A Confusion of Princes- Garth Nix
You’d think being a Prince in a vast intergalactic empire would be about as good as it gets. Particularly when Princes are faster, smarter, and stronger than normal humans. Not to mention being mostly immortal.
But it isn’t as great as it sounds. Princes need to be hard to kill-as Khemri learns the minute he becomes one-for they are always in danger. Their greatest threat? Other Princes. Every Prince wants to become Emperor, and the surest way to do so is to kill, dishonor, or sideline any potential competitor. There are rules, but as Khemri discovers, rules can be bent and even broken.
Soon Khemri is drawn into the hidden workings of the Empire and dispatched on a secret mission. In the ruins of space battle he meets a young woman called Raine, who challenges his view of the Empire, of Princes, and of himself.
But Khemri is a Prince, and even if he wanted to leave the Empire behind, there are forces that have very definite plans for his future.
“My test of a good novel is dreading to begin the last chapter” - Thomas Helm.
I found this quote on my dashboard the other day and it has stuck with me as I’ve been thinking about books and finishing up this last read. I haven’t decided if I agree with Thomas, but if you are willing to accept his theory than A Confusion of Princes is certainly a good book.
It is definitely far more Sci-fi than anything else I have been reading lately. The futuristic world that Khem lives in is very well developed by the end of the story. Nix reveals elements of the world slowly as the novel unfolds but I never felt overwhelmed or confused by the technology, government or social structure. Nix gives the reader exactly how much they need to understand while keeping curiosity piqued.
I really enjoyed his concept of Bitech, Psitech and Mektech; the evolution and development of these technologies seems believable as well. Two aspects of the Empire that I might have liked more explanation on were the priests- their appointment and role, as well as the role of humans- mind programmed vs free humans.
As Khem explores the Empire readers do get to see life from the perspective of free humans as well as the perspective of Princes. However, the story began to run out of pages and I knew there would not be enough time to explore the relationship between mind programmed humans and free humans, or even learn more of what humans thought on the matter.
Not only did I dread the end of the book because I wanted to learn more about the dynamics of Khem’s world, I also wanted more from the characters we had already met. The cast of characters that readers develop a relationship is quite small, this is in part due to Khems limited ability to form relationships with individuals. Nevertheless, I did grow quite fond of Haddad and would have enjoyed learning more of his story.
A Confusion of Princes was a nice, quick read- perfect for getting me back into Science Fiction with much less Fantasy.
Shatter Me- Tahereh Mafi
“You can’t touch me,” I whisper. I’m lying, is what I don’t tell him. He can touch me, is what I’ll never tell him. But things happen when people touch me. Strange things. Bad things. No one knows why Juliette’s touch is fatal, but The Reestablishment has plans for her. Plans to use her as a weapon.But Juliette has plans on her own. After a lifetime without freedom, she’s finally discovering a strength to fight back for the very first time and to find a future with the one boy she thought she’d lost forever.
There was a post floating around tumblr that was half a page of text and one of the most chilling quotes I’ve ever read:
I spent my life folded between the pages of books.
In the absence of human relationships I formed bonds with paper characters. I lived love and loss through stories threaded in history; I experienced adolescence by association. My world is one interwoven web of words, stringing limb to limb, bone to sinew, thoughts and images all together. I am a being comprised of letters, a character created by sentences, a figment of imagination formed through fiction.
I had no idea what the book was about, but after reading this I needed to get my hands on it. When I looked it up online it was described as a mix between The Hunger Games and a superhero movie. So last night I drove to Chapters and picked it up right before they closed. Less than 24 hours later the book has been devoured.
To be honest, I would not describe it as a mix between The Hunger Games and a superhero movie. I believe the potential for this hybrid novel is there, but Shatter Me is not that novel. The focus of the story is undoubtedly the relationship between Juliette and Adam. This left me disappointed for a short time but I have reconciled myself to it in anticipation for the sequel.
I have also come to terms with the fact that an action superhero story may not be what Mafi was trying to tell. Rather than opening guns blazing with information on the Re-establishment government, the underground Omega movement, the psychotic leader Warner or the presence of X-men mutants (for lack of a better description) this story focuses on the transformation of one individual. Juliette narrates the story almost in the form of a journal so we are privy to not only what’s going on- as relayed in first person, but also her innermost thoughts- that are included in
We first meet her on the edge of a psychotic break, after having been in prison for years. The rest of the novel follows her growth. From a weak, insecure individual who feared herself as much as those who imprisoned her Juliette gradually accepts her strength and herself. Adam is instrumental in this transformation but Juliette maintains her independence as their relationship grows.
At first I was itching for more and more of the fantastic elements of the world; more action, more super powers, more revolution. After finishing the novel, though, I feel the pace at which Juliette developed is perfect and I am glad it wasn’t rushed. The passion between Adam and Juliette will definitely keep any reader interested until the end. And when the last few chapters do come around Mafi turns Juliette’s world upside down, taking the readers with her, as we are whacked with more information about her world than in the entire book previous. I agonized through the last few pages because I could see the Acknowledgements coming but I wanted more of the story. Shatter Me ends with Juliette as a total badass superhero with the tools for a revolution and a whole host of new characters I can’t wait to learn more about.