So many spoilers. If you’ve ever thought of reading this book, and you want to experience it without having some plot twists revealed, do not read my review. Instead, go read the book, come back, and then we can cry together.
Frequently, when reviewing books, I write bits and pieces of the review while reading. If I don’t, I at least have detailed notes on what I want to say in my review, so I just need to flesh them out to have my review. If you’re familiar with my review of Ashes by Ilsa J. Bick, you might remember the many paragraphs I wrote on apocalyptic science fiction. That was written in its entirety when I was about a third of the way through the book and feeling existential. I didn’t have to go back and change anything while writing the rest of my review because all of my opinions on that aspect of it remained the same. When I was about halfway through this book, I made some notes about how it’s really nice to read a sci-fi novel where there isn’t a dystopian society and there aren’t secret plans to take over the world. In my notes, I think I literally said it was relaxing. Tell that to me half an hour ago when I was literally on the edge of my seat while reading this. It’s just so much. I love it.
I feel like, once I get into the rest of what I want to say, I’ll get carried away, and I want to make sure I mention this, so I’m putting it first. If you’re looking for sci-fi that has diverse characters, you should read this book. There are some characters who aren’t white and who aren’t defined solely by their race, and there are two characters who don’t have specifically labelled sexualities, but who aren’t straight. Frequently, when I hear people recommending diverse books, a lot of what they recommend is in the contemporary genre, and I get that that appeals to some people. Contemporary novels have never appealed to me, though, and I’m sure there are plenty of other people who don’t like them yet still want to read books with diverse characters. If you’re one of those people, I highly recommend this book to you. In addition to that, most of this book doesn’t take place in America, so if that’s something you’re looking for, this has that, too.
I love how real the characters in this book feel. They do good things, yet they also have flaws and tragic pasts, and it’s just so amazing. Even though what Hideo is doing isn’t good, his motives are understandable, and, even though I would like to think that, if I were in the same situation, I wouldn’t make the same decisions, I see where he’s coming from, and I don’t know if I can entirely fault his actions. The best antagonists are the ones you understand, and I understand him. What he’s doing is literally mind control, and that’s not an ideal way for society to be (I’m not sure how well the sarcasm in this statement comes across. This blog and everyone involved in it is strongly opposed to mind control.), but I still get it. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – the best sci-fi makes you think about the world around you, and it makes you think about yourself, and this did both.
At the beginning of the book, I didn’t love Hideo. He seemed cold, and not that friendly, and I just didn’t really like him. But then, towards the middle of the book, as I got to know his character better, I started to warm up to him. I started to see aspects of some of my favorite fictional characters in him, and I started to love him. And then the end happened. And now I don’t know how I feel about him. Like I was saying in the last paragraph, what he’s doing isn’t good, but it’s understandable. Like all of the characters in this book, he’s a very three dimensional person, and it’s just so good. This book has some of the best characters I’ve read about recently. Even if you’re not into sci-fi, read it for the characters.
The tension in this book was perfect. It’s sort of like this book has the tension of a thriller while having all the elements I want in a sci-fi novel, and I couldn’t ask for more. Sometimes I’m really in the mood for the sort of tension that a thriller has, but, frequently, when I try to read thrillers it ends in snarky reviews and two star ratings, so being able to get that tension in the form of a sci-fi novel is perfect.
In addition to that, this book has elements of the old sci-fi I love while also bringing new things that are unique, and I can’t even put into words how much I love it.
I think that this would be a really good book to read if you wanted to get into sci-fi, but weren’t sure where to start. It doesn’t have any scientific terms, and it’s not the very science heavy sci-fi you sometimes find. It has a romantic subplot, and everything else about it is just spectacular.
Five out of five stars. If I keep reading modern sci-fi like this, and like Sleeping Giants, I’m going to have to take back what I say about not liking modern sci-fi.