Challenge Criteria – A Science Fiction Novel
I started this trilogy a few years ago, when Sean Williams and Garth Nix were doing a joint signing, because hello? Garth Nix recommended? I’m on board with reading that! The first in the trilogy, Twinmaker, was fantastic, and I knew then that I’d definitely pick up the sequels.
I picked up Crashland, the second in the series, midway through last year, I think, but never reviewed it because I’m a bad person. Hollowgirl, then, proved surprisingly hard to find – it took me until YALC in July to actually pick up a copy. I have to admit, though, I wasn’t looking all THAT hard for it.
*A Note: In other countries, this trilogy has slightly different names: Jump, Crash, and Fall. I’m gonna stick with the UK titles, because those are the ones I read.
So at the end of Crashland, the world has been basically destroyed, and Clair and Q are in a hyper-realistic simulation known as The Yard. The only problem? In the Yard, there’s another Clair Hill – a version of her from the very beginning of Twinmaker, and she’s suspicious as hell of all that our Clair has been through.
The mind-bending conclusion to the Twinmaker trilogy.
Clair’s world has been destroyed – again. The only remaining hope of survival is for her and Q to enter the Yard, a simulation as detailed – and as real – as the home they have lost. But in the Yard there are two Clair Hills. The other Clair is headstrong, impulsive, suspicious – just like Clair herself used to be, and their very existence is causing cracks.
As Clair searches for a solution, a surprising new ally emerges from the ashes. Together they fight their way through the digital and political minefield in the hope of saving Jesse, her friends and the whole of humanity.
‘Williams marries accessibly explored moral ramifications of future technologies with a strong, capable teen heroine and heart-pounding action.’ Kirkus Reviews
I really enjoyed this book. However, it was a substantial amount of time (more than a year) since I read Crashland, and this book is densely plotted and extremely clever, so leaving it that long was not a good idea.
Clair is still the same: headstrong, imperfect, but trying to do the right thing. The only problem is that Clair doesn’t always agree with herself what the right thing is. So saving the world becomes a little more difficult than it might seem.
Q, then, is the same unknowable entity that she was in the previous two books, but really cleverly drawn – the difference between a sentient AI and a human is a central tenet of this book, and is really interesting to contemplate.
Here’s my problem, though: I don’t think I’m smart enough for sci-fi. There were a few instances in Hollowgirl where Clair tuned out of the discussion because it was too clever for her, and I was tuning out right with her. It was probably a lot to do with the fact that it had been so long since I read the previous books, and that I’m not in a thinking hard about things frame of mind this month, so I guess sci-fi wasn’t the best option for me (although hey, it was on the list, so had to be done).
I’ll definitely come back to the Twinmaker trilogy, and read them all in a row some time when I’m feeling smart – I think they’ll stand up well to a rereading, and I’ll enjoy them all the more having an understanding of the world and some of the technology in it to back up my enjoyment of the story.
Fast-paced, exciting, confusing, and mind-bending, this was definitely a worthy conclusion to a trilogy worth picking up.