(scene opens in quiet Christmas dinning room, Carrot at table, opening some forgotten mail)
Me: (opens letter, reads frowns)
(Beta enters from kitchen)
Me: Beta? Are you familiar with the concept of the ‘Parent’s Curse’?
Beta: Is that where they swear at you really loud?
Me: No. Its when a kid’s parent looks at them dead in the eye and says “I hope you have one just like you.” so the kid will one day experience the hell you’re putting them through.
(Carrot passes letter over)
Beta: (reads aloud) Based on test scores, we recommend you take the following classes next year…. (looks up) AP English Literature?
Me: AP. Advanced placement. Based on your scores, you apparently rate for college classes.
Beta: But isn’t English the class I’m getting a D in?
Me: (throws up hands) AND THE CURSE HAS BEEN FULFILLED!
Beta: You got Ds in English?
Me: Math. I did pretty good in English, but was never invited to the AP club. My grades and scores were so mismatched that I was accused of cheating on my SATs. I’m a designated “Does Not Live up to Potential”.
Hello fellow book nerds. Carrot here to review Nona the Ninth, yet another installment of those loveable yet incomprehensible space necromancer. Again, not paid to review and linky goes to not the Amazonian Empire.
Gee, what to say about Nona?
Allow me to hasten to reassure you, oh less-than-gentle readers, it was good. I’m invested in the character, even though I wasn’t entirely sure who was who, and what was what, even though some of the names were familiar. Maybe it would have all be way more clear who was who if I had been listening to it rather than read it (go me, read a whole grown up book!) and I could take cues on just the voices of the reader. Some of the characters not only were playing a new role in this novel, but I think were also going by code names. Like maybe Coronabeth was going by Crown this time around? For reasons, I’m sure, but for reasons I’ve not exactly figured out.
Okay, so, there’s still an epic war and there’s still hard science in some of the necromantic excitement. It does detail – in a somewhat round about flash-backy kind of way – how the Emperor Undying and his necromantic legion even came into existence. I feel like a second read might help me understand better, but the part I did grok was kind of depressing. Let’s just say that some of the motivation in become necromancers are currently in play with our current eco/political/environmental conundrums. That bit of existential gloom has a back-up dancer in the form of the characters in ‘current day’ on a world under siege by something and in a civil war on the ground and people being shot in the streets or rounded up by gov’ment types. Or maybe freedom fighter types. I’m not really sure where the line was or even who the good guys were. Are we cheering for Blood of Eden or are we cheering for the Nine Houses? What even is the Blood of Eden and why the hell are they called Blood of Eden?
I won’t lie, book nerds, if you told me that I had gone to Burning Man and hallucinated the whole thing after too long in the desert, I’d totally believe you. Nona the Ninth is one big fever dream and I fully expected to get to the end and have the whole “then they woke up” explanation chapter. Nope. Prepare your shocked faces, I don’t feel like the ending was an ending all, just another “Same bat time, same bat channel!” where you turn the last page and wonder if you’re going to spend eternity just trying to get your brain on straight.
But. It. Is. So. God. Damn. Compelling.
There is no clear or easy answer on why that is. I cannot tell you what kept me reading or what brought me back after the fever dream that was Harrow the Ninth. It seems that I am committed to this necromantic cause and to follow the Emperor Undying. Also, I am determined to find out what is in the Locked Tomb, of which teases you along. All answers reside there, it seems, both for the Nine Houses and for those of us caught in their wake and and confused as hell.
I can only attribute it to the well crafted characters and the compelling world in which they reside. If you made it as far as Harrow, just jump right into Nona. There is no going back for us, there is only forward.