Cover Image: Unity

Unity

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Member Reviews

I think I got lost in the writing style, because the plot was really intriguing, and the characters were very real. But the pacing really took a toll on me. I would still recommend this debut as a very interesting scifi reading about posthumanism, identity and feminism.
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A great story. It's surprinsing that this is the author's first book, and she's very young. Waiting to read something else from her.
A good mix of post-apocaliptyc story with technologies that allow to join consiciences. Review coming soon.
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Unity is an astonishing debut, twisty and startling, demonstrating both the disciplined development of a long-gestated project and the raw, dynamic flashes of an author’s early work. It shows intense interest in the distance between conversation and communion, the many overlapping and opposite meanings "unity" can contain: Is unity a harmony of differences balanced together, or a pure homogeneity? How can those differences be maintained, and what happens when they’re not? The book’s core concepts aren’t so much high as deep; it takes a few pages to get oriented within the premise, world-building and points of view, but it very quickly becomes an absorbing, thrilling ride.
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Unity starts with Danae and her lover, Naoto hiring a mercenary called Alexei to help them escape from the underwater city where they live. Alexei guides them out of the city, but that is just the beginning. The three fugitives have to get across the post apocalyptic Southwest. To add to the danger, they are being chased by the Duke and The Borrower. They want what is inside Danae.

Danae is not just one person. She is concealing part of a collective mind inside her body. She must get to the rest of the collective so they can become whole once again.

Unity has so much going on, yet it all fits together neatly. Elly Bangs did an amazing job on world building. I can't put Unity into one box. It's post apocalyptic, cyberpunk, riddled with nanotech. All rolled together and played out in a very believable future world.
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It's an interesting book. More cerebral than emotional, but filled with jaw-dropping ideas, It took me a while to get into it but once I did I felt immersed in the story. Well worth a read.
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I find it hard to classify this book. It’s definitely far future science fiction, apocalyptic with overtones of cyberpunk but it’s also philosophy and social commentary.. I found it captivating to read and but at the same time I really wasn’t sure what was going on for a very long time. 

The story is action-packed right from the start as Danae is attempting to evade capture and escape the grips of the Medusa Clan that runs an underwater city as she makes her way to the surface and across the continent. She and companion Naoto enlist the help of a mercenary, Alexei, and the trio start their journey abruptly. It quickly becomes apparent that Danae is pursued by much more than the Medusas and their journey becomes ever-more perilous. 

The main characters, Danae and Alexei, are complex, troubled and relatable, while the description of the world, areas of the US in a world that has moved largely underwater, is detailed and fascinating. Interwoven with all the action is the story of Danae’s existence and the rare futuristic technology she transports. 

This is a great read and so complex and philosophical that  I think my thoughts will return to it over and over.
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Unity is an incredibly thought provoking and morally complex story that I quite enjoyed once I got into it. I’ll admit that my one qualm with the book was that I was a little lost at first. But as I got into it, I really got into it.

I am going to keep it short, because learning about the world and what was happening is truly part of the enjoyment of this book. Look, I know the comps say Mad Max and Sense8, but I don’t know anything about those guys. What I do know is, in various parts of my Kindle notes, I indicated several things that reminded me of The 100. Because of course I did. But that is high praise, of course! We’ve got some definite Transcendence-style hijinks, which you can tell from the synopsis (though in fact, it’s probably more ALIE meets Transcendence which is even more fun tbh), and I was so intrigued! I was also wildly impressed with the author’s ability to write a collective mindspace where it not only makes sense, but I could completely wrap my head around what the characters were trying to say.

But that isn’t the only storyline we have here, not by a long shot! And, it isn’t the only one that reminded me of a The 100 situation, but spoilers, so I’ll keep that one to myself. It’s so very morally complex and gray, and the characters all have to make some pretty serious decisions as the story progresses. And as we get to know them and their pasts, it becomes so clear why it means so much to them.

Bottom Line: It’s an intense and enthralling ride that kept me thinking long after I finished the last page.
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The future. Earth is not as habitable as it once was, and many people now live in underwater cities. These are ruled over by power-hungry clans wielding despotic power, but are still more desirable than the arid and often radioactive desert wastelands of what used to be the United States of America.

Danae is in service to the ruler of Bloom City, a cruel and unpleasant woman. But after years hiding out – from what, we will soon discover – under the waves, she needs now to reach a certain on-land location before the upcoming Equinox. She and her lover, Naoto, hire a mercenary, Alexei, to help them escape – but their timing is either perfect or the worst it could be, as civil war breaks out in the underwater city. Dry land won’t be any safer for them, though, with pursuers old and new.

And through it all, we slowly start to find out what exactly is going on in Danae’s head, what terrible thing Alexei is running from, and what exactly ‘Unity’ might be…

The blurb for this – or any new sci-fi – is always heavy on the comparisons. It’s this mixed with that, a if b and c. In this instance, titles thrown about include Neuromancer, Ghost in the Shell, Mad Max, and Sense8. What to glean from that going in? Well, it’s sci-fi dystopia cyber-punk-y. 

Whether because of the swirl of those expectations, or just the general settling into a new speculative fiction world, I did find this a little hard going at the beginning. I do like being thrown in and not having everything outlined from the word go, but it does make for a little initial bafflement. 

However, it’s very worth sticking to. First the action levels ramp up, and I really enjoyed seeing more of the world – I’m a big fan of world building. We also get to know the characters, particularly Danae and Alexei, a bit more, and start to uncover those secrets and hints about their pasts.

And then we start to find out about Unity, and what really ramped up my pace of reading was a need to know where the story was going to take us! I’d say the reveal and ending are more than satisfactory, too, which helps.

So yes, recommended if you want a bit of sci fi from a new voice. It’s not perfect, but it is well written, intriguing, and makes me quite excited to see what the author can do in the future.
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Unity is the debut novel from author Elly Bangs.  It's a science fiction novel that combines a number of ideas - a future in which humanity is barely surviving after multiple near-apocalypses, mad max-esque (and bioshock-esque) landscapes within that world in which it's incredibly hard to survive, and most prominently the idea of transferring and/or combining minds inside single bodies to make a new being with better understanding of the world.  It really explores that last concept - the idea of the titular "unity" - in multiple ways, through its 2 main viewpoint characters (sorta).  

But well, I don't think it really works too well, as its character work doesn't always quite work (particularly with one of our two protagonists) and I'm not sure its explorations of its central ideas of unity really work out when I think about how they play out here.  Those central ideas certainly are interesting - again the idea of merging consciousnesses to try and fix problems of conflict, to try and combine brilliant minds to increase human problem solving so they can deal with global problems, and to try and avoid violent minds in those consciousnesses to try to ensure a better unified mind - but the book often seems to throw out complications about parts of those ideas without directly or much indirectly exploring them and its almost as frustrating as anything.  I'll try to better explain after the jump.
TRIGGER WARNING:  Suicidal Thoughts/Attempts, Rape Attempt through Body Switching.  


-----------------------------------------------Plot Summary--------------------------------------------------
For 70 years, the world has teetered on the brink from multiple apocalypses, only being pulled back at the last minute.  Now a pair of gangs, operating out of Cities built deep underwater, are the world's major powers, with the potential for mutually assured destruction at the push of a button.  

To Danae, the world's survival isn't a mystery, it's the result of Unity, the merging of minds to which she belongs.  But 5 years ago, Danae committed an unforgivable act, forcing her to hide from Unity in Bloom City underwater, offering some of the promise of her nanotechnology to its brutal leader in exchange for freedom.  Yet now, with the next time for unity coming soon, Danae - and the artist she has come to love, Naoto - desperately searches for an escape back to the surface to see Unity one last time.  

To do that, she seeks out the help of a mercenary, Alexei.  Alexei is known as the best agent of the Medusa Clan, and with the secret help of the voice in his ear, a woman who goes by "Kat," he used to be the man they sent to kill or destroy anything that stood in their way.  But Alexei has long had a death wish, and during the last mission he saw something inexplicable - an eye in the sky seeming to judge him - that has robbed him of the ability to kill.  Now, all he can think of doing going forward is to take a dangerous mission that might result in his ultimate end at last, and Danae's escape plan seems the perfect plan for that.  

But Danae is hunted by a being from her past, who has long been searching for her in secret, and who is willing to trigger the next apocalypse to find her.  And soon Danae and Alexei will discover that what they know about humanity, and what they think about unity, may not be quite correct after all.....
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Unity takes place in a world that is roughly 70 years into our future, in a world that has suffered multiple near apocalypses that have killed off and devastated much of the world (a man-aided asteroid near-collision, a disease, nuclear war, etc.).  The book doesn't always explain exactly what's going on with some of its setting elements sometimes - for example, the surface features remnants of a war between "Confederates" and the "Free Republic," which I guess is supposed to be a sort of new American Civil War in which the enslaving Confederates won before it all became pointless in the latest near-apocalypse, but these details are all basically nothing window dressings.  There were wars, the world barely survived its destruction multiple times (thanks potentially to intervention by somebody), and now the world is ruled and fought over by two gangs operating from underwater cities and is on the verge of another such apocalypse, that's really all you need to know.  

In this world comes Danae and Alexei, our two main characters, although we jump in perspective repeatedly also to a perspective labeled "I," who is clearly the "Unity" of some of the characters (a concept that isn't clear at first but becomes more apparent as the book goes on forward), and an antagonist perspective known as the "Borrower."  Alexei is kind of the odd man out of everyone, as his origin story is only tangentially related to Unity, unlike nearly everything else, and his relationship with Kat never really coalesces into anything that really seemed to work for me.  Moreover, with Naoto, our other prominent character whose perspective we never see, also along with the ride as Danae's love interest, we don't even need him to work as an audience surrogate to explain the concept of Unity and what Danae truly is. He kind of works in the end as a final step in the journey of Danae and Unity but his own story just never really made me care about him.

Danae and the others work a lot better.  Danae is "Unity" - a collective but not a collective, the product of minds merged together to combine their years of knowledge and insights into a single new person who could use that knowledge to help fix the world.  Danae longs to unify and yet is desperate not to at the same time - because she committed what she thinks of as Murder, which to her makes her unworthy.  And yet that killing, as well as her hiding for five years among the gang underwater, and her new love of Naoto, all have given her a fresher perspective on the world, a more appropriate one really, than when she was operating normally as Unity, and was combining the best and most privileged scientific minds to merge, and wasn't really getting involved in the world of humanity that didn't have access to the privilege she did.  And that perspective contrasts with several others - a spoiler character who is revealed near the end who had unity but instead of branching out into the dregs of humanity withdraws into themselves and loses any concepts of empathy for example, and then the borrower, who used a similar technology to steal people's bodies without merging their minds, and as a result is falling apart.  

But again, these contrasts don't work quite so well because the story never really gets to spend too much time on the implications.  So for example, a part of the book features Danae mentioning that with unity, there's no need for art to get across complex emotions, which horrifies her lover Naoto (a muralist), and then we don't really go into this again.  The borrower's contrast of being a being who steals bodies and identities instead of equally merging, which results in death, just fizzles out.  The fact that Unity was filled with only privileged minds is mentioned directly once and then left explicitly to the subtext, and I don't think the result works.  And the final confrontation tries to lead to an argument that guilt is what keeps us human, and that of the two different versions of Unity, the one without guilt for committing a killing is the one that has thus embarked on the wrong path....except well, the other wrong version of Unity experienced things that absolutely should have given it guilt, and its negative atmosphere is seemingly less the result of not having guilt as much as being emotionally broken through trauma.  

If the above sounds confusing, that's honestly because the book kind of is even through the end in the messages its trying to argue, which is part of the problem.  I suspect that there was a really interesting exploration of these ideas in an alternate version of this book, but here it's all muddled, with implications not fully explored and extraneous concepts just thrown out for no reason, which makes it hard to recommend Unity too much.
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Tachyon Publications has been making a habit of introducing readers to new writers, most recently with Kimberly Unger's NUCLEATION.  Now, they've given us a terrific novel by Elly Bangs.  UNITY is a lot of things:  post apocalyptic, cyberpunk, adventure, thriller.  But most of all, it's an exploration of human consciousness and what it means to be human.

Danae is a worker in the underwater city of Bloom.  The landscape has been obliterated, forcing most of society to live below ground.  Danae does not feel complete, whole.  She feels the need to escape Bloom and return to those that make her complete.  She hires a mercenary, Alexei, to get her safely out of Bloom.  Alexei, Danae, and Danae's lover Naoto begin the trek across the desolate landscape to find Danae's people.  The problem - and there always is one, of course - is that there is a bounty on her head - well, more precisely what's inside of her - placed by a man named Duke, who has taken over Bloom and who wants the secret
of what she carries.  There is a crazy and wild escape from Bloom itself, and then an eventful chase across a desolate landscape that we learn used to be the American Southwest.  Danae is desperately trying to get to the people she wants to reunite with before she is captured and taken back by Duke and his men.  

So far, it seems like a fairly standard kind of story we've read before, and there really is nothing new:  character has a secret that bad people want, bad people chase character across dystopian landscape, other stuff happens.  It's the "other stuff happens" that separates UNITY from other novels with this plot.

Yes, Danae carries a secret within her.  Alexei has a secret too.  And within the course of the second half of the novel, Bangs slowly but surely rolls the secrets out, little by little.  Danae's secret is the whopper, of course, the one that the whole story hinges on.  As Danae and Alexei interact more, it becomes less of a job for Alexei than it is a badge of honor.  He must finish what he started with Danae because it is the honorable and right thing to do.  He is let in on the secret just as slowly and surely as the readers are, and while he may not understand it, it helps him in his journey of honor.  Complicating this whole thing is the appearance of a character out of Danae's past called "The Borrower".  Who is he and what part does he play in all of this?

As an aside, you may be wondering how Naoto fits in with all of this.  He carries a secret too, but it comes out fairly early in the story and provides motivation for what he does throughout the novel.  In my opinion, he is a minor but important character.

The story's climax is one of the best I've read in years.  Well, maybe not a climax, but a revelation.  Danae and The Borrower meet and Danae learns that her project - the secret she's been carrying with her - had been carried on without her.  What she learns about humanity and herself is a wonderful statement on what humanity is and could become, and whether we'd want to go down that road that The Borrower revealed to Danae.

It's a bit of an uneven book, especially at the start, but once it gets going and we find out what's really going on, it turns into one of the best first novels I've read in a long time.  It seems like Bangs has a bright future ahead of her, and it may be time to hop on for the ride.
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Unity is an interesting and enjoyable science fiction novel, set in future ravaged by climate change, war, and political and social collapse. But science has continued to develop nano-technology, produce horrific weapons, and launch communications satellites. And super-hackers are still around to stroll through firewalls and advance the plot.

The main characters are flawed but engaging people - it's easy to get invested in their struggles.. The plot revolves around the intersection of nano-tech and human consciousness to create the means to merge individuals into a shared mental collective - a Unity.

Elly Bangs' writing is a fine descriptive writer, equally effective at choreographing action sequences and conveying the thoughts and feelings of multiple first-person narrators. The result is an ambitious, thoughtful story.
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Unity is an action packed thrill ride.  Danae, the main protagonist and one of three narrators  creates a gestalt consciousness by "unifying" with another person. Each subsequent unity adds to her gestalt, increasing her intellectual capabilities exponentially.  It is set in a horrific slow-rolling apocalypse where vast areas of the country as well as the world are deadly.  No world-building exposition just gut-wrenching observations, which is excellent work - the author shows us rather than tells us.  Superior character development for all characters - the back story for each character is worth another novel - shout out to Kat Mandu.
This is Ms. Bangs' debut novel and puts her in the big leagues.  Ms. Bangs - welcome to the show.
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Like most of my favorite sf movies, such as Total Recall, Mad Max Fury Road, and Matrix, this book doesn't let off on the action. Our protagonists are constantly on the run and things keep on happening. In short, I liked the fast pace. But like those same movies, this book was a collection of ideas and all of them could be potentially explored for world-building and extending purposes. Since this is a stand-alone, I felt like that didn't take place. And just like those flicks, I could pretty much predict that the ending won't satisfy me -- and it didn't!

So, to conclude, if you like gritty, post-apocalyptic stories, then this is the book for you!
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This was largely a novel of ideas. The characters themselves were not a strong point, nor was the world the author had created. You had your pretty typical dystopian world, a mishmash of different potential awful futures. It might not even be that far off. Everything politically destabilized, constant war, undersea cities, the land destroyed ecologically, irradiated and/or desertified. It often falls into the trap of telling instead of showing - way too much exposition. The beginning was really confusing and it didn't get better going back knowing what was going on. It wasn't a bad first novel. It had a lot of good ideas, it makes you think. I'd read her next novel.
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