Tag Archives: Scifi

Phillip Reeve’s newest YA is Railhead and it is so worth your time

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Phillip Reeve’s newest YA is Railhead and it is so worth your time

Captivating and unexpected, Railhead is SciFi for hard core fans of the genre and for those who wouldn’t touch SciFi with a ten foot pole.  It is a five star read that I devoured in a few hours.

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Goodreads Summary

The Great Network is an ancient web of routes and gates, where sentient trains can take you anywhere in the galaxy in the blink of an eye. Zen Starling is a nobody. A petty thief from the filthy streets of Thunder City who aimlessly rides the rails of the Network. So when the mysterious stranger Raven offers Zen a chance to escape the squalor of the city and live the rest of his days in luxury, Zen can’t believe his luck. All he has to do is steal one small box from the Emperor’s train with the help of Nova, an android girl. But the Great Network is a hazardous mess of twists and turns, and that little box just might bring everything in this galaxy — and the next — to the end of the line. The highly anticipated novel from Carnegie-medal-winning author Philip Reeve, Railhead is a fast, immersive, and heart-pounding ride perfect for any sci-fi fan. Step aboard — the universe is waiting.

*Warner Bros. has purchased the film rights to this book

My Thoughts

Railhead throws readers into a startling and intriguing world from page one, and the wonders don’t stop until the end.  The action is fast-paced, the concept is novel and intriguing, and I didn’t want to put it down.  The real heart and soul of the book, though, is the cast of characters.  From the sentient trains, to the AI and humans who populate this world, this believable mix of man and machine worked.  I adored the spaces they navigated as well.  It was an eclectic mix of old world grandeur and industrial wasteland, a setting that is easy to picture despite the fact that it is in the outer reaches of the universe.  That is part of the magic of this book – you don’t have to be a huge fan of trains or outer space, or even science fiction to really enjoy this book.  It is different but it isn’t so alien that it takes too much work.  If you like a good story with characters you can cheer for, this is something you can embrace.  You might, however, find that you do like trains, outer space, and science fiction by the time you get to the end.  I’m definitely adding this to my high school classroom library wishlist.  This book is appropriate for readers as young as middle school, but adult readers will enjoy it as well.

I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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In Mystique, Shari Arnold’s newest YA, you really can’t keep a dead guy down.

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In Mystique, Shari Arnold’s newest YA, you really can’t keep a dead guy down.

I really enjoyed Shari Arnold’s  Neverland.  It was magical and unexpected.  I had high hopes for Mistique, but I have to say I was disappointed.  While I liked the concept (big Les Revenants fan here), this story just didn’t come together for me.  However, this book, which does feel like a YA Stephen King concept, might really appeal to you.  I mean, essentially this whole town becomes the less evil equivalent of the Pet Cemetery, which is pretty cool.  I also do have to say that it got me thinking about how wild it would be if you had a town that could resurrect the dead, and Arnold does a good job of really making that chaos of hope and desperation come alive.

Mystique is publishing Tuesday, November 13, 2015.

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Goodreads Summary

Only Bauer Grant can pull off gorgeous while dead. But staying dead is another thing entirely. When he wakes up at his own funeral, the town of Mystique calls it a miracle, until it happens again. Something is bringing the residents of Mystique back to life, but what? Presley Caine finds herself caught up in the mystery when Bauer asks her to visit him. Presley can’t figure out why the most popular guy in school is so drawn to her. And when Bauer is kidnapped soon after, she looks to Bauer’s brooding best friend Sam, whose dad works for the powerful Mystique military base, for answers. In her quest to discover the truth, Presley’s relationship with Sam deepens, her feelings for Bauer are tested, and it becomes clear that her own mysterious past is somehow connected to these strange events. But is she strong enough to handle the truth when it is finally revealed?

My Thoughts

I think my problem really started with the things that left me feeling disbelief for too long at the very beginning of the book.  It started with a question about embalming – a small detail, but a really big stumbling block for me.  How can a kid wake up at his own funeral and not have his eyes glued closed or his lips sewn shut?  Did he still have a heart?  Didn’t they drain his blood and pump him full of chemicals?  Yes, these are the things I think about.  Anxiety takes many fun forms.  This is finally addressed chapters later, and a weak explanation was offered, but it was already too late.  I had lost a little faith in the story.  When that was compounded by the seemingly inconceivable insta-connection Bauer felt for Presley, I really struggled to stick this one out.  The connection was eventually explained, but, again, my ability to suspend disbelief was already gone.  I didn’t trust the story, and I just never really settled in after that.  I did still see a bit of what I most enjoyed about Neverland in this book – the relationship between Sam and Presely was one I could get lost in.  I think that is really what the author excels at – sweet and carefully drawn connections between her main characters.  However, I struggled with the relationships of her more minor characters in this book.  I think this is a result of the way Presely connected with them, which created a one sided and surface friendship, but it didn’t work for me.  Overall, I was able to enjoy the book when it focused on Sam and Presley, but I felt like when that focus shifted, I was reading a book that just didn’t quite gel.  Language and situations are appropriate for high school readers.

I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Valhalla is one of the most violent and action packed YA books I’ve ever read, but it is also one of the most boring.

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Valhalla is one of the most violent and action packed YA books I’ve ever read, but it is also one of the most boring.

Valhalla reads like a book a computer would spit out if you fed it all the scifi and action reads of the last few decades and told it to write a book.  It has no soul.  Two stars and an emphatic warning not to waste your time.

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Goodreads Summary

A Harmony Ink Press Young Adult Title

Violet MacRae is one of the aimless millions crowding northern Scotland. In the year 2330, where war is obsolete and only brilliant minds are valued, she emerges into adulthood with more brawn than brains and a propensity for violence. People dismiss her as a relic, but world peace is more fragile than they know.

In Valhalla, a clandestine base hidden in an icy ravine, Violet connects with a group of outcasts just like her. There, she learns the skills she needs to keep the world safe from genetically enhanced criminals and traitors who threaten the first friends she’s ever known. She also meets Wulfgar Kray, a genius gang leader who knows her better than she knows herself and who would conquer the world to capture her.

Branded from childhood as a useless barbarian, Violet is about to learn the world needs her exactly as she is.

My Thoughts

It is rare to find a book so full of action and yet so boring at the same time.  I blame this on the author’s writing style.  The overly-detailed descriptions and straight-forward narrative voice quickly proved monotonous.  I never connected with the protagonist, mostly because her every action and choice was so clinically described that I felt like I was reading a lab report.  The premise is promising, and this author managed to get it all down, but there is no voice or style present in the writing.  It creates a distance that turns what should have been a very engaging action book full of blood and violence into a history channel documentary turned sleep aid for the insomniac.  Part of the problem is a lack of flow.  The story sort of encapsulates events and confines them into chunks that don’t easily connect as a whole story.  The decision to describe minutiae, like every level in Valhalla and the accent and appearance of every minor character,  is equally problematic to the flow. The romance seems to have been tacked on as an afterthought and, for me, contradicted some of the charateristics the author worked so hard to emphasize in the protagonist.  Overall, there was very little I enjoyed about this book, and I would struggle to find a reader I would recommend it to.  Language and situations are appropriate for high school readers, though I can’t see many of then sticking this one out.  I would have abandoned it at 25% if I hadn’t felt obligated by my request to read and review it.

I received a copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Return Once More by Trisha Leigh- YA Scifi that had me at “time travel” and “one true love”

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Return Once More by Trisha Leigh- YA Scifi that had me at “time travel” and “one true love”

My mom often prompted me to watch things that I now see were glaringly not for children.  That is how I came to watch Peggy Sue Got Married and Somewhere in Time somewhere between the ages of ten and twelve.  With my mom.  To her credit, I developed a mature and rather blasé  attitude about sex in film that has stood me well in life, but since we aren’t French or European, or even from a particularly educated background, I feel it made me a rather odd and unsettling child to other parents in our small Southern town.  But I digress.  These films inspired in me a lifelong fascination with time travel.  I don’t care if the science makes sense.  I don’t care if there are bodices ripping (though I’m good with that, too).  I just want to be swept away.  Return Once More definitely gave me that escape, and I’m not going to tell you it is another Outlander, but if you, too, have a secret penchant for time travel, this is one book you should add to your TBR list.  It is a Bloomsbury Spark read, so it is only available as an ebook (boo/hiss), but that also means this little gem rings in at under four dollars, and I would consider it money well spent.

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Goodreads Summary

If you could learn the identity of your one true love—even though you will never meet— would you?

Years have passed since refugees from a ruined earth took to space, eventually settling a new system of planets. Science has not only made the leaps necessary to allow time travel, but the process engineered a strange side effect—predicting your one true love.

If you could save your one true love from an untimely death, would you be able to resist?

Sixteen-year-old Kaia Vespasian is an apprentice to the Historians—a group charged with using time travel to document the triumphs and failures of the past—and she can’t resist a peek at her long-dead soul mate in Ancient Egypt. Before she knows it, she’s broken every rule in the book, and the consequences of getting caught could destroy more than just her new romance.

Or would you have the strength to watch him die?

But when Kaia notices a fellow classmate snooping around in a time where he doesn’t belong, she suspects he has a secret of his own—and the conspiracy she uncovers could threaten the entire universe. If her experience has taught her anything, to changing history means facing the consequences. The Historians trained her to observe and record the past, but Kaia never guessed she might have to protect it— in a race across time to save her only chance at a future.

My Thoughts

I really, really enjoyed this book.  Time travel enthusiasts and fans of true love will want to snap it up.  The concept is pretty awesome, and there is something for a wide range of readers – love and drama, conspiracy and corruption, and history (not the boring stuff either).   Kia is a great guide through this journey.   While her choices are sometimes questionable, few readers will fault the motivations – love, loyalty, and the code of conduct that guides her society.  I think she is representative of many YA readers who will pick this up because she is at that moment when independence asserts itself and it is time to question the things you have been taught.  She definitely brings home the message that decisions should be purposeful.  The romance in this book, while tame enough for younger readers, is engaging even if it does have a whiff of insta-love about it.  I think the idea of a “True” love match somewhere in the sands of time will be appealing and intriguing to many readers.  The plot is well paced to develop the intrigue and the concept that are central to the story.  This was a plausible explanation of time travel and an interesting speculation about the future.  There were a few minor lulls, but they are quickly forgotten in the action.  I did struggle with what the ending really meant, but it was a nice hook to guarantee I’ll be waiting for the next book. I particularly liked the message in this book – every moment in a person’s life is a step towards their final destination and can hold significance.  I think my high school readers will enjoy this book, and it is definitely going on my classroom library wish list, but adult readers of YA shouldn’t dismiss it either – especially those who are time travel fans initiated too early into the genre by being talked into watching films with Christopher Reeves at his loveliest or Nick Cage at his most awkward.  Language and situations are appropriate for middle and high school readers.

I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.