A Writer’s Life For Me: My Review of Bird by Bird

Happy January, everyone! This month I’m reviewing Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Reading and on Life by Anne Lamott.

Anne Lamott is the author of several literary fiction novels and autobiographical non-fiction books. I have never read her work, but she is described as a “best-selling” author and has won several awards for her writing. I think it’s safe to say that she knows what she’s doing and has something worthwhile to say on the subject even though she’s not a household name.

The only other book on writing I’ve read was On Writing by Stephen King. I really liked the book, and it gave some practical advice, but I wanted the perspective of an author with a different sort of career this time. Stephen King has had a one in a million type of career experience. Most authors don’t get a $100,000 advance for their first published novel. Most writers aren’t household names. Anne Lamott has done well for herself, but she barely eked by for a long time before the advances started getting bigger, and the royalties began adding up. She’s popular in certain circles, but many people have never heard of her. For most writers, that’s what a career- a successful career- looks like.

I also wanted to get the perspective of a female author. Lamott has managed to make a literary career for herself while being a single mother. Women in the arts often find themselves juggling family and career in a different way than men. These responsibilities can make it even harder to stick to a career choice that doesn’t seem financially promising. 

Bird by Bird was an astonishingly honest and unexpectedly moving portrait of the writing life. It was also laugh-out-loud funny. She gave a lot of practical advice, but what I appreciated the most about her book was the sense of validation she gave me. It’s OK that my first drafts are ‘shitty,’ It’s normal to struggle with plot creation or with getting to know your characters. These aren’t just ‘beginning writers’ problems; they happen to everyone.

She talks about calming your insecurities and letting go of perfection. She talks about how writing can enrich your life, even if you don’t ever get published. If you’ve ever felt that writing is hard, wondered if you’re really good enough or why you are putting yourself through this, then Bird by Bird is the inspiration you need. Lamott’s passion for her art comes through on every page, and some of that soaks into the reader. 

Lamott gives several practical tips that any writer can start using right away. She recommends writing about your childhood as an exercise to awaken your subconscious and reconnect with your creativity. One tip I particularly liked was her letter-writing trick. She suggests that if you don’t know what to write, start writing a letter to someone. You don’t have to send the letter or show it to the person, but writing in this way, to someone you know and trust can help to take some pressure off and get your thoughts flowing. You can write about anything you want and not worry about whether it’s “good” or not.

Lamott gives some advice that is similar to advice I’ve heard or read before, but much of it is unique or at least told from a different perspective. I especially enjoyed the chapter “Set-Design”. In this chapter, she does a beautiful job of describing how setting can be used to communicate about character and plot. One thing she talks about in this chapter and throughout the book is ‘calling around.’ Lamott is my mother’s age, she began life in a world without the internet, when finding information involved speaking to real, live people. Now, I’m a social anxiety girl, so phone calls don’t always appeal to me. But Lamott made a good case for calling people to get the information you need for a book. When you hear the information in a person’s own words, not in an edited piece of online writing, you get to hear wit and emotion that you can use to enrich your work.

I think it’s worth it to read more than one book about writing, because each writer will contribute some unique insights, but also because you get to see what’s the same across the board. Lamott, like King, discusses the importance of being emotionally honest in your work and not avoiding your personal pain points. She also emphasizes the need for outside feedback in the form of writing groups or friends to read your drafts. Like King, she also discusses some of the common struggles that writers deal with in their personal lives, like mental illness and addiction. She uses her work as a form of therapy, and she encourages her readers to do the same. She and King both tell their readers to pay attention to life, to be fully conscious of it so you can write profoundly and powerfully about what matters, to use life’s struggles as material. I think that seeing these places of overlap, where two very different people are giving the same advice can help to validate that advice. 

Lamott shares many quotable words of wisdom about writing (and about life), such as: “Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor.” Bird by Bird is so densely packed with advice and insight that I think it’s impossible for anyone to get everything out of it in one read. I will most likely be purchasing this book and rereading it whenever I need a jolt of inspiration or when I feel stuck on something specific. I will probably also write some lines from it down and tape them up by my desk. Many of you, I suspect, will feel the same. 

If you decide to read this book, I would love to know which parts resonated with you the most. What are your favorite quotes? Please leave them in the comments. 

Next month I will be reading another non-fiction book, The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee by David Treuer. 

Happy Reading!

Murder in the Breakfast Club? My Review of One of Us is Lying

Hello again! I hope you have all had a great holiday season. Today I’m reviewing One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus. This review was supposed to come out in November, but I had some trouble getting the book in at the library, so this blog is late. It turned out that One Of Us Is Lying was well worth the six-week wait to get a hold of it. I read this book in two days and had trouble putting it down to do things like eat or pee.

In October, I read The Shining by Stephen King. One of Us Is Lying was meant to by my YA counterpart. For some reason, I had gotten the impression that it was a thriller, but it turned out to be more of a traditional murder mystery. To me, the difference between those genres has to do with the pacing. Thrillers are usually much faster paced than mysteries, and they also tend to have a close link with horror. While it is true that certain characters in One of Us is Lying behave in horrifying ways, the book itself didn’t have a “horror” feel to me. I’m sure this definition can be debated, but for the purposes of this blog, I’m calling One of Us is Lying a mystery, not a thriller.

I’ve had a very mixed experience with YA books in the past. Some of them tell exciting stories but have characters that seem like flat stereotypes. McManus gets four stars for her character development. These characters were real people who just happened to be teenagers. They actually surprised me with their choices and reactions and didn’t just act out familiar tropes. This was especially refreshing given that the premise of the book involves a Breakfast Club-like scenario where a Jock, a Popular Girl, a Criminal, and a Nerd are in detention together. All of the characters prove that they are much more than these labels might suggest.

Plot-wise, this was a fascinating whodunit type mystery. This review is going to be shorter than usual because if I get too detailed, I’ll be risking spoilers. I figured out the whodunit pretty early on in the book. I don’t know if that’s because the book made it easy to figure out or just because I’ve watched WAY too many murder mystery TV shows. (Prior knowledge of The Breakfast Club also helped to point the way. Hint hint.) Figuring out the twist didn’t ruin the story for me at all because the howdunit and whydunnit aspects of the mystery were even more interesting than the whodunnit. Some of those pieces didn’t fall into place for me until they were explicitly explained towards the end of the book.

What I can tell you is that One of Us is Lying starts out with five high school students serving detention. One of them, Simon, runs a popular (or infamous) online gossip column. Simon dies under suspicious circumstances before detention is out, and now the other four students, Bronwyn, Addy, Nate, and Cooper, are the prime suspects. Disturbingly, Simon’s web page doesn’t die with him. Someone is using it to bait the suspects and mislead the police. As the story unfolds, our four suspects find themselves dealing with the outing of their secrets to their classmates and families. The police and the media have their own interpretations of the character’s secrets. This leads the reader to wonder if anyone is not lying.

I think that the best writing lesson from this book had to do with characterization. YA characters can be pretty bland; sometimes, they feel like they are Teenagers ™ instead of well-rounded people. McManus talked about many aspects of the character’s lives beyond just school or romance. She also allowed the characters to learn some good life lessons, and I felt like her female characters were positive examples. She avoided the trope of family conflict stemming from teenage rebellion. The family conflict in these books was much more complex and often had more to do with the adults (and the crappy way they treated their kids) than with the teenage character.

This book was not moralizing in any way, but it did create what I’d call “good examples” with its characters. All of the points of view characters ultimately make healthy decisions about how to deal with their inner and external conflicts. I think this book shows that you can write a realistic, gripping story for teens without glamorizing unhealthy behavior.

Ultimately, I think this book is a great YA read for anyone who likes mysteries or gripping people stories. If you are working on a YA book of your own, I’d recommend picking up One of Us is Lying and learning from all the things it does right.

In January, I will be reading the first non-fiction pick for this blog, Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott– a book all about writing. I’m also going to be putting out a special bonus blog that you will want to stay tuned for.

Wishing you all a prosperous New Year, full of new books!

Chills and Thrills: My Review of The Shining

Warning: Reading The Shining can cause serious side effects, including but not limited to: Stiff muscles, rapid breathing, cold sweats, a life long fear of boilers, topiaries, bathrooms, old hotels, and the number 217. Read on at your own risk.

Whoo wipes forehead

It is evident to me now why Steven King is known as the “Master of Horror.” Every part of The Shining has it’s own set of disturbing sequences, even long before the ghouls come out to play.

I’m going to try to keep this review as spoiler-free as possible, but unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past forty years, you should know that the Overlook hotel, where The Shining takes place, is haunted AF. It’s not the haunting itself that is the twist of the story, but rather the way that it progresses and how the characters deal with it.

The Torrance family, Jack, Wendy, and five-year-old Danny, come to the Overlook hotel as part of Jack’s last-ditch attempt to support the family. Jack was a teacher and is a writer, though not a very successful one. He was fired from his teaching job after hitting a student, and now only the help of an old friend has allowed him to land this job as a winter caretaker. At first, the family overlooks (no pun intended) the strange occurrences in the hotel for practical reasons. Jack and Wendy both know that if Jack fails at this job, the family will be destitute, and he will be almost unemployable.

When Jack signs on for the job, he’s told that the Overlook, which sits in the Colorado Rockies, will be snowbound all winter and that the phone lines often go out. There’s a CB radio, but sometimes the signal is iffy. What could possibly go wrong?

The first half of the book is an emotionally gripping story about a family on the edge — an alcoholic father, only recently in recovery, and his long-suffering wife and sensitive son. The son, Danny, possesses a type of telepathic and empathic talent that later in the book is referred to as “the shine.” King uses this supernatural twist to illustrate the reality that children often know more than their parents think they do.

The horror during the early parts of the book is very real. A man struggling with his addiction –an addiction that has led him to do awful, abusive things in the past. A five-year-old boy who is scared and confused by the adult quagmire he finds himself in. Not able to fully comprehend the scary thoughts about things like “divorce” and “suicide” that he hears in his parents’ minds. All of the supernatural goings-on that come later are firmly grounded in these true to life horrors.

From the very beginning, Danny senses that a terrible fate awaits his family at the Overlook. He wants to warn his parents but doesn’t know how. Once he does start talking, his parents, especially Wendy, actually do believe him. I was surprised by that. In most stories that involve gifted children, no one listens until it’s too late. King eschews that trope and shows us the family’s struggle as they try to think clearly and do the sensible thing while assailed by evil forces. The awareness that the characters have about the supernatural events going on around them makes the story even more horrifying. King lets you feel their fear as they watch things unravel.

The Shining is about much more than a haunted hotel. It’s about young adults fighting there own personal demons, sometimes in the shape of their dysfunctional parents. It’s about addiction and mental illness and all the things that can warp a person and turn them into someone they’re not. Or at least into the worst version of themselves. It’s about harmful attitudes that are used to justify abuse and the ways these attitudes are passed down through generations. Most of all, it is about children and the ways that adult decisions can put them in peril. The Shining is a heavy story, and most of the really disturbing stuff has nothing to do with ghosts.

I think that this is why it has remained a classic for decades. A haunted hotel, a dead woman in a bathtub, that’s all been done before. After a certain point, that type of thing becomes blase. It’s the human factor and the “human monsters” to quote the book, that really stick with the reader.

Having said that, there are also lots and lots of creepy-cool ghosts. If you are looking for an example of a ghost story told right, this is it.

So what can The Shining teach us about writing? Well, let’s just say that by the time I got to the second page, I was thinking, “Wow, this guy really knows what he’s doing.” The points of view are spot on. Trying to put yourself in the mind of a five-year-old child as an adult is no easy task, but King walks the line between five-year-old thoughts and gifted five-year-old thoughts masterfully. I think that if realistic points of view are something you are working on, you could do worse than to study The Shining. The rhythm of the writing itself is a pleasure to read. Again, if this is something you struggle with, The Shining might help you out.

The Shining is also a great example of plot structure in a novel. This book has a great elevator pitch plot: alcoholic writer and his family go to live in a hotel, the hotel is haunted, all hell breaks loose. That’s the plot of the book in a nutshell. It’s almost too simple. King takes that basic plot structure and uses the histories and flaws of the characters to add layers of depth. This approach makes the story feel organically complicated instead of feeling like the author was trying to make it convoluted.

In my own work, I sometimes wonder if my plots are intricate enough. However, after reading this, I’ve realized that a simple plot structure can still grow into a complex narrative.

The Shining is also a great example of pacing in a horror or thriller novel. The first half is a slow burn and the second half hits hard and fast. It was a hard book to put down. This was my first experience with a Stephan King novel and I think there is a lot to be said for studying one of the masters, even if you aren’t writing horror.

Next, I’m going to gird up my loins and take on another horror/thriller. This time I will be reading One Of Us Is Lying by Karen McManus.

If you’ve read The Shining, comment below and let me know what you thought of it. As always, I am open to your book suggestions. 

Young Love, My Review of Pushing the Limits

I just finished reading Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry. On my reading list, you will notice that I’ve picked an adult and a YA selection for some of the genres. Pushing the Limits is a YA Romance. Honestly, YA is a slippery genre. Some YA stuff is appropriate for younger teens, and some are meant for college-aged adults. I would say that Pushing the Limits would be appropriate for someone 16 or older. In this review, I’m going to highlight the differences I saw between this YA romance and the adult romance, The Kiss Quotient, that I read earlier. 

Our love birds in Pushing the Limits are Echo and Noah. They are both seniors in high school, and they couldn’t be more different. Echo is a somewhat popular girl and straight-A student who used to be on the dance team. Noah is a stoner who skips class more often than not. When Echo is assigned to tutor Noah, they find out that they have more in common than they thought. 

Both Echo and Noah are dealing with grief, trauma and the social consequences of being different. The whole first part of this book deals more with their individual stories and challenges than it does with their burgeoning romance. McGarry gives us a lot of plot and does a great job of making you feel for what the characters are going through. 

Like The Kiss Quotient, we get to read both characters’ perspectives. In Pushing the Limits, the chapters trade-off almost evenly between Echo and Noah. The author wrote Echo very convincingly, but Noah’s chapters felt a little rough.

Noah lost his parents in a tragic accident and has been in and out of abusive foster homes. He’s supposed to be a good kid who lost his way, but sometimes it was hard to see past the writing and get into his character. I felt like he was the written version of a stereotypical “bad boy” from an 80’s movie. Since I’ve never been a teenage boy, I can’t really comment on how realistic Noah’s sexualization of Echo was. It felt a little overdone to me though, and sometimes it seemed like he was objectifying her. Noah’s chapters improved as the book went on, and I did come to like him as a character, but some of the writing made me cringe. 

Overall I liked the book. McGarry did an excellent job of giving the romance a reason for existing and showing how both characters were improved by it. I also thought that her handling of the heavy issues in this book, like PTSD and grief, were well done. Echo resolves her problems in a way that feels realistic and not like a contrived “everything’s better now” plot twist. 

There were a few significant differences between this book and The Kiss Quotient. Most obvious was the lack of explicit sex in Pushing the Limits. All the page space taken up by sex in adult romances was used for plot, which I appreciated. Because this book was written for young people, it wasn’t just about romance. It was also a coming of age story about finding out who you are and deciding who you want to be. I think this is an important thing to keep in mind from a writing point of view. Teenagers have a lot on their plates, between schoolwork and peer pressure and family issues. It wouldn’t be realistic to have a teenage character who’s only thought in life is about dating. 

In The Kiss Quotient, the tension and suspense came mainly from the romantic plot line, wondering if the characters would confess their feelings and become a real couple. Pushing the Limits was an example of a different kind of romance. Most of the tension and emotion came from the individual issues that the characters were dealing with. Their time together was, for the most part, a break for the characters from the crappy stuff they were going through. It feels that way for the reader too. There is some tension to the romance, especially when they misunderstand each other, but mostly it’s just nice to see them “onscreen” together. 

I felt like this book was a good counterpoint to The Kiss Quotient. There are many ways to write a romance, and Pushing the Limits was a very different example of the genre. This book would be a great one to take pointers from if you are writing a sub-plot romance. The way McGarry builds the relationship out of all the other stuff going on in the characters lives could work well in other types of stories. 

I’ve enjoyed my foray into romance more than I thought I would. Next, I’m going to delve into horror, starting with The Shining by Stephan King. 

Have you read Pushing the Limits? Leave a comment and let me know what you thought!

Love at First Read? My Review of The Kiss Quotient

Welcome to my review of The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang. 

This is the first romance novel I’ve ever read, outside of Jane Austen books. Honestly, I wasn’t excited about reading it.  I’ve always had a bit of an attitude about romance novels: Who cares about two twenty-first century people trying to decide if they like each other? Not me.

That’s my attitude, and I apologize to all the romance fans out there begging to differ right now. You will be happy to hear that Helen Hoang’s book gave me what my mother would call an “attitude adjustment.” I’m not saying that I’m a diehard romance fan now, but this book showed me the possibilities that exist within this genre. 

Our leading lady in The Kiss Quotient, Stella, is a thirty-year-old woman with Asperger’s who struggles in the romance department. Even though she has a great job as a mathematician, Stella feels like a failure because she has never been able to sustain a relationship beyond a few days or weeks. Stella realizes that maybe romantic relationships require the same type of practice as other social skills. After this revelation she decides to hire an escort to help her practice being intimate with a man. 

Stella’s “problem” as she sees it, is that she tends to freeze up and have a panic attack in the middle of intimate moments. This is because her Asperger’s makes it very difficult for her to be touched. At the beginning of the book, we see that even hugging her parents is a challenge for her. She has had a few unenjoyable sexual encounters with men who forced themselves on her even though she was clearly not OK. In sadly true to life fashion, Stella concludes that all of this was her fault because she isn’t good at sex. Luckily for her, she ends up hiring Michael as her escort/teacher. 

Michael is only working as an escort on Friday nights to help pay for his mother’s medical bills. He keeps his escorting secret from his family, and he keeps his mother’s bills secret from Stella. Michael is an All-Around Good Guy ™ . He sees that Stella has some struggles, and he is extremely sensitive to her needs. Micheal probably has the best understanding of consent ever. Even in the midst of hot sex scenes, he puts on the breaks the second he notices that Stella is uncomfortable. Oh ya, and in addition to being a great guy, Michael is also a grade-A hotty, with an eight pack. 

 Stella, understandably, falls for Michael and he falls for her too. This is a problem because they are supposed to be in a business relationship, not a real one. As Stella and Michael are forced into more “real relationship” scenarios, the question becomes whether they will still like each other when they find out the real story of each other’s lives. The most frustrating ( in a good way) part for the reader is wondering whether they will ever confess their feelings.

Honestly, this book required more suspension of disbelief than any fantasy book I’ve ever read. But it was so well written that it ended up being believable and entertaining. The author has Asperger’s, so her portrayal of the condition is based on personal experience. Stella’s struggles and triumphs were very well written, and I found myself sympathizing with her frustrations. 

Stella is smart and funny, and there was something very endearing about watching Micheal fall in love with her. His interaction with her was every woman’s fantasy. Hoang did a great job of building tension of every kind between these characters. I was never bored reading this book, and it even kept me up past my bedtime. That’s not what I expected from a romance novel. 

I read The Kiss Quotient to learn about writing romance and it ended up being a great example of romance done right.  Many books I’ve read have included romantic sub-plotlines, but I often find them contrived and uninteresting. There were two things that I think made Stella and Micheal’s story effective: pacing, and the parallel character arcs that were affected by their romance. 

 Hoang gave their relationship time to develop. I realize that not every book can give the characters almost three hundred pages to work things out, but it is important not to rush things. Love at first sight sounds great, but it’s not something most people can take seriously in a story. Even if attraction happens immediately, the deeper aspects of a relationship take time.

Stella and Micheal both started out with some serious insecurities and Hoang showed how their relationship helped them to overcome these. She made it very clear why the relationship mattered to the characters. Sometimes in sup-plot romances, this meaning is missing and the relationship seems to just be there without impacting the plot or the characters in an interesting way.  

I think this is an important take away for all of us aspiring writers. If you want to create a romance that readers will root for, give it a purpose for existing. Not every story has to have a romance, sometimes other types of relationships can work better for developing the characters. 

I’ve never written romance into my stories, but reading The Kiss Quotient showed me that when done well, it can be really fun to read. 

If you’ve read The Kiss Quotient, please let me know what you thought of it. Also, feel free to recommend any romance books you think I should read. 

Spiders and Spaceships: My Journey into Science Fiction

Cover art for Children of Time by Adrian Tchaikovsky.

Hello all, welcome to my very first post! Today I’m reviewing Children of Time by Adrian Tchaikovsky.

As you may know from my About Me page, I have always been an avid reader of fantasy literature, mostly “high” fantasy or “epic” fantasy. Science fiction is a category that I have only very occasionally dipped a toe into.

My main experience with science fiction has been through television shows and movies. If my knowledge of Klingon is anything to go by, then I’d say I’m a fan of science fiction in these formats. I’ve always been fascinated with science and appreciated the clever use of science, technology, or futuristic elements in a story. Despite this, science fiction has never been my go-to reading genre.

I think the last science fiction book series I read was the Ender’s Game series by Orson Scott Card. It was awesome! I loved the world-building and the way it tackled huge concepts like the development of religions and the nature of sentience- the question of how do we decide when a thing is actually a person. In my quest to explore this genre further, I picked up Tchaikovsky’s critically acclaimed science fiction masterpiece.

 Now that I’m thinking about it, Children of Time has several similarities with the Ender’s Game books. They both deal with a clash between humans and non-human sentient species, exploring that clash partly through the eyes of the non-humans. This strategy creates a lot of sympathy in the reader — a very good thing since the non-humans in Children of Time were a hard sell for me. 

The premise of Children of Time is that thousands of years from now, humanity has created a technologically advanced, but socially troubled society. While scientists are in space terraforming new planets, back on Earth there is a terrorist organization that believes technology has gone too far. This terrorist group manages to cause a war that leads to nuclear detonations and the end of Earth’s advanced society. As this breakdown is on the cusp of happening, Dr. Avrana Kern is about to begin her greatest experiment ever. She has terraformed a planet and created a nano-virus that will speed evolution. Now she’s about to send monkeys to the planet’s surface where they will be infected with that virus. She plans to wait in cryosleep while the monkeys evolve into sentient beings, and then establish a relationship with them as their god and creator. 

This next part is a slight spoiler alert, but it happens in the first few pages of the book

Unfortunately for Dr. Kern, a terrorist has infiltrated her ranks and sabotaged her experiment. Her capsule of monkeys burns up in the planet’s atmosphere. Dr. Kern sends a distress signal to Earth, and puts herself into cryosleep, blissfully unaware that an unplanned experiment is taking place on the planet below. All the other vertebrate animals on the planet had been bred to be immune to the evolution virus, but nobody gave any thought to making the invertebrates immune. And now the most horrible thing that I could ever imagine happening happens; a race of huge sentient spiders begins to evolve. 

Yes, I said, “huge, sentient spiders.” I’m a world-class arachnophobe, and when the author started talking about the hunting, jumping spiders, I felt the heebie-jeebies coming on big time. Then something incredible happened, Tchaikovsky took me on a journey through eons of time and let me watch this species and their society evolve. He made me cheer their innovations and triumphs and root for them as I watched them struggle in a sometimes harsh world. 

Parallel to the spider society plot line, Tchaikovsky also gives us a human plot line. The humans are the survivors of Earths nuclear winter who enter space thousands of years after the collapse of Avrana Kern’s civilization. They are looking for a new home and struggling to come to terms with the horrible history of humanity. Of course they think that the terraformed planet looks like the perfect new home. The main question of the book is what will happen when humans and spider society collide? The answer was very satisfying, but I won’t give the ending away.

The human’s story is compelling, and the human characters are well-drawn, but as I read this book, I found myself looking forward to the spider chapters the most.  I think that the highest praise I can give this book is to say that it changed my feelings about real-world spiders. It made me appreciate the real abilities they have that formed the basis for their successful rise to sentience in the book. 

Children of Time has so many layers to it. Tchaikovsky crafts a world that is at once believable and wondrous. His attention to detail is impressive. Not only is the evolutionary science fantastically and believably portrayed, but he also pays attention to the humanities side of things. The main human character, Mason, is a Classicist, essentially a historian who studies the Old Empire. We get to see the degeneration of human society through the eyes of someone with both a knowledge of the distant past, and an extremely long life that has taken him into the “future” of humanity.

So what effect did reading this book have on my writing? Well, it spurred my imagination in some directions it hadn’t gone before, and even gave me an idea for a short story. It’s also an excellent example of how to make your reader buy into something weird and creepy; namely, by creating characters that are so believable and sympathetic that the odd, creepy elements start to feel normal. I think this book is yet another example of what I’m coming to believe about writing in general: Characters are key. If you write amazing characters, your reader will tolerate a lot of weirdness.

This book was also very well researched, and it was clear that the author had done a lot of thinking and reading about the science and culture-building aspects of the story. I think that research is something that all authors should take seriously. Even if you’re not building a fantasy world, research into culture, psychology, and history will always benefit your writing.

I am definitely going to continue reading science fiction. My next science fiction pick is going to be The Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee. This book involves complex mathematics that I’m sure will take me very far from my comfort zone.

If you’ve read Children of Time, please let me know what you thought of it. If you haven’t read it and want more info you can check it out on Goodreads here. I’m always up for recommendations. If you have a favorite science fiction book, let me know!