Cover Image: Look to the Sun

Look to the Sun

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I love me a solid fascist dystopia, naivete shattered, uprising tale. The oppression here was more "sociosexual" in its focus and there were some plot points that went nowhere. I also was not a fan of the very peaceable ending, but I still really enjoyed my read.
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I have been considering what to say about this book.  I got about a quarter of the way through.  I liked the characters but the story just wasn't speaking to me. I was getting a glimpse of the plot, but the fact that some characters were keeping things from the main characters. I would understand if they were younger, but they are in their late 20's and should probably know something.  It was probably just too slow for me.
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Emmie Mears has created an Orwellian tale for the 21st century. Strange, brutal, and lifeless.  Look to the Sun seeks to tell a tale of hope in a hopeless world but the tale seems to come up empty, like the world it attempts to build.
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Un libro sobre un futuro distópico bastante original.
La política es bastante fuerte, bastante presente en la historia, ya que la trama gira en torno a ella.
Vieron cuando presentan a un personaje e instantáneamente se enamoran? Bueno, asi me pasó con Beo. AMO LAS SONRISAS y cuando me describió la sonrisa de Beo UGH lo queria para mi solita. Hablando de eso, que sean tan permisivos y tan avanzados en la sociedad me dan esperanzas, pero como que tambien era parte del conflicto porque los que estaban al poder eran medio de mente cerrada.
La protagonista era re sosa, como que solo aportaba a la historia gracias al padre y porque, bueno, es uno de los intereses románticos de Beo.
No soy fan del insta love pero creo que acá lo llevaron bastante bien.
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Content warning: fascism, suicide (depicted), domestic abuse, homophobia

The National People’s Voice have ruled over Kael for the last 15 years, and our story begins when things escalate in city-wide protests in Sanmarian, the capital. Beo and Rose are strangers drawn together by one novel that the fascist regime seems determined to destroy. Amidst incredible reveals, deep tragedies, tender moments of human connection, and more, this book does a phenomenal job of depicting survival despite insidious oppression.

A dystopian wonder that is difficult to read at times, but the hopeful ending is so, so, so earned.

Sanmarian is the most lived-in city I’ve read in a while. There’s a sense of history but also a sense of what day-to-day life is like. The disruption of the status can not be felt among the characters but in the city’s life as well. It’s masterfully crafted, and it’s clear that a lot of research went into the type of story Mears wanted to tell. I got a sense that a lot of came from Polish contemporary history, and the author’s note confirms it. Though things suck in Sanmarian throughout the narrative, it’s definitely a place that feels like it can easily be visited.

I loved Rose and Beo’s relationship so much. There’s a slow-burn but precise connection there that wonderfully threads throughout the plot. I can’t reveal too much about how it all comes together, but it really made my jaw drop. The intricacy of the fiction within the fiction really works here, and Mears pulls it off. Plus, we get so deep into their backstories that enriches the lived-in-ness of the world. I just think it’s really neat.

The plot itself, however, is, at times, difficult to read. The actions taken by the National People’s Voice feel so contemporary in a way that really gets under your skin. Mears crafts a dystopian set-up that feels like it’s happened in our world. There’s propaganda that feels familiar and actions taken against unwanted citizens which made me have to put the book down and collect myself. Despite this darkness, the characters shine bright and their hope and commitment to each other provides the light at the end of the tunnel.
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Rose have read Red Sunrise since she was a child. To her, the book is everything. Few others have read it, and no one else shares her feelings - until she meets Beo in a love-at-first-sight monent, picked from a storybook. The two realise the dangers connected to the book as the fascist-party National Peoples Voice come looking for it. They are suddenly tangled in a web of secrets and problems that neither had forseen, and the way out is not simple.

This is a political fiction where Mears puts focus on acceptance, courage and hope in times of a rule undermining certain society groups. There is a big focus on the LGBTQ-society, which in this world is very big, but still frowned upon by the leadership.

I really liked this aspect of the book, and as a straight person I felt that it was so special to get a glimpse of the struggles and feelings that the characters meet. I feel that I have learned a lot and I really enjoyed the book, but I think that it will be even better for anyone from the community as they might recognise themselves in the characters in different way than I do.

A well written book, with interesting characters, a good storyline, and vibrant view on society problems. I definitely recommend it!
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A city on the brink of civil war is a lousy place to start falling in love, but it turns out to be a perfect place to set a love story. In Look to the Sun, by Emmie Mears, a series of chance events in the first pages leads Beo to Rose. They share a love-at-first-sight look that comes straight out of a romance. The difference for these lovers is that a menacing, anti-LGBT+ and anti-polyamory fascist government is intent on turning the city of Sanmarian into a place where men are men, women are housewives, and there is no place whatsoever for anyone who refuses to conform. So while a civil war maybe isn’t a great place for finding the love of one’s life, it’s absolutely a great place to find the strength to fight for everyone’s right to love who they love.

Rose and Beo have one thing in common before they meet. They’ve both read a book that no one else has ever heard of. After they track each other down after their first accidental meeting, the book helps them connect. Meanwhile, the fascist government is making moves to ramp up their transformation (they call it reconditioning) of society. Anyone who stands in their way is disappeared. Propaganda and slogans of their views are daubed across the city, to entice like-minded people to their side and warn their enemies that their time is coming. Rose and Beo barely have time to understand their feelings—let alone declare them—before they also have to ask themselves how involved they want to be in the resistance.

For all the fear and violence in Look to the Sun, I found myself falling in love with the protagonists and Sanmarian. I loved seeing all the throuples and same-sex couples living together without anyone questioning the normality of it. I loved that no one faced any shame or discrimination because of their sexuality or gender expression. I also adored the way that so many different European traditions are blended together into the cities culture: Pamplona’s running of the bulls, the Mediterranean’s warm stone architecture, street food and tea, and so on. I want to go to Sanmarian (but after the revolution, of course). I just can’t say enough good things about this novel; I loved every page.
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Sanmarian has been ruled by the National People’s Voice (NPV) Party for fifteen years. The NPV has maintained an illusion of peace by quietly and discreetly eliminating dissent. That illusion is about to shatter. The NPV has been sowing their views and doctrines during their fifteen-year reign, and they are ready to reap. Sanmarian citizens start disappearing, businesses shutter overnight, violent protests break out.  Two strangers, Rose Abernethy and Beo Mataya find each other through their love of the mysterious book that no one else seems to have read: Red Sunrise. They both feel this book was written solely for them, but they soon discover that what happens in the book mirrors what’s going on in their city. 

Look to the Sun is a dystopian novel about a fascist takeover, a revolution,  a lovely slow-burn romance, and it’s not afraid to be clearly political. This book tackles gender roles, misogyny, domestic violence, and more, all with a cast of characters handled with care from across the LGBTQ+ spectrum. 

You’ll love this book if you love: a secondary fantasy that doesn’t bog itself down too much with world-building, political dystopias, and books about books.

The note from the author following the book makes it clear. This is a novel about the horrors of fascism and how life goes on under its boot until it doesn’t, that there are no monsters, only human beings who choose to do monstrous things.

Rated 4/5 stars because the ending wasn’t as satisfying as it could’ve been; an epilogue likely would’ve remedied this. I really just wanted a little bit more time with the main characters.

(Thank you to NetGalley and BHC Press for providing a digital ARC in exchange for an honest review)
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This was a really great book, I ended up finishing this in just one sitting! It was a really interesting and engaging story, that I could not put down! I would definitely recommend this book in the coming winter months, it would be a perfect addition to a cosy winters night in, you won't regret it!
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In Look to the Sun we meet Beo and Rose, a young man and woman who live in the fictional dystopian setting of Sanmarian, whose relatively normal existence is thrown into chaos as the ruling party, the fascist NPV, becomes increasingly extreme. Both Beo and Rose have friends and family affected by the new rules such as women no longer being able to own businesses, of anything other than heteronormative relationships being banned, and dissenters being whisked away without trace. As books burn and protests grow increasingly violent, Rose and Beo meet, brought together by a shared love of a book that no-one else seems to know much about. As the world around them is brought close to collapse, they must do all they can to not only survive, but also ensure that the revolution in which they find themselves doesn’t fail.

This book is wonderful! The language is rhythmic and beautiful, and I loved every word. I grew to care about each character, all of whom are fantastic, and loved the echos of the tale to the politics of both the past (1930s Germany) and far more recent times. I would certainly read more by this incredible author, and would recommend this book to anyone interested in politics or dystopian fiction.

My thanks to the author, NetGalley, and the publisher for the arc to review.
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(ARC received in exchange for honest review at www.netgalley.com)

Emmie Mears’ ’Look to the Sun’ is more than just genre fiction - it’s a condemnation of fascism and bigotry, set against a fantasy backdrop. The city of Sanmarian is awash with protest over the National People’s Voice’s authoritarian regime, and in the midst of chaos, Rose loses a precious memento that belonged to her father. When her despair is captured on camera by local photographer Beo, their fates become intertwined as they bond over their shared obsession with a novel the NVP despises. When the city burns and the revolution begins, Rose and Beo find themselves at the heart of a storm about to change everything…

Make no mistake, ‘Look to the Sun’ is political down to it’s very core. Mears makes no attempt to disguise that the NVP is an allusion to Naziism, or perhaps even the turbulence of the United States during the Trump Era. In making these parallels, she ties her story intrinsically to the emotions past atrocities evoke, lending power to her narrative and uniting her readership in revulsion as the NVP’s inhumanity become the crux of the book’s conflict. Mears never shies away from the horrors of fascism, peppering her story with book burnings, execution, ethnic cleansing, abuse and depictions of suicide. That’s not to say she revels in this darkness, mind - she also dabbles with romance and the normalisation of queer culture, infusing the story with humanity that balances the barbarism on display with a message of hope. Mears’ political commentary never feels overbearing, working in tandem with her world-building and her characters to create tension that propels her narrative to new heights.

All that being said, I’ve got some admissions to make. Whilst I can acknowledge the strength of Mears’ storytelling and appreciate the message she has to convey, her style of writing never quite worked for me. Throughout my time with ‘Look to the Sun’ I couldn’t shake the feeling that it all just felt a little prosaic and dreary. On occasion it actually took some of the impact out of the more emotional passages, her prose never quite fully immersing me. I also had issues with the city itself, which at times felt rather bland by fantasy standards, perhaps as a result of the colour palette chosen or simply down to the the humdrum technology on offer. I’m not entirely sure how much these criticisms are coloured by personal preference rather than mistakes on the author’s part, though I still feel a more lively style of writing would have been beneficial when tackling some of the more poignant plot points.

In conclusion, ‘Look to the Sun’ is a fantastic novel, a bizarre hybrid of fantasy and political thriller that serves as a stark reminder to be mindful of our past, lest it creep up on us once more. Though I never felt entirely comfortable with Mears’ writing, the merits of her story more than make up for any unfortunate literary quirks, as do the motifs that elicit the requisite emotions to further elevate her work. I would absolutely suggest you pick this up when it releases October 28th - it’s absolutely worth it.
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The story deals with the rise of persecution (NPV - National Peoples Voice) towards “deviant.”
If you like categorization, I would describe it as a mix of dystopian political thriller and romance with elements of mystery and strong twists.

I found it well-written and immersive.
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Look to the Sun was a slow burn for me. I wasn't hooked until about two thirds of the way through, due partly to Mears' prose style and partly to assorted features of narrative, characterisation, and setting (it's difficult to really sell a completely fictional world that is very, very closely rooted in the real world), but it did ultimately pull me in enough that I wanted to find out how it all ended. 

This novel's uncanny valley sense of happening in almost-our-world is both its best and worst feature. Its postmodernist leanings--the story of the book within the book and the ways in which the two books' realities mirror and diverge from one another--are, in some places, truly intriguing. In others the style and themes seem to evade the prose's reach, particularly when the characters are standing in for the book's strong and pointed messages. This reads something like a postmodern literary science fiction novel written in the prose style of fairly standard YA, which didn't fully appeal to me but might be ideal for readers who enjoy YA more than I do.

It was truly a pleasure to read a book in which queer, poly, trans-inclusive romantic and familial relationships are--and have long been--fully accepted by the majority of a mostly-imaginary society. Because this is so rare, I felt a bit disappointed that a main theme of the book was such relationships and the people in them being put at risk by fascist, gender-essentialist politics. That rarity is not Mears's fault, of course, but I couldn't help wishing that the book could have made its political points without compromising the vision of a society in which people simply don't have to be discriminated against based on their relationships. 

Ultimately, this title wasn't quite for me, but its heart is in the right place and its narrative has a lot to offer.

I received a free e-ARC of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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In LOOK TO THE SUN, a young woman (Rose) and a young man (Beo) find themselves caught up in a life-changing romance, a fascist takeover, and a counterrevolution, all in a dieselpunk secondary fantasy world.

But wait! There's more!

What kind of more? Queer characters, poly characters, trans characters. An almost Borgesian subplot featuring a novel the two main characters have read obsessively for over a decade and which their own lives seem to be echoing in curious ways. Abuse survivors. Book burnings. The power of friendship and love VS the evils of a Nazi-like party obsessed with gender purity, gender roles, and ethnic purity. Also spies and revolutionaries and so many secret passages. 

About the only criticism I have of it is that once or twice the characters got a touch speechy in ways that seemed a little out of joint with the situation they were in and distracted me from reading (e.g. a character who has been starved and beaten gives a several-paragraph argument about why the fascists won't win), but that was a minor thing and at almost every single turn the characters felt authentic, believable, and--to be honest--like people I'd love to be friends with. Plus, this novel is very unapologetically political, so I feel like it's a feature, not a bug, for the political speechifying to be embedded in its characters' dialogue!

A couple of other notes:

This one starts off as a slow burn but quickly becomes impossible to put down. It's a wild ride, and one I enjoyed every minute of. I stayed up far too late reading it a couple of nights in a row, which is always a sign I'm heavily into it.

The novel does cover some dark themes, including executions, depictions of abuse, depictions of suicide, misogyny, transphobia, ethnic cleansing. If any of those are topics that will put you in a bad head space, steel yourself before you dive in. Overall, the bright spots outweigh the darkness.

I especially appreciated the way emotional and physical abuse was treated, with zero victim blaming and the other characters repeatedly reaching out to uplift and help those struggling through abusive relationships or their aftermaths. 

Likewise, the normalization of characters in poly and queer relationships and of trans characters' bodies was lovely.

Overall, if you're in need of a bit of brightness to get you through some dark times, I would highly recommend. The characters and their growth will stay with you for a long time, I suspect.
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Absolutely love! Pulls you in and keeps your interest right from the start! Highly recommend! This book is unlike any other I’ve read and is great for anyone who wants a book that will keep you hooked
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Thank you NetGalley for a free review copy of this book.

Firstly I wanted to explain my 3 star rating. I usually give 3 stars to a book when a book is good and has its merits but also has some let downs at the same time or is not really for me. 

Look to the Sun follows two main characters, Rose and Beo from being brought together to being part of a revolution to take down the NVP (National Peoples Voice), the fascist ruling party of their country. This plot and the NVP definitely alluded to the rise of the Nazi party in the 1930s which I thought was a good plot idea and a good basis for an evil ruling party.

I think this book had a lot of potential to be a 5 star read. The writing was good and I liked how the world was described. It really felt like I was there. However I didn’t feel connected with any of the characters and I also thought a lot of the relationships between the characters felt a bit forced. It’s hard to root for a character when you don’t feel like they’re coming alive from the page. I’m not going to give away the ending of course, but I also found this to be disappointing, and a let down after a pretty good build up to the climax of the book. 

I also think the NVP weren’t as threatening as they could have been. They were supposed to be fascists but I didn’t really get evil vibes from them. I feel like more could have been done to bring this point across.

I would recommend this book to those who like dystopian and taking down of a corrupt and extremist ruler/ruling party. It’s certainly not a bad book and while I did enjoy it a little bit I do feel as though it needed some improvements for me to really believe in the story.
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