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Archive for the ‘Science Fiction’ Category

Title: Year One

Author: Nora Roberts

Genre: Post-apocalyptic Fantasy

Opens: When Ross MacLeod pulled the trigger and brought down the pheasant, he had no way of knowing he had killed himself. And billions of others.

Blurb: The sickness came on suddenly, and spread quickly. The fear spread even faster. Within weeks, everything people counted on began to fail them. The electrical grid sputtered; law and government collapsed—and more than half of the world’s population was decimated. Where there had been order, there was now chaos. And as the power of science and technology receded, magic rose up in its place. Some of it is good, some of it is unimaginably evil, and it can lurk anywhere, around a corner, in fetid tunnels beneath the river—or in the ones you know and love the most.

As word spreads that neither the immune nor the gifted are safe from the authorities who patrol the ravaged streets, and with nothing left to count on but each other, Lana and Max make their way out of a wrecked New York City. At the same time, other travellers are heading west too, into a new frontier. Chuck, a tech genius trying to hack his way through a world gone offline. Arlys, a journalist who has lost her audience but uses pen and paper to record the truth. Fred, her young colleague, possessed of burgeoning abilities and an optimism that seems out of place in this bleak landscape. And Rachel and Jonah, a resourceful doctor and a paramedic who fend off despair with their determination to keep a young mother and three new born infants in their care alive. In a world of survivors where every stranger encountered could be either a savage or a saviour, none of them knows exactly where they are heading, or why. But a purpose awaits them that will shape their lives and the lives of all those who remain.

My Thoughts: Anyone who picks this up expecting one of Nora Roberts usual paranormal romances is going to be very surprised, maybe disappointed. I am reading reviews where people are saying it is a bad book because they feel cheated – come on poor excuse for a bad review – there is enough evidence around, even interviews given by the author, to give you a hint that this is totally different. YEAR ONE is dark, very dark – and good people die – but the story kept me glued to the pages for the most part. The parts I didn’t stay glued? When the icky bits happened. Icky bits? Come on – it’s the end of the world – organised law keeping has gone – it’s every man, woman and child for themselves. When Ross MacLeod killed the pheasant it landed on sacred ground – not sacred nice, but sacred evil and this action is the signal for the dark forces to escape and start to make the world theirs. How quickly ‘The Doom,’ as it becomes known, spreads is very, very feasible. A sick man and his sick wife spread the infection to other people as they travel from London to New York – very quickly millions of people get infected as each of the new victims carry their germs around the world as they fly hither and thither.

Jonah the paramedic, Arlys the reporter, Lana the chef and Max the novelist are the main characters in this first book, each of them immune, not all of them with powers. They gradually form up with other people as they all decide to get out of New York until, inevitably, they all join together just a bit past halfway through. I’m not sure why I said inevitably, because nothing is a certainty and there are a few twists and turns until the reader is brought to the end of book one. An ending which leaves the reader knowing that although things look for good now – it is going to get a whole lot worse – and the characters know it.

YEAR ONE is the scene setter, the world is falling apart and the characters are trying to work out their place in this new world. And the descriptions of the world’s descent into chaos is amazing, and those who live violently quickly come out into the open with no fear of repercussions, and fall under the influence of the dark without even being aware. So many horrible things happen, actions done by people are horrific –without even the dark magic influencing them – they are just psychopaths. There is a strong thread of magic, but it is part of the story stopping just short of enough to call it a fantasy. The magical elements are a result of the fall as people who had no idea they had this element now have it. The characters discuss among themselves how, and why, it is happening. But like the reader they have no answers – it just is.

There are still unanswered questions at the end of the book, but seeing as it is the first in a trilogy this did not come as a surprise. There is no cliff-hanger at the end, which I liked, but the world is splitting into good and evil – which I think would happen despite a magical element – and it is obvious that strong good magic is going to be needed to defeat the bad.

Whatever path Ms Roberts is going to take us down with this story in the next two books I feel that readers should be complacent – I for one am really looking forwards to travelling them with her.

For more about the author – Click Here

A – Excellent Stuff – a real page turner and hard to put down. I carved out extra reading time just so I could finish it. This book got carted into the bathroom with me, read over meals, read at work, and/or kept me up late at night.

With thanks to Hachette Australia and the author via Netgalley for my copy to read and review.

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Title: Their Fractured Light

Author: Aime Kufman and Meagan Spooner

Genre: YA/Romance/Science Fiction

Opens: The dappled sunlight through the grass is beautiful, though I know it’s not real

Blurb: A year ago, Flynn Cormac and Jubilee Chase made the now infamous Avon Broadcast, calling on the galaxy to witness for their planet, and protect them from destruction. Some say Flynn’s a madman, others whisper about conspiracies. Nobody knows the truth. A year before that, Tarver Merendsen and Lilac LaRoux were rescued from a terrible shipwreck—now, they live a public life in front of the cameras, and a secret life away from the world’s gaze.

Now, in the centre of the universe on the planet of Corinth, all four are about to collide with two new players, who will bring the fight against LaRoux Industries to a head. Gideon Marchant is an eighteen-year-old computer hacker—a whiz kid and an urban warrior. He’ll climb, abseil and worm his way past the best security measures to pull off onsite hacks that others don’t dare touch.

Sofia Quinn has a killer smile, and by the time you’re done noticing it, she’s got you offering up your wallet, your car, and anything else she desires. She holds LaRoux Industries responsible for the mysterious death of her father and is out for revenge at any cost.

My Thoughts: THEIR FRACTURED LIGHT is the third and final book in the Starbound Series and while it gathers all the threads started in the two previous stories and brings them all to an explosive ending, I couldn’t help but feel I wanted more out of it.

Set on the planet, Corinth, where the doomed space ship Icarus from THESE BROKEN STARS was launched and the trilogy commenced, we meet the final two players – Gideon and Sofia. Both characters have apparently appeared in the previous books, but to be perfectly honest I couldn’t remember them – but that didn’t matter as enough background is given to understand what drives them. Their paths cross at the headquarters of LaRoux Industries where they have both infiltrated a shindig – they both have a goal to kill Monsieur LaRoux. Of course something goes wrong and they join forces to escape. The escape is not 100% successful though as they are soon being hunted and as they flee to various safe havens something happens at each location to make them less than safe and they have to move on. Eventually the intrepid due decide to make another effort to kill Monsieur LaRoux and all six characters meet up.

For me, this is when the story started to bog down and I lost interest to a certain extent. I think this might be because of the romance side of things. In each of the previous books the romance that developed between the two main characters got 100% of the focus. In THEIR FRACTURED LIGHT Gideon and Sofia had only half the book to develop because once they meet up with the other four they had to share the reader’s attention with Tarver, Lilac Flynn and Jubilee. In fact they almost seemed to disappear into the background, which I felt was to their disadvantage. They just never developed their full potential as characters for me.

I am glad that the series has now been finalised – that there is closure – an end; and it was a very good ending as well. But I think I should have stopped at the first book as it was an ‘A’ read for me, while THEIR FRACTURED LIGHT is an above average ‘C’ read – I’m sorry but it came over as just being written to finish things off – the heart had gone and the authors maybe moved on to new characters. Loved the first half but by the three quarter point I was skimming to get to the end.

For more about the author Amie Kaufman Click Here and then Click here for Meagan Spooner.

C – Above average – was very readable and I really liked it but was easily able to put it down and walk away for a while..

With thanks to Allen & Unwin and the author for this copy to read and review. Allen & Unwin recommended retail price is $18.99

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Title: Space Dumplins

Author: Craig Thompson

Genre: Children’s Science Fiction

Blurb: For Violet Marlocke, family is the most important thing in the whole galaxy. So when her father goes missing while on a hazardous job, she can’t just sit around and do nothing. To get him back, Violet throws caution to the stars and sets out with a group of misfit friends on a quest to find him. But space is vast and dangerous, and she soon discovers that her dad is in big, BIG trouble. With her father’s life on the line, nothing is going to stop Violet from trying to rescue him and keep her family together.

My Thoughts: SPACE DUMPLINS is a children’s graphic story marketed as a “…grand space adventure filled with quirky aliens, awesome space-ships, and sharp commentary on our environmentally challenged world…” it certainly filled its brief. However the biggest problem I had was with the word ‘dumplins’ in the title. All I could focus on was that word, and how I strongly believed it was spelt wrong (even my spell check thinks it’s wrong) – it should have been dumplings. Rightly or wrongly that word jarred on my senses so may have made me more critical than I would normally. This could also have something to do with the fact that I am not in the target age group and deliberately misspelling words for effect seem to be the trend nowadays which grumps like me really hate but doesn’t bother the sweet young things.

The artwork of the graphics was beautiful, Craig Thompson’s outer space is not empty there is a lot going on so once you’ve read the words there is a whole lot of looking to do. Sometimes the graphics were a little too busy for me as there was so much squeezed into a scene. The story itself is simple with Violet going off to rescue her father who collects space whale poop that the huge corporation that rules space can convert to fuel. There are enough gross things in the story to keep the average kid very happy – all that space poo for a start! But, within that simplicity of the plot there are a whole lot of deeper issues going on – racism, haves and have-nots, religion, the environment, consumerism and of course saving the whales. For such a basic story there is almost too many issues going on which is why I can see this will be popular with teachers, but maybe not so popular with kids because they will just want to read it and enjoy it – not moralise over it.

For more about the author – Click Here

C – Above average – was very readable and I really liked it but was easily able to put it down and walk away for a while.

With thanks to Allen & Unwin and the author for this copy to read and review. Allen & Unwin recommended retail price is $27.99

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Title: The Ship

Author: Antonia Honeywell

Genre: Sci-Fi/Dystopian

Opens: Right up to the day we boarded, I wondered whether the ship was just a myth…

Blurb: Welcome to London, but not as you know it today. Oxford Street burned for three weeks. The British Museum is squatted by ragtag survivors. The Regent’s Park camps have been bombed. The Nazareth Act has come into force – if you can’t immediately produce your identity card, you will be shot.

Lalla, 16, has grown up sheltered from this new reality by her parents. But now the chaos has reached their doorstep. Her father has promised Lalla and her mother that they will escape. Escape is a ship big enough to save 500 people. But only the worthy will be chosen. Once on board, as day follows identical day, Lalla’s unease grows. Where are they going? What does her father really want?

My Thoughts: The narrator of THE SHIP is Lalla, who is an interesting character. At 16 she is part child, part woman, and still formulating her outlook on life, a life that she quickly realises she knows nothing about. She comes over at times as a spoilt brat and utterly self-centred, which is not surprising as she has been the sole focus of her parents for 16 years – protected from the horrors of a disintegrating society for most of that time. Now she is of an age where she can no longer be protected from the reality of life. While she lives in a clean flat in central London with a bed and clothes and protection from the elements and access to what little food there is available; others live rough. Homeless and hungry, dispossessed people and refugees living in the streets, abandoned buildings and parks of London are often culled by the ruling party. Culling means parks being bombed; street dwellers shot and buildings being sealed and all those squatting inside being gassed to death. There is no place to go – the land has been poisoned, the climate change has resulted in large parts of the world flooding and super viruses whipping out millions of people.

But Lalla’s father has a plan. He has stocked a ship, an ark if you will, to save his family and 500 other people and sail to a better place. As THE SHIP opens, the time has come to get on the ship. Lalla’s mother is still reluctant to up roots and go even though society is falling apart however as they are in the flat arguing a shot rings out and Lalla’s mum goes down. Now they have to go to the ship as that is where there is medical help. After a dramatic departure the ship sets sail and Lalla watches her mother die.

“…The woman and the doctor stood quietly by, and when he fell back, they caught him and led him away, supporting him on either side. I longed to call out, to go with them. But my mother was dead; I had made her death a painful one. And so I hid, unable to move, unable to cry out to the doctor who thought I’d killed her, or to the father who had, however briefly, forgotten me…”

Lalla has to go through her morning period and author Antonia Honeywell must have experienced great loss to perfectly recreate a teen who has reached the end of her tether. Gradually though she starts to take an interest in what is happening around her – and with the interest comes the questions. Just what is her father up to? Despite being on a ship with 500 other people, and a young man who is interested in her as a girlfriend, Lalla is lonely and confused. She gradually understands that all of the others have been to hell and back – suffered as she didn’t think people could suffer – but she still resents them being there and almost worshiping her father as he becomes increasingly messianic almost. As she hears the stories of those who have been through these horrors her compassionate side is revealed and she has a big heart and wants to help everyone. Even those who have not been chosen to join the ship.

Her father encourages everyone to not hang onto the past, he becomes their son, their father, their children, and their future. But what is the future going to be, and how can he expect Lalla to forget her mother? As she learns about what has happened in the rest of the world, Lalla starts to believes that there can be no future. And the dreams she has when her mother speaks to her only compound her overwhelming feelings of hopelessness – why does no one on the ship seem worried about where they are going – what the future is going to bring?

I really, really enjoyed this story. THE SHIP is a brilliant concept and though Honeywell’s glimpse of the future is quite terrifyingly real (as there are hints already around the globe that it can happen the way she foresees) it is also thought provoking and it is not too late to start lobbying to change the direction of our world. In the end the focus of the story is how far would you go to survive? THE SHIP is a debut novel and I for one will be keeping an eye out for more from this author.

For more about the author – Click Here

B – Great – I really enjoyed reading it and it is a book I will be recommending to all my friends who like this genre.

With thanks to Hachette Australia and the author via Netgalley for my copy to read and review.

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Title: Clade

Author: James Bradly

Genre: Science Fiction/Dystopian

Opens: As Adam steps outside the cold strikes him like a physical thing, the shock still startling after all these weeks

My Thoughts: I have to confess I had never heard of the book CLADE or its author James Bradly until it was discussed on the Sunday Book club on ABC recently. CLADE is an unusual book in that it looks the scenario of the possible effects of climate change and how it impacts on the world through the eyes of three generations of one family, the Leith family, and some characters who come into contact with them. Bradley’s scenario is frightingly plausible.

Starting around 2016 the story moves through in a series of 10 narratives (or chapters) that are not linked in any real way except that a member of the family appears in it. There can be years between chapters before Bradley decides to pop back into the story and give the reader a snapshot of where the family, and the world, is at now.

CLADE opens with Dr Adam Leith and his artist wife Ellie trying to conceive a child – he is a scientist and is down in the Antarctica and she is in Sydney waiting to hear if this time the IVF process has been successful. He hears the ice beneath him creaking and groaning and understands this is the ice loosening up as the earth warms up. He worries about whether they should bring a child into the world. And the book continues each chapter jumping through history and gives a snapshot of what the family is doing against the background of a rapidly escalating global meltdown. The Earth is dying. Changing weather patterns result in hurricanes hitting Europe and Monsoons failing. Fish and birds start dying, massive floods kill thousands and a flu like virus kills millions. The temperatures steadily rise, civil unrest increases and world economies fall. Yet the day to day activity of the characters remain the same, they just get on with living as the earth throws yet another challenge at them. The reader gets to see snapshots of events through Adam and Ellie, their daughter, their grandson, a Chinese teenager Adam sort of adopts and a refugee from Bangladesh that Ellie connects with. This makes the story very personal, as the reader experiences the events as they affect the characters making it all very, very believable.

On the whole I liked the way the story progressed as a series of snapshots as the world deteriorated. I have to confess that sometimes it took me a while to get the connection to the family and it left me slightly adrift until I did, but as soon as I clicked I was off again. Was left a bit bewildered over the ‘Sim’ section and still not sure I have fully got that part. Overall though despite the steady decline in the conditions of the earth there is hope at the end of CLADE – it’s a bit out there – but why not, nothing else was working to stop the planet’s deterioration. In the end CLADE is not all doom and gloom – although there is a lot of it, it is more a story about how the human race is determined to look for solutions, adapt and fight to live – it is life but not as we know it.

For more about the author – Click Here

B – Great – I really enjoyed reading it and it is a book I will be recommending to all my friends who like this genre.

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Title: The Islands at the end of the World

Author: Austin Aslan

Genre: YA Science Fiction/Dystopian

Opens: They’ve been getting bigger all evening.

Most people think of Hawaii as a holiday destination but for Leilani and her family it is home. Leaving the rest of the family on the Big Island, THE ISLANDS AT THE END OF THE WORLD opens with Leilani and her father travelling to Honolulu on the island of Oahu for medical treatment. Leilani has epilepsy and the specialist wants to try an experimental drug on the sixteen-year-old to try and bring her fits under better control. Not long after their arrival a global disaster strikes – power fails across the world and almost at once power dependent technology no longer works. The end starts innocently; against the background of the main characters chatting to each other there are TV reports about a missing US president, other world leaders not being in the public eye, and then a televised announcement to the nation by the President is cut off mid-sentence before he can announce whatever it is he was going too.

Now Hawaii is cut off from the rest of the world as there are no communications, no power and planes aren’t working either. Tourists gradually become aware that they are not going to be able to get home, and locals who want the tourists gone are forced to start learning traditional ways to survive very quickly, battles break out between the two groups. Very quickly there is a decent into anarchy. Leilani and her father naturally decide to travel back to their home island and join the rest of their family, but that’s not easy when there is no transport, no communication, Leilani is having fits, there are people wanting to kill them and Tsunami’s, caused by god knows what, hitting the coastlines. On top of this there is a strange green glow in the sky that looks like a giant orchid.

As the story follows the edge of the seat adventures of Leilani and her dad the reader gradually learns what may be happening in the world – and eventually what may just stop it all. The answer to how to stop the end of the world seems far-fetched and is linked to Leilani. She herself rejects as simply to ludicrous when it is first mentioned to her, but fear of what may happen to her and her family results in her being open to anything. Certainly the reality is that with the end of power nuclear power stations are going to start melting down all over the world releasing tons of radiation into the air.

THE ISLANDS AT THE END OF THE WORLD is a blend of ecology, Hawaiian mythology and technology dependence. The overall scenario of something happening in the world at a political level followed by a sudden loss of power globally resulting in loss of technology and basic resources is horrifyingly plausible. I would like to think that survivors would not descend into chaos and violence quite so quickly – but you see how people do anything to survive in just a local flood or cyclone, so understand that often, at its base level, human nature is out for self-preservation. Leilani and her father were nice people – who sometimes had to do not nice things in their struggle to get home. When I say not nice – they stole food and supplies and protected themselves when threatened. Not something they would have done under normal circumstances. Leilani is also worried about her condition when her medication runs out. And finally a YA dystopian with no central romance – oh Leilani likes boys, but when the world is falling apart around you, you just want your mum, and it the love of family which drives Leilani and her dad. Overall author Austin Aslan has done a magnificent job of combining mysticism, mythology and science and I can’t wait until the release of the follow-up book ‘The Girl at the Center of the World’ – there is a teaser chapter for the final book at the end. Speaking of the ending most of the lose ending from the story are tied up just leaving the main lead into book two. I am really looking forwards to how everything is tied up and if the world will be saved.

For more about the author – Click Here

B – Great – I really enjoyed reading it and it is a book I will be recommending to all my friends who like this genre.

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Title: Mars Evacuees

Author: Sophia McDougall

Genre: YA Science Fiction

Opens: When the polar ice advanced as far as Nottingham, my school was closed and I was evacuated to Mars

My Thoughts: Earth has been invaded by invisible aliens called Morror. They like things cold so settle in the polar icecaps – trouble is they are extending the ice caps and the liveable area for humans is getting less, so now war has broken out between the two groups. Scientists are in the process of terraforming Mars but it is not quite ready for permanent human habitation. Still it is decided that 300 children aged between 8 and 16 should be sent to Mars anyway – doesn’t matter that there is not enough oxygen or that the sun can burn you to a crisp. Twelve-year-old Alice Dare is one of the 300 – her mother is a war hero flying ace battling the enemy and her father is also on the frontline.

The sending of the children to Mars is very reminiscing of the evacuations of children from London to the country during WWII. Only instead of being billeted out to people’s homes when they arrive on Mars the kids come under the care of a handful of Scientists, military personnel and some teacher robots such as a giant Teddy Bear who makes 7-year-olds cry and an annoyingly cheerful mechanical Goldfish that will shoot you with lasers if you don’t do your homework. The idea is that the children will be trained in warfare and when they come of age they will be sent back to earth to join the war effort. On the flight to Mars Alice befriended the odd Josephine, more by accident than design, Josephine has victim written all over her when it comes to being picked on by the other kids. They also strike up a sort of friendship with Carl and his younger brother Neil. The alliance comes in useful when the adults suddenly all disappear and the older kids take over the base, the situation quickly disintegrate into a Lord of the Flies type scenario. Finding themselves kicked off the base Alice, Josephine, Carl and Neil steal a spaceship and take off, along with the Goldfish robot which constantly wants them to do their homework, to try to get to the nearest base to find help. This is when the adventure really starts!

MARS EVACUEES is a very clever, action-filled, space adventure that had me on the edge of my seat more than once. LOVED Goldfish. The kids were all very believable – taking into consideration that they were braniacs and brave so not likely to end up in whimpering piles. They did adult things as a child would, and were still innocent enough to be more accepting of the weird and wonderful than adults – and I really liked that the distinction was made rather than falling into the trap making the kids do things that wouldn’t have come naturally. There are a few sub-plots going on – and lots of humour, including ‘gallows humour’ as the kids will face dire consequences if things go belly up. A fun yet meaningful space opera for middle school with enough hidden messages to keep an English teacher happy.

For more about the author – Click Here

A – Excellent Stuff – a real page turner and hard to put down. I carved out extra reading time just so I could finish it. This book got carted into the bathroom with me, read over meals, read at work, and/or kept me up late at night. If this author has more work, I will certainly read it.

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