Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The Darwin Elevator - Jason M. Hough

So if it’s young adult tale about the end of the world, it’s a dystopia…but if its and adult tale, it’s Science Fiction. Either way, you should strap in folks. It’s the end of the world and only a tiny town in Australia is safe…or you know, so they all thought…


In the mid-23rd century, Darwin, Australia, stands as the last human city on Earth. The world has succumbed to an alien plague, with most of the population transformed into mindless, savage creatures. The planet’s refugees flock to Darwin, where a space elevator—created by the architects of this apocalypse, the Builders—emits a plague-suppressing aura. Skyler Luiken has a rare immunity to the plague. Backed by an international crew of fellow “immunes,” he leads missions into the dangerous wasteland beyond the aura’s edge to find the resources Darwin needs to stave off collapse. But when the Elevator starts to malfunction, Skyler is tapped—along with the brilliant scientist, Dr. Tania Sharma—to solve the mystery of the failing alien technology and save the ragged remnants of humanity.

***Preface to review: Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher, Random House Publishing Group - Del Rey Spectra, for providing me this e-book to review. Now, on to the review!***
I love a good End of the World book. When I had requested this book from Netgalley and the publisher, I believe I had just finished reading Icons by Margaret Stohl. Yes, it was young adult. But, it was about an unknown alien force who had dropped their strange and powerful technology on the world. This book by Jason M. Hough, is similar, but the aliens in this book, called the Builders, seem to be passive aggressive about their take over. They build this amazing space station that is tethered to the Earth, but then release a disease that makes you bat shit crazy. The world goes into chaos. Ka-Boom. End of the world. Sounds like a Doomsday prepper’s nightmare, but you can’t prepare for something like that.
For our Dutch hero, Skyler Luiken, him and his scavenger crew are the link to the world outside of Darwin’s protective shield, the Aura, as they are immune to the alien disease. They do what they can to survive the end of the world. Skyler is a decent male hero. I feel like he is supposed to be the Every Man, the man who still has emotions and doesn’t necessarily hold to the mantra of Dog Eat Dog. He does try to help where he can, but not at the expense of his own crew…
Well that is until he meets Dr. Tania Sharma and things get complicated.
The good doctor is a on a different level and zone than Skyler. While Skyler scavenges around the world, Tania lives in orbit on the space station. She is smart and wise, and just like Skyler, will do anything to protect her people. But while Skyler is more of a man of action, Tania is a woman of intellect and cunning. When they meet on what becomes a completely botched mission to Hawaii to retrieve some important data, they are fascinated with each other as they are from different areas of society, but they end up being a decent team together.
Both Skyler and Tania are relatively good looking folks, and there is some commentary about how the other looks, and emotions felt about the other. But thankfully, it’s subtle and more so on Skyler’s end. Because I’m going to be honest, the whole man and woman pair up and fall in love instantly because they are forced into a sticky situation, is getting a little old. There is one faux lesbianism type of scene with Tania and her assistance that had me rolling my eyes, and I wasn’t too sure if it was necessary, and a scene where Skyler rushes in to save the day and Tania kisses him...but other than those scenes, there’s not much else in the way of sexuality in the book. Why? Well, because it’s not necessary to moving the story along. And thank you Jason M. Hough for realizing that sex is not something mandatory in a book. If it doesn't move the story along, why put something like that in? Sure, the evil Blackthorn of Nightcliff detains Tania after the mishap in Hawaii and the decontamination involved nudity and water and poking and prodding, however, we as the reader are dropped in after all this is done. Which is nice as because as a woman, don’t really want to hear about the violation of another female. And it didn’t progress the story!
Jason M. Hough does a great job of keeping to elements and scenes that progress the story forward. The action kept moving forward and me turning the page. The action, as it was, was a little slow going. But the idea of aliens possibly cleansing our world for whatever reason, is intriguing.
I enjoyed the story but didn’t feel completely connected to the characters. All the characters, major and minor, are well written and they know their place. Major characters upfront…minor folks in the background. It was a well-balanced story that had followed the rules of the road in story plotting and action packness (is that a word?). There are two other books in this series, and I hope I can get to reading them as I am curious about who and what the Builders are. They were briefly discussed but never expanded upon so here’s hoping that book two will reveal a little more about the people who pretty much brought on the end of world…except for one little patch of the world.
Thank you for reading this review.
Remember to always be yourself unless you can be a pirate…then always be a pirate!!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Cinder - Marissa Meyer

Honestly, this book had me at "Cyborg"…

Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl.
Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.
This is another one of those books that I read it like two days. I just devoured it. I tend to do that with books that seem new and inventive. We’ve all seen the whole reimagining of fairy tales into something different yet familiar. But cyborgs? A strange illness effecting the population of the world? People who live on the moon called Lunars? Sweet baby, Jesus…where do I sign up?

All the characters are perfectly balanced. The main characters are interesting and have many layers (like onions!), and the secondary characters, though interesting, were perfect in the background. They helped push Cinder along with her development. She has always been strong and tough because, well, she had to be, which is perfectly demonstrated at the beginning of the book.  And it’s one of my favorite images in the entire book. Cinder is sitting on a stool, taking off her own cybernetic foot and she is just waiting for her android to bring back a brand new foot for her. For whatever reason, that particular scene just seems to set the stage for everything Cinder is about to go through.
And yeah…she goes through a lot.

Prince Kai, well, he’s an okay character. He is struggling with the death of his father at the same time dealing with the crazy Lunars who are pretty much going to invade Earth. Just saying. He represents the mystery and intrigue that is forced into Cinders life. For the most part, she handles herself pretty well…up until the end that is. What happens you say? Well, you know how Cinderella runs from the big party at the end and loses her slipper? It’s sort of like that…except it’s way more tragic…and kind of pathetic.  Anyway, back to Kai. He was for the most part a flat character for me. Not as interesting or well developed like Cinder. But I do see Kai’s importance and hopefully in the following books he gets a bit more interesting.
I’ve been thinking about the best way to describe this book and I think this phrase will work: Cinder is a Futuristic space opera filled with love, betrayal, moon people and cyborgs…and it’s just way too much fun. Action with just a bit of longing romance. But really, it's all about the action and political intrigue.
Thanks for taking the time to read this review! Here’s hoping I can stay on top of my blog in the following weeks. Also, I’ll try to reintroduce some little features on this old blog, Momo’s Pick and Hump Day Meme, and introduce a few new things. I’m thinking I might feature a copy kiddo books on here and maybe do a Book vs. Movie thing on here. My dreams of YouTube Vlogging is very far away as all my laptop is ancient and well, recording on my phone is a pain.

Until next time!
Remember to always be yourself, unless you can be a pirate...

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Dreams of Gods and Monsters - Laini Taylor

Strap in for some heavy hitting and super intense emotions and actions. Holy moly…this one had me run ragged at the end of this…

By way of a staggering deception, Karou has taken control of the chimaera rebellion and is intent on steering its course away from dead-end vengeance. The future rests on her, if there can even be a future for the chimaera in war-ravaged Eretz.
Common enemy, common cause.
When Jael's brutal seraph army trespasses into the human world, the unthinkable becomes essential, and Karou and Akiva must ally their enemy armies against the threat. It is a twisted version of their long-ago dream, and they begin to hope that it might forge a way forward for their people.
And, perhaps, for themselves. Toward a new way of living, and maybe even love.
But there are bigger threats than Jael in the offing. A vicious queen is hunting Akiva, and, in the skies of Eretz ... something is happening. Massive stains are spreading like bruises from horizon to horizon; the great winged stormhunters are gathering as if summoned, ceaselessly circling, and a deep sense of wrong pervades the world.
What power can bruise the sky?
From the streets of Rome to the caves of the Kirin and beyond, humans, chimaera and seraphim will fight, strive, love, and die in an epic theater that transcends good and evil, right and wrong, friend and enemy.
At the very barriers of space and time, what do gods and monsters dream of? And does anything else matter?

So let me start off in saying that this is the last book in this series. And I have determined that this is one of my favorite series ever. And this book was everything that the first two were. But man oh man, it was a doozy to read and get through. What do I mean you ask? I shall explain.

Not sure how many of you folks have read anything by Dan Brown, but if you have, then think about to books like Digital Fortress, or his most famous books, the Robert Langdon series. Think about how those were written. You have the main protagonists POV that is clear and concise for the most part. Then, the bad guys and other supporting characters are randomly thrown in for good measure to mix it up and confuse the hell out of you. Then, at the very end, you need eye protection for all the random loose ends that are flying about to come together at the end. Remember that? Got that picture of story telling in your head? Okay. That was this book. And don’t get me wrong. I love Dan Brown. I love the Robert Langdon books. They are fun bits of thrilling fiction. And Taylor’s third installment in her series was just amazing. But the story telling was just all over the place. And I don’t need to have everything be in order, but I don’t want to have to try to remember a specific incident from something that happened four chapters ago.

 The writing is beautiful and all the characters are wonderful. At first, I did think that Eliza was a completely waste of character though. I just kept reading thinking “Why was this character introduced in the final book?” But not wanting to give anything away about who and what she is, I still felt like she was a wasted character. And as it always happens when you have such a HUGE cast of characters, I found that I completely lost interest in the two characters this entire series is built around. Karou and Akiva just became too tortured for me. I felt like they became too self absorbed and I just wanted to shake them both like “Hello! Focus! You got a war you have to deal with right now!” I was drawn to the Ziri, who truly understood sacrifice. Also, Zuzana who showed so much determination and grit (that’s right. I said grit!). It’s almost as of Taylor picked the certain emotions or themes and motifs and inserted them into the characters of her story. Which is great, I loved that…but…shouldn’t have the main focus been on Karou and Akiva being all these things? Because all I really read was a lot of wallowing in self pity.

Wow. As I look back at what I just wrote, you would think that I didn’t like this book. But I really did! I think I just went in with expectations that I felt weren’t really met. Yes, the story was well written (except for the whole Dan Brown structuring. Just doesn’t work …), but for me, it just felt like something was missing. I’m just happy that none of the main characters were killed off brutally and without warning. Thank you for that Ms. Taylor. Yes…I’m still bitter and angry at Veronica Roth for her pissing on her loyal readers with Allegiant.

If you are looking for something exciting and different to type of story, totally check out this series by Laini Taylor: Daughter of Smoke and Bone, Days of Starlight and Blood and finally this book, Dreams of Gods and Monsters. It’s tragic. It’s beautiful. And it’s original. All I have to say is that you better strap in and have a box of tissues with you because these books are not for the weak of heart and will most defiantly get the Feels a’flowing.

Thanks for reading guys. I know it's been a while since my last blog post, but hey, that happens when you have a family you have to run and work full time!
Remember to always be yourself. Unless you can be a pirate...
Until next time!! (which is hopefully going to be soon...)