reviewed Foundryside by Robert Jackson Bennett

Foundryside (Paperback, 2019, Broadway Books) 4 stars

Sancia Grado is a thief, and a damn good one. And her latest target, a …

Entertaining, exhausting, and potentially triggering for some

4 stars

Trigger warning for this book at the end of the review

I really enjoyed this book. The world and character building were first-class, and I completely loved the way that the author integrated themes of class struggle and capitalist exploitation of the working/poor.

Having said that, there were a few things that lowered this book from my list of "best reads of the year" to the slightly larger pile of "meh, it was pretty good".

First, there were so many times that I found myself finishing a chapter muttering "oh goddammit" because of some unexpected plot twist. These are great if they're interspersed throughout a story at strategically important turning points, but it felt like Bennett was a little too generous with these unexpected narrative surprises. It felt like a constant struggle where the vast majority of the chapter would build the narrative one step forward for the characters, and then the last few paragraphs would be two giant leaps backwards in their quest. Like I said, I get that this is important for building the story; after a while though, it can feel exhausting as hell for the reader.

Second drawback of the book from my perspective (and why I think it might be potentially triggering for some) - there were a handful of scenes where the main characters were enslaved and/or lost control of their bodily autonomy to the villain(s). Now, these scenes fit in really well with the overarching theme that capitalism steals our very minds and bodies to work against our own best interests, but they were very unpleasant to read. I understand that not every book is supposed to be sunshine and rainbows, and I believe that these scenes did a good job of accomplishing what the author intended them to do. However, I think that these scenes could be triggering for readers who have experienced abuse in their past.

Trigger warning: this book contains themes and scenes including slavery, physical abuse, torture, and loss of both physical and mental autonomy to the villains