"Three" is just what I've been waiting for in the realm of the dystopian urban fantasy subgenre of adult literature. It has everything I'v4.5/5 stars.
"Three" is just what I've been waiting for in the realm of the dystopian urban fantasy subgenre of adult literature. It has everything I've been craving - biopunk, biohacking, cyberpunk, a bleak post-apocalyptic/dystopian setting, journeys, and more. More than that, it has some of the most awesome fight scenes that I've read within the subgenre in recent memory. If you want something fresh and new and reads like a kick to the face, "Three" is definitely a book you should check out.
Also, did I mention it has zombies? Yes. It has zombies - but like nothing I've ever read. The Weir - electric, cyber-like zombies, who have blue eyes (felt like there was a bit of a "Song of Ice and Fire/Game of Thrones" reference there), and who hunt at night, screaming electronic shrieks to each other in order to catch their prey. This bit really caught my attention, and confirmed to me how skilled Posey is not only in his use of sensory language and imagery (more on that in a bit), but how original his ideas are within this genre. Or rather, how he makes all of the typical parts of this subgenre his own. It blew me away, combined with everything else in this book.
The worldbuilding: mostly using sensory language and imagery, along with his main cast's individual backstories, Posey builds his world very well. While we don't get a good, solid explanation as to why the world itself has ended up the way it's portrayed in this book (general society broken down, people in individual city-states trying to survive the Weir, people born with the automatic ability to access satellites through "pimming", general biohacking called "boosting", and more), we do get hints through the main cast's individual backstories. Like Three himself - his backstory is pivotal to explaining an important chunk of this book, and I won't explain how or why, but it makes it all the more unique. We don't get an explanation of the Falling from his story, either, but it still makes for awesome reading. The sensory language and imagery - there's no doubt that Posey is someone to definitely watch as a rising star with this debut. My favorite parts of the book were with the biohacked people (the man who installed lightbulbs under his skin to light his veins so if you cut him, it made it look as if he bled light was my absolute favorite), but generally, he writes gorgeously in a way that just makes you sigh. There's almost a sense of magical realism there, even though there really isn't in the book as a whole.
There are quite a few tropes that Posey reconstructs in this book to make his own: the lone assassin/protector, the little chosen boy, the journey to a place to either keep him safe or give him power, those that want to stop him. All of these tropes fit in with each other marvelously, and miraculously, the Tolkien-esque journey didn't bother me. There was a lot of walking, but - authors, take note - it was punctuated with a lot of fighting, and a lot of Weir attacks. Now THAT's how you keep things fresh. I loved how Posey was able to viscerally create these attacks out of nowhere, as well as the fight scenes, and the general wrongness that you feel when the Weir are near. Through the attacks and how they react we also find out that the Weir aren't like any kind of zombie that we've seen before - they can be brought back. They're not rotted - it seems like their own electric biology heals them enough to attack people once they "reboot" as Weir - and they don't want your brains, they just want to kill you. I won't say who or how this happens in the book, but it does, and they earn the title of First of the Awakened. I can't wait to find out more about how the Weir came about along with the fall of Society, along with the impotence of the State, and how wonders like the chosen boy came about. Natural evolution, or nurtured biohacking that eventually got passed down along the familial bloodline? We're given both as coy choices as to how this chosen boy has his abilities, but we're not given a solid answer. And usually this would drive me mad, but it just worked. I can't explain it otherwise.
Finally, the characters. Posey builds a very compelling and sympathetic main cast, even with these redesigned tropes. We find out just enough about each character to go on, and eventually through interaction with more of the minor bits of the main cast, we find out more about their individual backstories and how they relate - also known as the relationship web school of worldbuilding. Three, our MC, is sparse and spartan in how he works, moves, and lives, and we're given just as much information as those character traits allow. I rather found this fascinating, the way that the traits of each character tied into how much information/backstory we got from them, and how we had to find out through interaction with other characters, and I found I really liked it. More authors should definitely do it. Also, there's a shout out to "Inception" with the RushRuin group, though I think that RushRuin does a hell of a lot more damage than any of the "Inception" crew could ever have done. I hope we get more on them in the next book, as well.
Final verdict? If you're looking for something deliciously fresh within this subgenre, definitely check out "Three". It's out now from Angry Robot in North America, so give it a read when you get the chance! Definitely one of my favorites of 2013 so far.
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"Find Me" was a pleasant surprise. I wasn't expecting the incredibly tight writing and quick pace, as well as the plot-driven elements to this book. W"Find Me" was a pleasant surprise. I wasn't expecting the incredibly tight writing and quick pace, as well as the plot-driven elements to this book. While coming in at a short 288 pages (in ARC version, at least), this was a fun read to devour in more or less one sitting. However, I still had a few issues with it, but even so, "Find Me" is a fun cyberpunk-lite mystery that will definitely leave you wanting more.
Oh, "Replica". How I wanted to like you. Really, I did. You had a fabulous premise - one I couldn't resist. But what I got was a serious cas0.5 stars.
Oh, "Replica". How I wanted to like you. Really, I did. You had a fabulous premise - one I couldn't resist. But what I got was a serious case of blurb seduction and bait and switch - to the point where I just couldn't finish you. I'm not easy to offend, but I was pretty upset by this book. Why? We'll get into that in a bit. But if you want a more progressive, kinder LGBT mystery biopunk story, I suggest you look elsewhere. "Replica" just didn't deliver, and on top of things, really goes into a sensitive topic that it shouldn't have. I wish I could recommend "Replica", but I just can't.
Why this book bothered me so much (spoilers ahead): the "love interest" and MC's best friend is gay. His boyfriend Kurt is from "the Basement" aka the slums, whom he made his personal butler/valet in order to keep their relationship going as it's not okay for those in positions of power (or about to inherit positions of power) to be gay. Nope. MC is asked to be a lookout whilst love interest and his man get a little alone time, and she gets mad, mostly because even though they're bffs, she's also in love with him and also knows that he'll never be faithful once they DO get married because uh, she's not quite his cup of tea in terms of gender.
And then he's murdered. Boyfriend is suspected, and hunted down, while love interest is resurrected as a Replica - a very rare clone, supposedly so expensive to create that there's only been 4 ever made since its inception. But he doesn't have his latest backup of memories (kind of like "Dollhouse" there) so he and MC have to figure out who murdered his original. MC hopes that the Replica will be straight, but it's not to be - he still loves Kurt, even if he IS a Replica.
Murder mystery investigation ensues, and Kurt is looking guiltier and guiltier with each page.
Anyone else see a problem here? I do. I hate it when gay characters are killed off, I hate it when their lovers are suspects, and I doubly hate it in this circumstance in terms of "curing gays" in the guise of using cloning/Replicas. Because, let's be real here, that's exactly what our MC wants - for her bff to be cured so they can marry and pop out kids - out of love, and not out of duty.
And at that point, I was just 500% done. I don't get this incensed very easily, but Black managed to hit nearly all of my triggers with this one. While the murder mystery was interesting, it wasn't enough to keep me going. The worldbuilding was shoddy (we're not given a point in time in terms of how far we are in the future, or how the Corporate States really came to be instead of just a one-sentence explanation), and the character construction just wasn't up to snuff (no pun intended). The sensory imagery wasn't really there - way more telling over showing and that was pretty surprising, as it should have been a little more than it was at the ARC point of things.
Basically, it came down to this: I just couldn't keep going in good conscience, and it dismays me that this is being put out in the YA world - especially when we're making such good progress in terms of gender identity and sexual identity. This book is a roadblock in that progress, and it just pains me to no end. As I identify as pansexual/genderfluid, this book was painful to read, and I want the time I was reading it back.
So basically, if you want a pretty backward-thinking scifi biopunk book, "Replica" may be for you. But this is just how I feel about it - "Replica" is out July 16th 2013 from Tor Teen in North America, so check it out and see how you feel about it. I just wish it hadn't gone in the direction that it had - because if it hadn't, I probably really would have liked this book.
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I didn't think Doctorow could top himself in terms of perfectly blending social commentary with important issues that more YA readers sho4.5/5 stars.
I didn't think Doctorow could top himself in terms of perfectly blending social commentary with important issues that more YA readers should be looking at with "Pirate Cinema", but I was wrong. "Homeland", the follow up to the 2008 release, "Little Brother", absolutely blows everything else out of the water. And yes, while he gets a bit didactic in this and his other works, it's stuff we need to be reading. It's stuff that's firmly rooted in reality that is absolutely frightening, and something that needs our attention. So much so that Jacob Appelbaum from Wikileaks and the dearly departed Aaron Swartz did afterwords. If that doesn't get your attention about activism and rights, I don't know what will.
Since the technical areas of this book are more or less flawless (though I took off some points for didactics when it came to certain things like 3D printers, which kind of slowed things down in some areas), I won't be talking about them. Instead, I'll be talking about why this book matters so very much to us right now as a society, and why YA readers, regardless of age, should be paying attention.
You may or may not have heard about the story of Aaron Swartz. For the sake of brevity, I won't be telling his story here - just check out his wiki page for more information. But much like Doctorow's fictitious main character Marcus, he was prosecuted, to be made an example of for his online activism about privacy, piracy, and beliefs about an open, transparent internet by the government and other entities. To the point where he became so depressed that he hung himself earlier this year - January 2013. While Marcus never goes that route, the depression of being hounded by the very people we put into office and are supposed to trust is no less than haunting. I had no idea Swartz was going to be writing one of the two afterwords, and reading it now, a month after his death, actually brought tears to my eyes. When we lose people like Swartz, we lose a lot. We lose bravery. We lose so much more than just one life.
To say this is a paranoid book is an understatement. It will teach you how to make a darknet, how to encrypt your files, and how to cover your ass when it comes to your own privacy and online rights. But it's a paranoid book we desperately need. And while a lot of "Little Brother" and "Homeland" are very, very exaggerated, if you do your research after reading, you'll find that some of it isn't so far off. Swartz's death just brings home that fact all the harder. It will make you pay attention, and want to do something. If there's anything to be said about Doctorow's books, it's the way he writes, the way he prods at you, making you want to do something, to help in the cause. Some people feel that this is too much sociopolitical commentary for the YA market, and I can see why they'd say that. But at the same time, it's the kick in our asses that we really need.
But this book is also full of hope. Hope that we're still able to stop in our tracks, turn around, and demand change. Demand what's ours, what's been taken away from us, what needs to be restored. Any and all of the above, Doctorow makes you want to get up, get angry, and do something. Whatever your cause may be, this book urges you to take up the fight. Don't be passive. Do something. Because in the end, that's how things get accomplished these days - you have to be the squeaky, annoying, loud wheel in order to get the grease. This book asks a lot of us - to have faith. That using our hope will make things change. And that's the hardest thing of all to do (if it weren't, it wouldn't be called faith, right?).
So, final verdict? This book is very dear to me, and I hope it finds a place in must-read YA fame. Enough with the paranormal romance. Enough with the love triangles. This is a book that truly matters. Pick it up, read it, and pass it along to someone you know. "Homeland" is out now from Tor Teen/Macmillan in North America, so be sure to check it out once you get the chance.
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Oh boy. Where to start? This was a pretty big disappointment me for me, guys. In pretty much all areas. If you know me, you'll know that not only am IOh boy. Where to start? This was a pretty big disappointment me for me, guys. In pretty much all areas. If you know me, you'll know that not only am I a huge "Terminator" fan, I'm also a huge "Homeland" fan. And considering this was concocted by not only the author and the creator of "Homeland", it makes this a double disappointment. Yet, somehow, I'm not surprised this is a packaged TV deal, and I can easily see it doing well in a YA TV-aimed market. However, what I found inside was not only a bad "Terminator"-esque story, but a whole lot of other things that I feel like sci-fi, regardless if it's YA or adult, have been dead horses beaten even deader than they were before. If you're looking for something new or original with "Revolution 19", you may want to look elsewhere. The only really positive thing I can say about this book is that it might get young YA into sci-fi, which is always a good thing.
Let's start with the worldbuilding: anyone familiar with the "Terminator" franchise will know the robots turn against their creators trope of sci-fi is one that's now kind of a standard thanks to James Cameron. Unforuntately, "Revolution 19" also uses this concept, with the "terrifying" addition of cities where humans are taken to be "re-educated" and if that doesn't work, death. There are also ships that fly that are curiously like the Hunter/Killers from the "Terminator" franchise that kill humans from the sky if they get too close for comfort. So much of this is ripped from one of my favorite sci-fi works of all time that it's painful. But here's the best part: there are no terrifying, flesh-melting and oh my god they're metal inside androids. The robots trying to destroy the rest of the human race if they can't pacify them are closer to Wall-E (yes, you heard me right, that adorable little dude).
What? Yes, you heard me. Giant Wall-Es, cuddly as can be, trying to destroy the rest of humanity.
Aside from that, there's a journey aspect, very Tolkien-esque, to go get their parents back from a city that, if they don't submit to, will pretty much eat them alive. I thought by that part of the book I'd be pretty fascinated. But I wasn't.
From the jump, the writing was incredibly flat. No sense of sensory imagery and language, only a vague framing of a hidey-hole where one of the last bastions of free humanity (though we don't know how many of those are left). There wasn't even a Resistance-like area set up! Humanity is literally hanging on by its fingernails. I was actually kind of disgusted at how tame they'd become. I was actually starting to root for the robots on this one.
There was no kind of characterization or definite worldbuilding, and all of the characters felt very 1D, not even 2D. It all felt very colorless, very flat, and I got bored, fast.
So, guys, I can honestly say that there was nothing that really caught my eye here. I can't really recommend "Revolution 19", but that's just me. "Revolution 19" will be out from HarperTeen on January 8, 2013 in North America, so check it out then, and let me know what you think.
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This book is no less than stunning in nearly every way - a luscious, almost decadent read of a future city in a pyramid, with almost something for eveThis book is no less than stunning in nearly every way - a luscious, almost decadent read of a future city in a pyramid, with almost something for everyone, including magical realism, cyberpunk and sci-fi, a crazy mix of South American/Cuban-Afro and Japanese cultures. This is a tale of death and kings, of queens and machines, of youth and love, of war and peace. "The Summer Prince" is definitely one of my favorite books of 2013 so far because of its delicate yet bold storytelling, and because of Johnson's brave portrayal of a future society where who you love doesn't matter, unless it's the Summer King - doomed to die each year so that the Queendom may continue.
This is a pretty spicy read (no pun intended, considering where it takes place) for YA - I'd almost say it moves closer to mature YA than anything else, because of some of the themes it introduces. There's the idea that pansexuality is decriminalized (our MC has two moms, for crying out loud), that polyamory happens (I won't spoil any further on that point), and that a society can only flourish if a woman is in charge, and executes a man each year as her Summer King. I can safely say that this may make it to some banned book lists, but you know what? That would just put the exclamation point in terms of how awesome this book is, how bold it is. It introduces some very provocative ideas that may not even get introduced in adult lit, and my hat goes off to Johnson for being brave enough to try to write all of these things for YA, period.
Let's start with the world. The only issue I had with the worldbuilding was that I was a little bit fuzzy on how Palmares Tres was built (where everything was), and the calendar structure (normal years vs moon years vs sun years, and how the Summer King sacrifices all fit into that. The rest of the world in terms of imagery was gorgeous, and there were no real issues with that for me. The backstory was great, though it was a bit late, and felt a little infodumpy, but otherwise really good. While I could pick a serious bone when it came to the Palmares Tres-adopted idea of "kiri" (as in harakiri, Japanese ritualistic male/samurai suicide), I'm not going to, not really, because everything else is just so good in this book. I'll just say that it fits with this futuristic city, but she got the origins in terms how each gender committed ritual honor suicide a bit wrong. Harakiri/Seppuku (depending on how you read the kanji) was reserved for male samurai, and as the kanji suggests, it's self-disembowelment, not cutting one's own throat - though you did offer it to your servant overseeing your suicide so that they could decapitate you after death. Women would commit ritual honor suicide by drowning themselves after their husbands, or also engaging in harakiri, though the former was a far more "clean" way to go.
That being said, I love how Johnson went ahead and combined all of these different cultures together to make Palmares Tres, and you can see all of those elements of those different cultures throughout the book in very strong, pronounced ways. In that way, the worldbuilding was bold, and I loved it.
The characters. Unforgettable. I think even I fell in love with Enki. They're all very layered, the entire main cast - including the most minor characters. This is where Johnson shines the most - with her characters. June, Gil, and Enki are absolutely amazing, and the messy sort-of-love triangle (which was totally forgivable because it brought the whole GLBT thing into the mix, and that was awesome) and the question of 'friends or lovers?' was present the entire time, and even June herself isn't sure for most of the book, nor is Gil, nor is Enki. June is a great firey, feisty protagonist, and it was a real joy to watch her grow throughout the book.
The theme of this book is perhaps the most important of all - the transience of youth and life, represented by the role of the Summer King. He dies so the rest of the world within Palmares Tres can continue to flourish. In a world where you can now live over three hundred years with body modifications, it seems that everyone forgets that humans can actually die. Everyone but those in Palmares Tres, who the world views as barbaric and backward. I thought this was an excellent touch, especially when we see Ueda explain it all to Enki and June with the whole system of the Aunties, the Queen, and the Summer King.
What did need work aside from the aforementioned parts of the worldbuilding - transitions. Many of these transitions were pretty cloudy and ambiguous, and while I love that in a book and can see it used as a style, here it was just obvious that it needed a bit more editing. Then again, I got an early ARC of things, so I'm hoping by the time the final copy is out on shelves, all of that will have been solved.
Otherwise, final verdict? Definitely a breathtaking debut that can't be missed, you simply must give "The Summer Prince" a try. "The Summer Prince" is out now from Scholastic in North America, so be sure to check it out when you get the chance!
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Okay, so, can I just say how much I love the amount of futuristic semi-apocalyptic westerns that are coming out of YA right now? However,4.5/5 stars!
Okay, so, can I just say how much I love the amount of futuristic semi-apocalyptic westerns that are coming out of YA right now? However, here's one that hasn't been done before, at least not without using space opera as an additional sub-genre - a techno-western. Yep. That's right. And you know what? I totally got sucked in. Put on your seatbelt, folks. Not only do we have a techno-western, but it's a current social commentary-based one. Love it when authors can pull that off without sounding preachy, and Howard does it here fantastically. This is one 2012 debut you don't want to miss.
Where to start? The world. The world was so well-built, and believable, yet at the same time, it's very sparsely written. It's rich and detailed but written in a very compact way, not sprawling or overly flowery, and it all just works. It's not under-furnished with information, nor is it totally over the top like it could have been. It's just there. And it works. The only area I was a bit fuzzy on was the time (we're given a benchmark - a century after the Darkness, when the last of paper/wood/etc kinda disappeared from the planet), but in terms of how far that is from now, we're not given an answer. But since this book looks to be the first in what's at least a duology, I feel like I can allow this when it usually drive me mad. The rest of the world is so complete that the sense of time just isn't a factor bothering me this time, which is always an awesome thing.
I think another reason why the time thing isn't bothering me - this book is equally plot-driven and character-driven. Which is insanely hard to do, because it's so easy to fall into the trap of a plot-driven story (far moreso, I'd say, than a character-driven story), where the characters and their transformational journeys (and the arcs that come with them) get utterly neglected all in order to advance the story. Howard surprised me with his ability to keep it balanced, with all of the main cast changing in some fashion by the end of this first book. Of course, as the protagonist, we see Banyan change the most, but all of the characters, including the antagonists (and the seemingly faceless menace that is GenTech, who actually gets a face - or more than one, but I won't spoil you guys any further) do change to some degree.
While I was excited to keep the pages flipping, I also found myself caring very deeply for these characters and this world that seemed so fragile yet like Banyan and his metal trees, very strong. All of the characters, even antagonists, are surprisingly sympathetic. We also get a lot of racial/ethnic/cultural diversity, which was so amazingly nice to see (it feels like we don't have a lot of that in YA right now aside from the contemporary, but even there, it's still a bit on the thin side). We get Zee and her mother, Banyan, the Rasta Soljahs, and so forth. It was a nice little rainbow of diversity all around, and I love how all of these cultures clashed in this slowly-dying world. We get the rich and the poor (but mostly the very poor), the evil Big Pharma/Con-Agra business, pirates and poachers and slavers, and everyone who falls in between in a huge spectrum. There is no (moral) black and white in this world, as we learn by the end of the book, though it is very tempting to throw the antagonist and the protagonists on either side of the black/white set of scales. There's a lot of murky gray, and that's where I feel like Howard gives us one of the biggest messages of the book in terms of Banyan's solo character development/journey arc - about growing up. When you grow up (or are forced to), there's a lot more gray than everyone tells you about. And making choices suddenly gets harder in that gray haze because rarely are answers that easy or quick.
But some of my favorite bits of this book all have one thing in common - Howard's fantastic use of sensory imagery and language. The Banyan-built trees, the real trees, the tattoo on Hina, the shanty towns around futuristic Vegas (called Vega all these years later) - all of that felt real. The sound of the man-eating locusts was pretty terrifying and yeah, I actually did jump a bit whenever they were in action. The waterfalls of the Soljah camps at Niagara Falls. Banyan's wagon and all the things within it. All of it made for some pretty unforgettable images. There's a lot of cyberpunk and biopunk at work in this book, so you still retain that techno-western feeling (think "Cowboy Bebop" without the bounty hunting or space ships, but with a kid and his dad doing various jobs much like Spike and the Bebop crew in order to keep their bellies full) without sacrificing too much else to these other sub-genres.
And the last: the social commentary bit of the book. Howard doesn't get preachy, but the warning is pretty dire (and considering where we are in our current culture where we actually had to call out Walmart and Monsanto on putting GMO'd fruits and veggies in their markets, we could use that warning) - under the tyrant foot of not just governments, but companies, do we have severe poverty and all the ugliness that comes with it. There is no government in this book but that of GenTech - you live and die by their will. It's pretty sinister, and it's definitely a wake up call - especially when it's revealed that GenTech hasn't just dabbled in splicing for making corn. I won't say another word on that because it'd be a huge spoiler, but for the older readers, two words: soylent green. If we were to have a future without a government and instead a tyrant company, well, I sure as hell would not want to live in it. So I guess Howard's message is more like "uh, guys, we should probably start watching these Big Pharma/Con-Agra-types when they're messing with our food supply". Or something to that effect. And we're not bludgeoned over the head with it.
Final verdict? If you're into cyberpunk, dystopia, biopunk or just plain ol' sci-fi, this is the book for you. And if you're just dipping your toes into the sub-genre pools, this is a great starter book. Just read it, okay? "Rootless" is out now through Scholastic in North America, and its place on my best of 2012 list is well-deserved. Be sure to check it out when you get the chance!
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One of my most anticipated fall releases really let me down. I mean, I love the concept, but the execution of so much of "Eve and Adam" ju2.5/5 stars.
One of my most anticipated fall releases really let me down. I mean, I love the concept, but the execution of so much of "Eve and Adam" just lacked heart and conviction. I love the authors' previous work - I was a huge "Animorphs" fan as a kid, so I know they can write. And the quality of the writing really isn't coming into question - it's the rest of the technical qualities that just didn't feel quite developed enough for primetime. However, I do think this book will definitely be a great jumping-off point for getting the young YA crowd into biopunk genre books. I just expected more. Note, there are spoilers in this review, so you've been warned.
First - insta-love. Really? Again? At least it wasn't a love triangle, but the trope of the creator falling in love with their creation is tired. I mean, it was tired back when the Greeks were doing it in their literature and art. Had it been more of a one-sided love, I think it would have worked better, and it would have added more momentum and tension that was really badly needed and sorely lacking. We all KNOW that Adam was created to be perfect in all ways, including aesthetically/visually. But I feel like we don't really get to see him - we get told about him. And the showing versus telling problem is really not limited to this area of the book - it's a problem everywhere, and one that really started to bug me.
Second - the problem of the non-sympathetic heroine. We see Eve. But there's not much deep feeling to her. We can explain this away by saying she's a mod (genetically modified human), and thus, uh, not quite subject to the same emotional rules as the rest of us. But you see, that's where these two great authors lost me. Eve suffers a terrible accident, but her reaction isn't nearly what it should be. I mean. Yeah, her leg grows back, but SHE LOST A LEG, GUYS. AND SHE BARELY ACKNOWLEDGES THAT. That's just one example, but I just found Eve to be this extremely apathetic heroine that I couldn't find a single thing to really identify with. That shouldn't be happening. She needed more torturing, more tension, and more reaction.
Three - general sci-fi credibility. What really kind of made me roll my eyes was the internal memo regarding Project Adam within Spiker, talking about how phase two was going to start building genetically modified humans. It wasn't credible, or believable - real biotech companies? They would have used heavy and more than slightly insulting euphamisms for humans like "products" or "subjects" instead of dropping the h-bomb in a trackable, hackable internal memo. It just wasn't believable, and even though there's a certain amount of that I can handle within a book and still have everything work for me, this was kind of the final straw.
What was awesome: the spy vs spy plot by Solo to bring down Spiker. I found him a much more sympathetic character, and actually kind of wished they'd switched him to being the MC instead of Eve. The horrific showing of what was lurking in the Spiker labs (one of the few times in the book where the authors really showed instead of told) - man, that was horrible, but AWESOME. I wanted more of that. I needed more of that. But I liked Solo's sub-plot the most. I felt like he was the only character who actually developed and changed the most, and was the most relatable.
Final verdict? This will be great for young YA readers just getting into biopunk lit, but for me, I just expect more by this point and feel like this book needed a few more drafts before reaching the ARC stage of things. I loved the concept, I feel like it was squandered with all of the telling over showing. But I still love these authors, and I can't wait to see what they do next.
"Eve and Adam" will be published by Macmillan in North America October 2, 2012, so be sure to check it out then!
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Damn, another hit right out of the park for Meyer on this one, guys. If you liked "Cinder", you will LOVE this. And if "Red Riding Hood"4.5/5 stars.
Damn, another hit right out of the park for Meyer on this one, guys. If you liked "Cinder", you will LOVE this. And if "Red Riding Hood" is one of your favorite fairy tales (like it is mine) - you will most definitely love this. I feel like Meyer really grew with this volume - a huge leap forward even though she's already immensely talented. If you've read "Cinder", you simply must, must, must continue your journey with "Scarlet".
What I have to say impressed me the most and where Meyer grew the most: tying things together that don't seem related. While I read a very early ARC (distributed at ALA 2012) and there are a few areas where the transitions are a little wobbly (between Cinder and Scarlet/Wolf), how everything was linked really impressed me. Meyer decided to further use the relationship web school of worldbuilding in this second book, and it was the best decision she could have made. That helped tie together everything absolutely fantastically, and it was all really...wow. That's the only word I can find for it, wobbly first-pass ARC transitions aside.
It seems whatever fairy tale that Meyer touches turns to gold. The way she decided to use the idea of werewolves and tie that into the whole war between the Earth and the Moon was possibly one of my favorite parts of the entire book. While it's woven throughout the slowly, the big reveal as to what Wolf and his packbrothers are is nothing short of breathtaking. It makes sense. It makes utter and total sense in a time where magic is just bioelectricity and cyborgs are just apart of everyday life. And Wolf? He was wonderful. I liked that he was the more fragile character of the two (compared to Scarlet), and that he needed more love, more reassurance, and it reminded me more than a bit of "Beauty and the Beast". He's not always in control, and he's always trying to figure out how to handle Scarlet and how gung-ho she is about finding her grandmother. He has a lot of secrets, and yet, his character is very layered, very complex, and utterly satisfying.
And Scarlet. Oh my. I totally have a girl crush on her. Or I possibly want to be her - I haven't decided yet. A gun-wielding, red-hoodie-wearing tough French girl? Yes, please, sir, may I please have some more? If anything, I've found myself liking her more than Cinder. And I LOVE Cinder. Meyer has a way with her female characters - even if they need rescuing, they still manage to take charge of the situation and have that rescuing on their own terms. I honestly think that this is why so many people love this series - girls, especially. Both Scarlet and Cinder, traditionally very needy fairy tale characters, have gotten the power and glory they so desperately deserve. Even poor tortured Grandmother gets power in the end, and that was wonderful to see, even if her demise was quite...grisly.
In Cinder's department, I definitely have to say that there's a definite "Firefly"/"Serenity" feel to things (especially when Cinder and her new friend are off in their spaceship) - so I can't help but wonder if there's more than just one little tip of the hat to Joss Whedon in there. Seriously. I loved all of the scenes with Cinder, Iko, and the spaceship and generally wanted more.
I also loved how we got to see more of the Queen and her motives, a general expansion of her character and that of the world of the Lunar Kingdom. She's a little more complex than she first appears in "Cinder", and you can bet that I'll be reading the next bridging novella coming up that will be tiding us all over between this book and book three: "The Queen's Army". I can't wait. I'm starting to love this Lunar Queen, and I would love for her to get her own book. That'd be awesome.
And finally, Kai. Poor Kai. He's become a bit of a doormat, though I won't spoil why or how. Yet I do feel like there could have been a bit more longing on both his part and Cinder for each other, though what we got was enough to go on pining for book three.
The other technical areas? Sensory imagery and all that? So flawless I won't even address them.
Final verdict? "Scarlet" is a definite must-read for 2013, and now I'm chomping at the bit of book three and that upcoming novella. I demand more. Now. "Scarlet" will be out from Macmillan in North America on February 5, 2013, so be sure to check it out then. And be sure to stop by the blog on February 2, 2013 for a guest post by Marissa Meyer on retelling old tales! It should be a ton of fun.
(posted to goodreads, shelfari, librarything, and birthofanewwitch.wordpress.com)
While "Nerve" is a great plot-driven story, I did have a few issues with characterization, the autenticity factor of the romance, and some other stuffWhile "Nerve" is a great plot-driven story, I did have a few issues with characterization, the autenticity factor of the romance, and some other stuff with it. However, it's a really great book in the sense that you can't really put it down once you've started. You get an adrenaline rush - especially at the end of the book. while I can't say that "Nerve" blew my mind, it was pretty entertaining.
Okay, so, at least there's no love triangle in this one, guys. But there is, unfortunately, some insta-love going on. That much was clear, and even though I appreciate the most straightforward way to get around insta-love in YA lit is to use it in survivalist situations, this particular execution of getting around the insta-love trope kind of failed to happen. Why? "Nerve" is a game, and a voluntary one at that. While there is some survivalism involved throughout the game (particularly at the end of the book) - underneath the rather sinister guise of having prizes so tantalizing that one can't help but be attracted by them. I wouldn't call that a dire situation, so the insta-love workaround here failed. I wasn't impressed.
What I did like was the semi-hidden message of how destructive a consumerist culture can be - it can make you become someone other than yourself, do things you usually wouldn't do, all to get things (not people) that you really want. This message is absolutely correct about how consumerist-driven our world culture is today, so I really rather liked that message.
As much as I did enjoy this one, there's the same problem that happens in so many plot-driven stories: characterization suffers, and suffers hard. Aside from our MC and her bff, I only had a very vague sense of what the other characters might have looked like. I realize that this is a very easy trap to fall into as an author, so perhaps in this area, it needed one more draft to really get more of an impression of how the characters looked.
Unfortunately, the sensory imagery area kind of failed, too. The strongest sense of it was at the end of the book (once you read it, you'll know what I'm talking about), and only in those fifty pages or so. Which is really a shame - Ryan knows how to show instead of tell rather well, but she doesn't really do it until the climax of the story. There are other examples where she did show instead of tell sprinkled throughout the book, but that's what they are - just sprinkled. They need to be everywhere. I should be seeing everything instead of it having it told to me. Again, another draft would have been ideal for this book.
Final verdict? The entertainment value is pretty high, so I can't completely disregard this book. It's a great end-of-summer read, and I definitely enjoyed myself quite a bit when reading it. "Nerve" is out from Penguin on September 18, 2012 in North America, so be sure to check it out then and make your own decision about whether or not this book really does live up to its title.
(posted to goodreads, shelfari, and birthofanewwitch.wordpress.com) ...more