Review: The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories by Ken Liu
Reviews / March 10, 2016

As much as I wanted to love The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories, I have to be honest in that I only thought it was okay. I mean, I can see how these stories established a reputation for Ken Liu, and there’s no doubt that some of them are indeed award worthy, but I didn’t connect with nearly as many as I would have liked. Before you start getting disappointed, however, let me say that I blame the format, not necessarily the content. I’ve always been drawn to doorstopper fantasy novels like The Grace of Kings, where we have six or seven hundred pages to immerse ourselves in the world, so it’s not a surprise that many of these stories fell flat or felt a little shallow. Having said all that, I’d be remiss if I didn’t heap some praise on those stories that did work for me. “State Change” hooked me from the start, with a young woman’s strange obsession with freezers, glaciers, and ice cubes. Rina lives in a world where our souls physically manifest as small items that we must keep close at all times, which is easy enough if your soul is a rock or a…

Review: The Grace of Kings by Ken Liu
Reviews / December 21, 2015

The Grace of Kings really is a work of epic proportions.  A story of rebellion and war, victory and defeat, friend and foe and ultimately an incredibly poignant and sometimes sad look at friendships.  The story is dripping with issues of trust, deceit and betrayal whilst also telling some incredibly moving stories of love and loyalty. I’ve only read one of Liu’s short stories before The Grace of Kings and on the strength of that was keen to read this and, yes, it is a book that takes time to read but its also a book that is definitely worth the time. The main thrust of the story revolves around an uprising of the common people, driven to despair by despot rulers and seeking fairer rule.  At least on the face of it that’s what I would say this is about.  Of course, war very often has little to do with the common people and that is certainly the case here – even though very many of them will lose their lives fighting most of them could just as easily be on one side as the other, and, as the book itself acknowledges, perhaps the people with the differences should get together…