I’ve been excited to read Berry’s The Reason series for over a year. So excited that I kept it reserved for a time when I could kick back and relax to really enjoy it. Alas, that never happened and here I am a few months past the release of the second book. And let me tell you, it was well worth the wait.
Five Unicorn Flush is brimming with imagination that provides solid characters, a fascinating universe, and a promise of a brighter future. Berry writes in an accessible, exciting style, expertly balancing insightful storytelling and delightful space opera thrills and chills. It manages to be a deep look at the bonds of slavery and the struggles of the enslaved to start over, while also filling the pages with explosive battles, death-defying acts, and constant action that continues to reveal new and exciting things about this universe. To say I’m impressed with this book would be a huge understatement. I enjoyed every minute of it and only wish I hadn’t wasted so long getting into it.
This was my first foray into this universe so my impressions don’t take previous plot points into account. There are a few spoilers below, so stop if you don’t want any of the fun ruined. Venture below the fold to read a few of my favorite things!
Now on to a few of my favorite things:
A SOCIETY OF MAGICAL BEINGS
In this regard, I’m floored by Berry’s ability to take the many fairy tale creatures of bygone myths and create fully sentient beings with complicated cultures, societies, and habits. It’s clear their lives prior to freedom were horrible and, though this freedom was much desired, they continue to struggle with fitting in side by side. There remains a significant amount of prejudice between species and hardheaded thinking when planning the future of their new planet. There’s so much going on in these scenes and we see the individual hardships each species has experienced. You get to know the Bala better as a whole because of this thoughtful narrative.
EXPERT JUGGLING OF CHARACTERS
A true space opera should have a large number of characters constantly bouncing around into ever increasing shenanigans. Berry does this expertly, giving us multiple protagonist focal points. We see Gary, our lead unicorn, struggling to maintain order on this new planet. We see Jenny getting into horrifying-yet-hilarious murky waters as she tries to find her wife. Their storylines provide the majority of the action and excitement. Not knowing their backstories, I was equally enamored with each character, though I get the feeling there are some definite dark pasts I’m not fully aware of. As a side note, the AIs are top notch, providing hilarious commentary throughout. I LOVE a good AI.
Now that the universe has essentially come to a halt (thanks to the lack of fuel for their FTL drives), we see everyone forced to evaluate their lives. Gone is the access to hundreds of planets and cities. For the Bala, all technology has disappeared, forcing them to go into an almost fairy tale-like existence on this wild planet, as a couple of the characters angrily note. The struggle to move beyond the comforts of modern society permeate every page. We see the Bala warring against each other to get back to their previous lives. We see stranded ships resorting to horrifying means of survival. We see whole planets turning on themselves, erupting into riot chaos. It really makes you think about our current world and how screwed we’d be if the lights all shut off. That sense of everyone being stranded adds an underlying anxiety to the book that provides ample fuel for the character’s basest fears.
Five Unicorn Flush
By T.J. Berry
Published by Angry Robot
NOTE: I was provided a free copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for my honest, unbiased review.