Mike Chen rings in 2020 with another tearjerker of a science fiction novel, A Beginning at the End. This book features four points of view characters trying to find their back to normality in a post-apocalypse where a virus wiped out most of the world. In this interview, Mike talks about his sophomore effort, expanding two POVs to four, and ways to make his world feel lived-in on top of the slice-of-life focus.
Rating: 4/5 stars
Genre: Adult Science Fiction
Year Release: 2020
|Read my NetGalley eARC.
This book was such a whimsical, captivating journey from start to finish. In a village, a stranger visits on Shipment Day every few years, until one year, a mute boy falls from the sky. A designer baby (designed with imperfection in mind) creates a future in which visiting distant worlds is possible. While a captain only wants to protect her crew.
The structure and flow of this novel were something remarkable. Many books which I have read in multiple POVs generally announced whose story was to be followed at the opening of every section or chapter. Not in this one. Here, the reader had to trust the magic of Jimenez’s captivating prose to move seamlessly from one story line to another. This was especially important in the final part, where plot lines converged and tensions were at their highest.
This trust also came in the world-building. There wasn’t too much explanation into how things came to be, and the year in which the story takes place was only mentioned a handful of times. The reader came to understand the technology in the way the characters did, without too much build-up. It really came from the relationships between characters and their tech, which played out marvelous.
In addition, the queerness in this future is refreshingly casual. From the variety of relationships to the inclusion of M. being every character’s default prefix, I found this very refreshing. There was no world-building which explained its feature in this novel, it simply just was. In a panel I was on back in October 2019, we dubbed this queernorm and wow, was that normalized here.
If you want a lyrical story about found family and the human dangers of technological advancement, get lost in The Vanished Birds.
Rating: 5/5 stars
Genre: Adult Science Fiction
Year Released: 2018
Source: Library Audiobook
|Listened to the audiobook
Some books get better upon a reread. But when you’re rereading your favorite book, how could it possibly get better? Well, let me tell you the ways.
In my first read, I was so enraptured with the dystopian whimsy of Qannaaq that I didn’t get a chance to dwell in many of the other levels. The specific way the world fell apart to create this near-future has not as much to do with climate change as much as it does with manufactured inequality and the evils of landlords and apartment economics. Being from New York City and seeing the story of how the stockholders gained power, the parallels were so easy to spot.
I’ve changed myself in the two years since I read this book, and wow, SOQ’s POV hit me differently upon reexamination. They are just so unapologetically themselves, but there’s a drive for human connection and fixing your own circumstances that are quite universal. The misfortune in the middle of the second act strikes a bit differently. Finding new appreciation for different facets is just part of the rereading experience.
Beautiful prose in a bleak cold comes a tale of finding family and standing up to the forces which broke the world in the first place.
I am going to start announcing the books I intend to read per month, starting with January 2020.
- Descendant of the Crane by Joan He
- The Fortress by S.A. Jones (ARC)
- The Never-Tilting World by Rin Chupeco
- Scavenge the Stars by Tara Sim (ARC)
- Fire & Heist by Sarah Beth Durst
- Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer (Library Borrow)
- Kushiel’s Dart by Jacqueline Carey (Library Borrow)
- Seven Deadly Shadows by Courtney Alameda and Valynne E. Maetani (ARC)
- Mortal Heart by Robin LaFevers (Library Borrow)
- Blackfish City by Sam J. Miller (Library Borrow)
I did a lot of good reading in 2018 and was introduced to new favorite people, authors, and series. Here is a list of 19 books I’m really excited to read or see out in the world.
I read 118 books this year, mostly thanks to an aggressive ARC schedule and audiobooks. The list here are 19 books which I read this year that I loved, but weren’t necessarily published in 2019.
In December, I made it a small goal to get my Currently Reading List down to zero. While I failed at that, I got most of the way there, even reading two additional books. I start 2020 with a four-book-long backlog, which honestly, it pretty good. Anyway, here is the last recap of the year.