*NEW RELEASE SPECIAL* Review of KINDLE Ebook The Consuming Fire – Book 2 of The Interdependency series by John Scalzi #Brainfluffbookreview #TheConsumingFirebookreview

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I am linking this post up for Sci-Fi Month, hence the fabulous banner designed by Imyril. I was thrilled that I’d been immediately approved to receive a review copy of this one, given I’d really enjoyed the first book, The Collapsing Empire, and getting hold of sequels on Netgalley has proved to be increasingly difficult. When it arrived, I realised I only had the first six chapters… I’m not quite sure what to do with those, given I cannot possibly post an honest review of a book based on the opening chapters. So I decided to get hold of the rest of the book so I could at least read the rest of the story…

The Interdependency, humanity’s interstellar empire, is on the verge of collapse. The Flow, the extra-dimensional conduit that makes travel between the stars possible, is disappearing, leaving entire star systems stranded. When it goes, human civilization may go with it—unless desperate measures can be taken. Emperox Grayland II, the leader of the Interdependency, is ready to take those measures to help ensure the survival of billions. But nothing is ever that easy. Arrayed before her are those who believe the collapse of the Flow is a myth—or at the very least, an opportunity that can allow them to ascend to power.

This is an interesting series for a variety of reasons. Dystopian sci fi where corporate greed is rampant and unchecked is a familiar trope in epic science fiction – but the Interdependency was stitched together to try and smooth out the destructive cycles of boom and bust that afflict a capitalist system. Now the Flow, a sort of super-highway of extra-dimensionality that allows far-flung star systems to trade with each other, is beginning to fail, the scrabble for power is intensifying. The corporate wheeler-dealers are magnificently cynical and greedy and everyone has plenty of snark, with the exception of Grayland II, who seems genuinely sweet.

Like many epic science fiction stories, Scalzi has passages of semi-omniscience where he tells the reader what is going on, rather than depicting the whole situation from the viewpoint of one of his cast of characters. This keeps the pace going and allows the reader to know some of the finer points that Scalzi thinks is important – and he makes this info-dumps enjoyable by the dry tongue-in-cheek tone he adopts. His characters are vivid, with some almost parodies in their desperation for more power, more leverage, more anything-they-can-get. I am intrigued by others, like Kiva, who I haven’t yet worked out is on the side of the angels, or simply out for what she can get. But be warned, she swears up a storm so if extensive use of the f-word offends you, then this is one to avoid.

Epic sci fi isn’t my favourite sub-genre – too much telling me what I should think… too much earnestness from the protagonists… too many powerful, entitled male characters… And I’m loving the fact that Scalzi has upended every single one of those peeves. His politically dynamic and feisty female characters are a pleasant change. His snarky tone and trick of understating the terrible consequences if the Interdependency fractures at the same time the Flow fails gives this book an almost urban fantasy feel. Will I be getting the next book? Oh yes.
9/10

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29 responses »

      • I’m glad you think it’s a mouldy trick, too! I couldn’t possibly write a review based on the first 6 chapters. I’m finding it increasingly difficult to get books I want on Netgalley…

      • Well, I don’t have anything to compare with. I just recently started requesting but I get refused half the time, most often because I’m not UK (I guess, because they never state precisely why). I totally agree with you it’s a trick. And a cheap one also.

      • Well I’m in the UK and I also get refused a lot, since they split off Netgalley from the US – I spend a lot of time ‘wishing for it’ and whistling in the wind as the publication date comes and goes…

      • I noticed the US version of the site is full of “wish it”. I don’t even go there anymore. What’s the sense in “wishing for them” if I can just get them later and read something else instead now…

  1. It’s so frustrating when NetGalley don’t make it clear that you’re only getting a sampler and not the whole book, it’s happened to me before too. I’m glad that when you bought a copy of this that it proved worth it and that you enjoyed it though.

  2. I’m glad you enjoyed this after having to jump through the Netgalley hoop. I just had that happen. They sent me some chapters only. It didn’t say that when I requested the book.

    • I know… that was my experience Laura. I did feel a tad short-changed! Especially as I always get my reviews in on time – my feedback ratio with Netgalley is currently running at 95% and it’s been over 90% for over a year now…

  3. It was indeed a swift and entertaining read as one can expect from a Scalzi book, but this time I would have wanted to see a bit more: maybe it’s the “middle book syndrome”, but I kept having the distinctive feeling that Scalzi was not giving his best here. Of course I will wait with eagerness for the next one, and see how he wraps it up… 🙂
    Thanks for sharing!

  4. I’m looking forward to reading this as I liked the first book quite a lot. I agree about his snarky tone and the tongue-in-cheek way he often describes things- as my first experience w/ Scalzi that was a highlight for me of the Collapsing Empire. Plus I’m really curious about Kiva and some of the other characters! Glad to hear this was a good one.

  5. I do wish Netgalley would specify when you’re only getting a sampler of a book–I had it happen to me twice this year!

    And it’s funny what you say about “powerful, entitled male characters” because I used to love those when I was younger, but nowadays I find that I have little patience for them. Too much exposure to ambitious, no-nonsense women (both in fiction and in real life) I guess. I can’t complain! 😛

    • Oh I’m glad I’m not the only one – I found it profoundly disappointing and annoying!

      Yes, my patience with those types of characters has worn a lot thinner, too. It might also be that I’m of a certain age where that entitlement annoys me in real life, too!

  6. OMG, I had NO idea that this was “Sci-Fi Month”!!!! So thanks for the heads up!! I’m going to scramble around and see what I can pick up to read — either a Kindle book on my Android phone, or one of the Star Trek (TOS) novels in my collection.

    Great review, as always! I have the same quibbles you do about these epic SF novels. I’m glad that Scalzi includes strong female characters in this one! I also love the concept of the Flow. However…..I do NOT enjoy coming across “the F bomb” when reading fiction (or nonfiction, for that matter). So I’m going to pass on this one. Thanks for the warning!! ❤ Besides, when I went to find out the Kindle price, I was SHOCKED. It's $13.99!!! (That's about L10.78 in British money.) NO WAY am I paying THAT much for a simple download!!! Lol.

    Thanks for your thoughts on this one!! HUGS!!! ❤ ❤ ❤ 🙂 🙂 🙂

    • I know… I had to lie down in a darkened room after spending quite so much on an ebook – I don’t normally shell out so much. But given I’d read the first 6 chapters and enjoyed it, I wanted to know what happened next… I’ll be a LOT more careful when getting hold of Netgalley reads to avoid those previews, though.

  7. I really enjoyed this one. I listened to it on audio because I really love Wil Wheaton! Kiva Lagos is now my favorite character in the series. She better survive till the end!

    • I can imagine Wil Wheaton doing a fabulous job on this one, SJ. And yes… I, too, will be gutted if Kiva is offed before the end – though with Scalzi you can never be sure, can you?

  8. Pingback: Mission Status Update: reach for the stars – x+1

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