By Emily Devenport
Paperback, 316 pages
Thank you to Tor for sending me this book for free in exchange for my honest review.
Oichi lives aboard the generation ship, The Olympia, as a servant to the Executives. As one of the working class, or worms, her life is run by the ruling families…until she discovers a powerful secret some of the Executives have been keeping. Officially declared dead, Oichi uses this technology to begin taking power from the Executives and murdering those who no longer serve a purpose in her revolution. In doing so, she discovers the truth about the ship and the origins of her people.
Unfortunately, I’ve fallen into a slump this month and while I enjoyed this book, it wasn’t the right time for me to tackle it. There’s a lot going on – political plotting, origin stories, advanced technology – and I wasn’t in the right mindset to take it all in. I think I should probably re-read this one, but I’m not sure when (or if) I’ll make time to do so.
That’s not to say I disliked the book; I just know that a lot of the details were lost on me. I found myself confused frequently, but with little desire to re-read passages or chapters to get a better understanding. That’s on me, not the book.
The plot is interesting though. Essentially there are lower class workers and Executive families; within the families, there are still levels of power and while you might be part of a ruling family, you could still be the low man on the totem pole. As part of the serving class, your life revolves around those of the Executives, to the extent that they can partially blind or deafen you while you’re in their presence. Oichi is one such worm who, thanks to her good looks, was able to serve at garden parties and observe the Executives. After the death of her parents, Oichi discovers a secret her father knew about that helps her further worm her way (haha) into the depths of the ship’s technology and begin spying on the Executives.
Oichi is fairly flat as a character, but part of that comes from the way she was molded through her work and in part, too, because of the technology available to everyone on the ship. Most conversations take place mentally, through some sort of network, and everyone’s speech is pretty formal. As the story progresses, however, Oichi takes on different roles and becomes more interesting.
There’s a lot of tech in this book – the generation ship itself, the neural network (or whatever it is), artificial eyes, mental implants that can provide a variety of music and movies, plus the advanced tech that Oichi finds thanks to her father. I think it is best discovered through reading, as is the majority of the plot.
Oichi and her father share an appreciation for classical music and I think this book should come with a soundtrack. Whether Oichi is going about her daily life, scheming, murdering or even running for her life, she’s constantly hearing various classical pieces that fit the scene. If I hadn’t been in such a funk, I would have made an attempt to listen to everything Oichi mentions while reading, to better set the scene. Someone should make a Spotify playlist or something. It was an unexpected element in a sci-fi book and not one I’ve encountered before.
I don’t really have anything negative to say about the book – I just wasn’t in the right headspace to really understand and absorb it. There is a lot to keep track of between a large cast of characters, political intrigue, the mysterious origin of the ship and its technology and Executive family history and pecking order, so it does require some attention to detail. As I said, I think I need to re-read this one to really appreciate it. It seems like it’s going to be part of a series, so maybe by the time the next book is out, I’ll be ready to revisit this one.
Minus one point though, because Oichi releases a breath she didn’t know she was holding!
If you like generation ship sci-fi that’s heavy on politics and plotting, you’ll probably enjoy this book. While there is plenty of action, there’s a lot of detail that requires some attention.