Tag: science fiction

Book Review: Rabbits, by Terry Miles

Image belongs to Random House/Del Rey.

It’s an average work day. You’ve been wrapped up in a task, and you check the clock when you come up for air–4:44 pm. You go to check your email, and 44 unread messages have built up. With a shock, you realize it is April 4th–4/4. And when you get in your car to drive home, your odometer reads 44,444. Coincidence? Or have you just seen the edge of a rabbit hole?

Rabbits is a mysterious alternate reality game so vast it uses our global reality as its canvas. Since the game first started in 1959, ten iterations have appeared and nine winners have been declared. Their identities are unknown. So is their reward, which is whispered to be NSA or CIA recruitment, vast wealth, immortality, or perhaps even the key to unlocking the secrets of the universe itself. But the deeper you get, the more deadly the game becomes. Players have died in the past–and the body count is rising.

And now the eleventh round is about to begin. Enter K–a Rabbits obsessive who has been trying to find a way into the game for years. That path opens when K is approached by billionaire Alan Scarpio, the alleged winner of the sixth iteration. Scarpio says that something has gone wrong with the game and that K needs to fix it before Eleven starts or the whole world will pay the price.

Five days later, Scarpio is declared missing. Two weeks after that, K blows the deadline and Eleven begins. And suddenly, the fate of the entire universe is at stake.

I’m not sure what to say about this book. It was kind of like watching Alice in Wonderland—the Johnny Depp version. I never had any idea what was actually going on, but I was completely fascinated. The patterns and logic leaps involved in the game were a bit mind-boggling, but again, fascinating (in a now-I-feel-dumb sort of way). I wouldn’t say this is a well-rounded novel, but it’s definitely entertaining.

Terry Miles was born in Saskatchewan. Rabbit is his newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Random House/Del Rey in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: Defending the Galaxy, by Maria V. Snyder

Image belongs to the author.

Title: Defending the Galaxy
Author: Maria V. Snyder
Genre: YA, sci-fi
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Junior Officer Ara Lawrence here, reporting for duty. Again. It’s situation critical for the security team and everyone in the base – including my parents – with a new attack from the looters imminent, a possible galaxy-wide crime conspiracy and an unstoppable alien threat. But this all pales in the face of my mind-blowing discovery about the Q-net. Of course, no one believes me. I’m not sure I believe me. It could just be a stress-induced delusion. That’s what my parents seem to believe…

Their concern for me is hampering my ability to do my job. I know they love me, but with the Q-net in my corner, I’m the only one who can help the security team beat the shadowy aliens from the pits we discovered. We’re holding them at bay, for now, but the entire Milky Way Galaxy is in danger of being overrun.

With battles on too many fronts, it’s looking dire. But one thing I’ve learned is when people I love are in jeopardy, I’ll never give up trying to save them. Not until my dying breath. Which could very well be today…

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the Sentinels of the Galaxy series! Maria V. Snyder’s writing is fantastic, as always, and this universe is nicely done and intriguing. I’d never considered the effects faster-than-light travel would have on families and friendships, so that was an intriguing detail.

Ara is a lot of fun to read—smart, determined, and with enough snark to make me laugh. She trying to save the universe here, but she’s also concerned with typical teenage things like her boyfriend and what’s going on with him. Lots of action, high stakes, and characters I care about made this a riveting read!

Maria V. Snyder is a bestselling author. Defending the Galaxy is the final book in the Sentinels of the Galaxy series.

(Galley courtesy of the author in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: Knight in Paper Armor, by Nicholas Conley

Image belongs to author/publisher.

Title: Knight in Paper Armor
Author:  Nicholas Conley   
Genre: Fiction, science fiction
Rating: 4 out of 5

Billy Jakobek has always been different. Born with strange and powerful psychic abilities, he has grown up in the laboratories of Thorne Century, a ruthless megacorporation that economically, socially, and politically dominates American society. Every day, Billy absorbs the emotional energies, dreams, and traumas of everyone he meets—from his grandmother’s memories of the Holocaust, to the terror his sheer existence inflicts upon his captors—and he yearns to break free, so he can use his powers to help others.

Natalia Gonzalez, a rebellious artist and daughter of Guatemalan immigrants, lives in Heaven’s Hole, an industrial town built inside a meteor crater, where the poverty-stricken population struggles to survive the nightmarish working conditions of the local Thorne Century factory. Natalia takes care of her ailing mother, her grandmother, and her two younger brothers, and while she dreams of escape, she knows she cannot leave her family behind.

When Billy is transferred to Heaven’s Hole, his chance encounter with Natalia sends shockwaves rippling across the blighted landscape. The two outsiders are pitted against the all-powerful monopoly, while Billy experiences visions of an otherworldly figure known as the Shape, which prophesizes an apocalyptic future that could decimate the world they know.

I have to say, the setting for Knight in Paper Armor was very disturbing (near-future, urban dystopia), not just because of how it was, but because it seems so easily possible from where we are now. One company dominating and oppressing the world—yep, I could see that—poverty, loss of rights and freedoms, the use of violence and murder to control people and keep them below the poverty level…Sad and depressing, but believable.

Billy was such a sympathetic character:  branded as different and raised by a greedy corporation in a lab, his family murdered in front of him, the victim of experiments and used for a weapon. All Billy wants is to have a “normal” life and help people. All Natalia wants is to help her family and to right the wrongs she sees around her every single day. Both these characters are strong and vividly drawn but have their flaws as well.

The author does an excellent job painting an admittedly dark picture, but he also showcases the glimmers of light and hope that can be found even in the dark of times.

Nicholas Conley lives in New Hampshire. Knight in Paper Armor is his newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of the author in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: The Last Human, by Zack Jordan

the last human
Image belongs to Del Rey.

Title:  The Last Human
AuthorZack Jordan
Genre:  sci-fi
Rating:  3.5 out of 5

Sara is a human—the most terrifying creature in the entire galaxy. She’s the last human—and only her mother—a terrifying alien predator know she’s human. If any of their neighbors on Watchtower Station found out what Sara was, her mother would have to eviscerate them. Again.

Sara has accepted that she’ll never know why humans were considered too dangerous to let live. Then she runs into a bounty hunter, a rebellious spacesuit, and a cute fluffball with an IQ in the thousands, and her life shatters around her. Now Sara finds herself playing a deadly game with two vast intelligences in an effort to find out the truth—and learn if she really is the last human.

I have to give props to the author for making Sara’s adoptive mother—the fearsome Widow with mandibles and bladed appendages—likable and sympathetic. Like Ron Weasley, I am terrified of spiders, so making a giant murderous one likable is an accomplishment.

There was a little bit of the absurd Douglas Adams feel to this at times and the rebellious spacesuit was my favorite character. Sara was a mostly sympathetic character, but I didn’t really care for the others, especially the Network or the Observer. I’m hit or miss on sci-fi, and this one came down almost in the midst, with a more distant feel to it than I prefer. The question that haunted me through the whole book is:  how does Sara—a member of the most feared and supposedly extinct species in the galaxy—hide the fact that she is a human from everyone she encounters, when they all have neural implants and scanners?

Zack Jordan lives in Chicago. The Last Human is his new novel.

(Galley courtesy of Del Rey in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: The Vanished Birds, by Simon Jimenez

THE VANISHED BIRDS
Image belongs to Random House/Del Rey.

Title:  The Vanished Birds
AuthorSimon Jimenez
Genre:  Sci-fi, literary fiction
Rating:  3 out of 5

Nia Imani spends her time traveling through the stars and time—where mere months pass for her, for everyone she knows, decades and lifetimes pass—so apart from her crew, she has no other relationships. The job is her life. Until a mysterious naked boy crashes on an agricultural planet and his care is given to Nia.

The boy doesn’t talk. Instead, he spends his time playing an old flute and following Nia around the ship. They become a family of two and Nia finally has someone to care about besides herself. But the boy might possess powers only rumored before—making him a target for the greedy and powerful, and Nia will do whatever she can to keep him safe.

While the writing in The Vanished Birds is wonderful, I was not a fan of the story. I didn’t care about any of the characters. I’m not sure what the first 15% of the story had to do with anything. I felt sorry for the boy, but there were so many references to things in the past that might have made me connect with him or the other characters but remained only references, leaving me frustrated and annoyed. In short, the author has skills, but I don’t feel like this was a good choice for me.

(Galley courtesy of Random House/Del Rey in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: Chasing the Shadows, by Maria V. Snyder

chasing the shadows
Image courtesy of the author.

Title:  Chasing the Shadows
Author:    Maria V. Snyder
Genre:  YA, sci-fi
Rating:  5 out of 5

Lyra Daniels is dead. To be fair, she was only dead for sixty-six seconds, but now she has a new name (Ara), a new job—and the rest of the world has to continue to believe she’s dead, so murdering looter Jarren won’t know she’s still alive and out to get him. Because he’s blocked their planet from communicating with the rest of the galaxy, and now everyone thinks they’re dead, which is what going dark like that usually means.

A spaceship is coming to check it out, but it will be almost two years before they arrive. And Jarren isn’t the only threat Ara and her team face:  they still have a deadly alien race to contend with and figuring out what exactly the Terra Cotta Warriors do—along with how they got there and why—is also at the top of the list.

It’s all in a day’s work for Ara. Good thing she got crazy good at worming through the Q-net after she died. Because that may be the biggest mystery—and the most important to figure out—of all.

Just like Navigating the Stars, I was hooked from the first of this. Ara grows up a lot in this book—dying will do that to you—as she starts to look beyond herself and her own wants. And everything isn’t easy for her. The rest of the security team doesn’t always listen to her or respect her opinions, which is hard to swallow for someone used to doing what she wants and asking forgiveness after. The growths of all her relationships was well-done and compelling. And I love the mystery of the Terra Cotta Warriors!

Maria V. Snyder is a bestselling author. Chasing the Shadows, the second book in the Sentinels of the Galaxy series, is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of the author in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: Navigating the Stars, by Maria V. Snyder

navigating the stars
I do not own this image.

Title:  Navigating the Stars
AuthorMaria V. Snyder
Genre:  YA, sci-fi
Rating:   5 out of 5

Lyra Daniels just wants to stay in one place and finish school with her friends. But her parents, the leading experts on the Terra Cotta Warriors found on twenty-two planets, refused to leave her behind when they set off to study a new discovery—and the time dilation leaves decades between Lyra and her best friends.

Lyra spends her days worming into the Q-net, which made traveling the vast distances of space a reality. The only person on board the ship near her own age is a security officer who keeps poking his nose into her business and threatening to throw her in the brig.

But when the planet they just left goes silent, Lyra’s not the only thing capturing the attention of security—missing data files and looters—and soon Lyra realizes there’s far more going on that two parents trying to ruin her social life.

I love Maria V. Snyder’s books, and this one was no exception. The concept was fascinating, and the details were even more interesting. Lyra’s attitude made me laugh frequently, and her escapades kept me shaking my head, but I could not put this book down!

Maria V. Snyder was a meteorologist before she became an author. Navigating the Stars is the first book in the Sentinels of the Galaxy series.

Blog Tour for The Last Hope, by Krista and Becca Ritchie

The Last Hope_Cover
Image belongs to St. Martin’s Press/Wednesday Books.

Title:   The Last Hope
Author:  Krista and Becca Ritchie
Genre:   YA, sci-fi
Rating:   4 out of 5

Franny, Court, and Mykal have been imprisoned for weeks on an enemy ship. Through their link, they feel everything the others are going through. As if being on the verge of death isn’t enough, they are also reeling from the knowledge that they are human. When a mysterious stranger shows up and offers them a way out, they are skeptical—but eager to survive. They agree to help but keep their link secret.

Stork won’t tell them much, just that there’s one way to save planet earth and the remnants of humanity. He offers tantalizing hints at the answers to all Franny’s questions, and she’s eager to find out the truth. But the truth behind their mission—to find a baby girl, the first of her kind, who can cloak and teleport planets—is far more than the linked trio can begin to comprehend.

So…I didn’t read The Raging Ones. (Not sure how I managed to end up reading the second book without reading the first, as that’s something I wouldn’t normally do.) I struggled a bit at the beginning, trying to catch up to the worldbuilding and what happened in the first book, but the story was compelling enough that I pushed through. The dynamics are interesting between the trio, and Stork is an excellent foil for the three of them. There’s lot of action and adventure here, making this a quick, exciting read.

Krista and Becca Ritchie are twins and bestselling authors. The Last Hope is their newest novel, the second book in The Raging Ones duology.

(Galley courtesy of St. Martin’s Press/Wednesday Books via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: Recursion, by Blake Crouch

recursion
Image belongs to Crown Publishing.

 

Title:   Recursion
Author:   Blake Crouch
Genre:   Sci-Fi
Rating:   4.2 out of 5

NYC cop Barry Sutton lives every day with the death of his teenage daughter years before. One night, he tries to stop a woman from committing suicide, his first direct experience with False Memory Syndrome—a condition where victims have false memories of a life they never lived. While Barry is investigating, he stumbles into something he never imagined, something that turns what he thinks he knows into something ephemeral and ever-changing.

Helen is one of the most brilliant minds on the planet, fascinated with memory and how it shapes us and changes us. She has created a technology that can save memories, and allow us to experience them again, but she has no idea of the repercussions of doing so. Soon she and Barry are the only ones who know what’s going on through an ever-changing past and present that will always end in catastrophe—unless they manage to stop the destruction.

This novel turned everything on its head. I never knew what to expect from page to page, but I was enthralled by the journey. Or journeys, I should say. Crouch makes a complex concept believable and terrifying, as well as creating characters that I connected with, even in a world that is dark and scary.

Blake Crouch is a bestselling novelist and screenwriter. Recursion is his newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Crown Publishing via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review The Queen’s Wing, by Jessica Thorne

the queen's wing
Image belongs to Bookouture.

Title:   The Queen’s Wing
Author:  Jessica Thorne
Genre:   YA, scifi
Rating:   3.5 out of 5

All Bel wants is to fly. She’d love to spend her days in freedom in her Wasp, preferably with her childhood friend and crush, Shae, but instead she spends her days being trained as a daughter of the aristocracy. Until a surprise attack by the Gravians, longtime enemies of her people, destroys the entire royal family, and Bel finds herself the daughter of the king—and a valuable royal commodity about to be married to the ruler of Anthaeus, a distant planet.

Soon Bel is on a ship headed to meet her future husband, with Shae at her side, as always. But now he’s no longer her friend, he’s the commander of her guards. An attempt to kill her is followed by a thwarted attempt to blow up the ship, and Bel meets her future husband, Conleith, in the furor.

She realizes everything is not okay on Anthaeus when she meets the Gravian representative there, and Con refuses to believe her about the danger the Gravians represent. Soon her worst fears are realized when the Gravians attack and destroy much of Anthaeus and its people, but Bel and Con aren’t ready to surrender yet—and they have a secret weapon on their side.

If I had realized this was a “space opera,” I probably would have skipped it. I enjoyed Bel’s character arc, but the entire plot line felt far too rushed, with very little transition or, sometimes, reason. Frankly, at times this felt like a B-rate scifi movie, although Bel and Con were both interesting characters.

Jessica Thorne lives and works in Ireland. The Queen’s Wing is her newest novel.

(Galley provided by Bookouture in exchange for an honest review.)