PositiveBooklistPercy’s latest is at times gross and poignant, occasionally in the same paragraph ... There are disgusting mutations and creepy scenes of violence, but the search for family and belonging motivates the protagonists. Briskly paced, The Unfamiliar Garden ties up the action quickly with an eye toward the trilogy’s finale. Recommended for fans of John Scalzi and Sylvain Neuvel.
PositiveBooklistNwọka’s debut feels like a dream, or a fable, or something in between ... Nwọka uses epistolary passages as well as lyrical prose to tell a personal yet magical story. Recommended for fans of Nnedi Okorafor’s Remote Control or Nghi Vo’s The Empress of Salt and Fortune.
PositiveBooklistVen is an unpredictable narrator, and his choices make for a twisty, engaging plot. The rarely seen but terrifying kakuy are evocative, like malignant Studio Ghibli characters. Political machinations and espionage will keep readers guessing as to the true heroes and villains of the novel. There are glimpses of names and concepts that reflect our past, which makes Notes feel like a fantastical warning. A fascinating and tense novel, recommended especially for fans of Margaret Atwood’s MaddAddam trilogy.
PositiveBooklistPercy (Suicide Woods, 2019) is an accomplished superhero comic writer, and that aesthetic is evident from page one. The plot is dynamic, featuring multiple viewpoints as well as corporate malfeasance, spooky cults, and family drama. This sounds complicated, and it is, but all of these moving parts work together due to strong characterization ... The action is vivid without being too graphic, contributing to an overall cinematic feel ... Recommended for fans of Brandon Sanderson’s Reckoners series or Vicious by V. E. Schwab.
Kate Hope Day
RaveBooklistJune’s path to the stars, as well as the science behind the trip, feels both realistic and accessible. Day’s descriptions of the cold lethality of space make the final frontier feel like a character itself, and, indeed, each location described feels tangible. The action sequences are brutal and breathtaking, but the novel focuses most on June’s emotions and relationships with her fellow trainees and astronauts. Perfect for fans of realistic depictions of space travel like Andy Weir’s The Martian (2014) and Jeremy K. Brown’s Zero Limit (2018).
PositiveBooklistMaxwell’s debut combines romance and thrills in a unique package. The narrative swaps between Kiem and Jainan, each with their own strong personalities, and quickly grows in urgency. Romantic tension volleys back and forth between the two leads, proving just as compelling as the political machinations. Winter’s Orbit is soft on science fiction but heavy on world building.
PositiveBooklistSankofa is an engaging character and despite her strange circumstances, she is practical and driven forward by a strong sense of right and wrong. Tense moments of conflict are followed by gentler vignettes where she gets to know the people and the world around her. Sankofa’s path through Ghana covers both the mundane and the futuristic, and Okorafor examines what happens when normal people meet someone or something they do not understand. Great for speculative fiction devotees that are seeking a non-Eurocentric setting and an unusual but engrossing protagonist.
PositiveBooklistAnderson’s debut asks questions that are the foundations of sf: What makes us human? What separates humanity from advanced artificial intelligence? But it also uses its robotic heroine, Sylv.ie, to examine what love is, and how all beings, human and android, can change based on their surroundings ... The dystopian setting and the subjugation of women are familiar tropes, and the plot takes a back seat to character development, with a rush of surprising violence toward the end. The Hierarchies is a thought-provoking spin on how humanity will be both the same and different in the future. It’s sure to be enjoyable for fans of feminist dystopias like The Handmaid’s Tale.