I owe Zeroboxer an apology—I expected this book to be fast-paced, high-octane sci-fi thriller/sports book. I did not expect Zeroboxer to be so incredibly smart about issues of class, poverty, race, xenophobia, sports and national identity, and the good old bootstrap ethos. And they’re all rooted in the same dilemma—the accessibility, legality, and ethics of gene modification.
Warning: Because I want to talk at length about Zeroboxer’s take on the topics mentioned above, I will be spoiling an important plot reveal about the protagonist. If you’d like to remain as unspoiled as possible, feel free to skip this review.
Jevick grows up the son of a prosperous pepper-merchant and his two wives on the island of Tinimavet, one of the Tea Islands, where people take much stock in the power of spirits and gods, good and bad luck. Far across the sea is the country of Olondria, famed for its beauty, culture, and its prolificity of books. Jevick, whose homeland does not possess a written version of their language, let alone books, drinks up the words written by famed Olondrian writers provided to him by his tutor, who also teaches him the language. Following his father’s death, Jevick is finally able to journey to the land he has studied and dreamed of, eager to immerse himself in all he has read about. All goes perfectly until the raucous celebration known as the Feast of Birds, for upon its end, Jevick wakes up to find the ghost of a young woman from his homeland has attached itself to him, a ghost that torments him with vivid, agonizing visions almost nightly. To rid himself of the ghost, Jevick seeks the help of a priestly cult dedicated to the goddess of Love and Death, and so becomes caught up in a political and religious struggle he neither knew about nor cared. The only way for Jevick to free himself of the ghost is to write her story. In doing so, Jevick will need to bridge the gap between Tinimavet and Olondria—their cultures, their words, and their stories.
Illuminae, where have you been? Where were you after I had just finished mainlining Battlestar Galactica for the first time in 2012 and was curled up in an emotional ball of feelings for what felt like days afterward? I needed something just like you, filled with catastrophe and characters that made me cry and space explosions and a bittersweet sense of hope on the horizon, a world destroyed and a world made anew. For years I looked and found nothing to assuage the hole in my heart left by BSG’s absence.
But now, Illuminae, you are here, and in having read you, you have given me the fix I so desperately craved.
I was rewarded in securing Midnight Taxi Tango so soon after finishing Half-Resurrection Blues. The second book in the Bone Street Rumba urban fantasy series is a significant step up in terms of characters and plotting. In addition to Carlos Delacruz’ POV, readers have the pleasure of reading the POVs of not one, but two female characters, whose sheer wonderfulness and badassery rendered Carlos the least interesting of the three POVs. (Sorry Carlos.)
Warning: this review will be going into spoilers for the ending of Half-Resurrection Blues.