‘Square³’: Mira Grant is probably the only author who could make me care this much about particles and atoms

August 7, 2023

TITLE: Square³
AUTHOR: Mira Grant
GENRE: Horror/Sci-fi
PAGES: 144pg
PUBLISHER: Subterranean Press

We think we understand the laws of physics. We think reality is an immutable monolith, consistent from one end of the universe to the next. We think the square/cube law has actual relevance.

We think a lot of things. It was perhaps inevitable that some of them would turn out to be wrong.

When the great incursion occurred, no one was prepared. How could they have been? Of all the things physicists had predicted, “the fabric of reality might rip open and giant monsters could come pouring through” had not made the list. But somehow, on a fine morning in May, that was precisely what happened.

For sisters Susan and Katharine Black, the day of the incursion was the day they lost everything. Their home, their parents, their sense of normalcy…and each other, because when the rift opened, Susan was on one side and Katharine was on the other, and each sister was stranded in a separate form of reality. For Susan, it was science and study and the struggle to solve the mystery of the altered physics inside the zones transformed by the incursion. For Katharine, it was monsters and mayhem and the fight to stay alive in a world unlike the world of her birth.

The world has changed. The laws of physics have changed. The girls have changed. And the one universal truth of all states of changed matter is that nothing can be completely restored to what it was originally, no matter how much you might wish it could be.

Nothing goes back.

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One moment, everything was normal. The next, physics and mathematics were negotiable things, and the supposed laws that had always governed biology were shattered beyond all repair.

This is a story about breaking rules, which is ironic, because it broke one of my rules as a reader. Generally speaking, I don’t read a lot of sci-fi, and what I do read is what you’d consider Sci-Fi Lite™️. I like stories set in space, the future, etc., but if you start bringing mathematics and physics and particles and atoms into the writing, I’ll usually zone out pretty quickly. (I’m working on it, but it’s slow progress.) Leave it to Mira Grant to somehow include those things in a story and still keep me nothing less than 100% engaged from start to finish.

Her masters had created a world where their own citizens couldn’t trust them to help without trying to take over, where their primary goal after a world-changing natural disaster was not “how can we use this tragedy to make the world better” but “how can we use this to kill people more effectively?”

What’s more, though, is that this is a story about failing government systems, people being forgotten and taken advantage of by the powers that be, and the impossibility of humanity thriving under the fists of capitalism and war. Perhaps that’s part of why I loved this book so much, and why it resonated so deeply with me: it’s a book written during a pandemic, referencing the pandemic and aftereffects of it, and at times, it points a jaded finger at a government that sat idly by and pursued money while its citizens died and chaos erupted — all while bearing an underlying tone of resentment that I feel in my bones, just like the author (if you follow her tweets as closely as I do, you already know).

No, the monsters weren’t coming from Evanston this time. They were in Chicago, they were in the government, they were in tailored suits and boardrooms, making plans about people and profit.

And, at the end of the day, it’s a story about monsters, too. From the insidious suit-and-tie wearing ones all the way to the big, otherworldly ones. It’s a horrific, infuriating, painful, sometimes heart-warming story, wrapped up in Mira’s distinct, beautiful, clever writing, and I loved every single page of it.

content warnings →
WARNINGS (click to expand):

violence, gore, death, murder, gun violence, kidnapping, child endangerment, war

representation →

Katherine is autistic; Harris is queer


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More about Destiny @ Howling Libraries

Just a horror aficionado/geek girl trying to juggle motherhood, reading, blogging, gaming, and everyday life.

    1. Ugh this book has been on the top of my list for so damn long and I need to make time for it. It sounds like the perfect blend of horror and sci-fi!

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