Summerland by Hannu Rajaniemi


Summerland had such an interesting premise and it was pulled off fairly well. In Summerland, the afterlife has been discovered and colonized by the British, much to the chagrin of the Russians. Set in late 1930s England, this sci-fi novel is also a spy noir thriller, and I really enjoyed the mash-up. The spies followed are Rachel & Peter. Rachel has discovered that Peter is a mole, but she’s discouraged from pursuing the case, so she goes rogue. There were definite Agent Carter vibes here for me & for a guy, Rajaniemi does a decent job addressing difficulties a female spy would have faced at the time.

From the beginning, the world is pretty crazy, and you are definitely thrown in without a lifeboat. I was able to puzzle most of it out eventually, but was pretty confused at first, and still find some aspects of the book confusing. That being said, I really liked the vibe of the book. The sci-fi spy noir atmosphere was interesting, and it got the point where it was very page turner-y and hard to put down. The story is told in alternating viewpoints between Peter and Rachel, and that contributes to the novel a lot because it makes it difficult to assign your allegiances to any one side or party.

The concept of the colonization of the afterlife and the harnessing of the power of souls was fascinating and also very unsettling. Humans are definitely capable of atrocities and this book explores what additional ones would be possible if we were able to harness such power. There is also some odd worship of souls happening, and that was the part I found most confusing, honestly. That being said, I enjoyed the author’s exploration of these issues and was intrigued to read more about it.

If you like spy noir thrillers and/or science fiction and/or both, then this novel is right up your alley. If you liked Agent Carter, I also think you will enjoy this novel. It’s a quick ride, with fascinating ideas & alternate history. I liked it a lot, even if I found it confusing or overly odd at times. It was also really nice to read a standalone for once, and I enjoyed that the story was pretty wrapped up at the end. If you read it, I hope you enjoy it as well!

Note: I received this book from Netgalley & the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.

More Information: Goodreads, Author Twitter

What good speculative fiction have you read recently? Let me know in the comments!


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