March 30, 2017

Review: The Stars Are Legion

The Stars Are Legion The Stars Are Legion by Kameron Hurley
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is my first really good book of 2017. I pre-ordered it sight unseen, and it's quintessential Kameron Hurley: messy, gory and brutal, full of unlikable characters and hard choices.

The worldbuilding stands out with this one, however. The Legion is a swarm of living biological worldships orbiting an artificial sun, and the "humans" (and I use the term loosely, as they're clearly not Earth humans; furthermore, they've evolved in tandem with the worldships) in this book inhabit these worlds like intestinal bacteria, or maybe parasites. Our two protagonists, Zan and Jayd, are both unreliable narrators. Zan because she has amnesia, a groan-inducing trope that turns out to have very important plot reasons, and Jayd because she holds her cards so close to the vest, and is playing such a deeply layered game, the reader is never sure if Jayd herself knows what she is supposed to be doing. Zan and Jayd are part of an ongoing battle for control of the Legion, a generations-long war that is about to come to an end, one way or another. The worlds of the Legion are dying, and the fabled ship the Mokshi, which Zan has been told she repeatedly tries to board, repeatedly fails, and returns with her memories stripped from her each time, holds the key to the Legion's survival.

The book is divided into three sections. The middle section is the longest, and is the torturous story of Zan's journey through the guts of the worldship Katazyrna. This is where the worldbuilding gets down to the blood and guts and slime; there are some deeply disturbing things to be found here, and this part of the book is not for the fainthearted. Yet all this, no matter how nasty it is, is necessary. The people Zan meets on her journey to the upper levels of Katazyrna, and the choices she makes to get her little band to their destination, change Zan in profound ways. This character arc comes to its fruition in the final section of the book, when the truth of Zan's previous life, and her journey, is revealed. The final choice she makes tears herself free of the endless loop she had been trapped in, and sets her newly rebirthed worldship on the path free of the Legion.

This is supposedly a standalone book, but I hope Hurley writes more stories in this universe. I would love to know, at a minimum, how the Legion was built and who built it. Still, we do have this book, and it is fan-freaking-tastic.

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