Alexandra Bracken just keeps getting better. Now, I'm a bit biased - I read Brightly Woven when it was in ARCs and I've been on the fan train ever sin...moreAlexandra Bracken just keeps getting better. Now, I'm a bit biased - I read Brightly Woven when it was in ARCs and I've been on the fan train ever since (choo choo!) but seriously, damn.
Where do I even start?
I guess... first of all, all of the strengths of The Darkest Minds are still present. I love this vision of dystopic America, I love the characterization of all the side characters (the terrified savagery of the kids, the anger or the kindness of adults, the constant portrayal of the choices people have to make to survive now), I love Ruby and Chubs and Liam and Vida and Jude and literally all of the protagonists and their relationships. The narrative twists and turns are fantastic, the villains/antagonists both scary and believable.
The standout aspect of this book is Ruby's characterization. She is so.... gah. Ruby Daly is amazing, and definitely among my favorite YA protagonists ever. The way Bracken portrays both her flaws and her strengths is incredible; the fact that she can't seem to go anywhere without gathering a group of people she desperately wants to protect; the way that she cares so much and is so afraid of herself - it's so perfectly rendered, and makes her into such a strong character and a protagonist I cheer for. (No, seriously. The last line of this book? PERFECTION.)
I will say that it felt very second-book-y, particularly given the events that happened in the denouement. A lot of this book seemed to serve mostly to get people to the physical places and emotional states they need to be in for In The Afterlight - but at the same time, it was so well-done and so engaging to read about how they got there that I don't mind in the slightest.
(also: COLE??? COLE WTF. COLE.)
If you're not reading this series yet, go pick it up. It is, in my opinion, the best YA dystopian series on the shelves right now. (less)
There's something about science fiction of a certain age that keeps me coming back to it - a reliable flavor, so to speak, that can be found in all SF...moreThere's something about science fiction of a certain age that keeps me coming back to it - a reliable flavor, so to speak, that can be found in all SF books published within this time period. I'm not sure what the time period is, but the phenomenon exists nonetheless.
This book is... solidly 'sci-fi of a certain age' to me. There's not much revolutionary to it, not much that really pushes the boundaries of the genre. The aliens aren't too alien, the human characters not particularly nuanced, the conflicts not all that original. It's not a bad book, and there are some interesting worldbuilding concepts, but it's also not all that riveting, especially in light of scientific advances since its publication. (Their method of interstellar communication really is cassette tapes in tubes. I kid you not.)
Overall: not one I'd suggest going out of your way to pick up, but a good enough way to pass the time if you have it to hand.(less)
I'm reasonably sure this book wasn't aimed at me; I'm a biology major, and while I haven't completed my degree I'm well enough versed in the basics of...moreI'm reasonably sure this book wasn't aimed at me; I'm a biology major, and while I haven't completed my degree I'm well enough versed in the basics of ecology and conservation that a lot of the scientific content here was well below my level. Palumbi and Sotka explained all of it anyway, which was a bit of a drag - not something I really minded in an active way, but something that slowed down my reading of the book and made me less engaged.
I think, on reflection, that one of the best uses for this book would be as a 'First Year Common Book', as the university where my mom teaches calls it: a book that every entering student of a given year reads and discusses. From what I know, these texts aren't often scientific in nature, but I think this one could work nicely - it raises a lot of questions, both scientific and activist, and it provides a good grounding that even people who stopped taking biology as soon as they could get away with it would likely have no trouble following. Moreover, it's a success story - it leaves readers with the feeling that environmental destruction can be overcome or counteracted, that it is not a permanent state, and that is vital.
(The writing in this was rather perfunctory in style, but there was one standout sentence: "By 1979 more than fifty harbor seals draped the rocks off China Point like a flotilla of sausages left by the tide.")(less)