Category Archives: science fiction

Vengeful – V.E. Schwab – Review

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Being an EO sounds great in theory. You get awesome powers and can do anything that you want. But you have to die in the process. You have to experience you breath stopping, your heart beat going silent. You wake up and then have to live with those memories. What if your death is caused by someone else? How do you live day to day with that memory in your head? What if revenge is all that you want and need? Can you be stopped? Should you be stopped?

(This is a review for a second book in a series. There will may be spoilers from the first book.)

 

 

What I Loved_-4

I have been waiting for this book since it was announced. I love V.E. Schwab, she is one of my favorite authors. I liked the first one because of how it concentrates on anti-heroes. Victor and Eli are not good people, they destroy what is around them and enjoy watching the world burn. Yet you are drawn to them, you understand them. I was curious how their story could and would continue.

This book picks up five years after Vicious. We see the results of Sydney bringing Victor back from the dead. We learn that bringing people back from the dead doesn’t always goes as planned. I enjoyed Victor’s journey throughout this book. He is desperate to find a way to save himself. As he dies over and over again he looks for anyone who can save him.

It was interesting because Victor is still his selfish self. His first concern is about how to save himself. He wants to live and he wants to survive. Though there is this small piece of him that really cares about Sydney. This is his saving grace. We see him trying to find a way to save himself without harming her.

I like how Schwab is able to make us care about these characters even though they are not good people. All of them kill at one point or another. They destroy lives yet I wanted them all to win. She does a great job and giving us a sympathetic side to them, giving us something to latch onto and relate to. Victor wants to keep Sydney safe. He wants her to not turn into him.

The new characters Marcella and June are two people who have been broken down and are now standing on their own two feet. Marcella was treated like a side piece. She was nothing but a figure to admire and use. After she rises again she takes her power back. She is no longer weak but a strong woman you can’t fight or deny. She is easy to relate to.

Once we see how she was treated, especially at a certain party scene you want her to win. You want her to kill and destroy those who hurt her. You want her to show that she can be just as strong as any of the men. I didn’t despise her. She was a woman wronged and she found a way to make things right for herself.

I loved June, she is my new favorite character. June is mysterious and I want to know everything there is to know about her. She has a past were don’t quite know. She was killed, but we don’t know how. She is a shape shifter who refuses to use her real face. I want to know why? I want to know what destroy her self image. I need to know why she is hiding.

Even though she is hiding though she still is strong. She is able to stand on her own two feet and she doesn’t let anyone tell her who she is. She can be anyone and she can take on any form. She is hiding but she is also showing the world who she can be. I want a whole book about her.

What I was just okay with
I had this same issue with Vicious, the end was quite quick. I felt like the book was setting up this huge fight. There were so many players and we saw them setting up so many elements. But the end fight was done quite quickly. I pictured a sort of cinematic fight, with all the people going after one another. In the end we got a quick fight with a definite end. I just wanted a bit more.

What I Wished was Different_
There was nothing that threw me out of the book. I loved the characters. I was impressed how much I felt connected to these despicable people. I thought the plot kept things moving.

I have this book five stars because I adored the characters so much. The end fight left me wanting more but the end it self left room for more and I hope to see these characters again.
Five Star

Copy of What I was just okay with
“Eyes were fickle. Minds were weak.” – pg. 57

“But there was, it turned out, a crucial difference between destroying things and destroying people.” (pg. 132)

“‘What does normal look like?'” (pg. 165)

“Men ahead of their time were always, by definition, outside of it.” (pg. 215)

“How many men would she have to turn to dust before one took her seriously?” (pg. 266)

“People can see an awful lot, and believe none of it.” (pg. 275)

“Every end may be a new beginning, but every beginning had to end.” (pg. 460)

Aaru – Hall of Hel – David Meredith – Review

(I have been provided a copy of this book by the author for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are 100% my own).

40963425.jpgKoren is a young celebrity and her life is falling apart. She thinks that her refuge is Aaru where her sister Rose now lives. But is Aaru as perfect as it looks? What is life when you will never grow old, where everything will remain perfect forever? What happens when a secret is found and that secret begins to take a part this utopia? Who will save them all now?

 

 

 

 

 

What I Loved_-4

I have say this was a great follow up to the last book. Most of the story felt seamless and continued the tale really well. I liked that this one got dark but with a message overtone that wasn’t overtly obvious.

I really liked the depiction of Koren’s life. We all know that being a celebrity is not as glamorous as it seems. This book did a good job at showing what that kind of attention can do to someone as young as Koren.

In this book we saw how broken she was and how broken her family had become. Her father is an alcoholic, her mother is only concerned about her image and Koren is being forced to grow up way too quickly. This was shown really well. It wasn’t a lecture about the dangers of having children in a spotlight; it was showing the pieces falling apart until they were nothing but a crumbled bits of rubble.

I also found the character of Hel extremely interesting. She is a combination of multiple people. (Though I am not a 100% certain why that is). I liked watching her come to find her voice and herself. She has two sides of herself, represented well by depicting her as Hel from Norse mythology.

She is constantly trying to determine which side of herself to follow. Does she given into her darker side or does she stand with her better half? She is the perfect one to “liberate’ those who are stuck in quarantine. She felt like a leader character. She was oppressed and she knows what it means to fight for true freedom.

I was a bit worried at first when the topic of mental health was brought up, worried it was going to be talked about in a negative manner. Instead we get this revolution type feel. We see Hel fighting to free these people. We see that she knows that being mentally ill is not a thing that makes you a monster. You don’t have to be locked away. I liked this message and I liked how she became their leader. Granted she went a bit too far into the darker side but I am interested to see how that progresses in the future of the story.

I also liked Rose’s storyline. She is trying to figure out what her purpose is now. What is your purpose when you can create anything and be anything? What do you strive for? What does life mean then? If you don’t have to work for anything what is the point? I am hoping we see her find some type of purpose in the last book.

What I was just okay with
I had a little bit of trouble with the timeline of this story. I thought for a bit that the parts with Hel and her creation were happening in a completely different timeline. Then I realized they were happening at the same time. But I was confused as to when that whole process started.

I think alot of confusion came from the fact that I didn’t know that this was where the Magic Man was going with his plan. I didn’t quite understand his purpose before and I am still vague on him. I think the timeline would have felt more stable if I had known this was the end game the whole time.

I also wanted to know more about Simon/Atem. There is something there about him. He doesn’t go from someone who fights to help the mentally ill to working with a pervert to get back into the system. If he wanted to save people I felt like this was the last way to do it. I really want to know more about him and what happened in his life.

What I Wished was Different_

There were two things that really threw me out of this story. The first was the sexual elements. I was really uncomfortable with the Magic Man lusting after Koren in the first book in this book it was worse. I felt like these elements were not needed. He could have needed her brain for his creation but the sexual element was not necessary. I felt like that was there to make us hate him which we already did. Those parts just made it hard for me to read.

I also didn’t like the creation of Frenir. I get the Norse mythology parallels but I didn’t like the idea of making a mentally ill person into an animal. I have a real issue with the message the send. Just become someone is disturbed doesn’t mean they are an animal. That image bothered me.

 

I ended up giving this book 3 stars on Goodreads. I liked the way the story progressed just certain elements made me uncomfortable.

Copy of What I was just okay with
“Not having anything to complain about and being happy aren’t the same thing.” (pg. 107)

Obisido – The Illuminae Files #3 – Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff – Review

A1C5pfGdBaL(This is a review of the third book in the series, there will be spoiler for the first two books).

There is one fight left. The group comes together to get their home back. They take what they have learned and work together to take out the Bitech goons who have destroyed their lives. Will they all make it out in the end? Or are some sacrifices needed to save all those they hold dear.

 

 

 

What I Loved_-4
This ending was action packed. It was paced perfectly for the end of a series. It starts off running and never slows down. The stake were well set up in the first two books and now we are ready to see how this all plays out. I felt like anything could have happened throughout the whole fight.

I also liked that there was tension between the adults and the teenagers when it came to leadership. Too often in YA books kids take control and no one questions it. People just shrug and say sure, because they were able to fight through one moment. In reality that makes no sense, trained adults are going to know more than teenagers no matter what they fought through.

This whole scenario played out in a realistic way. I liked that in the end they do end up working together. You felt like both sides were heard. Tragedy occurred but the emotions that sparked the mutiny made sense. I liked that you saw this infighting mixed in with them trying to determine how to get Kerenza back.

I found Rhys interesting. He was this kid who fell into this chaos. He was up in a honored spot, watching everything take place but never understanding. Then he is on the front lines and forced to figure out what he is doing. He is forced to see the realities of what has been told to him by his superiors. The grey lines that his story showed were interesting. You wonder who is the bad person and how is just trying to stay alive and keep their job.

I thought the growth of Nik, Hannah, Kady and Ezra was done well. You saw their growth from their previous stories. The way they changed and had to deal with the result of their adventures was realistic and good to see.

I want a story all about Aiden. I think Aiden as the most fascinating aspect of this book. Aiden is an AI that is alive, that can feel and that can love. It was fascinating to see him come into a realization that he loved Kady. I want to know more about how he was created and if there is potential for him to have a future.

What I was just okay with
While the ending was well paced I thought it didn’t have the impact that the ending of Gemina had. Gemina was a gut punch surprise, while Obsidio ended as you thought it would end. I saw a fight coming and saw danger for all our players. That is what happened.

I think the ending of this book would have had a bit more impact if the whole Gemina particle and alternate universe storyline was in this book instead. I would have put down the series in awe instead of just feeling somewhat satisfied.

Asha was probably the weakest character for me. I didn’t feel like I connected much with her thought the story. I think we would have benefitted from learning more about her in the previous books. Maybe if we had more time with her I would have felt more connected to her.

What I Wished was Different_
Again this book did the thing where deaths are faked. I mentioned in my last review that I usually don’t mind this tactic, but this became too much. I am fine with it for a minute but it is something to use sparingly. Once, twice if you are creative with it. Beyond that you take out all the tension of the story. If I know they come back, almost every time, why worry about a character at all? I see them die, I shrug knowing they will come back somehow and move on. If you are going to kill a character commit to it, make it have an impact for the reader and the story.

I was excited for the storyline about Ezra’s mother being tied into all of this but that petered out quickly. I felt like that was there for shock value and didn’t do much for the story itself. I would have loved to have a showdown between those two characters. Would have loved for that to be part of the epic finale but instead we got a hint that didn’t flourish like I think it could have.
I gave this one 3 stars on Goodreads. It was fun, it answered the questions that needed to be answered, but it left me wanting more.

 

Copy of What I was just okay with
“Live a life worth dying for.” (pg. 194)

“I have heard it said that evil is imply a point of view. The villain is always the hero in his own story. And he definitions of “wrong” and “right” ever shit on the inconstant tides of human morality.” (pg. 259)

Gemina – Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff- Review

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Kady and Ezra have escaped the clutches of their pursuers but the war is far from over. Hannah and Nik have things to worry about, like upcoming parties and selling drugs. Then their home is invaded and they are forced to join forces to save themselves and all those they care about.

 

 

 

 

 

What I Loved_-4
The second book in a series has a tendency to be the book where little happens. Everything is designed to set up the final battle or climax in the last book. You get character development but usually not too much else. This book did the exact opposite. While it did set up the last book it blew me away with the story.

At first I was hesitant about getting to know two new characters. I wondered what it would be like to have a focus on two characters that I knew nothing about. I thought it would feel like a completely different story and thought it would take away from the story. I was very wrong.

I liked Hannah and Nik so much more than Kady and Ezra. Hannah seems like a spoiled princess but we learn quickly that is hiding a tougher side. Her father trained her to take care of herself and she does not back down easily. I loved how she was able to get on top of the situation. She was not going to let her home be taken down. She fought for her life. She didn’t even let grief cripple her.

Nik is my favorite kind of character. He seems like a low-life criminal but that is only the outside. In fact he is someone who cares with his whole heart. He is stuck in a situation that life gave him. In the end we learn that he is willing to do anything, even kill, to protect those he loves. I adored his character.

I can’t say too much about the plot element that I adored in this because it is a super spoiler but it made this series for me. I was shocked and beyond excited. If you have read any of my other reviews or any posts about my latest novel you may have an idea of what this element is. It was unique, didn’t see it coming and it raised the excitement factor so far.

I had to keep reading the series. I wanted to read something else in between but that end left me needing the next book.

What I was just okay with
There is a little bit of a feel that death is not permenant in this story. People “die,” but aren’t actually dead. I am oaky with this in some part but when it happens repeatedly you begin to lose the emotional element. I start to not feel sad because I know that the person could come back. I think this twist is fine once but not more than that throughout the course of a story.

I hope that in the last book we learn a little more about Bitech and their background. I am having a hard time understanding why they are doing what they are doing. I can’t quite get what their issue is. I would like a little history to have context behind their decisions.

What I Wished was Different_Again there was nothing that threw me out of the story. It was a solid part of the story. It set up new parts well, the new characters were integrated well and I am excited for the end.

I rated this one 5 stars on Goodreads. That plot point is what pushed that last star. I just loved it so much.

Copy of What I was just okay with
“Recent can wait a long time if it has to.” (pg. 217)

“….when u fight a monster, b careful you don’t become the monster.” (pg. 249)

 

Illuminae -Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff – Review

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They thought it was going to be a bad day because they broke up. For Erza and Kady that became the least of their problems when their home is destroyed. Now refugees on two separate spaceships they are out to find out what really happened. Can they discover all the secrets, right the wrongs and save themselves before time runs out?

 

 

 

 

What I Loved_-4
I have seen reviews about this book and heard about it in a  number of a places. I initially didn’t pick it up because of the plot (more on that in the next section) but the format peeked my interest. The idea of a whole book told through “found” footage was fascinating to me. I have not seen it done before and I wondered how it could change the reading of the story.

I thought the whole concept was done really well. I really loved the way the story was told through all these pieces of information. You get email messages, security footage summaries, mayday calls, and so many other ways  of telling the story. It made the story seem interactive. I felt like I was in the spaceship going through all the files, desperately trying to figure out what was going on.

The sense of urgency that you got from this book is astounding. I felt panicked at times and I wonder if I would have felt the same way reading the story in a regular novel format. Would I have felt like I was running with them? Would I felt the panic as the ship closed in to destroy them if I didn’t have the countdowns around me? I don’t think I would have.

I also loved that the format used pictures to describe the ships. I think sometimes descriptions of these type of spaceships can get difficult. You have to be very specific and detailed because it is something that people don’t see every day. We all know what a car looks like but a control room in a spaceship is not the same. I liked that we didn’t get bogged down in that. Instead we got to continue with the story and move the plot along.

I was impressed at how connected I felt to the characters as well. I was worried that this format would leave me feeling disconnected. I thought without descriptions of the characters or moments dedicated to them alone I would feel like I was on the outside. I didn’t. I felt like I was right beside them with every move they made.

Kady and Aiden’s characters were my favorite. Kady was a tough ass. She didn’t take any crap. She didn’t back down. She was not going to be played with. I loved her fighting spirit. She knew something was wrong and she was intent on fixing it.

Aiden the A.I. was fascinating. It was so lifelike that many times I forgot it wasn’t human. I thought it was interesting the way it connected to the human and how it could logic things out. I am curious to see how it returns and changes throughout the series.

What I was just okay with
I am gong to be honest the plot wasn’t anything that particularly astounded me. I felt it was very simple and pretty easy to predict. They get attacked, someone is hiding something, mysterious sickness takes over and then they run for their lives. It is a pretty set plot.

It is the format that makes this book. Without the format I think it would have taken much much longer to finish the story and I am not sure I would have gone onto the other books. In a normal novel format this would have felt done before. In this format it felt fresh and new.

I wasn’t very impressed with Ezra’s character. He was pretty simple. I felt like he was two  dimensional throughout the story. I hope that his character grows throughout the rest of the series. I want to see him get to the same level of being a badass as Kady.

What I Wished was Different_
I think in the middle things slowed down a little because much of the content was the same type of instant messages back and forth. I think that portion could have been broken up a little bit. Something different thrown in. I got a little bored reading that format but in the end it didn’t harm the story at all.

I gave this book 4 stars out of 5 on Goodreads. I loved the found footage feel, the mystery of it is what kept me reading.

Copy of What I was just okay with
“Point is, I had no idea how safe I was because I’d never been unsafe.” (pg. 103)

“Too young to know failure and the fear it brings.” (pg. 279)

“Perhaps bravery is simply the face humanity wraps around its collective madness.” (pg. 302)

Aaru – David Meredith – Review

(I was provided a copy of this book by the author in exchange for an honest review. All comments and thoughts are my own).

35649191.jpgAaru is one of those books that you think you understand but by the last page you realize you were wrong. There are two stories here but one is much deeper than the other.

Rose is a 16 year old who is dying of cancer. All the treatments have failed and she is being made comfortable for her last days. As a last ditch effort  to save her, her parents sign Rose up for an experimental new system called Aaru.

Aaru is a computer system that copies and uploads a person’s brain and personality into a computer system. The person is able to live on digitally even though their body has died.

As Rose adjust to her new “life” her sister Koren is finding a way to live a new life of her own. She is made the spokesperson for the new technology but quickly learns what happens when you are forced into the spotlight at a young age. She is thrust into this role that begins to destroy who she is and puts her life and well-being in danger.

What I loved/enjoyed:

Aaru was a beautifully created world. I had no problem imaging this new place. It was vivid and alive. I felt like I was inside this computer program as they built it into a new home. I liked the system even though I didn’t quite understand why some aspects were chosen. Why there were Lords and  Ladies or rankings didn’t quite get adequately explained but that didn’t keep me from sinking into this new world.

I particularly enjoyed the descriptions of what could be done and how things were made and changed. There was one scene in particular where Rose and her friends play a game of soccer that was exciting. I was enraptured by the game and how they used their new home and powers to make it more than just a simple and easy game of soccer.

I also liked the way life, personhood and afterlife were spoken about in this story. Is Rose still Rose without a functioning brain and body? Without the brain to create new pathways and links, can she evolve beyond who she was when she died? Who is she in this new setting?

Also if you become part of this place are you excluded from a traditional afterlife? Can you die again and move on to either Heaven or another place you believe in? What if your family is unable to join you? Is it worth staying in this place then? I liked asking these questions as we read because it put this new technology into a stark and real perspective.

Koren’s story was handled well. I can’t say I “liked” it, because of the way it went but I respected it and its part in the story. Her side of the tale explained how thrusting a child into a spotlight can do irreparable harm to them. Putting them on TV, or in magazines all dressed up can cause people to view them beyond their age. We saw how dangerous this concept can get. It was a good look at the dangers of child celebrity, even if it did disturb me into almost stopping reading at times.

 

What I was was okay with (didn’t love/hate):

I had some trouble with the way accents were written. They felt out of sorts, almost forced. There was only one character who was written with an accent while a number of them were supposed to be foreign. I found his speech difficult to follow at times and it threw me out of the story at times. I don’t know if his speech was needed to be written the way it was.

 

What I was wished was different:

My biggest issues in Aaru was with a handful of decisions that were made. Koren accepts the role as spokesperson without a minute of thought. Her parents never step in and demand a contract. There is no waiting period to think it over, she shakes hands and that is it.

Koren and her parents just trust a company they know next to nothing about. It was hard for me to believe they wouldn’t want details. Even beyond protecting their daughter’s well-being they don’t verify the money or the details of the deal. Her parents don’t even speak up during the exchange and decision process. There was also no later indication that they ever talked the contract over with a lawyer or verified everything that was as they were told it would be.

I also had an issue with the fact that there were cameras throughout the house. I can’t see anyone being okay with that idea right off the bat. Maybe it would have made more sense if there had been a discussion about it. Koren’s parents were intent on gaining the power and money that comes with being celebrities. I think I would have bought the idea more if there had been a scene where they were convinced to allow the cameras to be set up everywhere from the living room the the bedrooms.

Koren doesn’t even seem to know about the cameras. She states multiple times she doesn’t know how they got the footage. Shouldn’t she have at least known they were there? I don’t think it is even slightly legal to set up cameras without the owner’s knowledge and permission. I wanted more discussion about that fact.

I also would have liked more background on Rose and Koren’s parents. The story is about the girls but the parents felt flat. They were almost cliche’s. All her mother talks about it things “happening as they should” or “that is how things are in show business.” Her father falls into drinking, quickly. We have no foundation for them so watching them fall is hard to follow. I wanted to understand them better and why they allowed certain things to happen as they did.

 

This wasn’t something I hated but what I found hard to read. The way the Magic Man’s actions and desires were written were difficult to read. I understood why his storyline was there but I did almost stop reading because of his chapters. The first time he appeared I didn’t know where the story was going and I wasn’t sure I could continue. I did end up finishing and I understood his part but I would say that anyone reading the story should be made aware of the thoughts and actions that may be triggering to some people.

I gave Aaru 4 stars on Goodreads. It wasn’t the story I was expecting but it was well written and did tell a story with an important warning about the dangers of celebrity.

Vicious – V.E. Schwab – Review

13638125I picked up Vicious because it was by V.E. Schwab. She has quickly become one of my favorite authors this year and I am working on getting through all her books. I have heard this one is one that is recommended for those who want to start reading her books. I didn’t know much about the story, other than it was a revenge plot. But I have been impressed by her other books, and the depth she brings to her characters, and this one did not disappoint me.

The story itself is pretty basic. Victor and Eli are college friends. They are working on their thesis’s and Eli decides to do his on EO’s or ExtraOrdinarys. ExtraOrdinarys are basically people who have super powers. The thesis becomes an experiment. The experiment goes wrong and Victor ends up in jail. After ten years he gets out and he is set on revenge against a man he used to call a friend.

If this story did not have strong characters I would have lost interest fast. The plot is not one full of twists or turns. There is nothing too innovative about the plot itself. The addition of the super powers makes it a bit more interesting but nothing too new. Victor blames Eli for what happened and Eli blames Victor. At the end of the day it is a story about simple revenge.

What makes it more complex and what held my attention was Victor and Eli. These two are complicated people. To start off they aren’t two people who are real close friends. They are tolerate friends in the beginning. They find a kinship in each other. Both of them are selfish. They both don’t trust others and they both don’t trust each other.

We learn quickly that while they get along they still hold each other at arms length. Victor resents Eli for getting a girl they both liked. Eli starts to resent that Victor became part of his experiment. They both state that they can tell there is something not quite right about the other one. They can see in each other the darkness that is in their hearts, but it doesn’t make them run.

Neither one of these men are “good” people. They both make some pretty bad decisions and they both hurt people. I think this is what made the story. I knew that because we primarily focused on Victor that we are supposed to be on his side. He is our primary narrator so we should want him to win, we should understand him. The thing was that even though I understood him, I didn’t actually like him.

Victor has a soft side, which is needed because otherwise there is no way we could relate or want to listen to him. But that soft side doesn’t last long. He makes one good decision and then runs backwards ten feet. The man is set on his plan and in the end people will get hurt, he can’t stop that. He cares about Sydney and Mitch (his sidekicks) but he doesn’t care enough to turn away from what he wants.

Eli thinks he is doing what is right. I understood where Eli was coming from but I couldn’t sympathize with him. He comes off as delusional most of the story. I found it interesting that I didn’t hate him. Usually in these type of stories you take sides. You choose either the hero or the villain, usually the hero. But in this story there was no side to take.

Both men made choices to help themselves and only themselves. Both of them hated each other for a series of events that really both of them could be blamed for. I didn’t want Victor to “win” or for Eli to “lose.” I wanted them to find a way to see the darkness inside themselves and realize that what they were doing would do nothing for anyone, even themselves.

The end of the book was a bit of a let down. I expected a major confrontation between the two men. I expected them to go at each other, or to have a long talk; one that laid everything out and put who they were out there in the open for everyone to see. The book led up to that point and it took a handful of pages to complete. I predicted it from half way through the book. I wanted more from the ending. I wanted it to end with a bang and what I got was more a whimper.

I enjoyed this book. It is not my favorite by V.E. Schwab (that is still This Savage Song). I liked the characters and that neither were good people. I liked not knowing who I was supposed to like. I liked the way it was told by flipping between past and present, it made the story feel like it was always moving. I just wish the end had had more of an impact.

More Happy Than Not By Adam Silvera – Review (Minor Spoilers)

9781616956776More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera was another book I saw a review for on Youtube. The premise intrigued me, someone having the ability to erase memories as a way to deal with a tough situation.  The reviewer also mentioned it was an emotional read, and I was curious to see if that was true. It was true, this book was heartbreaking. I am not a person who gets emotional easily. It takes a lot in a book or movie to make me feel heartbroken, but this book managed just that.

Aaron is a sixteen-year-old whose life is not the greatest. His family is poor. At the beginning, you find out that his father has recently committed suicide. Aaron himself has also has had a suicide attempt.

There is one light in his life though, his girlfriend, Genevieve. They have a very cute relationship. They tease one another and have little rituals. She is what Aaron needs in order to be able to handle what is going on with his life at the moment. She makes him happy and he does love her.

For three weeks in the summer, Genevieve goes to an art camp, leaving Aaron by himself. While she is away Aaron meets a new friend, Thomas. They become close very quickly. Their growing closeness makes Aaron question his sexuality. He realizes that he is falling for Thomas. This creates a cascade of events that has a bigger twist that I won’t reveal here.

The events lead Aaron to consider a new technology at the Leteo Institute that can erase memories. Aaron has to decide whether he should get the procedure, whether it will help him at all. Does erasing your memories really change your life, or does it just cover up an issue you don’t want or know how  to deal with?

The main of the idea this book revolves around the idea of what makes someone gay or straight. Does it have to do with memories? Is it a nature or nurture idea? Can you make someone straight by erasing their past actions and memories?

Now, I believe that being gay, straight or bi is not a choice. It is the way you are born. It is a part of you just like any other aspect of yourself. It is not something that can be changed. It can be ignored and covered up. But like when you dye your hair the roots always show through sooner or later. You can pretend as long as you want, convince yourself that you aren’t but at the end of the day it is a part of you.

This story took an interesting look at that idea. It presents you with a young man who is  trying to navigate his world. He is lost. He has no one to go to talk about what he is feeling. There is no one with experience around him. He tries to navigate his new world but it becomes too overwhelming. He ultimately has to make a choice between erasing his memories and becoming “straight,” or not going through with the procedure and trying to find a way to make people understand who he is. As a teenager, this is a very overwhelming and confusing situation. He has support around him but not much knowledge.

I was on the edge of my seat the whole time I was reading it, praying and hoping things were going to work out for him. I desperately wanted Aaron to end up happy and feel content with who he was. I wanted him to have a revelation about being gay and how it is not something to be ashamed of scared of. But this was no Happy Ever After book. As I stated before this whole thing broke my heart.

I just wanted to be the support system that Aaron needed. I wanted him to be able to get away from the negativity in his life, to find somewhere where he was accepted but that would have made the book too neat. Everything working out perfectly, all his friends accepting him and understanding would have been too easy. This was much more like real life. I think that if everything had worked out with a smile, I would have felt cheated and annoyed. This isn’t a situation that is fixed with a few words and a handshake or hug. It takes time and it is a process and Silvera portrayed that well.

If you like science-fiction with heart you will enjoy this book. Don’t expect a light uplifting read, though. Expect a story that goes deep into your heart and will stay there leaving a lasting effect on you.

Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles) Review

9780141340135I have been putting off reading this series for a long time. I kept hearing about it through blogs and Booktubers but it hadn’t been finished yet. I have read too many series with disappointing endings that I was afraid this would fit that bill. But then the last book came out and all I heard was positive reviews about the way the series ends. So, I finally picked up the first book and I had trouble putting it down.

Cinder (first int the series) is a sci-fi retelling of Cinderella. Cinder is a cyborg who lives in a future society. She can’t remember any of her life before the age of eleven when she was made into a cyborg. She lives with her harsh and cruel stepmother and two stepsisters. One stepsister is actually very nice and loving towards Cinder. While the other is just as mean and cruel as her stepmother.

Cinder is a well-known mechanic and one day the prince (soon to be emperor) Kai comes to her to fix one of his androids. This one meeting changes everything about Cinder’s life. She learns about her past and gets caught up in an intergalactic problem that involves the Lunars, the people who live on the moon.

The story is fast paced, there is very little downtime between events. The characters are lively and relatable.

I loved Cinder’s character. She has a sarcastic attitude which is one of my favorite character types. Cinder has not had an easy life. She believes that her parents were killed in a crash that injured her so badly she had to become a cyborg. She has been an outcast her whole life. No one wants to be around her because of her cyborg nature. She is seen as less than human, which influences her view of herself.

I wrote a post about storylines that drive me nuts, one of those being a character hiding a part of themselves from someone else because they are afraid of what will happen if they tell their secret. Usually, this storyline makes little sense and makes the character holding the secret weaker as well as the other person. But in this story it was different and I didn’t hate how it was used.

Cinder is afraid to tell Kai that she is a cyborg. All her life people have looked down on her because of this condition that she had no control over. She did not choose to become a cyborg, that was a choice made for her. No one respects her. She is seen as less than human. So her holding onto that secret makes sense. This is how she views herself. She doesn’t see herself as worthy of affection or respect. She doesn’t understand Kai’s kindness towards her. She is sure that once he learns who she is, he will run. For this story, this all makes sense. I wanted her to tell Kai everything but I understood why she didn’t.

Both Kai and Cinder are thrown into an adult life. Both have to grow up fast. Kai has to rule his people, keep them safe and try to find a cure for a plague that is destroying their lives. Cinder is thrown into a new life that she isn’t sure how to navigate.

I liked the way both of the characters were written. They don’t become rational adults right away. They have to make some huge decisions that they shouldn’t have to make at their age, but at the same time, they hold onto a youthful view of the world. Kai and Cinder both hold onto a youthful naivety about the way their lives are and should be.

Their story doesn’t wrap up neatly in this book. Everything is left hanging and I loved that. I was worried that they would finish up their story, and only be side characters in the rest of the series with no more real growth or extension of their story. But that doesn’t happen. We are left wondering what will not only happen in their lives but between the two of them. It made me go right out and buy the next book. I am eager to see how not only does the story progress but what is in store for Cinder and Kai’s characters throughout the rest of the series.

Brave New World – Aldous Huxley (Review)

(Slight spoilers for those who have not read the novel.)

6061480Brave New World was always one of those books I wanted to read but never got around to it. When I was in school I left it off my to-be-read list mostly because I figured sooner or later I would have to read it for class. But it never appeared on any syllabus. Now I am out of school and walked past it in the bookstore and figured it was time for me to finally read this one.

All I knew about the book was that it was a “classic,” dystopian genre novel. I knew it involved the idea of basically cloning people, but that was all I knew. What it is truly about is what makes a human, human and how in our pursuit for everything to be perfect and happy we may lose the essential elements of what it means to be human.

Brave New World takes place in a future where human life is literally manufactured. There are no more natural births in “civilized,” society. Every person comes from a test tube. They are then conditioned to fall into a certain place within the society. No one questions it because they are raised to understand their place and like it. There are no issues, everything just operates at a steady pace without question. If anyone begins to doubt life or is unhappy they are able to take a drug called “soma,” that drugs them up and makes them forget their problems. Society operates like a machine, all the parts moving together without an issue. Life is about consuming and producing and that is all.

Bernard is an Alpha-Plus, one of the highest ranks, that does not quite fit into the mold that he is supposed to fit into. He questions aspects of society and wonders if their way of life is actually right. At first, it seems like Bernard is going to be the one that fights against society and tries to change things.

But then he takes. Lenian, to what is called a Savage Reservation. Here is where those who are not “civilized,” live. They are native people who are not manufactured but are born. There they meet John, who is actually a product of two members of “civilized,” society. His mother came out to the reservation with a man from the society and was left behind. She happened to be pregnant and gave birth to John and was forced to live on the reservation. John was raised on the reservation but never fit in because he was an outside. So when Bernard offers to bring him back to civilization he jumps at the chance.

John loves the idea of civilization until he actually experiences it. His mother has lost all connection to life and when she is back all she does is drug herself up. She can’t bear to live life anymore so she doesn’t. John hates that the “doctors,” let her constantly use the drug. He doesn’t understand why they won’t help her. They don’t understand why he cares so much about her.

John is at her bedside when she dies and he sees first hand the way this new world works. Her death is barely registered. The children are being conditioned to not care about death. He can’t understand why no one is upset or shows any real emotion. He is furious at the way the whole thing is handled and he freaks out. He tries to force everyone to understand that they are nothing but slaves to drugs and this society, but no one listens or cares. They have no idea how to listen to his words because they can not think for themselves.

After his mission is aborted he is brought into the office of the Controller who tries to explain this new way of life to John. He tries to explain that what they have done is taken the responsibility of living away from everyone and created what they consider a utopia. No one worries, no one hurts and no one cares. This allows the world to just keep moving forward without incident.

John does not think this is the way life should be. This is not the way he grew up and he does not understand this way of life. He knows that for life to have meaning, there has to be a yin and yang. There has to be bad to make the good worth something. And good in itself has to mean something.

The Controller points out to John that wanting inconveniences in life is a slippery slope, it opens the door for so many others things to happen as well. Asking for the right to be unhappy is also asking for, “…. the right to grow old and ugly and impotent; the right to have syphilis and cancer; and right to have too little to eat; the right to be lousy; the right to live in constant apprehension of what may happen tomorrow; the right to catch typhoid; the right to be tortured by unspeakable pains of every kind.” (pg 240).

All of those above things are a human right. This sums up the idea of the novel well. Life is literally manufactured in this world so does that mean that these people are actually human? What makes someone human? Is it just the biology of a person? Or is it free-will and the ability to have a meaningful life full of happiness and sorrow? These people are alive, but they aren’t truly living. They are just existing. Nothing happens to them. Nothing means anything to them. No one person means anything. John can’t understand that idea. Life to him has to have more meaning.

It was interesting in this novel because Bernard started it seeming to be the one that was going to question everything. He didn’t understand why things were the way they were, but that didn’t last too long. Once he returned with John and introduced him around he became a pseudo-celebrity and was no longer an outcast. That is what Bernard ultimately wanted. He wanted to be accepted into society. He stopped caring about the inconsistencies and questioning anything. He couldn’t step out of society because he didn’t have anywhere to go. He didn’t know any other way of life. This one way of life was literally ingrained into him and trying to walk away was not something that was possible for him.

It is not uncommon for people who move from one culture to another to have trouble adjusting. Life is different, values are different and that change is something humans have a hard time adjusting to. You have to understand that life is not the way you know it and that is has changed. Neither John nor Bernard had the ability to adjust with their surroundings. They both have a set way of living in their minds and trying to change is no possible.

John can’t get used to a world where nothing truly means anything. For him, that is not living. He wants to run, but he has nowhere to go. There is no life left for him to live.

This novel as an interesting read. It made me think of what exactly makes a human, human. While it also shed light on why cultures clash and the difficult of changing a known way of life.

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