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The Rise of Io by Wesley Chu. Book Review

September 15, 2016

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Ella Patel, a thief and con-artist, ends up with a whole lot more than she bargained for when Ella stumbles upon a man and a woman being attacked by a sinister group of assailants. Ella intervenes and for her pains ends up with an alien entity, within the now dying woman, being transferred to her.

Her new inhabitant is Io, a low-ranking Quasing whose track record is less than glowing. Once the transfer is made Ella has little choice, but to begrudgingly work with her new ‘colleague’ and finish the mission. But there may be a mole in the good guys’ camp and Ella doesn’t know who to trust.

If you don’t like science fiction, so have decided to pass on The Rise of Io, then you’re going to miss a brilliant thriller and a real treat, written by a writer at the top of his game and likely to remain there. Wesley Chu has a knack of writing fast-paced fiction, but at the same time creating characters who will make your heart bleed if anything happens to them, even if they only make a brief appearance. His world building is so smooth you forget you’re somewhere that doesn’t exist in real life, because it all seems so normal.

The opening sequence of The Rise of Io is a masterclass in character development on the fly. In it Chu manages not just to give you a sense of Ella, but really gets you under her skin through actions and dialogue, all within an incredibly frenetic opening chase sequence. By the time it’s finished you don’t want anything dire to happen to Ella. Physically Ella is as far from tall, gorgeous and svelte as you can get, but you just love her for her resourcefulness, resilience and the fact that deep down she really cares about people, which means she can’t help getting herself deeper and deeper into trouble.

The story is largely viewed through the experiences of Ella and Io and the enemy, Shura the Scalpel, and her shared entity, Tabs. This makes it possible to see Crate Town (where the homes are constructed from old shipping containers) from two perspectives, one as Ella’s home, and the other as a place to conquer and mould to your superior beings’ needs.

Double-crosses abound and Ella’s unique brand of survival skills and determination become great assets to Io, as Ella bickers her way through the mission they must both complete.

The Rise of Io was courtesy of Angry Robot via NetGalley

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