Review: WaR: Wizards and Robots

February 1, 2018 in Book Reviews, Sci-Fi, YA Fantasy

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: WaR: Wizards and RobotsWaR: Wizards and Robots by Will.i.am, Brian David Johnson
Published by Penguin on 25th January 2018
Genres: Sci-Fi, YA Fantasy
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Goodreads
three-stars

When a young man breaks into her home claiming her life is in danger, Ada Luring's world changes forever. Geller is a wizard, on the run from his father's hidden clan who want to kill Ada and her mother. Sara Luring is the scientist who will create the first robot, the wizards' age-old foes.

But a robot has travelled back in time to find Ada, and will lay everything on the line to protect her, as she may just be the key to preventing the earth's destruction in the future.

Ada, Geller and the robots must learn to work together to change the past and secure the future. But they don't have much time before a mysterious enemy launches its attack on Earth...

Well, for the first third of WaR: Wizards and Robots I thought my brain might explode – wizards, robots, high school kids, three times in space – I was somewhat overwhelmed! But once I started to get my head around things I actually quite enjoyed the story – it certainly is action packed!

I made a real attempt to write a synopsis for this book, but quite honestly it hurt my head, so I can only imagine what it would’ve been like for you to read! So, here’s a basic rundown. We have a teenage girl, Ada and her Mum who is a doctor of AI in the 21st century. We have a castle under siege in the 16th century. We have wizards, including a boy called Geller. We have a robot, Kaku, and the world under siege from aliens in the 31st century. There’s magic, technology, time travel, distrust, friendship and the desire to save the world.

This is a fast-paced read which crams a lot into its 320 pages. Because of this, I don’t feel we ever make real connections with the characters – I certainly didn’t. For me, this book is kind of all over the place. We jump between times, characters and scenarios very quickly. It feels like watching a film at 30x speed. That said, I was never bored- there wasn’t time for that! It’s packed full of action and is actually a quick read. But I can’t help feeling it could’ve been more. The underlying story is good – a bit of a fantasy/sci-fi/YA mashup. However, I’m left feeling that there are many threads unexplored, a lack of depth and hence of character building. It could’ve been far more cohesive, but instead looking back it feels kind of a jumble – with the main story tacking its way through the pieces.

All that said, despite feeling overwhelmed – and kind of shocked – for the first third, I did find this book entertaining. I’d love to hear your thoughts if you’ve read WaR.

three-stars

Review: Zenith

January 10, 2018 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: ZenithZenith by Sasha Alsberg, Lindsay Cummings
Published by HQ YA on 11th January 2018
Genres: YA, Sci-Fi
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Goodreads
two-half-stars

Most know Androma Racella as the Bloody Baroness, a powerful mercenary whose reign of terror stretches across the Mirabel Galaxy. To those aboard her glass starship, Marauder, however, she's just Andi, their friend and fearless leader.

But when a routine mission goes awry, the Marauder's all-girl crew is tested as they find themselves in a treacherous situation—and at the mercy of a sadistic bounty hunter from Andi's past.

Meanwhile, across the galaxy, a ruthless ruler waits in the shadows of the planet Xen Ptera, biding her time to exact revenge for the destruction of her people. The pieces of her deadly plan are about to fall into place, unleashing a plot that will tear Mirabel in two.

Andi and her crew embark on a dangerous, soul-testing journey that could restore order to their ship—or just as easily start a war that will devour worlds. As the Marauder hurtles toward the unknown, and Mirabel hangs in the balance, the only certainty is that in a galaxy run on lies and illusion, no one can be trusted.

It’s hard to know what to say about Zenith because while, overall, I enjoyed the story well enough, I just wasn’t really a fan of its execution.

The story is told through a variety of different characters, each of whom have their own chapters. Personally, I find that this style of story-telling can either work brilliantly and give you an insight into each character, or it can leave you feeling disconnected from the characters. In this case, it didn’t work for me. I didn’t feel like I really cared about the characters enough. There were a couple of characters that I felt I got to “know” a bit better but all-in-all this form of storytelling didn’t work for me in this instance.

I also struggled with the world-building in this book, it was only towards the end that I started to feel like I had a vague grasp of things. There were a lot of names of places and peoples and, personally, I felt a bit overwhelmed at times. Truthfully, for all the description of physical appearances and traits, I couldn’t really tell you much about the systems and their inhabitants.

I’m really trying to avoid spoilers but there’s one part of the book that I really still don’t get – Klaren and The Yielded. I understand the role she played in the immediate history, but in the bigger picture, I’ve no clue what she is working towards or why? Can anyone enlighten me, please? I feel like I’m missing something important.

There was much of this book that I found rather vague – I could have done with more information, more world-building – and other parts that seemed somewhat prolonged. There’s not really a great deal happens when you consider this book is over 500 pages long!

I wasn’t a huge fan of the main character, Andi, and I very much disliked her ritual of dancing in her mind with the folk she had killed. I can see what the authors were going for with this, but it really didn’t work for me.

This book very much feels like a mash-up of everything that is popular in the YA fantasy / sci-fi world right now. For me, it doesn’t feel unique, and it follows a lot of the same tropes as we see in YA.

I really don’t like being negative. I truly do think the story has a lot of potential but I just didn’t love the characters, they were too “samey” for me, and I didn’t enjoy the execution. It’s not a bad book, please don’t think I’m saying that – I’m just saying it wasn’t for me. It didn’t stand out and yet I feel that it had the potential to do so.

I’m kind of tempted to read the next book in the series, if only so I can figure out how on earth Klaren fits in and who The Yielded are!! But also because I do want to know how the main story pans out, and perhaps book two will be more my style?

Have you read Zenith? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

 

two-half-stars

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

Discussion: Carve The Mark

February 17, 2017 in Bookish Posts

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.

Discussion: Carve The MarkCarve The Mark by Veronica Roth
Series: Carve The Mark #1
Published by HarperCollins on 18th January 2017
Genres: Fantasy, Sci-Fi
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Goodreads

On a planet where violence and vengeance rule, in a galaxy where some are favoured by fate, everyone develops a currentgift, a unique power meant to shape the future. While most benefit from their currentgifts, Akos and Cyra do not—their gifts make them vulnerable to others’ control. Can they reclaim their gifts, their fates, and their lives, and reset the balance of power in this world?

Cyra is the sister of the brutal tyrant who rules the Shotet people. Cyra’s currentgift gives her pain and power—something her brother exploits, using her to torture his enemies. But Cyra is much more than just a blade in her brother’s hand: she is resilient, quick on her feet, and smarter than he knows.

Akos is from the peace-loving nation of Thuvhe, and his loyalty to his family is limitless. Though protected by his unusual currentgift, once Akos and his brother are captured by enemy Shotet soldiers, Akos is desperate to get his brother out alive—no matter what the cost. When Akos is thrust into Cyra’s world, the enmity between their countries and families seems insurmountable. They must decide to help each other to survive—or to destroy one another.

I’m not quite sure how this is going to go. I mean, I know how I feel, I just don’t know if I’m going to be able to articulate it.

OK

A bit about me first. I suffer from a chronic illness. For the past 11 years my illness has ruled my life. Among many symptoms, I suffer from chronic pain.

END

I had some issues with this book. I sat quietly in my own wee world reading and formulating my thoughts. I started to wonder if it was just me? Was I being oversensitive? I took to Twitter and soon realised that, no, I was not alone with my concerns.

Set in a distant galaxy, we follow two characters, Akos who is Thuvhesit and Cyra who is Shotet. Their people live on the same planet separated by the Divide and a mutual hatred of one another.

Both of our main characters are ‘fated’; they are among a small group whose futures are fated and have been seen by the Oracles.

Each child in this world grows into a ‘currentgift’. The ‘current’ is the force that passes through all things. Everyone’s currentgift is different and is apparently formed around the personality / needs of the individual. Akos’ gift is that he stops the current, Cyra’s is chronic pain which she suffers from herself and can impart upon others through contact.

Let me start by saying that I was actually initially very pleased to see such a dominant author as Veronica Roth include chronic pain in her novel. Prior to diving into the book, I hoped that perhaps this would help to bring some understanding into the mainstream. Sadly, I was left disappointed, frustrated and even angry with this book.

I did read this entire book and, trust me, I tried to keep an open mind. There were points when I had hope – Cyra’s pain crippling her to the point she’s just in a heap in her room and the portrayal of the side effects that she suffers as a result of painkillers at the start of the book.

However,  I very much take issue with chronic pain being called a ‘currentGIFT’.

Oxford English Dictionary defines ‘gift’ as “a natural ability or talent.”

So, what? I have a talent for inflicting pain upon myself? I’m not convinced that even Britain’s Got Talent would consider THAT a talent!

Ok, so maybe we can agree that on the surface of it ‘gift’ was an unfortunate word choice.

“Every currentgift is a curse”

“But no gift is ONLY a curse”

In fairness, here she does have a point. My illness has taught me a lot about myself. I’m a different person to the one I was pre-illness. I’ve had to reassess, to identify what’s important in life and change everything to find a way to live. While I’d obviously rather I hadn’t had to go through this, I do now understand myself more. I see the world in a slightly different way.

The part that I very much take issue with in terms of Cyra’s currentgift, is the implication that her ‘gift’ is connected to her mental state or personality. I think this is very dangerous territory. When I first became ill a doctor implied that my pain and other symptoms were “all in my head”. Needless to say, most other health professionals were aghast at this statement and thankfully, on the whole, I’ve received excellent care. But this attitude is not uncommon towards chronic illnesses and it’s very damaging to sufferers and their families. To have this concept reinforced by way of a novel, to almost give the ‘okay’ to this kind of attitude is not acceptable to me.

I wish I could articulate my points more clearly. This post has been hard for me to write – it’s an emotional issue. I don’t like being negative, I strive to see the good. Writing a book with a central character who suffers from chronic pain is good, it’s just that I didn’t appreciate the way it was done.

Akos can use his currentgift to alleviate Cyra’s pain. Reliance on other people is something I’ve struggled to come to terms with over the past decade. I feel that this is an issue that could have been explored further, with more impact.

However, the idea of this relief by Akos is also something that bothered me. Although I know from an interview I saw online with Roth that she was conscious of avoiding a ‘magical cure’, that’s kind of how this felt to me.

Cyra’s later method of dealing with her pain also irritated me.

View Spoiler »

ARGH. I apologise that this is more of a rant than anything, but I couldn’t talk about this book without attempting to convey my feelings and issues with it.

I know that others have different issues with the book, so I recommend that you check out a few more reviews as I’m not the right person to address these issues.

If you made it this far, thank you for sticking with me. I’ve tried, however poorly, to explain my feelings on the handling of chronic pain in this book. It’s important to note though that these are just MY feelings.

Have you read this book?

How do YOU feel about the handling of chronic pain in this novel?

Am I just being oversensitive?