In leiu of writing an actual introduction, with actual, real life words, I’m opting to lean into the woman in STEM within and make bee dow click click sci-fi noises. Because! Technology and stuff! (Can you tell I’m really into tech and science fiction?)
Book: City of Shattered Light
Author: Claire Winn
CW: gun violence, death, blood, mild gore, emotional abuse/manipulation, mild body horror (cybernetics), terminal illness
I hate to aggressively overgeneralize, but getting hit in the face is not typically a pleasant experience. Except maybe when its a test answer that previously evaded you, but suddenly! by some twist of fate has graced your brainspace just in time to jot it down and slay your test. Even still, that’s the exception, not the rule. So when the characterization of both of the main characters — Riven and Asa — sort of hits you right in the face, it’s really not a fun experience. Their flaws weren’t exactly subtle, coming into play every 2twopages and being discussed over and over and over again. I feel like Winn could have had a bit more faith in the readers, showing us it rather than reminding us every 10 seconds.
This lack of nuanced characterization largely contributed to the romance not working. Like, at all. Combined with everyone’s least favorite trope (or at least my least favorite) love triangles, and I was really to throw something.
You know, I’ll even take 50% of the credit for not vibing with the romance; I’m more than aware of my own distaste for the triangle-y web of miscommunication misery. But! It was a bisexual love triangle, and that gave me hope. Misguided hope. But still, worth a shot. Unfortunately, the shot wasn’t a hole in one, instead being a massive swing and a miss (ignore my mixing of sports lingo), because I couldn’t end up rooting for either of the romances.
While the disconnect with the romance most certainly made for a rocky road at times, the futuristic world with lots of wild tech running around proved to be fun and fast-paced. Additionally, within the realm of technology, the villian played really well. They were menacing, convincingly motivated, and challeged the characters effectively throughout; truly, one of the most successful components of “A City of Shattered Light.”
Lastly, this review wouldn’t be complete without mentioning that the ending was supremely Not the Vibe. Admittedly, the epilogue made it slightly better, but still not a fan. Given the lack of subtlety throughout the entire book, it was oh-so-easy to call it. And it made me really, really, really mad. Still going to read the next one though, because I am both mad and invested. Sometimes mad and invested is all you need to make a fun read, at the end of the day.