High (Book Review)

Written by Michelle Watson

May 31, 2024

You’ll love it if
you’re in the mood for a short, hard sci-fi

This book review contains affiliate links. Here’s my disclosure policy.


By Adam Roberts

Plot & Pacing
Writing Craft
Moral Value

Too interesting to be so short

This is my first time reading Adam Roberts. I knew upfront that this is a novella and not a full novel, but I found myself wishing that it WAS. The premise is tight-packed—a hitman takes the job of kidnapping a girl on Mars and returning her to her mother on Earth. Bit by bit, Roberts reveals more, but I wish it had been developed into a full novel. I wanted to know more about Hi’s backstory, and I wasn’t sure why the novella ended the way it did.

Hi is the hitman. (How does his name relate to the word “High” as in the title? Welp, it’s the title cut in half…not sure what that means.) A wealthy NYC woman hires Hi to extract her daughter from her ex-husband’s lavish home-compound on Mars. Hi takes the job, but he’s got his own motives for doing so (not purely monetary). Probably shouldn’t give any more away.

In short order, we get a sense of this vast future world and how it works on a solar-system-level. Lots of neat techy gadgets. I wanted more.

I wanted more character. Hi is like a machine, but I wanted to know WHY he was this way. The rest of the characters have strong flaws and motivations, and I wanted more from that—I wanted them to intersect and clash.

The voice…it’s been a long time since I’ve read something written in such a nontraditional style, using second person and direct addresses. Who is this narrator?

Overall, this was intriguing for me, someone who isn’t sci-fi savvy at all.

Content warnings: There was a smattering of foul language, PG-13 violence, and non-graphic sex. Not what I’d call clean, but also not gross.


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