Review: The Incrementalists

TheIncrementalistsThe Incrementalists

Authors: Steven Brust and Skyler White

Genre: Science Fiction

Publisher: Tor Books

Release Date: September 24, 2013

Formats: Hardcover and E-book


The Incrementalists—a secret society of two hundred people with an unbroken lineage reaching back forty thousand years. They cheat death, share lives and memories, and communicate with one another across nations, races, and time. They have an epic history, an almost magical memory, and a very modest mission: to make the world better, just a little bit at a time. Their ongoing argument about how to do this is older than most of their individual memories.

Phil, whose personality has stayed stable through more incarnations than anyone else’s, has loved Celeste—and argued with her—for most of the last four hundred years. But now Celeste, recently dead, embittered, and very unstable, has changed the rules—not incrementally, and not for the better. Now the heart of the group must gather in Las Vegas to save the Incrementalists, and maybe the world.

What I Liked:

  • It was an interesting idea. The sort of-not really reincarnation (soul jumping? consciousness transplant?) thing was fascinating
  • The alternating viewpoints gave more of an overall picture of the book
  • The fight for the surviving consciousness was interesting (especially since it was all in one person’s head)

What I Didn’t Like:

  • This was not the book that I was expecting. With the Incrementalists’ abilities, I thought the book would be more like fighting over not blowing up the world or something. Instead, what I got was some unlikable dead character who’s too egotistical to actually die wanting to take over the consciousness of her indirect descendant
  • Celeste got incredibly irritating. Okay, I get that she doesn’t want to die. Please make her go away
  • Phil was meh

My Thoughts:

Yeah, so, my list above pretty much summed up what I thought of this book. I thought there was so much promise in the premise (haha see what I did there?) and for some reason I honestly thought it was going to be about a group of people fighting to save the world or kill it. (I honestly do not even know why.) I mean, the Celeste character would’ve done a kick ass job trying to influence everyone to her line of thinking, whether that meant preventing people from blowing up the world or trying to get POTUS to hit the red button. She’s incredibly good at what she does, after all.

Instead, we had a book where Celeste refuses to die (and I do mean refuses) so when she does die she goes into the mind of her indirect descendant and tries to take over the poor girl’s head/life. And Celeste is ridiculously irritating, seriously.

So with Celeste not wanting to fade into oblivion, we have a bunch of Incrementalists seeding their memory gardens to find out where the hell she’s hiding. Okay, to be honest, the garden thing was interesting. You can share memories and go into each other’s gardens and things like that, and that actually was fascinating.

Overall, I thought the book had interesting parts, but the whole just didn’t do it for me. In the end, I wasn’t interested in the characters, and this is very much a character driven book (the plot is, of course, to find Celeste before she takes over Renee’s mind and essentially kills her).



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One thought on “Review: The Incrementalists

  1. I’m pretty much in agreement concerning the review of The Incrementalists. Sadly, I might rate it even a bit lower. It was a disappointment. HOWEVER, I am a great fan of Brust and while I would not necessarily recommend The Incrementalists, I would recommend the huge majority of his other books and work. I was one of the people who counted down until the release of this latest book, who drove a considerable distance to find a book store that had it available and who purchased it early that first day. Clearly, I would not have behaved in this fashion if I didn’t think he was a damn fine author! So, buy his books and enjoy his work… you just maybe don’t want to start with this one.

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