inverarity

Book Review: The Library at Mount Char, by Scott Hawkins

A surrealistic dark fantasy about American gods and monsters.


The Library at Mount Char

Broadway Books, 2016, 388 pages



Carolyn's not so different from the other human beings around her. She's sure of it. She likes guacamole and cigarettes and steak. She knows how to use a phone. She even remembers what clothes are for. After all, she was a normal American herself once. That was a long time ago, of course - before the time she calls "adoption day", when she and a dozen other children found themselves being raised by a man they learned to call Father.

Father could do strange things. He could call light from darkness. Sometimes he raised the dead. And when he was disobeyed, the consequences were terrible. In the years since Father took her in, Carolyn hasn't gotten out much. Instead she and her adopted siblings have been raised according to Father's ancient Pelapi customs. They've studied the books in his library and learned some of the secrets behind his equally ancient power. Sometimes they've wondered if their cruel tutor might secretly be God. Now Father is missing. And if God truly is dead, the only thing that matters is who will inherit his library - and with it power over all of creation.

As Carolyn gathers the tools she needs for the battle to come, fierce competitors for this prize align against her. But can Carolyn win? She's sure of it. What she doesn't realize is that her victory may come at an unacceptable price - because in becoming a god, she's forgotten a great deal about being human.


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Book Review: Aftershocks, by Marko Kloos

Promising start to a new MilSF space opera series, but...


Aftershocks

47North, 2019, 286 pages



Across the six-planet expanse of the Gaia System, the Earthlike Gretia struggles to stabilize in the wake of an interplanetary war. Amid an uneasy alliance to maintain economies, resources, and populations, Aden Robertson reemerges. After devoting fifteen years of his life to the reviled losing side, with the blood of half a million casualties on his hands, Aden is looking for a way to move on. He’s not the only one.

A naval officer has borne witness to inconceivable attacks on a salvaged fleet. A sergeant with the occupation forces is treading increasingly hostile ground. And a young woman, thrust into responsibility as vice president of her family’s raw materials empire, faces a threat she never anticipated.

Now, on the cusp of an explosive and wide-reaching insurrection, Aden plunges once again into the brutal life he longed to forget. He’s been on the wrong side of war before. But this time, the new enemy has yet to reveal themselves...or their dangerous endgame.


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Also by Marko Kloos: My reviews of Terms of Enlistment, Lines of Departure, Angles of Attack, Chains of Command, Fields of Fire, Points of Impact.




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Book Review: Convenience Store Woman, by Sayaka Murata

A weird girl and an incel — it's not a meet-cute.


Convenience Store Woman

Grove Press, 2016, 163 pages



Tokyo resident Keiko Furukara has never fit in - neither in her family, nor in school - but when at the age of 18 she begins working at the Hiiromachi branch of national convenience store chain Smile Mart, she realizes instantly that she has found her purpose in life. Delighted to be able to exist in a place where the rules of social interaction are crystal clear (many are laid out line-by-line in the store's manual), Keiko does her best to copy the dress, mannerisms, and mode of speech of her colleagues, playing the part of a "normal" person excellently, more or less.

Keiko is the perfect employee - never late, always worrying about how to maximize sales, brilliantly conscientious, and highly energetic. Managers come and go but Keiko remains at the store for 18 years. It's almost hard to tell where the store ends and she begins. At 36, Keiko is very happy in her life, but the people close to her, from her family to her coworkers, pressure her to settle down with a man and to find a proper profession. Eventually, she is pushed to make a huge change. The static world of Keiko is upended - but will it be for the better?

A brilliant depiction of an unusual psyche and an extraordinary world, Convenience Store Woman is both an ironic and sharp-eyed look at contemporary work culture and the pressures to conform, as well as a charming and completely fresh portrait of an unforgettable heroine.


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Book Review: Starsight, by Brandon Sanderson

In the sequel to Skyward, a teenager infiltrates a Galactic confederation.


Starsight

Delacorte Press, 2019, 480 pages



All her life, Spensa has dreamed of becoming a pilot. Of proving she's a hero like her father. She made it to the sky, but the truths she learned about her father were crushing. The rumors of his cowardice are true - he deserted his flight during battle against the Krell. Worse, though, he turned against his team and attacked them.

Spensa is sure there's more to the story. And she's sure that whatever happened to her father in his starship could happen to her. When she made it outside the protective shell of her planet, she heard the stars - and it was terrifying. Everything Spensa has been taught about her world is a lie.

But Spensa also discovered a few other things about herself - and she'll travel to the end of the galaxy to save humankind if she needs to.


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Also by Brandon Sanderson: My reviews of Elantris, The Mistborn trilogy, The Alloy of Law, Steelheart, The Way of Kings, Warbreaker, and Skyward.




My complete list of book reviews.