Friday, June 23, 2017

A Hugo Review: Best Novel - Too Like the Lightning by Ada Palmer

Too Like the Lightning by Ada Palmer is about political intrigue and miracles.

I struggled to read this book. Had I been reading it for pleasure alone, there's a decent chance I wouldn't have finished it. I find the writing style to be immensely irritating, enough to throw me out of the story repeatedly even when the narrator isn't breaking the fourth wall, which the narrator does too much. That said, there are a few compelling characters and situations - enough that it might have been worth it to read, IF this had been a complete novel, and not something that ended on a virtual cliffhanger.

The good: The premise is extremely interesting, and the narrator is a fascinating study who is exposed slowly, explaining the reactions of other characters to him. There are some truly mind-twisting concepts, from the cars to the miracle, that take some getting used to. The society structure is fascinating, and just believable enough - I almost wish floating citizenship was a thing.

The bad: The writing style just does not agree with me in the slightest. I wanted to reach into the book and slap the narrator around until he spoke plain English instead of aping a classic novel. The book slowly got more and more sexual - starting out with a slightly innocent world until we get a scene that's only a step or two from outright pornography. I get the reasoning, but it still felt gratuitous and made me roll my eyes. But the biggest fault is the utter lack of any type of closure. The book ends just as we're getting to some answers to some of the bigger questions. If I know ahead of time that's going to happen, I'm not as annoyed as when I struggle through a book only to find I will have to read another to get the end of the story.

Conclusion: While it's irritating, it's not bad enough to leave off the ballot - like I said, the ideas were mind-bending in some ways. But it gets the bottom spot.

Best Novel: I've read all the entries I plan to. Check them out in my Reviews of 2017 Hugo Finalists.

NOTE: Ada Palmer has also been nominated for the Campbell award based on this work. Because I haven't read any of the other finalists, she's currently at the top of that list, but I will not be surprised if she drops down after I get through other authors' works.