This one had all the same great things as the first book (cool future world, Art Deco subculture, developed characters, sweet relationships, great lgbtqia+ and neurodivergent rep—just go read that review if you want to know what all the great things were), but it really upped the angst and tension!
This was one of those books where I knew something was wrong, I just didn’t know exactly what. I felt awful for Reed, not knowing what was happening to him and what was real, so scared and upset. I felt awful for Jax, so worried about Reed. I felt awful for Mazarin, struggling with feeling like an outsider for being an AI among organic humans and feeling like all she did was hurt the people she loved.
This is also the most complex exploration of sentient AI that I’ve read about. I love how it’s not even really, “Should AI have rights?” but rather more an exploration of Mazarin’s feelings about fitting in, about his differences from humans, about his connection to Reed, about what it means to be friends.
I also love the complex relationships the AI aspect has brought out. I’m not even sure how to describe them. What these characters have is its own unique thing with unique emotions and dynamics. But it suits these characters, and they make things work, and they’re all happy with it, and that’s all that matters. And the romantic relationships are super cute.
Overall, just another really great story with great characters, sweet and complex relationships, all sorts of diversity, an interesting take on sentient AI, a fun Art Deco subculture, and lots of suspense and tension, and I’m looking forward to more!
Fans of Book 1 in Al Hess's Hep Cats of Boise Series. Anyone who likes AI with emotion, future settings, the Art Deco Era, LGBTQIA+ characters, disabled and neurodivergent characters, complex characters who are imperfect but good people, sweet romance side plots, and unpredictable stories.