What a great series, top to bottom. I don’t even want to talk about it. (Or, I want to talk about it for five hours straight.) I kind of already want to re-read. If you like science fiction, this is a must read. It’s so self-assured, so smart, so well put together, so full of heart and yet also full of thinking. It’s so hard to find an author who can stimulate both my thinking brain and my feeling brain, and Arkady Martine is a master at both, as far as I can tell, and this is only her second novel. The heart feelings for these characters and the smart thoughts about colonialism and culture and language and personhood are all just swirly whirling all together in a beautiful dance of art and spaceships.
I was skeptical (or, just basing my opinions on past experience) that the second book in this duology could be as good as the first, but it was, in a slightly different way. I haven’t fully processed it so I don’t really want to talk about meaning and stuff. But where the first book was mostly a political story and a critique of empire and imperialism, this book (while still holding those elements close) is also a first contact story, and I love those when done well, which this very much was. This one felt fresh, too, because the two entities going up against each other are both giants while we (and Mahit, one of the main POV characters) are caught in the middle. Who will eat who up first?
If you were on the fence at all about this series, jump on over it. This is definitely worth giving a shot, or even multiple shots to. On re-read, I could see this easily becoming a favorite series.