MixedThe Newtown Review of Books (AUS)There is a lot to chew on in QualityLand—the power of the internet, the malicious use (intentional and otherwise) of personal data, artificial intelligence (both Turing and Asimov get a workout here), the hypocrisy of commerce and politics. But despite the satirical setting, which can and does show these issues in action, Kling still often feels the need to spell things out to his readers ... QualityLand is often funny but at other times it is, as Peter himself observes at one point, ‘too true to be funny’. Kling has plenty of points to make, most of them about a bunch of genies that are well and truly already out the bottle. But in using this type of over-the-top satire, Kling hopes to lull his readers into a sense of security...before ramming his points home ... And in setting those points within a standard hero’s quest narrative (Peter the everyman takes on the system), he provides some little spark of hope that readers who get the point can actually make a difference.
N. K. Jemisin
RaveThe Newton Review of Books... firmly puts the urban into urban fantasy ... a wild, comic, scary, insightful, sometimes pointed ride through one of the greatest cities in world as it’s caught in the act of understanding itself ... While each of these characters is a ‘representative’ of their borough, they are also finely drawn and engaging in their own right ... a joyous celebration of New York, its diversity and what makes it great. But along the way Jemisin establishes a much bigger canvas ... it will be no surprise if The City We Became sees Jemisin featuring in the major science fiction and fantasy awards again this year.
RaveNewtown Review of Books (AUS)American Dirt opens with a scene that is as shocking as it is gripping ... Cummins delivers a page-turning thriller where there is literally danger around every corner for her main characters ... The tension is always high ... this is a thoroughly researched and in the end compassionate look at what has become a highly politicised subject ... American Dirt effectively uses thriller tropes and some melodramatic story beats to force readers to focus on the human dimension of this global movement ... while American Dirt may not be the literary fiction breakout that some are touting, it is an important work. Never less than tense, and completely compulsive, Cummins manages to both make her point and deliver an effective piece of fiction.
RaveNewtown Review of Books (AUS(Ninth House starts with a killer first sentence and a dizzyingly cold opening ... Bardugo does away with exposition early on, building her world by immersing the reader in Alex’s life. Little is directly explained and it takes a few chapters for the world to make sense ... The real world setting for Ninth House gives it all an air of authenticity ... Ninth House is the complete package. Bardugo has created a robust and believable magic world and within that delivers a page-turning murder mystery. Alex, in the way of all good detectives, is always in trouble and in danger, and the stakes feel high and they feel real. The resolution of the mystery is satisfying in that it ties together a number of threads that had previously felt disparate. And after all of that, Bardugo still manages to land a cliffhanger that promises a further welcome exploration of this world.
RaveThe Newton Review of Books (AUS)David Eggers mashed Google, Microsoft and Apple in The Circle. Hart does something similar for Amazon and other online shops with more success ... this cynicism runs through a series of revelations towards the end of the book that are more disheartening than unexpected ... Rob Hart gives readers plenty to chew on...But aside from a couple of lengthy speeches, he never makes it feel polemical. He anchors his story on two flawed characters who somehow start a relationship that has a core of something real despite the lies between them. Paxton and Zinnia do unexpected things, they make bad decisions but they are the human heart in a machine that is designed to use them until they have no more usefulness ... a cautionary tale. But it seems the warning might be coming too late ... Given the strength with which he makes his point, Hart does not need to reference Fahrenheit 451 or 1984 or The Handmaid’s Tale, but he does. And while The Warehouse may not reach the literary heights of some of these dystopian classics, it makes a solid pitch to be the most possible, and therefore the scariest.
PositiveThe Newtown Review of BooksThe key to all this is that none of Ruff’s characters are victims, even when they are on the losing side of the ongoing battle ... Given the episodic nature of the stories, this is a book that feels ripe for adaptation ... Ruff pulls off a daring feat of his own in this book as he walks a tightrope between the pulp he is repurposing and his exploration of the racism in America that was inherent in those texts. And he succeeds in creating a series of creepy tales that also show how, for many black communities in America in the 1950s, the real demons were not hidden things that went bump in the night but were in plain sight in the wider society in which they lived.