Blog Tour: Something about Sophie, by Mary Kay McComas–Review

Something about Sophie by Mary Kay McComas may best be categorized as women’s fiction, part thriller and part romance. Protagonist Sophie Shepard travels from her home in Ohio to Clearfield, Virginia at the request of a dying man she’s never met. Although Sophie arrives too late to speak with Arthur Cubeck, the dying man, she makes it to the hospital in time to meet Dr. Drew McCarren, Cubeck’s doctor. As Sophie decides to spend a few days in Clearfield, she strikes up a friendship with McCarren, which quickly develops into something romantic. Meanwhile, Sophie discovers that she’s been left something substantial in Cubeck’s will. Sophie is baffled at this turn of events, as she’s completely unaware of any sort of connection to Cubeck. As the story unfolds, Sophie begins to suspect that her birth mother may have been from Clearfield. Several men Sophie encounters end up physically beaten and even killed, as Sophie tries to sort out her developing relationship with McCarren and research her own roots in an attempt to find a possible link to the community of Clearfield in her own past.
This novel is both thriller and romance simultaneously. And yet, neither of these quite works. The mystery isn’t quite suspenseful enough nor does one get the sense that it’s quite immediate enough to Sophie to be truly suspenseful. This seems odd because characters are, in fact, killed from the outset, and Sophie, the central character, expresses fear, anger, and indignation about these deaths which seem to be connected to her presence in Clearfield in some way. Yet Sophie’s fear and outrage aren’t quite authentic, creating a lack of affect in terms of the novel as thriller. There’s just something missing, and the suspense does not compel one to keep reading the way that it should. Maybe this is because in spite of the mystery surrounding Cubeck’s will and Sophie’s birth mother as well as the bodies dropping around her, Sophie still finds the time and emotional energy to date Drew McCarren, the local cardiac specialist. The relationship between Sophie and McCarren develops quickly, in spite of their concerns about developing feelings when Sophie plans to return to Ohio as quickly as is feasible. Their relationship develops too quickly and easily, certainly in a way that doesn’t ring true for two characters who are presented otherwise as thoughtful, mature, and relatively cautious. This novel would have worked better, I think, had it been a straight thriller, conforming more to the confines of the particular genre. As it is, it reads rather like a bad Lifetime Movie, one in which neither the suspense nor the romance rings true, leaving us with a watered down version of both.
Additionally, McComas’s writing style leaves quite a lot to be desired. Her characters are not particularly believable or even likable, even when she’s clearly attempting to create sympathetic characters. I want to like Sophie; for the novel to work, we need to like and even identify with Sophie; but I just don’t. For some reason she’s not likable or even believable, but I cannot quite put my finger on why that is.
I wanted to like Something About Sophie; I really did. But it just didn’t work for me. Somehow, the divergent pieces–characters, genres–didn’t come together in a way that was successful.

Blog Tour: Immortal Bird: A Family Memoir, by Damon Weber–Review

Blog Tour: Immortal Bird: A Family Memoir, by Doran Weber–Review

In Immortal Bird, writer Doran Weber narrates a heartbreaking memoir telling of his efforts to deal with the very serious illness of his son Damon. Weber seems to be attempting to create some sort of legacy for Damon, while demonstrating some of the significant shortcomings that can occur in terms of patient care, even in some of the best medical establishments in the world. And yet, Immortal Bird really reads like a father’s attempt to deal with the loss of his son and to try to find some sort of meaning in what can only be called a senseless, needless tragedy.
Damon Weber was born, his father tells us, with a serious heart condition, one that he was not necessarily expected to survive. And yet somehow, Damon manages to grow into an active, bright, and relatively healthy teen. After a series of seemingly minor health problems, Damon is diagnosed with PLE, a relatively rare condition that has to do with the body’s inability to process protein. After a series of procedures and much medication, Doron Weber with Damon’s doctors decide to pursue a heart transplant as the only way to combat PLE, which will be fatal if left untreated. Although Damon survives the heart transplant, a tricky high-risk procedure, and seems to be recovering, a relatively common complication is overlooked by Damon’s staff of doctors who are characterized as uncaring and incompetent, eventually resulting in Damon’s death, a death that could have been prevented if only the medical staff had been more attentive, as Weber writes it.
Immortal Bird as much as anything else strikes me as a father’s attempt to work through his own grief over the loss of his precious child. In some ways, this work is much more the writer’s story than it is Damon’s. Weber narrates his perceptions, observations, and experiences of dealing with his son’s illness. And although Weber certainly describes Damon’s physical and emotional suffering as well as the difficulties faced by Shealagh, Damon’s mother and Weber’s wife, this memoir is really more about what’s going on with Weber than it is about Damon directly. And it seems to me that this fact speaks in significant ways to the very nature of grief. I am reminded of Joan Didon’s Year of Magical Thinking and C.S. Lewis’s A Grief Observed, both classic works exploring the nature of grief. And yet, what we can see in both of these is that in important ways grief is not exclusively or even more significantly about the loved one who has been lost but about the subjective attempt of the survivor, the lover to deal with the world around her in light of the loss of the loved one. In a similar fashion, Immortal Bird is less about Damon himself and more about Weber’s years-long managing of Damon’s illness and Weber’s attempt to see the world again, anew after the loss of his son. In this way, Immortal Bird becomes an invitation to the reader to meditate on the nature of grief itself.
Additionally, Weber highlights some frightening shortcomings in terms of medical care in the United States. Weber makes it clear that from the time Damon is born with a serious heart condition Weber, Damon’s father, is Damon’s best advocate as Weber reads, researches, and becomes an expert on Damon’s condition. The Weber family is well educated and relatively privileged. And one gets the sense that Weber is able to educate himself and insist that his son receive the best care possible precisely because of factors directly related to socio-economic class. Yet, in the end, in spite of Weber’s best efforts on behalf of his son, Damon dies as a direct result of apparent negligence in one of the best hospitals in the United States. If this can happen to Damon, even with his educated, proactive father, how much more so to those who don’t have the opportunity to be so engaged in their own health care choices or those of their loved ones. If someone like Damon and the Weber family can fall through the cracks of the health care establishment, how much more so the majority of the American population who are relatively underprivileged. In this way, Immortal Bird reads like a call for health care reform and attention to patients’ rights that is a far cry from the current political debate regarding universal health care.
It’s always a bit challenging to evaluate a work that deals with intensely personal issues. This is doubly the case when it is a memoir dealing specifically with what feels like such an unjust death, the loss of a particularly vibrant, bright teenager with his whole life ahead of him. And yet, Weber’s writing does deserve a critique. There is something particularly self involved about this memoir, yet that seems to be connected to the very nature of grief. To write about loss is to examine how that loss affects the writer. One, however, feels sympathy for Sam and Miranda, Damon’s younger siblings, who somehow seem to get lost along the way; their needs seem to be overlooked because Damon’s are so much more pressing. I have to say, I’d have liked to hear more about Sam, Miranda, and Shealegh, Damon’s mother, rather than focusing almost exclusively on Weber’s own story, his attempt to deal with Damon’s situation. Additionally, although Weber is a skilled writer and a professional writer, there’s something about his descriptions of Damon that feel a bit trite. Damon is often described as bird-like in a variety of ways. This makes sense, particularly when we consider that he is much smaller and thinner than his peers because of his illness and that he seems to be wasting away before our eyes as the book progresses. But these repeated descriptions of Damon as “bird-like” don’t seem to fit with Weber’s repeated references to Damon as leonine, or lion-like, especially in reference to his halo of bright red hair. Although this description certainly captures something of the power and charisma of Damon that Weber seems to want to convey, it doesn’t quite fit with the writing of Damon as frail and bird-like. Also, Weber seems to repeat these descriptors so often that one finds it all a bit distracting.
My heart breaks for the Weber family and for Doran Weber in particular. Certainly, the loss of a child must be one of the most difficult things that any family must face. And the loss of Damon is particularly tragic. After facing and seeming to overcome so many serious health problems, it’s tragic and almost unbelievable that Damon ultimately dies because of simple apathy and incompetence on the part of those who are supposed to be some of the best doctors in the United States. Currently, the Webers have filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Columbia Presbyterian Hospital. As of April 2013, just after the eighth anniversary of Damon’s death, the suit remains unsettled. My heart is broken for this family and weeps on behalf of Damon himself.

Blog Tour: The End of the Point, by Elizabeth Graver–Review



In The End of the Point, Elizabeth Graver provides a particularly finely written literary novel.  The End of the Point is the story of an extended family and their connections to their vacation home at Ashaunt Point, Massachusetts.  Graver speaks to the power of place in memory, imagination, and particularly in family life.  The End of the Point is a multi-generational family saga, as Graver traces the relationships and travails of several members of the Porter household.

It strikes me that Graver is particularly attuned to the female experience.  She certainly does not focus exclusively on the female members of the Porter household, but her writing of the struggles of being a woman and dealing with a world that is gendered are authentic and poignant.  Graver explores the female experience from the perspective of different generations, but what’s most interesting are the ways in which Graver writes the female experience as it cuts across socioeconomic class.  Although she’s writing about the old-moneyed and well-to-do Porter family, Graver also focuses on the experience of their hired help, particularly the experiences of Bea, a sort of nanny-nurse-companion to the youngest Porter child and later to the adults in the novel.  Bea’s experience, as compared to the more bourgeois experiences of Helen, the eldest  Porter daughter, are particularly authentic and nearly heartbreaking.  In fact, Bea may be the most sympathetic character in the entire novel.

The End of the Point spans the years of 1942 to 1999, opening with World War II.  In fact, the Porter family members seem to be very much shaped by war.  Thematically, then, Graver explores the ways in which war and wartime loss shape not only individual experience and memory but the dynamics of a family.  The Porter’s only son, Charlie, a pilot, is killed in Europe during World War II, and the specter of his loss haunts the family for the remainder of the novel.  Charlie’s namesake, Helen’s son, is shaped by his own generational experience of the Vietnam War as well.

Graver, in what is a family saga, explores the relationships between family members and the ways in which one generation affects the next.  Family is a wonderful and also a difficult thing; family can both sustain us and scar us, maybe all at the same time.  And Graver manages to convey this seemingly-paradoxical experience of family.

Graver’s writing style is, quite simply, lovely:

“Bea sighed.  Every year, it was the same battle.  Janie saved horeshoe crabs and rocks, beach rose hips, butterflies, and beetles, every manner of broken and chipped shells, bits of driftwood and sea glass, lobster claws, smelly, rattling strands of seaweed.  This year had been worse than most, as Janie suddenly fancied herself–at eight!–too old for toys, and had been scavenging, foraging, pocketing, all summer with a fervor that Bea found at once irritating and, in its intensity, a little strange.”

Passages like these feel rather like Virginia Woolf in both the word choice and syntax as well as the attempt to convey something like stream-of-consciousness.  And quite honestly, I can offer no higher praise of one’s writing style than to compare it to that of Woolf.

The End of the Point is a beautiful literary novel.  Although some readers find this type of novel to be a bit slow, it’s really quite wonderful.  The exploration of family experience and place as well as the writing style make it perfect.

Blog Tour: The Guilty One, by Lisa Ballantyne–Review


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Author Lisa Ballantyne writes a  crime novel and psychological thriller in her debut novel The Guilty One.  And yet, in melding these two approaches, she is able to transcend each, giving the reader something that is immensely satisfying.  The Guilty One tells the story of London solicitor Daniel Hunter who takes on the case of Sebastian Croll, an 11-year-old boy accused of murdering his 8-year-old neighbor.  As Daniel investigates the murder and Sebastian’s role in it, we are also given the story of Daniel’s past, a past that allows him to identify with the clearly troubled Sebastian.

The Guilty One  Ballantyne really writes two parallel narratives.  Alternating chapters tell of Daniel’s present, his work on Sebastian’s case and of Daniel’s past as a child who has been removed from his drug addicted mother and placed in foster care.  This structure of alternating chapters is compelling.  We are invited to consider the ways in which Daniel’s past bleeds into his present.  But more than that, this structure allows Ballantyne to tell two separate, albeit interrelated, suspense stories:  the unfolding of the murder case and the veiled and dark secret of Daniel’s own past.  This sort of parallel structure isn’t easy to write well; it often can become contrived.  However, Ballantyne effectively allows these two parallel narratives to exist side by side, pulling them together at the end.  Both stories are equally compelling and suspenseful.  Ballantyne, then, has selected a structure that could easily feel forced, yet she manages to weave each story gracefully and to great effect.  Additionally, while each story is suspenseful in its own right, Ballantyne creates some sort of larger, almost cosmic, suspense by deferring the intersection of the two parallel narratives.  This represents a great creative achievement.

The title, The Guilty One, suggests that at least one of the central characters–Daniel himself; Sebastian; Minnie, Daniel’s foster mother–is guilty of some great sin.  Yet, it’s not clear until the very end who is truly guilty and who is a victim in this novel.  In this regard, Ballantyne also builds suspense, a particularly compelling psychological suspense.  These characters all bear their own burdens, mostly related to family drama, grief, and dysfunction, and all are sympathetic and believable, if not completely likable, characters.

The Guilty One is Ballantyne’s first published novel.  I’m certain we can expect more equally gratifying reads from her in the future.

NOTE:  A review copy was provided by the publisher.  No monetary or other compensation was received.

tlc logo  This review is part of a blog tour via TLC Book Tours.  You can catch the  full tour schedule here.  A special thanks to TLC Book Tours and especially to Trish Collins at TLC.

Blog Tour: The Clover House, by Henriette Lazaridis Power–Review

In The Clover House, author Henriette Lazaridis Power tells the story of Green American Calliope (Callie) Brown and her strained relationship with her very Greek mother, Clio.  After Callie’s uncle passes away, she travels to Greece to attend to his estate.  Here, Callie seeks the truth about her mother’s past as she attempts to resolve her own future.  Power’s literary fiction touches on family saga.

The structure of Power’s novel is interesting.  While the majority of the chapters are told in the first person, present tense from Callie’s point of view, some (maybe 1/3) of the sections are told in third-person, past tense from the point of view of Clio, Callie’s mother.  This structure–shifting between Callie’s present and Clio’s past–is interesting and invites us to consider the relationship between past and present.  I have to say, however, that I found the present tense writing to be a bit tedious.  I understand this choice and can see that it serves a purpose, but in general I find present-tense narration to be a bit distracting.

In spite of that criticism, I do find Power to be a really good writer.  This is not merely escapist fiction about mother-daughter conflict of the sort that could be adapted as a Lifetime movie.  On the contrary, there’s something literary and even poetic about the way that Power strings words together.  Her descriptions of the Greek landscape are particularly engaging.

I feel as though I’ve recently read far too many novels that hinge on the consequences of difficult mother-daughter relationships.  The theme, although certainly relevant to many lives, has started to feel a bit tedious.  There is, however, nothing tedious about Power’s novel.  Power provides a fresh, interesting take on this all-too-common theme.  By placing the root of the mother-daughter conflict within the historical context of World War II and the Greek Civil War, Power gives a concrete background to the tension between Callie and her mother.  This also pushes the novel towards historical fiction in ways that are interesting and compelling.

Power’s novel is not a quick read.  It’s rather like taking a meandering walk on a warm day.  Power gives us a definite sense of place, one that makes me want to visit Greece.

NOTE:  A review copy was provided by the publisher.  No monetary or other form of compensation was received.

tlc logo  A special thanks to TLC Book Tours for inviting me to host a stop along this tour.  You can find a full tour schedule here.

Blog Tour: A Conspiracy of Alchemists, by Liesel Schwartz


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In A Conspiracy of Alchemists: Book One in the Chronicles of Light and Shadow, author Liesel Schwartz writes a steampunk fantasy about the adventures of Elle Chance.  Elle, a airship pilot, is given a mysterious and dangerous cargo to transport from Paris to London.  She encounters the mysterious and seemingly-dangerous Mr. Marsh and a world of supernatural creatures, fairies, and alchemists.   These “shadow” dwellers are in contrast to Elle and her family who inhabit the world of the “light” in the novel.  Elle is forced to rely on Marsh when she discovers that her father, an important inventor, has been kidnapped.

Schwartz provides an entertaining, engaging introduction to steampunk as a genre.  Here, we have an alternative early 20th Century Europe, one in which steam, rather than coal or electricity, seems to be the primary source of power, hence the “steam” in steampunk.  But steampunk as a genre is interesting because it allows us to explore the possibility of alternative pasts, which provides a lens for thoughtfully considering our own present.

  Schwartz’s novel also explores the relationship between good and evil.  Although this is a theme that comes up so frequently in literature, particularly in fantasy and science fiction.  However, because it’s such a basic human concern, another look at the theme seems warranted.  And certainly Schwartz looks at it in some interesting ways.  In the world in which Elle lives, things are not always what they first appear to be, and this is true also of good and evil.  Further, Schwartz explores the topic of power and its relationship to good and evil, another theme that warrants thought.

This novel is suitable for young adult readers, although seems to be pitched towards a slightly older audience.  While the novel isn’t particularly brilliant, it’s certainly entertaining and provides the reader with more than just escapism.

tlc logo  A special thanks to TLC Book Tours for inviting me to be a host on this tour.  Please check out the full tour schedule here.

NOTE:  A review copy was provided by the publisher.  No monetary and other compensation was received.

The Water Witch, by Juliet Dark–Review


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Juliet Dark, pen name for author Carol Goodman, tells the story of Callie McFey and her attempt to keep open the threshold to the supernatural world of Faerie while battling a murderous Undine, or water spirit, in the stunning novel The Water Witch. Callie is an academic, a professor at Fairwick College in the Catskills of New York. But she is also a half-witch, half-fey young woman who has yet to come into her powers. As Callie confronts those witches who would close the door to Faerie, the world of the fey, she must also confront an incubus from her past. This incubus attempts to woo Callie, but it is unclear whether his wooing springs from genuine love for Callie of whether it is part of his attempt to somehow feed off of Callie and become human by devouring her. Clearly a fantasy, The Water Witch is definitely not for young readers, as some of the sex scenes are graphic.

  Like many good fantasies, The Water Witch suggests the possibility that Faerie, the world of the supernatural is somehow just around the corner. The village of Fairwick, where Callie resides, is populated by a number of supernatural creatures, borrowed from folk traditions from all over the world. Here, we encounter Norse myth and Indian legend, as well as the more familiar character types from English folklore. Because these characters are borrowed from world myth and folklore, they feel somehow familiar. And placing them in the quiet, sleepy corner of the Catskills that houses the college suggests that these beings could also reside in our own backyards. This is certainly part of the appeal of The Water Witch.

Callie’s struggle to come to terms with the incubus from her past, with her perceived inability to love, and with relationships generally speaks to the anxieties many women, particularly feminists, may have about relationships, particularly with men. The presence of Liam, the incubus who attempts to seduce Callie, reflects the all-too-common fear of being devoured by a lover. Callie fears that if she loves him, she will somehow lose herself, but she also fears what will happen if she is unwilling or simply unable to love. Callie both desires and fears intimate relationships in ways that are particularly authentic, especially for her character. Callie’s sense of powerlessness is brought to the fore by the fact that as both witch and fey, she is yet to come into her power. This “binding” of her supernatural power is, for Callie, wrapped up in her feeling bound to the incubus. This further illustrates the theme of the female feeling powerless when she considers loving a male. This is a theme that should certainly resonate in our culture.

The Water Witch is particularly well written. Goodman’s writing style—word choice, syntax, sentence structure—mark the novel as literary without being overwrought. There’s something elegant about the writing, a kind of grace that lacks the heavy self-consciousness too often found in literary fiction. In this regard, as in so many others, this book is simply delightful.

The Water Witch is the second book in The Fairwick Chronicles trilogy. Reading it has made me motivated to pick up the first in the series, as I’m waiting for the final installment, The Hallowed Door. While The Water Witch may not appeal to all readers—some certainly don’t like fantasy—it is a lovely example from the genre. Well written, thoughtful, and engaging, The Water Witch is a win for readers who appreciate this kind of work.

This review originally published at Luxury Reading,

A review copy was provided by the publisher.  No monetary or other compensation was received.

Entangled, by Nikki Jefford–Review


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  In Entangled, the first in her Spellbound trilogy, author Nikki Jefford tells the story of teen witch Graylee Perez who, through a resurrection spell gone wrong, is forced to live inside her twin sister’s body. Graylee must manage the normal pressures of high school while attempting to solve the mysteries of her death and her presence in her sister’s, Charlene’s, body. Graylee must also negotiate her feelings for Raj, the teen warlock who loves her and who realizes that she’s inside of Charlene. This paranormal romance is written for older teens and while not terribly well written should appeal to a particular audience.

Often, the paranormal genre becomes a simple vehicle for a love story. And this is the case in Entangled. While certainly a paranormal novel of type that is so currently popular, Entangled is really a narrative about the experience of being a teenager, and as such, it examines the themes of sibling rivalry, peer pressures, and romantic relationships. Here, the paranormal is also an opportunity for Jefford to tell a kind of suspense story, as Graylee must confront the mysterious circumstances surrounding her own death. Rather than being a detriment, that the paranormal elements are somewhat incidental lends a more universal quality to the narrative.

Jefford’s writing is not particularly appealing. Too often the narrative focuses on the wrong things: we hear details that don’t necessarily move the story forward, while some moments seem to need much fuller elaboration. The wording too often is either trite or somehow misses the mark. There is much here that simply does not ring true. In spite of this, the novel moves forward quickly, and there is little opportunity for boredom.

Entangled will appeal to a particular demographic. Late teen readers who cannot get enough of the nearly-endless supply of teen paranormal romance stories inspired by Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight Saga should find themselves right a home in the world of Graylee Perez.

This review was originally published at Luxury Reading,

A review copy was provided by NetGalley.  No monetary or other compensation was received.

Renegade, by J.A. Souders–Review


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In Renegade, first-person narrator Evelyn Winters tells of her life in the society of Elysium, somewhere below the surface of the Atlantic. Author J.A. Souders weaves a story that is part dystopian fiction, part Little Mermaid, and part love story. Published by TOR Teen, this novel is pitched at young readers and feels very much like the popular Hunger Games series.

  In Renegade, Evelyn battles her own memory loss. After meeting the “Surface Dweller” Gavin, she is forced to confront the evils of her own society, Elysium, a society designed to be perfect. As the novel unfolds, Evelyn must face the possibility that this attempt at societal perfection has come at far too high a cost. In this way, Souders’s novel is classic dystopian fiction.

Evelyn has always been taught that “Surface Dwellers,” those who live in the world that you and I know, are somehow evil. However, when she meets Gavin, who seems to be from Florida, she finds herself drawn to him and must rethink this assumption. As the novel progresses, Evelyn commits to helping Gavin escape from Elysium so that he may return to his home. In the process, their relationship becomes more than just friendly.

Evelyn, as a character, is less sympathetic than I would like. This is increasingly the case as the novel progresses. At various points, she is presented as a disabled child with little memory, a whiney teenager, typical female in distress with no volition of her own, and a trained assassin. This is absolutely an odd combination of character qualities, and Evelyn switches from one to the other in a move reminiscent of Multiple Personality Disorder. In the end, however, Evelyn seems to be a victim. While we may feel sorry for her in this regard, there is little in her character to actually like.

Renegade is a first-person narration written in the present tense. It should be noted that The Hunger Games is written the same way. This kind of narrative allows for a kind of immediacy. As readers, we are present with Evelyn, experiencing things as she does. And yet, it also becomes both contrived and tedious, as a stylistic choice. Overall, this novel slows down about a third of the way through. Evelyn and Gavin, in their attempt to escape, run back and forth in the underwater world of Elysium, but at times it feels as though they are not really making any progress. It is as if Souders loses momentum far too early on and never quite regains it.

While there is certainly an audience for Renegade, it is not a particularly strong novel. Certainly dystopian fiction combined with romance seems to appeal to the contemporary young reader. However, there is little beyond the genre appeal to recommend Renegade.

NOTE:  This review was originally published at the wonderful book review site Luxury Reading.

Blog Tour: The Shadow Wars, by Rod Rees–Review


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In The Shadow Wars  author Rod Rees gives a fully elaborated secondary world of the highest quality.  If only all science fiction were so finely imagined and so well written,scifi as a genre would no longer be relegated to a secondary status, labeled mere escapism as it too often is.

The Shadow Wars is the second in Rees’s Demi-Monde Saga.  It tells the story of characters from our own world, the “real” world, who have been trapped in the highly evolved and very realistic computer generated world called the Demi-Monde.  This novel is a particularly thoughtful, literary example of science fiction and specifically cyberpunk.  For as we observe the adventures of the “real” characters in what is originally presented as an “unreal” world, we are invited to question the social mores, history, and prejudices of our own society.  It is partly the ways in which the Demi-Monde reflects not just our society but ourselves that makes this such a powerful work.  Many of the villains of our own history have been recreated in the Demi-Monde, and we have the opportunity to explore their atrocities and enormities, again questioning ethics in our own society and expanding our own ways of thinking about the world in which we live.  This is precisely what science fiction, as a genre, should do.  This is what moves the genre beyond being an escapist fantasy.  There’s something meaningful here.

While not suitable for young readers, Rees’s novel is particularly written.  Again, this raises it above the pulpy quality that is sometimes associated with both science fiction and fantasy fiction.  Rees is simply a really good writer.  His words are clearly chosen with such precision, and his style is clean.  Some may object to the swear words used, but they are anything but gratuitous.

I particularly appreciate good science fiction, although really good scifi is hard to find.  Rees has done it.  Although not for all readers, Rees presents science fiction and specifically dystopian cyberpunk of the highest order.

NOTE:  A review copy was provided by the publisher.  No monetary or other compensation was received.


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