Usually when I intend to review a book, I choose to wait a while, gather my thoughts, decide how I really feel and then start writing. Rose’s story wa...moreUsually when I intend to review a book, I choose to wait a while, gather my thoughts, decide how I really feel and then start writing. Rose’s story was overwhelming and I need to review it right away or I'll never sleep again. Somewhere around 70%, I fell in love with this book. Not that I didn’t like it before, I was pretty much drawn to the story from the very beginning, but that was when I decided that Anna Sheehan is a very, very good writer.
I think you all know the story by now. Rosalinda Fitzroy wakes up in a stasis tube in which her parents placed her 62 years ago. She is the sole surviving heiress to an interplanetary empire, a princess really, but that doesn't provide much comfort when everyone she ever knew, including her wonderful boyfriend Xavier, is dead. A few decades ago, during the Dark Times, the population was decimated by a plague indirectly caused by her father. The technology has advanced while she's been stassed, and everything else has moved forward as well, but Rose is still a just a frightened 16-year-old girl.
I’m sure hardcore sci-fi fans would find a million things wrong with Sheehan’s world, but I thought it was compelling and new. She gave us just enough information to provide a solid background and make everything function in a satisfactory way without including unnecessary details. She was able to focus on what I consider to be more important: her characters.
Rose is a very flawed character, especially at first. If you somehow manage to get past all the substantial but excusable character flaws, some of her actions will probably still drive you insane. Who leaves a dog alone for two weeks with an open bag of food “knowing that he can drink water from the toilet”? Most of her choices were maddening and she was infuriatingly selfish, but then she got close to Otto, a genetically engeneered, blue-skinned half alien, and my feelings for her changed. She obviously wasn’t too self-absorbed to recognize in him the need for understanding and acceptance and to give him that and more. In fact, all the problems I had with the first half of the book were successfully resolved in the second half. Instalove – properly explained. Rose’s self-deprecating attitude – justified.
At the risk of sounding prejudiced, I have to admit that the ending creeped me out a tiny bit. Up until the last few pages, I was pretty sure that my rating would be 4.5-stars, rounded up. But I wasn’t entirely comfortable with the way Sheehan decided to end some things, even though I should probably rise above my small-mindedness and accept it. It's probably me, not her. :D
I have a question for those of you who’ve read the story: am I the only one who kept picturing Arnold Schwarzenegger as Plastine?! He was very Terminator-like!
And finally, favorite quote, uttered by Otto in the middle of a very serious situation: Thank every god ever invented. (less)
4.5 stars Grimspace is a bitch mistress who carries unearthly delight in one hand and a crop in the other. We bear the latter to receive the former. (F...more4.5 stars Grimspace is a bitch mistress who carries unearthly delight in one hand and a crop in the other. We bear the latter to receive the former. (From Killbox)
Nobody builds worlds better than Ann Aguirre. Nobody destroys them quite like her either.
At the end of Killbox, Jax did the only thing she thought could save the worlds threatened by the Morgut. In doing so, she betrayed the Conglomerate, the Armada, but most of all March – both as her lover and as her commanding officer. She now has to face consequences for her actions, hoping that she’ll get a chance to keep all the promises she made along the way.
Imprisoned, Jax finally has time to think about everything she’s already lost and the possibility of losing March forever. But being planetbound is hurting her more than anything else and she's slowly starting to realise that she'll have to lose much more because of her inability to resist the siren call of grimspace.
Aftermath is an adventure comparable only to Doubleblind before it. What separates these two books from the rest of Sirantha Jax series is that they focus more on personal growth of the characters and less on action. I’m so happy that Aguirre finally gave us more information about Hit, Adele, Doc and Rose, but most of all Vel. Sirantha’s path from an anti-heroine to a self-aware, courageous woman is nothing if not impressive, and she owes a lot of her newfound dedication and maturity to the strong, loyal bounty hunter.
Impeccable writing style, rich worlds, complex characters and unending excitement are exactly what I expect from my favorite author – a title Aguirre deserved long ago. Nevertheless, Aftermath exceeded my expectations in every way!
I’ve learned to expect disappointment from final installments, but there will be no disappointment coming from Ann Aguirre and Endgame. I am absolutely certain that she will deliver a conclusion worthy of this fabulous series.
Favorite quote: ...I hear footsteps, and it's not mealtime. Hopefully, this means they've come to some decision about what to do with us. If they haven't, Mary help them. Because I'm Sirantha Jax, and I've had enough.
A huge thank you to the author for sending me a signed copy of this book. (less)
This is an incredible addition to the series, probably the best one yet. Even though I loved the action in Wanderlust, the relationship angst really b...moreThis is an incredible addition to the series, probably the best one yet. Even though I loved the action in Wanderlust, the relationship angst really bothered me. That's why I waited a month or so before daring to read Doubleblind. I'm happy to say that it brings a nice equilibrium to everything that's been grating on my nerves. In Grimspace, and especially in Wanderlust, March seemed to suffer from multiple personality disorder. He was a perfect lover, Jax's punching bag/doormat and Universal Soldier, all at once. In Doubleblind he struggles to regain his humanity, but I have a feeling things will be more balanced in the future.
I only cry and beg when Jax is arround. Right now, I'm a killing machine, so let's go annihilate the rival clan!!
Jax is a whole different person this time. She has become this incredible, mature and brave woman. I kind of hated her before, but now she's finally the heroine we want and deserve. She's far from perfect, but at least I don't hate her and/or yell at her on every other page. She finally appreciates March and everything he's done for her. She's not the selfish, spoiled brat she used to be. She actually reminds me a lot of Aguirre's other heroine, Corine Solomon.
However, neither of them is my favorite character – that is most definitely Vel. I have some pretty amazing friends, but I really wish I had a friend like him. And yes, I would totally hug him, at least twice a day.
Aguirre really is my favorite author these days. I love everything about the way she builds a story. Her writing is impecable, and she has this incredible way of changing the pace so suddenly you find yourself going back a few sentences just to be sure you're not reading it wrong. (less)
Mediocre is the first word that comes to mind when I think about Across the Universe. I din't really connect to any of the characters, and at about 70...moreMediocre is the first word that comes to mind when I think about Across the Universe. I din't really connect to any of the characters, and at about 70%, I found myself not caring at all what happens to them.
The mystery wasn't a mystery at all. I figured everything out almost at the beginning and then just waited for Amy and Elder to catch up. The science parts weren't convincing, and the social structure was pretty unbelievable. When I comapare this book to Maria Snyder's Inside Out, I really have no choice but to give it two stars. Even though Inside Out was a three-star book for me, the almost perfect second book, Outside In, made me so happy I chose to read the series. I have no desire to read A Million Suns. (less)
I'm always a little hesitant to review the books I loved. It seems like nothing I write can ever be good enough. That's exactly the case this time. I'...moreI'm always a little hesitant to review the books I loved. It seems like nothing I write can ever be good enough. That's exactly the case this time. I'll try to keep it short and very clear: this book blew me away! It took only about 30 pages for me to fall in love with Ultraviolet. If I remember correctly, I called Anderson's writing unpretentious and rich with emotion when I just started reading, and I stand by my words now that I've finished. What amazed me the most about it was the way she occasionally threw a stunning passage or a breathtaking sentence into what was normally pretty simplistic writing.
Dark chocolate, poured over with velvet: that was how his voice tasted. I wanted him to follow me around and narrate the rest of my life.
I'm not a visual type of person, but words mean the world to me, and R.J. Anderson's words made a strong impression. The way Alison perceives the world made me want to be her, if just for ten minutes, and experience things and people through her eyes (and her mouth). Tasting words sounds like something I would gladly live with for the rest of my life!
I’d been trying to get over my habit of judging people by the color and taste of their names, but it was hard when my instincts were so often right. There seemed no point telling myself that the R in the middle of Kirk’s name didn’t make him untrustworthy when the game had just started and he was already cheating.
And then the major plot twist happened. I was a bit annoyed at first because I really liked the way the story was originally going, but after a while, I started to like the new development too, which only proves how amazing R.J. Anderson really is.
Another small thing I really liked was the lack of Ali's physical description. I know nothing about the color of her hair, the length of her eyelashes or the way she blushes when she's embarrassed and I like it that way. It was very refreshing not to be bothered with unimportant things like that.
Reading Feed has made me reluctant to give five stars as easily as I did before, but they're well deserved this time. I have such high hopes for this book! I hope people will recognize its beauty and its literary value. R.J. Anderson has gained a new fan - I'm ready to read everything she's ever written, including her grocery lists. (less)
There are three things in this world I truly believe in. That the truth will set us free; that lies a...moreWorry not, my dears, this review is spoiler-free.
There are three things in this world I truly believe in. That the truth will set us free; that lies are the prisons we build for ourselves; and that Shaun loves me. Everything else is just details. - Georgia Mason
There's not much I can say about the Newsflesh trilogy that I haven't said a million times before, nothing spoiler-free at least, and I refuse to spoil even the smallest detail for any of you. As a result, this will be more of an emotional outburst than an actual review, so feel free to abandon ship if you’re not a fan of my all-too-frequent displays of sentimentality. I apologize in advance.
How do you bring down a massive government conspiracy? You don’t. You do what the crew of After the End Times does: you run for your life, save a few people, bury more than a few, tell the truth, and make sure to get it all on camera. Oh, and you pay attention when the villain starts explaining his actions because there might me more to it than he’s ready to admit. And when you stop to think about it and realize that it’s not worth it at all, you keep doing it because there’s nothing else you can do, and you hope for the best.
I didn’t dream of funerals this time. Instead, I dreamed of me and Shaun, walking hand in hand through the empty hall where the Republican National Convention was held, and nothing was trying to kill us. Nothing was trying to kill us at all.
As the story progressed and the science in it became more and more wild, I kept expecting to reach the point where I’d stop believing it, where it would be too much, but I never did. Therein lies the talent of Seanan McGuire – she is able to make the craziest things sound entirely convincing. It helps that her sense of pacing is nothing short of extraordinary, not to mention her ability to emotionally manipulate her readers. It’s not easy to keep people engaged and utterly fascinated through more than 500 pages, and yet Seanan McGuire accomplished it no less than three times.
I could (and should) say that the Newsflesh trilogy has ended with Blackout, but it hasn’t for me, not really. After 1800 pages, so much laughter, countless tears and a few frustrated screams, I know I’ll be back to reread it often. In fact, I’d already reread both Feed and Deadline more than once. Why would Blackout deserve any less? In any case, I’ve gained more from this experience than just a book I can label as my all-time favorite. I’ve bonded with people over it, and today I have the privilege of calling some of them my friends. We are a diverse group, but we started with this one thing we had in common, and in time, we developed some more. Therefore, it seems vastly unfair to call this just another trilogy. For me, it was much more than that. It was a chapter of my life and a truly life-changing experience.
Aside from the already released Countdown, Mira Grant will write two more novellas in the Newslesh universe, San Diego 2014: The Last Stand of the California Browncoats, and How Green This Land, How Blue This Sea. Seanan McGuire will also launch another duology with Orbit: Parasitology and Symbiogenesis, as Mira Grant. The story will have nothing to do with the Masons, but I’m sure it will be amazing. I guess we still have something to look forward to after all.
We know that we were in the right (The coming dawn, the ending night). So here is when we stop the lies. The time is come. We have to Rise. -From Dandelion Mine, the blog of Magdalene Grace Garcia, August 7, 2041.
I have to admit I don't know the first thing about videogames. The only game I've ever played was StarCraft, a gazillion years ago, and to be...more4.5 stars
I have to admit I don't know the first thing about videogames. The only game I've ever played was StarCraft, a gazillion years ago, and to be honest, I sucked at it. So when this book started with a story about videogames and their creators, I figured I was in serious trouble. However, Cline really took the time to explain OASIS, and he did it in a way that is accessible to everyone, even someone like me. What's more, his descriptions were detailed, but never boring. I thoroughly enjoyed learning about Halliday, Morrow and their amazing creation, OASIS (Ontologically Anthropocentric Sensory Immersive Simulation), which is essentially a way to escape the grim reality.
The OASIS would ultimately change the way people around the world lived, worked, and communicated. It would transform entertainment, social networking, and even global politics. Even though it was initially marketed as a new kind of massively multiplayer online game, the OASIS quickly evolved into a new way of life.
Our story begins when James Halliday, creator of OASIS, dies without an heir. He leaves a short video with instructions for what is basically a treasure hunt. He explains that he has hidden an Easter egg somewhere in OASIS, and that the person who finds it will be the one to inherit everything he owns. He has also hidden three keys that can help hunters in finding the egg. Hundreds of millions of egg hunters (gunters) spend the next five years searching without success.
Our hero, Wade, is a very poor 18-year-old boy, obsessed with Halliday and OASIS. From the day Halliday died, Wade has spent every waking moment trying to learn everything there is to know about OASIS and its creator, convinced that the key to finding the egg lies somewhere in details of Halliday’s life. At one point he even admits he knows more about Halliday than Halliday himself. So it’s no surprise that after five long years, Wade is the one to figure out the location of the copper key and become famous over night. As a result, he suddenly has to face blackmails, betrayals, life-threatening situations and outright attempts of murder.
There’s another gunter close to finding the egg. Her name is Art3mis and she's a girl Parzival (Wade) has had a crush on for the last five years or so. They’ve never met in person and they don’t know each other’s real names, but they soon start running into each other all over OASIS. They’re supposed to be rivals, but Wade just refuses to see it that way.
I wouldn't exactly call Ready Player One dystopian. First of all, the comparison with real dystopian YA novels won't do any favors to this book. I think it would even turn away a part of the intended audience. Second of all, the world described is ugly and hopeless, but not in an exaggerated way, meaning that everything in it can be reasonably expected in the foreseeable future. I'm guessing that the world in 2045. will look very much like the one Ernest Cline described.
I would love to comment on Cline's writing, but I really can’t. His story is so compelling that, after a time, I stopped noticing the actual words and started living everything he wanted me to. In Wade’s words: I quickly lost track of time. I forgot that my avatar was sitting on Halliday’s bedroom and that, in reality, I was sitting in my hideout, huddled near the electric heater, tapping at the empty air in front of me, entering commands on an imaginary keyboard. All of the intervening layers slipped away, and I lost myself in the game within the game.
Ready Player One is an intense, action-packed story. Incredibly enough, it is Ernest Cline’s debut novel. I can’t wait to see what he does next!
Favorite quote: I watched a lot of YouTube videos of cute geeky girls playing ‘80s cover tunes on ukuleles. Technically, that wasn’t part of my research, but I had a serious cute-geeky-girls-playing-ukuleles fetish that I can neither explain nor defend. (less)
Killbox would have been a beautiful 5-star book, but the cliffhanger-ish ending ruined it a bit for me. Still, I can honestly say that Ann Aguirre has...more Killbox would have been a beautiful 5-star book, but the cliffhanger-ish ending ruined it a bit for me. Still, I can honestly say that Ann Aguirre hasn't failed me yet. I postponed reading this book for as long as I could, trying to get closer to the release date of Aftermath. Today I needed an author I could trust and and a world I felt comfortable in.
This is one of my favorite series in the world. What I love most about it is the growth of the characters: not just Jax and March, but Dina and Hit as well. The only character who hasn't changed one single bit is Vel. He is consistently reliable, nice, smart as hell and overall amazing. I would very much like to read a series entirely about him.
Ever since I started blogging, I've been going on and on about Ann Aguirre's books and how much I love them. The time has come for me to tell you why....moreEver since I started blogging, I've been going on and on about Ann Aguirre's books and how much I love them. The time has come for me to tell you why. Ann Aguirre understands life, she understands love, she understands war and the very basic human nature. She knows what makes people tick and how far they would go to defend what they love and that knowledge reflects in her work. Endgame is no exception. If anything, it is the best of her books so far.
In Endgame, last book of the series, Sirantha Jax makes good on her promise to Loras and travels to La’heng, accompanied by Vel, to try to free the La’hengrin from the Nicuans. The cure for the shinai-bond is finally functional, if not entirely safe, and Loras’s people have a chance to stand up and fight, something they haven’t had in a very long time. When peaceful measures fail to convince Nicuan nobles to make the cure available to the La’hengrin, Loras, Jax, Vel and a few other very competent friends are left with no choice but to form the La’heng Liberation Army and start a war to free Loras’s people from slavery.
A war is never glamorous, no matter how just the cause. It always means hard choices and sacrifice for everyone involved. It means being hungry, filthy and cold. It means blurring the line between right and wrong, committing atrocities in the name of freedom and losing yourself while fighting for what you believe in. That is the side of war Aguirre decided to show us, and I can’t thank her enough for it. It is the side we rarely get to see.
Jax doesn’t get to be a hero in Endgame. She doesn’t get to rush in, make a wild and stupid decision that somehow ends up working despite the odds, and save the day. Not because she isn’t capable of pulling it off, she is, she’s done it before, but because we all become insignificant and small in the face of war, including Sirantha Jax.
It is hard to believe that something that started as a sci-fi romance series, a sub-genre that’s rarely taken seriously, ended up being so full of valuable lessons. Seeing the world through Jax’s eyes, enjoying her unique worldview, learning about the way she prioritizes and deals with the consequences taught me a thing or two about myself. And yet, Jax never took the intensely philosophical and lecturing tone. If anything, her chopped up grammar and matter-of-fact way make her a very unlikely source for Big Truths of Life. She just told her story like it is and you’re free to take away whatever you want from it. This is not a love story. It is my life, and as such, there is love, loss, war, death, and sacrifice. It’s about things that needed to be done and the choices made. I regret nothing.
Eleven is the number of books by Ann Aguirre I’ve read and loved so far. She is the only author in the world I can say that about. The fact that she’ll keep writing makes it easier for me to say goodbye to Jax. No one will ever replace her, but I know that so many other fantastic heroines sleep in Aguirre’s mind, waiting to be awoken and introduced to the world. Jax deserves her rest.
This is one of those very rare occasions when I feel comfortable recommending a book I didn’t enjoy myself. Tankborn is a story that raises some very...moreThis is one of those very rare occasions when I feel comfortable recommending a book I didn’t enjoy myself. Tankborn is a story that raises some very important issues and manages to make all the necessary points while completely avoiding a condescending tone. It is a dystopian novel with elements of science fiction, and I think it’s safe to say that it stands out among the (too) many dystopian novels that seem to be growing like mushrooms these days.
There are three levels of society in Tankborn: tankborns, genetically engineered non-humans, created specifically for one purpose by adding a certain skill set (sket); lowborns, usually manual workers and certainly not rich, but with rights and control over their lives; and trueborns, nobility of sorts, who have wealth, power and complete control over tankborns.
Tankborn is told from three different points of view: Kayla’s, Mishalla’s and Devak’s. Both Kayla and Mishalla are tankborns. Kayla was made stronger than an average human and she is meant to be a caregiver, and Mishalla’s genes were altered in a way that allows her to be a good nanny and her job is to take care of children. As tankborns, neither of the girls has any rights, they are essentially slaves. Kayla is considered a freak even among her own because her GEN tattoo is on the wrong cheek. Devak is a trueborn, from one of the most prominent families on Loki. He saves Kayla and her nurture brother Jal from some boys and later Kayla gets assigned to take care of his grandfather.
While the social structure was carefully thought out and very convincing, the worlbuilding left a lot to be desired. Tankborn is set on a planet called Loka that reminded me too much of Earth in every way. I felt that the author, having decided to create this planet, should have seen it through and given the readers a little more information about it. There was a brief description of some animals on Loka at the very beginning that caused me to get my hopes up, but after that, the planet itself stopped being important.
The few mammals on Loka weren’t as hideous as the spider-creatures. The wary seycats that kept the vermin down in the warehouses sported intriguing pelts and tall tufted ears. The six-legged droms that roamed the plains had thick mottled wool and droopy noses and only one pair of large black eyes set in their camel-like heads.
Do you see now why I wanted more of that? To have one such passage in the first chapter, and nothing after, was a little disappointing. I can’t say that I was really convinced by Devak’s feelings for Kayla. He went from not wanting to touch her and being disgusted by her to liking her a little too quickly for my taste.
Tankborn is a solidly written story about racism, hatred and survival of friendship. It’s entirely my fault that I didn’t enjoy it more, and while that information may be useless for other readers, I really can’t lie and say that I liked it more than I did. Part of my problem was that it felt more like a middle grade novel than young adult. I’m nevertheless pretty sure that fans of dystopia will be thrilled with these characters and society.
3.5 stars I don't like being the first person to review a book at all! But here it is: For a debut, self-published author, Zachary Rawlins is pretty dam...more3.5 stars I don't like being the first person to review a book at all! But here it is: For a debut, self-published author, Zachary Rawlins is pretty damn good. In fact, he’s better than a lot of experienced authors with big publishing houses behind their backs. With just a little more work and a good editor, this book could turn into pure gold.
Rawlins’s world is very complicated. Here’s my attempt at explaining some of it: The secret supernatural community known as the Central is divided into cartels, of which only two are important: the Hegemony and the Black Sun. In theory, students of the Academy aren’t allowed to declare for a cartel until they complete their second year (unless they were born into one - which is rare), but in reality, they often choose their way much sooner.
Most of the students come from normal families. The Central does secret screenings at public schools and singles out everyone with the ability to control the Ether. But the Talent itself isn’t enough, so upon their arrival at the Academy, they need to have nanites introduced into their system. The nanites allow them to use their abilities, but they also make them stronger, faster and very close to immortal. Not all students have the same power: there are empaths, telepaths, pyros, and just about everything else you can think of.
After the Academy, students become Operators in the cartel that chose them, depending on their ability, but the very best usually opt to become Auditors, who are supposed to be neutral and in charge of keeping the cartels in order.
So that's pretty much it. It's not an easy world to explain. However, worldbuilding isn’t what I loved most about The Academy, the characters are. I’ll mention just a few of them: • Alex Warner has just arrived at the Academy, but he is by far the most powerful of them all. All the cartels want him, but as soon as he picks one, the others will do their very best to kill him. • Mitsuru is a hundred years old, but she looks no more than nineteen – that is, until you notice her red eyes. She is a Black Protocol user and her mind had been reengineered as a logic processing engine, allowing her to become a field strategist, but making her more machine than human in the process. She has no emotional attachments. Probability fields and bloodbaths are all she cares about. • Alice Gallow is an Auditor and a Black Protocol user who forgets things every time she uses her powers. She is close to invincible, but she spends all her free time writing and reading hundreds and hundreds of diaries. She is also a bloodthirsty psychopath. • Anastasia Martynova is the scion of the Black Sun cartel. Introducing nanites into her organism stopped her growth completely. She looks no more than thirteen, wears a lot of black lace and never leaves her room without a parasol, which usually makes people underestimate her, but she is a power player, perhaps the most deadly one around.
I’ll be the first to admit that you need a certain amount of patience to read The Academy. For one, it is far too long: if printed, I'm sure it would have more than 500 pages, which means that there are quite a few unnecessary chapters you need to go through to get to the good ones, but since the good ones really are jaw-dropping, I think it’s well worth it. My other problem was with parts that reminded me to much of a well known movie trilogy. I’ll just give you a short example and let you draw your own conclusions: The rifle was firing at full auto, but the acceleration of Mitsuru’s protocol was such that she heard each individual shot, and she saw the flare of hot gas that punctuated each shell’s ignition. She fell forward, under the arc of bullets that plodded toward her, and then rolled, her perception so agonizingly acute she could see the wake of distorted air the bullets left behind.
In my opinion, The Academy is not a YA novel. The fact that most of it happens in a school can be quite misleading. It is very violent, far too complicated and it doesn’t follow any of the usual patterns.
You can buy The Academy ebook for $0.99 or $2.99 on Amazon, depending on your location. If you like violent, unpredictable, action-packed stories, you’ll probably enjoy it. The second book, The Anathema, will be available January, 2012. I can't wait to read it. In fact, I want it right now!!! Do you hear me, mysterious Zachary Rawlins? Write faster! (less)
I look down at the ground and close my eyes. After a moment, I open them. I see my bare toes on the road. I am here. I am not dreaming. This is me. This...moreI look down at the ground and close my eyes. After a moment, I open them. I see my bare toes on the road. I am here. I am not dreaming. This is me. This is my life. But it doesn’t feel right. It doesn’t feel like mine, it still feels like a dream I’m in, that I’ve been put in.
This is one of those books that will inspire a polarized reaction. Some of you will love it. Most of you will probably hate it. It’s odd in so many ways – not to everyone’s taste for sure – but here’s a small help: if you enjoyed Wake by Lisa McMann, you might enjoy As I Wake, too. I for one adore authors who are brave enough to write something completely different, especially in YA.
The most obvious thing that sets this book apart from others I’ve read recently is the writing style. It is very unusual, almost too bare at times. Parts of it read like poetry, and in those parts the author used not only words, but space as well. She often put each short sentence on a new line, thus giving her story a rhythm that is highly unusual in prose, but that makes it very easy to read.
The story is equally unusual: Ava suffers from complete memory loss, a condition the doctors attribute to a brain inflammation they somehow failed to notice. They decide she’s healthy enough to be sent home with a woman claiming to be her mother. Ava does her best to fit into her old life, but when her memories start coming back, they don’t make any sense at all. She remembers being a girl that looks like the Ava she is now, but not quite. She remembers living in a tightly controlled society, working for the State Antiterrorism Taskforce as a listener, spying on those who represent a potential threat to the government. The world she remembers is one where your every move is monitored, your every word is recorded, and you can get publicly executed for doing something as simple as falling in love, unless, of course, it’s government-approved. What’s more, she remembers the people around her, but as slightly different versions of themselves. She remembers seeing her friend Olivia clubbed to death for having an affair with another girl, but here Olivia is, alive and well and attending high school together with everyone else. Then a boy shows up, and Ava starts remembering other parts of her previous life: a forbidden love, the constant danger and running from her past.
The Ava I’m supposed to be doesn’t know her. But the Ava I am does. I am here, in this world, in this life. But I don’t think I’m from here. I don’t think I belong here. I close my eyes.
Books about memory loss seem to be very popular lately, but I do believe that Elizabeth Scott offered a story that is new and original. I’m not exactly sure what this novel is: dystopian, science fiction, a combination of both or something else entirely, but I know that I liked the end result a lot. It’s unlike any other book I’ve read this year. Besides, I finished it in no more than two hours, which I know some of you will appreciate.
Favorite quote: He is nothing to look at, and yet I can’t stop looking at him. There is something beautiful in how his face is made, how all the tiny flaws blend together into something more perfect than perfection could ever be.
When Quicksilver was first announced, it was said to be a companion novel to Ultraviolet, R.J. Anderson’s unforgettably original novel about a girl wi...moreWhen Quicksilver was first announced, it was said to be a companion novel to Ultraviolet, R.J. Anderson’s unforgettably original novel about a girl with synesthesia. Knowing that, I didn’t expect the two to be so closely connected, but imagine my joy when I realized how wrong I was. Quicksilver is more of a sequel – a continuation of the same story told from a different perspective. I struggled a bit at first because Anderson doesn’t waste precious time on recaps, but I caught up fairly quickly and my emotional attachments were soon reestablished.
Tori’s voice is radically different from Alison’s. For one, she doesn’t have synesthesia so her narration is less colorful and far more composed. She is a very down-to-earth kind of person, which is perhaps an odd thing to say about an alien. Tori is a very competent mechanic and her personality reflects this – she is calm, collected and precise in every situation she gets thrown into.
Now that the chip has been removed from her arm and she can leave town without getting seazures, Tori and her parents are on the run: from detective Deckard, from GeneSystem Laboratories and from the crazy alien scientist Mathis. Desperate to keep Tori safe, they change their names and move to a small Canadian town. But Tori’s past isn’t far behind, and when Sebastian Faraday comes to her with an unlikely solution, she knows she has no choice but to help him.
Despite her loving parents and several other people who care deeply about her, Tori’s loneliness is overwhelming. Hers is a self-imposed isolation, born out of fear of rejections and a strong sense of not belonging, and it was almost unbearable at times. Walls after walls after walls appear, and in many ways, Tori’s existence is even sadder and more solitary than Alison’s.
There is a boy, of course – a loyal, intelligent Korean boy – a friend, pretend boyfriend and quite a few things in between. He is impossible not to like, so Tori decides to do something she’s never done before – be (partially) honest and not give him false hope. She tells him she’s never been attracted to another person in her life, that she’s basically asexual. I loved Anderson’s approach to this. Loved! She never wrote about Tori’s condition as something that needed to be cured or changed, but simply as a fact of life that may or may not be bypassed in the future. Not altered, just worked around. For the millionth time, Anderson did something that’s never been done before, and I applaud her for it.
Alison’s role in Quicksilver is minor, but vital. I’d like to say I missed her the entire time, but the truth is that Tori, Milo and Faraday occupied my every thought and I barely even noticed her absence. When she did join the group, she brought with her the open emotionality Tori sorely lacks, and it was then I realized how different these two books really are.
Enough loose threads were left to make a third book possible, but even if it doesn’t come, I’m happy with where we left things. Once again, Anderson wrote a book that defies all expectations and if we’re lucky, she’ll choose to write another one. If not, we’ll always have Ultraviolet and Quicksilver to remind us that originality isn’t gone, it just hides very well from most authors.
Edit 8/30/12: You can now win a copy of The Repossession and its sequel, The Hunting, at The Nocturnal Library
A small town, 34 missing children, a do...moreEdit 8/30/12: You can now win a copy of The Repossession and its sequel, The Hunting, at The Nocturnal Library
A small town, 34 missing children, a dog with fused hind legs, quite a few religious fanatics, secret research facility, one huge pig, a farm, teleportation and an artificial lake. If you’re wondering what all these things have in common, allow me to enlighten you: they all play an important role in The Repossession by Sam Hawksmoor.
I suppose more YA should be written by middle-aged Canadian guys. Sam Hawksmoor surprised me with how original and believable his story was. Making a sci-fi novel believable is not an easy task, it all depends on how well written it is and what it relies on to convince you. Most people hear the words secret government research facility and instantly think that everything is possible. That’s what the author counted on, and that’s one of the things that make this book such huge success, in my opinion.
Want to make $2,000 cash? Participate in a simple experimental trial that could help us cure one of the world’s most pressing problems. We need healthy young people, 14 to 17, willing to put their survival skills to the test. We are a non-profit organization with brilliant green credentials. All applicants apply in total confidence. No adult/parent need be notified.
As someone who grew up in one (or three), I’m intimately familiar with social dynamics of small towns. Hawksmoor succeeded in creating the atmosphere of one such small community. The hairs on the back of my neck were standing up from that feeling of constantly being watched and scrutinized. It was pure perfection, so creepy and convincing. It wasn’t hard to believe that a kid who grew up in such environment, with parents that blindly follow the crazy Reverend and his poisonous group of fanatics, would respond to a sketchy add for a chance to earn $2000. For those kids, the add isn’t just an add, it’s a Get Out of Jail Free card.
For Genie Magee, leaving the house is not an option. Her mother is convinced that Genie is possessed by the devil, that she is Satan’s bride, no less. With a little help from Reverend Schneider, she has imprisoned Genie in her bedroom, put a huge lock on her door and bars on her window. Every day, the Reverend’s followers come by to pray at Genie’s door, spit on her, call her names, brand her with crosses and abuse her in any way they can possibly think of. The only thing holding Genie together is the hope that her boyfriend Rian will come for her. And he does. But even though all Genie and Ri want to do is get as far from Spurlake as possible, they get dragged into the mess Reverend Schneider and a secret research facility are causing all over Spurlake. 34 kids are missing and no one is really bothering to look for them. Genie and Rian might be the only ones who can uncover the truth.
I loved how Hawksmoor handled the relationship between Genie and Ri. It was so different from what we’re used to. They were just two troubled kids, one heavily abused and the other “only” neglected, who saw each other as a chance to put it all behind them. Theirs was a young love, certainly, but a true love, not exaggerated, but simple, sweet and entirely believable.
As always, I am infuriated by the major cliffhanger, but since the book was so good and memorable, I might be willing to forgive even that. I should also mention that pictures of the cover don't do this book justice at all, the entire thing is really beautifully designed.
A copy of this book was kindly provided by the publisher, Hodder Children’s Books, for review purposes.
Back when Perdition was first mentioned, pitched as Prison Break in space (I kid you not), I immediately knew it would be a dream come true. Because s...moreBack when Perdition was first mentioned, pitched as Prison Break in space (I kid you not), I immediately knew it would be a dream come true. Because seriously, violence and mayhem, Ann Aguirre style? In space?! Give me that, and then give me some more! So when it finally found its way into my greedy little hands, I was basically in ecstasy. And I remained in an absolute state of bliss throughout.
While this trilogy may be a Jax series spin-off, readers who aren’t familiar with Jax won’t be at a loss at all. It is entirely possible to read (and fully enjoy) this separately. Details that were previously known about Jael get reintroduced pretty quickly in Perdition so that everyone is at the same place. That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t find the time to read Jax – you should – but it’s not a prerequisite.
Space station known as Perdition houses only the most hardened of criminals. The people imprisoned there are no small-time thieves, rapists or murderers. It takes a truly heinous crime (or hundreds of them) to get someone a one-way ticket to Perdition from the Conglomerate. ‘Innocent’ is not a word that gets thrown around often, not even for our heroine, Dresdemona “Dred” Devos.
Taking the reader on a space station where not a single redeemable character lives may seem like a simple thing, but believe you me, it’s an enormous challenge. We are all, each of us in a slightly different way, emotional readers, and we love to feel sympathy for our characters, but it takes a brilliant author to make us feel sympathy for mercenaries and mass murderers.
In some ways, Perdition is the darkest Ann Aguirre book yet – not because it’s the most violent (although it’s certainly at the very top) – but because there isn’t a single ray of light anywhere on that ship. It is a place where end always justifies the means, and survival is the only thing that counts.
For me, the magic of Aguirre’s writing comes from two sources: the first is her excellent understanding of human nature and psychology, and the second her incredible gift for metaphors. If Ann’s elegant, no-nonsense writing style is the body of this story, the few well-placed, hard-hitting metaphors are its very soul. With no more than a few words, Aguirre unfailingly manages to both bring forth the desired emotional response and leave her readers in awe of her writing skills.
The more I tried to choose and point out my favorite thing about this book, the more I realized that such a feat was next to impossible. I was just about ready to put Dred and Jael’s relationship on the pedestal, only to remember, among other things, certain bloody battles that took my breath away. With each new book she writes, Ann Aguirre has to live up to some pretty high standards, and she achieves it so effortlessly every single time.
Perdition will give you no time to breathe, but it will make you appreciate your freedom, the roast beef sandwich you had for lunch, and that extra bar of soap in your bathroom. It will also make you care for its characters despite their awful and violent histories. My recommendation? Get out of that chair and go grab a copy now!
Update 04/17/12: Stop by The Nocturnal Library to read a guest post by Elizabeth Norris and enter for a chance to win a hardcover copy of Unraveling....moreUpdate 04/17/12: Stop by The Nocturnal Library to read a guest post by Elizabeth Norris and enter for a chance to win a hardcover copy of Unraveling.
I never give five stars easily, but I'd give this book ten if I could.
I always feel this strange sense of accomplishment when I discover a book I can add to my all-time favorites. There aren’t many books that mean so much to me and that I keep going back to over and over again. I take that short list and adding books to it very seriously. Therefore, I needed to give myself some time before reviewing this because I was afraid that my initial reaction was entirely emotional and that my enthusiasm will drop once I calm down. I slept on it, I finished a very different book by one of my favorite authors, but none of that changed how I feel. If anything, I am now convinced more than ever that I found something truly special in Unravelling (that’s two Ls in the UK edition, only one in the US).
Janelle Tanner is living with her parents and her younger brother, working as a lifeguard at the beach and dating a gorgeous and extremely popular high school senior, Nick. Her life looks perfect on the outside, but on the inside, her mother is bipolar and needs to be taken care of, and her father, no matter how wonderful, has a job that’s keeping him away most of the time. He’s the head of counterintelligence in the FBI’s office in San Diego, and he just got a case that’s driving him and the other agents crazy. An explosive device has been discovered and it’s counting down days, but no matter how many experts they bring in, no one has any idea what it is or how to disarm it. As if that’s not enough, unidentifiable bodies, almost completely melted from radiation, are suddenly showing up everywhere. One of these bodies was found in the car that hit Janelle on her way home from work. She seemed more or less fine after the accident, but what no one knows, what no one would ever believe her, is that she died when the car hit her, and a stoner kid from her school, Ben Michaels, brought her back to life and healed her. Who is Ben? Where are all the bodies coming from? What’s going to happen when the countdown finally hits zero? Is it all somehow connected? Janelle and her best friend Alex always enjoyed ‘borrowing’ her father’s case files from his home office and discussing his cases, but this time, they may be in over their heads.
Elizabeth Norris’ writing is flawless. It doesn’t draw attention to itself, but it keeps you engaged and controls your emotions in a way that doesn’t make you feel manipulated. Unravelling is action-packed from start to finish, but that doesn’t mean that it lacks depth. It was truly heartbreaking, and I gave myself a headache from all the crying. If you think this is just another YA novel, think again, because Elizabeth Norris pulled no punches. She kept surprising me on every page, and each time I thought I had it all figured out, she did something entirely unexpected. It was like watching the awesome first season of Fringe all over again, but with a likeable heroine instead of Olivia.
Don’t you just love a girl who doesn’t spend all her time consciously making one mistake after another because she lacks the backbone to do the right thing? That’s our Janelle for you, a girl who knows exactly what she wants and doesn’t hesitate to make it happen. She’d been a victim once and she has no intention of being one ever again, so she thinks hard about every choice she makes and doesn’t allow herself to be influenced by anyone else’s opinion. She’s my new character I want to be best friends with. I always expect YA heroines to disappoint me sooner or later, because they almost always do, but with Janelle, that never happened. I can count on the fingers of one hand the characters that impressed me as much as she did.
(Did you guys notice how I avoided writing about Ben as much as possible? I'm trying to be serious here and I don't think gushing about that boy would help my cause much. But rest assured, he IS perfect.)
I think I’ve made my opinion pretty clear: I cannot recommend this highly enough. I can’t wait to find out how other people will feel about it. Do yourselves a favor and preorder this one, you won’t regret it.
A copy of this book was kindly provided by the publisher, HarperCollins UK, for review purposes.
4.5 stars The first thing you need to know about Parasite is that it is not Feed. If you expect the emotional impact of Seanan McGuire’s debut as Mira...more4.5 stars The first thing you need to know about Parasite is that it is not Feed. If you expect the emotional impact of Seanan McGuire’s debut as Mira Grant, you will be sorely disappointed. Feed is a once-in-a-lifetime kind of book and it’s unlikely that Seanan will ever repeat it.
The second thing you need to know about Parasite is that it’s brilliant nevertheless. This is Mira Grant after all, so if sci-fi medical thrillers are your thing, very few authors write it better than she does. For me, the point of these medical thrillers is to convince the reader that what they describe is possible. The amount of research Grant puts into her books and the way she presents her “facts” pretty much guarantee that her visions of the apocalypse will be accepted as probabilities.
In many ways, for me, reading Parasite was similar to what I imagine an out of body experience would be like. It was virtually impossible to read a book written by the same author and similarly structured as my favorite book in the world and not make constant comparisons. However, while it quickly became clear that Sal is no Georgia Mason, it also became clear that I was going to like her for who she was. Sal cowers occasionally, she tends to scream at most unfortunate moments and she even faints here and there (I simply can’t imagine George fainting or screaming), but she has a backbone of steel that becomes evident when it’s most needed.
Mostly, I have lived my life for this past decade and a half simply hoping that I would still be alive when the judgment day arrived. After all, what’s the point of helping to create an apocalypse if you’re not going to be around to see it? - FROM CAN OF WORMS: THE AUTOBIOGRAPFY OF SHANTI CALE, PHD. AS YET UNPUBLISHED.
Is it just me or should allowing tapeworms to grow in your stomach be frowned upon in normal society? Even if those tapeworms are in many ways beneficial? On the other hand, when I stop to think about it, who said that the words ‘normal society’ apply to us? And just how far can our boundaries be pushed, with the right marketing campaign?
There were reports, but they were all proven to be false, and gradually, the ad campaign was phased out, leaving the world sold not once, but twice, on the idea that a worm was a solution to all their problems.
Oddly, the reason for sparks of disbelief that occasionally ignited within me had nothing to do with the medical part of this book and everything to do with the people around Sal. It seemed all too convenient that such a medical miracle would happen to the daughter of a Colonel at USAMRIID, in charge of figuring out the sleepwalking sickness. It was even more convenient that she ended up dating a parasitologist like Nathan, with his family background. While Grant did her best to explain all these things, I didn’t feel that those explanations were entirely satisfactory.
Be that as it may, there remains the fact that Parasite is the work of a brilliant author and that it is not to be missed. If you can handle a tapeworm here and there, run out and get your copy right now.
4.5 stars When you wait for a book as long as I’ve waited to read Unbreakable, finally holding it in your hands seems like the most surreal experience....more4.5 stars When you wait for a book as long as I’ve waited to read Unbreakable, finally holding it in your hands seems like the most surreal experience. Needless to say, the expectations that come with it are sky high, and there is always fear of disappointment, no matter how much you trust an author. In this case at least, I shouldn’t have feared, not even a little bit. Elizabeth Norris ended her duology just like she started it – confidently and with a bang.
The first few chapters of Unbreakable slowly paint a picture of the aftermath. Janelle’s world is in ruins – her life, her house, her school, her mother… it’s all gone, buried under the rubble. Janelle herself is doing her best to rebuild her life in a small apartment with Jared and Struz. Try as she might, she’s having a hard time finding anything to look forward to, except maybe the time she gets to spend with her baby brother. She is out of high school and working for the FBI, her shifts are endless and her efforts hopeless. People are disappearing all the time, and no one has any idea why.
Enter Taylor Barclay, the IA agent Ben and Janelle have a love-hate relationship with. He knows something about the missing people, but even more importantly, he seems to know something about Ben. He wants Janelle to help him solve the human trafficking case and Janelle is certainly brave enough to try, but first she has to decide whether she can trust him at all.
When I first started Unraveling, I didn’t even dream it would end up being a story about human trafficking. It started as your run of the mill YA speculative fiction and even when it proved to be much more, I somehow pictured the ending as something smaller, quieter. Contrary to my expectations, Unbreakable is full of action, a real attention gripper that will keep you on the edge of your seat. But even as such, it retained two things I’ve come to associate with Elizabeth Norris: elegance and thoughtfulness.
Good pacing is so hard to achieve in books like Unbreakable, but Norris knows how to keep a tight hold on her reader’s attention. The short chapters just added to the overwhelming sense of urgency, as did the countdown we all remember from Unraveling. It was impossible for me to sit still and read – I paced anxiously the entire time instead. It breaks my heart to think that my time with Ben and Janelle is over.
And now we finally come to the part I’m sure you all want to know about: Ben and Janelle. Once again Norris found a way to seamlessly blend action and emotion. In Unraveling, they faced external challenges, but their feelings never came into question. By the time they found each other in Unbreakable, they both had to do things they weren’t proud of and while neither of them ever doubted their love for each other, they were both well aware that sometimes love just isn’t enough.
I strongly recommend reading Undone, a HarperTeen Impulse novella from Ben’s POV, before Unbreakable. It covers some of the most important events from Unraveling, which will help you remember the details, but even more importantly, you’ll find out what happened to Ben between the two books.