my review of Citadel by C.M. Alongi

Citadel by C.M. Alongi

Review of Citadel by C.M. Alongi. Citadel is a science fiction story set on an alien planet about a young nonverbal autistic nineteen-year-old scientist who just wants to live her life, but when she meets her city’s enemy her world change and she keeps getting drawn in deeper.

My review of Citadel by C.M. Alongi

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Citadel was a very very tense read and an emotional read. The story packs a lot of interesting themes into a relatively short book and it still works with a very fast paced plot.

Citadel is very much a story of oppression, rebelion and exploration and truth

Title: Citadel
Author: C.M. Alongi
Series: Book 1
Genre: Science fiction, science fantasy
Themes: Neurodiversity, grief, oppression, colony, exploration, rebelion, class

‘Of course, the first time Elias set foot in the Flooded Forest, everything went to shit.’

Opening sentence of Citadel

NB: Don’t read the cover blurb it has major spoilers, that isn’t clear until halfway through the novel.

Citadel is a really tense and emotional read. I was genuinely scared for the protagonist throughout the book. The pacing is really well done! It was so tense at times, while also having slower move contemporary passages. Often shifting POVs slows down a book and makes me hate some of the perspectives because they take away from the good part. This was very much not the case in Citadel, where the interlocking multi POVs really helped the pacing and kept things tense.

Part of the magic of this book is the protagonist Olivia, who is a nonverbal autistic nineteen-year-old science assistant. She is really a talented artist and very interested in nature – especially documenting nature. The portail of Olivia and the way she moves though the world is really thoughtfully done and you get a real sense of how her neurodivergence affect her life. The narrative is not pitying Olivia, but rather showing how she experience the world and how her experience differs from the norm.

I really enjoyed how the stories explores themes of gender and class and how both affect the opportunities of the citizens. A lot of the story centers oppression and rebellion and the use of violence as a means of control. How to control a suffering population is a huge part of this and is also explored. For all that the story centers violence, it stirs completely clear of sexual violence, which was a pleasant surprise as there is a moment where I got worried.

I really enjoyed the scenes of exploration and scientific inquiry and wilderness survival in the middle of the book. That kind of scenes are always something I enjoy and they were really well done.

I see some really clear parallels to the Pern books by Anne McCaffrey but they are hard to talk about without serious spoilers.

The book ends not on a cliffhanger, but with a lot of story unresolved, so I am really looking forward to the second book, which should come out in 2025.

The worldbuilding:

The colony has been established for four hundred years and is running into a lot of problems because they are very pressed on ressources and have lost quite a bit of technology.

Elements of the world building was really familiar from other science fiction series, like the idea of a one city civilization, but Citadel was on a much smaller scale than most of those stories tends to be. This does pose a number of problems with the population math, not really working. The city simply seems to small for some of the socitial elements. It seems unlikely that a city of 20.000 people would have multiple law offices, while also being on the verge of an ongoing nutritional cathstory. The same goes for the military loses that the community is ok with. If multiple soldiers die every single month in a community of the size, it feels unrealistic that the government can stay in control.

However the rest of the world building in Citadel is really interesting, such as the idea of living on a planet with rings creating a non-sunlight dead zone or the tidal forest with giant trees surrounding the city and how that affects the citizens. The exploration of the ecosystem is one of the strong suits of the story.

Another really strong point of the world building is the use of religion and history as means of control by the governments. The narrative is really interested in how that feeds into the people in power benefiting from the status quo, which leads to many people to uphold systems they know are corrupt. Citadel does not shy away from showing the class differences in the society and how it hurts everyone not currently at the top.

NB: Please check the content warnings

The stats: Citadel

Published: 2023 by Blackstone Publishing
Length: 350 pages
Read: January 2024

Author: American, female, white
The protagonists: female, autistic, scientist and artist





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