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Children of Time  By  cover art

Children of Time

By: Adrian Tchaikovsky
Narrated by: Mel Hudson
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Publisher's Summary

Adrian Tchaikovksy's critically acclaimed stand-alone novel Children of Time is the epic story of humanity's battle for survival on a terraformed planet.

Who will inherit this new Earth?

The last remnants of the human race left a dying Earth, desperate to find a new home among the stars. Following in the footsteps of their ancestors, they discover the greatest treasure of the past age - a world terraformed and prepared for human life.

But all is not right in this new Eden. In the long years since the planet was abandoned, the work of its architects has borne disastrous fruit. The planet is not waiting for them pristine and unoccupied. New masters have turned it from a refuge into mankind's worst nightmare.

Now two civilizations are on a collision course, both testing the boundaries of what they will do to survive. As the fate of humanity hangs in the balance, who are the true heirs of this new Earth?

©2016 Adrian Tchaikovsky (P)2017 Audible Ltd

Critic Reviews

" Children of Time is a joy from start to finish. Entertaining, smart, surprising and unexpectedly human." (Patrick Ness)

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What listeners say about Children of Time

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A very pleasant surprise

What a pleasant surprise. I had never heard of this author and have become very hesitant to download books by authors new to me. In a time where the traditional barriers to publishing have crumbled, I tend to start with listening to the narrator in the sample on the premise that a talentless self publisher probably cannot afford a professional.

This is a well written and expertly narrated book. The premise interesting and the science believable. The characters are engaging and the storyline moves along at a nice pace.

Sorry for not giving away any of the storyline. Let's just say it's a story of humanity, survival, and some really intelligent mistakes. I enjoyed it and hope ypu will too.

478 people found this helpful

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Fascinating Premise Within an Excellent Story

This is everything you expect from good Science Fiction. I love it when an author can take a potentially hokey storyline and turn it into a stunning work of believable fiction. A work of this type takes detailed knowledge and superior writing ability. Mostly this is a book about the known characteristics and behavior of a certain species, and how that species would hyper evolve with the right catalyst. But it also has some awesome hard science fiction involving terraforming, long distance space travel, and an number of other more common sci-fi themes. The science was logical throughout while the story remained unpredictable - a great combination. Sometimes female narrators struggle with male voices, but Mel Hudson does an excellent job. This book is at the top of my list so far for 2017, so it gets 5 stars across the board.

398 people found this helpful

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A unique take on the alien

This was a very nice surprise. I read a lot of science fiction, and it's rare to come across a take on an alien society that is unique, and as well fleshed out as the author has achieved here.

The story concept is great, and the execution does not disappoint.

The start of the book didn't leave me expecting much - I found the main character in that early part pretty... cliche. Very glad to say that quickly got better though, much better.

330 people found this helpful

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All we need is enough time

Adrian Tchaikovsky's Children of Time presents an interesting take on intelligence development among insect species (mainly spiders) due to unintended human intervention. After an experiment designed to observe evolution at an accelerated pace in primates goes awry and Earth implodes itself, a colony ship is all that remains of humanity. While the terraformed world is lush and inviting, a psychotic human / AI chimera refuses to allow the last remnants of the human race to settle and forces them to wander, all the while slowly devolving, while the rapidly developing insect world is progressing through the stages of creating a sustainable civilization. With nowhere else to turn, humanity must make a play for the planet to survive.

The sci-fi elements are mainly centered around evolutionary biology and the development of intelligence and civilization. Intriguingly, spiders come to dominate with females being the dominant gender evolving as a mirror image of humanity. Rather than a random or artificial rationale for this development, the author identifies size (females being larger as a consequence of reproductive necessity) and the lack of need for child rearing duties as the basis for this development which provides a sharp juxtaposition and contrast relative to humanity. The devolution of humanity on the colony was less well handled and the final denouement was tending towards the preachy, but overall the tale is a fresh take on the evolution of intelligent life in a somewhat alien species without simply "aping" human developmental lines.

The narration was excellent overall with a solid range of voices of both genders. In addition, the insectoid vocals were handled nicely without resorting to nasal or flat affect renditions and rapid transitions between the human / AI chimera were skillfully relayed. This is a thought provoking tale that starkly portrays evolution as an unfeeling taskmaster without the concept of right or wrong, but rather only consequences.

216 people found this helpful

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THE HUMANS ARE COMING

THE PROCESS BY WHICH NEW UNDERSTANDING WAS NOT LAID DOWN WAS NOT UNDERSTOOD
This is an excellent book, but is not for everyone. I would call this semi-hard science fiction. A lot of it involves biology and many are not fans. Imagine playing Sid Meir's Civilization with insects. There are shades of many well know writers in this eons long epic. I thought of David Brin's UPLIFT trilogy, Harry Harrison's WEST OF EDEN trilogy, Kim Stanley Robinson's RED MARS, BLUE MARS, GREEN MARS, Stephen Baxter's ARK and EVOLUTION, Isaac Asimov's FOUNDATION, with hints of Alastair Reynolds, Greg Bear, Gregory Benford and Neal Stephenson, with a character created similar to the Bob's in Dennis E. Taylor's BOBIVERSE. Don't get too excited, there are no talking beer cans, no levity, just old fashioned science. I enjoy both types and I enjoy anything to do with biology.

GIRLS WILL BE GIRLS
I especially like the way Adrian handled the uplift of spiders. He made them more intelligent, but he did not turn them into humans. They maintained their spiderness throughout the book. A world of civilized spiders that were dominated by females, had to be especially challenging.

Howard Zinn
Some reviewers have a problem in the negative view of the human race. I don't want to spoil the ending, but I agreed with it. If you have read Howard Zinn's History book, than you know where I am coming from.

THAT'S THE PROBLEM WITH IGNORANCE, YOU CAN NEVER KNOW TO WHAT EXTENT YOU ARE IGNORANT ABOUT
As a whole, I loved this book, but I had a few tiny grievances. Races are not mentioned, matter of fact few people are described physically at all, which is good. I hate when I am reading a book, picturing a character in my mind and than the author says they have blond hair are some other physical attribute which makes me alter the character well set in my mind. What the author did do through the naming of characters and the English used (and the narrator agrees) was make them all British. The last 500,000 humans are all British. The uplifted spiders are British. The deranged scientist is British. I don't believe England even has a space program and besides, as things stand today, the future space adventurers will be Chinese or even Japanese. I also did find the book to be a slight too long. Towards the end my mind did do some wondering. I loved the ending, but leading to that I slept listened for a while.

Narrator
I have to mention Mel Hudson. Her work is fantastic. I was very impressed and will be seeking her out in the future.

200 people found this helpful

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Couldn't finish what should have been an amazing read

This book has an amazing story, and It starts out with all guns blazing. The premise was astoundingly brilliant and I was hooked.
But-halfway through-I had to abandon the book. Simply because I can. A well-written book would not allow me to do that! The story is cold. I honestly think some warmth and affection could redeem it. A character or two who hooks you and therefore guides you through the cold, empty, and lonely story spaces. But then again considering the storyline-it's a bit paradoxical, if the story is going for accuracy-then cold and lonely is accurately depicted.
I feel no connection to the characters. More annoyance than anything for their lack of development, and lack of development with each other. I think the author tries with Holsten and Lane, but it was not enough. I felt slightly affectionate for the spiders as they evolve and self-actualize-absolutely brilliant and a mirror to humanity-but I could not feel any real connection to them, and whenever it was their story's turn, I endured a cold, creepy feeling all throughout while imagining them.
But such technically intelligent concepts about space, technology, AI, evolution, and science. I can't help but be totally impressed by the author's knowledge and imagination. But-like the observation of so many other readers, the story needed better execution to pull it along and see it through.

126 people found this helpful

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Thought provoking, timely and optimistic

Adrian Tchaikovsky is a busy author. Children of Time is the first book of his I have read and visits a familiar landscape in contemporary sci-fi: the Earth is becoming unlivable and great ships are being built to send stores of humans to far off worlds to begin new, terraformed colonies.  In this story there are some fascinating wrinkles.

The story opens with a ceremony marking the beginning of a terraforming project on one such far off world. The point of view is the narcissistic designer of this world drearily waiting through the formalities of her grand plan being put into effect. At the penultimate moment the pilot of the lead ship reveals himself to be a saboteur, a man whose personal convictions are that humans should not be imposing their view of the Universe on unsuspecting worlds. His efforts result in the grand plan mostly failing and the designer escaping death by placing herself in a hibernation chamber.

The plan for this project centered on a proto-virus that was introduced into the planetary ecosystem. The intent was for it to act as a catalyst and accelerator for evolutionary development of monkeys who were also to be introduced. The idea was to inoculate the planet with these elements, wait a few thousand years then descend a world pre-populated with humans at an early technological age and live as gods.

The monkeys did not make it and though the proto-virus had constraints to keep it from affecting every species, because only the monkeys were supposed to be affected, it turns out the native spider and ant populations were affected.

Meanwhile, time passes for the Earth. A lot of time. Time enough for the fall of the technological greatness allowing such project, an ice age, and a rebirth of technology eventually allowing for a new series of colony ships to be built and sent out.

Time is everywhere in this story. We watch the spiders evolve on their planet. The humans traveling in their colony ship have a stasis like sleep which can last for hundreds of years. They are periodically woken by the ship when their input or expertise is required to deal with issues and return to sleep. It's a fascinating plot device that allows for characters to age at different rates and wake to completely different realities within the confines of the same ship they start in.

The inevitable meeting of the two species, humans and spiders, in space is entertaining and exciting. I've written before about an author's ability to tell a story without breaking my suspension of disbelief and Tchaikovsky manages it well with his telling of the battle that ensues.

There is a fair amount of what I consider contemporary commentary of issues of the day like power, fairness, equality and the effects of technology on life.

91 people found this helpful

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Confused and Disinterested

The meandering nature of the simultaneous arcs and the jarring timescale jumps left me confused toward the end. I found myself listening just to get to the resolution. As I have now made it to the end I can see the reasoning, but the execution is just so massively bad.

The main flaw of this book is that it tries to be an epic series in just one book. Each Porsche, Bianca, and time jump between Holston chapters could have been one in a series of novels. The lack of focus on the characters made the overall story lose cohesion. Asimov's Foundation series did this the right way in telling compartmentalized "hero" arcs inside a rich background universe over the course of several books.

Narrated very well despite all of the drawbacks of the story.

I'd recommend passing on this one unless you're into some pretty niche sci-fi that I don't want to spoil due to the story implications.

62 people found this helpful

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Great Narrator and a good if flawed story

What made the experience of listening to Children of Time the most enjoyable?

The narrator is excellent. I really enjoyed listening. The story is at times excellent but at other times it is very flawed where its motivations and portrayals of HUman nature are concerned.

Any additional comments?

The story is an excellent and compelling idea with one huge flaw that appears right at the beginning. The author seems to have a very black, almost cliche view of what motivates humanity, its response to the strange and unknown and does not even allow them the ability to understand blindingly obvious observations. The lead character of the book is timid, essentially contributes nothing aside from internal dialogue and in the end is unable to even suggest what he has already figured out as a result of a combination of cowardice and insecurity.

It was frustrating to have listened to 14 hours only to have the book end with the humans still unable to comprehend the most basic of things. They are supposed to have lifted themselves up from tragedy yet do not in any way reflect the necessary growth in perspective nor driving curiosity that had to be present for them to have restored so much of their lost civilization. The reasons and methods of humanity's initial collapse are very thin. To the point of contrivance.

I can see why so many consider this a great book. It smacks of the kind of great sci-fi you would find in the 60's and 70's. The problem is that where other great authors recognized the breath of Human emotion, experience and capacity with in their characters, or at least had a counter-balance, this book from beginning to end seems to exist on the premise that all humans do is attack what they do not know and will always destroy vs investigate or explore other possibilities.

It seems not to far a leep to think the author views HUmanity in a very narrow way and does not recognize our ability to deduct or take seriously any potential reaction than to attack all that is strange before ever trying to understand it. At the very least I find it unlikely in the extreme that people who lifted themselves out of near extinction as a result of a turning on each other, would so easily always turn to violence to solve problems. I really think that if the author had shown more balance in the scope of human emotion, motivations and capacity for curiosity this book would truly shine. Instead, almost as if the author simply thinks Mankind is nothing but a bunch of monkey destroyers, Humans have to be genetically modified to accept the strange and unusual.

If you do not mind having a lot of essentially, "Human bad all else good" you will like this book to the end. As for others, if they are honest with themselves, they will see how almost from the beginning every human is frankly a violent idiot. It is largely because of the last two hours that I found the story to be broken where motivation.

I don't know how to present this book to others. One is the dystopian view of humanity, One is the uplifting view but everything seems to come down to problems with the very poor dialogue and a poor understanding of the breath of HUman potential. It is almost written as if the author lives a very sheltered existence and thus does not any potential potential for Humans.

Be prepared to dislike the last two hours after spending 14+ hours listening to the book.

58 people found this helpful

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Beyond inspiring

As a huge fan of science fiction I have read countless works by countless authors, non have ever touched me as this book. An understanding of life, in my opinion, has never been expressed so eloquently and so broad at the same time. This story is possibly a gateway to a new and improved perspective of humanity and of life itself. Amazing fantasy yet hopeful potential to be so much more. What we can achieve if only we can identify ourselves and the commonality between us and any other sentient being in the vast cosmos. A small, simple unique something that can bridge all the differences, that can connect to others and express one simple thought “This is us, we are like you”. This book deeply touches on all aspects of known and unknown qualities that make up our human intellectual capacity as well as those of other life forms. Then the question of “what can be achieved” is explored from a very unique alien yet familiar perspective. I cannot get enough of this book, and I pray that Adrien Tchaikovsky has planned more books along the same idea : “this is us” and what can we not reach together if we can break barriers of division. Beyond great, this book is a start in understanding more in every direction possible.

53 people found this helpful

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  • Simon
  • 05-11-17

Tchaikovsky is still writing Symphonies!

This is genuine high-quality science fiction, in terms of pacing it's probably closer to Heinlein than Scalzi or Star Wars but it's innovative, well thought-out and fairly challenging. It's definitely at the thinking reader's end of sci-fi.

It has to be a clever book that gets you rooting for spiders and sympathising with them. This book covers issues of morality, decency, survival and has probably one of the most unique treatments of the age-old battle of the sexes I have ever read.

The treatment of time and lifespan is equally clever. There are almost three distinct timelines here. The relatively short-lived spiders together with the humans being able to engage in various uses of suspended animation could have resulted in a real mess with dozens and dozens of varied characters. I thought this was particularly well-covered with the implementation of a logical mechanism to provide consistency of character among the arachnids and longevity with key humans.

Mel Hudson does a fine job of the narration, no easy task this one making this in all a very high quality entry to the genre and I would echo Carl's thought's that we need more of this author on Audible. It seems Tchaikovsky is still writing Symphonies!

75 people found this helpful

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  • Damo
  • 05-31-17

Brilliant

I enjoyed the originality of this book. It is told in such a way that I found myself rooting for both sides, and I felt the development of an 'alien' intelligence that is derived from something not alien at all was particularly interesting. The means by which the author deals with untold generations of spiders cohesively is also very clever.

My thanks to Adrian Tchaikovsky, and to Mel Hudson for bringing me on such an exciting, unpredictable journey. I highly recommend this book and will be looking out for more work from this author.

65 people found this helpful

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  • Paul Green
  • 07-02-19

Felt cheated

Personally I think the synopsis is misleading which says that the book is about Humans colonizing a planet. Humans dont arrive on the planet until about a third of the way through the audiobook and even then most of the book is about spiders. Also I think Amazon should have a warning in the description as there is a fair amount of swearing in the book - not suitable for children IMO.

57 people found this helpful

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  • MissusWarren
  • 06-14-17

A beautiful take on evolution and hope

Loved this. Was a deeply satisfying story of humanity and something else... Wonderfully thought out intricacies of the evolution to sentience from an entirely different point of view and cleverly written to encompass great swathes of time with continuity. Who knew you could feel such empathy for spiders. And empathy is the fundamental message for us all if we are to not only survive, but also thrive.

34 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Dj Baldry
  • 01-10-20

Average at best

To be totally honest, I don't know why this book has been given such high ratings, It's not that great really! Granted It has its moments where it starts to pick up but then loses its momentum. I listen to a lot of Sci-fi Audio books and I can say there is many better audio books to listen to than this.

I guess if Ray Porter read it then it might have been better.

Disappointing.

33 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Max
  • 07-06-17

Cool concept but average execution

Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

I think I would use it in conversation because it raised some great discussion points, but no i would not recommend it to a friend. The narrator is really bland, and the writing, which showed promise in the first few chapters with the introduction of the first spider hunting in the terraformed world, it sloped off massively and never really recovered.

Would you be willing to try another book from Adrian Tchaikovsky? Why or why not?

Adrian Tchaikovsky would probably write good films. The book has a good cinematic feel to it and I really can see this book being adapted to the big screen, web cities, space battles with sentient spiders, hypersleep, ant colony supercomputers etc. But his skills as a writer leave much to be desired. I didn't care about any of the characters with the exception of the early hunting spiders in the jungle and Fabian, the male spider fighting for emancipation. The characterisation of even the human characters was sluggish and frustrating, and at the conclusion I found myself really ambivalent to who ended up on top. So thanks but no thanks.

Would you be willing to try another one of Mel Hudson’s performances?

Hell no. She's boring after the first chapter, her accents are laughable, and her dramatic monologue performances were really embarrassing.

Was Children of Time worth the listening time?

It was worth half the listening time. Some really cool concepts in it, I really liked the stuff about ants and the early hunting scenes, also charting the rise of a civilisation under different circumstances. But sadly no I think I would take back about 8 of those hours.

33 people found this helpful

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  • D. Menashy
  • 07-02-17

A Web of delight.

An interesting concept, very well carried off. A story that's engaging populated by interesting characters. I know more about spiders than ever before, but in a good way!
Superbly narrated by Mel Hudson.


16 people found this helpful

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  • dot_stockport
  • 05-30-18

Gobsmacking scope

This was a new and intriguing story which is well worth a listen... it might even change the way you think. The reason I personally didn't give it 5 stars was that, given the story, there is a lot of description and passive voice. Add to this the very measured tone of the narrator I found myself drifting off many times. It took 5 goes to listen to the last couple of chapters. So, all in all, worth a listen but it won't keep you on the edge of your seat despite end if humanity type peril.

11 people found this helpful

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  • MR
  • 10-10-17

Unexpected gem

Awesome, wasn’t sure where it was headed but gripping from the beginning and literally weaves a clever story.

11 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Gary Sereno
  • 09-25-17

Good book, but at times forced.

I do like the concept behind this story and for much of the book it works well. However it at times also feels forced and some of the characters do not seem to fit roles that were meant to have been psychometrically assessed (as is explained behind the selection for one of the characters).
While towards the end it feels expected, partly due to it's forced nature, it also was not wholly predictable, which was nice.
Narration was decent, again not great, but certainly above average, which seems to just fit in with this book.

If you're after an exceptional story, I personally would recommend you give this one a miss, however if you want a decent book, which is slightly different, then this could be a tale for you.

11 people found this helpful

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  • emmoff
  • 05-30-17

Enjoyable book with a rather swift ending.

An enjoyable, imaginative book exploring the evolution of a Spider society - an accidental by-product of a human terraforming project and a nano virus invented to accelerate the evolution of Monkey to Human. As the Monkeys never arrived planet-side, the Spiders become the dominant species. The inventor of this project is a computerised remnant of an ego-driven scientist from a previous Human era, still housed in a satellite revolving the planet. She is quite possibly insane.
The book also follows the survivors of a defunct and war-ravaged, planet Earth, struggling on a cold storage Ark-ship for thousands of years in space. The Humans inevitably need to resettle on the planet inhabited by the Spiders to survive. The Spiders evolve culturally and scientifically, whilst the Humans fight entropy and themselves over the two millennial time frame, with a few of the main crew disjointedly awoken for brief often bizarre periods. Both storylines are insightful and character driven. My only criticism is that the ending felt rushed and abrupt.
Good narration and Highly Recommended.

14 people found this helpful

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  • Dianne Henderson
  • 11-26-17

Beautifully Read

Couldn't put my device down. Fascinating story. Lovely female voice. 5 stars. Future of humanity?

13 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Joe
  • 10-10-18

To slow

Has potential for a good story, but just rattles on and on. Too slow. Had to stop half way through. I dont know how the author can stick it out, just thinking about "nothingness" to write, just to make up space for a longer book. Sorry. It was gruelling.

7 people found this helpful

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  • Caz
  • 09-17-18

Really struggling to keep listening...

I have given up on this one, an interesting concept but I really struggled to stay interested and will probably never finish it.

6 people found this helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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  • Anonymous User
  • 05-12-18

dreadful

Could not get past chapter 5.

close to the most boring book I havev EVER read

6 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Panayotis Geou
  • 06-03-17

Great and insightful

An idea of alien species and a possible future or even present. Kept my mind busy from itself, good work :)

6 people found this helpful

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  • Trent
  • 08-23-17

Brilliant, thought provoking.

I loved the concept, the 2 different storylines happening side by side of humans and spiders and the struggles they both went through driven by the most basic of instincts of all living things, trying to survive.

The ending caught me by surprise and what a way to wrap up the story. Excellent book

5 people found this helpful

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  • Susan
  • 06-17-17

Worth every minute

Evolution of imagination. This book proves that not all science fiction has to be formulaic and predictable.

When you find yourself moved by the fate of spiders, you know the author has led you into another world.

5 people found this helpful

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  • Tatiana Brusyanina
  • 05-01-18

boring

I finished it, but not excited at all. found it quite boring, but narrator was good nevertheless.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Jase
  • 08-11-17

This really makes you think

It took me a little while to get the story. But before long I was hooked. It is a believable story in a weird way. I was getting concerned on how it would end as the author has you sympathetic to both sides plight. But the ending was great. I really enjoyed it.

4 people found this helpful