Book Reviews XVII

The Heartbeat of a Million Dreams by Halo Scot

Halo Scot has quickly become one of my favorite authors, known for deeply intense stories featuring co-protagonists who are as equal as they are opposites, and for all the fireworks and the bloodshed and the lust, these stories have a heart and an earnestness about them that shines through.

The Heartbeat of a Million Dreams is no different. Though not nearly as disturbing as Scot’s Rift Cycle series can be at times (though this story is by no means short on the violence and the bloodshed), hallmarks of Scot’s writing are evident. Fortunately, they are all the best parts.

Slade is, for lack of a better word, the Chosen One. The only one who can fix the dystopian madness, and Koa begins as the person responsible for making sure Slade realizes her destiny. It’s much more complex than that, but that’s the spoiler-free gist–and it’s the backdrop for neurodivergent representation and LGBT representation and, most importantly, memorable, dynamic, and emotionally available characters.

More than anything, though, Heartbeat is the purest distillation of Scot’s writing. It’s urgent, intense. In your face. Scot has a lot of things to say, and they need to be said right fucking now, dammit and that urge, that necessity of message, is present in everything Scot writes.

That urgency, that intensity, is addictive, and it’s why the pages so often fly by. The Heartbeat of a Million Dreams is Scot’s best work, even if it’s not quite the mind-fuck one might expect. This is a must-read, another classic from Scot’s library, and anyone with even the faintest interest in spec fic or superheroes or Chosen Ones should not miss this classic.

Rating: *****

The Heartbeat of a Million Dreams is available in paperback and Kindle

Dreadknot by S.E. Anderson

The thing about comedies…every now and then, they punch you in the gut.

Dreadknot, the eighth entry in S.E. Anderson’s slapstick sci-fi series, does just that. Oh, there’s humor. Plenty of it. Lots of absurd situations, cracking dialogue, and laugh-out-loud one-liners. There’s also action, intense set pieces of zap-or-be-zapped that feel right at home in this particular drama.

There’s also heart. For a series where so many of the characters are immortal, there’s a lot of heart. Then again, we’re eight books in, and if you aren’t emotionally invested in Sally and Zander and Blayde and all the rest by now…what are you doing?

But with that heart comes the gut-wrenching finale. See, while Anderson was making you laugh over the course of eight books, she was also tricking you into feeling for these characters. Not just as individuals, but the collective. The way they interact with each other, the way their relationships evolve from book to book — even from chapter to chapter.

And then, at the end, she rips the heart out.

Sci-fi being what it is (and this series being what it is), nothing is truly final. But in the moment, it feels like it. Victories are hollow, tainted with the sorrow of loss. This is one of the funnier books in the entire Starstruck saga, but it’s also the most emotionally resonant.

Then again, this book does have the word “dread” in the title.

Rating: *****

Dreadknot is available in paperback and Kindle

One thought on “Book Reviews XVII

  1. Pingback: June 2022: Month in Review | J.D. Cunegan

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