War machines and AI gods run amok in The Archive Undying , national bestseller Emma Mieko Candon’s bold entry into the world of mecha fiction.
WHEN AN AI DIES, ITS CITY DIES WITH IT
WHEN A CITY FALLS, IT LEAVES A CORPSE BEHIND
WHEN THAT CORPSE RUNS OFF, ONLY DEVOTION CAN BRING IT BACK
When the robotic god of Khuon Mo went mad, it destroyed everything it touched. It killed its priests, its city, and all its wondrous works. But in its final death throes, the god brought one thing back to its favorite child, Sunai. For the seventeen years since, Sunai has walked the land like a ghost, unable to die, unable to age, and unable to forget the horrors he’s seen. He’s run as far as he can from the wreckage of his faith, drowning himself in drink, drugs, and men. But when Sunai wakes up in the bed of the one man he never should have slept with, he finds himself on a path straight back into the world of gods and machines.
The Archive Undying is the first volume of Emma Mieko Candon’s Downworld Sequence, a sci-fi series where AI deities and brutal police states clash, wielding giant robots steered by pilot-priests with corrupted bodies.
Based on the cover and the synopsis I really thought The Archive Undying was going to be one of my favourite reads of the year. And while I did enjoy it I sadly found myself somewhat lost and confused by the end. I’m here for a story that unveils it’s plot slowly before a big reveal at the end, but somewhere along the way The Archive Undying lost me and I never got that ‘oh shit’ moment.
Emma Mieko Candon is clearly a very talented writer, she’s created this incredibly unique world filled with fascinating ideas and intricate characters. The idea of AI Gods who corrupted and ruined the cities they created and kept is what really hooked me. Add in humans who can communicate with these AI and control what I imagined as huge mechs, this is a great book for anyone who loves a complex tale with sci-fi elements.
We mainly follow two characters, Sunai and Veyadi. Both have mysterious pasts and links to AI that are only uncovered in the latter half of the book. Sunai is a very grey character, who makes decisions you’re not entirely sure you support but want to see played out anyway. There’s also the Harbour, a mysterious government whose motives are never really revealed. At no point did I work out whose side I was supposed to be on, but perhaps that is intentional.
I thought the last quarter of the book was going to be all big reveals and epic moments. But for me it just missed the mark as I got more and more confused, waiting for things to be explained to me. I honestly couldn’t tell you what happens in the latter half of the book as it felt like the same points kept being reiterated, but they never became clearer to me. Looking at other reviews it’s clear that other readers have followed the story better than I have, which is 100% a me problem generally, and feel well rewarded for their efforts in reading The Archive Undying.
The Archive Undying is filled with intricate, unique ideas that’s perfect for the right reader. If the synopsis catches your eye, give it a read, you might find a new favourite book.