Book Review: Trail of Lightning, A Visceral Read

Because I’m trying to get published, and because I have this wonderful book blog on which I get to talk with you guys about cool books, I follow a lot of publishers, literary agents, and authors on Twitter. A few months ago, an agent I follow tweeted about a new book coming out from one of her clients: Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse. It’s post-apocalyptic, written by a Native American woman. How cool is that? I tweeted back to Sara that I had to have a copy of this because it sounded so awesome, and she sent me a galley copy! I just finished reading it, and it didn’t disappoint. It’s a heart-in-your-throat, visceral read:

What’s Trail of Lightning About?

From Goodreads:

While most of the world has drowned beneath the sudden rising waters of a climate apocalypse, Dinétah (formerly the Navajo reservation) has been reborn. The gods and heroes of legend walk the land, but so do monsters. Maggie Hoskie is a Dinétah monster hunter, a supernaturally gifted killer. When a small town needs help finding a missing girl, Maggie is their last—and best—hope. But what Maggie uncovers about the monster is much larger and more terrifying than anything she could imagine.

Maggie reluctantly enlists the aid of Kai Arviso, an unconventional medicine man, and together they travel to the rez to unravel clues from ancient legends, trade favors with tricksters, and battle dark witchcraft in a patchwork world of deteriorating technology. As Maggie discovers the truth behind the disappearances, she will have to confront her past—if she wants to survive.

Who Would Like This Book, and Why?

Anyone who likes

will like this book. It’s really intense, told in first-person present-tense from Maggie the Monsterslayer’s perspective. She’s convinced she’s a monster, a supernaturally gifted killer on the outside but on the inside a scared human who’s seen and caused way too much death. In that respect, she reminded me a little of Edward in Twilight. She goes around killing monsters, so there is ALOT of violence. She thought she’d found a redemption of sorts in her one-time mentor Neizghani, but spends most of the book mourning his abandonment of her a year before the book starts. The book’s plot is propelled forward more by the appearance of monsters and those who would either help her fight them or feed her to them than by decisions she and Kai make, as she’s trying to distance herself from her evilness and any reminders of it, the main one being Neizghani. Because of that, Maggie seemed a little hard to follow and even harder to empathize with, but I still dearly wanted her to find happiness…and romance, if possible.

The main reason I liked this book, other than the premise, was the writing. Amazing, techni-color writing.

Nutrition Facts?

Swear words (D*, F*, S*, H*, G*D*): 72

Sex scenes: 0

Violence (some extreme [i.e., references to cannibalism, etc.]): 8

positive messages/relationships (e.g., love + effort, charity, hard work, goals, etc.): 2

negative messages/relationships (e.g., no love, or love +(-effort), meanness, laziness, selfishness): 5

LGBTQ+ relationship(s): 1

Visual?

via GIPHY

Deal?

This book doesn’t come out until June 26th. It’s priced at $7.99 on both Amazon and Barnes & Noble, for their respective ebook editions. If you preorder the ebook or paperback version from Barnes & Noble, using the code SUMMERFUN at checkout, you’ll get 15% off, which means the ebook would be $6.79 (USD) and the paperback would be $11.03, both of which are very good deals for a not-yet-released book.

Book Review: Genesis is an Extremely Intense Read

I think I set a record even for myself recently: I read a 500-page book in two days. On Monday of this week, we drove from Salt Lake City, Utah to Flagstaff, Arizona, a 7.5-hour drive, and on Tuesday, we drove from Flagstaff to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, another two. I read almost the entire time. It’s not every book that could’ve commanded that much of my attention. What’s the book, you ask? Genesis by Brendan Reichs. I picked it up at Costco, having read its prequel Nemesis. I liked the first book, except for the massive cliffhanger at its end. It was so massive that I almost didn’t buy it, but I did, so I guess I fell for that. I’m glad I did, though. Genesis was one of the most taut, intense, dark books I’ve ever read.

What Genesis Is About

It’s dark because of the premise, which is that, in the face of a cataclysmic event that has killed all life on Earth, 64-members of a small-town high school’s sophomore class have been preserved as digital versions of themselves inside a super computer. Every detail of their lives within the little valley of Fire Lake, Idaho has been preserved, but they’ve been told that the super computer doesn’t have the capacity to preserve all of them digitally forever. Thus, they need to fight things out until they get down to the right amount of kids. There are no rules, because if one of them dies or gets killed, they just “reset,” kind of like in a video game. There are no parents, no other people, and a limited supply of food and other resources. Some students hide, most fight, and those that fight discover that each kill they make imbues them with more strength. So, picture Hunger Games combined with…The Andy Griffith Show? Min, one of the two main characters, doesn’t want to kill anyone, and she hates Noah, the other main character, because she’d started to fall in love with him at the end of the first book, and then he shot her in the back. She tries to hide at first, but is drawn out by some of her classmates because she’s a “beta.” Noah’s determined to figure out the program they’re inside of, and feels like it’s finally given him a purpose, a chance to lead that he’d never had in real life.

If I had known how violent this book would’ve been before I bought it, I wouldn’t have bought it. It’s very violent. As it was, I shouldn’t have read it all the way through. But I did, and I didn’t get nightmares, which I’m prone to.

So the thing that drives the plot forward at breakneck speed is the discoveries Min makes about why they need to limit their numbers, and the continual formation and dissolution of various alliances the kids make to protect themselves against those students who become bloodthirsty tyrants, all against the backdrop of “hey, why is Greg Kozowitz, who I used to sit with at lunch, shooting Floyd Hornberry?” or “why is skinny Jacob Allred, the school chess club champion, hoarding all the barbed wire?” It’s kind of crazy, and at some points, all-out insane, especially toward the end, when discoveries–really big ones–pile up on every page. It’s so insane that I very much wish that Reichs would’ve provided a map of Fire Lake, and a roster of the kids,  similar to the one provided of the enemies in GeminaIn fact, I think that Reichs could’ve easily made this into a YA graphic novel like the ground-breaking Gemina and its prequel Illuminae by providing those things, as well as things like code from the binders they discover, Tack’s map, maybe a short summary or timeline of what happened in Nemesis, etc.

So it’s dark, and has a plot that moves at break-neck speed, but more than that, it also has a certain intensity that comes from its characters and style. Reich has a gift for showing things so vividly they’re almost blinding, in a way that simultaneously develops characters. Noah and Min, for example, are very different characters, so they notice vastly different things, and describe them very differently. It’s wonderful to read a book that doesn’t sacrifice beauty for the sake of action.

And, best of all, it didn’t end with a cliffhanger. It ended with a very big question, but resolved this story’s question—that of whether the kids could maintain their humanity so that they’d be worth saving—very nicely.

Who Would Like Genesis?

If you liked any of these books, or like anything post-apocalyptic, I can almost guarantee you’ll love this one:

  • Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
  • Gemina by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
  • The Host by Stephenie Meyer
  • Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
  • Maze Runner by James Dashner
  • Fifth Wave by Rick Yancey
  • Obernewtyn Chronicles by Isobelle Carmody
  • Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

Nutrition facts label? A fair amount of swearing. No sex or nudity. Lots of violence, as mentioned.

 

If all books came with nutrition facts labels showing the essential “ingredients,” what would you like to see listed?