Providence by Max Barry
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I've never read Max Barry before, but after reading Providence, I have become an absolute fan that will be hunting high and low for the rest of his works.
The book is just that good. Fantastic characters, disturbing situations, a slow boil into a fully cooked crew, and layer upon layer of commentary that many of us can take away something new on the same read.
Let's get some specifics in here because while some of the initial setups are somewhat old-hat, the full execution of the tale is extremely effective.
It like sliding down a mountain, slowly picking up speed and rocks and debris until the angle drops suddenly and you find yourself off the ground entirely in a free fall that lasts for the rest of your life.
A vast, impressive ship maintained by an AI runs just about every aspect of a war of annihilation against an alien species nicknamed the Salamanders. The four-person crew on board it is there to give facetime to all of the war-machine back home, sound-and-picture bites and reality-tv post-production values, while on the ship, this AI-picked crew ---pretends--- to be in charge.
Meanwhile, the Providence, the ship itself, goes on through enemy territory, cutting huge swaths through them all, very reminiscent of Ender's Game, but the twist goes in a different direction.
None of this would be a tenth as good as it is without a very firm hand on the writing. We get all four PoVs their personal problems guide most of the novel, but it's really fascinating how THEY ... inevitably... chart the final course... :)
I TOTALLY recommend this book to anyone. It's easily the first, best book to beat this year.
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