Book Review: Keeping It Real

Keeping It Real (Quantum Gravity #1)Keeping It Real by Justina Robson

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Welcome to Otopia. Otopia used to be Earth, until a Quantum Bomb splintered reality and granted access to other dimensions; dimensions populated by elves, fairies, demons, and the dead.

Lila Black had an unassuming life as a government worker, until diplomatic mission to Alfheim–the elves’ home dimension–ended in her torture and the death of her colleagues. For reasons of their own, the Agency has rebuilt her- better, faster, stronger, and nuclear-powered.

She may be a super-human cyborg with enough fire power to level a building, but Lila didn’t sign up for this, and she has the angst to match. How exactly does one deal with being horrifically tortured, only to wake up and find oneself a robot– not to mention being informed that your family thinks you’re dead? On top of all of that, she’s just been assigned guard duty for a half-elf, half-demon rock star, which means nothing but trouble.

I really enjoyed “Keeping It Real.” The fantasy tropes are certainly present (elves are aloof, fairies like to mess with people, demons deal in base pleasures), but individual characterization is fleshed out enough to keep it from falling flat. Lila, while given to some truly teenage levels of angsty self-reflection, is worth getting to know. This is one time where the “I have so many issues” plot line actually worked for me. I mean, she was unwillingly turned into a cyborg! She’s thrust into a role as bodyguard/spy/diplomat that she has no training for (apart from the a fore-mentioned ‘enough power to level a building’), and the Agency obviously has some sort of plan for her that they haven’t seen fit to mention. Who wouldn’t have issues?

This is the first book in a five-book series, so don’t be surprised when it raises a lot more questions than it answers (which is to say, none). There’s plenty of action to make up for it, though, so pick it up and have a good time.

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