Reading List – September 2021

Though I think he’s not been blogging for a while, I have thought about Brian from Books of Brian and his review of the Machineries of Empire series. I’ve decided to go ahead and explore these books and see what he liked about them.

Yoon Ha Lee’s Machineries of Empire Trilogy

An innovative set of books, this trilogy explores a brand new universe from the mind of a new author. I’ve read that there’s supposed to be a lot of east Asian inspirations in these, and I think that will be pretty cool. I don’t know much else about them, so it’ll be exciting to jump in and find out more!

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Do you have a suggestion? Comments? I’m currently filled up for my review slots on the blog this year, but you can always submit a request for potential reviews on Goodreads and Amazon!

See my old reviews here

Book Review: Tehanu

I’ve hated the entirety of this series so far, but apparently I’m a glutton for punishment (or am stuck due to a sunk cost fallacy).

The Book

Tehanu read 2021

Tehanu
Author: Ursula LeGuin
1990
Amazon Link

Whatever, if you want to see me whine about the earlier books in the series, you can see A Wizard of Earthsea, Tombs of Atuan, and The Farthest Shore here if you want. But you shouldn’t, because literally no one agrees with me that these books aren’t good.

Non-Spoiler Review

Short version: I hated it.

Long version: This book did have the advantage over the others that it wasn’t so plot-ambitious that it glanced over too much information. Zooming in on Goha/Tenar/Arha’s (yes, the one from Tombs of Atuan) feelings was a good way to go. This book didn’t feel as nonsense-mythological or like a story out of the Bible. The narrator focus was also the main character, a change from earlier.

But, like in Tombs of Atuan, nothing that main character did really mattered. The entire book is about how Goha keeps running around trying to not get raped or beaten, trying to keep this 6-year-old child from being raped, beaten, and burned AGAIN, how all of the female characters are raped and beaten for being female, and how male characters like King Arren and Ged/Sparrowhawk are the only ones who effect change.

I was so enraged by the repeated rape threats and constant fear that these characters experienced that I made the mistake of reading the afterword. This thing was considered feminist – how? It’s about ladies being useless and getting raped. There isn’t hope, not really, not when all the problems are solved either by men or non-human women who can turn into dragons. Women who are given the opportunity for different (a.k.a. male) power always turn it down. The characters ask themselves, pretty directly, what women’s power is: the answer is basically “We don’t know, but we assume it’s something.” There’s nothing shown, nothing had, nothing proven that women have other than suffering and death. The only reason I’d call this feminist is it mentions menstruation, which I usually only see in feminist literature.

1/5 Discoball Snowcones

1 Discoball Snowcones

SPOILERS REVIEW

Like I said above, the main character never really does anything, but things are done to her. In the very beginning, the wizard Ogion dies, and she’s able to stay in his house because people haven’t quite decided who’s going to inherit it (though Ged is supposedly that person). Goha is considered a good placeholder, even when she takes in a 6 year old that has been beaten, raped, and thrown in a fire. Everyone thinks the child is a monster, and three people (the relatives who originally raped the little girl) constantly chase Goha and want to kill and rape the two to death as punishment. Goha never saves herself, just runs around while men like King Arren save her.

Even Ged, whose magical powers had been taken in The Farthest Shore, was able to fight off the rapists when Goha just locked herself in a closet. Goha did think about how vulnerable Therru was after locking herself in the closet, but luckily Ged was around to stab them with a pitchfork. Justice was only sought because Ged made it happen, because male constructs got things accomplished.

Worst of all: a mage in Re Albi’s castle put Goha under a mind control spell. She ran from Re Albi while the spell was weak, since rapists were coming after her and Therru, but she was lured back. Upon coming back, she became senseless and unable to understand language while the mage tied her up like a dog and kicked her “in the breasts.” It was nonsense suffering.

One could argue that Goha did have an effect by keeping care of Therru. This made Therru like her, or perhaps Goha helped the burned child live long enough to show that she was really a dragon. It was completely, 100% bullshit. I saw it coming from a million miles away, and despite being a dragon, Therru was still mostly helpless throughout the book because she is female.

In the end, Ged is all that really matters as he moves into Ogion’s house.

Next week:

I’m starting a new set of books. You can read my reviews of Tales of Earthsea and The Other Wind on Goodreads, because apparently I can’t put things down once I start them.

Book Review: The Farthest Shore

I should have given up after book two, The Tombs of Atuan, but I must be some sort of masochist to believe in the sunk cost fallacy enough to read book three in this series.

The Book

Earthsea The Farthest Shore read 2021

The Farthest Shore
Author: Ursula LeGuin
1972
Amazon Link

Whatever, if you want to see me whine about the earlier books in the series, you can see A Wizard of Earthsea and Tombs of Atuan here if you want. But you shouldn’t, because literally no one agrees with me that these books aren’t good.

Non-Spoiler Review

It might be because I pushed and suffered through the first two books, but I just can’t come up with an excuse for this one.

The narrator, Arren, was never actually the main character. Arren was briefly described as the son of the king, and he was constantly told he was important, but I never figured out why he was important. This book was like reading The Great Gatsby in terms of how the narrator differs from the main character, except it feels like there’s no reason to do so. Arren wasn’t built up hardly at all, and Ged had not changed from the end of A Wizard of Earthsea. You didn’t watch a fall or even a massive character change in either of these people. It wasn’t a good Bildungsroman, nor was it a good epic destiny story. There was allegory (not telling about it because spoilers), but even then it fell flat for me.

Like in the two previous books, Ged/Sparrowhawk is so overpowered that I never feared for anything. There was no tension whatsoever for me. I never cared.

1/5 Discoball Snowcones

1 Discoball Snowcones

SPOILERS REVIEW

The plot was the same useless plot as the first book where they had to travel all over the world to meet some dark force, learn its name, and tell it its name so as to defeat it.

The only real difference between this book and the first one is that there’s a clear Christ-figure allegory in Ged. Like I mentioned above, I do think I figured out the allegory in this story and why LeGuin chose any of the plot elements she does. In The Farthest Shore, Ged pretty much dies, comes back, has Arren pretty much tell about their successes, then flies off on a dragon (symbol of ascension, I’d say). It also makes sense, because in A Wizard, Ged “suffers death” in the form of splitting his soul in two, then in Tombs of Atuan “was buried” because it literally took place in a tomb, then in The Farthest Shore “rose again on the third day in accordance with scripture.” The dragon, as well, was there at something called the making, so I assume this nigh god-like creature may have been a symbol of a flaming chariot or something like that. I also am not convinced this was planned in A Wizard of Earthsea, because that allegorical link feels weak sauce.

Ged’s supposed to be this all-knowing, super-wise wizard brosef, but he feels insufferable to me. I can’t stand his whining about how magic upsets the balance of things, about how wizards should do things by hand anyway, and then endangers children in order to defeat immortal wizards.

I didn’t read the afterword. I’m now of the opinion that authors should never try to explain things, because these afterwords just kind of piss me off.

Next week:

It doesn’t matter anymore. Why am I doing this to myself.

Book Review: Tombs of Atuan

Honestly, I’m not really sure why I can’t let go of the sunk cost of buying these books. I wasn’t a fan of the first entry in the series, and I find it rare that series improve after that. However, I’m hopeful that this one won’t be as mythological in feel and might show more than tell.

The Book

Tombs of Atuan 2021 read

Tombs of Atuan
Author: Ursula LeGuin
1972
Amazon Link

The first book, A Wizard of Earthsea, wasn’t my jam. I don’t know what to say here because I explained it all in the intro.

Non-Spoiler Review

I found this entry to the Earthsea series a lot better than the previous one. Rather than telling a lot of little tales building up to a single, momentous occasion, LeGuin tells a more compelling story about a single person’s experiences. The character of Ahara is much fuller than that of Ged, the dialogue is better, and there’s much more of a developed feel as to how the book works. The beginning of the book was pretty good, building up the Tombs of Atuan and how the evil, Nameless Ones demanded a nameless priestess.

The back end, however?

No. Straight up no.

*Minor spoilers?* When the main character ceases to be the motivating presence behind the plot, and when she becomes pretty much useless, the story fell apart for me. LeGuin spent so much time creating a wonderful story with tension and depth, but then it completely fell apart at about halfway through. The ending for the main character didn’t feel terrible, but it’s neither happy nor is it fulfilling. The deaths that occurred felt useless and bland, especially as they all happened off screen.

Though I liked it better than the first in the series, it was only by the smallest margin.

2/5 Discoball Snowcones

2 Discoball Snowcones

SPOILERS REVIEW

I hinted above that the back end was awful, and it was.

Ged, the hero from the first book, showed up about halfway through this book and stole the show.

Not only is he still the overpowered Mary Sue from the last book, he’s supposed to be basically infinitely wise and trustworthy. Ahara learns her name from him, and I found that disgusting – the whole premise was that the Nameless Ones had eaten her name, and by allowing her to have one that Ged just pops up with, her power is stolen. Ever after Ged tells her her name, Tenar, Ahara is pretty much useless. Even when she helps Ged out of the tombs where he is trapped, she cries and becomes a lump except when he tells her what to do. He fends off the gods that Ahara had worshipped and served her whole life.

So they escape, but Ahara is useless because she only knows the tombs. Ged figures out that Ahara has a great treasure sought by the whole world to bring peace, and he pretty much forces her to go to an island and present it to their king.

THEN HE ABANDONS HER even though she begs him to teach her sorcery. What he doesn’t tell her, and what is established in the first book, is that women are worthless so he can’t teach her sorcery. Ged just destroyed what had been a compelling story by coming in and “solving” the problems in the worst possible way.

Also, don’t read LeGuin’s explanations or afterword. Just don’t.

Next week:

I judge The Farthest Shore, or Book 3 of the Earthsea Cycle. Why the heck did I obligate myself for this torture? I pray the next one’s better.

Book Review: A Wizard of Earthsea

Years ago, I had some friends who said many of the ideas in Harry Potter could be found in the much older Earthsea Cycle books by Ursula LeGuin. Though I can’t find the purchase I made back then, rest assured that buying all 6 at the time cost something like 1.5x the first book, A Wizard of Earthsea. 

And I never read any of those sequels.

Since I have a hard time not reading things I buy, I decided to re-read A Wizard of Earthsea so I could continue the series without being lost.

The Book

A Wizard of Earthsea, 2021 read

A Wizard of Earthsea
Author: Toni Morrison
1968
Amazon Link

I’ll go ahead and be honest that when I read this book the first time, I wasn’t a fan. Not in the least. There was a reason I didn’t read the other books in the series despite them being short. I’m here now to see if that original feeling holds up.

Non-Spoiler Review

Compared to my first read-through a couple years ago, I’d say this book wasn’t as bad as I’d originally thought it. It’s still filled with telling rather than showing, and I just don’t like LeGuin’s style in this book. It feels like classic YA, something written between a fairy tale and an adult fiction. Because of this “telling” problem, the book contains a lot of completely disconnected explanations of the different islands on Earthsea. It was enough that I have completely forgotten them and would need them re-explained in the next book.

The dialogue was terrible, though I think it achieved its goal of feeling mythical or biblical. However, if I want to read something as boring as The Bible, I’m probably going to want to read The Bible since it is way more impactful on life, culture, politics, and (for me and a group of other people) salvation.

Ultimately, A Wizard of Earthsea is a Bildungsroman about a main character I don’t like. He’s truly a Mary Sue type character, one with powers far beyond those of any other character or creature in the book. (Other clear Mary Sues in a popular book include Paul from Dune, Ender from Ender’s Game, and General Jedao from Machineries of Empire.) I’ve never been a fan of Mary Sue characters, and this part of Wizard kept me from becoming invested.

The other characters were bland, and the female characters so sterotypically vapid that I didn’t even want to think about them.

The only redeeming qualities of this book, in my humble opinion, are the influences on fantasy and YA as arts. I can see its obvious importance in the formation of books like Harry Potter, and I can see how it connects from the seminal Lord of the Rings series (which I also need to re-read).

2/5 Discoball Snowcones

2 Discoball Snowcones

SPOILERS REVIEW

The plot of the book wasn’t terribly focused. The big enemy was a shadow that Ged/Sparrowhawk created in an attempt to summon a spirit from the dead. In order to defeat the spirit, he must find its name.

One of the things I remember from my first read is the name is freaking easy to guess. Since the shadow chases him forever before he turns around to chase it, and because it looks just like him, it should be well-known that the shadow’s name is Ged. The endless traveling around these islands and having conversations with the locals felt so pointless when the end result was obvious.

I don’t really want to read the sequels, but stupid me, I’m going to keep on with it because I spent money, dammit.

Next week:

All right, I’m going to keep on with The Tombs of Atuan. Blegh.

Reading List – August 2021

You know what people mistakenly believe in their heads? The sunk cost fallacy.

And here I am, giving in to it. Once upon a time, way back in 2016, I had some friends suggest A Wizard of Earthsea, the first book in Ursula LeGuin’s highly influential YA fantasy series. I saw on Amazon that you could get all six of the Earthsea Cycle books for the price of like 2.5 books or something like that, and I was like, “Well, if my friends suggested it, that probably means they’re worthwhile. I might as well take this deal!”

And so I read A Wizard of Earthsea.

And I hated it.

And I talked to my friends, who said “Oh, yeah, it’s not that we liked it – it was just highly influential, so you should read it to understand the state of fantasy.” And yes, it was influential. And yes, its main character was brown, which was almost unheard of in English literature at that time period.

I died a little, but I put the books away… until now, because I spent money on this! AND I WILL NOT OWN UNREAD BOOKS!

Ursula LeGuin’s The Earthsea Cycle

LeGuin originally wrote A Wizard of Earthsea in 1968. Given the time period, you already know it’s going to be a little screwed up, but I’m pretty good at forgiving people who write within their own historical time frames. I’m also really hoping that I’ll be more interested in them now, and that they’ll not seem so unreadable.

Also, I’m only presenting four of these books – A Wizard of Earthsea, The Tombs of Atuan, The Farthest Shore, and Tehanu here on the blog. Tales from Earthsea and The Other Wind will only be available on my Goodreads page.

See my old reviews here

Book Review: We All Die In the End

Elizabeth Merry is a prolific blogger who writes fantastic stuff. Her prose is always delicious, and she’s so nice! And, despite that kind exterior, she offers this book of dark tales set in a seaside town. I was excited to read this and see what she had in store.

Many of these stories had been elsewhere showcased in other anthologies, so it’s also possible you’ve seen one before, but never packaged so neatly like this.

The Book

We All Die In the End: Scenes From a Small Town
Author: Elizabeth Merry
2020
Amazon Link

This is a book of 19 shorts focused on various characters that live in the same seaside, Irish town. As a warning, some stories in the book are incredibly dark and many either contain or hint at emotional, physical, or sexual abuse. There are explicitly sexual things in the book, though not at great detail for each scene in which they appear. Because the stories are all shorts, however, any content that may be unacceptable to a reader can easily be skipped and other stories enjoyed.

On With The Review

Without a doubt, this collection of short stories was the most well-curated of any I’ve seen. Not only did the stories fit together well thematically, and not only did they have the same general setting, but they wove into each other by mentioning various characters that showed up later. For instance, the first story is about Arthur, but he talks about Jennifer and her dogs. Jennifer shows up in the next story, and they introduce other characters. Carmel works at the grocer’s, and Julia and Sadie down at the pub are mentioned repeatedly.

It. Just. Works.

Most of the stories make you think, and many contain complex social relationships that only reveal themselves in their fullness at the end. That being said, I sure wouldn’t want to live in this town – too many bad guys and terrible people! There weren’t many characters I could really get behind and root for, as many of them were morally gray or completely decrepit. Even so, they were all interesting, and Merry writes very well.

When I review collections of shorts, I also like to select a few stories to talk about in more detail.

The Favorite: Myrtle

I LOVED the Myrtle scene. Because the story was told with a narrator positioned just behind Myrtle’s shoulder and with Myrtle’s personality in mind, I couldn’t get a true physical description in my mind. That being said, when the little kid was afraid of her at the grocer’s, I immediately went to “completely insane cat lady” in my head. I was not disappointed. It went from crazy to VERY CRAZY in the span of no time, and Myrtle was just the best. I loved her, she was terrible, it went great.

Meow.

The Standout: Angela

This was probably the most different from all the other stories. Though it took place in the same town, it felt somewhat cloistered away from the rest of them because of its focus on the nunnery and school. How it turned out was completely unexpected, and it’ll probably be the last story that goes fuzzy in my head.

Least Favorite: Eugene Curran

This one was the very last story in the book, and to be honest, I had to stave off writing the review for a few days because I knew it would linger in my mind and spoil what was otherwise a great collection. This one was the most horrifying and abusive, and I was never really sure what the storyline was except for being about Eugene’s abusiveness and baseless paranoia. It did, in a way, come full circle to the paranoia seen in the first story, but it enveloped the lives of others who were terrified and prevented from escaping domestic abuse. While abuse was present in other stories, this was the only one so deeply dark that I couldn’t get my interest up.

5/5 Discoball Snowcones

5 Discoball Snowcones

Next week:

It’s a new month! Stay tuned!

Book Review: His Name Was Zach

Last year, I reviewed the second book in this series – Her Name Was Abby – and was absolutely blown away. Because the third book (out now, but not at the time) was coming, I decided to back up a hot second and read the first book in the series: His Name Was Zach.

The Book

His Name Was Zach
Author: Peter Martuneac
2019
Amazon Link (and hey, if you’re reading this in the couple days after the review dropped, book’s FREE right now!)

I really enjoyed the second book in the series last year, and I will say you can easily read that second book without reading the first. I like it when books give you that option, so feel free to look at that review and consider it if this one doesn’t look like you.

Like with Her Name Was Abby, I wanted to say here that some rather intense and somewhat violent situations occur within the book. This book also has more sexual themes and violence, and the amount of information and events that could be upsetting are more numerous in this book. They are, indeed, well done, and it’s very clear who the good guys are, but you might want to know these things are coming if you’re considering the read.

Non-Spoiler Review

Super action-packed, fast-paced, and contains ups and downs in tension that keep the story interesting throughout. The chapters and mini-storylines are somewhat episodic, but they build to a “season finale” at the end of the book that’s worth sticking around for.

At first, I was a little worried about how useless Abby seemed to be, but there was a huge turning point early in the book where she made the decision to “grow up”. Martuneac, who is great at metaphor and symbolism, excellently coupled this change with hints and foreshadowing with what was to come. Even though Abby shared a smaller portion of the narrator’s attention with Zach, paying attention to her gives a better sense of what’s coming.

Speaking of Martuneac’s inherent artfulness in writing, he continues an amazing spree of American history allusions. I don’t think it was as fully developed in this volume as in the second book, but it’s still got this post-reconstruction, going-out-west sort of feel. It’s filled with the ideas of individualism, struggle against the wild (the zombie-infested landscape is known as The Wild), and dealing with those people who are fleeing civilization in order to fulfill their own sick ideas of pleasure.

For better or worse, the villains were truly villainous. It doesn’t take a long time to meet Henry, so I think it’s not a spoiler to say that guy was REALLY terrible. You’ll hate him, and you’ll love to hate him. Genuinely terrible person.

Perhaps it’s because I read the second book first, but I’m a terrible person and will compare it a little bit to Her Name was Abby. This book was genuinely enjoyable, but I must admit Abby was better composed, written, and complex. Like I said above, Henry was really, really bad, and he posed a good villain because you just wanted him to die. His presence and activities in that early piece of the book did serve to better define main characters Zach and Abby, but he was a bit on the “moustache twirling evil” side. Later villains introduced in different “episodes” within the book were a bit more complex (Vicky, the Irishman, to some extent Mayor Calvin), but they didn’t have the political and emotional complexity of the villains in book 2.

Ultimately, part of what this book does is prepare you for the end. It’s a building experience, and then that ending is like “OMG.” You kind of know it’s coming since Martuneac uses foreshadowing like an absolute boss, but it still hits like a truck.

Anyway, long story short, these human-focused, post zombie-apocalypse books are really good. Zach has a few more awkward tell-instead-of-show moments, but as a whole I would recommend it, especially so you can enjoy book 2 to its fullest.

5/5 Discoball Snowcones

Next week:

Spellbound, an anthology put together by David Alatorre and including a story by Robbie Cheadle, comes to the blog next week! Stay tuned!

Book Review: Liars and Thieves

I have reviewed three D. Wallace Peach books in the past (See reviews for The Melding of Aeris, Soul Swallowers, and Legacy of Souls). She’s written reliably good works, and I am excited to start a new series.

The Book

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Liars and Theives
Author: D. Wallace Peach
2020
Amazon Link

I was interested in this book because one of the main characters is a goblin. That’s not an ordinary trope or common thing, and unusual characters or ideas always attract me. A bit about the blurb: it seems like the book will mostly be about the Lord of Chaos, but at least this installation in the Unraveling the Veil series is about three mortals and not so much of the Lord of Chaos.

Non-Spoiler Review

Liars and Thieves was, as a whole, an enjoyable book. The world was complex and entertained a full suite of political situations, alliances, and treaties. The three major races – elves, goblins, and changelings – all work around a treaty that keeps them at peace… for the moment. Each race had political jurisdiction in a different environment, as well; it’s so often you get fantasy or sci-fi worlds that are homogenous and either feel like “everything is England” or “everything is Norway” or “everything is the Sahara”. The wide variety of weather, climate, and vegetation added a richness to the setting.

The inciting incidence – a mine collapses, and everyone inside mysteriously disappears – causes the elves to suspect the goblins of foul play. Similar events over large portions of the world shared by these races occur, and racist opinions on the cause abound. The palpable tension over something to which blame couldn’t easily be attributed was great. The political fragility of the whole situation made me feel like it was a 3-way Cold War, rife with spies, weapons of mass destruction, and utter terror of the populace.

Out of the three main characters – Alue the elf, Talin the changeling, and Naj the goblin (well, half-goblin half-elf, but it seems there’s some one drop rules in this world regarding goblins) – Talin was my favorite. Then again, I’m a big fan of people hiding secrets about their true identities. I loved Talin’s parts as a spy, and I liked his shifting loyalties and thoughts. Naj reminded me a lot of Spock from Star Trek. The goblins were overwhelmingly logic-oriented, and Naj as a half-goblin had to struggle with greater emotional imbalance.

(Spoiler for like the first 3 chapters or something coming up). Alue? I liked her less than the other two. She is an officer in the elfin army and was initially sent to look over and protect a mining operation near the borderlands. After the mysterious earthquake, she decides to blame Naj and chase him. As soon as I read about this decision, I thought, “That’s dumb. She should have sent someone else.” And, sure enough, it was a dumb move. Foreseeing that made me feel smart, but Alue continues making poor decisions, which led me to wonder why she was in the army at all. She often relies on others to rescue her and fails to move forward. While I’m interested in her relationships with Naj and Talin, I wasn’t really able to get into Alue for her own sake.

Lastly, the book did feel like an intro to the rest of the books. There were solutions to the main problem of distrust between the main characters and how to bind them together, but it seemed the main point of the book was to get the three together and introduce the main problem of the series. As such, it didn’t have as powerful plots as Soul Swallowers or The Melding of Aeris, also by Peach. I still think it was fantastic, especially for an indie book, but so far I like the other two better.

5/5 Discoball Snowcones

5 Discoball Snowcones

SPOILERS REVIEW

This book is still very new, so I’m not going to spoil much. However, I will spoil just a bit concerning what I want to keep an eye out in the coming book and why:

Talin was sent as a changeling spy in the elfin empire. He latched onto Alue because of her family, political, and military connections. Disguising himself as a weasel familiar, he lived closely with her and was very involved in her life. Then, once he must reveal his identity, their relationship must change immediately. She knows he’s humanoid, but he’s seen her naked etc. while pretending to be an animal. She’s got a steady relationship, and Talin is still smitten with his queen. I kind of want to know where that is all going!

Next week:

Last year I read Peter Martuneac’s Her Name was Abby. This time I’m actually reading the first book in the series, His Name Was Zach. Let’s see if I like it as much!

Book Review: 1NG4

This was me taking a chance on a book gotten on a Free Book weekend. The book was short enough, though, that I wanted to go ahead and share it with y’all rather than hold back!

The Book

ING4
Author: Berthold Gambrel
2019
Amazon Link

I found Berthold Gambrel’s website through Peter Martenuac’s website. He writes extremely thoughtful reviews (including one of my own free book, American Chimera, which simultaneously makes me feel nervous and very proud), and I thought someone with such detailed thoughts and good writing skills would write a good story.

Non-Spoiler Review

1NG4 was an intriguing story (was it a short? I think it was more of a novella, maybe novelette) with a great setting. While people think that science occurs in its own vacuum, I very much appreciated the way money, politics, and science overlapped in this near-future sci fi short.

Gambrel imagines a unique dystopia in which water has swelled over the shores and the oceans are bigger. There’s new supernational governments (and thus funding sources), and there’s lots of mystery. I’m also very impressed at how quickly he could build an entire world in such a short space.

Also impressive was how he was able to include a full plot alongside the worldbuilding within the space. He was able to feed information smoothly between all the other pieces of information. Before the titular character 1NG4 shows up, we meet a couple of scientists investigating a mysterious object that can generate nearly infinite energy. They’re not told where it’s from, what it’s about, or what they’re really supposed to understand – but they’re doing it, because it’s a job. Like real scientists would.

Twists about what 1NG4 really is, what’s going on, and the alignments of the professors kept the story moving. If you’re looking for a short sci-fi in an interesting and political world, this one is a good option for you.

5/5 Discoball Snowcones

SPOILERS REVIEW

I don’t like giving too many spoilers of indie books, but this one’s two years old now so I’m going to go straight to the part I care about spoiling: messy endings.

Often, I don’t like messy endings. Binti: The Night Masquerade had a horrible messy ending. 1NG4, however, had a messy ending that made sense. Some things just remain a mystery, but Gunnar and Jenny’s story really does wrap up. He leaves room for more to occur within his world, but he essentially finishes. The messy ending, wherein things like 1NG4’s true origins and some information about the energy machine are not explained, still works out well.

If Gambrel chose to write another entry in the series, I’d probably go for it!

Coming Up Soon:

This book was a surprise entry – I’ll continue with D. Wallace Peach’s Liar’s and Thieves on Monday!