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The All-Consuming World

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A diverse team of broken, diminished former criminals get back together to solve the mystery of their last, disastrous mission and to rescue a missing and much-changed comrade... but they’re not the only ones in pursuit of the secret at the heart of the planet Dimmuborgir. The highly-evolved AI of the universe have their own agenda and will do whatever it takes to keep hum A diverse team of broken, diminished former criminals get back together to solve the mystery of their last, disastrous mission and to rescue a missing and much-changed comrade... but they’re not the only ones in pursuit of the secret at the heart of the planet Dimmuborgir. The highly-evolved AI of the universe have their own agenda and will do whatever it takes to keep humans from ever controlling the universe again. This band of dangerous women, half-clone and half-machine, must battle their own traumas and a universe of sapient ageships who want them dead, in order to settle their affairs once and for all.  Cassandra Khaw’s debut novel is a page-turning exploration of humans and machines that is perfect for readers of Ann Leckie, Ursula Le Guin, and Kameron Hurley.


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A diverse team of broken, diminished former criminals get back together to solve the mystery of their last, disastrous mission and to rescue a missing and much-changed comrade... but they’re not the only ones in pursuit of the secret at the heart of the planet Dimmuborgir. The highly-evolved AI of the universe have their own agenda and will do whatever it takes to keep hum A diverse team of broken, diminished former criminals get back together to solve the mystery of their last, disastrous mission and to rescue a missing and much-changed comrade... but they’re not the only ones in pursuit of the secret at the heart of the planet Dimmuborgir. The highly-evolved AI of the universe have their own agenda and will do whatever it takes to keep humans from ever controlling the universe again. This band of dangerous women, half-clone and half-machine, must battle their own traumas and a universe of sapient ageships who want them dead, in order to settle their affairs once and for all.  Cassandra Khaw’s debut novel is a page-turning exploration of humans and machines that is perfect for readers of Ann Leckie, Ursula Le Guin, and Kameron Hurley.

30 review for The All-Consuming World

  1. 4 out of 5

    Lex Kent

    Every year I seem to read at least one book where after I finish I have to ask myself “what the hell did I just read?” well this was my WTH book for 2021. I was really excited to read this; morally grey, angry and dangerous, sapphic cyborgs out to find their missing friend while under their own death warrant… I mean that sounded pretty damn cool to me. This wasn’t on my most anticipate list of 21, but this book was high up there of books I was excited to read. Unfortunately, this was not what I Every year I seem to read at least one book where after I finish I have to ask myself “what the hell did I just read?” well this was my WTH book for 2021. I was really excited to read this; morally grey, angry and dangerous, sapphic cyborgs out to find their missing friend while under their own death warrant… I mean that sounded pretty damn cool to me. This wasn’t on my most anticipate list of 21, but this book was high up there of books I was excited to read. Unfortunately, this was not what I was hoping for and I almost DNF’d it a few times. The reason I still gave this 3 stars is that I enjoyed the second half much more, but to be honest I do wonder if I’m rating this a little high since I had no idea what was going on a good chunk of the time. This is my first time reading Khaw so I was not prepared for her writing style. I don’t know if she always writes like this, or if this was a special choice for this particular book. It was very purple prose like, yet it was mixed with odd word choices, and ways to use them, plus a lot of profanity. While I don’t use swear words in my reviews very often, I have no issue with reading them in books. The problem is if you are going around constantly saying ‘fuck this you fuckity fuck’ the word loses its meaning and most of its power so I have to wonder what really is the point? I’m going to quote the opening paragraph of the book so you can get a feel of the writing style: “The fuck am I doing here, Rita?” Her voice is the boreal wash of moonlight upon the bulwark of their ship-in-orbit: a reduction of the fantastic, tepid when it could have been of a devouring temperature. It is modulated, disinterested. But like fuck Maya is going to complain. Any contact with Rita is superior to the absence of such. I found most of the first half to be pretty rough. I had trouble realizing what was going on and I was getting bored in certain parts. I’ve noticed some other reviewers have mentioned this and I think they are right on; I don’t think this story works well as a book. I think if this was an original movie for Amazon or Netflix, then it would have worked so much better. I think visuals were desperately missing in this story. I couldn’t tell when we were on a spaceship or even a planet. I also could not get a clear picture of what the characters looked like in my mind. These are women and nonbinary characters that are half machines, yet there were only certain modifications of body parts that I could really understand. Instead of saying something like “she had clear tubes connected to her back slowly dripping spinal fluid –which is something I could picture in my head- instead it was more like ‘tubes dripping bile hanging out of orifices’. Well what orifices and what were the tubes like? There were just too many times that I felt like I didn’t have the complete picture of what was going on. The reason I gave this, and what I’m thinking is a generous three stars, was because of the second half. The book picked up and honestly the character of Maya saved it for me. Khaw did something that we don’t see a lot of authors do in that one character was in first and the rest were in third. I actually don’t mind this as I like the idea of having the main character in first and the secondary characters in third so we could still peak into other POV’s if needed. The problem here was that Khaw wrote the main character in third and a secondary character in first. I don’t get that choice and I think it was the main reason that it took me a long time to even just like Maya. Had her character been in first from the beginning, I think I might have connected with her a lot sooner so the first half of the book might have been better for me. The good news is she did eventually win me over. She’s completely messed up and a bit of a psycho killer, but her character actually had some depth. Her character thought she was in love with someone she never should have been, which put her in a toxic dependent relationship, while her heart was really in love with someone she didn’t believe she deserved. Her messed up love situation gave her character some substance we as readers could latch on to. Not only that but she was the only character that seemed to have real, meaningful, and hard conversations with other characters. While Maya was threatening to kill them half the time, her character actually had some growth which seemed mostly due to these convos. One of her convos was with the widowed wife of one of her comrades, and it ended up being one of the best scenes and dialogs in the whole book. Maya was absolutely the reason I finished this book and even enjoyed a few parts in the process. Unfortunately, this is not a book that I can recommend. I’m just barely rating this 3 stars and I still might lower it as I’m struggling with this rating as much as I struggled with this book. I loved the mix of all the sapphic and nonbinary characters, and the actual premise was good, but damn if I didn’t know what was going on way too often. I believe we don’t get enough sapphic sci-fi, so I really wanted to love this but it’s out there. If you think you might be okay with this very different writing style and you love sci-fi, then maybe it will work better for you. I would suggest reading a sample when/if there is one on Amazon to get a better feel if this might be for you. An ARC was given to me for a review.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Emmett

    I wish I could give this a higher score, but that score would be very false. I actually can’t remember the last time a book fell below my expectations this hard. I read These Deathless Bones by Cassandra Khaw a few months back and gave it 4 stars and have really been looking forward to their upcoming novella Nothing But Blackened Teeth. I was also looking forward to The All-Consuming World and was more than excited when I was granted an ARC of it. Unfortunately, this novel was almost unreadable. I I wish I could give this a higher score, but that score would be very false. I actually can’t remember the last time a book fell below my expectations this hard. I read These Deathless Bones by Cassandra Khaw a few months back and gave it 4 stars and have really been looking forward to their upcoming novella Nothing But Blackened Teeth. I was also looking forward to The All-Consuming World and was more than excited when I was granted an ARC of it. Unfortunately, this novel was almost unreadable. I got to the 50% mark and then threw in the towel and just skipped ahead to the very last chapter. The book feels like an experiment in which the author only wanted to 1) use as many obscure words as possible & 2) use the word fuck more than it has ever been used in a novel before. I have no qualms with the word ‘fuck’- it is a great word! Very versatile, can really change the meaning of something, don’t have a problem with it in my books. However, this was just excessive and annoying. Aside from the overuse of fuck, it really felt like Khaw was sitting next to a thesaurus, picking words at random… and then also throwing in modern colloquial expressions that you wouldn’t typically find in a novel. The result- a mess. Examples of the writing: 1. Dulia of a magnitude that demands hecatomb. 2. Neither of us say anything for a hot minute. 3. “How the oil-gargling fuck are we supposed to figure out who the fucking fuck is going to try to fuck with Verdigris?” 4. “You fucking moron. What the fuckity fuck were you even fucking thinking?” Maya beams, euphoric under death’s neighborly shadow. 5. “Fuck. Fuck you and fuck Rita and fuck both of you for knowing exactly the right goddamned buttons to push. Thank fucking God.” If those small samples don’t put you off- go forth. But I warn you that there is not much else in this novel other than the style, as the characters and narrative are completely eclipsed by it. My advice for potential readers who are scared off by this review is to read ANYTHING ELSE by the author. What I read from Khaw previously was great… it just wasn’t this book. *I received a free ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

  3. 4 out of 5

    ☘Misericordia☘ ⚡ϟ⚡⛈⚡☁ ❇️❤❣

    Fun stats time: there are ~700 'fuck's, 21 'goddamn's in all its glory-bearing variants, 12 straightforward 'c*nt's and 3 'vantablack's in this text. Anyway, what's with all the 'fucking' used on every other page? No, multiple times on most pages.: Q: the fuck-do-we-do-now silence .... fucking delighted ... Fuck. I knew it. I fucking knew it. I fucking told you ... “Wait, I thought you fucking said you found her already—”... “You said she fucking contacted you.” “What the fuck is this shit?” ... “I Fun stats time: there are ~700 'fuck's, 21 'goddamn's in all its glory-bearing variants, 12 straightforward 'c*nt's and 3 'vantablack's in this text. Anyway, what's with all the 'fucking' used on every other page? No, multiple times on most pages.: Q: the fuck-do-we-do-now silence .... fucking delighted ... Fuck. I knew it. I fucking knew it. I fucking told you ... “Wait, I thought you fucking said you found her already—”... “You said she fucking contacted you.” “What the fuck is this shit?” ... “I did not fucking agree... (c) Q: “Fuck,” says Ayane in tandem with Maya’s own private vociferation. (c) Yes, vociferation. And a very loquacious one at that. Rating: we start at 5 stars: - AIs focused on pop-/retro- culture weren't really believable. -1 star - Ageships enjoying popculture... +1 star. Nice if not believable. - Irritating cast set. Don'tget me wrong, I like the lgbtqia twist as much as the next person but Maya did not come across as a masculinely strong woman but as a complete moron. She's a ticking bombshell of a liability and I've no idea why they have been dragging her around. -1 star. - The wonderful words bet (I think that's what it was: the author trying to win a bet on how many outlandish words could be stuffed into the text) +1 star - The Dimmuborgir thingy? Probably a concept that was supposed to wield some religious connotations aimed at showing how religions are what? Something or other? +- 1 star - Bio- / Zoo- splats -1 star - the rest of the weird phrases that didn't really mean much (see above) -1 star - The 700 fucks -1 star - All the other cunts, gyrating worlds and other repeatables: -1 star. - Gloriously bad writing +1 star. I'm gonna treasure this read for the worlds to come. I've got a whole shelf for books like this, I collect them. Result: 2 stars. For all the obnoxious verbosity and forced, very forced LGBTQ-ness, it's a fun read. Even though I still have no idea what ageships or the Butcher of Eight are (other than the latter likely had some oil troubles at some point). It's like a fuckmachine an AI, armed with a dictionary, wrote this one: Q: ... snarls that prismatic fourth, joining the chorus. (c) Q: Though a pleonasm, Pimento, incensed beyond easy classification, incorporates physiognomic markers of his dissatisfaction: cragged brow, rucked mouth, and so on and so forth, every pane of artificial flesh committed to comedic volumes of crenellation. (c) Q: Pimento cannot restrain his petulance this time, not with such scathing analysis of his zoological constituency, and so lacquers his response with disapproval. (c) Q: Any possible declension of identity is to be respected. (c) Q: The proposal: there is, somewhere in the pith of Dimmuborgir, a panopticon of superior intelligences operating in exquisite unison, glutted on knowledge, the kind a Surveyor would dismantle themself to savor. (c) Q: But there has never been anything coherent, nothing solid, nothing that can be stitched into a cogent narrative. Only rumors and unsubstantiated facts, an entire galaxy of suppositions, no less corporeal than any human-made numinosity. (c) Q: “Perhaps,” returns the Merchant Mind, still lackadaisical. They reticulate three of the screens together and dismiss the remainder, their approximate chin shelved on the heel of an open palm. (c) Q: Pimento remains stoically truculent. Something in one of his tagmata goes ping: a fugitive component? (c) Seriously? Q: Aqueous humor dribbles from the ruptured cornea ... (c) Q: she’s still too fresh from parturition to be of any gaugeable use, that first tussle having leached away whatever reservoirs were pre-installed in this new frame. (c) Yeah, the very gaugeable use! Q: The walls are abscessed with machinery of varying quality, a bootstrapped hodgepodge of recovered tech that is only tenuously operational. (c) Ah-ha, as opposed to what? Machinery of same quality? Q: shoddily held together by the spite of a voluntary suicide. (c) As opposed to involuntary suicide... probably. Q: That hallowed quarry, its mythos leviathanic. (c) Q: if Maya could pontificate on her current feelings. (c) Yeah, pontificate all right. Q: Her inner soliloquy becomes cacophonous, so loud that she does not register the triumphant denouement of Rita’s whole spiel. (c) Q: The station herself is conscious, of course, although prone toward bouts of protracted sleep. While insensate, a committee of partitions takes over, each of them zealots to a noxious degree, almost as if to commensurate with the core personality’s soporific agnosticism. (c) Q: Dulia of a magnitude that demands hecatomb. (c) Q: Something of value was stated. The only question is which sentential declension carried that nugget. (c) Q: Something of value was stated. The only question is which sentential declension carried that nugget. (c) So, she's peeping at them between her 2 fingers? Is that it? Q: sits with algebraic posture, (c) What kind of posture would that be? Q: In the liminality, a weft of laughter uncoils like smoke. (c) Q: a lipless mouth that begins and ends on opposite ears. (c) Same-side ears, I would've liked better. Q: “Is that what you see me as? Brain-eating amoeba?” “I see its idiot elegance as something for us both to aspire to.” (c) What's so idiot about that elegance that a brain amoeba displays? Q: Doors nictitate apart as drone after drone is expunged. (c) Q: We becomes I, pathetic in its exiguous dimensions, a library of degrading memories, malformed. (c) Q: The tenebrosity doesn’t, however, linger. With every invocation of Verdigris’ name, it sallows, lightening to the juvenile colors of recent ecchymosis, that suppurating purple-yellow of ruined capillaries and beat-up flesh, an exhausted pigment which, fortunately, does not linger. (c) I've no idea what this is about. Q: Pareidolia is congenital. It is endemic to the sapient condition. (c) Q: Shut the fuck up, comes Ayane’s recipocratory shriek, the concussiveness of its reverb kept solely to their shared spatial weirdness. (c) in particular, way too much dubious bio- and zoology: Q: ... says Rita, an anglerfish lure in the teasing pinch of her tongue between white teeth, her small smile (c) Anyone seen anglerfish's 'small smile'? Q: the scientist’s blackbird frame. (c) Q: Give Maya a few minutes and there will be actual teeth, molars and incisors in a rain of fresh calcium. (c) No, really? Is that what the writer thinks is teeth and the rest of that debris? Q: a fox might surveil a sickly honey badger. (c) Interesting. Competitors, my ass. A honey badger might actually eat that fox and get well. LOL! Q: She sets herself down on one knee, slopes forward, one gracile arm outstretched like an olive branch. (c) Whatever she was doing, it must have been uncomfortable as hell. Q: it was the Penitents who fed me, chanting data like whalesongs. (c) Q: The cock of her smile, that let’s-set-the-world-on-fire stare. (c) Now, that's disturbing. Q: her skin becomes illuminated, becomes biblical in her very justified rage ... (c) Some mixed metaphors that I love to hate: Q: The tension in the room is practically Damoclean. If the cacology of Ayane’s responses persist, Maya might just have to shoot her in the fucking head. (c) Damoclean tension? Cacology/persist and fucking in the same sentence? Q: that whole Scheherazadian procession of deaths upon deaths, (c) It's a good thing I sort of like that sort of things. I imagine there will be other readers who are not going to be enchanted with the style. There's seems to be way too much going on with oil, I'd say. Yes, I know, they are cyborgs but then again, why the old-fashioned oil and not, I dunno, some nanoliquid?: Q: Her fingers carve through the strands of artificial—like fuck au naturel hair could even dream of such lustrousness—keratin, pleating them together, a Sisyphean little tic. The braid doesn’t hold, oiling loose each time Ayane lets go. (c) Sisyphean tic? Oiling loose? Maybe get some shampoo to those clones fresh out of the vat? Might help with that. Q: ... until their meaning becomes tessellated, syllables mixing like oil and blood in the rain (c) More oil and blood? Q: You’re the only one who made the Butcher of Eight weep oil.” (c) Q: gloves—the callused fingertips on the nadirs of her wrists; Rita’s coarse palms—such a shock Maya fishmouths idiotically, gaze vacillating between Rita’s bare fingers and her oilslick eyes. (c) I'm not even going to ask what that was with all the fishmouths and nadirs on wrists. But oilslick eyes? Q: They spill from the wall in a sudden lather of cables, oiling over the altar and across the chancel, gimbals maintaining an enviable smoothness in their tread. (c) Q: The Merchant Mind, I’ve seen him before and his half-shell ship, the insides sheened and stinking with oily effluvia. (c) Q: “How the oil-gargling fuck are we supposed to figure out who the fucking fuck is going to try fucking with Verdigris? (c) Q: Around them, the concert hall colors elegiacally: phthalocyanine blue shadows, viridian luster, an oil painting drowned in the bathyal deep. (c) Q: Maya contemplates this without rancor or judgement, jigsawing together, as she does, this new composite image of Rochelle: plumper in natural mid-life, better coiffed, with cardigans in a palette of pastels, but with black oil under her nails still and her magpie avarice toward every vehicle to stray into sight. (c) Q: Then: light oils across empty space, bends just so. (c) Q: Imagine an oil painter being handed the wrong tools, blindfolded, spun around, then told as the world gyres on strange axes that they need to record a sunset on a canvas they can’t see. (c) Q: For a flutter of heartbeats, Rita’s plastic ventricles pumping oil-compounds through her veins, I think about lying to her. (c) Q: Maya is chewing on her lower lip so hard, it is bleeding oil. (c) Way too much seems to be going on with their voices or voice-boxed or dynamics or whatever it is that cyborgs use to talk: Q: As Rita continues to speak, her voice cracks, branchiates into emotion, actual fucking emotion. (c) Q: Her voice is the boreal wash of moonlight upon the bulwark of their ship-in-orbit: a reduction of the fantastic, tepid when it could have been of a devouring temperature. It is modulated, disinterested. (c) What was that with her voice? Q: The voice laughs, distinctly onomatopoeic and grossly syncopated: ha ha ha ha. (c) Yeah-yeah, very onomatopoeic and syncopated. The world that keeps gyrating me into a dejalu: Q: the world gyres on strange axes (c) Q: The world gyres, nauseating. (c) Of course, it gyres. What else could it be busy doing? Come on: Q: Rita doesn’t acknowledge either of them, purrs on instead, like she owns the airwaves, the very right to speak, her rich contralto whetting every word, sharpening every syllable. Some people wield knives; Rita could win wars with a whisper. (c) Isn't that a bit overloaded? Q: The strutwork beneath Ayane’s pleasing veneer is more tungsten than calcium, a nasty eccentricity she’d coded into her genetic formula after death number twelve roughly eight decades ago. It is a modification which severely taxes their rejuvenation tech, but nothing good comes free, not least a body you’d need ten men to budge. (c) Interesting, would this body be going through floors anywhere where they were not created with megaheavy fullmetal humans strutting about in mind? Some nice pieces: Q: clonetech was a business of diminishing returns. Each resurrection mothered new health complications, fewer symmetries, like the body is a story that will persist until permitted to write its own end. (c) Q: She likes to believe she would have always chosen Rita, over and again, through every permutation of destiny. (c) Q: faith is another word for shooting yourself in the head. (c) Q: Until data corruption do them part. (c) Q: Incarceration is a state of mind, as Audra—Verdigris, my records remind me, she’s Verdigris now—once said. Entirely optional. (c) Q: why look beautiful when you can be seraphic instead? Q: Because humanity was led by their dysmorphisms and driven by their proclivity for breeding, gender was everything. It helped illuminate who they, according to a matrix of learned inclinations, might want to fuck. (c) Q: Somewhere, an AI is exploring nostalgia through linguistics. (c) Maybe this is how this book happened into existence. Hmmm...

  4. 5 out of 5

    Bradley

    Okay, so it turns out I'm a total fanboy -- still -- for Cassandra Khaw. We're moving way beyond Lovecraftian food shows and diving head-first into an amped-up version of Altered Carbon, classic Heist fiction, enough ammunition to choke a city, and world-eating super AIs to keep things toasty. Delicious. Fast-paced. Salty as all hell. In a universe where it's all dog-eat-cyborg, only the angriest survive -- and believe me, this novel is ALL about the rage, the pain, and the f***ed up Lesbian Cybo Okay, so it turns out I'm a total fanboy -- still -- for Cassandra Khaw. We're moving way beyond Lovecraftian food shows and diving head-first into an amped-up version of Altered Carbon, classic Heist fiction, enough ammunition to choke a city, and world-eating super AIs to keep things toasty. Delicious. Fast-paced. Salty as all hell. In a universe where it's all dog-eat-cyborg, only the angriest survive -- and believe me, this novel is ALL about the rage, the pain, and the f***ed up Lesbian Cyborg relationships. It's really fun! But yeah, it's also about the pain. :) And getting that one last score before there's simply nothing left. The atmosphere is the best part of this novel. It goes way beyond normal cyberpunk and gets gritty, pushing all that hardcore SF, and kicks all kinds of ass. There are some really funny parts, too. No spoilers, but the weird is absolutely delicious. I need more of this in my life. Simply.

  5. 4 out of 5

    charlotte,

    On my blog. Actual rating 2.5 Rep: sapphic mcs, nonbinary mc, genderfluid mc CWs: suicide, eye gore, violence, surgical procedures, amputation Galley provided by publisher The All-Consuming World, for me, was a book that was a whole lot of vibes, and not a lot of actual… anything else almost. I’m not even sure I can truly say I liked this book, in part because I’m not sure if I know what was going on half the time. There’s a heist? An estranged team of criminals? They want to tear down some syste On my blog. Actual rating 2.5 Rep: sapphic mcs, nonbinary mc, genderfluid mc CWs: suicide, eye gore, violence, surgical procedures, amputation Galley provided by publisher The All-Consuming World, for me, was a book that was a whole lot of vibes, and not a lot of actual… anything else almost. I’m not even sure I can truly say I liked this book, in part because I’m not sure if I know what was going on half the time. There’s a heist? An estranged team of criminals? They want to tear down some system or other? I think this goes to show two things: just how unmemorable I found the book, and just how little specific there was for me to actually remember. The story is never really grounded in anything—for a lot of it, it’s not even clear if they’re on some planet, or a spaceship, or simply floating around in space, and that’s not even getting into when it’s set (if it is, indeed, set in a when displaced from us). On top of that, the characters and relationships seem a collection of tropes, rather than anything approaching coherency. Usually, I don’t struggle quite as much as this to remember a thing about them, but trust me when I say, I do not recall a single iota of information. I wrote down two notes about these things, which represent the sum total of what I can add to this: one, that a certain relationship appears to come out of nowhere (it’s not telegraphed either in one of the members’ POVs, or outside of it), and that a second relationship (which just so happens to involve one of the members of the one I just mentioned) grows very tiring very quickly. In fact, as a whole, the book grows quite tiring in general. I think this is in part because I really did not get along with the writing. It’s very purple prosey, which would be fine!, if that purple prosey-ness was grounded in anything. But the book is light on worldbuilding, and light on anything tangible it feels, so the prose ends up grating. And hence, I start skimming. None of this is to say I don’t think other people will like it—it’s a fast paced heist story and, for all that I struggled, I was still compelled to keep reading. In fact, for the right person, this is a book you can immerse yourself in, and come up hours later to find you’ve binged it in a single sitting. But me? I wasn’t the right person.

  6. 5 out of 5

    gauri

    on another episode of me being disappointed by books that sound good: nothing captured my attention, no strong worldbuilding and i had a difficult time getting through the chapters. also, personal opinion but there was so much profanity every four sentences that it kinda put me off, even though i generally don't mind swearing in books. on another episode of me being disappointed by books that sound good: nothing captured my attention, no strong worldbuilding and i had a difficult time getting through the chapters. also, personal opinion but there was so much profanity every four sentences that it kinda put me off, even though i generally don't mind swearing in books.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Melissa

    I'm deeply torn about this one. On one hand, I adore the things that Khaw does with language. This little novella took me ages to read because I kept going back to reread over and over their frenetic, frankly bonkers phrasing in absolute marvel. I love Maya especially as a character, and if her endlessly repetitive, "Fuck this, fuck you, and fuck that too," attitude grated a bit in the beginning, I found her character arc fulfilling, and this entire book stuffed with flashy, awesome ideas and ch I'm deeply torn about this one. On one hand, I adore the things that Khaw does with language. This little novella took me ages to read because I kept going back to reread over and over their frenetic, frankly bonkers phrasing in absolute marvel. I love Maya especially as a character, and if her endlessly repetitive, "Fuck this, fuck you, and fuck that too," attitude grated a bit in the beginning, I found her character arc fulfilling, and this entire book stuffed with flashy, awesome ideas and characters and concepts. But on the other hand this is missing something fundamental, as though it's a lot of flashy, awesome ideas and characters and concepts splashed on a page without anything to tie them all together into something satisfying. I would read another 100 pages of this in a heartbeat if it made it all make sense and I'd spend another book in this world, definitely, but color me frustrated at it on the whole.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Lata

    3.5 stars. With every flesh-shredding bullet, Cassandra Khaw's main character Maya swaggers and shoots her way into and out of every situation she gets in in this wild, ultra-violent and spectacularly profane and fast-moving and sometimes impenetrable plot. On the surface, this is a getting the band back together type stories, if your band is a group of women who happen to be clones, criminals, and have a serious case of "I hate you" for each other. It turns out there's a legit reason for the ani 3.5 stars. With every flesh-shredding bullet, Cassandra Khaw's main character Maya swaggers and shoots her way into and out of every situation she gets in in this wild, ultra-violent and spectacularly profane and fast-moving and sometimes impenetrable plot. On the surface, this is a getting the band back together type stories, if your band is a group of women who happen to be clones, criminals, and have a serious case of "I hate you" for each other. It turns out there's a legit reason for the animosity as there's collective guilt and anger about the deaths of some of their group after their last job. This time, there's a chance to recover one of their lost members, and we see how utterly dysfunctional and terrible the women's dynamic is. We also discover that there are vast artificial intelligences, whose intents are generally unknown and terrifying and inimical to, well, pretty much everything, and specifically to the group and their current job. I love Cassandra Khaw's work. Her writing is beautiful and visceral, and often immersed in bodily fluids. However, I wish this book had been a little shorter, as I found the plot dragged in some parts. I was also a little mystified by some scenes (except for a wonderfully touching conversation Maya had with Rochelle's wife), I love this author's writing--I see so many colours in her work--but, I also realize that Khaw's writing is not for everyone. Despite my slight difficulties with some of the action, I liked this. Thank you to Netgalley and to Erewhon Books for this ARC in exchange for a review.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Circe Moskowitz

    The plot of The All-Consuming World is fairly simple: a group of queer cyborgs come together after forty years to do one final heist. Everything else is anything but. The world is dense, complex and utterly fascinating; the prose like a beautiful, exposed nerve; and the characters bring a sweet chaos amid the doom I knew was coming. All of it together made for an utterly turbulent reading experience that I will never forget. Fans of the Locked Tomb trilogy will thoroughly enjoy this. Amidst the The plot of The All-Consuming World is fairly simple: a group of queer cyborgs come together after forty years to do one final heist. Everything else is anything but. The world is dense, complex and utterly fascinating; the prose like a beautiful, exposed nerve; and the characters bring a sweet chaos amid the doom I knew was coming. All of it together made for an utterly turbulent reading experience that I will never forget. Fans of the Locked Tomb trilogy will thoroughly enjoy this. Amidst the intense and dark moments, these characters are so much fun, and their journey is a heart-pounding puzzle that keeps you guessing until the very last stretch. Don’t miss out on this book. It’s astounding.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Amanda at Bookish Brews

    Stunning, expansive, punk, angry, imaginative, dense, ornate, turbulent, brilliant The All-Consuming World was a book that I was really anticipating coming out. When Erewhon sent me a copy in the mail I was absolutely overjoyed! Erewhon books is one of my favorite publishers, and Cassandra Khaw has other incredible works out. Honestly, opening this book at first was a bit of a challenge. The world-building is dense but flowery all at once and unique to any similar books that I’ve read before, so Stunning, expansive, punk, angry, imaginative, dense, ornate, turbulent, brilliant The All-Consuming World was a book that I was really anticipating coming out. When Erewhon sent me a copy in the mail I was absolutely overjoyed! Erewhon books is one of my favorite publishers, and Cassandra Khaw has other incredible works out. Honestly, opening this book at first was a bit of a challenge. The world-building is dense but flowery all at once and unique to any similar books that I’ve read before, so I wasn’t able to stay grounded in any kind of assumptions of the world. The group of misfit ex-criminals is full of rage and bitterness so they swear a lot, which is jarringly juxtaposed by the writing style that was both precise in some parts and ornate in others. This book breaks your assumptions and shatters your beliefs in what a book needs to be. Though the text took a while to start understanding, once I made it halfway through I started to see how clever Khaw’s writing actually is. They confused me to challenge me. The dense world helped me explore my imagination and push the boundaries of my thoughts. The prose is constantly changing and matches each character’s perspective perfectly. The ornate writing trains you to detach from what you know about humanity, technology, life, and consciousness in order to reach the climax that really turns everything on its head once again. All of this makes for a turbulent reading experience, but one that completely paid off for me in the end. Quick Summary: The All-Consuming World follows a group of angry misfit ex-cons coming back together to relive their last mission that ended in tragedy. Broken and traumatized from the last mission that cost them their friends, the group begrudgingly agrees to go back to the planet that ruined it all in the hope that one of their dead friends isn’t dead after all. Continue reading... Bookish Brews | Twitter | Pinterest | Tumblr | Facebook

  11. 4 out of 5

    The SciFi Book Guy

    So yeah, I tapped out and couldn’t finish this book. Sorry dudes, I very rarely do this, and I did try to push through, but the grind wore me down. It’s such a shame because the story has everything I would want in a book. Hell, it has everything I dream of. I was so amped to read this book that I texted my friends to let them know that I’d be ignoring them for a bit. Except I forgot to let my mom know and she called me when I was just getting settled in to read. “Not now mom, I got my Yeti Ramb So yeah, I tapped out and couldn’t finish this book. Sorry dudes, I very rarely do this, and I did try to push through, but the grind wore me down. It’s such a shame because the story has everything I would want in a book. Hell, it has everything I dream of. I was so amped to read this book that I texted my friends to let them know that I’d be ignoring them for a bit. Except I forgot to let my mom know and she called me when I was just getting settled in to read. “Not now mom, I got my Yeti Rambler full of margaritas and have a book I need to read… no, I don’t care that it’s your birthday.” So you can imagine my disappointment (and hers!) when I couldn’t even bring myself to finish. And no, don’t worry about my mom, she’s in ok health and should have a few more birthdays to celebrate, she’ll be fine. Anyways, the story is this gang of queer clone cyborg mercenaries are getting the band back together to perform one last space heist and try to correct the wrongs of their past. Holy shit! That sounds fucking awesome! I accept your apology for thinking poorly of me for blowing off my mom on her birthday to read this. The problem is that the book is pretentious as fuck! I’m no Bill Shakespeare but I thought I had a decent grasp of the English language until I read this. I had to stop several times per page to check the definition of a word. That’s a surefire way to kill any sort of flow and most certainly my margarita buzz. Now I’m sure there’s a bunch of learned folks with big brains who will love this, but not this hombre. The characters, universe, and story all seemed amazing, but I’m just too dumb to understand this one. Anyways, that’s about all I got. Adios amigos! Oh wait, check out my rad site for more content like this: The SciFi Book Guy

  12. 4 out of 5

    Bertie (LuminosityLibrary)

    I'm really sad that I didn't enjoy this one, it was one of my most anticipated reads of the year. I feel like if you enjoy the writing of this book, you'll love it. Unfortunately, the writing really grated on me and overshadowed everything else I could have loved about the book. It felt like I was reading a thesaurus sprinkled with swear words. It felt like a struggle to sit down and read, to figure out who the characters were, or what they were doing. I didn't enjoy myself at all. It's such a s I'm really sad that I didn't enjoy this one, it was one of my most anticipated reads of the year. I feel like if you enjoy the writing of this book, you'll love it. Unfortunately, the writing really grated on me and overshadowed everything else I could have loved about the book. It felt like I was reading a thesaurus sprinkled with swear words. It felt like a struggle to sit down and read, to figure out who the characters were, or what they were doing. I didn't enjoy myself at all. It's such a shame because it seems to have everything I could have loved. (Thanks to Erewhon Books and Netgalley for providing me with an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review). Follow me on my Blog, Twitter, and Instagram.

  13. 4 out of 5

    T

    1.5 I got an ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Now that it’s officially available to everyone, it’s time for me to bite the bullet and sadly slide this off into my DNF pit, with only casual hope of excavating it later. I really wanted to like this book. What’s not to love about angry, gun-slinging, sapphic cyborgs scraping by in a post-apocalyptic universe? It has me written all over it, right down to the ample trauma baggage everyone carries and deft exploration of 1.5 I got an ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Now that it’s officially available to everyone, it’s time for me to bite the bullet and sadly slide this off into my DNF pit, with only casual hope of excavating it later. I really wanted to like this book. What’s not to love about angry, gun-slinging, sapphic cyborgs scraping by in a post-apocalyptic universe? It has me written all over it, right down to the ample trauma baggage everyone carries and deft exploration of class, bodily autonomy, relationship violence, and beauty. But, I couldn’t do it. The analogies were effusive to the point of being overdone and overwhelming even if they were evocative. It seemed like everything was analogous to something carnal or canine or cybernetic or all three, and it clogged rather than clarified the writing. The MC’s use of the word “fuck” was also sloppy in its prevalence, sounding closer to an angsty eighteen year old trying to seem edgy than a hardened cyborg guard. The plot was a whirlwind that often left me asking what the hell I was reading, and not often enough in a positive, awed way. Still, this DNF rounds up to 2 stars for me because even if it is not written well in my mind, I think this book will be a great ride for people who like pages upon pages of bloody, angsty mechs with superfluous analogies and not a ton to hold on to.

  14. 4 out of 5

    patri

    the all-consuming world redefines the word page-turner - the plot races at a whirlwind pace, its permutable rabble of ragtag protagonists playing one reckless risk after another, running against the perils that plague them at a rate of knots. introducing us to a compellingly eccentric cosmos of corrupt AIs, custom-made cyborgs and avenging clones, Cassandra Khaw artfully evades the catch of infodumping, crafting an eclectic cast of casualty-prone, expletive-loving characters. and how can i artic the all-consuming world redefines the word page-turner - the plot races at a whirlwind pace, its permutable rabble of ragtag protagonists playing one reckless risk after another, running against the perils that plague them at a rate of knots. introducing us to a compellingly eccentric cosmos of corrupt AIs, custom-made cyborgs and avenging clones, Cassandra Khaw artfully evades the catch of infodumping, crafting an eclectic cast of casualty-prone, expletive-loving characters. and how can i articulate how aweing the action-packed, allusion-heavy writing is? the enduring associates of the Dirty Dozen left alive - centering on Maya, Rita, Ayane, Elise, Verdigris, and Constance - are an energetically animated company, a diverse cluster of cyberpunks that defy death - and the devouring designs of the advancing ageships - and crush expectations with each curveball. every adventure-rich chapter and chancy endeavour clutches you with edge-of-your-seat anticipation, eager to clock how the audacious choices and electrifying incidents the cabal get ensnared in will end, but perhaps most astounding is the acute, pulls-no-punches and tolerates-no-stereotypes portrayal of truisms about trauma and abuse. serving state-of-the-art sci-fi, an assortment of nimble-witted name-dropping and a snazzy array of narrative styles, this short-ish novel is absorbing all around, from its scintillating verbalizations to the sharp veneer of the vindications it shadows - add it to your shelves asap! thank you to netgalley and erewhon books for kindly passing on this arc!

  15. 5 out of 5

    xyZeereads

    I honestly wanted to like this, and forced myself to read through the superfluous and pretentious writing, but unfortunately didn't enjoy any of it after a couple of chapters. What's happening? Something to do with Dimmuborgir, but it's all lost in the overly crass drivel. I'm really hoping Shaw's Nothing But Blackened Teeth is nothing like this, because it's one of my most anticipated reads of 2021 (and mainly because of that cover!) DNF. Many thanks to the publisher for the ARC, but didn't enjo I honestly wanted to like this, and forced myself to read through the superfluous and pretentious writing, but unfortunately didn't enjoy any of it after a couple of chapters. What's happening? Something to do with Dimmuborgir, but it's all lost in the overly crass drivel. I'm really hoping Shaw's Nothing But Blackened Teeth is nothing like this, because it's one of my most anticipated reads of 2021 (and mainly because of that cover!) DNF. Many thanks to the publisher for the ARC, but didn't enjoy this one at all.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Tim Hicks

    You'll love it or hate it. I hated it. That happens. All of the following is more about me than about the author, although many of the reviews here seem to be with me. I'm no fucking saint, but if I wanted a big dose of "Fuck this fuckety-fucking fuckery" I'd have watched Peter Capaldi as Malcolm Tucker. OK, their world is a dystopia, and their situation is too, but we get that. If I wanted a thesaurus gone amok, I'd re-read The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant (Hellfire!) which is, amazingly, even You'll love it or hate it. I hated it. That happens. All of the following is more about me than about the author, although many of the reviews here seem to be with me. I'm no fucking saint, but if I wanted a big dose of "Fuck this fuckety-fucking fuckery" I'd have watched Peter Capaldi as Malcolm Tucker. OK, their world is a dystopia, and their situation is too, but we get that. If I wanted a thesaurus gone amok, I'd re-read The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant (Hellfire!) which is, amazingly, even less cheerful than this. Such telic, improvident and gratuitous exudation makes me dyspeptic and immedicable. I gather there's going to be hacking and hewing and gore, too, but I can get that with bells on from Asher and Abercrombie. Khaw has chosen the "just drop them into it" approach to worldbuilding, which is a valid option, but gosh, this is barely a sketch. They have FTL and cloning and AI Minds, but 109 pages in we still don't know whether we're on a space station, underground on Enceladus, or in a parking lot on the outskirts of Albuquerque. Rita is a manipulator, an expert liar, apparently amoral. Maya is a deadly bundle of rage. They are entangled with the Merchant Mind, which is also amoral. I didn't get far enough to see what Elise and Constance were. Maya hates Rita but would do anything for her, and thus hates her even more for that. Several of them are also queer, and that's fine, but in the midst of all the chaos here it hardly matters. Finally, there some marvellously poetic writing here, full of ruffles and flourishes, and Khaw is obviously very good at it. When this gets made into an action movie, all that will be lost. But for me, that would be good, because I'm just here for the story, not to admire the craftsmanship of individual phrases and sentences. I'm DNF after 110 pages. I'm sure these fucked-up fuckers are going to have a hard time pulling off their incomprehensible heist, and no doubt all sorts of bonding and re-evaluation of worldviews will occur, but I'm moving this one into condign desuetude because I DON'T CARE WHAT HAPPENS TO THEM. As Malcolm Tucker would have said, "Fuckety-bye."

  17. 4 out of 5

    Matt

    Imagine that Michael Bay wrote an NC-17 action movie focused exclusively on the equisite suffering of eternal life gained by constantly killing a clone and waking up in a new, slightly degraded, body that required surgical reconstruction into a half-machine, always hurting horrorshow of an existence. Then imagine that you're plotting a heist, but to do so, you have to get together a group of personalities destabilized by centuries of trauma and mutual murder. Now, disassemble all the pieces of t Imagine that Michael Bay wrote an NC-17 action movie focused exclusively on the equisite suffering of eternal life gained by constantly killing a clone and waking up in a new, slightly degraded, body that required surgical reconstruction into a half-machine, always hurting horrorshow of an existence. Then imagine that you're plotting a heist, but to do so, you have to get together a group of personalities destabilized by centuries of trauma and mutual murder. Now, disassemble all the pieces of that narrative to a point that they cannot be followed except as a series of explosion-fuck-agonizing detail of a microsecond of pain rendered in pornographic detail-technobabble especially featuring the constant use of the attosecond as time marker-remembrance of love from a time long ago-smash cut to present-fuck you-fight scene. And you have the all-consuming world. If you're looking for action without reason, grit, gore, and more f-bombing than the Die Hard trilogy, head on in. I would love to see this as a TV show. It's written like media, and would absolutely shine as the skeleton of a script. As a novel? It's a bit of a slog. There's some really excellent writing that gets absolutely buried under repeteated phrasing, profanity-as-personality, and a steadfast refusal to explain anything about the world except how the current POV character suffers from the state of it.

  18. 4 out of 5

    rachel ☾

    A diverse team of broken, diminished former criminals get back together to solve the mystery of their last, disastrous mission and to rescue a missing and much-changed comrade... but they’re not the only ones in pursuit of the secret at the heart of the planet Dimmuborgir. The highly-evolved AI of the universe have their own agenda and will do whatever it takes to keep humans from ever controlling the universe again a crew of queer women criminals, sentient spaceships, treasure hunt, explorin A diverse team of broken, diminished former criminals get back together to solve the mystery of their last, disastrous mission and to rescue a missing and much-changed comrade... but they’re not the only ones in pursuit of the secret at the heart of the planet Dimmuborgir. The highly-evolved AI of the universe have their own agenda and will do whatever it takes to keep humans from ever controlling the universe again a crew of queer women criminals, sentient spaceships, treasure hunt, exploring trauma,.... hell yeah Blog • Trigger Warning Database • Twitter • Instagram

  19. 4 out of 5

    Brenda Mcallister

    Generally do not like to give a bad review, especially when the book is freely given to me. However I read several chapters and have no idea if the author can write or not. It was like reading a dictionary without a story. Chapter after chapter of random vocabulary words that told me nothing except the author loves the word fuck! My eyes glazed over after a couple more pages and it became one of the very few DNF books on my shelves. Very convoluted descriptions of everything, will not try this a Generally do not like to give a bad review, especially when the book is freely given to me. However I read several chapters and have no idea if the author can write or not. It was like reading a dictionary without a story. Chapter after chapter of random vocabulary words that told me nothing except the author loves the word fuck! My eyes glazed over after a couple more pages and it became one of the very few DNF books on my shelves. Very convoluted descriptions of everything, will not try this author again.

  20. 4 out of 5

    belle ☆ミ (thisbellereadstoo)

    dnf @46% i think this would be great for a sci-fi lover who understands the world but i just couldn't get into it. i wanted to read as much as i can but i couldn't get anything. there was too much vulgarities that broke my concentration a little bit. i didn't want to spend more time on it since i was planning to read another book from the author later the month. didn't want this to influence my experience with that one. dnf @46% i think this would be great for a sci-fi lover who understands the world but i just couldn't get into it. i wanted to read as much as i can but i couldn't get anything. there was too much vulgarities that broke my concentration a little bit. i didn't want to spend more time on it since i was planning to read another book from the author later the month. didn't want this to influence my experience with that one.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Melissa

    The All-Consuming World is about a group of ragtag femme/queer ex-cons who are trying to fight to save one of their own. I think. It was really hard to read and understand this book. The prose was mega purple, and all the medical/scientific jargon was not well placed. And if I saw one more “fuck” I was gonna lose it. The inclusiveness of the book felt forced and put in last minute. It’s possible I had a very early draft of this book and some of these things will be more cohesive in the final copy, The All-Consuming World is about a group of ragtag femme/queer ex-cons who are trying to fight to save one of their own. I think. It was really hard to read and understand this book. The prose was mega purple, and all the medical/scientific jargon was not well placed. And if I saw one more “fuck” I was gonna lose it. The inclusiveness of the book felt forced and put in last minute. It’s possible I had a very early draft of this book and some of these things will be more cohesive in the final copy, but for now I’m going with a 2 star rating. I was tempted to DNF, but I really wanted to see how it ended. The 2 stars comes mainly because I really liked the plot. It was just not well executed at all. Thank you to the publisher and Net Galley for the chance to read this advanced review copy, but it was not for me.

  22. 5 out of 5

    imyril

    I have very mixed feelings about this. It’s definitely one of those books that I can wax melodic and rant about in consecutive breaths; so expect a seesaw review in a few days. I received a free copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Josh

    If I had any doubt about appreciating Cassandra Khaw as a writer, this book did away with it. Written in lush prose, with a complex world, and a ragtag team of deeply flawed characters to root for, The All-Consuming World is a delightfully gritty sci-fi adventure. First, a couple caveats. Khaw delves into the richness of language and imagery in much of their work. While the beginning of the novel feels a bit overwritten, the language on the page quickly finds its footing. And from the first page If I had any doubt about appreciating Cassandra Khaw as a writer, this book did away with it. Written in lush prose, with a complex world, and a ragtag team of deeply flawed characters to root for, The All-Consuming World is a delightfully gritty sci-fi adventure. First, a couple caveats. Khaw delves into the richness of language and imagery in much of their work. While the beginning of the novel feels a bit overwritten, the language on the page quickly finds its footing. And from the first page to the last, Khaw delivers so many fantastic lines, striking images, turns of phrase that grip you and allow you to glimpse a familiar thing in a new way. The second caveat will be more familiar for genre readers. The universe of The All-Consuming World is strange and complex, and while there is plenty of worldbuilding, it is not handed to the reader. Sentient AIs rove the universe in massive ships, controlling legions of religiously devoted followers. Clones upload their consciousnesses to new bodies, clinging to immortality even as their files degrade and they replace flesh with bionics. It is an ever-changing existence an a brave new world of technology, and our heroes scrape out a living on its fringes. Fit together in bits and pieces as the story progresses, the scope of the novel feels large and sometimes uncertain, but never so much as to get in the way of understanding the story. And what a story it is. The Dirty Dozen, a team of clone criminals burning their names into history over the decades as they fight and die and return again to take what they want--until it all went wrong. With many of their Dozen dead and gone, fractured and scarred by the past, there is only one thing that could bring the surviving members back together. One last heist, a rescue mission, a giant middle finger to the AIs that have torn their lives to ribbons. If they can stop fighting amongst themselves, perhaps the remaining members of the Dirty Dozen can atone for the sins of their pasts and leave their blazing mark on the universe. But their are powerful interests pulling their strings. Not every ally can be trusted, and it will take everything they have to pull of the job none of them wants to be part of. Khaw's novel is a pleasure to read. As so much sci-fi is positioned to do, the story delves deep into questions of identity. Gender, sexuality, identity, self--these things take on new light, new form as characters move between bodies, shaping themselves in new ways and adjusting to new circumstances. It's a cutting edge of technology and self-determination, woven naturally into the fabric of the world Khaw has created. Amidst the rich language, Khaw's novel is also a gritty crime story and an epic adventure. As the characters deliver new lessons in creative profanity and the action turns in occasionally gruesome directions, the story rockets across the universe as all the relevant players charge toward the final conflict. And right into the final pages, Khaw delivers--not the ending I expected, but the ending that works for all that has come before. In the end, The All-Consuming World is one of those stories that I loved for reasons I cannot fully articulate. It's distinct enough in style and content that it won't be everyone's cup of tea. But each time this novel finds its right audience, readers will discover just how much there is to be enjoyed in Khaw's work. I delighted in the entire reading experience, and I look forward with great excitement to whatever Khaw releases next.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Tessa Palfrey

    How to even begin to review this book..... There were a lot of things I really liked, and probably an equal amount that left me scratching my head. I see in many reviews that Khaw's use of profanity was quite contentious, but that didn't bother me. Khaw is very precise with language, and if there's profanity it's there for a reason. The first 50% (or more) of this book is........??exposition??, without every REALLY telling us what happened before the book started. We know something awful transpire How to even begin to review this book..... There were a lot of things I really liked, and probably an equal amount that left me scratching my head. I see in many reviews that Khaw's use of profanity was quite contentious, but that didn't bother me. Khaw is very precise with language, and if there's profanity it's there for a reason. The first 50% (or more) of this book is........??exposition??, without every REALLY telling us what happened before the book started. We know something awful transpired and led to the breakup of the "Dirty Dozen"- but not exactly what. And for all the exposition we wade through, there isn't a ton of world-building. We are following the reassembly of the remaining members of this origin-storyless crew, but we aren't learning a ton about the environment. Eventually we get a sense of what "minds" and "ageships" are- but I couldn't tell you what they look like or on what scale they measure on. There's a "Merchant Mind" and a "Butcher of Eight"- but I couldn't tell you much about them other than that. If that paragraph confuses you- maybe don't read this book. What DID work for me was the interesting futuristic science surrounding the clones- being able to modulate the hormones and chemicals coursing through your body to modulate pleasure/pain. Lots of AI and data and augmented reality. There was some very cool stuff there, and Khaw's use of words is always on point (if you care enough to look up the various definitions you will inevitably need- I did.) It's very dense writing with a lot of wonderful observations, but I wonder if this book was more style than substance- particularly when it comes to storytelling. This was less of a story to me, and more of a VERY florid and verbose but quick look into a pretty cool future universe of Khaw's imagining. I'm still a fan. Thanks to Erewhon and NetGalley for the review copy!

  25. 5 out of 5

    Sana

    'Maya has died and been resurrected into countless cyborg bodies -' Heck yeah, I want. Plus, it's sapphic, non-binary and genderfluid 'Maya has died and been resurrected into countless cyborg bodies -' Heck yeah, I want. Plus, it's sapphic, non-binary and genderfluid

  26. 4 out of 5

    Ines

    The blurb of this book sounded right up my alley, and the story would have been, too. If I hadn't been so distracted by the writing. This book has ... words. So many words. It seems the author lost a bet and now needed to incorporate every single word in the Oxford English Dictionary in this one book. Especially the verbs, adjectives and adverbs. I found this very distracting and, frankly, unnecessary. It took a lot away from the story, which could have been told in half the pages and, if you too The blurb of this book sounded right up my alley, and the story would have been, too. If I hadn't been so distracted by the writing. This book has ... words. So many words. It seems the author lost a bet and now needed to incorporate every single word in the Oxford English Dictionary in this one book. Especially the verbs, adjectives and adverbs. I found this very distracting and, frankly, unnecessary. It took a lot away from the story, which could have been told in half the pages and, if you took away all the overuse of language, was unfortunately not that exciting after all. Which makes me sad, because I did like the premise and the worldbuilding was super interesting. I wish we would have learned more about that. I also liked getting to know the characters one after the other. Unfortunately, the writing took away from both. The characters did not seem too different from each other, because they all spoke with the same voice and used the same flowery language. On top of that, they didn't really do much in the story, didn't make many decisions that would allow them to show who they were, so they were not very distinguishable. Or maybe they did and I just didn't recognize it beneath all the words. I can get behind one or two characters speaking like that, but all of them? The no-bullshit, down-to-earth killing machine (who's the POV for most of the chapters) that is literally described as "just a weapon" speaks AND thinks like that? I don't believe it. There were also a lot of spelling mistakes and parts of sentences that will probably be corrected in editing. The pronouns for two of the characters were all over the place, first they were established and then they were constantly misgendered in dialogue and inner monologue. I hope this will be corrected, too. The worldbuilding I liked a lot, it was something new and interesting and it excited me. But again, do AIs speak and think in flowery language? All right, maybe those AIs are so far evolved from machines that they developed like that, it's her world, her choice. But then add all the references to current pop culture on top of that and I couldn't believe any of it, it didn't make sense. The story that was there was entertaning and I wish I had gotten more of the characters interacting with each other and the world around them, going through friendship, love, hate, betrayal, and just basic survival in this strange, dangerous world. But all in all, the writing took away too much for me to enjoy the experience of reading this book. Thank you to Erewhon books for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

  27. 4 out of 5

    David Simon

    If Cassandra Khaw’s novel The All-Consuming World was a straightforward science fiction novel, that would be exciting enough. The plot—the ragtag, damaged remnants of a group or women mercenaries, once feared throughout the universe, reunite to save one of their members who may still be alive after their last, failed mission decades before—has all the hallmarks of a classic space opera, and is as satisfying as can be. As it turns out, however, Khaw has so much more up her immensely talented sleev If Cassandra Khaw’s novel The All-Consuming World was a straightforward science fiction novel, that would be exciting enough. The plot—the ragtag, damaged remnants of a group or women mercenaries, once feared throughout the universe, reunite to save one of their members who may still be alive after their last, failed mission decades before—has all the hallmarks of a classic space opera, and is as satisfying as can be. As it turns out, however, Khaw has so much more up her immensely talented sleeve, because this is one of the most challenging, exhilarating, and downright breathtaking works of science fiction I’ve read in a long time. She uses language like no one else. I’ve been trying to think of apt comparisons, and the closest I’ve come is Tamsyn Muir, author of the Locked Tomb Trilogy, and maybe Felix C. Gotschalk, a science fiction writer from the 1970s, but Khaw is very much doing her own thing. She wields words like some kind of mad wizard—dense, spiralling across paragraphs, always surprising. Khaw writes violence and action set pieces with an anarchic, joyful abandon, and bruising emotional scenes with a devastating tenderness. If Khaw’s language elevates The All-Consuming World, her ideas send it into the stratosphere. Immortality through cloning. Extreme, extravagant body modification, both hardware and software. Ruthless, highly evolved AI. Sentient spaceships, even a sentient planet. Human consciousness running roughshod through computer networks. Khaw takes ideas that other authors may build entire novels around, and sprays them across every page, like shot from a shotgun. Khaw asks profound questions about what, exactly, is a human being, and when is one no longer truly human. She explores complex webs of gender and sexual orientation with a deft hand and an unflinching eye. And at the center of it all, woven into the fabric of memory, trauma, heroics and betrayal, The All-Consuming World is a love story. Actually, because love is complicated and painful, make that several love stories. The All-Consuming World will be released on August 17, 2021. Pre-order it now, and prepare yourself for one hell of a ride.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Siavahda

    HIGHLIGHTS ~It’s not ‘fellow clones’, it’s ‘sisters of another syringe’ ~If you can shoot it, Maya will shoot it. ~If you can’t shoot it, she’ll shoot it anyway. ~Immortality doesn’t play nice ~AIs are dicks ~I will now read anything Khaw chooses to write The All-Consuming World is a gemstone grenade of a book, and opening it up is the pulling of the pin; it explodes in your hands, all flashing jewelled shards cutting you to ribbons. Khaw’s prose is a deadly weapon, equal parts beautiful and brutal; th HIGHLIGHTS ~It’s not ‘fellow clones’, it’s ‘sisters of another syringe’ ~If you can shoot it, Maya will shoot it. ~If you can’t shoot it, she’ll shoot it anyway. ~Immortality doesn’t play nice ~AIs are dicks ~I will now read anything Khaw chooses to write The All-Consuming World is a gemstone grenade of a book, and opening it up is the pulling of the pin; it explodes in your hands, all flashing jewelled shards cutting you to ribbons. Khaw’s prose is a deadly weapon, equal parts beautiful and brutal; the book they’ve written is every bit as hypnotic and dangerous as a siren with a machine gun. You can’t look away, you can’t stop, and you know it’s going to wreck you. Why be beautiful when you can be seraphic instead? The blurb for this one is fairly misleading; this really isn’t a heist story. Sure, it’s about getting the old team together for one last job, but the job is really not the focus – in the end we barely see it at all. The All-Consuming World is much more about the characters and their complicated dynamics than it is about anything else; it would be very easy to argue that there’s hardly any real plot – at least as we’re used to thinking of it – at all. It’s just that that really doesn’t matter, because the book is un-put-downable regardless. “You’re making a scene.” “I can make some bodies instead if that helps.” Maya is our more-or-less main character; the one in whose head we spend the most time. She’s a fist-full of broken glass, canines bared in a snarl, born with a gun in her hand (if not two), as deadly and dangerous to herself as she is to others. Fearless, reckless, rabid. That’s why Maya is strutting into the bobbit worm’s jaws, with nothing but a ghost for backup, riding on a wing, a prayer, and enough combat know-how to win all four world wars. Read the rest at Every Book a Doorway!

  29. 4 out of 5

    Jo Ladzinski

    Read an ARC from the publisher Content warning: gore, partner abuse, self-surgery, gun violence, death A small fraction of a band of mercenaries called the Dirty Dozen get together for one last job which will hopefully bring closure to the disaster which tore the group apart several years ago. Rita leads, but it’s unclear if she can be trusted. Maya wants to, though everyone else seems to disagree. Meanwhile, an AI searches for the same planet and an epic clash is on the horizon. Aesthetically and Read an ARC from the publisher Content warning: gore, partner abuse, self-surgery, gun violence, death A small fraction of a band of mercenaries called the Dirty Dozen get together for one last job which will hopefully bring closure to the disaster which tore the group apart several years ago. Rita leads, but it’s unclear if she can be trusted. Maya wants to, though everyone else seems to disagree. Meanwhile, an AI searches for the same planet and an epic clash is on the horizon. Aesthetically and thematically science fictional with profane prose that pulls and prods the feelings, Cassandra Khaw’s debut novel is a queer treat. I’m going to start this review with: if you do not like the “fuck” word, this will not be an enjoyable reading experience for you. This is especially prevalent in Maya’s POV sections. She’s angry, she’s grieving, she’s functionally immortal. Like a feral cat, you want to simultaneously take care of her and hope she gets her shit together. The prose is raw, varied, and hits on a level that suits the visceral details of the passage between death and life, the cyclical nature of these heavily-modified mercenaries’ existence. Rita serves as a kind of antagonist. Though she presents the impetus for the gang getting back together, she sucks on such a thorough level. What is heart-breaking throughout is how no one can open Maya’s eyes to it. In addition to this compelling depiction of the dissolution of an abusive relationship, the way Khaw muses on immortality, aging, and maturity really resonated with me. There is one chapter where Maya meets with the partner of a former member of the Dirty Dozen, and there is a melancholic beauty to the finite years the two spent together. It works so well in contrast to the science fictional awesomeness that is the future tech. It’s thoughtful and a layer I wasn’t expecting given the other facets of the plot. Come for the swearing mercenaries, big sequences, and slick sci-fi, stay for the feelings.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Roberta R. (Offbeat YA)

    Excerpt from my review - originally published at Offbeat YA. Pros: I decided to DNF this one early on, so I can't give a whole list of pros, but from the little I've read, it sounds like an original twist on a few sci-fi tropes. Cons: The writing is often convoluted/difficult to decipher and gets in the way of the plot too much. WARNING! Again, I can't give a whole list, but it's heavy on gore and profanities (if that's something that turns you off). Will appeal to: Readers who don't get a headache Excerpt from my review - originally published at Offbeat YA. Pros: I decided to DNF this one early on, so I can't give a whole list of pros, but from the little I've read, it sounds like an original twist on a few sci-fi tropes. Cons: The writing is often convoluted/difficult to decipher and gets in the way of the plot too much. WARNING! Again, I can't give a whole list, but it's heavy on gore and profanities (if that's something that turns you off). Will appeal to: Readers who don't get a headache when the writing is a hard nut to crack and/or overshadows the plot. First off...DISCLAIMER: I requested this title on Netgalley and Edelweiss, and got approved for it on both sites. Thanks to Erewhon Books for providing a temporary ecopy. This didn't influence my review in any way. Whole review here.

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