Title: The Year of Our War
Author: Steph Swainston
No summary of the plot, because I didn’t finish. I hardly managed to get through more than the first 50 pages, and that was a slog.
So, reasons. The opening is the worst I’ve read in a long time. We begin with our protagonist buying a newspaper in the first sentence. Which he then reads for the next page. This is info-dump at a wince-worthy level (and to make matters worse, the article he’s reading isn’t even interesting). Why not start in the middle of—or at least closer to—the battle that happens shortly after? Most of what the article tried to convey would have come across fine, and it would have been a lot more dynamic.
The setup of the world, with immortals and mortals, with a constant war of humanity against giant insects, with those who have wings and those who do not (though not everyone with wings can fly) should be interesting. Well, the bugs were interesting. The other huge problem I had was that after a fair chunk of pages I still hadn’t met a single character I actually sympathized with.
The main character can fly. (This is the reason I picked up the book at all.) Except I can’t find anything else to like about him. He’s mostly aloof from the mortals with only the barest sympathy for one on his deathbed, in debt and addicted to drugs (and shows all the desperation of an addict looking for a hit when someone has the audacity to hide his stash), and cheated on his wife (I didn’t get far enough to tell if this was ongoing or a one-time thing, though at least it appears he hasn’t seen the mistress in a while). Basically it feels like the only way the plot wants you to sympathize with him is because he’s the point of view character—I had a hard time seeing anything about the man that didn’t make me hope he would crash and burn. Presumably (hopefully) he changes for the better over the course of the book but I couldn’t stomach him long enough to get there.
This might have been helped if any of the secondary characters were sympathetic, but the immortals didn’t have a lot to recommend them either, and the only mortal given any depth at all dies very quickly.
So overall this is not a book I would ever touch again. I rate this book Not Recommended.