Reviews, probably some ramblings. I'm, uh, new on this site. Bear with me.
Intriguing stories, interwoven in a beautiful way. Excellent characters. Some incredibly gorgeous settings, and beautiful writing. I loved this.
My full review is here, on Hot Stuff for Cool People.
This is a classic of the genre, for sure, but I love this for so many more reasons than its place in the fantasy world. This has some of the best plotting, characterization and relationships I've ever read. Definitely one of my favorite books of all time.
My full review is here, on Hot Stuff for Cool People.
My original, full(er) review for this book is at Hot Stuff for Cool People.
This was one of those books that called to me. That doesn’t happen very often, and it’s kind of hard to describe. It’s like I had to get it and read it. I simply couldn’t not. And then, it probably should have been a lot harder for me to get into this book, because the first 40 or so pages are in second person, which is just… generally a very, very uncomfortable way to read. But here, it works. And before you know it, you’re hooked, completely, and you just want to read about Jos and everything that he’s experiencing.
I think what I love the most about Karin Lowachee’s writing is that she just writes what needs to be written. It’s like, she’s not going to coddle the characters or the reader. Sometimes things aren’t what you expect, relationships, situations, emotions, but they’re always very honest and believable and right, no matter how uncomfortable or undesirable.
Her characters are just always so… real. And unique. Jos and Nico and the other people Jos encounters in ‘Warchild’ are no exception. Jos was just someone that I felt I knew very deeply. And his experiences with the aliens and with Nico, and then, later, his new interactions with humans, were so well thought out and beautiful and frightening and rich. It’s like you’re there, like you’re feeling everything right there with him.
And I loved the aliens, their culture. Is it a bit reminiscent of Japanese culture? Yup. Do I mind? Absolutely not. I love Japanese culture, and to see it transformed here into something new and fresh and different, while retaining the aesthetics of Japanese art and style, the honor of their warriors, was just fantastic.
I’m kind of crazy about books that explore what it means to be alive, what it means to be, maybe not human, but humane, to relate to others, to live and love and hate, and this book just delves right into the heart of all of these ideas. It never tears them apart, never offers concrete answers, just explores, from so many angles, and I was thrilled with it.
And I was thrilled with the relationships between the characters. Jos and Nico were just the most interesting people. The way Jos is raised by Nico, respects him as a man and a teacher and maybe kind of like a brother, but then must forge his own way, separate from Nico, learn things that Nico can never teach him, was difficult and gorgeous and raw and honest.
It’s just an all around gorgeous book, intriguing in the way the plot explores the conflict in space between the humans and aliens, but even more fascinating and wonderful in the individual bonds that are made and broken and torn apart between the characters.
Before I read ‘Warchild,’ I’d been a bit of a fringe science fiction fan, but I was pretty firmly entrenched on the fantasy side of things. Most of the science fiction I’d read was kids’ stuff, actually. It just seemed like it was too hard to walk the fine line between sappy space operas and hard science fiction that tends to be a little too cold for my taste. And to be fair, I hadn’t really been looking. But ‘Warchild’ changed the way I looked at science fiction as a whole. After I read it, I wanted to read all the science fiction, all the time, for a while. The thing about this book, and the books that follow it in the series, is that they’re accessible to anyone. Even if you’re not a big sci‐fi reader, I think anyone could get into these. The science is well defined but never bogs down the story, and the heart of the book is always the characters.
So I highly recommend it. And I recommend you read the rest of the books in the series, which, so far, include ‘Burndive’ and ‘Cagebird.’
My original, full(er) review of this book is at Hot Stuff for Cool People.
I wasn’t going to write a review for this. I wasn’t even going to read this. I… honestly, I can’t say this is the most bizarre thing I’ve ever read, because it’s far, far from it. It’s actually not really bizarre at all. And it’s not even the strangest relationship I’ve read. I bet it’s not the strangest relationship a lot of people have read, if they stopped and thought about it. But it is… very, very unconventional. And although I am deeply unashamed of anything I choose to read, announcing to the world at large that I read something like this… Well, it’s a little uncomfortable.
But I really, really liked this. So, so much.
Honestly, when I picked this book up (which I say un‐literally because I read the ebook) I seriously thought that Tom and Jake were going to be in love and Cass was going to split from the equation. At least, that’s what my brain told me it was about. If I’d really stopped to consider that it was a romance that included three people, I don’t know if I would have done it. I have never, never managed to get my head around the idea of three people in a committed, loving relationship. I know it probably happens, and I’ve always found the idea very intriguing and kind of beautiful, and if it works for you, hey, cool, but it would just never quite click in my head. I remember the first time I read about a three‐person relationship, very briefly, in a manga, and the way it was presented seemed so easy and lovely. But… I could never make it work out in my mind. I can’t imagine someone loving two separate people that much, and equally, never mind the other two people also loving the other people in the relationship equally…. I just assume someone’s going to end up jealous. Maybe it’s simply because I could never, never do that kind of thing myself. Because I’m a jealous person. So it’s like my mind just rejected the idea, as much as, intellectually, I wanted to understand it.
But no. I couldn’t. Even Alexis Hall’s beautiful book ‘There Will Be Phlogiston’ couldn’t completely convince me that this type of relationship could work, and I figured if he couldn’t convince me, no one could.
And then I read ‘Misfits.’
I’ve read the author, Garrett Leigh, before, and I’ve really enjoyed her. Her writing is solid and lovely and just very satisfying. Her books make me feel good. But ‘Misfits’ is like… I don’t know. Her masterpiece, maybe. Or maybe her masterpiece so far, because every time I read her, she seems to get even better. And this book is just so beautiful, really strikingly beautiful, and it makes so much sense.
I think if this relationship hadn’t been presented the way it was in this book, I still wouldn’t have been able to completely get it. But it’s so obvious that these three men are completely in love with each other, and that they form a unit that’s whole and equal, and that they each have an emotional role to play for the other two, as well as themselves, just like you would in any tight‐knit group. But of course this group is far more tightly knit. And it was so obvious that something was wrong between Cass and Tom when it was just the two of them , just as it was obvious that they were meant to be together… (I mean, they seemed fine with the open relationship, but it seemed to very much like… not the right thing for them, an imperfection in what was otherwise a close, loving bond.) And then the way Jake came in and glued them back together, and glued them to him, without trying to weasel his way in‐ just by being himself…
I don’t know. I was reading along, enjoying it, but still not totally believing this relationship could happen, and then there was an interaction between the three characters, something so simple and caring, and holy shit, I got it. I saw it. Click.
Add in the excellent writing, and Cass’s intriguing, dark past‐ which is presented so, so well. I mean, Garrett Leigh always writes tough subjects, and she does it so honestly and truthfully, without a lot of drama, just facts, just like it’s someone’s life and this is what happened. And that’s how she writes Cass, and god, I loved him. And it’s how she writes Jake and his Tourette’s and his tics‐ so believably and without fluff or any kind of glossing over.
Ah, it’s great. I get it. And I loved this book. I don’t know that I’ll ever find another book that writes a relationship like this so neatly and wonderfully. And the relationship doesn’t even take up the whole story… It’s really just the whole package, a great plot and romance and wonderful writing and fantastic, believable characters‐ everything about this book is enjoyable. I mean, the romance and relationships were the big things, but they definitely weren’t the only reasons I enjoyed the book. I kind of wanted to just read it over again when I was done. I didn’t. But I haven’t stopped thinking about it since I finished. I think I’ll probably still be thinking about this book, right up until I get the chance to read it again.
Of all the many, many books I've read, this is my favorite. Nothing ever bests it.
I wrote a whole review about why I like this book so much here, on Hot Stuff for Cool People.
I'm crazy about this book- the whole series, actually. I loved the characters, the writing, the plot... yeah. Everything.
My full review is here, on Hot Stuff for Cool People.
(This review was originally a blog post, and is probably better suited to that format. Short review- I loved this to pieces. It's wonderful. Lengthier, blathering review below.)
I got this book from the publisher, Riptide, in exchange for an honest, unbiased review.
Unbiased being the keyword. Now, I don’t know about everybody else who reviews things, and I, honestly, try not to promise very many reviews anymore, but. But. When I do, I am always unbiased. Sometimes books are good and sometimes they’re bad, and I can just pretty much guarantee that no matter what, I’ll let the book speak for itself.
I was a little worried about ‘Waiting for the Flood,’ though. First, I am a HUGE Alexis Hall fan. I’ve so far only managed to get my hands on a few of his books, but his writing just always bowls me over, in the very best way. I’ve had to ban myself from his blog. I’ll start reading an article or review of his, and suddenly I’ve gotten myself lost in his website and hours have gone by. I can’t even go on his Twitter feed anymore. So I thought, maybe, for the first time, I would be biased and love this book because I am just so crazy about the way he puts words and emotions to paper.
And I was just so very, very excited to have the book. I wanted to read it so badly.
I think I kind of psyched myself out, because for the first couple of pages, I just couldn’t get into it. Whenever you read a book with the knowledge that a review must follow, you spend a lot of time thinking about the context of the review and maybe not the book itself. Which is another form of dishonesty, I suppose, and why I only rarely request books to review.
But this is Alexis Hall. And yes, I have a weird, crazy obsession with him and sometimes I ogle his Twitter for longer than is probably healthy, and yes, there was the very real potential that that would taint my opinion of this book. But it didn’t. It didn’t have to. ‘Waiting for the Flood’ is simply so beautiful and wonderful and lovely that it stole my heart all by itself. If I had never heard of Alexis Hall or any of his other books before, I would still have been in love with this.
It’s so simple. Edwin is living in his house in England during a particularly nasty piece of weather. He’s basically waiting for the flood (oh my god, I did not just do that) to rise up over his doorstep. Meanwhile, some flood prevention people arrive and one, Adam, takes an interest in Edwin. And Edwin, who is awkward and lonely and still trying to come to terms with the idea that the man he thought he’d be with forever has left, doesn’t know how to react.
And that’s it. It is a bit of a romance, and it is about the flood, but for me, it was more, or mostly, about the end of Edwin’s relationship, and how that quiet death of a future changes everything. And, at the same time, changes very little. There’s no real drama. There are hardly any outbursts, except one, and even that was more heartbreaking than exciting, more an ache than a sharp pain. And yet, in this quiet way, with these characters who feel very real but are not, in and of themselves, spectacular or incredible, the book conveys so much emotion and so many ideas, ideas that I think usually get skipped over. In the hands of someone who wasn’t as talented and insightful as Alexis Hall, these things would probably be boring. But here they tunneled into my heart. They made me feel… so much. I didn’t necessarily feel for Edwin and Adam so much as I felt like they felt the same things as me. Does that make sense? Like I could understand them because they were real people with problems that seemed small, maybe, but, in their lives, were large. And real. And honest.
And maybe I am biased because I could feel those things a little too closely. When Edwin talks about how he’s using his fear of being hurt, of being left, to keep Adam away… that’s me. That’s what I do, what I’ve been doing for a long time. Wow, did I get what he meant. And there were others things that struck a little too close to home. And the amazing thing is… Sometimes you read a book about something that hits close to home, and you just know that the author doesn’t know what they’re talking about. That they’re using this pain or discomfort as a plot device. But not here. Never with Alexis Hall. I don’t know him, and I don’t know what’s happened to him in his life- maybe he’s just that talented that he can talk about things like he’s lived them- but it always feels like he’s been there, like he’s speaking for an honest place. Like I can trust what I’m reading, and believe in it.
So I enjoyed the characters, and the romance. And I loved the plot. Everything about it. I mean, the flood could easily have felt like heavy handed symbolism, but it didn’t. But what I liked best was the writing. I love the way Alexis Hall folds words together to express things, the way each word fits and feels so good. Like he says in the book- “…dropping the syllables cleanly, like marbles…” I love the way he takes simple things and turns them into something lovely and complex, and the way he takes complex ideas and makes them smaller and more comfortable, so that you feel all the things, the joy or the sadness or the loss, without getting bogged down. Like when Edwin says he wishes he could say that his ex-boyfriend died instead of leaving, so that Edwin would seem “brave and slightly wounded, not just someone somebody else didn’t want.”
It’s a beautiful way to say it. And have you not ever wished that? I have. I’ve just never seen it in black and white, laid out in front of me like it’s perfectly understandable to feel that way.
And I love the way it’s all tempered by little moments of laughter. I always laugh right out loud when I read Alexis Hall, and that’s necessary, to balance the other emotions in the writing. I laughed so many times reading ‘Waiting for the Flood.’
And I love how blatantly intelligent this book is. Maybe it’s weird to say that, to say that it’s a rare quality, but I think it is. You can see how clever the book is in the way it throws emotions at you and just expects that you’ll have enough sentiment to catch them, and how smart it is in the way the writing allows you to pull more and more and deeper meaning from the words. But it’s overtly intelligent, too, when Edwin and Adam talk about their work, or when they have that long, rambling discussion on game theory (which I had to look up because, while I would consider myself rather intelligent, that one made no sense whatsoever to me.) In the middle of a beautiful story, there was intelligence that made me feel challenged. Alexis Hall believed his readers would be intelligent people, and that made me feel like I was reading something that was far more than fluff. It was really refreshing, actually.
Not that any of this felt like fluff, in any way. It was so gorgeous. I loved the easy comfort and discomfort. Loved the sentiment expressed here, loved the smooth ebb and flow of feelings. I wanted to read it forever, over and over. This was short. It should have taken me… maybe a couple hours to read. It took me almost five, because I kept going back and reading paragraphs over. Sometimes I realized I just hadn’t had enough and went back pages, rereading, reabsorbing, just trying to suck all that wonderful writing and characterization and setting and sadness and happiness and loss and loneliness in.
God, it was good.
And! I assumed this would never be available in print, but now it is! And this book is so wonderful- it's worth buying in either (or, preferably, both) format. It’s lovely and touching and it left me feeling raw and kind of fragile.
I liked it very much. Very, very much.
This review was originally posted on Hot Stuff for Cool People.