#FridayReads 2022-07-01 – A Speculative Fiction Week -‘Naked In Death’ and ‘Flowertown’

This week, I’ve picked two speculative fiction books by authors that I’ve read before. Both take place in a future America. One is the first book in what is now a hugely popular forty-book-strong series, the other is the debut novel by a writer with seven standalone novels to her name. Neither book is new. One was written in 1995, which now seems like a very long time ago, especially when you’re writing about the future. The other is ten years old. Oddly, I’m more confident that I’m going to enjoy the standalone novel than the first in a series book.

I’m hoping that both of them will have a good thriller at their heart but will also give me something more to think about than who did what and why.

‘Naked In Death’ by J. D. Robb (1995)

Although Nora Roberts is both prolific and immensely popular, I’ve only read one of her books: ‘Year One’, back in 2018. It was also the first book in a speculative fiction series called ‘Chronicles Of The One’, this time set in a post-apocalyptic future.

I finished the book but dropped the series. Nora Roberts’ accomplished writing kept me reading, in much the same way that high production standards make it easy to watch “Chicago Fire” or “Rookie Blue” but the good guys didn’t become people I cared about and the bad guys seemed more like comic-book demons than people. What put me off most was the value set that ‘The One’ was steeped in. According to Roberts, the secret to surviving the apocalypse is to band together with skilled people who embrace middle-class values, choose faith over fear, work together as a team and focus on “doing what comes next”. Of course, emergent magical powers are also pretty useful and I got the impression that an NRA membership wouldn’t go amiss.

My reaction doesn’t seem to have been widely shared. ‘Chronicles Of The One’ became a best-selling three-book series.

Anyway, it turns out that, back in 2017, I bought another book by Nora Roberts, which she’d published as J. D. Robb. Seven years later it’s still sitting on my TBR pile. In the meantime, I’ve seen lots of positive reviews for the ‘In Death’ series so I decided it was time to dive in or give up. I used ‘Naked In Death’ as the letter N in my TBR ABC challenge.

I’m hoping that I’ll become one of the many fans of the ‘In Death’ series and have at least thirty-nine J. D. Robb books in my future.

Flowertown‘ by S. G. Redling (2012)

I read S. G. Redling’s ‘Damocles’ earlier this year. It was a fresh, original, ultimately hopeful First Contact novel that cast the Earth team as the aliens. It was original, clever, exciting and emotionally engaging. After I finished it, I searched S. G. Redling’s back catalogue and found ‘Flowertown’.

The premise calls to me. Although the book is ten years old, from a topic point of view, it feels timely. My first thought when I read the summary was: ‘Why isn’t this a movie or a Netflix series already?’

I’m hoping for a book that I enjoy as much as I did ‘Damocles’.

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