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[personal profile] alobear
I picked up a copy of Gemsigns by Stephanie Saulter recently, but unfortunately stopped reading it after about 100 pages. I actually nearly didn't make it past the prologue, which was very nebulous and esoteric for a page, then discussed which of the characters should start the story, in a very laboured, unnecessary way. I think the opening would have been much better without the whole section, instead actually introducing a character and getting into the story a little bit.

The premise of the book is basically that genetically engineered humans have been created and used as slave labour in the wake of a global pandemic and, as the book opens, have just been emancipated. I liked the concept, and was interested in the various arguments put forward from different sides as to how to integrate the 'gems' into society.

However, for me, the narrative was too slow and too dense. There was a lot of exposition and descriptive detail, but it didn't make the setup of the world any clearer, instead just bogging down the plot with unnecessary info-dumping. There were seven different points of view in the first few chapters, including the use of very dry historical documents that gave inconsistent and very confusing information about what had preceded the plot. There also seemed to be a lot of characters telling each other things they would already know.

A couple of the characters seemed interesting and likeable, but they didn't get much page time, and nothing really seemed to be happening by the time I stopped reading. It was basically 100 pages of people talking about the societal impact, logistics and ethics of abolishing slavery, which is intellectually interesting, but doesn't really make for an exciting sci-fi thriller.

It didn't help that I spoke to the publisher of this book series at Winchester, and she told me I needed to get to the plot of my novel much more quickly, and that I needed to strip back my language significantly to make it crisper and punchier. So, sour grapes? Maybe, but I'm afraid Gemsigns wasn't for me.

February 2019

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