Release: November 27th 2018
Warnings: Prison, threats/implications of rape and torture
I received a copy of The Razor through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.
The Razor is the newest work by J. Barton Mitchell. It’s a science fiction novel focusing primarily on just a few characters. It also reads a bit like a post-apocalyptic novel, thanks to the setting the characters are forced into. I fell in love with it because of the way a couple of the characters in particular either started with or had to find a drive to live and survive. It was a fascinating study in the human experience…all while the events unfolding around them seem painfully inhumane.
The Razor is a location in the book. More accurately, it’s a planet. A very valuable planet thanks to the minerals buried deep within. Unfortunately it’s also very dangerous. So naturally the best people to get sent down there to mine it all out would be convicts and prisoners. It isn’t an ethical solution, but it’s one we’ve seen pictured before in this sort of society. This is the world our characters must survive on.
Warnings first: Razor is a prison planet. As such it’s full of corruption and people who did something worthy of getting them a life sentence. That doesn’t mean they should be getting treated like slaves, but that’s the way this planet works. Some of the characters are put into situations that make the whole forced slavery thing more clear and hard to avoid. There are threats of rape and torture. Nothing graphic is ever shown while it happens. The worst of it would be describing bodies after the fact.
The Razor was a fantastic read. I didn’t get through it as quickly as I would like – it was intense at times so I didn’t always want to read it late into the night. But it was really well written. I just couldn’t wait to learn more about each of the characters introduced. I also loved reading their various interactions, conflicts, and attempts to solve problems.
During the course of the book we pick up five main characters whom we’re meant to care about. The first one we meet is Maddox. He’s tough, knows how the planet works, and has lost so much, including his will to live. Then there’s Flynn. Fylnn is a genius, but he’s also as naïve as they come. If circumstances hadn’t change so quickly, I have no doubt that this prison planet would have killed him within two weeks. As most. Then there’s Key. She’s a true survivor. She’s also fierce and sassy. Raelyn is the other female we get to know. She’s a doctor and a scientist. Like everyone else, she has a dark past. Unlike everyone else, she seems to do a better job of hiding it. And finally there’s Zane. I don’t want to describe Zane too much, because his introduction is special. I will say that he became one of my favorites. There is a sixth character that’s introduced to the group as well…but her being integral to the group or even liked by the readers is more up for debate than the others.
The planet itself is what really caught my attention, obviously. I love the way it was described. It sounds both brutal and beautiful. The impossible nature of it was intriguing as well. I hope that’s explored more in later novels.
The Razor is a fascinating blend of genres. Its science fiction, of course, but post apocalyptical, political, survival, and it even has a touch of romance. In short, it’s so much more than I could have hoped for. It’s not every day you get to find a book that blends multiple genres you love together.
I’m really hoping that this becomes a series. It was left open enough where it’s clearly a possibility. I desperately want to learn more about Razor, how it’ll recover, more about its origin. Everything. I also want to see more about a certain characters’ quest. I’ll have to be patient, but I’m hoping for a confirmation of the sequel sometime in the next few months.