behind on reviews
, so don't be surprised if the recent reviews are a bit sparse.
Books by Yoon Ha Lee
by Yoon Ha Lee
· published 2016 · last read 2024-01-04
Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee was a lot of fun, but at the same time frustrating. It's high fantasy in space, and comes with all the usually frustrating parts of high fantasy (minus the racism). The writing, pacing, and characters are very well done, but the worldbuilding … it's frustrating how much potential it has. With some work, this could have been a book opening up a great universe, but it felt like the author cut short all the worldbuilding work they should have done on their end, and instead substituted "what I say goes" rules for an inner logic in that world, making decisions and outcomes feel random. I like being dropped in a weird and unfamiliar world, having to figure things out on my own – and the vibe of the evil Hexarchate empire running on blood sacrifices and calendar math to power a space fleet was impeccable. But I get grumpy if it turns out that there's nothing to figure out, because the author makes up the rules as the action goes along. There are a lot of details to appreciate, like the augments (not only visual, also heat pulses etc), or the servitors (bots) having achieved sentience. But also, there was just so much stuffed in there that never was used much – the group consciousnesses that can be formed, for example. We never see what it's like to be part of one. Or more about the bots! They are touched upon, and we even see some of their values and preferences, but it's so shallow! The concept of Formation Instinct and fledge-null could also be expanded on, though that features heavily in the next book, at least. The insignia and how they both do and do not say something about personalities (or the colours of their totally-not-light-saber Calendrical Swords, for that matter). In general, the book is so overloaded that no aspect gets to breathe properly, and you're meant to be completely overwhelmed – but if you're not, you're stuck looking in askance at everything. Why did Jedao have to be a mass-murderer? Why make Cheris this stereotypical genius-underdog? Why the six/seven factions, local heresies, languages, faction-based takes on gender and morals, …? It's all very pretty but in fulfilling its need to be A LOT, it forgets to be meaningful. Reddit: "Like offensive Feng Shui but with space ships instead of home decor." – yes.
by Yoon Ha Lee
· published 2017 · read 2024-01-05
Kinda like the first book in the series – a lot of very cool worldbuilding, but … kinda too much coolness and not enough substance. If you look behind the window dressing, it's kinda just Omelas, yet again. Don't get me wrong: It's pretty. The writing is alright, the people are at least somewhat compelling, and I enjoy puzzling out the overly in-depth worldbuilding. But it also feels so very hollow (and why on earth is there a third part?).