Saturday, 10 December 2011
Keeping it Real by Justina Robson
Hey folks, it's that time again and today's review is by underrated British author, Justina Robson. Keeping it Real is the first book in the Quantum Gravity series. It's a blend of sci fi and fantasy, the world building is intricate and immerses you from the start - it's not your stereotypical fantasy.
The Quantum Bomb of 2015 changed everything. The fabric that kept the universe's different dimensions apart was torn and now, six years later, the people of earth exist in uneasy company with the inhabitants of, amongst others, the elfin, elemental, and demonic realms.
Magic is real and can be even more dangerous than technology. Elves are exotic, erotic, dangerous, and really bored with the constant Lord of the Rings references. Elementals are a law unto themselves and demons are best left well to themselves.
Special agent Lila Black used to be pretty, but now she's not so sure. Her body is more than half restless carbon and metal alloy machinery, a machine she's barely in control of. It goes into combat mode, enough weapons for a small army springing from within itself, at the merest provocation. As for her heart, well, ever since being drawn into a game by the elfin rockstar Zal (lead singer of the No Shows), who she's been assigned to protect, she's not even sure she can trust that any more either.
Lila is a extraordinary character, tough yet flawed, she throws herself into dangerous situations without a thought about personal safety. After being seriously injured she is turned into a cyborg with her own internal nuclear reactor. Powerful yet insecure she often wonders how much of her humanity is still intact and has an internal monologue with her built-in AI and considers whether that counts as talking to yourself.
By chance while on a job she is draw into a game with the very person she is charged to protect. The game is a compulsive emotional entanglement that plays on the couples' emotions, and it's not easy to disentangle yourself without serious repercussions. But when someone makes an attempt on her charges life, she has no choice but to put her trust in the elf responsible for nearly killing her.
Zal is a Elf and a rock star, compelling and inscrutable, though he can come across as a jerk at times he has hidden depths and it's through them that Lila learns a whole lot about the other worlds that overlap the humans'.
Keeping it Real, the first book in the quantum Gravity series - is entertaining, action packed and just a little kooky. The romance is unexpected but not the main focus of the story which is chock full of intrigue and I enjoyed the descriptions of the many worlds existing side by side.