Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Altered Carbon Book Review

Altered Carbon by Richard K. Morgan

Click here for the Amazon product page.


In the twenty-fifth century, humankind has spread throughout the galaxy, monitored by the watchful eye of the U.N. While divisions in race, religion, and class still exist, advances in technology have redefined life itself. Assuming one can afford the expensive procedure, a person's consciousness can now be stored in a cortical stack at the base of the brain and easily downloaded into a new body (or "sleeve"), making death nothing more than a minor blip on a screen.

Ex-U.N. envoy Takeshi Kovacs has been killed before, but his latest death was particularly painful. Dispatched one hundred eight light-years from home, resleeved into a body in Bay City (formerly San Francisco, now with a rusted, dilapidated Golden Gate Bridge), Kovacs is thrown into the dark heart of a shady, far-reaching conspiracy that is vicious even by the standards of a society that treats "existence" as something to be bought and sold. For Kovacs, the shell that blew a hole in his chest was only the beginning...

Review by Brittany:

So this book has one of the best opening scenes I think I've ever read. The reader is immediately thrust in  action, experiencing Kovacs' most recent death. These first few pages set a bit of a violent scene for a book that has more of that.

When Kovacs begins a sort of murder investigation (for a man who is technically still alive, thanks to money and resleeving), there is violence and mystery around every corner. One thing I loved about this novel was that every character felt like they had something to hide. Each character was shady in his or her own way, which made solving the murder mystery a bit difficult from the reader standpoint. I always have an appreciation for an ending I can't guess and for characters I can't trust - even if it's the main character. I also just thought Kovacs was cool, investigating and smoking his cigarettes and reflecting on all of the work he had done as an envoy. He was just a cool dude, which I could appreciate.

One thing about this one is that I will have to read it again. There were times in the story when I got a little bogged down in the details. While the major plot points and story line were followable, there were often times when the author included so many details about the way the world works now that I got a little lost in them. This does illustrate the thought and planning that went into the novel, but I think that I would have to read this one again to fully take in the details.

This book was a little different than what I normally read, but it was definitely enjoyable. There is very clear skill on this author's part with characters, storytelling, and world-building. I plan to read this one again, and I'm interested in more of Kovacs' adventures.

Notable quotes:

Anyone pitiful enough to want to spend so much time outside their own head wasn't going to want to see the same basic human realities reflected in the gilded skulls of those they admired.

"Shopping is physical interaction, exercise of decision-making capacity, saying of the desire to acquire, and an impulse to more acquisition, a scouting urge. It's so basically fucking human when you think about it."

"One tells the truth to so few people in the end, it becomes a habit."

"Childishness is a common enough sin amongst humans."

"Takeshi, where did you get this belief that everything can be resolved with such brute simplicity?"

For a moment something ached in me, something so deep rooted that I knew to tear it out would be to undo the essence of what held me together.

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