Book Review: New Moon by Ian McDonald (Luna #1)

In honor of Moon Rising releasing this week, I just wanted to share a quick Throwback Thursday review of New Moon, the first book in the Luna series.  These are kind of weird for me to rate, because I gave both books in this series 4 stars, but the series as a whole would get 5 stars.

McDonald imagines a future for us in which gender is significantly more fluid, sexuality more open.  The characters, while often terrible and ruthless, shine vivid and bright and so very full of life.  There are tender moments of love, and heart wrenching moments of brutality.  I need more books like these.


Rating:  ★★★★

Blurb from GoodReads:  “The Moon wants to kill you.

Maybe it will kill you when the per diem for your allotted food, water, and air runs out, just before you hit paydirt. Maybe it will kill you when you are trapped between the reigning corporations-the Five Dragons-in a foolish gamble against a futuristic feudal society. On the Moon, you must fight for every inch you want to gain. And that is just what Adriana Corta did.

As the leader of the Moon’s newest “dragon,” Adriana has wrested control of the Moon’s Helium-3 industry from the Mackenzie Metal corporation and fought to earn her family’s new status. Now, in the twilight of her life, Adriana finds her corporation-Corta Helio-confronted by the many enemies she made during her meteoric rise. If the Corta family is to survive, Adriana’s five children must defend their mother’s empire from her many enemies… and each other.”

I keep seeing this described as Game of Thrones in space. I sort of get it? But I also don’t. It’s like Capone vs O’Banion in space. Except instead of bootlegging they’re fighting about Helium-3. They have dazzling parties and beautiful clothes. They’re wealthy. Their lives are always in danger.

We follow the story of the Cortas. A Brazilian family that heads up Corta Helio. They are the youngest member of the Five Dragons (in other words- the five leading families) and we witness their turf war with the Mckenzies. We are provided with an epic cast of characters. Primarily Cortas, though we do get one outsider viewpoint who is slowly brought into the family.

There’s action- but it’s a slow sort of action, a slow escalation of events. An assassin bug at a party. A runaway. An accident, etc. The last chapter is where it all ramps up and then it ends. A little disappointing but I was never really bored and found the book hard to put down.

Half the characters make your skin crawl. Rafa with his rage and ridiculous handball addiction and stupidity. Lucas with his raw ambition. Lucasinho and his endless sexcapades. Wagner is just effing weird- and I STILL don’t understand the werewolf thing. I kept expecting the author to go: oh yeah, he’s undergoing gene splicing or whatever. But nope. It seems he’s just adopted into a pack of random other wolf people, and randomly gets (or imagines) he has heightened abilities because of it.

There are a few characters I really enjoyed. Ariel Corta first and foremost. She’s very well written. Ambitious, cunning, independent. Adriana Corta- head of the family, also ambitious and intelligent. Marina and Carlinho were also very likeable.

The world building was well done. Everything is printed (clothes, weapons, furniture, food, etc.) There are four elements necessary to survival on the moon: air, carbon, data, and water. Every ounce of the four elements must be paid for. That’s right, you might be so broke you can’t afford to breathe. Then I guess you just die of poverty. There’s no law. Everything is negotiable via contracts.

I do feel like there were a few holes. Namely- if there is no “law” on the Moon, what is the point of trial by combat? Why bother when you can just go murder someone? I didn’t really get it. Supposedly Adriana loves coffee and is a super duper millionaire, but never bothers to have it imported until she’s very old. I’m not sure why. It seemed silly. I get not buying it all the time but not even as an indulgence once in awhile? Live without coffee… the horror.

Finally, the plot. I enjoyed the plot and the pacing overall but I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t predictable. I didn’t see the end coming but I had the whodunnit pegged very early on.

Warning: The ending of this book is a major cliffhanger.  I would not pick it up until you are prepared to commit to all three books.  Will I continue with the series? You bet!


8 thoughts on “Book Review: New Moon by Ian McDonald (Luna #1)

  1. Fine, fine, you’ve sold me! 🙂 Another series added to the TBR. If you haven’t read it already, I’d recommend The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula Le Guin. It takes place on an alien world where the members of that species can choose and change their gender, very interesting to say the least!

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s been on my list forever! I think I’ve been putting it off because I read Wizard of Earthsea last year and wasn’t in love with the style. LeGuin is a fantastic writer but I wanted something with a little more going on. I’m hoping her adult novels are that way.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ah, that’s understandable. If you end up picking up The Left Hand of Darkness at some point, I hope you enjoy it!


  2. Pingback: Top Ten Tuesday: Science Fiction Reads | Hamlets & Hyperspace

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