March 26, 2024

Ryan Leslie: "Colossus" (ARC Review)

Title: Colossus [on Amazon | on Goodreads]
Series: None
Author: Ryan Leslie [Site | Goodreads]
Genres: Sci-Fi, Multiverse
Year: 2024
Age: 18+ (please note: it's definitely an adult book as a whole, but readable by mature teens - there are a couple of preludes to sex scenes that either happen offscreen or not at all, and the horror factor shouldn't be a huge issue, given the amount of very dark YA horror out there. See the WARNING! section though)
Stars: 5/5
Pros: Epic, visionary, intriguing blend of fringe science, parallel realities and horror.
Cons: Complex. Requires suspension of disbelief (which is pretty much the norm with sci-fi anyway). Some characters aren't exactly likeable. The ending is open to interpretations.
WARNING! Horror and gore/body horror/bodily fluids. Violence/murder. Drugs/suicide. Heavy drinking.
Will appeal to: Those who have a thing for parallel realities. Those who enjoy tense and imaginative science fiction that pushes the limit.

Blurb: Economics professor Clay West has always explained the world through the lens of his profession. But after his girlfriend Karla takes Dying Wish - a drug that supposedly reveals the nature of reality moments before it claims your life - Clay is devastated. No amount of rationalization can explain Karla's actions. Distraught, Clay joins a mission into the dark emptiness of space where answers are promised to reside. But when the ship begins to malfunction, Clay and the surviving crew members suspect there's more to the mission than they've been told. They've been lied to, and they're drifting into dead space. Clay's memories of Karla haunt him even more than the ship's chaos, and there's something wrong with his memories: he has too many. The ship's Al tells Clay his false memories are a normal side-effect of the hibernation, but to Clay, the memories suggest something far more insidious. He's been on this ship before... (Amazon)

Review: First off...DISCLAIMER: I received a complimentary eARC from the author, since I had already enjoyed and reviewed his debut novel The Between in 2021This didn't influence my review in any way.


On his site, Ryan Leslie states that it took him ten years to complete this novel, and let me tell you, I'm not at all surprised. Colossus is an ambitious blend of genres and ideas, spanning Earth, space and parallel universes/converging realities, clones and AI wars, science and philosophy, and last but not least, love and loss. It could have gone very well or very badly, but luckily, the result is impressive, and far less challenging that one might think (I mean, it's still a complex book, but you won't get lost while reading it). Putting his own twist on quantum science and the many-worlds theory, Leslie came up with a story where the scientific angle is just as prominent as the human one, since the two characters/forces that clash during the course of the novel and ultimately engage in a life-or-death battle are - net of the science and the technology that laid the groundwork for such a battle - the product of very human emotions. And I found it fit that the author would devote the first two thirds of his story respectively to the hero's and the villain's genesis (though Clay's section is a mix of real-time plot and flashbacks) - I mean, the general consensus seems to be that Part 2 is a tad too long, or too complex, or less intriguing, but after a couple of chapters, I started to vibe with it, and I ended up finding it both necessary and enjoyable...not to mention, funny at times. The last third is kind of an acid trip in the best way (which I suppose it indeed is, since the infamous Dying Wish makes an apparition πŸ˜‚), a poignant yet sharp climax steeped in quantum physic and wrapped in a horror nightmare, and if you're into this sort of stuff, it's guaranteed to make your pulse race. [...]


I'll be honest: I found the story, with all its implications, more interesting and enjoyable than the characters. That's not to say that they weren't well-rounded or quirky enough, because for the most part, they were (though I couldn't really get a read on Eric, and I wish that the whole spaceship gang, not to mention Karla, had been given more space to breathe). What I'm trying to say is, as much as I'm on board with a flawed/damaged hero, most of the characters (including leading man Clay) seemed to lean a bit too much into that side, and some of them made me question the very idea of sending them on a deep-space mission together. Also, I found some of their quirks a bit controversial, especially in this day and age - did Lisa really need to go around wearing only her home-made scent (or smell πŸ˜‚) under her mink coat, or to use the bathroom with the door open? (For your info: Lisa is an intriguing character, a tech wiz with a hippiesque streak who doesn't care what other people think of her - which I can very much get behind, but this?). And I couldn't help but detect some manic-pixie-dream-girl undertones in Karla's personality, though not in the classic sense. Lastly, while the epilogue was satisfying on the whole (if probably a tad too open/vague for certain readers' taste), I have some reservations about its playfulness and a certain character's antics. That being said, this novel is indeed a...colossal endeavour, and I can only be in awe of what the author managed to accomplish - hence the 5 stars. In short: Colossus is a strong science fiction specimen, but despite its many layers, accessible enough to cater to the occasional reader of the genre as well - and if you're a fan of crazy, yet somehow plausible science and are fond of "what if" scenarios, you'll find a lot to love in this book.

For more Adult books click here.
For more Multiverse books click here.
For more Sci-Fi books click here.


  1. Seems like those ten years paid off based on the high marks you gave this book. I like that the book could satisfy a true scifi reader as well as a dabbler in the genre.

    1. I do believe it could - also because, what with it being fringe science, one doesn't need a grasp of real scientific concepts in order to follow the plot.

  2. Oh this has a lot of great elements to it. I like spaceship type movies and can get into a book about that if it's a good one.

    1. The spaceship is only the tip of the iceberg here!

  3. I'm glad you reviewed this, I've been so curious about it. Dying Wish sounds horrifying but a great idea to kick off the story. I'm absolutely adding this to my list! Awesome review😁

    1. I can see you enjoying this one. Thanks!

  4. I think I'd be able to forgive the characters if the concept and plot were strong enough. This sounds like a complex but intriguing read!

    1. I know you're like me in that respect - as a rule, you have to vibe with the characters to really enjoy a book...but not all characters need to be likeable, as long as they're forwarding a strong plot.

  5. Glad you found such a wild and amazing book! Sometimes the story where a book shines, and that's fine. The characters were what they needed to be to make that story work. Though yeah, you would think people sent on a deep mission would be pretty carefully chosen lol.

  6. Parallerl realities- yes. 5 stars! Clones and AI wars, converging realities. The many worlds ideas. I mean, this is like catnip to me :)

    I think I'd like this


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