I had to admit that the main reason that I requested These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner is that I love the pretty cover. The sparkly stars, her red hair, that billowy green dress... I wouldn't normally think of science fiction as being my sort of thing but based on how much I've enjoyed this and other recent scifi YA books, I think it's time that I changed my mind. Because These Broken Stars was really interesting and quite romantic and very quickly I became quite emotionally invested in both main characters, their stories, their survival and this very strange planet that they've landed on.
These Broken Stars is told with a dual-perspective between Lilac and Tarver, two characters from very different backgrounds and experiences. They meet aboard this swanky spacecraft shortly before some malfunction causes the Icarus to leave hyperspace and crash on a distant and very mysterious planet. Tarver and Lilac are forced into working together with the shared goal of surviving and of being rescued.
I think the large majority of the story - in which Tarver and Lilac have to switch quickly between haughty socialite and decorated war hero into two people stranded who need to gather food and supplies in order to survive - was one of my favourite aspects. Lilac in particular struggled to drop the social graces that she's grown up with and become less stuck-up and precious about every little thing but at the same time she was no wilting flower either. Kaufman and Spooner gave us two very wonderful and complex characters who were capable of rescuing one another. I really, really love reading stories about survival. There's something about doing what needs to be done and pushing one's self to the limit to do these things that appeals to me. And I loved the strength both physically and mentally both Lilac and Tarver possessed to get through this ordeal.
I also loved how the authors developed both of the main characters. Both Tarver and Lilac felt real to me reading this book. They had personality and life experiences and I was really able to connect with both of them and cared about who they are as people. I also loved the way they interacted with each other. With disdain at first, mostly which turned into grudging respect and finally into more. I loved the gradual changes in their relationship and by say, mid-way through These Broken Stars I was fanatic about their relationship and that really took me by surprise. Another surprise is what lies at the heart of the mystery surrounding this empty planet and the amount of shocking twists and turns to this story.
These Broken Stars is a book that really grabbed my attention and I will certainly be looking out to read both more in this series and more YA scifi! ...more
I really loved Heroic by Phil Earle. Like the author's two previous books, Being Billy aThis review was originally published at Fluttering Butterflies
I really loved Heroic by Phil Earle. Like the author's two previous books, Being Billy and Saving Daisy, I found Heroic to be a hugely emotional experience as I really fell in love with the characters and their relationships with each other. I love the strong ties of brotherhood throughout the book from men fighting in a war, between friends and the relationship between actual brothers, Sonny and Jammy.
Heroic focuses on these two brothers, Sonny and Jammy during the months that Jamm is serving in Afghanistan. We get to see both perspectives of Jammy at war, struggling with the heat and missing home. We witness him trying to keep an eye out for Tommo, his childhood friend who joined up at the same time as him and we see him trying to make a connection with one of locals. This part of the story was both interesting and sad, seeing how Jammy thought of home but didn't quite know what to say to them either so that they wouldn't worry. His experiences in Afghanistan involved some really difficult stuff but I was super glad that nothing about what Jamm or his family goes through ever felt over-dramatised.
Back at home we have Sonny and his mom waiting it out and what it's like for Sonny and everyone else back at home doing their best not to worry, to remain upbeat when talking to Jammy even if they're worried sick. Wondering if that'll be the last time they speak together. It's heartbreaking, both situations.
Sonny and Jammy are part of this group of boys living on this estate that have each other's back and I loved the banter and the loyalty between them all. They're definitely no angels, as the book starts off with them all robbing a van of cigarettes and alcohol to sell on for profit, but I just loved the lot of them. Especially Sonny. He's the younger brother, always sort of in the shadow of responsible and level-headed Jammy. And Sonny isn't much like Jammy. He does dumb things and gets caught out for them all the time, but his heart is in the right place. He tries his best to hold things together while Jammy's away and then also when Jamm does come home and Jamm comes back a very different person.
They are some quite obvious acts of bravery that occur in Heroic involving Jamm in the war and it brought tears to my eyes when we finally do learn of what Jamm goes through just before coming home. But what I really noticed while reading this book were the other smaller and more mundane acts of courage that take place all the time. There's the courage of facing the grind day after day, in being the ones left behind or picking up the pieces. There's heroism in sacrifice and in asking for help, in working hard to make things better for those we love, in dreaming for more in life.
I thought Heroic was a really beautiful book. I was surprised by how much I felt for both Sonny and Jamm and their family and friends while reading. I knew that it was unlikely that everything could end happily, but I wanted that for all of them. The last hundred pages or so really had me on edge as everything comes to this dramatic head and things hang in the balance. It is tense stuff and it only works because of how wonderfully these characters are presented and because of how tangible their feelings are and how strong their relationships with each other are.
This is a book that really sucked me in right from the start and put my heart through the wringer. I really very highly recommend it....more
I'm not a big reader of science-fiction, but I've been really lucky that every time in theThis review was originally posted at Fluttering Butterflies
I'm not a big reader of science-fiction, but I've been really lucky that every time in the past year that I've picked up a scifi novel, I've really enjoyed it. Once I started POD by Stephen Wallenfels, I was instantly pulled into this scary story of two different young people desperately trying to hold on when everything falls apart. An alien invasion changes everything and it left me constantly wondering what I would do if I were in Megs or Josh's place. POD is a story of survival and hope and of humanity. And I'm really glad I read it.
I found the dual-narrative of POD to be quite interesting. In most stories with such a split perspective I could see some overlap or a clear reason for telling the story from a different point of view. There isn't such a clear or obvious reason for the story to be told in this way right from the start, but both stories are incredibly interesting and very pacey and the break in one story line to jump to other sometimes made me really excited and it wrenched up my levels of anticipation to get back to that character.
POD is told in part by Josh, a 15 year old boy who is at home with his father on the morning that the alien invasion occurs. Huge black spaceships appear overhead and zap any people who might leave their homes. Josh finds it very difficult to come to terms with this new intrusion into his life and also struggles with his attitude towards his father who has OCD tendencies. Together they come to this uneasy truce, but are also able to have a better understanding of the other. They talk about some very serious things - food rationing and how to take care of their dog and what happens next.
Whereas, not far away, Megs has been on a road trip with her mother and when the PODs (which stand for Pearls of Death) show up, she's alone in a car in a multi-storey car park waiting for her mother to come back. At 12, Megs has already had some difficult life experience and she really needs her mother. Instead of curling up somewhere and giving up when it becomes clear that she has no food or water or any protection, especially from the armed thugs who have taken control of the hotel next to the car park, Megs really shows her courage and strength and resourcefulness by scavenging for food and for keeping herself alive in such a desperate and grim time.
I really loved this one. I loved the development in Josh's relationship with his dad and seeing the way in which both Josh and Megs learn to cope with such drastic and massive changes. Megs is such a wonderful, strong character. I really couldn't imagine having the ability to pull myself together like she did, taking it all one day at a time.
POD is a really exciting book, and while it doesn't give very much information at all about the aliens or their purpose or reasons for being, I didn't feel that it mattered at all. This book seems more about the capacity for humanity and survival than anything else. I recommend it. ...more
0.4 by Mike Lancaster is like no other book I've read. I had absolutely no idea what was goThis review was originally posted at Fluttering Butterflies
0.4 by Mike Lancaster is like no other book I've read. I had absolutely no idea what was going to happen as I started and even up to halfway through, I was still guessing wildly (and incorrectly!) at the mystery that surrounds this book. There was such a great and creepy atmosphere, I found myself being utterly terrified as this story unfolds. Such an interesting story, I was gripped all the way through.
It has a bit of an unsual structure to the novel, as the book is the written account of what has been found on some cassettes that have been found many years into the future. It is separated by some narrative by the lifeforms that populate the future explaining some of the unusual behaviours and dialogue that is mentioned on the tapes.
Our narrator is teenager Kyle Straker, who begins to describe a fairly typical day in his small town in England. There is a community talent show and for a hypnotism act by a friend, Kyle volunteers. When Kyle and the other three volunteers wake up from this, their entire world has changed. People are acting strangely, technology no longer works, it seems as though Kyle and his three companions are in danger and struggle against many difficulties in order to find out the truth.
This is a very creepy and strange story. I don't read a lot of science-fiction, so I had no idea what to expect. Each new twist and turn in the story was surprising for me and I found myself a little shocked at where the story ended up. It's quite short, this book and the way in which it is written made it near impossible for me to put the book down until it was finished. Chilling though it is, it's also incredibly engrossing and I'm utterly excited to hear of a sequel. Let it be published soon! And bring on more YA sci-fi like this! ...more
Before I started reading Across the Universe by Beth Revis I was assaulted by such praise tThis review was originally posted on Fluttering Butterflies
Before I started reading Across the Universe by Beth Revis I was assaulted by such praise that I was almost afraid to read the book for fear of high expectations ruining the reading experience for me. I'm not sure that I waited long enough in order to read it either, because whilst I did enjoy it, this book didn't blow me away as much as I was led to believe that it would.
I think the biggest problem for me is the element of romance within the story. I didn't believe in the relationship between Amy and Eldest and I think that if I had, Across the Universe would have been so much more enjoyable.
Even so, it is a pretty interesting story. Amy and her parents have agreed to be frozen in order to be amongst the first expedition to begin life on another planet. But things don't exactly go to plan, as Amy is nearly killed having been woken up 50 years too soon. It's no mistake that she was so violently disturbed, someone is out to murder her. With the help of Elder, a young man being trained in order to maximise his leadership ability in order to run the ship, Godspeed, they must solve the mystery of who has tried to kill her, before Amy's parents are the next victims.
I think the inhabitants and life on the Godspeed are all a little fascinating. The dystopian world that Beth Revis created on this ship with it's different life cycles and the rules in which people follow without question was both eerie and creepy. I was suitably creeped out by some of the events that take place as well as the means of leadership employed. I'm really looking forward to seeing how the rest of the story plays out and coming back to the characters of Amy and Elder.
While not blown away by this book, I'm still quite intrigued and looking forward to reading more. ...more
There is a lot of hype surrounding I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore. So much so, that it made me a little reluctant to read it straight away. I wasn'There is a lot of hype surrounding I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore. So much so, that it made me a little reluctant to read it straight away. I wasn't sure what to make of it going in, I figured it would be a fun and fast-moving adventure story... And it was. Sadly, while I didn't dislike it, I didn't love it either. If I was just focusing on the actual plot than I'd say I quite enjoyed all the action. But the simplistic writing style and lack of character depth made it fall a little flat for me.
It's the story of John Smith and his guardian, Henri. They've been on Earth for the past 10 years. They are both alien refugees from a planet called Lorien that was destroyed by another alien race, the Mogodorians. Before the planet died, the Loriens sent 9 children to Earth in the hopes that these children will grow special powers to fight back against the Mogodorians and then repopulate their destroyed planet. The saved children can only die in a particular order, from 1 to 9 and John Smith, our hero is (obviously) number four.
So John Smith (Number Four) and his guardian Henri don't stay in one place very often, choosing small towns and made-up names in order to stay under the radar. This time, they're in Paradise, Ohio and John enrolls in high school. Only to fall for the prettiest girl in school and become the enemy of her ex-boyfriend. He also befriends, Sam, an alien-enthusiast and it sets off this weird and fun series of events where the action just didn't seem to stop. There's hay-rides and super-powers and alien magazines and fight scenes with other humans! with Mogodorians! with beasts of enormous size!
I had a lot of fun reading about the alien escapades, but it all felt very movie-like to me. Everything was described as though it was different scenes of a movie. It didn't seem to have the same type of flow for a novel, but felt like a meatier screenplay. And while some scenes between John and Sarah were rather sweet, I didn't care very much about their relationship throughout the book, everything was a bit of a cliche and I didn't feel like anything new was brought to the table. And while I felt that John's newfound alien powers to be quite cool, it also felt like things came rather easily at the same time.
For me, the saving grace of the book was this relationship between John with Henri. As a guardian/father figure, Henri was portrayed very well and it was very obvious how much the two relied and cared for each other. Towards the end, during the huge climatic ending, I even shed a tear.
I Am Number Four was a fun book to read, I can see that it will make an excellent blockbuster-type movie, but as a book it was only just OK. ...more