science fiction, young adult

Book Review: The Giver by Lois Lowry


Title: The Giver
Author: Lois Lowry
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Length: 240 Pages, Paperback
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction
Rating: 5 Folded Pages

The Giver, the 1994 Newbery Medal winner, has become one of the most influential novels of our time. The haunting story centers on twelve-year-old Jonas, who lives in a seemingly ideal, if colorless, world of conformity and contentment. Not until he is given his life assignment as the Receiver of Memory does he begin to understand the dark, complex secrets behind his fragile community. Lois Lowry has written three companion novels to The Giver, including Gathering Blue, Messenger, and Son.

It’s amazing how much of this book went way over my head the first time I read it. I think was about 15 at the time and I remember enjoying the book but not really getting why everyone praised it so much. This is my second time reading and wow this book packs a punch.

I think my favorite thing about The Giver is Lowry’s writing. It’s to the point but still descriptive enough to give you the whole picture. It’s the kind of writing I aspire to have. I never felt bogged down by meaningless details or unnecessary information that just muddies the story. I enjoy when things are straight to the point especially when it’s a story like The Giver. The message would not be the same if it was written in a more flowery way.

The character’s themselves are kind of 2D except for Jonas and maybe the Giver. Normally this would bother me but for the world it makes sense. They don’t have a reason or a need to be more than that.

I read this book in about 2 days. It was quick but it resonates with me as it does with the thousands of other people who have read it. My version of the book also has an introduction by Lowry that I found extremely interesting. I won’t give anything away but if you have a chance to read the introduction by her, you should.

I think it’s pretty obvious that I really enjoyed The Giver. It has all my favorite things about books aside from romance. It was funny sometimes and extremely sad others. It had interesting characters. It wasn’t trying to be poetic with the writing. Basically, I need more books like The Giver in my life.

science fiction, scifi, short story, young adult

Book Review: Stars Above by Marissa Meyer


Title: Stars Above
Author: Marissa Meyer
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Length: 400 Pages, Hardback
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Short Stories
Rating: 3.5 Folded Pages

The enchantment continues. . . .
The universe of the Lunar Chronicles holds stories – and secrets – that are wondrous, vicious, and romantic. How did Cinder first arrive in New Beijing? How did the brooding soldier Wolf transform from young man to killer? When did Princess Winter and the palace guard Jacin realize their destinies?
With nine stories – five of which have never before been published – and an exclusive never-before-seen excerpt from Marissa Meyer’s novel, Heartless, about the Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland, Stars Above is essential for fans of the bestselling and beloved Lunar Chronicles.

As with Fairest I found these short stories to be nice but unnecessary. I could have done with or without them. Of the 9 short stories I only really enjoyed three of them. The rest were kind of boring and I was pretty bored reading them.

Honestly, the only short stories I thought to be worth while to the series was “The Mechanic” the scene where Kai met Cinder but from Kai’s point of view and “Something Old, Something New” the only story about after the series.

I also enjoyed “The Little Android” which was a short story retelling of The Little Mermaid but I liked it as it’s own separate short story not necessarily as something connected to The Lunar Chronicles as a whole.

I would have given this a 2.5 if not for “Something Old, Something New.” This last short story had me smiling like a fool one minute and tearing up the next.

I will say that reading these short stories made me really miss the series. I almost stopped reading these short stories and picked up Cinder to reread.

I like that Marissa Meyer has been fleshing out the series but I wish the stories were more relevant or added more to the world. These almost felt like fanfiction for the series, not official stories from the author.

science fiction, scifi, young adult

Novella Review: Fairest by Marissa Meyer


Title: Fairest
Author: Marissa Meyer
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Length: 272 Pages, Hardback
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Novella
Rating: 3 Folded Pages

Mirror, mirror, on the wall.
Who is the Fairest of them all?

Pure evil has a name, hides behind a mask of deceit, and uses her “glamour” to gain power. But who is Queen Levana? Long before she crossed paths with Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress in The Lunar Chronicles, Levana lived a very different story―a story that has never been told . . . until now.

I’m sad that I didn’t enjoy this more. Maybe it’s because I read it after I read Winter or maybe it’s because it followed Illuminae. Either way, this novella was kind of eh for me. It wasn’t great but it wasn’t awful.

I definitely enjoyed being able to see why Levana was the way she was. However, I don’t think it evoked the feelings in me that Meyer intended. I didn’t feel sorry for Levana. In fact, this made me dislike Levana even more.

Warning: Spoilers are ahead.

This novella clearly shows that Levana was not mentally stable. All of her problems were non-existent or self created. I think her mental instability might stem from Channary using the lunar gift on Levana when she was young alongside the trauma she faced as a child. Either way, I didn’t really feel for Levana the way I wanted to. I wanted to understand her and feel bad for her but I just couldn’t.

Spoilers over

Overall, this novella was nice for fleshing out Levana and adding to the world building of the Lunar chronicles but I could have lived without it.

Horror, romance, science fiction, young adult

Book Review: Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff


Title: Illuminae
Author: Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Length: 608 Pages, Hardback
Genre: Science Fiction, Romance, Young Adult, Horror (kinda)
Rating: 5 Folded Pages

This morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do. This afternoon, her planet was invaded.
The year is 2575, and two rival megacorporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than a speck at the edge of the universe. Now with enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra—who are barely even talking to each other—are forced to evacuate with a hostile warship in hot pursuit.
But their problems are just getting started. A plague has broken out and is mutating with terrifying results; the fleet’s AI may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady hacks into a web of data to find the truth, it’s clear the only person who can help her is the ex-boyfriend she swore she’d never speak to again.
Told through a fascinating dossier of hacked documents—including emails, maps, files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and more—Illuminae is the first book in a heart-stopping trilogy about lives interrupted, the price of truth, and the courage of everyday heroes.

I’m like 95% sure this book almost pushed me into a book slump and not in the bad way. This book was so good it had me contemplating what I would do with life while I wait for the sequel. I was a little unsure going into this book. I’d heard great things but typically I don’t do well with weird formats. I was extremely surprised by just how much I loved the unusual way of storytelling in this.

Even though the book was not told through normal conventions, the characters were SO well developed. Kady was sassy and fun even when facing big issues. Her character shined even when she was nervous or scared. Ezra was confident and it was obvious with how quickly he took to being a pilot.

I won’t go further into characters to avoid spoilers, but I generally loved how each character was built and shown. With how the story was told, it would have been very easy to tell and not show but Kaufman and Kristoff managed to do more showing with their unconventional point of views than a lot of the novels I’ve read.

I do have to give a warning for some pretty hardcore gore. The novel isn’t technically labeled as Horror but for me it definitely reads like it. I haven’t read any horror but parts of it felt like I was watching a horror movie so I wanted to add that warning to any who might be squeamish.

The plot was super interesting. Again, I won’t be detailed about it to avoid spoilers but I felt like plot twists just kept coming at me and almost none of them were expected. On a side note, homosexual relationships were thrown in very nonchalantly and treated as normal. I appreciated this. As always, it would have been nice to have LGBTQ+ stuff at the forefront. I’m still glad that this kind of thing was included and that they didn’t make a big deal of it.

This book was such a breath of fresh air. I’ve been struggling to find books to read since finishing this because it was so good. It also took me much too long to write this review. I don’t think words could justify just how much I loved this book. If I can convince you to read one book, it’d be this one. It’s the best book I’ve read in a very long time.

Fairytale Retelling, romance, science fiction, young adult

Book Review: Winter by Marissa Meyer


Title: Winter (The Lunar Chronicles Book 4)
Author: Marissa Meyer
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Length: 832 Pages, Hardback
Genre: Science Fiction, Romance, Young Adult, Fairytale Retelling
Rating: 4 Folded Pages

See my review for the first 3 books in The Lunar Chronicles here.
Warning: This may contain spoilers for the first 3 books.

Princess Winter is admired by the Lunar people for her grace and kindness, and despite the scars that mar her face, her beauty is said to be even more breathtaking than that of her stepmother, Queen Levana.

Winter despises her stepmother, and knows Levana won’t approve of her feelings for her childhood friend–the handsome palace guard, Jacin. But Winter isn’t as weak as Levana believes her to be and she’s been undermining her stepmother’s wishes for years. Together with the cyborg mechanic, Cinder, and her allies, Winter might even have the power to launch a revolution and win a war that’s been raging for far too long.

Can Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, and Winter defeat Levana and find their happily ever afters? Fans will not want to miss this thrilling conclusion to Marissa Meyer’s national bestselling Lunar Chronicles series.

This was probably my most anticipated book of 2015. Unfortunately it came out during my great November/December reading slump so I didn’t get to it until this month. Mostly because the book was on hold for forever at my library.

This book is massive. The paper is just slightly thicker than bible paper and I think how big it is lends itself to why I found the book very stop and go with action. I found some parts weren’t actiony enough and other parts were almost too actiony.

The book is still a super satisfying ending to an amazing series but I almost wish it was split into two books and the action bits more detailed to help offset some of the slowness.

I both liked and disliked Winter. Some parts with her were very annoying but in others she was endearing. I don’t think she stands up well to the other characters in the series though. She falls kind of flat compared to Cress, Cinder, and Scarlet. Jason also seems very two dimensional.

I don’t want to give much away so that’s all I’ll say on the matter. I think Cinder is still my favorite book in the series and while this ending is satisfying I feel like it was missing something in the writing and I wish it would have had steadier pacing.

science fiction

Book Review: The Martian by Andy Weir

the martian

Title: The Martian
Author: Andy Weir
Publisher: Broadway Books
Length: 387, Paperback
Genre: Science Fiction
Rating: 5 Folded Pages

Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars.

Now, he’s sure he’ll be the first person to die there.

After a dust storm nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded and completely alone with no way to even signal Earth that he’s alive—and even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone long before a rescue could arrive.

Chances are, though, he won’t have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment, or plain-old “human error” are much more likely to kill him first.

But Mark isn’t ready to give up yet. Drawing on his ingenuity, his engineering skills—and a relentless, dogged refusal to quit—he steadfastly confronts one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next. Will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him?

I finally read this book after seeing so many rave reviews. I was worried that the hype was more than the book deserved but after reading it I can safely say it probably needs more hype. I’m not sure I’ve ever said that about a book but no one I know in real life had even heard of the book until the movie.

I think most people’s biggest problem with the book was the information dumps it has frequently but I actually really enjoyed those parts. It was written as if Watney was recording his life on Mars for when someone found it long after he was gone and I think a real scientist would have done just as many info dumps so people would know how he survived.

The writing was simple and easy to understand for a science fiction novel. I went into it expecting to have to struggle through a lot of science verbiage that I’d have to look up but that wasn’t the case at all. It was nice. Sci-fi books tend to be a bit intimidating for me because I am awful at science. The Martian doesn’t let that happen.

I do think it had some slower parts but they didn’t last long and the whole novel was intense and suspenseful so the slower parts were a nice breather. I don’t read a lot of suspense filled novels so I enjoyed the bits where it wasn’t so suspenseful.

science fiction, scifi

Book Review: Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

Featuring Channie (my cat) staring into the distance

Title: Ender’s Game
Author: Orson Scott Card
Publisher: Tor Teen
Length: 384, Paperback
Genre: Science fiction
Rating: 5 Folded Pages

Once again, Earth is under attack. An alien species is poised for a final assault. The survival of humanity depends on a military genius who can defeat the aliens. But who?
Ender Wiggin. Brilliant. Ruthless. Cunning. A tactical and strategic master. And a child.
Recruited for military training by the world government, Ender’s childhood ends the moment he enters his new home: Battle School. Among the elite recruits Ender proves himself to be a genius among geniuses. He excels in simulated war games. But is the pressure and loneliness taking its toll on Ender? Simulations are one thing. How will Ender perform in real combat conditions? After all, Battle School is just a game. Isn’t it?

I think my review for this might be a little biased. I read the original short story in my science fiction and fantasy literature course and I wanted to see the difference between that and the novel. I think this review will be biased simply because I can’t help but compare the novel to the short story and the novel is 1000x better.

Ender is a deeply complicated little boy and then teen in this and I love that the novel allows you to see so much more of Ender. The short story gives as little as possible because it needs to meet a word requirement. The fact that the overall story and characters are fleshed out more is amazing and perfect.

The novel has so much feeling in it even if I don’t compare it to the short story. I found myself crying for Ender and even some of the other characters. I was invested and I honestly couldn’t put the book down once I started. I hated having to stop reading it because I needed more.

I also loved being able to see how much Card’s writing had improved from the short story. Card was able to convey what he wanted more clearly but beautifully. I love his simplistic way of writing. It makes this novel and the genre so much more accessible than other of it’s type.

Overall, I can’t really find anything bad to say about the book. I enjoyed it for what it was and I can’t wait to continue the series.

classic, science fiction, scifi

Book Review: 1984 by George Orwell


Title: 1984
Author: George Orwell
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Length: 668, Kindle book
Genre: Classic, Science Fiction
Rating: 3 Folded pages

In 1984, London is a grim city where Big Brother is always watching you and the Thought Police can practically read your mind. Winston is a man in grave danger for the simple reason that his memory still functions. Drawn into a forbidden love affair, Winston finds the courage to join a secret revolutionary organization called The Brotherhood, dedicated to the destruction of the Party. Together with his beloved Julia, he hazards his life in a deadly match against the powers that be.

I finally finished it! Albeit, with a lot more skimming/skipping than I should have but honestly who can legitimately get through that long treatise from The Book? Because I certainly couldn’t. I would have quit the book entirely if I didn’t skip through it.

That being said I did enjoy the last part. The action finally kicked up and it wasn’t endless exposition. The book itself poses so many ideas to think about and I see why this is a classic but I still disliked the first two parts immensely. I was bored and I kept having to force myself through but it is no secret that I am not a big fan of classics. I want to read for fun and forcing myself through long winded and boring exposition is definitely not my idea of fun.

I do feel like I learned something from reading it though and I’m glad I did. I’m just also glad I’m done reading it. There isn’t much I can say considering it’s a classic. I’m glad it’s over and at least it’s given a few things to think about in the meantime.

new adult, science fiction, scifi

Graphic Novel Review: Saga Volumes 3 and 4 by Brian Vaughan and Fiona Staples


Title: Saga Volume 3 and Volume 4
Author: Brian K. Vaughan
Illustrator: Fiona Staples
Publisher: Image Comics
Length: 144 and 144
Genre: New Adult, Graphic Novel, Science Fiction
Rating: 3 Folded pages for both volumes

Click here to see my review of Volumes 1 and 2!

Landfall and it’s moon, Wreath, have always been at war. Instead of fighting on their own planets the opposing sides take proxy planets to fight wars on. The story follows a star crossed couple and their baby.

If you read my first Saga review, then you know I absolutely adored Volumes 1 and 2, which makes me say sad to say that Volumes 3 and 4 didn’t really do it for me. I still loved the characters and artwork but it felt more like filler than story. I can honestly say I’m not sure what happened to progress the story in these two volumes.

Sequels are always hard but I find that normally graphic novels have an easier time because the story is spread out by the artwork. It’s expected that graphic novels have several volumes. However, I think Saga is struggling to keep the story going. Both volumes were mostly unexplained action that became boring fast. The two volumes did set up the next volume to be nicely packed with both action and story so I’m excited and hopeful.

Because I was so disappointed with these volumes I can only give them 3 folded pages which honestly saddens me because we need more graphic novels (or even regular novels) with the kind of diversity and themes that Saga has.

dystopian, science fiction, scifi, young adult

Book Review: Unwind by Neal Shusterman

Unwind by Neal Shusterman

Title: Unwind
Author: Neal Shusterman
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Length: 352, Hardback
Genre: Young Adult, Dystopian, Science Fiction
Rating: 4.5 Folded Pages

In America after the Second Civil War, the Pro-Choice and Pro-Life armies came to an agreement: The Bill of Life states that human life may not be touched from the moment of conception until a child reaches the age of thirteen. Between the ages of thirteen and eighteen, however, a parent may choose to retroactively get rid of a child through a process called “unwinding.” Unwinding ensures that the child’s life doesn’t “technically” end by transplanting all the organs in the child’s body to various recipients. Now a common and accepted practice in society, troublesome or unwanted teens are able to easily be unwound.

With breathtaking suspense, this book follows three teens who all become runaway Unwinds: Connor, a rebel whose parents have ordered his unwinding; Risa, a ward of the state who is to be unwound due to cost-cutting; and Lev, his parents’ tenth child whose unwinding has been planned since birth as a religious tithing. As their paths intersect and lives hang in the balance, Shusterman examines complex moral issues that will keep readers turning the pages until the very end.

I decided to reread Unwind because I just recently found out that Neal Shusterman had continued the stories by turning it into a dystology. I remember absolutely loving the series but the only thing I could remember distinctly about it was miniscule detail about the ending. I absolutely loved my reread.

The characters, Connor, Risa, Roland, Lev, and all the side characters were absolutely amazing. For a book with so many points of view, all the characters have phenomenal character growth. Connor learns how to handle himself and becomes more than his label and Risa overcomes her own fears.

The plot itself was just as amazing as I remember as well. It’s such a unique thought but so relevant to today. There are so many themes that could be applied to today. I would name some but I don’t want to spoil anything.

The only complaint I have, and the reason I can’t give this novel 5 folded pages, is that the story did get a little slow here and there. Nothing too bad, but I think for a novel like this it shouldn’t be fast paced and intense the entire time and it just wasn’t.

Overall, I’m super happy I reread this novel and I hope that the rest of the series is just as good.