4.5 stars (= not as wonderful as Inside Out). Some things were pretty illogical, some things were hard to imagine and Snyder has this tendency to turn...more4.5 stars (= not as wonderful as Inside Out). Some things were pretty illogical, some things were hard to imagine and Snyder has this tendency to turn characters from good to bad to good and bad again during the course of a book. That was slightly unnerving.
But in spite of that I enjoyed myself immensely. This is when I know why I like reading best: When turning pages feels more exhiliarating that inhaling a spoon of vanilla ice-cream lathered with strawberry-sauce: I really like Trella and her world. And half a star less is tremendously positive for a Snyder sequel: I loved both Poison Study and Storm Glass, but was severely disappointed by their respective second and third volumes.
2.5 stars. I have to admit that I didn't enjoy this much although I liked the setting and the idea. Partly to blame is my inability to like any member...more2.5 stars. I have to admit that I didn't enjoy this much although I liked the setting and the idea. Partly to blame is my inability to like any member of the cast. The last third of the book was only a frantic rush from page to page in an effort to get it over. I felt like I was too far in to let it go and mark it as unfinished. But it was more like taking care of a chore than having a good time with a great story. Uhhg. I am so spent that even my review sounds like spontaneous combustion. Sorry, Surface dwellers and Fringers. This girl needs to power up.(less)
I've almost finished the first of the two novels combined in this book. And I liked it, really. But It was quite bleak and I needed something to lift...moreI've almost finished the first of the two novels combined in this book. And I liked it, really. But It was quite bleak and I needed something to lift me up last fall. Therefore I stopped to switch to a lighter and brighter fare in between. Somehow I never had the will to pick it up again. I am sure I am missing something, because I don't finish this. That's the reason it hovered so long in the current-reading status.(less)
The first chapters of Grimspage reminded me strongly of Serenity (the film) and there is a good story concealed somewhere, I am sure. I decided to pul...moreThe first chapters of Grimspage reminded me strongly of Serenity (the film) and there is a good story concealed somewhere, I am sure. I decided to pull the brakes after 52 pages, though. At the moment it seems too bleak and too confusing for me. (The heroine is confused and down as well, so I suppose the emotion is intended.)(less)
I am finally out of patience after 146 pages of actual reading and some half-hopeful page flipping - oh my, is that paper glossy and shiny; but I didn...moreI am finally out of patience after 146 pages of actual reading and some half-hopeful page flipping - oh my, is that paper glossy and shiny; but I didn't expect it to be otherwise since the publisher calls itself 'Planet Girl'.
Bluishly glowing, extraterrestrial, hyper-prickly boy with an expiry date fascinates rebellious, pouty school girl with a helper-complex living under a dome in the United Nations of Earth.
That is almost 600 pages of he-hates-me-he-loves-me, we-cannot-be-together and our-love-will-make-it-happen-against-the-odds-of-alien-nature young adult romance. Earth with its reduced population, reduced inhabitable space and its newfound we-humans-are-a-happy-family disposition just serves as a convenient, unripe, pseudo-futuristic backdrop for the cross-planetary love-story: That dome has to span a hundred kilometers and can just be opened and closed when the weather changes. People have flying vehicles, printed books, iPads, meat-sausages, tea and coffee, visit the beach cafés on dome-free days and protest against animal testing in the laser cosmetic industry, although birds and insects are about the only animals living around town. The dome is packed with buildings high into the sky around the middle and deep into the ground everywhere else, but nothing is said about how and where food is produced. There are credit-operated ice-cream-machines and waste-bins for the wrappers on the street, but the heroine blithely states that the environmental sins of her ancestors have been learned of and will not be repeated. Although English remains the sole language spoken on the planet, most of the surnames sound distinctly German. In spite of that no hint according to the location of the dome city is dropped.
It is also pretty unlikely that the future rulers of Earth - how peaceful and harmony-loving they might have become - would allow 300 refugees from a planet they have formed a kind of alliance with to immigrate without in depth scientific knowledge of that species' bodies. In this novel human-looking kids from a five-light-years away planet are distributed by an quirky, artisty social-worker-person into foster homes after vaguely spreading rumours about manifesting skin-colors, telekinesis-like abilities and dietary limitations among the volunteering teenage baby-sitters, who nervously ask their accademically gifted charges if they are possibly able to read minds. Nobody seems to know what kind of secret anatomy is hidden under the scarf every child firmly keeps around his or her neck. It could just be a reproductive organ, a thermometer or an artificial anus, but what if it is a biological weapon or something sensitive and life-supporting? No government would be that naive.
I liked the characters, I am contented with the the suspense factor and I love the space thing. I badly missed a dose of romance, I would have loved mo...moreI liked the characters, I am contented with the the suspense factor and I love the space thing. I badly missed a dose of romance, I would have loved more details about the world they live in (i.e. the time, the planets without air to breath, the space ships, the Alliance, The Trade Union, the School), I had the feeling the story rushed too fast through several months (suddenly it's five months later, but the relationship stays basically the same) and I would have welcomed to learn more about side-characters. But maybe all that (apart from the romance) would have been impossible to accumulate in a novel that is only 260 pages long.(less)
Flappy-eared, double-nosed, telepathic aliens, music, danger, time-travel, friendship in unexpected places, searching for your roots, futuristic futur...moreFlappy-eared, double-nosed, telepathic aliens, music, danger, time-travel, friendship in unexpected places, searching for your roots, futuristic futures, Blade-Runner-style bars, gut-wrenching loneliness, highly-original, tongue-in-cheek twists, bluesy sadness, snarky humor. Wow. Just my kind of sci-fi. This my second five-star-read within eight days. I feel so lucky - kind of like overdosed on "Bliss-sticks". Thank you, all you Goodreaders who have been - voluntarily or involuntarily - pushing this at me. Especially Flannery, who sent me her copy (which is now at Janina's - long story).(less)
4.5 stars. The spaceship Goodspeed is on its 300 years long journey to an inhabitable planet, Centauri-Earth. On board are about hundred specialists a...more4.5 stars. The spaceship Goodspeed is on its 300 years long journey to an inhabitable planet, Centauri-Earth. On board are about hundred specialists and their families (bio-engineers, tacticians, sociologists) stored as frozen human cargo in the deep and forgotten bowels of the huge vessel as well as two and a half thousand common inhabitants, who either research plants, weather and livestock for the future socialization or farm and produce goods for the small community. Since an obscure past event referred to as "The Plague" severed all connections to Sol-Earth and decimated the breathing population, the on-board democracy has been replaced by a the firm rule of a string of single and almighty rulers, who control access to the Earth's (tampered with) and the ship's (partly hazy) history, the use of cameras, the knowledge about what sleeps in the storage chambers, and who exchanged random reproduction for a system of one mating season per generation. The present ruler, Eldest, appears to be reluctant to share his vast knowledge with his still teen-aged successor, Elder, but emphasizes that the greatest dangers to a surviving society are differences between the members and lack of leadership. Slighted and unsatisfied Elder snoops around and discovers the already melting Amy, who is not only non-essential to the ship's mission (aka disposable if in the way), but also red-headed, pale and a powerful threat to Eldest's omnipotence. Elder's world view is shaken up: What else has been hidden from him and who is attempting to murder those who represent the pathway to a successful settlement?
When I compare "Across the Universe" to Inside Out by Maria V. Snyder, which also takes place in a small, confined and heavily controlled world/eco-system, I have to say I prefer "Inside Out". But, nonetheless, I loved "Across the Universe", too, and look forward to reading the sequel next year, because ...
- It kept me glued to the pages to that extent that I was ripping my eyes open again and again last night while my husband already snored through his third dream or so - I am a sucker for multi-point-of-view-stories, especially those switching between a boy and a girl - I really love on-board-of-spaceship-novels that do not primarily deal with war (I also recommend Startide Rising and I greedily wait for Molly Fyde and the Parsona Rescue to be delivered to my postbox) - I enjoyed that Beth Revis did not deliver a soppy romance in a thin and superficial space-travel wrapping, but a thrilling space mystery with fantastic world building and a pleasant sprinkling of boy-girl-attraction. - The characters - even the side-crew - were well-defined, hard-angled and interesting - Think-worthy questions about leadership, free will and the perfect socialization are touched on the way without offering simple answers.
I recommend this piece of dystopian young adult fiction and say "Beth, bring on the sequel! You've earned all that praise." (less)
Interesting. But, Robin, that kind of cliffhanger is really unforgivable - combined with the publication date of the sequel scheduled for August 2012*...moreInteresting. But, Robin, that kind of cliffhanger is really unforgivable - combined with the publication date of the sequel scheduled for August 2012*, which is year from now if one doesn't have Audie's universe manipulating mind skills.
*edit: The human mind IS a powerful thing. because sequels that are announced on the last page of the first book are usually published a year later, my subconsciousness substituted the number 2011 that is plainly there for everybody to see with 2012. I still resent the huge cliffy, because I cannot stand buying just half a story without being informed of that circumstance beforehand, but the shorter waiting span between the two(?) parts does console me. Rating clarification: 3 stars going on 4.(less)
A scifi-in-space-fantasy-monsters-vampires-and-strange-creatures-good-and-evil-beastly-but-gorgeous-guy-drugs-and-blood-thriller featuring an innocent...moreA scifi-in-space-fantasy-monsters-vampires-and-strange-creatures-good-and-evil-beastly-but-gorgeous-guy-drugs-and-blood-thriller featuring an innocent but incredibly strong heroine surviving a non-stop party on an island of infinite darkness, endless pleasure and short life-spans. Intrigued? You should be. It is that original and captivating.
(Note: 0.5 stars short of five because of the open ending.)(less)
„I was a blastocyst, once. A mere jumble of cells clinging to one another. A fertilized egg. Of course, we were all in just such a state at some point...more„I was a blastocyst, once. A mere jumble of cells clinging to one another. A fertilized egg. Of course, we were all in just such a state at some point in our lives, but I excelled at it in a way you didn't. I spent more time in that condition than I have as a person. Hundreds of years more, in fact.“
Thus begins Hugh Howey's short and sadly overlooked stand-alone young adult novel Half Way Home. If you are looking for something different among the dystopia rubble: Here you are. What is Half Way Home? It is a harsh thriller about survival. It is a study of human behavior in a freshly built, unstructured, small community. It deals with handing over the life-and-death-decisions to artificial intelligence, it serves us frienship, alien planets inhabited by huge, furry worms, a clever mystery and ... a road-trip into the unknown. What Half Way Home is not: A romance, an endless saga with multiple prequels and sequels or a piece of emotional origami.
Although intelligent machines could easily do the long trips to far away planets on their own, harvest minerals and other promising materials to take back home to Earth, mankind has chosen to spread its genes across the Universe for the sole conceited benefit of knowning that its offspring will own the future.
During the past centuries a huge number of spaceships has reached random destinations. At about half of them a detailed geological analysis done by specialized machinery suggested that the planet in question did not offer the ideal components for starting a new civilization. The complete shipments were destructed in order to save human technology from attempts at patent piracy. If the analythical reports were favorable, the onboard artificial intelligence called "Colony" - or "Al" - triggered a chemical process that started the 500 eggs to grow in their translucent tubes, to learn their specific future roles in society by virtual one-to-one sessions with said "Colony". In the 30 years the physical and mental construction of a planet's first generation took machines felled trees, tilled soil, mined and refined metal and built additional machinery with it.
When 15-years-old Porter wakes up naked and gooey in his bursting tube next to 58 other lucky colonists, who also survived the fire that suddenly started in the midst of the circularly set-up bio-vats, his half-way finished education as the colony's psychologist makes him suspicious concerning the supposedly accidental catastrophe. His unease grows when "Colony Al" instructs the survivors to concentrate on building a rocket in order to send crucial information back to Earth instead of working out solutions for temporary housing and clothing ("Colony" unconcernedly suggested tarpoline), for locating the much needed provision containers, which had been set down next to a far away area meant for mining, and for installing some kind of order. What is so important that after hundreds of years a rocket has suddenly to be sent off within two weeks? Could it be that the fire had been intended to kill them all? Could it be that "Colony" ruthlessly decided to abort the colonization process after fifteen years of successful preparation? And what can be so essentially wrong with the planet to give up the chance of populating it?
When "Colony" keeps refusing answers, food grows scarce and fanatically power-hungry splinter groups show no qualms using mortal weapons to keep their fellow colonists in check, Porter, farmer Kelvin and teacher Tarsi see no other way out than to join a handful of deserters on their way to the mining site beyond the still unpassable jungle. An exciting, dangerous journey peppered with group conflicts, hierarchy issues, hunger, want, loss, determination and character growth begins.
I liked ... - the road-trip plot - the Space-Odyssey-2001-like colony computer "Al" (Sounds a bit like HAL, doesn't it?) and the conflict between trusting that inanimate "thing" that brought you up and relying on yourself, your instincts, your humanity, your ability to think and decide independently - the plot device of interrupted education: Although Porter's instructions and training modules seem to have happened randomly, his specialized syllabus had been scheduled chronologically, which means the psychological theories he has already covered include only those around the late twentieth century and earlier. Porter is aware of the fact that a large chunk of his supposed learning is missing, but he knows he has to make do with what he had been taught and that his limitations influence his world view. What he knows and what he lacks reflects on his way of solving problems, on his way of dissecting the situation his colony is in. And he realizes that his work group member Oliver, a future philosopher, has it worse than him: He is stuck in a rather primitive, religious phase, which makes him praise every misfortune and every bad turn of events as a manifestation of God's will, which he does not allow to be questioned. Some of the farmers know intricate details about the weather, but not about the actual process of producing crops. And because of the hierarchical arrangement of the bio-vats the fire destroyed the highest ranking future citizens first. Therefore there are no doctors on the planet, only nurses, no electrical engineers, only electricians and so forth, which adds to the general panic and cluelessness of the small teenaged population. - the mystery and its solution. - the dosage of action. - the unique landscape and its dangers. - the fitting cover.
What I was struggling with was (same as when I was reading Molly Fyde and the Parsona Rescue, which also recommend in spite of my luke-warm-seeming three stars) ... - the narrator's kind of detached voice. It feels somehow distinctly male (I even thought so, when Molly was telling me her interstellar, extra-unique story) and does not invite the reader to invest much emotion. I think that is the reason why the outrageous things happing on both the Parsona's journey through space (view spoiler)[i.e. planetary genocide via nuclar weaponry (hide spoiler)] and the Colony kids' jouney through the forest did not have a lasting impact on my mind. If I looked at the literature I devour with a less personal and more professional stance, I probably would be able to find the correct wording to emphasise what I mean. I hope you got a vague idea in spite of my inability to elaborate.
(view spoiler)[Contrary to other reviewers, who criticise that Porter is depicted as a very girl-like homosexual and thus puts homosexuals into a stereotypically weak corner, I believe that the main character's hesitation to act spontaneously and his occasional decision to let some other - male - friends do the hard, physical work were mainly connected to his planned academic career. Kelvin, the farmer, has a strong muscular body and is trained for intensive, manual labor, Porter, the psychologist, is rather slenderly built and tends to think things through thoroughly. So what? That's no gender thing in my opinion. And I never got the impression of Porter as a weak person. People minded what he had to say. But maybe I am too gullible and too easy to please. (hide spoiler)]
Considering the low price of the e-version I recommend the book to those who appreciate non-romantic science fiction aimed at young adults without hesitation. Do have a try! I think you even can read a free except online.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)