Category Archives: Science Fiction
Book: The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey, Penguin Audio, May 7, 2013
Book Info: YA Sci-Fi/Dystopian, Audiobook received for review from Penguin Audio. Running time: 12 hrs, 41 mins. Read by: Phoebe Strole and Brandon Espinoza. Also available in HC, 457 pages (I bought it) from G.P. Putnam’s Sons.
Rating: 4 / 5 Stars
The 5th Wave is impossible to ignore right now, and arguably the hottest YA book of the summer. I don’t read a lot of science fiction so I was wary about an alien invasion book described as The Passage meets Ender’s Game. But, all the rave reviews and Hunger Games comparisons got to me and soon I had the 5th Wave fever. The 5th Wave is thrilling like a rollercoaster and fun like a summer popcorn movie. And I think it’s accessible enough for the casual sci-fi fan and very much a human story. It’s one I picked up in hardcover because I know it’s going to be a book I can loan out to a wide variety of readers.
In Rick Yancey’s The 5th Wave, civilization as we know it has been wiped out by alien invaders in four devastating waves. The aliens want to get rid of the humans but leave the earth in good shape for themselves. These aliens are smart and have done their homework on how to exterminate the human race. Cassie is a teen who miraculously survived the first four waves with most of her family intact. She gets separated from her younger brother Sammy though, and the goal to get him back is what’s keeping her alive. Meanwhile she’s dodging aliens (nicknamed “the Others”) and hoping there won’t be a fifth wave.
In addition to Cassie and her brother Sam, we meet a character referred to as “Zombie”, and the mysterious Evan Walker who gives shelter to Cassie when she’s on the run. The story kicks off with Cassie’s POV but changes setting and characters with Zombie’s perspective. I clicked more with Cassie’s story and preferred being in her head, but the dual POV does give the reader a wider view of all the happenings. One drawback for me is that with the change in perspective I felt a little detached from the characters. Ideally, I would prefer the book was only from Cassie’s POV even though I get it from a storytelling perspective.
The chapters are short and action packed. The story drew me in quickly and I could feel the hopelessness and desperation the characters faced. It’s a scary story; partly because it seemed so realistic I could buy into the terror of it all.
I mentioned there are two guys in the story, right? So, yes there is some romance and it’s not without its complications. I liked that the romance doesn’t take over the book but it is there to break up some of the tension of the alien attack. I wouldn’t call this an alien romance exactly in the vein of Jennifer L. Armentrout’s Lux series, but it is there and I’m curious to see where it goes.
I listened to the audiobook read by Phoebe Strole and Brandon Espinoza, both new-to-me narrators. I’m happy that I listened to the audiobook because it was easier to keep track of the different perspectives with different male and female narrators. Phoebe Strole’s voice reminds me of narrator Emma Galvin (Divergent) combined with Sarah Drew (Delirium). She sounds age appropriate for sixteen-year-old Cassie and conveys her toughness & sarcasm as well as her vulnerability. I liked her quite a lot. Brandon Espinoza also does a fine job with the male voices, and he in particular has to voice a variety of ages and personalities. Both read with a pace to my liking and increased the intensity as the story dictated. I’d recommend listening to the audiobook of this one to really let you escape into the story. I’m going to read it in print to get that experience as well.
I do think this book is a natural sell to Divergent and Hunger Games fans and has crossover appeal for any type of reader. The ending really makes me eager for the next book in the series, though we have a long wait on our hands. Bring on the movie!
Book: Prodigy (Legend, book two) by Marie Lu, Penguin Audio, January 8, 2012 (Hardcover on sale Jan. 29)
Audiobook Info: YA Dystopia, Own audiobook via Audible credit. Audio length: 10 hours 10 minutes, read by Steven Kaplan and Mariel Stern.
Rating: 4.5 / 5 Stars
I held off on reading this book for as long as I could. I’ve had a copy for a long time, but I didn’t want to read it too early when there will be another long wait for the next book. But- when I saw Prodigy pop up on Audible I couldn’t resist it any longer. The sequel to Legend is so exciting- I couldn’t stop listening. It has lots of heart pounding action and veers off in unexpected directions. The audio experience was also a treat and brought the excitement to life. I think this series is right up there with Divergent, and even though I don’t read a ton of dystopia anymore I’ll always have room for this series.
When Prodigy starts out, Day and June are on the run in Las Vegas. Day is injured and they meet up with Patriot rebels who agree to help them. In exchange, they have to prove their loyalty by agreeing to assassinate the new Republic Elector. Seems like an easy decision, right? The Republic has hurt Day and June in a lot of devastating ways, and maybe it’s the right time to make a change. But things are not all black and white, and Day and June have to decide the best course of action on their own.
Day and June alternate POV again in Prodigy. I have to hand it to Lu that she kept me involved even with the introduction of new characters and through character separations. Day and June have both been through so much, and have each other’s backs, but still have a lot to learn about each other at the same time. Doubts and insecurities plague our duo this time around.
There is more information filled in about the Republic, Colonies, and Patriots and it’s eye opening to learn more about them. Even though Day and June travel to several cities, we still keep tabs on Los Angeles as well. The characters are a big part of why I love this series, though the setting certainly plays a role as well and takes on a character of it’s own in a way. And speaking of characters, Anden, Kaede and Tess play wonderful supporting roles in the story. And I especially look forward to seeing how Anden’s part develops in the next book.
I always know when I have a good audiobook on my hands because I get a cleaner house because I want to keep listening, such as the case with Prodigy. Steven Kaplan and Mariel Stern read the audiobook, and both narrators are new to me. Since I read the book Legend I already had an idea in my head of how the characters should sound. Stern lines up pretty well to how I envisioned June – she sounds like a young girl of privilege from Los Angeles. And Kaplan is outstanding as Day and nails the tone of his character. Both narrators convey emotion in their readings and make the action scenes that much more tense and thrilling. About three quarters into the book I’d barely notice the narration at all because I was so drawn in the story. I’d absolutely continue to listen to this series.
Ultimately I’m glad that I waited to read this book because that ending is brutal, and I don’t want to wait any longer than I need to for the sequel. Can’t wait to find out what happens next! Prodigy comes out in hardcover and e-book January 29th and the audiobook is available now.
Book Info: YA Science Fiction / Romance, ARC via Edelweiss, Hardcover 336 pages
Rating: 5 / 5 Stars
I’m always excited when there’s a new David Levithan book out, and Every Day may be my favorite yet. The concept caught my eye immediately – a being who wakes up every day in a new body, wow! It works as both a science fiction book and a contemporary love story and really draws you in.
“A” is a genderless entity and spends every day in someone else’s body- going through the motions of their life and trying not to disrupt anything. No matter what, the next day there will be a new body, could be male, female, straight or gay, a drug addict, a loner, an athlete, or a social butterfly. A has learned to adapt, and race, gender, and sexual orientation is no big deal to A. A can access the host body’s memories to get by, but still has a unique personality and thoughts, just without a physical body. It’s lonely never being able to form attachments or stay in one family for more than one day. Everything changes one day when A falls in love and begins to question everything. Sounds like a cool concept, yes?
This exercise of A’s really made me think when I was reading it, trying to imagine what it would be like to experience the world through someone else’s eyes every day and all the good and bad that comes with it. It’s a big responsibility to hold someone’s life in your hands for a day! It definitely takes someone kind and compassionate with a good moral code to handle that role. There is the temptation to meddle in the life of this temporary body, but should you?
Given A’s situation of being without a permanent body, the romance is on the angst-y side. It takes a special person to be accepting of their partner regardless of their ever-changing appearance and gender. It is really sweet to see A make a go at romance and let someone in on the secret. Talk about relationship challenges!
I liked learning about all the different characters A personified and seeing how A handled the reactions of others to each different body. The situation inspires a great deal of empathy. A is respectful of each character’s choices, but the different experiences can’t help but color your view of the world.
Of course I questioned why A has this role, and if there are others like A, etc. But I also was really interested in the story Levithan was trying to tell and not too concerned with the whys. Every Day is really gorgeous, thought provoking and special, a little melancholy and intense. This is a good choice for fans of Levithan or John Green, and should appeal to young adults and adults of both genders. I liked the ending too, but can’t help thinking about what happens next…
Every Day is in stores Tuesday August 28. Hope you check it out!
Genre/Format: YA Dystopia, Received for review, 336 pages
Rating: 4 / 5 Stars
Starters is a thrilling Sci-Fi dystopia debut from Lissa Price. The creepy body rental concept and plot twists got me invested in the story from the beginning and kept me up late reading. It is fast moving and gripping and just the thing to get me excited about dystopia again.
As Starters begins, sixteen-year-old orphan Callie is struggling to survive in a near-future Los Angeles. She lost her parents to the Spore Wars, where the biological attack killed all adults aged 20-60, because there weren’t enough vaccines for them to be protected in an attack. Now Callie, and friend Michael, is responsible for her sickly little brother Tyler. Unclaimed minors like Callie (called Starters) are forbidden to have jobs, while the elderly (called Enders) live a luxury lifestyle, with job security, fancy cars, and mansions. But Starters do have something that Enders want, and that is youth, which is where Prime Destinations comes in.
With nowhere else to turn, Callie signs a contract with the body renting company Prime Destinations, run by the mysterious “Old Man.” This company rents the bodies of desirable Starters for up to a month to Enders seeking to be young again. After the Starter has fulfilled their contract by being rented 3 times, they in turn receive a big sum of money. But things don’t go as planned, and in the middle of a rental, Callie wakes up as herself in unfamiliar surroundings in the middle of a nightclub. She has to fight to keep control of her mind and body from her renter, who is cooking up a dangerous scheme.
The idea of body renting was so disturbing to me, and even though certain dangerous behavior was off limits, you never know what’s really going on. It’s interesting to see Callie portray someone else with her own body, and befriend other elderly “renters.” She gets an inside look into how renters view the donors and the dangers involved. It’s like an undercover operation for Callie as she gets pulled into a bigger mystery. I liked Callie – she’s resourceful and strong, and it made sense to me that she signed the contract in hopes for a better life for her brother.
There are no lulls in the action in this book. Callie is always on the move, and even though she has some allies it’s hard to know whom she really can trust. There are several jaw-dropping reveals that keep the story interesting. There is not a lot of detail about what led to the current circumstances in the world such as the reasons behind the war, why teens can’t work, etc. But for me, I was entertained just the same with the multi-layered characters, the action and the suspense.
The romance does not play a starring role in this book. There are two potential love interests introduced, but it was not enough of a focus for me to be invested in either character. Am interested to see how the romance develops in the sequel though.
The ending brings a surprising cliffhanger that will leave you clamoring for the sequel. The second and final book in the series, Enders, is due out in December, but in the meantime there are some short stories planned. And there is a prequel called Portrait of a Starter, told from Michael’s POV that is available now. If you are looking for something to read after Divergent or The Hunger Games, give Starters a try.
Giveaway has ended – Congrats to Paige who has won a signed ARC of Starters.
Book: Shadows (Lux series, prequel to Obsidian) by Jennifer L. Armentrout, YA Paranormal, Entangled Publishing, February 21, 2011
Format/pages: Own Kindle edition, also available in paperback – 180 pages.
Rating: 4 / 5 Stars
The first book in the Lux series, Obsidian, caught me off guard with its fresh and exciting brand of Sci-Fi action romance. Obsidian is pure fun and entertainment and leaves you craving for more. I jumped at the chance to read this novella to learn more about the mysterious events hinted at in Obsidian and to get more insight into the alien world.
The setup of the series is a group of displaced aliens set up home in West Virginia, including the Black triplets: Dawson, Daemon, and Dee. They are supposed to keep a low profile, blend in and stick to themselves, while fighting off another evil faction of aliens that’s after their powers. The first book focuses on Daemon and the challenges that occur when sparks fly between him and human newcomer Katy. In this prequel we find out the story behind Dawson’s ill-fated romance with human Bethany.
At first I thought I wouldn’t be as engaged with Dawson and Bethany’s story as I was with Daemon and Katy’s. But, I was quickly won over by Dawson’s sweet nature, and rooting for a different outcome than the inevitable. They are really interesting characters in their own right and help to round out the group. Their story also helps shed some character insight into stormy Daemon’s behavior. The brothers couldn’t be more opposite, but have a fierce family loyalty all the same. If you found Daemon too mean or over the top, prepare to be won over by Dawson.
The story is told in dual narration so we get to see Bethany’s reaction to the alien family, and get cool tidbits from Dawson’s life at home. Bethany likes to paint, and she has an adorable baby brother. She is less feisty than Katy, but rolls with the punches pretty well considering the circumstances, and the frosty reception from the other alien sibs Ash, Adam and Andrew. Dawson and Bethany’s romance is bittersweet but I remain hopeful that their story will continue somehow.
The novella is a generous size at 180 pages and it packs in a lot of story that adds a new dimension to the Lux series. Even though it is a prequel, I think it works better to read it after Obsidian. Shadows is a worthwhile read for Obsidian fans and a nice distraction while waiting for the next installment. I’m even more eager to read Onyx, due out this August.