Archive for September, 2021

firebreak review roundup!!

Wednesday, September 8th, 2021

Firebreak has been out for 4 months this week and I’m absolutely loving the reader reactions to Mal and Jessa and 06 and 22. I’ve mentioned elsewhere that it took me 3 years to talk myself into writing this one and the fact that it’s resonating with people is just really really nice. Especially as it jams so many disparate elements together that arguably don’t even belong in the same zip code, let alone the same book.

For whatever reason, the pro review situation with this book was…unexpected for my first book with a big publisher. As in, it didn’t get many reviews at all. Most places that reviewed my small press books just skipped this one. I don’t know how much of that is ::gestures at everything:: and how much is just my luck, but in any case I want to make sure you know how much I appreciate it if you read it and liked it enough to recommend it to a friend! Word of mouth absolutely makes or breaks a book, especially if the standard awareness-raising methods (reviews) fall through, and book launches are absolutely still suffering due to the pandemic, so if you helped point potential readers toward this or any book here in the hellscape of 2020-2021, you’re pretty awesome. Those of you who wrote blog reviews and pointed me to them, I’ve included some of my favorites in this roundup–I’m so grateful you spent the time to write them up so thoughtfully!! says: “It’s difficult to do justice to the power and sheer presence of Kornher-Stace’s writing in Firebreak, the weight and possibility of it, the anger and hope and friendship and loyalty she breathes onto the page. …A gripping, powerful, fantastic novel.” And also thatFirebreak is part mystery, part gamer-geek-out, part scream of rage at corporate culture and capitalist greed.”

Locus says: “Even with first-person narration, the details are effortlessly strung out across the book. The economic disparities between our protagonist and the select few elite are spelled out within mere sentences. Kornher-Stace is a wicked smart writer, and makes some compelling ethical anti-capitalist arguments (if you’re one to cry at the grave of Adam Smith this novel probably isn’t for you). The plot is exciting and tremendously easy to follow and read – I rarely had to reread any pages to understand a deeper message, nor did I find myself confused by the actions of the characters. This book clearly took some time make it look so effortless, and I commend the author’s ability to create a complex world within a fun-to-read book. Above all, I loved it because I simply enjoyed reading it, and forgot that I was reading this book to produce a review.”

Booklist (starred review) says: “This dystopian novel will appeal to fans of Ready Player One and The Hunger Games with its blend of gaming adventures that spill over into real life.”

Chicago Review of Books says: “At the center of the novel is a deep friendship between Mal and Jessa. In the dystopian world ruled by hypercapitalism, the human connection between two people proves a powerful force. Their friendship motivates the characters, and like all close friendships is often strained by their competing personalities. But those differences make them stronger. Moreover, their friendship contrasts the market capitalism they struggle against. They succeed when they cooperate with each other. When the pair receive a bounty of water from their sponsor, they share the wealth. When the water in Old Town is turned off, Jessa and Mal pool the water they have reserved for the collective good. Friendship and human commune are the antithesis of the capitalism dominating their world. Corporations are on trial in this novel. If 1984 and Brave New World were warnings against authoritarian governments, Firebreak is a warning against unchecked capitalism. By combining familiar science fiction elements with a strong critique of the commodification of essential elements of life and the corrupting influence of power, Firebreak offers a frightening warning against a near-future dominated by the rule of megacorporations.”

Publishers Weekly says: “…the effortlessly detailed worldbuilding is captivating. Kornher-Stace leads readers through the cinematic landscape of her imagined future with an expert hand.”

The Little Red Reviewer says: “Firebreak is one of the best books I’ve read this year. Nicole Kornher-Stace is the best author you haven’t read yet. I love her books so much that I force my husband to read them. He described one of her earlier novels as the best novel he’s read in ten years, maybe ever. That’s it. That’s the review.”

Lizzie Writes says: “When I first finished the book, mixed emotions settled into my brain. I was pissed off; I was beside myself with grief. I wished there was more to the story… I NEEDED there to be more. In the days that followed, I found my mind drifting back to the story until I suddenly just started crying. Like, in the middle of the work day, full on tears. That was the moment I realized that the book was my new favorite. That is what I really desired from books, I realized: ones that leave me thinking, searching for answers to the unanswerable long after it’s over. I have yet to shut the fuck up about Firebreak. I’m pretty sure that my friends are a little annoyed with me but I don’t mind. I will scream it from the rooftops because this book is too underrated for how absolutely amazing it is.”

Crini says: “There is amazing queer representation and then there is “OMG it’s ME”. Firebreak by Nicole Kornher-Stace is very much the latter for me. This book certainly wasn’t the first time I got to see aro/ace rep in a book, but there was one aspect to it that I hadn’t seen before: the friendship/platonic crush. Oh wow, did I feel seen. While I might very well have loved the book just for that, there is a lot more to it too: precious characters, awesome plot, and the scary bit regarding how likely this possible future really is for us. (if you see this compared to RPO, let me just say: this is the better, non-white-cis-dude RPO of your dreams!)”

Bibliosini says: “How can I ever imagine re-reading this masterpiece without ending in tears? I’ll probably read it over and over again for the tears LOL! Firebreak was such an unexpectedly clever and spectacular science-fiction standalone! I would recommend this to anyone who loves good science fiction because it is possibly one of the best I have read so far!”

Forever Lost in Literature says: “Firebreak is a book that completely took me by surprise by how much intensity, heart, and hope it had wrapped up in an action-packed, highly engaging story. …I was slightly hesitant going into Firebreak because I felt like this was a setup I’ve read more than once before and one that can be pretty hit or miss–’gaming stories’ aren’t always a hit for me, no matter how much I wish they were–and I’m glad to say I was entirely misled with my hesitance because this book grabbed me from the first page and didn’t let go until I put the book down. The VR game and water scarcity situation may be the starting point for everything that happens in this book, but they are at the same time not even close to being what this book is about.”

Bookish Brews says: “Oh man, where do I begin? I really loved this book. When I opened it, I thought “man this is kin of long, I didn’t realize!” And then literally this book doesn’t slow down at any point. It is packed with amazing content. This is going to be a hard review, because it’s packed with so many different amazing things that I don’t know how well I can narrow it down! This book is easy to follow and fast paced, but delightfully anti-capitalist in a way that Ready Player One wishes it was. …Firebreak was truly incredible. It was everything I could have hoped for in a book. It was full of action but never missed a moment to make a statement on the important things. I’m truly impressed at what this book was able to accomplish without feeling weighed down at all. Absolutely wonderful!”