Book review: The Buried Life by Carrie Patel

the buried life coverThe Buried Life

Author: Carrie Patel

Genre: Dystopian, SF

Publisher: Angry Robot

Release Date: July 29, 2014 (North America), August 7, 2014 (UK)

Note: this book was provided by the publisher via NetGalley.


The gaslight and shadows of the underground city of Recoletta hide secrets and lies. When Inspector Liesl Malone investigates the murder of a renowned historian, she finds herself stonewalled by the all-powerful Directorate of Preservation – Ricoletta’s top-secret historical research facility.

When a second high-profile murder threatens the very fabric of city society, Malone and her rookie partner Rafe Sundar must tread carefully, lest they fall victim to not only the criminals they seek, but the government which purports to protect them. Knowledge is power, and power must be preserved at all costs…

What I Liked:

This was a really interesting book. To me it was like the love child of a Steampunk and a Dystopian. Seriously. The setting was fascinating — an underground city, a group of rulers that are more dictators than anything, societal rules, and, of course, murder and mayhem.

How fun is that?! I know.

I loved the pacing of this book. As I’ve mentioned before, I have the attention span of a goldfish, so I prefer my books to be faster paced. This book took off running. It was fast paced with a hell of a lot of action — which, coupled with the setting, was right up my alley. And on top of the murders and guns and all that, there were also some interesting characters. The main characters here were all quite fascinating — nuanced, layered, realistic. They were not cardboard cutouts. Although, I have to admit that I found Jane’s idealism at the end to be a little cliched (granted, it made for an interesting twist — and some serious sequel bait, so I can’t really get too upset about it).

What I Didn’t Like:

I had a hard time finding Malone’s allegiance switch to be believable. It just seemed out of character with what I’d seen up until that point. I also had a hard time envisioning the world (a map would’ve been helpful in that regard). There were numerous references to subterranean exits and streets that seemed like they were on the surface. But the city is supposed to be underground — so are parts of the city above ground? It was just a little hard for me to “see” the city in my head.

The Council was an interesting antagonist. I liked that setup, but I also wish I’d had a bit more explanation into the Council’s background. For example, are Council positions inherited? They seemed to be Recoletta’s aristocracy. (There didn’t seem to be any elections.) How did the Council come to be? Etc. etc.

My Thoughts:

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. The world and the characters were fascinating, the plot was fast-paced and action-packed. It was a great read. I hope there’s a sequel — I would be interested in visiting Recolleta after the events of this book.



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