Tag Archives: Rod Rees

Review: The Demi-Monde Series (The Demi-Monde & Shadow Wars) by Rod Rees

The Demi-MondeMy copy of The Demi-Monde, by Rod Rees, lay enticingly on the coffee table. Sean, my older son, plopped down on the sofa as was his habit, and immediately picked it up. He read the blurb on the back, and said, “Hey, this sounds pretty good. Can I read it?”

“Sure,” I said.

This was some time in the afternoon. Later that evening, he appeared quite distracted all through dinner, and then disappeared back into his room for the rest of the night.

From the bleary-eyed look on his face the next day, I assumed, correctly, that he’d stayed up late into the night, finishing the book.

“Good?” I asked.

“Yeah,” he said. “I really liked it.”

Sean generally divides his time between university, friends, and video games; over the past few years I’ve managed to get him to read quite a lot simply by leaving enticing-looking books lying around. We share somewhat similar reading tastes (although he’s much more of a history buff than I am), which makes these random acts of reading enticement on my part easier.

I knew the premise behind The Demi-Monde would catch his eye:

The U.S. military crated the Demi-Monde to train its soldiers in urban warfare. A virtual world of 30 million inhabitants ruled by cyber-duplicatse of some of history’s most dangerous psychopaths – from Grand-Inquisitor Torquemada to fanatical Nazi butcher Rudolph Heydrich – it is a twisted nightmare and anything but a game. Because if you die inside the Demi-Monde, you die in the Real World.

Now, in the year 2018, something has gone horribly wrong …

The U.S. President’s daughter has been lured into this terrifying shadow world and her only hope of rescue is Ella Thomas, an eighteen-year-old student and jazz singer who’s never received a day of military training. Somehow she must infiltrate the Demi-Monde and bring the First Daughter out. But Ella is about to discover something the U.S. government does not yet know – the walls containing the evils of this simulated world are rapidly dissolving … and the Real World is in far more danger than anyone could ever imagine.

Rather synchronistically, that very same day after he’d finished reading The Demi-Monde, I received the ARC of The Shadow Wars in the mail. “Look,” I said, waving the book at him. “It’s the sequel to The Demi-Monde.” He took it out of my hands and we didn’t see him again for the rest of the day.

Shadow WarsThe Shadow Wars continues the story of The Demi-Monde, starting from the point where The Demi-Monde ended:

Norma Williams knows she was a fool to be lured into the virtual nightmare that is the Demi-Monde. When the agent sent in the game to save her goes rogue and a long forgotten evil is awoken, it falls to Norma to lead the resistance.

Lost, without a plan, and with the army of the ForthRight marching ever closer, she must come to terms with terrible new responsibilities and with the knowledge that those she thought were her friends are now her enemies. To triumph in this surreal cyber-world she must be more than she ever believed she could be . . . or perish.

He was bleary-eyed again the next morning, having pulled another all-nighter to finish the second book (oh, how I wish for the days when I had the energy to do that!).

I asked him a few days later if he’d like to write the reviews for the books. He looked at me, wide-eyed and in partial shock, shaking his head frantically. My kid’s a reader, but not big on writing; while he’s doing well at university, he still has a tendency to check the word count as he approaches the end of an essay writing session, to make sure he’s made the minimum required.

So we settled on a compromise: an interview. Here it is, not quite verbatim because I didn’t pull out a pen and paper to take notes:

Me: So what did you think of The Demi-Monde?

S: I liked it a lot.

Me: What did you enjoy the most about it?

S: I liked the whole idea of this world created by the government as a training ground for its soldiers. It’s a pretty complex world, and the fact that sections of it were ruled by famous historical figures was really interesting.

Me: The Demi-Monde definitely is an interesting world. So you liked that part of it?

S: I liked how detailed the world was, the different factions and geographical regions, and how each one was a reflection of the historical character who ruled it. I think if you like history, you’d like this book.

Me: If you liked fantasy/science fiction, too, you mean.

S: Yeah.

Me: What did you think about The Shadow Wars?

S: That was interesting too, but it didn’t grab me the way The Demi-Monde did.

Me: How come?

S: (thinks about it a little bit more) It didn’t focus as much on the history-related aspects of the Demi-Monde, I guess. And one of the main characters becomes this god-like character with no emotions. I didn’t really like that. I also didn’t like that the Real World was really more of an alternate history type of world. In The Demi-Monde it doesn’t go much into the Real World, but you just assume it’s like our world, only a few years into the future. But then in The Shadow Wars you find out it’s more of an alternate history version.

Me: So you didn’t enjoy it as much as the first book?

S: No, not really. But I really liked the first book. I probably wouldn’t want to read the third in the series, though.

Then we moved on to a discussion of The Demi-Monde, which I was in the middle of reading. It was a very fun discussion, and I know I’d like to do more of these mother-son kinds of reviews/interviews!

With thanks to TLC Book Tours for providing review copies of The Demi-Monde and The Shadow Wars, by Rod Rees.

Reading!

I’ve officially come out of my heavy deadline season – finished off the last big one early last week and have spent most of the time since recuperating, resting … and reading!

As soon as I could, I started on The Shining, for the #shineon readalong on Twitter this month. But it’s been a while since I’ve had a nice long stretch of reading time, so I found myself very distracted by all the other books that have been waiting for me to read them.

I put The Shining down at page 80 when Diana Wynne Jones’ Reflections on the Magic of Writing came through for me at the library. I devoured Reflections over the course of two days, and it truly inspired me. With huge thanks to Bernadette at Reactions to Reading, who recommended a little iPhone app called eHighlighter, I ended up saving lots and lots of quotes from the book – not quite the same as covering it with highlights, but still very satisfying.

Reflections

Reflections is on my to-buy list, the next time I go on a book-buying splurge. And in the meantime, I plan to devote a post to it sometime soon, helped along by all the quotes I saved while I was reading.

I moved straight from Reflections to Listen to the Echoes: The Ray Bradbury Interviews, by Sam Weller. I enjoyed this book immensely, too. You get a very real taste of Ray Bradbury the person: quirky, opinionated, loving. What came through the most for me was Bradbury’s immense love and appreciation of LIFE, in capitals.

On the fiction side of things, I’m about a third of the way through The Demi-Monde, by Rod Rees; I’m part of the book tour for the sequel, The Shadow Wars, and I wanted to get up-to-speed with the Demi-Monde world by reading the first book in the series before I start on The Shadow Wars.

I also started The Red Box, by Rex Stout, one of the few Nero Wolfe mysteries I haven’t read yet. I adore Nero Wolfe and Archie, so it was a thrill to see this one at my library’s ebook lending site. I really enjoy the Nero Wolfe novels in audio, but unfortunately this one  hasn’t made it to Audible yet.

In audio, I’ve been listening to Dead Anyway by Chris Knopf, a really fun thriller of a revenge novel. I’m near the end, and had a tough time turning my iPod off last night, but it was sooooo late.

And I have lots more waiting for me, including:

Pursuing the Times, by Lauren Baratz-Logsted. I read a sample of this romcom before deciding to review it, and it was delightfully funny.

I am Half Sick of Shadows, the fourth book in the Flavia de Luce series by Alan Bradley. I’m playing catch-up, because next up is the newly released book five, Speaking from Among the Bones!

The Memory of Blood, by Christopher Fowler. Bryant and May, of the Peculiar Crimes Unit, are one of the funniest duos in crime literature, and I’m really looking forward to this one.

In other readalong news, I’ll be reading A New Earth, by Eckhart Tolle with Joanna of Create Your World. If you’d like to join us, let me know in the comments or zip me an email. I’m also eagerly awaiting the announcement of the Diana Wynne Jones book for the readalong Kristen of We Be Reading will be holding for her month-long event, DWJ March.

So that’s my reading news so far. And I’m finding myself wishing for even more time to read!