Book review: The Mirror Empire by Kameron Hurley

the mirror empire coverThe Mirror Empire
Author: Kameron Hurley
Series: Worldbreaker Saga (book 1)
Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: Angry Robot
Release date: September 2, 2014 (North America); September 4, 2014 (UK)
Note: This book was provided by the publisher via NetGalley.
Blurb:

On the eve of a recurring catastrophic event known to extinguish nations and reshape continents, a troubled orphan evades death and slavery to uncover her own bloody past… while a world goes to war with itself.
In the frozen kingdom of Saiduan, invaders from another realm are decimating whole cities, leaving behind nothing but ash and ruin. As the dark star of the cataclysm rises, an illegitimate ruler is tasked with holding together a country fractured by civil war, a precocious young fighter is asked to betray his family and a half-Dhai general must choose between the eradication of her father’s people or loyalty to her alien Empress.
Through tense alliances and devastating betrayal, the Dhai and their allies attempt to hold against a seemingly unstoppable force as enemy nations prepare for a coming together of worlds as old as the universe itself.
In the end, one world will rise – and many will perish.

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The Future We Left Behind by Mike A. Lancaster

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The Future We Left Behind by Mike A. Lancaster

Release date: November 13, 2012

Publisher: Egmont U.S.

Review copy provided by the publisher

(Note: This book was published in the UK as 1.4)

Currently, there is no blurb for the U.S. version of the book, so here is the Amazon blurb for the UK version (but note that some aspects of the book may have changed during editing for the U.S. version):

It’s a brave new world. In the far future, people no longer know what to believe…Did Kyle Straker ever exist? Or were his prophecies of human upgrades nothing more than a hoax? Peter Vincent is nearly 16, and has never thought about the things that Strakerites believe. His father – David Vincent, creator of the artificial bees that saved the world’s crops – made sure of that. When the Strakerites pronounce that another upgrade is imminent, Peter starts to uncover a conspiracy amongst the leaders of the establishment, a conspiracy that puts him into direct conflict with his father. But it’s not a good idea to pick a fight with someone who controls all the artificial bees in the world.

YOU GUYS. This book. THIS BOOK. I…have no words. But in a good way. Which is shocking for me, since I can’t recall the last time a book rendered me speechless.

I shall preface the inevitable squeeing by saying that I read this book, beginning to end, in one sitting. I very rarely do that anymore, because, well, I have kids. And every now and again, I like to sleep. So I usually read in short chunks, usually about five minutes at a time.

But this book! Holy godiva, it sucked me in and spat me out on the other side. One minute I was sitting in the rocking chair outside my toddler’s room (part of her bedtime routine), the next it’s three hours later and my Kindle progress bar is saying 100%.

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This is the New Plan by John Xero

This the New Plan cover

This is the New Plan by John Xero (available now)

Review copy provided by the author. 

Amazon blurb:

This is the New Plan. Thirty three genre-blending works of fiction. Thirty one flash fictions book-ended by two short stories.

This is the way the world dies. The way it is born. The way it lives and breathes. Our world, other worlds. The past, the present, the never, the future.
Discover endings and beginnings; hope and damnation; angels and demons; stolen futures… Gods, cowboys, zombies, witches, sci-fi samurai, psychopaths, little red men from Mars, and more…
Let me take you on a journey, let me show you wonders.

You may remember John Xero’s brilliant short story, “Ragestorm Requiem,” which was featured here on ICoS last year. If you enjoyed the story, you’ll probably enjoy his new book, This is the New Plan (conveniently available now).

The book is a collection of John Xero’s short stories and flash fiction pieces–33 in all. Which is a few too many for me to review individually, unfortunately–which means, of course, that you’ll have to read the book. (Aw, shucks.)

There is a great variety of stories in the book, and a good chunk of them are post-apocalyptic in nature. All of the stories are well-written, and–in my opinion, anyway–work the way short fiction should: it makes you wonder what happens next, and lets you fill in the blanks.

I’d have to say that my favorite story is still “Ragestorm Requiem,” because it’s so poignant. Maybe it’s because I have kids, and I could empathize with the way the story’s main character does everything possible to let her daughter Molly “fly.” The fact that Molly is actually dead and in an urn makes the story all the more poignant. (While reading the story I kept thinking, “What would I do if the world went to hell and one or both of my daughters died?” And I could see exactly where the character was coming from.)

Of course, that’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy the other stories in this book. I did–I enjoyed all of them. This one just stood out as my favorite.

Not every story is that sad/poignant/melancholy, of course; there are a lot of stories in the book. If poignant isn’t your thing, there’s bound to be something in there that is.

This book is great if you’re looking for short reads–these stories are the right length for a bus or train ride, or if you’ve only got five minutes here and there and don’t have time for a  novel. Overall, I highly recommend this book. I truly enjoyed it–I don’t give out 5 out of 5 scores lightly, but I’m giving it to this book.

Rating: 5 out of 5

Book link (Amazon)
Xeroverse (author’s blog)