Series: Chameleon Moon #1
Also by this author: Stake Sauce Arc 1, But Not Up Here (Poems About Remembering In Neon)
The city of Parole is burning. Like Venice slips into the sea, Parole crumbles into fire.
The entire population inside has been quarantined, cut off from the rest of the world, and left to die - directly over the open flame. Eye in the Sky, a deadly and merciless police force ensures no one escapes. Ever. All that's keeping Parole alive is faith in the midst of horrors and death, trust in the face of desperation... and their fantastic, terrifying, and beautiful superhuman abilities.
Regan, silent, scaly stealth expert, is haunted by ten years of anxiety, trauma and terror, and he's finally reached his limit. His ability to disappear into thin air isn't enough: he needs an escape, and he'll do anything for a chance. Unluckily for him, Hans, a ghostly boy with a chilling smile, knows just the thing to get one. It starts with a little murder.
But instead of ending a man's life, Regan starts a new one of his own. He turns away from that twisted path, and runs into Evelyn, fearless force on stage and sonic-superheroic revolutionary on the streets. Now Regan has a choice - and a chance to not only escape from Parole, but unravel the mystery deep in its burning heart. And most of all, discover the truth about their own entwining pasts.
They join forces with Evelyn's family: the virtuosic but volatile Danae, who breathes life into machines, and her wife Rose, whose compassionate nature and power over healing vines and defensive thorns will both be vital to survive this nightmare. Then there's Zilch, a cool and level-headed person made of other dead people, and Finn, one of Parole's few remaining taxi drivers, who causes explosions whenever he feels anything but happy.
Separately they'd never survive, much less uncover the secret of Parole's eternally-burning fire. Together, they have a chance. Unfortunately, Hans isn't above playing dirty, lying, cheating, manipulating... and holding Regan's memories hostage until he gets his way.
Parole's a rough place to live. But they're not dead yet. If they can survive the imminent cataclysmic disaster, they might just stay that way...
It took me a very long time to get around to Chameleon Moon by RoAnna Sylver, which is ridiculous, but there we are. I did finally get to reading it. WHOOHOO! And then partway through I started a livetweet of it because of course I did.
Anyway, this is not a livetweet. This is a book talk ramble. So… Let’s get to it!
First up, as usual, some of the things I didn’t enjoy so much. You might look at the livetweet and think I loved it to bits and pieces and, sadly, I did not. I loved it a lot, but it wasn’t as awesome as I thought it could’ve been.
I add a disclaimer here that, afaik, the version I read isn’t the latest edition. RoAnna may have addressed some of the issues I had. I had two! One is headhopping. The book headhops a fair bit within scenes. I think it sometimes did it within paragraphs too, which made it really hard for me to follow the story properly in places because I was so lost as to what perspective I was reading. T_T
The other is world-building and, more specifically, the way the world-building includes backstory. That never quite worked for me, introducing ideas and concepts (such as that yes this is an alt!America) in ways that didn’t quite gel for me. It makes me supersad because I really, really, really liked the concept of Parole and the mysteries surrounding it as well as the characters’ dynamics and relationships and I just wish that the way RoAnna’d integrated the backstory had had a little more attention and polish to really make it shine.
Other than that, though? This is a fantastic ride and I really enjoyed it. I loved the characters. They’re so fierce and wonderful and amazing. (Except Hans. Hans needs to be hit with a clue-by-four in this book. But even he is a great character to read about because the dynamics between him and everyone else is so different.) I loved Evelyn’s fierce protectiveness and Danae’s determination to keep her family safe. Her polyam f/f/f family which is… I think this is the second time I’ve seen a polyam family in a story? I also loved Rose and how different she is from her wives and… RoAnna captures this easy camaraderie between long-term friends and family members really well. There’s a lot of in-jokes between the characters, but not in a way that makes the reader feel excluded. It’s really neat to read.
And there’s the mysteries, of course. Some I guessed and some I didn’t. Some just absolutely blew me away. Like the big reveal on what is actually going on? OH MY GOD. That was amazing and so incredibly intense!
Also Zilch. You can read my thoughts and feels about Zilch in the livetweet, but basically I love them and I do not Do zombie fiction.
Ultimately, as RoAnna is often quite to point out, though the story is set in a dystopia, it’s about hope and finding good things to hold onto and making the world a better place even when everything around you is crud. It’s a beautiful message and it’s one that the world sorely needs right now.
It’s incredibly sensitive in how it deals with topics such as PTSD and anxiety as well as how it deals with queer identities. Asexual gets used on-page. Transphobia gets called out. Massively. And… Basically this is a story about people who find each other in dark places and figure out how to make the best of it together even as the world comes crashing down around them and tries to burn up all that is good.
I really, really enjoyed it and would happily recommend it.