Ada Palmer, Too Like the Lightning (2016)

Author: Ada Palmer

Title: Too Like the Lightning

Format: paperback

Pages: 432

Series: Terra Ignota #1

This was a recommended read – both Bart and Jeroen were enthusiastic about this series, and wrote such lengthy reviews of the books, that I had no choice but to join the discussion – and here I want to offer my thanks to them both. 

Palmer’s debut novel seems to evoke strong feelings across the aisle – people seem to either love it or hate it, with not much in between. And that’s why writing this review proves harder than usual – for usually I’m one of the firebrands with strong opinions delivered gleefully and with no compunction, equally passionately for both positive and negative reviews. And here I am left in the middle, not too moved either way, able to appreciate the many strengths of this book but equally able to point out the weaknesses. So, then, let’s dive into it.

Palmer’s novel is set in the 25th century. In her world, humanity has changed drastically, at least in terms of culture and worldviews. After brutal wars religion had become more or less forbidden, a taboo, but spiritual need is recognized as legitimate and universal, and non-factional (or are they?) people of the cloth pay weekly visits to their parishioners to talk about ethics and afterlife. Gender has also been deemed outdated, though no real reason is given for this, and everybody sports neutered pronouns and frowns when an uncouth “he” or “she” enters the discussion. Anne Leckie’s example has been waved over Palmer’s head long enough, so I’m not going to dive into the motivations, I will just proceed to dissect the illogicalities of Palmer’s execution of this choice. But that will come later. Nations have also been dissolved, as well as nuclear families; people live in Hives, large global organisations divided into bash’es, which in turn are small, mostly voluntary groups of mostly unrelated members who share similar views and vocations, and Hive affiliation. Because nuclear families, and multi-generational too, for that matter, were removed from their dominant position as a fundamental unit of social organisation, sex has become an idle pleasure akin to grooming among apes – shared without jealousy between many consenting individuals and deprived of significance we tend to assign to it – but with an exception I’ll write about later. Work is also a big theme, for in this world of abundance everybody works of their own will (mostly, I guess economy wasn’t Palmer’s concern, and that’s fine) and works a lot – a sort of Marxist utopia of people spending most of their waking hours on things they love to do and being paid for it. Death penalty is non-existent; prisons have been removed from the picture entirely – instead, we have a form of institutionalised slavery where criminals cannot possess anything and work for food. Everybody in this world is tracked; instead of one Big Brother we have an oligopoly of them, a tight-knit group of rather incestous world leaders who nevertheless seem to have humanity’s best interests at heart. Which also leads to me the sadly typical shortcoming of depicting the political scene as something consisting solely of cliques and conspiracies, here in full regalia of Emperors and Presidents and Madams and some such.

I could go on and on, for Palmer’s world is truly fully realised, even if its underpinnings are, from my perspective, naive; her worldbuilding is a laudable, elegant feat, a labour of love, a vision that chooses to focus on the good even when it acknowledges the existence of the bad. It’s beautiful and fragile, and this first novel shows exactly how fragile it really is. I agree with Bart that the key issue of this first book seems to be the ethical question of the trolley problem – whether it’s morally right to kill few in order to save many. It is a problem that is revisited again and again, in different scales and different contexts, the gory details of killings done by an apparent serial killer mirrored in the institutionalised, sanitised, decades-old practice of accident-making and hinted at in the possible murder of god. 

The strength of Palmer’s novel, I’d argue, lies in her clear and passionate depiction of emotions and the corollary ability to elicit these emotions from the readers. Too Like the Lightning is a book written for effect: like epic poems, manga, Shakespeare, or the 18th century literature Palmer is so enamoured with, it revels in emotional extremes, in effusive manifestations of those emotions and in the depiction of how these emotional states have the ability to change reality. And this aesthetic works for me, absolutely. When done well, this mix of high stakes, sensitive characters, and a knowing, intentional dramatisation of the events is something I am lapping up and asking for more ;). I have become invested in the fates of Mycroft Canner, J.E.D.D. Mason and Bridger. Well, seems like Bridger won’t last till the end, the necessary precious sacrifice for the betterment of humanity, but we’ll see.

But here we get to a weakness: this book is too long, and the narrative style too pretentious and pompous. As invested as I am in the fates of the protagonists, I am tempted to read a synopsis of the next book instead of slogging through the description-heavy, somewhat artificial first-person narrative. The 18th century style that Palmer adopts for her novel sounds false and contrived to me. The obsequiousness of the narrator seems forced, the repeated appeals to the reader intrusive, and it doesn’t mesh well with the rest of the narrative which follows our modern sensibilities. It’s jarring, and tiresome, and maybe there is a good reason for it that will be divulged in the later books, but for now I am quite fed up with it – especially that it seems to betray more than it should about future events at this point. 

I mentioned the undeniable strength of world-building. There are some really interesting and thought-provoking ideas, such as the malleability of the brain, which is the physical substrate of human consciousness. The set-sets particularly are an intriguing concept, with the added spice of the lack of informed consent by the person affected. But with this strength comes a corollary weakness – however you envision your future world, because it is just a thought-experiment, it will have holes. It will be partly illogical, more a result of your personal wishes than a reflection, or extrapolation, of reality. I applaud Palmer’s ambition. It’s super cool and super refreshing to see a fully realised future world that is not simply pasted or collated from our many pasts. In this respect, she’s way ahead of most of our current SF writers. She does fall into the many traps of our current discourse, though, and inevitably, gender and sex are the most obvious ones. The neutered gender thing could even work, as a tool of censorship of political correctness, a facade used because of its outward convenience, if not for the handwavium of the 18th century seduction techniques. The strictly gendered roles of the 18th century as a one word kill technique for the modern sensibilities? Please. Palmer cuts her own legs here, arguing for both sides of the conflict and totally misunderstanding the problem in the process. Yes, gender is cultural, and yes, sex is biological, and yes, gender is sex. No. Gender is not the same as sex. Repeat after me. Gender !== sex. 

Another problem, for me mostly, as I haven’t seen much discussion about it (not that I looked too much), is the bash’. In Palmer’s vision, these groups of up to 10 or so individuals form a sort of extended family, have kids together and work together, and so on. It’s been tried, many times, and it didn’t work. Check the stats for kibbutzim. Check the stats for anarcho-communes, or the hippie communes. There aren’t many left, and not for the lack of trying. To see it overtake the institution of family in just four centuries seems like a lot of wishful thinking, particularly considering that other traditional institutions of humanity, especially political, scientific and cultural, which are less rooted in human history, seem to be doing very well in Palmer’s world.

Lastly, Brillism. That it hasn’t been called Seldonism seems like an unfortunate oversight. As with Asimov, or Herbert, for that matter, this psychological superpower is just a bunch of bollocks. To give it credence, and a position of top power on the global scene seems very far-fetched even in Palmer’s outwardly utopian future. But I guess it’s supposed to speak to the deterministic nature of her world, and if so, it does it well, although not without raising some questions about the powers of the resident gods/aliens. Which takes me to the last topic I want to bring up in this review, i.e. gnosticism. J.E.D.D. Mason and Bridger seem to be inspired by gnostic beliefs, the far-removed, imperfect manifestations of the Creator, and I do wonder if this connection will get stronger in the subsequent books.

There is a lot to unpack in Palmer’s novel. It’s an ambitious book, an attempt to revive the great Conversation dating back to Aristotle and Plato, Diderot and Rousseau, Hobbes and Locke, Spinoza and Kant. No Nietzsche, though, or Kierkegaard, it is tamer than that. And while it doesn’t offer any new thoughts on the topic, it serves as a good reminder of the importance of philosophical questions. I am always going to root for fellow nerds who cherish and admire what all those old dead men achieved, even though I’d prefer to see a bit of well-aimed critique accompany all that praise. 

So, did I like it? I did, but not without reservations. The fact that I’ve written such a long review can attest to that ;). I am really torn about the rating here. Judging from the perspective of the reading pleasure and thought-provoking potential, and taking into account its many flaws, I’d give this book 7/10. However, considering the ambition of this book and the fact that it’s a debut novel and only the first of four books in a series, I’m willing to give it the benefit of the doubt.

Score: 8/10

35 thoughts on “Ada Palmer, Too Like the Lightning (2016)

  1. Heh, I mostly agree with your review. Except for the loquaciousness. It didn’t tire me out, I loved her writing style. It felt warm and comfortable to me. I remember giving this first novel a 9.5 for ambition but a 7.5 for enjoyment.

    My greatest problems with it were that so much of it felt unrealistic. I can’t see this as a real attempt at predicting the future. It’s too ridiculous for that. Too West-focused as well. I do wonder though in how far Palmer actually agrees with the current discourse around gender pronouns and so on. Because, her book shows a world in which this discourse evolved so far that all that stuff is hidden, but that is one of the causes behind the incestuous cabal of leaders. In the hidden corridors of power, sex and religion are rediscovered and wielded as weapons. Maybe Palmer’s point is that covering up sex and gender is not a solution.

    I also don’t buy the bash idea as workable, but what annoyed me the most was the kind of random logic why all these important people, these world-movers, are all part of the same bash.

    Whereas Bart loved the first book more than the second, for me the second book really made my opinion swing to the positive side. I hope you will read it. It’s also pretty much the second half of the story that we get in Too Like The Lightning, an essential continuation.

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    1. Thanks, Jeroen!

      I agree with you. It’s a fanciful vision rooted in some of our modern problems and sensibilities, not a realistic prediction. I also think you’re right in thinking that Palmer is trying to make a point about sex/gender as phenomena not so easily dismissed, but her approach to it seems rather childish to me. Don’t get me wrong, I agree with the sentiment, but this entire angle of instant addiction to the sexual behaviors from the 18th century is just too on the nose, too simplistic, and too unrealistic to fit with the way more grounded rest of her worldbuilding. For a satire, it’s not witty enough. For a critique, it doesn’t critcize clearly enough. It seems more like arbitrary authorial fiat, a tool to use when she puts herself in a tight spot in terms of plot execution.

      Yep, same here. The conspiracy angle was really too much. Everybody knows Mycroft and Mycroft knows everybody. He is a special snowflake to an n-th degree, and his past as a murderer doesn’t really change it – especially since we’re already getting more than hints that his spree was motivated by something else than just killing lust. Poor Mycroft, offering himself on the altar of history to prevent the war 😛

      I think I will read the second installment, just not yet. Too Like the Lightning was a book I admired more than I liked, if that makes sense 😉

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      1. I think all your points are valid, and I also think that Palmer decided to write it this way just to make it more theatrical and emotional. Sort of form over function. And I have to admit, I got swept away in that theatricality. Some of it is so excessively dramatic. The second and third books really make clear where she is going with all this, and she applies those heightened emotions to different vision of humanity’s future. To what the Utopians and Brillists are pursuing. One aspect of that theatricality is an outspoken optimism that I found really refreshing.

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        1. Yeah, that optimism is something we’ll see more of in SF, I hope. It’s cautious, and not unreserved, and Palmer’s vision of the future is not without its own flaws and rotten compromises, such as the censorship I mentioned, but it’s generally positive.

          As a side note, if you like the excessively dramatic, you should feel at home with manga 😀

          You and Bart convinced me to give the second book a go, probably sooner rather than later 😉

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          1. Well I don’t know about the excessively dramatic in manga, haha! I want to be wowed by it, not rolling my eyes. That’s a fine line to tread. By the way I am going to read Akira as my first manga, right after I’ve finished Saga, but I just started Saga so that might take a while. It’s great. Better than Monstress 😛

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            1. Oh, man, you’re missing out on so much! I agree there are mangas that are so over the top your eyes might screw off and fall out, but if you accept the convention it can actually to a place of the sublime meeting of pathos, irony, and that uniquely Japanese mono no aware. Palmer is a pale imitator, which in itself is kinf of ironic, seeing as manga-ka seem to be often inspired by ancient Western aesthetics. I need to learn more about ancient Japanese/Hindu aesthetics to see if this mythopoeic worldview is universal, but I am certain that the manga genre takes a lot of inspiration from the Western culture and mixes it up with Eastern sensitivity and sensibilities.

              Lots of comics are better than Monstress. TBH, I’ve read only a few volumes of Monstress, waiting for the plot to pick up and take me places, and then I read Liu’s collection of short stories and after that I knew she’d never take me anywhere new or unique. And so I just stopped reading Monstress :P. Saga’s good, though. Has its moments of greatness, even, and I’m looking forward to reading the newest entries.

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              1. One thing that holds me back from trying manga is that these series all seem to be so long… do you have any recommendations for manga that is not 1 a hundred volumes, 2 for tiny babies, 3 fantasy or sf, 4 no samurai? 😀

                Liked by 1 person

                1. Not sure if point 3 is that you do not want fantasy/SF or that you do want fantasy/SF?? The double no for samurai made me wonder 😉 What about horror? 😉

                  But in all honesty, the one manga that I’m recommending to all newbies is Yotsuba&!. It’s a shoujo/slice of life manga with a lot of details about life in Japan. It’s fairly short, the later volumes are almost meditational, and it’s funny and sweet. I’d recommend reading at least 2-3 volumes and then making up your mind, as the jump from Western comics is undeniably demanding. You can find my review here: https://reenchantmentoftheworld.blog/2022/05/24/kiyohiko-azuma-yotsuba-2003-today/.

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                  1. Oh gawd. I’m sorry Ola. I take one look at that Yotsuba&! manga thing and I see these ridiculous soulless manga faces with huge eyes and I just can’t. Hehe. I’m looking for something like Ghost in the Shell or Akira or Attack on Titan or Planetes or even the Miyazaki comic of Nausicaa. That seems much closer to Western comics. Maybe I should try one of those.

                    Liked by 1 person

                    1. Ah well, I did tell you the shock value from the jump would be significant 😉 Ghost in the Shell is not bad. Haven’t really read Akira beyond one volume or so and I can’t really recommend Attack on Titan as I find it lacking but if you like something along those aesthetic lines and are not averse to modern horror I can recommend Jujutsu Kaisen 😀

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  2. Great review Ola. I do not know what half of all the “isms” mean, but the fact that this review is so long i can see that it was a profound one for you to read.

    Those opening lines almost sounded like it couldve been written by a fan of 40K🙂

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  3. Wonderful review! I have been often tempted to read this book, but the equally divided reactions of the readers made me pause, because experience taught me that when a book elicits such discordant responses I might have trouble with it. As fascinating as the premise sounds, I wonder if I would be able – for example – to reconcile the futuristic setting with the 18th Century writing style you mentioned, and the length of the novel might indeed prove challenging as well. You’ve given me much food for thought, so thank you for sharing! 🙂

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    1. I think you shouldn’t be that scared by the 18th century writing style. It’s oversold in lots of reviews (and in the book’s marketing), but all in all, it’s perfectly readable. Try to sample of few random passages (e.g. via amazon’s look inside function) from the book (not the first couple of pages), and you’ll quickly see if it’s more or less written in plain English with a few mannerisms here and there. (One caveat: admittedly, people with a small vocabulary might struggle, but from what I can gather Maddalena, you are no such person.)

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    2. Thank you, Maddalena! 😊

      I actually think you’d enjoy this one. You’d love Mycroft 😁 The 18th century style is more of a faux 18th century, tailored to the needs and expectations of modern readers. And there are only bits and pieces of it – it’s more this effusive loquaciousness that was bugging me than the 18th century words and structures 😉 For what it’s worth, I think this book is worth a try!

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  4. Like Jeroen, I agree with most of your review. Your criticisms are valid (but…). I wrote a similar passage on gender in my own review, I’ll end this comment with some stuff on that.

    As for my general reaction to your review, it’s basically something I wrote in my own review too: “we are not reading an exact, realistic prediction of a future, and not a work of Hard SF either, but an artificial construction, a work of art, a piece of theater”. This is very much a theatrical novel, and so your criticisms, while valid, miss the mark. Palmer’s intention never was full blown sociological realism. She’s writing a parable, a metaphor about reality rather than a prediction of a future reality.

    I think the 18th century mannerisms (and the pretentiousness) also have to be seen in that light, partly at least. The other part is just Palmer geeking out and writing what she’s infatuated by (as is apparent from all the interviews I’ve read.) Again, it’s more a love letter than a realistic construction.

    But indeed, she tricks readers. Some parts of the world building are so well done, you forget that you should take other parts with a pinch of salt. I was tricked too by the way, focusing much of my own questions on the ontological/metaphysical nature of Bridger & J.E.D.D. Whole parts of my reviews are about the question whether we are reading science fiction or science fantasy. Minor spoiler: it’s clearly science fantasy.

    And I think the fact that Palmer tricks us makes the novel even better. It plays with conventions so well, and add the same time manages to construct something whole original – even if the philosophical questions she asks are old hat.

    As for the absence Nietzsche: basically the entire 2nd book is about DAF De Sade, a Nietzschean fella if there was any. So I do think, like Jeroen, you should read book 2, it’s even way more over the top (more manga, so to say), and so maybe if you ditch the requirement of realism, you’ll manage to enjoy it (even) more.

    But admittedly, for me the the first book was the best in the series, because I think its construction is the best, it has the most fresh sense of discovery and wonder, and also because the mystery she presents here is yet unspoiled by all the stuff that’s added later, especially in book 3 and 4. Either way, I still loved book 2 and 3 – it was only with book 4 that Palmer kinda frustrated me, but also there I thought there were enough moments of brilliance to still wholeheartedly recommend the entire series.

    Re: Gender. Here’s a passage from an interview with Palmer I linked to in my review, that’s relevant to the issue:

    Q: Do you think it is not in human nature to be able to live in a genderless society?
    A: I don’t think that. But I do think that changing the way we interface with gender is going to be a very long, complicated, slow and difficult process. We’re already seeing that when we try to deal with how we respond to sexism now—we’re dealing with situations like how do we close the pay gap? One of the reasons for a pay gap is that women are socialized a bit differently and are less likely to ask for a pay raise. That’s a much subtler and harder thing to deal with [than overt sexism]. We’re in the process right now of recognizing how many different, subtle and difficult-to-perceive social consequences of gender there are, and how deeply they’re ingrained into the psyche when we’re young, and how it’s going to take many more levels of change to weed that out than we had thought.

    So I’m looking at a society in which they stopped the conversation about feminism too soon. They reached a point where people were ready to say, “we have gender-neutral language and clothing, the world is gender neutral now,” and they declared victory without going down and rooting out the levels of sexism buried deeper down. I don’t think it’s impossible to get rid of gender, but it’s incredibly socially difficult, and a society that wants to believe it has done it is very likely to be wrong. (https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/recommended-a-utopia-with-caveats-why-peace-on-earth-might-require-big-sacrifices/)

    Check out my review (and the reviews of the next books) for more of my thoughts on the gender matter.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Bart.

      Theatrical or not, and science fantasy or fiction (to be honest, I really don’t care about these distinctions, they seem to miss the point for me) there is the matter of internal logic which bounds all works of fiction, no matter how outlandish. My critical remarks refer to this very lack: with so much effort put into some parts of the worldbuilding it’s glaringly obvious when Palmer drops the ball on other elements. And as I wrote to Jeroen, regardless of her motivations, and of the general sentiment I agree with, she could have either done the job well, or not. I argue that her approach to the gender/sex problem, or the family problem, while flashy, is flawed and detracts from the reading experience – just as the conspiracy of a handful of people that she put at the center of her novel for the sake of convenience.

      Metaphors work best when their link to the reality is strong. They can be whimsical and fantastical, but they must be grounded in the real world – otherwise, they’re just flights of fancy. And to be clear, I hold Palmer accountable for the same reason you defend her so fiercely: I think her ambition, her intention to revive the moral conversation, is something that should be applauded and continued. It takes courage to create such a personal book and publish it and make it everyone’s, and for this, Palmer has my respect. But it’s not a flawless book. It may strike you as somewhat biblical approach, although I think of it more in terms of my teacher’s past: to whom much is given, much will be required 😁 You can treat my review is my contribution to at least a part of this conversation.

      Thanks for the link, I’ll definitely take a look!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Again, I guess I agree somewhat, are difference is just a matter of degree. All the things you think are problematic are indeed problematic, but I don’t consider them a question of internal logic, as in a science fantasy aimed at theatrics, logic is less important than realism. It’s not that bashes or gender or the cabal contradict the rest of the story, they just contradict with how reality would look like. Seen in that way, it’s more a matter of logic than a matter of internal logic.

        And I do think her metaphors are grounded in reality: her depiction works as a depiction of a society where people went too far too fast concerning gender, as a depiction of a few powerful people controlling lots of stuff, etc. The bashes are maybe more problematic, but a result of Palmer wanting to stress her future society’s freedom, focus on personal interests, her own strong feelings about her own vocation, etc.

        I’m not even sure if it would have been a better book if these things were left out or altered. It might have been more realistic, yes, but Palmer’s aim never was realism to begin with. Same goes for the entire 18th century thing, which is also totally unrealistic, but it does give the book a unique flavor, so I’m not sure if I think the book would have been better without it.

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        1. I guess we’ll need to agree to disagree on this one. To me, these inconsistencies, or problems, were noticeable enough to become jarring, and detracted from my reading experience. I’m not trying to find something to criticize, I’m criticizing the elements that time and again took me out of Palmer’s world and didn’t allow me to suspend disbelief. Had she intended Too Like the Lightning as a general metaphor, a parable of sorts, that lack of what I consider internal logic would’ve been more acceptable for me, for the reasons you mention. But because her book is first and foremost a novel, immersion in this world is a prerequisite, and it didn’t work for me.

          I’m going to read the second installment, you and Jeroen convinced me to do so, so I’m sure we’ll have even more to discuss by then! 😀

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          1. I must say the bash thing didn’t bother me at all, it never occurred to me to find it implausible. If the thought would have occurred to me, it might have annoyed me too. The gender annoyed me a little bit, but it wasn’t enough to hinder my enjoyment – it has become such a staple of recent speculative fiction that I’ve become used to it, in a way. Suppose that the bash stuff would’ve been added to that, it probably would have altered my overall impression indeed.

            The second book is even more (much more) over the top (i.e. more unrealistic), so we’ll see if that mitigates your problems a bit, or will make them worse.

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            1. I didn’t mind the neuter form. This, I got used to as a simplistic shortcut to achieving gender equality without tackling the problem underneath – I agree here with Palmer, btw. What I minded was the sudden mind-blowing power of feminine wiles unleashed through gendered clothing and behaviour modeled on 18th century that rendered the poor neutral gendered inhabitants of the 25th century totally helpless 😛 I guess it was just as you speculate – for me the improbabilites just piled one on top of another and affected the overall enjoyment.

              Yeah, I’m actually getting curious, so I guess I will read the second book sooner rather than later! 😉

              Liked by 1 person

              1. I agree, that was totally unbelievable, I think I wrote something like that in my reviews as well, but I chalked that up to the over-the-top manga influence and saw it as a form of theatrics.

                The second book is even worse on that front, iirc, so I’m very curious if you’ll be in the right mindset for that one to appreciate it for what it is.

                Liked by 1 person

                1. I’ve read tens of titles and thousands of pages of manga, and never encountered such a silly conceit that would stand out like a sore thumb. In my experience manga either goes all the way in and revels in its outlandishness or remains chaste and humble and down to earth 😉 That said, I only read seinen and shonen, and slice-of-life manga, in which romance is basically non-existent or very subtle, so maybe Palmer’s experience is different. I would not think to chalk this up to manga, though 🤣

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                    1. Hmm, I find more manga inspiration in the concept of human-ish gods than in the way she approaches gender, tbh. The beautiful thing about gender in the manga I read is that (with a few adolescent-themed exceptions that got better with time and experience of the manga-ka in question) it doesn’t matter. In some mangas you don’t even know if the person is male or female – if you need to know because it’s required by plot then you’ll learn it in due course. But I’ve never encountered manga where it would be a big deal, or any deal, really. It’s not that manga is not prejudiced or doesn’t see gender inequality; it’s that the manga I read doesn’t pay much attention to it (as always, there are exceptions, but not in Palmer’s vein; rather, some apt social commentaries about the inequality and cultural expectations of our modern societies). As I said, though, I read only certain types of manga – just as I read only certain types of books. You won’t find me with a romance book, or YA, in hand 😉

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  5. I do take home the idea that this one is crazy ambitious in style and execution and succeeds for the most part. It does tackle some very nice ideas and seems to explore them quite well, giving readers a lot of to think about while reading away. I’ll definitely stay on the lookout for your reviews of the next books though. There’s an almost tangible dose of “doubt” in you regarding this series so maybe the next one will clear that up! 😀 Awesome review, Ola!

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    1. Thanks, Lashaan! 😁 Your summary is spot on, maybe I should try for such conciseness next time! 🤣

      Yeah, I’ll read the next installment at some point, certainly – but just not yet 😉 right now it’s Demon Slayer time! 😊

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  6. I recalled this one being way too heavy for my tastes. Agreed also with your assessment of it being too long, too pretentious, too pompous. I really couldn’t get past that. For being in the middle though, I love the insights of your review! And glad that ultimately you were able to see the positives and the potential.

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    1. Thanks, Mogsy!
      Yeah, it was an interesting one, and I can see why it’s so divisive. I agree that it doesn’t work too well as a novel, but to me it works superbly as an opening to a discussion about those ethical and social questions we rarely seem to ask these days 🙂

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  7. Pingback: Ada Palmer, Too Like the Lightning (2016) – Re-enchantment Of The World

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