Sometimes life is just chaotic and exhausting and gets you stuck in a reading slump. There I was some time ago with a mountain of started books by some of my favourite authors (like Jack Kerouac, Joan Didion, Charles Dickens, and Philip Pullman) that were waiting to be finished on my bedside table. I just wasn’t able to pick up any of them. Or rather my attention span just couldn’t handle more than 40-minute series episodes.
But if anything gets me out of a slump, it’s good sci-fi. Or in this case 602 pages of dystopian sci-fi fantasy speculative fiction. Or something.
First of all, Adrian Tchaikovsky likes evolution. The first books I read by him (Children of Time and Children of Ruin) were about how life evolves in space. With a little nudge by desperate and curious humans. In Cage of Souls, it’s a bit unclear how evolution got to the weird place it is in the book, but it was much fun imagining the weird monsters Tchaikovsky describes.
But about the plot – as in any good dystopian world, people have fucked stuff up and some point and are now trying to get by as though not much has happened. You know, like people post-pandemic, continuing as before, on track to unleash a new one. Our hero of the story is trying to change the world and gets into trouble, as those who try to speak out, often do. So he lands in a prison to discover the very worst, but also a lot of good, in people.
I have to say I liked Tchaikovsky’s space adventures better, but this one was a nice vacation into a fantasy world I would NOT want to live in. But I would love to read a prequel that gives a bit more insight into how the world became the way it ended up.