Sometimes, when a book is really good, it is easy to read quickly. Your eyes hungrily race across the page, eating up details and scenarios as fast as possible. Other times, when a story is good, it takes a while to get through. The Birth of Anarchy is this second type of book.
The Birth of Anarchy by J. D. Brewer is the sequel to her previous book Vagabond. This book follows the life of Niko’s son, Ani, as he searches for the truth in a world where manipulation is expected and a predictable cycle of regimes once again threatens to destroy the world. Like Niko, Ani grows up knowing that he is fundamentally different from everyone else. Unlike Niko, he knows from the very beginning how he is different and the implications his existence has for the future of Humanity. However, there may be more to the truth than he realizes.
The Birth of Anarchy is not necessarily an easy read. It is full of mystery, intrigue, and action, so the plot is not inherently slow. The story moves along at a good pace, but there were times I had to reread paragraphs multiple times in order to fully understand what was going on. There are so many twists in the story, flashbacks, and layers of known and unsuspected manipulation that at times it was difficult to keep up. This is a book that needs to be read with intentionality if you want to understand everything that is happening and catch the behind-the-scenes clues scattered throughout. That said, I totally called the twist which was probably supposed to be the biggest one fairly early on. That might just be because I am stubbornly sentimental though, and refused to believe what the characters in this story accepted far too easily.
It took longer than I expected to get into Ani’s world and become submersed in his life. I can’t pinpoint exactly what, but something about the book just didn’t click for me until he left the Republic (I promise that’s not really a spoiler). Out on the Tracks, in a different environment, the story became significantly more interesting and understandable. While in the capital, the story itself felt as constricted as Ani’s education. Perhaps because the characters were not comfortable in their situation, it was at times uncomfortable to read. The second section, however, was much easier to dive into. The world was clear and full of life, the characters fully developed, and the situation finally revealed, making everything more understandable and relatable.
Rating any book with a single, solid number is difficult. This one is especially so; it was enjoyable but difficult; not impossible to understand, but it took some work. I like books that make me think while I read them, but when I’m reading just for fun I don’t really want to have to analyze and rethink everything certain characters say in order to get what is happening. This story is uniquely and perhaps ingeniously crafted, but it felt like more than I bargained for.
No star rating feels just right to me yet, so for the moment I am going to give The Birth of Anarchy a tentative 3.5 stars. I want to rate it higher because the story simply was good, and the writing style nearly unprecedented. The amount of thought required on the part of the reader, however, makes me hesitant. I definitely recommend The Birth of Anarchy to anyone who enjoyed Vagabond, just know that you may want to set aside a little extra time while reading this one.
I received a free ecopy of this book in exchange for an honest review.