First off, I wasn’t happy with the flow of words because of unfamiliar use of English. I put that down to my age and culture and the fact that Aguayo is bilingual and probably leaning to a more formal Spanish than English Language schooling. There is also a steady flow of simple grammatical errors. Despite my concerns the book is very readable; I would never finish a book that wasn’t. I hope this doesn’t put you off reading but perhaps rather encourages Aguayo to employ additional editors.
The plot is very entertaining; with a good deal of what are to me very original ideas. The dystopian world that Aguayo creates is quite fascinating, and definitely fantastical rather than science factual. There are speculative fiction, cyberpunk, science fiction and fantasy elements in this story.
Reading a male author writing first person as a gay female drug addict is certainly unusual. My view that Aguayo was playing psychoanalyst on himself as though he was a still juvenile female, was certainly food for thought. Was I reading in too much to Sam’s character, putting it closer to personal than it really is? Interesting authors are always complex people. Usually books written by men about such females break down into porno before the first chapter is completed. I warn both sides of the expectation line that the book never even comes close to anything pornographic, despite the choice of characters and some very earthy dialogue.
Some of the settings needed rather more big picture and in places even small detail description. What does Quito actually look like? Where are the colour pictures of the spells?
As a reader, I felt I was too often playing catch-up, rather than reading with a clear view. It is difficult to fully engage empathy when one’s comprehension is always a few chapters behind the action. It is like trying to build the background to the person when they can only talk about their future. I guess that putting in enough connective storyline when the first person star was so rarely in a stable mind was extremely hard. However, at times the pictures needed to be a bit clearer before the reader was launched into the next phase of the story.
In this world, powered by thermal activity, where the gangs are so established that they’ve turned into local governments and the corporations have become so strong that they own governments, life is often brutal. Add to this, wizards with skills that Voldemort and Dumbledore from the Harry Potter books would have been proud of, and psychics, cyber robotics, advanced bionic surgery, and Mad Max type fight scenes; then one is starting to get some idea of the scope of this book. I latter read that he author makes a lot of the Latino setting, which I’m afraid went right over my head. If anywhere, apart from a few Spanish looking names, the setting could just as easily been Iceland.
Overall, this book certainly deserves five stars, especially for great insight into the psychosis of drug addiction, and the politics of marginalisation. The author certainly has a strong ability to write character, so it is a pity that his descriptive skills are less focused when it comes to building the scenery. I see this book as a first edit that needs some strong line-editing and some structural reworking. In short, a very entertaining book, that has the potential to be great.