I'm sure that everyone is well aware that the Middle Grade demographic has a lot of adventure books. We have Rick Riordan for example, or the Seven W
I'm sure that everyone is well aware that the Middle Grade demographic has a lot of adventure books. We have Rick Riordan for example, or the Seven Wonders series by Peter Larangis, and it feels like a new one pops out every year, all following a bunch of kids try to save the world or solve an extremely old riddle that would lead to a secret civilization or something. I love that kind of premise (National Treasure, anybody? That one with Nicolas Cage? I watched that countless times!) but time and time again, the said adventure books failed to amuse or entertain me. I just can't find myself enjoying any of them. I tried, but every time, I failed to read beyond 20%. Oftentimes, I'd find the writing too poor, or too young, or too forced.
Then, like an angel wrapped in a blinding light, Diana Peterfreund appeared from the heavens and graced me with Omega City, which may now be my most favorite Middle Grade Adventure book ever, ever, ever, ever.
I'm serious. I love it so, so, so much. First chapter in and I fell hook, line, and sinker.
It's funny, and not in a manner that feels forced or trying-to-sound-young-yet-failing-miserably. The main characters are 12 year olds (with an addition of an 11th grader) and they really do sound like young kids that are curious and reckless, caring about twelve-year-old things and making jokes that are relevant if you're from that generation. I loved how the humor was so genuine and real. I read the dialogue and could see myself as them when I was their age. I try to remember any other author who impressed me with their writing of a kid, but try to rack my brain as I may, I could remember none who are even half as readl as Peterfreund's.
"Can we please stop talking about dead bodies and guns and underground monsters?" Eric said. He was swinging his flashlight at every shadow in the room. "Just in general?" "So it's fine for a video game but not in real life?" Savannah asked.
"Yes!" Eric shook his head at her, incredulous. "In real life you don't get to press reset."
This only goes to show how great of an author Peterfreund is. I absolutely adored her YA books For Darkness Shows the Stars by Across the Dark-Swept Sea, so I really expected a lot from her. I admit that I was scared she wouldn't be able to effectively write a child's carefree personality, but Omega City proved me wrong and even went beyond what I could ever hope for.
Imagine, in this book there are siblings Gillian and Eric, and Peterfreund was able to weave their sibling interaction so fantastically, with a dose of humour every now and then, making the two so endearing and lovable. I absolutely loved how despite being so different, their bond with each other would just glow within the pages. Their conversations were just so awesomely-done that I found myself smiling at almost all of them, because they reminded me how my little brother and I are with each other. Their arguments, casual banters, and protectiveness of one another were simply so captivating. In fact, when I started reading, the first thing I noticed was how their interaction was so realistically-done. I am serious in saying this is probably one of the book's highlights, because it simply stands out.
"Nope." I tapped the page. "The scan is date-stamped. Date-stamped last month. Which means that this diary wasn't destroyed in the flood. Maybe none of Dad's notes were. Maybe that pipe in the wall didn't even burst."
"Don't joke about that," said Eric. "I lost my comic book collection and my Playstation in that flood."
The sibling's dynamics with the other characters were equally awesome, too! Like Gillian and Eric, they also felt real to me, written in a way that they feel like genuine kids (something other MG adventure books never made me feel about their characters).
"Is this our pizza? Tomato, cheese, and sesame chicken?"
Savannah cocked her head to the side. " I don't think that's what you're supposed to say."
Private Pizza rolled his eyes. "Come on, kid."
"I think," Savannah went on coyly, "that if you don't say it, we get it free."
He sighed, straightened, and licked his heels together. "I present to you, lovely maiden, this golden disk of the seven heavens, baked by the flame of four noble dragons." He bowed his head over the pizza box and held it out.
There's Howard, a strange kid in the same grade, who's obsessed with anything space-related. He's a quiet guy, but blabbers nonstop when asked about his favorite topics (which often results to hilarious "Uh, here we go again!" thoughts). There's Savannah, Gillian's best friend, who is a smart cookie, but masks it all in an airhead-like aura to make herself more popular in school. She's an amazing side-kick to Gillian, always game to support her in her endeavors even if they seem far-fetched. She also has a crush on Nate, an 11th grader who works as a pizza delivery guy. He's Howard's brother and acts as their chaperone and is probably the most regrettful of the group when they find themselves in an adventure they'd never forget. Seriously, I love them all, too. Different personalities, and yet they all mash together really well.
"Nate," Howard protested, turning to his brother. "You promised."
Nate's expression was unreadable, but he stared at his brother for a full two seconds. Howard, surprisingly, stared back. Right away, Nate's expression softened. "Okay. But you guys have to swear you'll do exactly as I say."
We all nodded.
"And that the second I say we're going home, we go home."
We all nodded again.
He sighed. "I'm going to regret this. I knew as soon as you two girls showed up at the door I was going to regret this. Get in."
As for the adventure itself, all I can say is: WOW. That was one of the most awesome adventures I've ever had the pleasure of reading. It had mystery, drama, history, and science fiction mixed, resulting to a formula that this book may have just redefined. We don't see no Atlantis being discovered, or any lost wonder revealed, but we get an awesome conspiracy thing going on behind the scenes, all derived from a riddle from the diary of who was deemed a crazy scientist back during the Cold War. I don't really want to spoil anything, but I can certainly assure you that it's something that will excite you, blow your minds away, and make you wonder of the endless possibilities we as a civilization could have obtained if we were not clouded by greed, if we did not hinder progression for the sake of achieving our own selfish agendas. It will make you think back, and wonder, and wonder, and wonder.
And that, my friends, is its beauty.
All in all, hats off to Diana Peterfreund. She made an MG adventure story that even I could appreciate and love, and created a cast of characters so easy to relate to and hold dear to your heart. This is how adventure books should be, folks. This is how they should be. ...more
Such a beautiful book. Seriously, this made me sit down and think so much about the universe and the threads of human and alien life, and how even ifSuch a beautiful book. Seriously, this made me sit down and think so much about the universe and the threads of human and alien life, and how even if we haven't met other species from the other parts of the cosmos yet, we are all still somehow connected. If there's one thing that I thought of upon finish this book, it's that one day, humanity will progress so much that we can travel the stars, find other creatures, and learn from them and then have them learn from us. There is so much to learn about all of us, which can only be discovered if we have otherworldy beings to point them out to us.
Disclaimer: There may be possible spoilers if you haven't read book 1. BEWARE!
Disclaimer 2: LONG RANT ALERT
Ugh... this book.
Forgive me if you've heardDisclaimer: There may be possible spoilers if you haven't read book 1. BEWARE!
Disclaimer 2: LONG RANT ALERT
Ugh... this book.
Forgive me if you've heard me say this before, but I love zombie books. I always look forward to reading settings with these flesh-eating abominations and how the survivors would cope and deal with them. I want to see what steps they'll take in order to live normally again, how they'll manage the psychological warfare amongst each other that will inevitably come. The social collapse and how it will rise up again interest me a lot, as well as the ethics of a human person, and how low they will go when things become desperate. That's why I love reading this subgenre so much - there's so many themes to explore beyond the gore and the blood.
Unfortunately, In The End, the sequel to In The After which also serves as the end to the duology, somehow fell short. I was not very impressed with the first book, so I had hoped that the second installment would be more epic. While it certainly did give some answers with regards to the mystery of the Floraes, the main character was insufferable, the love triangle was annoying, and the pacing was awful.
In fact, if you ask me, I'd divide this book into two parts:
1.) The dragging prison arc where the same shit happens over and over again (the MC not learning from her mistakes each time), and; 2.) The ending which could just be the most rushed ending ever, while also portraying one of the most cliché villains in the worst way possible.
The Prison: Fort Black
Amy has left New Hope and has been in the wild for a few months now. She left Baby there and in the hands of Rice, hoping he will keep her safe. One day, the most predictable shit happened: Baby got taken by Dr. Reynolds, the eeeevil scientist! Well, I'm sure everybody saw that coming... how else would the plot move along, especially since Amy's world revolves around Baby now? In any case, Kay instructs her to find her brother, Ken, in Fort Black - someone who will surely help her take Baby back.
Let's talk about the positives: Fort Black is a shithole, and the book shows that grim atmosphere effectively. You can really feel the stink of desperation and starvation here, especially with how it's crammed with 2000 people, some of them criminals, in extremely close quarters. Like how a prison goes, there is usually an alpha here who makes and enforces his own law, and does things that benefit him and keep others in line. I'm not sure I'd want to be in such an environment if this were to happen in real life. You may be safe from the "zombies" outside, but one should wonder if there are far worse dangers inside the walls.
But, see, Amy knows it's dangerous. We know it's dangerous. The MC describes the place enough for us to retch in its monstrosity. However, for some unworldly reason, she seems to have lost her common sense and sense of self-preservation, and every time she does something without thinking of it first, it drives me up a wall and I can't help but feel so fucking annoyed.
1.) You wanna win the game? Then. Play. The. Fucking. Game. In this prison, the males rule. Many of them are former criminals, and it's hard to fight against such brutality. This especially does not bode well for women, who find themselves victims of such people. In order to be protected from others, you need to be "claimed" by a man, ideally a powerful one with enough connections to intimidate other even worse men away. Amy was lucky enough to meet Jacks whose uncle was the Warden, and he decided to pretend to claim her so she can be protected from the sleazebags.
However, Amy is kinda... wishy-washy with this primitive concept. She at first recognizes the value of being under Jacks' name. She's still seen as fresh meat by the disgusting inmates, and this hinders her from reaching her goal. Yet, every now and then, she argues with him about being "owned" even though both of them know it's merely a farce. She once even yelled at him about it (which could have compromised her already good situation since DUH JACKS IS THE WARDEN'S NEPHEW), to the point of running away from him which then led her to the arms of bad men who decided to take advantage of her. They almost won over her if they weren't interrupted by superpower Brenna, who, bless her heart, reminded her that she's just making her situation worse.
And I'm shaking my head here because she speaks the fucking truth. INSTEAD OF GOING AGAINST THE RULES, USE IT TO YOUR ADVANTAGE, YOU FUCKING IDIOT. YOU'RE SURROUNDED BY HUNGRY MEN WHO DON'T HAVE ANYONE, NOT EVEN THE LAW BECAUSE IT'S USELESS AT THIS POINT, TO STOP THEM FROM ACTING ON THEIR WANTS.
... which leads to point numero dos.
DON'T LET YOUR BRAIN GATHER DUST. USE IT.Look, I'm all for reckless girls, because that screams personality, but I like reckless girls who can use their brains. I want them to take their surroundings into consideration, and be one step ahead of everyone else, even if there's a chance of their plans failing. Unfortunately, Amy seems to have lost it somewhere.
This is where it feels like this arc is dragging. This part of the book is pretty much composed of this:
* Find this guy, get attacked * Rinse and repeat
I am not kidding.
It was so tiring to see Amy doing the same mistakes over and over again and then ending up facing the same consequences, and then whining about it later. "Don't go out of the room!" *goes out anyway* *gets attacked* "Don't step out while I'm away. We'll find this person together." *goes out by herself anyway* *gets attacked* "Don't---" *goes out anyway* *gets attacked*
And this keeps happening over and over again, and it was so tiring to read the same developments being done in circles. Like okay, we get it, Amy's recklessly reckless, and everyone's out to kill her. CAN WE PLEASE MOVE ON AND, OH, DO SOMETHING DIFFERENT?
DON'T SAY SOMETHING AND THEN DO THE OPPOSITE. THAT. BLOWS.
Ugh, this one pisses me off.
You see, I try not to take it against the book if it features a selfish character. All of us are selfish in our own little ways, and I get that. It makes the hero or the heroine far more relatable because it's impossible to find a person absolutely and inherently selfless (I mean, it probably happens, but still, it's probably a 1 in a million).
But it's just a load of bullcrap when you say one thing and then do the other.
Somewhere along the way, we get a few revelations, and Amy gets into a heated conversation with Jacks. She tells him how what is being done in the prison is wrong, and how it degrades human life and all that. How it's wrong to treat people like they're expendable. I admired her little speech, but when she later is willing to trade someone else's life for Baby's, even if that person gets tortured and hurt in her place, I got pissed.
Like, wow. Did you just forget that you were talking about how everyone was valuable, and now you're saying their life isn't really worth that much compared to Baby? That you're willing to let them be hurt, possibly killed, as long as Baby's okay? WHAT THE HELL.
Don't get me wrong, I understand where Amy's coming from. I'd probably do the same for my family and friends, for anyone who's close and dear to my heart. But it would be so much better if she's upfront about this from the very start, and didn't say those things if she were going to do the opposite. That's what pissing me off.
In any case, I felt this part was very dragging and migraine-inducing. The main character was so annoying she made me want to punch a wall. Thankfully, she gets out, and goes back to New Hope...
Now this one is probably worse than the first, despite being waaaay shorter. This part feels very rushed, because we're thrown to one event after another, all of them lacking build-up. It's like they keep having and executing these plans, but since there's no exposition or "real" conflict, it feels like things happen so smoothly and easily. Oh, we're stuck? How convenient, I know just the person! Oh, we need this particular person to get to that part of the lab? Knock, knock! Who's there? Oh, it's me, the person you're looking for! What a coincidence!
And this makes me sad a little because this part was way more interesting than the one in Fort Black. We get to see the real antagonists again, see the people we last saw in the previous book, yada yada yada, but it just doesn't feel enough. Plus the fact there were a few grievances along the way:
1.) Cliché Villain. Seriously, I remember rolling my eyes when the antagonist went on this dramatic monologue (which in that span of time could have been used to kill him, but whatever, what do I know) how he did what he did because...
wait for it...
wait for it...
BECAUSE HE HAD TO CLEAN HUMANITY'S MISTAKE AND THAT A RECONSTRUCTION OF THE WORLD WAS IN ORDER!!!
Dude. That "cleanse the world" reason is just so damn overused. It's what I expect now, and I was seriously hoping there was another reason, even if it was cliché, as long as it was, you know, less cliché than that.
It doesn't help the fact that we keep getting reminded of how crazy and manipulative and dangerous this antagonist was, that you'd expect there would be a drawn-out confrontation later, something explosive that would really end this shitty situation in a bang, only for him to be detained in a few pages by falling for the lamest of tricks.
And I'm like:
"Shit, that's all it took?! WHY HASN'T ANYONE DONE IT BEFORE IF IT WAS THAT FUCKING EASY?!"
I'm just so disappointed, you know? I expected way more than that crappy climax. It was over too soon and too conveniently. It felt like I was in a mad dash to the finish line and I wasn't even able to look at my surroundings.
AND. THAT. ENDING.
Some people may say that the ending was an open one. I didn't think it was an open ending because we got a concrete picture of what was going to happen (the resolution), but the problem is, the book ended just before that happened. And I feel pretty cheated, to be honest.
I don't even want to think about the "closure" of the love triangle. It was the lamest closure I've ever seen. How do I explain this? It's like she randomly chose someone between the two of them, and then left the other person to just take the hint. And you know what's worse? It doesn't feel like it was justifiable. I mean I get her reasons for choosing one over the other, but it felt like a cop-out to me. She spent a lot of time with each of them in the two books (one boy each), but it just didn't feel right somehow. She somehow chose one dude while not explaining anything to the other guy, who didn't even know he was in a love triangle in the first place.
I feel sorry for him.
I'm disappointed. I wasn't wow-ed by the first book, but I felt that was a stronger book than this one. It's such a shame because I liked the author's writing style, but it felt like this book was running out of ideas and started recycling and ending things early. I'll still check out the Lunetta's future works, because she has a lot of promise, but I don't think I'll be putting this one in my Hall of Faves....more
When I first read The Nightmare Affair, I instantly became a fan of the author. I enjoyed the storyline, the writing, the humor and the pace in that pWhen I first read The Nightmare Affair, I instantly became a fan of the author. I enjoyed the storyline, the writing, the humor and the pace in that particular paranormal book, and that's rare coming from me because I rank PNR very low in my preferred genres. Finding out Ms Arnett was going to write a Science Fiction complete with spaceships and interstellar travel psyched me up big time, especially since I favor that the most. If Mindee Arnett was able to hook me line and sinker with a PNR read, how much more would she be able to reel me in with a Sci-Fi?!
But, unfortunately, it left me somewhat disappointed. I'm not even sure if it deserves the three stars from me given how I wasn't emotionally invested enough. Not that I found anything wrong with the plot... in fact, it was a bit refreshing to see two influential and equally bad institutions fighting for power with the main characters unfortunately placed in the middle of all the chaos, but for a few reasons which I will shortly disclose, the magic just did not work on me. *SAD FACE*
Okay, my first complaint: the world-building just wasn't polished enough and wasn't able to give me a clear picture of what the universe in Avalon looks like. My imagination can get pretty wild, but it can't function if you're not going to give it any description to feed on. For example, I appreciated that we were given a background of how ships in this book travel great distances, which was made possible due to a technology called Metatech (Thanks to EvE Online, an MMORPG I used to play, and Star Ocean, I have an idea how this could look like, so there's that). However, most of the time, I was never given any illustration of the ships' appearances. I guess this depends on the person (we all have our own preferences, after all), but as someone really into space and sci-fi, this is an aspect I look forward to the most. I don't care how many technical terms you put there, just give me something to imagine! You could even get inspiration from the Eve Online ship models (which are pretty awesome, btw). But like I said, there was almost no description, and if there were some, they were minimal and not engaging enough for me to create a picture in my head.
I also did not like Jeth, the main character. While I recognize his impressive love and care towards his sister, he came off as absolutely obnoxious, gullible, and selfish. He was given a truly dangerous mission, something that would threaten the lives of his crew, but instead of telling the truth to his mates, he opted to keep it from them instead to ensure he gets Avalon, his parents' ship, in the end. I'm sorry, try as I might, I just can't shake this off, and ever since that scene I've been wary of him. It doesn't help that the writing just wasn't as good as Arnett's The Nightmare Affair. I felt very detached and I just couldn't connect to him at all. There were also times when I felt the narration was a bit shallow. There are a lot of characters in this book who are more interesting than Jeth, but during my reading experience, I didn't think they were given the attention they deserved. It was all about Jeth and his obsession obtaining the Avalon from his boss. What's a reader to feel when her least favorite character is ALSO the focus of the narration?
There were also some things that I felt were placed there for convenience but never explained later on. See, there was this one scene where the main character was separated from the rest of the group. Then out of nowhere, his friends came running to his rescue, thanks to the love interest, of course! Unsure how she was able to make it happen, he asked her, and she replied (non-verbatim), "Oh, we created a special communication system with CharacterA when we were kids, so there!"
The thing here is, ladies and gentlemen, I wouldn't have had any qualms with that if the kind of special communication system and the way she was able to do this when the place was heavily guarded were explained. I just can't easily accept a rescue mission that conveniently popped out of nowhere if there were no descriptive account of how that came to be. I mean, come on, I read books to escape the real world, but my brain needs to make sense of it, too.
I also didn't appreciate the romance. It felt weird and rushed. There were not many scenes with them together that really justified their "love". Also, not to mention, I really had a hard time believing Jeth's sincerity when in the first few days of their meeting, all he ever thought about was making out with her. They go try to find something important (read: IMPORTANT), and his mind was occupied with thoughts of kissing her madly. In the middle of a life and death situation in a torture room, he thought of how beautiful she was... sigh. I don't know, I'm a romantic, but in these situations, my bullshit radar is alert as fuck, and logic trumps the hopeless lover in me. #Sorrynotsorry
All in all, it was an okay read. I definitely felt Arnett's PNR series was better, but I'll definitely check out the next book to see if it will successfully reel me in. For now, though, a low three stars. ...more
Well, this is awkward... another review for a retelling from yours truly. I swear I am not seeking them out; they seem to find me, not I them. In anyWell, this is awkward... another review for a retelling from yours truly. I swear I am not seeking them out; they seem to find me, not I them. In any case, this one is extra special because it's a retelling in spaaaaaaaace. And anything set in space is automatically "cool beans" in my eyes. I mean, usually. You know. *fidgets*
Now the only problem is... where to bloody start.
You see, Stitching Snow and I have quite a complicated relationship. I liked it for the most part, but I found a lot of problems along the way, and I for one never forget these things. Once I spot one, they become even more glaring after a while. Surely now, if ever this book were sentient, it's probably regretting it had to be read by me of all people.
...okay, not really.
For one, this book is obviously futuristic, and set in a world that isn't the Solar System. Since we're in a brand new setting, I expected there to be more imagery about the environment they're in. Not only about the planets and the places they're inhabiting, but about how their orbits and stuff work as well, because there's some space travel in this one. Unfortunately, I found the world-building lacking to the point that it was nearly nonexistent.
I mean, it's cool to be bombarded with technical mumbo-jumbo since our heroine, Essie, is a mechanic... they were cool after a while, but sooner or later, I simply wanted to learn more about the setting. What does her world, Thanda, look like? What else is there in Settlement Forty-Two? What's to be found in the Bands, aside from being where the women and children live? What about Gamar? So it's hot in that planet, full of sands, and they have solar screens... and is that it? Does this planet have anything else to offer? What about Canadar? It's the place where the Exiles live, okay... the houses are in marble, okay... there are frequent earthquakes, okay... and? What goes beyond it? What about Windsong? There's a castle... that's where the King and Queen live... and? AND WHAT ELSE? WHAT BLOODY ELSE?!?!
So many questions and I'm not even halfway done. What I find really disappointing in this book is that it doesn't even bloody try. It would mention places, but I don't even remember anything special about them because they only had passing descriptive sentences that were easily forgettable. It would mention important people, but aside from their name, we don't even know what they look like.It's funny because no one has a description save for the main character and the love interest. People pop in, and we're not given a detail about them that would make them distinct from others. I mean, seriously, they go out to space to travel and we don't even get to know the name of their system's bloody star. I'm not even sure all the planets are in the same planetary system, but it definitely looks like it... and now I need more info on how that's possible, but screw details right?
Look, the thing is, I hate it when a book is really detailed to the point your brain is overloaded with overlapping images, but this is world-building, guys. For me, it cannot be vague. It doesn't need to be in every other page, it simply needs to be solid and consistent. Heck, there's a political war in this book, and the explanation on its background history can be jotted down in half a page. And that's so frustrating because the plot is centered on that fucking political war. I need more than that for me to be completely immersed in the people's plight.
Speaking about the war, I'm giggling to myself like crazy how the villain here certainly felt like Snow White's villain - simple-minded and evil for the heck of it. Or maybe there's a reason why the antagonist hated our heroine so bloody much, but I wouldn't know because the book has never expounded on it. A lot of the story is centered on stopping their evil regime, and when we finally crossed that bridge, we get a very underwhelming villain who I can easily picture as a boogeyman because there's absolutely nothing that can distinct the two anyway.
And I feel so sad about it because that's another opportunity wasted. I wish there was more to the "mean mother". We only know that she hates Essie because "she's in the way". In the way of what? The throne? But you already are Queen, and Essie wouldn't be queen yet until you die so what's the issue? I don't even get the need to control and make life miserable for other planets when the Exiles were originally co-existing with them. I certainly would have loved to know more Queen Olivia and her motives, wanted to see more than the evil caricature that she was... but yeah, no dice.
At least she has a reason why she hates you, mister.
But at least it had a strong heroine. Essie is a strong, capable, and independent girl who survived by herself for many years in the distant planet of Thanda. I loved that she had spunk, and that whenever she found herself in a bind, she sought for ways to free herself from it. She was the lost princess, but was a warrior at heart, through and through. I admit that red sirens were wailing in my head when she first found Dane in a crash site and she immediately described him as "beautiful", "as if an artist sculpted him", but thankfully, she didn't turn into a lovesick fool in the scenes succeeding that.
I liked that she had some internal conflict within her, regarding whether or not she wanted to step up and stop escaping from the harsh reality. It's more believable that way rather than charging into a war blindly without thinking things through. If I were her, I would be indecisive at first as well, because it's basically an issue of "to sacrifice myself to save them, or sacrifice them to save myself".
I'm not really sure what to think about the romance, though. I'm glad that the romance was kept at a minimum, and although there were some awkward "I love yous", it only really blossomed and materialized at the very end, which made me somewhat happy because that makes more sense than kissing during an an attempt to take the throne. However, while Dane was generally a nice person whose only fault was being quite ignorant in the beginning, he was kinda bland for me. Reading the book, it looked like to me that his personality simply revolved around Essie. It felt like he never really stood out... his personality didn't shine through at all, and he slowly blended in the background. That may have been on purpose, but I wished his presence was more felt considering his kidnapping scheme was the catalyst and he was Essie's support system.
All in all, it could have been a good retelling, but the lack of world-building made it really hard for me to appreciate this novel because as a visual reader, I need to be able to see them in my mind to immerse myself in it. The antagonist's simple-mindedness and the book's failure to bring something new to the table in this regard wasn't something that I could overlook as well. The "I'm evil because I am" is just something that doesn't work with me anymore. But thankfully, the lack of overwhelming romance and the strong heroine saved the day, and they are what redeemed this book for me....more
WARNING: THIS BOOK IS NOT FOR THE FAINT OF HEART, FOR THOSE HANGING ON TO THEIR LAST SHREDS OF SANITY, AND FOR THOSE WHO CANNOT TAKE CRAZY PLOT TWIST
WARNING: THIS BOOK IS NOT FOR THE FAINT OF HEART, FOR THOSE HANGING ON TO THEIR LAST SHREDS OF SANITY, AND FOR THOSE WHO CANNOT TAKE CRAZY PLOT TWISTS. IT'S INSANE, I TELL YOU. INSAAAAANE!
This is what Parasite by Mira Grant made me feel:
* It made me want to go on youtube to look for videos of carnivorous plants. Needless to say, I stumbled upon the weird part of that crazy site again. CANNOT UNSEE WHAT HAS BEEN SEEN. * It made me fucking scared of elongated little buggers who may just have the capability to enter your body and stay there... FOREVER. * It made me want to sit in my little corner and rock myself until the end of time. * It made me want to put protective gear... IN MY SKULL. * It made me want to die now before I feel nature's wrath upon us. * Basically...
This book is both disgusting and fascinating, both disturbing and engaging. I've never read anything by Mira Grant before, but holy hell! I'll surely buy her books from now on! This one was mad crazy good! I mean, sure, I blame the sudden appearance of my fears of parasites/worms/carnivorous plants or whatever thingies on this author, but to be honest, I regret nothing.
Here we have Sal who's had an accident, and thanks to a tapeworm installed inside her body, she finally got the chance to live again. When she woke up from her vegetable state, she remembered nothing - not even her language, the name of her parents, absolutely nada - and had to start at zero. 6 years later, she's finally better and is a contributing member of society. Yeah, she still gets therapy sessions and medical check ups at SymboGen, the institution who helped her live again, and is still guarded by her parents day in and day out, but at least she's living. Then suddenly, people are transforming. There's a sickness going around where people suddenly stop being themselves and become empty, lifeless shells moving about. SCARY EH?!
For the first 40 or so percent, we're left in the dark about almost everything. It was very slow, and it gave us an overview of Sal's life and her relationships with other people. But honestly, I didn't mind it very much because it made me understand what the heroine was going through, and the hardships she was facing. Grant really has this uncanny ability to make these fictional people feel so real and genuine; nothing sounded forced or unnatural at all. You can feel Sal's frustration and insecurities overflowing from the pages, while also sensing the tension escalating all around. There were small scenes here and there, but you can totally feel the eerie atmosphere building up as you put the pieces of the puzzle together.
And then everything went loose after 50%, where you get your answers and some shocking plot twists that I didn't see coming. I swear, at exactly 52%, my jaw dropped to the ground, with my mind going WTF WTF WTF?!?!?! It's that intense and gripping, dude. I have no other words. Sure, there were a lot of scientific terms dropped here and there, and I'm no zoologist, virologist, or heck, I'm not even that good at science, but I still enjoyed reading all about them. DO NOT GOOGLE THE TERMS PLEASE. THIS IS FOR YOUR OWN GOOD!! It becomes incredibly fast-paced, with lots of creepy and heated scenes with the heroine against the "sleepwalkers", against her family, and against the corporation that installed the tapeworm inside her and everyone else. At the last page, I was like this:
Also, there's some good character development here, too, with regards to the heroine. At the beginning, I didn't really like her that much (although I understood her) because she came across as too whiny, and too forceful with her feelings of rebellion against.. well.. everyone else! And the fact that she kept on saying she didn't know what to do, she didn't know what else to do, when the answers were kinda obvious... BUT!! She matures in the end, and I really liked how she stopped whining and finally did something for herself. You go, girl! You need to respect and love yourself more!
All in all, it was a fricking awesome read. I can't wait to read Book 2 and Mira Grant now officially joins the ranks of other authors in my to-watch-for-future-novels list. This book is hauntingly compelling and amazingly creepy. It gives a lot of food for thought when it comes to biotechnology and bioengineering. It sure taught me that not all progress is good progress! I sure hope the sequel is along the way!
An ARC was provided in exchange for an honest review. This did not alter my thoughts in any way. The following text is my opinion only.
I really, real
An ARC was provided in exchange for an honest review. This did not alter my thoughts in any way. The following text is my opinion only.
I really, really need to stop falling for covers. I mean, look at that baby right there - isn't it just mad cool? It gives me that Assassin's Creed vibe, something that I don't really play (I gave up on the first mission...) but think is awesome nonetheless. I know, I know, there's a bit of bias, but even without my identifying it with AC, it still looks pretty sweet. It has zombies. And it's post-apocalyptic! POST-APOCALYPTIC! That means something happened that made the world this way. Something scary, to have all these zombies with blue eyes coming at our throats, right?! Right?!
But... le sigh...
If there's one thing that this book made me feel, it's disappointment. I expected so, so much, given that sci-fi and post-apocalyptic fiction are two of my favorite genres, but unfortunately everything felt so... I don't know, lacking? For the first 90%, I was so frustrated with how things were going, and my mind was full of "WTF WTF WTF?!?!" and not in a good way.
First, there was very little world-building. I was just thrown into a world where there were fields and fields of empty lands, void of people and of life, save for a few walled cities and underground refuges. It's post-apocalyptic but there were some technologies that still worked (like satellites orbiting the planet...). There were these zombie-like creatures popping at night, creatures who used to roam the world as humans. AND apparently, there were also some people with special powers... These were really interesting, but I couldn't really picture it in my head because nothing was ever explained in depth. How am I supposed to consider this book as post-apocalyptic when no explanation has been given on how everything came to be? Was there a war? Was there a nuclear fallout? Where did these Weirs come from? Were they a result of some sort of mutation, or a failed bio experiment, or what? How the hell did certain people get to have superhuman abilities?
I really, really wanted everything to make sense, but it was one big WTFuckery throughout. There were times some terms were introduced, but like the world-building, I never got a clear picture of them. Apparently, you get "shipped" when you die, and it was thrown in several times, and each time I was like, "WHAT THE FUCK DOES SHIPPING OR BEING SHIPPED MEANS??!!! DUDE. As in, seriously. Then early in the novel, Cass showed this ability that kind of sends signals to satellites and can even take a sneak peek into some sort of internet technology that allows her to pinpoint where they are in a map... she used this twice in the beginning, but until the end, there were no explanation on how she can do that or on how that ability works exactly. AND IT WAS NEVER USED AGAIN. Just like that. Forgotten. Buried in the early pages. Never to be seen once more. Ugh...
And like I said, I couldn't really imagine the place. The prose and narration was more telling of what the characters were doing every fricking second (verb here, verb again, then verb verb verb), that details on the environment were almost non-existent. I wanted more exposition regarding these things, because it's with the environment and world-building where the post-apocalyptic element of this really shines. Of course, that's just my opinion; it could be different for other people. But for me, post-apocalyptic depends on the scenery, on the setting, and on how this setting affects other people, how it becomes an important factor in their every day life. And I really didn't see that here. Even the walled cities didn't really make any sense. There was this city where apparently color was everywhere and people had a particular fashion sense, and I was like HUH?! Errrr...
As for the characters, I couldn't really connect to them. At first, I totally liked Three as he was portrayed as this bad ass mofo who could kick your ass without batting an eyelid. He was shown as this way for the first 40 percent - cold, calculating, meticulous, kickass... and then later on, his personality did a 180° change. He suddenly traced his finger over Cass' cheekbone gently, nudged her on the elbow after an inside joke, he winked, suddenly "stopped breathing" when Cass smiled at him, suddenly felt warm in his chest when he saw her... like WHOA. I know I sound really nitpicky right now, but why the heck would this book portray him so much like THIS, and then next chapter he's like an all-new person? I don't know, a lot of people may see that as character development, but it was just weird to me. It wouldn't have been if there were more build-up between the two of them, but I didn't really find any that justified this sudden change. Sorry, Three, you're badass, but your lovesick puppy moments didn't work out for me.
And, of course, there's Cass... sigh. I really didn't like this heroine. I thought she was so selfish and useless. She tried to get Three to help them run away from some bad guys due to her kid's speshul power, leading him to a bigger trouble than what's its worth without him knowing. I didn't like how she involved him without having even the gall to tell him what he was up against. And apparently, she was part of this strong crew, the best crew evar that has killed a lot of people, and yet when she was traveling with Three, she was useless as hell! All she did was whine and cry and wait for things to happen or wait for Three to make things happen for her. She depended on him so much, that how she was a part of RushRuin's crew was beyond me. Truly, truly baffling. There was this scene where she was so helpless on what to do, so she asked Three about it. He said he'll find a way. And she was like, "Ok! He'll find a way! Three always does! I'll just sit here and relax!" Of course, that's not really how it happened, but you know what I mean, right?
I think this book's saving grace was Wren. He's the kid the bad guys are after, and I think he was portrayed nicely. There are some books out there where there are kids below the age of ten, but act mature for their age, or too childish. I think the author shown his confusion, his innocence, and his fears really... accurately? If that's the right word? Like you can really tell he's a six year old and a half kid. Well done on that part.
90% of the plot didn't really engage me. It was confusing as hell, frustrating, and sometimes boring. I had to skim a lot of pages. The last 10% was pretty fast-paced and cool, so that makes an extra star. I'm not sure if I'll read the sequels, though... time will tell.
Ok, premise-wise, Viral Nation isn't really that original — a virus has struck the world and left a majority of them dead and crippled. One day, a cu
Ok, premise-wise, Viral Nation isn't really that original — a virus has struck the world and left a majority of them dead and crippled. One day, a cure was found because man has discovered time travel, and the crisis was averted. Now what we have is a thriving community where everyone is at the mercy of a particular corporation as they need their suppressants to go on living. We have a plot where things aren't really what they seem, and there are shadows lurking in the backdrop, eager to have more power, and will stop at nothing to get it. It's not really a new thing; I've read similar themes before. The only difference is some of those were executed better.
I'm really sad about my rating. I enjoyed this book for the first 50-60%. Even though it's not original, I thought the prose and narration were pretty well done. Yeah, some things would need a bit more exposition, but what was there was enough for me to really like it. After that mark, though, things started becoming less fun and dark, and becoming more contrived and absurd. You know the feeling where you think it could've worked out if it only weren't for this and that? Yeah, that's how I feel basically. And there are a lot of questions. A LOT.
Clover, the main character, was pretty cool. I was a bit worried when I found out she was autistic, because something like that could easily be screwed up if you don't build up her character enough and you make her inconsistent, but I think the author wrote her personality and mannerisms well enough for me not to call bullshit. As expected, Clover's extraordinary. She has this ability to memorize and remember everything she's seen. She easily gets panicked and cries out whenever someone touches her. She hums, and rocks herself when she's feeling anxious and about to blow up. I really liked how she didn't let her condition get in the way of her dreams. She can stand on her own and doesn't take bullshit from anybody.
I liked Clover's relationship with her service dog, Mango, and with her older brother, West. Their loyalty and care for each other were very heartwarming. You can really tell from their interactions with each other that they've come from a long way. To be honest, I don't see much well-crafted sibling relationships in Young Adult as good as this one, so that's a plus.
But the romance... wasn't that great. Both of their romances felt forced in order to fit with the plot, and very random. I didn't think it was developed very well. Take Clover and Jude's romance, for instance. Clover went two years into the future, and the older Jude there kissed her. She comes back, she tells him they kissed, and after that they're all lovey-dovey and "I'll protect you!" This led me to think that the romance only happened because she became aware it happens in the future, and in their timeline, I didn't really see any scenes with both of them that could really justify their love for each other, and their having knowledge that it does happen somehow in two years doesn't really count. West and Bridget's romance, on the other hand, was even more contrived. Perhaps because as a character, we don't really get to see Bridget much, so I didn't feel that connected or involved with theirs. But like Clover and Jude's, they didn't have enough scenes that made me feel their love for each other was believable. They spent some time in the sick bay, some time in a ranch, and then "I love you! Be careful!" "I love you, too!" ._. Come on, dudes and dudettes. It's gotta be more real than that.
The world-building needed some work, too. There were a lot of things that weren't really clear with the city they live in. I also really lament the fact the book didn't give us an overview of what happened with the rest of the world. Did only America survive? Did they share the cure with the other countries? How is it outside? It was very limited. The time travel aspect felt underdeveloped, too. So people go to the future, get data from there, come back and make adjustments according to what they found out. I was wondering... if they're so keen in changing the future, why won't they just go back to the past and prevent the virus from happening in the first place? Aside from that, I don't think they used this time travel thing enough. The heroine uses it twice and that's it. I mean, it's obvious that it's such a big deal in this world, so why give it less exposure than it deserves? There's so much potential in the concept, but they only used it for "Oh, what happens to me in the future?" "Am I still alive in the future?" "Oh, this person murders this person in the future!"
Guys, I think you need to get your priorities a little straighter here, yes?
And the band of heroes... ugh. You see, there are some side characters here. And apparently, they have a bigger role in the future (of course). The book tries to portray them as the next heroes, but they only appeared to me like a bunch of clowns. I mean, how am I supposed to believe they'll change the world when they don't even do anything? All they do is sit down, and wait for others to tell them what to do, data that of course comes from *ding ding ding* the future! Like, guys. If you're gonna be heroes, at least do something honorable by yourselves... how you'll become this and that in two years or more is really baffling as y'all act like schoolchildren. There were so many inconsistencies at this part, and that's why after the 60% mark, I started enjoying it less and less.
I think this book still has a lot of potential, and I'm hoping the next instalment will work on that one. Yeah, it went downhill after a while, but I'm not losing hope. Not yet, anyway. I'm still interested enough to know what'll happen next, and I hope the sequel will finally play its cards right.
Final verdict: 3 / 5 stars
An ARC was provided in exchange for an honest review. This did not influence my thoughts in any way....more
Just so everyone knows, I love Time Travel stories. This adoration started after I read Jude Deveraux's A Knight in ShiningArmor, where a young woman finds a man from the 1500s transported in her time and she to his later.The idea of changing the future by going back to the past was just excitingly intriguing to me, and I've been on a hunt ever since for books with the same concept and quality. Unfortunately, the ones I've found were very disappointing, and I was beginning to think I wouldn't be able to find a book as good as Deveraux's. Then came All Our Yesterdays. And right now, all I'm thinking is, WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN ALL MY LIFE?!?!
This book is seriously mind-fucking good. I don't even know where to start.
I loved how it has that sense of urgency, that feeling where if we don't read fast enough, we'll run out of time, that everything will end, and our two characters' efforts will be for naught. Into the future, we see the tale unfold in Em's eyes, as she and Finn must go back to the past to make things right, and the only way to make it right is to kill him. This proves to be quite difficult, however, as they find themselves running against time, especially since the sight of their younger, inexperienced selves make the task even harder.
The plot is incredibly fast-paced, and kept me on my toes every single page, my heart pounding, my throat tightening, as I anticipated what was going to come next. I kid you not when I say there was never a dull moment in this book. And you know the best part is? THEY EXPLAINED VERY WELL THE SCIENCE STUFF! We all know the paradoxes that can result from time travel, but it was explained here very well how time is not exactly linear, and that there are forces that avoid such things from happening. So those loopholes that I've found? Poof! Right out of the window. You can really tell the plot and world-building were well thought-out and I absolutely appreciated that, especially since I'm quite cynical.
But the strongest factor of this book is neither the plot nor the world-building. What made All Our Yesterdays spectacular were the characters -Em, Marina, the two Finns, and even James.They were so three-dimensional and well-rounded that I couldn't help but imagine they were real people, and that made me feel so much for them. Em is absolutely kick-ass – she knows what she needs to do and understands the gravity of their situation, but even though her heart has hardened and her resolve like stone, she still has gentleness within her that makes her hesitant into becoming a killer. Many times she had the opportunity to kill the one she had come to kill, a person who was very dear to her in the past, but in these same instances we see her reluctance, her resolve unwavering at the sight of their younger, innocent selves.
And Marina? Even though she did questionable decisions and was whiny, insensitive, and mean sometimes, I got to love her, anyway. She was insecure and badly in love that her actions were merely because in her heart, she believed she was doing the right thing. The intentions were all there, and even though some of what she did were not exactly the best things to do, you know that she's got heart, anyway. It was so heartrending to see this bubbly sixteen year old and then Em, so hardened with the miserable experience she had and what Marina will endure as well if they don't change things. It's the contrast of the before and after that got to me, and made me understand how much the future Marina wanted to protect the younger one as much as she possibly could.
This book also has one of the most bittersweet endings I've ever read. I don't want to spoil it (even though throughout reading it, I've restrained myself greatly from taking a sneak peek of the last page just to see if things will be alright in the end) as it will take the magic away, but it seriously made me tear up. On the outside, it may not really look that powerful, but the context of the whole novel and the understanding we get from the future selves made its impact just so emotional and equally thought-provoking.
Overall, I'm excited for the rest of the world to read this. This novel is more than just a sci-fi thriller. It has values as well, and reminds us that technology is a double-edged sword, and that too much power can even blind people with good-intentions. More importantly, this book also calls everyone to love and respect ourselves more, to be strong and confident, to be humble. This is a stunning debut, and Hyperion hit the nail on the head with this one.
Final Verdict: 4.5 / 5 stars!
An ARC was provided by the publisher in exchange for a review. This did not influence my thoughts in any way....more
A copy was provided in exchange for an honest review. This did not influence my thoughts in any wRead this and my other reviews at The Social Potato!
A copy was provided in exchange for an honest review. This did not influence my thoughts in any way.
Damn, I really don't know what to make of Rush. I have to admit that the blurb and cover made me a tad bit excited; I anticipated this book for months. Before reading, I got The Hunger Games vibes from it, but after I finished the book, I can safely conclude it has more of a Divergent feel than anything else, with its fast-paced and action-packed scenes. But yet, it left me half fulfilled and half... empty. It's not a bad book. In fact, I'd go ahead and say it's better than some published YA sci-fi stuff out there, but like others before me, I liked some parts and vehemently hated many others. Let's wing it again, shall we? Trust me, ramblings will abound.
The plot is actually pretty simple. It's not something that would exercise your mind and leave you wondering about the meaning of life for days on end, but it's successful in a way that it would leave you entertained. It's reasonably paced and full of well-written action scenes that I couldn't get enough of, but it has also left me confused and full of questions. For the first... I dunno, 85% of the book, we're left in the dark with regards to the "Game". So apparently aliens are coming to take over the world, but instead of fighting them head-on, certain teenagers who has met death are chosen to fight them in a sort of parallel dimension/alternate reality. You get points for every kill, penalties for every injury, and if you complete the mission you "respawn" in real life, healed and miraculously unscathed.
As someone who doesn't quickly suspend her disbelief, I found this concept intriguing, but full of loopholes as well, and I was hungry for answers. What? How? WHY?? Quoting from a status update, why do they have to do it when they "die"? Why can't they kill them outright? Why this game? Why are there fucking points every time you kill something if these things aren't even video game enemies but REAL enemies? It doesn't help the fact that every time the main character would ask something that would help her (and us!!!) understand the situation, the people with the information wouldn't offer her any answers. Jackson (or should I say Jackass? Okay, I kid - he came off as a douche but he did soften my heart later) would give her cryptic and one-word responses, teasing the main character, teasing us, and I just found all of that completely unnecessary. I mean, dude! The fuck! Why are you stalling important information?!?!
I mean, seriously. There were times when the withholding of vital info became a tad old and annoying. So, there was this scene where something happened in a facility in Arizona. It was apparently so huge and so fucked-up it left the other team members quite traumatized. Of course, we have to know what happened, right? Why mention it if it isn't important? But when you get the following lines, you just won't help but feel steam coming out of your ears:
"Tell me, it might save my life." "If it isn't like Arizona, there's no reason for you to know." "And it if is like Arizona?" "Then you'll find out soon enough."
Okay. So he won't give her fucking answers either way. DAFUQ!! It was highly frustrating for me to have to follow this set-up. We DO get answers later on, but we'll reaaally have to wait for a while for them to really make any fucking sense. And the explanations? They weren't even worth the wait. You'd think they'd have explosive, gut-wrenching explanations for this and that, but noooo... they were so "random" and "trivial", you'd find yourself asking, "THEN WHY ALL THE FUCKING SECRECY!!!
Aside from that, though, I think the plot was pretty decent. There are still a lot of unanswered questions and loopholes I want explained, but hey! There will still be succeeding books so I hope those get explored.
The heroine, though? It really took me some time to like her. In fact, I only started to like her in the last 10-15%. The rest? I felt like bitch slapping some sense into her. GIRL, SERIOUSLY! She prided herself as having 8 years of kendo under her belt, trained by her grandfather who was a master, but in the first few missions they had, she was as helpless as a newborn babe. I got that she was scared, but there's this thing called common sense, and it seemed like she didn't have it in the first half of the book. She'd be warned not to do this, not to do that, be careful of this and that, but she would go ahead and do all of them anyway D: No, girl, no!
She would oftentimes try to be sarcastic and witty, but they'd always come off as trying hard and sometimes mean and insensitive. According to her, this was because sarcasm's her defense mechanism when she encounters something she doesn't understand, but it only left me rolling my eyes. There was even a point where she also withheld vital information from her teammates, which only seemed to me as hypocritical, especially since she was so flabbergasted with all the secrecy, and here she went, doing the very same thing she hated getting from her peers.
She did get better in the last 30 or so percent, though. When she became assertive and finally pulled her shit together, I became proud of her and really felt she was as strong as she bragged herself to be. The only downside is we have to wait for a while for that to happen, but hey, better than nothing, eh?
I did find the romance quite... weird. I didn't think the blossoming relationship between Jackson and Miki had any real substance and foundation. It seemed to me that they just suddenly liked and *loved* each other out of the blue. I wish there were more developments and instances that would justify their bond with each other. Half of the time they were together, Jackson was being a douche with his cryptic nonanswers. I mean, if I were Miki, I'd be punching the lights out of him T_T It did get a tad sweet later on so that's forgiven. Luka's sudden romance and interest in Carly did strike me as the oddest thing ever, though.. It was like, completely random. As in I found myself asking, "Did I miss something? Why'd he suddenly like her and why are they suddenly flirting??' I hope this gets explored in the later books, though... OR ELSE!! O_O I kid. There's no 'or else'.
AND DAMN YOU CLIFFHANGER
Ok. That's a long-winded review.
* If you're a fan of Divergent and fast-paced, action-packed books, I think this one will be right up your alley. I found such instances highly enjoyable and fun to read, and I was able to visualize them in my mind as if I was playing a movie. * Get this if you want to read a concept that's highly intriguing. The game set-up is pretty fun to read, but you may need to wait for a bit to make sense if you're the questioning type like me. Otherwise, it's all entertaining. * The main character was highly annoying at first. But I approved of her once she grew some balls, so, yeah. If you find yourself being irritated, stick to it; she'll get better.
An ARC was provided in exchange for an honest review. This did not influence my thoughts in any waRead this and my other reviews at The Social Potato!
An ARC was provided in exchange for an honest review. This did not influence my thoughts in any way.
WOW. JUST... WOW.
And here I thought I've read all sorts of dystopians out there. Here I was, egoistically thinking I know the genre by heart and that nothing can surprise me anymore. MAN, WAS I WRONG!!!
Ever since The Hunger Games took off, the community has seen an onslaught of young adult dystopian books left and right, and needless to say, it has somewhat saturated the genre that used to be so magical and fascinating to me. I've been disappointed too many times, severely dismayed in a few instances, so when I read in another review this book will blow everyone's socks off, I was ecstatic, and, in a way, a bit wary. What if I'll be disappointed again? What if this doesn't exceed my expectations? And honestly, my expectations are rather high.
But worry not, friends and reviewers alike! If anything, Red Rising made me excited about this genre again. I haven't been this pumped up since I read Blood Song by Anthony Ryan, and that was last year! This book reminded me how much I love dystopian, how much I love stories about tyrannical governments and underground rebels plotting to reclaim what was once theirs - the right to be seen as fellow human beings. Goodness gracious, mon dieu, dios mio, oh lala! You think the The 5th Wave was the next best thing? HAH! I'm sorry to burst your bubbles, but I wholeheartedly disagree. Red Risingwill be the next big IT. As in, the one everyone - adults and teenagers alike - will go completely gaga for. This book, in my honest opinion, is seriously one of the best this genre can offer to the community. This has real suffering, full of instances and scenes that will make your heart cry out, sharing in the pain of the main characters. This has real crooks, people you just want to see burn in hell for all the atrocious things they've done, bastards you look forward to being ousted and outwitted, madmen you want to strangle and choke yourself. This has real questions and discernments on humanity, with situations so gravely appalling, you'll feel sorry for the people, being treated less than insects, trapped in a cycle of greed and oppression. As Litchick have said in her review, YOU'VE SEEN NOTHING!!!!!!!!
So, yes. Make way, 5th Wave. Make way, The Hunger Games. You have been dethroned. And thank you, Pierce Brown. You've brought new life to the genre and rekindled my interest and love for dystopia. You da man, sir! YOU DA MAN! *fistbump*
So, okay. Enough gushing and fangirling. Let's talk about the book.
Years into the distant future, humankind has reached new heights. They've conquered the solar system, invading nearby planets and moons for resources and what have you. The story takes place in Mars, in which a colony has been placed, and human life thrives. There is structure. There is society and civilization. There is a government. And there is a well-established hierarchy. For as long as Darrow, our young main character, can remember, his clan, the Red, has been drilling the rocks underground to ready the planet for living. He believes this. He lives this. Despite the oppression and the tough life they have to go through, he sincerely thinks that one day it will all be worth it. Until something happens and he discovers they've been lied to all this time.
I love Darrow. He's such an amazing character. He's like a younger version of Vaelin, my favorite character ever from Blood Song, an inherently good person but someone who knows he has to dirty his hands in order to fight for a greater cause. It was so interesting for me to read his self-doubts and moments of clarity, his sheer brilliance and comebacks to his enemies... they made me smile and made my heart roar out of pride. He's the kind of character who may have flaws, but you embrace everything of him anyway, and you'll be there cheering for him through thick and thin, come low or high water! I wish I could tell you guys the awesome scenes that made me crazy, and there are a lot of them, but I can't as I want you to experience the magic for yourself, but I guarantee you this: you will cry. You will get angry. You will be sad, frustrated, and you won't help but feel his pain and the pain of others. You will find yourself jumping up and down, cheering, grinning, fistbumping the air, and other what have you. YOU WILL HAVE THE GREATEST, EYE-POPPING, HEART-POUNDING EXPERIENCE OF YOUR LIFE! 100% GUARANTEED!
Why do I say this? Because aside from the awesome main character, the plot is equally incredible. You have a government that is hell-bent on continuing a hierarchy, a system that encourages discrimination and oppression toward the lower classes, and you have an underground group called Sons of Ares that are determined to make a difference and let the outside world know they are not insects and slaves to be trampled on. We all know just how overused this formula is, but Pierce Brown put it up a notch and made this journey a remarkable, refreshing experience. He made such a worn out scenario engaging, breathtaking, and super exciting, placing his writing prowess into use and putting elements and characters never seen and experienced before. What may have been a simple premise transforms itself into a highly brutal and violent setting, full of blood, hate, vengeance, and ultimately hope - a hope to make a difference amidst the sins of the world, amidst the blood on their hands. Such a spectacular novel.
Overall, this is a fast-paced story that breathes new life to a worn-out genre. Pierce Brown has heard our calls of distress and answered with this gem of a book. In terms of character, values, and plot, Red Rising wins them all hands down. It is no doubt one of the best of this genre that I've ever had the utmost pleasure to read. It speaks volumes when I'm at 70% and am already having withdrawals. It's THAT good, folks. This book will rise and will be the best of them all.
“This shit is going to be a TV show?” was the first thing I thought of when I turned the last page of this book.
I was initially interested in 100 by Kass Morgan when I found out it was going to be adapted into a TV show on CW channel (I think. I may have got this wrong, so please correct me if I got it mixed up!). As I have mentioned over and over again in my reviews, Dystopia and Post-Apocalyptic remain as my favourite genres ever, so it's a no-brainer that I really wanted to get this book as soon as it was out. Conspiracies! Suspense! Thrills! I was expecting these all!
Like many others before 100 by Kass Morgan...
It left me disappointed...
It started with a bang. We're introduced to Clarke, imprisoned somewhere in a space settlement, for allegedly doing a heinous crime, a crime which was also related to her parents'. We're informed that in this world, as soon as a prisoner turns 18, he is granted a trial and can either go free or be put to death. Fortunately, Clarke has been chosen as one of the hundred teenage prisoners to be sent to Earth, their previous they left three hundred years ago due to the Cataclysm, an nuclear-something-radiation-something event that crippled their planet. They are to be sent there to find out if the world is still liveable, and if they survive, they will be pardoned of their felonies.
Sounds exciting, right? Yup, I was ecstatic myself. The general plot sounded like something that could attract A LOT of twists and conspiracies!
And then the romance came...
Which pretty much ruined this book for me.
What would you feel if you were stuck in a planet, all by yourself and 99 other strangers (okay, make that 97 because OF COURSE there has to be a love interest and that mandatory best friend), a planet, which, may I remind you, has been labeled toxic due to the immense radiation in the past? You'd think about survival... right? You'd at least TRY to set aside your feelings and think about how you could live for another day, right? Right. Of course. Any rational being would.
Unfortunately, Clarke and the rest of the three characters, which all have their own chapters, by the way (holy shit, four POVs?!), think otherwise. What could have been a really good sci-fi, action, post-apocalyptic dystopia turned into one mushy drama-rama, like those telenovelas from Latin America that my parents used to watch. That means a lot of conflicted feewings, jealousies, love rages, etc. etc. It made me RAGE.
Imagine this: you just crashed into Earth with the other delinquents. You're a boy and you weren't supposed to be in this operation, but you risked your life in order to "protect" the girl you supposedly "love" but hates you because you betrayed her in the past. A lot of people have been killed on impact, a lot are injured, and a lot are dying. But you focus on that one speshul girl and end the chapter with, "I'll make her fall in love with me."
If you're that kind of person, come here and let me punch you please. Many times.
I felt rage each and every chapter as soon as they got to Earth. Sure, there were some fighting over food, over equipment, over medicine, but those were in passing and in the larger scheme of things, were put aside for the romance aspect. The unnecessary, annoying part took a large percentage of the book that it drove me bat-shit insane. See, look here. If I wanted drama, I have other avenues for that (like my life, for instance) and I didn't sign up for it especially when the synopsis is all about Danger! Conspiracies! Survival! It was a constant questioning of WHO KISSED WHO, THEY KISSED WHERE, WHO IMPREGNATED WHO, WHO WAS SEEN EMBRACING WHO, and I'm like... fuck you, boo. Fuck you very much.
Here's a very memorable quote that would make you want to punch a brick wall:
Clarke rose with a groan, her muscles stiff from their hike yesterday. But it was a good kind of pain; she'd walked through a forest that hadn't been seen by a single human being for 300 years. Her stomach squirmed as she thought about another distinction she'd inadvertently earned — the first girl to kiss a boy on Earth since the Cataclysm.
Awesome priorities, by the way. /sarcasm
And because the romance aspect was the number one priority, nothing really happened on Earth in this book. Yeah, like I said, there were some fighting here and there, but generally, all of it were just idle stuff. And when exciting events started to happen, BOOM! CLIFFHANGER! GOTTA BUY THE NEXT BOOK GAIS.
The writing was also very juvenile. I did not like it at all. I found no depth in it, and was very telling than showing. There were four narrators (Clarke, Wells, Bellamy, and Glass) and chapters rotated among them, each one having a present and a past thing, which made the flow of the story absolutely terrible and wonky. I kid you not that it gave me a migraine (I had to skip the last eighty percent because it was at that point that I GAVE ZERO FUCKS ANYMORE), and a lot of the past stuff were nonsensical gibberish that could have been omitted. Because of that, the characters lacked personalities as well. The characters were complete simpletons. Girl offends guy she kissed, he storms away, and she cries about it — all in 2 pages. Next chapter. Guy gets all moody, and both are acting like they had a nasty, drawn-out confrontation when it fucking barely lasted half a page.
Aside from that, they were just flat, annoying, and stupid. Clarke was annoying. She's this holier-than-thou character, making herself the kindest of the group when I found her very self-righteous. Wells, on the other hand, is this dude who threw away everything (EVERYTHIIIING) to follow Clarke. He's borderline, Edward-creepy with his quest to make Clarke fall in love with him again (yes, of course! Because that is SO obviously important!) Of course, like any other typical YA, here comes Bellamy, the survivalist angry/cocky loner whose role also includes the-mandatory-love-triangle! There's also Glass, another girl who managed to escape and get back to their space/moon settlement (how they got there we have no idea), who I found extremely superficial and shallow. Here she is, just escaped from a fate supposedly worse than death, and the first person she goes to is of course... her ex. Who she found is with another girl. DUN DUN DUN DUUUUUN... DRAMA ERRBODY!
Anyway, fuck them.
I see reviews where they are praising the world-building, and I'm left scratching my head because I'm wondering if we even read the same books. World-building? What world-building? Unless you count that single sentence explaining there was a sort of nuclear-ish war 300 years ago and a paragraph of the shady judicial system as world-building, then yeah, okay, fine, but I'd have to disagree. How they even got to space and built their orbiting settlement were never even explained in depth (in fact, I'd wager it was never mentioned at all. YES, GREAT WORLD-BUILDING), making everything just one big blur.
All in all, I hated this book a lot. I read this while I was on a flight back home and I totally regretted it. I could have made my flight memorable if only I chose something better. I mean, I was disappointed in a lot of dystopia/post-apocalyptic books... what would make this any different? Should've known better. I DO NOT RECOMMEND THIS. If interested, I really think you're better off watching the show. It may be better than this crap and would probably explain the countless plotholes the novel has. I would imagine some things would be changed.
To be completely honest, Alienated was a very surprising read. I was expecting hardcore science fiction that was mildly altered to suit young adult tastes with a bit of romance here and there, but it turned out to be the opposite. It's a fluffy read of two students from two different worlds, one from Earth and one from another galaxy hundreds, probably thousands of light years away, as they learn from each other's cultures and endure the widening protest and violence against the two civilization's mingling of each other. So it has a lot of fluff, a lot of politics, and a lot of science fiction. And you know what else?
I LOVED IT!
The plot is actually pretty simple. Aelyx (pronounced A-licks) and two of his friends, Syrine and Eron, are to be sent to Earth in a sort of student exchange, a move that hopes to strengthen the relationship of the two planets. However, the trio has other plans, as they don't want their home to be influenced by the violence and discord human societies have showcased in their history, so they plan to sabotage everything. He later meets Cara, a human with a passionate and gentle heart and a fiery spirit, and she could just be the key to weakening Aelyx's resolve.
It may seem really cliché and worn-out due to the premise being written a hundred times in other novels, but reading this book, you'll find yourself grinning to yourself anyway, because the book's strongest point isn't the plot – it's the development between Cara and Aelyx as they learn more about each other. I swear, I laughed, I cried, and I grinned like a mad lunatic. It was so funny to read the alien guy being wary of human customs, of their food, of their sexual advances, of his OWN sexual reactions (to which he would try to recite the human periodic table afterwards... haha!!)... it felt like a learning experience for me, too. Aelyx was an adorable character, and even though as a reader you know he has other agendas, you kind of understand the reasons why he was willing to do what he planned (and honestly, if I were an alien from outer space, I wouldn't bother with humans, too. We're complicated beings =P).
As much as it was heartwarming, there were heartrending scenes too, in which I couldn't help but tear up a bit. There is a political backdrop here as many people are not keen on having aliens in their midst, and it results to a lot of betrayal and violence, and these take a toll on Cara. My heart swelled and my throat tightened whenever she would put her head up high despite all the bad things happening to her, and even more when Aelyx saw all of these and blamed himself for it. Sigh. If there's anything this book was, it was one hell of a roller coaster ride. I felt so connected to the characters that I could feel the emotions overflowing from the pages. Such a spectacular novel, this one.
All in all, this was a great read, and would be an excellent introduction to the science fiction genre to others out there who are hesitant to try it. It's full of heart and emotions, and a lot of scenes that would make you laugh, cry, and sweat (that making out scene was HOT, BABY!). 2014 will be a great year if all books are of this calibre!...more
An ARC was provided in exchange for an honest review. This did not influence my review in any way.
Goodness gracious me. What an amazing, meaningful, tAn ARC was provided in exchange for an honest review. This did not influence my review in any way.
Goodness gracious me. What an amazing, meaningful, thrilling book. Honestly, I expected a lot from Peterfreund, given I really enjoy her writing and storytelling skillz, as well as loved For Darkness Shows the Stars, but oh potatoes!Across a Star-Swept Sea was leagues and leagues better than the first instalment in terms of characters, prose, dialogue, plot, and development! I'm really at a loss for words here, ladies and gentlemen. What a seriously beautiful book.
Let's lay out some facts first: * Is this a sequel to For Darkness Shows the Stars? Yes. * I haven't read the first one yet! Can this stand alone? Yes. * Is it really good? Hell to the YES.
Despite the fact that Peterfreund based this on an already established and famous work entitled The Scarlet Pimpernel, she was still able to give the book a voice and a life that stand on their own, with characters so distinct, dynamic and colourful; with a world so ravaged by an apocalypse long gone yet still lingers on; with a society so dysfunctional, broken, and distant; and with a plot so well-structured, thought out, and written. There is no bias here, folks, it's just good 'ole writing and storytelling.
Here are what I loved:
The characters: The main characters here are just amazing. Here we have Persis Blake, a famous socialite whose Alter Ego is the Wild Poppy, New Pacifica's infamous spy for rescuing aristos being held hostage and tortured by Galateans, and Justen Helo, the grandson of the famous Persistence Helo who found a way to cure the Reduced. We see the story unfold in both their perspectives, while also getting some from the one of the bad guys and from his sister, Remy. Honestly, the changes in POVs really worked because first and foremost, the individuals were all very distinct from one another, and the overall tone transformed each time to match their personalities. There was never a dull moment, and it was a delight to analyze the events from various perspectives. How was this certain instance perceived by Persis? What did Justen feel? How did Vania react? They're all so different that each POV change gave something new to the reader. Even the side characters, too, had unique personalities of their own! Despite having only little exposure, they were a pleasure to read, and I looked forward to scenes that involved them.
The story: The story is fantastic. It's thrilling, there's a sense of purpose and urgency, it's not dragging at all despite the humongous amount of pages. As you all know, I love stories that feature dysfunctional governments, uprisings, dictatorial regimes and tyrant rulers. I'm not sure why, but there's something about standing up to a force greater than you and succeeding not just because of your own strength, but also with the strength of everyone else, that greatly fascinate me. Of course, I already read enough about that from my political science classes, but reading it in fiction is just so much better as we get to immerse ourselves in the lives of the oppressed. That's what happened to me here. The writing was just so genuine and convincing, the escalation and development of events nicely built up that it was so hard to detach myself from the story. There is no joke when I tell you I truly felt for the characters and for the situation, bleak and hopeless it initially looked. If you're looking forward to a good read, get ready for this one, as it will take you to a rocky but fantastic ride!
The romance: The romance here is meaningful and well-developed. Of course, we all know both the hero and the heroine will end up with each other. That's not rocket science. What matters, however, are the trials and tribulations they go through together that give leeway for a relationship to grow, the development, the gradual realization of each other's worth. In this instalment, the lovers had a rocky start, and by the middle, it was still in neutral, gray grounds, but it was during this time that I felt giddy for both of them and for the confusion they felt for each other. Couple this with the political problem/background and the things they had to go through = win.
I seriously can't find a flaw in this book. None. I enjoyed every second and every page. I rarely go to sleep at 5 AM with the roosters in the neighbourhood tok-to-doodle-doo-ing and the first light showing in the sky, but I did with this gem. And guess what? I don't regret it. Peterfreund is a delightful writer and an even more spectacular storyteller, that the lack of sleep was just worth it in the end. If you're looking for a retelling of a classic with a sci-fi, post-apocalyptic feel, then you wouldn't want to miss this one come October.
I enjoyed this so much more than Jurassic Park. Even though there were a lot of infodump regarding physics and space, I actually enjoyed it, but thenI enjoyed this so much more than Jurassic Park. Even though there were a lot of infodump regarding physics and space, I actually enjoyed it, but then again, I am fascinated by the subject. I do think it could've used a lot more narrative, though... it does read like it's a movie script, hah. But overall, it's really good. There are just some things in the world, however powerful they are, that are best left not known, unexploited, and untouched. Now, if only I can be reincarnated in the future that would allow me to witness intergalactic travel........more
Awesome, awesome book. I won't be giving a full review, because, well, everybody knows this and everybody knows it's awesome. Haha.
A few things thoughAwesome, awesome book. I won't be giving a full review, because, well, everybody knows this and everybody knows it's awesome. Haha.
A few things though: * It was quite irritating how the only "verb" with regards to dialogue were thought and said. Even when someone asked a question, it won't be "Malcolm asked", it would be "Malcolm said". Over and over and over like there were nothing else. * Lex was suuuper annoying. She only rekindled the thought that children in books ruin them. She was so infuriating that I wished children characters would be banned in this kind of premise. Haha.
P.S. DO NOT LAUGH. My accent is weird, I know. Sarreh.
I'll be completely honest here. I totally didn't know what to expect from Gameboard of the Gods, which is kinda bizarre considering Richelle Mead is kind of already a household name with her Vampire Academy and Bloodlines series. I bought her first book sometime ago and read the first 10 pages and was truthfully not impressed; the writing felt a bit amateur, bland, and empty, making me a bit less eager to read something from her this time around. But Vampire Academy was written so many years ago, and considering the fact that it has been ages since then, her writing must have become better.
And it did. Significantly so. If Vampire Academy didn't reach out to me in the first ten pages, Gameboard of the Gods did, and every time I think of this gem of a book, all I can think of is just how awesome and suspenseful it was. If you thought her previous series were good, THIS is BETTER.
WORLD BUILDING - AMAZING!
The world building here is at its finest. It's big, it's ambitious, it's incredibly structured and imaginative, and it's not even fantasy at all - far from it! Imagine a Greek-Roman society but make it a bit futuristic, as well as ancient mythological gods and goddesses from different cultures. I loved how it incorporated such religious deities and themes while also staying true to its futuristic utopian setting (yes, it's not a dystopian!). I also loved how Mead portrayed a supposedly pagan community that thrives on idealistic and radical ideas, while also introducing to us a variety of gods, goddesses, and supernatural phenomena. Like, how can the two mix, right?! That's basically a juxtaposition right there, but she does it right and does it well. I'm not going to venture too much about it, because saying so might give something away about the storyline, but I can instead assure you that the author has created an absolutely thrilling and engaging world you won't get enough of. Add gods and goddesses to that mix, fanatic cults, superhuman folks, AND a radical government, you got yourself a unique and exciting formula there, my friend!
CHARACTERS - WELL-ROUNDED, WHILE AT TIMES INFURIATING
Don't get me wrong, I loved the characters. The cast all had distinguishable personalities, had distinct voices, were smart, feisty, and level-headed, knew what they wanted and how to get it, and over-all were pretty well-rounded. But even though they were likeable most of the times, they did some actions that really infuriated me, as in, I actually would throw them out the window if I could. These times were mostly when they acted like an asshole and a bitch, though... like, there was this one instance that some characters withheld information that could've helped the case, and the excuse, "I forgot", and "I didn't think it was important!" made me want to go HULK, SMASH!! on them.
But then again, after giving it much thought, it made me realize that these reactions of mine were only because of Mead's spectacular way of making me more involved and engaged with the character, to the point that I would feel for them. They do something great, I feel happy. They do something questionable, I feel angry because as a reader I have more understanding with regards to the context/situation, and I freaking know what they did wasn't healthy. You have to applaud Mead for that... it's not often I get angry at characters and find such a response being a good thing!
WRITING - SPECTACULAR!
As I've gushed earlier, Mead has significantly improved her writing style here. Yes, I know; I only have 10 pages of Vampire Academy for comparison, but damn, the difference was just astounding! Given that the plot is darker and sinister, she was able to write it in a way that's consistent to the premise - the narration really does give you the impression that something malicious and evil is or will be happening, while also keeping you on your toes and at the edges of your seats. It is suspenseful and enchanting, and the prose is hard to resist, as Mead has showcased here her remarkable skill of "showing, not telling" style. Even though the narration is set in third person with multiple POVs, it was still able to successfully give me a clear view of the surroundings, while also allowing me into the thoughts of the characters. You will get to know them and love every minute of it.
The relationships among the characters were also brilliantly written. Even though something ridiculous happened in the beginning that I really couldn't appreciate, it redeems itself when the characters start from square one, finding themselves entangled unwillingly in a mystery whodunit story. Along the way they will banter with each other, argue with each other, discuss theories and logistics together, and protect one another and you will find all of these in the end absolutely endearing. It was definitely a meaningful journey to me seeing them grow, learn more about themselves, and find each other's worth.
Altogether, this is a remarkable sci-fi, PR, mystery read. It's an Adult book that would rile up your imagination and excite your nerves as you charge head-on to a fascinating world Mead has created. Since there're a lot of themes that I personally deem sensitive to certain audiences (sex, drugs, alcohol, the works), I don't recommend this for those 15 below, but if you're mentally and emotionally mature for it, then go ahead!
All I can say is Gameboard of the Gods is Richelle Mead's best yet.
Final verdict: 4.5 stars
Read this and my other reviews + giveaways at The Social Potato. ...more
Starglass has a premise that we've all seen before - a community thriving in a spaceship, traveling the vastness of empty space in search for a new h
Starglass has a premise that we've all seen before - a community thriving in a spaceship, traveling the vastness of empty space in search for a new home. One notable book that's similar is Beth Ravis Across the Universe series, which I adore and hold close to my heart. And just like aforementioned series, this one also has conspiracies and plots going on behind the scenes, in which a rebellion is brewing and is about to lose control. Because this has been used over and over again in literature, be it in a spaceship or in a dystopian setting, I was especially wary, but surprisingly, while the premise wasn't original, the execution and delivery of it were well done, making the read a refreshing experience.
For a book that spans 448 pages, the plot didn't feel dragging at all. I loved how in this setting, you really can't trust anyone. Everyone's so suspicious! One moment you'd think they're on the good side, later on, you'll see that their actions are very inconsistent. All sides have their fair share of good and bad apples, and like the heroine, the reader can't really tell who to believe until the very last page. But that doesn't mean it's a linear good versus evil... I think it's more of people who believe they're right and have valid reasons for feeling so versus people who are the same. In other words, it's a kind of scenario where one doesn't really trump the other, a scenario that can only be resolved not by dominating the other but by negotiating and comprising. I appreciated it wasn't all black and white, there were some gray zones as well.
There are also some sub plots scattered throughout that will make you sad with grief. However, there were times that it felt like there were too many things that was going on, so there were instances in the middle part that were just so exhausting. But otherwise, the overall plot was really good, and I loved how the rebellion and the hidden motives and agendas of certain individuals unfolded.
I also appreciated the diversity of the cast of characters here. There were a lot of neat people that you don't really see much in Young Adult literature. I won't really spoil it for you guys, so I'll say just this: expect the unexpected! Haha. Terra, on the other hand... well, I liked her, most of the time. I shared with her pain of losing her mom and the trials and tribulations she went through in the book, but there were times she made some decisions and said some words that I don't really condone. Her weak character became her disadvantage as it made her vulnerable to manipulation, but I really liked how she broke the chains weighing her down and finally decided for herself. By the end, you'll feel proud of her as she finally stood on her own two feet. That part where she ultimately determined what feels right for her was such a monumental moment. You'll truly appreciate the Coming-of-Age aspect here.
Overall, this book was really good. There were some things that I didn't like, but generally, I found it well-done with the right pacing and enough scenes that would make you drool for more. Even though the premise is not original, Phoebe North still gave us content that provided something new to the genre. I am definitely looking forward to book two!
An ARC was given in exchange for an honest review. This did not influence my thoughts in any way....more
Awesome, awesome book. O.S. Card is one hell of a writer. Many philosophical stuff to learn from this book, many tears to shed, many things to think aAwesome, awesome book. O.S. Card is one hell of a writer. Many philosophical stuff to learn from this book, many tears to shed, many things to think about. Thank you to Card for his excellent storytelling and writing. I love it to bits! I just don't know if I have the courage to read the sequels. I want to keep this wonderful memory as it is. LOL....more
If you follow my earlier reviews, then you should know by now that I am a big fan of mystery and thrillers. There is just something about these fast-pIf you follow my earlier reviews, then you should know by now that I am a big fan of mystery and thrillers. There is just something about these fast-paced stories that keeps me awake in the wee hours of the mornight; there's just something about the sense of urgency that's common in the genre that keeps me riled and pumped up with excitement. When I saw Strangelets' synopsis, I didn't really absorb all that text. I only saw, in big, bold, capital letters the words MYSTERY and THRILLER. You can pretty much say it was like being blinded by a dazzling ray of light, and the next thing I knew, there was this craving and longing inside me whispering I must have it I must have it I must have it I must have it...
So I did have it. And I've read it. To the very last page; to the very last word. And all in all, all I can say is this: holy smokes sweet mother of jesus so frigging awesome I LOVE IT TO THE MOON AND BACK!!!
There were so much to love and adore in this book. It definitely did not disappoint,. Yes, it is a thriller and a mystery, but it also touches upon paranormal and science fiction elements, too, which makes it a hundred times more fantastic, as it successfully interweaved all these factors together to make one KABOOM-POW story. No kidding, the whole thing felt a roller coaster ride from beginning to end, and didn't fail to keep me at the edge of my seat.
Here are the following that garnered this book a satisfying four stars:
* The mystery aspect of it was pitch-perfect, and together with the fast pace of the story and the strong sense of urgency, it resulted to a highly fulfilling read. The book begins with three seventeen year old teenagers (Sophie, Anat and Declan) who find themselves lumped together in an uncanny-looking facility, with three other kids from all over the world. Unfortunately, it would seem they're the only humans around, and what waits them outside is their dying world - the remnants of the planet they used to call home. What happened? This was their country, their motherland, but why does it look so different now? Where are the other people? Are they the only people around now? Why only them?
These are only some of the questions you'll find yourself asking, and as you go on, you'll find your answers and get even more confusing questions as a result of those answers. All I can say is the premise of this book was such a breathe of fresh air. It plot and the mystery that surrounded it was definitely creepy and strange, that you certainly know something is off about it. What makes it such a fun read is how we are given the information about the world slowly but surely, resulting to an effective building up that would make the reader hungry and craving for more. Kudos to the author for making this happen!
* I love the quantum physics involved. I mean, there weren't a lot, but it was so fun to read them, and the possibilites it offered. The multiple universes were definitely a nice touch. You can say this is my favorite part of the book. I've always been fascinated by quantum physics. I even think it's the most important science out there because of its explanations and its potential to explain the wonders of the universe to us, so it made me one happy reader to see it influencing the storyline here. Multiple universes. Time travel. So many possibilities could sprung out from this concept alone! I reckon those who are looking for something new will appreciate this part of the plot.
* Narrative was really good, too! The story is told in three point-of-views, those of Anat, Declan, and Sophie. I usually try to avoid books with multiple POVs, since they oftentimes backfire in their attempt to make the reader see the world of the book in a wider view, but the distinctive voices of the three made it really easy for me to relate and emphatize with them. The individual voices not only gave me a clear view of the world, but they also allowed me a deeper look into the feelings of the characters, making it a personal read.
Truly, these were the factors that made the book so, so enjoyable to me. They were so fun to read, and it made the experience absolutely pleasurable. However, it is not without its faults. If it were perfect, I would have given it 5 stars. Here are the following that prompted me to decrease a star:
* Annoying characters. As memorable as the internal narration were, that doesn't mean to say the the three cast of heroes were equally striking personality-wise; they were downright irritating - as in can-I-please-kill-these-people-now-before-I-gouge-my-eyes-out irritating. Behold: a girl described as protective and feisty, but downright rude to others; a charismatic know-it-all pseudo-brave guy who made things worse; a sick girl who was the epitome of Mary Sue-ness. A lot of them made stupid decisions (that moved the story, fine, but stupid is stupid) that made me want to go, once again, HULK, SMASH!!! on everything. Fortunately, as infuriating as they were, the previously stated good points made up for it.
* Romance was so... ugh! I was not a fan of the romance. It felt so forced and unnatural, making it hard for me to believe, much less appreciate it. I even wished the two people who developed a mutual understanding and care for each other just stayed as friends or something - the would have spared me the trouble of rolling my eyes every 5 minutes. Oh, well.
* Convenient ending. Like seriously convenient. I did not appreciate it. The ending definitely could have been written better. I don't remember it much, but I think I was reading the climax and then... something bland happened... and it was wrapped up in the next 5 pages or something, with me going HELL NO THAT DID NOT JUST HAPPEN. I don't know, it was probably just me, but the ending really turned me off, that they all got off so easily, that it went so well for them. Some of you guys may like it, but it kinda ruined my experience for me...
All in all, it was a great, awesome read. The positives definitely outshone the negatives, so despite all my complaints, it was still highly enjoyable. The plotline was engaging, the narrative and writing were compelling, and the twists and turns were frigging awesomesauce. Come April 9, you MUST get this book at the bookstores near you!...more
First and foremost, I'd like to thank my good friend since my scanlation days, Kureha, for recommending this book to me, because otherwise, I wouldn'tFirst and foremost, I'd like to thank my good friend since my scanlation days, Kureha, for recommending this book to me, because otherwise, I wouldn't have touched this. Not the book's fault, really. Ever since I read (and vehemently disliked) British author Teri Terry's Slated, I've become wary of English/British YA novels. But thank goodness for angels like my friend, because this novel turned out to be a very pleasant surprise. I loved it! So how do you know if this book is for you? Well, let's run down a checklist for that, shall we?
If you like * Intellectual heroines with an innate talent for good, snarky comebacks; * slow and steady romances that are nicely developed; * excellently written and well-explained world-building; * slow-paced story telling; and * plots that don't have "OMG, YOU STOLE MY BOYFRIEND! B*ITCH!" or "OMG, HE DOESN'T LOVE ME ENOUGH!" drama, then...
THIS BOOK IF FOR YOU! But...
If you dislike * detailed paragraphs; * pages upon pages of technicalities; * boring love interest; and * too-good-to-be-true, loved-by-everyone, pretty-much-good-at-everything-without-even-trying-heroines, then...
You may wanna proceed with caution.:/
But despite my list of negative aspects that I found in this book, I'd still recommend it. Perhaps it is because my expectations weren't high to begin with that I deemed myself enjoying it, or mayhap because I considered the snail-like pace refreshing and the lack of intense drama exhilarating, the fact, however, remains that when I finished the book and turned the last page, plastered on my face was a bright and satisfied smile.
Granted, Jarra, the main character IS (in a way) a Mary Sue. She's excels in everything she does, and unbelievably so, sometimes; and she's loved and appreciated by everyone. If you know me, then you know I just hate this kind of heroines. BUT! Even though this is so, you'll end up liking her anyway because she's amazingly intellectual, funny, and even snarky. The narration, which is set in a first person POV, just changes everything. So what happened? The Mary-Sue hater in me gave in and rooted for this badass girl to the last page. She does have a flaw, though, and it's her drive to be the best in everything she does (read: highly competitive to the point of... well... irrationality? She does find the error of her ways early, though ;p).
For a Dystopian and Science Fiction novel, the world here is extremely well-explained. It's the kind of place I'd love to look forward to someday (without all the apes thing) in the distant future. While I enjoyed the details, the pages upon pages of technicalities in which processes of digging rubble were elaborated made me a bit bored. Of course, they were important and vital to the story, but I felt that it wouldn't have changed anything if there were less of them. Some people may like it, though! Because of this, the story takes on a slow pace. Nothing really big happens. In my opinion, there were no events that would make you go WTF! or FTW!, making it a completely character-driven story. But no worries, the internal narration was fun to read. I'm pretty sure most readers will like Jarra :)
All in all, this is a book to look forward to, in my opinion. I loved the world, I loved Jarra and everything about her, including the Mary Sue aspects and all. My love for British writers has been renewed <3...more
As a person who loves zombies and post-apocalyptic fiction so much, it's not rocket science to think I was expecting a lot from this book. I tend to
As a person who loves zombies and post-apocalyptic fiction so much, it's not rocket science to think I was expecting a lot from this book. I tend to do that a lot to books with awesome blurbs and covers, because as they say, first impression lasts, right? Unfortunately, this book was a case of, "It was good" and "it was meh" at the same time and right now my feelings are a bit messy and mixed up. But I'll try my best as usual to explain what I liked and what I absolutely detested, so buckle up! Here we go!
For the "zombie" aspect, I think it was pretty cool. Sure, they're not exactly traditional zombies in a sense that they're not slow at all... the flesh-eating abominations in this book can run fast as hell. They're also not nocturnals, so they hide by night and roam by day, which is a pretty interesting change. I do think the "twist" revealed near the end regarding their origins was predictable... I was actually already considering it at the beginning, but even if I didn't foresee it early on, it wasn't really that shocking. Not the book's fault, though... I've just read too many zombie novels and other related themes that the twist was already old news to me. Needless to say, I did feel it could've used a little more originality.
I liked Part 1 a lot. I loved how short the chapters were, how intense they felt, how they gave us an overview of how Amy was doing and coping and enduring not only the dangers of the zombies, but also of the surviving humans. I loved how it focused on survival with very little unnecessary drama. It reminded me of a lot of the zombie books that I loved reading early last year, giving me waves and waves of nostalgia. Her relationship with Baby was so real and genuine, too. It was very refreshing to see two characters understand each other in such a level that you don't need words to get messages across, how they can simply know what the other's talking about in a simple glance or gesture. I admit, though, that there were times I got annoyed by Amy's giving in to Baby's tantrums just to please her, but in the end, I kind of understand why she has done what she did.
THEN they get rescued by some humans who've made a sort of sanctuary led by scientists and everything pretty much went downhill after that...
Part 2... was weird. It felt like I was reading a different book altogether. At this point, it started feeling like any other YA science fiction post-apocalyptic story, but in the usual unappealing way. A lot of side characters were introduced but they didn't really feel well-rounded to me. Bad guys were shown here who were bad because they take advantage of anarchy and they want to wreck havoc for the heck of it, and crazy mad scientists who do what they do because they want to make the "perfect" world according to their own ideas... This part, unfortunately, felt very dragging to me. It also started telling the story in two POVs... one in the present, and one that happened in the past (or present and future, however angle you want to see it). It felt very weird to me at first, and I don't deny it made me feel very uncomfortable and confused, but when it did merge together as one near the end of Part 3, everything finally made sense. I do wish it was more subtle, though, because gah! The migraines!
Also, I have a problem with the romance. I hate how forced it was. Her sudden relationship (who she instantly felt a connection to when they first met... lots of blushing and faces becoming beet red here, folks!) with Rice felt absolutely random and contrived, like it was very out of place. I didn't think the romance was even necessary here... There were a lot of girls around his age in New Hope and then Amy came and he's suddenly all over her? Huh. I do think it could have worked better if they were simply friends here first. I guess it's inevitable in YA. I do appreciate though that the romance was not central in this book. It was more of a side dish than anything, but still. Cringe-worthy is cringe-worthy.
I did enjoy this far more than The 5th Wave, although their only similarity that I can see is their being post-apocalyptic. I just think this one showcased the genre much more, and I think it gave us a better understanding of what society would become if social order collapses.
All in all, it was a decent read. It wasn't exactly a phenomenal experience, but it has kept me interested enough to want to know what happens next. I have this grand feeling that the second book is where the epic-ness will finally start. I am definitely looking forward to that.
DNF at 54%. I think that warrants a rating and a review.
I do not get this book. At all. It's also hyped to be the next Divergent, and as much as I didDNF at 54%. I think that warrants a rating and a review.
I do not get this book. At all. It's also hyped to be the next Divergent, and as much as I didn't really love that series, it was far and significantly better. This one is simply full of clichés that I hate in mediocre YA books and inconsistencies that would put certain politicians to shame. I'm really trying hard to find a reason to give this book at least a two, but so far, I've come up with none. Nada. Zero. Zilch. It was a painful struggle from the very beginning, in which I just plunged deeper into the mud page after page, until I called it quits at 54%, because, you know, I don't want to die in the mud x= . But also because it felt like punishing myself when I didn't do anything wrong.
So why did I toss it in the DNF file? Here's why:
First and foremost, the most infuriating factor of all, the heroine. She was not only annoying and boring, she was also inconsistent. Wren is a reboot that woke up the longest - 178 minutes, to be exact - and she tells us this resulted in someone who's void of any human feelings and is therefore an empty shell. She tells us she's the best among her peers, and she attributes this to her being emotionless. But I find that very hard to believe when the girl keeps on blushing every time the love interest, a twenty-two joe with no redeeming qualities whatsoever who she describes as still very human, touches her and gazes at her. Not only that, we find her being angry all the time, sad all the time, guilty all the time, and of course overwhelmed-by-her-desire-to-kiss-the-love-interest all the time.
YES. I USUALLY DON'T USE GIFS BUT I NEED ONE THIS TIME TO EMPHASIZE THE WHAT-THE-FUCK-NESS OF THIS SITUATION.
GIRL, WHAT THE FLYING FUCK?
You're considered the mofo of this corporation, the terminator devoid of all things human, Rambo personified, pretty much Bruce Lee x Chuck Norris x Arnold Schwarzenegger during the days when he still didn't have man-boobs, and you falter and go woozy over a guy who suddenly appeared out of nowhere?! As you said, the higher the number, the emotionless you are, the lower, the more human feelings you retain, but bro, it seems to me you're more human than this average joe who keeps on smiling all the time over fricking nothing! Gosh. She made me so angry. The inconsistency was just damning. Insta-love at its finest, and an insta-love that didn't make any fucking sense. I couldn't help but wince every time she felt like tipping her toes, because, you know, she's so small (but terrible), in order to reach those oh-so-beautiful lips! HOW MESMERIZING. *gag*
The love interest, Callum, like I said, was average, boring, and a freaking failure in his role to be the voice of reason between the two. So, this guy is introduced to us as the lowest Reboot, having woken up in only twenty-two minutes. He's described as still being human and all that, and because of this, he's almost always the one who tries to be the higher person when it comes to situations that challenge their morals. "No, I will not kill someone!" "No, I will not allow them to transform me into a monster!" "No, I will not look at your chest because I'm more than that!" "No, I will not hit a girl!" Yada, yada, yada, blah, blah, blah. It would've been fine, but his character and delivery were just SO bland. There was no charisma, there was no sense of conviction behind the words, it didn't feel natural. THERE. It felt like he was forcefully put there because you know, someone needs to tame the terminator of the group, right? I literally cringe everytime he goes happy-go-lucky with his supposed to be inspirational and encouraging lines that only felt like being grated by a cheese grater. BEHOLD AND PREPARE TO CRINGE:
"Do it again," he said, bouncing up and down in happiness. "Do what?" "Laugh." "Make you a deal. If you're able to punch me, I'll laugh." "You're so weird."
NEED I SAY MORE?????
In the 54% that I read, it felt like everything else centered on their romance, and I've read enough to know that the rest won't be any different. It felt like the story only moved because the heroine only wanted to save her guy, not seeing the bigger and greater picture. Why do you even want to save this dude, anyway? x_x It felt like reading Obsidian, with all the focus on the two and whatnot, that it just felt disappointing. I read other reviews and they said later on there will a lot of kissing, and honestly, I don't want to read a smoochfest, I want to read a kickass dystopian YA book! RAWR!!!
World-building was lacking, too, and it left me totally dissatisfied. As other reviews here have stated, it felt like we were put in the middle of a situation and not given enough elaboration. There are some, but I could hardly call explanations as they were mostly passing. There was this scene where we find out Adult Reboots are crazier and more dangerous than teen ones, and the only reasons we get for that are (non-verbatim): "their brains are more fully formed" and "us teens are more adapted to change as we always go with the flow". Full of plotholes bigger than "yo mama's so fat" jokes.
The narration was also, in my observation, an all-tell-no-show style. I didn't feel connected enough to any of the characters as I'm always told what they kept on doing every fricking second. It felt like if they moved their hand one inch to the left, it would have been included. Example:
I buttoned my pants and sat down in a chair next to him, quickly strapping myself in. My hands shook as I folded them in my lap, and I glanced over to see Callum staring at them. I pressed them together tightly to make the shaking stop, but it didn't work.
Ever caught my eye when I raised my head, and gave me a sympathetic look that made the pressure in my chest worse, not better. I focused my gaze on my lap.
When the shuttle landed, I trailed out last. My trembling legs didn't work right anymore. I fell behind as the other Reboots marched across the roof and down the stairs.
Callum stood at the top of the stairs and waited, holding the door open for me. I gripped the rail as I wobbled down the stairs on my stupid little legs.
YAAAAAAAAAAAWN. Are we there yet, mom?
Seriously, the narration bored me to tears. Where are the feelings? Where are the thoughts of the heroine? I want to know her more! She tells me she's sad, then show me! She tells me she's angry, then show me! How did it make you feel during this scene? I don't want to know what she did, I want to know what she felt (oops, she was emotionless, wasn't she?), what she thought. I don't need to know what she's doing every minute, every second. That's completely unnecessary.
Overall, I don't recommend this book. At all. Especially if you're looking for a dystopian YA read. There are better books out there with more substance, with more character development, and an even more credible romance. Sorry, book, but 'tis the truth.
Final Verdict: 1/5 stars
Read this and my other reviews over at The Social Potato! ...more
A copy of the finished product was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This did not affect my thoughts in any way.
It is incredibly painful that out of the wide range of YA dystopias I've read in 2013 alone, the majority of them has left me incredibly sad and disappointed. They'd usually have one or two or more of the following: shaky world-building, a tedious narrative, annoying characters, bigger plotholes than YO MOMMA SO FAT jokes... you get the picture. So, while I was looking forward to reading Not a Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinnis, at the same time, I was preparing for the worst, too. I mean, it has happened again and again, so why expect anything different, right? This is what makes me sad - when you know books of quality are rare in your favorite genre.
But, fortunately, this book caught me by surprise. It was good! It was really good. And at the same time, it was different, too. I was so used to dystopias where characters go from one place to another in search of resources or what-have-you that the portrayal of a protagonist's quiet account of survival felt absolutely refreshing to me. Instead of plots of revolutions or overthrowing governments, of fast-paced action with big guns and large machetes, of talks of escaping an oppressive government, of searching far and wide for allies to come help, what we have is a young woman and her friends, who want to live and survive with what they have in their own little patch of land, with a ferocious will to protect it and the people living in it.
I have to say - the narrative here is outsanding. Usually, in many of the dystopian books I've read, there is a great emphasis on what is happening *outside* of the character, but I felt the narration here was personal. I guess it's great as the context calls for it, seeing as the setting is strictly limited to Lynn and company's area. Yeah, there is not much world-building, and the greater scheme of things unfolds slowly through word of mouth from other survivors, but I didn't mind this tiny detail at all. Instead, we get a more personal feel of the main character and a well-polished atmosphere suitable for the situation. Even with its being heavy on the main character and her struggles, there is an air of constant threat hiding in the shadows - be it wild animals or unfamiliar men looking to steal the water they have, keeping you on your toes and at the edges of your seats despite the slow pace.
And seriously, it's not hard to feel for Lynn. Even though she has a tough exterior, she is extremely likable. She is strong and capable; she was raised by her mother not to take things lightly. She ensures survival over anything else, instantly making her a beacon of light in my book. Yes, her decision to take care of a child in the middle of the book was a bit off-putting (I mean, if there's one thing I learned from the Walking Dead, it is that kids are a burden... *gets bricked*), but I understood it given the circumstances and that strong urge to protect an individual after failing to protect someone else. Although the middle part of the book with the romance was somewhat lacking, the book is successful in truly making you connect to her and the characters she start to care for. This book teaches, through Lynn's journey, that while survival is important, so is compassion. Being selfish may be good for one's survival, but the human spirit cannot grow without humanity.
This was truly a wonderful dystopian book, and I recommend it for those who would like to read something different in this worn-out genre. A novel with a beautiful narrative and an engaging atmosphere, it will show you the worst of society while at the same time give you hope that kindness of heart can blossom even in the most dreadful situation....more
An ARC was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This did not influence my review in any shape or form.
You want the truth? I'llAn ARC was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This did not influence my review in any shape or form.
You want the truth? I'll give you the truth. The synopsis of Zenn Scarlett didn't suck me in - the cover did. If y'all follow my reviews, you must know by now how insanely obsessed I am with anything related to space. Paste a picture of the cosmos on the cover of your book, overlay or screen it with warm yellow-orange-red colours, and you got yourself a follower, my friend. Just look at that sweet, sweet baby. I'd love to have a big poster of this book and hang it on my bedroom wall. It would be a spectacular sight.
But, unfortunately, as a book blogger, I do not review covers. They're simply a bonus okay fine maybe they're also a factor whether or not I'll read the book, adding a little touch of aesthetic value to the product. I read the book, and review the content. And this is what I have to say.
For starters, the premise is unique and highly interesting. It does not only take place in another planet and involve intergalactic travel, it has aliens. Alien animals. I found myself deeply intrigued, especially since the only extraterrestrial lifeforms I've had the pleasure to watch were from Alien vs. Predator movies and a few others I cannot recall right now, so I was looking forward to this book riling up my imagination.
However, this aspect kind of fell short. Yes, the alien life forms introduced were interesting, but the descriptions of the creatures didn't reach out to me. Don't get me wrong, they were all described nicely, but I felt it seemed a little too technical, with big and unfamiliar words as well as scientific names inserted here and there, that I just couldn't picture them in my head. In the end, the aliens simply became mere sentences and words to me, not a being I could envision and imagine. This really dampened my mood, because they were what I looked forward to the most in this book. To be honest, I do not want to read a paragraph three times over to get what was being said or described.
Granted, I'm not a native speaker, and I guess I could use a little more vocabulary on the technical side, but still. I checked Amazon and it was listed there that the intended audience for this book was 12 years old and above, and I really doubt that the lowest denominator could trudge on those descriptions about aliens, procedures, and equipment, without consulting a dictionary. I felt that the words could have been simpler to make it easier for non-natives of the English language like me and for those young 'uns, otherwise, it's akin to giving us a blank page. What's there to visualize if you can't even understand what's going on in the first place?
The plot, on the other hand, was predictable and simple, but nevertheless enjoyable to follow. So Zenn is living in a human settlement in Mars, together with her Uncle, and studying to become an exovet. Their clinic gets a lot of huge aliens to help and take care of, and this riles up the rest of the humans because they're (gasp) monsters and pests. It also doesn't help they have been cut off of all contact with Earth, and are thus limited to the alien planets in the Accord. The clinic has debts to pay, mortgages to worry about, and animals running loose suddenly without any explanation, and oh, yes. She suddenly has this ability to feel the animals. What's a girl to do, right?
The plot here is easy to follow, and like I said, quite simple. I only feel that it could have been given more shocking events, because it felt as if the pace was really slow, or that things were, majority of the time, uneventful. However, the ending implies a bigger and more sinister plot, and I guess that's a plus, but it felt totally random in the end because it was like "la la la la nothing's really happening here oh crap an animal is let loose, oh, no, it's speaking to me, I'm linked to it!, oh, it's fine now, aha!, so it was you all along and you did that for what?! How dare you?!, okay, back to normal la la la la" and then suddenly wham! you're given a twist that spans galaxies and worlds. Um, ok. While that threw me off guard, I found myself to have enjoyed the plot nonetheless.
The world-building was decent, but I felt it could have given a bit more "umph". When I finished, I still couldn't exactly picture the human settlement in Mars. Other planets are mentioned, but what they're like are not totally explained. How the Indras work, though, I thought, was nicely done and kind of made sense to me. If there is a second book (and I am certain there will), I would really want to know what else this world has in store for us. The author has a huge imagination, and I'd love to see more of it.
The heroine, though, annoyed the fricking hell out of me. We're told that she's smart, level-headed, and things like that, but throughout the book, her actions and recklessness merely spelled fickle, stupid and annoyingly naïve. How can someone who's been studying to become an exovet for the longes time, has an "edge, or so she says, be distracted and forget important procedures? Every time she spaced out and forget a thing or two here, I couldn't help but want to go inside the book and slap the lights out of her. I also hated her stupid Rule regarding no attachments because boo-fucking-hoo! If I have friends, they'll only leave me! They'll only hurt me! They'll only give me pain! Me, ME, ME! Who cares if the most important is the memories, or the connection, or whatever - relationships or opening myself up to people will only make me suffer! Boo-hoo!
Really, sister? Really? What the flying fuck, girl? GET A GRIP! THE WORLD DOESN'T REVOLVE AROUND YOU, AND NEVER WILL IT REVOLVE AROUND YOU! Those kind of sentiments are really selfish, and I really wince a lot whenever I encounter such a situation. I also didn't get her action in the ending. I won't spoil it, but what the fuck? How could you do that?
All in all, this is not a bad book. Far from it, actually. I liked it enough to give it three stars, and enough to look forward to the second instalment. There were just a few bumps in the road, a few things that caught me off guard, but otherwise, it has a refreshing premise and a lot of promise. I'm sure it will get better; there's a lot of room for improvement. Give this one a try come May 7!
Read this and my other reviews at The Social Potato! ...more
Everyone knows that Hugh Howey's Wool Omnibus is one of the best Science-Fiction/Dystopian novels out there. Oh? You didn't know? Well, now you do (anEveryone knows that Hugh Howey's Wool Omnibus is one of the best Science-Fiction/Dystopian novels out there. Oh? You didn't know? Well, now you do (and this is your cue to get that book first before reading this one). It's a book that shows a scary world contained in silos buried underground - vertical, metallic vessels that house hundreds to thousands of people. Wool 1, which is the first story you'll read in the whole Wool Omnibus, left me in such an unstable emotional state that it made me ponder, wonder and philosophize for days. No freakin' joke. So when I found out this author wrote THREE more stories right after the first five, I was ecstatic (and got me to buy all three impulsively again on Amazon... sigh). I just finished this one and while it wasn't at the level of the the first five, Wool Omnibus, as a whole, it was still very, very good.
One of the reasons why you need to read this after Wool Omnibus is because it's a prequel. Years and years back before all the shit happened. Years back when everything was still normal and people still lived and thrived outside in the open air. This is the story of Congressman Donald Keene, who, because of his architectural skills, grudgingly found himself and a few others involved in a classified project. Suffice to say, this project is the one that would change the world as we know it forever.
First Shift is set in two different POVs - that of Donald, set in 2049-2050 and that of Troy, set in 2110-2111, in which each chapter alternates between the two. Usually this bothers me, as unless it's in a first person POV, I don't like this kind of set-up, but surprisingly it worked on me. I think it's because both perspectives have different... paces. Donald's POV, for example, has a sense of urgency in it. Out of the blue, he's suddenly given a top-secret project to overlook, and despite having such power, details about the project isn't given to him, so he's pretty much in the dark. But as readers, we all know there's more to this project. As readers, we know there's some sort of conspiracy going on, as having already read the first 5. But despite having this knowledge and sense of knowing, there's still so much suspense and urgency in the events that lead to it, and you can't help but feel for the characters.
The other perspective set in the future after the post-apocalyptic event has a different pacing. Perhaps this can be attributed to the fact that this takes place after after the apocalyptic event has happened and everyone else are now in the silos. Here, there isn't really any urgency at all. Troy wakes up from a freezing and has no recollection of what happened before whatsoever. All he knows is that he has a job as the "mayor" of Silo #1, and he has to make sure that nothing goes wrong. He feels something isn't right, but he continues doing his job anyway. In this world, the silo constituents are given pills by doctors that make them forget previous events (memory eraser of some sort), but after certain incidents, Troy has decided not to take them, which led to an unfortunate end (which you'll find out soon enough... so READ THE BOOK!)
Apart from that, Hugh Howey's writing prowess is still impressive as ever. He really has this uncanny ability to make his stories seem so real, and I guess that is the reason why I found Wool Omnibus so scary and fascinating at the same time. One thing I like about the whole series is that it's creative. It's not a rehash of overly used ideas and themes. He takes something, gives it something new, and creates a whole new world out of it, complete with excellent narration, tension, transitioning and especially world-building. This author is definitely one of my favorites, and I'll forever support his works!...more