Call it a character flaw if you will, but I have a desperate need for things to make sense, or at the very least, I want to be tricked into thinking t...moreCall it a character flaw if you will, but I have a desperate need for things to make sense, or at the very least, I want to be tricked into thinking they do. This is especially true with sci-fi – obviously not everything is possible, or even probable, but there are ways of making even the most unlikely things seem real. (Authors, if you don’t know how, just ask Mira Grant.) This is where Jessica Brody failed: her ambition was bigger than her skill, and when the time came to offer explanations, she took the easy way out. In this case, easy also meant unconvincing.
While I adore the subject of memory loss, it is a slippery slope for authors and very few of them do a good enough job. Human brain is still a big mystery, which I suppose allows writers to take certain liberties, but not everything can be random. An example of memory loss handled convincingly in YA would be Thyla by Kate Gordon, in my opinion, but like with her sci-fi elements, Jessica Brody bit off more than she could chew.
The doctors say I should remember things like that. Although my personal memories seem to be ‘temporarily’ lost, I should be familiar with everyday objects and brands and the names of celebrities. But I’m not.
It took me a while to really get interested in Unremembered, but I have to admit that there were a few chapters around the middle that were pretty exciting. Then, as the truth started coming to light, I found myself more and more disappointed by the revelations.
It is a sad, sad day when I have to rely on romance to balance my review, especially in a genre like sci-fi. The entire situation screams wasted potential. But the fact that Zen was the saving grace of Unremembered is one I can’t change. I loved his loyalty and determination, his courage and smarts. On Sera’s end, the romance wasn’t as convincing. He was basically the only boy she’s ever seen, which somehow made her feelings less valuable in my eyes.
That said, the blurb for the second book, Unforgotten, (to be released in 2014), makes it clear that there’s a love triangle coming, so even the romance, the only part I actually liked, will be thoroughly ruined in the future.
This is where Jessica Brody and I part ways, at least until she comes up with another, hopefully better thought out series.
2.5 stars In a sentence, Eve and Adam by the husband-and-wife writing team Katherine Applegate and Michael Grant is a smartly plotted and solidly writt...more2.5 stars In a sentence, Eve and Adam by the husband-and-wife writing team Katherine Applegate and Michael Grant is a smartly plotted and solidly written book that, unfortunately, lacks both depth and substance. I could be wrong in assuming that it is a packaged book, but even if I am, I’m pretty confident it was written with no real passion for the story. Although I certainly can’t object to the quality of writing itself, the superficiality with which the idea was developed is disappointing to say the least.
Evening Spiker, daughter of the mighty and powerful geneticist Terra Spiker, gets hit by a car and barely survives. She is immediately transferred to her mother’s company, where she starts recovering at an alarming rate. While in Spiker Biotech, Eve meets a young man named Solo Plissken, supposedly her mother’s ward, who tells her she’s been genetically modified when she was a child, just like he was. Solo then gives her proof of her mother’s cruel genetic experiments, and Eve is forced to make some big moral decisions. In order to keep Eve entertained while she’s recovering in Spiker Biotech, her mother tasks her with creating a simulation of the perfect boy, which she eventually does. His name is Adam and he is being brought to life unbeknownst to Eve. His point of view is introduced in the second half of the book, and it completely destroys the narrative dynamics, already ruined by the unbalance between Eve’s and Solo’s perspectives.
The beginning was my favorite part of Eve and Adam. Surprisingly funny and dynamic, it raised my expectations to an unreasonable level and made what came later all the more disappointing. There was a certain spark in Eve that vanished without a trace as the story progressed, and the humor that made me laugh out loud a number of times during the opening scenes simply wasn’t there later on.
To make matters worse, the (disruptive) subplot involving Eve’s best friend Aislin and her drug-dealing boyfriend Maddox contributed absolutely nothing to the main plot and gave me the impression that Applegate and Grant included it with the sole purpose of increasing the number of pages. Even without Maddox, Aislin was clearly supposed to be the cool and unruly best friend, but I found her too be too irresponsible and tiresome for my taste. Instead of making Eve’s character more likable, she made her look like a pushover over and over again, until I stopped caring about either of them and focused entirely on Solo.
In short, Eve and Adam is a rather ambitious project, but one that lacks heart. My time would have been better spent reading something else, and although I plan to give Michael Grant’s solo projects a chance, I have no intention of reading any of the other books he co-authored with his wife.
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)
How is it that every good idea gets ruined all to hell these days? The idea behind Undercurrent wasn’t perhaps the most original but it was...more2.5 stars.
How is it that every good idea gets ruined all to hell these days? The idea behind Undercurrent wasn’t perhaps the most original but it was brilliant and it had so much potential. And yet the final result, the first-page-to-last-page experience, is as underwhelming and confusing as they come.
It all started promisingly, with Callum waking up in a hospital after an accident at the waterfall, confused, disoriented and desperate for answers. Instead of giving him some, his best friend tries to smother him with a pillow, and that’s only the first in a long series of events that simply refuse to make sense. Nothing is as it should be, including Callum himself. People consider him a bully and fear him, but he remembers being hardworking and quiet and kind.
There is clearly something wrong in this Callum-against-the-world scenario, but Callum just can’t figure out whether the world has gone completely insane, or his head trauma was even worse than they thought. Either way, I knew the answer pretty quickly, but Callum was far, far behind. I can’t imagine a single thing worse than guessing the mystery on page 20 and then spending the remaining 300 pages waiting for the main character to catch up. It’s a mind-numbingly boring experience and one I don’t care to repeat anytime soon.
In addition, my enjoyment of any particular book is largely dependent on the romance, and unfortunately, romance was not a point in favor of Undercurrent. It was barely there, for one thing, and what’s even worse, it was left almost entirely unresolved.
If there is one good thing I can point out about Undercurrent, it’s Blackwell’s writing itself. He has a way of gluing readers to their seats and making them wait, wide-eyed and anxious, while he builds the story slowly and thoroughly. If only he’d offered some answers in the end, he and I would have been the best of friends instead of just casual acquaintances. Talk of the sequel would have made me feel slightly better at the time if Undercurrent gave me any desire to read it. As it is, I’m left with no answers, no ending, and no interest in getting them whatsoever.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to put my snark back in the drawer where it belongs.
For all the hype that surrounded this novel (and especially the pretty cover) prior to its release, Alienated ended up being pretty unremarka...more2.5 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.
I've spent a long time trying to come up with the best/gentlest way to put this, but in the end, I feel that a direct approach might be best. So here...moreI've spent a long time trying to come up with the best/gentlest way to put this, but in the end, I feel that a direct approach might be best. So here it is: despite a fabulous premise, numerous action scenes and androids (androids, for heaven’s sake!), Mila 2.0 is unfortunately quite boring. After seeing the cover and reading the synopsis, I truly expected to read it in one sitting, but alas, I had to bribe myself to even finish it.
”Right. I’m the computer.” Not only that, but somewhere on–no, in. In!–my body, I had a slot for that card. An electrical portal. How was that even possible? How could you have a part for a memory card in your body and not know about it?
After a fire that killed her beloved father, Mila moved to a new town with her mother. She’s struggling with her memory loss, the grief over losing her dad and her desire to make new friends in school. Then, while fighting with her new best friend over a boy (!), Mila gets injured, but her injury doesn’t bleed. Instead, her arm is full of wires and having it open doesn’t hurt in the least. Her mother is not surprised by this, only worried that someone else might have seen it. Attracting unwanted attention is the last thing they need while running from the government, Mila’s creators. But even though Mila, once activated, turns into a killing machine, not even that is enough to help her escape from the people chasing her.
Humanlike in some spots, but with parts that no human possessed. Parts layered underneath the surface that spoke of things that weren’t alive; my ugliness, all spelled out and irrefutable.
I understand that this is a series and that there must be some loose ends, but far too many things were left unsaid. Mila 2.0 just ended at a pretty random place (this seems to be a new trend) and none of the characters or their motivations were any clearer than at the beginning. For example, an MIT student was assigned to perform tests on Mila in the compound and it was hinted that he wasn’t there of his own free will – the commander had something on his brother and was using that to blackmail Lucas into working with him. But nothing about that situation made sense to me. First and foremost, I don’t even know what the situation was exactly – it was never properly explained. Second, why would the leader of a secret government facility with endless resources at his disposal even need a teenage boy to work for him? And third, if he had something that big on Lucas, why would Lucas risk everything to help Mila, an android he barely even knew? And then there was the small matter of Mila’s “mother” – she was the key character in this story and yet I still don’t know a single thing about her.
Romance was mostly absent from the book, which I appreciated, but there WAS a romantic interest present at the beginning and the very end. Mila met Hunter before she learned her true nature and left him behind when she was forced to run from her enemies. The instalove that happened between them was tragically unfounded and unconvincing. I honestly don’t see why Hunter needed to be present in this book at all and the romance was a serious detriment to my enjoyment of the story. Not that there was much enjoyment to begin with.
Nevertheless, I’ve read some pretty horrible books lately, and Mila 2.0 wasn’t quite so bad. I see some potential in this series and I’m willing to give it another chance, which means that the second book will either make it or break it for me. I will wait to give my final verdict.
I have the strangest fluctuating relationship with Jennifer Armentrout. It started with me downright despising her for her plagiaristic tendencies, ch...moreI 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.
2.5 stars It has never been easier to describe a book in a single sentence. Here it goes: The Rules by Stacey Kade is the young adult and somewhat more...more2.5 stars It has never been easier to describe a book in a single sentence. Here it goes: The Rules by Stacey Kade is the young adult and somewhat more civilized version of Alien vs. Predator.
I kid you not.
We have Ariane, a part alien in hiding with impressive telepathic and telekinetic powers; and Rachel, a spoiled, predatory rich girl with the tendency to bully people into submission. 80% of this book is a huge battle of wills between these two, so if you’re not a fan of high school drama and plans of revenge (no matter how justified), you’d best stay away.
Between them stands Zane Bradshaw, one of Rachel’s best friends. His brother is the city’s (and especially their father’s) pride and joy and whatever Zane does, he can’t possibly measure up. He knows he is simply not good enough, and it was finally and definitely proven a year ago when his mother left him.
When we first see Zane, we see him in the worst possible light. He is part of the in-crowd, one of the bullies, and while he doesn’t actively humiliate anyone, he doesn’t do a single thing to stop his friends either. It was hard to cease despising him long enough to actually consider his reasons, but once I did, he and I turned a new leaf. While his point of view came as a complete surprise, I started appreciating it pretty early on. I don’t think I could have understood him as well as I did if I was limited to Ariane’s point of view alone.
As for Ariane, I loved that she wasn’t a pushover. I was also fascinated by her relationship with her Father, the man who saved her from the lab and allowed her to assume his dead daughter’s identity. It was so hard for him to see some other girl, some alien girl in his daughter’s place, but still he protected her and cared for her and loved her as much as he could.
For the first six years of my life, give or take, I’d thought my name was Wannoseven. It was only after I escaped – with Mark Tucker’s help – that I learned Wannoseven wasn’t a name at all but a numerical designation. 107. Pathetic.
Perhaps this will sound a bit silly, but I generally dislike villains that are too evil. In The Rules, there are two: Rachel and her grandfather Dr. Jacobs. Both are evil to the point of being cartoonish and consequently, neither of them feels like an actual threat. A truly frightening villain has some small part you can identify with, something that makes you wonder how they got to that point. A well-crafted villain is made of many colors, and while black may be predominant, it’s certainly not the only one.
And whatever happened to worldbuilding, Ms. Kade? Mentioning Roswell does not a worldbuilding make! Perhaps more will come in future installments, but right now, I’m not even sure The Rules qualifies as sci-fi. It reads very much like a contemporary with a few weak paranormal elements.
In addition, I think this book’s biggest fault is that it’s just not memorable. After The Ghost and the Goth, I expected more from Stacey Kade – I was sure she’d give us unforgettable characters at the very least. But alas, I’m having trouble remembering their names even though I finished the book no more than five days ago. So when I compare that to names (and characters) like Froi of the Exiles, Georgia and Shaun Mason, or even Janelle Tenner, my opinion on this series becomes crystal clear.
2.5 stars For a fast-paced, action-packed book, Scan was unusually difficult to get through, at least for me. The endless string of action scenes that...more2.5 stars For a fast-paced, action-packed book, Scan was unusually difficult to get through, at least for me. The endless string of action scenes that was supposed to be captivating and entertaining was actually pretty tiresome and emotionally flat. In the end, I had to give myself a very stern talking to just to finish reading it.
In many ways, Scan was a pretty big disappointment. It lacked any real emotional depth, especially of the level I’ve come to expect from Sarah Fine. Fine usually uses her background in psychology to give us great characterization and believable emotional moments. To be fair, the tempo of this story didn’t allow for strong character development since things constantly progressed at a rapid pace. The focus was on the action and Tate was the only character that got any attention, and even that wasn’t enough. I’d say Walter Jury’s background in film industry unfortunately prevailed in this one.
The most interesting part of this story – Tate’s overly complicated relationship with his father – wasn’t explored nearly enough. There was so much potential there and I kept hoping it would lead somewhere, but unfortunately, a rarely mentioned sense of regret is all I got from Tate.
I recently read a pretty good article about female characters that are portrayed as strong, but that are essentially pointless. They are there, they are fierce, but they don’t actually do anything. The article itself was mostly about Hiccup’s mother in How to Train Your Dragon 2, but the same applies to our Christina. One can’t find any real fault with her character, but I felt that she was mostly there as a prop, to make the story look better and satisfy readers that are more femnistically inclined.
Despite an interesting (if a bit overused premise), this story didn’t resonate with me at all. When you add to that a rather vicious cliffhanger, I think it’s safe to say I won’t be continuing this series. However, those of you who appreciate non-stop action that is reasonably well done might enjoy this one much more than I did. Perhaps read a sample first and go from there.
As soon as I finished reading Revived, I rushed to GoodReads to check my friends’ ratings, and they were exactly what I expected them to be: eight ou...more As soon as I finished reading Revived, I rushed to GoodReads to check my friends’ ratings, and they were exactly what I expected them to be: eight out of ten gave this book three stars, just like I did. In my experience, there are two types of three-star ratings: the I-liked-this-but-didn’t-love-it three stars and the I-have-no-idea-how-to-rate-this three stars. Revived undoubtedly belongs to the former. It wasn’t bad by any standard, but it certainly wasn’t captivating either. I suppose describing a book as merely enjoyable isn’t much of a compliment when I so badly hoped to need the words like exciting, mind-blowing and spectacular.
Dying is very unpleasant. Fifteen-year-old Daisy McDaniel should know, she’s done it five times so far. Each time, she was brought back with an experimental drug called Revive. She was five when she died the first time, together with 20 other children, most of whom were also brought back from the dead. Now they’re all part of a secret experimental program and they’re living under different names all over America. After getting stung by a bee and dying for the fifth time, Daisy must move to Omaha with two agents who are posing as her parents. She’s had a lot of practice moving around, but there’s one thing she’s never done: she’s never made friends; so it’s no small surprise when she strikes an immediate friendship with the school’s golden girl, Audrey. Audrey has an older brother, Matt, and he and Daisy soon realize that they like each other a lot. With Audrey on one side and Matt on the other, Daisy is happier than she’s ever been, but the Revive program is going through some changes and God, the mysterious scientist behind it, is not acting like himself at all.
The more I read, the more I realized how much wasted potential there is in Revived. In the right hands, this story could have torn me apart and then allowed me to put myself back together. In Cat Patrick’s hands, however, it ended up being mediocre: neither the writing nor the plot have any obvious flaws, but I just couldn’t help thinking how much more it could have been. I felt kind of sad when I should have been sobbing, I smiled inwardly when I should have been grinning like a lunatic, and the scenes that should have made me swoon left me lukewarm at best.
The relationship between Daisy and Matt was sudden, but it didn’t bother me as instalove usually does until she decided to reveal all her secrets to him after four days of relationship. As soon as I relaxed and started enjoying the fact that neither of them was proclaiming eternal love, Daisy chose to endanger herself, the agents she was living with and dozens of other people in the program for some boy she’d only just met. No matter how many right decisions she’d made after that, I couldn’t forgive her for her recklessness and stupidity.
I think Cat Patrick could write better books, four and five-star books, if only she’d dare to further explore the emotional reactions of her characters. I have high hopes for her next project.
As the second daughter of an Executive and therefore not an heiress, Nadia Lake has one purpose in her life – to marry well and procure more wealth an...moreAs the second daughter of an Executive and therefore not an heiress, Nadia Lake has one purpose in her life – to marry well and procure more wealth and an even higher standing for her family. Fortunately (or so it seems), she has been chosen to marry the Chairman’s Heir, her friend Nate. But her position means that she’s always under the limelight, ruled by the strict rules of high society, and that even the smallest mistake can cost her more than she can pay. Whatever she does reflects on her family, her sister the heiress and her aloof parents. I rather liked Nadia, to be honest. Despite being a prisoner of her circumstances, she showed spirit and impressive intelligence at every turn. Faced with extremely hard choices, she always did what she thought she had to, but she did it bravely and determinedly. I tried to imagine myself in her position – destined to marry a man who would never love her or be faithful to her, but is her friend and confidante anyway – and quite honestly, I don’t think I could do it, and yet Nadia never complained.
Nate was understandably self-centered, but I suspected he had a golden heart in addition to the silver spoon he was fed with, and I was right. His only mistake was loving someone he wasn’t supposed to, and he paid for it dearly. Although I didn’t like his taking Nadia for granted and not taking the time to think about what he was putting her through, I could sympathize with his troubles very easily.
The society in Replica is one I can easily see happening in our future as well. The state of New York has been bought off by Paxcon, a company owned by Nate’s father, the Chairman. The entire society is a direct product of capitalism, the class differences so pronounced that intermingling is simply out of the question. The poorest aren’t even considered to be human, they’re called creatures, and Nate had the misfortune of falling in love with one of them.
The mystery is Replica’s weak spot. There was one possible murderer, just one person with the motive and the resources to do it, and the solution was painfully obvious from the start. But even with the villain so predictable, Replica was a fascinating read, because it reflected one version of the future I could easily believe in. It is a strong criticism of capitalistic society and sudden technological development and as such, it has a very strong impact.
While I’ve read several of her adult books, this was my first YA by Jenna Black, and I was glad to notice that her neat and precise writing style hasn’t somehow magically disappeared. She handled this with the level of confidence that can only come from a lot of experience and I was quite happy with the result. I’ll be following Nadia and Nate’s future adventures. I can’t wait to see how they’ll dig themselves out of the hole they’re currently in.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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)