Title: The Rending and the Nest
Author: Kaethe Schwehn
Genre: Dystopian, New adultish (some sexual context and descriptions)
Rating: 1 out of 5 stars
Well the description of The Rending and the Nest makes it obvious it's a weird dystopian world. And yet it isn't the inanimate objects being 'born' instead of live babies that's the weirdest.
Weird, weird, weird
Instead the most bizarre and frustrating thing is that the world has changed in a way that makes absolutely no sense. I don't need a scientific approach, just a moderately believable one. It can have future technology in it to account for capabilities we don't have; but, it still needs to be something that feels like it makes sense in some sort of context. The set-up to this dystopian place feels like author Kaethe Schwehn just wanted a certain setting and so magically just had it happen in a 'Rending' moment. This really bugged me as it's core to the story and the mystery to be solved.
While the writing is acceptable the descriptions and characterizations of the lead gal and others in the book are a bit flat. I didn't really connect with our main gal or her fellow group members. They all seemed a bit boring. More details of the 'before' lives might have helped or maybe more around the basic services and jobs each had in the group. It's touched upon for a few of our characters but I never really felt like I had a working understanding of their setting and therefore didn't know the characters.
Necessities of Life
I went back and skimmed the first 20% of this book, before stopping entirely, to try and find a solid description for the main food source called ghost fruit. I never found one. When readers don't understand how energy is gained and consumed, in any story of any kind, then they fundamentally cannot connect or concentrate on a story. Instead we tend to get caught up in trying to decide how something is happening rather than what is happening. You can have a mysterious food or resource but make sure every detail the characters know is what your reader knows too.
Why do we need certain base elements?
The fundamentals of life must be present or at least touched upon and explained in order to allow us to relate to the characters. Be they characters that are AI, biological, corporeal or otherwise. The main fundamentals of life are: sustenance (how to get energy and maintain existence), waste (where does 'garbage' of any kind go) and shelter (it can move with you or constantly change but you generally have some shelter from elements at points during a period of time). Had Schwehn helped us understand the living situation better I think the mysteries would have intrigued me. Instead they really annoyed me as they just added to the nothing makes sense aura of this book.
There might be something here if a rewrite was to happen as the style of writing is okay but it's the content that bugs me. Overall the first 38% of this book (that I read) reminded me of one of my first DNF's a couple decades ago. Tad Williams series Otherworld had many of the same relational problems. Going too far into the strange and weird (which I normally love) without being smart about it. The thing I always remember that had me give up on Otherworld was when salad veggies were fighting utensils in a kitchen for dominance (I'm not even kidding) and the baby tomato drowns in the river after a utensil skewers him. Generally one would be devastated by a baby of any kind dying. Instead all I could do was laugh and say nope, putting the book down to never ever pick it up again. It's not that a conscious tomato was the problem it's the context in which it was portrayed. As though it was there to confuse you and nothing more. I am not a fan of these blatant, lazy illustrations of oddities. Read Alice in Wonderland if you want to see how odd, bizarre and crazy can be done really well. The key in Alice is Lewis Carrol sets up a relatable construct for each character be it a card guard, door mouse or Mad Hatter.
Finally, when I gave-up reading The Rending and the Nest I honestly didn't care about anything at all. There was no sense of a purpose or that I was reading anything more than a disjointed made up story with no message, purpose, morale or otherwise. While many authors believe they write for themselves the reality is the best books are written for the readers.
Please note: I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. This is an honest and unbiased review.