science fiction, scifi, short story, young adult

Book Review: Stars Above by Marissa Meyer

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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

Blurb:
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.

Review:
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.

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science fiction, scifi, young adult

Novella Review: Fairest by Marissa Meyer

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

Blurb:
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.

Review:
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.

science fiction, scifi

Book Review: Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

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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

Blurb:
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?

Review:
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

1984

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

Blurb:
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.

Review:
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

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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!

Summary:
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.

Review:
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

Blurb:
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.

Review:
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.

graphic novel, new adult, science fiction, scifi

Graphic Novel Review: Saga Volumes 1 and 2

Saga volumes 1 and 2

Title: Saga Volumes 1 and 2
Author: Brian K. Vaughan
Illustrator: Fiona Staples
Publisher: Image Comics
Length: 160 and 144
Genre: New Adult, Graphic Novel, Science Fiction
Rating: 4 Folded pages for both volumes

Summary:
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.

Review:
I’m really enjoying this graphic novel series so far. Volumes one and two were equally exciting. Although the child of the couple is still in infancy, she narrates the story as if she’s telling the story while you read the action. It’s extremely interesting.

That being said, I did feel like there’s something missing. I can’t really put my finger on it but some of the plot falls a little flat. I think it might be the freelancer plot which I won’t go into so I don’t give any spoilers. I just find myself kind of bored when the story veers away from the main couple.

The artwork is absolutely beautiful. I am a bit of a snob when it comes to the art in graphic novels, comics, or manga and Staples beautiful character design and color usage definitely meets my standards.

I’m excited to see where Vaughan and Staples take this beautiful space drama. I’m glad the New Adult genre is becoming more popular. Saga was an impulse grab at the library today and I’m definitely not sorry. Now I just wish my library had the other volumes!

science fiction, scifi, young adult

Book Review: The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer Thus Far

Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress hard book American covers

Titles (in order): Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress
Author: Marissa Meyer
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Length: 400, 464, and 560 respectively on Kindle
Genre: Young Adult Science Fiction
Rating: 5, 5 and 4 folded pages respectively

Summary:

The Lunar Chronicles is a series of fairytale retellings using Cinderella, Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel, and Snow White (coming November 2015).

Cinder is a cyborg in the Eastern Commonwealth where cyborgs are treated like second class citizens. Her entire world changes when soon-to-be Emperor Kaito comes to her to fix his favorite android after hearing of her mechanic skills and Cinder learns a secret. He ends up inviting her to a royal ball where things only get stickier.

Scarlet desperately wants to find her grandmother who was kidnapped from their house without a trace of struggle. All Scarlet can find is her grandmother’s ID chip cut out of her arm and left at the house. The local authorities assume Scarlet’s grandmother finally went crazy and left but Scarlet knows better. She sets out on a journey to find the only family she has with a handsome fighter she can’t help but fall for.

Cress has been locked in a satellite hacking for just over 7 years now. She doesn’t much mind the solitude but she realized early on that the Lunar empire wasn’t a good place. She’s waiting for a way to get out and she thinks she just might have found one.

Review:

I know the summaries are a little brief but I can’t give accurate descriptions of Scarlet and Cress without spoiling Cinder. As an avid reader of fairytale retellings, it actually took me quite a while before picking up this series. The blurb on the back of Cinder always made me a little apprehensive, however, I deeply regret reading this series as soon as it came out. As a disclaimer, I am only reviewing the three main stories in the series and not the shorts or the novella.

Marissa Meyer does an excellent job making every character, even ones that are only around for a few pages at most, seem entirely real with their own personality. It’s impossible not to get caught up in each characters story. Considering the huge cast by the end of Cress, this is amazing. Each character is so entirely different that there is someone in the story everyone can relate to and I don’t say this lightly.

Not only that, her writing is easy to read while remaining interesting. I enjoy that she doesn’t use entirely unfamiliar words in a world that’s definitely different from our own. The writing also doesn’t get boring. Meyer finds the fine line in writing where it’s simple enough to understand and enjoy but descriptive enough to not get bored. I found Cress a little slower passed than Cinder and Scarlet but I enjoyed all three of them quite a bit. Each book is told from various character perspectives, in other novels I usually find this kind of narration too choppy to enjoy. However, Meyer’s writing makes the narration easy to follow and I never felt my suspension of belief break.

Aside from great characters and writing, the plots that arch through each book feel so new. Meyer takes age old stories and turns them into something new with her science fiction spin. I enjoy that she doesn’t stick very close the original fairytales. Instead, she takes the general idea and builds her own world and characters around that. I can’t go more into details on that without some major spoilers but don’t expect to know how these stories end. I’d like to consider myself an expert on fairytale retellings considering I’ve read so many, and I would rate The Lunar Chronicles high on my very long list of retellings I’ve read.

Overall, I gave Cinder and Scarlet 5 folded pages and Cress 4 folded pages. I enjoyed all three books immensely, but Cress was much slower than the other two. While Cinder and Scarlet kept me on the edge of my seat at all times, Cress was more of a slow burn. I wanted to continue reading it but I needed to do it in smaller chunks instead of a few long ones because there was so much to take in.

I love this series and it’s going to be an agonizing wait until November 10th with the 4th book in the series, Winter, comes out.