MINI-REVIEWS: Cage of Souls by Adrian Tchaikovsky; Circe by Madeline Miller; and Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff #Brainfluffbookmini-reviews


These are books which I completed during a reading period when writing a full review wasn’t an option as I was too busy – but are still worthy of recommendation and notice.

Cage of Souls by Adrian Tchaikovsky
This offering clearly demonstrates Tchaikovsky’s talent and ability to write in a variety of different styles as this bleak examination of an exhausted society essentially waiting for the planet to die, taking them with it, nonetheless is an engrossing read.

The first person protagonist is completely believable as an academic who has somehow managed to be in the wrong place at the wrong time and therefore undergo a whole series of dangerous adventures that he never intended to encounter. The worldbuilding is excellent and I loved how the very apt title ties into the overall arc of the book. Yet another accomplished offering by one of the major talents of his generation.


Circe by Madeline Miller
No wonder this one has garnered so much attention and so many awards. The characterisation of this awkward, neglected child in a society where men are prized for their strength and aggression and women are prized for their beauty, charisma and guile, is wonderful. A protagonist who isn’t particularly beautiful or cunning, so develops a skill with potions and witchcraft, instead…

Once more, I was struck at just what a raw deal women got in this very masculine world where might was a done deal and if a woman started running and shouting ‘no’ – she was regarded as a challenge to be chased down… This could have been a bleak, traumatic read, but it isn’t partly because of the beauty of the prose and partly because of the wonderful, layered first-person depiction of a complicated immortal living in a world in which she really doesn’t fit. I found her take on Odysseus absolutely fascinating.

One of my outstanding reads of the year.


Illuminae – Book 1 of the Illuminae Files by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
I thoroughly enjoyed this roller-coaster dystopian space opera YA adventure, which started with a bang and simply didn’t let up. The epistolary structure worked well, although I did have to whack the font size right up for the text conversations and some of the reports, which for some reason had a miniscule font size.

The plot twists kept coming and the finale worked really well – especially that last surprise. A warning though – don’t get too attached to many of the characters in this adventure, as lots of folks die! Highly recommended for fans of mayhem in space featuring gutsy teens.

14 responses »

  1. Wow, three reviews in one😁 Circe has been on my list for a while, and I’d love to try Cage of Souls, since I’m a new Tchaikovsky fan😁 Illuminae is already a favorite of mine!

    • Thank you, Tammy:). Circe is wonderful – and shame on me for not providing a full review, but I was absolutely slammed during the time when I was reading it. And I do recommend Cage of Souls – not that it is indicative of Tchaikovsky’s writing… he is one of most versatile writers in SFF today.

  2. The Illuminae Files is an amazing trilogy, indeed, and I’m happy the first volume was such a success with you! It was also the book that convinced me to move – at least temporarily – from my beloved e-reader to the physical book because of its very unusual… presentation 🙂

  3. I would like to read Circe – and I’ve been thinking of doing a similar post – ideally,I’d like to have all my reviews for the year complete by the end of December, but you know what ‘they’ say about the best laid plans.
    Lynn 😀

  4. I’ve seen middle graders, both boys and girls, read Illuminae, and wondered if it was worth it. And I keep meaning to grab Circe from the library, but after having reread Christmas Pudding, I’m on a kick to read a bunch of Poirot shorts. 🙂 xxxxxx

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