Title: Nostalgia is Heartless (The Heartless Series #2)
Author: Sarah Lahey
Publisher: She Writes Press
Publication date: October 26, 2021
Genre: Science Fiction
One Sentence Summary: After the events of the first book, Quinn finds herself pregnant and living with her dad, and her fiance off doing military duties, though the disappearance of her mother is hanging over her head and she might need to time travel to find her.
Nostalgia is Heartless is an interesting science fiction story revolving around impending motherhood and time travel. This is the second book in the series and, as I haven’t read the first book, take my review with a grain of salt. I found it a little difficult to get into the story, but some of the characters were really quirky and endearing, so they helped make my passage through the story much easier. There’s a lot that happens in this book and the characters felt like they were constantly in motion, but I must admit to still being a bit hazy on what, exactly, it was about. I did love the focus on Quinn’s pregnancy and impending motherhood, though, and the puzzle to time travel was a lot of fun. For me, the robotic creature companion kind of stole the show. Overall, this was an interesting puzzle of a story despite it’s slow start.
I haven’t read the first book, Gravity is Heartless, but it was easy enough to catch up with the big plot points. Of course I felt like I was missing something, but that’s normal for me when I dive into the middle of a series. Despite that, I was able to figure out just enough and could take the story at hand as it was.
Set in the near future where the world has been restructured and climate change is affecting them (I think) and a group of Transhumans want to colonize Titan, climate scientist Quinn finds herself pregnant, living with her father in a gorgeous secluded glass house, and in a long distance relationship with someone no one saw coming for her (as far as I could tell). But she also has an adorable robotic meerkat named Mori as a companion, even if Mori is prone to depressing philosophical discussions and odd symptoms of mental health problems. And a mother missing somewhere in time she needs to find and retrieve since she’s the only one with the weird, but necessary component for time travel.
The biggest draw for me to this book, even though I really try not to pick up books in the middle of a series, was the focus on impending motherhood, and, admittedly, a bit for the time travel. As a mother, I found Quinn’s pregnancy and questions about motherhood hit close to home. Her fears felt so normal against a backdrop that was completely foreign to me. I really enjoyed the ending when it came to her journey into motherhood. Even though it potentially could have been left out or shortened, I loved how it was realistic and really showed Quinn to be human. It was fun to read how her pregnancy impacted the actual journey she and her family and friends had to take to make the time travel to work and, well, I’m not exactly clear on what else was supposed to be going on, but some rescue missions for sure.
Overall, I felt Nostalgia is Heartless to be a bit slow to get to the meat of the story. Since I don’t have the background of the first book, it felt like it took a while for the story to really get going, otherwise it felt more like Quinn aimlessly wandering around. It turned out some people were after Quinn and others were siphoning off resources in order to colonize Titan, which set off other chains of events. Honestly, sometimes I felt like there was a little too much and it took a while for it to start to connect. But it mostly made sense, and I was able to enjoy it by focusing more on the characters.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t a bit fan of Quinn. She came off as a bit callous and thoughtless. I felt like she was holding me at a distance and, unless it came to thoughts of impending motherhood, she didn’t really feel real to me. I didn’t like the ways she treated the other characters and how she kind of glossed over others’ pains. It was hard to connect with her. I did, though, adore Mori. While he was often depressing, he was just so cute, and really asked some good questions and really tried to understand himself. He’s so curious and so thoughtful, really a great foil to his human friend. I do wish we had seen more of Tig. Their relationship seemed a bit odd at best, though it was punctuated by some sweet moments. I just felt like he was there, but not really enough for me to get to know him and gauge their relationship. Quinn’s father, Matt, though, was tons of fun and the twins she made friends with were kind of off the wall. I couldn’t decide if they were really necessary to the story or not, but it largely depended on the scene. Certainly, they made things a lot easier, but they also kind of felt like dead weight, so I kept going back and forth with them. I can’t argue, though, that they don’t add a layer of interest.
Nostalgia is Heartless presents an interesting puzzle of a story. Clearly, I’m not completely up to speed with what’s going on, but it seemed a major piece of it was how to retrieve Quinn’s mother from some period in the past. There were puzzle pieces here and there, and the answer was right in front of Quinn’s nose, if she could just hunker down and figure it out. It was fun that there were other people trying to get to it first, trying to figure it out for themselves. But they clearly lacked some inside knowledge that just made their pursuit feel annoyingly futile. All the advance technology, though, was really interesting, and the powers of the twins were fascinating and weird, but really helped the story and made them that much more quirkier.
As a story involving motherhood, Nostalgia is Heartless really checked a lot of the boxes for me. As a science fiction novel, I felt one step behind, but really admired the futuristic setting and the time travel. The colonizing Titan thing felt a little irrelevant most of the time, but was still an important part of the story. Overall, I felt like the writing was holding me at a distance, but I really enjoyed a lot of the characters.
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Thank you to Simone Jung with Books Forward for a review copy. All opinions expressed are my own.
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