#REVIEW: ESCAPING EXODUS, by Nicky Drayden

Nicky Drayden has written three books, and I have read all three and at least briefly discussed each of them here. Her first book, The Prey of Gods, ended up being too much for me, and I actually didn’t manage to finish it because of how completely nuts it was, although I think it’s due for a reread sometime soon regardless. Her second book, Temper, was a much more assured novel but still wasn’t quite a home run for me. The interesting thing about Drayden’s work is that she is very obviously a writer with an enormous amount of potential, and even though I didn’t finish her first book and didn’t exactly love the second she was still very much an author I was keeping an eye on and was going to continue to buy books from.

And, y’all, Escaping Exodus is the book I’ve been waiting for. I was sooooo right to keep watching Drayden; this book is the payoff, and will end up quite highly ranked on my end of the year list, which is coming in the next couple of weeks. Drayden continues with her firehose of ideas and her intensely weird fiction; this one is about a Juliet- and Juliet-esque love between an heiress to a matriarchy and someone who is effectively a manual laborer, only they’re also traveling through space in a living generation ship while they’re doing it. Throw in atypical family structures (everyone has multiple sets of parents and multiple spouses, of both genders, and blending “matrilines” is a big part of the politics of the book) and a fascinating bit at the end where we find out that there are other spaceships out there and that the colonies on those ships have evolved, and cared for their ships, very differently from the characters in this, and … man, this is really something special.

My only gripe is that the end doesn’t land quite as perfectly as I’d like; one storyline that I was quite interested in kind of gets disregarded in the last twenty pages or so, which was a bit of a disappointment, but overall this is the book I always felt like Drayden was going to write eventually and I’ve finally got. It’s just much more under control than her previous work; you got the idea in Temper to some extend and to quite a large extent in The Prey of Gods that her ideas just got away from her, and that feeling is gone from this. This novel is tight in a way her previous work hasn’t been, and you should all read it. God, 2019 has been a great year for books.

In which I shitpost

I don’t actually have anything of substance to say tonight, to the point where I’m not going to bother cross-posting this to Facebook like I usually do.  I’m mostly just posting because I’ve had a nice little run going for the last several weeks and I’m coming out of my September Death Cold (TM) just in time to go back to work.  So… thank unions for three-day weekends, I suppose, because otherwise I’d have had to take off from work and now I don’t have to.  Yay?

temperIt was actually a pretty pleasant weekend despite all the near-death nonsense.  I’ve been doing a lot of reading on the weekends lately, and this weekend I finished Foundryside, which was amazing, and then read Nicky Drayden’s new book Temper from cover to cover too.  I reviewed her previous book, The Prey of Gods, and it was one of those books where I didn’t necessarily like it all that much but the goddamn thing was oozing potential to the degree where not buying her second book really wasn’t something I even considered.    Here’s the thing about Nicky Drayden: each of her books, so far, have actually been six books.  Temper is just as stuffed full of ideas as TPoG, but it’s a bit more cohesive and less insane and while it still wasn’t quite a five-star read for me I am absolutely still onboard for her next book and think you should check one or both of them out.

This has been a spectacular year for reading, guys.

Hmm.  I guess that counts as a topic for the post?  Sure, why not?

#REVIEW: The Prey of Gods, by Nicky Drayden

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Every so often I go back and forth on whether I should ever be posting book reviews here.  I follow a lot of Real Author blogs, and most of them don’t do book reviews– or, if they do, they mostly let the authors talk themselves.  This is actually how I encountered The Prey of Gods, a book I first found in a Big Idea post over at John Scalzi’s blog.

Honestly, I’d have ordered the thing based on the cover alone.  Look at that.   It’s awesome.

The book’s completely goddamned out of control, though.  Completely.  Out.  Of.  Control.  There are at least two more main POV characters than there need to be, probably half-a-dozen unnecessary subplots, and the story itself has so many things mashed together– a runaway dik-dik invasion (and if you’re thinking “will there be jokes about dik-diks?” right now?  Yes there will.), a species-jumping gene-altered virus that turns people into gods, actual gods, AIs gaining sentience, adult circumcision, 37,000 people being murdered by the main character in a fit of rage that we’re all supposed to forget about because she’s supposed to be sympathetic, a number of other brutal murders, a character with mind-control powers who has sex (? Maybe?) with his best friend then wipes his memory of the event, which is more than a little rapey, a pop musician who also has healing powers, a politician tasked with eliminating the dik-dik invasion who is also a cross-dressing singer who wants to open for the previous singer, his mother who is some sort of tree goddess, and jesus christ it never stops.

Here’s the thing, y’all: I stopped reading this with like 20 pages left because I just couldn’t take the crazy any longer– right around the time when mind-control dude swapped his boy/friend’s brain into his, then downloaded his own brain into his pet robot, then had several pages of stressing out about available hard drive space while he was trying to find room in the robot’s hard drive for his entire brain and the robot’s personality, but only after preventing his boy/friend, who may or may not have been dead at the time, from becoming a tree.

That’s not an exaggeration.  

I couldn’t do it any longer.  But if you read the GoodReads reviews, there are a lot of people who really like this book, and I wouldn’t even really argue with someone who did?  Nicky Drayden is an impressive writer, and I want to see more from her.  But I couldn’t take this book.  So… check it out, maybe?  But caveat emptor, or something?