Mount Readmore Book Review, 2017 73/100
The Prey of Gods By Nicky Drayden
Finished on 7/29/2017
Description: In South Africa, the future looks promising. Personal robots are making life easier for the working class. The government is harnessing renewable energy to provide infrastructure for the poor. And in the bustling coastal town of Port Elizabeth, the economy is booming thanks to the genetic engineering industry which has found a welcome home there. Yes—the days to come are looking very good for South Africans. That is, if they can survive the present challenges:
A new hallucinogenic drug sweeping the country . . .
An emerging AI uprising . . .
And an ancient demigoddess hellbent on regaining her former status by preying on the blood and sweat (but mostly blood) of every human she encounters.
It’s up to a young Zulu girl powerful enough to destroy her entire township, a queer teen plagued with the ability to control minds, a pop diva with serious daddy issues, and a politician with even more serious mommy issues to band together to ensure there’s a future left to worry about.
Genres: Sci Fi, Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, LGBT, African Fantasy
Mega-Robot Jujitsu, Cranky Demigodesses who are tired of buying dresses off the rack, genetically engineered Dik-Diks, all in one easy to swallow package!
This book is fighting with ‘Amberlough’ and ‘The Library at Mount Char’ for the best book I’ve read so far this year. I highly recommend this book to anyone who’s even a little fan of the fantasy genre. (Also, if you like Okorafor’s work this is a double-recommendation because there were many parallels between this book and ‘Who Fears Death’)
This is not a particularly deep book. Upon reflection I can spot no major themes or messages besides ‘be yourself and things will work out.’ However I think that we in the book-critiquing industry overvalue messages and themes, and discount the value of fun. This is a fun book. It is a really, really, really good book which exists in order to be fun.
This is a book with a positive example of our world’s diversity. The characters diversity acts merely as a character trait and not as some obstacle to be navigated around. For example, disabled Riya’s main problem is that she’s an asshole and queer Muzi’s main problem is that he has a superpower which is too useful to not use, but hurts him badly whenever he uses it. This story isn’t about the diversity, the diversity is in service of the story. That makes this book a truly excellent read.
In particular Riya sticks in my mind: she wants to be in control of her life so much that she hides her multiple sclerosis from the world even while she’s a superstar touring the world, and she uses her assholishness and a (somewhat) faked drug addiction to hide any MS related stumbles she suffers.
The plot is entertaining too, in an almost Ffordian nonsensical sense. The quick premise of the story is that genetically engineered dik-diks are becoming a pest species in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, so they use a genetically engineered virus to wipe them out. However an angry goddess hijacks the virus in order to spread enough fear for her to reach full power. Also robots, mystical super-drugs, drag-queen singing and a nail salon worker turned goddess-of-fear-incarnate. I’m not going to go into details beyond the most basic premise, but it’s excellent.
This book isn’t joy incarnate the entire way through. There are notable low points when important characters die or make mistakes with terrible consequences. Those low points make the high points that much higher.
Okay, time for constructive criticism.
There were a couple tacked-on plot threads. The ‘Papa Fuzz’ plotline could have been cut almost entirely. I understand why it was included, but it had almost no relevance to the end of the story. Same goes for Riya’s father. That scene had absolutely no point. It could have been entirely cut and no one would have noticed. Finally the Stoker’s Mother plot thread was just… off. I can’t put my finger on it, but it didn’t quite click. I think that plot thread could have worked, but for me it just didn’t.
Another thing I didn’t like was the fact that the obvious sequel hook at the end. I liked this book enough to read the sequel, if there is a sequel, but as a general principle I like one-shot books rather than sequels because there are already too many books out there for me to read.
Finally, the book just ended. The book reached it’s climax, there was a fight. After that the denumont consisted of all the still-living POV characters had one scene apiece before the book finished. That wasn’t enough.
This is a flawed book, but was highly enjoyable nonetheless. I can safely say this book is highly recommended.