Recent reads: SF&F

Hello lovely readers. I’m a bit behind with reviews, so thought I’d do some mini reviews to try and catch up.

The Kaiju Preservation Society – John Scalzi (Tor Books)

When COVID-19 sweeps through New York City, Jamie Gray is stuck as a dead-end driver for food delivery apps. That is, until Jamie makes a delivery to an old acquaintance, Tom, who works at what he calls “an animal rights organization.” Tom’s team needs a last-minute grunt to handle things on their next field visit. Jamie, eager to do anything, immediately signs on.

What Tom doesn’t tell Jamie is that the animals his team cares for are not here on Earth. Not our Earth, at least. In an alternate dimension, massive dinosaur-like creatures named Kaiju roam a warm and human-free world. They’re the universe’s largest and most dangerous panda and they’re in trouble.

It’s not just the Kaiju Preservation Society that’s found its way to the alternate world. Others have, too–and their carelessness could cause millions back on our Earth to die.

Huge fun. Scalzi does snappy dialogue like no-one else, and the story fairly zips along, with giant kaiju causing mayhem and destruction along the way. If you like high concept, fast-paced action and more one liners than you can usefully throw a stick at, give this a go. Pacific Rim meets Jurassic Park, sort of. But funny.

Hide – Kiersten White (Del Rey)

The challenge: spend a week hiding in an abandoned amusement park and don’t get caught.

The prize: enough money to change everything.

Fourteen competitors. Seven days. Everywhere to hide, but nowhere to run.

Splendid thriller/horror, I really enjoyed this. Another high-concept tale, Hide is a delightfully simple concept – a bunch of people have to hide for seven days from sunrise to sunset and the last one standing wins. But nothing’s ever quite that easy, is it? Great characters, some you’ll be rooting for and others you can’t wait to get caught. White does a great job of ratcheting up the tension as the days progress. Highly recommended.

The Book Eaters – Sunyi Dean (HarperVoyager)

Out on the Yorkshire Moors lives a secret line of people for whom books are food, and who retain all of a book’s content after eating it. To them, spy novels are a peppery snack; romance novels are sweet and delicious. Eating a map can help them remember destinations, and children, when they misbehave, are forced to eat dry, musty pages from dictionaries. 

Devon is part of The Family, an old and reclusive clan of book eaters. Her brothers grow up feasting on stories of valor and adventure, and Devon—like all other book eater women—is raised on a carefully curated diet of fairytales and cautionary stories.

But real life doesn’t always come with happy endings, as Devon learns when her son is born with a rare and darker kind of hunger—not for books, but for human minds. 

Another fantastic book, The Book Eaters is out in August 2022. Brilliant fantasy debut from Sunyi Dean, I loved this (resisting the urge to use the phrase ‘devoured it’). It’s a neat twist on a vampire story, but is so much more. It’s a tale of survival, of a mother’s love for her son. It’s dark and gory and violent and at the same time a beautifully written fairytale.

Can’t recommend this highly enough

Huge thanks to Tor Books, Del Rey and HarperVoyager for the advance copies of these books to review via NetGalley.

Author: dave

Book reviewer, occasional writer, photographer, coffee-lover, cyclist, spoon carver and stationery geek.

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