SPSFC: Thieves of Joy, The Tide Erases All, I’m in Sci-Fi Hell, Tropical Punch

I’m back without another batch of books! I think by the end of the week, we’ll have announced all quarter finalists. For now, I’ve got four books to talk about. All books were read by at least two members of the Wayward Stars for 20-25%.

Thieves of Joy

I took on Thieves of Joy as an extra because of some scheduling issues. One other member had already read their part and I’d be the other vote. I didn’t know much about the book before diving in. Not that it mattered much. It gives me the freshest, most unbiased perspective on a book. We follow Tallis through his day-to-day life and witness his flaws and lack of ambition. Then he meets O, a stripper, and he falls for her. From what seemed like a super boring life and character, Tallis suddenly becomes unlikeable.

I don’t have a lot of sympathy for people who cross the boundaries of sex workers. When he’s reminded that O was keeping a customer happy by agreeing to meet him, his friends take pity on him and buy him a pet raccoon. Another red flag since he knows nothing about keeping a pet and a raccoon isn’t the best choice for someone who’s never been responsible for another creature’s life. At the end of the designated reading, Tallis still hasn’t had an active role, except when he asked O out. We both felt the lack of agency and the two red flag incidents were enough to cut Thieves of Joy.

The Tide Erases All

I and another member read the first part of The Tide Erases All. This one is probably the oddest duck in the pool of our allocations. The beautiful cover is a good indication of what you can expect to find inside. It’s chaotic, with a dozen things happening at once, and nearly all of it doesn’t make sense. This is book is the love child of Alice in Wonderland and The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. Add a bit of Netflix’s Sweet Tooth with a young child going on a quest with an adult and meeting all kinds of different people. I actually read to 40% (and plan to read the rest of it) because I was so enthralled with the story and what might be coming next.

A lot of gruesome stuff happens, but at the same time, the tone and perspective keep the story light. It’s hard to nail that balance between weird, illogical, and not breaking that sense of immersion. Despite that certain happenings make zero sense, I never once had the feeling that it defied any rules. There were no rules anymore. Even gravity seemed to no exist anymore. This all wouldn’t have been possible if the writing wasn’t as smooth as it was.

While we agreed it was a good book, we both voted for other books to become our quarter-finalists. This was a strong contender though, and one I will finish reading in the near future. It does everything right but it’s a niche book.

I’m in Sci-Fi Hell

One person marked it as Not My Style, and two members read 20-25%. I was one of the two who read the first quarter. I’m in Sci-Fi Hell is the other odd duck in our pool, although less weird than The Tide Erases All. Here we see a lot of the classic science-fiction tropes coming the life.

I thought the book had the vibe of a detective noire, with all the added tropes. The mix of this didn’t appeal to one team member, but I like my books weird so I liked this a lot. It was well-written and had a good promise of what was to come. Although two members enjoyed it, we didn’t think it was as good as other books in our group and were forced to cut this one early. I might finish this book later as I have more time to read for fun again.

Tropical Punch

I was one of the two members to read Tropical Punch. I enjoyed it so much I finished the whole audiobook in only a few sessions. The main character, Bubbles, lost her arm in a work incident months before and now has a prosthetic arm. This is the second disabled main character (Tael from Out of Darkness is blind) and I love we’re getting more disability rep. Bubbles’ struggles with her prosthetic felt realistic and it wasn’t glossed over. The (long-lasting) trauma from losing it also got realistic screentime. It’s not mentioned once and you never hear about it again as I’ve experience in other books.

Bubbles, overall, felt like a real person, with her flaws and strengths, but her pet smart stole the show for me. I love animal companions and the pet smart is a witty know-it-all, the perfect side-kick for any PI. The first quarter has a lot of action with equal amounts of mystery to keep you interested and reading. Well, it worked on me since I finished the whole book. Both team members agreed Tropical Punch had all the makings for a quarterfinalist and this one was in the last batch before the final cut. After the voting, this was the last book added to the list of quarterfinalist!

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