When I heard about this book, I knew I had to read it, because the story seemed so unique. So, when I was sent a copy to review, I was pretty much over the moon. Also a little worried, because I so hate giving bad reviews. I’m one of those people who’ll praise the things / people I like until I run out of breath, but avoid talking about something I don’t like rather than give bad crit. I know, I suck. Still, I was worried – what if this book didn’t do it for me?
Well, Masha du Toit delivered! I’m happy to tell you The Babylon Eye is an amazing read, anyone will enjoy. In fact, it’s one of my favourite books of the year, with one of the most interesting settings / plots I’ve read in a long time.
Oh, I’m getting ahead of myself, aren’t I? 😛 I’ll try to do this review without spoilers, but I can’t promise anything.
The first thing that drew me to the book was the cover. I mean, look at it! This is so beautiful IMO, that it’s impossible to ignore.
The basic plot is that Elke, a prisoner and former gardag handler, is given the opportunity to win back her freedom. One of the new generation gardags, Meisje, and her handler are missing and Elke has to find the dog (the handler is presumed dead). The catch is that Elke will have to go into the Babylon Eye, a portal between the real and the strange worlds, with not much information at her disposal to find the dog.
Here’s a summary:
So, it’s obviously science fiction, right? One would assume aliens and amazing technology, somewhere on some kind of space station – the usual. Not with this book.
The setting is really interesting, because the Babylon Eye portal is in Cape Town, South Africa. Yes, folks, a story that DOESN’T revolve around the USA or some kind of European-knockoff setting (even though I’m a massive fan of the latter :P).
The fact that this book is set in my home country, with slang words from my neck of the woods, made it all the more awesome. Add to that the fact that Cape Town becomes Kaapstadt and many other Dutch words come into play, and this book becomes all the more juicy.
The alien cultures are well thought out, with intriguing class systems and back stories – which, by the way, I’d love to read more about. The edits in the story are really cool too, which is the author’s take on augmentations. Elke’s horns immediately made me think of the Qun in Dragon Age, even though hers were edited in and not DNA like a Qunari’s. Yes, I’m obsessed. Sorry. 🙂
The writing style is easy to get into, as is the plot. You feel Elke’s struggles from her point of view, and being in Meisje’s perspective is awesome – another thing which makes the book interesting and unique.
The story takes place over only a few days, which makes the Babylon Eye a fast-paced read. Honestly, the only bad thing I can say is that it was over too soon. I would seriously love to read more about the different alien races, and find out what happens to some of the characters after the story’s end.
Now, if you hate sci-fi, I still recommend this read. The alien part of it doesn’t dominate the story at all. As I said above, the book is easy to get into, with seamless transitions between viewpoint characters and settings. Does it help if you’re an animal lover? Yes! I think the canine aspect of the novel was one of the main things that drew me in.
So, in conclusion, The Babylon Eye is an awesome book, that I’d recommend to anyone – available both as ebook and print to suit your preference. I’d give it an 8/10 and would love to read more from Masha du Toit, and also from this setting. Go on, get yourself a copy!
Have a good one,