Last week I wrote a post about some of the fantastic SFF series I’d started, but never completed. Surprisingly, it quickly became one of my most popular posts, which I didn’t expect at all. Success flows from the least expected fountains I guess. Anyway, in that post I promised a follow up, because obviously I’m a literary savage and have numerous unfinished series languishing on my shelf. In this post, I treat you to a series from each of the main branches of of speculative fiction; one each from horror, science fiction and fantasy. So bookwyrms, without further ado, here is part two of The Great Unread.
LOCKE & KEY by Joe Hill
If you weren’t already familiar with the LOCKE & KEY graphic novels, many more of you will now know about it from the recent Netflix adaptation. I haven’t watched it yet because my brain won’t allow me to watch film or TV adaptations without finishing the books first. It’s the same reason I haven’t got round to watching The Witcher yet and, to be honest, I like it that way. I like formulating my own images and interpretations of characters and settings before having someone else’s vision painted over my own because, no matter how hard I try, if I do it the other way around I just can’t get the film or TV version out of my head while reading. Graphic novels don’t have that problem to the same extent but even so, I just like to read the print stuff first.
I’ve only read the first trade paperback issue of LOCKE & KEY, the collection called WELCOME TO LOVECRAFT, but I finished it in one sitting and it had me so simultaneously intrigued, creeped out and engrossed that I know I’m in this one for the long haul. This first issue introduces us to Tyler, Kinsey and Bode Locke, who relocate to their uncle’s home in the small town of Lovecraft after their father is murdered by a disturbed teen called Sam Lesser. Before long, young Bode discovers a supernatural door in the house that has a disturbing but alluring power that allows him to communicate with a malevolent being that resides within the house.
It’s difficult to say what really makes this such a great story without getting too far into spoiler territory, but both as a graphic novel and a horror story it had me hooked on so many levels. Above all it’s a story about loss and grief and how people process the senseless loss of loved ones, but the horror element is still front and centre. I’m still fairly new to the horror genre, but WELCOME TO LOVECRAFT does what I think horror does best, by using the genre as a tool to explore the darkest inner workings of us as imperfect and contradictory human beings.
REMEMBRANCE OF EARTH’S PAST by Liu Cixin
THE THREE BODY PROBLEM is set against the backdrop of the Chinese Cultural Revolution and is the story of a secret military project attempting to make contact with extra-terrestrial life. Ye Wenjie is a physicist who, after being denounced as a traitor to the revolution, is forcibly recruited to work on a scientific project called ‘Red Coast’, nominally a secret government initiative to utilise high-powered radio waves to damage foreign spy satellites. As the truth becomes apparent and Ye makes great leaps forward in interstellar communications, she is faced with a choice that will change the course of human civilisation forever and perhaps threaten its very existence.
I’ll be reviewing this book fully at some point but, in short, what I loved about it wasn’t necessarily the science involved in explaining how a lot of the technology works (though I did actually enjoy that a lot and want more of it), it was the complex relationships between the characters and the various factional struggles that take place, both within the various power groups in Chinese society and the microcosm of those struggles on a personal level that drives the story forward. There’s a lot of physics in this book, from the importance of orbital mechanics to the details of amplifying radio waves but, if you’re a bit of a geek like me, then I think this will only enhance your enjoyment of the story because, far from getting in the way of the narrative, Liu does a great job of allowing it to enrich the story.
REMEMBRANCE OF EARTH’S PAST is a sub-genre of science fiction I don’t ordinarily read. It’s hard sci-fi which, prior to reading the first book in this series, I had no meaningful experience of whatsoever. After reading THE THREE BODY PROBLEM though, it’s definitely a genre I plan to explore more thoroughly and I’m looking forward to the rest of the series.
THE FIRST LAW by Joe Abercrombie
I really enjoyed THE BLADE ITSELF, the first book in Joe Abercrombie’s FIRST LAW series. Yes it’s grimdark, but it’s also just great fun to read. I have a full review of THE BLADE ITSELF, which you should check out for all my thoughts, but the tl;dr version is it’s a fantastically-written story with vivid characters and a setting ripe with social upheaval and a world seemingly about to be torn apart by arcane power, war and underhanded political subterfuge.
I’ve already reviewed the first book fully so go check that out, but what excited me the most about continuing with this series is the tantalising sense that the first book ended at the point where the status quo of the world we’ve spent 500 pages growing accustomed to is about to be shattered forever. I’ve seen a lot of writing advice say the best place a book is at the point where everything changes, where the status quo is broken; this book is hard proof that doesn’t have to be true and that prescriptive writing advice should always be taken with a pinch of salt.
The more discerning among you who also read last week’s post may recall I promised four unfinished series in part two. However, in true book lover fashion, I’ve since started another two series that I want to talk about so, lucky for you, there’s actually going to be a PART THREE of The Great Unread, featuring the final three unfinished series I have on the go. I can’t promise I won’t start a few more in the meantime but hey, the blessing of the TBR means it will never be complete and there’ll always be more awesome stuff to read.
So that’s all for now bookwyrms. Let me know if you’ve read any of these series, what you thought of them and what are some of your own unfinished series you really want to get to?
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