4 star review

Review – Way of the Serpent by Donna Birdwell

Way of the Serpent

I received a copy of this book from the author, this does not affect my opinion of this book or the content of my review. In the interests of full disclosure, I’m acquainted with this author as she is a former professor of mine. This fact may indeed be influencing my opinions and the content of this review, however, if that is so, it would be to make me harsher than usual. Tough classes breed tough critics, and who has never wanted to be the one to critique their teacher’s works?

When Jenda Swain – youthful and vigorous at the age of 111 – encounters an incongruously old woman at an out-of-the-way café, her life veers in a new direction amid unsettling questions about her own identity and her role in the corporation-dominated culture of 2125. Her journey takes her into the arms of a Latino artist, who has a quest of his own. Answers come together as their world falls apart.

So starts the beginning of what I am told is to be a series, the next one which may be coming out Spring 2016.

So what happens when everyone can live for practically ever? In literature it is almost always a cautionary tale, because there simply must be a trade off of some sort. Somehow I feel that when we get to that point in our medical revolution we will race forwarded with no real thoughts to the outcomes, just as people in this world have done.

Jenda Swain lives in a post-apocalyptic world, though few know that this is so, as the end of all they knew came gently and everything seemed for the good. The trade off for longevity and eternal health doesn’t seem so dire. Merely your memories, but that isn’t so bad, because technology once more evolved to rescue them. Imagine if Facedbook was where you went to store all your memories, imagine then that with all this power, government and governance was a mere shadow and corporations are the real power. That last part doesn’t seem so far fetched at the moment, to be honest.

But this is the world Jenda lives and works in. She is a cog in the machine of exomemories, until that chance encounter mentioned in the blurb sends her spiraling off her pre-planned and narrowly defined life.

So what did I think of this book? It was very interesting. I enjoyed the wheels within wheels conspiracies and the intricate ways different plot threads were woven together to form a rich albeit care worn and oft mended tapestry. And Jenda’s emotional turmoil at discovering the lie that is her life,  that was believable and engaging, as was her relationship with Luis. What I struggled with was how the story was told, with much telling and less showing, and much of that in Jenda’s head, and she seemed so removed from many of the events. This puts the reader at a slight remove, watching the events of the story unfold instead of feeling immersive. But the way the author blended components of a morality play with a mystery and a thriller was all but riveting. The sum of the whole was greater than its parts, much like human memory, so while the way the story was written may have not have been to my preferences, the story itself absolutely was and was what kept me racing through it.

In retrospect, I suspect the stylistic choices were purposeful and were likely a mirror and commentary on the events of the story itself. It just wasn’t, as I said, my preference. But that ending though was amazing and emotional. I almost wish I had waited to read this until the sequel comes out early 2016 so that I can binge read and find out what happens next.

Fortunately dear readers, I did not and am able to tell you about it while this book is currently on sale for the holidays so check it out.

Way of the Serpent
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2 thoughts on “Review – Way of the Serpent by Donna Birdwell

  1. Pingback: Favorite Books of 2015 | ...Burns Through Her Bookshelf

  2. Pingback: Review – 2113: Stories Inspired by the Music of Rush by Kevin J. Anderson, John McFetridge | ...Burns Through Her Bookshelf

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