Nona The Ninth Review: A Challenge to The Brain Cells

January 13, 2023 by Jeann @ Happy Indulgence | 3 stars, Books, Reviews

Nona The Ninth Review: A Challenge to The Brain CellsNona the Ninth () by Tamsyn Muir
Series: The Locked Tomb #3
Published by Pan Macmillan Australia, Tordotcom on September 13, 2022
Source: Publisher
Genres: Fantasy & Magic, Fiction, Science Fiction
Amazon | Book Depository | Publisher | Angus & Robertson | Booktopia
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Her city is under siege.
The zombies are coming back.
And all Nona wants is a birthday party.
In many ways, Nona is like other people. She lives with her family, has a job at her local school, and loves walks on the beach and meeting new dogs. But Nona's not like other people. Six months ago she woke up in a stranger's body, and she's afraid she might have to give it back.
The whole city is falling to pieces. A monstrous blue sphere hangs on the horizon, ready to tear the planet apart. Blood of Eden forces have surrounded the last Cohort facility and wait for the Emperor Undying to come calling. Their leaders want Nona to be the weapon that will save them from the Nine Houses. Nona would prefer to live an ordinary life with the people she loves, with Pyrrha and Camilla and Palamedes, but she also knows that nothing lasts forever.
And each night, Nona dreams of a woman with a skull-painted face...

This whole series makes me feel like I’m having drunken flashbacks, but I somehow find that enjoyable.

If you’re ever looking for a series to really challenge the brain cells, well you’ve found it in The Locked Tomb.

Gideon the Ninth made me feel dumb but I still loved all of Gideon’s one-liners and putting the pieces together at the end.

Harrow the Ninth made me feel even dumber and more in love with these two lesbian necromancers.

Nona the Ninth was a wild departure from the two of them, as we discover a whole new cast of characters to fall in love with.

So who are these new characters?

If you’ve been paying attention, we know that Nona may actually be someone important and that something significant is going to happen in this one.

However, we find that she doesn’t remember anything from the past, and she has been living a pretty sheltered existence with her guardians, Pyrrha and Camilla (who is also sometimes Palamedes).

While not new to the Locked Tomb series, we find out about the idyllic life that Nona is living, while witnessing the phenomenon that is Camilla and Palamedes sharing a body. Which Nona just accepts, like her beloved 6 legged dog, Noodle.

Nona as an innocent bystander

Although she’s almost 19, Nona has a childlike innocence about her, and we witness all the events happening through her eyes. Like Gideon in the first book, she doesn’t quite know what’s going down (which was quite frustrating as the reader, we know even less). While the book is set in the modern world, there is a sense of foreboding, that Nona can’t quite make sense of.

The whole book has a sense of foreboding, but it’s also incredibly charming as we hear from Nona’s perspective. I adored Noodle, the mutant dog, Nona’s appreciation for going to the beach, and her witnessing the blooming relationship of her guardians. As she slowly ventures out into the world and gets more and more confident (especially as she becomes a teacher aide at school), we see more happening in their colony at The Blood of Eden, and know that shit is going to go down (and sometime soon).

There was so much I wanted to understand in the book, but because everything is told from Nona’s perspective, you’re left to your own devices as a reader. It’s confusing, as Nona doesn’t know what is going on, and she refers to characters by nicknames (eg. the Corpse Prince, the Angel, Crown). I felt like I missed a lot of significant events and conversations, not knowing who those characters actually were, how they tied in with the rest of the series and the significance of their interactions.

Surprisingly, Nona reads more straightforwardly than both previous books in the series (as in, it’s not written in second person or like a scattered fever dream), but yet again, it felt like I didn’t understand anything and needed to piece together more (and not by reading the book itself).

How one becomes a God

As interludes in the book, we read the perspective of John Gaius who is also known as the Emperor (i.e. God) in the series. These parts read as a self-indulgent post-apocalyptic horror book, as we find out about his antics and how he comes into power.

Audiobook Thoughts

I’ve enjoyed the whole series on audiobook, and Nona the Ninth was no different. I enjoyed the narration, but I don’t recommend listening to it at x2 speed because it requires a lot of brain cells. It’s more the type of book that needs to be slowly digested and reflected and I’d probably enjoy it more upon a reread of the physical book (kind of like the rest of the series).

So did I enjoy Nona the Ninth? I sure did! Did I know what was going on? Nope, but I knew what I was in for having read the rest of the series. I do recommend reading this recap afterwards, which helped immensely.

I did found that Nona the Ninth dragged on at the start, and it was frustrating coming into the third book only to find your place again with new characters. However, as with the other books, it’s all about trusting the process and knowing the dots will eventually connect by the end.

While it definitely did that in the last 20% of the book, with some beloved characters returning, I do think it could’ve been cut down by a lot without impacting the connection to the rest of the series.

That being said, I’m looking forward to reading Alecto the Ninth which will no doubt answer some of the burning questions that this book poses (and no doubt create more).

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Thanks to Pan Macmillan Australia for sending me a review copy!

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Jeann is an Aussie YA blogger and mum who loves to read and recommend books! You can usually find me fangirling about books on my various social media channels including Twitter @happyindulgence, Instagram and Youtube.

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