Category Archives: science fiction

The Devious Dr. Jekyll by Viola Carr

The Devious Dr. Jekyll is the second book in Viola Carr’s Electric Empire series. I initially picked up the first book in this series, The Diabolical Miss Hyde, because I saw the cover in a bookstore and it looked really cool. The cover for this installment was equally awesome. As the title of the books suggest, they are a play on the story of Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde. Main character Dr. Eliza Jekyll is the daughter of Henry Jekyll, and because Dr. Jekyll was using his infamous elixir when Eliza was, *ahem* conceived, Eliza has what you could call a split personality. Her “other half” so to speak is Lizzie Hyde.

**This review will contain some mild spoilers for the The Diabolical Miss Hyde.**

devious dr jekyll coverEliza is a well-respected female doctor who often helps the police solve their cases and who dates the dashingly handsome Captain Lafayette. Captain Lafayette works for the Royal Society, a group dedicated to wiping out everything even remotely supernatural in England. This should include Eliza, which makes their relationship a bit tricky – until Lizzie discovered Captain Lafayette has his own secret – he’s a werewolf. Eliza and Lafayette mutually decide to keep each other’s secrets, but their relationship remains complicated. Lizzie meanwhile is not just another personality. When Eliza drinks her elixir – or Lizzie breaks out on her own – her whole body changes, down to her hair color. She looks completely different, wears different sized dresses, and speaks with a different accent. Adding complication to Eliza’s relationship with Captain Lafayette is the small matter of Lizzie sleeping with him, and continuing to harbor feelings for him after he tells her he loves Eliza only and can’t be with her anymore. I’m not sure if this qualifies as a love triangle or not, haha.

These books are interesting reads for me, because most of the books I really like I enjoy because I can become emotionally invested in the characters. I don’t particularly like Eliza Jekyll or Lizzie Hyde. Eliza is too proper, and she makes some outrageously stupid decisions for a person smart enough to become a doctor. Lizzie is more crude than I can handle. The plot is good though. In this novel, Eliza and Captain Lafayette are searching for a murderer who is killing his victims using a horrifying ritual. I like steampunk novels, and I think Eliza’s talking mechanical dog is adorable and a nice touch by the author. So far, the books are fine.

Now here’s the part that really makes me want to read these novels: Viola Carr’s imagery is SPECTACULAR. I should have made notes of some specific examples, but of course I didn’t think of that at the time, and now the book is back at the library. The one moment I remember because it was so brilliant was Carr’s description of the sunlight as “gritty.” There was much more to the description of the scene than just this one word, but this stuck with me, because while it is not a word you generally associate with the sun, I understood exactly what she meant. Every single one of her descriptions is this perfect. It really takes her story writing to the next level, and it inspires me to make my own writing even better.

Overall, I give this book 3 out of 5 stars and recommend it to fans of steampunk, the supernatural, and really brilliant imagery. The third book in the series, The Dastardly Miss Lizzie, was just published in April and I looking forward to reading it.

Showdown by Ted Dekker

This book was pitched as the ultimate showdown between good and evil. Except it wasn’t. It was more about mind control and people who thought their intelligence gave them the right to play God.

There were two main settings to the book. Paradise, a tiny town of about 400 or so people in the mountains of Colorado. And the Monastery, hidden in the mountains outside Paradise, and home to a bunch of brilliant young showdownchildren, wise beyond their years, who are being taught all about love by a group of very smart adults with the eventual goal of “changing the world.” Eventually you, the reader, find out that hidden in the basement of this monastery are a bunch of blank books – whatever you write in the books becomes reality, but you can only write in the books if you have childlike innocence, or something along those lines. Hence, the discoverer of the books sets up the monastery with the intention of raising a bunch of brilliant kids who will write only positive, wonderful things in these books and make the world a better place. What could possibly go wrong?

Turns out just about everything can go wrong. A rogue teacher (because there’s always one, isn’t there?) encourages a student to seek out the books. The student discovers its way more fun to write stories filled with evil and violence than with love, and once he realizes everything he writes in the book is happening in real life, he gleefully turns Paradise into hell. And now, for the SPOILERS

Of course there is one student in the monastery who isn’t taken in by thoughts of doing evil, and with his father, the head of the monastery, writes in one of the books and tries to turn things around. This plan fails, he eventually this child goes down to the town and sacrifices himself to save the townspeople. The father, who is suddenly able to write in the books, unlike every other adult ever, manages to resurrect his son and fix the town. I don’t suppose this story sounds familiar to anyone, does it?

I guess I had trouble buying in to this story. Not only was I not convinced a bunch of thirteen year-olds would immediately abandon everything they had been taught and mindlessly write terrifying evil, there was also this magic, hallucinogenic “worm gel” involved, that the students found in the dungeons with the books and which made them sick but was addictive…and yeah, was never explained fully. And all the while the rest of the supposedly brilliant adults in the monastery could just do nothing? Really?? And the sacrifice of the perfect son to save the town was just too on-the-nose for me.

In the end, I just don’t think Ted Dekker is an author for me. I always think the synopsis of his books sound great, but then when I read them they are too concerned with religious symbolism and parallels for my taste. I give this book 2 out of 5 stars, but do recommend it for those who like science fiction with lots of religious overtones thrown in.

In the After by Demitria Lunetta

Amy survived the apocalypse. The aliens arrived and wiped out almost the entire human race, but through using her brain and more than a little luck – she just happens to live in a house with solar panels, a water filtration system, and an electric fence (powered by the solar panels) that keeps her safe from the very fast, green, hungry-for-human-flesh creatures. On one of her outings to search for food, Amy finds and takes in a toddler she calls Baby. The two learn to communicate in sign language, since noise summons the monsters, and keep each other company for almost three years until they are suddenly rescued and taken to the mysterious survivor colony New Hope. Everything in New Hope seems perfect with a clear set of rules and tasks for everyone. As usual, nothing is as perfect as it first appears.

in-the-afterIt’s possible that I have just become tired of YA novels where the only one who notices anything about anything is a 17 year old girl who also happens to be smart but not popular, stunningly gorgeous despite the apocalypse (or trials/tribulations/whatever) and the boy (also really really ridiculously good looking) immediately falls for her without knowing anything about her. But that wasn’t the only thing I didn’t like about this book. I thought Amy had a much too easy time of it during the end of the world. Sure, her parents died and she had to deal with that, which sucked. But she also had ELECTRICITY AND RUNNING WATER!! And an electric fence that conveniently kept the creepy green creatures out of her house. She had to stay quiet during her showers, poor thing. Maybe I’m being a little dramatic. But it got on my nerves.

I was wildly unsurprised when Amy discovered what life was really like in New Hope. From the first moment, it was clear it was much too structured and everyone was too happy for everything to be as it seemed. Amy and her “Advanced Theory” class finally coming to the realization that the creature were called “floreas” because they had plant-like qualities was definitely a head desk moment. These teenagers are supposed to be the smartest of the bunch, who created the synthetic impenetrable suits the Guardians (who “fight” the Floreas) wear and they didn’t realize “floreas” meant plants?? Dude, the creatures are green and thrive in sunlight. I also wasn’t thrilled with Rice. I thought he was under-developed and clearly just a bland, unimportant love interest.

There were some things I enjoyed about the book. While there wasn’t anything surprising about the general plot, I did like the relationship between Amy and Baby. I thought it was pretty cool that they developed their own form of sign language which they used to communicate. I also noticed that Amy always told Baby female-empowering fairy tales, which was a nice touch. I also liked the way the author wrote the second half of the book, giving us hints about the terrible things that were happening to Amy after she was committed to the Ward. This writing technique made this part of the book much more interesting that it would have been otherwise.

Overall, I would give this book 3 out 5 stars. Fans of The Hunger Games and especially the Divergent series will definitely enjoy it. I’m interested to see what will happen in the next book, but I won’t be running out to get it tomorrow.

May harmony find you,

-Branwen

Shadows by Ilsa J. Bick

This review will contain SPOILERS for the first book in the Ashes trilogy, Ashes. If you haven’t read Ashes, don’t read this review!!

 

shadows coverShadows picks up right where Ashes left off. In fact, it’s a little difficult for me to remember what happened at the end of Ashes, and what happens at the beginning of Shadows since I read them almost one right after another. Despite the short amount of time between books for me, I wish we would have had a bit more of a recap at the beginning of Shadows. A lot of things happened at the end of Ashes, and I couldn’t remember who all the different characters were, especially once we started meeting many more. That was frustrating, and made me less interested in some of the characters.

In Shadows, leading lady Alex and her friends are living in an apocalypse. No one is quite sure what happened, but some sort of EMP attack left most of the adult population dead. Only the very elderly and young children are left, and most of the teenagers are Changed. The Changed are horrifying, zombie-like former humans whose brains have malfunctioned somehow and now they hunger for human flesh. They have started to herd humans like cattle, who they then torture, roast, and eat. Alex is captured by a particularly gruesome group of Changed who wear wolf pelts, and spend whatever time they are not torturing people lusting after each other. I will admit, some of the descriptions of the horrors the Changed committed were not only terrifying but disgusting as well. Bick spares not a single detail when describing what the Changed like to do to people before they eat them, all made worse with Alex’s descriptions which include her enhanced sense of smell. I actually thought some of this was a little too intense for a YA book (it was certainly too intense for me!) but I guess Bick was going for shock value. She succeeded, that’s for sure.

A new feature in this book was the multiple perspectives, something becoming more and more popular in these sorts of YA fiction (Allegiant and Through the Ever Night which I just recently read were both like this). This was both good and bad for me. On one hand, we finally get to find out what happened to Tom, and we get inside his head which is pretty cool. We also get inside Peter’s head–although at the beginning of the book I didn’t remember who Peter was, he did end up having a storyline wildly different from the other characters and boy wasn’t that interesting. We also get inside the heads of Chris and Lena. This would have been cool, except I never really cared about these two characters and for the majority of the book they didn’t do anything except wander around in the snow complaining about being cold. I was so bored, I wanted to skip over their chapters. Even at the very end when they finally saw some action I didn’t really care, I was just glad SOMETHING was happening to them.
This book had a little bit of “middle book syndrome.” While it wasn’t a total set-up for book 3, there were parts of it that were VERY slow. We also didn’t learn much outside of the weather. (Clearly, the cold and snow was impressed upon me, since that’s what I think of when I remember this book). I still liked this book because I’m emotionally invested in Alex and Tom, and I want to know more about what’s happening to the Changed and why it’s happening, even if they’re gross. Hopefully the next book will have a little more excitement throughout instead of all at once at the end.

Happy reading,

-Branwen

Alllegiant by Veronica Roth

I did it. I finally got around to reading Allegiant, the final book in the Divergent trilogy. I was excited for this book long before it came out, because I liked the first two books in the series and I couldn’t wait to see how it ended. Then, when it  released and the interwebs exploded, I knew I had to get my hands on it fast before it got spoiled for me. It took all the willpower I possessed to not skip to the end of this book, something I have never done but have desperately wanted to do on more than one occasion. This was one of those times. I held myself back and was ultimately glad I did. I’m going to borrow the summary from Goodreads, since I don’t want to give anything away:

The faction-based society that Tris Prior once believed in is shattered—fractured by violence and power struggles and scarred by loss and betrayal. So when offered a chance to explore the world past the limits she’s known, Tris is ready. Perhaps beyond the fence, she and Tobias will find a simple new life together, free from complicated lies, tangled loyalties, and painful memories.

But Tris’s new reality is even more alarming than the one she left behind. Old discoveries are quickly rendered meaningless. Explosive new truths change the hearts of those she loves. And once again, Tris must battle to comprehend the complexities of human nature—and of herself—while facing impossible choices about courage, allegiance, sacrifice, and love.

allegiant-book-coverThere were several things I loved about this book. First and foremost is that we finally get the full backstory. What happened in the Purity Wars. What’s happening outside the fence, and how did Tris and the rest of her community get inside the fence. What does it really mean to be Divergent. Who was Tris’s mother really. Lots of questions were answered. We also get to see Tris and Tobias (Four) work on their relationship. And actually work on it like real people, not just have some magical teen romance. They still have problems, but they actually sit and talk about them more-or-less like adults, and even if they don’t stop having problems, neither of them are just whining anymore.

Bad news was, there were plenty of things I didn’t like about this book. Lots of reviews I have read have been raving about the dual-perspectives, and how we get to read the story from both Tris and Tobia’s POV. I’ll admit I was excited about this when I first heard about it, and it could have been cool. But it wasn’t. Tris and Tobias pretty much both spoke with the same “voice.” I kept having to flip back to the beginning of the chapter to see who was speaking, they sounded so much alike. That was a big disappointment. I was also a little disappointed that Tris and Tobias face pretty much the exact same problems outside the fence as they did inside the fence. Nothing new there. I guess I was expecting a little more excitement. And the “love story” was so cute I could gag. I mean, I know sometimes I complain about too much sex in YA lit, but this was PG to the extreme. If I read about how wonderful it was to kiss a collarbone, or how exciting it was to have someone’s fingers  in your belt loops one more time, I was going to throw up, haha.

Then there was the ending. I read some reviews before I read this book, which I almost didn’t do because I didn’t want any preconceptions, but I knew the ending was going to be controversial, so I didn’t mind too much. It looks like most reviewers fell into two camps. The first was OMG-how-could-the-author-do-this-to-me-I-hate-her-for-this-ending camp. The second was the I-didn’t-like-it-but-I-can-see-why-she-did-it camp. I think I fall somewhere in between. I never really buy into the whole “this is the only way the author could have ended this story” thing. I heard enough of that after the atrociously bad ending of the Hunger Games trilogy. But on the other hand, we knew this couldn’t be a sunshine and butterflies happy ending. I didn’t love the ending, but I didn’t think it was awful, and I felt satisfied even if I was sad.

Overall, I just didn’t think this book was as strong as the first two. I would have preferred the whole thing be narrated by Tris, with maybe a few chapters told by Tobias, if any.  I think that would have made it much more enjoyable. A good, satisfying ending ending to the series though.

Happy reading,

-Branwen

Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Cinder is a cyborg living in New Beijing, capital city of the Commonwealth, an empire created after World War IV.  Being a cyborg means Cinder is reviled by most humans, especially her step-mother and step-sister Pearl. Her only friends are an android named Iko and her younger step-sister Peony. Being cyborg does have one advantage, though–it makes Cinder the best mechanic in the Commonwealth, and brings the famous and eligible bachelor Prince Kai to her market booth to get his android fixed. Cinder thinks this will be her only meeting with the Prince, but when her step-sister Peony catches the plague, a horrible disease that kills every one of it’s victims, Cinder’s step-mother “volunteers” her for plague testing, an “honor” that kills all it’s honoress. This brings Cinder into the palace, where she sees the Prince more often and must struggle to hide her metal parts from him, and she also discovers something about herself that could change her life, and the world. She is immune to the plague.

Cinder coverI LOVED this book. I can’t believe I waited so long to read it. Just about everything about it was excellent. Cinder was a fantastic character who had the ability to think for herself, and best of all, consider the words and actions of others before making decisions. How about THAT in a young adult novel. It was so nice to read a character who wasn’t whiny, impulsive, and stupid. I also loved that we heard some of the story from the Prince’s perspective. He was another strong character. Tragic, yet smart and willing to do what he had to do to ensure his people’s survival.

Though Prince Kai, we learn about the Lunars and their queen Levana. The Lunars are a country of former Earthens who moved to the moon long ago and formed their own society. Living on the moon gave them almost-magical powers, which allows them to glamour themselves and control the thoughts and emotions of others. The queen is horribly evil, killed all her heirs to maintain the throne, and is trying to force Kai to marry her, the first step in her plans to conquer Earth. This is the secondary conflict in the novel, besides Cinder being mis-treated by her step-mother and trying to find a way to escape, all while trying to understand her mysterious immunity to the plague.

The “love story” between Cinder and Price Kai was cute and (best of all!) believable. Not too childish. Not too teen-romance-y. Just sweet and (again, because the Prince was involved) tragic. Well done.

It seems like a LOT happens in this novel, which is true, but I never felt over-whelmed or like I couldn’t follow or understand what was going on. Everything was arranged logically and clearly. All the characters were well-developed. I was really able to sympathize with both Cinder and Kai, and I really hated Queen Levana by the end of the novel. My only gripes were these: I was able to predict parts of the ending. Which was fine. I think the reader was meant to figure out the “big news” before Cinder did, and it didn’t spoil anything for me. I also wish Meyer would have just written the novel without the blatant Cinderella references. I get that fairy-tale retellings are super popular right now, but I thought the story stood well enough on it’s own, and didn’t need to be loosely based on Cinderella to be an excellent story.

I am very excited to read the next book in this series, Scarlett. Should be fun!

Happy reading,

-Branwen

Extinction Machine by Jonathan Maberry

The President of the United States vanishes from the White House.

A top-secret prototype stealth fighter is destroyed during a test flight. Witnesses on the ground say that it was shot down by a craft that immediately vanished at impossible speeds.

All over the world reports of UFOs are increasing at an alarming rate.

And in a remote fossil dig in China dinosaur hunters have found something that is definitely not of this earth. There are rumors of alien-human hybrids living among us.

Joe Ledger and the Department of Military Sciences rush headlong into the heat of the world’s strangest and deadliest arms race, because the global race to recover and retro-engineer alien technologies has just hit a snag. Someone—or something–wants that technology back.

extinction machine coverI don’t usually swipe summaries from Goodreads for Jonathan Maberry’s Joe Ledger books, but I couldn’t decide what was safe to say in my review, and what could possibly give something away. The big thing is: ALIENS. Joe Ledgers and the DMS team are up against ALIENS and people using and reverse-engineering alien technology from crashed space ships. I’ll admit, I’m not super into aliens, UFOs and conspiracy theories. I mean, OK, I did spend an entire summer watching nothing but X-Files and  (ahem) I want to believe we aren’t alone in the universe.But point is, I don’t read a who lot of sci-fi books about aliens. This book, however, totally rocked.

The last Joe Ledger novel I read, Assassin’s Code (reviewed here!) was not my favorite. I was nervous about getting this one, worrying that maybe I was getting tired of the serious and it was getting too ridiculous and outlandish. While I can’t think of many things more outlandish than the President of the United States getting abducted by aliens, I still bought into this book 100% and loved every minute of it. (Well, alright, 95% I couldn’t quite get behind human-alien hybrids). This book was so believable. As I read, I remember thinking “that makes perfect sense!” Of course we aren’t alone in the universe. Of course we’ve found alien technology and are trying to figure out how it works and how we can use it. And of course that would piss off the aliens and they would want their toys back. OK, maybe not that last one so much. But the rest seemed perfectly logical.

In Extinction Machine, the President disappears from the White House and DMS receives a coded message saying they have 48 hours to find the Majestic Black Book or a large portion of Earth will be destroyed. Having previously though the Majestic Black Book was a conspiracy theory and myth, DMS has a lot of catching up to do. They enlist the help of alien “experts” like Junie Flynn, who claims to have the Majestic Black Book and wants to share it with the public.

x files pic

DMS should have called in these guys.

The Majestic Black Book, Joe soon learns, is the book that contains all the notes of the Majestic 12, the team assembled by President Truman to investigate the first alien crash. Side note: I did some very brief googling, and while I didn’t find hundreds of websites dedicated to the Majestic Black Book, I did find information about the Majestic-12, the group that supposedly wrote the Majestic Black Book. So I guess they are a real thing. Or, well, a real conspiracy theory. Junie becomes an honorary member of the DMS team and helps them find and stop the bad guys who want to use alien tech to take over the world.

This book was exciting and suspenseful. I couldn’t put it down. And it leaves you with just enough unanswered questions to keep you wondering. Are we alone in the universe?

The_Truth_Is_Out_There_tagline

Happy reading,

-Branwen

The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker

How many of us have wished for a few extra hours in the day?

For a young girl in sixth grade, a single day can feel like an eternity. From worrying about what to wear, what to say to boys, and who to sit with at lunch, Julia has enough problems with fill a 24-hour day. And then, something astonishing and terrifying happens. The Earth’s rotation begins to slow, and the days get longer. The extra hours of daylight certainly don’t make any of Julia’s problems easier to handle, though–in fact, the more hours in the day, the more problems Julia seems to face. Along with her average sixth grade girl worries like what bra to buy, Julia must also learn to sleep with the sun shining, grow her own vegetables in a greenhouse, and how to deal with the changing of the Earth changing everything she has known and loved.

the-core-movie-poster-2003-picture-mov_57f0f933_bThis is one of those books that a friend who is a middle school librarian handed to me and said “tell me if I made a good buy.” I had actually never heard of it before, and when I read the synopsis talking about how the Earth’s rotation slows down, it put me in mind of that movie The Core where scientists have to drill down to the center of the Earth to get the core spinning again. I mean, it wasn’t the worst disaster movie I had ever seen. And Aaron Eckhart is decent in it. But I digress. Anyway, I had also just read a few lousy YA coming-of-age-in-the-middle-of-disaster books, and I didn’t have high hopes.

I just love it when I’m really wrong about how bad a book is going to be. I loved Age of Miracles, for lots of reasons, but here are some of the best. First, the science. I’m not an astrophysicist. I have no idea whether or not the globe could really start spinning more slowly one day, and it’s not something that’s going to keep me up at night. I liked how Walker didn’t try to make up a scientific explanation for how the globe would slow down. She tells us often that no one knows, it’s a mystery and the people of Earth just have to learn to live with it. Instead, we get to see what the effects are. I found them believable and easy to imagine actually happening.

age of miracles coverI described this book to my librarian friend as the main character growing up and learning how to be a middle-school-aged young lady during a natural disaster of epic proportions. Watching Julia grow up and “find herself” was one of my favorite parts of this book. She had very typical middle school girl problems, like her best friend randomly deciding not to be her friend anymore and ignoring her, and trying to find new friends but not knowing how. I loved how she described her crush on Seth, too. A very cute, pure, first-love type of story.
In addition to the  main issue of the Earth slowing down and days and night getting longer is the issue of how the clock is going to work now that days are so much longer. After trying to make their schedules match the sun as long as possible, governments throughout the world decide to switch to “clock time,” where they follow a 24-hour day regardless of what the sun is doing. People who don’t want to follow this system are called “real-timers” and are discriminated against, sometimes violently. Julia’s piano teacher and neighbor Sylvia chooses to be a real-timer, which leads to Julia’s mother telling her she can’t take piano lessons from Sylvia anymore, or having anything whatsoever to do with her. Julia doesn’t understand this discrimination, and it leads to some of her first teenage rebellion. I found this to be a very cleverly written conflict that really added to the story.
I also liked how slow and drawn out this apocalypse was. It wasn’t that the action in the book moved slowly, because it didn’t feel that way at all. But the Earth changed slowly, and you were able to watch the scientists try to fix it and come up with solutions. That was really cool, and something I had not encountered before in any other dystopian YA novels. This was a great read, I’m so glad my friend recommended it to me. If you like YA dystopian/natural disasters novels, you will love this book!
Happy reading,
-Branwen

Assassin’s Code by Jonathan Maberry

Firstly, my apologies for not posting for almost an entire month. My job had the nerve to get in the way of my reading. I fell behind on my reading, my Doctor Who watching (I am on the third episode of season 6 on Netflix, and trying to get all caught up in time for the 50th anniversary event!) and just fun things in general. It’s possible things are calming down and I should be back and posting more regularly now.

That being said, onto the review!

assassin's code coverJoe Ledger and his DMS team thought their mission was a relatively routine rescue of three hikers taken hostage by the Iranian government. Then, while trying to get out of Dodge, Ledger is stopped by a government official, and after a very shady conversation, he tells Ledger and DMS about six nuclear bombs spread across the oil fields in the Middle East that, if detonated, would cause global chaos. Along the way to finding the nukes, Ledger encounters a beautiful and mysterious assassin named Violin (who saves his life more than once), a brotherhood of genetically engineered killers with a thirst for blood (yes, I stole that description from the back of the book; sorry, couldn’t think of a way to say it better) and the Book of Shadows, which contains terrifying information that could destroy peace throughout the world.

Bad news first: So far, this is probably my least favorite Joe Ledger book. Not because it was poorly written or didn’t contain any of the usual dark humor, interaction between characters, various POVs, etc. I mean, it was a little slow at times and felt like the middle went through some long periods of inaction. But I could have dealt with that. The part that I couldn’t wrap my head around–and I realize this is going to sound ridiculous with all the fantasy books I read full of supernatural creatures–was the “vampires.” The knights of the red order are genetically enhanced killers who have pointed teeth, inhuman strength and speed, and oh, by they way, they like to drink blood. Church and the rest of the DMS team try to find a scientific explanation for how these dudes can exist and while some things about evolution are implied, it’s never explained fully. And I’m sorry, if this makes me a hypocrite so be it, I couldn’t buy it. Maybe it was because most other things in these books are explained so scientifically and this wasn’t so it didn’t seem like it fit for me. I mean I realize these books are science fiction and call for some serious suspension of disbelief.  Something about this one just didn’t work for me.

The good news is there were other things I did really like about this book. Joe Ledger’s typical dark and sarcastic-in-the-face-of-certain-death was back. I also love the way he describes his dog’s facial expressions and attitudes. Because I am always too engrossed in reading to write down page numbers of quotes, when it comes time for reviewing I can never find the humorous lines to share with you. Someday I’m going to buy a notepad and rectify this problem. Until then, you’re going to have to take my word for it. Being a dog lover myself, some of the ways Ledger describes what his dog is thinking make me laugh out loud.

I also liked the interaction between Ledger and the mysterious Violin. The fact that Ledger has realistic emotions and is still struggling to get over Grace Courtland’s death makes his attraction to a new woman even more intriguing and makes me even more emotionally invested in his love life. Not to mention Violin was an interesting character all on her own, as was the Arklight organization she worked for. Arklight was a great twist, something I did not see coming at all.

I certainly didn’t dislike this book enough to stop reading Maberry. In fact, I am waiting for the next book to come in at my library. I’m just hoping the next one has science I can buy into.

Happy reading,

-Branwen

The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey

After the 1st wave, only darkness remains.
After the 2nd, only the lucky escape.
And after the 3rd, only the unlucky survive.
After the 4th wave, just one rule applies: trust no one.

5th wave coverCassie, short for Cassiopeia, has been living alone in the woods ever since her father was killed and her brother taken away by the Others. She made her brother Sammy a promise–to keep him safe–and she plans on keeping that promise even though she doesn’t know where she is going or if he’s even still alive, even if she’s the last human on Earth. 

The 5th Wave is an excellent dystopian YA novel. The characters are interesting, the plot is believable and well-paced with just the right amount of twists at the right time, and the Others are mysterious and terrifying. The story is told from a variety of perspectives, though it mainly features the teenaged Cassie, living alone in the woods and trying to rescue her brother. It is from her perspective that we learn about the horrors of the previous “waves” of alien invasion. And they were horrific. I don’t want to give too much away, but there were one part that was too creepy not to share. In the third wave, the Others infect birds with Ebola. The birds in turn infect and kill something like 97% of Earth’s population (I don’t remember the exact number). I think that scared me more than anything else in the book. It was the third wave that killed Cassie’s mother and forced her, her father and her brother to leave their home. Cassie does better than most staying alone to stay alive. But everything changes when she is shot by an Other on the highway, and is eventually rescued by Evan Walker. She knows something is not right about Evan, and she must decide whether or not to trust him, and if trusting him will help her or keep her from saving her brother. 

Part of the novel is told from the perspective of Ben Parish, seventeen year old boy who is recruited into the army when he barely survives the Ebola virus. He is eventually code-named Zombie and put in charge of a squad of children–one as young as seven–who all believe they are helping the humans fight and destroy the Others. I will admit I knew there was something suspicious about this plot point, but it didn’t work out the way I thought it would. Vague, I know, but it was a great twist and I don’t want to spoil it. 

This whole book was very dark and disturbing. Not so much that I felt it was too creepy to be a YA book, but definitely unsettling enough to have me jumping at shadows for a few nights. Most dystopian YA books have a distinct sense of hopefulness, or some sign that eventually things could work out. This one did not; though, there were glimmers of hope and happiness, not the constant depression of the Last Survivors trilogy (you can find my reviews under the Reviewed Books tab and read my rants about those if you feel so inclined). The book had some moments I didn’t like, or some dialogue (most whining) I could have lived without. But then, I’m an adult reading YA lit so that happens to me a lot, haha. Otherwise, no complaints about this book and I can’t wait to see where the series goes from here. Additionally, word on the street is there are serious plans to turn this book into a movie. For what is probably the first time ever, I think that would be a great idea. This book was action-packed and does not strike me as the kind that will disintegrate into nothingness once you aren’t inside the characters heads any more. This is one book-to-movie I would go see. If you are a fan of dystopian books, science fiction, or alien invasion novels, go out and read this book right away. 

Happy reading,

-Branwen