Review: Down to the Bone by Justina Robson (Quantum Gravity Book Five)

Rating:

Down to the Bone by Justina Robson (Quantum Gravity Book Five)
2011, Pyr

Review Summary: A very satisfactory conclusion to the series. Loose ends abound, yet the characters stay true throughout and the ending is suitably epic in nature.

Full Review:

A very satisfactory conclusion to the series. Loose ends abound, yet the characters stay true throughout and the ending is suitably epic in nature.

One of the things I most appreciate about Robson’s characters is that they grow and change in power and understanding, have doubts and questions and fears, and yet are still heroic. They prepare as they can, going on incomplete information, not always understood reasons and motivations, and still choose to throw themselves into the fray, trusting in themselves and each other. Its refreshing and frustrating and reassuring all at the same time.

There are massive gaping holes in the story, in the plot – threads and possible explanations that were begun in the earlier four books that were abandoned, forgotten, or ignored in the final narrative. Some of this seems to have been intentional. Some seem to have been simply casualties of a storyline perhaps evolving beyond the author’s original intentions. Luckily the author’s writing style, and the tone which the author has set, allow such ambiguity within the storyline.  “Forget it, Jake. It’s Chinatown.”

Robson is all over the map thematically, talking about self-awareness, destiny, knowledge, being true to oneself, forgiving one’s past and oneself, dealing with change and growth in yourself and others, luck, cutting deals, standing up for what’s right, sacrificing, the role of violence and consumerism, rules and fear in societies, power structures, duty, friendship, and love. Most of all its about love and friendship, I suppose, with the author’s message seeming to be that as insane and messy and frightful and dangerous as love and friendships can be, one should still pursue life with them, or for them.

Overall, I was worried about what conclusion Robson would write for her characters, particularly as chaotic as the line had been up to this point, so it was with some relief that the last novel in the series wasn’t disappointing. I stop short of saying it was a triumph – the character’s world and story are probably too messy for that word to apply – but it was very well done.

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