Hello and welcome to my spot on the Composite Creatures blog tour from Angry Robot!
When I read the blurb for this one, I couldn’t resist giving it a read. It gave me a sort of creepy dystopia vibe.
Also there’s this cover which is creepy and amazing!
So, thanks to the author, as well as Angry Robot for the review copy!
How close would you hold those you love, when the end comes?
In a society where self-preservation is as much an art as a science, Norah and Arthur are learning how to co-exist in their new little world. Though they hardly know each other, everything seems to be going perfectly – from the home they’re building together to the ring on Norah’s finger.
But survival in this world is a tricky thing, the air is thicker every day and illness creeps fast through the body. And the earth is becoming increasingly hostile to live in. Fortunately, Easton Grove is here for that in the form of a perfect little bundle to take home and harvest. You can live for as long as you keep it – or her – close.
This is the story of Norah and Arthur. They live in a kind-of-dystopian world which is definitely similar to our own, but with a heavy emphasis on self-preservation. Illness spreads more easily in this world. Animals and insects are mostly extinct. People suffer from a condition known as the Greying, which I read as something like a cancer-like debilitating condition that ends in organ failure. It seems to happen to everyone in this world. There is a medical science company called Easton Grove that has engineered a creature which their clients can take home with them and raise more or less like a pet, which helps with the greying. This book is described as a dystopia in a few reviews I’ve seen it, but I don’t think that description fits for recommending it, exactly. While things are rather dire in the world itself, the focus of the book isn’t ever really on the world itself, with all its problems. Dystopian-adjacent, perhaps. I thought it was more eerie psychological horror, personally. The book was more about Norah and her various relationships throughout the book. With Art, with her friends, and with Nut.
The book opens with Norah and Arthur on a rather awkward date. It’s more akin to a job interview, honestly. Easton Grove has partnered them together and so they try their best to make it work by moving in together and taking on Nut, their… little bundle of joy. Nut is somewhat like a cat in mannerisms, but as the book progresses, you find out more and more about her.
This was a slow-moving and yet quite enthralling book. I found myself picking it up and not wanting to put it down. I have to admit that I had no idea what was really going on, but not in a floundering way, in more of the way that makes you want to read and read until you find out the little details. For instance, we don’t really find out too much about why Norah and Art are paired together, what Easton Grove is, and most especially what exactly Nut is for a lot of this novel. But, again, I didn’t find this to be annoying as much as it pushed my drive to keep on reading. It played out in my mind much like a mystery to be solved.
The prose was quite lovely, and it was very easy to sink into a comfy chair for an afternoon and just take in the story. It’s told in the first person from Norah’s point of view, which I liked. It was compelling being in Norah’s head for much of this story. Norah and Nut form a relationship unlike what is entirely expected of a person and their ovum organi, as it is called. Seeing how that relationship effects other aspects of her life was interesting and kept me reading well into the night.
All told, I liked Composite Creatures. I’ll admit that the ending fell a little flat to me, considering all that lead up to it, but I felt like it certainly wrapped up the plot and ended the book without leaving me with a thousand questions. I would definitely recommend it to someone who likes slow-paced books with lovely prose that present an eerie atmosphere. This was a fantastic debut, and I’m excited to see what is next from Caroline Hardaker! 4/5 stars!~