Temper by Nicky Drayden

Posted On 3 September 2018

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temperTemper is a tricky book for me to review.  To be honest and upfront this didn’t work as well for me as Prey of Gods, Nicky Drayden’s highly creative debut fantasy novel.  Prey of Gods just blew me away and so perhaps I went into this one with unreasonably high expectations.   Anyway, not to get ahead of myself.

Why tricky?  Well, I cannot deny that Drayden has a powerful imagination.  The worlds she creates are stunning in scope and originality.  Her stories are like a breath of fresh air and in that respect Temper is a winning novel.  But, at the same time, for me, this felt very busy and in some respects the ‘thinking’ didn’t quite pan out. Basically, I had questions and I didn’t feel like answers were always forthcoming.  Maybe that’s intentional and the idea is to simply pick the book up, embrace the world and run with it.

The write up for the book tells us:

Two brothers.
Seven vices.
One demonic possession.
Can this relationship survive?

Imagine a world, an alternate South Africa, if you will, in which twins are predominantly the norm.  Split between the twins are seven vices and seven virtues.  Even with my poor mathematic skills it’s easy to see that this is never going to be an equal split between good and bad and the twins in the story Auben and Kazim share a very uneven distribution.  Auben finds himself not only the lesser twin but with six vices to handle he really has very little scope in terms of future success.  In this world twins share a very special bond even suffering from separation pains if they become too far removed from each other.  Throw a demonic possession into the mix and it looks like the twins from Temper are set to dramatically change the world in which they live.

I’m not going to elaborate too much on the plot as there are surprises in store – certainly for me anyways, I didn’t see the book going in quite the direction that it did and I found myself trying to read between the lines to figure out whether there was a message contained within.

I think the main issue I had was a certain ambivalence towards the characters.  They didn’t give me the ‘feels’ I wanted and it prevented me from becoming invested, to such an extent that I often struggled to gather the enthusiasm to pick the book back up once I’d put it down.  As with the first book I read by this author the writing is really good, the originality of the story and the world are really quite breathtaking and I got off to a good start.  The twins were unusual to read about, there was no hand holding in terms of setting and I like picking up a book where I have to hit the ground running, but, as the story went on I became less motivated and more perplexed.  This is a tale that is meant to be different and filled with other world type unusualness and with that in mind it could simply be that this was just a little too ‘unusual’ for my reading tastes.

To be honest, I really don’t enjoy negative reviews and so I’ll keep this one fairly short.  I certainly would not wish to put anyone off reading this one and I would definitely pick up more from this author.  That this one didn’t work out as well for me is, I think, simply one of those things and to be clear I didn’t dislike the book.  If this is your first Nicky Drayden book, whether or not you love this one, I strongly suggest you pick up Prey of Gods.

I received a copy courtesy of the publisher for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.




11 Responses to “Temper by Nicky Drayden”

  1. Tammy

    Most of the reviews I’ve read for this have been similar, so at this point I probably won’t read it, unfortunately. However, I do want to go back and read Prey of Gods😊

    • @lynnsbooks

      Yeah, it’s a shame but this one just didn’t work out for me and yet I loved Prey of Gods. I’ll still look out for what this author does next though, she’s so amazingly creative.
      Lynn 😀

  2. sjhigbee

    It sounds like the author has had a go at quite a tricky premise and not quite pulled it off. Like Tammy, I’m keen to catch up with The Prey of Gods.

    • @lynnsbooks

      Prey of Gods is really good and there are some very good elements here but it just didn’t work for me. I found myself with questions and no answers and just wound up feeling irritated. Still, very creative.
      Lynn 😀

      • sjhigbee

        Yes – there has to be a balance when writing a series – you need to throw up enough hooks to keep readers turning the pages until the end of the book, providing some satisfactory answers by the end to make it worth the time and effort – yet also providing a few dangling plotlines to encourage folks to want to pick up the next one… It sounds like this author got that bit wrong. Or – and I’ve encountered this before – written a REALLY long book and decided the best option is to halve it and publish the first section as Book 1…

  3. Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum

    My review went up today too! It’s funny, because I think we both have similar feelings for this one. I also went in with high expectations, even though I haven’t read The Prey of Gods, but I know it was received very well by SFF fans. I did love the world and her imagination, but I feel that a lot of her ideas might have worked better as a thought experiment, not so much as a story.

    • @lynnsbooks

      It’s a shame, I probably did have unrealistic expectations after Prey of Gods, and this one certainly has a good premise and a lot of creative elements like the first book. I don’t think I really ended up engaging with the characters which is a big thing for me and also I just had too many irritating niggles.
      Lynn 😀

  4. Kathy @Pages Below the Vaulted Sky

    I still need to finish this, but I’m glad I’m not the only one who found it busy! But like Mogsy said, I *adore* her imagination and I’m happy we have her in the SFF field. 😀

    • @lynnsbooks

      Absolutely – this book didn’t win me over but I loved Prey of Gods and I’m really keen to see what she does next. You can’t always like all of an author’s work – Neil Gaiman is a perfect example of that for me – I love such a lot of his books but I’m not very keen on some of his shorter stories.
      Lynn 😀

  5. waytoofantasy

    I think your thoughts are on par with others I’ve seen on this one. I haven’t read any f her work but may check out her debut.

  6. @lynnsbooks

    Her debut is wonderful and I highly recommend it and I’m sure this will work for some people, it just didn’t quite work out for me.
    Lynn 😀

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