Book Review: Perfect State

Last year my computer was displaying all the warning signs of giving up the ghost (it was quite old, and had been a constant companion for the better part of a decade, so no complaints here).  And somehow in the process of updating my computer I’ve also added a lot of other new technology to my life (hello tablet, hello e-reader), which has in turn resulted in me being far more willing to read electronic books and stories.  (Years of reading scientific papers on a computer screen has really dissuaded me from reading anything of significant length on them now unless I have to.)  So, obviously, some of the first stories I’m going to test out on my new toys are Brandon Sanderson’s digital novellas (though really anything less than 300,000 words from Sanderson feels like a short story).  I’ve read all of his full length novels at this point, so I sort of know what I’m in for when I pick up a Sanderson story, but, even with these expectations Perfect State still excited and surprised me.


Perfect State is the story of Kai, the conquerer of the world.  Well, at least of his world.  Kai is actually living in a simulated world that is perfectly tailored to making him a hero.  Which means he is fantastic at everything.  Until he is told by the higher powers that he need to procreate, and is forced to go on a date.  With the usual Brandon Sanderson flare, hilarity and awesome adventures ensue.

I’ve read nearly all of Brandon Sanderson’s works, so I’ve become quite used to his style as an author.  I have to say that Perfect State stood out from the rest, in a good way.  Sanderson gets a bit edgier than in his other works, and it really worked for this story.  The world-building and plot, as always, are fantastic.  The setup of the story allows for all the cool things, while still making total sense, which makes my geeky little heart do a happy dance.  The characters are fun, and definitely have the typical Sanderson snark that I’ve come to expect from the non-cosmere crowd.  I suppose one could criticize how all of his characters have the same tone when they banter, but it’s fun banter, so I really don’t mind at all.

I really loved the ending of this story.  It is the perfect blend of depressing, thought provoking, and hopeful.  There are so many little details that I loved about this story, but I don’t want to give away too many spoilers, so I won’t list them here.  I’m just going to say “I loved it” and leave it at that.  The story is fairly short and reads very quickly – I read it while traveling and finished it in one sitting between other books during the trip.  This is the sort of story I think everyone will enjoy.  It’s fun, it’s quick, it’s inexpensive, and it’s good.  Highly recommended.

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