This is a very weird book. It is a very funny book, also profane, and a little profound maybe. The basic plot is like something out of a 1960's atomic...moreThis is a very weird book. It is a very funny book, also profane, and a little profound maybe. The basic plot is like something out of a 1960's atomic-science fiction movie: two high school boys witness the unwitting unleashing of giant killer praying mantises on an unsuspecting town! All these bugs want to do is is eat--they eat humans, as well as each other--and mate. And maybe eat their mate while mating. If the bugs aren't stopped, they will rapidly multiply and take over the world! But oh no, they're UNSTOPPABLE! They were created in a secret lab experiment in the 60's, by some really twisted scientists trying to come up with the world's best soldier, and it's going to be really hard to undo that experiment. Then there are the two young men who get caught up in this horrific carnage--Austin, who loves his girlfriend Shannon but who is also having strong feelings for his best friend Robby, who came out as gay a few years ago. It's going to be up to the three of them to save the world and maybe perpetuate the human species. This book is a story of love and sexual identity and the end of the world, and the bonds of friendship and the hopes of small town boys who yearn to get out of their dead-end lives, as well as a story of a lot of blood and guts and sci-fi hilarity. The book is really funny! But also gross at the same time, which is also funny. Austin styles himself a historian, so he's writing down everything that happens to himself and his friends, in what he feels is a detached objective manner. He also is documenting his ancestry, weaving in the stories of what happened to his father and his grandfather and his great-grandfather who came over on the boat from Poland. So there are a lot of details in this book, some of which weren't necessarily needed, as well as crude teen-boy language. (There's also a lot of repetition--every time Austin gives someone's name, he gives both first and last name, which drove me crazy by the end of the book. And he started chapters by repeating what had just happened previously. I think it was his pseudo-historian writing style, trying to be that impartial observer, but it got old fast. Just my opinion.) Austin is confused about sex, and misses his older brother who is serving in the military overseas, and Austin also has been bullied, and is now thrust into a really scary situation. This book is just a great mashup of everything. I finished it laughing with tears in my eyes, for Austin and his tribulations and his heroic efforts, but I was also a wee bit annoyed. I can't decide whether to give it three or four stars. I had fun reading it, but I was also frustrated with the writing style. Definitely recommended for only high school and up, for the mature content. (But then again, there's a lot of IMMATURE content as well! Ha!)(less)
This is a fun time-travel-with aliens-twisty story. I listened to it on audio over the course of a few weeks, unfortunately, just in little bits and p...moreThis is a fun time-travel-with aliens-twisty story. I listened to it on audio over the course of a few weeks, unfortunately, just in little bits and pieces at a time, so I don't remember a whole lot about the plot. But I definitely enjoyed it; the diskos concept (of disks that are portals to fixed points in time, usually where a disaster occurred) is fun. Tucker is a great everyman reluctant hero character, caught up in weird circumstances and just trying to get back home. Great for middle school readers. Makes you think--what would YOU do if you had the chance to time travel, but weren't sure where or when you'd end up?(less)
A suspenseful sci-fi novel with some great twists and turns! Marshall lost his twin brother Austin 3 months ago in a car accident; Marsh was driving,...moreA suspenseful sci-fi novel with some great twists and turns! Marshall lost his twin brother Austin 3 months ago in a car accident; Marsh was driving, and is wracked with guilt as well as grief. Ever since, he has been walking around in bare feet, a rather unusual way to grieve, his parents think--but it's because he is determined to find a "thin space." This would be a spot, hard to see, where the barrier between our world and the next is thinner, so the living can enter the world of the dead. Marsh desperately wants to speak to his brother again, but not necessarily for the reasons you might think. He meets Maddie, a girl his age who moves in next door, and this complicates his search for a thin space because he is sure there is one in her house; but how can he get inside to search without revealing to her his mad quest? I can't talk too much about this book for fear of spoiling too much; it's just a really cool and clever book! It's suspenseful, dark, and keeps you guessing; an excellent psychological study of survivor's guilt, with a supernatural bent. Ohio author.(less)
This book is totally "brass"! That's League of Seven steampunk slang for cool, awesome, exciting, and terrific. Archie Dent lives in an alternate 1875...moreThis book is totally "brass"! That's League of Seven steampunk slang for cool, awesome, exciting, and terrific. Archie Dent lives in an alternate 1875 America, a United Nations of cooperation between Yankees and 6 tribes of Native Americans in the Iroquois Confederacy. In Archie's world, Cherokee and Muskogee Indians are as commonplace as Latinos and African-Americans in ours; in Archie's world, all boats are submarines, flying is done in steam-powered airships, and electricity is a forgotten, forbidden evil. Archie's parents are members of a secret society that has the important mission of keeping an eye out for the escape and return of giant scary Mangleborn monsters that want to enslave all of humanity. And this action-packed story begins with some serious action, as Archie's parents become controlled by a Manglespawn--smaller but no less nasty creatures-- and it's up to Archie and his clockwork Machine Man companion/guardian Mr. Rivets to try to rescue them, while fighting for their very lives! Along the way, Archie will team up with the highly skilled girl warrior Hachi and a funny mechanical genius named Fergus, and encounter more sinister monsters, alternate versions of historical figures we know such as Thomas Edison and Nicola Tesla, and even tangle with a mecha-ninja. Will Archie be able to stop the evil Mangleborn from taking over? Or is mankind doomed to failure? Is this the moment when a new League of Seven, legendary figures who alone can defeat the Mangleborn, is being formed? Find out by reading The League of Seven!
I just adored this book. The steampunk setting is cool and cleverly described; loved the pneumatic mail system (an 'inter-net' of tubes! Ha!) and other nods to modern tech done in steampunk style, everything in brass or leather, the clever alternate history of not only the USA but also Europe and other countries thrown in for good measure. Excellent worldbuilding without dragging down the story. Frequent sprinkling in of Latin and other languages, and some clues to solve, and terrific characters who grow throughout the book as they learn their own strengths and/or embrace their pasts. Funny dialogue and witty comebacks, too! And the Machine Men (clockwork robots, basically) are really nifty. Great book to share with Percy Jackson fans or fans of Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld and other steampunk stories, but also anyone who loves a rollicking good story. I read an ARC of this book and I can't wait to share it with several young readers.(less)
An excellent survival story, set in the near future. Sixteen year old Lynn has grown up living alone with her mother in rural Ohio, where they live in...moreAn excellent survival story, set in the near future. Sixteen year old Lynn has grown up living alone with her mother in rural Ohio, where they live in the basement of their farmhouse and defend the farm's pond from any visitors. Water has become exceedingly rare in this post-natural disaster world, and so lives depend on having a source of fresh water. Lynn has learned how to shoot a rifle at anyone who comes near. When tragedy strikes her mother, and she finds a helpless family has squatted in the nearby woods, Lynn has to fend for herself, putting her hardearned survival skills to the test. But her mother never really told her that some people can be friendly, or about how to deal with them. Especially not about how to cope with a little kid, or a boy her age.
I loved this story for the action and suspense, but also for the great character development. Lynn undergoes all sorts of growth as she figures out how to be a friend, how to trust strangers, how to love. Good for middle school readers who want a good survival story; has violent acts but not too gory; some swearwords but no f-bombs.(less)
Wow, what a nifty book! Seven stories, all set on the same remote island, from seven different time periods, told in reverse chronological order. (Fir...moreWow, what a nifty book! Seven stories, all set on the same remote island, from seven different time periods, told in reverse chronological order. (First one is in the future, 2073, and then goes all the way back to prehistoric times.) All of the stories have a character named Eric (or a version thereof: Eirik, etc.) and a character named Merle, and there are other connections between the stories. The stories are written in different points of view, and in different genres, from ghost story to science fiction. One is about a World War II airman who crashes on the island; he has a connection to an archaeologist in another story; and a Viking vampire (yes!) turns out to be connected to someone else as well. It was really cool; if you have read or seen Cloud Atlas you may already be familiar with this type of book. The overall effect is of a romantic epic feel, yet with enough suspense and questions to keep you reading to find out what is going on. Might be a hard sell to teens, since there are only a couple of minor characters who are close to teen age, but there's nothing overly "adult" about the stories, and with booktalking about the vampire and the "love through the ages" angle it should get many teen readers to at least try it out. I love how the whole book was inspired by a real painting, Midvinterblot, that you can look up online.(less)
What a weird mashup of a book! Unfortunately I listened to this audiobook months ago and am just now getting around to writing a review of it, so I'm...moreWhat a weird mashup of a book! Unfortunately I listened to this audiobook months ago and am just now getting around to writing a review of it, so I'm a little hazy on details and recalling how I felt about it at the time. I think for the most part I liked it, though it is very confusing at times. It's a dystopian science fiction novel about people plugged into a virtual world of their own choosing, where they can erase tragic things that happened in their lives and live as if people they love didn't die, for example. And so many people have plugged in that the real world is a desolate series of abandoned dusty towns, a nightmarish landscape that seems like Hell. Seth drowns, in the opening paragraphs, very thoroughly, and then wakes up in what he guesses is an afterlife, thinking he is either in Hell or dreaming. There are no people anywhere, until he eventually meets another teen and a young boy, who explain the whole virtual life thing to him. But Seth is also having dreams/flashbacks of his life, that seem so real he thinks they must be memories and not dreams. He was in love with another boy, Gudmund, until their secret romance became shamefully public. He was also dealing with guilt over his part in the terrible something that happened to his younger brother. This part of the book is a really good realistic teen novel about first love and LGBT harassment. The two stories are tied together with a lot of suspense and action, but also with weird androidlike monsters who try to kill Seth. Like I said, weird!(less)
A seriously creepy and violent, but also interesting book--about a young man who learns he is a clone. And not just any clone, but the clone of a seri...moreA seriously creepy and violent, but also interesting book--about a young man who learns he is a clone. And not just any clone, but the clone of a serial killer. The man whom he'd thought for 16 years was his father, turns out to be a scientist who cloned him from Jeffrey Dahmer's DNA, in a lab experiment only 8 years ago! Along with six other teen clones of other serial killers. And then his "dad" abruptly disappears, leaving Jeff on his own to deal with that earth-shattering news, as well as the armed government thugs who are arriving to search his house. Hiding for his life, he's rescued (practically kidnapped!) by Castillo, another government soldier-type guy who convinces him he's a good guy, but who needs Jeff's help to decipher his father's cryptic notes. Together Castillo and Jeff go on a bizarre road trip, following a trail of murder sites to try to find the other cloned killer teens, who have escaped in a bloody rampage from the clone institute and are Bonnie-and-Clyding their way across multiple states (including Ohio, where the author is from--this is the first teen novel I've ever read that mentions McArthur, Ohio, a tiny town not too many people know of). The book is about as confusing as all of that sounds, and for much of it Jeff is alternating between terrified and morose. There are scenes of terrifying brutal action (although much of the killing is not described in detail) and suspense, lots of pages about conspiracy theories, actual secret government experiments that no doubt inspired this book, a character who thinks he is the descendant of Jack the Ripper, and facts and photos of real serial killers. The book is rather depressing, with sort of a happy ending but open-ended. The most interesting aspect to me was learning that the author also wrote an adult novel telling the same events, but from the point of view of Castillo--so I am guessing that book has even more gore and killing in it. I dunno, I've enjoyed other teen serial killer books more (I Hunt Killers comes to mind).(less)
An action-packed comic-book-scifi actioner with a fun premise for a dystopian novel: a mysterious Calamity in the sky has imbued certain people with s...moreAn action-packed comic-book-scifi actioner with a fun premise for a dystopian novel: a mysterious Calamity in the sky has imbued certain people with superhuman abilities, like superheroes--they can fly, or cause earthquakes with a touch, or project illusions. However, these "Epics" as they've come to be called, do not act like superheroes but rather like supervillains, and they have taken control of various cities, killing humans who stand in their way. Our hero, 18 year old David, lives in Newcago, which is under the dictatorship of the cruel Epic known as Steelheart, who is invulnerable, and has turned every part of the city--wood, concrete, glass-- into steel. David wants revenge against Steelheart, who murdered his father in cold blood. David wants to join the only group of humans brave enough to fight back against the Epics, a band of guerrilla fighters known as The Reckoners. But first he'll have to prove himself as a soldier and bring them his files of painstakingly gathered research on the only known weaknesses of various Epics. I loved this book for the depth to the characters, the growth David goes through as the story progresses, and all the cool super-action scenes and battles. give to graphic novel readers who are ready for some text-only superheroics.(less)
Taking up the story a few months after the end of Ashes, we get multiple narrators, and a lot of plot that will be confusing to anyone who hasn't read...moreTaking up the story a few months after the end of Ashes, we get multiple narrators, and a lot of plot that will be confusing to anyone who hasn't read the first book. Alex fights for her life against the Changed (zombies) who attack her outside of the town of Rule; Tom, recovered from his injuries thanks to the help of a kindly couple in Wisconsin, still suffers PTSD flashbacks and wants to set out to find Alex; and Lena, one of the Spared teens inside Rule, becomes involved in a scheme to help Chris lead a coup against the Elders and take over the town's leadership. The back-and-forth between plotlines gets a little hectic at times, as the point of view switches with each new chapter (something that often irks me), but the suspense is amazing and the action nonstop. This book is more gruesome than the first one, just to forewarn you: the Changed (who get a new nickname, "Chuckys" !) are savage and cruel and voracious, and Alex in particular goes through heck at their hands. DO NOT READ ON A FULL STOMACH! :-)(less)
Wow! What a powerful conclusion to the Divergent trilogy! Jumps right into the action, taking up where the second book left off, with Tris and her com...moreWow! What a powerful conclusion to the Divergent trilogy! Jumps right into the action, taking up where the second book left off, with Tris and her companions in detention. Don't want to give away too much of the plot; suffice to say, more action, more danger, more revelations about the faction system and how it developed. I enjoyed the change of location for the story, getting to see more of the world Tris is in now. Can't speak to specific plot developments but a few were very unexpected and not exactly welcome! Strong messages of courage, love, grief, survival, forgiveness and healing make this an unforgettable ending. Well done.(less)
Yes, it's another book about a disease sweeping the country, and how some teens have to survive the resulting apocalypse. But it's a good story! And n...moreYes, it's another book about a disease sweeping the country, and how some teens have to survive the resulting apocalypse. But it's a good story! And no zombies! Very suspenseful. Sixteen year old Nadia and her 11 year old brother Rabbit (Robert) must journey by car, foot, bike, stolen fourwheeler, whatever they can scrounge up, from Seattle to their grandpappy's survivalist compound in rural West Virginia. But they don't even know if their Pappy is still alive... Nadia's father died on duty in Afghanistan, and their nurse mother succumbed to the mysterious Blustar plague. But luckily Nadia and Rabbit's uncle, who has some mysterious job with the military, was able to get them vaccinated against this outbreak right before it hit. Now, Nadia and Rabbit journey through a decimated landscape, where bodies are rotting in cars on the highway and in houses, and they never know where their next meal will come from as they scavenge their way east. They meet up with some folks who are only out to kill and steal; they meet up with other folks who have gone crazy in the head from the shock; they rescue a little girl; they have only their father's training to "be the cockroach" (and survive at all costs) to help them when it gets really really bad. Great suspense and action, realistic details about possible outcomes of a pandemic (author gives notes on her research). Good for middle school, gets gruesome but not *too* gruesome. (less)
[Side note: stupid computer, eating my review after I worked for 30 minutes to get it just right! Sigh.]
Fun sci fi story about the healing power of ar...more[Side note: stupid computer, eating my review after I worked for 30 minutes to get it just right! Sigh.]
Fun sci fi story about the healing power of art. No really! A mysterious glowing necklace appears in 6th grader Tommy's lunchbox; when he puts it on, he begins to get advanced drawing abilities, spout strange vocabulary and have new memories, all of a decidedly otherworldly nature. (But to him, they're perfectly normal and he can't remember ever not having them. he doesn't know why his friends look at him oddly now.) Alternate chapters, told in grand epic style (think the Bible crossed with The Iliad), relate the story of the Valorim and the Ethelim, two races on a distant planet that are at war with the faceless O'Mondim. We learn that the necklace is really the Art of the Valorim, sent to Earth for safekeeping, but it is also going to lure evil aliens here. Tommy is already dealing with some rough stuff: grief over his mom's recent death has caused his little sister to stop talking, ever, and his artist father has lost all interest in ever painting again. And his house is in the middle of a fierce real estate development battle. But when aliens attack his home, school and friends, Tommy will become a reluctant warrior. I really loved this book, it's a sweet story as well as a clever parable in a cool science fiction-y setting. I think young readers (it is suitable for middle grades, maybe 4th and up) might have trouble getting into it if they're not already scifi readers, however, because there are a lot of alien terms and geography bandied about; the glossary is helpful--and funny! It has asides by one of Tommy's friends, who created it to help figure out what the heck nonsense Tommy is spouting--but you need to be patient and use context to keep reading smoothly. But it's worth persevering for a nice story about family, friendship, loyalty, and art of all kinds. As well as bad a$$ aliens. :-)(less)
Tucker's average life on the island of Pemberwick, Maine, takes a sudden turn for the adventurous and scary, right on the first page when a popular pl...moreTucker's average life on the island of Pemberwick, Maine, takes a sudden turn for the adventurous and scary, right on the first page when a popular player on his high school football team dies during a game, with no warning. And other mysterious deaths in town follow. Are they caused by the strange red drug being offered by a stranger in town? And then the whole island is INVADED by an unknown branch of the military called SYLO--who quarantines the whole population of locals and tourists, prohibiting any communications off-island, and preventing anyone from leaving. Tucker and his best friend Quinn witness just how they're preventing those escapes: with lethal force! The two boys, with the help of Olivia and Tori, new friends, must try to uncover the truth about SYLO, and the Ruby drug, and the weird airship that they saw explode over town just before SYLO showed up. Then they've got to try to get off the island. But it's going to be harder than they think...
Great start to a new series, aimed particularly at boy readers and those who love action and suspense. As long as you don't mind not having all your questions answered--this is, after all, the first book in a new series, so there is a lot left unresolved--there's enough explosions, chases on land and sea, scary bad guys, and conspiracies in this book to entertain you. Tucker is an everyguy, and reacts to situations just like a regular average teen guy would. I liked Tori's character the best--she's got real spunk and some mad defensive skills. I'm very curious to see where this series goes next!(less)
Gritty, action-packed, somber thriller of a story! It's a few years after an alien spaceship parked itself in orbit above the Earth, but instead of al...moreGritty, action-packed, somber thriller of a story! It's a few years after an alien spaceship parked itself in orbit above the Earth, but instead of alien greetings or visitors, the First Wave strikes: a pulse that knocks out all electronics and power. Then the Second Wave causes massive tsunamis and devastation. The Third Wave, pestilence, killed Cassie's mother. Now she is desperately trying to survive on her own, in a world where anyone she meets might kill her--the 4th Wave has brought out killers who look just like humans, and she can't trust anyone. But maybe Evan Walker, the handsome young man who saves her from a sniper, can be trusted... Interwoven with Cassie's story of survival is the story of Ben, one of her classmates who ends up in a military training camp and is being molded into a brutal, coldblooded alien killer; but with her younger brother in that same training camp, can Cassie rescue him in time?
Great book! Very gruesome in spots, and violent--has a strong message about the brutality of war-- and very suspenseful. There are lots of twists and turns as you never know who's going to turn out to be a bad guy. I liked the realistic (!) look at what might happen if aliens ever did come to Earth.(less)
Excellent end to the Matched trilogy. Indie, Cassia, Ky and Xander are all working for The Rising now, in different cities. Each have different duties...moreExcellent end to the Matched trilogy. Indie, Cassia, Ky and Xander are all working for The Rising now, in different cities. Each have different duties, from flying supplies to working as a medic or sorting and waiting for signal to start the uprising. When citizens start falling ill and "going still"--catatonic--things really heat up. Cassia gets involved in a group who secretly display art, as the Society and the Rising clash in a dramatic fashion. There is also a resolution to the romantic triangle between Ky, Xander and Cassia. I loved the writing, the poetry and description of what art means to humans, and also the dramatic suspense with the plague and how they resolve that. Good trilogy, hated to see it end. Interesting too that the narration in each book adds a character--first book is told by Cassia, second by two characters, and this one by three. (less)
An interesting setting for a science fiction book by an American author: a future Brazil, centuries after an apocalypse and a plague that killed off m...moreAn interesting setting for a science fiction book by an American author: a future Brazil, centuries after an apocalypse and a plague that killed off many men. The city of Palmares Tres is a giant pyramid, with a literal stratified society: the richest live at the top, and the poor live in the smelly swampy "verde" outside the pyramid. The government is ruled by a Queen and her council of other women, called Aunties, who are all impossibly old, as technology has extended lives to well into the 2nd century. Young people, or "wakas", vote for a Summer King, a young man who only rules for one year and then is killed in a ritual sacrifice after naming the new queen. The politics of it all was kind of confusing to me, even after rereading it. But basically the heroine, June, wants to be an artist, and is in love with the new summer king, Enki, who is gorgeous and mysterious and also artistic; Enki also loves June's best friend, Gil, and the two boys have a passionate relationship as lovers while Enki also seems to love June. The relationships were rather complicated. Everything the king does is in the public eye, broadcast by robotic celebrity gossip cameras that hover around his every location; paparazzi taken to the extreme. June's public performance art pieces, that she does to get attention and to try to win a college scholarship contest, are also protests against the government, and Enki helps her --he has genetic modifications, "mods" that give him special abilities, including the power to talk to the City. The city itself is a character in the book, and Enki hurts when the city gets damaged. There's a lot going on here, with terrorism and a schism between those who embrace "the more mods the better" and those who don't want to allow so much tech, and it was hard to follow for the first couple of chapters. I wanted to like this book more, but it was just too esoteric. There's a lot of scifi slang mixed with Portugese (I assume) terms, and although I appreciated that June had a yearning for more than her usual life, and loved art, I really didn't care for her character that much, or for the other characters even. I normally love scifi, and there were some interesting gadgets, but even with those elements I found I was kinda bored with the book and kept stopping reading to do other things. Your mileage may vary.(less)
A good book in the middle of a trilogy. Begins with Ky and Cassia separated, and each escapes their work situation to try to find the other. They meet...moreA good book in the middle of a trilogy. Begins with Ky and Cassia separated, and each escapes their work situation to try to find the other. They meet up with some new friends, and learn more about The Rising, the rebellious faction that hopes to overthrow The Society; but also about the Farmers, a group of people who live hidden outside The Society and just want to be left alone to farm and live off the land. Or at least that's what I got from this; I was listening on audio and sometimes I miss a few things. (These two readers weren't really narrators I like and so I would get distracted.) But the basics I got: Cassia and Ky have a strong love that can't keep them apart, although they still doubt each other and themselves about a lot of things. And there's a lot of running and hiding and having to survive in the wilderness. I will read Book Three next and I'm sure I'll enjoy the conclusion.(less)
An excellent end to the trilogy that began with Across the Universe. Starting up right where book two left off, on a cliffhanger, the action continues...moreAn excellent end to the trilogy that began with Across the Universe. Starting up right where book two left off, on a cliffhanger, the action continues quite speedily. I don't want to spoil book two for anyone, but I figure anyone reading this has either already read A Million Suns or is not planning to. They've reached Centauri Earth, and once they manage to land, they're in for lots of surprises as to what really is on the supposedly empty planet they've come to colonize. I just love these books for the action and romance and the "what's out there?" suspense. There's a bit of a mystery involved in this one, and several new characters are introduced when the "frozens" are awakened. There was some interesting tensions between Earthborn and shipborn colonists. Just a really good yarn, this book, and I enjoyed it a lot.(less)