Review: Sea of Tranquility

Title: Sea of Tranquility (April 5, 2022)
Author: Emily St. John Mandel
Pages: 272


It’s easy to get swept away to Emily St. John Mandel’s far flung settings as the story briskly moves from moment to moment, character to character, and timeline to timeline. St. John Mandel’s writing is clean and the plot never lingers long enough for inertia to set in. And while that makes for a quick read, there’s a certain slightness to the story that’s hard to shake. St. John Mandel raises interesting questions and ideas, but doesn’t really explore them in any deep, meaningful way. 

I was lukewarm on Station Eleven, even though I loved the vibe and world St. John Mandel had crafted. I felt similarly about this book. I wanted to be more invested than I was and the major moments did not hit me as hard as I hoped they would.

HBO’s adaptation of Station Eleven is one of the best shows I’ve watched in years, so perhaps I just need to wait for Sea of Tranquility to get the same treatment someday.

★★★¼

My thanks to Edelweiss and the publisher for an advanced reader copy in exchange for an honest review.

Review: How High We Go in the Dark

Title: How High We Go in the Dark (January 18, 2022)
Author: Sequoia Nagamatsu
Pages: 304


A euthanasia theme park, a talking pig named Snortorious P.I.G., and a funerary hotel. There is no shortage of dark humor to be found among the increasingly macabre story beats of How High We Go in the Dark. Even so, some sections are just incredibly devastating to read and that’s a credit to Nagamatsu’s excellent writing. 

Not every vignette worked for me, but the ones that did were awfully affecting. My investment in each small story waned as we moved farther away from the “present day,” but the ever-evolving interconnectedness of the narratives was intriguing to track throughout.

If you’re looking for an escape from our current pandemic-ridden world, this is not the right book for you. If you can put that aside, there’s some really effective storytelling at work here. 

★★★¾

My thanks to NetGalley for an advanced reader copy in exchange for an honest review.

Review: The Justice of Kings

Title: The Justice of Kings (February 22, 2022)
Author: Richard Swan
Pages: 496
Series: Empire of the Wolf #1


An odd thing about this book is that the only character on the cover and the character mentioned in the book’s description as an “unforgettable protagonist destined to become a fantasy icon” is not the main character of the story! It’s certainly an interesting choice and I’m unsure whether or not it is an effective one. Helena, our actual main first-person POV character, is likable and authentic. We see Sir Konrad Vonvalt (the aforementioned coverboy/man) and the story itself through her eyes. It was a tad distracting trying to puzzle out how this served the greater narrative, and I can’t say I ever arrived at an answer.

Luckily, Richard Swan’s writing flows nicely and made for a pleasant reading experience. The murder mystery nestled inside the larger, empire-spanning conspiracy was compelling and left me curious to explore this world beyond what is shown in this specific story. I’m on the fence over whether I’ll continue on to book #2, but this was a solid start to an intriguing new series.

★★★¾

My thanks to NetGalley and Orbit for an advanced reader copy in exchange for an honest review.