{ARC} Review: Middlegame by Seanan McGuire || Perfection. PERIOD.


Seanan McGuire

middlegame by seanan mcguire

Meet Roger. Skilled with words, languages come easily to him. He instinctively understands how the world works through the power of story.

Meet Dodger, his twin. Numbers are her world, her obsession, her everything. All she understands, she does so through the power of math.

Roger and Dodger aren’t exactly human, though they don’t realise it. They aren’t exactly gods, either. Not entirely. Not yet.

Meet Reed, skilled in the alchemical arts like his progenitor before him. Reed created Dodger and her brother. He’s not their father. Not quite. But he has a plan: to raise the twins to the highest power, to ascend with them and claim their authority as his own.

Godhood is attainable. Pray it isn’t attained. 

Publisher: Tor.com Publishing

Publication Date: May 7th 2019 



Attempted Suicide, Death, Gore, Mentions of Mutilation, Mention of Torture, Murder, Blood, Depression, Grief, Bullying, Self Harm, Experimentation on Children

I had a very fun buddy read with Justine @Bookish Wisp

Let’s just get this out of the way: I cried. Multiple times. A lot actually. But it’s fine because I love this book with my whole heart. The concept of an extreme pair left and right brained twins coming together and possibly taking over the world or destroying it if put in the wrong peoples hands?? Of alchemy and Twinergy™ and timelines and otherworldly domination?? Death? Destruction? SADNESS??? GENIUS.

I mean, the beginning starts with a foreshadowing of things that have already gone to shit was truly anxiety inducing. The flash-forward to current events where things have…. THINGS AREN’T GOOD, to the past leading up to present events was brilliant. Because you have a semi-vague sense that everyone is more than likely going to die, yet there’s still enough left out for you not to know what’s going to happen and that’s the best feeling.

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This book just demands your attention.  Not only in length (because this book is massive) or in density (because a lot is happening across the board) but just… EVERYTHING. The pacing was slow and there’s a lot of threads that are being introduced and intertwined and it’s done so well, but the slow march through the story wasn’t an issue, this book truly is masterful. 

And if you’re scared about all of the math and science talk that’s brought up in this book (trust me… it’s A LOTdon’t be? This is coming from someone who absolutely hates math and is kind of meh on science- the story is still amazing trust me.

But the story telling was unique, not only with the flashbacks/forward, but through a children’s book one of the alchemist who discovered The Impossible City created as a map towards achieving enlightenment. There’s a lot of parallels to things obvious and not-so-obvious and you have to be paying attention to kind of cathem’ all haha.

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It does take a while for us to meet the twins, but that’s not really an issue since we’re seeing our villains fleshed out to perfection. Leigh and Reed are definitely making my top villains list because they were so INTERESTING. Being introduced to them from the first chapter was really a grab you by the balls and don’t let go until we say so…. look it was great, okay?

We have—

❥  Reed – is basically the head of this whole operation, someone smart enough to pull it off and ruthless enough to make sure nothing and no one stands in his way. You could say he’s the embodiment of ambition, since his creator was the one who put all of this into motion and is continuing her work through him. I can’t say I feel sorry for him, but you can understand why he’s so hell bent on conquering the Impossible City, even if he lacks any emotions of empathy for anyone and his methods are… not so nice.

❥   Leigh – Reed’s partner who is very into exploring bodies through dissection…. So, she’s really scary and super smart and has some of the more… gruesome scenes in the book. Though her and Reed are on the same team based on what they want, control of the Impossible City, her wants are a bit different and she’s going to get to her goal.

❥   Erin – I can’t say much about Erin, other than she’s Leigh’s creation and may be her right hand man and is not what you think. Is she cunning and lethal? Yes. But she’s also a third party view into the twins lives and dynamic and knows a lot more than she should. She was definitely a character I had no idea if I could trust, even coming up towards the end and her development as a whole? Was amazing.

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And even still, the initial introduction of Roger and Dodger was a bit of a slow start? We meet them as children and it wasn’t as attention grabbing as I’d have wanted. Was I still intrigued? Yes, or course. But after spending time with our villains and things popping of, this slow down of story was a bit disjointed.

I probably should have introduced them first, but I didn’t, so we have—

❥   Roger – he’s language, he can learn and read and tongue and language and loves reading and writing and anything words. He’s good with people, but he knows he’s missing something, which he finds in Dodger with their as they call it quantum entanglement.

❥   Dodger – she lives and breathes numbers and has a hard time talking to people. She’s bold, literally, with her fiery hair and the way she’s usually the smartest one in the room, but she’s also brittle and lonely and she broke my heart.

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And I know this story is about the twins, but I can’t help but keep highlighting that their relationship was… a journey??? Not only for them, but for me and my emotions??

I mean, the push and pull, the mistakes they made and how they hurt each other and yet always came back and apologized, the strength and levels of devotion for the other, MY HEART??????? And the fact that they’re not exactly human, and that elaboration of them growing a conscious, that Nature vs. Nurture, the science behind them and what they are. This book, or more specifically, their relationship, is about family, both blood and found and power and what you do with them all; the portrayal of messy familial dynamics and power dynamics just gave me good Slytherin-that-occasionally-cried feelings. coffee divider 2

You’d think with all of these characters stealing the show, there couldn’t be room for more… but you’re wrong. Because even the side characters were fleshed out—Dodger’s parents who grew genuine feelings for her vs. Rodgers parents who only see this as a job. Dodger’s roommate (who was learning to be fat and happy and wow my heart), just…. there were a multitude of background characters who managed to not only get page time and be fleshed out but succeeded in getting me to connect with them and keeping me interested.

I just… I really enjoyed this. I could say this was set up for greatness from the beginning for me, but this book exceeded my expectations. And with an ending like that… I may or may not be begging for more. I’m okay with this being a standalone— it’s wild to see a Sci-Fi standalone, but…. THIS WAS SO??? GOOD???? I’M STILL REELING????

14 thoughts on “{ARC} Review: Middlegame by Seanan McGuire || Perfection. PERIOD.”

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