Book Review | City of Shattered Light, Claire Winn

Goodreads Blurb:

As darkness closes in on the city of shattered light, an heiress and an outlaw must decide whether to fend for themselves or fight for each other.

As heiress to a powerful tech empire, seventeen-year-old Asa Almeida strives to prove she’s more than her manipulative father’s shadow. But when he uploads her rebellious sister’s mind to an experimental brain, Asa will do anything to save her sister from reprogramming—including fleeing her predetermined future with her sister’s digitized mind in tow. With a bounty on her head and a rogue A.I. hunting her, Asa’s getaway ship crash-lands in the worst possible place: the neon-drenched outlaw paradise, Requiem.

Gun-slinging smuggler Riven Hawthorne is determined to claw her way up Requiem’s underworld hierarchy. A runaway rich girl is exactly the bounty Riven needs—until a nasty computer virus spreads in Asa’s wake, causing a citywide blackout and tech quarantine. To get the payout for Asa and save Requiem from the monster in its circuits, Riven must team up with her captive.

Riven breaks skulls the way Asa breaks circuits, but their opponent is unlike anything they’ve ever seen. The A.I. exploits the girls’ darkest memories and deepest secrets, threatening to shatter the fragile alliance they’re both depending on. As one of Requiem’s 154-hour nights grows darker, the girls must decide whether to fend for themselves or fight for each other before Riven’s city and Asa’s sister are snuffed out forever.

My Thoughts:

I picked this one up mostly because of the cover. Two badass ladies, what more could I want? Once I’d read the blurb I was sure I had to read it!

The pacing and writing of this novel was wonderfully done. I was invested from the first few pages. Both in the characters and their story. I really loved the dual narration from the main characters Asa and Riven, it made their dynamic a lot more interesting. I loved the snark and humour in the dialogue – both spoken, and internal from the narrators.

With this novel, Winn has created a vivid world for her characters to navigate through. I loved the atmosphere of Requiem with it’s dark and gritty atmosphere – especially with it lit up with the neon lights of that tech focused world. I especially liked seeing Requiem from Asa’s (the runaway’s) point of view, while she feels out of place, Riven thrives – and slowly, Asa starts to feel the same. Asa’s character development is something that I hope is explored further if a sequel is written.

I loved getting to know the characters in this book. They all had really interesting backstories which added to the mysteries. One thing I did find was that the two main characters seemed a lot more fleshed out than the others on the team, even though the other team members had just as much of a role to play as the two main characters Asa and Riven. I understand that as main characters, and the narrators if the story, Asa and Riven are bound to have a bit more too them, but not at the expense of other characters. Especially when they are all so wonderful. This is in no way a hard criticism of the characters and the way they were written, this just made it a little difficult for me to connect with them, though it in no way lessened my ability to get emotionally invested in the whole rag tag team. I am really looking forward to seeing more of the characters in future novels in this series.

One of my favourite parts within this novel is the sibling dynamics of various kinds that are displayed with different characters. The caring or protective aspects were really sweet to read which I loved. What I think I liked most though was the more chaotic energy that Asa and her sister emulated with their interactions. This was similar with Riven and her crew, which made this such a fun novel to read. The sort of “this idea is crazy but it’s your idea so I’ll do it anyway” energy that only siblings or really close friends can truly have. This really added to the whole found family feel of this novel.

I recommend this to lovers of the sci-fi genre who don’t want something too intense but still want it to be cleverly plotted and fast paced. If you’re looking for something with great characters, a well crafted plot, and plenty of found family/sibling dynamics then this is for you!

Thank you to NetGalley, the author, and the publisher for sending me this free eARC (eAdvanced Reader Copy), I am leaving this review voluntarily. This title was published 19th October 2021.

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