Phew was this book a challenge. One of the things I love about Science Fiction is how it pushes you make sense of the world you've been thrown in without giving you a map. It's up to you as the reader to untangle all of the different strands of the story, the world and it's rules. The Earth a.k.a Otopia that Robson imagines is super complex! She re-imagines elves, elementals, demons, ghosts and androids in a way I've never read before which may explain why I was having such a hard time putting everything together. This book continued to push the boundaries of my expectations and giving me a minor headache some moments. Most of the time I relished the challenge of deciphering the world but sometimes I was reading a page three times because I had no idea what was going on. Robson's attention to detail is phenomenal, she knows what's what and why, giving a depth to her world that some fantasy and sci-fi books struggle with.
The Quantum Bomb of 2015 changed everything. The fabric that kept the universe's different dimensions apart was torn and now, six years later, the people of earth exist in uneasy company with the inhabitants of, amongst others, the elfin, elemental, and demonic realms. Magic is real and can be even more dangerous than technology. Elves are exotic, erotic, dangerous, and really bored with the constant Lord of the Rings references. Elementals are a law unto themselves and demons are best left well to themselves.
Special agent Lila Black used to be pretty, but now she's not so sure. Her body is more than half restless carbon and metal alloy machinery, a machine she's barely in control of. It goes into combat mode, enough weapons for a small army springing from within itself, at the merest provocation. As for her heart, well, ever since being drawn into a game by the elfin rockstar Zal (lead singer of The No Shows), who she's been assigned to protect, she's not even sure she can trust that any more either.
The characters are surprising and completely fleshed out. There is no black and white in this world, only the complicated, intricate grey that is typical of human interactions. I was tricked into thinking someone was a "bad guy" only to have it flipped around in the next paragraph. I liked that Robson wasn't afraid to make her protagonists look a little bad. Lila was the bad-ass I was expecting but her interaction with Zal was slightly confusing because I felt their attraction wasn't based on anything except the "Game" magic. Despite this I was drawn into their relationship and hoped for their happy ending. I personally would have liked a little more romance but with the gripping and curious plot it wasn't necessary.
I think this is a wonderful Sci-Fi novel if you like the genre, you will get lost in this new world. If you're wanting romance, it isn't a priority in this novel, more like a side product. I appreciated how intricate the world, characters and plot was but it did drag on a bit. Not the best Sci-Fi novel I've read but definitely worth a shot!
xxx Literary George
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