Something that really blows my mind a little about this trilogy is that I got the first instalment as a Christmas present in 2019. I think I finally started reading it in... I want to say May 2020? So even though this series does predate the pandemic, it also has basically been something which has carried me through it. To start and finish a new trilogy during something like that feels somewhat surreal. It's been just the escapist, easy-reading treat I needed and sparked the right parts of my brain to make be just sit back and enjoy the ride.
I have spoken in previous reviews about how much I flipping love these books. And I'd been saving this one because I knew it would be a fun, relaxing, enjoyable read for when things were getting rough. I struggled with February and March this year, more than I anticipated, so I thought "Aha! Break glass and administer Hollowpox."
As someone who occasionally thinks "maybe I should read comics" and then looks at the comics and goes "oh no that's way too much", Fraction's Hawkeye was neatly collected, required very little additional knowledge, and generally shied away from the sort of art that inspired the Hawkeye Initiative (ironically).
This book was a Christmas present from several years ago that I had been carrying around on holidays because it seemed like it would be a good holiday read but I had never actually got around to reading. The picture at the top here? Greece, 2018. And it was ridiculous, because it was a book that held a lot of appeal, it sounded genuinely lovely and uplifting, but perhaps the issue was that it didn't seem urgent - there was nothing pushing it up my reading list.
Do you ever stumble across something and you know without a doubt that if you had found it when you were younger, you would have been obsessed with it?
The first book was brutal, violent, dark. I needed a resolution for the characters, sure, but I understand how trilogies work. Things always get significantly worse before they get better, and the ending of part 1 is never, ever as straightforward as it appears.
From my previous review of John Allison's work, you'd be 100% correct in thinking I was a bit of a fan. I adored Giant Days as a spinoff from Scary-Go-Round, but Bad Machinery also presented me with an unexpected cast of characters to love, sticking to the slightly spooky-whimsical direction of its parent comic. I loved the team of child detectives, but perhaps my favourite shining star and hero was Lottie Grote - chaos with big hair, a mad genius and the human incarnation of the phrase "hold my beer."
I read this when I was feeling very stuck in a rut with my reading. This year has felt – for me at least – a lot harder in terms of trying to disconnect from life and really connect with some fiction. It was perfect.
One of the things I enjoyed about book 1 in this series was how there were no easy answers to the questions. Prejudice and hatred was embedded bone-deep in the two factions of the nation, based on allegedly justifable causes - events in history where both maji and non-maji have brutalised each other as each held power in their own way. While the easy, fairy-tale ending would be right there, with the magic back that justice could prevail as clearly the oppressed were peaceful, Adeyemi isn't going to give us the easy, tidy ending. People aren't easy and tidy, and neither are her characters.
This is an unusual book. Published by Michael Joseph, one of Penguin Random House's literary imprints, I think it makes a difference when reading it to remind yourself that it is a literary book, not a straight fantasy genre book.