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.




The Prey of Gods by Nicky Drayden

preyofEvery now and again a book comes along that is just so very different from the norm that it takes you by storm.  You find yourself in that wonderful bubble where just you and the book exist and regular mundane necessities such as eating, sleeping and going to work become annoyingly bothersome.  Prey of Gods felt just like that for me, it made me smile, it’s just wickedly different and utterly compelling and I loved it.

I’m not going to compare The Prey of Gods to other books or authors but what I would say is that over the past couple of years I’ve enjoyed a number of books that felt incredibly original and managed to inject something new into my reading not to mention made me just smile in the most unexpected way, books such as The Mechanical by Ian Tregillis or the Mancy series by Ferrett Steinmetz and this book had that certain something too, a breathtaking originality that simply makes books like these a pleasure to read.  So, as you can probably tell, I quite liked this one 😀

However, after much gushing I’m going to say that this is a difficult book to review.  Firstly, there’s a lot going on – a fact that largely escaped me whilst reading because I was so totally gripped – but it became apparent when I started to write this review.  Basically I didn’t want to write about the plot because it’s more than likely that I would make the book sound convoluted and whilst this is a clever read with many elements that are surprising it’s not a difficult read because the author has pulled it all together so very well.  It would also be very easy to spoil the surprises that spring up along the way and as so much of this book just made me smile I don’t want to spoil that experience for others. So no plot overview although I may just tantalise you by mentioning the cold and bloodthirsty demi goddess who has plans of world domination, the politician who turns into a singing and dancing diva sensation by night, hallucinogenic drugs that help to bring out the strangest traits, AIs with plans to rise up and throw off their shackles, a great setting and an almost comic book zaniness that is simply awesome.  How can you possibly resist?

Set in a futuristic South Africa where virtually everybody has their own robots this is a strange mix of science fiction and myth and almost a blending of the two but for me, the absolute winning element is the characters.  They steal the show – not easy to steal a show like this where there are so many entertaining elements  but you’ll just have to believe me – the characters are great and all so completely different.  I really enjoyed all their different stories and the cunning way in which they all come together.

This is a crazy eclectic bunch of people.  Like I said, there is a demi Goddess and she is one mean character, there’s a young girl who turns out to be so much more, a pop star with a secret illness, a politician who lives a double life and a young man who finds himself in love with his best friend.  The thing with all of them is they’re all flawed and they make mistakes – some of them BIG mistakes with huge consequences.

This is certainly a book that pulls no punches.  Yes, there is plenty to smile at with good writing, unusual ideas and witty dialogue but there is also a level of dark brutality to the story.  It almost has a disaster story feel at points with huge numbers falling victim to the ongoing conflicts.  Be aware that although this has plenty of humour and a highly entertaining cast of characters it is dark and at times rather bloody but at the same time it doesn’t make you feel uncomfortable – I think there is such a lot going on that the focus is simply elsewhere and the bloody elements are not overly focused on.

On the whole, I have no criticisms at all.  I loved this and would definitely recommend it although I realise that maybe it won’t be everyone’s cup of tea – yes, there is definitely a level of strange going on here that might not appeal to one and all but I can’t wait to read more and I would urge others to give it a go.

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



Weekly Wrap Up : 11/6/17

So, my reading this week has not been brilliant!  I did complete the Prey of Gods which is absolutely awesome.  And, I’ve also read Borne by Jeff VanderMeer – which is a crazy read – review to follow.

  1. The Court of Broken Knives (Empires of Dust #1)
  2. The Bones of the Earth (Bound Gods #2) by Rachel Dunne

My cover compare this week is The Court of Broken Knives:

Which is your favourite?

How was your week?  What you currently reading?

Waiting on Wednesday : The Prey of Gods by Nicky Drayden

“Waiting On Wednesday” is a weekly meme that was created by Breaking the Spine.  Every Wednesday we get to highlight a book that we’re really looking forward to.  My book this week is : The Prey of Gods by Nicky Drayden (confession: Nathan at Fantasy Review Barn brought my attention to this book – and it sounds great – so thanks :D)

prey of godsIn South Africa, the future looks promising. Personal robots are making life easier for the working class. The government is harnessing renewable energy to provide infrastructure for the poor. And in the bustling coastal town of Port Elizabeth, the economy is booming thanks to the genetic engineering industry which has found a welcome home there. Yes—the days to come are looking very good for South Africans. That is, if they can survive the present challenges:

A new hallucinogenic drug sweeping the country . . .
An emerging AI uprising . . .
And an ancient demigoddess hellbent on regaining her former status by preying on the blood and sweat (but mostly blood) of every human she encounters.

It’s up to a young Zulu girl powerful enough to destroy her entire township, a queer teen plagued with the ability to control minds, a pop diva with serious daddy issues, and a politician with even more serious mommy issues to band together to ensure there’s a future left to worry about.

First off – check out that awesome cover – it’s bloody brilliant.

Secondly – I read this described as ‘A new voice in the tradition of Lauren Beukes, Ian McDonald, and Nnedi Okorafor’ – now, obviously you have to be wary of these comparisons and these are big shoes to fill, but even so – it still makes me want to read this!

Thirdly – not long to wait.  This is due out 13th June.