Note: One of their weekly segments on the NPR Books Podcast is entitled, “My Guilty Pleasure,” and offers authors a chance to talk about the indulgence books they are currently reading. It’s consistently one of my favorite segments, mostly because it reminds me that writers are people too.. With that in mind, I thought that a series of “Guilty Reading Pleasures” might be an awesome addition to this website. So … I’ll go first.
For the past month, the “Shadows of the Apt”, written by Adrian Tchaikovsky, has been my guilty pleasure. I’ve now read four of the books and purchased the last two. I simply cannot put them down. At my current rate, I’ll finish the whole series by this weekend, and, I’m sure that I’ll enjoy every moment of it.
Shadows of the Apt has all the things that I demand of a book. The characters are real, the action is convincing and it has a compelling story to tell. Nothing seems contrived; the consistency is excellent. All well and good, nothing to be ashamed of.
Then you get to the book’s premise: a world where tribes of people (kinden) inherit the powers of specific arthropods. Or, put another way, giant killer insect men and the bugs they love.
Now do you see why I’m calling this a “guilty” pleasure?
Yet, Tchaikovsky actually goes places with his somewhat absurd ideas. There are also glimpses of humanity and surprising depth in his characters. He even touches on universal human themes such as racism, classicism, and fears of the other. But, of course, this being fantasy, all of the heavy stuff is layered in with crisp and witty dialogue, fight scenes, sweeping battles, and hokey moments of giant killer insect men.
It’s positively electric. More importantly, though, it shows that hokey stories of giant killer insect men can be immensely and brilliantly satisfying. Even if it might be an over the top indulgence.