Book Review: Exotiqa by M. Black (1/5)

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First, I’d like to share a few quotes that really nail the gist of this book:

“…her lips spreading like melted butter in a large, appreciative smile.”

“I watch her big lips move like ocean waves, so unpredictable.”

“Every time she gets technical, I feel my concentration go blurry.” – This describes my feelings toward this novel.

Exotiqa had a killer premise. Rouge robots. Questions of humanity. Friendship and love – what could possibly go wrong?

Well, everything.

This novel had everything that I hate:

  1. Poorly enfolded exposition
  2. Info-dumps
  3. Character Stew
  4. Tedious repetition
  5. Stage-direction narration
  6. Character appearance revealed through that character looking into a mirror
  7. Mentioning every character’s shirt/pants color/eye color
    1. Eye color every time that character looks/notices/watches/or other eye-related verb at anything/anyone else

Let’s expand: there was SO MUCH exposition in the first two chapters, that I almost stopped reading. There’s a Slab that people have installed into their brains like little computer? Ok, cool. I don’t need this Slab explained THREE TIMES within a single chapter, and then again in the dialog.

The main character also got dressed twice in one morning.

Exotiqa did that thing where something would be implied or hinted at, then completely explained in the next line, which took me right out of the story. (I don’t need contractions explained to me.) It would give some new cool tech in this novel’s world, then needlessly explain what it was, what it did, and who invented it, and so on. And then explain it again in a few paragraphs.

This novel felt rushed – it hurried to explain the setup of the world and the new tech, and by doing so forfeited character depth. Right from the start, I was left wondering why? how come? what?

The novel started out really cool. A runaway robot (Maci) who feels, but isn’t supposed to feel. Then, she picks a random house and decides to hide. Conveniently, this is the house of the other protagonist, Fione. Luckily, after a short conversation, Fione decides she’s going to help Maci hide.

But… what brought her to that house in the first place? Why not stowaway on the BOAT SHE RAN PAST? Sigh – there was just too many little plot holes in this novel to get behind it. There was way too much explanation for the tech, but so little for the character motivation. It felt more like a manual at some points, not a novel with characters that I should care about.

The dialog was… for lack of a better word, cheap and useless. It propelled the plot a little, but it felt so much like forced exposition that I couldn’t fall into the story. Each character sounded exactly the same, and often the dialog explained things that had already been explained.

“Hey, did you hear about this event that happened that’s going to be super important later in the story?”

“Oh, yeah, that event where Character A did this and that this other thing happened that I’m explaining now instead of artfully instilling it somewhere more convenient in the story?”

Exotiqa had great potential, a cool premise, and a good start – but it went downhill fast.

When I saw that Exotiqa had 47 reviews on Goodreads and a 4.6 average rating – I expected a much better novel. Here’s the gist: I did not care about Fione or Maci. I wanted to, I really did. But while the novel started out really great, every page and tedious narration and useless, cardboard side character lost it points. After the first chapter, I would have given this novel a 4/5, but three chapters in, it had lost enough points to land it with a 1/5 status.

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