Posted in Book Review Tuesday

Book Review Tuesday (11/30/21) – Six Wakes

Happy Tuesday, bibliophiles!

Six Wakes is one of those books that’s been on the first shelf of my Goodreads TBR since the dawn of time. (Read: early 2017) I forget exactly when I fished it back out of the depths, but the premise looked interesting, so I figured I’d put it on hold at the library. Sadly, Six Wakes befell the same fate as most of the books that sit and wither in my TBR for too long: it didn’t live up to my expectations—average as they were—and ended up just being mediocre.

Enjoy this week’s review!

Six Wakes by Mur Lafferty

Six Wakes – Mur Lafferty

The spaceship Dormire is home to six clones. Each of them were convicted of crimes in their past lives, and by steering the Dormire to a new planet, they will be pardoned of all their past misdeeds. But when they wake up to find the corpses of their previous clones strewn around the spaceship, all six suspect foul play. But with their memories wiped and the Dormire’s AI malfunctioning, will they be able to find the perpetrator of the crime before they strike again?

Deshi Basara | 4orror: In space no one can hear you scream. ...

TW/CW: murder, blood, gore, poisoning, descriptions of death/corpses

From the premise of Six Wakes, I expected a sci-fi thriller. The sci-fi box was ticked off, without question, but the further I progressed in the novel, I was more convinced that all I was reading was 50% fictional cloning history, 48% backstory, and 2% plot.

I’ll give Six Wakes one thing, though; the worldbuilding, at its best, was incredibly thorough and well thought-out. Mur Lafferty clearly spent so much time on creating a rich, century-spanning history of cloning and its ethics, as well as the effects it had on world governments and the criminal underworld. It’s the kind of worldbuilding that made me think, “wow, I doubt I could ever have the patience to create something that detailed.” It was fantastic, really. However, it ended up being a bit of a curse to the rest of the book.

This worldbuilding, extensive and detailed as it was, ended up being delivered in such long chunks that I found myself forgetting what the novel was supposed to be about in the first place. There was so much content shoved in that it distracted from the plot as a whole, leaving it suspended in time for so long that I had to go back and re-read just to remember where we left off before the clone rambling started.

Along with the blessing/curse of the worldbuilding, the other 48% (excluding the plot) that bogged down Six Wakes was the excessive backstory. I may not be a frequent mystery reader, but I’ve read enough to know that the whole point of figuring out the mystery is to very slowly realize key details of the characters. And yet, Six Wakes went and did the EXACT opposite. Almost half of the book consisted of multi-chapter sections of backstories for the characters. Not only were they the most inorganic way possible to learn about the characters, they dragged away from what was supposed to be the main plot, and contributed to my lack of enjoyment for the book.

Even with all that backstories, none of the characters really had much of a personality. At all. We got their stories, sure, but save for maybe Hiro (whose personality seemed to be solely for comic relief), I got no sense for what made any of them tick, or what any of them were like as people. I will say in Lafferty’s favor that at least the cast was diverse—two of the main characters were Latinx (Mexican and Cuban-American) and one character was Japanese, so that was a plus.

All of those lacking plot aspects ultimately numbed me to what could have been an inventive and chilling mystery. By the time I’d trudged through all of the backstory and clone history, the plot twists made me feel nothing. And I still don’t have a clear picture of how the book was even resolved. Maybe that’s because by then, I was just skimming, but it still felt so weak and lacking as a whole.

All in all, a sci-fi thriller that had the potential for greatness but got bogged down by excessive backstory and info-dumping. 2 stars.

space aesthetic gifs | WiffleGif

Six Wakes is a standalone, but Mur Lafferty is also the author of the Afterlife series (Heaven, Hell, Earth, Wasteland, War, and Stones), the Shambling Guides series (The Shambling Guide to New York City and The Ghost Train to New Orleans), the novelization of Solo: A Star Wars Story, and several novels.

Today’s song:

That’s it for this week’s Book Review Tuesday! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

Posted in Books

Found Family Sci-Fi recommendations

Happy Saturday, bibliophiles!

I haven’t done a recommendations post/something other than a book tag or a review in a while, so I figured it would be fun to mix things up a little bit.

Yeah, yeah. I get it. This is a very specific post. But these are the kind of books I love, and I know other people love them too, so I thought I would put this out into the world.

The found family trope is easily one of my favorites in media as a whole; usually, it involves a character, often an outsider, who meets a series of strangers, often outsiders as well, on whatever journey they are on, and these strangers become a family to them. Often, these characters have very different personalities, but their differences are what make them stronger. They come to accept each other no matter what, growing closer than they ever could have imagined. As someone who has been more than a little bit of an outsider over the course of my life, the trope has resonated with me a quite lot; I’m glad now to have found friends that love me for being as weird as I am, and I love them for being weird too. And for those of you who are in the place where I used to be, I promise: someday, you’ll find people who love you and celebrate you for who you are.

In my opinion, sci-fi is the most entertaining genre to see the found family trope in action. Sci-fi has a tendency to throw all of the characters into a life-changing adventure, and if the execution is right, their relationships deepen along the way, making for a tight-knit group of what I love to call “chaotic space misfits.”

Now, the books I’m putting on this list aren’t exclusively space-centric sci-fi. I’ve included a few books from other sci-fi branches, but all have similar found family themes. It’s mostly YA, but I have a few Adult and MG books on the list as well.

So let’s dive in, shall we?

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THE BOOKISH MUTANT’S FOUND FAMILY SCI-FI RECOMMENDATIONS

Victories Greater Than Death – Charlie Jane Anders

Amazon.com: Victories Greater Than Death (Unstoppable, 1): 9781250317315:  Anders, Charlie Jane: Books

young adult

Fast-paced and full of heart, Victories Greater Than Death is a perfect fit for longtime sci-fi fans and readers that are new to the genre! The relationships in this novel are so sweet, and I’m excited to see how they develop in the sequel!

Aurora Rising – Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

Amazon.com: Aurora Rising (The Aurora Cycle): 9781524720964: Kaufman, Amie,  Kristoff, Jay: Books

young adult

Two YA sci-fi books with purple covers with beautiful and VERY powerful space girls on them? In one post? It’s more likely than you think.

Aurora Rising is, in my opinion, the textbook-perfect example of the found family trope, and both the platonic and romantic relationships within it never fail to make me feel soft and happy inside.

The Disasters – M.K. England

Amazon.com: The Disasters: 9780062657671: England, M. K.: Books

young adult

The Disasters is the perfect book for you if you’re a fan of Guardians of the Galaxy-esque characters and banter. This one has action, drama, and misadventures in space aplenty!

Gearbreakers – Zoe Hana Mikuta

Gearbreakers eBook : Mikuta, Zoe Hana: Kindle Store - Amazon.com

young adult

Nothing like taking down giant, overpowered robots to bond a couple of people together…

The bonds between all of the characters in Gearbreakers truly shone, and the balance of soft levity, dystopian grit, and brutality were so well-handled!

Skyhunter – Marie Lu

Book Review: Skyhunter by Marie Lu – RARELY IN REALITY

young adult

Continuing on the dystopian train, here’s an action-packed book from one of of my favorite authors! Amidst all of the horror and desolation in Skyhunter’s ravaged world, the relationships between Talin, Red, and the rest of their ragtag gang of Strikers brings hope to a bleak novel. I read it almost a year ago, and it was just the thing that I needed to get through a rough patch in my life.

The Search for WondLa – Tony DiTerlizzi

The Search for WondLa | Book by Tony DiTerlizzi | Official Publisher Page |  Simon & Schuster

middle grade

Looking back, The Search for WondLa wasn’t just my gateway into sci-fi literature—it was probably my gateway to the found family trope as well. This was my favorite series from late elementary school through middle school, and even when I look back through it, I love it just as much as I did when I was younger. Middle school Madeline would be elated to hear that I still highly recommend it; an intricately crafted piece of sci-fi, filled with an immersive world, unique characters, and beautiful illustrations.

Honor Among Thieves – Ann Aguirre & Rachel Caine

Honor Among Thieves (The Honors, #1) by Rachel Caine

young adult

Spaceships are often the perfect vehicle for interstellar bonding (and anything interstellar, really), but have you considered…sentient, intelligent spaceships? What’s more fun than having your own spaceship join the found family?

Honor Among Thieves, with its diverse and chaotic cast of characters and intergalactic intrigue, is sure to both capture your heart and keep you on the edge of your seat!

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet – Becky Chambers

Amazon.com: The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet: Wayfarers 1 eBook :  Chambers, Becky: Kindle Store

adult

I said earlier that the found family trope often involves the characters bonding over some life-changing adventure, but it isn’t always—and never has to be—the case. It seems to me that Becky Chambers has pioneered the “soft sci-fi” novel, one that’s set in a future universe filled with aliens and strange politics, but there are no cosmic, fate-of-the-world wars or over-the-top conflict. It’s more slice-of-life, but in space. (Oh, look at me and all my hyphens…) Which I love.

The relationships of the crew of the Wayfarer made my heart so happy, and I bet they’ll make you just as happy too!

Heart of Iron – Ashley Poston

Amazon.com: Heart of Iron: 9780062652850: Poston, Ashley: Books

young adult

The main cast, along with the rest of the crew of the Dossier are the sweetest, messiest found family, whether they’re human, robot, or alien. If you love retellings, lost chosen ones, and plenty of banter, Heart of Iron is the book for you!

Larklight – Philip Reeve

Larklight: A Rousing Tale of Dauntless Pluck in the Farthest Reaches of  Space: Reeve, Philip, Wyatt, David: 9781599901459: Amazon.com: Books

middle grade

Here’s another one for middle school Madeline…

Larklight, from my memory, is imaginative, kooky, and perfect if you’re a fan of steampunk. Never a dull moment if there are pirate ships and floating houses in space, right? Plus, all sorts of odd creatures…

LIFEL1K3 – Jay Kristoff

Amazon.com: LIFEL1K3 (Lifelike): 9781524713928: Kristoff, Jay: Books

young adult

Turning back into dystopian sci-fi, LIFEL1K3 is another fantastic example of a novel that finds the smallest bits of hope in the bleakest (and I mean BLEAKEST) of times. This series HURT me, truth be told, but Jay Kristoff is the master of writing friendships that you want to root for with all your heart.

TELL ME WHAT YOU THINK! What are your favorite books with the found family trope? Have any sci-fi recommendations for me? Tell me in the comments!

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Today’s song:

That’s it for this post! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!