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Olivia Watts

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An immediate classic

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 13-07-2019

Each decade, it seems, dozens of new authors write books. Most are acceptable, some are better than average and occasionally an excellent story appears to delight us. Very rarely, perhaps a handful of times each generation, come an author whose work is that of a master or his or her craft. Ms Kowal with her books The Calculating Stars and The Fated Sky is such an author and these books are destined to join the honour roll of true classics of this genre. The characters are brought to full humanity with faults shown as openly and honestly as their strengths. Although an alternative timeline is used, the setting brought the turbulent middle decades of the 20th century into a stark and credible realism confronting issues of race and sexual discrimination into the storyline just as they permeated those decades in our time. The science is rigorous and believable even though the story deals with events we have not yet achieved and gives cogent and credible reason for this. I found I joined the journey of the characters. I laughed, I cried, I imagined and I believed with them - only a very very few other books have ever engaged me so deeply. The audio narration is by the author herself and this was a delightful surprise; not only is Ms Kowal an expert narrator but her intimate knowledge of the characters gave the reading great emotional power and enhanced the experience. I do not know the author nor am I in any way connected with the publishers. I bought these books myself and am so very glad I did. I look forward to future works by Ms Kowal and hope she can match the depth and beauty of these books. She has set the bar very high but has the talent needed. When her next book is released she already has a purchaser in me.

1 person found this helpful

The Handmaid's Tale cover art

A chilling glimpse of an all too possible future

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 23-07-2017

Although ever so slightly dated now, this book remains a vibrant and powerful work. Expertly written and with characters you feel as real, this book shows just how easily democracy can be converted to autocracy; a topic perhaps more relevant today than when it was written.

The Handmaid's Tale rewards the reader and is deserving of the many awards and accolades it has garnered. I have given it a five star rating and believe each star is well deserved.

What a Twilight Zone episode this book would have made!

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 11-05-2017

This is my first journey with Mr Smitherd and I'm happy to say it was in no sense a disappointment. Matt Addis as narrator was an excellent choice and had wonderful material to work with; quirky, difficult to categorise and very, very human. I imagine some readers might be uncomfortable with the degree of introspection the prime characters offer but I felt this enhanced the work rather than detracted from it and the plot itself was at all times interesting, engaging, gritty and realistically portrayed. There are no perfect people in this book but there are people all of us would recognise, sharing the same faults and fears and moments of nobility we all possess. The plot is allowed to unfold and never feels forced or contrived and is wholly unlike any other work I can bring to mind, so bonus points for originality.

Don't expect zap bang pow action sequences, space opera or shining knight characters who ride in and save the day. Instead, sit back and enjoy a book which you could wake up tomorrow and find you are living in the middle of.

Liv Watts
Melbourne, Australia
May 12, 2017

A story worthy of the highest recommendation

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 19-08-2016

As a relatively new and little known author, Ms Dekker's books - this volume and its previous volume The Choosing - leave the reader now waiting in anxious and impatient manner for the trilogy's final volume The Awakening. Those who have the audiobook version will have the pleasure of narration by Ms Morgan Hallett who is superb as always and does full justice to the material.

Whilst nominally a work of dystopian Science Fiction in the same sense as The Maze Runner and Divergent series', this book, at least for me, far outstrips both in the scope and believability of its story plot, which is given clear explanation and creates a world you feel you could step into. The characterisations are beautifully crafted and even minor characters are given a depth and personality.

There are strong romance threads in this work but these are integrated so seamlessly and integrally into the plot that those who normally avoid "romance stories" should still give this book a fair reading. Likewise, the religious and metaphysical aspects of the storyline which form a strong setting for the overall plot will neither deter nor offend readers; they are sensitively and thought provokingly presented and add a strong motivational purpose for each character in his or her own way.

All in all, a wonderful work with characters you will care about and a story that will keep you reading. I hope Ms Dekker comes to Australia one day for a book signing - I'll be in the queue for sure!