This book has been sitting on my shelf for some time. Since I received it before Christmas and I knew it wasn’t coming out until January, I let it slide further and further down my TBR pile. Not because I didn’t want to read it. I have to confess—I peeked at it a few times—but I had other things on my plate, and before I knew it, it was already the end of January. What with my Shadowfever commitments, I didn’t have time for anything else. Which was too bad, really. Across the Universe is one of 2011’s most highly anticipated YA debuts of the year. I think it’s worth the hype. It sucks you in and doesn’t let go. Both of the narrators—Amy and Elder—are likeable, sympathetic characters. Amy you instinctively feel for because she, like us, is new to the strange future she’s woken up in. Elder is likeable because, despite the trappings and conventions of his time, despite everything he’s been taught, he remains able to differentiate between right and wrong. While I liked this book a great deal, and it certainly posed a great many philosophical questions, I mainly came away from it feeling that it was what it is: the first book in a trilogy. It sets the stage for the later novels. It tells about the world we’ll be visiting when we read the next two books. It also tells us about the issues Amy and Elder will face in the future. I’m happy to go on the journey with them—it’s going to be fascinating. One thing that I really, really appreciated about this book is that the revelation at the end of this book happens at the end of this book. Revis could easily have let that particular twist taken control of the rest of the books in the series. I like that it was revealed in time for Amy and Elder to deal with it in future books—not just the last twenty-five pages of the final volume. They have a lot to work through. But, honestly, read the book—the issues are endless. So, by all means, search out this book—either at your local bookstore or through the library. I especially recommend it to fans of Anne Osterlund’s Academy 7. (less)
I'll be honest: I haven't had a great deal of success with Maria V. Snyder. I've started both the Study and the Glass series without the compulsion to finish them. Yet, I grabbed Inside Out the moment it hit the shelves. I've got a well-established love of the first person point of view, and Snyder sure knows how to satisfy it. I invariably like her heroines, and I think it's in large part due to their internal dialog. Snyder's heroines are smart, feisty and independent. These three things describe Outside In's Trella to a T. Especially if you add "slow to forgive" to the descriptive pile. Speaking of Trella, she is at once an alluring and repulsive heroine. She's that girl that draws people to her because of her very aloofness. She'd be the kind of friend you'd be afraid to confide in because neediness scares her off. Though she interacts with others, Trella's a loner at heart. She's not interested in having people depend on her. Reluctance to get involved is both her greatest flaw and her biggest attraction. She excells at playing hard to get, because she doesn't even need to try. In part, Trella is reluctant to take part because she doesn't want to let people down. She'd rather do nothing than try and fail. Also, I never got the sense that--apart from Riley--she ever really liked anyone. I suspect that Trella will never do friendships. Even at the end of the book she remains closed off. Which is a good trait for a leader, I suppose, but rather lousy in a friend or romantic partner. Though Riley takes a stab at pointing all of this out to Trella--and I admit that he has some sort of success--it's an indelible aspect of her character. And I can't help it--that turns me off. Trella's loner-by-nature perspective also means that we don't get to know many of the other characters very well. Riley's not even in this one very much. We see Trella's possible birth mother, Lamont, and theirs is really the relationship that makes the most strides, and all of that is due to changes in Trella's perspective. If Outside In has a message, it's that community is important. So is working together. The book is also strong on the message that it's important not to blur the line between you and your enemy. I don't mean that you shouldn't interact with them--but that you should be clear that the things that make a group an enemy are their actions. If Mr. X is your enemy because he tortures you when he has the upper hand, how are you any better if you do the same to him when the positions are reversed? I can't, of course, write a review of a book and not mention the romance. I said that we see less of Riley in this book, but what we do see of him, I like. In Riley and Trella's relationship, he's the one that isn't afraid to admit his feelings. Usually (and stereotypically), it's the guy that holds back. Riley doesn't. His chemistry with Trella is believable and the shower scene--hot--especially for a Teen book. I felt for him, though, because it would be hard to love someone like Trella. She returns his feelings, but she's also completely dedicated to doing the right thing, even if it places her in danger. Which it does. A lot. Trella is hurt and hurt and hurt again in this book. I'm frankly surprised she made it to the end. I enjoyed getting to return to Inside once again, and to learn a bit more about their world. For me, one of the most fascinating aspects of Dystopian fiction is watching people try to restore order. In the first book, there's a revolution. In the second book, we get to see the Insiders dealing with the aftermath, and fighting a new enemy. I don't know if Snyder is going to right another installment in the series--I rather doubt it, given the ending--but I'd be thrilled to read a book that was about the trials of turning a Dystopia into a better world. Not necessarily a Utopia, but something better than before. (less)
Most of the time, when I get into discussions with fellow appreciators of Jane Austen, their favorite book is Pride & Prejudice. Sometimes I’ll come across an Emma or Sense & Sensibility fan, but I’ve yet to meet anyone who, like me, put Persuasion at the top of their list. (I won’t pretend I’m not hoping to hear an outcry denying this once the post goes live.) I put out a couple of ARC requests when I first heard about this book, but when I didn’t hear back from the publisher, I decided that it was probably a blessing. My expectations for this book were so high, I didn’t think I’d be able to write a review if it disappointed.
The thing I failed to prepare for was a feeling of ambivalence. I’m enough of an Austen fan to realize that any adaptation (or re-imagining, etc.) will fall short of the real thing. Still, there have been a few books that have paid homage to the great Jane Austen in the best way. The authors of the “good” adaptations don’t so much try to retell Jane’s stories as take a narrative leaf out of her books. They highlight the ridiculous, provide a grounded heroine in a world of bizarre priorities, and introduce heroes so awesome thousands of women (and probably a few men) go to sleep fantasizing about them. All this, and a heaping dollop of wit, too.
Peterfreund’s adaptation of Persuasion is more straight-forward than that. You can easily pick out which characters are meant to be which, and in that respect, I think she relies a bit on Jane Austen’s characterization rather than bothering to create her own. Surprisingly, I think this book would have been more successful if she had paid a little less attention to Persuasion and a little more to creating her own story. I think that trying to adapt the story limited its potential.
Additionally, Peterfreunds’ Elliot and Wentforth didn’t do justice to their namesakes. I didn’t even particularly like Kai. Wentworth (from Persuasion) is a remarkable hero because he never once utters a word of reproach to Anne, and no matter how much he wants to resent her, he can’t help loving her still. Kai, in contrast, knowingly spreads lies about Elliot and comes off as spiteful, petulant and grudging. And Elliot is much more uptight, mopy, and self-righteous than Persuasion‘s Anne could ever be.
Finally, there was ending. It was too perfect, and yet left the major plot twist unresolved. It is, I think, the greatest argument I can make for suggesting that Persuasion limited Peterfreund’s story-telling. The whole subplot of the book is about the enslavement and mistreatment of the Posts. Spoiler Warning: One of the minor characters sets out to reverse this, but Elliot just rode off into the sunset with Kai. I found myself wishing she had rejected him and stayed on at the North Estate where, as an affluent and influential landowner, she could have made a difference. And that’s saying a lot from someone who hates it when the couple doesn’t get an HEA.
While I don’t think I’d recommend this book on the basis of it being an adaptation of Persuasion, it raises some interesting questions about technology, duty, and family. If it weren’t for the ending, I’d say go for it. I can’t ignore it, though, so I have to take points off for it. For Darkness Shows the Stars is an ambitious novel, even if it was not entirely successful.(less)
Narrator Review: Narrator Matthew Brown captures Locke perfectly, portraying his early, childlike mentality, his bewilderment over a familiar and unfamiliar world, and his ultimate disillusionment, pain and personal loss. He's a bit less skillful with female characters, but I always have a problem with opposite gender character portrayals in audiobooks. All in all, Brown is a solid narrator. Book Review: A lot of people loved The Adoration of Jenna Fox. And that meant they were uncertain about The Fox Inheritance. That’s always the way. We don’t want writers to mess with the perfection of the books that we adore. (Heh.) I, however, was excited because I thought this book would be focusing on Locke and Kara instead of swinging back around to Jenna. For me, Jenna’s story was complete. I wanted to revisit the Jenna Fox world, not necessarily the characters. I was both wrong and right about this—and I have mixed feelings as a result. The Fox Inheritance begins with Locke and Kara. They’ve been “awake” for about a year, after having spent 260 years in the little black boxes that contained their minds. If you read the first book, you know that Jenna thought she’d destroyed these boxes—and she did. But not before someone had copies made. You’ll also remember that Jenna was traumatized by her memories of the black box—and she didn’t spend 260 years in one, like Locke and Kara. Locke, in his childlike fashion, accepts the fancy house they live in, and whatever the doctor tells him, and wishes that Cara would be less upset about their situation. He naively hopes that his love will keep her from the scary edge she’s always dancing on, but he’s not really interested in challenging the status quo. Until, that is, he discovers their real purpose—they serve as floor models for rich people who plan to live past their deaths. Theirs may be a plush prison, but it’s a prison nonetheless. When the Locke finds Dr. Gatsborough sprawled on the floor of his office in a pool of his own blood, he and Cara make a run for it. While they begin their journey together, they’re ultimately separated when they’re nearly recaptured. Thus begins a race across the country. Locke knows there’s only one place Cara would go: to California to find Jenna. And not so she can give her a big hug and a kiss. Locke’s journey is one of self-discovery, and of long-delayed coming of age. When he finally meets Jenna again, it’s simultaneously explosive and anticlimactic. It was also the point of the novel where I began to have mixed feelings. Up until then, I was intrigued by Locke’s internal dilemmas—he’s a man-made human and he’s not sure how he stacks up against man-made bots. Just how different (if at all) is he? Does he have a soul any more than his new bot-friend, Dot, does? Until this point, The Fox Inheritance was Locke’s story; Locke’s coming-of-age. Then, as soon as Locke meets up with Jenna, everything becomes about her. Ironic, considering the theme of the first novel. Which makes me wonder—is that the “Fox Inheritance”? Making everything about Jenna? Seems likely. So, while I appreciated the world-building, and Locke’s story, I felt I could have done without more of Jenna. I was thinking the inheritance was going to be more amorphous and philosophical—instead, it turned out to be more of the same. I felt for Kara—everything does seem to be about Jenna. In particular, Locke’s story became an extension of Jenna’s. I kind of wish he’d never met her again. If there’s a third book—and there is speculation that there might be—I’m hoping it gives us some distance from Jenna. As I said, her story was complete for me at the end of the first book. Pearson certainly opened things up for all kinds of possibilities. My mind is whirring with them. Plus, I’m still not certain what to think about the fact that Locke’s mind was a copy of a copy. It was one of those issues that was lost when Jenna enters the story. So, please, Ms. Pearson, tell me you’re not done with this world? 4 Points: I would make dinner for this book.(less)
I think this description is slightly misleading. Waverly and Kieran aren't promised to each other. Everyone just assumes that, as the two oldest children on the ship, their relationship is inevitable. The description also doesn't communicate the fact that Kieran and Waverly have genuine feelings for one another and overexaggerates Waverly's interest in Seth. In fact, Waverly spends the greater part of the novel separated from both boys. The story's kind of a romance sandwich with equal parts horror and action in between. Glow seems to me to be one among a burgeoning trend in Teen novels--humans becoming infertile and teen girls being subjugated as a result. Amy Kathleen Ryan takes this concept a step further. Don't look for a miracle in the fourth act to completely save Waverly from violation. The degree to which things are taken in this novel horrified me, though nothing is graphic and my horror was entirely conceptual. I think my distaste over the novel's concept highly flavored my reading of it. I spent the majority of the book wanting to yell at supporting characters--an indication, I suppose of my emotional reaction to it. One of the primary conflicts (for Waverly, at least), is that those who benefit from her violation are nice, caring people. I don't say genuinely because I can't go that far. Frankly, they disgusted me and I was unable to look upon them with anything but contempt. To be honest, most of my reactions to this book are angry and unforgiving. I don't know that I can look at it objectively, though I do try to remind myself that it's fiction. In an effort to find something rational to say about this book, I will state that I was suitably compelled by the last part. When Waverly finally makes it back to the Empyrean and she discovers who and what has gotten the boys on the ship through the loss of their parents and all the girls...it's devastating. Especially after what happened just before that, which I can't say much about because that would be spoiling. But the book ends on such a compelling note, I can't WAIT to read the next one. (less)
Part The Bourne Identity, part The X-Files, False Memory is a fast, fantastic read. Author Dan...moreThis review was first posted on http://rubysreads.com.
Part The Bourne Identity, part The X-Files, False Memory is a fast, fantastic read. Author Dan Krokos wastes no time getting started with the action, but neither does he pull any punches while introducing his characters. Miranda, our main character, woke up remembering two facts: Her name is Miranda North, and she’s 17. Other than that, her mind’s a complete blank. Well, except for those automatic responses she has–buying some clothes so she doesn’t stick out in the crowd, and searching for places to take cover. Miranda may not know much, but she knows these aren’t the actions of your average teenager.
Fortunately, someone in the crowded mall knows Miranda. Peter takes the bewildered girl home, and explains: she’s be trained from birth to be a lean, mean fighting machine. Things only get weirder from there, as Peter elaborates on her life as one of four teens raised together, and their strange, regulated, parent-less childhood. It’s a lot to take in, but Miranda doesn’t have the luxury of time. The remaining members of her team went missing when she did, and they’ve yet to be tracked down. Miranda has to process on the run, and reconciling herself to a life she doesn’t remember isn’t any easier when people are trying to kill you.
Usually, I don’t like it when authors write MCs from opposite genders. I nitpick and tear apart and whine about unauthentic voices. I didn’t have this problem with Miranda and Dan Krokos. In part, this is due to the fact that Miranda doesn’t have the time to be a girl, only a bewildered human being. However explosive the action is, though, Krokos doesn’t gloss over plot or characterization. Krokos does what The Lost Princessfailed to do–expands on the characters while the action is happening. How each character–from Miranda to Peter to Noah and Olive–responds to their many crises helps us to get to know them better.
False Memory evokes The Bourne Identity and The X-Files without ever feeling derivative. It takes the best of both creates and seriously enjoyable new tale. I had a lot of fun reading it, and I look forward to seeing more from Dan Krokos.(less)
Let’s recap a little, shall we? In the Sky Chasers universe, two large ships (in my mind, they alway...moreThis review was originally posted on Ruby's Reads.
Let’s recap a little, shall we? In the Sky Chasers universe, two large ships (in my mind, they always resemble the Starship Enterprise) left a dying Earth behind in search of new, habitable planet. En route, the women found that they were unable to have children. Luckily, the ships were stocked with scientists (only the best and brightest were invited on-board) and those on the Empyrean soon found a cure. Mysteriously, however, the cure sterilized the women of the New Horizon. Angry and embittered, the New Horizon attacked the Empyrean, killed most of the adults, and kidnapped the fertile young women in order to harvest their ova.
At the end of the first book, Waverly and her contemporaries were unable to save their parents, but did get the girls back to the Empyrean. Waverly reunited with her almost-boyfriend, Kieran, only to discover that, in taking over control of their ship, he’d started to resemble Anne Mather, the wicked witch of the New Horizon. As if everything that had already happened to her was effed up enough already. Oh, and Kieran and Seth had some power struggles aboard the Empyrean. In comparison, their conflict was like a college frat rivalry. #Justsaying.
Spark picks up a little while after Glow ended. Waverly and Kieran are estranged and Seth is in the brig. Waverly, broken and defeated from what happened to her on the New Horizon, her failure to free their parents, the fact that she killed someone during the escape, and finding that she can no longer relate to the boy she thought she would marry, is just going through the motions. It doesn’t help that half the remaining crew blames her for leaving the parents behind and the other half resents her for not supporting Kieran. At first, Waverly is content to wallow in her misery. Gradually, however, she begins to realize that no one is keeping Kieran in check. Her determination to do so finally reawakens her to her responsibilities.
Kieran, by contrast, is struggling to maintain absolute hold over the control of the Empyrean. As the novel goes on, he sinks deeper and deeper into his desire for control. There’s definitely an “absolute power corrupts absolutely” mindset to Ryan’s development of Kieran’s character. Kieran very much believes that God has chosen him to lead the Empyrean–and that means that anyone who doesn’t support him is basically a heretic.
And Seth? Well, Seth has finally started to figure out that he might have gone too far in book one. He’s as much in love with Waverly as ever, but doesn’t believe he deserves her. When he is mysteriously freed from the brig during an engine malfunction, Seth decides to try to prove that it was a terrorist who was responsible for the explosion. He’s Kieran’s foil at every turn, the leader who is more interested in saving his crew than in keeping power to himself. Given the events of book one, this element felt a little forced to me. I’m not sure where Ryan is going with Seth and, frankly, I’m not sure she does either. I want to like him–because I desperately to want to likeone of the characters–but she’s not making it easy.
Spark is told in alternating narratives by Seth, Kieran and Waverly. I can’t make up my mind over whether or not this is an effective technique. On the one hand, this gives us a unique insight into the minds of all three protagonists, and the events on the ship. On the other…unique doesn’t necessarily mean “more easily understandable.” Or relateable. Just because I knew what Kieran was thinking when he was being an a** doesn’t make him any less of one. And that, I think, is the crux of my problem of this series. The characters take turns being unlikeable, which is not balanced by extended periods of awesome.
All in all, reading the Sky Chasers books is rather like watching a car crash–I can’t look away. On one level, reading it makes me fume and feel impotent. On the other, I can’t stop myself. I want to know what happens next. And, I really, really, need Anne Mather to get her comeuppance. Also–and maybe this is because I’m a teacher–I’m fascinated by the idea of a society that’s run entirely by children. Spark is a book with problems, but it’s also compulsively readable. I recommend it to anyone who wants an active read. You’ll be involved and invested despite yourself. It will make you think–and that’s not a bad thing. Books that make you want to run to your computer and email your blogger friends must, by definition, be awesome.(less)
Narrator Review: Rebecca Soler did a magnificent job of narrating Scarlet, to the point that I’m thinking...moreThis review was first posted on Ruby's Reads.
Narrator Review: Rebecca Soler did a magnificent job of narrating Scarlet, to the point that I’m thinking of “rereading” Cinder, just to see what she did with the first book in the Lunar Chronicles. Her Cinder is brash, sarcastic and vulnerable all at once, and clearly a separate voice from Scarlet’s. Maybe it’s the slightest suggestion of a French accent in the parts of Scarlet narrated by the titular characters, but Soler nails it. She’s similarly adept at portraying Wolf, without resorting to the gruff manliness that female storytellers often use. Soler’s Prince Kai is, perhaps, the weakest of the three main portrayals, but through no fault of the narrator. I already checked to see what other books Rebecca Soler has narrated, and added some of them to my Audible wishlist.
Book Review: I crazy-loved this book. I listen to audiobooks in my car (Audible purchases being the only exception), and I frequently took the long route while I was listening to Scarlet. Or sat in my driveway, unable to turn off the radio. Or offered to be the one to go on the lunch run. Anything to get back in the car. The narrator was great, yes, but Meyer is also a talented writer. She keeps you interested in the story despite the frequent changes in perspective.
I like Marissa Meyer’s work for the same reason that I like fairy-tale retellings. I know what I’m going to get. I know the basic plot (and most likely the outcome). But knowing what’s going to happen doesn’t make the journey any less pleasurable. What I love about fairy tale retellings is the fresh exploration of a familiar tale. This is especially true in the case of the Lunar Chronicles, where we derive a great deal of joy in seeing how Meyer reinterprets fairy tale standards. How does Meyer evoke Little Red Riding Hood, and tell an old story in a new way? Delightfully, with a whole host of small details, that’s how.
On the characters, I have to say that Wolf was, hands down, my favorite. I’m sure no one is surprised by this. It’s more than just his name, though! He’s kick-butt, tortured, and smexy. Sigh. Lucky Scarlet. Speaking of whom: I liked Scarlet a lot, too. There were certainly times when I wanted to hit her upside the head in hopes of knocking some sense into her, but I liked her slightly hysterical, panicking, illogical personality given the situation. Heroines who always keep their heads and never, ever let their emotions do their thinking…well, they’re just too cool for me and I don’t want to hang out with them because they always make me feel bad about myself.
As long as the next books in the Lunar Chronicles feature Scarlet and Wolf, I’m set. Cinder got on my nerves with her constant refusal to use her Lunar powers (we get it already), but I still liked her. Prince Kai bored me. He’s completely powerless in an extremely realistic way. Principled world leaders don’t have it as easy as you’d think, which I totally buy and which is totally uninteresting from the perspective of plot. I’m definitely waiting on Cress and I’ll absolutely be holding out for the audio version!(less)
I went into The Rules with few expectations. As mentioned above, I hadn’t read anything by Stacey Ka...moreThis review was originally posted on Ruby's Reads.
I went into The Rules with few expectations. As mentioned above, I hadn’t read anything by Stacey Kade before–I hadn’t even read any reviews of the series or, frankly, heard anything about it. Still, the description of The Rules was enough to pique my interest. I liked that it was SciFi rather than paranormal. And I hoped that would be enough to put an interesting spin on the “girl with a secret” storyline that is currently so prevalent in YA.
Reading it, there were some things I liked. I thought the premise had potential…I just wasn’t impressed with the execution. Plus, I had issues with Ariane’s decision to risk revealing her identity. Although the description suggests she does it in order to defend the weak, she really does it to get revenge on the school’s mean girl. Perhaps my sense of self-preservation is over-developed, but that wouldn’t be a good enough reason for me to risk capture. I also thought it lessened the stakes of what was, essentially, driving the story.
If my issues with Ariane weren’t enough, I was also lukewarm about Zane. He’s supposed to be a reformed Big Man on Campus, complete with a rep as a jock and a “cool” clique. At the beginning of the book, Zane is good friends with the mean girl that Ariane wants to teach a lesson. Due to personal tragedy, Zane has supposedly seen the error of his ways. I didn’t buy it. If the mean girl was as mean as Kade painted her, and Zane went along with her shenanigans, he had a lot to make up for. Falling for a social nobody and regretting his actions wasn’t enough of a reformation. And the mean girl? She was so mean as to be one-dimensional. I felt that way about a lot of characters–Zane’s dad being another example.
The big question with any series is: did I like it enough to read the next book? Well, The Rules was a mediocre read for me. I didn’t love it, but I didn’t really feel enough to hate it, either. I didn’t particularly connect with any of the characters and I read with minimal interest in the plot. When I got to the end, I set it aside and didn’t think about it again until I picked up my (metaphorical) pen to write this review. So, I think I’ll be skipping the next one.(less)
I grew up watching Star Trek: The Next Generation with my dad. I’ve even seen the movies where...moreThis review was first posted on http://rubysreads.com.
I grew up watching Star Trek: The Next Generation with my dad. I’ve even seen the movies where Geordi has blue eyes and Jean-Luc becomes a grape farmer. Heck, I used to spend hours wondering why the captain of the ship had a French name and an English accent. While I’ve watched plenty of Science Fiction television shows and movies, it’s rarer for me to read them. I blame this on the fact that a lot of Science Fiction is focused on, well, the Science Fiction aspect. Me, I’m a story, character and romance girl. I want the Science Fiction bit to be the icing on the cake, not to be in place of all that chocolatey goodness on top. While Elemental doesn’t make this mistake, it makes another. It phones in the SciFi. Maybe it’s just me, but I couldn’t stop picturing Star Wars as I was reading Elemental. The hover cars, the desert planet, the names of the different peoples, the robes…None of it felt unique. Add to that a main character who is selfless to the point of stupidity, a forced surrogate father/daughter relationship and a lackluster hero, and I could not get into this book. Elemental had a pretty intriguing beginning, filled with mysteries that I thought would be fun to unravel. Perversely, every time a new mystery was revealed, I was disappointed. Even when I was pretty sure I knew the answers to the puzzles, their execution was not as exciting as I’d imagined it would be. I read along at a plodding pace, and I even finished it, but it was not a hit. I think I read to the end because I met the author, and having done so, I wanted to give her every chance to change my opinion of her work.(less)
I wasn’t much interested in Origin when I picked it up at BEA. My copy is signed, and I happened...moreThis review was first posted on http://rubysreads.com
I wasn’t much interested in Origin when I picked it up at BEA. My copy is signed, and I happened to be at the Penguin counter when Jessica Khoury was doing an in-booth signing. After that, it was kind of just another book in my BEA stack. Which may sound ungrateful, but there you are. When my father, after perusing my newly stocked shelves, picked Origin out of the crowd, I experienced that childish twinge one gets when someone wants something of yours that previously held little interest for you. I let him have it anyway. Then, last month, when I was house-sitting for my parents, I picked it up. Oh, Origin, how I wrong I was, thinking you wouldn’t interest me! I but hope you can forgive me my folly!
As the description explains, Origin tells the tale of Pia, a girl raised deep in the Amazon Rainforest. But Pia doesn’t live among the native peoples that inhabit the jungle. She lives in a compound of scientists, all of whom have the same purpose: to create and perfect Pia. Carefully bred (no, seriously!), and consciously reared, Pia is the center of her world. She’s been told she’s perfect so many times it has become fact rather than opinion. And though she has a mind of her own, her life has been so carefully censored that she has little interest in the outside world.
All of that changes with the arrival of a new, female scientist. At first piqued by the male interest in Dr. Fields (unused as she is to appreciation directed elsewhere), Pia simply resents the addition to her small community. Indirectly (and sometimes directly) Dr. Fields has an enormous impact on Pia’s worldview. For the first time, she wonders what is outside her borders, and what the scientists that raised her haven’t told her. Finally, on her 17th birthday, Pia leaves the compound for the first time and meets a boy named Eio.
While Pia is, at first, a hard character to connect to, I loved Eio the moment I met him. It’s hard to resist a handsome, smart, funny, and conscientious shirtless boy. Plus, he doesn’t hesitate to check Pia’s enormous ego. Pia’s ginormous self-respect is the result of her rearing, and while I understood that, it was a bit difficult to stomach at first. It’s important, though, because ultimately the concept of “perfection” is part of what Origin sets out to explore. In fact, while Eio and Pia’s budding love is sweet–and at times hot–it doesn’t play as large a role as the description suggests. Origin is not a love story, though it does contain one.
Within this one book, so many difficult questions are addressed. Pia herself is a model to study for nature versus nurture. Her very existence gives rise to issues of scientific ethics. Dr. Fields makes us question the lengths we’ll go to protect those we love. But none of these thought-provoking issues are addressed in preachy, “Think about it!” fashion. That’s what makes it so awesome! I love books that make me think, whilst simultaneously providing me with a satisfying story. Origin was absolutely, definitely, one of those books for me. I can’t wait to see what Khoury has to offer next. If Origin is what she can accomplish at 22, I’m prepared to be blown away.(less)
Narrator Review: After listening to Matthew Brown narrate The Fox Inheritance, I could not have imagined...moreThis review was first posted on Ruby's Reads.
Narrator Review: After listening to Matthew Brown narrate The Fox Inheritance, I could not have imagined anyone else as Locke. Not only does Matthew Brown embody Locke Jenkins, he does a delightful job with all the other characters. I don’t doubt that this is because Fox Forever is entirely Locke’s story–all the characters are seen and heard through the filter of Locke’s perceptions–but I think even that is something that Brown manages to convey. The slightest intonation makes me wonder how accurately I’m seeing Raine, Xavier–and especially Jenna–given who is relating the conversations or events.
Book Review: Although The Fox Inheritance and Fox Forever are technically sequels to The Adoration of Jenna Fox, I see them more as companion novels. Jenna’s story was a stand-alone as far as I’m concerned. Jenna reached the apex of her journey long before Locke was ever resurrected and, frankly, I wasn’t happy with the way that their stories converged at the end of The Fox Inheritance. Fortunately, Fox Forever deals with all the issues I had with Locke and Jenna’s reunion, almost without a word on the subject. That’s what I call good writing.
In Fox Forever, Locke is called on to return a favor. Since he promised, Locke knows he must answer the call, even if it means putting living on hold. At the end of the last book, Locke set out to live his life. He’s in a hurry to catch up on all the years he missed. In particular, he wants to hurry up and live so he can get back to Jenna. Locke may have spent 260 locked in a black box, but he’s still got every bit of a teenager’s impatience for life to “start.” And, though he believes that repaying the favor is just a thing he has to do before getting on with his life, what Locke doesn’t realize is that doing so will bring all his desires to fruition faster than he could have imagined. Just not in the way he imagined.
I won’t say that Locke’s job of repayment (aka the plot) held any surprises. I guessed every twist and turn. Honestly, I thought it was slightly run-of-the-mill. Locke’s circumstances (and, I’ll admit, the cool futuristic elements) make it just interesting enough to save the story from banality. Some unique takes on a familiar plot would have upped the ante for me, but I didn’t hate what I got, either. I already knew I liked Locke (and Fox Forever doesn’t change that), and I liked Raine, even if I wanted more depth from her. The other characters were bland, mostly, though I was glad to see the return of sentient bots.
Fox Forever is a love story, a coming-of-age story and an exploration of what it means to be human. While this concept has been a recurring theme in each of the Jenna Fox books, Locke’s story pushes the envelope. Jenna had that all-important 10% that made her still human, but Locke is entirely man-made. His memories, his very consciousness, are/is a product of science. Is it his capacity for love that makes him human? And what about his mind kept him from turning insane, like Kara? Locke doesn’t know, and this book is about how he comes to terms with the strange, bewildering journey that has been his life.
And the ending? Well, it’s a happy one, which is good–but while there were elements I liked and elements that I found to be too convenient. I’m sorry the series is over–I would have liked Kara to have a story–but Locke and Jenna have completed their journeys. Am I any closer to understanding what it means to be human? Sure, a little. But three books can’t answer that question–props to the author for exploring the question.(less)
Last year, when I read Unraveling, it was a nice surprise. I’d missed all the buzz about it and hadn...moreThis review was originally posted on Ruby's Reads.
Last year, when I read Unraveling, it was a nice surprise. I’d missed all the buzz about it and hadn’t read a single review (and I remember how weird that felt!) and I really only picked it up on a whim. As soon as I started, though, I was hooked. I read it from cover to cover. I downed it like it was peanut sauce. And when I got to the last page, I began waiting for Unbreakable to be released.
Unbreakable picks up about four months after the end of Unraveling. Janelle’s (our) world is in chaos. Martial law has been declared, school is pretty much cancelled, and untold numbers are missing. At first this appears to be related to the disasters caused by two universes almost colliding (oops! I spoiled Unraveling!), but Janelle soon finds out that something far more sinister is going on. Well, more sinister than IAD agent Taylor Barclay showing up, seeking Janelle’s help.
Although reluctant at first, Janelle eventually agrees to help Barclay solve the mystery of the missing people. What they discovers is that the people aren’t just going missing–they’re being kidnapped and sold into slavery. And Ben is somehow involved. Grudgingly teaming up with Barclay, Janelle leaves her world for Prima, in the hope of finding Ben, her friend Cecily, and stopping the kidnappings.
Unbreakable does some awesome things. It brings back Janelle, whom I love for her down-to-earth-kick-ass-ness. That girl is all, “I’m too old for this shiz” and she’s not even 18 yet. It also transforms Barclay from “kind of douche-y” to swoon-worthy. Which brings me to this: I totally don’t like Ben anymore (spoiler rant below). I’m TEAM BARCLAY all the way. There’s one particular scene where Janelle and Barclay are hiding in close proximity…it’s hot. And possibly entirely in my mind but, well, an obsession was born, folks. An obsession. Was. Born. Which is why I hated the ending. I can’t find out if this book is the last in the series, but I sure hope not. I will be incredibly sad if it is. My overriding thought on reading the last page of Unbreakable? This better NOT BE THE END.
(view spoiler)[A few words about Ben: I liked Ben in Unraveling. He wasn’t my favorite hero ever, but I liked him. In this book, he managed to entirely lose my favor. Sure, he’s placed in an impossible situation and he has to make impossible choices, but I still feel like he made crummy ones. In this book, Ben kidnaps people for the slavery ring because he thinks he’s saving Janelle’s life. Honorable? Er, not really. Romantic? Nope. Girls are being kidnapped and sold into sexual slavery. Lots of them. Would I subject anyone to that to save someone I loved? I don’t know and I hope I’ll never have to find out. BUT. I can’t believe that Ben could have thought that Janelle would have been able to live with herself knowing what her existence cost other people. Is any of this fair to Ben? Probably not, but my heart doesn’t really care. (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
I have a guilty confession to make. When my younger brother was into the Animorphs series…I read them, to...moreThis review was first posted on Ruby's Reads.
I have a guilty confession to make. When my younger brother was into the Animorphs series…I read them, too. They were totally a guilty pleasure. And for the ignorant, Eve & Adam‘s co-writer Katherine Applegate wrote the Animorphs books. I’ve also read Gone, but it was really the wife part of this husband-and-wife writing team that attracted me to this book. Of course, the concept is intriguing–who among us hasn’t fantasized about creating the perfect guy? Oh, wait–just me? Well, this is awkward. Better move on.
Eve & Adam opens with the horrific accident that sets the events of the book into motion. Among other injuries, Eve’s leg is severed above the knee. Eve is rushed to the hospital for treatment, but just as quickly, her mother races her away again, to the headquarters of her biomedical business. In the ambulance, Eve meets Solo, a boy with a mysterious connection with Eve’s mother. A boy raised and educated by Spiker Pharmaceuticals, a boy who knows more about Eve than she knows herself.
The blurb–and the buzz–for this book suggest that Eve’s creation of Adam is the central plot in the book, but it really isn’t. It’s true that Eve’s creation of the perfect boy is both central and important to the books overall theme, but Eve’s story really centers around her relationships; the ones she has with her mother, her best friend, Solo, and even herself. Sometimes I think the book couldn’t really decide what it wanted to be about–an exploration of ethics and science or a coming-of-age tale. Not surprising, really, considering the alternating narratives. Eve’s story focused on relationships and Solo’s on the loneliness of revenge. In a way, this was disappointing because I was expecting more about Adam and the frightening, can’t-look-away concept of playing God and creating human beings to our own specifications.
I enjoyed Eve & Adam, but it was wide of the mark in terms of my really liking it. Primarily this was because of the emotional disconnect. Both Eve and Solo are incredibly rational. There’s a lot of thinking in this story. It was probably the first time I’ve read a first-person narrative and come away feeling like I never related to the characters. I was told about their emotions, and I observed them, but in a detached way. And if I don’t emotionally resonate with the characters, well…it’s not good. It’s just not good at all.
Eve & Adam was a decent way to pass the time while I was driving around in my car. Is that damning it with faint praise? Probably. As often happens with co-written books, I found it more interesting to speculate on how the two authors collaborated while they were writing. If they wrote a sequel, would I read it? Maybe. But I’m not going to spend any time feeling sad if they don’t write one. (less)
Doomed was a book I wanted to like, but couldn’t. The premise is entirely promising–an update of the clas...moreThis review was first posted on Ruby's Reads.
Doomed was a book I wanted to like, but couldn’t. The premise is entirely promising–an update of the classic Greek Pandora myth is enough to pique my interest. What is not so successful is the execution. Right from the start, Doomed and I got off on the wrong foot, since immediately it falls into one of my YA Pet Peeves: The Absent, Neglectful Parent Who Leaves the Heroine Home Alone For Long Periods of Time. It’s rare that an author can pull off Absent Parent Syndrome without triggering thoughts of plot contrivance. Doomed was not one of those rare times, and that meant that I began the book giving it a hoary eye.
From there, Doomed did not improve. When Pandora releases the virus that triggers the apocalypse, things start happening fast, and this irritated me for two reasons. One, there were great leaps of logic that had me scratching my head. More than once I found myself wondering how Pandora and her two male companions–Theo and Eli–came up with the theories they did, or had such faith in their veracity. In a time of such chaos, such surety came across as foolhardy.
The second reason was pretty specific. In the book, Pandora and her friends go out for pizza just as the apocalypse is beginning. There’s mass panic because people don’t have cash to pay for their food and the credit card machines don’t work. I’ve worked in retail, and it’s true that computer malfunctions and power outages are major inconveniences, but you know what? The store I worked at never let that stop them. They stayed open and took imprints of credit cards come hell or high water. And I also found it hard to believe that the apocalypse would begin at a pizza joint.
What I’m saying is this: Considering the nature of Doomed apocalypse, the speed at which the society unraveled felt forced. I didn’t buy into the urgency and that made the rest of the book fall flat for me. Add that to my belief that Pandora & Co were making bewildering leaps in logic and and eye-rollingly painful love triangle you get one unhappy reader. I love books that take place during the apocalypse–but not even the genre could save Doomed.(less)
I’ve never been so happy to be proven wrong about self-published books. And All the Stars is the...moreThis review was first posted on http://rubysreads.com.
I’ve never been so happy to be proven wrong about self-published books. And All the Stars is the kind of book I’m always searching for, regardless of who published it. Well-written, tightly plotted and titillatingly characterized, here lies a masterwork. In fact, I’m kind of surprised that this book hasn’t gotten more buzz. I heard about it on The Booksmuggler’s blog (it was featured on their Radar and then Ana reviewed it), but it was sheer happenstance that I saw it on NetGalley. I requested it on a whim–everyone probably knows by now that I’m on a NetGalley ban–and was lost in the story before I even knew it.
And All the Stars tells the story of Madeline Cost (not Maddie, Leina only to her cousin Tyler), and how she survives the apocalypse by shucking her loner status and binding together with a motley crew of teenage survivors. As the story opens, Madeline is in an underground station, at the center of the apocalypse. Unbeknownst to her parents, Madeline snuck away from home to meet her cousin Tyler at his Sydney apartment. Too bad this act of rebellion coincided with the apocalypse. All over the world, in the most populated cities, mysterious spires have erupted from the ground. These spires (which I imagine look like the Swiss Re building in London, left) are like ginormous mushrooms. They’ve sprouted from the ground and emit a thick cloud of dust (to continue the mushroom analogy, I thought of them like spores).
Madeline escapes the underground station and makes it to her cousin’s Sydney apartment only to experience dramatic changes as a result of inhaling the dust. Most of her body turns midnight blue, dusted with sparkling white stars (the cover makes sense now, doesn’t it?). Her metabolism drastically quickens and she discovers that she has new, frightening powers. Maddie’s instinct is to huddle up and wait, but it’s the hunger that drives her out, where she meets a string of teens also affected by the dust.
Among these teens, Madeline discovers the girl who will become her best friend and the boy who just may be first love. Unfortunately, they’re all on the run for their lives. Those spires, it turns out, are the work of an alien race intent on using humans for their survival. Though Madeline (as the one with the most “stain” on her body), is the aliens’ most-wanted human, the bewildered group of teens bands together and forms a close-knit group. This, perhaps more than the apocalyptic storyline, is the heart of And All the Stars.
Before I give anything else away, I better shut up. I couldn’t possibly unveil all the layers of this book in one review. I wouldn’t even want to. Like all good books, it’s a thing best discovered for yourself. There are a few curious elements (cell service and electricity during the apocalypse?!?!) and the epilogue is a bit schmaltzy and baby-studded, but well-deserved. Just trust me when I say that this is the book to cure your apocalyptic ennui. Think you’re over them? Think again!(less)
I've only seen the movie, but this struck me as Girl with the Dragon Tattoo-light. Which worked for me, as I still wish I could forget I ever saw the...moreI've only seen the movie, but this struck me as Girl with the Dragon Tattoo-light. Which worked for me, as I still wish I could forget I ever saw the movie in the first place. It was a quick listen with mile a minute action. It doesn't stand on its own very well, at least in terms of characterization. It definitely needs the next book in the series to round things out. (less)