Sunday, November 29, 2020

Review: THE ORIGINAL by Brandon Sanderson & Mary Robinette Kowal


Rating: 5/5 stars

This audio novella was super cool! I don’t even want to explain the premise because I went into it blind and I think it was better that way, but basically it’s told from the perspective of an AI of sorts who is kind of trying to solve a mystery about herself. That’s very vague and also not totally accurate but I’m sticking with it.

I’ll read anything from Brandon Sanderson, which is why I picked this up. This is a bit different from his usual epic fantasy though; this is a science fiction thriller, more along the lines of Snapshot and his Legion stories. It also reminded me a lot of Scythe in terms of the technology used in the world.

I loved the audiobook experience here. There are tons of sound effects throughout the entire story, like to make it sound like someone is talking on the phone, or buttons are being pressed on a recorder, or even techno music in a dance club. It was fully immersive and at times quite eerie. Absolutely the way I would recommend consuming this story (although I don’t actually know if there even is a printed version of this tale or if it’s audio-only).

I’m really into futuristic technology, and I loved what Sanderson and Kowal brought to the table here. The idea of Themes has me really intrigued and wishing they were real. They basically allow you to change how you see the world to suit your desires. That can get quite dangerous, and those implications are covered here, but I still think the concept is super neat. Plus nanites, of course, are always cool to see in sci-fi stories.

I was a little surprised to hear so much swearing in this novella. Brandon Sanderson is usually fairly clean in his language, so that makes me think that aspect must be from Mary Robinette Kowal. I wonder how they wrote the story, whether taking turns chapter by chapter or doing it all together, I don’t know. I’m interested in reading more from Kowal now though as this is my first book by her and I’d like to read some of her solo works.

I ended up loving The Original. I listened to it all in one sitting, which is also what I would recommend since it’s only a couple of hours long. This was a great experience. 

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