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Saturdays in Books

Reviews of speculative fiction, YA, middle grade, and graphic novels, along with stray thoughts, links, and pictures.

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The SFWA European Hall of Fame: Sixteen Contemporary Masterpieces of Science Fiction from the Continent
Kathryn Morrow, James K. Morrow

Review: Linked

Linked - Imogen Howson

This may be the first time one of these YA dystopia novels managed to convince me that the assumed lack of familiarity with genre is a feature and not a bug.


It still has that annoyingly long starting 20% where the reader is slowly familiarized with the sfnal concepts used to construct the world. No getting around that, but through the eyes of someone coping with a chronic illness to which she is finally offered a cure. This has the interesting effect of allowing her to consider day to day situations with an eye towards what normal means that doesn't feel absurd from the perspective of a reader. In Linked, I am not left exasperated by how absurd it is that she would be thinking about any of this stuff, let alone constantly highlighting the differences between the world she's always lived in and the one where I reside. It also helps that the runaway she's tangled up with actually doesn't know anything their society. Wow, not one, but two ways to introduce worldbuilding that don't make me want to bang my head on a wall.


Then, there's this great scene where she realizes that the mysterious girl she's thrown away her chance at a normal life to save is 

a sociopath who can kill people with her brain!

(show spoiler)

 And from that point forward, it's fun adventure time with space travel, romance and evil as these two evade the authorities and figure out who was trying to accomplish what with years of torturing children.


Can I also say how wonderful it was to see Howson's take on romance? The short version might still read as "he's an asshole until they realize how in love they are," but filtered through what is clearly unreliable narration on our heroine's part. To the point where another character asks her for clarification because the jerk she describes him as is so clearly not the guy they're interacting with. 


There are things I didn't like about this book. For example, I just don't like Elissa. She's so bad at reading people and cares far too much about her hair. And I'm kind of sad that I didn't actually get a heroine with a chronic illness. And again I find some of the limitations in the surveillance technologies absurd.


That being said, I'm still paying this book the compliment of preordering the sequel.