August 08, 2021

Cassandra Khaw: "The All-Consuming World" (ARC Review)

Title: The All-Consuming World [on Amazon | on Goodreads]
Series: None
Author: Cassandra Khaw [Site | Goodreads]
Genres: Sci-Fi
Year: 2021
Age: 18+
Stars: 2/5
Pros: I decided to DNF this one early on, so I can't give a whole list of pros, but from the little I've read, it sounds like an original twist on a few sci-fi tropes.
Cons: The writing is often convoluted/difficult to decipher and gets in the way of the plot too much.
WARNING! Again, I can't give a whole list, but it's heavy on gore and profanities (if that's something that turns you off).
Will appeal to: Readers who don't get a headache when the writing is a hard nut to crack and/or overshadows the plot.

Blurb: A diverse team of broken, diminished former criminals get back together to solve the mystery of their last, disastrous mission and to rescue a missing and much-changed comrade... but they’re not the only ones in pursuit of the secret at the heart of the planet Dimmuborgir. The highly-evolved AI of the universe have their own agenda and will do whatever it takes to keep humans from ever controlling the universe again. This band of dangerous women, half-clone and half-machine, must battle their own traumas and a universe of sapient ageships who want them dead, in order to settle their affairs once and for all. (Goodreads)

Review: First off...DISCLAIMER: I requested this title on NetGalley and Edelweiss, and got approved for it on both sites. Thanks to Erewhon Books for providing a temporary ecopy. This didn't influence my review in any way.

It pains me to give a bad review to a title I was approved for by the publisher (twice!), especially when the author is a POC and the title in question is their debut book - but I had to throw my towel after reading the first chapter. Though English is an acquired language for me, I've honestly never had a problem with a book's reading level or an author's writing style...until now. On the contrary, I enjoy complex, imaginative prose and the random unusual word I have to look into a dictionary to unlock. But this book turned out to be too much for me (and, judging from the first Goodreads reviews, for a number of native speakers as well). The first chapter was full of convoluted sentences and/or metaphors that seemed to try too hard, besides having a fondness for mixing up different kinds of sensory experiences* ("Her voice is the boreal wash of moonlight upon the bulwark of their ship-in-orbit"; "Ayane looks like the last cold gulp of water before the sun goes supernova"). It got old pretty quickly, and most of all, it felt disorienting, because it was getting in the way of the plot for me. It's a pity, because I'm sure there's a great story buried under the labyrintine (some might say evocative) prose and concocted figures of speech, but I don't have the patience to uncover it.

*To the best of my knowledge, this isn't due to the author suffering from synestesia, since I didn't find any reference to that in their bio - so it must be a poetic licence.

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  1. Sorry to hear you didn't like it enough to finish it.

    1. Thanks! It happens so rarely with me, but well - not every book, as much as you choose it with care, can be a winner.

  2. Oh that's too bad. I think I'd struggle with that too, sadly. Bummer because sapient ships and some of those other plot elements do sound fun.

    1. They do! I was excited to be approved for it (twice! *sigh*). But her writing style isn't for me.

  3. I almost passed out when I saw you DNFed. I didn't think you did that. Good for you! I feel you on the writing. Especially it being difficult. I don't read books that are a chore.

    1. Haha! I DNFed 3 books since I started blogging - that is, in almost 9 years. But it's no wonder, since I'm very picky about what I read. If I had gotten the chance of reading a sample of this one before requesting, I would have left it alone.

  4. They can't all be winners, it is good for the soul to dnf

  5. I'm sorry this didn't work for you. I think you're pretty open (if not more so) to a lot of writing styles and plot ideas but, yes, those sentences would take a lot of work to orient through. Never mind doing it continuously.

    Karen @For What It's Worth

    1. Similes and such are a great thing in small doses. A whole stream of them feels more like a burden than a joy to read, especially when they're so extreme.


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