Review: The Book of Koli by M.R. Carey

The Book of Koli by M.R. Carey

Published: April 14, 2020 by Orbit

Buy this book: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

Rating:

Synopsis: Beyond the walls of the small village of Mythen Rood lies an unrecognizable world. A world where overgrown forests are filled with choker trees and deadly vines and seeds that will kill you where you stand. And if they don’t get you, one of the dangerous shunned men will.

Koli has lived in Mythen Rood his entire life. He knows the first rule of survival is that you don’t venture beyond the walls.

What he doesn’t know is – what happens when you aren’t given a choice?

The first in a gripping new trilogy, The Book of Koli charts the journey of one unforgettable young boy struggling to find his place in a chilling post-apocalyptic world. Perfect for readers of Station Eleven and Annihilation.

Review: ***Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you NetGalley and Orbit!***

On a side note, expect to see a lot of this disclaimer. Somehow I got behind like 20 ARCs from places like NetGalley and authors. So, flurry of reviews!

On to this book. It was fairly good. The biggest annoyance that I had with it was the writing style. It was written in a world where humans have brought on their own demise. Through genetic engineering that was weaponized and AI used to fight a war, humans have been decimated. Human beings now live in separate small communities in a world that is constantly attacking them. Because while the war between humans may be over, no one told that to the attack drones or the killer trees. As a result, humans have lost a lot of the knowledge they had. And the writing style was done to match. It was also kind of annoying.

The beginning of this book wasn’t very good. Koli was not a very interesting narrator and most of what he did was pine over a girl. I was more interested in the wider world. I mean trees are out there attacking people! Can we not spend so much of our time in Koli’s bland little town of less than 200 people? Pretty please.

Once the plot moved on from his little town the story got a lot better. I liked the dynamics of the wider world and the resolution of the story. It was more of cliffhanger ending than I usually like but since I am invested in the story that’s okay with me because I planned on reading the next book anyway.

New Releases Wednesday

Blue Ticket by Sophie MacKintosh

Published: June 30, 2020

Goodreads

Synopsis: Calla knows how the lottery works. Everyone does. On the day of your first bleed, you report to the station to learn what kind of woman you will be. A white ticket grants you marriage and children. A blue ticket grants you a career and freedom. You are relieved of the terrible burden of choice. And once you’ve taken your ticket, there is no going back. But what if the life you’re given is the wrong one?


When Calla, a blue ticket woman, begins to question her fate, she must go on the run. But her survival will be dependent on the very qualities the lottery has taught her to question in herself and on the other women the system has pitted against her. Pregnant and desperate, Calla must contend with whether or not the lottery knows her better than she knows herself and what that might mean for her child.


An urgent inquiry into free will, social expectation, and the fraught space of motherhood, Blue Ticket is electrifying in its raw evocation and desire and riveting in its undeniable familiarity.

My Thoughts: I know I have often been critical of feminist leaning dystopians, but this sounds different. It sounds like a woman questioning the system that is telling her what to do with her womanhood. She ends up in a situation she wasn’t supposed to and starts to question everything. I like that concept.

Interlibrary Loan by Gene Wolfe

Published: June 30, 2020

Goodreads

Synopsis: Hundreds of years in the future our civilization is shrunk down but we go on. There is advanced technology, there are robots.

And there are clones.

E. A. Smithe is a borrowed person, his personality an uploaded recording of a deceased mystery writer. Smithe is a piece of property, not a legal human.

As such, Smithe can be loaned to other branches. Which he is. Along with two fellow reclones, a cookbook and romance writer, they are shipped to Polly’s Cove, where Smithe meets a little girl who wants to save her mother, a father who is dead but perhaps not.

And another E.A. Smithe… who definitely is. 

My Thoughts: This is the second book in a series, but I can’t seem to say no to it. It’s another Tor release, and I generally really love what they offer. This sounds like an interesting take on AI and the idea of transferring consciousness after death.

Review: Docile by K.M. Szpara

Docile by K.M. Szpara

Published: March 3, 2020 by Tor

Buy this book: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

Rating:

Synopsis: There is no consent under capitalism

Docile is a science fiction parable about love and sex, wealth and debt, abuse and power, a challenging tour de force that at turns seduces and startles.

To be a Docile is to be kept, body and soul, for the uses of the owner of your contract. To be a Docile is to forget, to disappear, to hide inside your body from the horrors of your service. To be a Docile is to sell yourself to pay your parents’ debts and buy your children’s future.

Elisha Wilder’s family has been ruined by debt, handed down to them from previous generations. His mother never recovered from the Dociline she took during her term as a Docile, so when Elisha decides to try and erase the family’s debt himself, he swears he will never take the drug that took his mother from him. Too bad his contract has been purchased by Alexander Bishop III, whose ultra-rich family is the brains (and money) behind Dociline and the entire Office of Debt Resolution. When Elisha refuses Dociline, Alex refuses to believe that his family’s crowning achievement could have any negative side effects—and is determined to turn Elisha into the perfect Docile without it.

Review: ***Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you NetGalley and Tor!***

SPOILER ALERT: I don’t think I can actually discuss this book without spoilers, except to say it had no point.

This book was basically a slavefic erotica with a messy attempt at a moral/political/social message attempt. But it failed pretty badly on all fronts with it. Instead I was left with a book that had a good idea and a snazzy tagline but otherwise had no purpose. It gets an extra star for being well written, because the writing is very good.

I had hoped this book would make some point about the social and economic gap between the wealthy and the poor. I mean, re-instituting slavery is a rather aggressive step to deal with a debt problem so I expected there to be some kind of larger point. But this is very rarely touched upon except to be pointed out that “this person is wealthy, this person is not.” There exists no other purpose for this distinction that I could fathom. I also don’t understand how there’s seemingly two classes of people at play here (3 technically). First, we have the very poor and indebted county folk. Most of them seem to have somehow accumulated millions of dollars in debt over three generations but I am not clear how. They live in a house that was built with abandoned bits of other houses. They run a self sufficient farm. No one is college educated and all of them refuse to seek medical care. So, where exactly did all this debt come from? Never explained. Then you have the trillionaires who buy the debt of the county folk. Always trillionaires. I don’t know why, and it’s not clear how they amassed such extreme wealth either. Then they have a mostly absent third category of people who work in the city, live outside the city, and spend most of their time worried about making sure they don’t accumulate debt. They aren’t wealthy but they aren’t in debt either. But these people only become relevant in the latter half of the book so they don’t matter.

We spend the first few chapters of the book being introduced to this world system. Laws have been passed that make debt inter-generational. You inherit your parents’ debt. We later learn that this has been in place for about three generations. You have two options to handle your debt. Go to debtor’s prison or become a Docile (a slave) for a set period of time that is set forth in the contract agreed upon by you and your Patron (the one who will be paying your debt). As a Docile your Patron can do….well basically anything they wish to you, as long as they get you medical care and try to keep you alive. The wealthy seem to mainly use this power to rape their Dociles and have sex parties. I don’t know why, except so that we could put in sex scenes or make it seem more despicable. But the more we learned about the treatment of Dociles, the more I thought “you have told me nothing about debtor’s prison, but in pretty much any world it’s better than spending multiple years being raped……”

Dociles have rights…sort of. They have the right to request or refuse to use the drug Dociline (which makes them forget their memories while under its influence), they have the right to not tell anyone their real name, they have a right to medical care…and a few other things that really don’t matter. But here’s the rub. Everyone chooses to take Dociline (except Elisha it seems). Dociline makes that person agree to anything. So what is the point of insisting that there are rights they have if they have no capacity to realize that their rights may have been violated? It seemed utterly pointless. We spent a LOT of time being reminded of a Docile’s rights, but they are entirely unaware of themselves and unable to say no to anything. So they really don’t have those rights if no one is actually around to enforce them.

I knew that Alex would change course and suddenly have a change of heart about the company and Dociline, and would see Elisha as a human being and be horrified by his treatment of him. But it was also made clear to me through the writing that I was supposed to feel sorry for him. He just didn’t realize that what he was doing was wrong. Except that isn’t true. He knew it was wrong. He told us it was wrong over and over again. But he did it anyway. He spent 200 pages torturing and dehumanizing Elisha but then suddenly has so much regret and “loves” him. The fact that the two of them end up in a relationship at the end of the book was such bad judgment. It’s like the abused woman leaving the shelter to go back to the husband who’s been beating the crap out of her for years. That is literally what happened here. Elisha got a month or two of making his own choices and then went back to his abuser. I don’t give a damn if his abuser “changed” or was a better person, that was disgusting and cheap.

Now we come to my biggest problem with this book. It makes no sense. Literally zero sense. At first I thought this was the new debt system of the entire United States. But at the end we find out it’s only Maryland. So…..the entire federal government and 49 other states were totally okay with Maryland pretending that the Constitution doesn’t exist and that the Emancipation Proclamation, Civil War and Civil Rights Movement never happened? They just allow an entire state to reinstate slavery? No one took that decision to the Supreme Court as a gross violation of the Constitution? Really? I am expected to believe this? No sense. If it was the whole country then I could get there if you gave me an explanation. But one singular state that is allowed to do all these outlandish things with no interference or intrusion from other states or the federal government? I have a really hard time believing that is even remotely plausible.

This book is nothing more than an erotica with a snazzy tagline and a half backed premise. Which is disappointing because the writing is wonderful.

Reading Progress Updates

Docile by K.M. Szpara

Published: March 3, 2020

Goodreads

Progress: 39 out of 429 pages

Synopsis: There is no consent under capitalism

Docile is a science fiction parable about love and sex, wealth and debt, abuse and power, a challenging tour de force that at turns seduces and startles.

To be a Docile is to be kept, body and soul, for the uses of the owner of your contract. To be a Docile is to forget, to disappear, to hide inside your body from the horrors of your service. To be a Docile is to sell yourself to pay your parents’ debts and buy your children’s future.

Elisha Wilder’s family has been ruined by debt, handed down to them from previous generations. His mother never recovered from the Dociline she took during her term as a Docile, so when Elisha decides to try and erase the family’s debt himself, he swears he will never take the drug that took his mother from him. Too bad his contract has been purchased by Alexander Bishop III, whose ultra-rich family is the brains (and money) behind Dociline and the entire Office of Debt Resolution. When Elisha refuses Dociline, Alex refuses to believe that his family’s crowning achievement could have any negative side effects—and is determined to turn Elisha into the perfect Docile without it.

My Thoughts So Far: I was drawn in by the tagline, hoping for a dystopian sci-fi that examines the worst possible consequences of our society’s debt addiction and the gap between those in debt and the wealthy. But I am getting the feeling that this is just going to be a gay 50 Shades of Grey. Which is fine, if it’s good. I don’t mind a good slavefic erotica. But it wouldn’t be what I thought I was getting.

The Other Mrs. by Mary Kubica

Published: February 18, 2020

Goodreads

Progress: 40 out of 405 pages

Synopsis: She tried to run, but she can’t escape the other Mrs….

Sadie and Will Foust have only just moved their family from bustling Chicago to small-town Maine when their neighbor Morgan Baines is found dead in her home. The murder rocks their tiny coastal island, but no one is more shaken than Sadie.

But it’s not just Morgan’s death that has Sadie on edge. And as the eyes of suspicion turn toward the new family in town, Sadie is drawn deeper into the mystery of what really happened that dark and deadly night. But Sadie must be careful, for the more she discovers about Mrs. Baines, the more she begins to realize just how much she has to lose if the truth ever comes to light.

My Thoughts So Far: This took me a little bit to get into, but I think I have now. We were just introduced to Camille and I think I’m going to love her. But I may have figured out part of the mystery already. I hope not because I might need a break from mystery/thrillers if that happens.

Review: The Warehouse by Rob Hart

The Warehouse by Rob Hart

Published: August 20, 2019 by Crown

Buy this book at: Amazon | B&N | Book Depository

Rating:

Synopsis: Cloud isn’t just a place to work. It’s a place to live. And when you’re here, you’ll never want to leave.

Paxton never thought he’d be working for Cloud, the giant tech company that’s eaten much of the American economy. Much less that he’d be moving into one of the company’s sprawling live-work facilities.

But compared to what’s left outside, Cloud’s bland chainstore life of gleaming entertainment halls, open-plan offices, and vast warehouses…well, it doesn’t seem so bad. It’s more than anyone else is offering.

Zinnia never thought she’d be infiltrating Cloud. But now she’s undercover, inside the walls, risking it all to ferret out the company’s darkest secrets. And Paxton, with his ordinary little hopes and fears? He just might make the perfect pawn. If she can bear to sacrifice him.

As the truth about Cloud unfolds, Zinnia must gamble everything on a desperate scheme—one that risks both their lives, even as it forces Paxton to question everything about the world he’s so carefully assembled here.

Together, they’ll learn just how far the company will go…to make the world a better place.

Set in the confines of a corporate panopticon that’s at once brilliantly imagined and terrifyingly real, The Warehouse is a near-future thriller about what happens when Big Brother meets Big Business–and who will pay the ultimate price.

Review: This book was a mixed bag. I listened to the audiobook and it was an enjoyable listen, but the ending got a bit too unbelievable for me. The narrators of the audiobook were great, I really liked both of them.

Cloud is obviously based on Amazon. The world has gone to waste with global warming, gun violence and increasing influence in government by corporations. Like any good dystopian fiction it takes real life challenges and extrapolates them into a worst case scenario. Most of the world is unemployed and surviving by the skin of their teeth, but for around 30 million people Cloud is a haven. They work and live on a climate control property. They have their own currency system and police force. All you have to do is show up for your assigned job (chosen for you by some algorithm) and achieve high ratings. If you get rated a one-star employee then you are terminated on cut day and asked to leave. This was an interesting world that is obviously extrapolating the steps that Amazon is taking in our world. Though I did have to wonder, if the entire world is in ruins, who is buying all the stuff that employs 30 million people?

The two main characters were pretty good. I liked Zinnia a lot more than Paxton though. At least Zinnia was very clear in who she is. She is a spy. She is willing to use people to achieve her goal because ultimately that’s the only thing that matters to her. I was never very clear on Paxton’s goals. We are told that he used to be the CEO of a small company that was forced to go out of business by Cloud, forcing him to work for the beast that killed his dream. But then later we find out that he didn’t even have a patent yet for the thing his company made, so it couldn’t have been a very long standing dream. Then he vacillates between hating Cloud, then being pro-Cloud, then hating Cloud again throughout the book. It was kind of confusing because the things that made him switch sides seemed arbitrary.

The plot was interesting and made sure to keep a good flow of things happening, otherwise it would have been too repetitive to be enjoyable. It was fairly predictable but the ending really threw me. It seemed like an attempt to make things so ludicrous that it would convince anyone sitting on the fence about Cloud immediately take the the side of Cloud being evil. It was strange and stretched the limits of my belief.

Overall it was a solid book that I liked reading.