The Entropy of Bones

Ayize Jama-Everett  - published September 2015

trade paper · 232 pp · 9781618731036 | ebook · 9781618731043
2nd printing: April 2022

The Liminal People · The Entropy of Bones · The Liminal War · Heroes of an Unknown World

A Liminal People novel. A young martial artist finds there is more to the world than she can kick, more than she can see

Chabi doesn’t realize her martial arts master may not be on the side of the gods. She does know he’s changed her from being an almost invisible kid to one that anyone — or at least anyone smart — should pay attention to. But attention from the wrong people can mean more trouble than even she can handle. Chabi might be emotionally stunted. She might have no physical voice. She doesn’t communicate well with words, but her body is poetry.

Read: Chapter One on

Literary Soundtrack Interview with Lilliam Rivera
Personal Essay: Diff’rent Strokes for Different Folks: How the 80s Approached What TV is Afraid to Talk About Today
Largehearted Boy: Book Notes playlist
SF Signal: The Liminal People and The Entropy of Bones
City Lights: 5 Questions


“Jama-Everett’s book consistently resists easy categorization. Chabi’s mixed racial background offers a potentially nuanced look from a perspective that seems underserved. And by setting the book in a weird, if recognizable, Bay Area, ­Jama-Everett captures something about the way it feels to live so close to so much money and yet so far; he traces the differences between postindustrial East Bay towns, the gray melancholy of an older city, the particular feeling of struggling while surrounded by otherworldly wealth. If the book veers among different approaches — now a philosophical kung fu master story, now a seduction into a rarefied subculture, now an esoteric universe made from liner notes and the journal entries of a brilliantly imaginative teenager — there’s nevertheless a vitality to the voice and a weirdness that, while not always controlled or intentional, is highly appealing for just that reason.”
— Charles Yu, New York Times Book Review

“Chabi breaks the mold for superheroes in more ways than one. She begins fight training with Narayana, while still in high school. She is Mongolian on her father’s side and Black on her mother’s side. She loves dubstep with an obsessive, almost propulsive force, and spends nights out at clubs dancing as a portal into bliss. And she’s got a sense of humor, with a strong voice that permeates the book and moves the narrative forward. . . . Luckily, if the end of all things is a possibility, having a superhero around at least offers some modicum of comfort. If that superhero happens to be a twenty-something, old school hip-hop and dubstep-loving, half-Mongolian and half-Black woman who lives on a rusted old houseboat in Sausalito, all the better.”
—Leilani Clark, KQED

“Like The Liminal People, the book brims with originality, and features a protagonist with a captivating narrative voice. The story is not easy in many ways. For one thing, Narayana Raj, self-styled pirate captain and Chabi’s teacher, is not a good person. The things he subjects her to as part of ‘training,’ are vicious. This is a case where depiction isn’t approval. The story isn’t confused about Narayana even if Chabi is. Other characters give us insight into Narayana as the story progresses, and Chabi finally comes to a resolution about her old teacher. In this world, in this battle, conventional lines of ‘evil’ and ‘good’ don’t always serve us well.” — Marion Deeds, Fantasy Literature

“Rooted in Chabi’s voice, the story is spare, fierce, and rich, and readers will care just as much about the delicate, damaged relationship between Chabi and her mother as the threat of world destruction.”
Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“. . . a novel of initiation, another tale of a novice trained physically and spiritually in awesome mysteries. Think the Wachowski siblings’ Matrix movies. Think Grant Morrison’s The Invisibles comic book series.
“When we meet Chabi, she is a teenage girl living on a houseboat in Sausalito, California, and taking martial arts lessons from a mysterious Indian man named Narayana Raj. Disconnected from her alcoholic mother, she is able to speak without opening her mouth (and without, apparently, having anyone remark on that peculiarity). She’s also a fearsome adolescent warrior, able to run incredible distances at blazing speed and capable of fighting and killing fearsome opponents, human and otherwise. When her teacher abandons her, she must decide whether she wants to use her skills in the service of the rich and powerful.
“Chabi is . . . in over her head, but she doesn’t quite know it. Her inability to see the big picture gives The Entropy of Bones a poignancy that is not often found in a genre where the good guys are always expected to win.”
— Michael Berry, LA Review of Books

“If The Entropy of Bones was a sandwich, it would chip your tooth. If it was a drink, it would make you blind for a few panicked seconds before the world returned. The ending is relentless, breathless, and tragic.”
Nerds of a Feather

“Chabi would never be like other teens in the Bay Area. Her black-Mongolian heritage, her lack of a father, her mother’s alcoholism–those make her unusual but what really sets her apart is that she is liminal, able to do things that normal humans simply can’t. Although mute from birth Chabi can push her thoughts into the minds of others. Trained from a young age to be an unstoppable killer by a man with shady motives, Chabi falls into a dangerous crowd led by the charismatic Rice after her mentor disappears. Before she can fall completely under Rice’s sway, a man familiar with liminals tries to tell her the score. VERDICT In this follow-up to “The Liminal People” and “The Liminal War”, Jama-Everett focuses on an outsider character who can show us more of the powers at play in his world. When the novel succeeds, it does so mostly on the strength of Chabi’s voice.”
Library Journal

Reviews of The Liminal People:

“The action sequences are smartly orchestrated, but it is Taggert’s quest to retrieve his own soul that gives The Liminal People its oomph. Jama-Everett has done a stellar job of creating a setup that promises even greater rewards in future volumes.”
San Francisco Chronicle

“Fast-paced and frequently violent, Jama-Everett’s engaging and fulfilling debut offers a compelling take on the classic science-fiction convention of the powerful misfit; incorporates an interesting, multiethnic cast of characters; and proves successful as both an action-packed thriller and a careful look at the moral dilemmas of those whose powers transcend humanity.”
Publishers Weekly

“A great piece of genre fiction. But picking which genre to place it in isn’t easy. The first in a planned series, it’s got the twists and taut pacing of a thriller, the world-warping expansiveness of a fantasy yarn, and even the love-as-redemption arc of a romance. Oh yeah, a lot of the characters in it have superhuman powers, too.”—The Rumpus

“Ayize Jama-Everett has brewed a voodoo cauldron of Sci-Fi, Romance, Crime, and Superhero Comic, to provide us with a true gestalt of understanding, offering us both a new definition of “family” and a world view on the universality of human conduct. The Liminal People — as obviously intended — will draw different reactions from different readers. But none of them will stop reading until its cataclysmic ending.”
—Andrew Vachss

“Ayize’s imagination will mess with yours, and the world won’t ever look quite the same again.”
—Nalo Hopkinson

About the Author

Ayize Jama-Everett calls the Bay Area his home despite being born in New York City. He holds a Masters degrees in Divinity, Clinical Psychology, in Fine Arts, Creative Writing. He has worked as a bartender, a translator, a drug and alcohol counselor, a stand-up comedian, a script doctor, a ghostwriter, a high school dean, a college professor, and for a brief time, a distiller of spirits. Jama-Everett’s Liminal series began with The Liminal People and continued with The Entropy of Bones and The Liminal War. He has also written a graphic novel, Box of Bones with two-time Eisner Award winner John Jennings and has written for The Believer and the LA Review of Books, among others.


Jan 17, 2016: BCAF, San Francisco, CA
BookRiotLive, NYC, Nov. 12-13, 2016