Review: Goddess in the Machine by Lora Beth Johnson
Believe me when I say that Goddess in the Machine is the sleeper YA sci-fi release of 2020! This book has it all: intricate and complete world-building, gripping storytelling, and complex characters you can’t help but adore. This book is exactly what I wished Aurora Rising would be, and more people need to pick it up.
About Goddess in the Machine
Publisher: Razorbill | Release Date: June 30, 2020 | Pages: 400
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction | Format: Hardcover | Source: Publisher*
Not only that, but she’s in a hot, dirty cave, it’s the year 3102, and everyone keeps calling her Goddess. When Andra went into a cryonic sleep for a trip across the galaxy, she expected to wake up in a hundred years, not a thousand. Worst of all, the rest of the colonists—including her family and friends—are dead. They died centuries ago, and for some reason, their descendants think Andra’s a deity. She knows she’s nothing special, but she’ll play along if it means she can figure out why she was left in stasis and how to get back to Earth.
Zhade, the exiled bastard prince of Eerensed, has other plans. Four years ago, the sleeping Goddess’s glass coffin disappeared from the palace, and Zhade devoted himself to finding it. Now he’s hoping the Goddess will be the key to taking his rightful place on the throne—if he can get her to play her part, that is. Because if his people realize she doesn’t actually have the power to save their dying planet, they’ll kill her.
With a vicious monarch on the throne and a city tearing apart at the seams, Zhade and Andra might never be able to unlock the mystery of her fate, let alone find a way to unseat the king, especially since Zhade hasn’t exactly been forthcoming with Andra. And a thousand years from home, is there any way of knowing that Earth is better than the planet she’s woken to?
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death, depictions of blood, imprisonment, internal negative self-talk about weight & memories of diet culture, loss of loved ones, ritualistic killing
plus-sized main character, racially diverse world
My Review of Goddess in the Machine
This debut is gripping from the first sentence; I love the fast-pace and descriptive prose that paints a vivid picture in my mind. It’s also got some biting humor that is right up my alley and made me laugh out loud a couple of times.
I’ve wanted to read this since June 2019, and goodness Goddess in the Machine did not disappoint! This debut is gripping from the first sentence; I love the fast-pace and descriptive prose that paints a vivid picture in my mind. It’s also got some biting humor that is right up my alley and made me laugh out loud on more than one occasion.
“So. You’re the last person I’ll ever speak to on Earth.
Don’t be so morbid.”
Andra is just a normal and curvy teenager who wakes up from cryogenic sleep a little later than she should have in a dangerous, desert wasteland. Everyone she knew is long gone and she has no choice but to trust this roguish Zhade character who’s obviously hiding something. And they won’t stop calling her Goddess. I adore the banter between characters, which serves to lighten the tension of danger, but also kind of blurs what you think you know. I like complex characters with complicated motivations that the reader struggles to suss out, and then watching the conflicting emotions. If you like this too, you’re in for a treat!
“She’d fallen asleep in one place and woken up across the universe.”
Language changes over time, and I like that the author created a version of English that could evolve over the course of 1,000 years. I found the Linguistics element a fantastic addition to the worldbuilding and lands the reader in the same confused state as Andra. Some readers (obviously) may not enjoy this as much as I do, but I feel so invested in this story because of this – like I was there alongside her. It’s understandable, but obviously different. The audiobook does a fantastic job providing audio to the new version of English. (Yes, I also bought the audiobook. What of it?)
But language isn’t the only thing that’s changed with humanity. The technological advances which Andra was accustomed to in her time remains in a society that does not understand them. Robots and nanotech are seen as magic and society is shaped around the mythology that’s developed around it. It’s interesting to consider how a society removed from the understandings of modern technology would seek to understand it.
There are a lot of twists, a few which I was able to guess early on but others that I never could have anticipated (yet are so clear to me now). Goddess in the Machine is plotted well, and while the dialect does slow down the narrative a bit and provide a bit of a learning curve, I found the book fast paced and difficult to put down once you get situated in the world.
Overall, I really enjoyed this debut sci-fi book and it’s worldbuilding. It won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but if you enjoyed This Mortal Coil I think this is a book you will also enjoy. Please do me a solid and read this book: it’s criminally underrated and I want to talk about it with people! I’m looking forward to the second book eagerly.
Note: In addition to my purchased hardcover & audiobook copies of Goddess in the Machine, I received a second finished copy from the publisher. This did not affect my opinion or content of my review and I gifted the spare copy to a friend.
Are you a fan of near-ish future science fiction that delves into not only technology but society?
Have you read Goddess in the Machine yet or is it on your TBR?
Let’s go on another adventure together!