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Mitosis

Mitosis

Mitosis (Reckoners #1.5) by Brandon Sanderson

Pub: Dec 2013

The Reckoners, a group of rebels from the novel Steelheart, take on a new foe after freeing their city, Newcago, from the tyranny of super-powered Epics.

The day had finally arrived, a day I’d been awaiting for ten years. A glorious day, a momentous day, a day of import and distinction.

It was time to buy a hot dog.

This is a fun, action-packed novella that wedges itself chronologically soon after Steelheart, in which the rebel David must help the Reckoners take down another foe who comes to Newcago.

Clever, witty, and fun, this is a perfect quick read while waiting for the next book in the Reckoners series.

Nightmare

Nightmare

Nightmare by Robin Parrish

Pub: 2010

The daughter of renown paranormal investigators goes looking for answers after seeing her missing friend’s face in a amusement park haunted house.

Opening line:

Doesn’t matter who you are or what you believe. Everybody has a ghost story.

This book was different than what I had expected, and in some ways, that was neat. The even-numbered chapters follow the main character Maia and her friend Jordin as they investigate various haunted real-life locations around the United States, which I found interesting (though I’d also already read a lot about these places from other sources). The odd-numbered ‘present-day’ chapters follow Maia and Jordin’s pastor-in-training-boyfriend as they try to figure out what happened to her. Let’s just say, it gets rather sci-fi and way weirder than I had expected.

Maia, as a narrator, was a bit hard to love. As someone exposed to the paranormal her whole life, she was a bit of a know-it-all and I didn’t really buy into her motivations for her actions. The ending, like I said, got a little weird, but I thought it was an interesting book that brought out some good thinking points about angels and demons, ghosts, and the paranormal.

UnSouled

UnSouled

UnSouled (Unwind #3) by Neal Shusterman

Pub: Oct 15, 2013

Connor, Risa, and Lev–the most notorious teens-on-the-run–hunt down a woman whose science made unwinding possible and who may have the answer to its undoing.

Opening line:

“They signed it. The Heartland War is over.”

There’s so many things to love about this series: the crazy-complex world-building in a society where everything’s gone completely amok, the complicated characters who are each so distinctive and authentic, and the tough questions it raises about people and their worth. Though his Skinjacker Trilogy still tops my personal favorites list, the Unwind Dystology is definitely worth a place on your shelf.

That being said, I’d have to say this is the weakest of the series thus far. It suffers from the typical second-book-in-a-series symptoms, despite it actually being the third. Basically, there’s a lot of back story, a lot of characters wondering how to fix things and plotting and having their best-laid plans twarted, but not a whole lot that’s actually fresh. It’s a setup for the final book in the series, and if you weren’t one of us hard-core Shusterman fans who ran out to get the book right away, I’d have to say my advice to you would be to hold off until the fourth is published (sometime in 2014) and read them both together, because really, this read like the first half of a much larger book.

Steelheart

Steelheart

NEW this week…

Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson

4 of 5 stars

In a near-future world where superhuman Epics rule by force, David joins a group of rebels known as the Reckoners to bring down the dictator who killed his father.

“The heroes.  You said they’ll come.  Let them stop him!”

“Sometimes, son,” my father said, prying my fingers free, “you have to help the heroes along.”

This book was, in a word, Epic.

Between the original superheroes-are-all-dictatorial-baddies premise to the clever main character who can’t form a decent metaphor to save his life — but tries often, with humorous results — I felt like I’d been waiting for a book like this for a long time.  The characters, even the minor ones, were well-written, the Epics were awesome and I loved that each one has a weakness, so it becomes more of a puzzle to figure out what it is, rather than just a “go in there guns blazing” kind of story.

This book kept me up, wanting to read “just one more chapter,” and although it is supposed to be part of a series, I felt satisfied by the resolution of this book.  The ending took a couple twists that were very well done — the hints were there, but it came together in a way that was still unexpected.

I’m already looking forward to the sequel coming out next fall, called Firefight.

The Clockwork Scarab

ClockworkScarab

NEW this week…

The Clockwork Scarab by Colleen Gleason
Stoker & Holmes #1

2 of 5 stars

Sherlock’s niece and Bram Stoker’s sister team up with Miss Adler to solve a mystery when society girls begin disappearing and dying under unusual circumstances.

I was going to be subjected to simpering young men and gossiping ladies simply so Miss Holmes could look for beetles?  The most dangerous and exciting part of the night would be to avoid getting my feet trod upon or a lemonade spilled upon my gown.

Every once in awhile I enjoy a fun steampunk, especially when it promises such exciting characters as Sherlock Holmes’ niece and Bram Stoker’s vampire-slaying little sister.  When it comes to Victorian steam-era meets alternate history, this book has it all: clockwork devices, vampire hunters, the power of deductive reasoning, buildings anchored to the sky with helium balloons, Egyptian superstition, and time travel.

Unfortunately, its strong points also end up being its downfall.  Much like a clockwork itself, this book contains so many elements meshed together that it becomes jammed and ineffective.  Had this story finished off with a perfect final piece, a conclusion that would connect everything together and bring resolution, then I would have highly recommended it, but as it stands, that piece is missing and the whole thing suffers.  I feel as if the author wrote a much, much longer story that involved all of these elements, and that this is just the first 300 pages of that.  Too many mysteries are left unsolved, too many relationships hinted at but undeveloped, too many subplots not even touched on (no, we don’t meet a SINGLE vampire in this novel, despite the fact that one of the main characters is a vampire hunter!).  Despite it’s length, it just wasn’t enough.

Also, stylistically, I’ve come to discover that I don’t particularly care for multiple first-person POVs. Evaline and Mina are interesting enough characters, but their fierce independence, stubbornness, and determination make it difficult to distinguish their voices.

Overall: A smorgasbord of steampunk elements thrown together in a mystery (or two or three) that never really ends up completely solved.

League of Somebodies

League

League of Somebodies by Samuel Sattin

Pub: April 2013

Abandoned due to profanity, graphic sexual descriptions, anti-female and anti-religious content

A Scottish/Jewish/Polish boy is brought up to believe he has a special destiny as an extractor of justice, and raises his son in the same, in order to defeat a violent organization known as THEY.

“The truth is,” Fearghas said.  “I’ve been preparing you for a non-stop life.  One full of danger and triumph.”

The premise of this book fascinated me.  A multi-generational tale of superheroes in the making?  Awesome!  I was looking forward to an action-packed adventure full of humor, perhaps with a satirical edge that would poke fun at common superhero comics.

Instead of poking fun at superheroes, though, this book seems to poke fun at just about everyone else.  The plot progresses slowly, and most of the book seems comprised of characters making insensitive, coarse, and offensive comments about various demographics.  I enjoy a good satire, but between the anatomy jokes and the constant use of “f***” and various other profanities, I couldn’t justify wasting any more my time with this book.

Rush

Rush

NEW this week…

Rush by Eve Silver
The Game series #1

2 of 5 stars

After a near-death experience, a teen finds herself getting “pulled” into an alien-hunting alternate reality where she and a group of friends must fight their impending invasion of earth.

“Don’t  listen to him.  We still have real lives.  They just get temporarily interrupted every now and then.”

Awesome premise.  I loved the Ender’s Game-type setup, a world under threat of an alien invasion.  Being “pulled” via time travel to the battleground, where then, if you succeed, you’re thrown right back to where you were, and if you don’t, then you die in real life, too.  The “battle” scene involved high stakes, high energy, intensity.

But, that’s where it all kind of falls apart.  This book does NOT stand alone; it simply sets the stage for the rest of the series, and ends in a frustrating cliffhanger.  Not only that, but SO MANY things are unresolved, things that the main character spends the entire book wondering about and asking about and getting cryptic half-answers about, to the point where I, as the reader, felt like I was being toyed with.  The answers that were given were either so obvious that you feel like throwing the book across the room for dragging it out for so long, or were so convoluted that they only raise more questions.

Overall:  Great premise, but wait for the full series (or at least the next book), because this one isn’t satisfying on its own.

Similar reads:
Variant (Variant, #1) The Maze Runner (Maze Runner, #1) Gravity (The Taking, #1) Whispers in Autumn (The Last Year, #1) Level 2 (The Memory Chronicles, #1)

The Clockwork Scarab

ClockworkScarab

The Clockwork Scarab by Colleen Gleason
Stoker & Holmes #1

Pub: Sept 17, 2013

2 of 5 stars

Sherlock’s niece and Bram Stoker’s sister team up with Miss Adler to solve a mystery when society girls begin disappearing and dying under unusual circumstances.

Full review coming in September!

Overall: A smorgasbord of steampunk elements thrown together in a mystery (or two or three) that never really ends up completely solved.

Light

Light

Light by Michael Grant
Gone series #6

Pub: Apr 2013

4 of 5 stars

The children trapped in the FAYZ make one last stand against the gaiaphage and prepare themselves for the end of the barrier.

“I’m not losing you because you played fair.  You’re not getting killed.  You’re not dying.  This isn’t some doomed last mission.  Do you understand me?  This does not end with me crying and missing you every day for the rest of my life.  This ends with us walking out of this nightmare together.  You and me…”

The Gone series is one that I began back in January of last year, and one that has entertained, terrified, and kept me up late each time I picked up a new book.

This final book did not disappoint.  If anything, it exceeded my expectations, wrapping up the series nicely, tying up the loose ends, and giving readers ending that was filled with both sorrow and hope for the future.  Just when evil seemed to have the upper hand, sacrifices were made and unlikely heroes stepped up, providing an incredibly satisfying end to the FAYZ.  It’s great to see how the characters have grown and developed throughout the six books.

Heads up: As in previous books of the series, Light contains violence, gore, sexual content, swearing, and some of the most nightmare-inducing imagery ever.  It is not for the faint of heart.

Overall: A satisfying and appropriate ending to the series.

Other books in the Gone series (links to my reviews):
Gone (Gone, #1) Hunger (Gone, #2) Lies (Gone, #3) Plague (Gone, #4) Fear (Gone, #5)

Starclimber

Starclimber

Starclimber by Kenneth Oppel
Matt Cruse #3

Pub: 2009

4.5 of 5 stars

Pilot Matt Cruse and high-altitude biologist Kate de Vries join the crew of the Starclimber, as the world’s first astralnaut.

Traveling at night towards the stars, I thought yet again how very far away they were, and how you could travel your whole lifetime and never reach even the closest one… I wondered if Kate was to be my star, and I’d spend my life gazing upon her but never reaching her.

I love this series.

Kenneth Oppel is quickly becoming one of my favorite YA authors.  After reading This Dark Endeavor and Such Wicked Intent (prequels to Shelley’s Frankenstein), I started the Matt Cruse series with Airborn and Skybreaker, both of which were fabulous steampunk-alternate history adventures.  I loved the world Oppel created (in this one, the space race is taking place between Canada and France!) and his characters are quirky, realistically flawed, smart, and always up for an adventure.

This third book is just as exciting as the first two, and I appreciate the fact that each of the three are a complete story all on their own.  This book provided resolution for the series, but also kept it open for the reader to imagine even more adventures for Matt and Kate after the series ends.  I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it and would highly recommend it.

Overall: A wonderful steampunk adventure reminiscent of Verne’s From the Earth to the Moon.

Other books in the series:
AirbornSkybreaker

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