Book Review: Lotus Blue by Cat Sparks

Lotus Blue by Cat Sparks

Hundreds of years in the future, the Earth has been rendered nearly unlivable by centuries of warfare. Some fortunate souls remain safe in their underground bunkers, enjoying the comforts their decaying technology has to offer, but the majority of the human race is forced to scrape out a living on the radioactive sands. Star and her sister, Nene, are part of a caravan that travels the wastes between villages. Their already dangerous lives are torn asunder when a flaming light shoots across the sky. The relic “angel” satellite is a harbinger of something much worse, something that has lain dormant for centuries, and is only now waking up . . .

The world building in this novel is crazy good. Sparks has built up a horrifying, sci-fi (but no too out there) future Earth. The use of artificial intelligence, chemical and biological warfare, and weather manipulation as an offensive weapon has stripped the planet of anything green, and poisoned the sky and the land. The devastation is so complete that no one remembers the world as it used to be, and though technology is everywhere, the decaying, almost feral mechs are beyond their comprehension. This is a world that, while horrible, is easy to get lost in.

This is only slightly problematic in that next to such a complex and vividly realized world, the characters that populate it seem small and flat by comparison. Star, Nene, and the others who populate Spark’s world are interesting, and decently developed for (what I assume is) a first book in a series. Yet, throughout the book, the setting is definitely the star of the show.

This is a great book for any lover of sci-fi, post-apocalyptic and/or and speculative fiction. Cat Sparks has created a brilliant world, and I dearly hope she is planning on writing more in this setting.

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher via Goodreads Giveaways in exchange for an honest review.

Book Review: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling et al.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany, and Jack Thorne

I’m a huge Potterhead. I’ll admit it. Rowlings stories continue to be magical, even twenty years after Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone came out. I’m sure I don’t need to go into the back story of Harry Potter for this review, because if you don’t know it, why the heck are you here?

Cursed Child takes place nineteen years after the events of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Harry, Hermione, Ron, and Ginny are in their forties, and have kids in Hogwarts. This book focuses mainly on Harry and Ginny’s second child, Albus Severus Potter. Albus is very unlike Harry: he’s in Slytherin, for one, and counts as his best friend one Scorpius Malfoy. Harry, being Harry, and Albus, being a teenager, butt heads constantly, their personalities pinging off one another like rocks colliding in midair. I’m not going to get into the plot very much (or really at all), as I can’t find any way to describe it without HUGE spoilers (and god, but I hate spoilers). Suffice it to say that we get to revisit some classic bits from the original series, as well as find out some new stuff about the Harry Potter Universe.

Now for the nitty gritty: the book is not really a book but rather a play, which is going on in London right now (though again, if you didn’t know that . . .). What that means is: this book is written as a play, with dialogue and stage directions but little else. I’ll say the dialogue is spot on. I think the authors (Thorne and Tiffany) did a great job of capturing the characters. The dialogue flows like Rowling wrote it, and you can easily hear the character in the lines. the bad part of this is: it’s mainly just dialogue. There’s none of the little wonderful extras Rowling would slip in between the lines, the depth of field that makes the Potter Universe so compelling and so real. I’m sure seeing the play live takes care of most of that (can’t wait!), but in the reading you feel a little bereft.

The adventure is fun and engaging. The duo of Albus and Scorpius are just as compelling as Harry and Ron. And it’s great to see how the characters we already know and love, not just the big guys but also Professor McGonagall, Draco Malfoy, and others have gotten on since we saw them last. Potterheads are going to love this expansion to the universe. My only wish would have been to have the thing rewritten into novel form by Rowling, but perhaps that’s just me being greedy.