Review: The Prey of Gods, Nicky Drayden

“Whatcha reading?” said someone to me as I was waiting in line at the post office the other day. I flipped up the cover of The Prey of Gods (which is a p. cool cover, as you will see below.) “What’s it about?” they said. And I was like, “My friend, that is a GOOD FUCKIN QUESTION.”

The Prey of Gods was described to me by two separate people as being the craziest SF book they’d read in a while, and they were not mistaken. What’s it about? Gods and robots, sometimes working together, sometimes really not at all. Viruses. The power of music to bring people together. Little girls with wings and more power than they know what to do with.

Prey of Gods

The Prey of GodsĀ has five central characters: a demigoddess called Sydney who is seeking to regain the power she’s deeply bitter over having lost; a Zulu girl, Nomvula, who is only just beginning to understand the power she holds; a Xhosa boy called Muzi whose first sexual experience is marred by a sudden discovery that he can control his boyfriend’s mind; a pop singer called Riya who is balancing her celebrity with her chronic pain; and a trans politician sorting out where she wants to channel her undeniable skill for making people follow her.

What to say about this book? It is bonkers. When I first heard about it, I googled it to determine its plot, but all the descriptions and reviews just seemed to be listing things it contained: South Africa! Dik-diks! Robots becoming sentient! At the time it was frustrating, but I understand now where those posts are coming from. The Prey of Gods is in a perpetual controlled skid from wild idea to wild idea, such that exclamatory lists of ideas do seem to give a better sense of the book than any description could. There are gods and pop songs and genetically engineered creatures yearning to live free.

As Sarah pointed out in her review, the pacing feels off at times, which may be a natural consequence of establishing four complete backstories, with enough depth that we’ll understand why, when push comes to shove, these characters make these choices. But as a trade-off, it worked pretty well for me: I felt like I knew who all these people were, what their lives had made of them, and how their newfound powers were affecting them. I’m in for the sequel, definitely, because I want to see what all of them do with their lives now that [REDACTED FOR SPOILERS].

There you go. You may still have no idea what The Prey of Gods is about (I don’t), but hopefully I have said enough words that you can make a guess as to whether or not this book is for you. As for me, I’m in the tank for whatever Nicky Drayden and her wild-idea-generator of a mind are going to do next.