The Genesis of Misery | Book Review

I received an eARC from NetGalley. All opinions are my own.

This is the story of Misery Nomaki (she/they) – a nobody from a nowhere mining planet who possesses the rare stone-working powers of a saint. Unfortunately, these saint-like abilities also manifest in those succumbing to voidmadness, like that which killed Misery’s mother. Knowing they aren’t a saint but praying they aren’t voidmad, Misery keeps quiet about their power for years, while dreaming and scheming up ways off their Forge-forsaken planet.

But when the voice of an angel, or a very convincing delusion, leads Misery to the center of the Empire, they find themself trapped between two powerful and dangerous factions, each hoping to use Misery to win a terrible war.

Still waiting to be convinced of their own divinity and secretly training with a crew of outlaws and outcasts, Misery grows close to a rebel royal, Lady Alodia Lightning, who may know something of saints and prophecy herself. The voice that guides Misery grows bolder by the day, and it seems the madness is catching…

It is very hard to review this book, and I’m going to try and at least explain why.

The Genesis of Misery is about Misery (she/they) who has tricked authorities into thinking they’re the Messiah instead of suffering from voidmadness like her mother. The delusion who follows her around, “Ruin,” tries to assure her that this is what is meant to be, but she’s not buying it. Her lie takes her to the Capital where things don’t feel right in the center of the empire and religion.

I really enjoyed Misery as a character. She had a hard life growing up which hasn’t been helped by her apparent voidmadness. She’s flying by the seat of her pants at all times. My favorite part of her development is a major spoiler, but I’ll just say there’s a shifting point and that was my favorite part of their character.

I’m not sure if it’s just been a while, but this is much “harder” sci-fi than I’m used to. Because the book focuses on Misery’s role in their religion, you have to pay attention to those terms, like the types of holystone that are all around the empire. You definitely have to pay attention to the terms to keep up with the world-building. I did get the hang of it, but it did take me a while.

The writing, as I expected, is very lyrical and gorgeous, as I’d expect from Yang. However, it’s also contrasted by the dialogue filled with swear words and some modern language like “yet.” It worked together!

I love the use of pronouns. All people are introduced with their pronouns, there are multiple pronouns used, and neopronouns as well. Hir/zie is the default “neutral” pronouns or one used when you don’t know someone’s pronouns. Plus, queerness otherwise is normalized!

I rated this book 4 stars. This book is an experience, which makes it hard to review and describe this book. I recommend this book if you like sci-fi more on the complex side and like the idea of a Joan of Arc retelling!


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