Cephalopod Coffee House



This month I read Rapture, by Kameron Hurley.

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-Nh6vTVHtQYs/T6xfoYXXvrI/AAAAAAAAH7c/AZ0-VU2NDtc/s1600/Rapture.jpgRapture 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:

There are many great things about the Bel Dame Apocrypha. The world that Hurley creates is an alien one, despite the fact that the characters are human. First, there is the technology of Umayma. The technology is a mish mash of genetic engineering and magic. The author is obviously a fan of “show, don’t tell,” because not much is explained. Each book gives just enough information to describe what’s happening, but almost none explaining how it’s happening. This is a good thing, I promise you. If even a tenth of what was going on was explained, no one would read past the first chapter of the first book. After a while you just take it for granted that their entire technology is based off of manipulating insects, and that people not only sell body parts, but they can also be rebuilt using spare parts. Among many other things that are too spoilery to mention here.




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.

Comments

  1. World building, character development and storytelling - can there be higher praise than to appreciate those in a book? Will have to take a look at this series. Thanks for recommending!

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  2. wrapping up the ending is one of my biggest faults also. Just ask my CPs!

    This goes on my TBR list. Thx!

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  3. Wow. I am fascinated by the idea of world-building based on Islam — that's unusual. The name of the planet is similar to the Arabic word "ummah," meaning community of Islam (like "Christendom" is for Christianity). The names of the books are interesting; I would have assumed it was Christian fiction from the titles. The name of the last book is especially curious, since "Rapture" is not, as far as I know, a Muslim concept. The titles are certainly culturally loaded, at any rate.

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    Replies
    1. I didn't know that about the word ummah. If it is any relation to the name of the planet in the book, it makes a lot of sense.

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  4. What is it about trilogies falling apart in the third book? It's a little disappointing that an author goes to all that effort just to see it crumble. I also wonder how a society continues on if the young men are all taken away, never to return. I'm assuming a lot of artificial insemination? Does that also mean there's not much in the romance department?

    Thanks for sharing!

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  5. This doesn't sound like a book I would ordinarily read, but your review makes it sound intriguing. I especially like the idea of superior world-building, character-building, and story-telling. After all, no matter what the genre is, those are the things that count. Thanks for the recommendation. I'll look into them.

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  6. Show don't tell. There's definitely a lesson there. I think for many writers, the effort to delay gratification for themselves by waiting to reveal all is a challenge.

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  7. Yup. Added to my TBR. :) Thanks for the review! I will read it despite the low points you mentioned.

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