Reading Recs: Poppies, Ice Cream, and Murder Bots

Good evening, friends!

Just finished up three books in the last week, and I thought I might share them with you:

  • The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang

This debut novel by Kuang starts small like the center ring in pebble-disturbed pond, then expands outward until its story quite literally touches the shores of the secondary world-built land of Nikan.

It’s structure reminds me quite a bit of Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket, with the first part of the book taking place in the military school of Sinegard where our protagonist Fang “Rin” Runin trains, learns, and competes, while the second half spans the continent during the war between the Imperial Militia and the Federation (this isn’t much of a spoiler, as the word war appears both in the title and logline of the novel).

It’s a hefty read, clocking in at 544 pages, but I chewed through it over the course of week, forcing myself to stay awake, fighting against falling eyelids just to find out what happened next. Apparently this is the first in a trilogy, which is a relief as this one ends on quite a cliffhanger. Lots more to go in Rin’s saga.

Content Warning: much of this novel is set during a war, so there’s a great deal of violence and gore.

  • The Ice Cream Man, Vol. 2: Strange Neapolitan by W. Maxwell Prince (writer), Martin Morazzo (art), Chris O’Halloran (colors), Good Old Neon (lettering, interior cover design), & Shanna Matuszak (cover design)

I haven’t read the first collection of this title, but the sinister cover peering down from the library shelf caught my attention. This exploration of existentialism offers one of the scariest villains I’ve ever encountered. There’s a beautiful sequence in the second chapter which makes use of the the titular color scheme to play out three different paths of the same life, sans dialogue. Sequential art at its finest.

Content Warning: As with The Poppy War, this one has quite a bit of violence and gore.

  • All Systems Red (Murderbot Diaries: Book 1) by Martha Wells
All Systems Red: The Murderbot Diaries (The Murderbot Diaries (1)): Wells,  Martha: 9780765397539: Amazon.com: Books

I’m late to dinner on this stellar novella from Martha Wells. A SecUnit, who calls itself Murderbot, has hacked its government controls/restraints, leaving it free to spend its time doing what it wants, watching hundreds of hours of soap operas. When its human clients come under attack, it does everything in its power to keep them safe, even revealing its true nature. I’m very much looking forward to reading the rest of the books in the series.

Be well, friends, and keep reading. Huzzah!

-Purdy

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