Wasteland (Operation Galton #2) by Terry Tyler #bookreview #dystopian #scifi

‘Those who escape ‘the system’ are left to survive outside society. The fortunate find places in off-grid communities; the others disappear into the wasteland.’

The year is 2061, and in the new UK megacities, the government watches every move you make. Speech is no longer free—an ‘offensive’ word reaching the wrong ear means a social demerit and a hefty fine. One too many demerits? Job loss and eviction, with free transport to your nearest community for the homeless: the Hope Villages.

Rae Farrer is a megacity girl through and through, proud of her educational and career achievements, until a shocking discovery about her birth forces her to question every aspect of life in UK Megacity 12.

On the other side of the supposedly safe megacity walls, a few wastelanders suspect that their freedom cannot last forever…

Wasteland is the stand-alone sequel to Hope, and is the second and final book in the Operation Galton series.

The first book in this series, Hope, captivated me, but also left me feeling unnerved because the concept isn’t entirely outside the realm of possibility.  I was thrilled when I learned the author continued the story.

Wasteland is set over thirty years after the first book with an entirely new cast of characters for the most part.  I was excited to see what had become of a couple of my favorites from Hope.  This world is just plain scary.  The government is always watching and controls nearly every aspect of life for its citizens.  Have one drink too many, speak unkindly about someone, eat too many sweets, or do or say something outside the dictated parameters of your job, and you’re slapped with social demerits which can result in entire lifestyle changes.  And they’re not pleasant.  Forget thinking for yourself or making your own decisions – it’s all done for you.

A twist I absolutely didn’t see coming after the halfway point made me see things in a whole new light.  I even went back a few pages to see if what I thought happened actually did.  Love surprises like that!  I enjoyed meeting these new characters (especially Ace!), but after reading several books by this author, I’ve learned not to get too attached to some of them.  They don’t always get their happily ever after, and that’s also the case in this story.

The ending is tense and will give readers an adrenaline rush so be prepared.  Fans of dystopia and sci-fi will enjoy this thought-provoking and sometimes disturbing series.  Each book can be read as a stand-alone, but I’d recommend reading them in order.

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

The Future Is Yours by Dan Frey #bookreview #scifi

Two best friends create a computer that can predict the future. But what they can’t predict is how it will tear their friendship—and society—apart.

If you had the chance to look one year into the future, would you?

For Ben Boyce and Adhi Chaudry, the answer is unequivocally yes. And they’re betting everything that you’ll say yes, too. Welcome to The Future: a computer that connects to the internet one year from now, so you can see who you’ll be dating, where you’ll be working, even whether or not you’ll be alive in the year to come. By forming a startup to deliver this revolutionary technology to the world, Ben and Adhi have made their wildest, most impossible dream a reality. Once Silicon Valley outsiders, they’re now its hottest commodity.

The device can predict everything perfectly—from stock market spikes and sports scores to political scandals and corporate takeovers—allowing them to chase down success and fame while staying one step ahead of the competition. But the future their device foretells is not the bright one they imagined.

Ambition. Greed. Jealousy. And, perhaps, an apocalypse. The question is . . . can they stop it?

Told through emails, texts, transcripts, and blog posts, this bleeding-edge tech thriller chronicles the costs of innovation and asks how far you’d go to protect the ones you love—even from themselves. 

I didn’t need to read the complete description before I requested this book. Creating a computer that connects to the internet one year in the future? Then marketing it to the public? My mind was spinning with ideas before I even read the first page.

The way this story is told – through emails, texts, transcripts, and blog posts – may put off some readers, but I’ve read other books with similar formats, and it’s a style I enjoy. I think it works particularly well with this novel. You may have to read between the lines in a couple of places, but it’s not difficult to figure out. The characters’ distinct personalities come through loud and clear.

Ben and Adhi seem like a perfect team – Ben with his business expertise and Adhi with his genius brain. I enjoyed seeing how they got this business off the ground, but I enjoyed reading about the science behind it even more. Yes, disbelief must be suspended, but this science nerd was doing a happy dance. Imagine having a console in your home that allows you to see one year into the future. You’ll know who wins the Super Bowl, find out which companies to invest in, see the state of the world. You may also discover obituaries of loved ones or even yourself or come across pictures of your spouse/significant other with someone else. What can go wrong with this concept? Think about it. Then consider how free will may or may not be connected to what you learn.

At its base level, this story is also about friendship – the good, the bad, and the ugly – and the lengths people will go to hang onto it. The ending is everything and left my head spinning. It’s perfect.

The Future Is Yours is easily one of the best sci-fi books I’ve read this year (2020). You’ll be thinking about it long after finishing the last page.

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

The Stones (Astral Conspiracy #2) by D.L. Cross #bookreview #scifi #aliens #TuesdayBookBlog

He’s running from Astrals. Running with Black Ops. And running toward the end of the world.

Landon Thorne belongs to an elite group: he’s one of the few people who have ever accessed the Akashic Record. He discovers a weapon that could defend the Earth.

The Astrals want to stop him. The government wants to control him. Even his allies are hiding something.

Through it all, he has one purpose. One compulsion. He’s drawn to the Georgia Guidestones.

His journey is fraught with danger – bandits, cannibals, and ancient booby traps — but when Landon finally reaches the Stones, even he is surprised by what he finds. If he can decipher the code, he can save the world.

If he can’t? His discovery may destroy him – along with the rest of the human race.

The Stones is a taut, fast-paced Indiana Jones meets Falling Skies style thriller that spans the globe and digs deep into humanity’s past, unearthing mysterious artifacts and clues to aliens’ motives for invading our world. It is the second book in the Astral Conspiracy Series, set in the world of Platt and Truant’s groundbreaking Invasion Universe – the original series with over 1000 5-star reviews.

D.L. Cross has a flair for high-stakes, heart-pounding thrillers that will keep you up late into the night.

I’m a fan of alien stories, so this series snagged my interest from the beginning. With this being the second in the series, it’s difficult to avoid spoilers, so this may be brief.

I mentioned in my review of the first book that Landon Thorne was having a crappy day – which was a thrilling ride on a unicorn through a field of daisies compared to what he’s going through now. A lot rests on his shoulders – namely the potential survival of the human race – so no pressure. He’s pulled in several directions and is unsure of who to trust. So is the reader, which makes this an even more suspenseful read.

And we meet the aliens! Let’s just say they’re not as nice as ET and leave the rest to the imagination. They’re different types with questionable motives, but that just adds to the mystery. I enjoyed being with these characters again, although a character I had suspicions about in the first book did nothing to prove me wrong in this one. I also enjoyed meeting some new characters, especially Reverie and Ford, and hope to see more of them in the series.

Lots of action, tense moments, an intricate plot, and a diverse cast of characters make this a must read for sci-fi fans, and a it’s a series I highly recommend. The next book is waiting on my Kindle, and I can’t wait to get started!

Escaping Eleven by Jerri Chisholm #bookreview #YA #dystopian

In Compound Eleven, the hierarchy of the floors is everything.

My name is Eve Hamilton, and on my floor, we fight.

Which at least is better than the bottom floor, where they toil away in misery. Only the top floor has any ease in this harsh world; they rule from their gilded offices.

Because four generations ago, Earth was rendered uninhabitable—the sun too hot, the land too barren. Those who remained were forced underground. While not a perfect life down here, I’ve learned to survive as a fighter.

Except my latest match is different. Instead of someone from the circuit, my opponent is a mysterious boy from the top floor. And the look in his eyes tells me he’s different…maybe even kind.

Right before he kicks my ass.

Still, there’s something about him—something that says he could be my salvation…or my undoing. Because I’m no longer content to just survive in Eleven. Today, I’m ready to fight for more than my next meal: I’m fighting for my freedom. And this boy may just be the edge I’ve been waiting on. 

I’ve been a fan of dystopian novels for years, and I’m glad they’re making a comeback. With the MC being a fighter, I felt shades of Katniss from the description.

Saying Eve is a strong female protagonist is an understatement. She’s fierce, physically strong, confident, and occasionally independent to a fault. In her world it’s easier to keep your head down, accept your station in life, and not hope for anything more. But Eve isn’t much of a follower and doesn’t necessarily believe everything she’s been told about the world above. She’s also more curious than most cats I’ve met.

There are a number of tropes in this book, but some of them are necessary components for what happens later in the plot. When Wren steps in as the possessive-I’ll-fight-your-battles-for-you boyfriend, Eve lets him know in no uncertain terms she doesn’t need his help. The problem is that sometimes we all need help, but her flaw is not realizing it and refusing to ask for it in certain situations. A beautiful ex-girlfriend who hasn’t quite accepted the breakup is also in the mix, but serves a purpose. I’d hoped for more information about Wren. Hints are dropped about his backstory and a statement is made that I’d have serious questions about if I were Eve, but they weren’t addressed. I have to assume more details will be revealed in the next book.

With an immersive, fast-paced beginning, I was immediately caught up in the story, but there’s a long lack of action in the middle. In the last 20%, the plot moves at a break-neck pace, and those developments bumped up my overall rating.

Escaping Eleven is gritty, violent, and dark, but those aspects fit Eve’s and Wren’s world. It’s an enticing debut, and the next book will absolutely be on my TBR.

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

I’ll probably be delayed getting to comments. I’m out of town and dealing with iceberg speed Wi-Fi.

Lies and Legacy (Project Gene Assist #3) by Allie Potts #bookreview #scifi #cyberpunk #TuesdayBookBlog

It’s time to finish what they started.

Juliane’s woken to a post-apocalyptic world with no memory of the days leading up to her time in cryogenic suspension. Plagued by guilt, Stephen longs to sleep without being haunted by the faces of those he’s lost. Both are seeking more than answers.

Meanwhile, the defeat of the Watch has created an opportunity for a new world order to step in and take power. On one side, are the Sorcerers, a group of super-humans whose telepathic-like abilities and control over their bodies comes at a terrible price. On the other–an elite squad of genetically modified individuals who are now more beast than man.

Juliane is on a mission to reclaim her legacy.

Stephen is out to save his soul.

Can either stop the upcoming war before it destroys what’s left of humankind? In this struggle for survival of the fittest, they may have to find a way to save themselves first. 

Over two years have passed since I read book two of this series, so I was a little lost in the first few chapters while trying to remember the characters and their relationships to each other.  Once I finished the book, I discovered a character list that would have helped immensely.  Readers – it pays to scan the table of contents first and save yourself some confusion.

Being fascinated by genetic engineering, I’ve enjoyed the premise of this series from the first book.  With a big cliffhanger at the end of book two, I was anxious to see what became of this world and these characters.  With most of them separated, the rotating POVs allowed me to see each of their journeys – especially Stephen’s.  In book two, he’s a naive teen aching for adventure who gets more than he bargains for and learns some unsettling truths about himself.  Although still a somewhat awkward teen, a lot is riding on him, and he’s put into some difficult positions.  His character arc is one of my favorite things about this series.  Juliane’s journey is no less compelling – she’s truly on a mission to set things right.  Another character’s actions surprised me a bit, and I doubted his motivations, but it works for the story.  This is a fitting ending to this story.

With a fascinating premise, creative world-building, and well-drawn characters, this is a series I’d recommend to sci-fi cyberpunk fans.

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

LV48 (Cassie Tam Files #3) by Matt Doyle #bookreview #scifi #LGBT

New Hopeland City may be the birthplace of Tech Shifter gear, but it isn’t the only place that likes to blend technology with folklore. Now, a new nightmare is stalking the streets…

When PI Cassie Tam is attacked on the way home one night, she expects the police to get involved. What she doesn’t expect is to be forced into acting as bait to lure out a lunatic in a tech-suit that’s literally out for blood. But past actions have consequences, and doing so may be the only way she can get a clean slate from the city’s law makers.

If only that didn’t mean having to face down a wannabe vampire.

This is my third Cassie Tam book, and the author’s imagination continues to amaze me.

Although each novel introduces new futuristic technology, the descriptions are detailed and so well done that it’s easy to visualize.  The drawings near the end of the book help explain the tech even more.  This time around Cassie faces a “light vampire” – which explains the title.  I love me some vamps, but these aren’t the traditional vampires seen in most novels and and movies – no spoilers here.  Cassie is wrangled into working with the police department on the case and, although not crazy about the idea, she makes the best of it and and dives in head first – which is a trait I admire.  That and her snark – I always appreciate witty snark.

Bert, her gargoyle familiar, has to be one of my favorite characters.  He’s protective and kind of moody, but you gotta love him.  Cassie and Lori also have some nice scenes together in their new-ish relationship, but I wouldn’t have minded more.  Some new characters are also introduced, and I hope to see more of them in future books.

While there are action-filled scenes, the pacing waned a bit for me in the middle.  I guessed who the villain was early on, but it took longer for it to click with Cassie and friends than expected.  Still, I’m a fan of this thrilling sci-fi series, and it didn’t interfere with my enjoyment of the novel.

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.

 

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 Disasters by M.K. England #bookreview #scifi #YA

Hotshot pilot Nax Hall has a history of making poor life choices. So it’s not exactly a surprise when he’s kicked out of the elite Ellis Station Academy in less than twenty-four hours.

But Nax’s one-way trip back to Earth is cut short when a terrorist group attacks the Academy. Nax and three other washouts escape—barely—but they’re also the sole witnesses to the biggest crime in the history of space colonization. And the perfect scapegoats.

On the run and framed for atrocities they didn’t commit, Nax and his fellow failures execute a dangerous heist to spread the truth about what happened at the Academy.

They may not be “Academy material,” and they may not get along, but they’re the only ones left to step up and fight.

I’m a sucker for a diverse group of unlikely heroes, and when they’re thrown into space it’s a nearly irresistible read.

I listened to this audiobook during a long drive, and for the most part, it held my interest.  Nax’s voice is a highlight of the book, and his internal monologues had me laughing several times.  Being in the middle of a bi-love triangle makes for some pretty awkward moments for him.  The rest of the crew is also engaging.  Tossing them into a nearly immediate life or death situation inspires pretty quick bonding, and trust soon follows.

From the tagline, I expected more humorous moments.  For me, Nax joining up with other “washouts” indicates they’re misfits or also have a history of making poor life decisions, but all these characters are highly skilled and close to prodigies.  The focus of the story slants more toward political conspiracies and the group trying to save the day – nothing wrong wrong with that, but the description is a little misleading.

The Disasters has some great characterization and lots of action, but the pace moves a little slow for my taste.  Still, a solid read.