Kally Bright is a teenager living in the year of 2184, in Chigo (once Chicago, Illinois) , in a totalitarian society in which people are given very li...moreKally Bright is a teenager living in the year of 2184, in Chigo (once Chicago, Illinois) , in a totalitarian society in which people are given very little choice in anything they do. The government (now called govment) has outlawed and regulated many aspects of living, and now dictates who and when people marry.
On her sixteenth birthday, Kally finds out that she must marry a man who has already been married. If she refuses, she will be given a lower-paying job, which will make her life more difficult and further limit her options, much like her mother. Kally has a hobby of fixing clocks, which is also illegal. When she starts fixing a clock for an elderly neighbor, she discovers a necklace hidden inside its case, with a pendant shaped like the globe of the former Earth, before all the mega-quakes changed the continents. She dons the necklace, and ends up traveling back to 18th century Scotland, where she saves the nearby laird’s young baby from a wolf, and ends up being temporarily adopted into the clan. An old lady she encounters tells her she is a time sneak and gives her a very important task to fulfill. Kally quickly learns to adjust to life in the 18th century, which has living in a restricted future beat by a margin, and makes close friends with the Laird Duncan’s older son, Ian. Just when she is about to accomplish her mission, she gets sent forward to her own time again. On her seventeenth birthday, Kally goes back to Scotland and encounters a sixteen-year-old Mac, the baby she once saved, and falls in love with him. Can Kally make promises of forever with Mac while her mother waits alone in the far future and when she doesn’t even understand how time sneaking works in the first place?
Sneaks takes the idea of time travel and gives us a young, appealing heroine to go along with for the ride. I enjoyed the view of 18th century Scotland, and reading about Kally adjusting to living there. She’s a fun, good-hearted girl that it’s easy to root for. Kally cares about others, even when it makes her life more difficult. The social dynamics of a teen living in a restrictive future society spoke to me. Most teens in the current day society take it for granted that they can choose their own spouse, can date whomever they desire, and pick any profession that holds their appeal; and more importantly, have access to good quality food and water and live in a clean environment. One would assume that a futuristic teen going back to pre-modern Scotland would be miserable and unhappy, but instead, Kally loves it. That was an interesting change when it comes to a time travel story.
Additionally, this story has an advantage merely for its novel theme in a genre that seems focused more on forbidden romance with bad boys of supernatural origins and the obligatory love triangle. I enjoyed the fact that B. Button took her young adult story in a different direction, and still this reader a satisfying romance to enjoy. As a person who loves books set in historical Scotland, I enjoyed those details. They felt authentic, without being tedious or like a pedantic history lesson. I have the feeling that a young female reader will appreciate the historical touches, including hunky young warriors in kilts.
As a novella, this story doesn’t have the intricate feel of a longer fiction novel. However, for what’s there, it’s a good, well-written story that involved me. The appeal of reading about a young woman as she finds out what she wants in life, and her potential as an individual is undeniable, with a deep identification factor for most women and girls. She has to balance the love for her mother with a newfound romantic love, knowing that each are important to her life, and she gets a chance to stretch her wings in a new world without the restrictions of her old, albeit future, one. I definitely enjoyed reading about Kally’s journey of love and self-discovery in Sneaks. I think this book would appeal to younger readers and older readers who enjoy young adult fiction.
This one felt a little less focused than Zero Sight, but I still loved it. Shier has come up with a winning series here, with a hero that takes me ful...moreThis one felt a little less focused than Zero Sight, but I still loved it. Shier has come up with a winning series here, with a hero that takes me fully along on his journey. The concepts here are just awesome, and the plotting skillful. There's so much that I love about these books. And to think he writes these books while he's in medical school.... Keep writing!!!!
There was too much about this book I didn't like, even though the idea is interesting, and the writing isn't bad, and the action is almost non-stop. I...moreThere was too much about this book I didn't like, even though the idea is interesting, and the writing isn't bad, and the action is almost non-stop. It was too gritty and dark for my tastes. I guess I'm just not into zombies, regardless of the type.
A very good installment in the Death series. Eve is completely authentic as a tough police woman, but I like that Roarke sees her in a more intimate w...moreA very good installment in the Death series. Eve is completely authentic as a tough police woman, but I like that Roarke sees her in a more intimate way as his wife. Yet he embraces her as a strong woman and stands by her side. That's a good man! The mystery was good, although it did drag a bit towards the end. Still, it was an excellent book despite that fact.
This was a very thrilling read that I didn't want to put down. I was gnashing my teeth and shaking my fists at the cliffhanger ending, and I will be e...moreThis was a very thrilling read that I didn't want to put down. I was gnashing my teeth and shaking my fists at the cliffhanger ending, and I will be eagerly awaiting the next installment.
What if the only way to save your planet from certain annihilation is to ruthlessly manipulate a young...more**spoiler alert** Do the ends justify the means?
What if the only way to save your planet from certain annihilation is to ruthlessly manipulate a young child into becoming a solder who is skilled enough to destroy billions of your enemy, to make him into a killer?
With Ender's Game, the reader gets to ponder this question. I had many thoughts as I read this story. I didn't always understand what was going on. Like Ender, I questioned where the game ended and reality began. Children in the environment of this book don't get to be kids for long at all, especially when they are genius children. Instead, they become soldiers, training day in and day out to be the best, to win, to conquer their enemies. All for the purpose of defeating the alien race that Earth views as a deadly enemy (called Buggers) in the coming war. I questioned how a six-year-old kid could even grasp this. Even a genius child. As I read, I questioned the ruthlessness of adults who would put a child through these experiences. It takes a certain personality, a particular mindset to able to justify one's actions. It's hard not to judge, but then, I'm not in the same situation. And I was grateful for that.
I just wanted Ender to have some peace and be able to just be a child. I cheered for him to find his way past the many mazes he was manipulated through. I didn't ever lose faith in him, because he had proven himself worthy of my faith. Even though I wondered what was the whole point of everything, I didn't stop believing in Ender. I was glad that Ender managed to find that light that kept him moving forward. Sometimes it was in the form of his beloved sister, Valentine, and other times, it was his fellow students, and sometimes it was the determination not to let them see him sweat. Whatever it was, this kid didn't break. I liked that about the book.
Some things didn't sit well with me as I read. I couldn't always visualize the game setup at Battle School as clearly as I would have liked. Instead of letting this throw me out of the read, I just managed to fill in the blanks around my lack of understanding and keep reading. Maybe Card meant it that way, but it was interesting how warfare became an experience that felt more like playing a video game than a face to face meeting of enemies. I wondered where that was going, but I soon found out, and I was like, "Are you serious?" I don't care much for mind games and boy was there some serious mind-screwing going on in this book. Perhaps his point was that as technology advances, warfare becomes more and more dehumanized, and it takes away the immediacy of the moral questions of taking a life, and using soldiers like pawns on a board to do so. As above expressed, the ruthless treatment of children and its effects hit me hard. They did not make for easy reading for me. On one level, I understand that a lot of psychology goes into training soldiers, and I know that some of it is necessary. I just wonder where the line gets drawn. The aspects of Peter and Valentine's political experiment left me a bit cold. I wasn't sure what Card was trying to get across here. Is the political arena just a big elaborate game in and of itself, a game that has the potential to have very disastrous and wide-reaching effects? Or was he trying to say that age is just a number? Kids aren't really kids, depending on the society and the situation that the child inhabits. Still not sure about either of those conclusions I drew. As close as I can get, anyway. Lastly, the ending got a bit strange. While I appreciated the aspects about Ender gaining an appreciation for the mind (the human-like aspects) of the Bugger civilizations, things got a bit weird and abstract when Ender's empathy with the Buggers became a philosophy that turned into a religion. It felt disconnected from the story to me, and added to a certain lack of satisfaction I felt overall. I appreciate the fact that he examined how war, differing philosophies, external differences, what have you, can separate entities in a way that if we strip down all the differences, there is a lot more alike than we think.
Ender's Game is a well-written work of science fiction that has a lot to say about subjects that can make for hairy discussion. Subjects that I tend to avoid discussing with a ten-foot pole. War is as old as mankind. Literature is a good sounding board to explore those questions of war and humanity. Overall, I think that this novel does a good job of staying in the story and not just acting as a soundboard for the author's opinion. I am sure that others may disagree. For myself, I didn't necessarily feel that it was a preachy work. If it was, I think both sides of the questions were adequately presented in such a manner as for me to feel that this was a book with a story that had some themes that could get a reader thinking. Not mere propaganda for espousing one person's beliefs.
I liked this book a lot, but I felt the ending took it down from a five star rating for me. Also, my sense of disconnection at not quite getting some of the gaming aspects. I'm sure that others better versed in gaming or military strategy, or better read in science fiction might have visualized and understood those elements better than this reader. For what it was, this was a good book, and I can say that I gained a lot from reading it. I still have some philosophical questions running through my head now, and I feel that I have yet to make up my mind about those things, as there are always two sides to every story. So for me, that's a good experience, getting a good story and something to think about in the end.(less)
For this pleasure reader, there wasn't much pleasure in reading this book. Even still, I was compelled and drawn in. Octavia Butler was a very good wr...moreFor this pleasure reader, there wasn't much pleasure in reading this book. Even still, I was compelled and drawn in. Octavia Butler was a very good writer, and I am glad I did get a chance to finally read one of her books. The narrator, the actress Lynne Thigpen, did an incredible job. Now, when I think of Lauren, I will picture her voice, feminine but strong and rich. I also liked the way she varied her voice to reflect the different characters speaking.
Lauren was a protagonist that rubbed me the wrong way at times (as she did those who knew her in this book). And yet, her strength and the powerful humanity of her won me over. I love reading about strong women, and that is definitely Lauren. For her young age, what she accomplished, despite the odds, must be recognized. She is a true leader, and she is the kind you want to follow, because they ask no more of you than they demand of themselves. I loved the way she brought a small group of survivors together, empowering them, and encouraging them to protect each other and themselves.
The world was bleak, depressing, disturbing, disheartening. Any joy was fleeting, any laughs and 'happy' moments as I listened were greatly appreciated. Hearing of the atrocities that were normal in this post-apocalyptic California setting was not an easy thing for me. At times, I had to remind myself that it wasn't truly the reality (although the way thing are going, this story seems like prophecy). When I got out of my car, I had to pull back out of this book and get back to my normal reality. And I am grateful that this was just a book, even though my senses didn't seem to accept that at times. This book has a powerful message in it that is very timely. The society that we know and love is on the brink, and if we don't stand up, we might find ourselves working as wage slaves, having police and government who hurt us more than they protect us. Politics are not something I go on about in reviews, but this is something that struck me as real about this story, so I have to talk about that in this review. This scary message definitely gets me thinking, and hoping that the United States doesn't end up like this. Not destroyed by some catastrophic event that you might usually find precipitating societal collapse, but chipped away and slowly eroded into a horrible future like a nightmarish dream. More scary because it is so very plausible.
I have to say that I liked that Lauren founded a spiritual movement that kept her small band of compadres together. But, on the other hand, I deeply disagreed with the mantra that "God is change." I was taught (and believe) that God is the same today, yesterday, and forever. My mind and heart won't accept that God is malleable and that we shape God. I can understand that Lauren is about empowering and allowing oneself to be shaped, and to shape back by the forces around them; to survive no matter what, to grow stronger. I just don't think that we have to make God into some concept that is far from the truth to feel strong. In my mind, what I believe is that God is our rock--although we are buffeted by the harsh things we suffer, we can stand on His never-changing promises. Anyway, I don't mean to preach in this review, I am just saying what I feel about the Earthseed religion that Lauren founded. If I was in this story, I would be on board with her mission of creating a home and a community, but I could never accept her concept of God as change. I am glad that she found strength in it and was able to inspire her friends and companions though.
One other thing that I liked about this story is that more than half of the main characters are non-Causcasian. Not that I don't like reading about white characters. I am totally fine reading about any character of any ethnicity. However, it is good to see a main character who is black, who embodies many traits that I love and respect in a protagonist. To see people of color finding their way through some horrible circumstances, seeing the strength from within that compels them forward. Diversity is important to me, and I loved that Lauren's band was diverse, ethnically. And for all their diversity, they were a found family, helping, standing for and with each other, protecting their unit against all threats.
This is not the kind of book I will read often, because I like to read stories that take my mind off the ugliness of life, and that empower me by giving me hope and enjoyment. There is both empowerment, and a tentative hope in this story. But it's a long, hard journey to reap the harvest of those kernels, those small seeds, in my consciousness. Ms. Butler did such a good job of sowing that seed in the tough, unfertile ground of this story, and for that I commend her.
When I eat my Wheaties, I will try more of her stories.(less)