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Tracing The Stars

I read mostly science fiction and romance, and often a combination of the two.

Unique Post-Apoc like nothing else I have read

A Gazillion Little Bits - Claudia Brevis

A million little bits
waiting in the night
A billion little bits, a gazillion little bits
will make things right
forever saved, forever saved

 

Holy. Moo.
I have a feeling that this book is going to polarize readers, much like Ready Player One - they are either going to hate it or love it. Why? This book, much like Ready Player One, is unique in scope, style, subject and execution. It combines several aspects that may have many readers wondering what they just read while sending other readers into euphoric 'wow' moments.

 

I actually had several of both moments throughout the book, but even the 'wtf did I just read' moments had me going 'wow'.

 

This book has something many post-apocalyptic books lack; this book has layers. This first layer is that the world that ends is a futuristic Earth more advanced than our own, so the technology and society that is destroyed isn't wholly familiar. The second layer is the post-apocalyptic society of survivors, some generations after the collapse, which is completely foreign with its own dialect and customs. The third layer are the whispers. Some of the survivors are 'gifted' with visions and knowledge about the way the world was before the apocalypse. There is also a fourth layer in the form of a hidden, unknown advanced society, The Vault, beyond a wall that adds more mystery to what exactly is going on in the world and the true nature of the whispers.

 

I'm not going to go into much detail about the fourth layer because that's the journey you need to take as a reader. Saying much more about it would take away from the delicately threaded nuances Brevis uses to slowly unveil the mystery one piece at a time. I will say this: you will be confused in the beginning. You may even be confused halfway through and there is a good chance you won't be completely clear on everything by the end.

 

This kind of confusion would normally have me setting the book aside and moving on, but this confusion becomes part of the story and part of joy of reading the book. You are dumped into the world alongside these characters, understanding things from their perspectives instead of an omnipotent birds-eye, and unraveling the secrets as they do. If you are someone who likes to know and understand everything right away, this is not the book for you.

 

This takes us to the world building. There is no hand-holding. There is even lack of contextual referencing at times. There is a unique dialect and set of customs you have to acclimate your brain to, and this will probably take a few chapters. The first two chapters had me going 'wtf am I reading?', then my brain got used to the way they act, talk, express and the way the society functions. After that, it was immensely enjoyable, and you begin to feel deeply embedded with the people and their world.

 

The style may also leave some traditional apocalyptic readers grasping. It's not following one person, one family or even one group. There is no survivalist community, bunker or clear hero to root for. There isn't even a clear picture about what exactly befell the Earth. I think, if I had to compare it to something you might be familiar with, think of the people of the island in Cloud Atlas. The mystery about what happened is something you learn at the end, taking you back to the beginning with Sue Mey.

 

If you've read Game of Thrones, that's a good literary style comparison. Brevis doesn't drown you in details or kill off characters every five pages, but she does switch perspectives every chapter and sometimes with jumps forward in the timeline. This can, as with Martin's work, leave the reader feeling a little lost and the story a bit disjointed. I'm not a particular fan of this style myself, especially in Martin's work because he has a habit of either killing off people I like or ignoring my favorite characters for six chapters.

 

With Brevis, these POV jumps weren't as bad for my brain to go with, because I found them all interesting and worth reading. Many of the POV shifts are to tell the tale of those who have whispers (knowledge given to them via a means I'm not going to spoil) such as "she who knows medicine" or "the artist" or "he who knows math". These asides from the main group serve to explore the society, unravel certain threads connected to the mystery of The Vault, and learn about the whispers. They are also entertaining to read.

 

I enjoyed every page of this book. It engrossed my full attention, pulled me along and had me turning pages. I commend its unique nature and being something different from the rest in the genre. I look forward to seeing what this author writes in the future.

TracingTheStars.com was provided a review copy by the author.