Book Review: The Archive Undying (The Downworld Sequence Book 1) by Emma Mieko Candon [Audiobook]

When his AI god corrupted and died while Sunai was interfacing with them, it changed him, making him immortal and putting a target on his back. So far, he's escaped the notice of the governing body that forces people like him into AI mech bodies to use them for violence. But then he gets entangled with a man who could very well figure out and turn him in for his secret, and his life only gets more complicated and dangerous.

Book Cover - The Lighthouse Keeper by Liv Rancourt
Title: The Archive Undying
Book Number: Book 1
Pages: 488
My Rating: 4 Stars
More Info: Goodreads // Amazon // Publisher


*I received an audio copy of this book via NetGalley. This has not influenced my review.*

I didn’t understand everything, but I found the characters and the world fascinating!

I think this is the first time I’ve ever been able to describe my thoughts on a book with a single sentence. But that’s not enough for a review, so I might get some things wrong, but I’m gonna do my best to explain why this book is so cool.

There are these big AIs that sort of run cities, and people can interface with them. But the AIs inevitably get corrupted, and anyone interfacing when that happens either dies or becomes what is known as a relic (which is what the MC, Sunai, is). And now there’s this powerful governing body that creates or finds these mech bodies for the AI and forces relics into them to pilot them. There’s more, but that’s the gist. The whole concept, the different AI, the way the interfacing worked between different characters and AI in the story, it all felt very unique and interesting.

The characters felt modern and understandable in a way that grounded the story for me. But at the same time they were a bit obscure, products of their fictional world, with beliefs and experiences wildly different from my own, doing what they felt was right, having a lot of feelings about AI and each other, in a way that made them fascinating. They had such complicated relationships and histories, especially since they were all so full of secrets. And they were definitely not perfect people. But Sunai was good, or trying to be, and too trusting, and too willing to put himself in harm’s way, and easy to care about.

I wouldn’t necessarily call this a romance, but there were feelings. Between two men who really shouldn’t have gotten involved because things were complicated. But I think Sunai was too intrigued and drawn in by Veyadi’s care and tenderness, and Veyadi was pulled in by the good in Sunai and the need to protect him since Sunai had an alarming lack of self-preservation. (Though to be fair, he was immortal.)

I did not have much trouble with the POVs. (It was mostly Sunai in 3rd person, and an AI in 1st / kinda 2nd person because they were essentially talking to the people whose heads they were in. By the time a bit of other weirdness was introduced, I had a handle on it.) My confusion came from 1) the complexity of the world and how a lot of it had to be understood from context, and 2) the way characters were very cryptic and talked around things instead of ever clearly stating anything, so I was often unsure what they meant or what they were planning or what their motivations were. But in a way, I feel like the book might not have been as good as it was, might not have had the same vibes, if it hadn’t been like that. Anyway, some things that didn’t make sense to me at first were explained later, or I was eventually able to figure them out. Some things I never did quite understand, but that’s ok. It’s definitely the sort of book you have to give your full attention to.

There’s no cliffhanger, but it’s the first in a series, and I’m looking forward to more.

I listened to the audiobook, narrated by Yung-I Chang, and it was great! He sounded natural, and the way he spoke always matched the scene and the emotions of the characters. Voices for different characters were slightly different. I enjoyed the narration.

Overall, this was a 16-hour audiobook, but it kept my attention the whole time, despite some confusion, because I was fascinated by the complicated and sometimes messed-up characters, the complex AI-filled world, and the wild story that kept me on my toes!

*Rating: 4 Stars // Read Date: 2023 // Format: Audiobook*


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