The Rising of the Shield Hero, Volume 6

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The Rising of the Shield Hero, Volume 6 Book Cover The Rising of the Shield Hero, Volume 6
The Rising of the Shield Hero
Aneko Yusagi
Light Novel
Yen On
November 22, 2016 (English) | June 25, 2014 (Japanese)

After their battle with Glass, Naofumi and his friends work to revitalize the Cal Mira islands before returning to the castle. On the ship back to Melromarc, they meet a young girl named Rishia, who claims to have been tricked and abandoned by her companions. Naofumi, sympathizing with her fate, agrees to listen to her story, and she joins the party. Eventually, Naofumi discovers that she has a talent for transformation magic, but before they can discuss it, someone comes running to beg the heroes for assistance. A monster wearing something like a turtle shell needs to be chased off. The monster is so powerful that even the mightiest adventurers cannot defeat him so what hope is there for Naofumi? Those answers and more in volume 6 as the epic fantasy continues!


Rising of the Shield Hero Volume 6 picks up not too far from where Volume 5 left off. Everyone is licking their wounds after the last big battle and planning their next moves. Kind of. As per usual, the other three heroes are still treating this whole thing like a video game and being jerkasses. And for those of you who watched the anime, Volume 6 is right after season 1 ends. Presumably, season 2 will cover Volumes 6-10 since season 1 did Volumes 1-5 but at the time of this writing, they don’t even have a release date announced yet.

Now, Volume 6 covers two different story arcs. For the first 60% or so of the book, we wrap up the previous arc with little hints about the next one being dropped. This mainly involves a training montage, with Naofumi and the Queen both aware of how grossly underprepared everyone is. This is the more easygoing part of the book, giving Aneko Yusagi more time for world-building, character development, and all that good stuff. Plus, a convenient way to explain why the characters are suddenly a lot stronger in the next fight. And I will take that over some “power of friendship” deus ex machina any day.

The second act is where we get to the good stuff, the next story arc. You better believe that training montage is going to pay off here. The opening arc bleeds into this new one and once the next arc starts, the characters slowly figure out what the new threat is. Until it culminates into a massive, epic battle of survival against a horde of monsters, naturally. It all makes Volume 6 very balanced; first, we get the “normal life” stuff, then we get the big battle.

I would say the biggest pro of this book is the characters, both new and old. We get a few new people like Éclair who are just awesome. And our existing characters get further development too, from massive levels of development like Rishia to the gradual development Naofumi picks up with each new volume. The downside of Volume 6 is that nothing really gets resolved. The opening arc has no real stakes and the new arc is set to continue in the next book. We’ll see what happens next there.

September 13, 2020

The Colorado Kid

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The Colorado Kid Book Cover The Colorado Kid
Stephen King
Hard Crime Case
October 4, 2005

On an island off the coast of Maine, a man is found dead. There's no identification on the body. Only the dogged work of a pair of local newspapermen and a graduate student in forensics turns up any clues.

But that's just the beginning of the mystery. Because the more they learn about the man and the baffling circumstances of his death, the less they understand. Was it an impossible crime? Or something stranger still...?

No one but Stephen King could tell this story about the darkness at the heart of the unknown and our compulsion to investigate the unexplained. With echoes of Dashiell Hammett's The Maltese Falcon and the work of Graham Greene, one of the world's great storytellers presents a surprising tale that explores the nature of mystery itself...


I’m admittingly not the biggest mystery fan, but I’ll read anything by Stephen King. And honestly, my biggest reason for picking up The Colorado Kid was wanting to read something short. Now, Stephen King has shown before that he can write non-horror just as well as horror. And this is a very different story from your average King book. The reviews for this book are very mixed. It’s not even a ‘love it or hate it’ thing; people’s opinions are all across the board here. I, personally, liked it but can imagine some people loathed it for the same reasons I give it 4 stars.

So, The Colorado Kid has a lot going on that’s different from most other mystery stories. First off, the mystery isn’t fresh. And the characters aren’t even really trying to solve the mystery. We have two older journalists telling this new younger journalist the most memorable story of their careers. The story of an unsolved mystery and their insights into it. And this is where I think a lot of people draw ire with the story. In fiction, people want a resolution. They want the time they spent reading to have a payoff. That’s not what The Colorado Kid does, but it was never trying to do that in the first place either.

Like any good mystery, we start with one big question. In this story, it’s “who was this mysterious dead man?” And as little answers and hints are uncovered, that leads to more questions so the trail of clues can continue. The thing is, this is where The Colorado Kid kind of stops. The characters (and readers) speculate a bunch, but it’s never outright said what really happened. And that’s the point. The Colorado Kid is meant to reflect a real-life mystery. Not the fluffed up, everything-works-out fictional version that people tend to expect. And oftentimes, real-life mysteries go unsolved.

Yes, The Colorado Kid is in the mystery genre. But it’s not really about the mystery. It’s about the characters trying to solve that mystery. Which happens, albeit a bit on-again-off-again, over more than a year. When the trail ends and they still don’t have a concrete answer, all they can do is speculate. And deal with it. And move on with their lives. The older characters even straight-up say they’ve never shared this story with any big-time publications because they know the facts will get muddled as people make up their own false ending due to our unyielding need for that type of closure as a society. By telling the younger journalist this, they’re passing the torch to her. And that’s really the point of this story at its core.

And as a side note, I think I really liked this book because it didn’t have a “real” ending and endings are something that Stephen King tends to struggle with. That many authors tend to struggle with. Ending a story is one of the hardest parts of writing one and the “life goes on” aspect of The Colorado Kid allowed it to skip over this usually steep hurdle.

September 6, 2020


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Poster for the movie "Foolproof"


20031 h 37 min

Kevin, Sam and Rob have an unusual hobby: planning foolproof heists, without intending to actually perform them. The game goes wrong when their latest plan is stolen and carried out. Things get even worse when a mysterious man approaches them with an offer: plan a heist for him, or go to jail. As the clock ticks, they find that the risk might be higher than just their freedom.

Director William Phillips
Runtime 1 h 37 min
Release Date 3 October 2003
Movie Media VoD
Movie Status Available
Movie Rating Not bad

Man, Ryan Reynolds really knows his audience. If you haven’t seen his newly launched streaming service, go check it out. There you can watch Foolproof, and only Foolproof, for free. This is a heist movie from the early-2000s, so I know what you’re thinking. And yes, Foolproof was probably trying to ride off the success of Ocean’s Eleven. But aside from also being a heist movie, Foolproof isn’t really all that similar. The cast of characters is much smaller and written pretty differently, the plot is less complex, and the writing puts more of a focus on comedy.

So, this heist group is only made up of 3 partners. They get a few tagalongs once the plot starts unfolding, but these core 3 form the main group. The key difference between these 3 and most other heist movie characters is that they’re not accomplished criminals. Up until this point, the whole heist planning thing was literally a game for them. These aren’t hardened criminals, they’re people working white-collar jobs. But that just leaves room for some fantastic character development as the story unfolds. Instead of saying “here’s the character, the movie is about the plot”, Foolproof is more about how these normal people with a weird hobby respond to an extreme situation.

That being said, the stakes didn’t feel quite as high as in many other heist films. Or at least different. Being caught during their heist is clearly a threat and there are some suspicious police officers who start poking around after a little while too. But the main threat is Leo, the criminal blackmailing the group. If they get caught, they could land in jail, but Leo seems more likely to just straight-up murder them. And the level of that threat fluctuates as they get to know Leo and see more of him as a person, only for an occasional reminder that he is absolutely ruthless.

While I wouldn’t classify Foolproof as a comedy, the comedic elements are definitely there. Which is pretty much what makes many of Ryan Reynolds’ best movies work. Not that he can’t do non-comedy, he can, but comedy is where he shines. God, I’d love to see some kind of comedy “Vs.” movie that pits him against Chris Pratt. Anyway, the funny elements are mainly restricted to a quick jab here and there. And it works well to break up the tension in an otherwise purely action-thriller story.

Overall, this is a decent movie. Not amazing, but entertaining and certainly worth the running time. Especially since it can be watched for free.

August 30, 2020

Crusade (Destroyermen, #2)

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Crusade Book Cover Crusade
Taylor Anderson
October 7, 2008

The "gripping and riveting" Destroyermen saga continues.

Lieutenant Commander Matthew Reddy, along with the men and women of the USS Walker, have chosen sides in a war not of their making. Swept from the World War II Pacific into an alternate world, they have allied with the Lemurians: a mammalian race threatened by the warlike reptilian Grik.

The Lemurians are vastly outnumbered and ignorant of warfare, and even the guns and technology of Walker cannot turn the tide of battle. Luckily they are not alone? Reddy finally finds Mahan, the other destroyer that passed through the rift. Together, the two American ships will teach the Lemurians to make a stand. Or so they think.

For the massive Japanese battleship Amagi, the very ship that Walker was fleeing from when the rift took them, has followed them through. And now the Amagi is in the hands of the Grik.


Things are starting to heat up for Captain Reddy, his crew, and their new allies in Crusade. A lot of the initial worldbuilding for Destroyermen got taken care of in the first book. So, this time around there is more focus on plot advancement. By the time I got around to writing this review, I’m already 6 books deep into this series. And so far, it seems like the story arcs can be measured out fairly well. Yes, the overall story is still about fighting the Grik. But it can be broken down into smaller actions, just like a real-world conflict. The first book left a lot hanging, but the story was fairly self-contained. Crusade is more the first half of a two-parter.

At the end of the first book, it’s not 100% clear what the characters are actually going to do next. They know a massive invasion force that will take no prisoners is headed straight for them. A decision has to be made: run or fight. They pick ‘fight’ and a lot of Crusade is the human characters teaching the Lemurians how to get ready in every possible way. That means training in combat tactics, developing new weapons, learning to use those weapons and tactics, and outfitting an overall peaceful society for war.

Much of the book is spent on this prep work. Not just getting it done, but how they go about doing it and the beginnings of ramifications all these changes will bring to Lemurian society. And a lot of this is new to Captain Reddy and his men too. Yeah, they’re Navy, but it’s not like any of them were Admirals commanding fleets before this. Not to mention having to lead ground troops into battle.

And as far as the plot goes, it’s kind of basic. In real life, war is a messy business that (historically) is rarely about the moral high ground. But when you’re up against a take-no-quarters enemy who behaves as such because they’re vicious carnivores that you hope to God will have the good grace to kill you before they start eating you, it kind eliminates any question of good vs. evil. It makes it pretty easy for the protagonists to become shining paragons of honor and heroism. They’re not like Disney-protagonist level good, they’ll get their hands dirty when necessary, but the enemy is clearly much worse.

Destroyermen really reads more like an old serial series than anything else. In the grand scheme of things, not too much actually happens in Crusade, and nothing is really fully resolved. But that’s not at all what this book is trying to do, so it really doesn’t matter. It’s just a fun alternate history military romp. It knows this and does it well. This is not the series to read if you’re looking for something on par with Of Mice and Men. It’s what you read when you want fighting, explosions, and action in a light sci-fi setting.

August 23, 2020

The Black Prism (Lightbringer #1)

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The Black Prism Book Cover The Black Prism
Brent Weeks
August 25, 2010

Guile is the Prism, the most powerful man in the world. He is high priest and emperor, a man whose power, wit, and charm are all that preserves a tenuous peace. Yet Prisms never last, and Guile knows exactly how long he has left to live.

When Guile discovers he has a son, born in a far kingdom after the war that put him in power, he must decide how much he's willing to pay to protect a secret that could tear his world apart.


So, The Black Prism was kind of a mixed bag for me. A friend of a friend gave the Lightbringer series a glowing review and I trust her opinion well enough that I gave it a shot. And I did a little pre-reading research beforehand; the thing that stuck out most was everyone commenting on how unique the magic system is here. Ok, sure, I’m game. The story kind of felt like a halfway point between Epic Fantasy and High Fantasy. There were elements of both, and it didn’t strictly lean towards one or the other. And the characters and their quirks are a-whole-nother thing on top of that.

First off, the magic system. How it works is that there are different colors of magic, modeled after rainbow colors. While you can, in theory, use any color for any task, they all have specialties. For example, red magic is the most combustible so that works best for fire and explosives. Each color is also linked to a certain emotion; using a color can cause that emotion to flare up for the user. Red makes you angry, blue makes you logical, and so forth. I got to about this point when I realized the magic here is just the Lantern Rings from DC Comics. Take that as you will.

Then we have the story. Like most good fantasy stories, this world already has a lot of history to it. The audience gets little glimpses from people talking about the last big war. And how, despite being decades ago, the effects are still felt today and influencing current events. The fact that a lot of this information is conveyed through Kip, a 15-year old normal village boy, leaves a few things to be desired. Despite being described as smart, Kip is very much a fish out of water in this story and makes some pretty dumb choices along the way.

And the character tropes don’t stop there. We have an archmage, wizard apprentices, an evil despot, men behind the scenes on both sides, and more. Although the thing that sticks out more than the characters’ personalities is their bodies. Kip is fat and holy crap does that come up often. Not that it necessarily shouldn’t; I mean, it’s not fun to watch but it’s certainly a realistic approach to bullying. And The Black Prism also seems to have some troubles treating women as people instead of things, but I do not have enough space to go in-depth on that here.

Despite all the issues this book had, there are redeeming qualities. Mainly Gavin and his interactions with the world. And there was an impressive enough cliffhanger to keep me interested despite the various issues. People seem to like this series, so I will keep going and give it a chance. It might be a stretch to call it ‘bad’ based solely on The Black Prism, but I am hoping it improves.

August 16, 2020

Overlord, Vol. 12: The Paladin of the Sacred Kingdom Part I

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Overlord, Vol. 12: The Paladin of the Sacred Kingdom Part I Book Cover Overlord, Vol. 12: The Paladin of the Sacred Kingdom Part I
Kugane Maruyama
Light Novel
Yen On
June 23, 2020 (English) | September 23, 2017 (Japanese)

The Sacred Kingdom has enjoyed a great many years without war thanks to a colossal wall constructed after a historic tragedy. They understand best how fragile peace can be. When the terrible demon Jaldabaoth takes to the field at the head of a united army of monstrous tribes, the Sacred Kingdom's leaders know their defenses are not enough. With the very existence of the country at stake, the pious have no choice but to seek help wherever they can get it, even if it means breaking taboo and parlaying with the undead king of the Nation of Darkness!


So, this story arc, like Volumes 5 and 6, is divided into two books. This being Part 1 of that story, it shares a fair number of similarities with Volume 5. The first is that narratively this is the build-up phase. That’s not to say nothing really happens in this book, but it’s all preamble. This all makes it a pretty far cry from the big, epic moments of the series like Volume 3 or Volume 9. But that doesn’t mean the book isn’t interesting, its action sequences are just tamer. Cause that’s not really the focus here and will likely happen in Part 2.

What this book does is bring the audience to the Sacred Kingdom and its paladins. And show what Demiurge has been up to during the events of the last few books. And he’s once again using his disguise as Jaldabaoth, which just really makes this storyline even more comparable to the previous two-parter. So, the first two chapters of this book mainly focus on bringing in new characters, mainly the aforementioned paladins. We get to know a little bit about the Sacred Kingdom, see them fight, and so forth. Then the tone shifts a bit and starts to focus more on Ainz, although one of the new characters (Neia) becomes his little sidekick.

The thing about Paladin of the Sacred Kingdom is that it starts off slow. Told from their point of view, the story makes sense. We see the paladins desperately doing everything they can to protect their homeland. But we, the readers, know what the Nazarick gang is capable of. We know these paladins are doomed to failure. That they are being played like fiddles. And it’s not actually until the very end of the book that we see what Ainz is really planning here. And like usual, his train of thought is pretty different from the Guardians, but he rolls with it.

One thing that was fun to see here was Ainz’s continuously degrading humanity. He’s become less human, less moral, over the course of the series. But up until this point, it’s been kind of hands-off. Him just giving the orders or the ok to do terrible things. Or causing bad things to happen on a big scale where it’s hard to feel and measure the individual suffering of the victims. But now, he gets his hands dirty. And doesn’t feel even a shred of real remorse over it. He’s even struggling to just understand normal people and where they’re coming from at this point. It seems like he less feels emotions and more remembers what it was like to feel them. He is very much becoming the mask throughout this story and it will be interesting to see where that takes him.

August 9, 2020

YA Novel Giveaway Announcement!

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I recently met Abby Arthur, author of Twins Of Shadow, and I’m excited to say she’s running a HUGE giveaway this month.

The prizes include 17 YA Fantasy novels and a new eReader, the Amazon Kindle Fire 7, over the course of the next 4 weeks.

There are 4 chances to win a prize!

Every entrant will also receive a free copy of the Twins Of Shadow ebook.

  1. Go to the link below
  2. Enter your email address
  3. Follow Abby on her social platforms (Gives you 50X more chances to win!)
  4. Share your lucky URL (extra 20X chances to win per friend to enter)

Click this link to enter:

A new prize will be drawn each week!

August 3, 2020

The Running Man

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The Running Man Book Cover The Running Man
Richard Bachman (Stephen King)
May 1, 1982

The Running Man is set within a dystopian future in which the poor are seen more by the government as worrisome rodents than actual human beings. The protagonist of The Running Man, Ben Richards, is quick to realize this as he watches his daughter, Cathy, grow more sick by the day and tread closer and closer to death. Desperate for money to pay Cathy’s medical bills, Ben enlists himself in a true reality style game show where the objective is to merely stay alive.


The Running Man, yet another Stephen King book taking place in a dystopian future. Dystopias have really gotten more popular since The Hunger Games. And even more so thanks to shows like The Handmaid’s Tale and Black Mirror. But back before they had really gone mainstream (mostly), you had stories like this. There is basically just one concrete rule of a dystopia: everything sucks. Not in the same fashion as a post-apocalypse setting like Mad Max, but still awful. Some organization, usually the government or a mega-corporation, has taken over. Things are amazing if you’re one of the 0.001% of people at the top and suck for everyone else.

In this variation, game shows are used by the ruling class’ to keep the poor distracted in line. And considering reality TV was not a thing yet when The Running Man came out, this idea was ahead of its time. Game shows were certainly popular back then though, so tit for tat. Now, we get this average Joe named Ben Richards competing in a game that is designed to be unwinnable because that is the only way to save his daughter’s life. If there is a more solid premise to set up a “man vs. society” story, I have yet to find it.

As the reader, you are clearly rooting for Richards. But as you get deeper in, it becomes more apparent how much the deck is stacked against him. At one point, he’s even straight-up told that by the people who made this “game”. But just because the Grim Reaper is going to catch you eventually doesn’t mean you can’t make the bastard work for it. Richards’ cautionary tale shows that he is a normal man, but also a clever one.

And on that note, I have to mention the movie adaption of The Running Man. This is one of those films that is the same as the book in name only. The book portrays Richards as clever and street smart, doing well enough in the game to make society’s evil overlords look bad. He starts to give the common people real hope and that makes him a threat. The film is a 1980’s movie that casts Arnold Schwarzenegger as the lead. That should really tell you everything you need to know about it. Some of the themes are persistent, but that is the only thing that stays the same beyond character names.

So, in summary, The Running Man is a short, entertaining story featuring a brave man and a cautionary tale. And go watch the movie if you like 1980s action flicks.


Side note: Be sure to check out my blog tomorrow for a special giveaway announcement, featuring 17 YA books and an Amazon Kindle Fire 7!

August 2, 2020

Top Secret!

Published Post author

Poster for the movie "Top Secret!"

Top Secret!

Don't tell anyone.

19841 h 30 min

Popular and dashing American singer Nick Rivers travels to East Germany to perform in a music festival. When he loses his heart to the gorgeous Hillary Flammond, he finds himself caught up in an underground resistance movement. Rivers joins forces with Agent Cedric and Flammond to attempt the rescue of her father, Dr. Paul, from the Germans, who have captured the scientist in hopes of coercing him into building a new naval mine.

Director Jerry Zucker, Jim Abrahams, David Zucker
Runtime 1 h 30 min
Release Date 8 June 1984
Movie Media DVD
Movie Status Available
Movie Rating Very good

As much as Airplane is the greatest comedy of all time (and I will die on that hill), there aren’t all that many other comedies in the same style. At least, not ones that approach the same quality. It’s pretty much just the Hots Shots duology, The Naked Gun trilogy, and Top Secret. There are a few others out there like pretty much everything else Leslie Nielsen was in after Airplane, but they’re not quite as funny. Top Secret does take itself a bit more seriously than the other films I’ve mentioned, but not by much.

The main difference here is that the jokes aren’t quite non-stop. That’s not to say they’re far apart, they’re not, but it isn’t quite the same constant stream as Airplane. And it doesn’t have that same modern(ish) setting as The Naked Gun. But that’s actually one of the jokes; Top Secret somehow seems to take place in the 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s, and 80s all at the same time and it works, which is just a treat. And the joke structure as a whole is very similar to these other films despite not being as consistent. There are direct jokes, setting jokes, background jokes, and more. This is definitely a film where you won’t catch everything on your first viewing.

One thing that really sticks out is the plot. In Airplane and Hot Shots, the plot doesn’t matter. The Hot Shots movies parody Top Gun and Rambo while Airplane is Airplane. Yeah, The Naked Gun has a fairly important plot (comparatively), but Top Secret makes it even more relevant. And I think this really comes down to Top Secret being a parody of a spy thriller. The genre forces this movie to have a villain, a good one too who’s just as funny as the protagonists. And as far as characters go, a bunch of fun cameos are littered throughout the cast. I will watch anything with Peter Cushing, no matter how minor his role (another hill I will die on).

I probably laughed more watching this film than any other comedy I’ve seen in the last couple of years. Fun fact: Top Secret is Weird Al’s favorite comedy. If that’s not enough of an endorsement, I don’t know what is. And considering all that, I’m kind of surprised it took as long as it did for this movie to fall onto my radar. Best I can tell, it just doesn’t have the same renown as something like Airplane. But despite that, it is very much worth the time for anyone who likes tickling their funny bone.

July 26, 2020

13 Worlds

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13 Worlds Book Cover 13 Worlds
J. J. Hair
May 18, 2020

Directed by an omnipotent super-being known as the “Guide”, Commander Culben, Dr. Reeves, and the crew of starship Ranus have set out on a mission to destroy thirteen different planets: analogous but unique versions of 1st and 2nd Earth. The planets’ inhabiting civilizations are believed to be on the verge of developing advanced DNA-editing technology known as CRISPR, which would lead to the creation of Supremes: an advanced human species capable of wiping out all life in the galaxy.…If history can be believed. What begins as a straightforward mission quickly becomes a series of moral quandaries. Is the crew doing what’s best for the galaxy? Can the Guide be trusted?While the Ranus pursues its targets, each world begins to learn of its fate through the eyes of Lisa Fry, Clarke Gabriel, and other medical scientists. Can their discoveries change their fate?


A copy of 13 Worlds was provided to me by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Despite only being a 102-page novella, 13 Worlds wears a lot of different hats. There are a lot of references to other works in here. Author J. J. Hair’s biography lists several other works he is a fan of, and it shows. I caught the Ender’s Game reference pretty quickly, among other things, but there were probably other references I did not even pick up on. There are also a lot of real-world allusions, the most memorable one being a planet with pretty much the whole population in quarantine because of a virus. Art imitates life, I guess.

Now, 13 Worlds does jump around a little bit. Assuming you have read the synopsis, you have a basic idea of the plot. The story goes back and forth between the crew of the planet-killer ship and people on the worlds marked for destruction. The idea being that they are knocking off civilizations on the verge of becoming a threat. Getting some Stargate SG-1 flashbacks off that.

The ideas here were great, but it was a little bit confusing in practice. With multiple settings involved, it’s not always clear where a chapter takes place. And it seemed like these different planets were unaware of each other, but they all used very similar naming conventions. For most of the book, I was not 100% sure whether these planets were in the same universe or if the spaceship was hopping between dimensions/realities. That does eventually get cleared up, but it happens pretty close to the end. And everything that happens along the way feels a little bit…incomplete.

By the end of the novella, 13 Worlds felt more like a pilot episode than a standalone story. There is clearly more going on here and, as a reader, I want to know what those things are. Some major events had to lead to what’s happening here. And the current events are just as clearly going to lead to even bigger things.

Another thing that stuck out to me was the world-building and character development. For a short novella rather than a novel with 4x the page count, the world and characters are fairly well developed. But it seems like this is a tiny bit of a much bigger universe J. J. Hair has created. One with a bigger story than what we see here. It feels like this is just the skeleton and could be a lot more once there is some meat on those bones.

July 19, 2020