Review: Chilling Effect

Chilling Effect by Valerie Valdes

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Description in one line? Cowboy Bebop meets Mass Effect with a Cuban protagonist.

I grew up in Miami, Florida so having a main character speak in “spanglish” brings me back to my childhood. The narrator also nails the voice of our main character, Eva. Overall, the narrator does a good job distinguishing the voices of all the main characters although a character we meet near the end – think this book’s version of the Ed character from Cowboy Bebop – doesn’t get an original enough of a voice to distinguish her in a few scenes.

Overall, I had a lot of fun with the book. It’s irreverent and semi-meta without it getting too crazy. The “Um, Actually” chapter kind of went over the line and then kept going until it was hilarious again (at least to me). It’s pretty fast-paced and all the missions that the crew of La Sirena Negra gets sent on keep getting wilder and wilder. About halfway through the book we shift a little more from the Cowboy Bebop plot to the Mass Effect plot. In some ways, this was the least developed part of the book (at least to me), but it seems that maybe Valdes intended this to be a series and we’ll have a better idea of that plot as the series continues. Hopefully without the same disappointment that came with the third entry in Mass Effect. Finally, it makes sense within the story, but Eva’s character arc seems to take just a LITTLE bit too long to start moving. No spoilers since it’s in the book description, but her plot about lying to the crew and all that I wish was resolved just a bit earlier.

Highly recommended, especially if you feel like there’s not enough Cuban diaspora in your SF.

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