Null States by Malka Ann Older


Rating: ★★★★

Null States follows Roz primarily into Darfur. Darfur is a previously Null State (where there were no Information feeds and no microdemocracy existed). They need help getting some of their feeds set up and ensuring the microdemocratic process is running smoothly. On the first day, their head of state is killed in an explosion as Roz and her team are looking on. Roz stays to investigate and assist with a second election for a new head of state.

Meanwhile- Heritage is still reeling from the after effects of their naughty behavior in the previous election. They threaten to secede from the system, at which point the centenals they did win would all become Null States. Mishima, who is doing freelance work, independent of Information, is pulled back in to spy on Heritage.

There is so much more going on in this plot! I don’t want to give everything away so I’ve focused on what I felt were the two primary points.

The feel of this book was much different from Infomocracy. I liked that Older did not stop to rehash the details of her world building (and for that reason I also recommend reading them as closely together as you can).

The action was fairly non-stop. Personally- this detracted a bit from the book for me, and that isn’t something I say often about action oriented books. I will say I think a lot of my feelings about the plot had to do with my mood and the chaos of my work life right now. My wonderful buddy read group absolutely loved this one, but for me it felt like too much to include in a single book. Sometimes the plot threads and the clues were difficult to keep track of.

The characters were excellent. Mishima is the “consummate badass” and her parts were definitely my favorite to follow. We don’t see much of Ken this time around- but I also enjoyed his parts towards the end. He’s presented as almost the exact opposite of Mishima. He doesn’t know any martial arts. He doesn’t carry weapons- but he’s still valuable. He can see things where others might not.

But Roz is the character we spend the most time with. I liked her from book one and was happy to see her in book two. All of these voices feel distinctly different. They all have their own unique personalities and quirks. Where Mishima is cool and confident- Roz often puts on a cool confident face but seems unsure of herself on the inside. I’m excited to see how they come together in State Tectonics.

For the setting- this is less of a world hopping adventure than the first one- but we were taken to places we didn’t get to see in the first book and I liked that we were given the opportunity to see what the world looked like without Information feeds everywhere.

I highly recommend this series for anyone looking for something that feels new and original.

One thought on “Null States by Malka Ann Older

  1. Pingback: Top Ten Tuesday: Hidden Gems | Hamlets & Hyperspace

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