Skip to main content

Review - the long way to a small, angry, planet and Mother of Eden



A couple of reviews – The Long way to a Small, Angry Planet, Becky Chambers, and Mother of Eden by Chris Beckett.

My work-work has been busy this last few weeks, which means I’m not writing much. And, when I’m not writing, I read. Which was great because I had a couple of books I really wanted to get to.

I’d been hearing a lot about The Long way to a Small, Angry Planet and was really looking forwards to it.

On a lot of levels, it didn’t disappoint. The alien portrayals were well done, thoughtful and clever. The writing was easy to follow with a light touch that kept the story moving along nicely. The scenario was a clever one, and nicely executed, and the characters were likeable.

All of which meant, when I was struggling to fully engage, I found it hard to put my finger on exactly why. Eventually, it came to me – I think – and the answer lay around tension.

There are plenty of areas where tension should be introduced, but wasn’t fully explored to my mind. The trip is rife with danger, with an unknown outcome, yet at few stages (until the very end) did I get the sense of building risk. The techs were all good at their job, the crew very able, but the book felt a little episodic to me – as if each event was something cool to explore (and each made for great reading), but didn’t contribute to the sense of an overall destination being marched to.

The end of the book more than delivered on the dangers of the mission, however, and therein lay my frustration. There was so much danger and tension that could have been built on, but weren’t there throughout. Having said that, the ending made up for it, with a real sit-on-the-edge of the seat reading session, long after I should have been in bed.

Overall, then, great characters, nice story, lovely writing style but it just needed a bit more tension for me.

On, then, to Chris Beckett’s Mother of Eden. Having loved Dark Eden this was one I was very much looking forwards to, but with reservations. I loved the characters in book one and, knowing this was set some years after their deaths, worried that I’d find it hard to get into this one.

I needn’t have worried. I settled straight in and got started. The new characters were fresh and sympathetic, with plenty of rounded flaws – a headman without the leadership skills needed, a heroine too young to see where her actions might take her. We get carried along, seeing what might unfold, knowing more than Starlight does, and yet we can’t stop her. We want her to be rewarded, to be right, to have her gut instinct of what’s right and wrong repaid; we fear it won’t be.

What Beckett does so well is build a society of myths and legends, and show us how they’ve unfolded. He takes our knowledge from book one and twists it, demonstrating how truth gets lost. He also asks questions about roles in society, reversion, and how we allow ourselves to be carried along with the crowd.

If I have a criticism, at the beginning the number of point of views, and the shortness of each, made it a little hard to follow who was who and keep them separate from each other. However, as the story progressed, this became less of an issue.

On balance, it’s a sequel that lived up to book one, which is always a delight in itself, and one I’d wholeheartedly recommend.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

A NATURAL HISTORY OF GOBLINS - a guest blog by Teresa Edgerton

Some fantasy writers like to write about elves, others prefer werewolves, vampires, or zombies. I have a penchant for goblins.

In folklore, the word "goblin" has been applied in myriad ways. A goblin might be a mischievous sprite like Puck, a hideous, vengeful ghost, or even a beneficient house spirit such as a brownie. Sometimes it was used as a synonym for fairy, sometimes applied to a separate race: small, ugly, and malicious. I've taken advantage of this ambiguity, and in each series of books I've written where goblins appear, I've reinvented them.

In the second Celydonn series (sequels to The Green Lion Trilogy) they are fuathan, bad fairies if you will. I like writing about fairies. Even the best of them are not nice; they are not benevolent. On occasion they may be extravagently generous. Grateful for small favors, they return them with magnificent gifts and spectacular rewards. But you cannot trust them. Their morality is not our morality, their laws…

Getting hearts racing, an interview with fantasy-romance novelist Suzanne Jackson

Today I'm chatting with Suzanne Jackson, whose debut novel has been picked up by Venus Ascending, a new fantasy/sci-fi romance imprint headed up by Teresa Edgerton. I'm lucky enough to be a critique partner of Sue's, and can confirm that this book is something special with a great, unique world, sumptuous writing, a fantastic female lead, and the so-bad-he's-irresistible Nicholas Jarrett.
So I thought I'd be the first to nab the elusive Suzanne and find out what makes her - and her world - tick.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------




Firstly, tell us a little about your world, and how you've managed to marry fantasy with romance?


Hi, Jo. Thank you for inviting me onto your blog for my very first interview. I’m thrilled to be able to talk a little bit about my book and characters.
The Beguiler is set in a fantasy world similar in many ways to Georgian England. Many people are superstitious, with goo…

What happens at the John Hewitt Summer School....

...stays at the John Hewitt Summer School. Mostly.

Rarely do I feel daunted when tackling a blog post but for this one I want to both capture the experience - warts (however few) and all - for others thinking of such an experience, and also try to put into words how the week has got me thinking about my writing and reflecting on lots of things. But anyway, nothing ventured etc etc, here goes.

Firstly, why on Earth did this little sff writer pop off to a literary festival for a week - apart from the small matter of the generosity of the John Hewitt Society in granting me a bursary. I could cite lots of things, like that I have a degree in humanties (I do - theatre and english), or that I do, actually, read the odd poem (MacNeice, Longley and Years are favourites as well as, added this week, Jane Yeh), or even that I've written a fairly literary fantasy book ( I have - coming in 2017.) But that's all just part of why I wanted to go. I also struggle to see why genre writing shoul…