Book Title: Children of Ruin
Author: Adrian Tchaikovsky
Genre: Science Fiction
My Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
Source: Netgalley (though, we already bought the audio book)
Goodreads, Amazon UK
What did I think?
Goodreads Summary: Long ago, Earth's terraforming program sent ships out to build new homes for humanity among the stars and made an unexpected discovery: a planet with life. But the scientists were unaware that the alien ecosystem was more developed than the primitive life forms originally discovered.
Now, thousands of years later, the Portiids and their humans have sent an exploration vessel following fragmentary radio signals. They discover a system in crisis, warring factions trying to recover from an apocalyptic catastrophe arising from what the early terraformers awoke all those years before.
Let me talk about Adrian Tchaikovsky for a moment: I'm always surprised to find that he's not selling books as though they were hot cakes fresh from the oven. Possibly, because he's so versatile, that not only is each book a completely new adventure, Tchaikovsky switches genres as if it were no big deal.
He's written some brilliant science fiction, an epic high fantasy series that spans ten volumes, but also many standalones. There's even a shifter saga. Personally, I recommend Dogs of War if you're into science fiction and Guns of the Dawn if you're into fantasy to get a taste of his style.
Children of Time won the Arthur C. Clarke Award in 2016, and deservedly so. It's one of the best science fiction novels I've ever read. And I say that as someone who is afraid of spiders, and damn if that book isn't filled with spiders.
Now, here's the sequel. Does it hold up?
Yes, yes, it does. I'd give it 4.75 stars. I'll let you know in a bit, why I've chopped off 0.25 of the fifth star.
Children of Ruin is a fantastic book, that I ploughed through in two days because I couldn't put it down. It's got many twists and turns, wonderfully odd characters and a ton of evolutionary science. The cast is diverse, but it isn't a plot point. Some people just happen to be gay or asexual, because they are, and that's how it should be.
About halfway through, I was on the edge of my seat, almost ready to put the book into the freezer, so nothing bad could happen. I yelled at my Kindle, cursed the fact my other half wasn't reading it yet, and that I couldn't discuss what was going on with anyone.
This is one gripping story and the tension does not let up until the very end. The world building is some of the best, and you can tell that hours of research went into this book. Everything is explained with great care, in words that everyone can understand.
Its themes are uplifting and positive, but one stands out in particular: collaboration. People working together, solving problems together. People not fighting each other, and people not destroying what they find as they explore the universe. How refreshing to read a book where different species work together, work to understand each other better, research how to improve their communication.
It is such an important topic, and I love how Tchaikovsky handles it.
Why not five stars, you ask? Because ultimately, this book didn't surprise me as much as Tchaikovsky novels usually do. He took a very successful book, Children of Time, and essentially told the same story again. He did so brilliantly, and it's a gripping book I'll recommend for years to come, but ultimately it tells a very similar story to Children of Time.
Then again, this world is in desperate need of more books where people collaborate and work together. I highly recommend Children of Ruin to every science-fiction fan and can't wait to see what Tchaikovsky writes next.
It's time to go on an adventure...