For the first time ever, I was suggested a book through my online begging for suggestions! Thank you, A. Rinum, for heeding my call! As a result, I get to read her book, The City of Saints.
The City of Saints
Author: A. Rinum
While I bought and read this book simply on the suggestion of the author in a comment, I do think the premise looks right up my alley. A war between humans and cyborgs? A society in which hatred is so well-infused that they hunt each other? I think it looks pretty good. Rinum only has one other book up on Amazon, so it’s going to be fun seeing what kind of chops this new author has.
This book was a bit of a roller coaster for me, and it took reading to the very end before I could form a solid opinion. With most books, I either feel like I like the whole thing or I don’t like it, and this one had parts that could go either way for me. I felt like I had to make a list of pros and cons, and they balanced each other delicately.
The writer created and built toward excellent twists. Rinum created expectations that she later shattered in fantastic, believable ways.
Anti-war themes and messages were on point. Nuha’s experiences were gritty, and the visceral writing was very immersive. Many of the names had an Arabic or Persian feel to them, and that added to the experience, even if unintended. You don’t get to see much science fiction with that sort of focus.
Related to the previous paragraph, the writing was well done. Each sentence flowed, and the story did make sense, which is more than I can say about a lot of indie books. Don’t make me pop out links to prove how much I can complain about how a book goes together.
Not to spoil it, but… that ending. WOW. If you buy this book, get to the end. You will feel things.
Probably my biggest complaint was the main character was supposed to be ten, but she never – not even once – felt like a ten year old. She felt much older, perhaps 18 or 20. As long as I read her that way, I was fine. But then she’d remind you how young she was, and it would throw me off. The book was definitely not middle grade or YA, if you were considering that.
I thought the large number of fight scenes bogged the book’s pace down. The main character got injured often, and in many fights she didn’t feel very important anyway. Some of the fights were very good and quite readable, but others were not. I count that as a negative point.
A lot of anti-war soapbox bits cropped up. These philosophical breaks often felt out of place when the story itself made the thematic points clear.
Some of the science fiction elements felt a little off. The big concepts were fine, but several smaller elements didn’t quite click for me. For instance (non-spoiler): there was a virus caused by lead poisoning, which didn’t make any sense to me. As well, I thought the cyborgs were people with missing limbs or controllable, programmable computer chips in their heads, but later it turned out they were just Iron Man. Just people in suits. I felt that should have been clearer earlier.
4/5 Discoball Snowcones
Honestly, my non-spoilers review pretty well summed up my feelings. The plot made sense, and it built on itself well, so I can’t really put many complaints in this section.
I will say the second twist, where it’s revealed the cyborgs are just rich people in armor, was so good. Up until this point, I’d been with Nuha, worried the robots were killing off the humans, but that’s not the way it was. It was people, specifically politicians, being evil all along. Sure, Chancellor-Hitler-Spelled-Backwards was a bit of a heavy-handed tactic, but making people the bad guys was a clever choice.
I finished the ending and didn’t know how to feel about it. At first I was mad, then I realized just how well it fit into the theme, and I ended up thinking it was exactly the right way to end the book. I don’t know how Rinum could possibly pull off a sequel, but perhaps she uses a new character or set of characters. I’m not currently planning on reading the sequel, but I might read other books or series from this author if I feel like it.
Next week, I’ll be reading C.S. Boyack’s The Yak Guy Project! I’ve been looking forward to this a while now, so strap in!