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What it Means to Be Human: In the Lives of Puppets and The Daughter of Doctor Moreau

19 Apr

In the Lives of Puppets
by TJ Klune

I have previously blogged about Klune’s other adult novels The House in the Cerulean Sea and Under the Whispering Door. Both are beautiful, gentle, fantasy reads. I was hopeing for and found more of the same from Klune’s latest work In the Lives of Puppets, but what I love about Klune’s work is that despite some similarities such as a strong found family and embracing individuality and diversity in a world that often makes those who do not conform feel like outsiders, there is also a great deal of originality and creativity in the characters and stories that he shares. In the Lives of Puppets takes inspiration from the classic story of Pinocchio and then weaves a very modern story about a group of robots and one young man, Victor, living a sweet fairytale existence in their treehouse compound in the woods, until one day the father figure is snatched away by a whale like air ship and Victor and his friends including the newly restored and refurbished HAP set out to rescue him. The story looks at what it means to be human in a world filled with AI and if it is possible to overcome one’s past programming to become a new and better person. There is humor from Rambo, a neurotic rumba desperate for approval, and a nurse robot who is both equal parts motherly and sadistic. If like me, you loved Guillermo del Toro’s recent film retelling of the classic story, this one is also definitely worth checking out. I received an advance copy of In the Lives of Puppets from Netgalley and the publisher in order to provide an honest review. The book will be available April 25.

The Daughter of Doctor Moreau
by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

We read The Daughter of Doctor Moreau as part of the library’s Science Fiction and Fantasy Book Discussion Group. I was curious to check it out since my colleagues, Victoria and Lauren, had spoken positively of Moreno-Garcia’s very popular novel, Mexican Gothic. This novel takes inspiration from the classic H.G. Wells story, The Island of Doctor Moreau and also seemed to pull some of the details from the 1996 film adaptation. The story transports the original from the South Pacific to taking place during the Guerra de Castas, when Indigenous Maya and Mexican population of mixed and European decent were in conflict. Moreno-Garcia uses the story of animal/human hybrids to explore issues of racism and identity. This a gothic story with a feminist perspective; where a father’s frustrations about not being able to control his increasingly wild daughter read as a larger society who seeks to define and shape a women’s bodies and ideas without taking the time to hear their own desires. The Daughter of Doctor Moreau will appeal to those who enjoy historic fiction as well as fantasy and horror fans.

Written by:
Aimee Harris
Information and Digital Services Manager

Outstanding Outer Space Adventures: Promises Stronger than Darkness and The Spare Man

12 Apr

Promises Stronger than Darkness
by Charlie Jane Anders

Promises Stronger than Darkness is the third and final novel in the Unstoppable Trilogy. I had previously blogged about Victories Greater than Death, the first in the series. Although the series is marketed as YA, it also has appeal for adult readers who are looking for Science Fiction with a bit of humor and a lot of heart. There are many plot points from the previous novels to be wrapped up and they are best read in order. The book focuses both on a diverse group of humans who are helping to fight for the survival of the universe including Rachel, a neurodivergent artist from America, and Elza, a transwoman from Brazil, as well as a variety of aliens such as the bug like Wyndgonk, who can produce fire, and Tina, a purple hued, jewel adorned clone of the famed Captain Argentian. Themes about the importance of friendship, taking the time to work through the difficulties of cross cultural communication and not making assumptions about others, and finding ones own identity outside of family and your community’s expectations are all explored. Although sometimes I wished the book lingered a bit more over world building since the brief descriptions of planets and alien cultures were so intriguing, the action packed pace of the novel kept me reading to the satisfying end. We read Anders’s novel, All the Birds in the Sky as part of the Hoboken Public Library’s Science Fiction and Fantasy Book Discussion Group, which the group and I also enjoyed. I received an advance copy of Promises Stronger than Darkness from NetGalley and the publisher, in exchange for providing an honest review.

The Spare Man
by Mary Robinette Kowal

I’m a fan of both Science Fiction, Mysteries, and Cruise Ships so when I learned about Mary Robinette’s Kowal’s newest novel, a mystery set on space cruise ship between Earth and Mars, I couldn’t wait to check it out. The Spare Man, of the title, refers to a body found on board which can not be identified, but if the title sounds familiar that is because the novel was partially inspired by the classic Dashiell Hammett novel and film adaptation, The Thin Man, featuring Nick, Nora, and their adorable dog Skippy. Tesla Crane, a famous inventor and heiress, is on her honeymoon in disguise with her husband, a retired detective and her adorable service dog, Gimlet. When her husband is accused of murder they must solve the case before they become the next victims. I appreciated that Tesla’s chronic pain and PTSD from a serious accident in her past are handled in a realistic way which both adds to plot elements, but also should resonate with those who have similar conditions, who might not often see people like them depicted in genre fiction. Each chapter begins with either a classic or original cocktail recipe, including some that are alcohol free. I had previously blogged about Kowal’s novels, Without a Summer, part of her Glamourist Histories series and The Calculating Stars part of her Lady Astronaut’s Society series, which we read as part of the Hoboken Public Library’s Science Fiction and Fantasy Book Discussion Group.

Written by:
Aimee Harris
Information and Digital Services Manager

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