Extras by Scott Westerfeld

Extras is about reputation, appearances, misunderstandings, and lies, set three years after the Mind-Rain: Tally's last big trick in Diego. Aya is a vibrant addition to the series, and the way the plot slowly shifts focus is very well handled.

This one isn't my favorite, but I like it more now than when it first came out. When I first read it, I was barely starting high school and didn't know about or understand anime, manga, social media, the concept of a reputation economy... It wasn't for me and I didn't get it, so it was frustrating to go straight from Specials (which I still love) to this... extra book.

Now I can appreciate a lot of subtle things that it does really well. It has enough hints of world building to make it clear that it's set in Japan at least a hundred pages before it is said explicitly. I like the references to their society before the Pretty-Time, they are handled similarly to the first three books, but with a different cultural reference. Aya feels like a different character from any of the versions of Tally, and I'm torn between wanting more Tally all the time and being able to appreciate that this is a separate story, in a separate place. This book showcases how the society really was global in its impact, but the particulars played out differently depending on the starting societal framework.

Published in 2007, this book now feels prescient instead of out of place, it makes a lot more sense because some of what it was picking up has been magnified in the years since.

Overall, I like this one, and probably anyone who found it when this series was already a quartet (rather than myself, who read it originally as a trilogy) will enjoy this book. I'm cautiously optimistic about the new quartet which is being released, and will review the new books at some point.

A sideways close-up of an eye with long lashes and a circuit-board iris

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