Thursday, October 8, 2015

Book Review: God's War by Kameron Hurley (Book 1 of the Bel Dame Apocrypha)

When God's War,  Kameron Hurley's debut novel, was published in 2011 science fiction communities moaned and wrung their internet hands about the increasing prevalence and prominence of lady genre writers.  Since then Ms. Hurley has won a Hugo, and those fearful discussions evolved into the Sad/Rabid Puppies bloc.  God's War was a hand grenade when it was published and introduced us to the new breed of brutal women.

In the opening scene Nyxnissa, our heroine & ex-government assassin, sells her womb in order to survive and doesn't look back. From there Nyx becomes our guide through the scuzzy, bug riddled, Islamicized marble that provides the backdrop for the series to follow.  Whether it's her team of bounty hunters, two nations continually at war, shapeshifters, or all the bug powered technology, Hurley's world building is top notch.  Did I mention the bounty hunters?  There's a lady-loving shapeshifter (the process is messy - which is great), a conscientious magician (if Jedi had mutant pheromones that controlled bugs), and a hacker who worries for his sister.  Their dynamic is great, the dialogue and interactions are stained with familiarity and disappointment in equal measure.

Opening with the visceral surgery where Nyx's unwanted organ is literally held up to a light and an object of admiration, the narrative rockets along and doesn't let up.  Every few chapters we are given a recollection from Nyx's past, providing insight into the team's primary case and the team itself.  There are some rough patches, it was a debut novel though, and the pacing keeps the pages flipping through them.

Pick it up next time you see it; you won't regret it.  There were two other books in this series, I'll review them in the coming weeks.

To get an idea of her writing I recommend: We Have Always Fought (an essay) & The Women of Our Occupation (short story)

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