Monthly Archives: September 2018

Review of The Black God’s Drums, by P. Djèlí Clark

I received a copy of P. Djèlí Clark‘s The Black God’s Drums through Netgalley.

Description from Goodreads:
Creeper, a scrappy young teen, is done living on the streets of New Orleans. Instead, she wants to soar, and her sights are set on securing passage aboard the smuggler airship Midnight Robber. Her ticket: earning Captain Ann-Marie’s trust using a secret about a kidnapped Haitian scientist and a mysterious weapon he calls The Black God’s Drums.

But Creeper keeps another secret close to heart–Oya, the African orisha of the wind and storms, who speaks inside her head and grants her divine powers. And Oya has her own priorities concerning Creeper and Ann-Marie…

Man, has put out some stellar novellas lately! (And those covers, so pretty.) This was short, true, but it packed a mighty punch. The language, world-building and characters grip you and it managed a full story in 110 pages. I do generally prefer longer works and I think this would have lent itself to being longer. (Though I realize Tor specializes for shorter works.) All in all, two big thumbs up from me. I’ll be looking for more of Clark’s writing.

Review of A Princess in Theory (Reluctant Royals #1), by Alyssa Cole

I borrowed a copy of A Princess in Theory, by Alyssa Cole, from my local library.

Description from Goodreads:
Between grad school and multiple jobs, Naledi Smith doesn’t have time for fairy tales…or patience for the constant e-mails claiming she’s betrothed to an African prince. Sure. Right. Delete! As a former foster kid, she’s learned that the only things she can depend on are herself and the scientific method, and a silly e-mail won’t convince her otherwise.

Prince Thabiso is the sole heir to the throne of Thesolo, shouldering the hopes of his parents and his people. At the top of their list? His marriage. Ever dutiful, he tracks down his missing betrothed. When Naledi mistakes the prince for a pauper, Thabiso can’t resist the chance to experience life—and love—without the burden of his crown.

The chemistry between them is instant and irresistible, and flirty friendship quickly evolves into passionate nights. But when the truth is revealed, can a princess in theory become a princess ever after?

I liked it as much as I ever like any Contemporary Romance, considering I usually dislike the genre in general. (I almost always find them boring across the board.) I liked aspects of the book: the consciously aware heroine of color, representations of challenges specific to a heroine in a less privileged social position that are often overlooked, a hero who wasn’t an alpha-asshole, his insistence on consent, that sex focused on her pleasure instead of his, that she was allowed to be sexually active and wasn’t shamed, that she had a backbone when it mattered, etc. But I also found it repetitive, predictable and (yes boring).

I chose to read it because it has tons of good reviews and because I want to support books written by and about marginalized peoples. (Which makes my less than enthusiastic response to it a bummer.) I think this book earned it’s accolades and I think those who like CR will love this. I went out on a branch and found a good story and representation, but all of it still wrapped in a manner I don’t particularly enjoy. (The addition of dragons or hyper drives or vampires might have made it a winner for me.) All in all, CR readers should definitely read this. Those who don’t gravitate toward the genre, like me, might finish feeling luke-warm, appreciating it, but not necessarily enjoying it.

Review of Medusa Uploaded (The Medusa Cycle #1), by Emily Devenport

I borrowed a copy of Emily Devenport‘s Medusa Uploaded from my local library.

Description from Goodreads:
The Executives control Oichi’s senses, her voice, her life. Until the day they kill her.

An executive clan gives the order to shoot Oichi out of an airlock on suspicion of being an insurgent. A sentient AI, a Medusa unit, rescues Oichi and begins to teach her the truth—the Executives are not who they think they are. Oichi, officially dead and now bonded to the Medusa unit, sees a chance to make a better life for everyone on board.

As she sets things right one assassination at a time, Oichi becomes the very insurgent the Executives feared, and in the process uncovers the shocking truth behind the generation starship that is their home.

I thought that this was basically ok, but it didn’t blow me away. I liked a lot of the characters, I greatly appreciated the diversity and that women played a big role in the revolution (even if they played almost none in the power structure of society), and I thought the whole thing had an interesting premise.

But from the blurb and cover I’d thought Oichi would be an actual worm and I was disappointed to find that was just a particular human slur. Further, since Oichi seemed to be able to tap into all technologies and impersonate anyone, I felt that everything happened far too easily. And that without considering how no one on her team turned out to be duplicitous, everyone she trusted turned out to be trustworthy (even children). How lucky that is.

Lastly, though I know the music played an important role, all the music references got tiresome. I was also skeptical about how they’re all contemporary. How many generations in the future and Bach, Holst, and Louis Armstrong are still the go-to composers? The movies references are all from modern-ish times too. After a while I found the references anachronistic. Surely the Earth that these generation ships departed from (or wherever) had written at least something new that was worth remembering.