Waking up as a new clone while seeing your previous clone’s body murdered can be a rather disorientating experience. Not knowing what happened for the last 25 years aboard a spacecraft and your 5 other shipmates were also murdered can just be downright horrifying. This is the setup for Six Wakes, a new science fiction mystery by Mur Lafferty that I just fell in love with from page 1. If you are a mystery and science fiction reader, like myself, I believe you’ll like this book too.
All six shipmates are awakened after their previous clones were murdered. They are the only ones on the ship awake, so one of them has to be the murderer but figuring that out is going to be difficult especially when they are not allowed to talk about their past. Because the last 25 years is completely blank to them, they are really unsure which of the other clones they can trust, but they first need to address some concerning issues with the ship’s navigation, food production, and artificial intelligence named IAN. They all have backgrounds as some type of criminal and volunteering for this mission to colonize another planet is their ticket to freedom if only they can figure out which of them killed everyone.
Lafferty writes this book extremely well. I was impressed with the structure of the book, weaving past experiences into current conditions. As the crew’s past gets illuminated to the reader we see how their current actions and thoughts are a byproduct of their long past. The reader gets more information about the current mystery by Lafferty going into the past and introducing the characters before they joined this mission. This creates a mosaic mystery that gradually starts to fill in missing pieces of information for the reader to start connecting the different strands. I really like these type of books, using the past experiences to illuminate the present circumstances, and Lafferty does it with relative ease without the book getting too confusing.
The characters are all believable and learning about who they really are is just as fun as learning who the murderer is. There are multiple different nationalities of characters and that is just more than a description, their nationalities come into play within the story. A lot of the characters are victims of circumstance and became criminals through small choices or it happened to them. Because of this, we start to feel for these characters and the hard road they have walked. Lafferty successfully humanizes these criminals and I appreciated that.
Lastly, I want to talk about how amazing the world building was in this book. Lafferty takes a major science fiction element, cloning, and just goes off in many different directions with it. You can tell that she really focused on how cloning changed the entire world and how every ideology dealt with it and the consequences thereof. This type of systematic detailed world building from one implemented choice is something I really like in my science fiction work. Lock In by John Scalzi did the same thing with its disease and Lafferty takes the cloning idea to new depths. When every aspect of a world, plot, and the characters are touched by a scientific element, the book just works on a larger level as science fiction.
I loved this book, the mystery was fabulous, the characters were interesting, and the world-building was top notch. The pacing was extremely well done and there weren’t many plot holes that I could figure out. I knew I liked science fiction mystery but this just proves to me that I need to search for these type of books more often. My favorite read of 2017 so far.
21/25 Possible Score
5 – Plot
4 – Characters
5 – World Building
4 – Writing Style
3 – Heart & Mind Aspect(mind)
It took me about 8 and a half hours to read with a speed of 43 pages per hour. I read this book over a weekend as it was hard to put down with 200 pages read in one day alone.