TL;DR Rating 4/5 – I had a good time with Goddess in the Machine by Lora Beth Johnson. It’s the story of Andra, a teenage girl who wakes up on a strange planet where humans believe machines are magic and that she is a goddess of the machines. Andra and her family were supposed to be sleeping on a generation ship to a new planet but something obviously went horribly wrong. She is woken up by Zhade, an ex-prince of a troubled domed city which is the best place on this strange planet to survive. Together they form an uneasy alliance. Andra’s goal is to find out what happened to her shit and her family. Zhade’s goals are his own. And this is how Goddess in the machine begins. The story moves at a sharp pace and the characters are interesting. If not the best I read this year, Goddess in the machine is one of the best. There are a few really good twists that add more to the story and gives you questions you want to see answered. Goddess in the machine has an excellent 3rd act where everything changes in ways I honestly did not expect.
Goddess in the Machine – Hardcore YA
Goddess in the Machine made me notice the trend with YA fiction these days. Authors are not pulling any punches with the horror or tragedy. Maybe George RR Martin has brought us to a time where no character is safe except the ones with plot armor. Lora Beth Johnson puts her character in some really interesting danger making for a ton of exciting scenes where you don’t know if the main character would escape. By the end when everything comes together you realize that the author has set us up for another chapter built off this book with a road to something more. (Don’t be surprised, I know there’s another book on its way next year.) The world Andra travel’s through is dangerous and deadly as is the politics Zhade puts her in the middle of. Of course, Goddess in the Machine had to requisite YA tropes. The “we’re in mortal danger but look at his abs” sort of thing and places where certain things would not occur if two people just talked to each other. That’s a minor niggle because this is told in the third person focusing on two POVs, therefore you the reader knows what other characters don’t. And the insertion of these trope elements doesn’t do much to hurt the story and pacing.
Goddess in the Machine – Magic System?
There isn’t a “magic system” per se, but the way humanity clings to machines as magic is interesting. Using this we got a society where humans are trying to survive and the only help they have are the machine left behind presumably by the colonists. We find out many centuries have passed since Andra went into the Cryo-sleep, and in that time self-sustain robots and nanites have done the best they can to maintain the human population. Only the planet they are on is hard and takes no prisoners. Andra is supposed to be able to access the machine but for some unknown reason, she can’t. The rulers of the domes city can, Zhade can, and this put Andra in more danger mostly because of the belief system of the human survivors. Lora Beth Johnson cleverly finds a logical way to make the machines feel like magic even though as the reader you know full well it’s only technology.
This was a fun storyline with really big twists. It’s new in the examination of human culture left to fend for itself in a far future after interstellar travel had been achieved. The world-building was really good while it did not rely heavily on the politics of this world, only it didn’t get as deep as where the people’s beliefs come front and how they differ in different areas of the world. The lore behind the “goddesses” presented more interesting surprises on the truth of what was going on and how everyone wanted Andra to fit in it. This is more of a character story with spurts of action and the ending might leave room for some lively debate. I had a good time reading Goddess in the Machine and can’t wait for it’s follow up.