Luna: Wolf Moon by Ian McDonald

Rating: 4 / 5 stars
Format: ebook
Published: 28th March 2017
Book Depository | Goodreads

A Dragon is dead.

Corta Helio, one of the five family corporations that rule the Moon, has fallen. Its riches are divided up among its many enemies, its survivors scattered. Eighteen months have passed .

The remaining Helio children, Lucasinho and Luna, are under the protection of the powerful Asamoahs, while Robson, still reeling from witnessing his parent’s violent deaths, is now a ward–virtually a hostage– of Mackenzie Metals. And the last appointed heir, Lucas, has vanished of the surface of the moon.

Only Lady Sun, dowager of Taiyang, suspects that Lucas Corta is not dead, and more to the point—that he is still a major player in the game. After all, Lucas always was the Schemer, and even in death, he would go to any lengths to take back everything and build a new Corta Helio, more powerful than before. But Corta Helio needs allies, and to find them, the fleeing son undertakes an audacious, impossible journey–to Earth.

The Luna series is set in a futuristic version of our own world where the moon is ran by 5 family owned companies. These books focus on the Corta family whose business; Corta Helio mines helium which is sent to Earth and “keeps the lights on”. The end of Luna: New Moon saw Corta Helio collapse and family members scatter all over the moon. Wolf Moon is the story of these characters trying to rebuild their lives.

I think the thing I liked most about this book was the sense of scale. Everything feels epic. From the descriptions of the underground cities, to events like a massive foundry explosion and satellites raining down on the Moon. Then you have the more abstract things like a character born on the moon going to Earth despite this being technically impossible and describing what it’s like to stand on another planet and look up at their home. That was cool.

My only problem with this book is it felt like the first half was you checking in with each character to see what they had been doing over the 2 years since the last book ended. It felt like the plot took a long time to get going. But I would still highly recommend this book. Also you should definitely start out with Luna: New Moon if you haven’t read it yet.

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Paper and Fire by Rachel Caine

Paper and Fire by Rachel Caine | bluchickenninja.com

Rating: 3 / 5 stars
Format: ebook
Published: 1st July 2016
Book Depository | Goodreads

With an iron fist, the Great Library ruthlessly controls the knowledge of the world, forbidding the personal ownership of books in the name of the greater good.

Jess Brightwell has survived his introduction to the sinister, seductive world of the Library, but his life and the lives of those he cares for have been altered for ever. Embarking on a mission to save one of their own, Jess and his band of allies suddenly find themselves hunted by the Library’s deadly automata and forced to flee Alexandria.

But Jess’s home isn’t safe any more. The Welsh army is coming, London is burning, and soon Jess must choose between his friends, his family, or a Library willing to sacrifice anything and anyone in the search for ultimate control . . .

There are two things you need to know about this book. The first is that read almost all of it in a single day. The second is that I was only 25% of the way through this when I went and preordered the next book. I think that says more of how I feel about this book than any other versions of “I like it” that I could come up with.

The strange thing I find with this book is it isn’t in a genre I normally read. This may be a surprise but I don’t read massive amounts of YA any more because I always feel that I can’t connect with the characters. But for some reason I love this. I love that it’s about the Library of Alexandria which is this thing people always go on about how amazing it would be if it were still around. But it’s about freedom of information which is turning into a really important thing in the world we’re living in just now.

I like the fact that this gang of kids actually has some adult figures around telling them what they are doing may not be the best or right thing to do. One of the things that always annoys me about YA books is how the adult characters get forgotten about or sometimes aren’t even mentioned at all. In this the adults are part of the “gang”.

I love that you have a diverse cast of characters. I love how it touches on sexuality and normalises LGBT relationships. I love that the characters are all motivated by something, and that their actions aren’t always the right ones. I love that it feels like an adventure. I love that this book made me feel real sadness when a robot cat died. And of course I love that it’s a book about books.

Basically I need 20 more books in this series and considering that Rachel Caine is a book writing machine I may just get them.

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Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine

Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine | bluchickenninja.com

Rating: 4 / 5 stars
Format: ebook
Published: 7th July 2015
Book Depository | Goodreads

Ruthless and supremely powerful, the Great Library is now a presence in every major city, governing the flow of knowledge to the masses. Alchemy allows the Library to deliver the content of the greatest works of history instantly—but the personal ownership of books is expressly forbidden.

Jess Brightwell believes in the value of the Library, but the majority of his knowledge comes from illegal books obtained by his family, who are involved in the thriving black market. Jess has been sent to be his family’s spy, but his loyalties are tested in the final months of his training to enter the Library’s service.

When his friend inadvertently commits heresy by creating a device that could change the world, Jess discovers that those who control the Great Library believe that knowledge is more valuable than any human life—and soon both heretics and books will burn…

I have to thank Jess over at EverTheCrafter for recommending this book to me, which she did after I tried to read The Invisible Library and failed (it was a terrible book). Ink and Bone is sort of similar in that it’s a book about books. But it is also so much more, in this the Library of Alexandria still exists but has turned into this evil organisation that controls all the information in the world. It does this by keeping all genuine  books locked away and only allowing people to read copies of them through old timey Kindle technology.

Just as an aside, one of the things I love about this universe is that copying or creating new books isn’t allowed. So Johannes Gutenberg who was the first person to invent the printing press in 1439 is jailed for his invention. Maybe it’s just cause I do graphic design and have been learning about printing recently, but I love the fact that the most dangerous thing in this universe is a printing press.

Because of this ban on copying books our main character Jess comes from a family of smugglers who trade and sell original copies of books. Because Jess doesn’t want to join the family business he is sent to join the Library so he can act as a spy on the inside. This is the point where I started getting Harry Potter flashbacks. Jess, along with other applicants get on a train to Alexandria where they hope to compete to get a position at the Library.

Another note, I don’t mind books that have similarities to Harry Potter. What I object to is books where one of the major selling points is that it’s like or is the new Harry Potter. Those books tend to never be as good as they claim.

Have I mentioned that I liked this book yet? It’s a great YA adventure story. I love that one of the characters is a muslim and that her religion isn’t made part of who she is. I love that two of the male characters are in a relationship and no one questions it. I love this book and am going to pretty much immediately start the second.

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Too Like the Lightning by Ada Palmer

Too Like the Lightning by Ada Palmer | bluchickenninja.com

Rating: 3 / 5 stars
Format: Hardback
Published: 10th May 2016
Book Depository | Goodreads

Mycroft Canner is a convict. For his crimes he is required, as is the custom of the 25th century, to wander the world being as useful as he can to all he meets. Carlyle Foster is a sensayer–a spiritual counselor in a world that has outlawed the public practice of religion, but which also knows that the inner lives of humans cannot be wished away.

The world into which Mycroft and Carlyle have been born is as strange to our 21st-century eyes as ours would be to a native of the 1500s. It is a hard-won utopia built on technologically-generated abundance, and also on complex and mandatory systems of labelling all public writing and speech. What seem to us normal gender distinctions are now distinctly taboo in most social situations. And most of the world’s population is affiliated with globe-girdling clans of the like-minded, whose endless economic and cultural competition is carefully managed by central planners of inestimable subtlety. To us it seems like a mad combination of heaven and hell. To them, it seems like normal life.

And in this world, Mycroft and Carlyle have stumbled on the wild card that may destabilize the system: the boy Bridger, who can effortlessly make his wishes come true. Who can, it would seem, bring inanimate objects to life…

This book is confusing. That is the best way to describe it. Ada Palmer is a historian which explains the strange way this book has been written. It’s almost as if the main character is telling you what happened. In fact that is exactly what it is like. At some points the character is talking to the reader like they are the one who wrote this book not Ada Palmer. This does mean it’s almost written in a style that you could imagine came from the 24th century. It’s not flowery but you have to take time and really pay attention. In fact I only read two chapters of this at a time. It’s the sort of book that you need to go away and think about. Not because it is especially deep. It’s just that sort of book.

I think the thing I liked most about this book is the way it handles gender. It’s written like the main character is talking to us, from a 21st century perspective. But in the time he is from they don’t use gendered words any more. They don’t even wear clothing that reveals what gender people are. So the main character (Mycroft) will sometimes refer to a character as he or she, but also points out that even though they are describing that person as that gender, it doesn’t mean they actually are that gender. What he actually means is that character has mannerisms you would associate with that gender. Later on you see a group of people who insist on referring to Carlyle as a ‘she’ despite the fact they aren’t a ‘she’. But they are in a role which historically was woman’s role.

This is the sort of book you really need to read yourself. My experience reading it was more similar to reading something from the 18th century rather than science fiction. Which I suppose makes sense really because I’m sure Ada Palmer took inspiration from 18th century writers. I know I’ve only given this 3 stars but personally I feel it’s the sort of book I have to go back and read again just because it’s so dense. I’m going to need to do that soon however because the next book comes out in March.

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Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

 

Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo | bluchickenninja.com

Rating: 5 / 5 stars
Format: Paperback
Published: 27th September 2016
Book Depository | Goodreads

Kaz Brekker and his crew have just pulled off a heist so daring even they didn’t think they’d survive. But instead of divvying up a fat reward, they’re right back to fighting for their lives. Double-crossed and left crippled by the kidnapping of a valuable team member, the crew is low on resources, allies, and hope. As powerful forces from around the world descend on Ketterdam to root out the secrets of the dangerous drug known as jurda parem, old rivals and new enemies emerge to challenge Kaz’s cunning and test the team’s fragile loyalties. A war will be waged on the city’s dark and twisting streets―a battle for revenge and redemption that will decide the fate of magic in the Grisha world.

This book is the second part of a duology which means it’s going to be difficult to review without giving away spoilers. But I’m going to try it anyway. It’s better if you imagine this book like an urban fantasy version of Ocean’s Eleven. It’s this weird adventure story about a group of friends trying to save one of their own and then go on to con a bunch of business people out of their money.

The characterization is one of the things I love so much about this book. The characters feel so real. They all feel like genuine people. And they all have their own flaws and quirks. Not only that it’s a diverse range of characters. From the colour of their skin to sexuality. It’s not made obvious but these characters aren’t all stick thin as well which is a big thing in a fantasy book.

I don’t really know what else I can say about this. I love this story and I love these characters and two books isn’t anywhere near enough to tell all their stories.

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