Assassin of Reality

Harper Voyager. (Vita Nostra, Bk. 2). Mar. 2023. 256p. tr. from Russian by Julia Meitov Hersey. ISBN 9780063225428. $28.99. FANTASY
The award-winning Dyachenkos return to the characters of their international best-seller Vita Nostra. After a reality altering third-year exam, Sasha—or at least one version of herself—is back at school. She attends the Institute of Special Technologies, where students practice to transcend human existence by becoming grammatical expressions. Even among these extraordinary students, Sasha’s talent is unique and her studies more dangerous. Outside of the institute, she meets Yaroslav, a pilot, and falls in love. Yaroslav is often traveling, and Sasha finds companionship in caring for Yaroslav’s father, Anton. As trusted teachers leave the institute and new ones arrive, Sasha knows that every relationship can be used against her, but isolation also leads to failure. She struggles with increasingly difficult lessons that have fatal consequences and wonders what possible future there could be when the goal is to not exist.

CORRECTION: Due to a mistake in editing, this review originally said the book was translated from Ukrainian, but in fact it was translated from Russian. LJ regrets the error.

VERDICT As with the previous book, inventive storytelling delves into philosophical concepts such as time, meaning, and language. This is a novel that transcends genre and will astound readers looking for serious, contemporary fiction.
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