Archive for ‘Sci-Fi’

July 27, 2012

Not your Usual Case of Schizophrenia

Last week or so, I did a post raving about my newfound love of Dan Wells, an unbelievably awesome horror/fantasy author. Well, I’m here to tell you folks that he’s done it again with his recently released novel The Hollow City. Following the trend he created in I am Not a Serial Killer, Wells toys with the idea of another mental illness, Schizophrenia.

Michael Shipman is a young man whose life seems to be perfectly normal, despite his debilitating unexplainable fear of electronic devices. When he wakes up in a hospital after a strange two week disappearance, doctors diagnose him with Schizophrenia and send him back to a mental facility he had attended as part of his therapy for anxiety. The only problem is that the focus of his delusions matches the victims of a serial killer.

Hollow City was interesting to me, mainly because it showed the breakdown of a man’s reality. That sounds absolutely horrible, but in the end that’s what Hollow City was to me. Shipman goes through this stage, believing that he’s perfectly normal and he only has mild anxiety only to realize that it’s all a delusion. Nearly everything he believed about his life was created by his own mind, and somethings he thought to be real actually existed. There is an amazing fantasy element that the novel is centered around, in a round about sort of way.

I’m going to start giving books a star value now, it seems legit. For Hollow City, I would award 4 1/2 stars.

April 26, 2012

Black Heart by Holly Black

The Curse Workers series by Holly Black has held my attention for the past few years, and Black Heart, the most recent addition to the series came out last week. If  you havent read the series, it’s a  fabulously dark tale of Cassel, a curse worker in modern day America. The Curse workers are a group of people who with the touch of a hand can change your emotions, make you lucky, heal you, make you forget your life,  kill you, or change your physical appearance, at great risk to their own health, mentally and physically. The story line is amazing, with well thought out backstory of the discovery of curse workers, and the terror that the rest of the population had which forced them into work camps. From those work camps the curse worker Mob families flourished, and Cassel, the main character is a product of that Mob legacy. Each book focuses on him, and his struggle with the whole “my family is the mob” thing. That’s all I’m giving you non-awesome people who havent read this series, and I genuinely recommend that you read them all asap.

On to Black Heart!

Seriously though, there are spoilers in this review.

So Cassel is an FBI guy now, well an FBI trainee and Barron is actually an FBI agent, but he’s still corrupt as all hell, and using his memory work to avoid jumping through bureau hoops. He’s also (strangely enough) in love (and i won’t say with whom). Lila has begun her training as a ruthless mob leader, which was entirely expected of her. Cassel’s mother is in hiding and no one can find her, and Daneca and Sam are still broken up for no freaking reason.

Since you know the series, you know how Ms. Holly Black has consistently left things for the reader to guess, and mystery upon mystery to solve by the end of each novel. Black Heart was no different…I’m not telling you though, you have to find out for yourself dammit!

The series was amazing, and I’m going to re-read it so I can get more out of it.

In short. GO BUY THIS SERIES IRL. (in real life, for non chat-speakers out there) This series has what every good sci-fi/fantasy series needs. Strong story, strong characters, intriuging plot, and most importantly: well thought out backstory.

March 22, 2012

The Benefits of Binge Reading

In the last 12 hours I’ve finished 3 novels. One of which I reread for my own pleasure, and the other two simply because I was in a ready mood. There’s really no other way to explain that. I lazed around my house with all the windows open, sun streaming in, and just felt like it was the perfect day to read things I wanted to read, and not homework that had been assigned by professors.

The first new book I read was Across the Universe by Beth Revis. It’s one of those books that’s been sitting on my shelf for a while. I was drawn in by the cover, so I bought it. Then I was put off by the corniness of the quote on the cover: “What does it take to survive aboard a spaceship fueled by lies?”. Then the second book in the series came out, a year later. Ladies and Gentlemen, this book  has been sitting there unread, for over a year. Now it wasn’t my fault! I was travelling after I bought it (in January 2011) and then I just, forgot. Nonetheless, I picked it up today, a full year and two months later, and actually loved it.

Let me give you a quick rundown of this book. Amy is a 17 year old girl who is given the choice by her parents (and I suppose the government) to be cryogenically frozen and travel with them to Alpha Centauri to inhabit a planet that is reportedly fit for human life. The novel opens with Amy watching first her mother, then her father, go through the freezing process before she inevitably decides to give up her life on Earth and stick with her parents. Once she gets frozen, the POV switches to Elder, the future leader of Godspeed, the ship that is taxed with the 350 year journey to Centauri-Earth. The population of the ship has been ravaged by a recent Plague that required a new system of leadership to be put into place, and he is the next in line. Elder is only 16, and like any young leader to be, he is reluctant to conform to his teachings, and prefers the company of his friend. He gets pointed in the direction of the cyro chamber, where he finds Amy frozen in her tube. A series of events takes place that involves Amy being reanimated incorrectly (and most importantly before her time). There’s some mystery, and some romance (dur) and the best part is the dictatorship that thinks that individual thought is the root of all fighting.

I loved how honest it was. The two main characters, Elder and Amy, have absolutely no problems about being honest with themselves. That’s rare, especially for a YA novel. Amy quickly comes to terms with the fact that she will never see her parents again after she is reanimated, and immediately throws herself into a project. Elder fights the hold that the Eldest has on him in order to keep Amy safe, and in doing so reveals to himself the truth’s of his little society.

It was a pretty quick read, and definitely one you want to do in one go, mainly because the narrative is a little stilted. The POV switches for every “chapter” and often the sections are quite short. The second book is called A Million Sunsand apparently the spaceship is no longer fueled by lies, but chaos.

The second book I read was Legend, by Marie Lu. I’ve followed her for a while over on Pub(lishing) Crawl which is by far one of my favorite writing/publishing blogs since it’s run by a group of ex-fictionpress authors (including the wonderfully talented S.J. Mass, whose book Throne of Glass is FINALLY being released later this year) but there are so many super talented ladies that have come out of both fictionpress, and Pub(lishing) Crawl that their work is always worth checking out.

Legend is about two people (look at me with my POV switching books) Day and June.

June a 15 year old prodigy who got a perfect score on the Trials, a government test that judges the line of work a child is worthy for. Now the trials sound truly horrible. At the age of 10 you are judged on your agility, reflexes, and intelligence. If you fail you’re sent to the labor camps. If you pass you get to go to school. June, the only one to get a perfect score of 1500, (SAT’s anyone??) is in her final year of university, and causing trouble. Her section of the novel opens with her being scolded for traveling off campus to scale a building. Day’s section opens with him looking over his family. Immediately setting the tone for his personality, he’s watching out for them as the soldiers go door to door checking for plague victims. He’s essentially Robin Hood, except he mainly only cares about his family, and his friends, and messing with the oppressive government. Of course, they have to be enemies. June is a military girl at heart, and Day is a rebel because of what his government has made him.

Legend was fab, because it wasn’t just the usual dystopian lone girl defies government and blah happens book. It was a political thriller, with twists and turns (even though a few of them were predictable). It was fun to actually go along with the characters and figure out what was happening, and there are hints dropped throughout the novel, and most importantly, it fun to read. There were plenty of sections that got my adrenaline up, and it was totally not a book you should read before going to bed… because then you won’t. You’ll actually be too hyped up to do anything but dance and wonder when the second book is coming out (Fall 2012).

There’s also a game of this on facebook (I’m totally a member of the Capitol ya’ll).

There ya go! two books in one review.

March 13, 2012

Demi-Monde: Spring

Just to clarify for new readers, this is a review of the SECOND book in the Demi-Monde Series. The first book (Demi-Monde: Winter) was released in the USA on January 3rd I believe, and this one released a few days later in the UK, but it has not yet been released in the States.

The Shadows grow ever darker across the Demi-Monde. And as the soldiers of Heydrich’sForthRight goose-step into Paris and the long-forgotten evil that is Lilith is awoken, it falls to Norma Williams to lead the resistance. Lost in the virtual nightmare that is the Demi-Monde, she must come to terms with these terrible responsibilities and with the knowledge that those she thought were her friends are now her enemies. To triumph in this surreal cyber-world she must be more than she ever believed she could be…or perish.

Amazon.com

When I finished DM: Spring I decided that I needed some time to mull over it instead of immediately writing a gushing post about how the book made the think and feel, etc. This book was very different f

rom it’s predecessor, but that doesn’t mean I disliked it, nor was it bad. Through the course of the book Rees showed the same attention to historical detail that first attracted me to his first novel, but this time instead of having a pseudo-supernatural twist there was a distinct change in the trend of the novel. The first was filled with both personal and political struggle, and in that the second book fell a bit short. However this book featured a masterful blending of science-fiction and fantasy by incorporating tales of Lilith and the Grigori as central plot-points.
Thinking back, I really did enjoy the book, and look forward to the next one in the series, if not just to find out a few key details about some lingering questions I had during this one. Sadly characters like Vanka Maykov, whose russian accent I spent trying to imitate (much to the amusement of my friends and roommates) was not as present in this book. That was highly disappointing for me, since I fangirled all over the place while Ella got to know him during the first novel. In addition, as you can see from the amazon blurb above, Ella Thomas is not a focus of the novel. Norma is. Yes, whiny little no-backbone Norma. Who I hate(d). It’s really not as bad as at seems, especially since theres a lovely french broad named Odette who also garners a lot of focus.

January 26, 2012

Demi-Monde: Winter

As much as I hate to start a review with a definition, I think that it’s appropriate in this setting.

“a shadow world where the norms of civilised behaviour have been abandoned. It is often the artistic and intellectual cliques who are thought to inhabit the Demi-Monde as these are populated by those individuals who find it difficult to accept/obey the precepts and morality of “civilised” society.”

or

“Hell”

The first definition is the sociological explanation that covers Demi-Monde as a phrase, and the second is Rod Rees’ definition of the setting for his novel. The literal translation of Demi-Monde is Half-World, and Rees takes all three of the definitions presented, and creates a world that is the complete opposite of what we think is right and good. The thing that I think is the most interesting about the world Rees’ created is that it’s a combination of all the periods of our own history. The results are drastic, particularly places them in a world where technology is readily available, and there is a peculiar thirst for blood. I mean that literally, the denizens of the Demi-Monde are require

d to ingest a certain amount of blood to survive. In this reality political systems that never came to fruition because society rejected them are the norm. HimPerialism, and HerEticalism, are the main political systems of the Demi-Monde, that are controlled by Beria, and Empress Wu respectively.

However the Demi-Monde isn’t representation of an alternate reality in which this all came to fruition. It’s a virtual reality, a computer based training camp for the U.S. military to give it’s untrained soliders the chance to experience a real world combat situation. Ella Thomas is the lucky  young woman whose life gets turned upside-down when she is sent to the Demi-Monde on a mission from the government. She is an African-American woman, whose singing voice, intelligence, and appearance are used to the advantage of the U.S. military in a rescue mission. They send her in as a “shade chirp” aka a black jazz singer, and her sole mission is to find and retrive the daughter  of the U.S. President, who was tricked into entering the Demi-Monde. She of course is dragged into so much more than what she expected, and she and the characters you meet along the way prove to be instrumental in the fate of the people of the Demi-Monde and the real world as well.

I had the second novel shipped from England because I needed to continue the story, and I will be reviewing that as soon as it gets here, and i’ve read it. (fingers crossed for February 7th)

Get Demi-Monde at AbeBooks!
It’s also 1.99 on the Kindle on Amazon, but supporting small independent bookstores is more important.

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