So I hadn't read any actual Sci-Fi in awhile and was looking for something fresh and good. I read a blurb Sharon Shinn wrote for Ann Aguirre's Grims...moreSo I hadn't read any actual Sci-Fi in awhile and was looking for something fresh and good. I read a blurb Sharon Shinn wrote for Ann Aguirre's Grimspace and eagerly picked it up the day it came out. Space opera meets urban fantasy, Grimspace is, justifiably, being compared to the most excellent Firefly and Serenity. In other words, it completely rocks.
Sirantha Jax, known simply as Jax, is a rare J-gene carrier, which means she is able to "jump" into a parallel kind of hyperspace known as grimspace and serve as navigator for ships traveling across copious distances in a short time. Each jumper has a pilot and the bond between them is incredibly complex and intense, to put it mildly. Only problem is Jax's pilot is dead, killed in their last flight along with everyone else on board except Jax. Now she's locked up in solitary confinement, deep in the bowels of The Corporation. Under intense psychological "therapy," Jax is forced to relive the moments leading up to the crash over and over again until she either goes mad or confesses to having sabotaged the trip.
Enter March--a renegade pilot who offers Jax a way out. Come with him and his crew and help train a new fleet of jumpers intended to undermine the Corp's stranglehold on travel through their world. Or die for a crime she didn't commit. Jax chooses life, but is determined to have it on her terms. The irascible March desperately needs her abilities but trusts her about as far as he can throw her. Unsurprisingly, all does not run smoothly for March and his crew once they have Jax aboard calling shots, sticking her oar in. Their fast-paced adventures take them to various corners of the galaxy where they encounter a host of strange characters, including one awesome, alien bounty hunter called Velith.
The story is written in first person, present tense, which apparently bugs some readers but which I thought fit the plot and character perfectly. The pages fly by at record speed and it's all so urgent and large and satisfying. Like one of Sunshine's Cinnamon Rolls as Big as Your Head. But, in the end, Jax is the first and best reason to read this book. Full of anger, pain, suspicion, and ego, she's a great big ball of fiery fun. I loved spending time in her world and am very anxious to read the sequel, Wanderlust, due out in September.(less)
I felt myself getting more and more excited about this book as the release date drew closer. I've enjoyed the Twilight books and I'm looking forward t...moreI felt myself getting more and more excited about this book as the release date drew closer. I've enjoyed the Twilight books and I'm looking forward to their conclusion in Breaking Dawn, but I found myself pretty intrigued to see what Stephenie Meyer would do when she set out to do something different. Plus, I was just in the mood for some science fiction. I've loved sci fi ever since I picked up my first Ray Bradbury and, even though Meyer states it's science fiction for people who don't read science fiction, it certainly qualifies. What with the aliens and all. And there ended up being more (and a wider variety) of them than I was expecting.
You're undoubtedly familiar with the premise of this novel already, so I'll leave it at this: it's invasion of the body snatchers, but the body snatchers are benevolent and the humans are, well, human. Flawed, emotional, corruptible. You name it. And there are very few of them left at all. But the few there are are....tenacious. Especially Melanie, the human whose body has just been taken over by the soul called Wanderer. Known for her extreme skill at taking over a body, as well as her penchant for never staying on one world for more than one life, Wanderer has been hand-picked for insertion in the rebellious Mel in the hopes that she will be able to glean details from Mel's memory about possible leftover humans in hiding. As you might expect, all does not go smoothly for Wanderer. Or Mel.
The great thing about The Host is that the main character is one of the "bad guys." As a result, the reader's emotions (and loyalties) are wonderfully conflicted throughout the beginning of the story. It doesn't take long, though, to fall in love with Wanderer and I really liked the way Meyer interspersed Wanderer's narrative with flashbacks from Mel's life as she hurled them, one after another, at Wanderer's mind in a bid to save herself as well as the ones she loves--her younger brother Jamie and her human love Jared. I was pleasantly surprised to find that, contrary to the whole love story being central to the plot scenario I'd been prepped for, the book was not at all ruled by romance. It is a story about love, but it's more a story about what it means to be human and humane. The love in the story encompasses all forms: familial, friendship, platonic, and romantic. I was particularly drawn to Wanda's fierce love for Mel's little brother Jamie and the lengths she went to to protect him. The Host is in many ways (despite its length) a small, intensely personal story. I loved it, was sad when it was over, and will reread it again soon.(less)
I've heard good things about Linnea Sinclair for awhile but was never sure where to jump in and was waiting for the right mood. I've definitely had a...moreI've heard good things about Linnea Sinclair for awhile but was never sure where to jump in and was waiting for the right mood. I've definitely had a sci-fi hankering lately, so I figured now (on the heels of Grimspace and The Host) was as good a time as any. Gabriel's Ghost is certainly a fast-paced book and it was kind of cool that it started after some pretty significant action had already happened. The reader is caught up along the way as Captain Chasidah Bergren, aka Chaz, attempts to survive her life sentence on the desolate planet Moabar for a crime she didn't commit. Sound a bit like Jax's predicament in Grimspace? The two stories do have a fair bit in common, including a leading man who's "psychically gifted" to put it mildly. Though the writing style, IMO, is distinctly different.
I'm going to skip a detailed plot synopsis and just say it's light, entertaining space opera fare and I kept reading because of the characters. Chaz and Sully (aka Gabriel Ross Sullivan) are good ones. The dialogue is snappy and realistic and I liked that I never got frustrated with Chaz (who narrates the story). With Sully, yes, several times. Although, there always seemed to be a rather horrifically painful justifying reason for his actions and apparent complete failure to be forthcoming. But I was never frustrated with Chaz, never wanted to smack her upside the head for a particularly childish reaction or preoccupation with something irrelevant. And that was refreshing. I hate it when my heroines go against character and do something stupid merely for the sake of the plot. Chaz kept her head (if not her heart) and never ran off half-cocked, inadvertently plunging her companions into Utter Peril. I liked her and I liked Sully. I wanted to find out what happened to them and enjoyed the not-so-neatly wrapped up ending. I can say that with a smile on my face because the sequel comes out in July.(less)
I decided to follow up my first Linnea Sinclair book ( Gabriel's Ghost) with Games of Command and I am so glad I did. What a fun, fun book this is. I...moreI decided to follow up my first Linnea Sinclair book ( Gabriel's Ghost) with Games of Command and I am so glad I did. What a fun, fun book this is. I inhaled it over the weekend and wished there was a sequel lying around somewhere when I was done. Games of Command follows main characters Captain Tasha Sebastian and Admiral Branden Kel-Paten as well as secondary characters Dr. Eden Fynn and Captain Jace Serafino. As in Gabriel's Ghost, the two main characters have a history from the get-go and I love that. Makes me feel like I've stepped into something real and multifaceted, like the characters didn't just begin to exist when I opened the book but have instead been living their lives just fine without me and are now generously letting me peek in on what's going on.
When their respective employers form an alliance, the former nemeses find themselves working together on the same ship. Tasha and Kel-Paten both have a few very potent secrets to hide, from each other and the Alliance. But just when they think they've reached a professional balance of don't ask, don't tell, notorious pirate Jace Serafino lands on board the Vax, injured and fairly leaking information that could expose a number of people and set off a few nasty time bombs. Add to that the fact that Kel-Paten is a biocybe (half human/half machine), Serafino is a telepath, Tasha is a former mercenary, and the games are on. The point of view alternates between the four lead characters and this helped shape the flow of the story and propel it forward, giving the reader some insight into each characters' motivations, hopes, and flaws leading up to the conclusion.
I liked Gabriel's Ghost, but I loved Games of Command. A big reason was because Tasha and Kel-Paten are both good guys, completely and compulsively likable. He is not a reformed scoundrel, she is not a heartless opportunist. They're both simply in over their heads trying to claw their way out of the mess they've stumbled into. They enjoy taunting each other to a degree (naturally) but there is little to no run-of-the-mill bickering inserted just to show how insufferably domineering he is and how incredibly sassy she is. And that was utterly refreshing. I cared about them, wanted the best for them, and they didn't let me down by being petty or stupid. Reading this book was just plain Fun. Definitely a keeper.(less)
Grimspace was one of my favorite books of 2007. I loved it because it was nonstop excitement and action, with freaking awesome characters and witty,...more Grimspace was one of my favorite books of 2007. I loved it because it was nonstop excitement and action, with freaking awesome characters and witty, passionate dialogue. I loved how it ended and would have been happy with that. As I loved the characters so much, I was thrilled to find out Ann Aguirre had a contract for three more books in the series.
Wanderlust picks up shortly after the cataclysmic close to Grimspace. Sirantha Jax is at a bit of a loss. Having been declared legally dead puts a damper on your spirits, not to mention access to your bank accounts. Jax is in need of a job and so, against her better judgement, she accepts an offer to serve as, of all things, a diplomat on a suicide mission to a hostile planet in order to forge an alliance with the Conglomerate. Fortunately, March, Dina, and Vel are along for the trip to watch Jax's back. And she needs it as things go south rather quickly.
My heart was in my throat for the majority of this book. And even though it was painful to watch at times, everything played out as it should. The characters were their old selves and their new selves (in some cases) and, in the end, it was just a ripping good time being in their company. Particularly Vel. Man, I love that bounty hunter. His developing friendship with Jax was one of the highlights of the book. Wanderlust is a sadder but wiser sister to Grimspace for sure, but I was highly entertained by it and, until Doubleblind comes out in a year, I remain a faithful, slightly concerned (I heart you, March!) fan.(less)
Lieutenant Jodenny Scott is in a bad way. One of the sole survivors of the destruction of the Yangtze, she's spent months in forced recuperation and can take it no longer. She makes the decision to cash in a favor and finagles her way into a new job on the Aral Sea in lieu of curling up and dying of guilt and grief. Even before she sets foot on board, Jodenny is warned that the Aral Sea is an unhappy ship. She soon finds this to be true as she is put in charge of a completely derelict division, complete with pregnant ensigns, uncouth civilians, possible Japanese mafia members, and one accused rapist. All of whom need her. And Jodenny starts to flourish once more as she is back in her element organizing her division and prodding her people toward excellence. But the borders between officer and enlisted, history and mythology, reality and memory begin to blur, Jodenny finds it difficult to know which course to chart.
I thoroughly enjoyed this reading experience. I enjoyed the politics, the familiar military lingo, the slow, careful character development. In fact, oddly enough, I would say nostalgia was the primary emotion I experienced while reading The Outback Stars. I grew up a military brat and reading this made me feel like I'd been transported back in time a decade or so when my days were filled with new bases, adjusting to new environments, and a good night was nestling in and watching Star Trek with my dad. At the same time, the inclusion of the unfamiliar and intriguing Australian mythological elements kept me fascinated and really enriched the story. I felt satisfied with the ending, but kind of tickled to find out there is a sequel and a third one in the works, due out July 21st.(less)
I remember the day I first discovered science fiction grand dame Andre Norton. I walked into our favorite used bookstore in San Antonio, Texas. The sa...moreI remember the day I first discovered science fiction grand dame Andre Norton. I walked into our favorite used bookstore in San Antonio, Texas. The same used bookstore where I first ran across so many other gems. This particular trip I was looking for something unusual and different and my eye caught on the cover on the left above. I liked how angular the art was and the look of the two companions traveling through what appeared to be an extremely bleak, almost sinister landscape. So I picked up THE CRYSTAL GRYPHON and took it home with me. I was intrigued by the title as I had absolutely no idea what a gryphon was or if a crystal one was exceptional in any way. Shortly after returning home I blew back into the shop, hoping against hope they would have the two sequels it listed inside the cover. Lucky for me, they did. And they had learned by then not to be surprised by the neighborhood kid's urgent comings and goings. I'm pretty sure one of them was a Norton fan anyway.
Kerovan has been cursed since birth. On her way home, his mother was forced to take shelter in one of the ancient ruins of the Old Ones and, as a result, Kerovan was born with hooves instead of feet and eyes the color of molten amber. The heir to the Ulmsdale estate in High Hallack, Kerovan's life has never been his own and he spent much of it being tutored in private and shunned in public by his father's people who do not trust the eldritch young lord. At the same time, far away in the Dales, the young lady Joisan has been married by proxy since she was eight years old to a mysterious Lord Kerovan whom she has never met. Expected to grow up and take over the reins of running his household, Joisan's path takes a drastically different turn when an unidentified force invades High Hallack from the sea. With nothing but a small gryphon set in a crystal globe sent from her lord to wear around her neck, Joisan takes up the armor and weapons to defend her homeland. Kerovan is forced to travel to find Joisan and the two strangers must join together to defeat the dark magic that is invading their land.
In this case, I can tell you that the cover art on that first book is right on. I can't imagine a cover that would more effectively convey the marvelous blend of cold magic and unknown danger that fills this novel. I fell instantly under its spell and could not get enough of Kerovan and Joisan and the awkward way they had to get to know one another against a backdrop of war. They are both so tentative and independent and used to silence and walking hallways alone. The idea of the marriage by proxy fascinated me in a sort of morbid way. I felt so bad for Joisan, but bad for Kerovan as well as he was not used to people becoming accustomed to him and/or welcoming them to their homes. He cannot imagine Joisan would want him and, when she mistakes him for one of the Old Ones upon first meeting, he is sure of it. The story alternates between their points of view and by the time they actually meet for the first time the reader is filled with that delicious mouthful of more knowledge than the characters themselves have and a fierce urging to root for them. It was a pleasure watching them get to know one another and it was especially interesting as the world itself is such a well-developed major player in the novel. Things are by no means "resolved" by its end and I plowed through the next two with relish. A highly recommended trilogy, certainly for Norton fans, but also for those who enjoy their fantasy mixed with a hint of the weird and featuring a pair of strong main characters. Reading Order: THE CRYSTAL GRYPHON, Gryphon in Glory, and Gryphon's Eyrie (co-written with A.C. Crispin)(less)
I know what you're gonna say. "Um, Angie? DOUBLEBLIND came out like five months ago. What are you doing reviewing it in February? And you call yoursel...moreI know what you're gonna say. "Um, Angie? DOUBLEBLIND came out like five months ago. What are you doing reviewing it in February? And you call yourself a fan..." Before you judge me too harshly, I thought I'd lost it. I've been ransacking my house for months trying to find it and hadn't replaced it because I knew it just had to be there somewhere. But it was starting to get a bit ridiculous and just when I was about to go buy another copy, I found it! I won't tell you where because it's embarrassing. But it and I were supremely happy to see each other again and I immediately dove into the Adventures of Jax 3.0 and it was like I was right at home again, as though we hadn't been apart for months on end.
Jax is growing up. Despite herself. As the ambassador to Vel's home planet of Ithiss-Tor, she finds herself forced to play a part. A part she feels supremely unsuited for. It doesn't help that she's accompanied by her particularly ragtag group of rebels, each of whom seems to have a reason to distrust her at this point. And none of them more than her former lover March. Destroyed by another war, the tough-as-nails pilot has completely withdrawn so as not to pose a quite literal threat to Jax and her mission. Now that he's just a ticking time bomb, Jax is unsure what (if anything) she can or should do bring him back. And knowing March the way she does, he wouldn't want her to. More and more it seems Vel is the only one she can count on and, now that they're both in enemy territory, so to speak, they will have to combine their not inconsiderable personal arsenals in order to forge the alliance the Conglomerate needs to mount a defense against the encroaching threat of the Morgut.
DOUBLEBLIND is a much quieter book than the previous two in the series. But it wouldn't do to underestimate it because it doesn't flash and bang quite as spectacularly as its comrades. If you're a Vel fan, this book is for you. My favorite thing about it was the scenes Jax and Vel shared as he teaches her about the world he abandoned years ago and she teaches him about friendship between outsiders. There's so much political maneuvering going on that the few quiet interpersonal scenes are quite relieving to read. As always, the charged interactions between Jax and March pack such a punch. At this point, three books in, their history is one gorgeous, messy roller coaster and all I could do was hope they made it through without killing each other. I love how tightly coiled March was and how Vel seemed to always be there when Jax was in more danger than she realized. Which is often with Jax. Usually I'm the one holding my breath while reading. In this case it seemed as though each of the characters were holding their breaths, consciously restraining themselves for fear of what horror they might unleash with one wrong move. DOUBLEBLIND did have the feel of a transition book to me and I found myself turning the pages quickly, wanting to get to the end already, my mind looking ahead to what Ann Aguirre has in store for us next with Killbox, which is due out in September.(less)
I have been going through another bout of Kate & Curran withdrawals lately. Really, they're simply Ilona Andrews withdrawals because I just am ten...moreI have been going through another bout of Kate & Curran withdrawals lately. Really, they're simply Ilona Andrews withdrawals because I just am ten different ways in love with the way they write a world. I know going in to expect to be amazed, delighted, and--above all and thank the high heavens--entertained. Whether its shapeshifters and magic waves, overlapping dimensions and backwoods feuds, or futuristic assassins and genetically enhanced mafiosi--it is guaranteed to get my bibliophilic heart pumping and I can't tell you how much I look forward to each encounter. This is a good year because we get two full-length novels in two excellent worlds and, having already downed Magic Bleeds, I found myself looking ahead longingly to September and the release of Bayou Moon. And then it occurred to me that I'd never gotten around to reading SILENT BLADE, the novella published last year from Samhain. I'm not sure how it slipped past me, but I immediately purchased it, downloaded it to my nook, and dropped offline for the evening.
Meli Galdes is ready for retirement. Having served her family for more than a decade as a lone assassin, she's planning on hanging up her spurs and falling off the grid completely. Then her father calls in one more favor and it involves a man Meli thought she'd never see again. Celino Carvanna is responsible for the life of danger and isolation Meli leads. Years ago their lives were intertwined and then, in the space of a heartbeat, the connection was severed and Celino went on to monumental success and power, while Meli walked away from everything and everyone she ever knew, shaping herself into an elite (and secret) weapon. Now, on the cusp of retirement, she's asked to take on this one last job. For her family. One last hit to round out her career on a high and oh-so-satisfying note. Then she'll be able to put it all behind her and see about creating another kind of life for herself. But it's been a long time since she knew what made this ruthless businessman tick, an even longer time since she cared. Neither of them are who they once were. And so she sets about remembering every detail, pulling up every familiar quirk and distant memory, so that when she finally comes face to face with Celino once more, she will be ready. She won't hesitate. She'll know just what to do. And, as is the case with all her targets, he won't even know what hit him.
I don't think I realized going in that this novella was science fiction. What a pleasant surprise that was! Set in a futuristic society, in which a cadre of powerful families--known as the Kinsmen--rule a world built upon the basis of their particular biological enhancements, SILENT BLADE pelts out of the starting gate with gusto. Meli is established right of the bat as a woman who has honed her skills and is the best at what she does. She flies solo and completely under the radar and I loved her from page one. As her history becomes clearer, I found myself utterly on her side and very much in favor of her meting out whatever punishment necessary on the heartless Celino. What can I say? I'm always up for a vengeance quest, especially when the person on the hunt is so justified and awesome and, well, adept when it comes to the actual punishing. Then the point of view switched, and I was forced to walk a few paces in Celino's shoes. And while I was still on Meli's side, I admit it--I was curious. Curious to see how he'd react when all was revealed. Curious to see if Meli's resolve went the distance. I loved the wild swirl of color and scent and taste running through this world. Meli loves each of these things and, while she's voluntarily put them aside in the service of her family, there are hints of them here and there, even in the ascetic existence she embodies. This is romantic science fiction a la Linnea Sinclair and Ann Aguirre and, though it is a shorter work and wraps up nicely, I would happily read much larger and longer doses were they available. Meli is very much her own woman and I really think there's plenty of fodder here for many more stories. Perhaps one day we'll get them. In the meantime, if you're an Andrews fan, I highly recommend SILENT BLADE. You won't be disappointed.(less)
It's been too long since I let myself slip into Linnea Sinclair's Dock Five universe. Way too long. I love science fiction. I love space opera. And th...moreIt's been too long since I let myself slip into Linnea Sinclair's Dock Five universe. Way too long. I love science fiction. I love space opera. And this series is just one of the best out there. I read the first book--Gabriel's Ghost--a couple of years ago now and I've read several of Sinclair's other non-Dock Five books in between then and now and thoroughly enjoyed each of them. Games of Command is still my favorite. That Kel-Paten. Gets to me every time. But when I finally picked up HOPE'S FOLLY the other night in desperate need of some good action and romance, I wasn't prepared for how quickly the world would suck me in again. This installment follows a side character from the earlier books--Chaz's ex-husband and confirmed lifer Admiral Philip Guthrie. I love getting the real story on what's going on with a character we've previously only seen through other characters' eyes. And I wasn't disappointed with Philip's story.
Having lost pretty much everything that kept his highly structured life together, Admiral Philip Guthrie isn't exactly comfortable on the other side of the fence. Once an esteemed fleet official and member of one of the most revered (and loaded) families around, Philip now finds himself pulling together an unlikely and undisciplined band of rebels in a last ditch effort to hold off the ever-expanding Imperial fleet. With a wounded leg as a souvenir to remember them by, Philip is older and slower and more thoughtful than he used to be. None of which particularly please him, but all of which endear him to his new crew. And sub-lieutenant Rya Bennton is no exception, though she'd like to be. Rya actually knew Philip as a kid, when she was a wild tomboy and he a handsome soldier with a knack for weapons and strategy. She's idolized him ever since, never thinking she'd actually see him again after her father was killed and Philip disappeared off the map. But suddenly they're on the same beat up cruiser ship together--Hope's Folly--, he's her commanding officer, and he certainly doesn't remember one young girl he once taught how to shoot. Determined to put aside her reservations, Rya ignores her personal feelings in favor of helping keep Admiral Guthrie safe and uncovering what really happened the day her father died.
Delectable. That's what this book is. I read it in two large gulps and felt happily sated afterward. Philip and Rya are the kind of protagonists Ms. Sinclair excel at--essentially noble (if slightly reckless) individuals who put duty before personal desires and are drawn against their formidable wills to the other person for their strength, courage, and taste in weapons. I wondered just how I would like Philip after being slightly prejudiced against him from reading Chaz's version of events. Turns out I like him just fine. Better than fine. He's a gem and he totally deserved his own story and at least a chance at a happy ending after everything he went through. Rya was a different kind of heroine from Sinclair's others. Full-bodied and fully capable of keeping herself safe and dismantling a weapon or a man as needed, I liked the way she took on Philip and his forceful personality. There was less focus in this one on the greater conflict between the Alliance and the Imperial Fleet, though it certainly hangs over every step they take. But I guess I felt as though the relationships between the various people on the Folly took precedence. And wouldn't you know that's exactly what I was in the mood for. The age difference between these two didn't bother me either. They complemented each other so well that other things faded away in the wake of my enjoyment of their antics and halting steps toward understanding. Definitely recommended for fans of space opera and the Dock 5 universe.
I am, well, there's no other way to put it, distressingly late in finding this absolute gem of a book. I don't know how it slipped under my radar unti...moreI am, well, there's no other way to put it, distressingly late in finding this absolute gem of a book. I don't know how it slipped under my radar until now. I'm not complaining too loudly, of course, because I discovered and devoured it just in time for the sequel to come out at the end of this month. And that, my friends, is nothing to sneeze at. I'm used to waiting years for books. A couple of weeks will not kill me. At least, that is what I tell myself so I can sleep at night. I am, in fact, positively pining away for Children of Scarabaeus as I type this. But it is just a tad embarrassing how long it took me to discover Sara Creasy's debut novel. After all, some of my favorite reviewers featured it back when it came out last year. Clearly, my head was not where it should have been. But I am happy to say that I've spent the last two nights rectifying the situation and that, if scifi adventure with an enticing hint of romance is even remotely your thing, you need to run out and read SONG OF SCARABAEUS right now so that you, too, will be able to snatch up the sequel the moment you can get your feverish little hands on it.
Edie Sha'nim is the best there is. A trained cyphertech, she works for the mighty Crib empire terraforming new worlds. In other words, she's the girl they take to a barely formed planet in order to remake it in the Crib-approved image. Taken away from her home world as a young girl, Edie has been trained and tested to within an inch of her life. A life that resembles indentured servitude more than anything else. She's held all her defiance and all her rage inside all these years, only once letting it out in a burst of independence and refusal to submit to the Crib's all-encompassing will. But that was years ago, and the only memento she keeps to remind herself of that moment of defiance is the small shell of a beetle, embedded in her skin. Then one day, Edie is confronted by a gang of mercenaries determined to kidnap her and put her considerable (and lucrative) abilities to their own purposes. Longing to escape, but unsure of the right thing to do, it is a fellow captive and serf named Finn who changes her mind. And before she knows it, the mercs have leashed her (quite literally) to the mysterious former slave. His mind is connected with hers. He is to serve as her bodyguard and ensure no one else intent on stealing their new biocyph expert has a chance to do so. And just to make it that much more threatening, if Edie dies, so does Finn. Or if the two are separated by too much distance, the leash will sever, and Finn will be destroyed in the process. And so the two unlikely allies must stick together long enough to figure out a way to break the leash and escape. But then Edie realizes just what planet they're headed for, and the past comes back to haunt her in a truly horrifying way.
So good. This book is just so very good. It reminded me why I have always loved science fiction so much and it did so in such a seamless and readable way that I have to give it up for Sara Creasy and her mad, debut writerly skills. Sometimes a scifi book tries and fails to walk the line between tech-term/infodumping extravaganza and drippy/emotional hot mess. This is so not the case here. Rather, SONG OF SCARABAEUS is like a primer on how to combine excellent characters who capture your heart with a detailed and fascinating look at the ethics of exploration and the treatment of humankind on a grand scale. And how nice it is to have a relationship that doesn't start with insta-sparks the moment two hotties lay eyes on each other. *insert eye roll* This book has been highly recommended for fans of Linnea Sinclair and Ann Aguirre, and I do absolutely think it will appeal to those readers. I love both authors myself. But I do feel I should mention here that it stands entirely on its own merits. And that, in addition to having endearing characters and an utterly compelling and heart-racing relationship unfolding between them, SONG OF SCARABAEUS is the real deal as far as science fiction goes. And holistic storytelling. The truly elaborate and organic world building blew me away and kept me engrossed from beginning to end. Edie and Finn's foray onto Scarabaeus is the thing of nightmares and the cringeworthy factor is pretty high in certain parts. But it only serves to impact the reader's experience and expand the themes of the story. That said, I am all in when it comes to the relationship, and I will shamelessly beg for more development between these two in future installments. Because the romance is in early stages here, but what's there is choice. And I, for one, am ready for more. This one kept me up late, guys. No finer recommendation. Also--major points for a perfect last line. I do so love those.(less)
I was literally salivating with my need to get a hold of this book as soon as was humanly possible after finishing Sara Creasy's wonderful Song of Sca...moreI was literally salivating with my need to get a hold of this book as soon as was humanly possible after finishing Sara Creasy's wonderful Song of Scarabaeus. Then I remembered that I'd seen it on NetGalley not so very long ago, and I ripped right over there to see if it was still available. It was. I requested it and waited impatiently for a response. The minute it was approved, I downloaded it to my nook and sat back in contentment. Oh, wait. That's right. I work. And have a million other things I have to get done within a single twenty-four hour period. However, since this pregnancy has rendered me and sleep mortal enemies, my nights at least are free. Always a silver lining, right? That's right. I'm a glass is half full sort of girl. Pay no attention to the sound of my husband's laughter in the background. He doesn't know. The point is, I finally had the all-important sequel in my hands, and all was right with the world. At least with my world.
Edie Sha'nim appears to drag catastrophe (and uber-controlling, wannabe despots) wherever she goes. On their way to help the Fringe worlds get out from under the thumb of the omnipresent Crib empire, Edie and Finn (and their meager crew) are re-captured by the very woman Edie's been trying to escape since she was ten years old. Natesa is determined to keep Edie and her powerful abilities under lock and key. And that includes keeping her away from other interested parties, particularly other Crib and/or military individuals who believe Edie's singular talents would be put to better use back on Scarabaeus itself, figuring out what went wrong in the first place and what exactly is evolving now on its treacherous terrain. But Natesa's control extends only so far, especially as the work on her precious Project Ardra isn't exactly thriving. The further Edie delves into the details of the project, the more she realizes just how badly the project is foundering. And, with her control slipping and her professional reputation on the line, Natesa will do anything she can to collar Edie. Including separating her from Finn and any other influence she deems antithetical to her goals. Determined to set Finn free from the leash that binds them and the grasping fingers of the Crib, Edie must decide where to place her loyalties and which devil to serve.
I slipped into this one with absolutely no trouble at all. Part of that was, of course, that it had only been a few days since I finished the first book. But a larger part is due to Sara Creasy's wonderfully sure sense of setting and character. The world is vast but consistent, the characters familiar and compelling. Edie and Finn had an immediate stranglehold on my attention and my emotions were high and riveted for the duration of the book. I'll go ahead and say that it's a palpable relief to read a duology. They're all but extinct these days it seems, and I can't tell you how relieving it was to go in knowing the tale would not stretch on for eons, that the author had an ending and a way of getting there in mind. That said, I would read more about these two and their world in a heartbeat. The unusual and vital relationship that evolves between this cypherteck and her rebel-turned-bodyguard launched my heart into my throat with each scene they shared. It was meaningful and based on trust, as opposed to hurried and based on lust. I enjoyed the two of them so much and looked forward to anytime they were allowed to be alone and just talk to each other, which, naturally, was a rare occurrence indeed, what with everyone and their dog hell bent on destroying whatever Edie holds dear and any hope of freedom Finn ever had. I admire restraint in storytelling, and this series is an excellent example of such. It could so easily have shoved over into melodrama and pure spectacle, but it never does. One scene, in particular, struck me as marvelously well done. The reader expects a certain outcome, and is instead handed a much more subtler version of the truth. It served to enhance the connection between characters, rather than exploit the moment. I loved it. I felt I knew them based on their choices, which were always dire. But they made the decisions, they didn't waver, and the ending offered up hope and resolution in an effortless package. Color me satisfied. I can't wait to see what Ms. Creasy has to offer us next.(less)
This cover. This cover is in the running for my favorite cover of the coming year! I love it that much. And I love the title....moreOriginally published here
This cover. This cover is in the running for my favorite cover of the coming year! I love it that much. And I love the title. And, even more than both of those put together, I love the premise of a sci-fi/cyberpunk retelling of Cinderella with a cyborg as the main character. You should have seen my face when I first found out about CINDER. It's like Marissa Meyer asked me for my list of all that is good and then slapped them together into this book. Add to that the fact that it's the first in a quartet (oh, how I love quartets, see Alanna, and Secret Society Girl, oh, and The President's Daughter), and the name of the series is the Lunar Chronicles. I don't know . . . it kind of seemed like this book and I were a match made in heaven. I've been reading sci-fi for as long as I can remember, and I feel like we don't get enough of it these days in young adult fiction. So I would have been on board for that aspect of the book alone. But a sci-fi/fairy tale mashup? Fuggedabout it. And so it was with much relief that I started it and found out it was legitimate on both counts.
Linh Cinder is a mechanic and a cyborg. Orphaned as a child in a terrible accident, her life was saved when doctors intervened, replacing her missing hand and foot with metal ones. Now she works long hours in her stall at the market in New Beijing, and she goes home to a loveless household headed by her evil stepmother. There's certainly no love lost between these two. But while her older stepsister Pearl takes after her mother in every respect, her younger stepsister Peony is as innocent and sweet as Pearl and her stepmother Adri are cynical and conniving. Unfortunately, Cinder also has the question of class working against her. Cyborgs are second-class citizens in every way. Looked down on, and often outright loathed, by the people of New Beijing, cyborgs are the first to be offered up for medical testing and the last to be invited to social events such as, oh, say--a ball. Incredibly, our girl Cinder is headed for both, though she has no idea yet. Then one day the emperor's son Prince Kai shows up at her stall with an android in need of repair. The emperor himself is dying of the deadly plague letumosis, which has been decimating the population for the past decade. And before she knows it, Cinder is caught up in both the fight against the disease and an unlikely friendship with a young man who has his own set of problems.
CINDER is quite a serious book, both in the sense that it takes itself seriously and that it deals with serious issues, such as death, disease, class conflict, and war. I think I was expecting something lighter, but the whole taking-itself-seriously and the fascinating world building quickly set me at ease. I loved the attention to detail with which Ms. Meyer depicted the grimness of Cinder's life and her world. She's a mechanic and an outcast. She wears castoff coveralls and a worn-out work belt in place of the flouncy dresses and jewels other girls her age are flaunting. And her outlook matches her clothes. Cinder is a realist, and that is my favorite thing about her. She knows the way things work. And mechanics with steel appendages do not make good with emperors' sons. No matter how charming they may be. As a result, there is very little of the lovelorn teenager about this girl. As much as she slowly allows herself to enjoy the prince's company, not once does she fool herself into forgetting the horror that would blossom on his face were he to discover what she is. Instead, she reserves the majority of her emotional energy for fixing up an old car she finds in the junkyard, harboring the long-shot hope that it just might serve as an escape vehicle when the time comes that she can no longer stand her abysmal home life. Then when the plague strikes close by, Cinder taps already flagging reserves of strength to help and support the ones who are stricken. She's tough and pragmatic. We like Cinder, yes we do. Then there's Kai. Prince Kaito. What you need to know about Kai is he's . . . very cute actually. Determined to do right by his own obligations, he won me over as he did Cinder for being more than he seemed. At the same time, this is the aspect of the novel that needed more development, in my humble opinion. I liked that the story took its time, but with all that time, there wasn't actually much of it devoted to these two developing their relationship. What was there was good. I just needed a little more. Perhaps a better way of putting it would be, I wish that the relationships between characters had benefited from the skill applied to the world building and the awesomely creeptastic villain. There's quite a buildup by the end (the end is possibly the best part). But just when things finally get going, it ends. On one big, fat doozy of a cliffhanger. Which is fine. I'm not opposed to cliffhangers, per se. But I did expect just a hint more in the way of resolution depth for such a slow cycling climax. I was left wanting. My needs aside, I thought the characters deserved to have it out. I realize there are three more books in the series, and there is clearly more to come. I just could have done with a little more emotional payoff to keep me believing, if you will. That said, I loved each of Marissa Meyer's clever sci-fi tips of the hat to the elements of the original fairy tale. Word is the next books will incorporate more fairy tales, including Rapunzel, Red Riding Hood, and Snow White. Color me intrigued (and hopeful) for more development in future installments.(less)
All right. I've officially waited as long as I could. The thing is--you need to know about this book. This sequel...moreOriginally reviewed here @ Angieville
All right. I've officially waited as long as I could. The thing is--you need to know about this book. This sequel. Because it's coming in less than two months and I want you to be ready and not sitting around, twiddling your thumbs, wondering whether or not it'll be worth your time. Hint: it is so beyond worth your time. For those of you wondering, SCARLET is the sequel to Cinder, the first book in Marissa Meyer's Lunar Chronicles. Each installment is also its own fairy tale retelling. First we had Cinderella, now Little Red Riding Hood, with Rapunzel and Snow White yet to come. Ask me how much I love quartets? Go on. Ask me! But I'll be honest. At first I was skeptical with the fairy tale hopping and the completely new protagonists taking up valuable page time with no resolution in sight. I was a bit not okay with where Cinder left off, but the early word on Meyer's take on Little Red Riding Hood was extremely good. And, really, how long have you been longing for a standout retelling of this particular fairy tale? It has the potential to be so incredibly awesome, yet I just hadn't run across one to date. And so with all of this in mind I exercised restraint (I know) and reserved judgement.
Scarlet has misplaced her grandmother. That is to say--she was there when Scarlet left to work a shift at the local pub, and she was not there when she returned home once more. Nothing like this has ever happened before, and Scarlet has exhausted every last resource over the last few months trying to track her grandmother down. But the woman who for all intents and purposes raised her has vanished without a trace, and it isn't until a street fighter by the name of Wolf wanders into her pub that she encounters what might be hope. Of course, it doesn't look like hope all dressed up in scruffy wolf clothing. In fact, everything about Wolf screams out a warning and Scarlet hears that warning loud and clear. But he insists he has information that could be of use in her search. And so utterly against her better judgement, she agrees to follow him. Meanwhile, back at the model home, Cinder has managed to escape the prison and, along with her fellow prisoner and ne'er-do-well Captain Thorne, hijacks a ship. With the Lunar Queen hot on their trail, Cinder is racing against the clock to save her own neck and keep Prince Kai from enduring a fate worse than death. But no one is more shocked than Cinder when her path crosses with Scarlet's and Wolf's in what simply cannot be coincidental ways.
She did not know that the wolf was a wicked sort of animal, and she was not afraid of him.
With this one book, Marissa Meyer has cemented her creds with this reader. And I kind of love that she did it with the second book in a series, too. It exceeded expectations, but it also sent me running back to Cinder to retread all the introductory storytelling, simultaneously securing my love for SCARLET and enhancing my excitement for the next two novels. Quite the feat, that one. The world building in this series is top-notch, and with the second installment we get a wonderful change of scenery. The return to Earth itself (rural France to be precise), was a smart move as it grounds Scarlet and her unique story in an entirely different way from Cinder's. They're different girls. Their lives, their backgrounds, their hopes and dreams are profoundly different. At first I worried about the alternating point of view chapters. I never knew who I was going to be with or for how long. And while I initially quite preferred being with Scarlet (and Wolf), it wasn't long before Cinder (and the hilarious Thorne) won me over again. The ambition of the narrative ramped up right along with the intertwining of the plots. It was organic. I concerned myself with each of them and with the ways in which their individual lives were being altered by the unholy force and far reach of the Lunar Queen. But this story is all Scarlet's. Scarlet--with her threadbare trademark hoodie and her carefully measured thoughts and actions. I loved the intimate admission we receive to her life. The arc of her relationship with Wolf is quiet, sometimes the quiet of first snowfalls and hidden glances and sometimes the quiet of cold sweats and incapacitating fear. It was a perfectly delineated arc, one that crept into my heart on the softest of paws. As you can tell, I kind of have a thing for this book. I wouldn't change a thing about it. It slid handily into the first slot on my Best of 2013 list like it wasn't even trying. So do the right thing. Pick SCARLET up the day it comes out. The better to kick off your new year's reading with, my dears.(less)