This book started out with the line, "I only go out at night." This made me think of the Hall & Oates song "Maneater", which is strangely appropri...moreThis book started out with the line, "I only go out at night." This made me think of the Hall & Oates song "Maneater", which is strangely appropriate for the monsters in this story. I finished this in a day, and I would go out and buy the next book in the series today if I could. Amy is fourteen when her world as she knows it ends. Alien monsters invade and quickly kill almost all of the world's population. Only those who are able to hide in fallout shelters or highly secure zones are able to survive. Amy's environmentally conscious father has made their house self-sufficient with solar panels and rainwater collection; Amy's paranoid mother has installed a security system with an electric fence. From the relative safety of her home, Amy is able to observe the monsters' behavior. She learns enough about them to be able to safely conduct night foraging raids for supplies. On one of those raids, she finds Baby, a young female toddler who has somehow been able to evade the monsters. Amy and Baby survive on their own for three years, until finally they are found by a collective of survivors.
At this point, the writing style changes. The point of view shifts back and forth in time. One narrative describes Amy and Baby's experience in the first few days in the collective; the other narrative flashes forward to a future where Amy is receiving psychiatric treatment and is unable to clearly recall recent events in her life. As I read more about the group of survivors, I was reminded of Walden Two and Brave New World & Brave New World Revisited. I knew Amy would somehow escape; I had to keep reading to find out how.
From an entertainment standpoint, this book is five stars; it caught my attention and kept it. I downgraded to four stars for two reasons. One, there are characterization issues with some of the minor characters. Some of the characters seemed to exist solely to move the plot forward. I think depth of characterization was sacrificed to keep the pace fast in the second section of the book. Two, the main character is selective about when she experiences moral qualms. In her first encounter with another survivor, she ends up killing the guy. He was presented as a would-be rapist, so it is a justifiable homicide. I just think it would be more emotionally disturbing than presented.
I'm trying to decide if a third point is a positive or negative. This book reminds me of other books and movies. I haven't read World War Z yet, but I did see the movie, and this has some similarities. I'm leaning towards positive.
I was SUPPOSED to win a copy of this book via the Goodreads Firstreads program - however, I never received a copy of this book. I did receive two copies of The Girl in the Clockwork Collar, so I think someone somewhere messed up. I had to order a copy via interlibrary loan.(less)
I received a free Advanced Reading Copy of this book through the Goodreads Firstreads program. SYLO is narrated in the first person by a young teenage...moreI received a free Advanced Reading Copy of this book through the Goodreads Firstreads program. SYLO is narrated in the first person by a young teenage boy, Tucker, living on an island in Maine. The book starts out with the most normal of events - a small town football game. People then start unexpectedly dying, and a branch of the U.S. Navy comes in to establish a quarantine on the island. Tucker and his small group of friends soon realize that the military leaders are not to be trusted. He also finds out that his parents are somehow involved in whatever is going on. There's also a mysterious drug called Ruby that can give people superpowers but leads to erratic behavior and death if misused. This book is fast-paced, with Tucker and his friends rolling from one situation to another as they slowly gain more information. Some themes covered in this book should make it attractive to the right audience. In establishing and maintaining the quarantine, the US Navy ends up in the position of taking arms against US citizens. The people on the island form an underground resistance movement. Self-reliance and gun ownership are also covered topics. Initially, as the story started unfolding I had concerns with the material being covered in a children's book (I shelved it as young adult but I believe the cover said 10 and up) - I find the prospect of the military taking action against US citizens to be a far-fetched and unnecessarily alarmist one. I eventually decided that my discomfort with the idea probably meant that the author was on to something important and worth saying. I decided to reserve judgment until I finished - and since this book ended with a huge revelation that serves as a cliffhanger, I'm still undecided. There is a lot to like about this story- but there are some faults as well. There is no subtlety in this writing at all. The author repeatedly told me things that I could have inferred from reading the information already provided. I sometimes felt annoyed because I was being explicitly told things that were obvious. It felt like wasted print which could have been used to further develop characters, as most of the characters were a little flat. One minor thing that really turned me off was the reference to US Navy personnel as "soldiers." Having served as a US Navy Surface Warfare Officer for almost ten years, I prefer to be referred to as a "sailor." I also tend to think that anyone who refers to a sailor as a soldier does not know much about the military. To me, this might be an indication of an author credibility issue. Since the book was told in first person, maybe the author was trying to be authentic in representing a teenage boy. I will probably read the next books in this series. I think it's supposed to be a trilogy - I can make it through two more, I think. I'm intrigued enough to want to find out what happens next. I think this book would be a good fit for young boys (12-18) but I would recommend that parents be ready to discuss the book with children. (less)
I was lucky enough to win a copy of this book through the Goodreads Firstreads program.
This book was a definite improvement over book one in the serie...moreI was lucky enough to win a copy of this book through the Goodreads Firstreads program.
This book was a definite improvement over book one in the series. At the end of book one, Jasper (the friend from America who main purpose in book one is to provide a plot for book two) is arrested and hauled back to the United States. Finley, Griffin, and their entourage follow to stage a rescue. Finley ends up undercover in a gang of outlaws, trying to help Jasper recover and assemble a strange machine, while Griffin works with Nicola Tesla to discover the purpose of the machine. The romances between Griffin and Finley and Sam and Emily move forward at a glacial pace in this book. Finley seems obsessed about the class difference separating her from Griffin. That doesn't seem realistic; the superpower abilities they share would trump the minor obstacles of their different classes. Jasper is coerced into working for the gang leader Dalton by his connection to Mei, an old love. I found Mei to be a one-dimensional, unlikeable character. This made predicting some elements of the plot too easy; a bit of subtlety and nuance in her character would have been an improvement to the overall story. I liked seeing Nicola Tesla in the story. I saw a huge statue of him at Niagara Falls last summer, and I know that plans are underway to establish a museum in his honor. I would like to read more about his historical contributions to science. I will continue to read this series. Griffin's encounters with the strange black Aether make me curious. I also want to see more of the cat woman gang leader and of course, Jack Dandy.(less)
I wish I had time to write a real review for this book - it deserves it. This was a nice companion/prequel to Graceling. I finished both books wanting...moreI wish I had time to write a real review for this book - it deserves it. This was a nice companion/prequel to Graceling. I finished both books wanting to know more about the main characters. I'm hoping the two stories will come together in the future. When I read Graceling, I felt that it was a more mature YA book in the way it handled sexual relationships between characters. Fire is even more mature than Graceling. Neither book contain any graphic scenes, and I would have no problems with anyone in the intended teenage audience reading them. I just would not recommend either to precocious preteens. I will probably ask my almost 11 year old daughter to wait a few years to read these books.(less)
**spoiler alert** The five Reignors have ruled the universe for thousands of years. Now, on a tiny uncivilized planet far from the political center of...more**spoiler alert** The five Reignors have ruled the universe for thousands of years. Now, on a tiny uncivilized planet far from the political center of the galaxy, a maintenance technician has started up a long-forgotten machine. This machine, called a Bannus, was designed as a decision making tool. It uses the people in it's sphere to contemplate a programmed scenario; the more people in it's field, the more possibilities. It sifts through each possibility until it reaches the best choice. The Reignors are desparate to stop this machine, because it has a second secret use known only to them.
I loved the way this book blended science fiction and fantasy elements. I also loved the way the narration played with time - made possible because of the nature of the Bannus. You think you know the main characters and you think you know the nature and extent of the Bannus field - only to find out in the next chapter that you knew nothing.
There are many layers in this book - the Bannus field overlays two other magical fields. Some of the characters speak with each other in their minds. The nature of reality is vague - the Bannus field has the characters enacting a script from the time of King Arthur. Characters from the Arthurian legend and from other legends appear as the story progresses.
The narration of this book was a bit of a challenge - mainly because it was episodic, and the episodes are not tied together by linear time. I think that some readers would find this book challenging or confusing. I loved it and look forward to reading more by Diana Wynne Jones.(less)
In book 3 of Enchanted Forest Chronicles, the sword belonging to the King of the Enchanted Forest is stolen by those dastardly wizards. Cimorene and h...moreIn book 3 of Enchanted Forest Chronicles, the sword belonging to the King of the Enchanted Forest is stolen by those dastardly wizards. Cimorene and her companions must find it before it drains all of the magic from the enchanted forest!
My favorite line from this book is Brandel the fire witch describing his sister Rachel. She lived in a tower with a sorceress to learn magic - the only access was by lowering a chair from an upper story window. Heroes never believed she wanted to be there - they were always pestering her: "Rachel, Rachel, let down your chair."
Ok, so it's a really bad pun, but it did crack me up. Morwen's cats played a bigger role in this book, too.
Unlike the preceding two books, this one ended with a bit of a cliffhanger - make sure you have Talking to Dragons before starting this one because you'll want to read it right away.(less)
In book 4 of the Enchanted Forest Chronicles, the narrator is Daystar, Cimorene's son. He is on a sent on a quest with a magical sword. Along the way,...moreIn book 4 of the Enchanted Forest Chronicles, the narrator is Daystar, Cimorene's son. He is on a sent on a quest with a magical sword. Along the way, he meets evil wizards, a fire witch named Shiara, and a young talking dragon.
The first time I started this book, I had not read any of the others. I read about 30 pages in a restaurant while waiting for my food because it was the only book I had with me. I didn't finish because I don't really like to read things out of order - but I was intrigued enough to read the rest of the series once I found them at the library.
In hindsight, I think that for the first part of the book, it works really well to not read the other books first. In order to rescue the King and break the spell of the evil wizards, Daystar must not know the significance of the sword he's carrying. If he knows the nature of the sword, the wizards can use a finding spell to find the sword. So an ignorance of the previous story makes Daystar's point of view fresher and more realistic.
I can't recommend reading the entire book prior to reading the other three - it would spoil the others! And all four are really fun reads.
This book was a satisfying conclusion to the series. (less)
**spoiler alert** Graceling is a very good book. I read it in one day, and really enjoyed it. It is a young adult novel, and the teenage heroine is so...more**spoiler alert** Graceling is a very good book. I read it in one day, and really enjoyed it. It is a young adult novel, and the teenage heroine is someone I can imagine liking when I was a young adult. She is an orphan, and she has a 'grace' which makes her different from everyone else. She lives in social isolation, with only a few close friends. This is a fantasy set in a medieval-type world. The magic in this world is not well defined. At some point, a child's eyes change so that they have two different color eyes. This signals that the child will have some as yet unknown magical power. The magic powers are rather extraordinary and seem limitless. This was one weakness of this novel. Katya, the main character, thinks her grace is to be a killer - an assassin for her uncle, a rather immoral king. She is very unhappy in this role; the heavy self-loathing initially expressed is also very in character for a young adult novel. As the novel progresses, Katya learns to control and understand her grace, and comes to a clear sense of self. The search for identity is a classic coming of age theme, and is handled well in this book. Katya also falls in love, and struggles with how to have a relationship which works for her - which does not match the traditional paths open for women in her world. She has strong views on marriage and motherhood. I thought the relationship between Katya and Po as expressed in this novel was very positive and healthy. I also liked the discussion of contraceptives at appropriate parts of the story. Towards the end, Po and Katya deal with a life changing event, causing their relationship to grow. I think there is a mismatch between the content in this novel and the level of complexity. The plot is fairly simplistic. None of the villainous characters are very well developed. In fact, other than the heroine and hero, few of the characters have much depth. I already discussed the weaknesses in the magical elements of the novel. The book ended at a natural point, but left plenty of loose ends for a possible sequel. I would like to revisit these characters. (less)
I have to say that I like faeries much better than vampires. This is my second young adult faerie tale in the last month (the other is Wicked Lovely....moreI have to say that I like faeries much better than vampires. This is my second young adult faerie tale in the last month (the other is Wicked Lovely. When my daughter is older, I think I might recommend that she read the two books together so we could talk about them. It would be interesting to compare and contrast the female main characters. This was a light, quick read. It's probably not for everyone, but I'd recommend it for older Twilight lovers.(less)