Waiting for release
I haven't read military sci-fi for quite a few years and I really enjoyed getting back into it with Requiem for Medusa, probably because it was focused on the main character's personal quest for revenge rather than a full-on battle between two opposing forces. Tyrus Rechs is an awesome character. He's a former military general who was involuntarily subjected to medical experiments, which left him virtually immortal - he's now a 2000-year-old bounty hunter whose name alone instills fear in people throughout the galaxy. If you want a more adult version of The Hunger Games then you should check out this book for the 'Game of Death' that Rechs pursues his quarry into. I will definitely be reading book 2 and the series Rechs first appears in as a soldier, Galaxy's Edge. Recommended for older teens and adults who enjoy military sci-fi due to the frequent violence.
Whilst continuing to follow Citra and Rowan's divergent paths of compassion and vigilantism respectively, book 2 focuses more on a new character, Greyson, and the Thunderhead as it searches for a way to thwart the destruction it sees coming at the hands of the 'new order' Scythes without breaking its self-imposed restrictions. I did think it was really interesting to have diary-style excerpts from the Thunderhead this time, and I like that the artificial intelligence is more humane in its thoughts and actions than most of the humans and can still display or simulate emotion without becoming a killing machine. I felt Tyger's fate was predictable (although that may be because I've read and watched quite a lot of science fiction) and the chapters following Greyson's descent into the 'unsavory' world dragged a bit, particularly because of his blind devotion to Purity, but the final chapters were action-packed and lead to an epic cliffhanger. Recommended for teenagers who enjoy dystopian, futuristic science-fiction as it does contain scenes of killing. 3.5 stars.
Scythe presents a futuristic society that has evolved into something so apparently perfect that life and living have become bland and monotonous. This society is controlled by the 'Thunderhead', a sentient version of the 'cloud', in order to remove human corruption with the exception of population control, which is handled by human scythes. Predictably, once humans are given any sort of power, some become corrupt. The narration switches between the two main characters, Citra and Rowan, who are pitted against each other in their scythe training, interspersed with diary excerpts from experienced scythes. The brutality of some of the modern scythes is quite shocking after being introduced to Scythe Faraday, who upholds the original practices and values of the Scythedom. The weak points in the plot were allowing scythes to choose their own targets and kill them in any manner they desire, which gives them power and leads to corruption; it also attracts those who enjoy killing. This seems like a glaring error that could have been largely overcome by having a single, painless method of death and a set of selection criteria. I enjoyed it well enough though and will be reading the rest of the series. Recommended for people who enjoy dystopian fiction. 3.5 stars.
Aurora Rising is a quick, light science fiction read. It follows a crew of misfits as they graduate from their military training and take on their first mission, which then goes awry. Clashing personalities always make for an entertaining read but the story lacked the depth and plot/character development that you get in great space operas like The Expanse, however, it was enjoyable enough to continue reading the rest of series as it's released. Recommended for people who enjoy the space opera sub-genre or people who are just getting into science fiction. 3.5 stars
Limited Wish started to lose me a little with all of the time travel/multiverse/paradox explanations, which took up quite a bit of what was a fairly short novel. The underlying story was still enjoyable, however, the main character's physical undertakings whilst he's receiving chemotherapy for an aggressive recurrence of his cancer seemed unrealistic. Recommended for people who enjoy time travel science fiction, Dungeons and Dragons RPG and Stranger Things.
I was a little bit surprised that I liked this book because I'm not usually a fan of stories involving time travel, however, as a child of the 80s I had to give it a go for nostalgia's sake and I'm glad I did. The story is really character driven, focusing primarily on Nick and Mia and their developing relationship, and contains some brilliant examples of a role-play game in addition to a tech heist and a clash with the district's resident psychopath. Recommended for teenaged fans of Stranger Things and Dungeons & Dragons as there is some swearing and minor drug use, along with chemotherapy scenes and explanations of quantum mechanics.
Redshirts is a take-off of the original Star Trek series, complete with overacting and implausible scenarios, in which several members of the crew of the Intrepid (recognisable as 'Redshirts', extras who are usually killed off, in the Star Trek fandom) begin to suspect that something odd is going on with their spaceship and crew. I found the overacted character moments a bit irritating at the start of the book when they were more frequent, however, they do have a place in the plot, and the dialogue between the main 'Redshirt' characters was amusing. I listened to the audiobook of this and Will Wheaton's narration was superb as always - his characterisation of the multitude of characters using his voice is just brilliant. Recommended for people who enjoy humorous science fiction and Star Trek.
I read this book after I'd already read the second book in the duology, so I found the background information on Haden's Syndome right at the start of the book a little slow-going because I already knew about it, however, the rest of the book was really enjoyable. You get to see the beginning of the working relationship between the two main characters (one a Haden and one not), complete with the sarcastic banter that I love, as Chris Shane starts work at the FBI and is thrown into the deep end of an action-packed murder investigation. The medical science has been really well thought-out but it doesn't overwhelm the story, and at the end of the book the author has even documented the origins of Haden's Syndrome and the US response to it through a series of reports from a doctor, a scientist, a reporter and a security advisor. Highly recommended for teens and adults who enjoy the science-fiction and crime genres as the main characters are adults, there is some swearing and violence, and there are moderately complex medical/technological concepts and ethics.
I almost didn't read this book as the blurb only consisted of the general quote 'There are worse things than school', which told me nothing about the plot. It wasn't until I looked at some reviews and saw that it was shortlisted for the CBCA Book of the Year Award that I decided to give it a go and I'm glad I did. This was a fast, relatively easy read that addressed the themes of social class and domestic abuse; it highlighted the fact that domestic abuse is something that exists in all social classes. The main teenaged characters grapple with how to end the abuse in a way that doesn't result in physical reprisals and the solution they land on is a valid one in this particular situation where image is everything. I would recommend this book to students in Years 8-10 who enjoy reading contemporary, realistic fiction and books similar to those by John Green.
This book largely belongs to the impressive female cast as the story is told from the perspectives of Naomi, Bobbie, Elvi and Teresa when they take charge of various events in the absence of key male characters. In a universe where humanity has learned to live under authoritarian rule, Book 8 in the series brings the conflict between the Laconians and the Resistance to a head after Duarte's attempt to use negative reinforcement with the alien entities behind the destruction of the gate network-builders results in a catastrophic outcome. Ethical scientific research is a central theme and the science/biology in the story has been particularly well developed and explained. I was devastated by the fates of my two favourite characters, however, they were apt. A must-read for teenaged and adult space opera fans.
I absolutely loved this book! The banter and sarcasm between the main character and his FBI partner was gold, and Will Wheaton's narration raised it to a whole new level. I didn't realise the book was actually a sequel until I was about three-quarters of the way through, however, there was enough detail about Haden's Syndrome and society's response to the condition, as well as the Haden sport Hilketa, that it wasn't noticeable. The combination of police procedural, violent android/robot sport, and what had become a common medical condition made for a unique, engrossing story. Now I'm going to listen to the first audiobook, Lock In, as well as look for more books narrated by Will Wheaton. I recommend this to teenagers and adults who enjoy the science fiction genre, stories featuring androids/robots, and the graphic novels Battle Angel Alita as the sport of Motorball shares some similarities with Hilketa.
Thankfully the plot started to move forward again in book 4 of the Demon Cycle, although there was only a limited focus on Ahmann and Arlen's quest. This book featured a number of complex power struggles and court intrigues amongst both the Krasians and the Greenlanders now that Ahmann and Arlen have left the people on the surface to fight their own battles while they head to the core, including some similarities with the 'red wedding' scene from the Song of Ice and Fire series. I really enjoyed reading about creation of the Sharum'ting, the first female Krasian warriors, led by the fierce Ashia, although I hated how she was treated by her husband. The introduction of the character Briar was also very intriguing as it indicates that there was a Krasian presence in the Greenlands in the recent past, unbeknownst to them. I recommend this book for older teens and adults (violence and some sex scenes) who enjoy reading epic fantasy.
I loved this book for the author's turns of phrase. His descriptions, especially of the stunts the boys get up to like the lollipop lady incident and when they're trying to steal alcohol from the local shop to take to a party or when Ben is trying to hide his knitting habit, are just hilarious. I also liked that Ben realised his natural talent for knitting and developed it, challenging himself to make increasingly complex designs. This is a young adult read (some swearing and insults, sexual innuendo) that I would recommend to students who enjoy realistic, humorous stories.
The Daylight War was a bit of a slog as it failed to really progress the central plot until the final chapters. Whilst the writing was the equivalent of the previous books, most of the time it was focused on Arlen and Jardir's preparations for the big battle between humans and demons in their respective locations, bickering between their two groups, and Inevera's backstory. Whilst some of the backstory was interesting, there was a lot of overlap with what had been revealed in the previous books, and I don't particularly like her character as she's extremely manipulative. Brett should have kept this series as a more tightly written trilogy instead of dragging it out into a pentalogy.
An amazing memoir of a holocaust survivor, Night is a short, quick read that loses none of the impact of the horrors that the Jewish people suffered during WWII despite its length. Two things that resonated with me the most were the impact of the atrocities on Wiesel's religious beliefs about God and how survival in such an extreme situation became more important than anything to many of the prisoners, even their families, leading to feelings of guilt. A great read for those who are interested in war stories or want a basic understanding of the holocaust and it would complement readings of The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas and Once.
As the humans on Earth attempt to recover from the destabilisation caused by the Corp, they attempt to align with the Ithtorians (shape-shifters) to protect themselves from predatory alien species who sense weakness. Jax is designated the Earth's ambassador and sent to negotiate, however, the voyage is quickly derailed and Jax's health takes a sudden, inexplicable turn for the worse. Several new characters (Vel, Jael and Hit) become an enjoyable part of the crew dynamic, as does the AI unit, AI-245, as it learns and evolves from interactions with Jax, and they really carried the story for me this time. After the enjoyable bantering from book 1, the Jax/March angst was too overpowering in this book and the Lachion people are not likeable or relatable so their tribal battles weren't particularly interesting. However, the crew's escape attempt from the planet was tense, as was the scene aboard Emry Station. The instigation of new xenophobic immigration and citizenship laws on Earth resulting in a class system where genetically engineered humans and aliens are considered inferior is likely to lead to conflict as the series progresses.
I was in the mood for more sci-fi when I found Ann Aguirre's Sirantha Jax series. In the future, humans have abandoned the pursuit of faster-than-light travel after they discovered that certain people are born the the J-gene, which allows them to jack-in as a ship's navigator and rapidly travel through grimspace, the space between space, and this is how we come to meet the female main character, Jax. The problem with being a navigator is that you mentally burn out whilst fairly young due to the the physical impact of jumping, which makes Jax a novelty at the age of 33; she's snarky, stubborn, honest, morbid, a bit crazy and not afraid to throw down and crack some skulls when necessary. Whilst the story was told from Jax's point of view, the rest of the ship's crew were also reasonably well developed by the author. Following Jax's rescue from the Corp, the plot is a little loose as it bounces between conflict on the outerworlds, a mission to recruit and train unregistered jumpers and corporate corruption, but Grimspace was a light-hearted, quick and easy read that's action-packed with some laugh-out-loud moments thanks to the witty and sarcastic banter between the ship's crew, which was highly entertaining. Recommended for older teenagers and adults who enjoy sci-fi space operas due to sci-fi violence, a sex-scene and some coarse language.
This is the first book in Sanderson's second sci-fi series. The remnants of humanity are struggling to survive on a distant planet, Detritus, primarily in subterranean caverns amidst frequent attack from an alien force, the Krell. The main character, Spensa, yearns to be a pilot like her father and fight against the Krell, however, she's faces the seemingly insurmountable challenge of overcoming the stigma of her father's reputation as a coward. I found Spensa a little annoying to start with as she was quite arrogant and self-involved as a result of the way she'd been treated growing up, however, the character matured nicely as the plot progressed, recognising her weaknesses, working hard to overcome them and making difficult decisions. The selection of pilot callsigns was hilarious and the kooky artificial intelligence and Doomslug provided some entertaining interactions, while the negative impacts of class systems were prominent throughout the story and there were are a number interesting conversations and moments that lead to reflection on what constitutes heroism and cowardice. The last 200-odd pages were really engrossing, revealing what had happened with her father and what was actually going on with the Krell. Now I have to wait for book 2! An easy read for young adults interested in science-fiction stories set on other planets.
This book had such a great premise for a crime novel: Detective Ryan returns to his hometown to investigate the murder of a child at the site where his two childhood friends had disappeared decades before, and were presumably killed, and he was found in a catatonic state covered in blood. However, the amount of time the author wastes on indirect exposition about his adult personal life instead of focusing on the cases was irritating and once Ryan slept with his partner and then treated her like dirt he became totally repugnant and I began to lose interest in the story. The book could have been half the size and subsequently much more interesting. Additionally, the main character states towards the end "But before you decide to despise me too thoroughly, consider this: [he/she] fooled you too." This line annoyed me because, given the behaviours of the characters, I'd worked out quite early in the investigation who had committed the crime and he was just being deliberately obtuse.
Unwinnable battles, sabotage, sacrifices and betrayal fill this action-packed instalment of The Expanse series. As the plot jumps ahead by about 20 years, the Earthers, Martians and Belters are mostly united in their resistance against the Laconians and Duarte's vision of empire, whilst all of them are largely oblivious to the threat of human extinction hovering in the background (or overconfident of their ability to beat it). The reality of the phrase 'history is written by the victors' becomes evident in a discussion between Holden and Governor Singh, whom conveniently overlooks the fact that while the Laconians condemn the rebels' acts of sabotage and preach peace and unity, violence was also the method they used and supported to establish Laconia. We are also conflicted by the establishment of a dictatorship which, contrary to our own history, is done almost politely, with a minimal loss of life and the aim of uniting all of humanity in peace and not just particular groups. My love of the character Amos took a bit of a hit in this book when we see the true extent of his sociopathy reveal itself through his thoughts and actions towards his own crew when he's been trapped on Medina Station for too long with no suitable physical outlet for his aggression. So disappointed that the publication of Book 8 has been pushed back until the end of March 2019 - I'm desperate to read more!
I selected this book because it sounded similar to Jane Harper's books and it certainly was with regard to the creation of the sense of oppressive heat and town tensions in drought-stricken Australia. The story was slow to start; the author spent a lot of time unnecessarily describing the town in the first quarter of book despite the fact that he'd provided a map and referred to the layout of the town whenever the main character moved around throughout the story. However, things really picked up about a third of the way through when the secrets, revelations and crimes started to flow thick and fast. This made the plot much more intriguing and sustained my interest throughout the remainder of the sizeable novel, but there was almost too much going on in such a small town.
Jane Harper has become my favourite crime writer. Her ability to recreate the remote Australian rural environment, the sense of isolation, the oppressive heat and the dangers it presents is outstanding. The opening scenes of The Lost Man brought back memories of the two young jackaroos who died in the Great Sandy Desert in 1986, James Annetts and Simon Amos, a case that fascinated me while I was growing up. We see the impact that physical and social isolation along with domestic violence has on the characters and their mental health. Additionally, family memories and secrets surface, eroding the 'good bloke' image that the deceased had carefully cultivated with the townspeople. Recommended for older teens and adults who enjoy Australian crime stories.
A Deadly Cambodian Crime Spree (Inspector Singh Investigates 4)
Whilst I enjoyed the plot and the setting of the Cambodian war crimes tribunal, which I was really interested in as I enjoy learning about historical events and conflicts in particular, the character of Inspector Singh really annoyed me. He constantly pouts in a childish manner and exhibits frequent dramatic mood swings, particularly in his speech. Also unnecessary were the constant references to him being fat; once his physical appearance had been described at the start of the story we didn't need to told about it constantly. It was also evident who the serial killer of the former Khmer Rouge cadres was quite early thanks to a piece of descriptive information that was provided, but the murder of the witness Huon took longer to unravel. Recommended for teenagers and adults who want an easy-to-read crime novel and those who are interested in Cambodia or wars and war crimes.
This book was epic in scale as the plot followed what was going on in multiple areas of the solar system, which meant the story was told from a large number of points of view, both from familiar and unknown characters. I thought this was going to be really annoying to keep track of but once I realised where each perspective fit into the narrative it was fine. The UN attempts to evacuate as many humans to Luna as possible after the devastating fallout from the attack on Earth. The Free Navy mount railgun defenses on the alien station in the slow zone to prevent people leaving the solar system via the gate network and taking resources that are needed in Sol. Additionally, they start attacking colony ships and taking over stations, stripping them of supplies and then abandoning the Belters they claim to be fighting for, which leads to dissent in the Free Navy high command. As a result, the crew of the Rocinante find themselves working with a coalition of Earth, Mars and OPA forces to try and take down the Free Navy while saving the people on the abandoned stations. Naomi discovers why ships have been randomly disappearing when passing through the ring network and, recognising that the Sol system's economy needs to be stabilised in the face of the rapid colonisation of numerous new worlds, Holden presents a proposal to the coalition forces. At the conclusion of the story an ominous message is broadcast threatening to destroy anyone who attempts to pass through the Laconia gate, the gate that the Mars defectors left through. Recommended for teenagers and adults who enjoy reading space operas.
We'll Fly Away
Following the opening letter from Luke while he's awaiting execution on death row, the story of his friendship with his best friend Toby unfolds to reveal a shared experience of poverty, neglect and abuse. The title of the book in conjunction with the wrecked plane that Luke and Toby played in as children symbolise their desire to escape their lives but also indicate that it is a fanciful dream. Inseparable throughout their lives, an unplanned revelation upsets Toby and he cuts Luke out of his life. At this vulnerable time, he becomes enamoured of a mysterious older woman, an acquaintance of his father's, who takes advantage of him before casting him aside for her own self-interests. Halfway through the book you start to realise there is an ominous pattern to the writing of the letters, which leads up to the devastating scene that is the catalyst for Luke's actions, a moment that brought tears to my eyes. Recommended for older teens who enjoy reading realistic fiction.
I was highly stressed reading Nemesis Games because for the first time in the series the crew temporarily splits up to see to some personal issues whilst the Rocinante is docked at Tycho station for months of extensive repairs following the voyage to Ilus. Holden remains with the ship while Naomi heads to Ceres to help a family member, Alex decides to visit Mars and try to make amends with his ex-wife and Amos travels to Earth following the death of a friend. During their separation the OPA, who until now have been involved in relatively small-scale conflicts, unleashes chaos throughout the solar system and this novel ends with a great sense of foreboding as we are given a brief hint of something happening beyond the ring gates. While all of the novels in the series have had plot links, this book is the first part of a major story arc which is likely to span at least a couple of books. Thankfully, the sixth book is already out and I can continue reading straight away.
Force of Nature
This is the second crime novel featuring Federal Agent Aaron Falk. Falk and his partner are investigating the suspect finances of a family-owned accounting firm when their contact goes missing whilst on a three-day teambuilding hike with colleagues from her workplace. The stories of the hike and of the search and investigation are told in tandem, which adds to the momentum of the story, particularly over the last 100-150 pages as the hikers start to panic and despair. Once again, Harper has written a highly atmospheric novel - the claustrophobic feel of the dense Australian bush is undeniable, as is the sense of unease that is generated by references to a fictional serial killer who had operated in the area 20 years earlier, one reminiscent of Ivan Milat. Recommended for older teens and adults who enjoy crime stories and Australian stories.
The Shepherd's Hut
I have to admit that aside from Lockie Leonard, I don't enjoy Tim Winton's books. The excessive use of Australian slang in The Shepherd's Hut was unrealistic and would limit the novel's appeal in other countries where at least 80% of the book wouldn't be understood. I grew up in the country and we use a lot of slang but I've never heard anything to the extent of that used by Jaxie - it's just playing on an Australian stereotype. The internal monologue for the first third of the book as Jaxie runs from Monkton felt tedious and it's not until he crosses paths with Irishman Fintan MacGinnis out in the remote wilderness that the story started to get interesting for me. The harshness and vastness of the Australian outback was very well rendered but the conclusion of the story felt rushed. Recommended for senior students and adults as it was quite a dark, brutal book that contained domestic violence, an unconventional relationship, the hunting and slaughtering of animals (although it was for survival), violence, and frequent coarse language.
I have been waiting for years for the release of The Numair Chronicles, which are about the early years of the mage Arram Draper before he takes on the name of Numair Salmalin. Numair first appeared in Tamora Pierce's The Immortals series in the early to mid-nineties. I was a bit disappointed in this book, I think because he was such a great adult character and this is pretty much just the story of him as a young boy going to mage school-university and learning his craft whilst fending off the usual school bullies who are jealous of his talents. There are interesting little pockets in the story when his teachers take him outside the university and put his magical skills to the test in real-world scenarios instead of just practising them in the classroom, and we see signs of his friend Prince Ozorne's instability and cruelty, but the climax of the story seemed a bit odd. I felt the story should have continued following the Faziy/lightning snakes mystery (which we get the impression will happen in the next book) rather than switching to the brief gladiator escape attempt, which felt anticlimactic. It definitely felt like the book was heavily focused on establishing the background for the trilogy. Recommended for students aged 10-12 who enjoy the fantasy genre.
Book four of The Expanse dealt with the political issues around interplanetary colonisation. The discovery that the Ring is a gateway to thousands of planets that may be habitable excites humanity, leading to a clash between Belter refugees from Ganymede and a UN-sanctioned scientific exploration company, Royal Charter Energy (RCE). The main characters have been so well created that I was feeling their frustrations myself. The bickering between the refugees and the RCE security forces was excruciating and I was dying for Holden to take a lesson from Amos and shoot a few specific people so that they could start making progress. We saw the return of Miller's former partner from Ceres Station, Havelock, as part of the RCE security team and the introduction of Basia as one of the refugees who resorts to terrorist tactics. Once again we discover that there are bigger things going on in the universe but that humanity is too consumed by its petty selfishness to learn. I felt that there were too many interludes with The Investigator and they were very repetitive - I would have been happy with just two or maybe three. I was also very disappointed that we only got the briefest of appearances from former Martian marine Bobbie Draper, however, it does appear that she'll have a major role in book five.
This was an intriguing book to read, especially as it was based on the true stories of the two central characters, Lale and Gita. I hadn't really thought about who tattooed the numbers on the prisoners at Auschwitz before and had assumed it was the Germans who worked there. To discover that it was the job of several Jewish prisoners was shocking, despite already knowing that some prisoners took on jobs in the camps that would have been abhorrent under normal circumstances, but were a means of survival for many (such as the Sonderkommando). Mengele's appearances were chilling, especially as I had the background knowledge of the experiments he'd conducted, and the scene of the prisoners being forced to play a 'friendly' game of soccer with the SS guards whilst the ash from the crematoria rained down on them was haunting. The inclusion of factual information about several of the people who were featured in the story was interesting but I felt Cilka's fate was unjustified, unless there was additional information that was left out of the story. The book was easy to read and I finished it in about six hours, but I felt the ending was rather rushed following the abandonment of Auschwitz and Birkenau as the Russian troops advanced. Recommended for older teens and adults who are interested in war and survival stories. Morris is also writing Cilka's Story, which is due out in July 2019 and I will certainly be reading that too.
Book 3 of The Expanse was a little bit of a slog in places. The Rocinante's four-month-long trip out to the ring with a news crew almost felt like it was taking place in real time, and the presence of the news crew meant the group dynamic felt strained, whilst the major battle on the OPA ship Behemoth felt like it went on forever as we rotated through the four points-of-view of Holden, 'Bull', Anna and Clarissa. Clarissa Mao/Melba Koh was an irritating new character who had become obsessed with discrediting and killing James Holden in retaliation for his part in imprisoning her father. She conveniently ignores the fact that her father committed heinous crimes and killed thousands, behaviour which she herself engages in as well; she simply wants to be 'daddy's favourite' now that her sister Julie is gone, and therefore comes across as quite immature. The introduction of Pastor Anna, on the other hand, provided an interesting perspective on the durability and place of religion in a world that has expanded beyond earth and humans have learned that they are not alone in the universe. By heading through the ring to avoid being destroyed by the UN, Mars and OPA forces, Holden and the crew of Rocinante unintentionally initiate a new wave of interstellar exploration. Still my favourite space opera - bring on book 4!
Full of political intrigue and manoeuvring, book two of The Expanse continues to follow the crew of the Rocinante ('Roci') as well as Deputy Undersecretary of Executive Administration of the United Nations Chrisjen Avasarala and Martian marine Bobbie Draper. Holden and the crew of the Roci head to Ganymede where they join forces with chief botanist, Praxideke Meng, in the search for his daughter who was kidnapped by the doctors behind an alien hybrid experiment. Chrisjen Avasarala engages in a political power play in an attempt to expose corrupt UN government officials who were involved in the protomolecule experiment, while Bobbie Draper ends up becoming her assistant after she earns the wrath of the Martian Congressional Republic (MCR) for her outburst at the UN/MCR hearing into the 'incident' on Ganymede. Bobbie Draper is one of the main reasons I love this book - she's fierce, gutsy and honest and I hope she appears again in the series. Recommended for teenagers and adults who enjoy science fiction and space operas - a lot of swearing, vague descriptions of sex scenes, and violence.
I watched the first two series of The Expanse on TV first and loved it - it's one of my favourite science fiction shows. This is the first science fiction eBook I've listened to and at first I wasn't sure how it was going to go, especially with all of the tech-talk. However, it was fantastic! The TV series was really close to the book so it was like watching the TV series all over again - I was able to picture it all happening while I was listening, which was a great recap as Season 3 starts screening soon. The story is divided between the perspectives of Holden, the Executive Officer of the ice hauler Canterbury who becomes Captain of the Rocinante after a series of mysterious ship attacks by an unknown 'cloaked' fleet, and Miller, a detective on Ceres station who is tasked with tracking down missing person Julie Mao. The fates of the characters become interlinked after they meet on Eros Station and unearth a terrible, deadly secret. A rollicking space adventure that I highly recommend for science fiction/space opera fans.
Saving Francesca is one of my favourite books, however, I never got around to reading the sequel, The Piper's Son, which follows the character Thomas several years later. Thomas's life has been spiralling out of control since his uncle died and he retreated from his group of friends out of a misguided sense of self-preservation. Close to hitting rock-bottom, he reconnects with "The Girls" (Francesca, Justine, Siobhan and Tara) whose friendship gives him the support he needs to confront his inner demons. Marchetta really knows how to evoke emotion with her characters and I spent a lot of time wiping away the tears in response to Tom's anguish and despair at being abandoned by his parents, and losing both his uncle and the girl he loved. Recommended for teenagers who enjoy contemporary/realistic Australian fiction.
This is Marchetta's first foray into adult crime fiction and it was fantastic. A cross-channel investigation of a school bus bombing involving British and French authorities reveals that one of the teenagers on the bus was Violette LeBrac, the granddaughter of a notorious British suicide bomber. The blame game begins - was she the target or was she the bomber? The situation is further complicated when Violette goes on the run with another boy from the bus, Eddie, for reasons that Chief Inspector Ortley must uncover as he tries to track them down and keep them safe from volatile members of the British public. The gradual revelation of clues and truths relating to the current bombing, and the former bombing by Violette's grandfather, are totally intriguing and I couldn't put this book down. Recommended for older teens and adults who enjoy the crime genre.
Set in a small, drought stricken outback town that is battling to survive, Federal Agent Aaron Falk returns to his childhood home for the funeral of his former best friend and his family who were the victims of a shooting incident. Whilst there, questions are raised about whether the investigation actually uncovered the truth, and the death of one of Aaron's childhood friends comes back to haunt him. Highly atmospheric - you can almost feel the heat sucking the life out of you and the animosity from the townsfolk towards Aaron. A fantastic Australian crime novel! I believe there are meant to be more Aaron Falk books planned so I will definitely be looking out for them. I would recommend it for older teens and adults who enjoy crime stories and Australian stories.
My first thought when I saw the cover of this book was of the movie The Breakfast Club, which one of the characters acknowledges when they all arrive for detention (and which the author has admitted was inspiration for the book as she is interested by what happens when different types of people are brought together). It was an entertaining YA crime read with some decent character development throughout the individual chapters. Against the backdrop of the murder investigation, the novel explored each of the characters identities, and the secrets they each kept to preserve their public personas which, of course, become public knowledge via the gossip app the victim runs. I did think the police investigation was lacking in authenticity though, as they ignored some pretty obvious aspects that warranted looking into. Recommended for Year 8 and up as it touches on mental health and sexuality.
Book two in the Demon Cycle series begins with the story of Ahmann Jardir, whose betrayal of Arlen in The Painted Man had alienated me. Whilst his story adds depth his character and makes him more relatable, particularly learning of the harsh experiences he suffered during warrior training as a child, the treatment of women in his society was really unsettling. I did like the return to the stories of Leesha, Arlen and Rojer, who had returned to Cutters' Hollow and taught the villagers how to fight the demons with battle wards, an activity they wholeheartedly embraced with great success. Content is definitely suitable for mature readers.
This final part of the Mistborn trilogy was just filled with revelation after amazing revelation, which Sanderson had clearly well-planned and worked towards from the start. The characters embraced their roles and responsibilities in the fight for survival, battled for power, questioned their decisions, learned of deception and betrayal, and made sacrifices for the greater good. I liked that Sanderson developed some of the supporting characters further, especially TenSoon, which added different perspectives and depth to the story. It was absolutely brilliant and I highly recommend it for anyone who enjoys reading epic fantasy series.
This audiobook was a bit of a shock after listening to two Mistborn books, as the narrator spoke a lot faster, however, it was a brilliant start to the Demon Cycle series. The story follows the journeys of three central characters (Arlen, Leesha and Rojer) from childhood through to adulthood as they discover their purposes/vocations in the fight against the demons that rise from the ground and attack every night. In sections where the characters are engaged in a certain activity for some time (ie. apprenticeships) the author jumps forward several years in the storytelling to avoid getting bogged down in what is already a long tale, and this helps keep the story interesting. I found all three characters intriguing and can't wait to read the next book. Recommended for older teenagers and adults who enjoy epic fantasy series, as the content is quite graphic in places.
Following the death of the Lord Ruler, the process of establishing new leadership is destabilised as Luthedel is besieged by the armies of Straff Venture and Cett. Whilst Elend deals with the politics of the situation, Vin begins to search for the Well of Ascension in an effort to release its power and heal the world. A new mistborn, Zane, also turns up in Luthedel and engages in a game of cat-and-mouse with Vin, toying with her emotions. The interactions between Zane and Vin really frustrated me because Vin kept listening to him despite his manipulations being obvious, however, the fact that their interactions generated that response in me goes to show how well Sanderson writes. Sanderson really knows how to build the intensity in his plots and I always find myself binge-listening to the last three or so hours of each book.
Following a harsh life spent living on the streets and working for mercenary thieving crews, teenaged Vin is recruited by Kelsier to be a part of the crew of allomancers he has put together to overthrow the tyrannical Lord Ruler. With Kelsier's help, Vin discovers that she is also an allomancer, quite a powerful one, and that she may have finally found a group of people that she can trust. This was the first audiobook I have listened to and I initially found the experience frustrating because I can read faster than the narrator was talking and his tone made everyone, including the slaves, sound 'posh'. It seemed to take him a while to adapt to the story and once he did I became completely engrossed. Recommended for people who enjoy epic fantasy series.
In the sequel to Dualed, West Grayer's actions come back to haunt her when the Board makes her an offer she can't refuse in return for a series of assassinations. Whilst Divided provides a lot more context for the world the story is set in, and the story has a faster pace, I didn't enjoy it as much because I felt West's character didn't grow enough. Whilst she works on coming to terms with the conflict of the assassinations she had previously carried out, she continues to exhibit secretive behaviours with Chord that she knew were detrimental to her survival from Dualed. The story is open-ended enough to hint at a third novel in the series and I would recommend it to people who are interested in dystopian science fiction.
After enjoying The Girl on the Train so much, I definitely wanted to read Paula Hawkins' new book and once again she had me intrigued with her tale of a series of deaths of women and teenaged girls in the local river in a small English town. Like her first book, the author chose to tell her story from multiple perspectives, but I felt there were too many to keep track of this time, although they did all provide insight into the events that had taken place in the town and raised the theme of perspective. This also prevented you from strongly connecting with any particular character. Additionally, some of the chapters were really short, especially at the start, which was a little frustrating when you are trying to immerse yourself in the story. Recommended for people who enjoy the mystery/crime genre, especially domestic thrillers.
A disturbing, yet fascinating, story about a group of young women between the ages of 16 and 21 who are kidnapped for their beauty, held hostage, and eventually murdered. The story begins following the rescue of a group of girls from captivity and is told in a series of interviews between detectives and one of the survivors whom they suspect may have been more than just a victim, a technique which constantly leaves you wanting to know more. Recommended for older teens and adults (graphic content) who are interested in the crime/thriller genre.
Schizo was an easy read that dealt realistically with the complex topic of Schizophrenia. I liked that the main character was fairly well accepted by his peers despite his mental illness. There are moments when they think he's behaving weirdly or is thought of as the 'boy who snapped' but he is not treated maliciously by them. It shows the difficulty sufferers experience when trying to manage their illness, examples of triggers, and how important medication and counselling are to the process. The relationships that Miles has with his family and friends, the people who stand by him, are also noteworthy. Recommended for people who enjoy reading realistic fiction with teenage characters and people who have enjoyed other books with a mental health theme such as The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Mature content warning for one scene.
I loved Peter Temple's The Broken Shore (a brilliant, Australian crime story with so many interwoven secrets) so when I heard there was a sequel that focused on one of the minor characters I had to read it. However, I found this book frustrating to read: there were a multitude of characters to try and keep track of, there was a large amount of cop slang/banter that was difficult to follow in places, and a lot of time was spent on the personal life and troubles of the main character, whom I didn't really care about, instead of solving the crimes. The last 100 pages did focus on solving the crimes and they were fast-paced and riveting - it was a pity the rest of the book wasn't the same. Truth does contain explicit violence and language which could be disturbing to some readers.
The Leaving started in an intriguing manner with the memory-wiped teens being dropped off in the middle of nowhere with maps to their houses. However, the switching point-of-view between three of the characters made the story slow and it was hard to connect with any of them. The ending also felt quite unsatisfying because, after expecting some big reveal, the author suddenly wraps everything up within a matter of a few pages.
After waiting 29 years for a conclusion to the Obernewtyn Chronicles, this was the most disappointing end to a series that I've ever read. A ridiculous amount of time was wasted in the habitat (essentially an entirely separate story in itself), the book spends a ridiculous amount of time developing minor characters at the expense of central characters (particularly the two main villains), the amount of exposition was mind-numbing, and the book was clearly unedited. After a journey spanning seven books, Elspeth sleeps through the major event that the entire series has been leading towards, and her apparent 'reward' for undertaking the journey was ridiculous.
The second last book in the series, this novel focused heavily on Elspeth's journey to fulfil the prophecy. The journeying also included a lot of conversations between Elspeth and her companions as she revealed all the details of the prophecy and her journey so far - this was a little frustrating as it's already known to the reader. I'm glad I didn't read this volume until the final book in the series had been released because it ends on a cliffhanger.
I remember that when I was growing up I thought it would be pretty cool to be locked in a shopping centre overnight because of all the things you would have access to, so when I discovered that this novel was about fourpeople being trapped in Carousel Shopping Centre here in Perth I was intrigued. Nox, Taylor, Lizzie and Rocky are delivered to the open yet abandoned shopping centre, seemingly by the same taxi. When the employees fail to appear, they go to leave the centre only to discover they're locked in. So begins the fight for survival and escape, an experience which affects each character in a unique way and reveals their strengths and weaknesses. I found it frustrating that the genre wasn't identifiable and the story was left open-ended - throughout the story I was guessing that it was either a social experiment similar to The Truman Show or dystopian fiction and the world outside had been destroyed by some kind of apocalyptic event.
Purported to have been written by Harper Lee prior to To Kill a Mockingbird, Go Set a Watchman was poorly marketed. Rather than being advertised as a great summer read, the book should have been presented as a literary curiousity through which one could study the development of an author's writing ability. It is also possibly a revelation of the impact an editor can have on a final product. I believe there is enough similarity in the writing style to confirm it was written by Harper Lee but the writing feels quite juvenile. Additionally, very little happens in the first 100 pages or so, rather it is a collection of childhood anecdotes. It is no wonder that the editor asked Ms Lee to focus on telling the story of young Scout instead.
The story was a little slow to start with as the main character, Rachel, was difficult to connect with due to her pathetic, alcoholic behaviour. However, following the suspected murder of a person Rachel regularly observes on her daily commute into London, I became intrigued by the multiple perspectives that were introduced to build a complete picture of both current and past events, and the characters who were shaped by them. Recommended for people who enjoy crime and mystery stories.
My Review - Red Rising (Red Rising 1)
Set in a future Mars colony, class continues to determine people's place in society. Everyone's place is determined by their colour, from the Golds who rule to the Reds who mine deep beneath the surface, ignorant of the fact that Mars was colonised hundreds of years before and that they are being used as a slave labour force. After witnessing a family tragedy at the hands of a Gold, Darrow is smuggled out of the mines and endures great pain as he is physically transformed into a Gold in order to infiltrate the ranks of the ruling class and lead an uprising from within. Recommended for fans of science fiction, particularly those interested in space exploration and colonising new planets, and also for people who enjoyed movies such as Total Recall.
This was one of the best books I have read for some time and I would consider one of my top three reads. I chose this book because it sounded similar to Stephen King's 11-22-63, however the plot is much quicker as Hugh Stanton arrives two weeks before the event he must prevent. Elton also provides fantastic descriptions of early 20th century life and travel in Europe. While reading the book you will make one major assumption that will be completely blown out of the water and once you reach the last 50-odd pages you won't be able to put the book down until you've finished it. Recommended for people who enjoy science fiction (time travel), historical fiction, and war stories.
My Review - Firefight (The Reckoners 2)
An enjoyable continuation of the battle with 'epic' evil. A little angst-ridden as the Reckoners of Babylon Restored cope with the death of one of their own but it has action-packed battle scenes when the forces of good and evil collide. A great choice for people who enjoy Marvel/DC graphic novels and who are looking for something similar in a novel format whilst remaining in the science fiction genre.
Another book club book, this was the most bizarre book I've ever read. In serious need of editing, clearly the publishers are relying on Duchovny's celebrity status to sell this book. Inconsistencies abound (one minute the cow is watching movies and the next it doesn't understand what a television is) in this mixture of excessive pop culture references, asides to the reader, and constant 'gangsta'/'hip' language. Duchovny has no idea who the target audience is; the illustrations, length and slang indicate it's for children yet the profanities and descriptions of abattoir practices, high density farming and circumcision suggest an adult audience. I would not recommend this to anyone.
I was disappointed when I read this book. I was hoping that in retelling the story from Juliet's perspective the author would present a more rebellious, feisty character. However, Juliet is very timid and simply accepts her position in the patriarchal society, longing merely to follow in her mother's footsteps, become a mother and manage her own household. The characters of both Romeo and Juliet are quite bland and their relationship does not feel like "the greatest love story ever told".
An enjoyable, slightly futuristic thriller that has a similar beginning to Slated by Teri Terry in which the main character is hospitalised and treated to make her forget who she is. The plot is action packed, beginning with a military invasion during a snow storm and continuing with a deadly hunt through a hospital which hosts small number of uniquely dangerous patients. Whilst there is a reasonably satisfying conclusion, the story is left open-ended enough for a potential sequel.
This series is quite a unique experience for me as it's the first time I've liked the development of the television series instead of the books. The entire first book is covered in the first episode of the television series and then the plot of the series was developed independent of the books. The premise for this series was great, however, the author spends too much time on unnecessary teen angst and hormone-driven behaviour. The weakest, most hopeless character, Glass, has thankfully been left out of the television show. The scenario I liked most in this book was the discovery Clarke and Bellamy made about a particular event that happened before their arrival, and more focus should have been given to this.
This book was chosen by a friend for book club and it was a highly entertaining expose on parental relationships, and parent-child relationships, in an Australian private school setting. The plot revolves around the death of a parent at a school function and is told as a series of flashbacks, interviews and gossip, providing insights into the situation from multiple perspectives. Conflict, secrets and betrayals abound as the novel satirises working mothers who think they can easily juggle family and careers, and affluent mothers who lord their 'status' over others.
A unique take on zombies whereby a virus kills and reanimates children and teenagers; the only way you can tell they are dead is that they have iridescent eyes. The longer a person is dead, the less human emotion they experience upon reanimation. As a result of their emotional state they become the perfect soldiers for a totalitarian government that is only concerned with retaining its power and control. The one thing that would have made the plot stronger is if Wren 178 had remained devoid of emotion, similar to the T-800 in Terminator 2 who could learn but could never feel. As a result of trying to humanise Wren 178, the description of the character's thoughts and actions becomes inconsistent. Recommended to people who enjoy dystopian, science fiction novels.