Stella Matutina
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Review Rerun: Hammered by Elizabeth Bear 
13th-Nov-2012 07:00 am
My review of HAMMERED first appeared on October 22nd, 2009. The book jumpstarted my Elizabeth Bear addiction--something I really ought to feed more often, as her books generally move me in a big way. I want all the science fiction fans among you to read it.

Cover art for Hammered, featuring the torso and lower body of a woman wearing a white jumpsuit and carrying a gun. She's kneeling atop the title in a battle-ready pose.Title: HAMMERED
Author: Elizabeth Bear
Series: book one of the Jenny Casey trilogy
Publisher: Bantam Spectra, a division of Random House
Publication Year: 2005
Pages: 326
Status: keeper

LibraryThing Info

Hammered for purchased on The Book Depository

Hammered for purchased on Amazon.ca

Jenny Casey, formerly of the Canadian armed forces, is a month away from her fiftieth birthday. She's living it low in Hartford, Connecticut, riding out the pain from her cybernetic implants and doing simple med stuff for street toughs, until a tainted batch of an all-too familiar drug hits the streets. Jenny digs for info on the drug's origins, and finds herself face to face with a past she thought long gone.

Okay, so y'all know how I'm always all, "Blah blah, the Promethean books didn't work for me, blah blah, I'm so hesitant about Elizabeth Bear, blah blah"?

Well, I'm over it. Like, seriously, over it. If I didn't have those damned TBR rules, I'd be buying a hell of a lot of Elizabeth Bear over the next little bit.

The thing that gets me, though, is that this book is damned similar to her Promethean novels (which, as we all know, just didn't do it for me). I mean, yeah, the trappings are totally different, but the bones have a lot in common. The story jolts back and forth between a fair number of viewpoint characters, all of whom have a ton of baggage weighing them down. Even though said baggage has a huge impact on the story, it's hinted at rather than spelled out for the reader.

In many ways, too, we come into both stories near the end. The main characters' lives aren't over yet, not by a long shot, but they've already lived a fair chunk. They've all climaxed at least once. (No pervy jokes, please. Y'all are readers; you know the kind of climax I mean.) We're not quite in What Comes Afterwards territory, but we're pretty close.

Which is all fairly similar to what went down in BLOOD AND IRON, at least on a structural level; however, while I struggled to connect to BLOOD AND IRON and WHISKEY AND WATER, HAMMERED resonates with me like nobody's business. And, as is so often the case, it's all down to the characters. I care about these people. Jenny, Gabe, Elspeth, Razorface, Mitch, Leah, Genie and Richard gave me absolutely no choice but to root for them. Bear leaves a fair number of gaps in their backstories, all of which I was eager to fill. Part of me read on to see how the plot would resolve, but most of me kept on reading because I wanted to know everything about these people.

That's not to say the plot isn't worthy of comment. It's tense and exciting, and my affection for the characters made it easy for me to follow even the most twisty-turny bits. On top of that, the frequent viewpoint shifts drew me deep into the story. When each "chapter" is only a couple of pages long, it's oh-so easy to read just one more... or maybe two... or maybe eight. Plus, you may know what Jenny's up to, but how's Elspeth doing? What about Leah? Where's Richard at? I had to read on to find out.

I wholeheartedly recommend this. It's absorbing, readable, character-based science fiction, and y'all want to get your hands on it. You really, really do.

4 stars - loved it

Other Reviews:

Adventures In Reading
Not Free SF Reader
Zeno's Library

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Comments 
14th-Nov-2012 05:37 pm (UTC)
I have never read Elizabeth Bear before!! It's terrible!!
14th-Nov-2012 07:34 pm (UTC)
It is! You must remedy this, my friend.
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