This month I read Rapture, by Kameron Hurley.
Rapture is the final installment in the Bel Dame Apocrypha, a science fiction trilogy. The previous novels were God's War and Infidel, and they all follow the adventures of Nyxnissa so Dasheem.
Rapture brings Nyx out of exile and out of retirement for one last job. The war between Nasheen and Chenja may finally be coming to an end, but with thousands of men returning from the front, Nasheen is teetering on the brink of chaos. Nyx’s job is to find her old partner and bring him to the Queen before he can incite a revolution.
Rapture is a fast paced, engrossing read, just like its predecessors, but also like the previous two books it kind of falls apart in the third act. I thought at first that it was just me, but after three books, it’s obvious that Kameron Hurley can create great characters and an alien, yet believable, world and situations, but struggles to tie everything up in the end. Would that stop me from recommending the book or series to anyone? No, it wouldn’t. And here's why:
Second, there is the society she has set up. Based mostly on Islam, the religion and society of the world have been molded and shaped by the stresses it's had to endure. In addition to the inhospitable planet, the two largest countries in on the planet Umayma (Nasheen and Chenja) have been at war for centuries, and because of this the societies in each country deal with the shortage of able-bodied men in different ways. In the society of Nasheen, where Nyx is from, women are the dominant force, because men are conscripted into the war at puberty and not allowed to return (if they survive the front) until they are middle-aged. Other than the daily calls to prayer, much of the customs and traditions bear little resemblance to the stereotypical view of traditional Islam many readers might have.
Third, is the character of Nyx, who is a Bel Dame – a sort of state sanctioned assassin and bounty hunter. On the surface, she is a thoroughly unlikeable character. She uses people to get what she wants. She murders people without remorse. Everything she does is for her own self-interest. But through the trilogy, she becomes more sympathetic. She is still a remorseless killer, but you come to understand why she is that way.
So, while the entire trilogy has its problems, can't help but be impressed with the world building, character development and storytelling.