Well, when I first started reading this book – I was horribly disgusted with the details. These space-faring people (aliens? Humans?) Are apparently squatting inside a living creature. And seemingly killing it as they settle in EwwwWWwwWWww. yuck. No-thank-you.
But somehow, in the mist of that, while choking through the first couple chapter, trying to figure out just WTH was going on… I got hooked by the plot, and managed to turn a blind eye to all the disgusting bits. I tipped the point of wondering about the characters story arc, over wallowing in the disgusting living-inside-a-space-beast part.
And yes. They are in fact living inside a space-faring beast. And it is disgusting. That part never ends.
The people inside the ‘ship’ have classism problems. Family problems. Beast problems. Political problems.
There are a lot of obstacles for them to overcome. Namely, the beast they ‘just moved into’ is not healthy. [and incidentally I s probably trying to kill them – the nasty parasites that they are.] They will probably have to flee again to a new beast, much sooner than typical. And, it’s pregnant. And they’re trying to kill the fetus: which is perfectly conscious in the womb. Not to mention sentient. Hey learn that along the way. And it communicates with one person, but first abducting her into the womb, where she can somehow magically ‘breathe’ the liquid. Wow, it’s just like the stuff in the stasis pods! And then it violates her 68 ways to Sunday, by probing every orifice and opening with it’s tentacles, and many more you can’t even consider until you read it on the page – in order to communicate; in some mind-meld sharing thing. More: EwwWWwwWWwWW. This book, never stops reaching a shock level of the grossness.
The details of the people [yes, it turns out they ARE human,] living in the beast, is generally quite interesting and creative – grossness aside.
The people are ruled in a matriarchy. And because resources and space is limited, they have a vert strict one-child-per family unit rule. And just to make it weird: each family is 10 people. I think. Head parents, heart parents, will parents, some more, some more, and 1 child. But, it’s not a polyamorous family. At least, it isn’t supposed to be. Very strict rules. And very strict chastity behaviours. Or at least the ‘rules’ and moral upstanding is. Not all the characters abide. There are transgendered people, regular love, lesbian love. Embryos hatched into people who ‘are not people’ and used only for slave labour, to build out the infrastructure in a new beast, then killed off – because they’re not people… Men who aspire to be more ‘than just house-husbands’. Oh my. Let’s turn it all on it’s head!
So we have a little civilization that has very rigid, extreme, non-negotiable rules. And then there’s our introduced ruler, the matriarch. Who’s family unit has 2 children. Somehow that flies? I guess being in charge has it’s perks. [The sanctioned pregnancy happens, and an accidental pregnancy happens. The accidental one should be terminated. But the sanctioned one, is sick, and might not live, so the other isn’t terminated, since it’s likely the only survivor.] but naturally, they both live. Causing great problems. The accidental one ‘doesn’t exist.’ She isn’t allowed a name, or any rights. But she is the leaders favorite. But she can’t inherit the throne, that goes to the ‘legit’ daughter. So naturally… the not-a-person-daughter tries to kill off the legit-daughter. More than once. Not sure exactly how she’s somehow-poof-become legit… but apparently even rigid rules bend.
The ‘main’ plot story though, is the ‘legit-daughter’ is in love with her best friend, another girl [naturally], who is a ‘beast-worker.’ And in rolls the class issues. Naturally she can’t date her, is encourage not to talk to her, or be friends with her. And when it rolls around – definitely is NOT allowed to court her as a partner. But yet… she wants what she wants. They both do. There is a lot of longing, and stolen glances. Aching feelings throughout the story. Makes it interesting… and of course one of the sub-plot stories, is that beast-worker’s story. Which in itself is quite intricate and detailed.
It’s like 4 full stories woven artfully together. Each with enough detail to be satisfying, and somehow all weaving together coherently.
o Story line of the Matriarch & her family
o Story line of the matriarchs daughter, and her transition to womanhood, courting, and eventually becoming the matriarch
o Story of the beast worker; her relationship with the daughter, her family, her rise in beastworking to the heart, and fall to the boneworkers, along with a romantic relationship with a fellow boneworker, and the uprising she leads against the upper class
o Story of the beast. It’s baby. It’s pack! It’s story… and it’s offspring.
• the political latter climbing suitor/husband of the future/present matriarch, his family
• the accidental daughter, her desire to gain the throne, her plots to get there
• the beastworker finds a sister, in the ‘not-people’ workers, literally because she looks like a town
• the ‘guard’ who is an adversary to the matriarchs daughter. Then an ally. Then a friend and ally to the husband to be. Then an adversary to him. Then first general to the new matriarch. Then the father to her child/the beasts/ and absorbed by the beast… [yep, his story is messy. But he’s really quite an intriguing character/]
• the beast pack.
• The journey to try and find a new planet to inhabit… and a bunch of twists about that.
• Discovering OTHER humans o OTHER beast are out there, and trying to become a group again.
It’s a mess. And very complicated. And so much twisted together. And somehow it works. Overall, I’m not sure how I feel about the book. The yuck factor is a lot to take in. And plenty of the story arcs don’t really interest me. But overall, I guess I ‘liked’ the story. A second book has just been released. Not sure I like it enough to buy it. But if it fell in my TBR pile, I would read it. Cause I’m definitely curious to know where all THAT goes next.