Beautiful commentaries on the human race, our emotions, our science and myths have been compiled into this wonderful collection of short stories that I will be recommending to everyone! Short story collections have been hit and miss for me previously, I either cannot focus enough or because I don't have to commit to a whole story I just dip in and out and end up forgetting about the whole book. However, Ramos' collection is the perfect piece of art for me to change my ways and put more faith in them!
Whilst I will be providing a short review for each story below I just want to say thank you to Aaron for providing me with a copy of his book as it was truly a treat to read! With perfect levels of characterisation and tension building I would happily pick this up again and again to relive each story.
Video Game Theory - 4/5
The opening story did not disappoint and gradually revealed it's story in the form of a letter to the narrator's daughter. It gracefully touches on the theme of making the most of the time you have and taking the chances where possible to better our future and was truly heartwarming with personal touches. Anonymity for the characters made the story all the more compelling especially when combined with the sprinkling of sci-fi based knowledge that made it feel that bit more real.
Elevated - 3/5
A spooky take on technology dependence focuses on how it effects Marcus and Riley after they develop a relationship. Marcus is a well structured character with many relatable characteristics portrayed within the first few pages but I really wish we'd seen more of Riley to hint toward the twist to allow for a more natural progression. The ending itself felt slightly rushed in comparison to the slow-burn romance, whilst taking this into consideration of the short story structure the balance between the two maybe could have evened out. Saying this, I always think when reading if I could see a story become a TV/film and this was definitely one I'd love to see brought to life.
The Tunnel - 5/5
Immediately I loved the whole concept of this one. The setting, story and introduction to the characters were beautifully combined to instantly hook me into it. Maggie and Greg were the perfect combination for a strenuous couple to root for and the addition of a kind, big, barrelling wolf-like creature is always going to get a thumbs-up from me. The connection between all of the characters was so convincing and I shed a tear at the end. This is truly wonderful piece of work.
Stones and Salt - 3/5
Whilst I did again love the characterisation of Fynbar and Bevan (clearly a strong point for Ramos) the point of this story went a little over my head. I did re-read it to see if it was just my original mindset and upon this I did come to enjoy the sibling rivalry and the deep relationships we feel when mourning a loss that were captured in the pages.
The Garden - 5/5
The titular story is extremely strong in both character and plot. It seems that Ramos has the perfect mind for short stories that could easily become their own novels because I am desperate to read more of this one! Whilst exiled mutants are not a rare occurrence in the sci-fi world Ramos' representation is unparalleled in any other piece of writing I've read. His skill for description and character building does not go amiss and this is arguably my favourite story of the collection. The well-rounded background and development created a whole world for me to enjoy from the comfort of my living room.
Zero - 5/5
Again, AI turning against us is not uncommon for the genre - especially in our developing world, but again, Ramos knocks it out of the park by capturing the true essence of what it means to be compliant to an overwhelming societal force. Whilst his other stories have been slow and steady this was filled with action from the beginning and it didn't stop reeling me in. For a short story it spans quite a length of time but the jumps read naturally instead of a stop-start notion. I would also like to say that I was extremely connected to ‘Frog‘ and I will be sad over this one for a long time, although Lilly is the female protagonist every sci-fi novel/film/tv-show needs.
By the Light of the Fire - 3/5
Another short one to keep you interested this story attempts to show us how fragile human connection can be and how heavily it drains some more than others. I couldn't bring myself to connect to our main character but I did enjoy the combination of Loki the God of Mischief with the mundane human story. Similarly I didn't find myself enjoying the father's sudden change of heart toward the end of the story, although I did love the rising above his verbal abuse we observed from the main character.
Knocking on Heaven's Door - 4/5
The final part to this majestic collection brought me nicely to a reflective state of mind. It combines the belief and faith many around the world hold dear but also the futuristic science that will inevitably take us all over the universe. The concept of travelling between dimensions has always been fascinating to me and seeing Ramos' imagination bring the practical applications of it to life was equally as fascinating. Plus, it is always a nice touch to see the ambiguity of God in novels where they don't commit to the normal sterotype.
Overall I thoroughly enjoyed this collection, my personal favourites are definitely 'The Tunnel', 'The Garden' and 'Zero' but all of the stories have thier own positive attributes that make it worthwhile reading. Thank you again to Aaron Ramos for sending me this collection to read and review, I am patiently waiting to see what other wonderful creations come from this extremely talented author!
If you'd like to get a copy of this yourself use this link: https://amzn.to/2ZcreYZ