Tuesday, June 06, 2017

Review: The Wall of Storms

I somewhat enjoyed Ken Liu's debut novel, The Grace of Kings, but not enough to even keep track when the second novel in the series (The Wall of Storms) showed up. When it did, there wasn't even a line for the ebook from the library, so I checked it out and started reading.

All the flaws from The Grace of Kings are present in The Wall of Storms, as well as the strengths. The strengths are that Ken Liu does a great job of providing an alternate history of inventions and scientific discovery, albeit in accelerated form. All the technological innovations presented in the book are feasible, and the world clearly behaves within certain rules that are somewhat fun to decipher.

The flaws are that the characters are wooden and single-dimensional, never actually growing or learning despite their experiences. In fact, one of the lead characters repeatedly does evil things despite repeatedly suffering the consequences of her actions. Her role in the story is to be the advocate for the idea of process and systems over trust and personal relationships, and as a result her suffering is meant to be a moral or parable for the reader to draw from, rather than being a real character.

I did finish the book, because it was interesting enough to keep going, but it never got so interesting that I felt like I couldn't wait for the next book.
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