Markswoman by Rati Mehrotra
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
There were some good things about this book (mainly the worldbuilding) and I liked several aspects of it, but in the end it didn't really grab me. This is the author's first book, and I think she has promise, but I'm not sure I'll pick up the next book(s) in the series. Maybe at the library, but I don't think I'll be buying it.
The worldbuilding, however, was very interesting, and the backstory of this world worked into the overall plot quite well. Perhaps this is Earth, perhaps not; we're eight hundred and fifty years past an apocalyptic event known as the Great War, which may or may not be a nuclear holocaust; and there are mysterious beings called "the Ones," who may or may not be aliens. (I suspect the former, due to the fact that they left behind a sentient, telepathic metal called kalishium which can be worked into knives--and guns--and bond with humans, and they were the apparent builders of the Transport Hubs. This is a bit of a MacGuffin that is accessible by the katari, or the magical daggers, and can magically move people great distances...and ahead in time as well, it seems.) If all of this sounds way too vague, well, it kind of is. But it provides a fascinating subtext to the story, and presumably some of these mysteries will be revealed in subsequent books.
Where this book fell down for me is the uneven pacing and the characterizations. After a slam-bang first chapter, we meander almost halfway through the book before what I thought of as the real story began, and from there it's a breathless race to the cliffhanger ending. Some characters--Shirin Mam and Nineth, in particular--are much better written than others. Unfortunately, the "others" includes the protagonist, Kyra. I just couldn't connect very well with her. And the villain, Tamsyn, seemed cartoonishly over the top, despite a valiant attempt to humanize her in the last chapters. Also re the pacing, I couldn't believe the climactic final fight, the thing Kyra spent half the book training for and obsessing over, took place over the sum total of four pages. That definitely felt like a cheat. And the ending was so rushed I could hardly figure out what was going on.
So this was okay, but I'm not jumping up and down and squeeing over it. Hopefully the author can get some of these issues corrected in the next book.
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