Cover Image: No Gods, No Monsters

No Gods, No Monsters

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Member Reviews

When reading this book I can definitely say it can be very disorienting and like you're in a maze, but that is what drives me to continue to read this book. As society struggles with the acceptance that gods and monsters are real you must also work to process the story yourself. 

The book does need to get some trigger warnings as there are things such as active violence, drugs, and sexual abuse.

I believe the author did an amazing job at pulling the reader in so that you want to continue to read the book and not want to put it down. The desire to want to connect the dots will be the driving force behind your will to no stop.
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I, unfortunately ended up DNFing at the 32% mark.

The synopsis of this book really spoke to me and I was eager to see how the fantastical elements would play out. However, I just found the POV switches to be confusing. I found myself getting very confused about where I was in the story and who I was following. I just felt lost for the entirety of the beginning of the novel. 

Whilst I think this book will be a hit for many people, and I will recommend it if I think someone will enjoy it, it wasn't something I personally enjoyed,
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Disorienting, is the first word that comes to mind. Disorienting, in the best way. This book jumps between character POVs, across time, between storylines without notice and seemingly without pattern. We are introduced to an unnamed narrator who seems to immediately disappear from the story, and as we try to puzzle out the connection between the characters we meet some links are revealed and others are not. But this struggle for understanding is what is at the heart of NO GODS, NO MONSTERS. In this novel, a society grapples with the knowledge that monsters are real and live among us, that their world is being manipulated by strange forces; everyone is truly disoriented.

This is a difficult book. This is also an ambitious book, and Caldwell Turnbull's skill meets his ambition.

Content warnings for sexual abuse, general violence, and an active shooter event.
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The story seems very interesting though at time confusing. Especially the start part is hard to follow and keep track of character as narrators seem to change each chapter without that much notice or introduction.
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I really wanted to like this book as the story sounded so interesting but sadly the constant changing of pov threw me off so much I couldn't enjoy this story. The writing besides that was pretty good and the diversity was also very done well.
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No Gods, No Monsters is an urban fantasy of the fast-paced and unputdownable variety. It throws you in at the deep end and says, hey, you’re going to be so desperate to find out what’s going on, you won’t even put this book down once. It drip feeds you the crumbs of what’s happening in such a way that you’re compelled to just keep going.

Basically, it’s the best kind of book.

Without too many spoilers, No Gods, No Monsters follows a number of POV characters, tracking each of their stories as they slowly come to intertwine. The blurb doesn’t really capture that, to be honest, so it’s a little confusing as you start out. But, as you get into it, you start to see where the plotlines all tie together.

Really, the best thing about this book is its characters. They are the reason that you continue reading even if you find yourself with not really the slightest bit of an idea what’s going on (or, more accurately, why what’s going on is going on). They’re characters you won’t be able to help but find yourself rooting for. Every time the POV switches, you’ll feel there hasn’t been enough of the previous one, sure, but the next one pulls you in just as neatly. It takes skill to juggle multiple POVs like this, and to make them distinctive, and Turnbull shows it in abundance.

It’s also a more understated fantasy, for want of a better word. It’s not about saving the world, or defeating some (named) bad guy. It’s more about what the world (or, the USA, really) does when faced with the knowledge that creatures from horror fiction are in fact real.

I think if there was anything I would criticise about it (and this is a very light criticism), it’s that it was quite… shallow in the worldbuilding. There were a few times where it felt something wasn’t explained very in depth, but there was just some leap of logic you were supposed to have made. And I think that led to the plot being somewhat confusing (not convoluted, but perhaps vaguer than I would have liked), and the ending being a little more like it’s leaving you at the beginning of something rather than the conclusion. Although that may well have been about leaving space for a sequel, I suppose.

However, if you looked at this book and were on the fence about it, or you had never looked at it before now, let me just say it’s one you don’t want to miss out on.
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This is an incredibly ambitious book, and to make a long story short it, it achieves what it aims for. Multiple POV, time skips, and meticulously interwoven plots all work together to create an unputdownable read., Each of the different story streams are compelling, and I would love to read novels devoted to each of them.  I will definitely be rereading this, as the sheer amount of content packed into the pages and the speed at which I wanted to read it meant that I missed a few plot points. Absolutely recommended.
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I really liked this book.  I like the narrative style, and how it would change randomly.  I liked the diversity of the characters.  I liked the mystery of the secret orders.  But I didn't like how it ended so abruptly. I want to know what happens next!
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I had an enjoyable time reading this and it held my attention the entire way through that I finished it within the day! I enjoyed every page and thought that the plot/story was very unique. Would recommend to anyone!
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I am fan of this genre! This was quick, gripping, interesting, capturing, action packed and thrilling ride that I was truly excited to experience! The writing in this book is incredibly beautiful. There is no doubt about that.This structure of this story, which winds backward and forward and in other ways through time, didn't give me enough of a throught line to follow the main plot, which I actually found very interesting.
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This is a juicy story that opens with quite the bang. It was a super quick, page-turning read and this kind of ‘urban fantasy thriller’ was a new genre for me and one I’d love to read more of. I always enjoy when books/tv shows/movies/etc. take place in my city (doesn’t everyone?) so the fact that this book is set in Boston really brought the story off the page and into real life for me. There are a ton of characters in this book and a very busy plot, so it could be overwhelming and a bit confusing at times, but overall it’s a very engrossing read that contains themes that are super timely in the US today.
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The timeline was a bit confusing since it was non linear but the representation and the writing were very well done and made it a good read.
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This is going to be a book people either love or hate.

On paper, No Gods, No Monsters is extraordinary. It’s a subversive, genre-bending, philosophical take on intersectionality, quantum theory, and the nature of humanity. It features a cast of BIPOC, queer, and monster characters (often all three at once). It questions the assumptions on which we build our world and the ways in which we can reshape it. It finds beauty in the mundane and horror in the sublime. There is no protagonist, because the novel makes clear that it is in collectives and communities that we find meaning and purpose.

But this book has a specific audience, and it will not appeal to everyone. To begin with, it does not have a traditional plot. The interweaving storylines feel as though they would be more appropriately situated in a short story cycle than a novel. Very little in terms of action actually happens; most of the book is about characters reflecting on their worldviews and philosophies while going about daily tasks, like browsing internet forums, driving to their hometowns, or stocking shelves at a collectively-owned bookstore. This book is not, as I first thought when picking it up, a blend of horror and urban fantasy; I would instead describe it as postmodernist speculative fiction.

The blurb makes it seem as though this is a book about monsters suddenly being revealed to the mundane world and then beginning to interact with it, but in fact this reveal is immediately covered up; the majority of the book is spent in a world that vaguely suspects monsters walk among us, but no one willingly admits to believing in them. The point-of-view characters all know or suspect that monsters exist, but are protected from obtaining any real knowledge about the extent of the supernatural’s presence in the world by the Powers that Be (various non-POV characters or organizations who know more but tell nothing). This can be an incredibly frustrating experience as a reader.

For me, the first 200 pages of the book really dragged. The interweaving storylines read like vignettes, barely connected by being situated in the same world and having the same distanced writing style. More than once, I would start in on a new vignette and realize, a few pages in, that I had met its central character before in an earlier vignette, and had completely forgotten about them in the interim. This doesn’t bode well for anyone who prefers character-driven fiction.

After the 200-page mark, the book really picks up. The vignettes, previously loosely-crossed threads, are pulled together in a tight weave. Characters finally take decisive actions, a coherent theme develops, and the interconnected stories build to a climax. For me, the last three hundred pages were satisfying, a reward for having made it through the often-confusing build-up.

But it’s a hard ask for most readers to wait 200 pages for a book to start making sense. If well-formed prose and philosophical musings delight you, you will love this book from the start; if you dislike being held at arms-length by the narrative, and struggle with different PoV chapters that aren’t readily connected to an overarching narrative, you will struggle to feel engaged for the first two-thirds of the novel. In my opinion, Cadwell Turnbull shows great promise, and I look forward to reading his backlog in short fiction and seeing what his long-form fiction looks like in the future.
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DNF, unfortunately. 

The description of the book really drew me in. It sounded like something I would love. Magical creatures? Dystopian elements? Main characters that are POC and/or queer? Yes, please.
I loved Leigh Bardugo’s Ninth House and was hoping for something in that realm. I am disappointed and I wanted so much to like this book, but it just didn’t work for me. 

This is the story of The Fracture, the events leading up to it, and the events that occur as a result of it. It starts with a police shooting and it morphs into something much bigger and scarier. Magical creatures (werewolves, dragons, witches) start to come out of the shadows and make their presence known to the general public. There are secret societies, packs of werewolves, and a pro-monster organization with its own secrets. 

I couldn’t get past the narration/POV. The narrator is sometimes a part of the story and sometimes they just tell the story. It is not immediately obvious who the narrator is; is it the author? Is it someone completely unrelated to the characters? Or is it a disembodied voice? Am I missing something? I found it difficult to keep track of the people and places within the book because there was so much jumping around. A character would be talking about someone like they had been introduced to the reader, but I would have no idea who that person was and how they were related to the character - it just wasn’t explained well enough for me. I prefer to read stories that are more straight-forward and less abstract. 

Though I personally didn’t care for it doesn’t mean that it is a bad book. The prose the author uses is vivid and detailed. The skill of the author shines through because it is a well written book. The concept is interesting and I’m sure people who are into more literary fantasy/supernatural books will enjoy this quite a bit. Unfortunately, it just wasn’t my bag.
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I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

No Gods, No Monsters spits in the face of genre labels, which I love. There are plenty of nods to familiar concepts: a police shooting, fantastical creatures colliding with cityscapes, and underground magic societies jostling for power. However, no theme is presented in a familiar way. This book is truly ambitious, one of the most sincere compliments I can give a contemporary novel.

Turnbull displays real craft with his dialogue and gestures, which helps characterize the people in his crowded novel. Although there must have been an urge to provide clarity in the dialogue, he avoids that trap and captures a realistic cadence with his various characters. He also, I thought, captured the grief, pain, and guilt of loving an addict who could be cruel or selfish but who is in real pain themselves, someone you can never love adequately.

The image of werewolves marching along the highway and then turning into vulnerable human bodies was a striking one, especially given the protests of the last summer, as was the reaction to such an event (in the book), laundered through the media spin cycle.

Turnbull spreads himself a bit thin trying to balance his various characters and subplots. He loses the thread at times, as well, discussing collapsed time and parallel universes, sounding like the gifted freshman in a creative writing class, stoned, deciding to bless us with his thoughts on the cosmos. Ultimately, this is a strong showing but may require adjusted expectations for those seeking out a plot-driven thrill ride.
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This was a very beautifully written, complex book with various storylines and that revealed a whole world of horror and dystopia, tackling the ideas of inclusion, and who we collectively agree to exclude from society. There was also a narrative about quantum waves and physics? To say the scope of this novel is broad is an understatement. 

Laina has been asked to identify a dead body, her brother Lincoln. They are Black and you think that you know where this story is going—a tragic case of policy brutality. But there is more to it. Video from the shooting reveals to the world that monsters are real and they are among us.  We then travel a very winding path with many narratives and many point of views. All were interesting and I was glad to read them, but I was never quite sure where things were going. Which isn’t a bad thing. I did find the number of point of view characters to be slightly confusing and alienating as a reader. But I did value greatly the great number of voices of color as main characters. 

This is good book, more interesting and compelling than a page turner. I valued the read and it kept me thinking for a long time.
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I feel, in some ways, this book is either the novelization or embodiment of a charcuterie board. The parts are individually fantastic, but you spend most of your time looking for a way to get that perfect, magic combination before eventually, even if you're still a little hungry, getting tired of and giving up on the whole process only to drink a vodka cran in the corner.
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This structure of this story, which winds backward and forward and in other ways through time, didn't give me enough of a throughline to follow the main plot, which I actually found very interesting. I loved the politics of it too-- lots of worker-owned/co-op/anarchist discourse but something about the structure really threw me off. In addition, my ARC was not formatted very well :( no indents or page breaks or anything, so that definitely contributed to its difficulty. I might pick it up again when the physical copy is out.

Thanks to Blackstone for the ARC! Just wish it was easier to read on my Kindle.
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No Gods, No Monsters is right on time and grapples with a collective reckoning of the classic "what makes someone a monster and who are the monsters really"  with usually implicit racial violence analyses made explicit in a world teeming with police brutality, disappeared activists & censorship. Here for this world where an indie bookstore co-owning Black trans ace mc in a queer poly relationship doesn't need heavy handwringing to justify. This book can feel like an inside joke between friends, some things are just nods like the co-op drama or SEN Collective dynamics and others are eventually overexplained like the book's title. Some POVs are stronger than others - the book easily could've centered around Laina and Ridley's close Third POVs alone. While I appreciated some of the other character's arcs, some could've used tighter editing or being split into separate works. I also don't feel switching between Third and First was leveraged well here, it was never as disorienting or as clarifying as I personally wanted those switches to be, but I imagine each reader will feel differently.  Overall I'm excited for the conversations No Gods, No Masters could help facilitate in 2021 and hope they aren't sidetracked by the author's appropriately bold narrative style.
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I've been thinking a lot about language this morning, particularly after reading No Gods No Monsters. Wiki says a monster is “often a type of grotesque creature, whose appearance frightens and whose powers of destruction threaten the human world's social or moral order,” but what makes something or someone a monster? How does our perspective & the perspective of our society shape this word? Who gets to decide what grotesque means or what is threatening? These were all questions Turnbull pulled out of me while reading this incredible forthcoming scifi/fantasty. 

I really loved this book & can already tell it will hit my top list of 2021. Turnbull’s clever writing makes you question & think deeply about the society we live in & this is absolutely a book I will be rereading when I buy the physical copy in September. His character building really shines in this & No Gods No Monsters is very organically queer inclusive & features a trans & asexual main character. Thank you @netgalley & @blackstonepublishing for the advanced ecopy of this book!
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