I like books set in space. I like YA. I like reading about aliens. NOVA had all these things but unfortunately it did not live up to its namesake. WhaI like books set in space. I like YA. I like reading about aliens. NOVA had all these things but unfortunately it did not live up to its namesake. What started out as an intriguing and mysterious read:
My name is Lia Johansen, and I was named for a prisoner of war. She lived in the Tiersten Internment Colony for two years, and when they negotiated the return of the prisoners, I was given her memories and sent back in her place.
And I am a genetically engineered human bomb (p. 10).
Turned out to be a lot disappointing.
Lia Johnansen is masquerading as a sixteen-year-old girl who’s mission it is to blow up the New Sol Space Station. Lia’s not sure why she’s been chosen to blow up this station, but she is compelled to complete her mission. So when the countdown malfunctions Lia is left at loose ends and begins to question her ultimate purpose, which only becomes magnified when she meets Michael, a young boy who knew her when they were children. Should Lia complete her mission when she doesn’t even know why? How can she decide to go ahead now that she knows the people that she is going to harm?
For a book that draws much of its suspense from the mystery surrounding Lia’s true identity and real memories, I found that the narrative was strangely disconnected from any emotional response. Lia seemed to feel token emotions with regards to her situation, and for me it didn’t ring true to the circumstances. This emotional disconnect isn’t only true for Lia but the other people she interacts with. When the truth finally emerges and Lia shares her past and her mission with Michael, it’s strange how quickly he is to take everything she’s said at face value. It’s bizarre how quickly Lia convinces those around her to go ahead with her plan; it came across as too simplistic to be realistic.
While I think the themes of self-discovery and purpose will resonate with readers, the lack of dimension to the characters will be a difficult hurdle for many readers to overcome. This character-driven space drama is lacking in emotional meat. It’s an interesting concept, but the execution is off. Even simple atmospheric elements like the use of futuristic slang terms, “bull-slag” “you’re one in a galaxy” “you glitch”, came across as forced rather than contributing to the world created. Quite simply, NOVA did not work for me.
Fortune’s Pawn was an excellent sci-fi adventure with a kick-butt heroine. Devi Morris is an ambitious mercenary and she is not ashamed to admit it. EFortune’s Pawn was an excellent sci-fi adventure with a kick-butt heroine. Devi Morris is an ambitious mercenary and she is not ashamed to admit it. Everything that Devi does is with one goal in mind: to become a Devastator, one of the elite soldiers of her people, the Paradoxians. When she signs on with the Glorious Fool Devi thinks she’s found her ticket into the Devastators, only to find all is not as it appears on this seemingly unassuming trader ship.
What stands out in Fortune’s Pawn is the character of Devi herself. Devi is unapologetic about her ambitions and she’s not about to allow anyone stand in the way of her ultimate goal. It would be easy for Devi to be a one-dimensional character, but that is clearly not the case. Devi may name her weapons, but she’s not a trigger-happy mindless soldier, she cares about what she’s sent to do and because of that she gets curious. And in this case, curiosity is not necessarily a good thing. Devi lands herself in the soup by the end of Fortune’s Pawn and it’s anyone’s guess exactly what Devi has gotten herself involved in by signing on the Glorious Fool. The captain clearly has more authority than a simple trader. The handsome cook has skills more suited to the battlefield than the kitchen. And then there’s the captain’s silent daughter. What aren’t they telling Devi and why does her knowledge put her in even more danger?
The unanswered questions in Fortune’s Pawn will keep me coming back for the next book. Devi is clearly being used, but I can’t see Devi allowing this to continue. The question is why Devi is being used? What is the big secret? Readers are only treated to small snippets of what this secret is. There’s a mysterious big bad out there and Caldswell and his crew seem to be doing something about it, but that doesn’t make them heroes. What side Devi is going to come down on is anyone’s guess.
While there is a lot of action and guns blazing, there was a strong romance throughout Fortune’s Pawn. Rupert, the mysterious cook, attracts Devi’s eye from the moment that they meet. It’s very clear that Rupert is hiding something and it doesn’t play out well for their budding relationship. But, never fear romance readers, this is the first in a trilogy, so I suspect there is more to the end than meets the eye, and hopefully a happily-ever-after is in store by book three. Although since Devi is a warrior woman, I'm rather sure this happy ending is going to be anything but conventional.
Fortune’s Pawn was a fun, action-packed read, filled with mystery and romance. I loved the space setting, the aliens and the characters. Devi Morris was one determined woman, and I loved the fact that readers really get inside her head. I can’t imagine that this super soldier will be kept down for long. On to book two!
I had Ancillary Mercy sitting on my shelf for over a month before I actually picked it up to read. Not because I didn't want to read it, but because rI had Ancillary Mercy sitting on my shelf for over a month before I actually picked it up to read. Not because I didn't want to read it, but because reading it means that Leckie's fantastic trilogy is at an end.
Ancillary Mercy fantastically wraps up the story arc established in the first two books while also leaving readers frustratingly unsatisfied, after all, "Every ending is an arbitrary one. Every ending is, from another angle, not really an ending" (p. 316). And that contradictory ending, which is is both satisfactory and unsatisfactory, pretty much sums up what I have enjoyed about Leckie's trilogy: she makes me think. Whether I'm thinking about the nature of language, or the nature of personhood, or the concept of citizenship, or the host of other compelling subjects tackled, I'm always deeply engrossed in this world and the cerebral nature of it. In Ancillary Mercy, Breq finally comes to the point where she can get the revenge on the ruler of the empire, Anaander Mianaai - or at least the segment of her that Breq comes into contact with. Anaander Mianaai arrives at Atheok Station soon after peaceful protests begin and Anaander promptly moves to have Fleet Captain Breq taken into custody as she is an ancillary and not actually a person capable of running a fleet. Of course, another version of Anaander put Breq into this position of power in the first place...
Confusing, I know. But, I like this confusion and the way that this is explored in theme of identity that has been threaded through all three books in the trilogy. In Ancillary Mercy we see this notion of identity or personhood taken to the next level as Breq starts to consider her own identity as well as that of other ships (i.e. artificial intelligence). Why should Breq be the only "thing" to be considered unique and "human"?
Oh, I knew that Ship cared for me. It couldn't help caring for any captain, to some degree. But I knew, from when I had been a ship, that there was a vast difference between a captain you cared for just because she was your captain, and a favorite. And thinking that, alone here, outside the ship, in utter emptiness, I saw that I had relied on Ship's support and obedience - and, yes, its affection - without ever asking what it wanted. I had presumed much further than any human captain would have, or could have, unthinkingly demanded to be shown the crew's most intimate moments. I had behaved, in some ways, as though I were in fact a part of Ship, but had also demanded - expected, it seemed - a level of devotion that I had no right to demand or expect, and that likely Ship could not give me (p. 133-134).
This new awareness in Breq of her fellow Ships and Stations was a really important part of Ancillary Mercy. Breq is not unique in her ability to be an individual, her fellow Ships and Stations, her cousins, are just as capable of being as individual as Breq. And ultimately, it is her fellow cousins and their right to individuality that Breq ends up fighting for. And it is those cousins that fight for Breq in return. Yes, Breq is still after revenge for the wrongs done against her, but her mission expanded into something far more pervasive. And that, my friends, is why this trilogy is so important. Ancillary Mercy is more than a good story, it's a statement about many things, and it's up to you as the reader to discover these nuggets of wisdom.
Another wonderful element to Ancillary Mercy is it humour. I'm not sure if this humour passed me by in the previous two books. Perhaps when I was too busy pretending to be a serious reader who must read deeply in order to appear more serious. (Occasionally, I feel the need to be a more serious person who needs to prove their seriousness in their reading material.) At any rate, Ancillary Mercy was funny! Why this surprised me, I don't know, but it did delight me when reading. In particular, the addition of the Preseger Translator Zeiat to the cast of characters was genius in providing comic relief in the midst of rebellion. There are so many instances of Zeiat's alien nature peppered throughout this book and each serves to bring a great deal of levity to the most dire of situations:
"What's this I head?" Translator Zeiat came into the doorway. "You're going to the station, Fleet Captain? Excellent! I'll come along."
"Translator," I said, still standing in the middle of my quarters, hand still partly outstretched from giving Seven Brilliant Truths Shine like Suns to Kalr Five, "we're in teh middle of a war. Things are very unsettled on the station right now."
"Oh!" Comprehension, recognition showed on her face. "That's right, you said there was a war. A very inconvenient one, as I recall. But, you know, you're all out of fish sauce. And I don't think I've ever seen a war before!" (p. 293-294).
Translator Zeiat is just one of many wonderfully captured characters. And all these characters serve an important purpose. Even Zeiat for her unintentional hilarity serves a very important purpose in the grander scheme of things. So if you like your sci-fi character driven, you will not be disappointed with those you are introduced to in the trilogy. Really, how could you be went a central theme is identity? If that's going to be a theme, you characters certainly must be good.
If you've read the first two books in the trilogy you're certain to like this final book that wraps up many loose ends. If you haven't yet started the trilogy than I urge you to start. If you like your science fiction compelling and thought provoking, smart and witty, you absolutely can't go wrong with Leckie's trilogy. Just make sure you start with book one, Ancillary Justice.
Ancillary Sword is an excellent follow up to the fascinating Ancillary Justice. While I liked Ancillary Justice, I loved Ancillary Sword, perhaps siAncillary Sword is an excellent follow up to the fascinating Ancillary Justice. While I liked Ancillary Justice, I loved Ancillary Sword, perhaps since I actually had the time to really appreciate the complexity of the world that Leckie has created.
Ancillary Sword picks up where Ancillary Justice left off. Breq has failed in her mission to kill Anaander Mianaai, ruler of the Radchaai. Not that her mission would have been simple as Anaander exists in thousands of iterations. Killing one Anaander would not solve the problem that is the many bodied Anaander.
Breq has been put to work by Anaander and is sent to Atheok (the only place she would actually allow herself to be ordered to go) to keep the peace while Anaander wars with the other iterations of herself. Breq is angry, so very angry about her position, but she goes because she wants to protect the sister of the captain that she served and was forced to kill as an ancillary. When she arrive on Atheok, Breq realizes that there is much happening and not all of it good and takes it upon herself to investigate the problems that she can see there.
What I liked about Ancillary Sword is how understated the character of Breq is. She's not exactly human, but that fact serves to highlight the contradictory notion of Breq's inherent humanity. She feels deeply the loss of her previous life as the Justice of Toren; she misses those segments of herself and feels isolated because it. In her previous life she was connected to her other segments and her crew in a way that is no longer possible for her. In fact, I thought Ancillary Sword had a grieving tone throughout. To me, it seemed that Breq was grieving the loss of her previous life which wasn't evident in Ancillary Justice. In the previous book, Breq was preoccupied with revenge. That revenge has failed and it seems that Breq finally has to come to terms with the life she now lives. In Breq's recollections of her past as Toren, it's clear that she was many things to many people on her ship and now she has to find a way to do this again as a singular entity. To me, it seems that Breq has evolved from book one and is slowly allowing herself to build new connections to humans in a way that is foreign to her, even when she would rather not.
While Breq is a very compelling character, it's the world of that has kept me captivated in both the previous and current installment of the trilogy. There are so many parallels to reality, so many comparisons to history that are brought to mind as I read through Ancillary Sword. These connections to the world outside the book serve to make this a thought-provoking read.
The Radchaai Empire is structured on colonization and the problems with it is explicitly addressed in Ancillary Sword. It is the history of the "uncivilized" precursors to the Radchaai takeover that lead to the problems that Breq now faces.
Politics from before an annexation were considered irrelevant, any old divisions wiped away by the arrival of civilization. Anything remaining - languages, perhaps, or art of some kind - might be preserved as quaint museum displays, but of course never figured into official records. Outside this system, Athoek looked like any other Radchaai system. Uniform. Wholly civilized. Inside it, you could see it wasn't, it you looked - if you were forced to acknowledge it. But it was always a balancing act between the presumed complete success of the annexation and the need to deal with the ways in which that annexation had, perhaps, not been entirely complete, and one of the ways to achieve that balance was by ignoring what one didn't have to see (p. 124).
In Ancillary Sword, Breq decides to pay attention to what the officials on Athoek have been willfully ignoring. She searches out the history of the annexation in order to understand the politics, and ultimately calls many individuals on their actions. Now, Breq's actions as a "savior" could have been overplayed, but again Ancillary Sword delves into the complex motivations behind Breq's decision to involve herself. Yes, she genuinely wants to help, but she is well aware of her limitations and is also aware that she is certainly not someone who can determine justice as the notion of justice is complicated in and of itself.
"What is justice, Citizen?" I replied with my own question. "Where did justice lie, in that entire situation?" Siriz didn't reply, either angry or at a loss for an answer. Both were difficult questions. "We speak of it as though it's a simple thing, a matter of acting properly, as though it's nothing more than an afternoon tea and the question only who takes the last pastry. So simple. Assign guilt to the guilty" (p. 291).
The problem is that Breq seems to become the arbiter of justice throughout the book, at least in other character's minds. In each situation that Breq becomes involved in, she somehow finds herself central to the outcome. She forces the other players to see the situation in a different way. It's an interesting role that Breq plays since it never seems evident that it's her intent to become a leader, Breq simply acts and those actions have ripple effects.
In a sense, it seems that Breq is simply allowing herself to be pulled into a leadership role; however, I also think that there is a element of atonement in her actions. She murdered someone that she loved based on an order from her superior and I think that she feels guilt for that and wants to show herself that she can be someone different. Breq's motivations and actions are always complex and not always immediately clear to the reader (at least, to this reader), but this only make Breq all the more compelling of a character, one that I want to learn more about. I'm especially interested to see how Breq grows in the third book and how she adapts to her new human relationships and if these will change her and her personality.
Ultimately, Ancillary Sword is a smart, thought-provoking read. It's an interesting setting in both an alien and familiar world; a perfect read for more traditional sci-fi fans who are looking for a character-driven plot set in a richly detailed world. Based on the first two books that I've read, I can almost guarantee that this will be a trilogy that I will highly recommend, I can't imagine that the third book (out in October 2015) will let me down in any way.
Ancillary Justice is a sci-fi novel that has been getting a lot of buzz (it won the 2014 Hugo for Best Novel, among others), and so while it’s not somAncillary Justice is a sci-fi novel that has been getting a lot of buzz (it won the 2014 Hugo for Best Novel, among others), and so while it’s not something I would generally pick up, I decided to give it a try. Ancillary Justice has a lot going on, it mediates on the themes of identity, humanity, gender and what I read as imperialism - all very heavy themes, all of which were explored in a complex and meaningful ways in the novel. In all honesty, I don't think I do the book justice in a review, so take my words simply as a primer to a very good book.
Breq is a soldier on a mysterious mission. She was betrayed and is now less than she once was. Before she was the Justice of Toren, a starship, and now she is only a segment of that intelligence inhabiting a single human body. For the past nineteen years Breq has been working towards the goal of getting revenge on the one that betrayed her, Anaander Minaai, the leader of the Radch. A leader that, like the former Breq, exists in many bodies, making this revenge plot nearly impossible. Finally, Breq is close to her end game, and with that, her past is revealed to those close to her and this will either help or hinder her mission.
Throughout the novel the story jumps back and forth from the present to the past. In the present Breq is seeking her revenge and in the past, readers come to understand what has led to this seemingly inhuman intelligence to be motivated by anger, an emotion that you would not immediately associate with an artificial intelligence. For me, the exploration of what it means to be human was the most compelling part of this novel. It’s difficult to label Breq as human or inhuman. On first glance, Breq has all the physical characteristics of a human, at least, in her current incarnation, but it soon becomes apparent that she is “other”. The fact that Breq has broken from her larger, all encompassing artificial intelligence forces the reader to question the meaning of humanity. Breq certainly commits inhuman acts (ie. murder) but her thought process is unarguably human.
The novel is revealed solely through Breq's own perspective and I think this fact only strengthens the notion that Breq is "human" even if she's technically not. Breq is often confused and struggles to read those around her in her new existence. As the Justice of Toren, Breq had thousands of places and means to access information, now, trapped in a human body, she has to rely on her own senses. The sense of frailty, to me, labels Breq as human. I think raising this question of humanity is an important one in Ancillary Justice as it forces the reader to make those connections among race as well, especially as the world that Breq inhabits is based on the Radch being the supreme and only civilized humans. With Breq's existence, readers have to question these labels, which allows you to get a deeper understanding of the themes of colonization that also exist in the novel.
Along with Breq's questionable status as a human is her construction of identity. As Justice of Toren, Breq was more than a single entity, she was many instances, all working in concert with one another as a collective. However, this system of a singular identity existing in multiple instances is challenged as some of these instances exhibit individual characteristics. In fact, this individuality is exactly why Breq set forth on her path towards revenge. Alongside this artificial intelligence is the true humans of the Radch, who also seem to lack individuality, even their gender is ambiguous. Rather, the Radch seem to strive towards the goal of being a single mind, with each member of the Radch having the same values. A mighty goal since the Radch has annexed thousands of groups of peoples, ensuring that they all adopted the proper Radch value system. What Breq's individuality has shown readers is that it is possible to evoke change by embracing individuality rather than accepting the status quo. How that will play out in the Radch will be interesting and have me coming back for book two.
The lack of individuality in the Radch is an ideal that is breaking down at the point of Ancillary Justice. The Radch has been annexing civilizations for centuries, colonizing people and ultimately forcing them to take the "civilizing" identity of the Radchaai. This novel demonstrates that this process is not sustaining; it will eventually break down causing conflict. You don't a utopia when everyone is the same, something else is going to fill that vacuum and make a return to violence. It's this state of change that is happening in Ancillary Justice. Breq has forced a select few to take notice of this coming conflict, but the very idea that the system is broken is something that the leader of the Radch wants suppressed.
Ultimately, Ancillary Justice is a very complex novel and I understand why it has received the recognition that it has. While the narrative style is, at times, confusing, it is a story that's worth reading. A great one to recommend to more hard-core sci-fi fans out there.
Their Fractured Light is the third and final book in Kaufman and Spooner's spacey Starbound trilogy. I've enjoyed both These Broken Stars and ThisTheir Fractured Light is the third and final book in Kaufman and Spooner's spacey Starbound trilogy. I've enjoyed both These Broken Stars and This Shattered World, but I have to admit to feeling a bit let down by Their Fractured Light.
Their Fractured Light picks up soon after the events in This Shattered World; however, readers are now following two new characters Sofia Quinn, teen con artist, and Gideon Marchant, computer hacker extraordinaire. Like the characters in the previous books, Sofia and Gideon are both fighting against LaRoux Industries. LaRoux Industries has a dastardly plan and both Sofia and Gideon are fighting back unbeknownst to the other. This is the big tension between Gideon and Sofia; neither know that they are essentially on the same side. Secrets. Unnecessarily complicating teen lives since forever.
Sigh. I have to admit the whole secrets and teens fighting against a large corporate conglomerate beggared belief. Perhaps I could have rolled with it, it's fiction after all, had the other characters from the previous not arrived and then they all saved the day because of team work. I don't know, it just came across as kind of unrealistic and too warm and fuzzy for me.
As for the romance, I was kind of disappointed. Don't get me wrong Gideon and Sofia have some great moments, but I felt that their relationship kind of fell to the wayside with all the action and fighting against the man that was happening here. And in all honesty, I kind of felt that way about the romance element in the previous two books in the trilogy. I like the idea of switching up characters with each book, but I don't think it completely worked if you look at the romance aspect of the books, especially the last two books.
I guess what it really boils down to is that I don't have much to say about this book. Apologies for the short review. It was just an "okay" read for me. I loved the setting, but I found myself bored with the characters and plot more often than not. I really liked the author's writing style and the inclusion of multiple points of view (not enough of this in YA land) but ultimately it was not the book for me.
This Shattered World is exactly what I’m looking for in a space adventure. There’s action, rebellion, and an impossible romance, what more can you askThis Shattered World is exactly what I’m looking for in a space adventure. There’s action, rebellion, and an impossible romance, what more can you ask for? This was a very good follow-up to These Broken Stars, which I also quite enjoyed.
This Shattered World is the second in a trilogy; however, what I like about this trilogy is that it changes the focus of the narrative by introducing new characters. Yes, we see the characters from book one, but new characters, Jubilee Chase and Flynn Cormac are the focus of this story.
On a colonized world, Avon, the inhabitants are controlled by the military, which naturally leads to a rebellious faction that would like to overthrow the military that is “protecting” them and assert their own independence. Flynn Cormac is the leader of that rebellion and has been since the death of his elder sister. Unlike many of his compatriots, Flynn wants his people to gain their independence with minimal bloodshed. Unfortunately, when Flynn kidnaps a well-known captain, he unwittingly provides his people with the motive for violence, forcing him to take a stand against the very people he is trying to lead. Lee Chase is a respected, ruthless, and loyal young captain. She’s climbed to the top following her enlistment after the death of her parents. She’s a leader and because of that she is willing and able to make the tough decisions, but it also means that she’s often alone because of her status. She is committed to enforcing the orders that she is given and that includes putting down the rebellion. She doesn’t count on Flynn Cormac confusing her allegiance or the fact that she will take risks that she never would have dreamed of. This is what happens when you start to question the orders that you're given.
Having read These Broken Stars, I was really anticipating reading it’s follow-up. I loved the world, and I gotta say, I think This Shattered World was better. There was less overt romance, but I think the world building and suspense was stronger in this one. This Shattered World explores further the events from These Broken Stars and demonstrates the consequences of the corporation Terra Dynamic’s stranglehold on the Galatic Council. The control that Terra Dynamics is trying to assert has reached it’s breaking point and there are serious consequences for what they were trying to do. The theme of corporate control is one that plays a big role in This Shattered World, and it’s a theme that I think is timely.
Other than the overall great plot of This Shattered World, I also loved the narrative style and light romance. Like These Broken Stars, this one is also written in alternating chapters in the main characters' perspective. This means readers are treated to both Lee and Flynn’s thought processes, most notably their confusion about what’s happening and their changing attitude to one another. I think this style was especially important in This Shattered World because both Lee and Flynn are on opposite sides of a war. Getting both sides of the story was important because it showed that the larger conflict was not black and white. Neither Lee or Flynn are the villain or the hero; the issue is more complex than that, and it is that complexity that added an interesting element to the romance of This Shattered World.
Unlike These Broken Stars I didn’t think romance played as big of a role in This Shattered World. Quite simply, there were larger issues at play and there was a huge barrier between Lee and Flynn’s attraction to one another. Lee and Flynn shouldn’t have even formed a relationship. Lee’s duty is to arrest Flynn, but she doesn’t. Because of the ideological differences between them, Lee and Flynn’s romance does not progress quickly here. It takes time for both of them to sympathize or even try to understand the other’s point of view. While I would have liked a little more to the romance, I do think that it progressed in a realistic manner. Had the romance progressed different, I think it would have read like a capitulation on the part of the authors to what's expected in the YA genre. On the surface This Shattered World looks like a fluffy romance, instead, once you start reading, you're in for a much more complex read.
This Shattered World was a great installment in the Starbound trilogy. The conflict with Terra Dynamics is not resolved as of yet, and I'm eager to learn how that will play out in the final book. Too bad I have a year's wait ahead of me...
The Ophelia Prophecy is a sci-fi romance that I was really looking forward to. The premise sounded amazing:
Our world is no longer our own. We2.5 Stars
The Ophelia Prophecy is a sci-fi romance that I was really looking forward to. The premise sounded amazing:
Our world is no longer our own. We engineered a race of superior fighters -- the Manti, mutant humans with insect-like abilities. Twenty-five years ago they all but destroyed us. In Sanctuary, some of us survive. Eking out our existence. Clinging to the past.
Some of us intend to do more than survive.
Asha and Pax -- strangers and enemies -- find themselves stranded together on the border of the last human city, neither with a memory of how they got there.
Asha is an archivist working to preserve humanity’s most valuable resource -- information -- viewed as the only means of resurrecting their society.
Pax is Manti, his Scarab ship a menacing presence in the skies over Sanctuary, keeping the last dregs of humanity in check.
Neither of them is really what they seem, and what humanity believes about the Manti is a lie.
With their hearts and fates on a collision course, they must unlock each other's secrets and forge a bond of trust before a rekindled conflict pushes their two races into repeating the mistakes of the past.
We’ve got a heroine that has a missing memory, a bioengineered hero – how could it not be a great read. Unfortunately, this one missed the mark for me.
What worked for me in The Ophelia Prophecy was the set up and the world – it was just so cool. We have the Manti race, which humans engineered. Then the creations took over. I loved the descriptions of this humanoid race and I enjoyed the subsequent race relations that emerged out of this scenario. This was interested and intriguing and a lot of food for thought. The fact that the Manti are essentially herding the humans and allowing them the illusion of freedom reminded me of many utopian novels I loved that this can be seen as social commentary. While this utopia setting was not central to the novel, the fact that Asha comes from a utopic village added another dimension to a complex world.
So, in the end what I liked about this one was the more hard-core sci-fi elements. This expansion of real world problems (like bioengineering), that forces you to think about it in the context of the book and in real life is what sci-fi is all about and I think in this respect, the author nailed it. However, there was one element that I didn’t like…
I like romance, folks, and it likely fills the bulk of my reading material. So the romantic element to The Ophelia Prophecy is what initially got me intrigued. The sci-fi elements were, to my mind, icing on the cake. Unfortunately, the romance did not work for me.
Asha and Pax have a forbidden romance; they’re on different sides of an ongoing battle. This is a great trope in romance and generally I really like it as you get to see the characters start to come to understand their enemy’s point of view. I may have missed something here, but I just didn’t feel that Asha and Pax really understood the other’s side. I’m not convinced that Asha and Pax will have a happily ever after.
But what really bothered me was that their relationship was based on an instant physical attraction. This is fine, but I never felt that the relationship progressed past just the physical. For the bulk of the book Asha and Pax were at odds with one another or on the run and heading into danger. There just wasn’t time for a relationship to be built. Again, this is fine and it’s even finer if the book is the start of the series, but what really bugged me was that physical relationship ended with a declaration of love. Personally, I didn’t see the basis for either of the characters be “in love” with the other and this completely brought my enjoyment of this book down. It was a case of insta-lust disguised as insta-love.
Ultimately, I can’t say that I recommend The Ophelia Prophecy for die-hard romance fans like me. There was a lot of promise here with the world-building, in the end, the characters were flat for me.
*Review copy provided by the publisher via NetGalley.
Wen Spencer's Endless Blue is, in many ways, very similar to The Ophelia Prophecy. There's complex world building going on, but there is a big focus on race relations and the creation of super soldiers through gene manipulation. Turk is one of these super soldiers, and like Pax, he's got some issue with it, although I do feel Turk was a little more tortured by it. There's also a romance in Endless Blue, but it does not overshadow the main plot, so it would be a good read for those who are not as obsessed with the romance genre like me.
If you liked the enemies to lovers theme in The Ophelia Prophecy, Marcella Burnard's Enemy Games would be a good choice. Jayleia and Damen are on the opposite sides of an intergalactic war and they certainly don't need the added complication of a relationship, but alas that's exactly what they get. There's definitely a more significant emphasis on the romance here. It also came to mind because there's some sort of genetic modification going on with Damen.
My final recommendation is Eve Kenin's Driven, which was a complete surprise read for me. Like Pax and Asha, Raina and Wizard (seriously awesome name) are thrown together by circumstances and they find themselves involved in a much larger conspiracy. Again, this one has more of a focus on romance, but it's fast paced and has a cool futuristic setting.
This was not what I was expecting, and I was kept guessing until the end. Quite enjoyed it. Review closer to pub date.
*ARC provided by the publisherThis was not what I was expecting, and I was kept guessing until the end. Quite enjoyed it. Review closer to pub date.
*ARC provided by the publisher via NetGalley.
Tin Star is the first in a new teen sci-fi series, and it certainly fits the sci-fi bill.
Tula Ban is fourteen when she makes a stop at the Yertina Feray space station as part of a colony from Earth. Unfortunately, Tula asks too many questions and finds herself brutally beaten and left behind while the ship departs. Left for dead, Tula is taken in by an alien, Heckleck, who reluctantly develops a soft spot for this human and teaches her to survive within the alien species at Yertina Feray.
Years go by and Tula adapts to her new way of life. She’s now seventeen, a well know trader in her own right, just skirting the law on this less-than-civilized space station. What keeps Tula going is her need for revenge. She wants to kill the colony leader that left her for dead and is seemingly responsible for the death of her mother and sister. When a group of humans arrive on the space station, it seems that Tula’s revenge is much more imminent, but can she trust these humans? And why does the head of law enforcement, Tournour, seem adamant about Tula keeping out of things?
Tin Star was a wonderful first installment to a series. The writing was sparse and direct but this world was beautifully created. The politics of the galaxy played centre stage, which was surprising for a teen novel:
The rules of the galaxy had been made up long ago. The first worlds to travel and settle were the Major Species. Those Major species fell in and out of power. They passed off power, keeping the center of the map rotating like a fiery ring of suns. They stretched their reach as far as they could. But new planets were always being discovered. New life. New civilizations (p.51).
Humans are only a minor species in this world, and Tula is looked upon with suspicion and disdain when she first arrives at Yertina Feray, but she gradually gains many aliens respect as she deals and trades in favours on the station. For the most part, Tula stays out of the larger politics that govern the station and the galaxy, but she is about to realize how her revenge and the larger world are connected.
The political planning in Tin Star was intricate. It was fascinating to see how the world was established and who gains power and how this power changes hands. Normally, I’m not a huge fan of this type of plot line in novels; however, I think because this storyline was combined with such an interesting character, I was happy to learn more about this world.
Tula Bane is a character with many facets. At first glance she’s skirting the law on the station by working with Heckleck; she’s an almost criminal. However, when the humans arrive on the station, you realize that there is so much more to Tula. She’s been without human contact for years and this has changed her completely. In some ways, Tula is just as much an alien as the other species on the station. It was fascinating to see how Tula’s interactions with the humans are played out.
While I loved how Tin Star combined a political sci-fi thriller with a character-driven plot, I could have used more interaction with Tula and the other characters in the novel, especially the aliens. If there is a weakness in Tin Star is would have to be Tula’s relationship’s with others. While Tula is connected to some, these relationships come across a little wooden since readers don’t really “see” the interaction between Tula and others. One specific example that comes to mind is Tula’s complicated relationship with Tournour. Tournour is the head of security at the station and over the years he’s dealt with Tula and her almost-criminal ways and they seem to have developed a friendship. Readers don’t really see a lot of this friendship, so when I got to the end, I felt thrown for a loop with regards to the relationship. I think a little more “show” and less “tell” of the relationships Tula has had with the aliens would have went a long way in understanding the ending.
Overall, I loved Tin Star and I will be recommending it to fans of sci-fi. This isn’t your average teen romance in space, this was something much more complex and I was kept continually guessing throughout the whole novel. This was a wonderful character study of a complex young woman and I cannot wait to see how Tula changes in the next book.
I picked Perdition up on a whim one weekend at work. I had read Aguirre's Grimspace but wasn't in love with the book enough to continue the series. BuI picked Perdition up on a whim one weekend at work. I had read Aguirre's Grimspace but wasn't in love with the book enough to continue the series. But, for whatever reason I was looking for some sci-fi and decided Perdition fit the bill.
Perdition is set on a prison spaceship. The worst of the worst are sent to this ship in the hopes that everyone will eventually kill each other off. But this floating prison has more order than you would originally assume. There are six sectors and each is ruled very differently. Dresdemona "Dred" Devos hasn't been ruling her sector very long when she acquires a interesting new convict, Jael, who is much more than his pretty face suggests, and just may be the most dangerous passenger on board.
When two other sectors threaten Dred, she's forced to go to war. The question becomes who can she trust within her own "kingdom" and how can she possibly gain the upper hand when she's out manned. Lucky for Dred, she's got some loyal followers who have a few tricks up their sleeves.
To be completely honest, I was totally surprised by how much I liked this book. I didn't expect the book to really centre around criminals - I was expecting more Robin Hood criminals, and that wasn't here. This book was dark and everyone on the Perdition deserved to be there, including our hero and heroine (dubious labels to be sure). I didn't expect that the book would actually focus on hardened criminals and I certainly didn't expect to like them after I figured this out. However, there was something very compelling about these criminals and it demonstrated that good and bad is so obviously not black and white.
Dred herself was a very intriguing character. So often I read books that feature the "strong female character" but almost always those characters are vulnerable. To an extent, Dred somewhat aligns with that stereotype, but I feel like it was taken to the next level with her. Dred really was harsh, she wasn't hiding a heart of gold, she is admittedly a murdered, so she was a bit of an anti-hero, which is a change for me. I haven't often come across a heroine who's motives and background is so murky. Clearly I need to be reading more sci-fi.
Jael was also an interesting character. I don't really remember him from Grimspace so he was like a new character to me, which I think worked. I don't feel that I've really missed out not having read the rest of the series, so Perdition can definitely be read as a standalone series. What I really liked about Jael was the fact that he wasn't really human; he was a creation. I find this concept really interesting, and it's been something that's drawn me to other books as well. In the case of Perdition, I found it fascinating how Jael's origins still made him vulnerable even though he was over 100 years old. He was a contrast of light and dark, hiding behind a sharp wit. Although, I will admit that I did find it strange that he seemed to have a British accent. Did anyone else think that? At any rate, I can roll with that even if I don't understand why.
Overall, this was a great start to a trilogy and I sincerely cannot wait until book 2 comes out. I want to know more about life on Perdition and I need to know if Dred and Jael will get off the ship. And while the "romance" was not a main focus in the book, I'd really like to know if these two could ever have a real relationship together considering their past and their roles within the convict community. The relationship between Dred and Jael took a backseat, but there was just enough of it to keep a die-hard romance fan interested. Fantastic read, and I highly recommend it.
The Best of All Possible Worlds surprised me. I came into the book expecting something fast paced, that would be more of an adventure sci-fi book; whaThe Best of All Possible Worlds surprised me. I came into the book expecting something fast paced, that would be more of an adventure sci-fi book; what I got was more of an anthropological review of the distant future. The Sadiri’s homeworld has been decimated by a rival race, and a group of the survivors come to Cygnus Beta start over. Cygnus Beta is a catch-all society that hosts a number of different races. The diversity of Cygnus Beta is what attracts the Sadiri as they hope to rebuild their population by connecting with those on Cygnus Beta who have a strong Sadiri ancestry. To find those with a Sadiri background a delegation is formed that will travel Cygnus Beta and connect and hopefully contact marriages with the various peoples on the planet. Lord’s novel traces this journey and the peoples that are met.
The novel is narrated almost entirely through the eyes of Grace Delarua. Delarua is assigned as a representative of the Cygnus Beta civil service to act as a liaison for the duration of the mission. Delarua has been working with the Sadiri since their arrival and has developed a rapport with a high-ranking member of their new governing council, Dllenahkh; hence her selection for the mission.
For a book that is precipitated by a national disaster, I found Lord’s writing to be oddly soothing. The novel was not fast paced and their wasn’t a lot of action, it read more like an alien travelogue than anything else. I didn’t really feel like their was a strong plot to the novel, the entire story simply seemed to flow from point A to B. The conflict that was present was resolved with very little fuss and for me, didn’t seem central to the novel overall. The various societies that the delegation interacted with actually reminded me a lot of Jonathon Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels because each society encountered was unique and “out of this world.”
Overall, I’m not really sure how I felt about the novel and I don’t think I can do the book justice in a review. The writing was strong, the characterization was a different experience for me, but there was something that didn’t totally connect for me. While I liked the characters, there was something that made the relationships between them seem one dimensional and superficial. I don’t think the relationships between characters, romantic or otherwise, was the focus of the book, and I believe that is why I did not really connect with the book. That said, I think that this one will appeal to fans of Ursula Le Guin, especially those that have read The Left Hand of Darkness, another sci-fi anthropologic examination of an alien society.
*Review copy provided by the publisher via NetGalley. ...more
The Kassa Gambit is set in the distant future, where people have colonized distant planets, all of which have no presence of sentient life. The novelThe Kassa Gambit is set in the distant future, where people have colonized distant planets, all of which have no presence of sentient life. The novel begins with the destruction of life on the planet of Kassa, and it appears that an alien life form might be to blame for this destruction.
Prudence is a freighter captain, assisting those who have survived the destruction of Kassa, an along with undercover detective, Kyle Daspar, discovers that there may be more at play than an alien attack. Separately, Pru and Kyle slowly start to piece together the larger conspiracy that involves the mysterious president of the all-powerful League. However, only by combining forces, will Pru and Kyle discover what the attack on Kassa really means and just maybe, will be able to thwart the masterminds behind the plot.
While I thought The Kassa Gambit was okay, I think I was expecting more. It was a pretty short book and it read like more of a thriller mystery than anything else. Not that having a mystery in space isn’t good; it’s just not what I was expecting when I picked up the novel.
What I liked least about the book is the characters, Pru and Kyle. The chapters alternate from each of their perspectives, but I found their interior dialogue to sound pretty similar to each other, rather than portraying individual characters. There was something about this narration that didn’t mesh well for me; perhaps it just wasn’t a writing style I enjoy, but I found it to be a little dramatic and not really a natural way for a person to think. Again, it could just be that the style doesn’t work for me.
The other issue that I had was Pru and Kyle’s insta-romance. While character driven and romance type plots are something I generally enjoy, I found the relationship between Pru and Kyle to be rather sudden considering that their first meeting there was a lot of secrets and hidden agenda’s between them. When the two paired up again to solve the mystery, it was almost like the antagonism disappeared. I would have preferred the author to have gone into more detail about how Pru and Kyle actually developed a relationship, rather than simply reading that they had been aboard the ship for weeks and that feelings had developed. I wanted to know what they were doing on the ship for weeks, rather than skipping past all the potential dialogue between characters.
Overall, I thought The Kassa Gambit was okay. I think it would appeal to readers who are looking for more of a thriller and mystery book over those looking for a character driven drama.
*An advance copy was provided by the publisher via NetGalley for review. ...more
Midnight City is the first in an apocalyptic series, The Conquered Earth. Earth has been invaded by an alien race called The Assembly. The Assembly haMidnight City is the first in an apocalyptic series, The Conquered Earth. Earth has been invaded by an alien race called The Assembly. The Assembly has quickly taken control by infecting the population with the Tone, a disease that turns the infected slowly into drones of the Assembly. The Tone blackens the infected’s eyes and inserts voices into his head that slowly become clearer to the listener until it forces him to succumb to the commands and march towards the city. Those who succumb forget who they are as well as those around them. The catch for this disease is that it only affects adults, usually in a person’s late teens. Children are exempted from the Tone and have set up their own, somewhat thriving society throughout the desecrated landscape. The adults disappear into the cities and what happens to them is unknown to the children.
In this world we meet bounty hunter, Holt Hawkins, a twenty year old who is immune to the Tone and has an awesome, taffy-eating dog, Max. He is searching for his next quarry in the form of Mira Toombs, who is wanted by the child-run Midnight City for crimes unknown to Holt. Holt doesn’t care what Mira has done; she is a paycheck and a means to solve his own mysterious problems with a gang of kids he used to run with. Holt finds himself challenged by Mira and giving her his grudging respect. Holt doesn’t want to care about anyone because as one who is immune to the Tone, anyone he cares about has succumbed and left him alone.
Complicating matters further is the appearance of Zooey, whom Holt rescues from a fallen Assembly ship. It becomes clear that Zooey is no ordinary girl; she has no memories of her life before the crash and she has uncanny intuition and the Assembly is hunting for her. Holt decides that he has to get rid of both Mira and Zooey; he’s got enough problems without having people depending on him, and he needs the reward that Mira’s capture will bring him. Of course, the more Holt gets to know Mira and Zooey, the harder it becomes for him to simply abandon them to their fates. And of course, Holt and Mira find that they are attracted to one another – a predictable relationship, but it wasn’t played up as much as I would have thought. The relationship hit the right tone in the book; Holt and Mira didn’t get too serious, I think because there was so much else going on in the novel - they are running from aliens and fighting off blood thirsty kids. This slight romance was a lot more realistic because of the situation that the characters were in and I liked how it played out.
Overall, I thought this was a solid apocalyptic book set in an interesting world. The plot was fast-paced and provided the reader with a good understanding of what life after an alien invasion would look like. The author was able to create an excellent landscape of this new earth through his descriptions, which I found to be the strongest part of this novel. For example, the depiction of the Drowning Plains and the Forsaken creatures that dwell there, was excellent. The moment when Holt noticed that there was claw marks in the wall and that he and the girls were not alone was very well done. I found that the author did a good job of creating the suspense of the unknown in this world, especially in the Drowning Plains. The description of this flooded, abandoned city very much reminded me of Stephen King and his apocalyptic novels – The Stand and Under the Dome.
Despite the fact that I really enjoyed this book, there was one thing that continued to bother me throughout the book. For me, it seemed that the society of children in the Conquered Earth sprung up awfully quickly after an alien invasion that decimated the earth and took away all of the adults. The society in Midnight City wasn’t just small groups of kids with haphazard rule Lord of the Flies style. These kids had created INFRASTRUCTURE – there was a system in place to catch criminals (ie. Holt’s a bounty hunter), there is a flourishing trade system along the river, where kids from all over flock to, and there is a fully functional underground city underneath a damn. For me the development of these systems seemed a little too sudden after the invasion. I think it was about eight years since the invasion, so that really is a short time for this whole new way of life to be established. I felt this societal development to be a bit of an inconsistent timeline, but it ultimately didn’t stop me from enjoying the story or the setting of the novel.
And lastly, I feel that I have to mention Holt’s dog, Max. This dog was one of my favourite “characters” in the book. The dog eats taffy for goodness sake! The dog was a wonderful sidekick in the book and I loved reading about Zooey’s interactions with the dog and how she called him “the Max.” This relationship was a great addition to the book and I thought it added something lighthearted to what really was a serious and break necked paced book.
Midnight City was a great start to a new series that I will be keeping my eye out for. I will certainly be adding it to my list of Hunger Games read-alikes at the library for those moments when you have to tell a kid that “Yes, we have Hunger Games, but there are seventy other people ahead of you that also want to read it.” Midnight City hits a similar tone to Hunger Games and Divergent. I also think that this book will also appeal to a more diverse audience because of the pacing and de-emphasized romance. It seems like there are so many teen paranormal romances that are targeted towards girls, its nice to see a book that has appeal factors for both genders. ...more