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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 Only Way Out is Death by Varun Gwalani

 Blog Tour Review - The Only Way Out is Death by Varun Gwalani

Twelve powerful people are kidnapped and imprisoned in an empty hotel.

Each one of them has three choices:

Live out the rest of their days peacefully in the hotel,
Die by suicide so the rest of their companions can go free,
Or murder one of their companions so they alone can go free.

The Only Way Out is Death follows the story of these twelve people from the perspective of a young lawyer, Kiriaki, told as the events unfold. She has to forge messy alliances, navigate complex relationships and feuds, and, above all, try to stay alive. Meanwhile, the mastermind of this death game is lurking just out of view, watching them closely, making sure they are primed for murder.

Will Kiriaki find the mastermind before it's too late for her?

Will she outmanoeuvre the cutthroats before they cut her throat?

There are twelve selfish lives in the hotel.

Will it end in twelve selfish deaths?

The Only Way Out is Death is a fascinating novel in many ways. It's very definitely a post-Covid story, or maybe I should say a post-lockdown story. The connecting factor between so many of the powerful people trapped in this hotel is the actions they took during the lockdown/pandemic period. It exposes many of the abuses of power, influence and money that took place during that time, as the rich, powerful and corrupt further enriched themselves at the cost of so many lives. There are a lot of complexities in there, and some of them ring very true, the politicians, the big business people, we're familiar with their type and their abuses. Some of them felt a lot more abstract, particularly those around spirituality and religion. The leader of the niche religion or cult felt like something of an odd fit to me, not an archetype I'm familiar with in this country really. But some of those characters did have fascinating relationships with other characters, their interconnectedness and their vendettas probably warranted their inclusion, however unfamiliar they felt.

The Only Way Out is Death isn't quite a murder mystery, despite having And Then There Were None influences. There are a lot of murders within it, and solving them is a big part of the plot, but there's something about them that just doesn't fit the murder mystery mould. I think partly it is the pace. As each murder happens, there's a very short window of investigation, and then a stage managed reveal, a game with an active, though absent, games master. And each murder has a different murderer, so there's not the ongoing build up of evidence you typically get in a murder mystery. Instead, it feels more like a social deduction game, a game of Werewolf or Blood on the Clocktower, where there are a series of rounds and after each round you have to identify and eliminate a suspect. It's quick firing, pacy, and brutal. There is, of course, the ongoing mystery of who put them all there and how they're going to get out, and I really enjoyed watching that build up to an exciting conclusion.

Away from those tense scenes, there's often an almost dream like quality to the writing. With time uncertain and day and night impossible to distinguish, the characters easily lose track of any sense of the passage of time. Hours and days pass in a haze, as things slow down to a crawl, only to speed up again when the next body is found. I felt it really captured the weird feeling of their captivity well. It also shows their declining mental states as the pressure of their unique circumstances get to her.

One complaint I had is that the first few pages throw a lot of different characters at you very quickly. There's a round of introductions, and they're all pretty strong characters, but I was still left struggling to remember which one was which for a lot of the early novel. It gets easier once they start getting bumped off though, and the characterisations are all strong and clear. I also love the running joke about our main point of view character not catching the name of one of her companions. 

The Only Way Out is Death is a tense psychological thriller, with lots of murders and a fascinating social deduction game at its heart, where it rips into those who got rich and powerful from the suffering of others during the pandemic.


The Only Way Out is Death by Varun Gwalani is out now. I first read it as part of the Book Blogger Novel of the Year Awards, and read it again for this review. I was given a copy for the BBNYA.

BBNYA is a yearly competition where book bloggers from all over the world read and score books written by indie authors, ending with 15 finalists and one overall winner.

If you want some more information about BBNYA, check out the BBNYA Website or take a peek over on Twitter @BBNYA_Official. BBNYA is brought to you in association with the @Foliosociety (if you love beautiful books, you NEED to check out their website!) and the book blogger support group @The_WriteReads.


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