“Normality is subjective.”
Anyone who has been following my blog for awhile knows that while I lean heavily into the horror genre, there are sprinklings here and there of others that I love as well, with science fiction being a huge one that I grew up enjoying. Give me a well-told story set in the future with fun technology we don’t have yet and an action-packed plot, and I am in heaven.
In The Hereafter Bytes, we’re introduced to Romeo, an asexual digital replica whose “bio self” is already dead when the story starts. Despite Romeo’s character not being alive in the traditional sense, he practically leapt off the pages when I was reading, having the quirks and qualities of someone who is very clever, but also very awkward. I loved Romeo’s ‘voice’ in the story, and found myself flipping through the pages of his wild story while laughing out loud at some of the hilarious things that he encounters. I especially enjoyed the dialogue in the book, which was always fast-paced and witty. Sarcasm in stories always wins my vote, and there’s lots of it here!
When Romeo’s best friend, a dominatrix entrepreneur named Abigail, comes to him with a big problem, he takes it upon himself to help her see it through. This choice ends up putting Romeo in danger from both digital bounty hunters and a super creepy assassin, who doesn’t find it at all strange to be completely polite right before killing her mark. When I say this is a wild ride, I mean it: it’s non-stop action and fun, with a little bit of social commentary thrown in for good measure.
The world building here was excellent and inventive, and I kind of wish some of the things the author created in the book really existed today. From “ex-GIFs” that allow you to experience whatever they’re looping in real-time, to an AR-viewable street art program called Graffinity, there’s just so much in the way of cool future-y stuff that I loved reading about. I could even see this book on the big screen – the conversations and funnily paced chase scenes especially would be so much fun to hear and watch!
Another thing I feel it’s really important to mention here is that this is an #OwnVoices sci-fi book written by an Ace/Aro author. Representation in fiction and film and media is so impactful, and I can’t stress how much I’d encourage everyone reading this review to try to step outside of their normal reading patterns (if they don’t already include #OwnVoices work), and branch out! Reading characters written by folks who have lived some of their experiences adds a whole new layer of enjoyment to your page-turning, I swear!
Definitely check this one out if you’re looking for a fun bit of page-turning escapism. This is such a unique debut, and I’m very happy to have added it to my 2020 reads!
The Hereafter Bytes is on sale this week in honor and celebration of #AceWeek, which runs from October 25th – October 31st. This year’s event in particular is their 10th anniversary, which is a pretty big deal! To learn more about Ace Week & asexuality, follow this link!
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