Hello, everyone! Today I’m reviewing Ymir by Rich Larson. It was just released on Tuesday. So, if it sounds like something you’d be into, go pick it up!
A gripping, far-future retelling of Beowulf from an award-winning author, perfect for fans of Richard K. Morgan
Yorick never wanted to see his homeworld again. He left Ymir two decades ago, with half his face blown off and no love lost for the place. But when his employer’s mines are threatened by a vicious alien machine, Yorick is shipped back home to hunt it.
All he wants is to do his job and get out. Instead, Yorick is pulled into a revolution brewing beneath Ymir’s frozen surface, led by the very last person he wanted to see again — the brother who sent him off in pieces twenty years ago.
***Thank you to Orbit Books and Angela Man for providing a copy of the book! My review contains my honest thoughts about my reading experience.***
I didn’t know what to expect from this book going into it other than it was a sci-fi retelling of Beowulf. To be honest, I don’t remember much about Beowulf because I haven’t read it since high school. So, I can’t really provide any analysis comparing this take to the original tale. However, I can say that I never wanted to put this excellent sci-fi thriller down. The intelligent writing and short, abrupt chapters did a wonderful job of setting the caustic tone of this book and brought the inhospitable world of Ymir to life in riveting detail.
The unusual structure of the narrative added a puzzle-like experience to reading the story. There were memories/flashbacks and cryptic dreams scattered throughout that dropped clues about the characters’ backstories and motivations. I had a lot of fun trying to piece it all together. The plot was fascinating with plenty of good sci-fi action and a compelling story of rebellion. It also included an interesting and entertaining critique of unfettered capitalism and colonialism. The ending, while epic, felt a bit rushed, and I came away wondering what the impact of the events would be on the larger civilization. Maybe there should have been an epilogue? I’m not sure.
The real strength of this book, though, was the characterization. The main protagonist, Yorick, exhibited mystery and depth in ways I didn’t expect. He was incredibly broken, both psychologically and physically, and had spent years running away from his past trauma. In this story, he was required to face it all head on, and I was fascinated by his journey of discovering his past wasn’t all he remembered it to be. He gradually realized that he might actually be the monster of the story and then had to come to terms with what that meant for his relationships, self-image, and future. It was a truly harrowing tale with many morally grey, complex characters to round out the incredibly brilliant cast.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t comment on the world-building. It had all the trappings of great sci-fi, including tons of cool technology, artificial intelligence, and alien monsters. The crisp descriptiveness of the prose made the world come alive, even though there were plenty of times I sort of wished it hadn’t due to the gruesome nature of some of the scenes. There was just enough background and history given to have the story make sense. Personally, I would have liked a bit more information on the grendels and the history of the Company and civilization as a whole, but I also enjoyed that the story focused more on being Yorick’s tale. The book just made me really curious about the civilization and its past. So, it felt slightly unsatisfying to not get any real development of the wider galaxy or the ramifications of the important events happening on this one planet.
Overall, this was an excellent sci-fi thriller filled with both action and compelling character development and brought to life by intelligent, textured writing. I didn’t want to put it down and cannot recommend it enough. Therefore, I rate it 5 out of 5 stars.