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A rare, searing portrayal of the future of climate change in South Asia. A streetrat turned revolutionary and the disillusioned hacker son of a politician try to take down a ruthlessly technocratic government that sacrifices its poorest citizens to build its utopia. The South Asian Province is split in two. Uplanders lead luxurious lives inside a climate-controlled biodome, A rare, searing portrayal of the future of climate change in South Asia. A streetrat turned revolutionary and the disillusioned hacker son of a politician try to take down a ruthlessly technocratic government that sacrifices its poorest citizens to build its utopia. The South Asian Province is split in two. Uplanders lead luxurious lives inside a climate-controlled biodome, dependent on technology and gene therapy to keep them healthy and youthful forever. Outside, the poor and forgotten scrape by with discarded black-market robotics, a society of poverty-stricken cyborgs struggling to survive in slums threatened by rising sea levels, unbreathable air, and deadly superbugs. Ashiva works for the Red Hand, an underground network of revolutionaries fighting the government, which is run by a merciless computer algorithm that dictates every citizen’s fate. She’s a smuggler with the best robotic arm and cybernetic enhancements the slums can offer, and her cargo includes the most vulnerable of the city’s abandoned children. When Ashiva crosses paths with the brilliant hacker Riz-Ali, a privileged Uplander who finds himself embroiled in the Red Hand’s dangerous activities, they uncover a horrifying conspiracy that the government will do anything to bury. From armed guardians kidnapping children to massive robots flattening the slums, to a pandemic that threatens to sweep through the city like wildfire, Ashiva and Riz-Ali will have to put aside their differences in order to fight the system and save the communities they love from destruction.


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A rare, searing portrayal of the future of climate change in South Asia. A streetrat turned revolutionary and the disillusioned hacker son of a politician try to take down a ruthlessly technocratic government that sacrifices its poorest citizens to build its utopia. The South Asian Province is split in two. Uplanders lead luxurious lives inside a climate-controlled biodome, A rare, searing portrayal of the future of climate change in South Asia. A streetrat turned revolutionary and the disillusioned hacker son of a politician try to take down a ruthlessly technocratic government that sacrifices its poorest citizens to build its utopia. The South Asian Province is split in two. Uplanders lead luxurious lives inside a climate-controlled biodome, dependent on technology and gene therapy to keep them healthy and youthful forever. Outside, the poor and forgotten scrape by with discarded black-market robotics, a society of poverty-stricken cyborgs struggling to survive in slums threatened by rising sea levels, unbreathable air, and deadly superbugs. Ashiva works for the Red Hand, an underground network of revolutionaries fighting the government, which is run by a merciless computer algorithm that dictates every citizen’s fate. She’s a smuggler with the best robotic arm and cybernetic enhancements the slums can offer, and her cargo includes the most vulnerable of the city’s abandoned children. When Ashiva crosses paths with the brilliant hacker Riz-Ali, a privileged Uplander who finds himself embroiled in the Red Hand’s dangerous activities, they uncover a horrifying conspiracy that the government will do anything to bury. From armed guardians kidnapping children to massive robots flattening the slums, to a pandemic that threatens to sweep through the city like wildfire, Ashiva and Riz-Ali will have to put aside their differences in order to fight the system and save the communities they love from destruction.

30 review for Rise of the Red Hand

  1. 5 out of 5

    Fanna

    December 07, 2020: A dystopian that seems to be fast approaching, this science-fiction set in the south asian province is a sword of horrifying climate change, classist ideologies, and impending destruction of those who don't deserve to be saved—a selection done by humans with more resources—on a lit candle of hope, justice, and revolution. actual rating ➸ three and a half stars consider reading this review on my ↣ blog Like a wind than can extinguish this flame, further gene-based stratification December 07, 2020: A dystopian that seems to be fast approaching, this science-fiction set in the south asian province is a sword of horrifying climate change, classist ideologies, and impending destruction of those who don't deserve to be saved—a selection done by humans with more resources—on a lit candle of hope, justice, and revolution. actual rating ➸ three and a half stars consider reading this review on my ↣ blog Like a wind than can extinguish this flame, further gene-based stratification in the midst of a raging pandemic is set to choke the already struggling, barely surviving, and largely underprivileged population even more. Lightly but intentionally influenced by the real world tensions and imminent need for alignment to outlive the mechanical, technological, and environmental atrocities, this debut shows strength in the very many themes it wishes to highlight. Interesting is a world set in a dreadful future yet still stroked with nuanced desi cultural references, from food to salutations and from non-translated words to beloved values weaved through generations. The scientific explanations and detailed mechanics is impressive to the genre fans, and the side characters take away the spotlight as more complex personas than the cliched main characters who don't intrigue much—though, the heroines are clearly better developed than their male counterparts. Refreshing and much needed as a desi sci-fi dystopia, it provokes thoughts and inflicts a subtle pain of reality, but does underdeliver through a choppy writing, average editing, and disruptive pacing. ↣ an early digital copy received via netgalley but review remains uninfluenced. ↢ blog | ko-fi | twitter May 19, 2020: The cover has just been revealed and it has such sci-fi vibes with the illustrations OMG. March 10, 2020: A sci-fi based on climate change in SOUTH-ASIA? Also, a ruthlessly technocratic government that sacrifices its poorest citizens to build its utopia? This is going to be so good. I'm not ready for it!

  2. 5 out of 5

    Kate

    Oof. I'm really sad I didn't like this more. It was one of my most anticipated releases of 2021. Unfortunately, while the elements of a really good and kickass sci-fi dystopia were there, the rest of the book ultimately fell flat. Things I liked: ➽ The South Asian representation was phenomenal. I'm not South Asian myself, but I do think that own voices readers will be able to appreciate the book from this angle. ➽ The plot was really good. I found myself eager to find out what happens next and how t Oof. I'm really sad I didn't like this more. It was one of my most anticipated releases of 2021. Unfortunately, while the elements of a really good and kickass sci-fi dystopia were there, the rest of the book ultimately fell flat. Things I liked: ➽ The South Asian representation was phenomenal. I'm not South Asian myself, but I do think that own voices readers will be able to appreciate the book from this angle. ➽ The plot was really good. I found myself eager to find out what happens next and how the book ends. Things I disliked: ➽ Pretty much everything else? ➽ All kidding aside, the world-building was pretty much infodump after infodump after infodump. I alternated being confused with what was going and being totally and utterly bored out of my mind. ➽ The political entities make no sense. I get that the author was trying to make a case of the governments of the world devolving into region-based units, but why is there a South Asian Province while the rest of Asia is lumped into an Asian Province? Why is all of Africa lumped into one African Province? These are...um...pretty big continents. ➽ The writing quality was just really clunky. ➽ I'm normally a fan of slow pacing but this was just glacial. ➽ I could not connect to any of the characters at all. I wouldn't have minded this so much if they'd at least managed to connect to each other, but the two MCs had no chemistry whatsoever. Overall, this book felt like a chore to get through, which is really disappointing to me. However, if everything I pointed out is not a deterrent to you to read a book, I would highly suggest checking out this book anyway because the premise is really good and, of course, we do need more South Asian books out there! Find more from me: ⤀ Blog ⤀ YouTube ⤀ Twitter ⤀ Instagram

  3. 5 out of 5

    nora 🪐

    2.8/5 ☆ = 3- Nothing breaks my heart more than giving this book 2 stars. I was really looking forward to this book, with its sci-fi and dystopian elements. Yet, the plot and pacing were "off", characters were undeveloped and I believe this book would have done better if it went through another round of editing. I simply lost interest halfway through and began to skim through the book. Here are some of my thoughts in bullet points 🖊: ➡ I was thrust into this new world and with no proper introductio 2.8/5 ☆ = 3- Nothing breaks my heart more than giving this book 2 stars. I was really looking forward to this book, with its sci-fi and dystopian elements. Yet, the plot and pacing were "off", characters were undeveloped and I believe this book would have done better if it went through another round of editing. I simply lost interest halfway through and began to skim through the book. Here are some of my thoughts in bullet points 🖊: ➡ I was thrust into this new world and with no proper introductions to several organizations or something, the author suddenly decided to use a whole lot of acronyms. I was so confused. I'll write down some of the acronyms and what I think they mean at the end of this review for everyone else who has this acronym problem lol. ➡ The plot took way too long to...commence. The main characters didn't even meet until the start of the second half. The first half was confusing and, unfortunately, boring. I really tried hard to keep up, but just couldn't. Also, most of the plot from the first half didn't even play a role later. So many unnecessary things happened. ➡ This leads me to the third point, the pacing. It was SO "off". Sometimes the writing was as slow as a snail, and then BOOM something developed without any room for the reader to comprehend what was happening. ➡ The characters were kinda interesting, but also almost shallow. I didn't really get to know them. Moreover, they suddenly developed without the reader knowing. I felt like I was missing some parts when Taru suddenly just grew idk more confident. I know why, but it didn't feel satisfying as I couldn't see her journey or growth. ➡ Also, there's an insta-love. It bothered me so much since the characters had only known each other for idk less than 24 hours. Ugh. I get that they had to "love" each other to justify their protective actions, but gosh there was absolutely NO DEVELOPMENT. They went on a walk, saw a little around and then BOOM they were in love. ➡ Moreover, the writing was often inconsistent. One person said she had never seen a character, and then proceed to describe him. What?? Maybe I missed some points while skimming...probably. Either way, the writing style, and flow didn't really work with me. ➡ Usually, I like sci-fi dystopian mixes, and definitely rebellions. So maybe I just had too high expectations for this book? I got a lot of Legend (by Marie Lu) vibes. That made me think. This book is quite similar to sci-fi dystopian books. An evil government and teenagers in the rebellion. This book brings nothing new to the table, except for the setting. Therefore, it got quite predictable. ➡ (but maybe it's just because I'm seventeen? like, I feel like this book would fit great with middle graders) ➡ I was really looking forward to this book, as I knew it would have South-Asian representation. Since I'm Southeast-Asian, I wanted to support other Ownvoices books or Asian rep books. So it breaks my heart even more to give this book 2 stars. Overall, I think the book was alright. It did feel like a chore to get through by the end. I do think this book would be better if it went through another round of editing to just tighten up the plot and get rid of unnecessary plot devices. Moreover, I wish the author had focused more on the development of characters. Either way, if you like mechas and cyberpunk vibes, as well as rebellions, this book may be right for you! Over and out. -Nora<3 DISCLAIMER: I received an eARC in exchange for an honest review via Netgalley. All opinions are my own. TW//(view spoiler)[suicide, death, blood, syringe/injections, disease, terrorism, violence, human containment, seizure, stabbing, human testing (hide spoiler)] --- LIST OF ACRONYMS ‣ SA - South Asia? Idk ‣ PAC - Planetary Alliance Commission That's the only acronyms I kinda understood rip

  4. 5 out of 5

    Sahitya

    Probably more of a 3.5 but I’m rounding up. I am always on the lookout to support more desi authors, but it’s very rare that I get to read books by diaspora authors set in South Asia. And finding a genre novel set in and around the subcontinent is a rarity. So, when I first saw the announcement about this book, I can’t describe how excited I was. This was a fascinating but scary look at a future where another world war has taken place resulting in a sort of nuclear winter, climate change has rav Probably more of a 3.5 but I’m rounding up. I am always on the lookout to support more desi authors, but it’s very rare that I get to read books by diaspora authors set in South Asia. And finding a genre novel set in and around the subcontinent is a rarity. So, when I first saw the announcement about this book, I can’t describe how excited I was. This was a fascinating but scary look at a future where another world war has taken place resulting in a sort of nuclear winter, climate change has ravaged the rest of the world and now we are left with limited resources which are in the control of the powerful. The technological advances and increased use of algorithms to make life altering decisions also feels very inevitable. But the most relatable aspect of this world was the fact that in any situation, those in power will always strive for more of it and to keep their control over resources ironclad, sacrificing any of the normal citizens in the process in the false name of greater good. This book was relentless in its pacing and that’s the first thing I feel once I finished it. The author throws us right in the middle of the proceedings and we are left to figure out what’s happening and who the important players of this story are. But it doesn’t take us long to get deeply involved in it. The stakes are really high and it’s very easy to sympathize with the underdog characters who are fighting a revolution to ensure their survival despite the odds. Some of the action sequences were painful to read about but excellently written, which left a deep impression on me. But sometimes, it did feel like things happened very conveniently and too fast, especially towards the end where characters were able to fight back with very minor obstacles despite being in dire circumstances. However, it didn’t take away from my enjoyment of the story. And the author’s liberal use of Hindi/Punjabi words and phrases without going into detailed explanations about them only made me very joyful. In the end, this was a very interesting sci-fi debut which doesn’t shy away from predicting worst case scenarios of our future when resources dwindle and hard choices will have to be made for the sake of the survival of humankind. It’s themes are universal and relatable, the characters very easy to like and the ending hopeful & intriguing enough that I’m very excited for the sequel.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Lata

    The future is terrible. Or, at least that’s what Olivia Chadha proposes in this cyberpunk, post-war, destroyed-climate dystopia. She situates her story in South Asia, specifically in two places: the Narrows, and affluent Central city. The Narrows is chock full of people with a variety of augmentations and prosthetic limbs, and rife with gangs, the impoverished, and the Red Hand, a rebel organization comprised of different cells, each with different functions, all working to improve the lives of p The future is terrible. Or, at least that’s what Olivia Chadha proposes in this cyberpunk, post-war, destroyed-climate dystopia. She situates her story in South Asia, specifically in two places: the Narrows, and affluent Central city. The Narrows is chock full of people with a variety of augmentations and prosthetic limbs, and rife with gangs, the impoverished, and the Red Hand, a rebel organization comprised of different cells, each with different functions, all working to improve the lives of people in the Narrows, and to oppose those in Central, where the Haves live. The Narrows is a place full of desperation, hope, secrets, damage and jury-rigged and failing systems. The author tells us it has been twenty five years since WW3, and South Asia’s governing body constantly monitors the health of the Narrows’ population using an AI called Solace. People in Central live shiny and clean lives of luxury, and access is strictly controlled to the place. And though Central is immeasurably cleaner and safer, we quickly discover that questions are discouraged. Meanwhile, Solace occasionally finds a person healthy enough to be allowed to move to Central from the Narrows; the majority of Narrows live lives of scarcity and fear of Central finding ever new ways to oppress them. There are three POV characters, Ashiva, a longtime smuggler and member of the Red Hand, Riz, a Central rich kid and hacker very dissatisfied with his life since his uncle was killed by the administration, and Taru, an orphan rescued by Ashiva years earlier, who also works for the Red Hand and has a talent for explosives. The three characters’ lives become intertwined after a government crackdown (i.e., culling) in advance of a conference in Central of several affluent groups from other places in the world. I liked the setting and the many different types of people in the Narrows. The clash of entitled with the desperate isn’t new, and the Narrows is reminiscent of other cyberpunk settlements/ghettos I’ve encountered in fiction, but what makes it interesting is its South Asian location and its myriad peoples, languages, religions and foods. The author also shows us that the people in power, whether in Central or in the Red Hand, have complicated and contradictory agendas, making no one fully right or wrong in this plot. I was not as engaged by this story as I was hoping I would be when I first heard of this book because I found it hard to care for the three POV characters. Each chapter switches PoV and we spend most of the story with Ashiva or Riz, contrasting their feelings, experiences and understandings of the world. I did not feel that my sympathies had been really engaged by either of these two characters. The writing was awkward in several places, leaving me either a little puzzled or distanced from the plot or the characters, and taking me out of the narrative several times. I was really looking forward to this book, so I’m a little disappointed to give it a 3-star rating. Thank you to Netgalley and Erewhon Books for this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

  6. 5 out of 5

    ♥Milica♥

    Oh how I wanted to love this book. I think that's really what kept me going, but more on that later. I'm 99% sure the release date on NetGalley said the 19th but Goodreads has two dates, depending on the edition, so I'm doing this in between both of them, probably should've done it even earlier BUT. I really thought this would be a four star read AT LEAST...and then I started reading it. I could tell even by the first page that the writing would bug me. It started off very monotone and didn't fit Oh how I wanted to love this book. I think that's really what kept me going, but more on that later. I'm 99% sure the release date on NetGalley said the 19th but Goodreads has two dates, depending on the edition, so I'm doing this in between both of them, probably should've done it even earlier BUT. I really thought this would be a four star read AT LEAST...and then I started reading it. I could tell even by the first page that the writing would bug me. It started off very monotone and didn't fit with the whole atmosphere, so it made it hard for me to care that these bad things were happening. What didn't make it any easier is that the reader gets thrown directly into the action. Sure, it gets mellowed out in the next few chapters, but chapter one was a big confusing mess. There was a sad scene in it, where I thought we were getting somewhere...and I was wrong. The first half (literally the entire half) dragged on forever. I'm not one to drop books, I will push through, but Rise of the Red Hand really tested my patience. It took so long to get back to the action we initially saw. The second half picks up dramatically. It's as if the author was taking a nap, suddenly woke up and remembered that something needs to happen. If I was judging based on that alone, yeah, I could see it hit four stars. Unfortunately I can't disregard the boring first part. As for the characters, I had no attachment until the final third or so. Only Taru managed to find her way into my heart. And I'm getting lgbt vibes from her? Maybe I'm wrong, I'd still like to see that. Our two main leads got more likable as the story progressed. I don't mind their love that much because it's barely there. They also fit together like puzzle pieces. I like that the side characters had a role to play and weren't just there once for convenience. The setting was great and one we need more of. I love love love all the real and made up words. It's not hard to guess what they mean even if you don't speak a language rooted in Sanskrit (then again you can trace just about anything to it but you know what I mean). So I'm glad I didn't drop this book. There's a story to be told and I might pick up the sequel when it comes out. It's worth the read if you have the patience. *Thank you to the publishers and NetGalley for providing me with an e-ARC in exchange for an honest review*

  7. 4 out of 5

    Aly

    Cool sci-fi dystopian novel! I really enjoyed the setting of this, it takes place in a futuristic South Asia that has been ravaged after World War III. A neocity has been created that houses a small portion of the population that are considered genetically superior. These people have plenty of food, clean water, and money to spend on genetic modifications. Unfortunately, many people live in horrible poverty and are struggling to live. They look to the Red Hand, a mysterious vigilante group trying Cool sci-fi dystopian novel! I really enjoyed the setting of this, it takes place in a futuristic South Asia that has been ravaged after World War III. A neocity has been created that houses a small portion of the population that are considered genetically superior. These people have plenty of food, clean water, and money to spend on genetic modifications. Unfortunately, many people live in horrible poverty and are struggling to live. They look to the Red Hand, a mysterious vigilante group trying to overthrow the government. There are three points of view in the story which really helped give a nice picture. We have Ashiva, a big part of the Red Hand, Riz-Ali, a wealthy hacker living in Central, and Taru, a young girl hoping to be a spy for the Red Hand. I hoped for a bit more romance between Ashiva and Riz-Ali, but the ending definitely gave me hope for more in book two. I did feel like a couple times this was bogged down by info dumps and technical talk. The author clearly spent a lot of time on the world and technology, which I appreciate, but I felt like we could have gotten a bit less information. I enjoyed reading this, love the plot, and I'm really excited to get my hands on book two! I received an advance copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Sherwood Smith

    I really wanted to love this book. Southeast Asia, yay! Climate change! Underdog characters! And there were some aspects of the story I really thought potential, but sadly, I kept finding it a chore to get through. At first I thought it was just me being old, and tired (I read before bed time), and those elements might absolutely be true, but I've read a number of other books since that didn't bog me down, including some hefty historical non-fiction tomes replete with footnotes. I'm going to blame I really wanted to love this book. Southeast Asia, yay! Climate change! Underdog characters! And there were some aspects of the story I really thought potential, but sadly, I kept finding it a chore to get through. At first I thought it was just me being old, and tired (I read before bed time), and those elements might absolutely be true, but I've read a number of other books since that didn't bog me down, including some hefty historical non-fiction tomes replete with footnotes. I'm going to blame the editor for not giving a talented, enthusiastic author enough tough love. There's no excuse for all the grammar glitches, the wads of info dumping, the paint-by-numbers insta-love. A couple more drafts could have smoothed all that stuff out and boosted this book up to the exciting read the premise promised. Of course mileage varies, and I hope it finds its audience. Copy provided by NetGalley

  9. 4 out of 5

    Frankie

    Rise of the Red Hand scratched my cyberpunk itch. This is a really promising first book in the series. Hands down, the worldbuilding is brilliant. This is a smart sci-fi novel that actually reads like it was published in 2021, unlike many other cyberpunk stories that seem perpetually stuck in 80s Blade Runner mode (I love Blade Runner, but I hope you get me). Honestly, this universe is a believable extension of our own. A segregated city that divides by both class and genetics, a pandemic sweepin Rise of the Red Hand scratched my cyberpunk itch. This is a really promising first book in the series. Hands down, the worldbuilding is brilliant. This is a smart sci-fi novel that actually reads like it was published in 2021, unlike many other cyberpunk stories that seem perpetually stuck in 80s Blade Runner mode (I love Blade Runner, but I hope you get me). Honestly, this universe is a believable extension of our own. A segregated city that divides by both class and genetics, a pandemic sweeping across the land (ehem, 2020) that started from the rich but is used as an excuse to oppress the poor, a government fabricating news, climate change eradicating the world, robots and neural-links and plans to migrate to the moon... Furthermore, it's set in South Asia and is beautifully rich and casual with culture. As much as I love cyberpunk's Asian-inspired visuals, I wish that they actually represented the cultures they drew from, and Rise of the Red Hand reclaims it all for its own. Asian authors are winning. It's action-packed from start to finish, which made it an easy read despite the overwhelming info-dumpy writing style that turned me off at first. But once I got used to it, I flew through the story because I wanted to learn more. However, I couldn't give it a full 5 stars because I felt like some plot points were too convenient. It didn't give me too many twists and turns, and while our protagonists were distinct, I wish we had a slightly deeper insight into their characters. There's a whole lot of them taking things too calmly considering the circumstances lol. Plus the romance felt forced and unnecessary, although it was tiny enough that you can easily ignore it. TL;DR A promising start to a new series. Recommended for readers who haven't read a lot of cyberpunk, or want a YA dystopia story with solid social commentary. Thank you to NetGalley and Erewhon Books for providing me with a free e-copy of this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Robin

    ↠ 3.5 stars Rise of the Red Hand provides a glimpse at a future that could be right on our doorstep. A planet ravaged by climate change, and a society that must deal with the aftermath. For the province of South Asia, the population is split in two. The upper class that live in the climate-controlled biodome, being deemed genetically worthy, and the others, that live outside and must fend for themselves. Ashiva, a smuggler for an underground resistance group known as the Red Hand, uncovers a dan ↠ 3.5 stars Rise of the Red Hand provides a glimpse at a future that could be right on our doorstep. A planet ravaged by climate change, and a society that must deal with the aftermath. For the province of South Asia, the population is split in two. The upper class that live in the climate-controlled biodome, being deemed genetically worthy, and the others, that live outside and must fend for themselves. Ashiva, a smuggler for an underground resistance group known as the Red Hand, uncovers a dangerous conspiracy that reaches into the very government that has turned their back on the population outside. Right from the start, I felt immersed in the potential future that Chadha layed out over the course of the book. A world that has had to adapt and innovate in order to survive. For the most part, aspects of this world hit way too close to home, which was clearly the authors intention. To create a story surrounding the possibility of problems arising from climate change and governmental instability. The rising sea levels, loss of plant and animal diversity, and outcomes from nuclear warfare were really at the forefront here. The three main characters provided a necessary perspective from each part of this society, both inside and outside the dome. However, I think that far too much time was spent laying the groundwork for the problems that would play out in this book. This is due in part to the amount of background given to this world and the characters. More than half the book was spent in this way, and I think that deterred my enjoyment of it as a result. The book in and of itself was incredibly thought provoking though, and I am glad I stuck through it. Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing this arc in exchange for an honest review Trigger warnings: blood, violence, suicide, murder, disease, kidnapping, starvation, death, death of loved ones, medical procedures, bombing, stabbing, human experimentation, mutilation, child abandonment, war (mentioned), seizure

  11. 5 out of 5

    Vicky Again

    I was debating whether or not to write a review because, to be completely frank, I was pretty let down by RISE OF THE RED HAND. It had potential--the underlying story of rebellion, class conflict, corrupt systems in politics and science were all inherently interesting. There's mechas! And hacking! What was happening in the world was interesting. But the presentation of the underlying story just kind of muddled the essence of it, and made it difficult to understand and not as engaging as it should I was debating whether or not to write a review because, to be completely frank, I was pretty let down by RISE OF THE RED HAND. It had potential--the underlying story of rebellion, class conflict, corrupt systems in politics and science were all inherently interesting. There's mechas! And hacking! What was happening in the world was interesting. But the presentation of the underlying story just kind of muddled the essence of it, and made it difficult to understand and not as engaging as it should have been. The worldbuilding was not to my taste. I'm not sure what really happened in the first half of the novel, and I genuinely feel like the story would have benefited a lot from being presented to us a little differently. Maybe if it began further along into the action and divulged information about the world as it becomes necessary. Starting the story when Kid Synth is Riz-Ali is taking the hacking challenge, and when the Narrows is being attacked. It felt like the beginning was so broad, almost in that detached, adult sci-fi storytelling way. And that would have been fine, except it never fully committed to the more broad style. RISE OF THE RED HAND never really told the history of the world linearly in one place, and that's part of why it was so confusing in the beginning. It tried to fit it all into the current storyline. We get repeated references to the world's history, but nothing direct enough that a casual reader can easily pick together. There's WWIII, the New Treaty, the Great Migration, something about a rare resource neo-something, a past nuclear conflict between America and the Middle East, a space colony, a pandemic, PAC (I still don't know what this stands for), the different places (Liminal? Narrows? Central? Rings?) and so much more. It's just so much background information, and it was just really difficult for me to get a clear sense of what was happening. Maybe someone smarter & more dedicated than I am was able to get a better sense of it, but I felt like it could have been condensed more. Told on a need-to-know basis. The name of the resource kind of gets lost along the story, turning into "rare resources," and a lot of the history was never really relevant to the central story of Ashiva & the Red Hand. I'm sure Chadha had reasons for doing things this way, but unfortunately it didn't work for me. The actual meat of the story (especially everything happening from when Ashiva and Riz-Ali meet at the 50% mark) was a lot more clear--not the background info, but what was happening in the present. There's an infiltration plot and multiple rebellious movements happening. There's actions and fighting giant mechas. And only near the end did I begin to fully understand the emotional notes of Ashiva & her little sister Taru's relationship, which could have been played up a lot more to be super evocative. I think RISE OF THE RED HAND had so much potential, but something about the framing and worldbuilding posed a huge roadblock that I feel is stopping readers from understanding the heart of the story, the connections that are happening with Ashiva and Riz-Ali, Ashiva and her sister, Ashiva and her questionable mentor figure. These all got lost in the world and that was the biggest disappointment for me. Content Warnings: (view spoiler)[violence, class-conflict, genocide, death & murder, hostage, medical experimentation, body horror (mechas & cyborgs), use of ableist slurs (lame & dumb, casually by a minor-character), use of "obese" in the narration once (hide spoiler)] Also, quick pet peeve. I wasn't a huge fan of how Chadha split the world into provinces—I understand why it was done, in a way, but I still wish this part of the worldbuilding was done differently. I was both a little unsettled by how large some of the regions were (Africa is just one large "African Province"? When it's like 30% larger with almost 2x as many people as North America?) as well as unsatisfied with how the regions were named. Why is there an "American Province" and a "South American Province"? Wouldn't it be better than to say "North (or North and Central) American Province" instead? And why is there an "Asian Province" which is different from the "South Asian Province" and the "East Asian Province"? Is this just ARC inconsistency (the "East Asian Province" is never mentioned until past the 3/4 mark of the story), or is the worldbuilding super sloppy? I can't tell.

  12. 5 out of 5

    ❀ Alex ❀ (The Scribe Owl)

    See this review and more at my blog, The Scribe Owl! Thank you to NetGalley and Erewhon for an ARC in exchange for an honest review. 2.5/5 stars I am honestly so sad that I didn't like this book. It had all the components that I like--a cyberpunk world, a cool rebellion, and other things, but the execution fell flat in every aspect. The South Asian Province is split in two. Uplanders lead luxurious lives inside a climate-controlled biodome. Outside, the poor and forgotten barely scrape by. Ashiva w See this review and more at my blog, The Scribe Owl! Thank you to NetGalley and Erewhon for an ARC in exchange for an honest review. 2.5/5 stars I am honestly so sad that I didn't like this book. It had all the components that I like--a cyberpunk world, a cool rebellion, and other things, but the execution fell flat in every aspect. The South Asian Province is split in two. Uplanders lead luxurious lives inside a climate-controlled biodome. Outside, the poor and forgotten barely scrape by. Ashiva works for the Red Hand, an underground network of revolutionaries fighting the government. When Ashiva crosses paths with the brilliant hacker Riz-Ali, a privileged Uplander who finds himself embroiled in the Red Hand’s dangerous activities, they uncover a horrifying conspiracy that the government will do anything to bury. From armed guardians kidnapping children to massive robots flattening the slums, to an epidemic that threatens to sweep through the city like wildfire, Ashiva and Riz-Ali will have to put aside their differences in order to fight the system and save the communities they love from destruction. The general gist of why I rated this book so low is because it felt like a chore to read. I didn't want to do it and I only did it because I'm on a deadline. When the book is so disinteresting that you're skim-reading, something isn't right. I guess I'll break down why it was so boring in the next couple of paragraphs, but if all you need is a quick rundown, here's that. Literally everything was erratic, especially the pacing. Nothing at all happened for the first entire half of the books. The main characters hadn't even met! I think the author was attempting to set the mood and establish the worldbuilding, and that's fine. But please cut down on the amount of it next time! After that, there were weird little bursts of fast pacing in a sea of slow pacing. I felt like it was dragging me along, and then suddenly we're sprinting. Like I said, erratic. The characters were a no-go. I understand what the author was attempting to do, but they came out as one-dimensional. Ashiva's personality was "fight" and Riz-Ali's was "sheltered rich boy fighting for loooove." By the way, what happened to Riza's name change? About two-thirds of the way through the book, Ashiva mentions in passing that Riz would rather be called Kid Synch. Kid Synch. I'm sorry, but I can't take that seriously. And then that's how all his POV titles were named. INSTA-LOVE I REPEAT INSTA-LOVE ALERT ABORT ABORT. I HATE insta-love. Basically, our MCs (Ashiva and Riz-Ali who I REFUSE to call Kid Synch) didn't really like each other. Then, they took and walk and fell in love. That is literally what happened. I just...no. No no no. The worldbuilding was fine I guess. We were kind of thrown in the deep end with no real explanation at any point about what was really happening except the divide between rich and poor people and that the world went boom a quarter of a century ago. We didn't get to learn how any of the organizations arose or anything. The author started using all these acronyms that I guess were from the quick history and I'm still not sure what some of them stood for. I know that this was the first book in a series, but I felt like there was so much unnecessary content. We learned about so many people that never showed up again and there were many plots that were started but not finished. Again, this is just the first book and they might be useful later, but it made the book a little fluffy. As you might have been able to tell, this book was not for me. That said, I wish the author the best and I hope she finds a good audience to love her book!

  13. 5 out of 5

    Shannon (It Starts At Midnight)

    You can find the full review and all the fancy and/or randomness that accompanies it at It Starts at Midnight Rise of the Red Hand is a thought provoking start to a new series. I quite liked some components, while a few others left me wanting a bit more. Let's break it down! What I Loved: ►The world was both incredibly complex and utterly believable. I mean, it was awful, don't get me wrong. The rich got richer and the poor... well, they would just exterminate them if they got in the way. Trul You can find the full review and all the fancy and/or randomness that accompanies it at It Starts at Midnight Rise of the Red Hand is a thought provoking start to a new series. I quite liked some components, while a few others left me wanting a bit more. Let's break it down! What I Loved: ►The world was both incredibly complex and utterly believable. I mean, it was awful, don't get me wrong. The rich got richer and the poor... well, they would just exterminate them if they got in the way. Truly, it's the selfish rhetoric that we're all intimately familiar with run amok. I also loved how the author was able to include so many wonderful references to South Asian culture, it really made the setting feel very authentic! ►I absolutely rooted for the characters at every turn. Obviously, the way they are being treated is total trash, and I wanted them to overcome their oppressors. I wanted them to get to live, you know? They're all flawed (some more than others) but they have good intentions, and they do show growth throughout the story, which I definitely appreciated. ►The plot, when it picked up, was compelling. Look, we all want the oppressive regime overthrown, yeah? Well, I guess unless you are part of said oppressive regime, but I digress. The stakes are very high, not just for the characters the book focuses on, but for all of their people. Not only is the government trying to harm them, but environmental and biological factors come into play as well, turning their intended revolution into an absolute necessity. What I Didn't: ►Oh, the info-dumping. This is my biggest complaint with the book, really. Because it had two negative effects here: One, the actual dumping of said info, during which I had a very hard time concentrating, which led to me not retaining bits that I needed to retain to understand what was happening.  It was sort of a snowball effect- I'd start to mentally check out during the info dumps, but then I'd miss key parts of the world or characters or story which made me confused, which led to a lack of focus for the next one. Two, it made the pacing feel very off, and very slow at times. Which again, led to me losing the ability to focus on reading it. The book does pick up quite a bit in the second half, but the first half was a bit of a slog, frankly. ►Kind of insta-lovey. I don't generally dig insta-love, and for Ashiva, it felt even more out of character for her to be head over heels for Riz-Ali, someone she doesn't know, that quickly. And I am not saying that the two couldn't grow to be in love, it just seemed way too quick, and I didn't really feel it. ►I preface this by acknowledging that it is an advanced copy, and hopefully will be fixed up but... just way too many errors were happening. Like, whole chunks that didn't make sense, instances where someone would say something that negated a thing that happened in the chapter before, etc. And I genuinely couldn't tell which I was supposed to believe at that point. Errors happen, especially in an advanced copy, but when it occurs to the point where it takes me out of a story, I feel obliged to mention it. Bottom Line:  A wonderfully complex world with characters to cheer for, it would have been helped by a bit more even pace and less info-dumping.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Rachel Kathryn Wright

    This might be the first book where I am disappointed with giving a book this rating because I feel it had a lot of potential. But there is also one characteristic the main character has that I hate seeing in books. And that is when a character is continuously lying to their sibling or friend to protect them because in the end it just hurts them. This was in it and the main character does not care at the end that her sister now no longer wants anything to do with her for the time being, because s This might be the first book where I am disappointed with giving a book this rating because I feel it had a lot of potential. But there is also one characteristic the main character has that I hate seeing in books. And that is when a character is continuously lying to their sibling or friend to protect them because in the end it just hurts them. This was in it and the main character does not care at the end that her sister now no longer wants anything to do with her for the time being, because she pretty much says she is being independent. Another thing about the main character is that she does not really grow or change, which is seen when multiple people try to tell her that she was betrayed and she won’t let herself see the truth of it. And the reason why this is annoying is because of the way she presents herself, because I was shocked that she was in so much denial over the truth. But all the other characters I thought were interesting especially with them receiving some growth. Another problem that I had was with the pacing and plot, nothing happened in the beginning and with that had a very slow start, and once the plot picked up so did the pacing. I generally don’t hate fast paced books, I more so enjoy them especially when it’s throughout most of the book, but this one made me feel a bit lost at the end. I thought the premise was intriguing but for the book to have kept that level of intrigue, I think it needed to have been better paced and be more descriptive of all the organizations that are at play. But something that was in this book that I did not feel was necessary was the romance because for me the relationship didn’t make sense. And the reason why is because it was insta-love, which I usually don’t dislike but in this it felt off for there was no development and I couldn’t connect with the characters. Overall, I was not a fan of this but I think those that read middle grade would be okay with this as long as parents are okay with its trigger warnings.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Simant Verma

    October 7th, 2020: So excited to read it. Thank you NetGalley for the digital arc. June 18th, 2020: A South Asian YA cli-fi novel? Sign me up! And would you see the cover??

  16. 5 out of 5

    ivy ✰

    eARC provided by the publisher via netgalley in exchange for an honest review. all opinions are my own. note : this is an ownvoices book ; the author is of south asian origin. rep : ✨ south asian characters and setting * R I S E O F T H E R E D H A N D the premise of this story is brilliant -- a south asian-inspired dystopia featuring the consequences of climate change and a technocratic government. unfortunately, i wasn't able to get through this book and ended up dnf-ing it. but because i felt eARC provided by the publisher via netgalley in exchange for an honest review. all opinions are my own. note : this is an ownvoices book ; the author is of south asian origin. rep : ✨ south asian characters and setting * R I S E O F T H E R E D H A N D the premise of this story is brilliant -- a south asian-inspired dystopia featuring the consequences of climate change and a technocratic government. unfortunately, i wasn't able to get through this book and ended up dnf-ing it. but because i felt so guilty about it, i've added it to my 'dnf-but-might-try-later' bookshelf. the first part of the book consisted of a whole lot of info-dumping and i didn't feel a connection to any of the characters ; it felt like they lacked depth. i tried multiple times to finish it off, but i just couldn't. it felt like a chore, and the more i tried to make myself read, the more i ended up skim-reading it. however, like i said before, i'm going to try again later. since i dnf-ed it, it's likely that there could be better plot development in the second half of the book.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Soph the Oaf

    I expected more from Rise of the Red Hand. The plot was okay, slightly mundane, but the real problem was the writing quality. Right away, I could tell that the author was an amateur. From the run-on sentences to the lengthy descriptions of each and every one of the characters, no matter how minor, as soon as they were introduced, the editor clearly needed to do a better job.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Solace_In_Reading

    11.10.2020 Just got approved by Netgalley yesterday!!!!! So happy. 12.31.2020 Hmmm. I definitely sped-read this and like the premise as well as how the action scenes were written, but I don't think I would re-read this. Definitely read other reviews. 11.10.2020 Just got approved by Netgalley yesterday!!!!! So happy. 12.31.2020 Hmmm. I definitely sped-read this and like the premise as well as how the action scenes were written, but I don't think I would re-read this. Definitely read other reviews.

  19. 4 out of 5

    kaz auditore

    i received an e-arc of Rise of the Red Hand by Olivia Chadha from Netgalley for an honest review. i liked it honestly, but maybe i had too much expectations the concept is Amazing and i liked the plot but the writing style didn’t helped to really dive in the book. the first part was a massive info dump, i had trouble getting through it, it made it seem like nothing was happening and terribly slow and i was also kinda confused. also there was a bit too many pov who sounded the same, the romance i i received an e-arc of Rise of the Red Hand by Olivia Chadha from Netgalley for an honest review. i liked it honestly, but maybe i had too much expectations the concept is Amazing and i liked the plot but the writing style didn’t helped to really dive in the book. the first part was a massive info dump, i had trouble getting through it, it made it seem like nothing was happening and terribly slow and i was also kinda confused. also there was a bit too many pov who sounded the same, the romance i hated it but it’s small so it’s fine, i didn’t understand the point of it. the world building was interesting and what it talked about too- ableism, elitism, activism, climate change, pandemic- it’s very on time, we can easily identify with it. the characters lacked depth in my opinion, i felt like they had one layer. beside that passed the first part i liked the story, i would still recommend it for the cyberpunk universe, it was enjoyable and the south asian rep + language was really nice, i wish i liked it more

  20. 5 out of 5

    kaylie

    ☆ advanced reader copy from edelweiss ☆ dnf at 50% I'm just not gonna waste my time. I hate writing negative reviews. I hate being that person that spits on your book after years of writing it. It's like me coming up to you on the side of the road and telling you how ugly your newborn baby is. It just puts a sore taste in my throat. That being said, I'm going to keep it short. I just didn't care. I was bored out of my mind and nothing made sense. The writing was utterly clunky and it felt like readi ☆ advanced reader copy from edelweiss ☆ dnf at 50% I'm just not gonna waste my time. I hate writing negative reviews. I hate being that person that spits on your book after years of writing it. It's like me coming up to you on the side of the road and telling you how ugly your newborn baby is. It just puts a sore taste in my throat. That being said, I'm going to keep it short. I just didn't care. I was bored out of my mind and nothing made sense. The writing was utterly clunky and it felt like reading a textbook, except even textbooks are better written. The reader is thrown into this book without any explanations whatsoever. To make matters worse, the multiple points of view made it even more confusing. Not to mention how hard it was to distinguish between said points of view. Anyway, that's the gist of it. I just wasn't gonna waste my time with this book. It's a shame because the concept is actually very clever, just poor follow-through.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Mal Reads

    Thank you so much to the author and publisher for this book in exchange for an honest review!! The Rise of the Red Hand was such a promising book that was shot in the foot by its writing style. When I first read the synopsis of this book I was like oh my god give it to me now! Talk about a new adult sci-fi with South Asian rep? Something wonderful is about to come my way. Unfortunately, 'The Rise of the Red Hand' was such a promising book that was shot in the foot by its writing style. First, What Thank you so much to the author and publisher for this book in exchange for an honest review!! The Rise of the Red Hand was such a promising book that was shot in the foot by its writing style. When I first read the synopsis of this book I was like oh my god give it to me now! Talk about a new adult sci-fi with South Asian rep? Something wonderful is about to come my way. Unfortunately, 'The Rise of the Red Hand' was such a promising book that was shot in the foot by its writing style. First, What I liked: -The science of the book. Chadha was not afraid to explain full on the scientific explanation of something, like the water filtration system. As a huge science nerd, I absolutely loved this. Overall, her commentary on social dilemmas and climate change seemed so realistic throughout the book. I could totally feel this looming in out future. -The characters. While a bit tropey, the girls in this book were my absolute favorite. They were strong yet so complex that they made me enjoy the story that much more. Unfortunately, their male counterpart seemed more sleazy to me than anything, even while he tried to redeem himself. The side characters of this book really seem to make the story, I honestly loved them. -South Asian Culture. As a Pakistani-American, all the references to culture and experiences made me feel right at home. I absolutely loved how Chadha carefully weaved in the phrases and culture of South Asia. From the food to the references about Aunties and Uncles, everything seems like it was written first hand; this is why I love POC authors. My one worry is for people who don't understand the language because unless they had a dictionary they most likely wouldn't understand all of the phrases. The things that didn't work as well: -Info dumps. The entire first portion of the book seemed to be full of info dumps that made the plot move at a glacial pace. I was halfway through the book and felt like I had gone nowhere. It does get better in the second half, but overall it seriously impeded my interest in reading the book. Many of the info dumps also didn't feel needed. They seemed quite literally dumped in to keep the story moving rather than weaved into the plot. -Writing Style. Building off the info dumps, most of the story felt like telling not showing; we were told the history, we were told about what was going to happen. There wasn't a lot of showing just the author informing us what had happened. I just didn't seem to mesh with the style. -Editing. Overall this book had quite a few grammar and editing mistakes. I picked up multiple in the first few chapters alone and I feel that this seriously harmed my enjoyment of the story. I feel this story needs to be edited greatly before moving on. Overall this book had a good storyline and great attention to detail but needs some more work on the writing style and info dumps. I was so excited about this book and while it wasn't bad, it wasn't what I had hoped for.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Mackenzie (bookish_black_hole)

    3.5 - wanted to LOVE it but it fell a little short. you can find my full review here: http://colourmeread.com/rise-of-the-r... 3.5 - wanted to LOVE it but it fell a little short. you can find my full review here: http://colourmeread.com/rise-of-the-r...

  23. 4 out of 5

    Alaaalr

    I wish I liked this more but honestly it was a task to read. The beginning is a lot to handle, too many info dumps, not enough character grounding. I didn’t like the extremely detailed explanations and descriptions, it seems to go on and on. 30% in and the plot still didn’t pick up and at this point I wanted to dnf it. Overall mediocre plot and mostly one dimensional characters.

  24. 4 out of 5

    prutha ✨

    Welp, I am very sad now. I expected so much more from this book but I was left disappointed. My problems with this were the very chunky writing and the extreme info dump which left me confused. The pacing was also a bit off, and as you all know, slow pacing really bores and puts off the book for me. 2 Stars.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Jade

    I received an e-arc of Rise of the Red Hand by Olivia Chadha from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Unfortunately I ended up DNFing this book, I couldn't get into the story and there was a LOT of info dump at the beginning which was kinda confusing and hard to process at all once. I thought that this book sounds like a cool sci-fi in the same vein as the Lunar Chronicles when I requested it, and from what I read it was eerily similar, with a cyborg main character and references to a pla I received an e-arc of Rise of the Red Hand by Olivia Chadha from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Unfortunately I ended up DNFing this book, I couldn't get into the story and there was a LOT of info dump at the beginning which was kinda confusing and hard to process at all once. I thought that this book sounds like a cool sci-fi in the same vein as the Lunar Chronicles when I requested it, and from what I read it was eerily similar, with a cyborg main character and references to a plague.... I think others could still enjoy this title, it just wasn't the book for me.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Julia Ember

    Really honored to have had the chance to read this early! Such a smartly-written, harrowing book that examines a potential future if climate change isn't addressed! Really honored to have had the chance to read this early! Such a smartly-written, harrowing book that examines a potential future if climate change isn't addressed!

  27. 4 out of 5

    Fernanda Granzotto

    *Thank you Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with an early copy of this book for review, all opinions are my own* The beginning of this book is very difficult to read, the author introduces us to the world at the very beginning and I admit that I don't know if I understood everything at first, I had to read some parts more than once, because the author used words I never saw and expressions I didn't know it either, but that may be because English is not my first language. The author use *Thank you Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with an early copy of this book for review, all opinions are my own* The beginning of this book is very difficult to read, the author introduces us to the world at the very beginning and I admit that I don't know if I understood everything at first, I had to read some parts more than once, because the author used words I never saw and expressions I didn't know it either, but that may be because English is not my first language. The author uses a lot of specific language about mechanics, technology and computers that I'm unfortunately not used to reading in English, so I felt that I missed a lot of details about how the world works or what was really happening. In addition to having a lot of South Asian culture and history as well, which for me that is not very used to having contact with this culture, made my understanding of history even more difficult (but the author has a small glossary at the end of the book that helps a lot with that). So as you can see this reading was very difficult for me, here we have a dystopian world that takes place after the 3rd world war occurred. I loved this book even with all the difficulty I had to read I still read the book very fast because the story is completely captivating and you can't stop reading because the world created by the author involves you in a spectacular way and you also get attached very fast to the characters. The book does something that I started to like a lot, which is in the first chapter,show an event and then go back in time to show how the characters arrived at that event and what happened soon after. I think this is a book for everyone who has been orphaned by YA dystopias, because this is a dystopia that I see the author being able to do a lot of things with more books in the series and expanded the world a lot but at the same time I have no idea how it will solve everything wich only makes me more anxious for the next books, This is the kind of book that I will definitely reread to read the next ones and if it is translated into Portuguese I will read it again too, I am so in love with this story.

  28. 4 out of 5

    bella

    My attention was captured by the premise and the promise of diversity (South Asian rep!) in science fiction. I mean, "a streetrat turned revolutionary and the disillusioned hacker son of a politician try to take down a ruthlessly technocratic government that sacrifices its poorest citizens to build its utopia" sounds both intriguing and relevant. Unfortunately, Rise of the Red Hand didn't quite meet my expectations. While the book has potential, there were a number of issues that I was unable to My attention was captured by the premise and the promise of diversity (South Asian rep!) in science fiction. I mean, "a streetrat turned revolutionary and the disillusioned hacker son of a politician try to take down a ruthlessly technocratic government that sacrifices its poorest citizens to build its utopia" sounds both intriguing and relevant. Unfortunately, Rise of the Red Hand didn't quite meet my expectations. While the book has potential, there were a number of issues that I was unable to overlook. The main characters had the potential to be interesting, but none of them felt fully fleshed out. I wanted to get to know them better and feel more of an emotional investment to them and their stories. Additionally, the first half of the book especially contained a lot of info dumping at some points, while there were other aspects of the world-building that were not thoroughly explained. The pacing of the book felt too drawn out and slow over the first half of the book, but seemed to rush during the second half. I felt that the main romance in the book could work further down the line (maybe later in the series), but because the characters did not meet until later in the book and hardly spent time together, the fast development of their relationship did not make sense to me. Throughout the book, the writing felt choppy and I also noticed several minor errors (repeated words, words that should have been deleted, etc) that could have been caught in another round of editing. However, I did think that Chadha created an interesting setting with the potential for interesting world-building and touched upon important and relevant themes (classism, capitalism, climate change, etc). I also appreciated learning about elements of South Asian culture that were included throughout the book. I would love to have gotten more character development and explored the societal structure more in depth. Despite my low rating, I would be interested to see where the series goes and to read more of Chadha's work in the future. I wish I had enjoyed this one more! Thank you to NetGalley and Erewhon Books for the ARC! trigger/content warnings: brutality enacted by law enforcement, suicide, disease, pandemic, people going missing, kidnapping, child abandonment, death, starvation, mutilation/loss of limbs, death of a loved one/family members, death, mass deaths, eugenics, murder, blood, war mentions, human experimentation/testing, violence, medical procedures, bombing, stabbing

  29. 5 out of 5

    Jo Ladzinski

    Read an ARC from the publisher Content warning: violence against children, plague, medical experimentation, violence Set in South Asia, this cyberpunk science fiction dystopia has everything: a ruthless technocratic government, a deadly plague, mechanical augmentations, mechs, a shiny chrome utopia for the upper class, crowded slums for everyone else, a splinter group of revolutionaries, and hackers working from the inside. Told in crisp, matter-of-fact prose by complex characters, this science fic Read an ARC from the publisher Content warning: violence against children, plague, medical experimentation, violence Set in South Asia, this cyberpunk science fiction dystopia has everything: a ruthless technocratic government, a deadly plague, mechanical augmentations, mechs, a shiny chrome utopia for the upper class, crowded slums for everyone else, a splinter group of revolutionaries, and hackers working from the inside. Told in crisp, matter-of-fact prose by complex characters, this science fiction debut is not one to miss. Ashiva is a gem of a protagonist. She’s clever and stubborn in the best ways. One thing that really stood out to me was how none of the main characters had any interest in saving the world around them, which for me, added a layer of realism. Ashiva wants to protect her sister, Taru. Riz-Ali wants to find out what the government is really up to learn more about his family and their activities. These internal character drivers contrasted nicely against the action set pieces, featuring city-obliterating mechs and daring escapes. Elements of the world-building really reminded me of Midgar from Final Fantasy VII Remake, in which the elite live separately from everyone else, and the government will stop at nothing to further its own selfish goals. As a group, the antagonistic government is a little one dimensional, but taken individually, wow did I gasp at some of the reveals. My only gripe was that the pacing felt a little uneven. The book starts off slowly, and our main characters don’t meet until past the halfway point. All that groundwork is important, but I wonder if there were other way to integrate it. Overall, a cyberpunk climate fiction that literally has anything you want from the subgenre.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Poonam

    A South Asian inspired science fiction set 25 years after a world wide nuclear war with massive damage to the earth, this is a story about class and the fight for equality of resources.  I desperately wanted to like this book. South-asian inspired science fiction? This is the wheelhouse I've been waiting for! Unfortunately, this fell flat for me. The world is incredibly detailed and well-built. And the societal and political tensions well defined. I loved the elements of South Asian culture pepper A South Asian inspired science fiction set 25 years after a world wide nuclear war with massive damage to the earth, this is a story about class and the fight for equality of resources.  I desperately wanted to like this book. South-asian inspired science fiction? This is the wheelhouse I've been waiting for! Unfortunately, this fell flat for me. The world is incredibly detailed and well-built. And the societal and political tensions well defined. I loved the elements of South Asian culture peppered throughout making the setting feel real. There is so much to being able to recognize bits of who you are in a genre that you love. The world in this book is a wonderful set up and backdrop for a rich story.  However, while it's possible that the writing style itself just didn't work for me personally, I really feel that this book needed editing. There is a lot of info-dumps that dragged the narrative and the plot/characters themselves felt very thinly built and I didn't really connect to them- it struck me almost more like a story written to be made into a movie script. I could see this story being a movie. With actors and actresses breathing life into the characters to make them fuller. The bones are there, but the writing/story just need more work. It really picked up in the last 20% and concluded in a way that left the story open for more books. Fingers crossed for book two, because I want to see more South-Asian inspired sci-fi in the world! 

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