The Overview: Stephen Leeds, AKA “Legion,” is a man whose unique mental condition allows him to generate a multitude of personae: hallucinatory entities with a wide variety of personal characteristics and a vast array of highly specialized skills. As the new story begins, Leeds and his “aspects” are hired by I3 (Innovative Information Incorporated) to recover a corpse stolen from the local morgue. But there’s a catch. The corpse is that of a pioneer in the field of experimental biotechnology, a man whose work concerned the use of the human body as a massive storage device. He may have embedded something in the cells of his now dead body. And that something might be dangerous… What follows is a visionary thriller about the potential uses of technology, the mysteries of the human personality, and the ancient human need to believe that death is not the end. Legion: Skin Deep is speculative fiction at it most highly developed. It reaffirms Sanderson’s place as one of contemporary fiction’s most intelligent—and unpredictable—voices. -Goodreads
Both Legion novellas were absolutely delightful. The concept was unique (a brilliant man whose “not crazy”, but harbors several human aspects who help him store information and solve crimes), the mysteries were interesting, and the writing was superb – yup! It’s definitely a Sanderson. What I especially loved about Skin Deep was the humor – I laughed so much through the first half I went back and read it again – you can tell Sanderson had a lot of fun writing it. The resolution to the mystery may have been wrapped up a little too conveniently for my tastes, but I still liked it. Overall, if you’re in the mood for something different – or if you’re mega Sanderson fan (like me <3) who hasn’t yet read it – Legion is the perfect pick!
The Overview: God-Emperor Kairominas is lord of all he surveys. He has defeated all foes, has united the entire world beneath his rule, and has mastered the arcane arts. He spends his time sparring with his nemesis, who keeps trying to invade Kai’s world. Except for today. Today, Kai has to go on a date. Forces have conspired to require him to meet with his equal—a woman from another world who has achieved just as much as he has. What happens when the most important man in the world is forced to have dinner with the most important woman in the world?-Goodreads
With a 3 star (I liked it but I didn’t love it) rating, Perfect State claims the spot as my least favorite Sanderson to date. In the whole scheme of books on the market, it was still a good read, I just happen to like all of Sanderson’s other works a bit better. What I liked most about the novella was that it made you think. It was very cleverly conceptualized and crafted (the concept for Perfect State – a permanent virtual reality experiment – was nifty). I even liked the characters, but unfortunately didn’t find the main one relatable. At all. Which is probably what kept me at arms-distance throughout the whole story. Overall, I’m glad I read it and will definitely recommend it, but only to those who have already read some of my favorite Sanderson works.
Normally, this is where I’d recommend comparable titles by other authors, but Perfect State only reminded me of a conceptual hodgepodge of Sanderson’s other works, specifically these ones:
The Overview: When the familiar and seemingly safe turns lethal, therein danger lies. Amid a forest where the shades of the dead linger all around, every homesteader knows to follow the Simple Rules: “Don’t kindle flame, don’t shed the blood of another, don’t run at night. These things draw shades.” Silence Montane has broken all three rules on more than one occasion. And to protect her family from a murderous gang with high bounties on their heads, Silence will break every rule again, at the risk of becoming a shade herself. -Goodreads
If you only read one novella from Brandon Sanderson, Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell would be my top pick (by a smidgen – they’re all awesome. And really, why would you limit yourself to just one?). It’s just one more example why Sanderson is one of my favorite authors – his novellas are every bit as good as his full-length novels. I loved this one because it had the perfect mix of characterization, setting, story, pacing, action, and resolution. It felt like a snippet out of a fully developed novel, but was self-contained enough to stand complete on its own. Silence, the main character, really struck a chord with me – her decision-making during the most intense scenes of the story still have me reeling months later. I want to get into the nitty-gritty details and geek out about all of them, but I can’t discuss it to my satisfaction without spoilers. So just take my word for it – this is definitely worth reading! :-)
The Overview: Stephen Leeds, AKA ‘Legion,’ is a man whose unique mental condition allows him to generate a multitude of personae: hallucinatory entities with a wide variety of personal characteristics and a vast array of highly specialized skills. As the story begins, Leeds and his ‘aspects’ are drawn into the search for the missing Balubal Razon, inventor of a camera whose astonishing properties could alter our understanding of human history and change the very structure of society.
I picked this novella up on a whim. Now, I expected it to be good because it’s a Sanderson, but holy crap! It was awesome. You get strength of character right out of the gate and total immersion into this guy’s life. Then Sanderson proceeds to hit you over the head with one cool idea after another. There were five or six concepts in this novella that I absolutely loved – any two of which would’ve made for an interesting story. I don’t want to get into specifics for fear of spoilers, but suffice to say I completely devoured this story and am still reeling from it several days later. It’s a dang good thing Skin Deep (Legion #2) is out, because I feel like Legion sparked a new craving that hasn’t yet been satisfied. If you’ve read (and liked) Steelheart, you’ll definitely like this one.