My rating would possibly be higher, but the fact that I've read The Hunger Games this year is keeping me from liking this bookActual rating: 3.5 stars
My rating would possibly be higher, but the fact that I've read The Hunger Games this year is keeping me from liking this book any more. Comparing the two is unavoidable.
Suzanne Collins said she was watching a reality show on one channel and footage of the Iraq war on the other when she got the idea for The Hunger Games. I'll take a wild guess and say that Snyder got the idea for Inside Out while watching that great National Geographic special about the Berlin Wall. :)
This IS most definitely an allegory for the Berlin Wall. After a military coup, a single family rewrote the rules and separated the population into two groups: the Uppers and the scrubs. There is a strong barrier between two parts of the population, and it's impossible to cross. What's on the other side of the barrier (or in this case on higher levels) sounds like a promised land, but Pop Cops (Population Control Police), led by the ruling family, are everywhere, ready to kill anybody brave enough to think about crossing. Still, there are tunnels and air pipes that can take you to the other side, but you have to be crazy enough to try AND ready to die the second you are caught. Only the very loyal and privileged can legally cross from one side to the other. There is also a very strong propaganda on both sides, designed to strenghten the barrier and to create distrust between the groups. Even the little things like food on one side and on the other can be linked to East and West Berlin.
I don't want to write any spoilers and going into details and drawing more parallels would certainly lead to that.
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. (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. (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. ...more
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 bThis 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. ...more
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 70Mediocre 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. ...more
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'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'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. ...more
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 be4.5 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. ...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 has 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.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. 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 veryThis 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.
All my ratings have been pretty high lately, mostly because I choose very carefully what to read next. I value my time too much to purposely read bookAll my ratings have been pretty high lately, mostly because I choose very carefully what to read next. I value my time too much to purposely read books I know I won’t like. So what on earth possessed me to pick up this book after the Half-Blood debacle, I have no idea.
Most of my friends loved Obsidian and I respect that, I really do. I can even see why, the ingredients are all there: a gorgeous, mean guy and a plain, book-nerdish girl, a love-hate relationship between our protagonists, hero’s perky sister that becomes the heroine’s best friend, the evil ex-girlfriend that spits fire every time our heroine gets close, two clueless friends and a mostly absent single parent… need I go on? However, even when you figure all this out, Armentrout finds a way to sneak up on you. Every now and then I’d lose myself in a funny piece of dialogue or an especially steamy scene, but it wouldn’t take long for me to remember what I was really reading and why it was making me so mad. But let’s start at the beginning.
Three years after the death of her father, Katy’s mother decides that it’s time to move on and that, in order to do that, they need to sell everything they own and move from sunny Florida to a town of about 500 inhabitants in the middle of nowhere, West Virginia. On her first day in the new house, Katy meets her next door neighbors, twins Dee and Daemon. While she and Dee instantly hit it off, Daemon acts like a total jerk and makes some cryptic comments about ‘Katy’s kind’. He is, of course, absolutely gorgeous (Ohmigod, he’s so gorgeous, how could he possibly be attracted to plain ol’ me? I must be imagining things.), and very mysterious. As the time passes, Kat starts noticing that something is not quite right with the way Daemon, Dee and their friends are behaving, and then he saves her from an attacker and well… you know the rest.
Apparently, aliens are the new vampires. No, seriously. Daemon is Edward 2.0 – a moodier, meaner and prettier version of our dear Mr. Cullen. To be honest, this entire book is just another Twilight rip-off. Not flat-out stolen like Half-Blood, but not that far, either. That alone wouldn’t really upset me much since it's not the first and it certainly won't be the last, but what I found unforgivable was that Armentrout felt the need to make fun of Twilight while writing the exact same story.
And when he spoke, it wasn’t out loud. It was in my head. This is what we look like. We are beings of light. Even in human form, we can bend light to our will. There was a pause. As you can see, I don’t look like a giant insect. Or… sparkle. Even in my head I could hear the disgust on that last one.
See? So rude. It’s true that Daemon doesn’t sparkle, but he IS made of light. Pot, meet kettle. Kettle, you should kick pot’s ass.
I’m sure this book will have many fans, but I’m afraid my short and turbulent relationship with Ms. Armentrout is now over.
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 wiWhen 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.
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 sBack 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!
I rated Glow somewhat higher than I normally rate this type of books, due solely to the incredibly strong emotional impact it had on me. Some of the cI rated Glow somewhat higher than I normally rate this type of books, due solely to the incredibly strong emotional impact it had on me. Some of the characters in it might prove forgettable in time, but I will never forget the pressing, claustrophobic feeling it left me with. I’ve read a few reviews in advance and I was prepared to be unsettled by it, but nothing could prepare me for this story in which people, every last one of them, were monsters, usually hidden behind a very pleasant façade.
When, decades ago, two identical ships were launched into space on a mission to find New Earth and settle, everyone thought their chances of survival were pretty much the same. After all, the only difference between them was the religious conviction of their respective crews. Weaverly and Kieran belong to the first generation of children born on the Empyrean – the ship with a non-religious crew. They are both fifteen and thinking about getting married – in their circumstances, children are always welcome, no matter how young the parents. They have their lives planned out for them and they’re happy with the way things are going. But the New Horizon crew hasn’t had as much luck. They haven’t been able to procreate at all, which means their crew is fairly old and they are pretty desperate. Their solution is to attack the Empyrean and steal all their girls, nearly destroying the ship in the process. Suddenly, Weaverly and Kieran aren’t even on the same ship and each of them is dealing with a different set of disasters.
The name Weaverly seems like an odd and unfortunate choice, especially for third person narration. Since Ryan seems to harbor a strong dislike for personal pronouns, it’s used in almost every sentence, and, being a mouthful, it clogs the natural flow of sentences and makes the already thick narrative even harder to read. That is, writing-wise, the only objection I really have. Amy Kathleen Ryan showed unusual skill and control.
Because so many awful, hateful things happen in it, Glow is a hard book to like. There is no real warmth between the characters, nothing even remotely positive or hopeful, just violence, horrible moral choices and more violence. One couldn’t exactly call Kieran a hero, not by any stretch of the imagination, and the same goes for the rest of the characters. They behaved exactly as one would expect people in such an isolated environment to behave: they have deviated drastically from moral and ethical standards of society.
Faced with a crew made up entirely of rebellious boys, Kieran decided to lead them through a religion he pretty much made up on the spot. The ease with which this decision was made and the way those boys accepted it was incredibly creepy and eye-opening. Their sudden faith in Kieran was alarming, and the speed with which this cult of personality arose staggering.
There are many more things that unsettled me and kept me awake at night, but writing about them would give away too much of the plot. It’s best to go into this book knowing very little about it. Fortunately, I have the sequel, Spark, on hand, but I’m not brave enough to read t right away. My poor little heart needs a lengthy break.
4.5 stars Unsettling, grim, nerve-wracking, action-packed, frightening, riveting, enthralling, intelligent, fast-paced, claustrophobic, eerie, appallin4.5 stars Unsettling, grim, nerve-wracking, action-packed, frightening, riveting, enthralling, intelligent, fast-paced, claustrophobic, eerie, appalling, passionate… Any one of these words can be used to describe Spark, and yet, not even all of them put together come close to explaining the all-consuming thrill ride that is this book. Amy Kathleen Ryan achieved something not many authors can: Spark is one of those highly adaptable books that can be read one way by a younger audience, and completely differently by someone older. Behind the exciting story are layers and layers of psychology and current issues that can be discussed for hours on end.
Spark picks up exactly where Glow left off. The girls are back on the Empyrean, but all they did by returning was replace one religious tyrant with another. Kieran is leading the ship with sermons, lies and deceptions, and not even his ex fiancé can stand in his way. Weaverly has more enemies than she can count, both on Empyrean and the New Horizon, and Seth has lost everything when Kieran took over.
She’d been through too much. Some part of her had snapped. Her humanity had gone on hiatus, and what was left behind was her animal instinct: kill, hurt, maim, survive.
There are no heroes in Spark. Each of these characters exist in a moral gray area, and Kieran, who started out as a classic hero in Glow, turned into something entirely different. The most frightening thing about him is his firm belief that he is right, that he is being led by God and that, as God’s chosen vessel, he can do no wrong. Weaverly and Seth are confronted with the impossibility of reasoning with someone like him while still trying to find the remnants of the person he used to be.
What makes Spark truly stand out is that Amy Kathleen Ryan doesn’t hide behind the age of her characters. She refuses to adapt, embellish or gloss over the ugly facts. There are some truly selfless and kind secondary characters because there have to be – there always are in life - but the leaders, our protagonists, are all power-hungry and selfish to the core. There’s nothing even remotely good in Kieran Alden anymore, and Weaverly Marshall is on the verge of insanity, crazed by her need for revenge. Oh, sure, Seth Ardvale had a change of heart and came to understand the error of his ways, but all that got him were a couple of fractured ribs and a place in the brig.
She’d known fear before, of course, but this terror at the end of her life had been new. It hollowed her out, debased her, turned her into nothing more than airless lungs and bloodless brain. A gray cloud had crept into the borders of her vision and a voice inside her had screamed, I’m dying! I’m dying now!
And the situations they’re in are even more dangerous than last time. In Glow, the crew was fighting an external enemy and the disaster was of much bigger proportions, but that somehow made it less personal. In Spark, the kids of the Empyrean are mostly fighting each other, and as it turns out, there’s nothing more dangerous or cruel than a group of young people left to fend for themselves, especially when the kids in question are motivated almost entirely by revenge. Survival takes the back seat in Spark. Kieran and his crew are willing to sacrifice almost anything to get their parents back and inflict revenge on the crew of New Horizon.
Spark is obviously not for the faint-hearted. It gave me food for thought but, quite frankly, these aren’t things I enjoy thinking about. Who knows how any of us would behave in such conditions? Extra brownie points go to Amy Kathleen Ryan for achieving the impossible and getting me out of my reading slump. Hurray!
4.5 stars I think this quote by Noam Chomsky, chosen by Amy Kathleen Ryan and included in Flame, sums up this trilogy rather well: It is only in folk-t4.5 stars I think this quote by Noam Chomsky, chosen by Amy Kathleen Ryan and included in Flame, sums up this trilogy rather well: It is only in folk-tales, children’s stories, and the journals of intellectual opinion that power is used wisely and well to destroy evil. The real world teaches very different lessons, and it takes willful ignorance to fail to perceive them.
Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. We’ve seen far too many examples in Amy Kathleen Ryan’s Sky Chasers trilogy. No one can be given huge amounts of power and responsibility and remain unchanged.
Flame picks up where Spark left off, with our three main characters separated and in deep trouble. All three of them are in a very bad place, depressed, powerless and weak. Make no mistake: Weaverly, Kieran and Seth are no heroes. All three of them have made some horrible choices in the past, either drunk with power, or desperate under the weight of responsibility… or both. But unlike other power players aboard the New Horizon, the three of them always did what they thought best for everyone at that particular moment..
Ryan’s characterization is, simply put, superb. She gave each character their due attention, even the peripheral ones, and built them to absolute (and absolutely flawed) perfection. The work she did on her three point-of-view characters, as well as her many villains, makes her stand out as an author of extreme talent and skill. Anne Mather, Captain of the New Horizon, is exactly what a villain should be, her shudder-inducing nature making her one of the most memorable characters in YA literature and beyond.
The Sky Chasers trilogy could just as easily be marketed as adult. Its protagonists may be young, but they are all mature well beyond their age, and the problems they deal with are extremely unsettling. At least the three of them are united against common enemies, which is a very nice change after all the damage they did to each other in previous books.
Like the two books before it, Flame is a very grim, claustrophobic read. It’s more than just limited space that makes it an almost suffocating experience; it’s also not being able to trust anyone and drowning in the feeling of hopelessness alongside the main characters. And yet Ryan succeeded in turning things around in an entirely believable manner and showing us that good things often come from entirely unexpected directions.
While this trilogy is not for the faint of heart, it’s thought-provoking and brilliant and I cannot recommend it enough.
I have the strangest fluctuating relationship with Jennifer Armentrout. It started with me downright despising her for her plagiaristic tendencies, chI have the strangest fluctuating relationship with Jennifer Armentrout. It started with me downright despising her for her plagiaristic tendencies, changed into a grudging sort of respect for the entertainment her books provide and progressed to open affection for her characters. But even when I admired her the most, (after Deity and Opal, to be precise) that little nagging voice in the back of my head kept screaming “Book thief!” And not the Markus Zusak kind either.
Regardless of how I felt about her at any particular moment, I was always aware that she isn’t the best of writers, technically speaking. She is no Maggie Stiefvater, Ann Aguirre or Elizabeth Wein and most of what she does is pure fan service, but this is something I can’t and won’t ever hold against her. What she does know is how to create characters that crawl right under your skin intent on staying there for all eternity. Oh, and swoon-worthy boys. She definitely knows a thing or two about those.
With Deity, she had me right where she wanted me – in love with Alex and Aidan and hanging on to her every word. She repeated the process with Opal, and just like any other addiction, left me needing larger doses in shorter time intervals.
But with Sentinel and now Origin, she almost lost me again. So I had to sit down and ask myself what went wrong.
A part of it was surely my lingering upset over the cliffhanger Opal left us with. The situation Daemon and Kat found themselves in was not an easy one to resolve and the first part of the book was more dark and hopeless than strictly necessary. It made things torturous and slow, and with Kat’s imprisonment and sense of powerlessness came this overwhelming feeling of claustrophobianthat I just couldn’t get over and it stayed that way for a very long time. It wasn’t until the 40% mark that things started to pick up. After that, I was glued to my seat and to my Kindle like I was supposed to be from the start… and it just went uphill from there.
Secondly, the secondary characters I’ve grown to love were mostly absent from Origin and Kat and Daemon were surrounded by new names and faces, the vast majority of them far too unpleasant. So it was really up to our favorite duo to keep us engaged and entertained, and even poor Katy wasn’t her usual self. So I found myself wanting to go back to the good old days, with Dee and Dawson, and even Ash.
On the other hand, the relationship aspect of Origin was something I enjoyed immensely. This is how I like my romantic couples: together, in sync, and ready to face all outside threats. There are no misunderstandings between Daemon and Kat, no jealousy, no insecurity, no negative feelings whatsoever. What they do, they do together, and they are both well aware of what they have.
So yes, fan service… there’s a lot of that going on. About 20% of Origin was written purely to satisfy the army of Daemon’s screaming fans, but as I stated earlier, this isn’t something I’m willing to hold against Armentrout. I’m one of Daemon’s screaming fans, after all, and I do like to swoon as much as the next girl.
The ending of Origin, while not a nasty cliffhanger, leaves far too many questions and not enough answers. If I’m not mistaken, the next book is also the last, so we have at least one clean ending to look forward to.
The first thing you’re likely to notice about Zenn Scarlett is that it’s unlike anything that is currently being published. The second thing you’ll noThe first thing you’re likely to notice about Zenn Scarlett is that it’s unlike anything that is currently being published. The second thing you’ll notice about Zenn Scarlett is that its breathtaking originality is a very good thing indeed. There have been quite a few surprises from the Angry Robot/Strange Chemistry camp in the last year, and it seems that they'll just keep on coming.
In worldbuilding, Shoon reminded me of a kid with Play-Doh and an overactive imagination. It’s easy to feel the joy with which he created each of his creatures, from Zenn’s tiny rikkaset Katie to the Kirian sunkiller. Although impressive, the worldbuilding is also a bit overwhelming at times. The Martian setting is completely foreign, there’s nothing familiar to hold on to and it’s quite disorienting at first. Even now I don’t have a clear picture of the Universe as Zenn knows it, but hopefully this will change in the next installment.
”The native life forms on Mars all died out long before humans came. We’re all aliens here. That’s why it drives me crazy when Graad and the others complain about the cloister’s patients. Calling them monsters. Calling them alien ‘things’ and saying they don’t belong. They belong here as much as we do.”*
Third person limited narration is never my favorite, and I think I would have enjoyed Zenn’s story more if it were told in first person. As it was, I can’t say that I experienced a strong emotional connection, although I did admire Zenn's determination and courage. She also seemed a bit young for her sixteen years, which I suppose can be explained by her isolation in the cloister. It’s no wonder she was immediately (and a bit naively) attracted to Liam, a townie boy who started showing up at the cloister to help with the animals. She and Liam developed a tentative friendship and an odd sort of relationship, with just a hint of romance between them.
The plot takes a while to pick up. Combined with the rather complicated worldbuilding, it might be a bit challenging for a less patient reader. The mystery seemed pretty straightforward the entire time, but in the end, it wasn’t anything I thought it would be. I love it when I’m absolutely convinced I have everything figured out, only to be proven utterly wrong in the last few chapters.
Schoon daringly weaved a tale that is richly imaginative and breathtakingly original. Zenn Scarlett is perfect for younger YA and middle grade readers, but older audience will find much to love about our red-haired heroine and her cloister on the Red Planet.
*Quote taken from an uncorrected proof and might be changed in the final version.
4.5 stars These Broken Stars, first in a new series by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner, offers something we’ve been trained not to expect from YA: awe-4.5 stars These Broken Stars, first in a new series by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner, offers something we’ve been trained not to expect from YA: awe-inspiring originality. Author collaborations are rarely successful, in my humble opinion, unless the authors involved are somehow closely connected. I am always hesitant to read such books, but these two have successfully proven me wrong. (This does not happen often, I tell you.) The story they came up with is not only beautifully written and entirely original, it is also stunningly complex.
At any given moment, my feelings for Lilac and Tarver perfectly reflected their feelings for each other at that point in the story. When they liked each other, I had warm feelings towards them both; when they felt nothing but contempt towards each other, I genuinely disliked them and resented them for how they treated each other. Needless to say I grew to love them both in time, just like they grew to love each other. This in itself is pretty impressive – a clear sign that Kaufman and Spooner are extremely competent authors who manipulate their readers’ feelings with ease. What makes it even more impressive is that they managed to portray a relationship that progresses slowly and naturally. Lilac and Tarver’s feelings for each other are always affected by their circumstances. This is not an empty, unbelievable, formulaic love story. It’s as real as it gets.
I find it interesting that a great number of authors who envision a futuristic society of any kind see us going back to old, almost Victorian values. It’s almost like they see that as a natural progression of our cultural and societal development, or better yet, something that occurs after the society reaches a breaking point. No matter how it comes about, it seems that the stiff Victorian societal rules are still considered to be superior to ours, which is, to say the least, fascinating. There is a certain Victorian prudishness in Lilac’s behavior, as well as that of her friends. Although they were certainly forced upon her, mostly by her father, Lilac often used these rules and ideas of what is proper as a shield.
The sci-fi elements were incorporated seamlessly. A lot happens in These Broken Stars and there’s a lot of information to take in, but Kaufman and Spooner found the right balance between worldbuilding, plot and character development. Their idea was brilliant, yes, but we see many great ideas utterly ruined every day. What matters is that they didn’t take a single wrong step in their execution, making These Broken Stars a read to remember.
The next book in this series will be more a companion novel, with different protagonists. Although Lilac and Tarver’s story has a nice, well-rounded ending, I still see so much potential and I hope the authors will go back to them at some point. I am quite fond of them both and I’m finding it extremely hard to let go.
For all the hype that surrounded this novel (and especially the pretty cover) prior to its release, Alienated ended up being pretty unremarka2.5 stars
For all the hype that surrounded this novel (and especially the pretty cover) prior to its release, Alienated ended up being pretty unremarkable. In it, Melissa Landers focused on delivering three things: humor, romance and a strong message about diversity and tolerance. Unfortunately, even that proved to be too much for this debut author and in the end, only the strong anti-xenophobic message was successful.
The romance, no matter how well planned, cannot reach its full potential without strong and well built characters, and neither Cara nor Aelyx were remarkable in any way. To make matters worse, Cara’s friends and family were no more than underdeveloped cardboard cutouts whose actions lacked any real explanation or depth. As for the humor, there were some actual laugh-out loud moments, which helped me warm up to this book significantly, but overall, it was a strong case of trying too hard, and when humor was most needed, all attempts fell flat.
If not for the strong intercultural message, Alienated would be an entirely unremarkable and pretty forgettable novel. As it is, I’m likely to recommend it to younger readers purely for its educational value.
Well then, color me surprised. Romantic science fiction hasn’t been this good since Ann Aguirre’s Sirantha Jax series! With a strong worldbuilding andWell then, color me surprised. Romantic science fiction hasn’t been this good since Ann Aguirre’s Sirantha Jax series! With a strong worldbuilding and an even stronger romance, The Ophelia Prophecy is a breath of fresh air in a (sub)genre that desperately needs it.
Asha and Pax were born on opposite sides of a long and bloody conflict. She is one the few remaining humans, raised in the Sanctuary, humanity’s last stand. Pax is Manti, a human-animal genetic hybrid, and a prince of sorts among his kind. When they meet, both their memories have been tampered with, and Asha ends up as a prisoner on Pax’s spaceship, Banshee.
Paradoxically, the romance was both quick and slow to develop. The attraction was instantly there, as well as Pax’s determination to keep Asha safe, no matter the cost. But while strong, attraction wasn’t accompanied by trust, and it took these two a long time to learn how to trust each other. Asha, for her part, didn’t just hide behind the first strong man determined to protect her, not even when a big part of her wanted to start a relationship with him. She insisted on making her own choices, and for the most part, those choices lead to something good.
I was more than a little surprised by the quality of Fisher’s worldbuilding! Sci-fi romances are usually just romances with a few sci-fi elements thrown in as a disguise, but here I felt that the author achieved a perfect balance between the two and took her time to develop the world, the well thought-through plot, and the romantic entanglement(s).
Admittedly, the big finale wsas somewhat poorly handled. A big and important scene happened mostly away from the reader’s eyes, which I resented. The switching of POV in that particular moment was, I suppose, meant to increase the suspense, but it only managed to irritate me. Luckily, the switch didn’t last long and everything was adequately explained afterwards.
The ending left plenty of room for a sequel, and I do hope we’ll get one in the near future. I’ve grown to care for these characters and I wouldn’t mind another lengthy visit to their exciting world.