Belatedly due to some technical issues yesterday, I am delighted to be reviewing City of Shattered Light by Claire Winn as part of the TBR & Beyond Blog Tour. You can find the schedule for the tour HERE, so please do check out the other stops on the tour and hopefully we can tempt you to pick up this book when it comes out later this month!
Disclaimer – I received a copy in exchange for an honest review, all thoughts are my own.
As darkness closes in on the city of shattered light, an heiress and an outlaw must decide whether to fend for themselves or fight for each other.
As heiress to a powerful tech empire, seventeen-year-old Asa Almeida strives to prove she’s more than her manipulative father’s shadow. But when he uploads her rebellious sister’s mind to an experimental brain, Asa will do anything to save her sister from reprogramming—including fleeing her predetermined future with her sister’s digitized mind in tow. With a bounty on her head and a rogue A.I. hunting her, Asa’s getaway ship crash-lands in the worst possible place: the neon-drenched outlaw paradise, Requiem.
Gun-slinging smuggler Riven Hawthorne is determined to claw her way up Requiem’s underworld hierarchy. A runaway rich girl is exactly the bounty Riven needs—until a nasty computer virus spreads in Asa’s wake, causing a citywide blackout and tech quarantine. To get the payout for Asa and save Requiem from the monster in its circuits, Riven must team up with her captive.
Riven breaks skulls the way Asa breaks circuits, but their opponent is unlike anything they’ve ever seen. The A.I. exploits the girls’ darkest memories and deepest secrets, threatening to shatter the fragile alliance they’re both depending on. As one of Requiem’s 154-hour nights grows darker, the girls must decide whether to fend for themselves or fight for each other before Riven’s city and Asa’s sister are snuffed out forever.
Content Warnings: violence, death, blood, mild gore, emotional abuse/manipulation, mild body horror (cybernetics), references to suicide, terminal illness, drug and alcohol references
Firstly I have to say that I love the cover. I absolutely have a weakness for cyberpunk-esque covers – it’s the colours that get me, and the City of Shattered Light is one of those books that just catches your eye. The premise also had me hooked, and this book was a fantastically fun read. I enjoy heists, especially when they’re paired with chaos like with this book, and this was an enjoyable read with lots of action, found family and in general, was just a lot of fun.
The City of Shattered Light is very much a character-driven story, and it was the contrast of an outlaw and an heiress being paired together that intrigued me from the start. It’s a fun contradiction to play with, and I have to say that Asa and Riven were absolutely the stars of this show. Of the two, I think Riven was the one that drew me in the most, and I enjoyed how her mind worked and just the streak of ruthlessness she had. Asa was a great character though, and arguably had more development throughout the book, going from a privileged life, to experiencing the dangerous edges of the world, and you could feel her trying to find her place in the world. Together, they were absolutely fantastic, and between their well-developed characterisation – flaws and all – the relationship that developed between them was fun to watch as it evolved.
There were a lot of fun characters alongside them, and I was particularly fond of Ty. There was a lot of banter (some of which had me in stitches), and the bonds and softness that comes from found family, which added so much to this book. It did feel a little bit though like Asa and Riven stole the limelight though, and as much as I enjoyed the other characters and the various experiences and quirks, it did feel like they weren’t quite as fleshed out as the main characters.
The worldbuilding was fantastic, and so clearly described that it felt almost cinematic in places. There is that wonderful blend of technology and science – and evil AI – and I loved the details that Winn wove into the story, but that was just one part of the worldbuilding. Requiem was absolutely my favourite setting, and I loved the makeup of the city with the different (and violent) syndicates, and that it was matriarchal, and it would be great to just explore the nightlife of the city (albeit somewhat dangerous).
City of Shattered light was a gripping read from the beginning as it leapt straight into the action and didn’t let up, and paired with great protagonists and lots of banter and chaotic heists, it really was a fun read. If you want a cyberpunk YA with a heart, some fantastic representation then this is the book for you!
Claire Winn spends her time immersed in other worlds—through LARP, video games, books, nerd conventions, and her own stories. Since graduating from Northwestern University, she’s worked as a legal writer and freelance editor. Aside from writing, she builds cosplay props and armor, tears up dance floors, and battles with boffer swords. City of Shattered Light is her first novel.
If you’ve read it, or read it in the future, please feel free to shout at me about this fantastic book.