Okay, I know I totally signed up for this once I downloaded it from Netgalley, but I spent the whole...more
arc provided by IDW Publishing through netgalley
Okay, I know I totally signed up for this once I downloaded it from Netgalley, but I spent the whole story going, "I DID NOT SIGN UP FOR THIS!" because OH MY GOD.
We all have our favourite X Files episodes, you know, the creepiest ones, like Home - with the amputee mother kept under a bed who kept popping out babies conceived by boinking her own deformed sons. I remember closing the shutters that night and screaming my lungs out because my cat was innocently (if cats can ever be innocent...) sitting on the windowsill. That was 17 years ago and it still freaks me out.
This volume was very much like one of those creepy episodes. It tricks you: Mulder and Scully are living together under false identities, everything is happy and normal then BAM! - CREEPY CHILD! HORRIFYING SHAPE SHIFTERS! SOMEONE IS OUT TO GET SCULLY'S BABY!
Listen, I was freaking out reading this, I read it all in an hour, tops, I couldn't stop scrolling to find out what came next. I'll tell you what came next: pure AWESOMENESS. It really was like one of those X Files episodes that haunt you for years to come.
So as soon as you can, GO READ IT! I'll just be here, languishing until the next one comes out. (less)
This is a surprise! Bear in mind this is very much not my cup of tea - BDSM and the like, not my thing. But that's not why this is a surprising book...more
This is a surprise! Bear in mind this is very much not my cup of tea - BDSM and the like, not my thing. But that's not why this is a surprising book. It's very unusual to find something so well written in this genre. Furthermore, something which makes the reader really think about gender roles.
In Parseon, relationships are between men. Women, deemed inferior, are only for breeding. Commander Dak, an alpha, already has a beta - all he needs now is a breeder to perpetuate his line. Enter Omra, whom he buys for that exact purpose. There is a lot of spanking and disciplining going on, I don't care much for that - no kink shaming! it's just not for me - but what we also find in this book is a plot. An actual plot with rules, and worldbuilding, and characters behaving according to those rules and making choices that make sense - there were no tstl moments here.
I suppose those into BDSM will read this as erotica as well, I read it a futuristic sci-fi dystopia, and a good one at that. There are similarities with Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale: a bleak future where women's only worth is as breeders. What we have here is an alien culture which functions within those very same parameters. And the characters within it questioning the culture in which they live, and yearning for change.
One quibble with this book: while homosexual relationships were the norm, there wasn't a healthy and positive exploration of one such relationship, the only positive relationships were heterosexual. This didn't seem deliberate, more the type of thing that didn't make it to the end due to length constraints. But seeing as this is the first in a series, I hope it'll be addressed in the following ones. (less)
I read Cassandra Rose Clarke's The Assassin's Curse duology and it must be one of the best works that c...more
arc provided by Angry Robot through netgalley
I read Cassandra Rose Clarke's The Assassin's Curse duology and it must be one of the best works that came out in YA in recent times.
So I had high expectations when I started The Mad Scientist's Daughter.
Everything was very straight-forward in The Assassin's Curse, Ananna was an awesome no-nonsense lady even when circumstances were absurd. The tone in The Mad Scientist's Daughter is completely different. It's dreamier, for one thing. And it's more adult.
I have to say I felt completely emotionally disconnected from Cat, the main character. I feel as if I've read Cat a thousand times, and I have - she's very reminiscent of Virginia Woolf's characters - there's that fanciful refusal to belong in the real world, there's the emotional detachment from all other characters, even the ones she supposedly loves, there's the selfishness and self-absorption. It makes for extremely pretty writing, it really does - The Mad Scientist's Daughter employed incredibly beautiful language.
But the thing is, you're not exactly meant to like a character like that. You're supposed to take it and examine it critically as a serious literary work. This is somewhat at odds, personally speaking, with the universe in which the action takes place: a post-dystopian world being rebuilt by AI. Not to say that there aren't serious literary works set in dystopias, Doris Lessing's The Memoirs of a Survivor is one - and I disliked it, to be perfectly honest, though being fully aware that it is good.
It's just a combination that doesn't work for me.
What this book proves is that Cassandra Rose Clarke's work can successfully span more than the YA genre. She clearly has the talent for serious literary fiction.
The thing is, literary fiction is not my favourite genre. So, as in the case of The Memoirs of a Survivor, I can see that this is good, it's just not for me.
Can't wait for Cassandra Rose Clarke's The Wizard's Promise, though! (less)
I just couldn’t get into this book. This is my second try and I don’t like DNF books in my list, so I tried again but I could not finish it. So maybe...moreI just couldn’t get into this book. This is my second try and I don’t like DNF books in my list, so I tried again but I could not finish it. So maybe it gets insanely good towards the end? To make up for how crappy it was for the majority of it? Anyway, just saying this is a DNF review.
First of all, (and I remind everyone this is my personal opinion) I don’t think Rick Yancey knows how to write a female’s pov. There are a lot of things sprinkled throughout the book, from the get-go, actually. Stuff like:
“It’s been a long time since humans were prey animals. A hundred thousand years or so.”
I don’t think I’ve felt so much like prey as when I entered my teenage years. That’s something that's hammered into every girls’ head, that’s something that’s downright instinctual after a few short months. I’m sure from the very privileged place of being a white male, Rick Yancey didn’t consider this, but every time a girl goes out at night, or even during day time, if there aren’t many people around, we’re prey.
Then there’s the scene where aliens are invading and it goes something like this:“OH NO WE’RE ALL GONNA DIE! I HAD SO MUCH PLANNED TO DO WITH MY LIFE! But isn’t Ben hot? Omg, he is soooo hot!” *insert 5 pages of how hot and perfect and dreamy Ben is*
Also, in a life or death situation Cassie’s bff turns to her and goes:
“I’m talking about our lives, Cassie! Jesus, this could be the end of the freakin’ world, and all you want to do is talk about sex!”
Yeah, Cassie. Or should I say Rick Yancey, who has no fucking clue what teen girls talk about and when? Because it’s clear in that conversation that Cassie and Lizbeth didn’t talk about sex much before (so realistic! …from a man’s perspective, obviously) but when it comes to a situation of survival, it’s not, “Girl, you know you’re my best friend, and we’ll get through this, no matter what, I love you, girl.” It’s, “Omg, while everyone is panicking BECAUSE ALIENS you should totally tell Ben you’ve wanted to bang him since 3rd grade and like, totally do it, maybe in front of everyone.” Man…
Then a lot of boring sci-fi clichés, which I usually don’t mind, I really don’t, but since this book was so hyped, I really expected… something original. Not “The aliens are horrible, not like in the movies. Blah blah, lost humanity, blah blah we’re doomed, blah blah I’m the last one left, oh wait no I just killed another dude, maybe now I’m the last one left, the aliens are so smart, we are doomed.” Cassie, I’m pretty sure we’ve all watched Alien? You know Lt. Ellen Ripley? I mean, I’m just saying, her aliens were a bit more badass, and she was… basically we can’t even compare you to her, is what I’m saying.
Another fault of this book: Repetition, repetition, repetition. It’s bad enough that the book is boring, which it is, not even being upset at Cassie can get me through her dull flashbacks, I mean, even her mum dying of a mutation of Ebola (and the dad bringing the kids to say goodbye to her even though it’s been mentioned the virus went airborne…) was boring, but it's repetitive. Her complaints are always the same, in fact all she does is talk to herself using the same phrases over and over. And repeating again and again how lame this alien invasion is compared to just about any other in the history of sci-fi only makes it lamer. Not to mention, sometimes I get this vibe, like this is trying to go for the type of narration in This is Not a Test... but this is nowhere near that level, okay?
Then the “romance”. WHAT. THE. FUCK. WAS THIS SICK SHIT?! This makes Twilight seem healthy. This makes 50 Shades seem reasonable. You have a girl who distrusts EVERYONE and she meets some random dude who is probably an alien anyway, and she goes:
“He stays in the chair with his elbows resting on his knees and his head lowered, which strikes me as more shy than menacing. I watch his dangling hands and imagine them running a warm, wet cloth over every inch of my body. My completely naked body.”
This guy, who’s written to make Patrick Bateman seem like a sane person, tries to kill her, strips her while she’s unconscious, and generally acts like a creep. But they’re like, totally in love you guys!! 5evah! Just like that, because… because.
Look I’m not saying, “White guys, or guys in general, you should not write girls's povs, EVER” I’m saying, Rick Yancey, wtf was this? Check your privilege.(less)
arc provided by Soul Mate Publishing through netgalley
This book is... difficult to rate. It has a lot of things in its favour, but then it also has...more
arc provided by Soul Mate Publishing through netgalley
This book is... difficult to rate. It has a lot of things in its favour, but then it also has a lot of things against it.
Cassiel Winters' brother Daz disappeared during a military mission in space, so Cassiel joins the Academy to try to find out what happened to her brother.
I liked Cassiel, she has a compelling voice, most of the time, but there are issues with the way she was portrayed in the beginning. She's a 21 year old woman in a military academy, yet she shows little respect for her superiors, especially in the way she addresses them. Her emotional maturity also seems at odds with her age. The way she describes her crush, for instance:
"Glancing up into his dark blue eyes, like a stormy sea at dusk lit by the moon"
I'm sorry, I suppose this was meant as romantic? It just made me start laughing uncontrollably. As did:
"His tongue - oh. He tastes so pure."
Stop it! I can't breathe! I'm laughing so hard I'm fighting for my next breath!
I have this to say, though, the writing got much better as the book progressed, so don't let those examples stop you from reading it.
One thing I liked about Cassiel is that she always, and I really do mean always, points out how creepy and wrong the male gaze is (particularly when it comes from one of her superiors). But she doesn't hesitate to judge people based on their looks, either. Yes, it's not the same thing, there is a power imbalance, etc., that is not what I'm addressing here. I'm just saying, for someone so conscious of how wrong and uncomfortable it is to be evaluated based on looks, she is pretty quick to dismiss or like people depending on what they look like.
I appreciate that she tries to be strong and self sufficient, but then we get her crush saying stuff like, "I will take care of you" to try and convince her to drop her entire life, and instead of being upset she's all, "Gladness bursts within, the long-awaited hope realized, and I have to physically resist the urge to jump on the spot." Hold up, girl. You're in a military academy in freaking space. Maybe you should question his caveman proposal, I mean, surely we will have advanced past this stuff in the future? There were similar instances from other characters, and she hesitates a lot there, too. There were plenty of issues concerning gender roles, and I think the author, by the end of it, had the characters make the right decisions.
Cassiel also possesses ~special powers~, which, to be honest, were handled pretty well, considering the potential they had to turn her into a Mary Sue.
What was weird and definitely Mary Sue-ish is how every male (human or alien) Cassiel meets is enamoured with her. She's everyone's object of desire. What's most desirable about her? Her virginal innocence. I mean... I mean, really. There was enough writing talent here to preclude the need for this... whatever this is.
But bad points aside, nothing could stop me from genuinely enjoying this book. It was, from start to finish, unbelievably entertaining, in a guilty pleasure kind of way. This always seemed to be veering into sci-fi erotica, instead of YA, which was confusing, but okay.
I read Star Trek was an inspiration for this, and I can see it, the Klingons being the Thell'eons, etc. And just as Star Trek, it's great in the way that it's kind of cheesy but super addictive and fun. There were also some Æon Flux reminiscent moments near the end (the original animated MTV show, not the crappy movie), which made it all the more amazing.
Could it have been better? Yes. But it was still pretty awesome. And I can't wait for the sequel! (less)
First of all, the beginning is filled with info-dump. Not only that, most of it is told instead of shown. The first few chapters are basically the ma...more
First of all, the beginning is filled with info-dump. Not only that, most of it is told instead of shown. The first few chapters are basically the main character info-dumping her whole world and personal life in an inner monologue. I don't know if it was just me, though the info-dumpy inner monologue certainly didn't help, but I personally could not connect at all with Kaliope, the main character. This book uses first person narrative, so I was expecting to feel... something towards Kaliope. It didn't happen. Most of her sentences feel robotic. Is that deliberate, because she's traumatised? Or because she has cybernetic parts and mercury in her blood? Either way, it didn't work for me.
I had a hard time ignoring the mercury thing. The characters seem human, and there's talk about technology keeping them safe from mercury - in Kaliope's case, a clamp keeps mercury from reaching her heart. I don't know, I'm not an expert on mercury poisoning, but I'd worry about it reaching her brain, besides if you can get it from eating too much fish or inhaling tainted air, what would mercury in her blood do to her? We're told that Alyah, the goddess of healing, watches over her, I guess that's what's keeping her safe, but what about everyone else?
The matriarchal society was another thing that kept me from connecting with the characters. Listen, I'm a feminist, I believe in equality - that's the key: equality. Anything other than that is creepy, no matter how benign you try to make it sound (though it failed at that), and I couldn't stop seeing the characters as unfair for buying into this. Yes, it's part of Kaliope's character arc to realise that men aren't useless, but that wasn't easy to appreciate considering I only kind of connected with her character near the end.
I actually felt bad for Caben: his father, the king, was murdered by invaders. His realm is under attack. And Kaliope's empress has him abducted, supposedly to keep him safe, while his people need his leadership to survive. And when he makes it known he's not happy with this, Kaliope fantasises about punching him the face. I mean... is the author actively trying to make me dislike the main character?
Kaliope is charged with protecting him, and their first interaction, while she leads him to his rooms so he can wash and eat, goes like this:
Marching ahead of Prince Paynebridge, I take the lead and exit the chamber. “Keep up,” I say to him under my breath. Once we’re farther down the corridor, I say louder, “If you try anything stupid, I’ll slice you from stomach to throat. I don’t care who you are.”
Then she thinks about killing him because he asked for food, and men aren't supposed to order women around... There are strong female characters, and I love reading about them, and then there are these... hyperbolic absurdities. Which I hate with a passion.
Taking all of this into perspective, plus the fact that Caben comes from a somewhat misogynistic society, their relationship seems forced.That being said, halfway into the book the plot becomes more engaging, and the characters more bearable and believable, and I finally started to enjoy the story.
Anyway, give this a chance. The plot has potential, and if it were not for the characters I probably would have liked this book - and as I pointed out at the beginning of this review, perhaps this dislike is just mine, and others won't share it.(less)
Under The Never Sky: Under the Never Sky : Book 01 This is such a difficult book to rate!
I have to admit, there is a lot to like in it, but it just le...moreUnder The Never Sky: Under the Never Sky : Book 01 This is such a difficult book to rate!
I have to admit, there is a lot to like in it, but it just left me with a general "meh" feeling.
Good characters - I honestly liked all the main characters (that's rare!), they were interesting and likeable. Awesome idea for a plot. Pretty good pacing.
I just couldn’t connect with anyone. Correction, I could connect with Aria when she was with Paisley, their relationship felt real, their friendship – the little we could see of it – actually got to me. Other than that? Flat. I felt nothing about her relationship with her mother, there was so little to it and I didn’t feel any urgency in getting to her, oh the book told me there was, but I didn’t feel it. I felt very little about her relationship with Roar, nothing about her relationship with Cinder and practically nothing about her relationship with Perry. It’s not that I couldn’t see the romance developing, or even that I was put off by it, because I wanted her to be with someone else (I didn’t), I just didn’t care. It was like, “Oh, they’re together. Okay.” That rendered thing felt too convenient, btw, and other than that, I mean… what did they have to like about each other? Where was the chemistry? Was it the violets? Hard to get attached to a relationship when they’re both thinking “this is just a one time thing” in the first place. The dialogue – it was pretty basic. That’s not necessarily a problem, because a good book will give you clues about how the characters are feeling, the depth of their emotions, what they’re not saying – I think the problem here is that Perry’s gift turned this necessary “tell not show” into a tell all the time. Don’t tell me she’s feeling curious because she smells like mint, that’s cute, but I can’t connect with that.
And there was no moment where I went, “Oh, that’s clever!” Over what somebody said. Not one.
The worldbuilding – We’re dropped into the plot and we feel lost and confused, What is happening? Who are these people? Where are these people? WHAT?!
The whole book feels like fantasy. I wouldn’t call this a dystopia, or even post-apocalyptic because there is so little worldbuilding, there is no connection to what the world was before and what was lost. Apart from rust in the pods and stone dwellings or victorian dwellings (humm…) outside we don’t get much in the way of description. That’s vital if you’re writing a book in this genre. Especially when the dialogue isn't making up for it.
I sound all Debbie Downer over this, but it’s not a bad book! It was okay, it was! That’s just it, though, it was okay.(less)
Clover was a relatable and developed character, as was West (and Mango!). The initial plot is rea...more
ARC provided by netgalley.
First the things I liked:
Clover was a relatable and developed character, as was West (and Mango!). The initial plot is really compelling: a deadly virus, a cure from the future, a Big Brother dystopia! It didn't hold up for long... Jude and Clover's relationship (though it could be more developed, as everything else).
The things I didn't like:
The pacing was slow or uneven, at best. A lot of what happened was unnecessarily confusing. It was incredibly frustrating. How the whole time travelling thing works. It could have been so cool! Instead it's just confusing and absurd. The whole Minority Report plot. I've seen Minority Report. I don't need to read a re-hash of it. And it wasn't just some, "Oh, it was kind of like Minority Report", no, it was basically Minority Report. The lack of description. Clover, West, and Mango are well developed, everyone else is basically just a name and a vague set of details. The same goes for the worldbuilding, it's all left too vague. I suppose as a consequence of being walled up there isn't much mention of anywhere else, still there is access to computers and information, so why is this a case of We All Live In America?
In the end, I didn't feel as if I'd read anything new. It was just a rehash of the usual dystopian clichés, apart from Clover who was an autistic character (though using her autism as some kind of Rainman super power/MacGuffin, wasn't that great). There is a cliffhanger, more frustrating than usual because you feel like this book wasn't properly developed so the development could occur in the sequels. All that does is not grab my interest to want to read the sequel...(less)
Okay, this was mind-blowingly amazing. I know that there's a lot of hype when new dystopias come out, "the new hunger games blah blah" but if any is...more
Okay, this was mind-blowingly amazing. I know that there's a lot of hype when new dystopias come out, "the new hunger games blah blah" but if any is deserving of the title this is it. It's like it took elements from all the most horrible dystopias like The Handmaid's Tale, 1984, The Road with a sprinkle of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. This book packs a hell of a punch.
First of all, there is Baby. There is always a younger sibling in YA dystopias, so I thought it would be more of the same. But it was so much more! In the other books the sibling eventually becomes this concept, he/she is not with the main character anymore, they're something to protect from afar. Baby and Amy were together for years. They grew together like sisters, if not by blood then by everything that matters. Their relationship was the strongest point of this book. Not that the book ever eased up, it kept me on the edge of my seat the whole time.
And while admittedly, near the end, it got a bit cliché, it was still awesome.
Seriously, this book has me trying not to make noise around the house! (less)