Review of Domino: Strays by Tristan Palmgren

Read: 12th October 2020 – 21st October 2020

Rating: ⭐⭐

Spoilers in review: No

Rep: korean minor side character, african minor side character (wakandan)

CW: violence, gun usage, references to sexual assault, loss of bodily autonomy, child abuse, child experimentation, child murder, cults, mass cult ‘suicide’, fantasy bigotry/othering

Goodreads desc:

Sharp-witted, luck-wrangling mercenary Domino takes on both a dangerous cult and her own dark past, in this explosive introduction to the new series of Marvel prose novels

The job: infiltrate a Chicago conman’s cult to liberate some brainwashed twins. For former X-Force operative Domino, that’s a “hell no”. Fanatics are bad news. She still has nightmares about Project Armageddon, the super-soldier program that wrecked her life and destroyed her family. If only she’d had someone to help her back then, someone… like her. It’s a total pain in the ass, but maybe it is time to finally face those demons. With her probability manipulating superpowers she can turn even the worst of situations to her advantage.

I didn’t hate my time reading this, which I’m aware doesn’t sound like a particularly thrilling endorsement. This book wasn’t bad by any means, and I’m sure that lots of people will love it! The action segments were well described and exciting, and the perspective of a character whose actions invariably end up being more heroic than she’s interested in being is always a fun time. The nods to the wider Marvel universe were also good, and for the most part they were minor enough that they didn’t feel like they were overtaking the story itself.

Unfortunately I was hoping for a lot more.

There are three timelines followed through this book. There’s Neena’s childhood, an incident from when she was ~21, and the present day when she’s ~27. I didn’t mind the switching between the three periods too much, but I did mind the overall effect this had, that being that none of the storylines or any of the characters had any real depth to them. Neena tells us that she had friends at first as a kid, but there’s no time for us to learn any of their names, let alone truly examine how Neena herself felt at the time. Neena tells us that she’s close with her teammates in the present, but all I can tell you about those teammates is their names and that one of them is also a mutant, they didn’t seem to have any personality for themselves. Neena’s own personality is pretty flimsy, too. She’s a typical snarky protagonist who tries to live in the moment but, despite herself, ends up helping other people, especially when children are involved. That’s it. There just wasn’t enough room to develop the plots and characters well and have three different timelines going at once. Something had to give, and it’s a shame that development and depth was sacrificed.

Also, footnotes in prose fiction are a tricky thing to get right. They’re rarely used because they rarely work. They don’t work here. There wasn’t a single time that a footnote was used where what was said couldn’t have just been put in the prose itself, and the book would’ve been better for it. In fact, at one point near the end Neena’s narration mentions that she’d told the reader something already, when that specific thing had only been mentioned in a footnote! I was making sure to read all the footnotes, which made reading this take longer than I would’ve liked it to, but there are definitely readers out there who will assume that there isn’t anything overly important in the footnotes and so won’t bother. 

I was really looking forward to this, and I’m disappointed that it missed the mark. If you’re looking for a fast paced book full of action then there’s every possibility that you’ll enjoy this one! As someone who cares a lot about characters in what they read, it just didn’t end up being for me.

I received an e-arc through Netgalley in return for an honest review.

Goodreads | Amazon UK | Waterstones | Hive

About The Author

TRISTAN PALMGREN is a Missouri, US-based author and computer game writer, known for the critically acclaimed genre-warping novels that blend historical fiction and space opera, Quietus and its sequel Terminus. They can be found on Twitter at @TristanPalmgren or at their website at tristanpalmgren.com

About Marvel Entertainment

Marvel Entertainment, LLC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company, is one of the world’s most prominent character-based entertainment companies, built on a proven library of more than 8,000 characters featured in a variety of media for over eighty years. Marvel utilizes its character franchises in entertainment, licensing, publishing, games, and digital media.

For more information visit marvel.com. © 2020 MARVEL


About The Blogger

El is a 21 year old university student from the UK who loves to read and loves talking about what they read. They particularly like to focus on books featuring lgbtq+ main characters.

5 thoughts on “Review of Domino: Strays by Tristan Palmgren

  1. […] This is another one that I’d been looking forward to that ended up not being very good, but this time it wasn’t because of anything serious or problematic. I just didn’t think that the plot or characters were developed or explored as well as they could’ve been, and I’m not a fan of footnotes in prose fiction in general. I was talking about dnf’ing this book from fairly early on, and I should’ve just done it. I’m sure that plenty of people who aren’t me will enjoy this though! You can find my full review here. […]

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