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Luna & Wolf Moon by Ian McDonald

LUNA

A review by The Guardian of Luna perfectly captures the novel’s content by calling it a ‘cut-throat soap opera in space’ in which ‘Mafia-style mining families’ clash with one another. 

Ian McDonald’s has written a vicious and intense story populated by an array of brutally fierce families that compete against each other to exploit lunar resources. 

Luna focuses on the Corta family, originally from Brazil, who are ruled by a dying matriarch Adriana Corta. Adriana is forced to choose one of her children as new head of the family: eldest Rafa who is both charming and volatile; Luca, the cunning second son; Ariel, the only daughter, who is a lawyer in the moon’s court; Carlinhos, who works directly on the family’s mining operations and Wagner, the youngest and family outcast. While initially the large cast of characters is rather overwhelming, as the story progresses, it becomes apparent that each and every single character serves a purpose. 

McDonald throws the reader into his complex – and often brutal – ‘world’. He does not resort to any overt world-building preferring to offer explanations only if needed within the context of the scene. Which would usually result in a convulse and confusing setting. Except it doesn’t. McDonald is able to push these ‘formalities’ aside: we immediately see his world for what it is. As a review on Tor remarks Luna’s setting ‘so brilliantly built and deftly embellished that buying into it isn’t ever an issue’.

And similarly to its inhabitants, it is a rather bloodthirsty place. It is made clear by the very first chapter that life on the moon is not easy: a person has to pay for every single breath they take. Add to that McDonald’s decision to have no criminal law but only contracts law, which makes every aspect of the moon’s inhabitants lives negotiable, makes for a very intriguing setting.

The Corta family – which purposely pays tribute to the Corleone’s from The Godfather – is made by mostly blunt and authoritative people: family disputes and jealousies are interspersed throughout the story. Each has a personal agenda and yet – from the very beginning – we know that they consider ‘family’ to be their number one priority. 

It is perhaps largely because of having such strong personalities that makes Luna’s characters so endearing. Wherever they are being proud, melodramatic or charming, they are undoubtedly passionate people, which is why it is so easy to like and root for them.

These morally questionable characters are as vivid as their background. Spectacular fighting scenes, steamy love affairs and a lot of backstabbing made Luna a pageturner. 

Luna is an incredible visual novel. The story and its characters, even the writing itself, are – in more ways than one – incredibly graphic. As once again The Guardian accurately notes that Luna is ‘as gripping as it is colourful, and as colourful as it is nasty’. 

The direct prose, the razor-sharp dialogue, the edge-of-the-seat plot combine together into an exceptionally rich and unique experience.

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

WOLF MOON

In 4 entire pages a character talks about cakes. Just about cakes.
Bonkers? Yes.
Did I love every moment of it? Absolutely 100% y-e-s.

A great follow up – and hopefully not an epilogue – to Luna: New Moon. It includes a huge cast of characters and it feels even more action-packed than its predecessor. ‘Stuff’ just keeps happening to all of the characters. Betrayals, scheming, blood feuds: Wolf Blood has it all.
McDonald toys around with the society he has created, playing with their moral codes and ideologies. He makes a lot of interesting point which give this novel a lot of hidden depth. He writes of violence, sex, power and freedom.
In Wolf Moon, war endangers all of the characters. Basically: nobody is safe. McDonald keeps us turning pages in order to see wherever our favourites make it out alive. I especially loved Robson, who amongst his deadly ambitious family, was just plain adorable.
With non-stop action, sharp dialogues and graphic scenes, Wolf Moon is a tour de force.

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

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