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For most of her life, Lirael has been training to kill—and replace—a duplicate version of herself on a parallel Earth. She is the perfect sleeper-soldier. But she’s beginning to suspect she is not a good person.
The two Earths are identical in almost every way. Two copies of every city, every building, even every person. But the people from the second Earth know something their duplicates do not—two versions of the same thing cannot exist. They—and their whole planet—are slowly disappearing. Lira has been trained mercilessly since childhood to learn everything she can about her duplicate, to be a ruthless sleeper-assassin who kills that other Lirael and steps seamlessly into her life.
Despite a promising premise, The Unquiet failed in its execution and left me literally unable to finish it. Trust me, that is not for a lack of trying.
► Am I bloody stupid?! That’s what I asked myself countless times. There’s only one thing I can say : YAY FOR THE BLURB! What? It did save me from understanding nothing during a long, long period of time. Indeed the elements of science fiction are barely explained at first, and each time I started to wrap my head around this world something else would throw me off, including :
✘ Weird jumps in time. Sometimes I ask my students to do this little exercise : put back the paragraphs of a text in order. Remember? Well. The book felt like that sometimes, except nobody’s gonna give me a good mark because I did it well.
✘ Nonsensical passages where the characters dynamic sounds pretty fake to me (her baby sister of 6 talks like she’s at least 12, her ‘friendship’ with Edith…)
As far as I’m concerned, it needs a good polish and a great deal of editing.
► Nothing happens. I swear, most of the book looks like filler to me. They arrive at the cottage. Filler filler filler. FLASHBACKS! They pass their exam. Filler. Filler. FLASHBACKS! They are sleepers. Fillers. Fillers. Fillers. FLASHBACKS! That’s so boring! The plot is…. streeeeeeeeeched for so long on
nothing random anecdotes (let’s go fishing! Baking bread! Going in town! Selling fruits! Killing someone with a syringe! WOOT!)
► First but not least : except from the very beginning (which was surprisingly good) the story is related in a all tell not show fashion that as usual makes me cringe. Every freaking action seems emotionless and disconnected because crafted like a mission report – Not only it prevents me from caring for the characters, but it is so DULL. Even if I must admit that some parts are beautifully written, it’s not free from purple prose and sentences that made me roll my eyes.
► The MC is both flat and thoroughly unlikeable, which is far from a good mix in my opinion : to put it simply, I was either indifferent or angry at her during the 46 percents I read.
✘ First we have the detached way the killings (of innocent people) are handled : I swear, she could have baked a cake for all I know.
✘ Then the fakeness of every relationship, if somehow explainable by her upbringing in the cottages, still annoyed me a great deal. I mean, I get it, they’re all going to be killers but why not be a little nice to each other? For example, her hate toward her fellow sleepers in the cottage felt unnecessary and really didn’t make any sense to me.
✘ Moreover, the way Lira keeps repeating that she is a BAD person and that she doesn’t love ANYONE grew old pretty fast : I get it, you’re baaaad. Stop shoving your inner thoughts down my throat, ugh. This being said, I might have forgiven her if she wasn’t so one-dimensional : trust me, I’m all for unlikeable characters, but you have to give me SOMETHING to work with for me to care. I didn’t.
► WHAT WORLD-BUILDING? There’s nearly nothing. You would think that a book dealing with parallel universes would contain at least a few fun additions, but nah. The only descriptions we get are so random and uninteresting because everything is every bit as normal as it would in a contemporary novel. Oh, and please tell me in which area of time we’re in, because there are new technologies mixed with last century ways of life and I can’t wrap my head around this O_o.
► Why choose to set a story in France if the world building is so generic that it could be everywhere?
✘ First, except one or two exceptions, the names aren’t French : Cecily, Philip, Imogen, GRAY (really?!)…
✘ Secondly, the settings : so we are 1 hour far from Paris by train. Where?
The fuck if I know. Maybe that’s just me, but describing the city as ‘the town’ screams lazy writing to me. There are vines so I guess in Bourgogne maybe? Frankly, it’s as if the author ticked little cases in a “How To Live In France” fantasy list :
French grow vines ✔
Paris must be mentioned at least once ✔
A character must be named Madame ✔
… Oh, okay. That was a short list. Frankly? Why fucking bother? It may come as a shock, but French towns, landscapes and vinegars aren’t the same in the whole country : we need details please.
Now, as I said, I ‘only’ read 200 pages, so perhaps it gets better after… I just won’t be there to see it, sadly.