Saturday, July 10, 2021

Review: Green Valley by Louis Greenberg

Title: Green Valley
Author: Louis Greenberg
Pages: 319
ISBN: 9781789090239
Publisher: Titan Books
Published: 11 June 2019
Genre: Science Fiction / Thriller / Horror
Source: Purchased

When Lucie Sterling's niece is abducted, she knows it won't be easy to find answers. Stanton is no ordinary city: invasive digital technology has been banned, by public vote. No surveillance state, no shadowy companies holding databases of information on private citizens, no phones tracking their every move.

Only one place stays firmly anchored in the bad old ways, in a huge bunker across town: Green Valley, where the inhabitants have retreated into the comfort of full-time virtual reality-personae non gratae to the outside world. And it's inside Green Valley, beyond the ideal virtual world it presents, that Lucie will have to go to find her missing niece.

Vision is more important than truth. Green Valley by Louis Greenberg is a genre-bending novel that’s never quite what you expect it to be. With its amalgamation of science fiction, horror and thriller it morphs and transforms as you turn the pages defying any easy labels. When Lucie Sterling’s niece goes missing she ventures into Green Valley, an enclave where the inhabitants live their lives enmeshed in a permanent virtual reality world. In a world where all your senses can be tricked and manipulated nothing is what it seems…

In her search Lucie uncovers the horrific secret of what hides behind the outward veneer of digital bliss. A secret which will leave you questioning our relationship with technology.

The characters and plot almost become a secondary consideration as the true horror is revealed. The impact of Green Valley lies not in what actually happens in the novel or how things turn out, but in its exploration of the impact technology has on our society and all the questions that it provokes. Through the juxtaposition of the two communities, two very different extremes, Greenberg forces you to dig below the surface to come to grips with an all too possible future. What will we be prepared to sacrifice as technology becomes ever more immersive and integrated into every aspect of our daily lives?

Green Valley is a thought-provoking read which will change the way you look at technology and its place in your life. Through this prescient cautionary tale, Greenberg asks some profound questions which we should all take the time to contemplate. If you enjoy things similar in tone to Black Mirror, you'll love this. Recommended!

The Rating: 7/10 (Very Good!)

Sunday, July 4, 2021

Book Haul: The Shiny Edition

The past couple of weeks have been extremely tough at work. The world seemed filled with doom and gloom and the cold, rainy weather didn't help either. The bookish gods must have taken pity on me, because one particularly stormy day I received the absolutely best book package from the wonderful folks at Jonathan Ball Publishers. Turns out the best remedy for the blues is a bunch of shiny new books!

A huge thank you to Charlene and the rest of the Jonathan Ball Publishing team. You made my world a little bit brighter at just the right time!

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Review: Guns of the Dawn by Adrian Tchaikovsky

Title: Guns of the Dawn
Author: Adrian Tchaikovsky
Pages: 658
ISBN: 9781447234562
Publisher: Tor
Published: 1 February 2015
Genre: Fantasy
Source: Purchased

First, Denland's revolutionaries assassinated their king, launching a wave of bloodshed after generations of peace. Next they clashed with Lascanne, their royalist neighbor, pitching war-machines against warlocks in a fiercely fought conflict. Genteel Emily Marshwic watched as the hostilities stole her family's young men. But then came the call for yet more Lascanne soldiers in a ravaged kingdom with none left to give. Emily must join the ranks of conscripted women and march toward the front lines. With barely enough training to hold a musket, Emily braves the savage reality of warfare. But she begins to doubt her country's cause, and those doubts become critical. For her choices will determine her own future and that of two nations locked in battle.

Pride and Prejudice goes to war, with just a pinch of magic thrown in to keep things interesting. With Guns of the Dawn Adrian Tchaikovsky once again manages to deliver a fascinating tale that sucks you straight into the lives of the masterfully crafted characters and the world they inhabit.

I'm in awe of Tchaikovsky's talent and how he manages to seamlessly transition between genres. He's such a prolific author who writes not only fantasy, but also excels at science fiction and even horror. It's rare to encounter such a gifted speculative fiction all-rounder and each of his work offers a unique experience. I haven't read a Tchaikovsky novel I haven't loved.

Guns of the Dawn follows the travails of Emily Marshwic, a gentlewoman conscripted into a war she is barely equipped to handle. the midst of war. She is completely transformed by the harrowing experiences she goes through and discovers a strength and resolve in herself that she never knew she possessed. She discovers that in war, truth is not always what it seems...

Emily is a great protagonist and you can't help but to be emotionally invested in her struggles, her loss and pain, but also her personal triumphs. Mr Northway is the perfect counterpoint, a character you love to loathe, but who has hidden depths of his own. Someone who might not be quite as bad as he's made out to be. There's also a large cast of supporting characters who bring the world and the horrors of war to vivid life.

"'We're at war, Em,' said Tubal. 'And it's hard, and it hurts, and the only way to avoid the knife is not to take it seriously.'"

While this is a fantasy novel there is only the smallest spark of magic infused into the world. Only a select few warlocks have magical powers and they are limited in their scope. The rest of the world is mired in the cruel, brutal reality of mundane warfare with sword and gun and the bloody aftermath it leaves behind.

While the ending wasn't completely unexpected it did provide a very satisfying conclusion to the story which felt not only fitting, but so very much deserved.

Guns of the Dawn is a very good read. It deals brilliantly with bringing the horrors of war to life and shows the harrowing toll it has on those who manage to survive. For some reason Guns of the Dawn seems to have sneaked by largely unnoticed, which is a huge pity since it's well worth your time. Highly recommended!

The Rating: 7.5 (Very good)