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Blog Tour Review - Service Model by Adrian Tchaikovsky

Blog Tour Review - Service Model by Adrian Tchaikovsky To fix the world they first must break it further. Humanity is a dying breed, utterly reliant on artificial labor and service. When a domesticated robot gets a nasty little idea downloaded into their core programming, they murder their owner. The robot then discovers they can also do something else they never did before: run away. After fleeing the household, they enter a wider world they never knew existed, where the age-old hierarchy of humans at the top is disintegrating, and a robot ecosystem devoted to human wellbeing is finding a new purpose. There is so much to love in Service Model, but one of the things I most love about it is the peculiar blend of charming innocence and insightful cynicism. Uncharles the domestic robot is such a simple soul (though he would state that he has no soul and this is an inaccurate description). He approaches the end of the world with optimism and hope, or whatever equivalent to these emotions h

Blog Tour Review - The Stranded by Sarah Daniels

 Blog Tour Review - The Stranded by Sarah Daniels

Welcome to the Arcadia.

Once a luxurious cruise ship, it became a refugee camp after being driven from Europe by an apocalyptic war. Now it floats near the coastline of the Federated States - a leftover piece of a fractured USA.

For forty years, residents of the Arcadia have been prohibited from making landfall. It is a world of extreme haves and have nots, gangs and make-shift shelters.

Esther is a loyal citizen, working flat-out to have the rare chance to live a normal life as a medic on dry land. Nik is a rebel, planning something big to liberate the Arcadia once and for all.

When events throw them both together, their lives, and the lives of everyone on the ship, will change forever . . .

The Stranded is a completely gripping thriller, from start to finish!

There's so much going on here, so many important themes, and they're all wrapped up in exciting action and espionage, as it cleverly shifts between slow building tension and perilous fights and chases at breakneck pace.

It's a dystopian adventure with sci-fi elements, set in the not too distant future but with limited amounts of sophisticated technology. The setting is a massive, and very old cruise ship, and almost the entire novel is set on board the ship. After a terrible war in Europe that saw biological weapons make most of the continent uninhabitable, the only survivors we know of were passengers on board cruise ships and those fortunate few who managed to get aboard them in time. Now, for generations, they and their descendants have been living on these ships, floating off the coast of a divided former United States, where the government is doing just enough to support them without ever welcoming them. They are a refugee problem used as a political football while people live and die on the ships. 

There are so many eerily familiar elements at play here. There's the devastating virus and constant testing and monitoring looking for outbreaks, signs of contamination or carriers. There are obviously the refugees trapped on board a ship, unwelcome in the country they can see from the decks, fed a bare minimum, housed in cramped conditions, seen by some as a plague, a threat, a problem, and by others as a worthy cause to help. 

The droid cameras watching everywhere, the threat of hidden surveillance, and the creepy, black-clad guards patrolling and dispensing justice really amp up the threat level. It feels like a place where no one is safe, where anyone can get pulled up for the smallest misdemeanor, or just the appearance of wrongdoing. Wrong place, wrong time is enough to bring the law down on you. This gives the book such a tense feel and the peril facing our characters is very real. At the heart of it is Hadley, truly a horrifying villain, the embodiment of totalitarian authority and how easily it diverges from any true sense of justice. He is the creepiest of creeps and a fantastic foil for our rebels.

And where you have the jackboot brigade, you also have the black market and the below deck gangs. I loved this element of the story, the gangs felt powerful yet vulnerable, helpful yet a constant danger, a known unknown that could be a useful ally but always at a price, or an indefatigable foe if insulted. 

The central characters were generally very endearing, even when they were clearly at odds with each other I couldn't help but root for all of them. Esther is sweet, a little naive, hard working and worries a lot. Nik is a lot more street-wise, but still prone to making rash decisions, usually because of his emotions leading him into trouble. They're a wonderful pair to watch, at odds and forced to work together, not trusting or liking each other, but finding common ground. It was all really effective. 

The action is brutal, often horrifying, always enthralling. I love a story like this that isn't afraid to kill off important characters, but always gives their deaths meaning and impact. It made me care about people and mourn their loss. 

The Stranded is a wonderful post-apocalyptic thriller, and I'm really looking forward to book two, The Exiled, which I will be reviewing here at the weekend.


The Stranded by Sarah Daniels is out now, published by Penguin.

I was given a review copy in return for an honest review and participation in this The Write Reads blog tour. I was also gifted a copy at the Penguin YA Summer Party last year.  


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