Book Review: The All-Consuming World by Cassandra Khaw

Good morning! I am back from vacation and totally behind on returning comments and love. I adore each and every one of you who comes to read my blog posts. This book has been on my list for so long and I’m so glad to finally share with you my thoughts! Please enjoy my review of The All-Consuming World by Cassandra Khaw!

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Title: The All-Consuming World
Author: Cassandra Khaw
Publisher: Erewhon
Publication date: September 7, 2021
Genre: Science Fiction, Cyberpunk, Space Opera

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The angry, queer, gender bendy cyberpunk space opera you didn’t know you needed

At a glance: A group of ragtag ex-con cyborgs gets back together for their last heist, back to the same planet of their last mission that broke their group apart and caused them to lose their friend.

  • 🤖 Cyborgs
  • 💥 Dramatic Ending
  • 💪 Feminist
  • 🛸 Sci-Fi/Fantasy

Read this if… you are in the mood for a bumpy read, you are itching for an angry cyberpunk, you’ve been looking for women leads in space opera.

Diversity Representation: Queer, women of color cast, Malaysian author

Content Warnings: Violence, suicide, amputations, medical procedures, codependency, blackmail, self harm

Book Review

Stunning, expansive, punk, angry, imaginative, dense, ornate, turbulent, brilliant

The All-Consuming World was a book that I was really anticipating coming out. When Erewhon sent me a copy in the mail I was absolutely overjoyed! Erewhon books is one of my favorite publishers, and Cassandra Khaw has other incredible works out. Honestly, opening this book at first was a bit of a challenge. The world-building is dense but flowery all at once and unique to any similar books that I’ve read before, so I wasn’t able to stay grounded in any kind of assumptions of the world. The group of misfit ex-criminals is full of rage and bitterness so they swear a lot, which is jarringly juxtaposed by the writing style that was both precise in some parts and ornate in others. This book breaks your assumptions and shatters your beliefs in what a book needs to be.

Though the text took a while to start understanding, once I made it halfway through I started to see how clever Khaw’s writing actually is. They confused me to challenge me. The dense world helped me explore my imagination and push the boundaries of my thoughts. The prose is constantly changing and matches each character’s perspective perfectly. The ornate writing trains you to detach from what you know about humanity, technology, life, and consciousness in order to reach the climax that really turns everything on its head once again. All of this makes for a turbulent reading experience, but one that completely paid off for me in the end.

Quick Summary: The All-Consuming World follows a group of angry misfit ex-cons coming back together to relive their last mission that ended in tragedy. Broken and traumatized from the last mission that cost them their friends, the group begrudgingly agrees to go back to the planet that ruined it all in the hope that one of their dead friends isn’t dead after all.

Khaw does not let up in this story. Throwing this group of ex-con cyborgs in a post-apocalyptic world, they wonderfully portray the decay of culture and history into consumerism, a trend that we can see happening today and a very characteristic idea in cyberpunk (see more about cyberpunk here). Multiple nonbinary characters and AI characters allow readers to defy expectations on gender, there is even a character that uses “he” and “she” pronouns interchangeably and Khaw uses both in a single sentence unapologetically. The world built here has progressed past arbitrary ideas of what counts as being alive and begs us to question what the limits of humanity and consciousness are. I’m so glad that I stuck it out until the end of this book because once I grounded myself in the world, everything became simply stunning.

Summing it all up

The All-Consuming World defies expectations and turns our ideas of the world on their heads. This book is a stunningly turbulent read that will catch you off guard and stretch the boundaries of your mind. Though it was difficult to get into at first, sticking through was so worth it.

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About the Author

Cassandra Khaw is an award-winning game writer, whose fiction work has been nominated for several awards. You can find their fiction in places like F&SF, Year’s Best of Science Fiction and Fantasy, and Their next book Nothing But Blackened Teeth is coming out in 2021.

They can be found on Twitter mostly!

Let’s chat!

🤖 Do you like space operas?
🤖 What was the last space opera or cyberpunk book that you read?
🤖 Have you read any of Cassandra Khaw’s other works?

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Want More Diverse Book Recommendations?

Check out the rest of my blog! I’m dedicated to sharing books with you that include diversity, so feel comfortable that any books on Bookish Brews will include some diversity.

If you liked this review or thought you might like this book, check out some of my other reviews for sci-fi books full of social commentary and diverse casts:

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Added to my TBR: The All-Consuming World! Angry queer space opera? Sign me up!

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*I received this book for free and am leaving this review voluntarily*

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