Review of Goddess in the Machine by Lora Beth Johnson
Updated: Sep 10, 2020
Robots, time travel, teen angst, and this gorgeous cover. Yes to all of this. I didn't anticipate the twists Johnson provides, and I was delighted by each of them.
Goddess in the Machine is more than just a gorgeous cover. Lora Beth Johnson had me hooked immediately by the premise and Andra's voice.
Teenage Andra finally wakes up after being cryogenically preserved for a century-long journey to a new planet. She's a little creaky and sore, sure, but she's ready to be reunited with the team, which includes her mother and the rest of her family, plus many others involved in the complex project. They'll begin the work of bravely populating and building a new life on this planet.
Except...Andra soon realizes she wasn't sleeping for 100 years. She was asleep for 1,000. The people, terrain, and language are not what she studied for or expected, everyone she once knew has already lived and died--oh, and the general population, whoever they are, thinks she's a goddess, and they've been waiting excitedly for her to wake up and save them.
Andra is trying to fake her way through the minefields without being killed, then about halfway through the book, she has an enormous realization about the reality of what has occurred. Then there is another even bigger jaw-dropper later in the book. Eeeee!
Johnson explores how magic and technology are often the same thing in the new world, but which word is used and by which person determines whether it inspires reverence or contempt. She supplies enough introspection and reflection for her characters to provide depth, and I loved that.
The language spoken by those in the future world is slightly shifted, as though it has evolved over 1,000 years (the -ish suffix is used instead of -ly; -ful instead of -ous; "firm" or "certz" is used for "yes"). It takes a little getting used to but doesn't take away from the story.
There are some funny exchanges because of the differences in characters' languages. At one point Andra calls her friend Zhade (who is from a time 1,000 years past her origin time) an insult ("a-hole"), which horrifies and fascinates him. He says "That is a massive yet disgusting insult. I reck [reckon] I was born about a thousand years too late. I missed all the best words."
What did you think?
I didn't anticipate the twist/double twist here, and I loved being surprised again and again.
I mentioned this book in Three Wackily Different Books I'm Reading Right Now, 9/3/20 Edition.