Genesis of Misery

Neon Yang. Tor, $27.99 (432p) ISBN 978-1-250-78897-9

In this vibrant tour de force, Yang (The Black Tides of Heaven) presents a simultaneous embrace and inversion of Chosen One narratives. Misery Nomaki, an apparently unremarkable resident of a down-and-out mining planet, is able to shape and manipulate holystone, a skill only available to two classes of people: saints of a holy order and those in the lethal throes of voidmadness. Misery’s unsure which they fall into. As the increasingly powerful voice of the angel that Misery hears in their head draws them into a galaxy-wide political conflict, they must decide whether to trust new allies, including the intense and magnetic royal renegade Lady Lee Alodia Lightning, and determine whether their purpose is truly divine—or irreversibly damned. Yang’s prose is lush and gripping throughout, and they accomplish the tall order of seamlessly weaving worldbuilding into the dynamic motion of the story, incorporating fascinating details without ever risking expository fatigue. Themes of faith, suffering, queerness, and duty are given plenty of room to breathe as Misery and their ragtag gang of friends struggle to navigate a universe as complex and gorgeously rendered as it is hostile to those on its margins. This is a triumph. (Sept.)

Correction: An earlier version of this review incorrectly noted that the author had won a Nebula award.

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