A review by j3mm4
City of Shattered Light by Claire Winn

  • Plot- or character-driven? Plot
  • Strong character development? It's complicated


The concept is interesting, but it's not especially original or well-thought-out. The worldbuilding is dumped out in clunky spoonfuls, a combination of really basic sci-fi borrowing and modern day references that aren't adequately incorporated into this futuristic society, as if the reader is too stupid to catch onto the surface level science fiction, or to understand it and the rest of the book. The two leads are bi, but Riven only seems to develop any kind of attraction to Asa after she discovers she lied about her identity and feels betrayed by her, which casts a really gross shadow on their relationship by creating the Doylist implication that their sexualities were set up to expedite the forgiveness part of a miscommunication-based betrayal plot. The head-hopping is usually demarcated by chapter subheadings or first line name drops, but none of the characters' voices are especially distinct, and there are word choices that verge on misuse all over the place. It's fine, but I feel like it needs a couple of rounds of developmental editing to make it actually good.