The Wulver’s Library‘s Review of Babel by R. F. Kuang
Babel, or The Necessity of Violence: An Arcane History of the Oxford Translators’ Revolution is my first RF Kuang novel and I’m not too sure how to feel about it.
Kuang surprised me with the magic system and the action but I was wary of the way this was told. Throughout lecturing we are introduced to these scenes and whilst the academia setting is sharp and fluid, the pacing through me out of the story at points before coming back in. The writing style was smart and intriguing.
There is no doubt that Kuang has a way with choices and vocabulary that feels effortless and interesting but the characters started to lack depth and felt more like NPCs than side characters at times. There were moments that moved the story along that ended up fizzing out but the highs were high just as the lows were low.
This was an academia novel and it definitely felt like it. We got lost in lectures that took me away from the deep social commentary and the solid story. Perhaps I was expecting more or this genre is not for myself but whilst this was a good book, that’s all it was.
Kuang can definitely tell a story but there are obstacles that prevent me from enjoying this as much as others have. Fans will get more out of the story than I did but I grappled with DNFing and struggled through.