Review: Defy The Stars

June 2, 2017 in Book Reviews, Sci-Fi, YA Fantasy

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Defy The StarsDefy The Stars by Claudia Gray
Series: Constellation #1
Published by Hot Key Books on 6th April 2017
Genres: YA Fantasy, Sci-Fi
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Goodreads
three-half-stars

Noemi is a young and fearless soldier of Genesis, a colony planet of a dying Earth. But the citizens of Genesis are rising up - they know that Earth's settlers will only destroy this planet the way they destroyed their own. And so a terrible war has begun.

When Noemi meets Abel, one of Earth's robotic mech warriors, she realizes that Abel himself may provide the key to Genesis' salvation. Abel is bound by his programming to obey her - even though her plan could result in his destruction. But Abel is no ordinary mech. He's a unique prototype, one with greater intelligence, skill and strength than any other. More than that, he has begun to develop emotions, a personality and even dreams. Noemi begins to realise that if Abel is less than human, he is more than a machine. If she destroys him, is it murder? And can a cold-blooded murder be redeemed by the protection of a world?

Stranded together in space, they go on a whirlwind adventure through Earth's various colony worlds, alongside the countless Vagabonds who have given up planetary life altogether and sail forever between the stars. Each step brings them closer - both to each other and to the terrible decision Noemi will have to make about her world's fate, and Abel's.

Noemi is risking her life to save her planet, Genesis, from their ancestors-turned-enemies, Earth. In three weeks she’ll participate in a suicide mission to damage the Gate that links the worlds and find Genesis some much-needed time. At least that’s the plan until she discovers another way to potentially save her planet, a theory that will result in a race across the galaxies adventure.

Abel is the most advanced mech ever created. Mansfield has created mechs for Earth for every scenario – healthcare, labour, war, but Abel is Mansfield’s one-of-a-kind creation.

When Abel and Noemi’s paths cross they are of course enemies, Earth vs Genesis. However, Abel’s unique programming offers Noemi the chance to utilise him – that is until she realises that he is no mere robot.

There is much to like in this novel. At times I can struggle with world-building set in space, but actually I got on pretty well with Defy The Stars.  Admittedly there’s stuff I didn’t completely follow; the politics and the exact reason for the war still eludes me but that’s probably just my foggy brain. However, as a result, I didn’t feel like I cared as much as I should have.

My favourite element of the story was Abel which to be honest took me by surprise. I loved the concept of him, his interactions and the way his character developed. I enjoyed the storytelling style too – the mix of perspectives of both Noemie and Abel. I thought it worked well.

Yet, while I enjoyed this book I didn’t LOVE it. A cursory glance on Goodreads tells me I appear to be in the minority with this one though.

Will I read on in the series? Probably, depending upon the focus of book two.

 

three-half-stars

Review: Waking Gods

April 13, 2017 in Book Reviews, Sci-Fi

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Waking GodsWaking Gods by Sylvain Neuvel
Series: Themis Files #2
on 6th April 2017
Genres: Sci-Fi
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Goodreads
three-stars

As a child, Rose Franklin made an astonishing discovery: a giant metallic hand, buried deep within the earth. As an adult, she’s dedicated her brilliant scientific career to solving the mystery that began that fateful day: Why was a titanic robot of unknown origin buried in pieces around the world? Years of investigation have produced intriguing answers—and even more perplexing questions. But the truth is closer than ever before when a second robot, more massive than the first, materializes and lashes out with deadly force.

Now humankind faces a nightmare invasion scenario made real, as more colossal machines touch down across the globe. But Rose and her team at the Earth Defense Corps refuse to surrender. They can turn the tide if they can unlock the last secrets of an advanced alien technology. The greatest weapon humanity wields is knowledge in a do-or-die battle to inherit the Earth . . . and maybe even the stars.

Having been left on somewhat of a cliffhanger at the end of Sleeping Giants (see my review here), I’ve been looking forward to getting my hands on the second Themis Files book, Waking Gods, ever since.

Waking Gods follows a similar format to Sleeping Giants, a dossier of interviews and transcripts which tell the story. I really enjoy this form of storytelling – it’s different but works well. Perhaps it was my eARC but I did, at times, find it hard to keep up with who was actually talking. Then again, it’s possibly just my tired brain.

I felt that things escalated quickly in this book. Avoiding spoilers, let’s just say that some things kick off! Like book one, Waking Gods is filled with information – which can, at times, feel quite a lot. There are plot twists,

There are plot twists, secrets, and even some answers. I must admit though, that while I enjoyed this book I didn’t really ever find myself completely absorbed by it. I don’t think I felt as connected to the characters in this book for some reason.

That said, I’m glad I read it and to finally have some answers. It’s a very inventive series and I actually learned quite a bit in this book too. That ending though… is there to be a third book?

three-stars

Review: Kindred, A Graphic Novel Adaptation

January 31, 2017 in Book Reviews, Graphic Novel, Historical Fiction, Sci-Fi

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Kindred, A Graphic Novel AdaptationKindred by Octavia E Butler, John Jennings, Damian Duffy
Published by Abrams on 10th January 2017
Genres: Graphic Novel, Sci-Fi, Historical Fiction
Format: Hardback
Source: Publisher
Goodreads
four-stars

More than 35 years after its release, Kindred continues to draw in new readers with its deep exploration of the violence and loss of humanity caused by slavery in the United States, and its complex and lasting impact on the present day. Adapted by celebrated academics and comics artists Damian Duffy and John Jennings, this graphic novel powerfully renders Butler’s mysterious and moving story, which spans racial and gender divides in the antebellum South through the 20th century.

Butler’s most celebrated, critically acclaimed work tells the story of Dana, a young black woman who is suddenly and inexplicably transported from her home in 1970s California to the pre–Civil War South. As she time-travels between worlds, one in which she is a free woman and one where she is part of her own complicated familial history on a southern plantation, she becomes frighteningly entangled in the lives of Rufus, a conflicted white slaveholder and one of Dana’s own ancestors, and the many people who are enslaved by him.

Held up as an essential work in feminist, science-fiction, and fantasy genres, and a cornerstone of the Afrofuturism movement, there are over 500,000 copies of Kindred in print. The intersectionality of race, history, and the treatment of women addressed within the original work remain critical topics in contemporary dialogue, both in the classroom and in the public sphere.

Frightening, compelling, and richly imagined, Kindred offers an unflinching look at our complicated social history, transformed by the graphic novel format into a visually stunning work for a new generation of readers.

Kindred by Octavia E. Butler is one of those books that has always been on my radar, but I’ve just never got around to reading. So when I saw there was to be a graphic novel adaptation, I thought it the perfect time to familiarise myself with the story – and swoon over the artwork (which you can see here).

Kindred is the story of Dana, a young black woman living in 1976. Inexplicably, she is persistently transported back in time to an 1800 plantation in the American South. Her life changes when she is there. She is not safe – a free black woman in a white man’s world.

Her trips back in time coincide with the actions of Rafe, the plantation owner’s son. As Dana spends time on the plantation awaiting her return to the 1970s she builds friendships with the plantation workers and slaves. Through Dana, her treatment and the treatment of those around her, we gain an insight into the lives of plantation slaves at that time.

This is such a powerful book. While I can’t speak to the original, this graphic novel adaptation works wonderfully. The imagery is stunning and definitely furthers the Kindred experience.

This isn’t an easy book to read. It’s emotional, heart-breaking at times. While classed as a science fiction novel this a book that is built around fact, history, and it educates the reader.

Having read the graphic novel, I now really want to read the original version of Kindred. I can already see why it has such a well-earned reputation, and I believe that this graphic novel adaptation is the perfect way to bring the story to a wider audience.

four-stars

Review: Gemina

October 5, 2016 in Book Reviews, Sci-Fi, YA

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: GeminaGemina by Amie Kaufman, Jay Kristoff
Series: The Illuminae Files #2
Published by Rock The Boat on 20th October 2016 (UK)
Genres: Sci-Fi, YA
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Goodreads
five-stars

Hanna Donnelly is the station captain’s pampered daughter and Nik Malikov is the reluctant member of a notorious crime family. Together they struggle with the realities of life aboard the galaxy’s most boring space station, blissfully unaware that Kady Grant and the Hypatia are headed right toward Heimdall with news of the Kerenza invasion.

 

 

Ok, first things first, this is the second book in The Illuminae Files series. If you haven’t read book one, Illuminae, then check out my post about it or just go and read the book itself. YOU WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED! Either way, if you haven’t read Illuminae then stop reading this right now!

Still here? Ok, let’s talk Gemina!

When we left the Hypatia at the end of Illuminae she was headed for the Heimdall Waypoint, the gateway to The Core. The thing is they didn’t know if the Jump Station still existed or if BeiTech had attacked it and its occupants too.

Well, Gemina is the story of what was happening on Jump Station Heimdall while the Hypatia was headed in their direction.

Pretty cool, huh?

I absolutely loved this, a different aspect on the whole situation complete with new characters, a new environment and new challenges. All the while, the story linking in to our old favourites aboard the Hypatia.

I’m absolutely determined not to spoil anything in this book. So this is going to be short. The format is as Illuminae, collated files that together tell the story of the Heimdall.

It’ll probably come as no surprise to you that the characters in this book are brilliant. Our key characters are sassy, sharp and hugely badass.

Kaufman and Kristoff are brilliant at what they do. They’ll mess with your head, stomp all over your heart, make you laugh out loud and stare in disbelief. My husband actually heard me swear at this book – that’s a new one, I don’t think I’ve done that before!

This book is action-packed, brilliantly written, indescribably tense in places and utterly unique. I love the way we uncover more and more of the story.

I adored Illuminae but I have to say that, somehow, Gemina is EVEN BETTER! I was captivated from the outset and by the end of this novel I was completely blown away.

This is an incredibly special series of books so far and I cannot wait to read the conclusion. Stunning!!

PS I need a new star rating system for this series alone, 5 stars just doesn’t seem to cover it!

five-stars

Review: The Race

July 30, 2016 in Book Reviews, Sci-Fi

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: The RaceThe Race by Nina Allan
Published by Titan on 19th July 2016
Genres: Sci-Fi
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Goodreads
three-stars

In a future scarred by fracking and ecological collapse, Jenna Hoolman lives in the coastal town of Sapphire. Her world is dominated by the illegal sport of smartdog racing: greyhounds genetically modified with human DNA. When her young niece goes missing that world implodes...

Christy's life is dominated by fear of her brother, a man she knows capable of monstrous acts and suspects of hiding even darker ones. Desperate to learn the truth she contacts Alex, a stranger she knows only by name, and who has his own demons to fight...

And Maree, a young woman undertaking a journey that will change her world forever.

THE RACE weaves together story threads and realities to take us on a gripping and spellbinding journey that explores the nature of identity, home and our place in the world.

The Race was previously published by a small press and was nominated for a number of awards. This new edition from Titan actually features a brand new story set within the world of The Race.

How on earth do I describe this book? While it may be classed as a novel, it’s more of a bind-up of four novellas whose characters are linked together in some way. The Appendix is a bonus story, available for this first time in this edition.

So we have the stories of Jenna, Christy, Alex and Maree. Four characters whose stories are intertwined. Rather than summarise their stories here, I refer you to the book information section at the top of this post.

This book wasn’t what I expected it to be. I was really absorbed by Jenna’s story, the world scarred by fracking, her situation and the smartdogs and their runners. So when I moved on to Christy’s story, I was somewhat disappointed to be leaving Jenna and her story behind.

I enjoyed trying to piece together the stories, uncovering their similarities and generally trying to figure out what was going on! To date, I’ve only experienced this feeling with David Mitchell’s writing – a need to read on, despite being pretty confused as to how it all fits together!

On the whole, I enjoyed Allan’s writing. I can see why this has been described as “literary speculative fiction” as her wordcraft is beautiful at times. I did however struggle with her smartdog race scene, it was somewhat hard going.

I appreciate Allan’s ability to draw the reader into each of her central characters. She puts her readers through emotional turmoil. At times this isn’t an easy read, and I should warn you that there are sections of this book that warrant a trigger warning – a rape scene for example.

While some may find aspects of the novel hard to read, Allan doesn’t shy away from difficult issues. Indeed, I respect her for the way she tackles them. I also appreciate her approach to sexuality in this novel – it’s a part of the story, not the story, which is personally how I think it should be.

All in all I found this a rather strange read. It straddles sci-fi and literary speculative fiction. I can see that many fans of such genre would very much enjoy this novel. I, myself, am still a newbie. I would be interested to reread this in the future, once I’m more accustomed to this type of novel.

There is much to be applauded in this book; the exploration of identity and our place in the world is something I found very interesting. I can appreciate why it has received so many commendations. It wasn’t what I anticipated it to be, but despite my lack of experience in these particular reading grounds, I found it rather difficult to put this book down.

three-stars