A lone wolf bounty hunter roams a bleak post apocalyptic landscape where scraps of humanity barely hang on and survive. There isn't anything all too unique about that premise, but this book manages to quickly set the scene and grab your attention with it. Without ever revealing anything about why the world has gone to hell, Jay Posey thrusts you right into the story at the start which very much reminded me of the feeling that you get when you start a new video game. There is little up front world building, things just are the way they are, and you better figure things out quickly if you want to survive. The book starts just that way when Three, a bounty hunter, finds himself inexplicably drawn to help a woman and her young son who are clearly in a bad way. The woman, Cass, is a drug addict who lacks the money for her next fix, and along with her son, finds herself on the run from some really bad people. Three's sixth sense warns him that helping these two will be the decision that leads to his death but he does it anyway, and thus starts a gritty and compelling journey across a futuristic wasteland.
The Silo Saga enters its final book set up for success. Wool painted a picture of a bleak future where a dystopian underground society is all that manages to keep humanity on the right side of extinction. Shift then revealed who was behind the building of the silos and their published plan for delivering mankind to a better future; however, it also exposed that the official plan intentionally leaves out that a key decision will eventually made about who will and won't survive. All of this makes for excellent backdrop as the characters from both books converge to determine the ultimate fate of mankind.
Author Hugh Howey does a masterful job slowly revealing how his unique dystopian world functions during the first book of the series, Wool, but he never touches on the subject of how society morphed into that state. Well that is exactly what he does in Shift, as some much needed context is added to explain why things are the way they are. Since he jumps back in time to our contemporary world he needs to introduce a whole new set of characters, which is initially off-putting, but it eventually all comes together and sets things up for an excellent finale to the series.
Joe Ledger has been delivering action with an attitude for a while now and Dogs of War marks the 9th full novel in this action packed series. Joe Ledger and the DMS have faced quite a diverse set of adversaries along the way including the likes of zombies, aliens, vampires, super soldiers, and even some yet to be explained phenomena, yes I am looking at you Nicodemus. Of course if you are considering reading book 9 then you likely know all of that already and you also know that those encounters have taken their toll on the DMS with most surviving members of Echo team carrying around some serious emotional baggage. What manner of madness has Jonathan Maberry cooked up this time and will the DMS even be able to find their "A" game to deal with it?
If you've burned out on the political machinations of Westeros, or real world politics in general, and are looking to lose yourself in something relaxing, then you need The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison. It's the fully realized world building and personal storyline that sets this book apart from other recent works. The story follows young Maia, half-elven and half-goblin, as he struggles with his sudden ascension to the throne of Ethuveraz, the elflands. The obvious themes of racism, youthful insecurity, and the power of a good heart could easily become too sweet but Addison carefully blends them into the story.
With the Earth in a state of ruin, mankind has retreated to living underground where a dystopian society has evolved to ensure continued existence. The inhabitants of the underground silo know that their self contained ecosystem is a fragile balance so they must dole out harsh consequences to anyone who disobeys the rules. These people have lived underground for generations and know nothing of how they got there or why the outside world is so inhospitable; however, they do know that crimes are punished by being sent outside through the single airlock at the top of the silo. The world outside is so toxic that even their best protective suits offer only offer a couple of minutes of life, yet everyone sentenced to die this way is asked to perform a vital service for the rest of the silo before they perish - a cleaning of the external sensors. Would you do such a favor for those who sentenced you to die?
Seveneves is an epic sci-fi story that is best experienced without knowing too much about the story. Know only that an unimaginable event occurs that results in a doomsday clock ticking down for planet Earth. This fact quickly becomes known around the globe and mankind must now face the real possibility of extinction in a short period of time. How will we as a race react to such devastating knowledge? In many different ways for sure and Neal Stephenson chronicles mankind's fate from multiple perspectives. From individuals to families, from communities to governments, and from science to religion all of the angles are explored as humanity is put to a test it was not prepared to handle.
New author James Islington brings back epic doorstop fantasy with The Shadow of What Was Lost. On the surface this is another fantasy about a young man discovering his strengths as he does a lot of walking around while trying to save his world. But with everyone around him keeping secrets the group dynamic is always shifting as the characters learn more about each other and themselves.
Book 3 of the Old Man's War series unites the main characters from the first 2 books, John Perry and Jane Sagan, and jumps ahead to their retirement on the peaceful colony of Huckleberry. Of course their relaxed existence is disrupted as interstellar politics and conspiracies take over and they find themselves facing one impossible challenge after another. The Conclave plot line from earlier in the series finally picks up steam and the stakes get ever larger as the story goes on. All of this makes for an interesting enough premise but in the end author John Scalzi just didn't keep me immersed this time around.
The events at the end of the Daylight War were destined to have a ripple effect, especially in Krasia, and this entire book is dedicated to that purpose. This means that this book is actually more focused on the daylight war than the last one, despite the respective titles. For many readers this is a disappointing turn of events as it does put the story arc regarding the Demon War mostly to the side but the significant events that occur with many of the main characters still makes for good story telling. The ending of the last book was a cliff hanger so don't proceed with reading the rest of this review unless you have already finished that one...