Children of Ruin by Adrian Tchaikovsky
Publisher: Pan MacMillan
Publication date: 14 May 2019
Genre: Science fiction
Page count: 576 pages
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
This is a spoiler-free review for Children of Ruin, however it will contain some spoilers for Children of Time.
Some of you may know that Children of Time is one of my absolute favourite novels. I love the incredible scope, storytelling, and world that Tchaikovsky captures on the page. Children of Ruin is a fantastic sequel that expands on everything that made the first book great, all while serving a compelling and gorgeous story.
Thousands of years ago, Earth’s terraforming program took to the stars. On the world they called Nod, scientists discovered alien life – but it was their mission to overwrite it with the memory of Earth. Then humanity’s great empire fell, and the program’s decisions were lost to time.
Aeons later, humanity and its new spider allies detected fragmentary radio signals between the stars. They dispatched an exploration vessel, hoping to find cousins from old Earth.
But those ancient terraformers woke something on Nod better left undisturbed.
And it’s been waiting for them.
Children of Ruin expands well on the story initially told in Children of Time, but still manages to hold onto the things I loved from the first book. I can go on and on about how brilliant the storytelling in Children of Time is, as well as the incredibly intricate way he manages to show an entire culture evolving from primal hunters to a space-faring society. I absolutely loved the way that the spiders were presented and how they evolved in the first book, and was so worried that we wouldn’t get anything as interesting in Children of Ruin. However, he manages to show a similar evolution of a non-human society that doesn’t feel like a rehashing of the Portiid society. I loved the way life was explored, expanded on, and evolved on both Nod and Damascus. I loved that this book had so many horror elements to it. I loved the way the Portiids and humans interacted not only among themselves, but toward a new species. I loved the backstory of the terraformers. Basically, I just loved this book.
We get a good mix of our favourite Portiid descendants — Fabian, Portia, and Bianca — as well as human descendants of the Gilgamesh’s crew. It was so interesting to see how humans and Portiids are still getting to know each other and adjusting to each other’s customs, despite the generations between first contact and their present situation. Seeing them, particularly Helena and Portia, attempt to communicate with each other and with the the new species was just fabulous.
If you liked Children of Time, I really think you’ll enjoy Children of Ruin. Although it feels a lot like the first book in terms of general plot and story structure, Children of Ruin introduces so many new elements and continues to expand and explore familiar themes. Children of ruin combines elements of creeping horror with some of my favourite science fiction tropes — space exploration and first contact. Throw in a healthy dose of linguistics, and you have this absolutely brilliant book.
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Have you read Children of Ruin? What about Children of Time? What did you think? Let me know!