Parallel was a wild ride and boy, did it give me chills at times. It is one of those novels yoThis review is originally posted at The Bawdy Book Blog.
Parallel was a wild ride and boy, did it give me chills at times. It is one of those novels you really need to pay attention to, because if you blink, you will miss something. I do feel like I missed a few things, and while this is probably not Lauren Miller’s fault, I did find it a bit difficult to keep up with the theories of the story. I’ll get into that in a minute. Parallel by Lauren Miller is a killer debut novel. This is the kind of story that would make a kick-ass television show or movie. Can someone ring Hollywood right now? I’d like to watch it, like, yesterday. The characters were brilliant and easy to relate to (I mean, of course they are….home girl got thrown into an alternate universe, I can relate to the panic she felt, I would feel the same!), and the easy dynamic between them is nice to read. So I said that it was a little difficult to keep up with. I am by no means a scientist. Hell, I can’t pretend to understand string theory or parallel universes, colliding atoms, and all that stuff. So I’m not sure this book was necessarily written for someone like me. It might be a book that, if I read it again, I’d understand it a whole lot more, but as it stands, it took me a long time to figure out what was going on. Longer than, say, someone else might have. But I did eventually get it (I think), and the idea that there are multiple universes out there is pretty fascinating. I really liked that the theme of this novel is truly one’s destiny. At least, that is what I took from it. Sometimes we are given all the options in the world – in this case, Abby is trying to change hers based on what her parallel self is doing in the past – but we still end up where we are meant to be. We might take a circuitous route to get there, but we get there all the same. Lauren Miller’s writing is fabulous. She writes with a dash of gravity, a lot of spunk and a heckuva lot of humor. Parallel is not without its more serious moments: best friend conflicts, rest-of-your-life decisions, starry nights with grandparents. And these moments ground the novel and give it that YA feel without making it feel hokey and fake. I loved the interaction Abby had with all of her friends and family…and yes, Parallel-Abby, too. This novel is for hard-core YA/Sci-fi fans. But I think anyone looking for a fresh read will like it, and certainly, if you like novels like UNRAVELING and Pivot Point, you should pick this up....more
Forever Dark is forever my favorite of the Dark Angel Chronicles!
It’s come down to the Big Day for Elis and Raea: the wedding. They’ve come a long way from the high school teenagers they were when they first met a mere five months before to the brave Keepers they are today. They’ve suffered through heart-break and loss, kidnappings, assaults…and they’ve come out ahead. They’ve found each other and that’s all that truly matters. In Forever Dark, Elis and Raea are completing the bonding process and planning to leave for college, when they mysteriously end up back on Inar ‘Abhen. Elis is shocked to find his one-time friend, Toril, behind their kidnapping, claiming to be a traitor to the Empire. Refusing to have a mind-scan, they don’t know whether or not to believe him, though his actions seem sincere. Then Elis and Toril disappear. And it’s up to Raea to find them. I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed Forever Dark! It wrapped up the Dark Angel Chronicles just SO WELL. Melanie Nilles did an exquisite job capitalizing on the characters of the other novels in this series and incorporating them all into the final chapter of the story, so-to-speak. The character development from the first book through Forever Dark is so well done and believable that when I sit back and think about how far they have come, well…it just knocks my socks right off. Raea has come from a woe-is-me teenager without many cares in the world to a smart (alright, alright, she’s always been smart), responsible young woman who knows her duty to the Starfire. Elis, after suffering through terrible tragedies involving his immediate family, has realized that life is what you make of it, and with Raea by his side, he can face anything. Wait, these people are teenagers? Yes, Virginia, they are. And damn, upstanding ones at that. (But, you know, interesting ones, not the boring kind your grandma probably talks about) One would suppose that since Elis and Raea get married in Forever Dark that there may be some sexual content. A lot of authors seem to be doing it these days (pun intended), but Nilles manages to gracefully talk about the subject without getting into the nitty, gritty details. And notice it’s after they’re married? I ain’t gonna lie, I like a little “romp-me-Barrons” sex scenes, and I’m not a prude, but it’s nice to have a traditional romance once in awhile. I really enjoyed this aspect of the novel, it felt sweet and real. The overall plot of the novel is quick and a page-turner. I had a hard time putting it down for things like eating…and sleeping. I absolutely had to know what happened next. It was very easy to read and keep up with, and its characters – all of them, including villains, new and old – were fun to get to know. I think readers of this series will enjoy the old characters that come back in Forever Dark, for good or bad, and the new characters that get introduced. And they will certainly delight in where the story takes them. Because I did! Fans of this series will rejoice in the ending and, while it is a science-fiction/fantasy blend, dare I say fans of other angel books, by authors like Cynthia Hand, will also like this novel. It’s got a little bit of everything for the young adult reader inside you....more
Amazing concept, story-telling and a killer plot, Kat Zhang has created quite the page turner. What’s left of me after I’ve turned the last page? I’mAmazing concept, story-telling and a killer plot, Kat Zhang has created quite the page turner. What’s left of me after I’ve turned the last page? I’m still not sure.
In Zhang’s dystopian world of the Americas, people are hybrids; two souls – I hesitate to call them twin souls, since each soul is very different – exist in every physical body. It’s still the ultimate twin, though. The souls know each other intimately, they can speak to each other with just a thought, and both have the same definitive motor skills over the body they share.
But what if the government decided that hybrids were not a viable way to live? What if the government forced one soul to disappear – forever? That’s how the Americas deal with hybrids in What’s Left of Me. Soul-mates are ripped apart through forced vaccinations. And those who don’t respond to the vaccinations? Well…I’ll just let you read it for yourself.
Zhang has concocted a world is incredibly unique to both the dystopian and young adult genres. I, personally, haven’t read another book quite like this one that was so gripping and enthralling. She brings to light government corruption in a very controlled society who, for the most part, generally accepts that things are the way they are and it’s for their own good (rebels aside, of course. Can’t have a dystopian without rebels!). Her society questions no one. That’s what makes it so scary. And she wrote it splendidly.
Her writing is beautiful. Her main character is a recessive soul, one who should have faded away with vaccinations, one who slipped under the radar with the help of her sister soul, Addie. When Zhang writes the story of these sister souls in one body, and the world around them, you pay attention. You listen to them. You listen to the recessive soul and what it’s like to be forgotten. Because she has been forgotten by everyone: her parents, doctors, teachers, brothers…everyone but Addie. To write from that perspective takes an enormous amount of talent and I enjoyed reading it just for that fact alone.
Her characters are alive and real. Zhang takes time to differentiate between each soul and how complex and different they are. Scenes play out where one soul wants one thing (or sometimes, someone) and another soul doesn’t. How do you reconcile that between souls? She manages to somehow create the harmony and conflict between them and it’s beautiful.
This isn’t to say that What’s Left of Me isn’t without its faults. While I enjoyed reading it immensely, I had a hard time reconciling myself with the fact that Addie’s parents willingly gave her over to a man they had never before laid eyes on, based on his words and a few papers alone saying that he wanted to take Addie to a remote hospital for hybrid treatment. It felt like a very convenient plot-device so Zhang could take the story from point A to point B. I can’t see any parent willingly giving their children up, especially when it seems they love them so much.
I did like that the romance took a backseat in this story for 90% of it. Sometimes I get romancified out and I just need a break from all the bleeding hearts and cream puffs. Zhang nailed it perfectly with this one.
But minor quibble aside, I really did enjoy reading What’s Left of Me! It’s a very fresh twist on the dystopian genre and I think readers who enjoyed Stephenie Meyer’s The Host will enjoy What’s Left of Me, for the sheer fascination of souls in bodies and the interplay between them.
Well done, Ms. Zhang, I can’t wait for the next book....more
The Obsidian Blade by Pete Hautman is a unique science-fiction/fantasy, one that I think is great for those who don’t normally dabble in the genre. ItThe Obsidian Blade by Pete Hautman is a unique science-fiction/fantasy, one that I think is great for those who don’t normally dabble in the genre. It was entertaining and fun.
When Tucker’s father, the Reverend Feye, disappears one day, Tucker blames himself, sure that his father’s disappearance is his fault. Yet not an hour later, the Reverend appears walking down the road, looking worn and weary, with a young girl in tow. Tucker knows something isn’t right and that something has to do with the shimmering substance on the roof of his home.
I enjoyed The Obsidian Blade. In fact, I had a hard time putting it down. Hautman’s writing is delightful and his imagination knows no limits. This is a purely imaginative book that begins at an extremely fast pace. Hautman can build one world after the other; he can take us far into the future where societal norms are ridiculously changed and far back into the past to Jesus’ resurrection. Each turn of the page was akin to unwrapping a present, just to see what he would give us next.
His characters were hit-or-miss for me. I enjoyed the children very much and he wrote them well. I also liked his mother, father (pre-time-travel) and Kosh. But I had a hard time connecting with most of the “sci-fi” characters, like Awn and the acolytes. They didn’t feel real to me, even as part of the future.
Religion plays a large part in The Obsidian Blade so don’t read it if that bothers you but you know what? If that bothers you, I challenge you to read it anyway, and get out of your comfort zone. I think I can safely say the larger theme in this story is religion, however it’s not preachy nor is it about one specific thing. At the same time, because it was so broad and undefined, it left me unsettled. I wasn’t sure what the author was trying to tell me. Was his message to not lose your religion? Or God? I wasn’t sure.
That question also leads me to, the plot was a little hard to follow. It’s sort of intense, because there is so much going on, and so many different times things happen. Taking notes or drawing a timeline would have helped me, I think. But who wants to do that! :) This book is also steeped in the world’s history, going back to Jesus, which at times, made me uncomfortable, to more recent history like Jimmy Hoffa (this detail bothered me; he was described as a Chicago labor organizer in the book, when in fact, he was head of the Detroit Teamsters. I can’t quite figure out if this detail was changed on purpose or is just an error in the book). This is a nit-picky detail, but the details, when wrong, trip me when I’m reading a book, especially if it’s a good book. I’m of the mind that if you’re going to use historical or pop-culture references, you absolutely need to get the details correct.
Overall, The Obsidian Blade is still a good book, and the ending was sinister enough to make me want the next in the series. If you are looking to get your feet wet in SFF, or you are a fan of the genre, pick this up and give it a try. And let me know what you think....more
Lackluster, disconnected writing, overdrawn themes…and I just only felt lukewarm for I Am Number FouThis review is also posted at The Bawdy Book Blog.
Lackluster, disconnected writing, overdrawn themes…and I just only felt lukewarm for I Am Number Four. What’s with all the hype?
John and his Cepan, Henri, traveled to Earth from Lorien to escape the brutal massacre of their race – and their homeworld – by the Mogadorians, an evil alien species bent on dominating planets and their inhabitants to suck their resources, since they so long ago wasted and destroyed their own. (Do you feel a little underhanded preachiness in there?) John and Henri are now on Earth, along with 16 others, who are spread far and wide, hiding from these monsters and mainstreaming with humans. Fear has them moving every few months, thus never forming friendships or attachments to other people. Until they move to Paradise, Ohio, where John meets Sarah and Sam, the girl he falls in love with and the boy who will become his best friend.
I’m not saying I didn’t enjoy it. I like to dig my heels in to a little sci-fi every now and then. I Am Number Four has a lot of great things going for it: an interesting storyline, a cast of varied characters, and a nice hook at the ending that leaves the reader wanting more. I truly enjoyed where it took me, especially during John’s flashback scenes to Lorien.
But it still didn’t call to me the way other sci-fis do. I found myself annoyed at little things, like John’s constant reflection upon himself. I get that you’re a displaced alien from a planet billions of miles away and you’ve left your family and home, but DUDE…you whine in your head an awful lot. I also had a really hard time reconciling the Henri that was adamant about keeping their secret with the Henri that just threw caution to the wind and let John tell Sam everything. Which then led to multiple people knowing. It’s like there were two different Henri’s.
I also had a problem with the insta-love in I Am Number Four. I know you can instantly connect with someone and I’m not discounting that, but he’s immediately in love with her, and she with him. It felt like it was put there to incite conflict between John and Sarah’s ex-boyfriend, Mark, which is short-lived and never addressed again, except briefly in the ending.
And I didn’t think Lore pursued the disappearance of Sam’s father enough. I hope this is addressed in the next book.
The writing style also felt a bit disjointed overall for me. Short sentences followed by more short sentences that I think would have been better served by a longer, more fluid syntax. For instance, I think the following
The day has turned cold. The house is silent aside from the occasional gust of wind rattling the windows. I lie on my back on top of the wooden coffee table. My hands dangle over the sides.
would have sounded better as something like
The day has turned cold and the house is silent, save for the occasional gust of wind that rattles the windows, while I lie on my back on top of the wooden coffee table, hands dangling over the sides.
I’m no writer, but it’s as if someone told the writing team of Pittacus Lore that paragraphs are supposed to have a certain number of sentences per paragraph and in order to do this, they broke what could be beautiful, fluid sentences into short, choppy sentences to fit that rule. Hey, Lore! Rules are meant to be broken, ya’ know!
Now, I know it sounds like I didn’t enjoy I Am Number Four. That’s not true. I did actually like the story, I just wish Pittacus Lore had taken a different route in telling it. Will I read The Power of Six? Absolutely. Do I recommend this book to others? You bet I do. YA + aliens + action, with a little love story thrown in? You can’t go wrong there. But I do hope the next one is better.
*This book was provided to me by the publisher in exchange of an honest review. ...more
Holy baby JESUS, UNRAVELING may be the best book I’ve read this year, HANDS DOWN. I don’t even knowThis review is also posted at The Bawdy Book Blog.
Holy baby JESUS, UNRAVELING may be the best book I’ve read this year, HANDS DOWN. I don’t even know where to start: what was wrong with it? NOTHING. Nothing was wrong with it. I couldn’t find a single thing to dislike about it and I will wave this book around as one of the BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR…because it is that good. It will make you laugh, it will make you cry. And you will end it caring about Norris’ characters as if you knew them…as if they were your friends, too.
I’m not even sure where to begin without gushing. UNRAVELING is instantly a captivating book with witty narrative between the main character, Janelle, and everyone around her. Life hasn’t dealt her the kindest hand, and yet she still somehow seems to make it work for herself, despite having a busy father, a mother with a medical issue and a memory she’d rather forget. She’s smart, she’s got integrity and is working hard toward her future.
Then she dies.
And then she’s brought back to life by a guy she’s never spared more than a second to think about.
Seriously, WTF? WHAT THE – I’m not kidding, you guys, this book seriously BLEW MY MIND LIKE MULTIPLE TIMES. Like, poof! and gone. Elizabeth Norris has created this world that is just amazing and includes things that made my head spin. Like quantum physics and…other stuff I probably didn’t pronounce right in my head. There is end-of-the-world sh*t in here and colliding – ugh, I don’t want to give anything away, so I have to stop. Norris made everything completely believable, something that’s just so hard to do in Science-Fiction. And yet somehow she does.
She developed profound character relationships. Janelle’s relationships with her family were…REAL. Without a doubt, I felt them like she did. The laughter, the heartbreak, EVERYTHING. I loved that instead of a love triangle in UNRAVELING, Norris focused instead on a relationship and a very good platonic friendship between Janelle and Alex, her BFF since Kindergarten. I got a real sense for all the characters in it, instead of some and not others. I loved them all, but I especially loved Janelle.
I don’t know what more I can say about this. I don’t want to give away a single plot arc or storyline, because I thought the best parts about this book were the surprises on every other page. When I say it blew my mind, I’m not kidding. I often paused to “double-u-tee-eff” myself and “OMG!” to my boyfriend (poor guy, he had no idea what I was talking about). All I can say to you is, if you don’t read UNRAVELING, you will have missed one helluva story. It literally UNRAVELED my brain....more
Let me get one thing out of the way: I am in love with Under the Never Sky. Veronica Rossi has woven a tale so intricate and amazing, it is impossibleLet me get one thing out of the way: I am in love with Under the Never Sky. Veronica Rossi has woven a tale so intricate and amazing, it is impossible to put down. Rossi's characters in Under the Never Sky are nothing short of stupendous. They are rich and so full of life that you forget they are simply words in a book. Aria in particular is a fabulous main character and I really loved her. She is strong without being over-bearing. She is also incredibly interesting; I often found myself wanting to be in her head MORE. Her growth throughout the book was beautiful and done perfectly. I couldn't find one flaw, but better yet, because it was so well-done, I didn't want to look for flaws. Move over Four, I'M IN LOVE WITH PEREGRINE!! Perry was such a perfect counter-balance to Aria. He had grit, wisdom and he was a fighter. I heart everything about him. EVERYTHING. All of her secondary characters were believable. I even enjoyed the Croven and their sinister bells. Veronica Rossi goes into incredible detail throughout the story, from the differences between the Dwellers and the Outsiders, right down to the different abilities of people, like the Auds and Scires. At one point, she describes the scent of Dwellers to the Outsiders as "decaying" and I was so intrigued. She later answers that question, by way of other incidents, and that just made me love it even more. I was also absolutely fascinated with the landscape, the Realms and the Aether sky. I imagined the Aether looking something like a sinister Aurora Borealis. I don't know if that's what Rossi intended, but that's the miracle of a great book: you get to pick the details for yourself. The world she created was so striking and awe-inspiring that I want to step into the pages, even now. I want to revisit it and see the characters again. This young-adult, science-fiction, dystopian has everything for everybody: blossoming romance, interesting gadgets (I want a Smarteye!), and a beautiful, dangerous landscape in an unknown future. I couldn't have asked for better. The only thing I want now is the next book. Full of passion and adventure, it's a story I will Never forget....more
I was the lucky one person on this entire planet who got to read Origins of Dark Angel before ANYBODY ELSE! I was excited, I was apprehensive, I was jI was the lucky one person on this entire planet who got to read Origins of Dark Angel before ANYBODY ELSE! I was excited, I was apprehensive, I was jonesin' for my Starfire Angels fix (because Melanie Nilles can't write them fast enough - ask any of her fans). It did not disappoint me. Origins is book 3 1/2 in the Starfire Angels series, where we've been following the escapades and tribulations of Raea Dahlrich, the Crystal Keeper born on Earth after her mother escaped their homeland, fearing persecution and death by the empire. In Origins, we get to explore the story behind Elis, the quiet, shy and awkward boy who becomes Raea's love interest and best friend. The story behind Elis is unlike anything I had imagined. I know his parents and sister were killed in an empire raid directed by Shirat Marin and I know he's Saffir's grand-nephew who trained at Starfire Tower along with the rest of the Keeper's in his class. But I didn't know there was so much else to know about him! Elis is a much deeper character than we're led to believe in previous books (if that's even possible) and Origins explains everything very well. In the beginning, I really disliked him. He's whiny, unpredictable and childish, which was completely unexpected, because in Starfire Angels, Broken Wings and Crystal Tomb, Elis is stable, reliable and mature. But I guess we all have to start somewhere, right? ;) However, Origins of Dark Angel details the long journey Elis takes to become the boy Raea - and let's face it, all of us - loves today. If you are a fan of the series as I am, I highly recommend snatching this up as soon as it becomes available. It may just be the best one yet....more