Friday, September 5, 2014

Slinger Saga by Matt Wallace Review

The SLINGERS SAGA by Matt Wallace is a story set in the distant future about gladiators who battle to the death over a live wormhole for the amusement of the world, and uncover a dark conspiracy behind the scenes of the arena.

For those of you pressed for time, and want to get to the point of this review, here it is: SLINGERS by Matt Wallace is one of the best additions to science fiction in the history of the genre. It will rock not only your socks, but also your face, completely off. Go read the first chapter for free, and then buy it off of Matt Wallace’s website directly, or here’s the link to Amazon.

For those of you with more time on your hands, here’s the rest of the review:

I am notoriously picky when it comes to science fiction. I enjoy a great many of it’s sub-genres (hello, post apocalypse and cyberpunk, you’re looking well this evening), but most hard science fiction does nothing for me as a reader. I like to think about society and people and other Deep Thoughts, but most hard science fiction misses the mark in favor of complex scientific jargon at the expense of plot and characters. I enjoy reading about wormholes and spaceships as much as the next person, but that’s not the only reason why I read science fiction.

So I’m picky. I love science fiction, but prefer a blend of character drama and oh cool science stuff, like the early seasons of Battlestar Galactica and Babylon Five.

I found Matt Wallace through Chuck Wendig’s blog at terribleminds (which is hilarious and awesome if you’ve never stumbled across him before). He linked to one of Matt’s posts, and I started to follow him on Twitter because he says funny/clever things. When he tweeted about his new book series, I checked it out and put it on my wish list. Again, it’s science fiction and I wasn’t quite sure what to make of it. A week later he gave away the first episode for free, and I snatched it up, figuring this was a no-lose situation. I read it a few days later, and I was immediately hooked.

Since reading the first installment, I have jonesed for the latest installment like a crack addict joneses for…well, crack. I’ve gone as far as gently (hopefully) pestering Matt Wallace on Twitter to see when the next episode would be released.

I don’t usually get this excited over a book. I like a lot of books, but there’s very few that I absolutely love, especially the older I get. I’ve been reading voraciously since I was very young; one year in middle school I read the entire library starting from A and working my way to Z. That high I get after reading an amazing book comes less frequently, because as a writer, I can’t help but think about what I wish happened differently.

It’s not usually major problems (if I really don’t like the book I’ll stop reading it. I don’t have time to waste on books I’m not enjoying), but minor details. I wish the magic system was better explained; I wish the main character wasn’t such a chauvinistic pig; I wish the action scenes were better explained; I wish the writing was a little better. Nothing major, but after a while these things add up, and the end feeling is like, not love.

I started to read Slingers and the entire world disappeared. For a little while I was in another place, another time, and nothing made me leave that world until it ended. Everything was perfect. The style in which it’s written is perfect. The bardic voice gives you the POV of most of the characters without ever once sacrificing intimacy of character. It’s even played for laughs a few times, and that deft wit is very hard to do. Matt Wallace is a very talented writer on top of being a great storyteller. The story itself is gripping, moving from exhilaration and heartbreak, and each episode feels complete. I love the characters, and I love how Wallace makes you fall in love with them, and then he breaks your heart by letting them mess up or even die. It’s the very best sort of entertainment, where you get to vicariously live inside someone’s head and feel their joy and pain as your own.

I’ve read several novella series trying to prepare for my own, and most of them leave me wanting. It’s like the authors are holding something back because they know there’s going to be another episode coming up, but SLINGERS never left me feeling like it was just filler. At the end of every episode I desperately wanted to read the next one right then and there.

Wallace held a really cool question and answer session that you can read here. Readers got to submit questions and he answered them, picking his favorites for prizes. I submitted some questions, and was shocked and overjoyed when I got the first prize of having my name in the last volume. It’s not every day you get to step inside your fandom, and I’m still walking on clouds at the thought. Given the body count so far, I wouldn’t be surprised if the character named after me dies a bloody and glorious death.  

This is where I reveal my selfish motives for reviewing this series. If I tell more people about this series, and they discover a new book they love, more people will buy the books. Then Wallace gets to keep writing SLINGERS books, and I get to keep going back to the deadway, living moments of glory above a live wormhole in front of a crowd of billions.

So if this series sounds vaguely interesting to you, go read the first chapter. You can download the first and second episode at an incredible deal for 2 dollars if you download directly from Matt, or you can download the first episode from Amazon for a dollar.

People bandy about the .99 price point saying it’s less than a cup of coffee, and that’s true. But reading takes precious time out of your day; the time I’ve spent reading these books was worth way more than what Matt’s charging for them.


I haven’t gone into depth yet about my particular review policy, but basically, I’m not a book blogger and I’m not going to review books I didn’t like. I’m not out to nit-pick every book I read, since a lot of that stuff is subjective anyway.

I just want to talk about books I really love in hopes that maybe some of you will find a wonderful new book, because there’s no better feeling in the world. So there’s no rating system here, but if there were, I’d give SLINGERS Eleventy Billion Slinger stars.

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