ReV (Madeline Ashby)

ReV is the third and final novel in the Machine Dynasty by Madeline Ashby.
Finished on: 9.4.2021
[Here are my reviews of the other novels in the series.]

Plot:
Amy’s decisions have changed the world and the relationships between humans and vNs forever. Now Amy’s grandmother Portia basically runs free in the world to do whatever she pleases to humans, and what she pleases is rarely something nice. Humanity is therefore gearing up its efforts to get rid of vNs. Meanwhile Amy is in relative safety in Mecha with her family and is trying to come up with a new plan for them all. The question is is whether Portia is actually part of her family, or just a threat.

I’ve been waiting for the conclusion to the trilogy for nearly a decade and now it’s finally here. And while I did enjoy it was more than just a little, I think I was expecting a bit more from the novel, especially considering how long I waited.

The book cover showing a female face that looks half human, half robot beneath a glass space helmet.
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Re-Read: iD (Madeline Ashby)

iD is the second Machine Dynasty novel by Madeline Ashby.
Finished on: 26.3.2021
[Here is my first review.]
[Here is my review of the first Machine Dynasty novel.]

Content Note: rape

Plot:
Javier should be happy, living on Amy’s island with Amy and his sons. But somehow he is still ill at ease, especially since Amy refuses to disengage his failsafe, leaving him vulnerable to humans still. And then just that is used against him and makes his entire world falls apart, leaving Javier to try and pick up the pieces of their lives.

iD really delves into the consent issues that were already raised in the first novel and considers them from every angle. It’s thoughtful and interesting, but it’s also simply a good read, even if there were a couple of transition issues.

The book cover showing the face of a man surrounded by black shards and machinery.
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Re-Read: vN (Madeline Ashby)

vN is the first novel in the Machine Dynasty series by Madeline Ashby.
Finished on: 6.3.2021
[Here’s my first review.]

Content Note: child abuse, pedophilia

Plot:
Amy is a von Neumann machine who lives with her (human) father and her (vN) mother. She’s growing up slowly – which is unusual for vNs – and very sheltered. That is until her (vN) grandmother Portia shows up for her kindergarden graduation and attacks not only a kindergardener (which should be impossible due to the failsafe that immediately destroys vNs when they see a human hurt), but also Amy’s mother. In her desperation, Amy eats Portia and then she finds herself on the run, suddenly grown up and with Portia on a partition of her harddrive.

I read vN for the first time pretty soon after it came out and loved it. I read the second part iD not long after that, and then I had to wait for the third part to come out. And it finally did (7 years later), so I decided to revisit the first two books before completing the story. And I’m happy to report that the books still holds up.

The book cover showing a woman's worried face surrounded by machinery. A part of her skin is missing, beneath it we can see more metal.
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The Knife of Never Letting Go (Patrick Ness)

The Knife of Never Letting Go is the first novel in the Chaos Walking trilogy by Patrick Ness.
Finished on: 19.2.2021

Content Note: cissexism, animal abuse, colonialism

Plot:
Todd Hewitt is the last boy in Prentisstown, a settlement town on another planet. When the human settlers arrived, they waged a war against the original inhabitants of the planet and they struck back with a weaponized virus that killed all women and girls, and gave the men and animals telepathy. Todd grew up knowing nothing but the Noise of the men and animals around him, and as the youngest settler is just about to reach adulthood. But one day he is out and about with his dog Manchee and finds a quiet spot in the Noise. Disturbed, he returns home where his guardians Ben and Cillian turn his entire life upside down, send him away and hint at the fact that Todd doesn’t know the whole story. From one moment to the next, Todd finds himself on the run, but how can you run when everyone can hear your thoughts?

I bought The Knife of Never Letting Go many years ago and never got around to reading it. Now with a movie adaptation coming out, I decided to give it a go, although by now I had started to see the premise of the book very critically. Given how much I loved A Monster Calls, I didn’t want to give up on it prematurely, but maybe I should have. The book really didn’t work for me.

The book cover showing a red knife on black background.

[SPOILERS]

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Queer*Welten 01/2020

Queer*Welten is a queer-feminist fantasy and scifi magazine, edited by Judith Vogt, Kathrin Dodenhoeft and Lena Richter. It contains four short stories and an essay.
Finished on: 14.2.2021

Queer*Welten fills a gap in the German SFF scene by having an explicitely queer-feminist mission. That in itself would be reason enough to support it any way you can. But fortunately it’s not all the magazine has to offer – it gives us a wide range of stories that probably has something to offer for everyone.

The magazine cover showing a colorful word cloud in the shape of an heart.
Read More About Each of the Stories

Ink (Alice Broadway)

Ink is the first novel in the Skin Books trilogy by Alice Broadway.
Finished on: 23.5.2019

Plot:
In Saintstone, everyone is tattooed and every important life event is recorded in tattoos. When a person dies, their skin is preserved in a book that chronicles and pays hommage to their life. This thought gives Leora, who dreams of becoming an inker herself, much peace when her own father dies. But then she glimpses a mark that should not be there, something that marks him as a traitor. With that realization, Leora’s entire life starts to unravel.

Ink is not exactly subtle in its metaphors about surveillance states and populism. It doesn’t need to be to be a good read – and that it certainly was. Even if you aren’t as into tattoos as I am.

The book cover that is covered in bronze-colored tattoo-like markings, showing, among other things, an owl, an eagle, a feather and a girl in white instead of bronze.
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Batman: Nightwalker (Marie Lu)

Batman: Nightwalker by Marie Lu is the second of the DC Icons novels.
Finished on: 2.5.2019
[Here’s my review of the first novel in the loose series.]

Plot:
The Nightwalkers are hunting the rich people of Gotham City. Bruce Wayne is about to be one of them – as soon as he turns 18, he will inherit his family’s fortune. But first, he has to do some community service in Arkham Asylum prison. As he scrubs the floors there, he meets Madeleine, one of the Nightwalkers who will talk to nobody but Bruce. But what really is the reason for Madeleine’s apparent confidence in Bruce? Bruce will have to figure out what to do with her and her interest in him – and that’s not all he has to figure out.

Batman: Nightwalker didn’t really work for me. It wasn’t completely bad, but it didn’t dig into Batman as a character as I would have liked. It’s okay to read, but it doesn’t really have staying power.

The book cover showing a young man with dark hair in a narrow street, in front of him the Batman symbol.
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A Wrinkle in Time (Madeleine L’Engle)

A Wrinkle in Time is the first novel in the Time Quintet by Madeleine L’Engle.
Finished on: 30.11.2017

Plot:
Meg Murry is an unusual child from an unusual family. Her mother Katherine is a scientist, as is her father Alexander – who has been missing for a while. He was working on tesseracts – and their new neighbor Mrs Whatsit seems to know more about the topic. When Meg goes to investigate a haunted house with her school mate Calvin and her genius brother Charles, she encounters Mrs Whatsit again – together with Mrs Who and Mrs Which. They prompt her to go looking for her father – all through the universe.

A Wrinkle in Time is a nice read that didn’t completely win me over – I’m still on the fence about whether I want to continue reading the series. That being said, there is a lot that can be enjoyed about the book, even when you didn’t grow up with it.

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