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?

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