A Million Suns by Beth Revis

A Million Suns by Beth Revis

Book Stats:

Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 386 pages 
Genre: Science-Fiction
Publisher: Penguin
Release date: January 10, 2012

Series: Across the Universe #2

Reviewed by: Stéphanie

Source: Library

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository

Godspeed was once fueled by lies. Now it is ruled by chaos.

It’s been three months since Amy was unplugged. The life she always knew is over. Everywhere she looks, she sees the walls of the spaceship Godspeed.

But there may be hope: Elder has assumed leadership of the ship. He’s finally free to act on his vision—no more Phydus, no more lies.

But when Elder learns shocking news about the ship, he and Amy race to discover the truth behind life on Godspeed. They must work together to unlock a mystery that was set in motion hundreds of years earlier. Their success—or failure—will determine the fate of the 2,298 passengers aboard Godspeed. But with each step, the journey becomes more perilous, the ship more chaotic, and the love between them more impossible to fight.

Beth Revis catapulted readers into the far reaches of space with her New York Times bestselling debut, Across the Universe. In A Million Suns, Beth deepens the mystery with action, suspense, romance, and deep philosophical questions. And this time it all builds to one mind-bending conclusion: They have to get off this ship.

I wasn’t a huge fan of the first book in this series, but I was intrigued enough to check out this sequel. As far as sequels go, it’s pretty decent. I think I even prefer A MILLION SUNS, over book one. ACROSS THE UNIVERSE left too many unanswered questions for me and was just a little bit too confusing for my taste. A MILLION SUNS provided many answers, just enough to satisfy me, while still leaving us with a manageable cliffhanger to keep the interest at the end.

We learn more and more about each character as the series progresses and while A MILLION SUNS sheds more light on the two main characters (no pun intended), it makes me like one of them more and dislike the other. Amy is someone that I can easily identify with. The only Earth born on the spaceship Godspeed, she’s been woken up from suspended animation earlier than expected and I can definitively understand her need to get off the ship. Obviously, she will stop at nothing to find out why the space mission isn’t on schedule, not only because she wants the ship to land on the “new” Earth, but also because landing would mean being able to wake up her parents from their own suspended animation. Like me, Amy is a runner and there’s nothing better than fresh air and a large open space to run and forget about everything else besides your feet pounding the pavement. The ship’s walls feel so claustrophobic that I completely understand her need to get off.

Elder, however, is a different story. Literally born to lead Godspeed, it seems like it’s one of the only things that he isn’t capable of doing. I understand that he’s only 16 years old and that he still has a lot to learn about leading a community, but almost every decision he makes leads to more problems and uncertainty. Even if I completely agree with the decisions he makes, it’s because he’s unable to stand behind them that people see him as a weak leader. Sure, almost everyone on the ship is out to get him anyways, and many try to sabotage the work he’s doing, but his inactions cost him more than his actions. His poor decision making leads the ship into a chaotic state, where mutiny and rebellion rules the community.

And if rebellion isn’t enough to cause problems, there’s a murderer roaming around, killing people and making it look like Elder is responsible for their deaths. The idea of a science-fiction/murder mystery mash-up is a great concept and I’ve read a few other book with this combination, and it works really well. I really admire the author’s courage to try the mash-up in Young Adult because it’s not something we see that often. I’m a huge fan of these mash-ups, and while I’m not a big fan of this particular series, it is getting better as the series develops.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t hate this series. Actually, after reading book 2, I will definitively read the last book of the trilogy because I’m intrigued enough about what will happen to Amy, Elder and the people on the ship. Will they finally make it to their new planet? Will Amy see her parents again? Will Elder finally take charge and be seen as a true leader? The ever present mysteries surrounding Godspeed will keep you interested, and the main characters will have you sitting on the edge of your seat as they follow the clues in this sci-fi/murder mystery.

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Linked by Imogen Howson

Linked by Imogen HowsonLinked by Imogen Howson

Book stats:
Reading Level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 368 pages
Genre: Sci-fi, Dystopian, Thriller
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Release Date: June 11, 2013

Series: Linked #1

Source: From Publisher for Review

Reviewed by: Lili

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository

Elissa used to have it all: looks, popularity, and a bright future. But for the last three years, she’s been struggling with terrifying visions, phantom pains, and mysterious bruises that appear out of nowhere.

Finally, she’s promised a cure: minor surgery to burn out the overactive area of her brain. But on the eve of the procedure, she discovers the shocking truth behind her hallucinations: she’s been seeing the world through another girl’s eyes.

Elissa follows her visions, and finds a battered, broken girl on the run. A girl—Lin—who looks exactly like Elissa, down to the matching bruises. The twin sister she never knew existed.

Now, Elissa and Lin are on the run from a government who will stop at nothing to reclaim Lin and protect the dangerous secrets she could expose—secrets that would shake the very foundation of their world.

Riveting, thought-provoking and utterly compelling, Linked will make you question what it really means to be human.

I think that this was one of my most anticipated reads from 2013 for two reasons: look at that attention-grabbing synopses and look at that beautiful cover. Both drew me in immediately. And while I have to admit that Howson was able to come up with a solid debut, it left me wanting a little more. While definitely satisfactory, I think that certain things hindered this book from reaching its true potential because its science fiction plot-line can rival some of the best.

The plot in this one was absolutely glorious. The thought behind it was mesmerizing, but it took me awhile to be mesmerized. See, the first 80 pages of this book dragged on for me. I texted a fellow reader at exactly page 84 to announce that it’s picking up, and from there it never slowed down. But it was hard to get through those first 80. They weren’t professionally paced the way the rest of the book was and, on top of that, I spent most of the book confused. I could figure out what was going on way before the main character did, but my issue was mainly with the world-building. I didn’t understand what was going on at all with the world-building and can honestly say I was slightly lost. And while I understand a lot more now upon completion of the book, I still have a few more questions to be answered. Mainly, what happened that made humans have to start colonizing other planets? Is Earth still there or did it blow up or something or hit an ice age? I’d love to know what made all of this necessary… If anyone has trouble with the rocky beginning, it’s truly worth continuing because the rest of the plot is strong.

For the most part, the characterization was solid as well. I enjoyed Lissa’s characterization because despite being physically and emotionally frail, she was morally strong and determined. She was genuine and had a great concern for others. Unfortunately, she was also completely oblivious at times. For example, if you’re on the run, you don’t call your family. The odds that they’re not being tracked by the people hunting you are next to nothing. However, Lin completely blew me away. This girl was so easy to trust Lissa, the only person she knew in her bleak existence, and she was strong in her own way. She was a newborn to the world and watching her learn to stand on her own two feet was amazing. Seeing her make her own decisions, learn how to determine right from wrong, and grow was done perfectly. And then there are characters like Cadan. You love him and hate him all at once because despite being one of the elder characters, his emotions were flipping back and forth at hyperspeed the way a young kid’s would. I also have to say that I found it interesting that Howson characterized Lissa’s parents the way she did. One was pretty much understanding and forgiving and the other was cold and stubborn. Whenever there was a comparison between their actions in regards to Lissa’s journey and Lin’s existence, it got you thinking a lot. This book certainly does make you question things like human rights and morality and Howson was able to establish such thoughts through them.

The ending was great. It simultaneously satisfied me and left me curious to know what happens next with the promise of more crazy-awesome space travel to ensue in book two as well as the promise of a possible romance blooming that I’d love to explore. It’s true what they say, passionate emotions erupt in times of great distress, and this book illustrates just that. And while this book wasn’t entirely what I expected, I did enjoy it and I’m definitely curious to see what Howson has in store for us. While not perfect, this is a debut that will certainly allow Howson to stand out as an emerging young adult sci-fi author to look out for. And most importantly, it makes you think.

Read an Excerpt

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Daring You To Read…A Soldier’s Duty by Jean Johnson

Daring you to read

I had a really hard time coming up with my dare for this month. I hemmed and hawed and then I had an epiphany: we haven’t dared you to read any sci fi lately and I read the most wonderful sci if novel recently. Science fiction is a genre I’m enjoying more and more, with or without a romantic element. The book I’m daring you to read this week is pretty much straight-up sci fi awesomeness: A SOLDIER’S DUTY by Jean Johnson. Johnson also writes paranormal romance but A SOLDIER’S DUTY is my first book by her so I went in with no preconceived ideas of what the story would be like. And I was completely sucked in and blown away!

A SOLDIER’S DUTY is the beginning of Ia’s journey. Simply put, Ia is a precog who learns at a young age that billions will die if she doesn’t navigate the perfect course through her future. It’s a heavy burden for someone little more than a child but Ia takes it on and away the story goes. My description, however, is a poor summary because Johnson has crafted a marvelous and gripping tale of bravery, battles, and loneliness with A SOLDIER’S DUTY. Plus, this book is a lot more accessible than some of the other science fiction I’ve tried do I would definitely recommend it if you’re looking to experiment with the genre or if you’re just looking for a great read.

Want more? I bet you do! Here’s the cover copy for A SOLDIER’S DUTY:

A SOLDIER'S Duty by Jean Johnson (Theirs Not To Reason Why #1)Ia is a precog, tormented by visions of the future where her home galaxy has been devastated. To prevent this vision from coming true, Ia enlists in the Terran United Planets military with a plan to become a soldier who will inspire generations for the next three hundred years-a soldier history will call Bloody Mary.

My thoughts

Read an excerpt

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository

 

Daring You To Read is a weekly feature here on Tynga’s Reviews where we dare you to read some of our favorite older releases (at least 6 months old). All the books/series we choose to feature are titles we adored and think you should give them a shot! We think it’s a super awesome way to discover that special book who might have slipped off your radar!

What do you think? Have you read this series? Are you willing to accept my dare?

Jenn

Rush by Eve Silver

eve silver - rush

Rush by Eve Silver

Book Stats:

Reading level: Young Adult
ARC: 361 pages 
Genre: Science Fiction 
Publisher: Harper Collins
Release date: June 11, 2013

Series: The Game #1

Reviewed by: Stéphanie

Source: ARC from publisher

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository

So what’s the game now? This, or the life I used to know?

When Miki Jones is pulled from her life, pulled through time and space into some kind of game—her carefully controlled life spirals into chaos. In the game, she and a team of other teens are sent on missions to eliminate the Drau, terrifying and beautiful alien creatures.

There are no practice runs, no training, and no way out. Miki has only the guidance of secretive but maddeningly attractive team leader Jackson Tate, who says the game isn’t really a game, that what Miki and her new teammates do now determines their survival, and the survival of every other person on this planet. She laughs. He doesn’t. And then the game takes a deadly and terrifying turn.

Almost half the year has gone by and I can honestly say that RUSH by Eve Silver might end up near the top of my YA reads of 2013. This is my first Eve Silver book and it also happens to be her debut YA novel. I opened this book with high expectations and I wasn’t disappointed at all. RUSH promises mystery, adventure, romance and aliens. What more can you ask of a YA science fiction novel?

I hope I didn’t lose any of you when I said aliens or science fiction because this isn’t your typical sci-fi. On the contrary, I think it offers a refreshing view of out of this world beings that have come to Earth, some in peace and others with the single goal of annihilating the planet and its inhabitants. Imagine living out your normal life and with one heroic act, you’re suddenly sucked into a parallel world where you’re fighting alien forces that are trying to destroy Earth. This is exactly what happened to Miki Jones and now she’s going about her everyday life where she can be sucked into this parallel universe to battle it out against the destructive Drau, without any warning. She’s accompanied by other teenagers like her, including a long lost friend, Luka, and the mysterious new guy at school, Jackson. Some on her team call it a game, while other are just going through the motions trying not to get killed. And if it really can be called a game, it’s definitively a deadly one, because no one is safe. Not even the seasoned warriors on the team.

Miki is a very inquisitive character. She wants to know everything about the game and why she was chosen. But most of all, she just wants to know what’s really going on. She doesn’t understand the game, except she knows she has to fight to stay alive. As the book progresses, she learns to ask the right questions and other team members become more inclined to answer her truthfully. Not only do we learn more about the deadly game, but we also learn more about the Drau and Miki’s background. I found it very easy to relate to Miki since she seems like a tangible and realistic girl. Even thought she shows courage and strength, her doubts and fears make her a realistic character since not all characters should be all fierce and powerful.

As for Jackson, I had a love/hate relationship with him in the beginning. With his constant wear of sunglasses and his cocky attitude, I didn’t like him as Miki’s love interest at first. He warned Miki herself multiple times that his intentions were not pure and that she should stay away because he isn’t a good guy. However, because of his charisma and his competency in the game, Miki starts to rely a lot on him, especially to get the answers that she needs to satisfy her inquisitive mind. At first, I much preferred Luka over Jackson but it’s almost as if the author herself gave up on Luka and fell for Jackson’s bad boy attitude. Luka became a boring character and I’ll probably end up not remembering who he is when the sequel come out. Overall, the romance in the story isn’t too overbearing, which is a nice change since it lets us readers concentrate on the story a little bit more.

There are just a few things in RUSH that I wasn’t too crazy about. First off, the fact the Miki only learns a few things at a time about anything involving the game was simply annoying. Obviously Jackson knows  everything but it’s almost as if he likes having Miki beg for answers. Miki’s best friend, Carly, was simply a bitch that got pissed at her for the slightest things. She’s just a boy crazy girl that I would feel embarrassed to call a best friend. And finally, that awful cliffhanger definitively leaves you wanting more but I feel like it’s been done before. The book could have had a better ending than this horrible and stereotypical way Eve Silver left us hanging.

I’m not necessarily a gamer but I like to play video games from time to time. The fact that the points system in the “game” is very similar to those in video games makes it easier for the characters to aim for a goal and to actually survive. The video game references (and comic book/manga references too) makes this book a good one to recommend to boyfriends, young-at-heart husbands and guy friends in general. Even if the main character is female, I’m sure many guys will end up enjoying RUSH. It’s had some mixed reviews so the book is obviously not for everyone, but I personally enjoyed it. It’s an edgy, original and striking first book to a series.

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Origin by Jessica Khoury

Origin, science fiction, the girl who cannot die, jessica khoury

Origin by Jessica Khoury

Book Stats:

Reading level: Young Adult
ARC: 394 pages 
Genre: Science-Fiction
Publisher: Penguin
Release date: September 4, 2012

Series: n/a

Reviewed by: Stéphanie

Source: Won from Heather Marie

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository

Pia has grown up in a secret laboratory hidden deep in the Amazon rain forest. She was raised by a team of scientists who have created her to be the start of a new immortal race. But on the night of her seventeenth birthday, Pia discovers a hole in the electric fence that surrounds her sterile home–and sneaks outside the compound for the first time in her life.

Free in the jungle, Pia meets Eio, a boy from a nearby village. Together, they embark on a race against time to discover the truth about Pia’s origin–a truth with deadly consequences that will change their lives forever.

Origin is a beautifully told, shocking new way to look at an age-old desire: to live forever, no matter the cost.

A very intriguing and original debut, ORIGIN definitively caught my attention when I first read the summary. As a wannabe science geek, the idea of creating an immortal race of human beings through science was something I really wanted to know more about. Scientifically, the immortalization described in this book doesn’t really make sense, but for the purpose of telling a fictional story, it works. Jessica Khoury created a rich setting and wonderful characters to tell her story

While the idea of immortality to question the mortality and the morality of the human race was genius, the science of it just didn’t work for me. The unrealistic science is my main concern about the book. I liked how part of the immortalization process is through the nectar of a plant found in the Amazon rainforest, but the catalyst to make the elixir work is a little too far fetched for me. I’m not going to reveal more about the catalyst because that would ruin the story for those who haven’t read the book, but truthfully, I expected more.

One thing that did work for me is the development of the characters. Pia is a wonderful heroine despite her indecisiveness about the group of scientists she lives with and about her romantic feeling towards Eio, the boy she literally meets by crashing into his naked chest. For an educated and intelligent girl, Pia is very cloistered, knowing almost nothing about what lies outside the gates of her little village in the middle of the rainforest. As the only immortal human, the scientists of the village have decided to raise her by revealing nothing of the outside world. And that means growing up with no children surrounding her and without any idea what true family and romantic relationships are about. So when she meets Eio and his amazon tribe, the idea of loving people and caring for their well being somewhat new to her. Pia’s indecisiveness can get a little tiresome after a while but it’s really what keeps the story going by questioning her immortality and her morality. At first, Eio seemed a little unrealistic because of his forced and cheesy dialogue but as the story went on, he convinced me that his feeling for Pia were authentic.

Morality is a theme that’s investigated well throughout the book. Pia is raised to have an analytical and scientific mind but that doesn’t prepare her for the tests the scientists of her village make her go through. Doing something evil for the greater “good” of their research makes her doubtful and when the final test comes along, I think it’s the final turning point for her. Morality wasn’t a concept taught to her growing up but meeting and speaking to people she shouldn’t speak to opens a whole new world to her, almost literally.

The first person narrative is perfect for this book because we get to see Pia’s world through her naïve point of view. We get to see how her mind works even if we don’t completely understand her way of thinking. We see her grow as a person throughout the book as she discovers things that have always been forbidden by her small community, for example, leaving the gated community to go meet Eio. Her defiance for the rules makes us cheer her on, but at the same time, we worry about the consequences of her being caught. In fact, being caught is one thing she’s afraid of as an immortal (that an anacondas) because she doesn’t know what the consequences may be.

ORIGIN really wasn’t what I expected and that’s not a good nor a bad thing. The story simply caught me by surprise and the originality of the novel is a definite plus. The rich and luscious setting of the amazon rainforest really worked to the author’s advantage because it’s not a setting that’s utilized often. It feels fresh, authentic and most important of all, well researched. I think, for a debut novel, the story was quite entertaining since it had me speed through it to get to the end. It’s not a book that enthralled me but I can see how it could please many readers. The forbidden romance, the hidden secrets and fighting the rules are the basis for a good YA novel, and the author hit all these points. I just wished the science behind it all could have been a little more realistic.

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Uglies by Scott Westerfeld

Uglies by Scott WesterfeldUglies by Scott Westerfeld

Book stats:
Reading level: Young Adult
Reprint Paperback: 406 pages
Genre: Sci-Fi/Dystopia
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release date: February 8, 2005

Series: Uglies #1

Source: Personal shelf

Reviewed by: Lili

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository

The Uglies series has more than 3 million books in print, has been translated into twenty-seven languages, and spent more than fifty weeks on the New York Times bestseller list. Now all four books feature fresh new covers and will reach an even wider audience.

Tally’s adventures begin in Uglies, where she learns the truth about what life as a Pretty really means. She rebels against the surgery that will make her a Pretty, but ultimately succumbs. In Pretties, Tally has forgotten all about her Ugly life, and when she’s reminded, she has a hard time listening. And what little’s left of the old Tally is further compromised in Specials, because Tally has been transformed into a fierce fighting machine. But when she’s offered a chance to forever improve civilization, will she be able to overcome her brainwashing? The answer is evident years later in Extras, after the Pretty regime has ended. Boundless human creativity, new technologies, and old dangers have been unleashed upon the world. But fame and popularity can be just as dangerous as extreme beauty…..

This review is going to be short and sweet for many reasons. The first is that this book is one of the books that got me reading and I decided to re-read it instantly and loved it even more, so I wholeheartedly believe that I’ll be unable to write a truly cohesive review without just gushing about it. Secondly, this book is indescribable. And thirdly, it has so many amazing plot twists that I really want to ruin absolutely nothing for you, as a reader.

The story starts when Tally travels to see her once best friend, Peris. The problem is Peris is a pretty now and Tally still has 3 months before her Pretty transformation that takes place when she is of age. Peris was extremely annoyed with Tally visiting him without waiting three months because as a Pretty, he’s sort of become superficial both inside and out. Their sense of true friendship is gone with the removal of all his imperfections, even the little scar on his hand that marked them as bloodmates. This is the first of many instances in the story where Tally realizes being Pretty isn’t all it cracks up to be. It changes you as a person, not just the physical you. But this is a world where the government believes that making everyone look similar via the Pretty process will get rid of fighting and many other things—so Tally suddenly begins challenging the beliefs that she held so dear for so many years.

When her sixteenth birthday arrives with her transformation day, Tally learns she must spy on a runaway in order to follow through with this operation. Problem? The Special Circumstances Team is creepy and pure evil and Shay was once Tally’s friend who truly does not want to become a Pretty. To put it simply, I love Tally as a character. She struggles emotionally and with discovering what is right and what is wrong. She is swayed by society, than swayed by her own opinions. She’s realistic and that is why she’ll always be among my favorite characters. This series never gets old to me because of her and the many transformations she makes throughout these novels.

I also like how this book thinks. It obviously delivers several messages about society and judgment of others and such messages really make you think. In truth, Tally lives in a world obsessed with good looks and becoming Pretty. Isn’t that somewhat scarily similar to our society today? Hers is just taken to an entirely new extreme. Food for thought.

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Taken by Erin Bowman

The Iron Wyrm Affair by Lilith SaintcrowTaken by Erin Bowman

Book stats:
Reading Level: Young Adult
ARC: 360 pages
Genre: Science Fiction/Dystopia
Publisher: HarperTEEN
Release date: April 16, 2013

Series: Taken #1

Source:Borrowed from a Friend

Reviewed by: Lili

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository

There are no men in Claysoot. There are boys—but every one of them vanishes at midnight on his eighteenth birthday. The ground shakes, the wind howls, a blinding light descends…and he’s gone.

Gray Weathersby’s eighteenth birthday is mere months away, and he’s prepared to meet his fate–until he finds a strange note from his mother and starts to question everything he’s been raised to accept: the Council leaders and their obvious secrets. The Heist itself. And what lies beyond the Wall that surrounds Claysoot–a structure that no one can cross and survive.

Climbing the Wall is suicide, but what comes after the Heist could be worse. Should he sit back and wait to be taken–or risk everything on the hope of the other side?

This review is going to be quick and fun, because that’s how I viewed this book. Full of some really interesting new ideas, it was a quick read that I enjoyed immensely.

At first, I was slightly horrified by the ways of Claysoot. This is a town with moderate living conditions, but they are far from perfect. They’re surrounded on all sides by a big wall that cannot be crossed. Everyone who crosses it ends up in Claysoot the next day dead, completely burned to a crisp beyond recognition. The water doesn’t run properly, the housing isn’t at its finest, the way to get food was by hunting with bows and arrows. Oh, and boys suddenly disappear on the eve of their eighteenth birthday’s in something called the Heist. Because of this, towns have slatings. This thought horrified me because slatings are essentially sending young men aged sixteen and older around Claysoot and getting them to try to sleep with whatever girl they are slated to that month so that they could have kids in a dying society. Essentially, if all things worked out, that means 12 kids per year to these young fathers. Thank heavens it was rare to conceive and this wasn’t present day society. However, this practice was somewhat more tolerable to me once I found out through Gray that not everyone partook in it because there was such thing as waiting for love and not trying to have children young.

Believe it or not, that way of thinking exhibited by Gray is somewhat rebellious in this novel. He’s impulsive and acts on instinct, much different than his older brother Blaine who follows the rules of Claysoot exactly. Named for his stormy eyes and black hair, it was easy to fall in love with this strong male protagonist because he had a big heart and would stop at no costs if he felt what he was doing was right. He is becoming a favorite of mine for his curiosity, strength, and unique humor. I like how his mind works. The cast of side characters are amazing as well. As much as I want to say more, I can’t reveal any of the truly important ones without ruining any of the amazing sub-plots in this one. And trust me when I say this, this book is absolutely filled to the brim with amazing sub-plots and plot twists.

So, as the attention grabbing synopsis above states, Gray goes over the wall on an impulse relating to a certain hidden note he finds from his previously deceased mother. And this is where everything gets better. The secrets revealed in the next two thirds of the book were amazing and made this story incredibly enjoyable. I blew through it easily and excitedly.

However, I must admit that despite the awesome science-fiction packed story that Bowman’s debut novel weaves, it was predictable. While I wish to say this novel was perfect, it wasn’t. There’s something lacking if you can guess the huge plot twists a mere third or so into the story like I did. Upon Grey’s arrival on the other side of the wall and the almost immediate revelation of what lays beyond it, I put a lot of things together hundreds of pages before Bowman allowed them to come to light. This ruined aspects of the novel for me because huge plot reveals weren’t that huge to me anymore. With that being said, I still found this novel enjoyable, just not as surprising as I believe it was originally intended to be.

I also want to take a moment to touch upon the romantic aspects of this novel. It’s sort of an afterthought compared to the rest of the plot. While romance is somewhat existent, it’s not a main focus of the novel, and I must say I enjoyed that because the romance was set aside to allow us to enjoy a much more interesting overarching tale. If you’re looking for a romantic novel, this is not for you. If you want a totally kickass novel with some romantic sub-plots, I say check it out immediately!

This book will be perfect for science fiction and dystopian lovers. The concept of the Heists and the explanations behind them will satisfy any science fiction junky’s appetite. It’s been a long time since I’ve read a sci-fi novel that I greatly enjoyed, so I urge anyone to pick this up if they have the chance.

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Outside In by Maria V. Snyder

Outside In by Maria V. SnyderOutside In by Maria V. Snyder

Book stats:
Reading Level: Young Adult
Paperback: 328 pages
Genre: Sci-fi/Dystopia
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Release date: March 1, 2011

Series: Insiders #2

Source: Library

Reviewed by: Lili

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository

Me?

A leader?

Okay, I did prove that there’s more to Inside than we knew. That a whole world exists beyond this cube we live in. And finding that led to a major rebellion—between worker scrubs like me and the snobby uppers who rule our world. Make that ruled. Because of me, we’re free. I thought that meant I was off the hook, and could go off on my own again—while still touching base with Riley, of course. He’s the one upper I think I can trust. But then we learned that there’s outside and then there is Outside.

And something from Outside wants In.

It’s hard for me to put my thoughts regarding this one into words. I enjoy its prequel so much, so I was very anxious to get my hands on it. But I have to admit that I don’t think it lived up to its amazing sequel. However, I still found this one enjoyable. It’s hard to describe. The best way that I can explain how I feel about this book is that book one is worthy of a very solid four stars, but this book can only garner three stars.

When it came to plot progression, this novel was by far the superior of the two. What I love about Snyder is that she is very much able to deliver realistic action sequences and suspenseful mysteries. The plot, like book one and every other novel I have read by Snyder, easily held my interest and my attention. I didn’t ever want to put it down and easily flew through it in a single sitting. The entire plot of this book centers around sabotage happening on the Inside and there’s a frenzy to uncover who is setting everything off before something terrible happens. The addition of newfound Outsiders wanting In added great suspense to the last third of the novel. It was pretty cool that this novel contained explosions and new types of weaponry as well, mostly from the hands of Logan, the amazing Tech-No that I love dearly.

Plot-wise though, the book was also slightly frustrating. More than once Trella eavesdropped or noticed people doing suspicious things. And every time (I can recount at least three times off of the top of my head) it was one of those instances where she recognized the individual’s voice, or body movement, or physical stature, but couldn’t pinpoint their identity though it was on the tip of her tongue. Then when the reveal of the person’s identity came, she would somehow slap herself mentally and pull out the classical, “I knew it!” Not literally, but that’s how she was consistently described emotionally when the revelations hit. These moments were clearly there to further the plot progression of the book because the entire scheme would have been spoiled if she recognized any of these people, but after the second instance of a near recognition happened I began to get slightly frustrated because Trella’s previous genius went completely out the window in this one for most of the novel.

When it came to characterization, I didn’t think there was anything new that could be described as marvelous. The new characters were interesting enough and older characters continued to grow, but no serious break-through’s occurred. Trella, in all honesty, seemed very immature in this one, though she did continue to have her moments of live-saving genius.

And don’t even get me started on Riley. One of the aspects of this novel that I believe pales in comparison to book one is the romance. It was cute and slow in book one, but this one it was too fast and rocky. In the blink of an eye, a sweet relationship turned into a physical one. And that’s it, it was purely physical. If they weren’t doing something physical, they were arguing. And whenever they fight or take a break, they reconcile after saying something along the lines of “if you do what I say, my body is completely yours” or something of the sort. I understand how it’s a way to instill trust. They trust each other so much that they’ll do whatever the other one wants, but it all relates back to the physical. I missed the emotion of it all. The declarations of love almost seemed forced.

All in all, this book was still enjoyable, but it can’t be compared to the first. While some plot reveals ended the story well, I felt as if the overall ending was lacking in the sense that I just wasn’t happy. Book one wowed me so much more than its companion novel in this series. The emotional connection that I had with Trella in book one despite her anti-hero ways were completely nonexistent in this one.

With that being said, I do encourage any sci-fi lovers to check out book one. This series will especially be enjoyable for those who like space novels that aren’t huge on aliens. I encourage you to create your own opinions regarding this series and I urge you to continue on to book two if you loved book one as much as I did. While this book isn’t as great, it delivers an enticing story that’s easy to read and ties up some very interesting plot points.

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Unremembered by Jessica Brody

Unremembered by Jessica Brody Unremembered by Jessica Brody

Book stats:
Reading level: Young Adult
ARC: 302 pages
Genre: Science Fiction
Publisher: Farrar, Straus, & Girouz (BYR)
Release date: March 5, 2013

Series: Unremembered #1

Source: Trade

Reviewed by: Lili

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository

The only thing worse than forgetting her past… is remembering it.

When Freedom Airlines flight 121 went down over the Pacific Ocean, no one ever expected to find survivors. Which is why the sixteen-year-old girl discovered floating among the wreckage—alive—is making headlines across the globe.

Even more strange is that her body is miraculously unharmed and she has no memories of boarding the plane. She has no memories of her life before the crash. She has no memories period. No one knows how she survived. No one knows why she wasn’t on the passenger manifest. And no one can explain why her DNA and fingerprints can’t be found in a single database in the world.

Crippled by a world she doesn’t know, plagued by abilities she doesn’t understand, and haunted by a looming threat she can’t remember, Seraphina struggles to piece together her forgotten past and discover who she really is. But with every clue only comes more questions. And she’s running out of time to answer them.

Her only hope is a strangely alluring boy who claims to know her from before the crash. Who claims they were in love. But can she really trust him? And will he be able to protect her from the people who have been making her forget?

From popular young adult author, Jessica Brody comes a mesmerizing and suspenseful new series, set in a world where science knows no boundaries, memories are manipulated, and true love can never be forgotten.

It is very hard for me to put my thoughts regarding UNREMEMBERED into words. I was very much looking forward to this book after reading Brody’s 52 REASONS TO HATE MY FATHER. So, when I was able to trade for this one you can easily imagine my excitement. However, I was still somewhat apprehensive about diving into this book because it explores a concept that has been done many times before in young adult literature. As impressive as a story evolving around an amnesiac main character can be when done well, it can be incredibly disappointing when executed improperly. Unfortunately, this is one of those cases where the overall story is disappointing.

What this book reminds me of is a cross between EVE & ADAM by Michael Grant and Katherine Applegate and LEVEL 2 by Lenore Appelhans. Admittedly, I struggled with both of the aforementioned books as well. If you take the concept of a perfect human being and all the implications surrounding it and the question of what exactly makes people human from EVE & ADAM and combine it with an amnesiac character struggling against her mind-controlling captors while gaining her memories back all too quickly and unrealistically with the help of a boy from her past from LEVEL 2, you have this book. Again, at least it feels that way to me. Add in an oddly important Shakespearean sonnet, the repeated question as to what exactly classifies an organism as human, and a little foster brother that keeps getting in trouble for taking you on wild adventures and you have the equation that makes up UNREMEMBERED.

Violet was found as the only survivor of a plane crash floating in the ocean completely unharmed with no recollection as to how she got there, thus igniting a media firestorm. Whenever her picture showed up on the news or the Internet with a location linked to it, a mysterious boy who refers to himself as Zen shows up wanting to help her, just as evil guys dressed head to toe in black give chase. This starts a huge domino effect starting with Violet trying to uncover her lost memories and ending with way more than she bargained for. All in all, a really fascinating concept that fell flat due to lack of sufficient details and constant frustration with Violet on my part. It’s all to convenient that while she can’t remember her own memories and her own hints to herself, she can remember to speak pretty much any language in the world without realizing it, how to execute awesome self-defense moves, and literally the definition of every word. I am not kidding you, she’s referred to as a walking dictionary several times in the book and I couldn’t say it any better myself. The idea of an amnesiac perfect human being was cliché in all aspects of her creation and her lack of understanding of simple terms and food was not entertaining the way it was intended to be. Apparently, grilled cheese is a delicacy in the eyes of the “hot and insanely smart amnesiac supermodel” that can prove unproved scientific theories. Excuse me for my ranting, but all of this frustrated me because everything was so perfect. There was no imperfections, which made the entire tale seem fake to me.

All in all, I recommend this book to readers new to the scientific genre. It makes you question what, exactly, makes us humans? If someone has to replace all their limbs with prosthetics are they still human? Take it one step further, what about their organs? It gets you thinking along those lines and will satisfy those who have yet to read the best books this genre has to offer. However, its flaws will radiate to common science fiction readers like myself. I don’t think this book needs to expand into an entire trilogy because the ending is fine and book one did not leave me desperately wanting more. So, while this book wasn’t for me, I urge those looking for a fast read to pick it up. Despite all of my qualms, I got through this book in about two hours because it was paced well enough for me to keep on going. That, in itself, does express that there is some potential to this tale, it just wasn’t for me. I was left with too many questions and not enough answers.

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Jenn

Scarlet by Marissa Meyer

meyer - scarletScarlet by Marissa Meyer

Book Stats:

Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 454 pages
Genre: Sci-fi/Paranormal
Publisher: Macmillan (Feiwel & Friends)
Release date: February 5, 2013

Series: The Lunar Chronicles #2

Reviewed by: Stéphanie

Source: Personal shelf

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository

Cinder, the cyborg mechanic, returns in the second thrilling installment of the bestselling Lunar Chronicles. She’s trying to break out of prison–even though if she succeeds, she’ll be the Commonwealth’s most wanted fugitive.

Halfway around the world, Scarlet Benoit’s grandmother is missing. It turns out there are many things Scarlet doesn’t know about her grandmother or the grave danger she has lived in her whole life. When Scarlet encounters Wolf, a street fighter who may have information as to her grandmother’s whereabouts, she is loath to trust this stranger, but is inexplicably drawn to him, and he to her. As Scarlet and Wolf unravel one mystery, they encounter another when they meet Cinder. Now, all of them must stay one step ahead of the vicious Lunar Queen Levana, who will do anything for the handsome Prince Kai to become her husband, her king, her prisoner.

Oh my… wow! I have no words to describe how much I adored this book. I can’t believe I enjoyed SCARLET more than CINDER, the first book of The Lunar Chronicles. CINDER was my favorite YA book of 2012 so it’s not surprised that SCARLET was one of my most anticipated YA books of 2013. And after reading more than half the book on release day, I knew even then that it would make one of my top 10 lists of 2013. I have only one regret: reading it too quickly!

I’m glad the author stuck with the theme of reworking fairytales to suit her needs. While I wouldn’t qualify these books as retellings, Marissa Meyer does inspire her books from themes of the famous fairytales. As you can imagine, CINDER is based on Cinderella, while SCARLET is inspired by The Little Red Riding Hood.

When I first realized the sequel to CINDER wasn’t going to concentrate on Cinder and that we would be introduced to another main character, I was a little disappointed. Since Cinder was such a wonderful character, I wanted/expected the whole series to be about her and Prince Kai, and not just have bits and pieces of her story in the sequel. However, now that I’ve finished, I wish we could have had more scenes with Scarlet and Wolf. Their chemistry is absolutely perfect and the secrets in their relationship makes it so much more interesting. Wolf might or might not be the Big Bad Wolf of the story but his duplicity will no doubt bother you as much as it bothered me. Their ancestry might be very similar, but I think what makes their relationship so attractive is the fact that they are from two completely different worlds.

The quasi-relationship we saw bloom in the first book between Cinder and Kai is sidelined in SCARLET because the two never come in contact. Cinder is a fugitive on the run and Kai is responsible of capturing her, in order to ensure the safety of his country. I hope we see them reunited in the next book because their relationship is without a doubt the most important one in this series.

I’m glad the author decided to “resurrect” Iko, Cinder’s robot friend/side-kick, no matter how large her new “body” may be. The comic relief Iko provides is, in my opinion, necessary, because this book is more somber and has some graphic and gory scenes. Of course, a sci-fi book is never complete without some sort of artificial intelligence and the fact Iko plays the role of fairy-godmother in book one, she couldn’t have been killed off so easily.

While book one centered on New Beijing (the capital of the Eastern Commonwealth, one of the 5 countries of this new version of Earth), in this book we are privileged to a wider view of the world. Scarlet’s story is mostly held in what used to be France, a dramatic change in setting from book one. Despite learning a lot about this world, I think Marissa Meyer has a lot more to reveal in the next two books. Of course, Luna still remains quite a mystery despite the new revelations in SCARLET.

If I still haven’t convinced you to read this series with this review, then just take my word for it. SCARLET will take you on an adventure where darts coming out of fingers can almost be considered normal and where the little red riding hood isn’t as gullible as we thought she was. I simply adored this book and I hope you will too!

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stephsig