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Book Review: Ninth City Burning

Ninth City Burning

by J. Patrick Black.

Ninth City Burning The future of Earth is threatened when an alien race suddenly appears in our skies, wielding a power we have no idea how to combat. Cities disappear, and it looks like the planet will be overrun, when humanity discovers it can wield this new power, too. Or at least, some humans can. Enough to fight back. This sparks a centuries-long war spanning planets and realms. Things are much the same year after year, with each side gaining and losing ground again and again. Then the tactics of the alien force change, ever so slightly. It’s enough to shift the balance. Earth’s defense is suddenly a much more desperate situation, and the newest batch of recruits gets dropped right into the middle. No pressure, it’s just the fate of the world in their hands.

The narration jumps between quite a few characters, though each is handily noted at the beginning of their respective chapters, so you always know who the story is focusing on. All of them are young, ranging from about 12 to 20-ish (this is YA, after all). There’s a strategist, an engineer, an elite fighter, a grunt, and a few who can wield the new power. Their stories all overlap and intertwine, and they all have their own role to play in the larger picture. You get a good balance of personalities and perspectives. My personal favorite was Kizabel, with Rae a close second. Both are clever, determined women who don’t take crap from anyone. I didn’t find Jax or Naomi as compelling, but they were also the youngest of the group, so perhaps they purposely weren’t as developed as characters? But even in their chapters, things didn’t veer too juvenile, which I always appreciate in YA.

This book is also another example of the kind of sci-fi that toes the line of fantasy. The power the aliens wield (called thelemity) is basically magic. The author tries to make it act like a science, with a limited range and tech gadgets that use it and such. But the people who can wield it have to go through an awakening, and wield a personal mindscape, and basically just make things happen through sheer will. So, magic. Overall, though, the story is definitely more sci-fi, with snarky AI’s, fighting robot suits, rifts to other worlds, space battles, and more. If you go into this expecting a sci-fi adventure story, you won’t be disappointed.

In some parts it does feel a little like we’re one of the recruits, just dropped in the middle of things. This is particularly true of Kizabel and her two friends; I felt like we didn’t really get enough backstory on those relationships to make later events as impactful as I think they were meant to be. And while I liked Torro as a character, I don’t feel like he was completely necessary for the larger story arc. I liked his sections, but they didn’t carry as much weight as the others. I would also have liked a little more detail about how the gadgets (and particularly Ninth City’s final defensive move) worked. If you’re going to treat magic like science, it needs to be explained a bit more.

This just came out at the beginning of this month. It’s little unclear whether this is a standalone or intended to be part of series- it could be either, with how the story left off. Regardless, this author’s debut is a fun read and well worth checking out.

I give it 4/5 stars.

I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Ninth City Burning

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Taking Stock

Taking a page from Pip’s book and using this list to do a life snapshot. I don’t have any fun pictures to intro this, so we’re just going to jump right into the list: Making: cupcakes in the morning! Cooking: Nothing at the moment, but I made this for my mom and sisters earlier. Drinking: water. Reading: Seveneves by Neal Stephenson. Wanting: to go to sleep. Looking: at my laptop screen. Yes, I have a working laptop now! Playing: with my sister’s dog Suri, lately. Deciding: what to do about a certain situation with a client. Wishing: that I could […]

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Taking Stock

muffins

Taking a page from Pip’s book and using this list to do a life snapshot. Making: a new cover for Pride & Prejudice over on my design blog. Cooking: Nothing at the moment. Drinking: Sweet tea. Reading: The Children of Earth & Sky by Guy Gavriel Kay. Wanting: to get a new laptop (I don’t currently have a functioning one). Eyeing this one. Looking: out the window at the rain. All rain all week in the forecast. 😩 Playing: not much of anything lately, other than fetch with Sienna. Deciding: whether and where to go on vacation later this summer. […]

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2016 Clear-Out Sale!

shop clearance

I’m still figuring out what I want to do with the Dragonflight Dreams screen printing shop this year. But I know one thing for sure: the one of a kind shirts need to go. They are great- bright and colorful, and an important step in my shop-running process. But they’re also taking up valuable shelf space and shop space. All of the OOAK shirts (tanks, tees, and long sleeve) have been marked down to sale prices. They are already printed and heat-set, so are ready to ship. AND, as of today, you can take an additional 16% off with code […]

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5 Things Friday

5 Things Friday

1. In October, after my name change and all, I re-launched my design business with a new focus and new name. It’s Studio Guerassio, and I focus on design & branding for the lifestyle sector (food & drink, writers, artists & makers, culture, events, balance & wellness). I’d like to ask a favor of all of my lovely readers: if you know a business owner or blogger or solopreneur who fits that focus and is in need of design work, please send them my way! I’d be über grateful. 🙂 2. Random thoughts on film and TV: I was browsing […]

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Finally Hitched: Wedding Pictures!!

Guerassio-Cobb Wedding

Not quite 2 months ago, Ian and I finally tied the knot! 😄 We were married at Villa Antonia here in northwest Austin hill country. After having nervously watched the weather for two weeks, September 20th dawned bright and beautiful. We had gorgeous weather that somehow managed to also not be too hot for the non-Texans attending. Our ceremony was outdoors under an arch, overlooking the rolling hills. Our reception was indoors in a lovely space that included a stage and built-in bar. Both were the perfect size for our relatively small wedding of 65 people. Ian and I were […]

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