Chill by Elizabeth Bear
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I'm afraid that I won't be able to review this book as seriously as I originally intended. I wanted to read it as an adventure and a novel of chase, because that's how it felt, but I got sidetracked by alienish and outright aliens being bred in the bowels of the generation ship. I wanted to get waylaid by Tristan, the toolbox, the necromancer, and the fragment of our big bad angel from Dust, but I'm afraid I was distracted.
It could be because the novel was a departure from the excellent setup from the first in the trilogy, and perhaps it is because the main actors from Dust were forced into more cerebral and sendentary roles. Perhaps I wanted a smarter overmind, incorporating the pizazz of the angels from before.
Unfortunately, the novel felt like it was suffering from the same problem as the ship. It was outrunning a supernova, but it had no idea where it wanted to go. I know, it sounds rather damning, but that's my take, and the characters within go and hunt for a reason, or an engineer, to take them by the hand and just go astrogate.
We do get it, by the end, with the help of leviathan, but it felt more like a whimper than a bang. The first novel was much better.
Fortunately, I'm still riding the supernova of the first novel, so I haven't given up on the trilogy. I'll take on Grail right away and pray it picks up again.
In the spirit of full disclosure, I do have to let everyone know that this novel is going to suffer, in my mind, because I devoured a singularly fantastic book during the reading of this one. The problem is simple. I've suddenly had to rearrange my favorite top 3 books of all time to make room for Raphael Carter's Fortunate Fall. This out of print book was a complete unknown to me, but it STILL has an iron grip on my mind and makes me look at EVERYTHING else in a poorer light. It's not fair to the books that come after or, in this case, during, because it's become almost impossible to be objective.
This is also the best reason I can give for continuing on to the third book in good faith.
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