Reviews

A Memory Called Empire, by Arkady Martine

silvae's review against another edition

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5.0

Trigger Warnings for: xenophobia and microaggressions, semi-graphic medical procedore (brief)

I'm trying to find a way to fully describe how much I enjoyed this book without prattling on and on about the worldbuilding, the charming characters, the intrigue, the concepts and the wit of writing, and and and... So I'll keep it brief: A Memory Called Empire feels like a modern day (urban) Dune. It's thick and detailed and a lot of telling happens instead of showing. Had I read this in a physical copy, I would have checked the glossary every so often (the audiobook kind of forces you to accept whatever comes your way, which may actually be the best way to go about reading these sorts of stories). Its focus on cultural imperialism, xenophobia and the ugliness a beautiful culture can harbor in itself through the eyes of a diplomat who has to balance the othering she faces with her love for the culture she has always dreamed of... I don't remember having something similar before. Something about Arkady Martine's writing and world made me want to drop everything I was doing, just to listen to another chapter, and another and another... You know how it goes.

I'm glad I picked this book up right before volume 2 gets released - this way, I won't miss the characters all too much before I see them again.

theobobeo's review against another edition

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medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? It's complicated

4.5

paige_docx's review against another edition

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adventurous challenging dark mysterious tense fast-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Plot

4.0

fedak's review against another edition

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2.0

Went into this one with high expectations given the awards and high reviews, came away fairly disappointed

- There is little in the way of character development, backstory, or arc. You learn nothing about the protagonist beyond her childhood dream of wanting to travel to the capital. The supporting characters are similarly one dimensional and the romance subplot is undeveloped.

- This is billed as a "world building" narrative- but there is absolutely nothing interesting about the setting. It could easily have been set in the capital city of any other historical or fictional empire.

- While this doesn't pretend to be hard sci-fi- there's numerous items that push the bounds of plausibility of a society that has mastered interstellar travel. Communication by physical mail. Medical screening at the port that would miss a brain implant. Encryption by cipher. Etc. (And all of those have material impact on the plot)

- The one interesting plot device (having the protagonist be able to access the memories of her predecessors) is abandoned in the first few chapters. The murder mystery that is teased (i.e. having the protagonist solve the murder with a stale copy of the victim's memories floating around in her head) is never developed and would have made for a much better story.

- And this bothered me more than it probably should have: but almost every dialog with the protagonist results in the other person commenting on or praising her for what a master orator/diplomat she is- when she has barely mumbled more than 3 sentences since meeting the person.

travelgirlut's review against another edition

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3.0

I thought about giving this 4 stars since I quite enjoyed it but in the end I didn't love love it, so 3 stars it is. I liked that Mahit was a strong woman who could deal with all the various situations that were thrown at her. Some of the names in the book are annoyingly hard to figure out how to pronounce. I'd skim over most of the big ones. I'm interested to see what the second book will hold.

leecarterr's review

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adventurous challenging dark emotional funny mysterious reflective sad tense medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? It's complicated

5.0

readsbytria's review against another edition

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adventurous dark emotional funny mysterious reflective medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? It's complicated
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? It's complicated
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

5.0

tehstone's review against another edition

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adventurous mysterious medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes

4.5

elisenic's review against another edition

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adventurous dark emotional mysterious tense medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

5.0

duehok's review against another edition

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2.0

The plot relies on a lot of unbelievable coincidences, the protagonist never does anything (stuff happens, she's there, that's it). Boring. DMF at 250 pages, there are still 230 pages to go.