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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 - Feast of Ashes by Victoria Williamson

 Blog Tour Review - Feast of Ashes by Victoria Williamson

The Earth's ecosystems have collapsed and only ashes remain. Is one girl's courage enough to keep hope alive in the wastelands?

It's the year 2123, and sixteen-year-old Adina has just accidentally killed fourteen thousand seven hundred and fifty-six people. Raised in the eco-bubble of Eden Five, Adina has always believed that the Amonston Corporation's giant greenhouse would keep her safe forever. But when her own careless mistake leads to an explosion that incinerates Eden Five, she and a small group of survivors must brave the barren wastelands outside the ruined Dome to reach the Sanctuary before their biofilters give out and their DNA threatens to mutate in the toxic air.

They soon discover that the outside isn't as deserted as they were made to believe, and the truth is unearthed on their dangerous expedition. As time runs out, Adina must tackle her guilty conscience and find the courage to get everyone to safety. Will she make it alive, or will the Nomalies get to her first?

I've been a huge fan of Victoria Williamson's middle grade fiction for years now, so I've been really anticipating seeing what her YA debut novel is like. It feels very different to what I've read of her middle grade, but it's very good.

There are several very notable things about this novel. Firstly, there is a lot of foreshadowing! Right from the very start we're told about a disaster that we then spend the next one hundred pages slowly building up to. The whole of the first part of the novel is a countdown to a catastrophic incident, with each chapter heading giving a day and hour count. Then the second part is counting up days, with an inbuilt deadline to it. This really worked for me. I loved the anticipation, and the teases, little hints of what could have caused the problem, suggestions of things that could have been done to prevent it going ignored. There's an inevitability to it all, as we creep closer to the end, and I loved that. At times, however, it is a little strong even for me, or maybe that's not the right word, forced maybe? When you're told how many people are going to die you can get too distracted into guessing who they'll be, which of the dangers will carry off someone and which are red herrings. It worked as a general structure for me, I could just have done with a little less of it at times.

The other very notable thing about Feast of Ashes is how unlikeable the main character, Adina, is. She's the sole point-of-view character for the whole thing, and there are times when she's just awful. It's actually a fascinating character study. She's so consumed by bitterness and jealousy at some points of the story, and for much of it is dealing with massive amounts of guilt and grief. It's really quite believable why she's so horrible to some of the people around her. There's a lot to be said about how guilt makes us put up walls, that just make everything worse. When we suspect someone else knows our guilty secrets we distance ourselves from them, avoiding conversations or time together out of fear when perhaps we should be reaching across that distance instead. And Feast of Ashes says a lot about it, addressing it in a bold, unsympathetic and honest way. It's not afraid to have a main character who is a sympathetic character also have some terrible traits, and that's refreshing. 

This is a dystopian sci-fi novel, that starts out in an enclosed community in Africa, people surviving after a complete climate collapse in a bunker of sorts, though one with a large garden dome. As the story progresses we get little hints and then more and more information slowly and naturally being presented as to just how the world got to where it is. There's a lot there that's really surprising and shocking, and, like all of the best dystopian sci-fi, scarily believable. It's a story about big corporations and their grip on politics, law and policy, and their disregard for the environment and the people within it. It's a story about GM foods and super farms and all the risks that come from this tampering with the genetic structures of our most basic necessities. It's dark and it's powerful and I hope it makes people think.

There's also a love triangle in there, and again it's presented in a really interesting way. It soon gets so caught up with Adina's guilt, that instead of which boy she likes the most it becomes about the fact that Otienno makes her feel, while Dejen makes her think. It makes what would otherwise be a fairly mundane love triangle feel like an important part of Adina's emotional and mental stability, and ties back into the points raised earlier about raising walls around us and pushing people away.

Feast of Ashes is a dark and complex YA debut from a highly skilled writer. 


Feast of Ashes by Victoria Williamson is out now, published by Neem Tree Press.

I was given a review copy in exchange for an honest review and participation in this The Write Reads blog tour.


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