Book Review: Bannerless, Carrie Vaughn

Book Review: Bannerless, Bannerless Saga Book 1, Carrie Vaughn

Bannerlass, Carrie Vaughn

Fiction: Bannerless, Carrie Vaughn

In the dystopian future, being “bannerless” could mean any number of things. Many of them are not good. On the least pejorative side of the meaning, one simply has not yet earned the right to receive a banner. Banners are given when one has earned the right to have a child. Young households, households that have not yet proven they are self-sustaining and able to follow the rules of society, are bannerless until they prove themselves. However, one can also become bannerless by violating society’s rules. Becoming pregnant without a banner can result in an entire household becoming bannerless for years. Other violations can also remove the possibility of a household receiving a banner. Possibly worst of all, if a person is born without a banner, that stigma attaches to him or her for a lifetime–although it was clearly not the baby’s fault. Being bannerless is a difficult burden to bear.

 

Bannerless tells the story of an investigation into a death. A bannerless man died under questionable circumstances. It might have been an accident. It might have been something else. Enid and Tomas are called in to find out.

 

When they arrive in Pasadan, they find a town in disarray. The council is dominated by a bully. Questions arise about other possible violations. The only thing everyone seems to agree on is that no one really liked the dead man, and he did not like anyone else. In the midst of this drama, Enid finds a more personal drama at hand: her former lover is now living in Pasadan.

 

Carrie Vaughn walks a fine line with aplomb. Bannerless is a police procedural set in a complex future world. She manages to keep the plot moving while building this world, setting up the foundations and the rules of the Coast Road communities at the same time as she uncovers the clues and reveals the denouement gradually. Enid is a dogged investigator, able to set aside both her complex history with former lover Dak and a personal tragedy that occurs near the end of the investigation in order to find the truth. When she reveals it, the full implications of becoming Bannerless will be revealed to both the characters and the readers.

 

Bannerless is a fascinating book with a complex world and a compelling protagonist. I am glad Carrie Vaughn is continuing to explore this world in her work, and I look forward to reading her next novel.

Bannerlass, Carrie Vaughn

Book Review: Bannerless, Carrie Vaughn

Booklist: Reading Around the World

World Tour Booklist: Reading Around the World

"There is no frigate like a book, to take us lands away" — Emily Dickinson

How is your summer going? Any travel? At Scintilla.info, we dream of travel but most of our road trips involve visiting our three grandchildren–not that we mind doing that at all! But we do travel in our reading, and we’ve reviewed some books that take us to real places, even if they are fictionally represented. (I apologize to any locations I overlook, as I am “traveling” from my memory of the books.)

 

Less,  Andrew Sean Greer

Let’s start with a book we reviewed last year. Less begins and ends in the United States, but the protagonist travels around the world, with stops in (among other places) Mexico, Italy, India, and Japan. Greer’s protagonist travels reluctantly, but finds more than he thought he could during his trip.

Book Review: Less,  Andrew Sean Greer

 

Midnight Riot, Ben Aaronovitvh Moon Over Soho, Rivers of London Book 2, Ben Aaronovitch Whispers Underground, Rivers of London Book 3, Ben Aaronovitch Broken Homes, Rivers of London Book 4, Ben Aaronovitch Foxglove Summer, Rivers of London Book 5, Ben Aaronovitch

As the series title suggests, Rivers of London is predominantly set in the capital of the UK. I love the opening line of book 2 in the series, Moon Over Soho: “It’s a sad fact of modern life that if you drive long enough, sooner or later you must leave London behind.” London itself is almost a character in the books, and to a degree the various rivers in London actually are.

Book Review: Midnight Riot, Rivers of London Book 1, Ben Aaronovitch

Book Review: Moon Over Soho, Rivers of London Book 2, Ben Aaronovitch

Book Review: Whispers Underground, Rivers of London Book 3, Ben Aaronovitch

Book Review: Broken Homes, Rivers of London Book 4, Ben Aaronovitch

Book Review: Foxglove Summer, Rivers of London Book 5, Ben Aaronovitch

 

 

European Travel for the Monstrous Gentlewoman, Theodora Goss

The Swimmer, Joakim Zander

Staying in Europe for awhile, we’ve reviewed a thriller and a fantasy that take their heroines on journeys around the continent. European Travels for the Monstrous Gentlewoman (the fantasy) goes from London to the continent, hitting Vienna among other locations, while The Swimmer (the thriller) spends much of its time in Sweden but also visits Brussels and some other places.

Book Review: European Travel for the Monstrous Gentlewoman, Theodora Goss

Book Review: The Swimmer, Joakim Zander

 

Tulipomania: The Story of the World's Most Coveted Flower & the Extraordinary Passions It Aroused, Mike Dash

Finally in Europe, the non-fiction Tulipomania tells about the tulip craze that bankrupted some afficianadoes in Amsterdam and other cities of the Netherlands. Fortunately we’re beyond such things now…or not.

Book Review: Tulipomania: The Story of the World’s Most Coveted Flower & the Extraordinary Passions It Aroused, Mike Dash

 

Akata Witch, Nnedi Okorafor Akata Warrior, Nnedi Okorafor

Moving south, Nnedi Okorafor’s brilliant series Akata Witch and Akata Warrior is set in a modern Nigeria that adds fantasy elements to the culture. The descriptions of Lagos and other parts of Nigeria have one foot set in reality and one foot set in fantasy, and it would be fun to visit and see which elements are recognizable from her vivid settings.

Book Review: Akata Witch, Nnedi Okorafor

Book Review: Akata Warrior, Nnedi Okorafor

 

Book Review: The End of Karma: Hope and Fury Among India’s Young, Somini Sengupta

Modern Indian young adults are the focus of Somini Sengupta’s non-fiction The End of Karma. India is a vibrant, growing country which will soon (if it is not already) be the most populous on earth. Knowing more about this country should be a priority for everyone.

Book Review: The End of Karma: Hope and Fury Among India’s Young, Somini Sengupta

 

Music of the Ghosts, Vaddey Ratner In the Shadow of the Banyan, Vaddey Ratner

The Night Tiger, Yangsze Choo

Southeast Asia is our final stop for our world tour, with the haunting story of the Khmer Rouge revolution In the Shadow of the Banyan (and the also mesmerizing story from a more modern Cambodia Music of the Ghosts by the same author). Vaddey Ratner’s books about Cambodia evoke a strong sense of place, including the feel of the air and the smell of the flowers. And although it is set decades ago, The Night Tiger brings Malaysia to life in its wonderful pages.

Book Review: Music of the Ghosts, Vaddey Ratner

Book Review: In the Shadow of the Banyan, Vaddey Ratner

Book Review: The Night Tiger, Yangsze Choo

 

 

Where in the world have you traveled through books? What would you recommend to someone who wants to see another country through the pages of a favorite novel? Give us your recommendations in the comments, or on Twitter @scintilla_info.

"The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more you learn, the more places you'll go." — Dr. Seuss

World Tour Booklist: Reading Around the World

Quote: Dr. Seuss on Reading

Quote: Dr. Seuss, “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more you learn, the more places you’ll go.”

"The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more you learn, the more places you'll go." — Dr. Seuss

Quote: The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more you learn, the more places you’ll go. Dr. Seuss

 

For more on Dr. Seuss, American children’s author and illustrator, see

Dr. Seuss 

Dr. Seuss Biography

seussville.com

 

Also see our

Booklist: LOL Books to Laugh Out Loud with Your Children

 

 

Book Review: Dogstar Rising, Parker Bilal

Book Review: Dogstar Rising, Parker Bilal

Dogstar Rising, Parker Bilal

Mystery: Dogstar Rising, Parker Bilal

Detective Makana has decided to help the son of an old friend. The son is in love with a girl whose father needs some investigative work done. This inauspicious beginning leads Makana to a small travel agency and possibly to the answer for a question he did not know he was asking.

 

Dogstar Rising is the second Makana mystery by Parker Bilal, and it is brilliant. Again set mostly in Cairo, Makana is both dogged and brilliant. Refusing to be put off the case by crooked officials, physical intimidation, bribes, or threats, Makana insists on pursuing the truth. When a young woman in the travel agency is killed right in front of him, Makana will stop at nothing to find justice for her.

 

Makana finds himself pursuing multiple mysteries during the course of this book. The death of the young woman, which may or may not be related to the investigation of the travel agency. The gruesome murders of several children in a slum area of the city. A mysterious priest with a shrouded past. A monastery with a scandalous secret. And the possibility that his own daughter survived the car crash that he thought had taken her life ten years before. And not to give away any spoilers, but the skill with which the author draws these sundry plots together is quite impressive. Makana is part Sherlock Holmes, but much more is simply unstoppable, following lead after lead even when it looks like they might take him directly to his own death.

 

The book is set in the summer of 2001. This becomes very meaningful in the last scene of the novel, which takes place in a cafe on September 11. Reading the reactions of these (mostly) Egyptians, I was reminded of the fact that 9/11 was an attack on the entire world. Sometimes our American sensibilities are so focused on America that we don’t acknowledge that most people around the world, including in the Middle East, were aghast and horrified by the attacks that day. These may have been fictional characters in this novel, but the reactions are very much what I have heard from other sources and from friends around the world. True, there were people who celebrated. There were many more who wept.

 

In two books this has become a favorite series of mine. Fortunately for me, there are several more in the series already in print, so I don’t have to wait for the next one to come out. I just have to get over to the library for it!

 

Dogstar Rising, Parker Bilal

Book Review: Dogstar Rising, Parker Bilal