Mini Reviews

Hey guys,

My mom finally passed away a couple of weeks ago. As sad as it is for our family, the time had come and it's better this way.

Understandably, I haven't had time to read a whole lot and must resort to mini reviews once more.

- Son of the Storm by Suyi Davies Okungbowa (Canada, USA, Europe)

DNF at 80%.

I so really wanted to like this novel. I felt that its predecessor, David Mogo, Godhunter, featured lots of cool ideas and concepts, and I was looking forward to Suyi Davies Okungbowa's new series with Orbit.

But Son of the Storm is a slog. The characterization, especially, leaves a lot to be desired. Too YA, too black and white, with no shades of gray to speak of.

I persevered, hoping to at least finish the book. But in the end, I simply couldn't do it. =(

- Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card (Canada, USA, Europe) 8.5/10

As a matter of course, I read this novel back in the day. I picked up a copy at a hostel's book exchange a few years back, planning to reread it and see if this classic had aged well.

I brought it with me on a hiking trip last month and went through it in no time. God knows that a lot of science fiction doesn't age well at all. But Card's debut is still as good today as it was back in the 80s. Probably because it's a story about kids and how they develop and not about science and technology. The only thing that is at time obsolete is the language, what with the fart-face and other fart-something insults.

Say what you will about Card, Ender's Game remains a terrific novel!

- The Year’s Best African Speculative Fiction (2021), edited by Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki (Canada, USA, Europe) 8.5/10

This is a follow-up to last year's Dominion, the first anthology of speculative fiction and poetry by Africans and the African Diaspora. You may recall that I absolutely loved that anthology, so I was really looking forward to discovering what the 2021 collection would look like.

Now that I went through it, I can tell you that The Year’s Best African Speculative Fiction (2021) is as good as its predecessor. If anything, it might even be a little better!

Once again this year, Ekpeki Oghenechovwe Donald compiled short fiction tales that cover the length and breadth of everything that falls under the speculative fiction umbrella. As was the case with Dominion, such a convergence of genres and subgenres makes for captivating reading. Though most of the pieces are not culturally familiar in style, tone, or context to Western SFF readers, they all have something that can appeal to a broader audience. I was a bit surprised that this anthology contained a couple of pieces that were found in its predecessor. Though they're good, I'm not sure why they were included instead of original short stories.

If you only read one SFF anthology this year, make it this one! =)

- Isolate by L. E. Modesitt, jr. (Canada, USA, Europe) 6/10

When I was invited to read Modesitt's first installment in a brand new gaslamp political fantasy series, I knew I couldn't say no!

Here's the blurb:

Industrialization. Social unrest. Underground movements. Government corruption and surveillance.

Something is about to give.

Steffan Dekkard is an isolate, one of the small percentage of people who are immune to the projections of empaths. As an isolate, he has been trained as a security specialist and he and his security partner Avraal Ysella, a highly trained empath are employed by Axel Obreduur, a senior Craft Minister and the de facto political strategist of his party.

When a respected Landor Councilor dies of “heart failure” at a social event, because of his political friendship with Obreduur, Dekkard and Ysella find that not only is their employer a target, but so are they, in a covert and deadly struggle for control of the government and economy.

Steffan is about to understand that everything he believed is an illusion.

The blurb totally hooked me and I was intrigued by the Victorian setting.

Problem is, I don't think there was enough material to warrant a full novel here. Isolate features a political tale and a love story, both of which struggling to get out. Unfortunately, the bulk of the book focuses on the excruciating minutia of Steffan's day-to-day life, from what he has for breakfast every morning, to his reading petitions and answering letters, to what he does before going to bed at night. God knows that Modesitt isn't known for his fast pace, but Isolate makes the Recluce volumes feel like balls-to-the-wall affairs. And there's only so much every day minor detail one can take. Of the 608 pages, there can't be more than 200 pages that have to do with the story itself.

As a big Modesitt fan, you should know that rhythm is seldom an issue with me. I'm used to the pace of his novels and I can live with the slow-moving sections of his books. But it felt as though Isolate was the introduction to a multilayered tale that was then padded with a vast amount of extraneous and repetitive material to make it a novel. When, in truth, it should have been the first portion of book and not a novel-length project, in and of itself.

Unless you already are a Modesitt fan, I doubt that you'll want to wade through Isolate. Which is too bad, because there's a lot of good stuff in there. It's just buried deeply underneath a ton of superfluous details that bring little or nothing to the story. . .

You can read an extract here.

6 commentaires:

A Literary Addict said...

Pat - sincerest condolences on your loss, our hearts are with you...

Fred said...

Mes sincères condoléances Patrick

Anonymous said...

So sorry to hear about the passing of your mother. My condolences.

Steve said...

Sorry for your loss Pat.

Anonymous said...


Words seem inadequate, but I've been reading your blog for years and just want to express my sincere condolences on the death of your Mother. Best wishes to you and your family from an internet stranger.


Khartun said...

Very sorry for your loss. Thoughts are with you.