Temper is about twin brothers, Auben and Kasim Mtuze. Set in a fictional analogue of southern Africa, they live in a society that is made up of primarily twins. As a coming-of-age ceremony, these twins are assessed and assigned a mixture of the seven vices.
Normally, it's common for the twins to split along a three to four ratio. Sometimes, it can be five to two. The Mtuzes are rare in that Auben has six and Kasim only has one.
Kasim has embraced his bad-boy lifestyle. He flirts with the girls. Classes are meant to be missed, right? Also, he isn't afraid to supplement his lifestyle with a little bit of theft.
But, as the year turns, Auben starts to hear voices. They're pushing him to go beyond petty fun-seeking and move into more serious misdeeds. Also, he's starting to crave the taste of blood.
Overall, I really liked Temper quite a bit! This was Nicky Drayden's second effort, and I'm going to add her to my category of "to-read-upon-release."
First, I loved that the story was a standalone. There's nothing wrong with a series. But, sometimes, looking at the book store's shelves, I think that the stand alone speculative fiction novel is a lost art. It's nice to find a story that fits into less than four hundred pages.
I also liked the social structure of the world. Peoples' social status depended on how many vices they had. Since Auben had six, he wasn't looking at the rosiest of futures. Kasim was looking at the reverse. He expects to climb to a respectable position on the social ladder. Auben, though, can expect to live in a ghetto called a comfy.
Also, I liked the idea of a society of twins. There's a very specific world building reason that this happens that I won't get into here. But, in addition to the male/female paradigm, the twin effect has added the kigen gender, which was an interesting thing to think about.
The world of the story is going through an intense debate about religion and secularism. The two sides have very strongly drawn boundaries. Also, mechanical devices are verboten, due to cultural exploitation from machine-using conquerors.
The Mtuze's mother is strongly secularist, and she's raised her boys to be such as well. When they choose to explore religion as a means of understanding what's happening, she reacts strongly.
I love the sense of humor in the story. Auben revels in the funny. His uncle-in-law, Pabio, illustrates not-safe-for-work "childrens" books, such as an octopus with mouth-herpes. There are other examples, too, but some of them give away a bit too much of the story.
I was a little less thrilled with the use of language in the book. It's written in the first-person, present tense. No issues with the first-person voice -- I love it in general. It's just a touch jarring to read at first. Whenever I came back to the book, it took a few minutes to get back into the swing of the text.
Also, the chapters were really long. It was sometimes hard to find a good stopping point, particularly when I started dozing off in bed. If the chapter subsections had been a bit more clearly labeled, it would have been easier going.
Overall, though, those are some minor nitpicks. I highly recommend this for people interested in reading fantasy set in Africa (something sorely lacking at the moment), and also people interested in drama between family members.