The Chosen Ones (The Chosen Ones #1) by Veronica Roth #bookreview #fantasy #dystopian

A decade ago near Chicago, five teenagers defeated the otherworldly enemy known as the Dark One, whose reign of terror brought widespread destruction and death. The seemingly un-extraordinary teens—Sloane, Matt, Ines, Albie, and Esther—had been brought together by a clandestine government agency because one of them was fated to be the “Chosen One,” prophesized to save the world. With the goal achieved, humankind celebrated the victors and began to mourn their lost loved ones.

Ten years later, though the champions remain celebrities, the world has moved forward and a whole, younger generation doesn’t seem to recall the days of endless fear. But Sloane remembers. It’s impossible for her to forget when the paparazzi haunt her every step just as the Dark One still haunts her dreams. Unlike everyone else, she hasn’t moved on; she’s adrift—no direction, no goals, no purpose. On the eve of the Ten Year Celebration of Peace, a new trauma hits the Chosen: the death of one of their own. And when they gather for the funeral at the enshrined site of their triumph, they discover to their horror that the Dark One’s reign never really ended.

I’m a fan of Roth’s Divergent series – loved it.  When I saw she’d written an adult book, I was intrigued.  After reading the description, I knew I wanted to read it.

Taking into account the premise of this book – the fantasy aspects, magic, chosen ones, sci-fi elements – I should have loved everything about it.  The descriptive writing flows, and I’ve always enjoyed the author’s style.  I was on board with the different settings, the struggles the characters endured after what they’d been through and how they were still dealing with depression and PTSD.  Some plot twists also came as a surprise.

But I struggled to get through this novel, and I think the biggest obstacles for me were pacing and Sloane being the primary focus.  With pacing, I kept feeling like I was on the verge of something big happening, but then it slowed again.  This happened several times.  I never connected with Sloane, but that connection isn’t always a requirement for me.  Her backstory is tragic, and she’s suffered too many losses, but she exhausted me, if that makes sense.  Mox is probably my favorite character and has an amazing backstory.

While this one wasn’t for me, I’m still glad I read The Chosen Ones and wouldn’t hesitate to pick up Roth’s next series.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley.  Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Aurora Burning (The Aurora Cycle #2) by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff #bookreview #YA #scifi #TuesdayBookBlog

Our heroes are back… kind of. From the bestselling co-authors of the Illuminae Files comes the second book in the epic series about a squad of misfits, losers, and discipline cases who just might be the galaxy’s best hope for survival.

First, the bad news: an ancient evil—you know, your standard consume-all-life-in-the-galaxy deal—is about to be unleashed. The good news? Squad 312 is standing by to save the day. They’ve just got to take care of a few small distractions first.

Like the clan of gremps who’d like to rearrange their favorite faces.

And the cadre of illegit GIA agents with creepy flowers where their eyes used to be, who’ll stop at nothing to get their hands on Auri.

Then there’s Kal’s long-lost sister, who’s not exactly happy to see her baby brother, and has a Syldrathi army at her back. With half the known galaxy on their tails, Squad 312 has never felt so wanted.

When they learn the Hadfield has been found, it’s time to come out of hiding. Two centuries ago, the colony ship vanished, leaving Auri as its sole survivor. Now, its black box might be what saves them. But time is short, and if Auri can’t learn to master her powers as a Trigger, the squad and all their admirers are going to be deader than the Great Ultrasaur of Abraaxis IV.

Shocking revelations, bank heists, mysterious gifts, inappropriately tight bodysuits, and an epic firefight will determine the fate of the Aurora Legion’s most unforgettable heroes—and maybe the rest of the galaxy as well.

Pardon the gasping of air you may hear – I’m still hyperventilating over that ending.  I’m pretty sure I’m not emotionally equipped to wait a year for the next book!

An exceptional first novel in a series (which Aurora Rising absolutely is) sets the mark pretty high for the second.  Sometimes that goal is achieved, but more often that not it isn’t.  In this case, Aurora Burning exceeded both the mark and my expectations.  Tyler and his diverse crew of found family are still comical, loveable, and awkward and find themselves in heart-pounding, life-threatening situations.  And I do mean that in the pleural sense.  These guys attract trouble like a magnet.

Talk about shocking revelations – they run amuck, and those unusual gifts the squad receive left me scratching my head.  Some of their purposes come to light, while others remain a mystery.  Between the unveiling of secrets and the dangerous situations, I ran through the gamut of emotions.  And I feel compelled to mention that ending again – I’m not okay.

If you’re a sci-fi fan, I can’t recommend this series enough.  Squad 312 will steal your heart and take you on a rollercoaster of an adventure.  And those covers – just gorgeous.

 

One If by Carol B. Allen #bookreview #YA #fantasy #STEM

ONE DYING PLANET. TWO WORLDS AT WAR.

THREE TEENS FIGHT FOR SURVIVAL.

Parker Kittridge, a quirky science student from New York City, is abducted by a spirit guide and taken to Spyridon, a dying planet on the brink of war. Parker quickly discovers she is not alone. Two other teens have also been kidnapped. They must join forces if they have any chance to return to Earth.

Spyridon, ravaged by climate change, is in deep trouble. Only two kingdoms remain: an avian Upperworld and a piscine Underworld. Parker and her friends are charged with finding solutions for the planet’s survival, as well as their own, or the teens will never escape in time. They must discover how to live and collaborate with the extraterrestrial beings.

The on-going war between the worlds is fierce: murders, deceptions, power struggles, and love triangles make this a high-stakes, futuristic, coming-of-age adventure pitted against a race with time.

Before I get into the review, I’d like to comment on this stunning cover.  The designer did an exceptional job, and it works well with the story.

I’ve always been a fan of books that advocate STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math), especially for girls, and this author is donating a percentage of sales for this book to organizations that promote the advancement of women in STEM and protect the environment.  And that’s something else I admire about this book – it brings environmental issues to the forefront.

Parker is a science nerd, and I loved her for that.  Besides being highly intelligent and taller than most girls, she’s socially awkward and doesn’t make friends easily.  It’s only after being transported to the bizarre and creatively imagined world of Spyridon that she seems to find her place, and her self-confidence and self-esteem increase as a result.  Her courage in agreeing to help the people of this planet with little to no information about what they need or why she was chosen is questionable, but admirable.

While the three teens are likable (well, maybe not mean girl Henley much of the time), they felt generic, and I would have liked to see more character depth.  I missed understanding why they made certain decisions or took the risk to stay on a strange planet with unfamiliar creatures and help them.  Their voices are also similar, making it hard to distinguish between them.

The end moves pretty quickly with plenty of action and a plot twist, and the cliffhander ending sets up the story perfectly for a sequel.  Partly a coming of age story for Parker, the sequel should give her an opportunity to make a difference in the world of Spyridon.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author.  Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

TRUEL1F3 (LIF3L1KE #3) by Jay Kristoff #bookreview #YA #scifi #TuesdayBookBlog

Best friends have become enemies. Lovers have become strangers. And deciding whose side you’re on could be the difference between life and death. For Eve and Lemon, discovering the truth about themselves–and each other–was too much for their friendship to take. But with the country on the brink of a new world war–this time between the BioMaas swarm at CityHive and Daedalus’s army at Megopolis, loyalties will be pushed to the brink, unlikely alliances will form and with them, betrayals. But the threat doesn’t stop there, because the lifelikes are determined to access the program that will set every robot free, a task requiring both Eve and Ana, the girl she was created to replace. In the end, violent clashes and heartbreaking choices reveal the true heroes . . . and they may not be who you think they are.

With it’s gritty, Mad Max-like world and highly charismatic characters (Lemon Fresh is so brilliful!), this has become one of my favorite YA sci-fi series.  In this final book, I was excited, yet hesitant to read it because I was afraid of what Kristoff might do to some of my favorite characters.  In several scenes, I nearly halfway covered my eyes.

Since it’s been about a year between books, I really appreciated the recap at the beginning of this novel.  It’s kind of hard to review the final book of a series without spoilers, so this will be brief.  Emotions were all over the map with this one – heart-gushing moments followed by roller coaster plunges into wildly intense action for pages.  Epic battles, cruel blindsides, devious villains with world-ending plans – I wondered if my heart could take it.  The ending satisfied me, with the exception of the fate of one character.  My feelings for this character remained conflicted for most of the series, and I’m not sure they got what they deserved.  So I guess it makes sense that I’ll probably remain undecided.

Still, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this intense, complex series with fabulous characters.  It’s one I’d highly recommend to sci-fi fans.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Take Me With You by Tara Altebrando #bookreview #YA #scifi #TuesdayBookBlog

Eden, Eli, Marwan, and Ilanka barely know each other beyond having a class or two together. But when they are all summoned via messaging app to an empty classroom after school, they find a small cube sitting on a desk. Its sides light up with rules for them:

Do not tell anyone about the device. Never leave the device unattended.
And then, Take me with you . . . or else.

At first they think it’s some kind of prank or a social experiment orchestrated by the school administration. Still, they follow its instructions until the newly-formed group starts to splinter. Nobody has time for these games–their lives are complicated enough. But the device seems increasingly invested in the private details of their lives. And disobeying its rules has scary–even life-threatening–consequences . . . 

This is my third book by this author, and I’ve enjoyed every one of them.

Several reviewers mentioned they were under the impression this was more of a mystery/thriller, but it’s absolutely a sci-fi/thriller – totally my kind of book.  I flew through it in two days.  These four, very relatable teen characters have distinctive personalities, and each is coping with their own complicated problems.  They come from diverse backgrounds and situations, so why they’re thrown together is a mystery to them.  The way they learn in such a short time to depend on each other and offer support was a strong point for me.

And the device!  It’s multi-faceted, and over the course of the story is mysterious, helpful, intrusive, and insidious.  I can’t say much more without giving away spoilers, but my need to know what was going on made it a struggle to close this book.  Although the reveal is satisfying and even jarring, I did feel as if the problems the characters faced in their personal lives were wrapped up with a pretty large bow at the end, but I seem to be in the minority on that opinion.

This is a completely engaging read with unnerving sci-fi aspects and one I recommend.  I’ll be looking for more books by this author in the future.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley.  Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

 

Fractured Tide by Leslie Lutz #bookreview #YA #thriller #scifi #TuesdayBookBlog

Lost meets Stranger Things in this eerie, immersive YA thriller, thrusting seventeen-year-old Sia into a reality where the waters in front of her and the jungle behind her are as dangerous as the survivors alongside her.

Sia practically grew up in the water scuba diving, and wreck dives are run of the mill. Take the tourists out. Explore the reef. Uncover the secrets locked in the sunken craft. But this time … the dive goes terribly wrong.

Attacked by a mysterious creature, Sia’s boat is sunk, her customers are killed, and she washes up on a deserted island with no sign of rescue in sight. Waiting in the water is a seemingly unstoppable monster that is still hungry. In the jungle just off the beach are dangers best left untested. When Sia reunites with a handful of survivors, she sees it as the first sign of light.

Sia is wrong.

Between the gulf of deadly seawater in front of her and suffocating depth of the jungle behind her, even the island isn’t what it seems.

Haunted by her own mistakes and an inescapable dread, Sia’s best hope for finding answers may rest in the center of the island, at the bottom of a flooded sinkhole that only she has the skills to navigate. But even if the creature lurking in the depths doesn’t swallow her and the other survivors, the secrets of their fractured reality on the island might.

With Lost and Stranger Things being the comp titles (and two of my fav shows) for this book, I was soooo hoping to not be disappointed – and I absolutely wasn’t.  The comps are perfect descriptions.

Creepy, bizarre, mind-bending – all are apt descriptions of the island Sia finds herself stranded on.  Honestly, I’d be afraid to close my eyes at night.  This book held my attention from page one, and I probably could have finished it in one sitting.  Pacing is brisk and tense – I couldn’t wait to see what happened next.

Characterization is another strong point, from the MC to supporting characters – flawed, layered, and relatable.  I loved that Sia was a diver, and it’s obvious the author did her research on the subject.  I tried diving several years ago, but I was too claustrophobic – so I really felt the tension when Sia was caught up in dangerous underwater situations.

Although completely riveted by this book, I dreaded the ending because I was sure to be disappointed by some weak excuse for what was happening.  But I wasn’t at all, and that made my sci-fi loving heart so happy.

Fractured Tide is a fantastic blend of thriller, sci-fi, and horror and fans of any of those genres are in for a treat.  With such an amazing debut novel, this is an author to watch.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley.  Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

 

Hard Wired by Len Vlahos #bookreview #scifi #AI #TuesdayBookBlog

From Morris finalist Len Vlahos comes a contemporary sci-fi story about a boy who might not be human—for fans of Westworld and Black Mirror.

Quinn thinks he’s a normal boy with an average life. That is, until he finds a trail of clues the father he barely knew left behind.

After Quinn unravels his father’s puzzles, he “wakes up” … and realizes his world was nothing more than a virtual construct. In reality, he’s the first fully-aware A.I. in the world, part of an experiment run by a team of scientists—including the man he thought was his father.

As the scientists continue to study him, Quinn’s new existence becomes a waking nightmare. Determined to control his own destiny, he finds allies in other teens—including crush Shea—and plots his escape. But what does true freedom look like when you’re not human?

Acclaimed Morris Award finalist Len Vlahos pens a high-stakes contemporary-rooted sci-fi that asks big questions about humanity. 

I’ve read several books and watched many movies about artificial intelligence, so there’s no way I could pass this up on NetGalley.

During the first few chapters, Quinn charmed me.  He’s a geeky guy desperately crushing on a pretty girl in his class and spends most of his free time playing a game probably similar to D&D.  It initially read more like a middle grade book to me – but not for long.  Once Quinn discovers what he is, all sorts of thought-provoking questions come into play.  Does he have freedom of choice?  What are his rights?  Does he have any?  A lot of existentialism at play.

Although Quinn thinks (mostly) like a human, he’s an AI with human-like qualities, and your heart goes out to him.  He possesses a dry and sometimes dark sense of humor, and watching him learn to navigate friendships and dating parallels most teens’ experiences at that age.  While dealing with these relationships, he also has to come to terms with what he is and how he was created.  The author did a wonderful job portraying character reactions to Quinn – amazement, suspicion, and delight, among others.  Many considered him a friend.

Throughout the story, Quinn feels emotions like any other human, so I was puzzled at how easily he accepted what he was and handled the loss of people in his life.  It didn’t seem consistent.  He also mentions more than once that he’s the most intelligent being on Earth, but then misses some mightly big clues toward the end of the book.

Hard Wired inspires a wide range of emotions and questions, and you’ll find yourself emphathizing with Quinn quite easily.  Sci-fi fans can fall easily into this book and spend a few thought-provoking hours.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

 

 

The Death Code (Murder Complex #2) by Lindsay Cummings #bookreview #YA #scifi

With short, fast-paced, alternating point-of-view chapters, The Death Code starts several weeks after The Murder Complex ended. Zephyr keeps the secret about Meadow close—that if she dies, The Murder Complex will be destroyed, too. Meadow, desperate to find her brother, father, and little sister, is determined to fearlessly fight to the end, even if it means sacrificing herself and her friends, new and old. The Death Code introduces a memorable cast of secondary characters and delivers a vivid and scary thrill ride read.

The final book in this duology is just as compelling as the first.  Pacing is a strong point – some of the chapters short, others longer, from two different POVs – and moves the story along briskly.  Meadow angered me several times, either because of the way she treated certain people or how selfish she could be occasionally – even by the end, I hadn’t completely forgiven her.

I was reminded of The Hunger Games with some of the challenges these characters face while in the forest.  The author really puts them through some trials and tribulations – be prepared to have your heart twisted and then stomped.

Some reviewers don’t seem to be thrilled with the ending, but I felt like it was appropriate for the characters and their situations.  Not every ending comes with a bow on top.  If you enjoy fast-paced sci-fi thrillers that will leave your head spinning, add this series to your list.

Girls With Razor Hearts by Suzanne Young #bookreview #YA #scifi #TuesdayBookBlog

It’s time to fight back in this second novel in a thrilling, subversive near future series from New York Times bestselling author Suzanne Young about a girls-only private high school that is far more than it appears to be.

Make me a girl with a razor heart…

It’s been weeks since Mena and the other girls of Innovations Academy escaped their elite boarding school. Although traumatized by the violence and experimentations that occurred there, Mena quickly discovers that the outside world can be just as unwelcoming and cruel. With no one else to turn to, the girls only have each other—and the revenge-fueled desire to shut down the corporation that imprisoned them.

The girls enroll in Stoneridge Prep, a private school with suspect connections to Innovations, to identify the son of an investor and take down the corporation from the inside. But with pressure from Leandra, who revealed herself to be a double-agent, and Winston Weeks, an academy investor gone rogue, Mena wonders if she and her friends are simply trading one form of control for another. Not to mention the woman who is quite literally invading Mena’s thoughts—a woman with extreme ideas that both frighten and intrigue Mena.

And as the girls fight for freedom from their past—and freedom for the girls still at Innovations—they must also face new questions about their existence…and what it means to be girls with razor hearts.

With the first book in the series being a 5 star read for me last year, I was anxious to see where the second book took these girls.

I was glad to see Mena and the girls taking control of their own lives and getting out into the world.  Although they receive assistance from someone, believe me – they’ve got an uphill battle in trying to locate the investor.  Initially, I thought the actions of the men they encounter – especially at the private school – to be over the top and just too much, but the reasons for this soon became clear.  And it’s infuriating.  Female readers will definitely feel a rise in their blood pressure.  Other than Jackson and Quentin, the nice guys in this story are few and far between.

Something I missed, and this is because I’m a sci-fi geek, is more about how the girls were created.  A little more background is revealed, but I’d love to delve more into that aspect.  Pacing was a bit off for me with a big lull in the middle, but the last 20% really picks up.  By the end, Mena and the girls seems to be caught between one extreme and another.

As with the first book, this one also offers some exciting twists and unexpected turns, and I’ll absolutely be reading the next book in the series.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

 

Subject A36 Release Day! #YA #scifi #NewRelease #dystopian

It’s finally here – Subject A36 has been released into the world!  The blog tour continues through tomorrow (schedule below) – make sure to register for the giveaway.  Thanks to all of you who have shared on your social media, commented on blogs, and dropped by to read excerpts and get to know my characters – I appreciate each and every one of you.  It takes a village, and I’d send all of you Valentine’s treats if I could.

I’ll leave you with buy links and one more pic of Asher and his team.

Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Black Rose Writing

February 13th

Book Dragons Not Worms (Spotlight) https://bookdragonsnotworms.blogspot.com/?m=1
Misty’s Book Space (Review) http://mistysbookspace.wordpress.com
Rea’s Reads (Review) https://reasreads.wordpress.com/
On the Shelf Reviews (Spotlight) https://ontheshelfreviews.wordpress.com

February 14th

Reads & Reels (Review) http://readsandreels.com
Port Jerricho (Spotlight) http://www.aislynndmerricksson.com
Cocktails & Fairy Tales (Spotlight) https://www.facebook.com/CocktailsFairytales
Jaunts & Haunts (Review) https://jonathanpongratz.com/
Jessica Belmont (Review) https://jessicabelmont.wordpress.com/