Paper Plane Reviews

A Book Review Blog

Feet of Clay by Terry Pratchett

There’s never a bad time to start another Discworld novel, so here I go with Feet of Clay, the next book in the Guards sub-series. My partner is always pleased when I get to the next Discworld, but especially so when it’s a Guards book. It’s sweet, and they’re usually right, so I tend to look forward to those ones in particular.

What starts out as an ordinary day for the Ankh Morpork Watch becomes a lot more philosophical than expected when a priest is murdered, with golems looking to be heavily involved. While the murder itself is rather mundane, golems are well known to be little more than human-shaped machinery, so their involvement makes things much more complicated. In addition to this, there is a plot afoot to try and poison the Patrician, which can only be a bad idea.
Feet of Clay is a fantastic ride from start to finish, with a cracking mystery to puzzle out, on-point lambasting of sexism and racism, and a cast that seems to get better with every book. To start with the mystery, it’s a strange sort of balance where the reader is given the majority of the clues within the third or so, but the fun comes in how the disparate pieces work together. It’s a bit jarring compared to other mysteries that I’ve read, but it does work out remarkably well.
The sexism and racism aspects of the novel intersects neatly with the two new additions to the cast, so I’ll discuss both here. The sexism aspect mostly centres around the new Watch recruit, a Dwarf alchemist by the unfortunate name of Cheery Littlebottom. The reader learns that Cheery is actually female, and follows her attempts to present as more obviously feminine, with a little help from Angua. I’ll admit, I’d heard the old nerd debate about whether all dwarfs had beards, regardless of sex, but hadn’t really given it much thought. Reading through Cheery’s gradual move from stereotypical dwarf in appearance, to her introduction of things like make-up and skirts into her wardrobe, it struck me more as a trans narrative than a purely feminine one. While there is no evidence of physical dysphoria, the decision to take on outward markers of femininity when you are a member of a species where male is the default feels more akin to a transgender person’s entry into social transitioning. Maybe it’s just that I’ve recently had some people very close to me start making that transition, but I couldn’t help but wonder at the similarity. Either way, it’s a journey that is by no means over, and I kind of had my heart in my mouth for her every time Carrot made a comment that was obviously intended to be helpful, but only makes things worse.
The racism aspect is obviously brought up as a result of the golems becoming more visible, but I’d kind of forgotten just how deep the metaphor is taken within the Discworld novels. While the Watch is now a multi-racial organisation, that has only really papered over the cracks. Dwarfs are still ignored unless they’re screaming battle cries and running at you with an axe, trolls are dumb brutes only to be commended for their persistence, and the undead mock humanity by showing them a twisted reflection of their own lives. The only thing that sets golems apart from all this is that they’re looked down on by everyone on the hierarchy, because they’re not even alive enough to get on the social ladder. It’s everything that a racism metaphor should be, real enough to make its point, but not detailed enough that it becomes a clumsy allegory for actual groups of people with blatant racial coding.

A fantastic entry into the Discworld series, Feet of Clay shows Pratchett at his best with excellent characters and a mystery that leaves the reader wanting more. I very much look forward to my next encounter with the guards. 5/5

Next review: Legends of the Exiles by Jesse Teller

Signing off,
Nisa.

Occultist by Oliver Mayes

I realise that it’s not been long since my last LitRPG book, but I was feeling in a science-fiction/fantasy sort of mood. The Occulist looked like a fun read from the blurb, if very similar to other books and series in the genre that I’ve seen so far.

Damien Arkwright, a teenager simultaneously studying for potentially life-changing exams and acting as a beta tester for gaming company Moebius, finds his life taking a turn for the worse when his mother has a heart attack in front of him. Desperate after hearing that she is 35th in line for a heart transplant, he enters Moebius’ new MMORPG called Saga Online to try and win their Streamer Contest with the intent to pay for her medical costs. But when the top-ranked player, Aetherius, humiliates him and dumps him in a high level dungeon for a perceived slight, Damien’s only hope lies in taking the previously unknown class of Occultist.
Despite the somewhat standard start to Occultist, I found myself appreciating the unexpected depth a lot more than I’d expected. This is down to two main factors: the real-world aspect of the plot and the intricacies of the Occultist character class.
Starting with the real world stuff, I was pleasantly surprised at how down-to-earth and believable the goal was. Compared to the previous LitRPG novels reviewed here, Battle Spire and HOPE Engine, the real-world problems impacting the stuff in the game world in Occultist were ones that I could potentially see happening in the near future. Staying out of the foster care system and getting money for health insurance are goals that are unfortunately only too real, and the potential for gaining a massive windfall through the medium of competitive gaming is becoming more and more commonplace. The only thing missing was the main character getting SWAT called on him, although I’m sure that there’s time for that in any potential sequel.
The game stuff is a bit more of a personal thing, but I really liked seeing a main character who was more summon-based. See, my main characters on Guild Wars were a Ranger and a Necromancer, and for both of them I had combat pets that would either attack alongside me or act as a constant buff. I have a bit of a soft spot for that kind of character build, but it doesn’t tend to get good press in LitRPG novels. The only other character I can think of off the top of my head is Silica from Sword Art Online, and she’s kind of the LitRPG poster child for damsel in distress. So yeah, kind of a personal thing, but it was nice to see a bit of variation from the tank/mage/healer stereotypes.

The overall story arc is not necessarily anything new, but Occultist spices up the typical genre fare by focusing on concrete, easily believable problems to deal with in the real world and by branching out the main character’s class out from the standard tank/mage/healer archetypes by throwing in pets/summons. It ends on a good final note, but I’d be happy to read more in the universe created here. 5/5

Next review: Feet of Clay by Terry Pratchett

Signing off,
Nisa.

Therese Raquin by Emile Zola

Given that I have still been struggling with reading post-slump, I thought that I would pick out a book that I had read several times before, but hadn’t looked at since before I started this blog. Hence Therese Raquin, one of the texts that I studied for college, complete with underlined quotes that were evidently important at the time.

Therese Raquin follows the eponymous protagonist and her lover as they plot to murder her feeble and sickly husband, so that they can carry out their affair in peace. What they don’t anticipate is the dramatic effect that it has on their psyches, and how little they will be able to enjoy the fruits of their crime.
When I mentioned that I would be reading Therese Raquin to my partner, they were less than impressed. I had forgotten that they took the same class in college and had studied this text as well, and had evidently not taken away fond memories of it. Re-reading it and taking a look at some other reviews, it would appear that this is something of a love-it-or-hate-it type of book. And I think that that comes down to two things: the bleak and grimy tone, and the characterisation.
The tone is kind of interesting, as it’s produced by using very artistic language and references to contemporary artwork of the time, but with a distinctly unpleasant twist. There’s a definite green/grey/brown palette to the imagery described, like everything’s a bit dirty and waterlogged, and it influences the whole atmosphere of the novel. Even before anything bad has happened, you can tell that nothing good will come of Therese and Laurent’s actions, because their surroundings are such that it cannot come to pass. For me, the focus on murkiness and chiaroscuro is really interesting and easy to envisage, but I can definitely see why it could come across as overly oppressive and unpleasant.
With regards to the characterisation, there’s a kind of simplification going on that can go very poorly. The characters in Therese Raquin are not complex people, they are at worst caricatures and at best archetypes drawing from Hippocrates’ humours. Again this is very subjective, but I would argue that in conjunction with the atmosphere it does work in a grotesque kind of way. The side characters are frequently compared to dolls and puppets, bringing to mind jerky movements and unnatural articulation. Therese and Laurent are the most complex of the characters, but their actions are solely influenced by their assigned temperaments, making them little better than animals instinctively reacting to outward stimuli. There’s something fascinating about a collection of people that are so unpleasant coming into close contact and clashing so spectacularly. There are no good people, just a lot of individuals indulging their own egos. It’s not something you’d read for pleasure per say, but it is engaging.

Very much a love-it-or-hate-it kind of novel, Therese Raquin works best for those readers who are willing to forgo anything pleasant in exchange for watching some unpleasant people slowly fall apart at the seams. The characterisation is basic, but it combines with the tone and atmosphere to create a grim sort of spectacle that is greater than the sum of its parts. 4/5

Next review: Occultist by Oliver Mayes

Signing off,
Nisa.

Blue Angel by Phil Williams

This is a bit of a first for the blog, given that Blue Angel is my first sequel sourced from TBRindr, which is kind of cool. Given that I quite enjoyed the previous book Under Ordshaw, I was quite looking forward to finding out how the series continued. Spoilers for Under Ordshaw will be abound.

Following their encounter with the Minotaur at the end of the last book, Pax finds herself on the run along with Letty and the Barton family. In order to avoid detection, they find themselves seeking shelter with people that they would otherwise try and avoid. Having gotten a lot more close and personal with the Minotaur than she had wanted, Pax also seems to be seeing and feeling things that she can’t explain or understand. The bad feelings start to come thick and fast as inexplicable accidents occur across Ordshaw, coming from underneath the city.
I really liked how the plot continued in Blue Angel, with a lot more escalation that I’d anticipated. While the primary threat still lies firmly underground, the tension around not being seen and not knowing who to trust is a nice change of pace. Sort of like going from a slasher film to a thriller, it’s a different sort of feel but still nice and tense. As part of that, the reader is given a little more information about how the supernatural phenomena work in Ordshaw, but only enough that you realise just how powerful it is and how difficult it will be for it to be vanquished.
One of the issues that I had in my last review was Pax’s characterisation. While I don’t feel that she matches the whole lone wolf image that was originally projected, I do think that she comes into her own more in Blue Angel, where she manages to be both blunt enough to get things done quickly, but still being the voice of reason compared to most of the cast. I still feel that Letty and Casaria are the stand-out characters, especially given that they both get more dimensions added, which is rarely a bad thing.

Blue Angel is a bit of a tonal shift after Under Ordshaw, but not so much that it’s jarring. Instead it makes the problems presented in the previous book feel much bigger and more complicated, and I am so down for more of that. While my previous issue with the characterisation of Pax doesn’t really get addressed, she does feel a lot more believable and comes into her own as a leader of sorts. I look forward to seeing how the series continues. 5/5

Next review: Therese Raquin by Emile Zola

Signing off,
Nisa.

Maskerade by Terry Pratchett

When I asked my partner how to best get out of a motivational rut, they recommended reading a book that you know that you will enjoy. In fact, they specifically said to read the next Discworld on my list. Given that this was Maskerade, the next book in the Witches sub-series, it was hardly an onerous decision.

Following Magrat’s marriage at the end of Lords and Ladies, the witches are now missing the Maiden from their trinity, left with only the Mother and the… Other One. Remembering that a girl from Lancre, Agnes Nitt, had previously shown promise as a witch, and concerned that Granny Weatherwax may go Black Aliss without the right mental stimulation, Nanny Ogg decides to recruit her as their new Maiden. Meanwhile, Agnes, styling herself as Perdita, has travelled to Ankh-Morpork to try and make her way as an opera singer. Whilst at the opera house, she has to deal with providing the voice for a colleague with no actual talent of her own, and rumours of an Opera Ghost murdering members of the troupe.
It was lovely to see Granny Weatherwax and Nanny Ogg again, and I think I need to thank my partner for pointing out the obvious for me. There was something comforting about seeing them at their best, terrifying entire stagecoaches of people and poking their noses into situations where they aren’t wanted, but soon prove to be needed. Agnes had technically been introduced in an earlier Discworld novel, but this felt like a proper introduction. While I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know her, her realisation that, while she desperately wants to be a part of the opera world, she will never quite fit in was unexpectedly difficult to read for me. It was a bit more real than I had prepared myself for, those echoes of being the fat nerdy girl at school. I’ll be interested to see how Agnes develops further down the line.
The stuff at the opera was an entertaining backdrop, with some nice nods to Phantom of the Opera, but I wasn’t as enamoured with the setting as I have been with some of his other pastiches. I think, having studied opera briefly at university and occasionally watching it, that Pratchett did himself a disservice by not going over-the-top enough. I was kind of expecting there to be more balls-to-the-wall insanity and disappointed that it wasn’t there.

An incredibly entertaining pastiche of opera and the wonders that can happen when thoroughly sensible people come along and try and make sense of things. I feel like it could have been more over-the-top, but it’s always great to see Granny Weatherwax and Nanny Ogg cause havoc. 4.5/5

Next review: Blue Angel by Phil Williams

Signing off,
Nisa.

HOPE Engine by Andrew Lynch

Okay, so this review ended up being way later than I had anticipated. Unfortunately, I’ve been in a bit of an emotional/motivational slump for the past couple of months and this has impacted on a lot of my more creative and feelings-intense hobbies. Of which reading and reviewing is one. So I apologise to all of those anticipating reviews from me, they are still in the pipeline. I just haven’t been in the right headspace, and might take a while to get back into the rhythm of things.
With regards to HOPE Engine, I had been looking forward to it, given my enjoyment of my previous LitRPG book, Battle Spire. It seemed to have the sort of underdog main character that I’m fond of too, so that was definitely a plus starting off.

HOPE Engine follows Severo, a new graduate who has chosen to spend the majority of his life in the Fantasy MMO named Tulgutha, rather than face the real world on the brink of war. While he finds himself enjoying the game, he seems to have joined up at a time where an army of glitched NPCs is taking out player settlements. And their next target is his starter village. Banding together with some displaced player characters, he tries to ready his followers for war. On top of all that, strange things are starting to happen in the real world as well.
I’m not sure quite how I feel about HOPE Engine, and a lot of that is down to events about two thirds through that are a bit… spoilery. I will discuss them, but later in the review.
Given that this is a LitRPG, the actual game portion plays a big part in how it comes across. My previous experience of the genre, while limited, had made me expect something reasonably crunchy, with a lot of numbers that you could potentially lift from the book and use elsewhere. The numbers were definitely there, but they were a lot less prominent. Given that the main character is trying to speed through the whole levelling up process, it does make sense, but there are times where the combat can seem a bit arbitrary. I’ve been a low level player against enemies way above my level, and for someone who is meant to be a low level newbie he does get away with a lot more than you would expect. Some of that does get explained by the end, but it’s still distracting in the moment. The main draw for HOPE Engine‘s RPG setting was actually the NPCs. If I’m honest, the other player characters were a bit underwhelming compared to some of the NPCs, in particular Horace. Horace is the first minion that Severo finds in the game, a cultist who both believes him to be an incarnation of a dark god and is perfectly aware that he is just another player. Horace is easily my favourite part of the book, because he can absolutely be counted on to be the agent of chaos that messes up or inadvertently accelerates Severo’s plans. He tells Severo that he’ll ease up on the conversions, quite happily making alterations to new cultist robes throughout the conversation. I look forward to seeing more of Horace.
SPOILERS START
Right, so now to mention the part that has been bugging me, which is primarily related to revelations about what has been happening to Severo in the real world while he was focusing on taking down an army several times his size. As it turns out, an incident towards the beginning where he had to be evacuated from the game to prevent getting some kind of MMO-induced virus causes a shady group to take an interest in him, and deliberately trap him in the game while they carry out a variety of augmentations on him. So when he inevitably wakes up in the last chapter, he finds that what felt like a few weeks or months to him was actually 2 years. Which raises the question of how much of his interactions with the other players that he allies with are genuine, given that it should be pretty obvious when someone that you are spending a lot of time with gets stuck in a loading screen for a couple of months. With those interactions in doubt now, it sort of tempers whatever enjoyment I got from player interactions. Given that HOPE Engine ends on a MASSIVE cliffhanger I imagine that it will get tackled in the sequel, but for now it’s something that just bugs me.
SPOILERS END

A thoroughly enjoyable read, although my thoughts on the last third or so are decidedly mixed. The RPG world is a bit vague at times, but issues with the realism of it are more than balanced out by some great characters, in particular head minion Horace. The cliffhanger ending does intrigue me enough to want to pick up the sequel whenever it comes out. 3.5/5

Next review: Maskerade by Terry Pratchett

Signing off,
Nisa.

K-ON! College by kakifly

It’s been a while since I last read K-ON!, and after a reasonably intense book, I thought that I could do with something a bit lighter and fluffier. And there’s nothing in my library quite as light and fluffy as that.

K-ON! College follows Yui, Mio, Ritsu and Tsumugi as they go through their first year of university. Now having to deal with living away from home and being independent, they join the University’s Light Music Club in order to continue playing together. At their dorm they meet another first year band who seem to be setting up to be close rivals.
I’ll admit, I wasn’t sure where this was likely to go, given that the fourth volume ended on a pretty definitive note. Focusing solely on the older members of the band looked to be a good idea, as the university setting does fit well with the new theme that this volume brings to the fore. The introduction of the rival band, made up of the ultra-serious guitarist Akira, energetic drummer Ayame and shy bassist Sachi, force the group to consider how far they want to take music. Do they want to continue playing together as a hobby, or do they want to knuckle down and try to become professionals? It’s not a route that I was expecting from something that has until now been reasonably silly and inconsequential, but I think it worked well with the general growing up theme that university naturally brings. It’s not tied up by the end of the volume, but I think I’m okay with that. I certainly didn’t finish my first year of uni and know with absolute confidence where I was going, so it would seem weird if it had all been tied up.
The new characters are cute enough, although they act mainly as foils for one another. Ayame and Sachi become fast friends with Ritsu and Mio respectively, and it’s nice to see them interacting with people who are a bit closer to them in temperament. In contrast, Yui attaches herself to Akira, who can charitably be said to assume babysitting duties, although there is some grudging respect there. I think this was the relationship that I liked most, for two reasons. First, it’s always fun to see someone utterly lost for words at the chaos that is Yui. Second, Akira is just so damn sweet that seeing her come out of her shell is nice to see.

A bit more on the thoughtful side as the cast have to learn independence in their first time spent away from home. The new characters are cute enough, with Akira stealing the spotlight with ease. It’s as cute as ever and if you’ve made it this far, you’re unlikely to stop enjoying it here. 4.5/5

Next review: HOPE Engine by Andrew Lynch

Signing off,
Nisa.

The Narrows by Travis M. Riddle

Travis M. Riddle’s work graces this blog for the second time, this time in an entirely different genre. I remember enjoying the writing of Balam, Spring, but there was a big part of me that wasn’t sure how he would come across in modern horror after only reading cosy high fantasy. Either way, I liked the synopsis and was curious to see how it would pan out.

The Narrows follows Oliver and his childhood friends as they return to their home town of Shumard and prepare to attend the funeral of a former close friend, Noah. Haunted by the unexpected nature of his late friend’s death, Oliver finds himself drawn to the spot where he died. Whilst there, he sees the grotesque display of a man dissolving in the middle of the road, and is convinced that this is somehow connected to Noah’s death. Now facing the prospect that their friend may have been shielding them from something terrible, he decides to investigate further.
The easiest way to discuss The Narrows is probably to tackle the horror elements separately from the slice of life, coping with grief stuff. I’ll tackle the everyday stuff first, as Riddle really nails it. The thing that I find interesting about the regular world story-line is that it could probably stand by itself without the horror elements, had Riddle wished to do so. The grief expressed by various characters about Noah’s death is really complex and multi-faceted, as one would expect from dealing with the death of someone who used to be a friend. Davontae probably has the least complex reaction, sadness at the loss of a friend tempered by the distancing of their relationship. Sophia understandably decides that he stopped being their friend long before and so refuses to attend the funeral entirely. But, being the viewpoint character, Oliver gets the most interesting reaction, which is anger at his former friend’s apparent abandonment, but also a desperation for his subpar behaviour to be vindicated in some way. I can genuinely say that I would have read an entire novel of just those three dealing with grief.
That’s not to say that the horror elements don’t work. They definitely do, and it’s some of the more disconcerting and unusual imagery that I’ve seen in a while. The first sign of the supernatural is someone full on melting into orange fungi-vomit, so it doesn’t pull any punches. At the same time though, there’s not much explained about how the Narrows of the title actually works. In another genre, that would probably have bugged me, but I think it works in horror. The idea that this other world exists and there may be no real rhyme or reason behind it, it’s just something that the protagonists have to deal with now.

A great novel about grief and losing touch with childhood and the people in it, with a truly uncanny horror world lurking in the background. Definitely something that I would recommend to someone looking for some indie horror. 4.5/5

Next review: K-ON! College by kakifly

Signing off,
Nisa.

White Night by Jim Butcher

After the mind-screw that was The Automation and The Pre-Programming, it was nice to rest my brain with something a bit more familiar. And after enjoying the last book in the Dresden Files so much, I was keen to see how it continues.

White Night starts when Murphy summons him to the site of a suicide that just doesn’t strike her as quite right. When he realises that this is actually a sophisticated murder and that she was a minor magical practitioner, he finds himself on the trail of a supernatural serial killer. Which may possibly be his half-brother, Thomas. On top of that, he has a hard time getting other potential victims to trust him, when it is revealed that the murderer has been seen, an unidentified tall man in a grey Warden’s cloak.
I think this is the closest to a crime thriller that the Dresden Files has felt in a long time, and I absolutely loved it. While it does have some of the heavy political stuff that has complicated the narrative, as to be expected at volume 9 of a series, the majority of it is a cat and mouse game, trying to figure out who is innocent and who needs to be taken care of in a big ball of fire.
Additionally, there is a lot of great character stuff. Thomas gets a fair bit of focus, with Harry having to finally face the question of how his brother has been feeding without turning into a monster, or whether that is even possible. Harry’s ex Elaine turns up again, trying to turn over a new leaf by following in Harry’s footsteps as a detective and helping people with less magical potential. Molly gets a whole bunch of development as she keeps turning up at places that she shouldn’t, and having to deal with the consequences of her brashness. And, my favourite and the one that really caught me off guard, Lasciel, the shadow of a Denerian stuck in Harry’s head. I really liked this development, specifically because it answers the question of how much effort can she put into trying to tempt Harry to the dark side without it become an exercise in futility. As he says early on, she’s been trying to convince him to access the full power of the coin for years now, where previous hosts only needed a few weeks of temptation. In previous books, it had been one of those questions that was interesting, but ultimately not important in the moment, but there was only so long that you could feasibly keep the status quo going before you want some closure on the damn coin. So that was kind of answered here, which was unexpected but nice.

A thoroughly entertaining cat and mouse game with great stakes and some genuinely creepy antagonists. The character development was also on point, with special mention going to Lasciel. Really looking forward to how the series progresses from here. 5/5

Next review: The Narrows by Travis M. Riddle

Signing off,
Nisa.

The Pre-Programming by B.L.A. & G.B. Gabbler

After the strangeness of The Automation, I honestly wasn’t sure what to expect beyond more screwed-up pseudo-family drama and weirdly intriguing metafiction. I figured that there might be some conclusion in sight with this volume too. Spoiler warnings for The Automation below.

The Pre-Programming follows on directly from The Automation, after Odissa revealed her deeper sordid connection with the last book’s mysterious villain, Leeland. And as people start to die, it starts becoming more apparent that Odissa is much more important to the plot than any of the cast had originally suspected. In addition, B.L.A. starts hinting at how they may have originally been Bulfinch, Odissa’s cat, with G.B. Gabbler about as incredulous about that notion as you would expect.
Honestly, this didn’t go how I expected at all, and most of the stuff that I want to talk about is spoilers. I will start off with some more generic stuff and then have a section with spoilers.
So I liked some of the character development that takes place in The Pre-Programming, as there’s a section dedicated to the Masters acting in ways that are opposite to their normal behaviour, and their various reactions and attempts to reconcile that with what they consider their true self to be. In some cases they manage the task, but in others they dramatically fail and have to face their own guilt and judgement. The development of the Odissa/Dorian relationship is interesting, but ultimately I don’t see a great deal of chemistry between them. They say that they love each other, but they only seem to alternate between bitching and sniping at one another, and Odissa coddling Dorian like he’s a small child with serious separation issues. I realise that the relationship is most likely not meant to be healthy, but there isn’t much in the way of normal behaviour that would explain why they like each other’s company enough to put up with the shit they put each other through.
So, now to the spoiler stuff. If you’re still intending to read The Pre-Programming, then skip to the final summary.
I’ve never read a book before that replaces a large chunk of the cast right before the end, and I don’t know how I feel about it. So by the end, all the Masters are dead by their own hand or by Odissa’s, including Odissa herself. And the Automata have sentience that is built from the souls of their past Masters, in preparation for the next stage of the series. It’s a pretty major change considering that before this point the Automata were less characters in and of themselves and more extensions of the Masters’ personalities, so what has essentially happened is a total cast kill. I’ve only ever seen that in stand-alone novels, understandably right at the end. Never in the middle of an in-progress series. There’s a part of my brain that is wondering why you would start the series where they did, rather than starting with whatever weird D&D game the gods will possibly be playing and providing The Automation and The Pre-Programming as backstory where necessary. But at the same time, I’m also kind of marvelling at the sheer brass balls that you’d need to pull off a left-turn quite that sudden and brazen. So I think I’m still interested, in spite of the critic part of my brain still trying to rationalise the complete cast replacement two thirds in.

On the one hand The Pre-Programming continues to do what it did well in The Automation, which boils down to a lot of really unhealthy relationships and interesting contemplation of the self. On the other hand, there is probably the most drastic left-turn that I have ever seen a series take, and I still don’t know quite what to make of it. I will probably keep an eye out for whatever comes next, just to figure out if that twist was worth it. 4/5

Next review: White Night by Jim Butcher

Signing off,
Nisa.

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