Monday, March 30, 2020

Review: A Time of Courage by John Gwynne

A Time of Courage (Of Blood and Bone, #3)
A Time of Courage by John Gwynne
Publication Date: April 7th, 2020
Paperback. 720 pages

About A Time a Courage:

"The demon king Asroth has been freed from his iron prison. Now, alongside his dark bride Fritha, he plans to conquer the whole of the Banished Lands. 

In the shadows of Forn Forest, Riv and the surviving Ben-Elim desperately search for a way to unite those who remain against Asroth's vast army. 

Far in the west, Drem is with the Order of the Bright Star, besieged by a demon horde. Their fragile defenses are on the brink of shattering, but they know that it is better to fight and die than to live without hope. 

And across the Banished Lands, armies are heading south, to settle ancient grudges and decide the fate of humanity."

What a truly phenomenal way to wrap up this trilogy! I've been thoroughly enjoying each installment in the Of Blood and Bone series from John Gwynne over the past few years and the fact that it's over is bittersweet, as it was a perfect conclusion, yet I'm still a little sad that's over. I know that Gwynne is already working on something new, though, so I know I won't have to keep my fingers crossed for too long for more fantasy from him!

A Time of Courage is the final, momentous occasion: Asroth has been released and everyone is readying to prepare for the ultimate battle of good vs. evil. As with A Time of Blood, I'm trying to refrain from mentioning any specific, characters, places, or plot so as to avoid spoilers for the previous two books as well as this one, so the only two characters I'll mention by name are Drem and Riv since they are both mentioned in the synopsis at the top.

Drem is easily one of my favorite fantasy characters and POVs to follow. He has some of the best development over the arc of this trilogy, starting out as a boy with limited knowledge of the world and the evils that exist and turning into a strong leader, fighter, and character with great respect for those around him (and who deserve it, of course). It's truly been a pleasure watching him grow, and his actions in this book were just as exciting and well-written as in the previous ones. The other character I'll mention is Riv, a fiery half-breed warrior who has had to jump through a lot of different hoops during her time training and eventually fighting in battles. Riv has also been fascinating to follow and she has easily gone through some of the most dramatic changes and experiences in these books, which helped to make her such an interesting character.

In addition to Drem and Riv, there are three additional POVs that we follow that I enjoyed just about as much as I enjoyed Drem and Riv's. There are a lot of great things about Gwynne's writing, but one of his strengths is in developing really well-rounded and interesting characters that you cant help but become invested in. Even the characters on the 'villain' side tend to have complex motivations that make them captivating characters to follow and learn more about.

Another element of Gwynne's writing that has impressed me since the start are his battle scenes. I've said in many other reviews that I don't tend to enjoy battle and fight scenes all that much because they are usually difficult to follow and, well, I tend to get to bored and just want to know who gets hurt and/or dies so that I can move on to the next scene. This has never been the case in any of Gwynne's books that I've read and it pleases me so much to get such satisfaction and enjoyment out of his battles. I'm not sure if it's just because of how much research he does or simply his passion for writing these and real-life interest, but the way he writes battle scenes are clear, compelling, and genuinely keep me at the edge of my seat following along with the action.

In a time of fantasy where grimdark is gaining in popularity (and look, I love some good grimdark!) it was refreshing to dive into a world that felt epic, classic, and optimistic despite the tragedy that befalls the characters. There's something so warm and welcoming about this trilogy--it's not that it's some light story or anything because it certainly gets extremely dark, but rather that there's something so classic about this that just reminds me why I love epic fantasy so much. It's authentic and full of big characters and big themes, an epic world with a strong magic system, and plenty of magical beasts and creatures, all of which combine to create a book that feels timeless, both  classic and inventive, all rolled into one.

Overall, I've given A Time of Courage five stars!

*I received a copy of A Time of Courage courtesy of Orbit in exchange for an honest review. This has no effect on my rating of the novel.*

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Review: Along the Razor's Edge by Rob J. Hayes

Along the Razor's Edge (The War Eternal #1)
Along the Razor's Edge by Rob J. Hayes
Publication Date: March 30th, 2020
Ebook. 281 pages

About Along the Razor's Edge:

"No one escapes the Pit. 

At just fifteen Eskara Helsene fought in the greatest war mankind has ever known. Fought and lost. There is only one place her enemies would send a Sourcerer as powerful as her, the Pit, a prison sunk so deep into the earth the sun is a distant memory. Now she finds herself stripped of her magic; a young girl surrounded by thieves, murderers, and worse. In order to survive she will need to find new allies, play the inmates against each other, and find a way out. Her enemies will soon find Eskara is not so easily broken."

If I'm not mistaken, this is the third book that I've read and reviewed from Rob J. Hayes and I once again am very pleased I did! Hayes continues to deliver fantasy that stands out from others due to his strong characters, unique settings, and captivating premises.

Along the Razor's Edge follows Eskara Helsene, a fifteen year-old girl who is currently imprisoned in what is called The Pit along with other Orrans who were all captured after their people lost a major war. The prisoner are made to do daily back-breaking work and it really leaves little in the way of hope for every achieving a better life.

Eskara has a strong personality that comes through extremely well in Hayes' narrative, and I was glad to be able to have such a distinct sense of who she is and what her motivations were. She's not perfect by any means and I appreciate that she made and owned up to a lot of mistakes, especially since she's only fifteen and it's entirely expected. I also really liked how Hayes portrayed the various relationship dynamics between Eskara and many of the other prisoners and guards that are also down in The Pit, since it provided a more nuanced and well-developed look at this world and situation. I also felt invested in all of the characters that we gt to learn about because of how well Hayes developed their own personalities and fleshed-out motivations.

What first captured my attention was Hayes' narrative style, which, as mentioned, is told from Eskara's POV. Because of her personality and manner of storytelling, it really made for an enjoyable story because I was able to feel and empathize with everything happening. The way she tells her story is as if relaying what has happened in the past, so it is sprinkled with little insights from where she currently is when telling this story.

There are also flashbacks interwoven throughout the story that follow Eskara's childhood and training before being taken captive in war. Flashbacks can often be hit or miss for me in fantasy, and I'm happy to say that they were a big hit for me this time. I really loved how much the flashabcks offered in the way of world-building and background on both Eskara's life and the magic system that is part of this world.

Lastly, I'd like to touch on the world-building, which was dark and detailed and full of elements that contributed to both the atmosphere and plot in strong ways. I think my favorite thing about the world, though, is how Hayes introduces us to it and slowly reveals more and more about it. There weren't really any big moments of info-dumping that messed with the pacing or drew me out of the story. Instead, he revealed it all in ways that fit according to the actions of the plot in a really cohesive manner.

Overall, I've given Along the Razor's Edge four stars! If you're for a not-super-long fantasy with an immersive world, strong characters, and an interesting plot, then definitely give this one a read.

*I received a copy of Along the Razor's edge courtesy of the author in exchange for an honest review. This has no effect on my rating of the novel.*

Friday, March 27, 2020

Anticipated April 2020 Releases!*

(*These are all books that have been listed as being released in April--if they release date has changed, I apologize and am currently unaware!)

Well guys, it's already time to start getting ready for April releases! It seems to weird to be thinking about new book releases when all the rest of the chaos and tragedy is going on in this world, but I also think it's important to keep some semblance of normalcy right now, so I'm making my usual post. I added the little asterisk to my title because I know that there have been some book release delays lately, which is understandable, but I haven't kept up with those at all so these are books that are or were coming out in April! I've (somehow) managed to already read Legacy of Ash, The Book of Koli, Sin Eater, A Time of Courage, The Girl and the Stars, The Age of Witches, and Master Class--and it's looking like a great month so far! I am most excited for Looking Glass, I think, though I'm looking forward to them all. Since my local library is closed (and I'm sure most of your libraries are probably closed, too?) I'm not sure when Ill get a chance to check out some of these, but hey, it's still fun to get excited for their release and support their authors!

I hope you are all staying healthy, safe, and staying home (If you can! And if you have to work, I wish you all the best with whatever you're doing.) We're gonna get through this crazy time together--maybe with the help of books (if you can manage to focus on reading, I know I'm struggling). 

What books are you most looking forward to? Have you read any of these already!? Let me know!

Legacy of Ash (Legacy Trilogy, #1)Looking Glass (The Chronicles of Alice)The Book of Koli (Rampart Trilogy, #1)Sin EaterThe Empire of Dreams (Fire and Thorns)The Girl and the Stars (Book of the Ice, #1)Race the SandsA Time of Courage (Of Blood and Bone, #3)EdenRepo VirtualThe Age of WitchesThe Ranger of Marzanna (The Goddess War, #1)Don't Call the WolfThe AncestorShorefall (Founders, #2)The LoopIncendiary (Hollow Crown, #1)The Glass MagicianQueen of Coin and WhispersMaster ClassChosen Ones (The Chosen Ones, #1)Hard WiredA Thousand MoonsThe Last Voyage of the Andrea Doria: The Sinking of the World's Most Glamorous ShipThe Address Book: What Street Addresses Reveal About Identity, Race, Wealth, and Power

Legacy of Ash by Matthew Ward || April 9th -- Amazon | Book Depository | IndieBound

Looking Glass by Christina Henry || April 21st -- Amazon | Book Depository | IndieBound

The Book of Koli by M.R. Carey || April 14th -- Amazon | Book Depository | IndieBound

Sin Eater by Megan Campisi || April 7th -- Amazon | Book Depository | IndieBound

The Empire of Dreams by Rae Carson || April 7th -- Amazon | Book Depository | IndieBound

The Girl and the Stars by Mark Lawrence || April 21st -- Amazon | Book Depository | IndieBound

Race the Sands by Sarah Beth Durst || April 21st -- Amazon | Book Depository | IndieBound

A Time of Courage by John Gwynne || April 7th -- Amazon | Book Depository | IndieBound

Eden by Tim Lebbon || April 7th -- Amazon | Book Depository | IndieBound

Repo Virtual by Corey J. White || April 21st -- Amazon | Book Depository | IndieBound

The Age of Witches by Louisa Morgan || April 7th -- Amazon | Book Depository | IndieBound

The Ranger of Marzanna by Jon Skovron || April 21st -- Amazon | Book Depository | IndieBound

Don't Call the Wolf by Aleksandra Ross || April 28th -- Amazon | Book Depository | IndieBound

The Ancestor by Danielle Trussoni || April 7th -- Amazon | Book Depository | IndieBound

Shorefall by Robert Jackson Bennett || April 21st -- Amazon | Book Depository | IndieBound

The Loop by Ben Oliver || April 7th -- Amazon | Book Depository | IndieBound

Incendiary by Zoraida Cordova || April 28th -- Amazon | Book Depository | IndieBound

The Glass Magician by Caroline Stevermer || April 7th -- Amazon | Book Depository | IndieBound

Queen of Coin and Whispers by Helen Corcoran || April 23rd -- Amazon | Book Depository | IndieBound

Master Class by Christina Dalcher || April 21st -- Amazon | Book Depository | IndieBound

Chosen Ones by Veronica Roth || April 7th -- Amazon | Book Depository | IndieBound

Hard Wired by Len Vlahos || April 28th -- Amazon | Book Depository | IndieBound

A Thousand Moons by Sebastian Barry || April 21st -- Amazon | Book Depository | IndieBound

The Last Voyage of the Andrea Doria: The Sinking of the World's Most Glamorous Ship by Grek King, Penny Wilson || April 7th -- Amazon | Book Depository | IndieBound

The Address Book: What Street Addresses Reveal About Identity, Race, Wealth, and Power by Deirdre Mask || April 14th -- Amazon | Book Depository | IndieBound

What are your anticipated April releases?

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Review: Legacy of Ash by Matthew Ward

Legacy of Ash (Legacy Trilogy, #1)
Legacy of Ash by Matthew Ward
Publication Date: April 9th, 2020
Hardcover. 320 pages

About Legacy of Ash:

"A shadow has fallen over the Tressian Republic.

While the armies of the Hadari Empire invade the borderlands, the Republic's noble families plot against each other, divided by personal ambition. 

But as Tressia falls, heroes rise.

Viktor Akadra is the Republic's champion and conqueror of the rebellious south. A warrior without equal, he also hides a secret that would see him burned as a heretic. Josiri Trelan would gladly see Viktor condemned to the flames - vengeance for a rebellion crushed and a mother slain. And while Josiri plots fresh insurrection, his sister, Calenne, is determined to escape their tarnished legacy and break the shackles of the past. 

As dark days beckon, these three must overcome their differences to save the Republic. Yet decades of bad blood are not easily set aside. Victory - if it comes at all - will command a higher price than they could have imagined."

I really wasn't sure what to expect from Legacy of Ash--an epic fantasy debut that's nearly 800 pages is no joke--and although it took a little while to get fully acquainted with the world, once I was hooked I didn't want to stop reading it. This is a perfect example of modern epic fantasy in my opinion: it has some classic fantasy vibes and general ideas, but it's incredibly innovative and has some really exciting characters and storylines.

Legacy of Ash has a wide cast of characters and POVs that jump around a decent bit. The main focuses are Viktor, Josiri, Calenne, Melnna, and possibly a few more that I'm overlooking. I was a bit intimidated at first by all of the different character viewpoints, but as I started to get more into the story I found myself being able to more easily distinguish between each character and become more invested in their storylines. It did take a while to get to this point, as there are so many names and details to remember, but it was worth it for me personally once I got to that point. I think one of my favorite things about this book is that we get to see POVs from almost all sides (though it is a bit lacking in viewpoints from the more 'regular' classes of people), so we get a good understanding for the motivations behind the battles and discord, as well as an ability to become invested in both sides for various reasons--and maybe lost some support for certain sides!

Without getting into too many unneeded details for a review, Legacy of Ash centers around the Tressia, the Southerners, and the Hadari. The Tresia and Southerners have a long history of hatred between one another, and then the Hadari are essentially a third external threat that is threatening to attack the other two. We get to see characters from all three sides, which I appreciate, and I love how Ward made each section so well-developed that you can mostly understand motivations from all sides. By the end of the book I had really grown to be invested in the lives of most of the characters and it has made me really curious to find out what's going to be next, especially after the epic events of this book.

Ward's world-building was vast and exceptionally well-done. There's plenty of myth and history to give this world background and grounding, as well as current tensions and conflicts to keep the story going. I'm not sure that I fully understood how the magic system worked, but I was immersed in it nonetheless and am curious to see how it continues to develop. If you like your epic fantasy filled with politics and conflicts of all types, then you will have a great time with this book because it is overflowing with political intrigue and some captivating conflicts between characters and territories. There are also some truly epic battle scenes that were far extremely compelling and really added to the impact of other story events.

Ward has a very clear prose style that makes this book easy to fall into, though I will say that there was still something just a little bit rough around the edges about the writing. There were occasional places where dialogue or description felt awkward, but over 800 pages those ended up being less noticeable than they would've been in another book. That being said, since this is an epic fantasy debut it definitely just feels like Ward is figuring out his voice and I have the highest of hopes for the sequel.

Overall, I've given Legacy of Ash four stars! I look forward to seeing what Ward will bring next to this series.

*I received a copy of Legacy of Ash courtesy of Orbit in exchange for an honest review. This has no effect on my rating of the novel.*

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Can't-Wait Wednesday: Eden by Tim Lebbon, The Ancestor by Danielle Trussoni, & Empire of the Sky by Alexander Rose

Can't-Wait is a weekly meme hosted by Wishful Endings that spotlights exciting upcoming releases that we can't wait to be released! This meme is based off of Jill @ Breaking the Spine's Waiting on Wednesday meme.

This week's upcoming book spotlights are: 

Eden by Tim Lebbon
Publication: April 7th, 2020
Titan Books
Paperback. 348 pages.

"In a time when Earth's rising oceans contain enormous islands of refuse, the Amazon rainforest is all-but destroyed, and countless species edge towards extinction, the Virgin Zones were established in an attempt to combat the change. Off-limits to humanity and given back to nature, these thirteen vast areas of land were intended to become the lungs of the world. 

Dylan leads a clandestine team of adventurers into Eden, the oldest of the Zones. Attracted by the challenges and dangers posed by the primal lands, extreme competitors seek to cross them with a minimum of equipment, depending only on their raw skills and courage. Not all survive. 

Also in Dylan's team is his daughter Jenn, and she carries a secret--Kat, his wife who abandoned them both years ago, has entered Eden ahead of them. Jenn is determined to find her mother, but neither she nor the rest of their tight-knit team are prepared for what confronts them. Nature has returned to Eden in an elemental, primeval way. And here, nature is no longer humanity's friend."
Why not read about the destruction of Earth right now? This appealed to me more a couple months ago than it does not, haha, but I am still really interested in this premise and I'm curious to see how Lebbon handles it. Really looking forward to it!

The Ancestor
The Ancestor by Danielle Trussoni
Publication: April 7th, 2020
William Morrow
Hardcover. 368 pages.

"It feels like a fairy tale when Alberta ”Bert” Monte receives a letter addressed to “Countess Alberta Montebianco” at her Hudson Valley, New York, home that claims she’s inherited a noble title, money, and a castle in Italy. While Bert is more than a little skeptical, the mystery of her aristocratic family’s past, and the chance to escape her stressful life for a luxury holiday in Italy, is too good to pass up. 

At first, her inheritance seems like a dream come true: a champagne-drenched trip on a private jet to Turin, Italy; lawyers with lists of artwork and jewels bequeathed to Bert; a helicopter ride to an ancestral castle nestled in the Italian Alps below Mont Blanc; a portrait gallery of ancestors Bert never knew existed; and a cellar of expensive vintage wine for Bert to drink. 

But her ancestry has a dark side, and Bert soon learns that her family history is particularly complicated. As Bert begins to unravel the Montebianco secrets, she begins to realize her true inheritance lies not in a legacy of ancestral treasures, but in her very genes."
This sounds delightfully trope-y and I am here for it! I am always here for inherited castles and mysterious pasts--hoping this one lives up to expectations!

Empires of the Sky: Zeppelins, Airplanes, and Two Men's Epic Duel to Rule the World
Empires of the Sky: Zeppelins, Airplanes, and Two Men's Epic Duel to Rule the World by Alexander Rose
Publication: April 28th, 2020
Random House
Hardcover. 624 pages.
Pre-order: Amazon | Book Depository | IndieBound

"At the dawn of the twentieth century, when human flight was still considered an impossibility, Germany’s Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin vied with the Wright Brothers to build the world’s first successful flying machine. As the Wrights labored to invent the airplane, Zeppelin fathered the remarkable airship, sparking a bitter rivalry between the two types of aircraft and their innovators that would last for decades, in the quest to control one of humanity’s most inspiring achievements. 

And it was the airship—not the airplane—that led the way. In the glittery 1920s, the count’s brilliant protégé, Hugo Eckener, achieved undreamed-of feats of daring and skill, including the extraordinary Round-the-World voyage of the Graf Zeppelin.  At a time when America’s airplanes—rickety deathtraps held together by glue, screws, and luck—could barely make it from New York to Washington, D.C., Eckener’s airships serenely traversed oceans without a single crash, fatality, or injury. What Charles Lindbergh almost died doing—crossing the Atlantic in 1927—Eckener had effortlessly accomplished three years before the Spirit of St. Louis even took off. 

Even as the Nazis sought to exploit Zeppelins for their own nefarious purposes, Eckener built his masterwork, the behemoth Hindenburg—a marvel of design and engineering. Determined to forge an airline empire under the new flagship, Eckener met his match in Juan Trippe, the ruthlessly ambitious king of Pan American Airways, who believed his fleet of next-generation planes would vanquish Eckener’s coming airship armada. 

It was a fight only one man—and one technology—could win. Countering each other’s moves on the global chessboard, each seeking to wrest the advantage from his rival, the struggle for mastery of the air was a clash not only of technologies but of business, diplomacy, politics, personalities, and the two men’s vastly different dreams of the future."
That is a long synopsis, but I'm really intrigued by this topic and the rivalry that this book is all about. I really don't know too much about this part of history, so I'm hoping this book will prove to be enlightening!

What do you think about these upcoming releases? What are your anticipated upcoming releases?

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Top 5 Tuesday: Authors from A-Z Weeks 2 & 3: F-O

This week I decided to switch back over and participate in Top 5 Tuesday, hosted by BionicBookworm!

This week's topic is: Authors Whose Last Names Start with F-O

These last two weeks have been absolutely insane, and I know I'm not alone in saying that! As such, I've fallen behind again in continuing Bionic Bookworm's Authors A-Z posts, so today is a bit of a catch up! Today I will be covering weeks 2 & 3 with letters F-O, and next week I'll be combining weeks 4 & 5 with P-Z! You can find A-E here.

I'm sorting these by author's last name, and just a refresher for how I'm picking authors I'll post my plan of attack from my previous post: Since I'm only choosing one author for each book, I've developed a process: I'm organizing my 'read' shelf on Goodreads by alphabetical order, counting how many of each letter there are (ex.: I have 36 authors whose last names start with A), picking a random number with a number generator, and using that book!

The Hunting Party
The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley
I just read this earlier this at the start of this year (you know, back when things... didn't suck?) and I was super disappointed because I thought I'd enjoy it a lot more than I did. It wasn't great, but I still love the concept and setting.

The Sleeper and the Spindle
The Sleeper and the Spindle by Neil Gaiman
A very classic retelling from Neil Gaiman! I definitely recommend this one, the illustrations are also gorgeous and by the truly fantastic Chris Riddell.

Alice (The Chronicles of Alice, #1)
Alice by Christina Henry
I'm so thrilled this one landed on a Christina Henry book because I just love her writing and the more I get to share her books, the better!

To the Bright Edge of the World
To the Bright Edge of the World by Eowyn Ivey
This book of exploration in the Alaskan wilderness was so beautiful and I really loved following the perspectives of both husband and wife as they each embarked upon their own unique journey.

Gilded Cage (Dark Gifts, #1)
Gilded Cage by Vic James
This was a dystopian that came out what feels like a lot of years ago and I think I remember finding it pretty good? I was pleasantly surprised since it came out after alllll the other dystopian books. I apparently did not continue the series, but I am curious if I would still like it or not...

Tahn (Tahn Dorn #1)
Tahn by L.A. Kelly
Oh my god, this book is from when I was a wee young kid! I do recall really enjoying it, though I am pretty sure that would not be the case now. It was an interesting concept, though, and the general setup is still a trope-like one that I enjoy.

At the Mountains of Madness
At the Mountains of Madness by H.P. Lovecraft
I was so disappointed by this book. The premise and what actually happens is so cool and right up my alley, but the way it was written took all of the excitement, thrill, and my interest away.

The Gene: An Intimate History
The Gene: An Intimate History by Siddhartha Mukherjee 
I found Mukherjee's nonfiction biography of cancer The Emperor of All Maladies so wonderfully written and informative (go read that one!) so I read this other book by him as well. It wasn't as interesting as the previous one, but I also had more of a vested interest in the previous because both of my parents + others I know have had cancer so it was more personal, Still, this was an interesting topic!

Spinning Silver
Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik
Naomi Novik is a beautiful storyteller and this was no exception. I highly recommend this one, even if you didn't care for Uprooted!

In the Forest
In the Forest by Edna O'Brien
I read this so long ago, but I still remember how haunting it was. I definitely recommend it if you like literary fiction that's based off of a true crime story. It is still one that stands out to me even today.

Have you read any of these? Let me know your thoughts!

Monday, March 23, 2020

Review: Providence by Max Barry

Providence by Max Barry
Hodder & Stoughton
Publication Date: April 16th, 2020
Hardcover. 352 pages

About Providence:

"The video changed everything. Before that, we could believe that we were safe. Special. Chosen. We thought the universe was a twinkling ocean of opportunity, waiting to be explored.

Afterward, we knew better.

Seven years after first contact, Providence Five launches. It is an enormous and deadly warship, built to protect humanity from its greatest ever threat. On board is a crew of just four--tasked with monitoring the ship and reporting the war's progress to a mesmerized global audience by way of social media. 

But while pursuing the enemy across space, Gilly, Talia, Anders, and Jackson confront the unthinkable: their communications are cut, their ship decreasingly trustworthy and effective. To survive, they must win a fight that is suddenly and terrifyingly real."

I read Max Barry's Lexicon years and years ago, so when I saw that Providence was coming out, I was really excited to see how his writing may have changed over the years. Providence was just as thrilling and fast-paced as I remember Lexicon being, but the futuristic space and alien contact-era setting was a vast change and one that I found fascinating.

Providence follows four main characters--Talia, Gilly, Jolene, and Anders--as they embark upon a war tour of sorts on an AI space ship that has been out fighting an alien enemy threat. In reality, the humans don't really do anything while battling with the enemies because the AI itself is so much more advanced and able to predict what weapons and tactics to use, but they are still there as a sort of 'symbol' of humans fighting the alien life force.

The four characters were vastly different from one another in personality, which I appreciated because it made it easy to tell them apart when we switch between POVs. I enjoyed the POV switches quite a bit for once because I felt that they were actually useful in understanding the different elements of the events unfolding and I was able to understand each person's personality and motivations for some of the weird and otherwise confusing actions they undertook. There is a huge dysfunctional nature to this group that doesn't do them any favors while essentially locked up alone together light-years away from earth (hey, kinda like a quarantine, minus the light-years! ...too soon?). Tensions get a little high (understandably) and this makes for some problematic interactions, especially when things with the AI start to get a bit too unpredictable.

I will say that I never really felt fully connected to any of these characters and I found the plot lacing in details that I really like. This part is a personal preference, but usually when humans are going off into space and living on a ship, there are a lot of adjustments that are needed and details about how to do everyday activities, get used to living, eat food, etc., and Providence doesn't really get into that. It's not really a big deal in general because this book definitely focuses more on the plot, but if you're someone like me who prefers to have some of those details, just know going in that this doesn't have those. If you don't like those details, then this might be perfect for you!

There was also still something about this plot that didn't quite resonate with me, and I found some of the revelations about the aliens near the end were...slightly odd. I found a few of the scenarios is a little hard to suspend by disbelief over, but I also understand that this book was playing with some new ideas about war with aliens in space, so I didn't let it impact my enjoyment too much. That being said, I felt like there wasn't quite enough set up and introduction to the world and characters as I would have liked, which left me feeling like I was never fully invested in the story.

I loved that Providence explored so many different avenues for AI and alien life. Barry created some thought-provoking moral and ethical conversations around the usage of AI and how it can be used and even trusted to work alongside or in place of humans. If the AI is solely fighting a human's war, does it take away the impact or understanding of magnitude? Are the humans even really waging the war? The aliens were also an intriguing invention and although they weren't necessarily my favorite form of alien life that I've read about, I still appreciated how Barry developed them into a much more complex yet routine-oriented society than I expected.

Overall, I've given Providence. 3.75 stars!

*I received a copy of Providence courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This has no effect on my rating of the novel.*