Now translated into Italian by Zona 42!!It’s really quite difficult for me to believe it’s a first novel, it’s so good: incredibly ambitious, beautifully written, moving, and with an extremely poignant ending, not to mention that remarkable, intricate balancing act with all your various hall-of-mirrors characters.
Author of Illyria, Saffron & Brimstone, and Errantry ...an audacious first novel that pushes against the limits of the form. With a spiral narrative and a dance of identity and incident, she limns an array of characters and their worlds in deft strokes. Be warned that you will puzzle about the story behind the stories as you read this novel, only to discover a profound and moving answer at its conclusion. With its bold interrogation of gender, Elysium is a book like no other.
James Patrick Kelly
Winner of the Hugo, Nebula, and Locus AwardsWow! Jenn Brissett’s new novel Elysium from Aqueduct Press is a knockout. The writing and structure of the book are so accomplished, I’m amazed this is a first novel. The style flows and draws you into the fiction and keeps you therepoetic in it’s imagery but simultaneously economical. It's a science fiction, post-apocalyptic tale, a love story, but not your dumb old man’s love story. A love story for a new age. The structure of the novel was the most startling thing to mea complex construction that never comes across as complicated. The effect is like a magic trick. Great characters that make the adventure worth the journey.
Author of Crackpot Palace, The Drowned Life, and The Empire of Ice Cream***Brissett’s punch of a debut is bewildering at first, but never so confusing as to frustrate the reader, and repeating elements and symbols help tie everything together—not neatly, for so much of the world is broken, but enough. Brissett deftly handles the challenge of a multitude of characters all being the same people in a multitude of places that are the same place, while exploring complicated questions about identity.
Elysium is the sort of novel you read once, and then read again to make sure what you think happened was, in fact, what happened. This is a complex, dense book, and reminds me of the best parts of Kate Atkinson’s Life After Life and David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas. Brissett’s novel, her first, is as ambitious and experimental as those works, and I hope it receives similar attention.
The Future Fire Reviews
Jennifer Marie Brissett’s debut novel really delivers. Surrender to the weird structure and it’s a unique, surprising and clever book that turns the post-apocalyptic genre on its head.
... rich exploration of identity and memory.
Nancy Hightower, The Washington Post
Brissett handles this not uncommon SF trope as if it were freshly minted. Her subtle morphings of identity and circumstance among her deeply felt characters serve to make us ponder ... what make up the core constituents of self and personality, and what is superficial. Her crabwise plotting is a bold and successful counterpoint to more linear narratives. And while her treatment of the theme is clear-eyed and personal, she also harks to many ancestors.
Paul Di Filippo, Locus Magazine
Elysium is a challenging read that keeps you second-guessing yourself, and trying to figure out what brings all these divergent love stories together is a baffling, obsessive challenge. The good news is, the book's ending is both powerful and makes sense of the rough outlines of what's gone before — and the final pages will actually make you stop and think about the strangeness and power of the splintered tales you've been reading.
Charlie Jane Anders, io9
...this astutely-crafted novel is entirely Brissett's creation. Her unique voice, elegant narrative structure and pared-down prose result in something fresh and innovative. This is a post-apocalyptic love story in which neither apocalypse nor love are what you expect.
Alvaro Zinos-Amaro, IGMS
Elysium does what so many of P.K. Dick’s best books do: it made my mind go all bendy as the world in the book spun the world around me.
Nicolette Stewart, Book Punks
It’s really only now, as I stand back and admire the thing complete, that I appreciate the full distance travelled from the first Adrianne’s city walk, forgiving the few blemishes for the sake of an awe-inspiring totality. Page by page Elysium merely dazzles; and then it absorbs; and then, at the end, as it must, it burns. It tells a story, and a history, that matter. You should open the book.
Niall Harrison, Strange Horizons
When she isn’t filling the pages with wayward graffiti artists locked in a subterranean existence, aliens that flicker in-between fourth dimensional space, or sci-fi weaponry rent from underground ’90s comics, she’s telling us a story about our deep connections to each other. “Elysium” spiritually connecting in ways “Cloud Atlas” or “Life of Pi” perhaps tried to be, but without actually telling us so, by trusting the reader and allowing the characters to discover that connected kind of humanity, echoing the mythic work of Samuel Delany in the process, ultimately helping us, the reader, find that same feeling.
Alex Smith, Metropolarity
I read so many reviews that called this book “ambitious” and I’ll be honest, whenever reviewers use that word I wonder if there’s the subtext “but misses the mark” behind it. So I’ll say it loud and clear for you, Brissett’s Elysium is ambitious and unflinchingly hits its mark. Readers looking for diverse books in sci-fi/spec-fic will be pleased, as will fans of cerebral, apocalyptic texts.
Allison Carr Waechter, Coven Book Club
Some of the praise heaped on this book includes the words ''audacious,'' ''ambitious,'' and ''hard to believe this is a first novel.'' These are all entirely apt. ... it's great to see a book with such unconventional structure, that takes the genre playbook, tears all the pages out and shuffles them back together, and still manages to tell both one and many moving and satisfying stories.
Karen Burnham, Locus Magazine
The book is not bound firmly to the earth; it moves in an 'in-between space, neither here nor there.' It is also filled with characters who are both themselves and not themselves, fluctuating from one identity to another. Elysium is a powerfully ambitious book. In a certain sense, it is a love story. But it is also a book about identity politics, about history and collective memory, about technology and culture, and ultimately about extermination and genocide.
Steven Shaviro, LA Review of Books