Dear Author has just reviewed, Smoketown and here’s a bit of the reviewer had to say:
“The characters each had not exactly a secret, but maybe a small mystery behind them, which are first hinted at and then revealed in each individual’s “song” which is played in the main symphony. I say “song” not because every character in the book was singing, but because at times the writing felt very musical and very passionate to me . . . I truly did feel that the city of Leodaire was a living breathing thing in this book; the city which was still hurting from the traumatic event of its past and which finally started healing at the end of the book. I really loved how the hope and darkness are both present in this story and that hope eventually prevails.”
The full review is available here.
Future Fire has posted a very thorough and engaging review by Kate Onyett. Here are the highlights:
“The scope of this series of interconnected tales is nothing short of epic. A stylishly presented larger tale covering the state of the USA as it turns upon a near-future of decreasing resources and heavy social unrest. Thematically, this is not a frivolous book; it is politically driven with strong views on racial and social discrimination . . . The book moves at a feisty pace, the content is uncompromising and marvellously lacking in over-sentimental fluff. This is a thought-provoking, moving and clever piece of writing, which seems to shift the turn with definite sense of musicality; a symphony of meanings. I was intrigued and challenged. Highly recommended.”
Lambda Literary’s take:
Smoketown, on the surface, is a creative attempt at shaping a story around one of today’s most pressing concerns, climate change, and man’s timeless battle to control nature. There is a post-apocalyptic feel to the novel that stems from its underlying theme of loss and isolation. The tandem fuels what essentially is a story of intrigue and mystery. The novel unfolds to reveal a fate of devastation incurred by man’s relentless quest for technology and disregard for the environment. Ms. Johnson tackles the complex relationship between nature, humans, and technology, from a wonderfully imaginative and engaging perspective.
Fellow writer and reviewer Craig Gidney had this to say:
Smoketown, the debut novel of Tenea D. Johnson, belongs in a rare subset of speculative fiction novels that examine the relationship between art and society. These books include Pat Murphy’s The City, Not Long After and a number of Samuel R. Delany’s work, most notably Dhalgren. Smoketown, like the aforementioned works, blurs the boundaries between perception, magic and science, and the futuristic/transformed landscape is both a living metaphor and geography . . . Johnson weaves all these strands together with lyrical prose and a thematic eye towards redemption and transformation.
Fluidity of Time gave Smoketown 5 of 5, An ‘Amazing’ Rating:
” . . . A fascinating setting that is both intriguing and disturbing, and a story that completely captures me . . .This book is also beautifully written . . . Reading it made me feel quiet and thoughtful, and it made me want to read more from this author.
This one’s just in from Mrs. Giggles reviews:
“ . . . Smoketown is more of an exploration of the human psyche. Loss, loneliness, idealism, cynicism, and hope may be by themselves banal words but in this story, these concepts take wings like the birds in this story. I find myself fascinated by the characters, thanks to the author’s graceful prose.
Smoketown isn’t a romance novel or a typical action-oriented urban fantasy romp. It has elements of both, but it’s more about the believable human emotions that endure through harsh climates and heartbreaks. I did not know what to expect when I picked this book up, but I’m completely satisfied with what I got out of it.”
From Publisher’s Weekly:
In the neurosis-filled city of Smoketown, where birds are outlawed after being blamed for a devastating plague, three purposes collide to alter the city’s future. Genetic artist Anna, seeking a lost friend, creates something beautiful that the city fears. Eugenio, recording survivors’ remembrances of the plague, unearths Smoketown’s deepest secret. Rory, an elderly survivor who has barricaded himself from the city in a luxury apartment, fights his own greatest fear after discovering a connection to Eugenio’s discovery. All of Johnson’s characters come nicely slantways at their unintended roles in Smoketown’s destiny, often hardly caring about the parts they play as they gauge the personal successes of their quests, and the understated, lyrical prose makes even small moments, such as the appearance of a flock of birds within the city’s force field, feel triumphant.
Publisher’s Weekly Review of Smoketown is in:
In the neurosis-filled city of Smoketown, where birds are outlawed after being blamed for a devastating plague, three purposes collide to alter the city’s future. Genetic artist Anna, seeking a lost friend, creates something beautiful that the city fears. Eugenio, recording survivors’ remembrances of the plague, unearths Smoketown’s deepest secret. Rory, an elderly survivor who has barricaded himself from the city in a luxury apartment, fights his own greatest fear after discovering a connection to Eugenio’s discovery…