I really enjoyed this latest installment in the series. Black Jack goes from one mess to another, and his enemies aren't always the ones he's expectin...moreI really enjoyed this latest installment in the series. Black Jack goes from one mess to another, and his enemies aren't always the ones he's expecting. Lots of twists and turns and space battles. The series is going in an intriguing direction.
Sarah is one of the "poor" kids at the exclusive prep school she attends. Her father lost his money, and with it, any claim she had to social...moreSynopsis
Sarah is one of the "poor" kids at the exclusive prep school she attends. Her father lost his money, and with it, any claim she had to social status in the environment where how much money your parents have determine how many friends you have and if the boys want to date you. She admires Dan, the heir to a lucrative technology enterprise from afar (with no hope of him ever noticing her that way), even though he's dating her best friend Jillian. Sarah is biding her time until she can graduate, enjoying her art class the most, out of a love for art and the fact that Dan is also in her class. She also spends her time trying to avoid the disturbing attentions of Frank, a mean-spirited classmate with an unhealthy attraction to her. In short, her life is rather mundane, until things change in a spectacular fashion, and events beyond her comprehension show her that her world is nothing like she believed.
I enjoyed reading The Heir. The writing is smooth and it kept my interest. Sarah is an appealing lead character. I appreciated how the story begins in a very mundane fashion, but with the continued narrative, the reader slowly becomes aware that things are far from what they seem. This links the reader's emotions very tangibly to Sarah's, as we experience things concurrently with her. As tragedy befalls Sarah, I felt so much sympathy for her, as well as unease at the strange developments in her situation and in the relationships she has with pivotal characters around her.
The science fiction angle is well done. However, I think seasoned science fiction readers might find her world-building thin. While I would have liked more complexity and description in the world-building in the later part of the book, the developing plot details perked my interest, and I appreciated the creativity on offer. I also liked the societal concepts she presents in the science fiction aspect of this novel.
While the romance is a strong part of this story, it did feel a bit subdued. The chemistry between Sarah and Dan could have been better developed and touched on earlier in the book, and their changing relationship toward the end of the book would have felt more authentic and believable.
The Heir is a good start to a promising series. Lynne Stringer has crafted a young adult science fiction romance that feels distinct, with a lead character that readers will root for and feel sympathy with in her journey.
This was a very good follow up volume in the Saga series. It reads as though it picks up immediately after the first volume ends, which is great. I en...moreThis was a very good follow up volume in the Saga series. It reads as though it picks up immediately after the first volume ends, which is great. I enjoy this series, but at times, I feel as though the writer/artists are deliberately trying to be shockingly gratuitous with their subject matter. The violence is quite graphic and there are at least two borderline pornographic scenes on top of the sexual content that I feel is acceptable in a mature-themed graphic novel. I didn't even understand the point of showing the porny images, honestly. I took a double take, and I felt like I had to look again to make sure I saw what I thought I was. One was so gross I had to show my aunt. I couldn't even see what the point of that was.
After all my ranting, I guess I have to explain what appeals to me about this graphic novel. What wins me over with this series is the fact that at its heart, this is a story about the purest forms of love. It's a story about a family that is committed to stay together and fight for a life for their young daughter. Even the cold, amoral bounty hunter turns out to have an altruistic side for a child who is in a very bad situation. I am a sappy, diehard romantic, and I can't help but love a story where enemies fall in love and are willing to face any obstacle for their family, where people sacrifice and fight for love. I enjoyed meeting Marko's parents, and I can see why Marko fell so hard for Alana. She reminds me of his mother in the best ways. Similarly, Marko reminds me of his father, the more gentle, but steady as a rock member of the partnership.
As before, I loved the narrative of Hazel, the young daughter of Marko and Alana. I have a feeling she will be the best of both of her parents, and she will be tough as nails for all she has gone through in her short life. The way this story is written, they are in almost constant danger, and you know that it's only going to get worse, considering that they have the rulers of both planets on their tails, and a very determined bounty hunter.
I just plain love the setting and the out there science fiction/adventure tone. If they toned down some of the violence and sexual content, I could see this is a fun series for basic cable. Of course, they could go in the direction of the HBO/Cinemax and Showtime series and keep the over the top stuff as well. I'd probably end up watching it, but I admit I would cringe or cover my eyes on some parts. That's how I roll.
Anyway, despite the porny parts, I really enjoyed this second book. I'm looking forward to the next installment.(less)
I am kind of late posting this review. I wanted to think about it and I got sidetracked by other tasks.
First of all, I am so glad my precious local l...moreI am kind of late posting this review. I wanted to think about it and I got sidetracked by other tasks.
First of all, I am so glad my precious local library had this! I had heard about it and was recommended this book, but graphic novels aren't in my budget. And look how the Lord does provide!
Saga is a fun, fast-paced, visually appealing graphic novel. The art is beautiful and subtle, possessing a clarity I appreciated despite the simplicity of the drawings. The lettering keeps the prose equally clear. I loved the fact that Hazel (the infant that Marko and Alana make together)'s POV is rendered in a different style/font. It threw me at first, but then I realized what was going on. That not only are we seeing this intriguing couple's story play out, but we're seeing there is a future for them, since Hazel must have made it to a certain age in order to narrate. That gave me some hope, since things feel pretty dire for Marko and Alana.
I was recommended this graphic novel on the Fans of Interracial Romance group, which is awesome, and I do have to say the romance is a good driver of this story. I think it shows how fundamental a love story is in many settings. Love and the force it exerts on us and how it drives our actions. Love is not a conflict so much as a precipitator and a facilitator for the movement within a story. In the case of this young married couple, their love for each other drove them to escape from their respective, although reluctant roles in a senseless war, and their love for their baby they made together, drives them to fight for a new life and a safe haven for their family. So it's very organic to the story. Also, there is a strong theme about the foolishness of conflicts and wars and our reasons for hating people who are different from us. This story is practically begging for an interracial/cross-cultural romance. Although Alana looks black and Marko looks white, the color difference is secondary in this novel (and they have strikingly different morphological touches--Marko has ram's horns and Alana has vestigial (underdeveloped) wings). Instead, the bigger disparity is the fact that Alana and Marko are from different planets at war with each other. I really appreciated how these very different people came together and decided to commit to their love for each other, regardless of the obstacles in the way. Their strengths and weaknesses complement each other perfectly, and I can see the respect they have for each other, and their commitment to stand together no matter what.
As far as the conflict and the action, it was well done. I would consider this rustic sci-fi, along the lines of the tv show, Firefly. It also had shades of the original Star Wars films (which is in my mind sort of rustic sci-fi as well). The story keeps active, and the writing doesn't bog the narrative down with going in depth with the sci-fi world-building. This book is quite gory and violent. There is a very explicit scene that I know would be really gross if this was a live action movie, (along with a few others that are pretty in your face) although I can understand what motivated the act. Along with violence, there is a fair amount of profanity and sexual content, including full frontal nudity, and frank sexual situations. Even a disturbing part in which the readers are confronted with the vileness of child prostitution (thankfully no scenes depicting it).
Yeah, so I'm not being very coherent. What I'm trying to say is that I was impressed with this book. It is the beginning of a series I can see myself eagerly following. Yes, it's quite out there as far as sex, language and violence, but the story is good and it gives us two leads that you really like and root for, and of course, their daughter, who is all sorts of intriguing.
Four stars is well-earned for this book. It did take a while to read, but it was a good mix of action and character development that I enjoyed reading...moreFour stars is well-earned for this book. It did take a while to read, but it was a good mix of action and character development that I enjoyed reading. I love the game of chess played out by General Drakon and President Iceni. I definitely want to continue this series!
Although this took a while to get going for me, Blue Remembered Earth was a very good book with some hard science. I didn't quite get all the physics,...moreAlthough this took a while to get going for me, Blue Remembered Earth was a very good book with some hard science. I didn't quite get all the physics, but it was still an interesting and enjoyable read.
I liked this much better than the previous book, Dreadnaught. The pacing was much better, although it started a bit slow for me. I had some issues wit...moreI liked this much better than the previous book, Dreadnaught. The pacing was much better, although it started a bit slow for me. I had some issues with accepting the big bads as they are described though. Much more exciting read and I really do like Geary and Desjani, also the secondary characters.
Amber "Hawkeye" Rodriguez is a young research librarian who is asked to travel to the mysterious Southern lands on the human-colonized planet of Jigsa...moreAmber "Hawkeye" Rodriguez is a young research librarian who is asked to travel to the mysterious Southern lands on the human-colonized planet of Jigsaw with a group of the equally mysterious Neighbors, the original inhabitants of the planet. Their goal is to talk to the Spirits of Glory, and they ask Hawkeye along for her sharp eyes that see farther than anyone else. The curious Hawkeye has studied the Neighbors her entire life. She goes along because she wants to learn more about all three things: the Southern lands, the Spirits of Glory, and the Neighbors. Not to mention why the Southerners suddenly disappeared in the first place.
Spirits of Glory starts out with a huge question mark. Initially, I had no clue what was going on. The writing brought to mind the fantasist Catherynne M. Valente in which information is given that doesn't make sense until you keep reading. A lot of interesting ideas are presented to the reader and it takes further reading to see where Devenport is going. As the pieces came together, I gained a coherent idea of the story. I liked it before that point, and with its completion, the further insight I gained made me appreciate the story more, although there is plenty of mystery when this novella ends to leave me pondering the world of Jigsaw and its original inhabitants.
Hawkeye is a character that is very easy to feel for, with her humble but inquisitive nature, and good heart. I loved her assistance animals, Wolfy, a Retriever who has almost figured out how to speak English, and Brat, a cat with the ears and nose of a seasoned tracker. The bond between the two assistance animals and Hawkeye and the Neighbors, and Daisy, one of the mules that goes along on the journey made me smile. Animal lovers will appreciate these aspects of the novella.
Devenport imbues this short novel with plenty of tension as Hawkeye journeys into new places and faces dangers from those environs and their decidedly untrustworthy companions, humans who are called Scavengers. They show humans up poorly next to the considerate, composed miens of the Neighbors.
For a short story, I become very emotionally entangled as I read. It was interesting discovering the mysteries of Jigsaw, where time and space are not fixed, but highly mercurial. Although this is set on another planet, and concepts of science are prominent, there is a palpable vibe of the supernatural and otherworldly, with ghosts and arcane beings that the humans and Neighbors refer to as gods.
Since Hawkeye is only sixteen, this story works fairly well as a young adult themed work. However, Hawkeye has a sheltered aspect to her personality, and at the same time, has suffered a great deal for her age, making her a mature, balanced main character. She serves as a good role model to young female readers, which is why I would recommend this as a young adult novella. The content is suitable as far as violence and adult situations. However, there is a maturity to the thematic content that encourages any reader of any age to read and ponder the questions of humanity, existence, time, and the legacy that human and other beings leave behind, both good and bad. When I finished this novella, I was a satisfied reader. I would recommend Spirits of Glory to readers who like stories with a nice mix of science and fantasy/paranormal elements.
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)
If you're looking for a science fiction yarn that will suck you right in, and keep your interest engaged at max warp speed, then this should work. Gri...moreIf you're looking for a science fiction yarn that will suck you right in, and keep your interest engaged at max warp speed, then this should work. Grimspace takes the concept of interplanetary travel, and integrates the idea that specific people have a gene that allows them to navigate the points within space to decrease the travel time and go to places previously impossible to travel in a reasonable distance. Sort of like a wormhole, but not really. This inner space is called Grimspace, and Sirantha Jax is such a person.
This book was just what I've been wanting to read. I love science fiction with a heavy dose of adventure, and that doesn't dwell too heavily on the tech and science explanations. It's not that I don't like science (I love it in fact), but I don't want a story bogged down with that. I want a character-driven, action-oriented, tightly written story in a science fiction universe, and that's what Ann Aguirre delivers.
The weary, scarred, nearly broken character archtype never fails to appeal to me, and such is Jax. She lost her lover and was accused of killing him and 79 souls on their last flight together. Her future is looking decidedly bleak, since the corporation she works for (think Umbrella Corporation in space, or somewhat like the Alliance for Firefly fans) has taken her into custody and are submitting her to psychological manipulation that is sure to turn her into a walking zombie. A mysterious man shows up in her room and breaks her out, and she's off on a trip across the known and unknown galaxy.
This is one of those stories where the author doesn't give you much time to start feeling comfortable and safe about any character or scenario as you read. She lulls you into a sense that things are starting to make sense, and then she pulls the rug out from under you. This was smart although not always comforting storytelling, because it puts you very much into Sirantha's shaky boots. It felt her confusion, her fear, and her almost consuming sense of loss at the terrible choices she had to make, what she had lost and could lose, and that feeling of constantly having one's back against the wall, surrounded by enemies.
Sirantha is a tough, prickly, not terribly friendly woman, but somehow she is lovable for all those traits. Her heart is deeply human and capable of unfathomable depths of feeling. She knows what needs to be done, and might inwardly balk, but goes ahead and does it, and counts the cost later. March, the man who breaks her out, turns out to be an interesting counterpart, first uneasy ally, and sometimes verbal opponent, but the person with whom Jax finds a kinship and a deep level of communication she's never known.
This is and isn't a love story. I think that those that enjoy romance will like Jax's relationship with March, but you don't have to be a romance fan to enjoy this book. Aguirre has the elements that make for a riveting love story, but she can also be ruthlessly unsentimental, and unfraid to play around with the usual romantic conventions. This adds to that uneasy feeling I got when I read this story, because I didn't really trust that anything was safe, even supposed fated love.
As far as science fiction, I like the sparse but effective scene-setting that Aguirre has done here. She has enough tech for me to buy in, but not excessive amounts that would make my eyes start rolling trying to visualize it all. This aspect again brings to mind Firefly, which is a very good association for this devoted fan of that short-lived but briliant series. The rustic elements of the space that Jax explores, the interesting characters, and juxtaposition of cynical and homespun values, not to mention the philosophical/spiritual questions that its inhabitants face, reminded me strongly of the show. However, Ms. Aguirre effectively builds her own sci-fi universe here with some unique and characteristic elements that stake her claim in the niche of space opera/sci-fi adventure.
If I had any complaint, I just wish the action sequences were more effectively paced and more expansively described. They seemed to go by way too quickly, with lost opportunity to establish themselves with memorable panache in this highly visual reader's mind. I think for a space adventure, this element really needs to shout out to the reader, but it doesn't. Don't mistake that I am implying that the action elements are poorly written (not at all), they just could have used a little more. That was really the only reason I couldn't give this five stars. On all other levels, Grimspace comes in first place. The characterization is poignant and fierce, and I deeply empathized with everything that Jax, March and crew struggled against, inner demons and outer enemies alike. I experienced this book as if I was in this corner of space, eking out my existence, and staying one step ahead of the gray men, bounty hunter, Corp bullies, and opportunists. And that made for one fantastic read. Highly recommended.
I can say with no reservations that this was a fantastic book. Let me be honest and admit that I'm not a big science fiction reader. I'm not sure I wi...moreI can say with no reservations that this was a fantastic book. Let me be honest and admit that I'm not a big science fiction reader. I'm not sure I will ever be a wholesale science fiction fan in every form. But this book, well, it has convinced me that I can enjoy a good 'pure' science fiction book.
While Molly Fyde and the Parsona Rescue is a young adult book, it really doesn't feel like one. What I mean by that is, the writing is such that you never felt things are being dummed down in the false belief that a younger reader cannot handle an intelligent storyline. I would never assume that young adult fiction should be any different, and I'm glad that Mr. Howey did not make that assumption, either. As I read this story, I was impressed with his ability to tell this story in such a manner that words flow smoothly, your interest is engaged, but you are neither lost in streaming lines of technobabble, or pseudointelligent pomposity, or left feeling bored. In some ways, he compared favorably to Mr. Ray Bradbury, who wrote science fantasy back when hardly anything was common knowledge of space. Using his incredible imagination, his focus was always on telling a story, and the words used always contributed to this goal. That's how I felt about Mr. Howey's efforts.
Science fiction is a genre I often shy away from, because I am not very good with technical jargon. I find it hard to visualize highly technological concepts in my head when I read. So I tend to get bored with books that are written with heavy emphasis on these things. I am a very visual person, so that's an integral part of reading for me. When I read a book, it plays like a movie in my head. And the best books, they are like really good movies. Such was the case with this book. It was like a very good, intelligent, but fun science fiction movie with a hefty dose of adventure.
What I really liked about this novel, was that Mr. Howey infused this story with elements of philosophy and an awareness of ethical issues. And there are some very weighty ones in this book. Yet, he managed not to overload the story until it became dull and pretentious. He never resorted to shoveling an agenda down my throat as I read. There were moments that caused me genuine emotional pain, as I experienced the anguish that Molly felt, seeing what she did, and what she inadvertently took part in, and how she struggled with her conscience over decisions that she made, and those that were taken out of her hands by necessity, or through the actions of others. I'm by no means a science fiction connoisseur, but it's my understanding that science fiction is a genre that does probe into the questions of how technology can be for the advancement of humanity, but at the same time, it can cause destruction when used inappropriately. That issue arises in this book with a civilization of beings that are so intelligent, that they have come close to wiping themselves out, and would do the same to the rest of the galaxies they encountered. My brain was able to take this in, and I could really see both sides of the issue. But this was done without me feeling like I was being lectured to, or getting bored. That is the hallmark of good fiction to me, that I read a good story, but it gives me something to think about. I'm grateful that Mr. Howey did so with this story.
Molly is a genuinely likeable heroine. There were no moments in this story where she annoyed me or lost credibility with me. She was very human, and she seemed like a sixteen year old girl on the cusp on womanhood. But she dealt with some situations that were truly harrowing, ones that truly required intense strength of character from her. There were moments where I feared she was put in the role of looking to her male supporting character, Cole, a young man that she attended Naval Flight School with, as the stronger, more capable person, and I was prepared to be disappointed about that, not comfortable about what kind of message that might send to young girls reading this novel. However, further reading revealed that this was not an attempt to undermine the capability of Molly, or show that she could not be independent and in charge of her destiny, but to show that at times even the strong need to lean on, and to follow others. That's real life to this reader.
As for the adventure quotient of this novel, it was very satisfactorily high. Yet, the action was paced so well, that the moments of introspection and character development could be savored equally well. And, as I said earlier, I could easily visualize most of the action sequences. Any question marks about the equipment that I might have had were cleared away either through my imagination, or by further reading.
The worldbuilding in this novel was excellent. I had no problem picturing a future Earth that wasn't overly different, and seeing the other worlds through the narrative. The depiction of the different alien civilizations was distinct, and was done with a respect that didn't pander to bigotry or racial insensitivities. Although the various alien civilizations had their particularities, it was clear that stereotypes were not being established or relied upon. As a person who is sensitive to the depiction of people in a way that isn't stereotypical or racially insensitive, that was very important to me.
The cast of secondary characters managed to become very important to me. Cole became my shelter, a shoulder to lean on, and a boon companion, as I read this story and saw him take this harrowing journey along with Molly. Along the way, they meet friend and foe, and you feel their anguish and fears when the realization is made that not everyone can be trusted. Although this was Molly's story, and you never doubt her importance, Cole is also an intregral part of this novel, and I wouldn't have it any other way.
This book is perfectly suitable for mid-to-older teens, but I would advise readers that there is quite a bit of violence, and some disturbing events do occur. However, Mr. Howey does an excellent job of showing the consequences of violence, and how it affects the participants. And the violent scenes are not done in any way that is offensive or gratuitous.
Molly Fyde and the Parsona Rescue took me on an incredible journey. It kept me in suspense, made me laugh, made me cry, and gave me a sense of wonder at the beauty of the universe. I was in awe that humans might be able to travel through galaxies and meet life on other planets. I felt a sense of excitement reading this story, that has yet to leave me. But it also gave me something to think about. Like Molly, we humans tend to dream big, and life will knock some of the idealism out of us. But that's not the end of the road. It's just another turn that we take. I can't wait to read the next in this series.(less)