(EARLY) REVIEW: Docile

Thank you to Tor Books and my friend, Ash, for a copy of this gorgeous ARC.

Please note that this book does contain trigger warnings for the following: dubious consent, sexual assault, mental and physical abuse, and also contains some BDSM content.


Docile is a story about voluntary slavery as the debt crisis of the world has reached a tipping point. Everyone inherits their entire family’s line of debt, putting some people multiple millions of dollars behind in the world. Their choices are to risk being thrown in prison for avoiding payments or sell their debt to the highest bidder in exchange for a few years of their lives. As a Docile, people have the choice to inject a memory-wiping formula or to be entirely aware of what is happening to them, and the work is not always something pleasant.

Four years ago, Elisha’s mother sold a million dollars of her debt in exchange for 10 years of her life, and she has never been the same. With three million in cumulative debt from his parents, Elisha makes the decision to sell himself in his sister’s place to make her future a better one. He also makes the decision to refuse Dociline, the “medicine” that took his mother away from him.

And this is how Elisha become a private, off-med Docile for the heir to the Dociline empire, Dr. Alexander Bishop the Third.

Set to be released in March of this year, K.M. Szpara’s Docile is a lot. When I first heard about it, heard that it was being referred to as a “gay Handmaid’s Tale“, I knew I just needed to get my hands on it. What I got was more than that. If Handmaid’s Tale was mashed into the forefront of My Fair Lady, then the comparison would be a little more accurate and it gave me life. It has been a long time since a new book has hitched my breath, pained my heart, and brought me to tears. It has been even longer since a book has overwhelmed me to the point of a mild panic attack, but that’s a more personal side of things.

I loved this book from start to finish and revelled in the characters of both Elisha and Alex. Seeing both of their POVs throughout the story gave both of them so much depth and really expressed their growth over the course of the narrative. The world-building is perfection for a low-sci-fi novel set in the real world and Szpara’s writing really sets in the feeling of dread that stuff like this is entirely capable of happening within the next few years.

Given we’re still a little over a full month away from the release of this book, I don’t want to say too much about it just yet, but I will say this:

Please pre-order this book from your local bookstore. Whether that means Indigo, Barnes & Noble, Waterstones, or even Amazon, please pre-order this book.

REVIEW: No Longer Human

#MangaMonday has been shifted to Wednesday, because the title for this week is actually an adaptation of the amazing, semi-autobiographical novel No Longer Human by Dazai Osamu.

I also would like to mention trigger warnings for this novel include suicide and sexual assault (both implied and actual).


No Longer Human is the story of the narrator finding lost journals from a man named Oda Yozo, and following him through his struggles at simply existing around human beings. Yozo has never felt he fit in with the world, let alone just the space he occupied. He was easily taken advantage of and quickly found himself in barely escapable failures.

The novel is a complicated one, at first reading like little more than a depressing tragedy of a time where mental health care didn’t exist at all, resulting in the sad existence of Yozo. I actually had to read this a few times for the words to sink in, and upon re-reading, feel that the true meaning of the story is to be more aware of the people around us. It’s a story about loneliness and how that feeling is exacerbated when you can’t understand the social cues that berate you every waking moment. The lines about depression, about what it means to long for non-existence as opposed to outright death (which is the way I personally read it – suicidal ideation over suicidal intention). Yet our protagonist is so overwhelmed and sad that his ideations actually become failed truths again and again and again.

In a weird way, I find this novel surprisingly comforting in that it gives voice to some very real feelings that I’ve had to deal with myself. While I was reading a translation, I feel that Donald Keene did an incredible job of capturing Dazai’s essence and his emotion in the words and one day I really do hope that my Japanese reaches the point where I can read the original.

While I wouldn’t recommend this book to a single person I know, it is just so touching and important to me.

RE-READ REVIEW: Call Me By Your Name

The first time I read this book, I found myself getting hung up on the minute details of the book rather than focusing on the story, the writing, the beauty of the novel. Having re-read it via the audiobook, read by Armie Hammer, I was able to lose myself to it entirely and drift away into the Italian countryside of the 1980s.

The word choices, the long flowing sentences, that Andre Aciman makes throughout the novel are so heartbreakingly beautiful and make even a child prodigy like Ellio feel like the more relatable boy in the world. His pain is my pain with every time I read this book and I just live for his romance and his suffering. And reading through it is one thing, but the emotion that Armie Hammer puts into his voice while narrating brought me to tears several times throughout. The only narrator who could make it any better would be Timothee Chalamet himself.

I don’t really have much more to say outside of this is one of the most touching love stories I have ever had the joy of partaking in. I have the words of this book on my skin in the author’s own handwriting, and I will cherish them forever. I will cherish this book forever.


Note: Script work tattoo was done at Grim City Tattoo Club by Kristian

REVIEW: Imaginary Friend

Every now and again a book comes around that entirely blows my mind. I don’t mean a five-star rating, I mean that five stars is the most I can give because my feelings can’t simply be expressed with a book rating.

This is one of those books.

In the best way possible, the only thing I can really think to describe my feelings is that this a book that makes me, as an author, feel like I will never write anything even remotely close to this book. It was such an amazing story that made me sad, scared the crap out of me, and left me in awe at the end.

Imaginary Friend is Stephen Chbosky’s first novel since Perks of Being a Wallflower, and other that it being a horror novel, I mostly went into it blind. The story follows the occupants of a small town in Pennsylvania, but focuses primarily on Christopher Reese, a little boy with dyslexia and trauma based around his father’s suicide. Christopher goes missing for six days, putting the town in a panic and when he returns, he is changed. His dyslexia is gone, his math skills are well above his classmates…but he also hears a voice in his head. The voice of “the nice man” who is telling him to do things in order to save the town from a monstrous creature who is set to kill everyone.

As time passes, the town becomes affected by the same things Christopher has dealt with, but with none of the knowledge that he has. It is a rollercoaster of twists that flip the whole story 180° with every few page turns.

If I needed to compare the book to other things, I would have to say Stand by MeStranger ThingsIT, and a little bit of Hansel & Gretel meets Slenderman. It’s a huge mash-up of familiar and incredibly original new-ness which makes the 700+ pages just zip by when things aren’t so stressful I needed to put the book down.

I loved the wide cast of characters. I loved all the context of where they’re coming from. I loved the twist that I only figured out before it was too late. I was desperate to get to the end while also never wanting it to end. Believe me when I say that it was a horrifying thrill ride from start to finish and I will never forget this book. I highly recommend it for people looking for a good scare when they have a good chunk of time on their hands because I promise you that you won’t want to put it down, despite being such a beast of a book.

One final note I will mention about this book is some trigger warnings: this book contains child abuse, suicide, sexual assault of minors (more than implied but nothing happens on-page), domestic abuse, substance abuse, body horror, and lots of general violence.

REVIEW: The Widow of Pale Harbour

Thank you to Harper Collins Canada and Graydon House for providing me with a copy of the ARC.


Attention all Poe fans! Do I have a book for you!

The Widow of Pale Harbour is the second standalone novel from Hester Fox and follows Gabriel Stone – a man on the run from his past posing as a priest – and Sophronia Carver – a wealthy woman accused of murder and witchcraft – as they navigate their way through the puzzles left by a madman terrorizing Pale Harbour by way of Edgar Allan Poe’s twisted works.

I really enjoyed this topsy turvy mystery novel. I wasn’t sure what to expect from Hester Fox’s latest novel, but it was definitely a lot of fun. The mystery itself was well thought out and even with the limited cast of characters, I still had a hard time cracking the case before the end of the book. It was the right balance between an armchair mystery and a horror-inspired thriller, with the mystery itself being on the gruesome side while very clearly knowing where the line was in terms of the descriptions.

The romance plot wasn’t exactly a slow-burn, but it moved at a good speed as the characters unfolded on the pages. We really get to know Gabriel and his dedication to those he cares for as well as Sophronia and her fear of being hurt (emotionally and physically) by those she thinks she cares for.

This is definitely a great book for the upcoming Halloween season and is a good cozy read for a chilly autumn day. If you’re an older reader who enjoyed the Stalking Jack the Ripper series by Kerri Maniscalco, this would be a title I would certainly recommend.

 

 

#countdowntodarkdawn: Godsgrave

Throughout August, I did my best to keep up with the #countdowntodarkdawn event hosted Instagram’s @sammaybereading, @grumplstiltskin, and @amandasnoseinabook. After the weight of the density of Nevernight, I felt a little intimidated by Godsgrave but after a month and a half I finally got through it (with a little help from the audiobook).

Godsgrave picks up a few months after the ending of Nevernight, but does get into it rather quickly. After learning what she’s really up to, Mia teams up with the traitor, Ashlinn, and the two formulate a plan to help further Mia’s want for revenge against Duomo and Scaeva. The plan? To sell herself into slavery in order to fight in a gladiator-style death match known as the Venatus Magni and kill the pair when they declare her the winner.

If y’all thought the first book was not meant to be in the YA section, then this one definitely should never be considered YA. In the most delicious way possible, this book was violent, graphic, and smutty. I loved the way all of it tied together in the most devastating and gruesome ways, showing sex as another kind of chess game in this world of master players. Topping it all off with some of the most wild reveals I’ve ever read, this book had me cheering one moment, and cussing it out the next. Especially towards the end.

Again, this was a rather dense read, so listening to the audiobook in small doses was a big help in getting through it but that doesn’t make me enjoy it any less. I loved the tidbits of more information we get about the darkin even if it’s the most vague nonsense you’ve ever been given. Eclipse and Mr. Kindly were scene stealers amidst the chaos of Mia’s slave life and their little interlude brings up so many questions! I’m like Oliver Twist standing before Jay Kristoff begging for more and knowing full well he’s not going it give more over (and I’m not even mad about it).

I didn’t throw this book across the room once I finished it but that had more to do with not wanting to chuck my phone across the room. While I do need a break before reading Darkdawn, I’m itching to get my FaeCrate hangover kit for it so I can see if I get any of the answers I’m looking for thanks to Godsgrave.

Damn you, Mr. Kristoff.

We love you so much.

REVIEW: Red Rising

During July, I tried my best to participate in the FaeCrate #bloodydamnfae Red Rising read-a-long, but sadly was too caught up in other things to finish it on time.

BUT I FINISHED IT NOW AND BLOODYDAMN HELL WHAT

HOW DID IT TAKE ME THIS LONG TO GET INTO THIS SERIES?!

The story follows Darrow, one of the best miners in his colony beneath the surface of Mars. After his wife, Eo, is martyred, Darrow has a choice to give up or fight for what the girl died in hopes of. Darrow is then thrust into a world he isn’t entirely prepared for, fighting fights without rules against those who were ready for all of it.

Immediately, I was hypnotized but Darrow’s distinct narrative style that Pierce Brown brings. There’s a harshness, a bluntness, there that shows the jagged edge of a young man that Darrow has while also melting it all away when he talks about love and family. Darrow is so observant and self-disciplined and it’s incredibly unique. Considering how aggressive and full of rage he is as a character, Darrow is the kind of alpha male that doesn’t suffer from the nonsense that is toxic masculinity.

Thinking of toxic masculinity, Red Rising is such a great example of not only classism and nepotism, but also of privilege in general and how that plays a factor in the toxic behaviour of some of the male characters. For some minor spoiler alerts, as the plot gets into something of a Lord of the Flies situation, the rougher boys turn to horrible acts of mutilation, slave driving, and sexual assault of the girls who are weaker than them. Darrow and a few of the others oppose these actions right away, but the way Darrow earns over the trust of the rest is a thing of beauty. Even as he consults with victims of abuse later in the book, it’s a true look at how victims should be treated.

I’m honestly at a loss for words over this one.

It did get a little slow in the middle while Darrow was in his transformation, this 400 page paperback is such an intense read it goes by in a blink. I love the characters, I love the world, and I want more as soon as humanly possible.

Bloodydamn brilliant.