Rating: Loved (Hated-Disliked-Okay-Liked-Loved)
More than ten years ago, back in June of 2005, based on isiscolo's recommendation, I first started reading manna's original fic series. (Most of which can still be found online for free on her website.) Since then, I've repeatedly reread it. When she published them as books, I bought physical copies so I could get the new stories she included in them (they're the last physical books I ever bought, too). I love her writing, I love the world she created, I love the characters she writes. So of course I preordered this new book as soon as it was available, and started reading it the day it arrived.
How can I sum up a series that's roughly 700,000 words long thus far? So reviewing the eighth book would make any sense? I tried, but Manna's summary is better than I can do:
Their world is the dark future dystopia of New London, where Europe is controlled by a totalitarian bureaucracy, which shares political power with powerful corporations. The oppressive government uses torture, violence and the various Divisions of the feared Department of Internal Security to maintain power. The corporations fight amongst themselves, using lethal force under the euphemism of 'corporate sabotage', uniting only to resist attempts by the Administration to extend its control over them.
It's M/M, though that doesn't come into play in this book as much as I would have liked. Still, their world is so fascinating, I loved learning more about it.
This book contained four stories:
Innocent Blood - My least favorite of the book, though mostly for personal reasons. I love the Europe this series is set in. I know it's not a nice place, but it's really interesting and I love everything about it. This story visited America, which I hated. In the series, America follows its current course and becomes a religious democracy. Because it seemed like such a likely place that this country will really end up, it just bothered me too much to enjoy the story. Abortions were illegal, being gay was a crime, women had fewer rights, etc. It was too realistic, too likely, for me to enjoy a story set there.
Weekend Plans - I really liked this one, though I read it for free earlier this year, so didn't reread it now. It was about hanging wallpaper, which is more amusing and sweet than it sounds. (The state-sanctioned torturer was the one putting it up, for his partner.)
Constellation of Falling Stars - At first this one had confused me as to why it was included. It featured no characters from the series, and the business was one we hadn't ever touched on yet (music stars). I was really wanting more of the main characters, so I rushed through this one.
For Your Entertainment - Turns out Constellation of Falling Stars did have a purpose! It was tied in to this novella. First person, featuring a character who we previously hadn't known too well ("B-C" Barret-Connor). This was easily my favorite story of the book. I loved seeing everything through his not-quite-normal eyes.
While I would have liked a lot more focus on the main characters, I loved learning so much more about their world. I've been playing on Nationstates since late in 2005, and in all that time I've tried to make my nation as close to Administration as possible, so I especially enjoyed learning more details I could use there.
Highly recommended! Go check out the free stories online, then go buy the books! I can't wait for the next one to come out. :)