Reviews

The Black Tides of Heaven, by Neon Yang

quinnster's review

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emotional sad tense fast-paced

4.0

alix_the_book_witch's review against another edition

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adventurous challenging dark emotional hopeful inspiring tense fast-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

5.0

tanekaberi's review against another edition

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4.0

Fast paced plotting and character driven story set in an amazing world. First time I had heard of this thing called "Silk Punk", and partly because of that, this book got me out of some reading ruts and looking into places that I hadn't before. For the story telling and the world building I recommend it, for the characters and their interactions allowing me to go outside my normal cultural comfort zone -I say thank-you and highly recommend it overall.

readingthruthepages's review against another edition

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dark emotional medium-paced

4.25

fairymodmother's review against another edition

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4.0

This was truly delightful. I think the only issue I had was that it was abbreviated where it could have been made into a truly moving story if it had a little more flesh on its bones. It worked really well as is, but I think it could have been superlative with a little more space.

CONTENT WARNING:
Spoileremotional abuse, torture, death of children


Things to love:

-The take on gender. Hard to miss and hard not to love. A culture that does not force gender, and even postpones puberty until (and if) each person chooses how they want their body to look? That's great. Plus it was handled really well, I think. The singular "they" can be confusing for readers, especially when, as here, the main characters are twins, and often together. But Yang showed us how easy it is to get around that. There were also lots of great moments about "coming out" and how presentation and gender are not the same. I'm keeping this in my back pocket for when the young people in my life start questioning things like pronouns, presentation etc. It's a great "you're not alone" book that I think might make a lot of people think.

-The world. Omg, so cool. Fans of Seirei no Moribito will find imagery so pretty you could cry. Rich, familiar and yet foreign, it was a great setting.

-The magic. Again, just a twist on a classic, but well visualized and explained enough that I felt that I understood its uses and limits. I could have used more on this, but I still thought it was a great blend of mystical power creating science.

-The conflict. All of the conflicts, really. What happened in Akeha's heart and with his body felt as immediate and important as the tyranny of the Tensorate, and the steps taken to counteract it. Again, I'd have liked this drawn out a little more. There was a lot that was so close to poignant but stopped just before we could commit to being in Akeha's head.

Things Not to love:

Seriously, I think the only thing that's keeping this from five stars from me is its brevity. I'm usually the first to say authors pad their stuff and it suffers for it. But here, it just needed a little more breathing room. I guess it was also slightly derivative, but so much was fresh and all of it was incredibly well done. I will always read one of my favorite story arcs again, and when they're as intricate as this one, the familiarity makes it just feel that much more special.

I do recommend this, and will be continuing the series.

nadkama13's review

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4.0

Just a really refreshing read. It’s not often (as a South East Asian) that we can go into a fantasy world and see glimpses of our home reflected to us in the setting. Really enjoyed it :)

kpeeps111's review

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4.0

A fun, quick little read. I wish it was longer.

linwearcamenel's review

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mysterious fast-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Plot
  • Strong character development? No
  • Loveable characters? No
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? No

3.25

cgoiris's review against another edition

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3.0

I liked the story and the world building, not sure I can say more than the summary without spoiling though. Despite the time jumps, I feel like you get a pretty good sense of character development. I also really liked the subtext of "power to all people".

Points detracted for A LOT of binarity within a world with potential for great non-binarity though. But I'll read more of this, since there are hints at factions that reject the gender binary altogether here and there and I'm hoping these concepts get explored more - and their entanglement with oppression, which is also sort of hinted at but never explored. In a world where one "chooses" their gender and has to confirm it, it seems a little odd, but there's some implications in the fact that near everyone from the ruling family is a woman and the surrounding attitudes.

All in all, it was an enjoyable reading experience with some flaws and holes, but definitely enticing enough to read at least its companion novel at some point.

kristamccracken's review

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4.0

Beautiful written story focusing on a two siblings deciding their relationship to each other, their mother, and society. I really liked the magic and technology system in this book and the treatment of gender (something that needs to be 'confirmed' and is decided by each individual) was really well done. Plus queer romance!