Saturday, November 7, 2009

Keeping it Real (Quantum Gravity, Book 1) by Justina Robson (4/5 stars)

This is the first book in the Quantum Gravity series by Justina Robson. So far there are four books in the series with a 5th being planned for future release. I wasn't able to find the number of books actually contracted for this series. Anyway, I really liked it. It is a great first book in the series and I want to learn a lot more about both the world and the characters.

A quantum bomb exploded in 2015 ripping a hole in reality and revealing five other realities; an elven realm, an elemental realm, a demon realm, the realm of death, and Otopia (Used to be known as Earth). Zal is an elf that has abandoned his homeland and become half demon; he then entered Otopia and started performing as a rock star. The elven community wants him dead and Lila Black is the one assigned to guard him. Lila is not quite human. She got into a horrible accident and the only way to save her life was for her to agree to be part of an experiment. Now she is part AI, part cyborg, and part human. Initially she thinks that she is guarding a rock star...then she finds the plot goes much deeper and wonders how deep into Elven territory it will take her.

This was a very creative book. I loved the five realms (with a possible sixth somewhere) they were awesome. We really only get to visit Otopia and the Elven realm, Alfheim, in a lot of depth and I am eager to visit the other realms. The characters are very engaging. All of them have their heroic points and their flaws. Lila and Zal both struggle with being different in a world where things are more bizarre than ever before. The dialogue was witty and funny most of the time; Lila in general is a kick butt character always ready with a quick jibe and tease.

The plot is complex and densely packed. There is a ton of action and Robson does a very good job writing the action scenes. Robson's writing style is pretty straight-forward, there is not a lot of flowery language here or over-description, the writing style fits the story well so it all works out.

There were some small problems with the book. The whole world (actually five worlds) are a lot to throw at a reader all at once; it can get a little bit confusing. I thought this was handled okay. Also most of the book is written from Lila's viewpoint, then suddenly in the second half some chapters are from Zal's point of view. This was a bit odd; although it worked okay, it took me a few moments to figure out what was going on. The last problem was that a lot hinges on The Game that Lila and Zan are bound up in. I never really understood what a Game was or how it got initiated; I understand it happens through Wild Magic but I though that aspect of the plot could have been clarified better.

Other than the above, I thought the complicated world and plot was handled pretty well. The characterization, world-building, and action scenes were fantastic. I am really, really looking forward to reading more books in this series. I stumbled upon this series in a special display at a bookstore and I am wondering why this series isn't getting better coverage. It is a good series. People who have described it as Dragonlance meets Star Trek are right on. I can't wait to see what the next book holds.

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