Goodreads refugee and wordpress blogger
“The more I read, the more I acquire, the more certain I am that I know nothing.”
I enjoyed the first and final thirds of the book. Robson has beautiful wording at times, and flashes of humor that make me smile while reading. The first third is a lovely description of Lila experiencing the land Demonia. However, by the middle, I was frustrated with Lila having seemingly random emotional outbursts, with no back story. For instance, in one section, she has shut down and retreated into an emotionless space (but without switching on her AI emotion override), then in the next line, she is yelling at Malachi, a good friend, to "shut up." I gathered the book was about an emotional journey for Lila, but I felt like a lot of it was excessively emotional, with wild mood swings from one paragraph from the next, without narrative hints as to what was provoking it. Some was flatly unrealistic, like her shock at discovering her mentor/friend/manager Sarasilien as a sexual being. I just found it odd, but maybe it was supposed to highlight her emotional immaturity. I was also surprised to find she was merely a "diplomat's secretary" before her transformation into bionic woman, when the hints we had gotten in the previous book seemed like her role was much more important, to wit, Alfheim not allowing Otopia tourists (therefore making a diplomatic corp even more important at establishing relations), and her role at persuading a member of the Alfheim security to act against self-interest by escorting her and a co-worker. To back track into a secretarial role might have been to heighten the conflict she is undergoing internally, but seems unlikely given Robson's world set-up. Should we accept the background of diplomat's secretary, then her brazen, "act first" approach to interacting with other cultures becomes even more odd--surely a diplomat's secretary would be more discrete and knowledgeable about cultural interface. In one section she notes how her boss' blunt language is undoubtedly offensive to the elves, yet she uses the same bluntness herself, all the time with Tath.
Emo aside, I enjoyed the developing character of Malachi, and the world building of Demonia. Although I tried to read closely, I found Zal's detour into Zoomenon and subsequent discoveries baffling. Robson attempts to throw readers into her world with some initial backstory, but once her readers get that initial description, are often presented with actions and narrative developments without much context. The ghost ship lost me completely on first reading. The final third finds Lila returning to Otopia and confronting her past and her sister. I found myself caring again about what she was experiencing and reading closely instead of skimming. The various pieces of Malachi's and Zal's investigations came together into a satisfying conclusion as they meet up with Lila again. I'll definitely read the next book, but not yet sure the series is personal library-worthy.