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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 Exiled by Sarah Daniels

 Blog Tour Review - The Exiled by Sarah Daniels

It is six months since the Arcadia set sail for the first time in forty years. But this wasn't the freedom the inhabitants were hoping for. Esther Crossland did what she had to do, but it has left a trail of destruction in her wake. Now the wrecked ship is abandoned. Its inhabitants are in exile, trapped in sprawling make-shift shelters made up of warehouse, tents, shipping containers.

Esther and Nik, architects of the rebellion, are on the run. Esther is in hiding, desperate to do something to help her people, and Nik seems to have abandoned all hope, on a journey taking him further and further from home. And neither of them want to face up to their true feelings about one another . . .

Not only that, there is a new villain in town. With the fall of Commander Hadley, it's left to the ruthless Admiral Janek to deal with the traitors, and her own past is beginning to catch-up with her.

Then the shaky ceasefire negotiated by General Lall, Nik's mum, falls apart. Nik and Esther find themselves in a world of betrayals and double crossings - a game of power, with no one to trust but themselves.

It's time for the final showdown.

The Exiled is the sequel to The Stranded, forming the second part of a duology, and it's another fantastic read!

The Stranded is really unusual for a novel all about forming and executing an elaborate plan, in that things really don't go to plan. Without too many spoilers (though I'm afraid some spoilers for book one may be unavoidable here, so consider this your fair warning!) the ship that's meant to be sailing out to sea to freedom ends up going in the other direction completely, and while the passengers get off the cruise ship, they don't find freedom on dry land.

Like The Stranded, The Exiled is told from multiple points of view, including from the point of view of one of the story's villains, and others who are somewhat morally dubious. It's fascinating seeing things unfold from so many different perspectives, with the characters here starting off separated by distance rather than just deck and class. The threads are all woven together very skilfully, and their stories intertwine a lot so you're never left with that frustration of wanting to get back and see what's happening with the other characters, or at least very rarely. There's only really one section that jumps away from a bit of a cliffhanger to focus on somewhere else completely but before long everything comes back together as the story starts to build towards a series of epic climaxes.

One of the things I really love about this duology, that's really brought out clearly in The Exiled is the moral grey areas. The passengers are now trapped in the camp and there are different ideas about what's best to do, different ways of handling things, and a few big decisions facing our protagonists that really aren't clear cut. It's hard, at times, to see what the best course of action would be and we're right there in the dilemma with the characters. It helps to keep everything tense and dramatic throughout.

There's a lot more politicking going on here, as the focus moves outwards from the cruise ship to a wider view of the Federated States, and of course it is dirty politics. The depiction of corruption and downright nastiness stretching right up to the highest office of the land is scary but feels all too realistic, and is even scarier for that! The discussions happening here about presidents not being prosecutable would have been science fiction a decade or more ago but feel a little too close to comfort these days. 

And in the absence of Hadley, Admiral Janek steps up to show us just how horrifying an unstable psychopath can be when they have both political and military power at their fingertips. She's a memorable and horribly brilliant villain for the piece.

As with The Stranded, there's a lot here about refugees and how they get treated that feels firmly rooted in our own world. This time it's in a refugee camp, where conditions are bad and getting worse. Food is scarce, diseases run amok and people are forced to live behind fences when all they want is the opportunity to start a new life. Politicians demonise them on the media, hiding behind clever phrasing and twisted statistics to produce soundbites for the populace and instead of people trying to live their lives the refugees are seen as a political problem, one to get rid of without too much of an outcry. The fact that the refugees are European is an interesting one too, easier to sympathise with for many readers, no doubt. 

We also see the potential evolution of the American prison conglomerates, big businesses using a literally captive workforce to produce munitions, with politicians on the payroll and an unholy amount of influence over the president, and we see hints of environmental disaster and the resulting clean up companies. There's a lot in this world I'd love to see explored more, a fascinating dystopia with the potential for a lot more stories beyond this duology.

The Exiled is a fast paced, exciting conclusion to the duology, with some powerful elements that will hopefully make a lot of readers wonder where we're heading.


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

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


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