CBR14 Bingo: “Question” – Figuring out Nona’s identity is a core element of the book.
This is a spoiler free review. I am so glad to have made the decision to throw my reading plans out the window and reread Gideon the Ninth and Harrow the Ninth before reading Nona the Ninth. Having everything fresh in my mind was helpful because once again Muir throws the reader into the deep end of the pool, expecting one to keep afloat until things gel together.
Nona is unlike any character previously introduced in the Locked Tomb series. She’s innocent and full of love for the people around her, all the dogs, and even the dangerous, crappy city crammed with refugees she is living in. As far as Nona is concerned, she is six months old. In that time she has gone from embarrassingly dependent to mostly independent with no memories of her life before or who she is. Nona’s caregivers have her play with bones and swing around a sword to see if anything sparks. However, they are quite careful to not lead her in either direction wanting nature to take it’s course.
Nona’s life is pretty simple; go to school, come home, do errands. However, her city is on the brink. Multiple Blood of Eden factions are controlling different parts of the city. There are still some Cohort holdouts under siege in the barracks. And a resurrection beast is looming over the planet driving necromancers mad.
Interspersed throughout the book are chapters of John Gaius narrating his backstory to someone who is dreaming. Earth was in crisis and while John was trying to save humanity he discovered necromancy. We learn how he gathered together the people who were to become his adepts and cavaliers, and then Lyctors. Having just read Harrow was beneficial because I had a decent grasp on who everyone was.
Gideon and Harrow feel disjointed as books in a series because of the sharp difference in the type of story and format they are being told in. Nona is another abrupt turn in a different direction from the previous two. As disparate as these three are, it is relationships and identity that are the common threads that weaves through these books. If Gideon is an action adventure and Harrow is a study in grief, then Nona is a treatise on love.
I could never stop you from loving anything. I don’t have the right. Nobody has the right to tell you who to love or who not to love, and equally nobody’s obliged to you love you. If you were forced into loving them, it wouldn’t be love.”
“I’ll keep loving you – my problem is I don’t know how to stop. And, you know… who you are… were… you’re capable of more than you think, right now. … My necromancer and I always liked you… and hey, what’s like except a love that hasn’t been invited indoors?”
I was enthralled by Nona. I liked mulling over information as Nona’s interests and skills are revealed to try and puzzle out her identity. I appreciated how this book finally shows us what life is like for those outside of the Nine Houses and rebelling against the necromancers. I enjoyed getting the background of John’s history and the way in which Muir presents it. I also got a kick out of the little things that Muir throws in that ground her fantastical world in reality.
The ceiling was multi-holed ventilation paneling of a type Nona longed to throw pencils at, to see if they would stick in the holes.”
I feel like every classroom I had from elementary through high school had ceilings like that. Occasionally there were even pencils stuck in the ceiling tiles. I can’t wait for Alecto the Ninth to find out where Muir is ultimately taking us.