’s own drum.

Lord’s style is very different from the action packed machinations of normal space operas. It has a lyricism and poetry that is engrossing, and a descriptive palette that draws amazing pictures for the reader to ponder. The Galaxy Game employs a number of different perspectives and ways of presenting those character arcs, from the first person to the third person and each thread weaves into a strange and beautiful narrative. It is one that considers the socio-political upheaval of terrorism, the responsibility of humanity couched within cultural and economical society but also of the individual and his/her own story of love,loss and growth in the chaos of this sublime greatness that is life.

Karen Lord is clearly amazingly talented and her work is highly worth reading and taking the time to consider. This is not a novel to tear through on the train but one to linger upon and unravel. The effort will be rewarded tenfold.

Review copy
Published by Jo Fletcher Books

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The third instalment in Ian McDonald’s Everness series, Empress of the Sun pushes the notion of YA literature to its boundaries. I’ve only read two young adult series before: the ubiquitous Harry Potter novels, devoured whilst completing my Masters, and Phillip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy, enjoyed whilst recovering from a broken leg. Ian McDonald’s series deserves to be mentioned alongside those other brilliant YA, coming-of-age type adventures. However, there is a certain darkness and a certain budding adulthood that is maybe lacking in either of those mentioned.

Both Rowling and Pullman’s novels feature struggle and hardship, loss and the battle of good against evil. But, where McDonald diverges is in his ability to make grey those hard choices, to muddy the moral waters of his young protagonist. He also does this against a background of youth as it exists today, particularly in London. The obsession with phones, computers, fashion and football all mingled in with teenage angst that even made this ageing beard hark back to those awkward times.

The Everness series follows Everett Singh as he attempts to track down his father, a scientist kidnapped by a shadowy organisation and taken to a parallel world. Everett is, himself, a bit of a maths wizard and discovers that his father has given him the ‘infundibulum’ – a map to understand and conjure portals to anywhere I’m the multitude of parallel Earths. The series is one long, fantastic thesis on brilliant world building as Everett discovers more worlds, more alien Earths and more strange and intriguing characters – some alternatives to those he knows on his own Earth. It’s on these adventures that he becomes a crew member on an airship (think Zeppelin) as he jumps around the multiverse, battling those who took his father, a version of himself cruelly made into a cyborg, an unrelenting swarm of nanobots intent on total sublimation along with his own angst and fears.

Empress of the Sun does two things brilliantly. It shows the development of Everett as he loses his innocence and idealism and takes on tough, horrible choices. It shows the change from boy into teenager and the struggle it can be. But, importantly, it places Everett firmly in a world (or worlds) where nothing is black or white. The other thing it does is provide a thrilling adventure in a stunningly creative setting where dinosaurs are super evolved beings with millions of years in advanced technology. Everett and the crew are being hunted, their backs to the wall, but still needing to save the known worlds and stay one step ahead of their enemies.

Ian McDonald manages to weave a number of themes and stories brilliantly into his series. His science is believable and deftly handled, his characters (especially the teens) crackle with life, his multiverse is fascinating and the plot is driven with intrigue, emotion and conflict. The Everness books are wonderfully and beautifully written, epitomising what YA literature should be; hugely entertaining yet thoughtful and intelligent.

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Having spent all weekend climbing up and down a 20ft ladder, fixing render and painting the house, not much reading or blogging was achieved. However, lucky me did get sent a number of great looking books to ease those aching legs and slightly frayed nerves (my son is teething, poor boy and poor wife).

I’ve not had the chance to read Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter’s previous collaborations – The Long Earth and The Long War but they sound great. More books to add to the list!

I have, however, read Stephanie Saulter’s first offering in her Revolution series and I’m really looking forward to Binary. Check out the blurb below.

Zavcka Klist has reinvented herself: no longer the ruthless gemtech enforcer determined to keep the gems they created enslaved, she’s now all about transparency and sharing the fruits of Bel’Natur’s research to help gems and norms alike.

Neither Aryel Morningstar nor Dr Eli Walker are convinced that Klist or Bel’Natur can have changed so dramatically, but the gems have problems that only a gemtech can solve. In exchange for their help, digital savant Herran agrees to work on Klist’s latest project: reviving the science that drove mankind to the brink of extinction.

Then confiscated genestock disappears from a secure government facility, and the more DI Varsi investigates, the closer she comes to the dark heart of Bel’Natur and what Zavcka Klist is really after – not to mention the secrets of Aryel Morningstar’s own past…

Another book that I’m eager to read is Ian McDonald’s Empress of the Sun. The third book in his Planesrunner series, I’d want to read it for the cover artwork alone.

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Finally, I was sent the first two books in Anna Thayer’s The Knight of Eldaran series. The blurb sounds interesting enough for me to add to the To Be Read pile….which is towering…

I’m still reading Sphinx by James Thornton and it’s definitely setting an interesting premise. Review should be up soon (as there is no way I’m going back up the ladder this week). What are you reading?