MILA 2.0

If you enjoy books like I Am Number Four, Mary Pearson’s The Adoration of Jenna Fox, or even Cinder by Marissa Meyer, MILA 2.0 might be the book for you.

This first book in Debra Driza’s thrilling series introduces readers to Mila, a sixteen-year-old girl who has just moved with her mother to Clearwater, Minnesota. A short while ago, Mila’s father was killed, but Mila has only a few, fuzzy memories of the life she once had. Despite this, Mila is trying to make a life for herself in this small town. She’s trying to make friends and fit in, especially with popular girl Kaylee, and she’s even getting to know the new guy at school, Hunter. Everything changes, though, when her friend gets reckless on the road one day, and Mila is sent flying…

The accident should have ended Mila’s life or, at the very least, caused her serious bodily harm. Instead, she barely has a scratch…except for a little problem with her arm. When Mila, Kaylee, and Hunter examine what they expect to be a horrendous wound, however, they see something that none of them expected. Wires, tubes, and a weird, milky fluid are present where there should be muscle, bone, and blood. What is going on, and what could it mean for Mila?

Mila soon discovers a horrifying truth about herself (and the reason why her “memories” are so fuzzy). Her “mom” reveals that Mila isn’t exactly human. She’s an android, created in a lab to be used for military defense. When Mila’s mom, or co-creator, realized just how human Mila was becoming, she stole Mila, a billion dollor government investment, and went on the run. She wiped Mila’s memories of her time in a military compound and implanted new memories of a life growing up as a normal girl. If that’s the truth, though, why is Mila having disturbing flashbacks of white walls, experiments, and torture? Just what was done to her before the grand escape, and what will the powers that created her do to get her back?

Mila and her mom soon figure out that someone is after them, and they’ll do anything to capture Mila, so they go on the run once again. But what will happen when their latest escape plan leads them right back into the vile clutches of those who sought them in the first place? What will become of them? Will Mila accept her android nature and turn away from everything that made her human? Will she have a choice?

When Mila comes face-to-face with her creators and their continued work, she’ll have to rely on both her machine capabilities and human emotions (which some perceive as liabilities) to avoid her termination and her mom’s elimination. Can she pass the horrific tests set before her, or is it already too late? Is anyone willing to help her, or does everyone see her as nothing more than a disposable machine, incapable of real feeling or emotion?

Well, Mila is about to show everyone just what they’ve created, and one thing is certain. Nothing will ever be the same.

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Just like The Adoration of Jenna Fox, I think MILA 2.0 could generate some interesting discussions of bioethics, technology, and how far science should go. I’m a bit of a conspiracy nut, so it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if some government–and I’m not saying which one–was experimenting a bit with android technology or other forms of artificial intelligence. Are these things being used for defense? I don’t know (and a big part of me doesn’t want to), but I’m sure it’s being considered. What implications could this have? Just how “human” would these machines be, and what could that mean for their effectiveness? What should be considered when terminating one of these projects? It’s difficult to wrap my mind around all of it, and books like MILA 2.0 often raise questions that even I had not thought of. I’m hoping others will feel the same.

Deep, ethical questions aside, I think MILA 2.0 is a great example of science fiction for the young adult crowd. Mila is a strong character, coming to terms with her abilities and what she is. She doesn’t, however, let these new, unexpected truths define her. Sure, she’s an android, but her “humanness” is what really makes her special. She uses what others perceive as deficiencies to her advantage, and that often gives her the edge she needs. All readers can learn something from that.

In my opinion, MILA 2.0 is a great addition to middle grade and young adult collections. It’s an electrifying read that is both entertaining and thought-provoking. It’s also, like I mentioned, the first book in a series. The second book, MILA 2.0: Renegade, is now out, and there’s also a prequel novella, The Fire, available as a free ebook download. I’ll get to these as soon as I finish up a few other obligations.

If your interest has been piqued at all, I urge you to give MILA 2.0 a try. For more information, check out the author’s webpage, Twitter, or Facebook. You may also like the trailer below from HarperTeen. (It doesn’t give much away, but it’s worth a look!) Happy reading!

Published in: on May 25, 2014 at 2:12 pm  Comments (1)  
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Sever

Spoilers ahead! If you haven’t read the first two books in Lauren DeStefano’s Chemical Garden trilogy (Wither and Fever), do so now! This post will focus on Sever, the third and final book in the series.

Nearly two years ago, I began reading Wither, the first book in The Chemical Garden series, a dystopian trilogy by Lauren DeStefano. From the start, I was mesmerized–and often horrified–by the world presented in this series. Fever, book two, only increased my horror at the world that Rhine, our protagonist, is forced to navigate. And now, I’ve finally made my way to book three, Sever. In this book, Rhine continues on her quest to save herself and those around her, but, as they so often do, circumstances seem to conspire against her.

As Sever begins, Rhine continues to struggle with the experiments Vaughn, her vile father-in-law, has done on her. She is trying to cope with the knowledge that he has killed others before her, and she knows that he’s not done with her.  Rhine is also eager to find her twin brother, Rowan, and get back to Gabriel, the boy she left behind in Manhattan.

With the help of Linden, her former husband, Cecily, her sister wife, and Reed, Vaughn’s estranged brother, Rhine is, at the very least, able to avoid Vaughn’s clutches for a while. Rhine also learns a bit more about her brother’s activities. He believes her to be dead, and he has become the leader of what can only be called a terrorist group. He is blowing up scientific research facilities. He appears to believe that they are wasting their time experimenting on young people and looking for a cure that just doesn’t exist.

(You may recall that young people are doomed to die early in this world. Young men don’t live past age twenty-five, and women die at age twenty. Vaughn, Rhine’s father-in-law and Linden’s father, has become something of a mad scientist in his quest for a cure.)

Everything, though, is not as it seems. Vaughn has far-reaching power that follows Rhine wherever she goes. But Vaughn’s many deceptions will soon be uncovered in a very unlikely place. In Rhine’s quest to find her brother, she returns to the hellacious carnival that was once her prison. Secrets are revealed here that will not only lead Rhine to her brother but may also lead to Vaughn’s undoing.

As Rhine learns more and more about Vaughn’s research, her parents’ work, her brother’s supposed rebellion, and her own place in the world, she realizes that everything is much more complicated than she ever believed. And when she factors in her tumultuous relationships with Linden, Cecily, Rowan, and others around her, Rhine is more befuddled than ever.

How can Rhine hope to make sense of what’s going on around her when she can’t seem to come to terms with what’s happened to her and those she cares about? Lives have been lost and promises broken in this mysterious quest for a cure, but is it worth it? Why is Rhine so important to this search, and, if a cure is found, what then? Is Rhine doomed to be a prisoner forever? Or is there a way out? A way that not even Rhine would dare to dream of?

Questions will be answered and secrets revealed soon, but is anyone prepared for what will be uncovered? Unravel the mystery when you read Sever, the gripping conclusion to The Chemical Garden trilogy.

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Now that I’ve read the entirety of this series, I must confess something. I’m still not quite sure what a chemical garden is. It was sort of explained in Sever but not to my satisfaction. I know it had something to do with the genetic experimentation done by Rhine’s parents, but why were their experiments referred to as a chemical garden? I may have to do my own brand of research to figure this out. (Not a problem, really. I’m a librarian. Research is kind of my thing.)

I do think that the action in Sever was a bit slow at times, but I still found myself enthralled by the story. I do wish, however, that we had seen more of Gabriel and Rhine’s relationship with him. Even with the way the book ended, that story feels kind of unfinished.

When I first started this series, I couldn’t stand the character of Cecily. In Sever, however, she definitely showed an inner strength that most women–never mind fourteen-year-old girls–don’t possess. She survived so much and grew into a young woman with a core of steel. Even Rhine was surprised by how much her sister wife had matured in such a short time. Cecily grew from an annoying little girl into a young woman capable of enduring unimaginable grief and tribulations. Out of all the characters in this series, I think she changed the most. She went from an easily manipulated pawn into a queen taking charge of her own destiny.

If you want a rather disturbing view of what the future could hold, I suggest you give Wither, Fever, and Sever a try. You may like this trilogy; you may not. Every reader has his/her own taste, and that’s okay. (I say this because another blogger called me out for daring to give Fever a positive review. She’s entitled to her opinion, but I stand by my view that this is definitely a series worth reading.) This series does deal with some mature themes, so I would caution you before recommending it to middle grade readers.

If you enjoyed series like Delirium, Matched, or The Selection, then The Chemical Garden may be right up your alley.

For more information on this series or other books by Lauren DeStefano, check out the author’s website, FacebookTumblr, and Twitter. You may also want to take a quick look at the Sever book trailer below. Enjoy!

Published in: on April 11, 2014 at 2:06 pm  Leave a Comment  
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The Giver

I know it’s shocking to some that I’ve only just read The Giver. This book won the Newbery Award in 1994, and here I am reading it twenty years later. I don’t know why I waited so long to read this book (especially since my mom gave me an autographed copy a couple of years ago), but I do know what spurred me to read it now…the movie. In case you weren’t aware, a movie adaptation of The Giver is due to be released this August, and with names like Meryl Streep and Jeff Bridges attached to the film, I know I’ll have to see that move…but that means becoming familiar with the book first.

I knew going in that The Giver was considered one of the first examples of YA dystopian lit, and I was aware that the book had received loads of challenges over the years. (You’d think that would have made me pick up the book must faster.) I guess this weekend, I was in the mood for something like this, so I finally delved into this seemingly idyllic world created by Lois Lowry. As we’ve all learned, though, perfection has a price, and things aren’t always as ideal as they seem once a person discovers what’s being hidden from them…

Imagine a life free from choice. Everything is decided for you: what you’ll study, what you’ll do with your free time, what you’ll eat, who your parents are, your future career. Everything. This is the only world that Jonas has ever known. This is a world free from pain, war, poverty, and suffering. Every day is the same, there are rules governing everything, and everyone knows their place in the community. Very soon, Jonas will be assured of his place.

Like every other child before him, when Jonas turns twelve, he receives his Assignment. This Assignment is Jonas’ career path, chosen by the Elders who have been watching over him since birth. Jonas is unsure of what his Assignment will be, but nothing could have prepared him for the decision that is made. He is to be the next Receiver, the only person in the community to hold all of the memories of the past. And his training with the Giver–the man Jonas will eventually replace–will begin immediately.

Jonas is nervous about his training, but he soon forms a bond with the Giver. Yes, there are moments of intense pain in his training–as is expected when painful memories are transferred from one person to another–but Jonas also experiences joy. He sees colors for the first time. He feels the warmth of sunshine and the tickle of snowflakes on his skin, things that have been removed from society in favor of sameness and control.

As his training intensifies and Jonas learns more about the past–and the present–Jonas begins to question the societal bounds that define his community. He goes to the Giver with his questions, and Jonas learns that he is not the only one with doubts…or the belief that things could one day be different. But what can be done when only two people, Jonas and the Giver, know the truth of the world? Could drastic actions lead to change? Jonas will soon answer those questions for himself…

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I’m sure the recap above in no way adequately captures The Giver. This is a powerful book that has been discussed for years, and, although I’m late to the party, I wanted to express what I got from this book and how it made me feel.

I think it’s all-too-easy to see the community in this world come to fruition. All you have to do is drive around a bit, find a neighborhood with a bunch of beige McMansions, and you can see that “sameness” is kind of glorified. Look around. Most people want to be like those around them. Being different, in many cases, is seen as bad, and those of us (yes, us) who don’t fit into a neat little mold are ostracized.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and I have high hopes that the movie adaptation will live up to my expectations. (With Jeff Bridges playing the part of the Giver, we’re already off to a good start!) Check out IMDB for more information on the movie and its exceptional cast.

There are three more novels loosely tied to The Giver: A Gathering Blue, Messenger, and Son. I don’t know much about these books, but I plan to learn more soon. Hopefully, it won’t take me quite so long to get around to reading these!

 

Published in: on January 21, 2014 at 6:49 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Ender’s Game

Time for the nerd-shaming to begin. Yes, I waited until I was 34 years old to read Ender’s Game. I don’t know what took me so long, but the movie adaptation pushed this book to the top of my reading list. I finished the book yesterday evening, and I hope to see the movie over my upcoming Thanksgiving break. (I would see it this weekend, but Catching Fire and the Doctor Who 50th anniversary are kind of taking precedence!)

I don’t know that I can say anything about Ender’s Game that hasn’t already been said. It was nerve-wracking, anxiety-inducing, horrifying, and, loathe as I am to admit it, highly entertaining. It’s hard for me to imagine a child going through so much and still retaining even a smidgen of humanity…but Ender managed it somehow. This child, who essentially became a soldier at the age of six, endured torture from other children and the adults around him. Did the adults–leaders in the world’s military–have reason to put Ender through horrors that would break grown men? Sure. But do those reasons, however noble, excuse the torture of a young boy? I’m not so sure about that. Do the ends justify the means? That’s a question that has puzzled people for centuries.

I deal with 5-11 year olds all the time, and I can’t imagine any of them being strong enough to deal with what Ender faced. They would be crying for their mommies within seconds. (So would I, come to think of it.) And I definitely wouldn’t want to imagine any of my elementary school kids as military leaders. (How scary is that?! The fate of the world in the hands of a 3rd grader!)

This is not a children’s book, despite the main character being a child. Ender’s Game is, simply put, science fiction at its best. Everyone who considers herself/himself a fan of science fiction should read this book (if they haven’t already). Hopefully, my fellow nerds haven’t waited as long as I have to become engrossed in this amazing story! I look forward to seeing the movie, and I hope it lives up to its awe-inspiring source material.

Published in: on November 18, 2013 at 10:34 am  Leave a Comment  
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Secret Histories

If, like me, you’re a fan of The Lorien Legacies series (I Am Number Four, The Power of Six, and The Rise of Nine), you’re probably eagerly anticipating the next book, The Fall of Five (due out in just two weeks). Luckily, I had a little something to tide me over.

Last month, I read The Legacies, three novellas from The Lost Files. These stories delved deeper into the backgrounds of Six, Nine, and, in a round-about way, the first three members of the Lorien Garde. About an hour ago, I finished reading the second volume from The Lost Files, Secret Histories. These three novellas, like those in the previous volume, add a bit more depth to the entire series.

Two of the novellas in Secret Histories, in my opinion, should have been partnered with the last novella from The Legacies, The Fallen Legacies.  That story introduced us to a young Mogadorian, Adam, who was beginning to question everything he’d ever been taught. His story picks up in the first novella from Secret Histories, The Search for Sam. (Spoiler: Sam does make a brief appearance in this story.) Adam’s journey continues even further in the last novella in this volume, The Forgotten Ones. Basically, this young Mog has switched sides and is fighting on the side of the Garde…but how does he do that when he’s a wanted man among his own people, and it’s unlikely that any of the Garde will trust him?

I think it will be interesting to see how Adam’s story will play out in The Fall of Five, especially considering how he changed–both physically and mentally–throughout The Lost Files.

The novella sandwiched between Adam’s stories in this book, The Last Days of Lorien, follows a young Sandor on his home planet of Lorien. (You may recall that Sandor is Nine’s Cepan. Well, he didn’t start out that way.) As a young man, it seems that Sandor was a bit of a troublemaker who didn’t really buy into all of the doom-and-gloom prophecies that told of the end of Lorien. (Yeah…he was kind of wrong about that.)  Sandor’s shenanigans, however, may have landed him in the one place that could–in the end–save his life and ensure the future of his entire race.  Just how did Sandor, a kid too daring for his own good, end up as a guide to one of the precious Lorien Garde? All is revealed in this fascinating story.

After reading the six novellas in The Lost Files, I’m even more eager to read The Fall of Five. Is it necessary to read all of these stories to keep up with what’s happening in the next book? Honestly, I don’t know. I do hope that Adam plays an important role in what’s to come. If that’s the case, then it would definitely help to know more about him. Do with that what you will.

Published in: on August 13, 2013 at 1:26 pm  Leave a Comment  
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The Legacies

I’ve been on an I Am Number Four kick recently, and last night I finished reading The Lost Files: The Legacies. This is a collection of three novellas that definitely gives the reader a deeper understanding of the series as a whole.

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The first two novellas tell all about how Six and Nine grew up and developed their Legacies. After reading The Rise of Nine, I really appreciated learning more about Nine, especially since he was kind of a butt-head most of the time.  Now, at least, I understand why he was such a butt-head.

It was the third story, though, The Fallen Legacies, that really took hold of me. This story is told from the point of view of Adam, a Mogadorian teen, who was present when One, Two, and Three were killed. It’s so cool to see into the mind of the “enemy,” and this story has some pretty interesting implications for the final book in the Lorien Legacies. (Hint: Not all Mogs are mindless killing machines.)

I’m going to take a little break from this series for now, but I can almost guarantee that I’ll be returning to it soon…as soon as I pick up a print copy of The Lost Files: The Secret Histories, which should be out on July 23rd! (The ebook versions of the three novellas in this volume are already out, but I did the math, and the print version is actually less expensive than purchasing each of the stories separately. What can I say? I’m cheap!)

Published in: on July 8, 2013 at 7:49 pm  Comments (2)  
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The Rise of Nine

Danger, Danger! This post will focus on The Rise of Nine, the third book of the Lorien Legacies. If you haven’t already read the first two books, I Am Number Four and The Power of Six, please do so posthaste! These books are pretty cool (much better than the horrid movie adaptation of the first book). Action-packed doesn’t even begin to cover it!

I started my journey with the Lorien Legacies series in 2010. Now, three years later, I’ve finally found time to read the third book, The Rise of Nine. This book came out last summer, and I’m not quite sure why it took me so long to get to it, but I’m glad I finally fit it into my reading schedule. (To be honest, the movie adaptation of I Am Number Four also put a sour taste in my mouth, and it’s been difficult to get into the rest of the series because of that. I hope Hollywood leaves the rest of this series alone!) It took me a little while to get into this third installment because it had been so long since I read the second, The Power of Six. Eventually, though, I was drawn back into the world of the Garde of Lorien and their quest to battle the evil Mogadorians and their leader, Setrákus Ra.

The Rise of Nine takes place immediately following the events of the second book, so it might behoove you to read the last couple of chapters of The Power of Six before starting book three. Like The Power of Six, this third installment is told in alternating viewpoints. Readers are privy to the thoughts of Four, Six, and Seven (better known as Marina). Each character’s “voice” is presented in a different font, so it’s fairly easy to identify who is “speaking.”

Six has finally found two other members of the Lorien Garde, so what’s next? How can she find the other members of the Garde, reunite with Four, and somehow defeat the Mogadorians and save both Earth and her home planet of Lorien? Well, it won’t be easy, and dangers are abundant, but Six is a fighter, and she’s determined to do everything possible to complete her mission. Luckily, she won’t have to face what’s ahead alone. She’s found Seven (Marina) and the unexpected Ten (Ella) in a Spanish convent, and they will join Six in her search for the other Garde members. First stop? India, where there have been reports of mysterious occurrences than can only come from one of them. Have they finally located one of their own? If so, what next? If not, what are they walking into?

Four, also known as John, has escaped a Mogadorian stronghold with another of the Garde, Nine, but he had to leave his best friend behind. Four is determined to mount some kind of rescue, but he must put those plans on hold for a while. He and Nine must work together–which is not exactly easy–to fight Mogs and their surprising allies, hide from enemies when they can, try to find the remaining Garde members, and train to destroy Setrákus Ra. Through everything, though, Four thinks about saving Sam, his best friend, and Sarah, the girl he still loves despite the knowledge that she may have betrayed him.

As the Garde members travel closer to each other, they’re also traveling closer to what may be their ultimate destruction. None of them truly realizes just how strong Setrákus Ra really is or what he is capable of. And when they discover just who is working alongside the Mogs, their journeys become even more perilous.

The Garde is stronger when united, but will their combined strength be enough to defeat their most dangerous and powerful enemy? What sacrifices will be made in the quest to save both Earth and Lorien, and what will the Garde discover about themselves and their abilities along the way? The road ahead is not an easy one, and the Lorien Garde will have to use every weapon at their disposal to get out of this one alive. The question is…will it be enough?

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To say that I enjoyed this book would be an understatement. While I was reading, I felt like an explosion-filled action movie was playing in my head. (This went well with the nearly constant thunderstorms and fireworks that have been going on around me lately.) I’m so captivated by this series that I plan to spend the rest of the day reading The Lost Files. (I’ve already read Six’s Legacy, but I’m eager to read the others:  Nine’s Legacy, The Fallen Legacies, and a few others. There are even more on the way! Check out Goodreads for a full list.) I probably won’t post about these, but I’ll most likely put my reaction on Knight Reader’s Facebook page.

The fourth and final (?) book of the Lorien Legacies will be out in less than two months. The Fall of Five (rather ominous title, no?) is supposed to be out on August 27th. Hopefully, I will be well past my back-to-school, Mortal-Instruments-movie-fog by then, and I’ll be able to dive into this book immediately. In the meantime, though, I can read The Lost Files and stay updated through the series website, http://iamnumberfourfans.com/. Join me, won’t you?

Published in: on July 7, 2013 at 11:22 am  Leave a Comment  
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The 5th Wave

Every once in a while, I come across a book that absolutely blows my mind. Some of my favorites are: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, American Gods, Watchmen, the Harry Potter series, The Hunger Games, anything by Cassandra Clare, and a few others. Now, I can add another book to the list–The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey. I read one of Mr. Yancey’s other books, The Monstrumologist, a few years ago, so I had an inkling that I was in for quite the roller coaster. That’s an understatement. At times, The 5th Wave was absolutely excruciating to read (in a good way). It was disturbing, exciting, anxiety-inducing, and a fine example of what really good science fiction should be. Yes, the book is about an alien invasion, but, in my most humble opinion, it also forces the reader to examine his/her own humanity.

No one knew what to expect when the Others arrived. It soon became clear what they could expect–the worst.

The first wave knocked out power. The second wave brought massive tsunamis and eliminated all coastal cities. The third wave delivered disease that would wipe out most of who remained. The fourth wave silenced many of the survivors. What will the fifth wave bring?

That’s a question that plagues Cassie, a young girl who has become a warrior to survive. Just a short time ago, her only worries were getting her crush, Ben Parish, to notice her, and getting decent grades. Now, though, she’s lost nearly everything thanks to the Others…aliens who are systematically destroying her home. She doesn’t know why they’ve come–and, at first, she doesn’t really care–but she does know that she must do everything in her power to find the one person she has left. Her little brother, Sammy. But even Cassie isn’t prepared for what–or who–she’ll have to face to get back to her brother. She’ll discover just what she’s willing to do–and who she’s willing to trust–to get back to what really matters to her.

Cassie isn’t the only one asking questions about what the aliens are really after and what they have planned next. A boy nicknamed Zombie is being trained as an alien-killing soldier. He’s not the only one. Kids all over are being gathered and trained to think about nothing but killing. But why? Why kids? When Zombie, who was once a carefree kid with everything going for him, begins to question what’s going on around him, he’ll arrive at some upsetting and game-changing conclusions. It seems that the fifth wave has already begun. Is there any way to stop it…or have the Others already taken too much from humanity for any hope of its survival?

If you’re paranoid like me, The 5th Wave will make you extremely uncomfortable (like all the best books do). This disquieting story, in my opinion, is a much more realistic alien invasion tale than many of the others I’ve read. All that “We Come in Peace” crap is stupid. If aliens really came to Earth, do you really think they’d be friendly or diplomatic? Would we? I don’t think so.

Though The 5th Wave is being marketed as a young adult novel, I actually think the wider appeal will be to adults who have grown up with stories like Invasion of the Body Snatchers,  AlienIndependence DayDistrict 9Terminator, and other tales of alien invasions that aren’t even close to the loving E.T.-type stories that give us the warm fuzzies. The 5th Wave is not a happy book, and, since it is the first book in a planned trilogy, even the ending doesn’t really provide a ton of closure…but this book is an amazing work of science fiction and should be experienced by any fans of the genre.

For those that want to know more about this exhilarating book, check out the official website at http://the5thwaveiscoming.com/. The site contains loads of information on the book, including the official Facebook and Twitter pages and several book trailers that totally capture just how intense this book really is. (I’ve embedded one of them below.) If you decide to experience The 5th Wave, I hope you enjoy the ride as much as I did.

Published in: on June 16, 2013 at 9:30 pm  Comments (2)  
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Shades of Earth

Warning! Read Across the Universe and A Million Suns by Beth Revis before proceeding. I just finished reading the last book in this trilogy, and I will spoil things for you if you’re not caught up!

As you’ve gathered by the oh-so-subtle warning above, I’ve finally finished Shades of Earth, the final book in Beth Revis’ Across the Universe trilogy. While I’m sad that this journey is over, this finale, like the two books that preceded it, was nothing short of stellar. It was action-packed, it introduced some intriguing new (and not-so-new) characters, it addressed some societal issues we’re currently facing today (without being too preachy), there was lots of death and stuff blowing up, and, of course, the complicated relationship between Amy and Elder was further explored. I guess the big question is this: Am I satisfied with how things ended? The short answer to this question is yes. There was definitely a sense of closure when I read the final words, but what happened at the end opened up a whole new set of questions for me. I won’t go so far as to tell you what happens at the end, but I think a lot of readers will be hoping for even more from the characters we’ve come to care for in this series.

Amy and Elder are no longer within the walls of Godspeed. They–along with the frozens and shipborns willing to accompany them–are about to make a home on Centauri-Earth. But no one is really prepared for what awaits them on this strange and often frightening new planet. Large, reptilian birds roam the skies seeking prey to devour. Beautiful flowers emit toxins that render humans comatose. Oddly sophisticated ruins provide shelter for Centauri-Earth’s newest residents, but who created these dwellings (that seem to be ideal for human settlements)? There’s something–or someone–else in this strange new world. Something that is determined to destroy the new inhabitants. What could be out there, and what do they have against the newly arrived humans?

As Amy and Elder search for answers, they must also reevaluate their roles in this new home. Amy has gone from being an outsider to being the daughter of the military leader of the settlement. (Her father, now reanimated, is now the highest ranking military officer among the Earthborns. Her mom is one of the lead scientists.) Amy struggles with balancing her love for her parents with the loyalty she feels toward Elder and the shipborns. A new guy, who seems to have her father’s approval, only complicates matters even more.

Elder, on the other hand, must consider the welfare of his people over all else. He’s still wary of the Earthborns, and he continues to hear Orion’s warnings in his head. Elder is trying to do everything in his power to keep his people from being made into soldiers or slaves, but Amy’s father may have other ideas. It’s clear that the Earthborns–especially those in the military–view the shipborns as dispensable and as little more than animals. It’s up to Elder to look out for his people’s best interests because it’s becoming apparent that no one else will. How can he worry about his relationship with Amy when so much else is weighing on him? (He manages, by the way.)

Dangers abound on Centauri-Earth, and secrets, lies, and treachery are making this new home even more perilous. Some of the answers to the true purpose for this settlement are right in front of Amy and Elder’s eyes, but some are frustratingly out of reach. Amy and Elder will seek clues to what is really going on here–often at risk to their own lives–but will they be prepared for what they find? Or who their true enemies are? And will the search for truth bring them together or drive them apart…forever? Is the concept of making this planet a true “home” even possible when so much has gone horribly wrong? Seek the truth when you read Shades of Earth, the thrilling conclusion to Beth Revis’ Across the Universe trilogy.

As I indicated above, Shades of Earth is just as amazing as the first two books in this series. It threw some curveballs at me, and, to be honest, I’m still reeling from a couple of the things that happened in this book–and I really hope that the author decides to explore more of Amy and Elder’s story. I had the privilege of meeting Beth Revis at Fiction Addiction on Tuesday (as part of the Breathless Reads tour), and, while she didn’t indicate whether there would be more books in this series, she did say that she’d be open to the idea of more novella-type stories that explore other characters. (There’s already one, As They Slip Away, linked here, and I plan to read it as soon as I’m done with this post.) That’s something, I guess.

One thing that the author said on Tuesday really stuck with me as I was reading Shades of Earth. She said that, when she’s faced with writer’s block, she kills somebody off or blows something up, and that usually gets her back on track. (Of course, this made everybody in the audience laugh…and with good reason. Beth Revis is freakin’ hilarious.) As I was reading this final book, though, I had to think that writer’s block must have been an issue here. There was A LOT of death and explosions. (It was kind of awesome most of the time.  Other times, though, it brought on intense cases of the feels.)

There’s also some sexy-times in this book. Nothing gratuitous or graphic, but, if you’re planning to promote this book to middle-schoolers, you should probably be aware of this. (I don’t think the scene took up more than a page, but it’s pretty obvious what was going on.)

If I have any real complaint about this book, I must say that it’s the cover change. I know the author had no say in this, but why would there be a cover change after two books are already out–with beautiful covers, by the way? Some of us use books in our decorating, and when the third book in a series looks NOTHING like the previous two, the entire aesthetic is thrown off. While I don’t hate the new cover, I would have preferred something more like the covers for the previous two books. (If you’re curious, the paperback versions of the first two books also have the new cover designs, but I’m not buying copies of books I already have just so my bookshelves will look pretty.)

You know what does look pretty, though? Autographed books! Here’s a quick pic of my autographed copy of Shades of Earth! (I got the other books in the series autographed, too.)

Shades_of_Earth

Awesome, right?! For even more awesomeness from Beth Revis and the entire Across the Universe trilogy, visit the author’s website. Go to the “Contact” page for all of the various ways you can connect with this amazing author!

Published in: on February 18, 2013 at 2:03 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Cinder

I love a good fairy tale retelling.  (That is clear to anyone who follows me on Twitter and sees my comments about Once Upon a Time every Sunday night.)  I also enjoy really well-written science fiction.  It should come as no surprise, then, that I found Cinder by Marissa Meyer to be a real winner.  This book combines the classic tale of Cinderella with cyborgs…kind of Disney meets Terminator (or Battlestar Galactica).  What more could a nerdy girl ask for?

Cinder doesn’t have what one would call an easy life.  Her stepmother treats her as nothing more than a slave.  Everyone around her gives her a wide berth.  But why?  What’s wrong with Cinder?  Well, she’s not entirely human.  After a horrible childhood accident (that she has no memory of), parts of Cinder’s body were replaced with mechanical and computerized parts.  Those around her consider Cinder, a cyborg, to be disposable and easily overlooked…unless they need something fixed, of course.  Cinder has an uncanny ability to fix nearly anything that’s broken…and it’s this ability that leads her to an encounter with the Crown Prince of New Beijing, Kai.

Kai goes into the local marketplace looking to have his android fixed, and his search leads him to the best mechanic available, Cinder.  He doesn’t know she’s a cyborg, and she has no intention of telling him.  But Cinder—and Kai—have no way of knowing that forces are at work that will reveal all their secrets and put both of them—and the people they love the most—in more danger than they could possibly fathom…

A devastating plague is sweeping across the earth.  The emperor, Kai’s father, is in the final throes of the disease.  Peony, Cinder’s beloved stepsister—and her only real friend—has just been infected.  Cinder is blamed by her stepmother for Peony’s sickness, but even Cinder is not prepared for the lengths her stepmother will go to for retribution.  Cinder is “volunteered” as a test subject for plague research.  As everyone in New Beijing knows, this is a certain death sentence…one that Cinder has no intention of accepting quietly.

As it turns out, Cinder will have bigger problems than being a glorified science experiment…for she is immune to the disease that is engulfing the world.  How is this possible?  What’s so special about Cinder, a cyborg that no one—except maybe Prince Kai—wants to befriend?  Cinder soon learns that she’s even more special than her cyborg parts would indicate.  She may, in fact, be the salvation that the entire world is looking for.  As everyone knows, though, one person’s salvation is often another’s destruction.  Who will ultimately be destroyed?  Who will be saved?  That answer may just rest with the decisions made by Cinder, a girl forced to deal with more than anyone should ever ask of her.  What will happen?  I’ll leave that for you to find out!

I admit that it took me a little while to get truly invested in Cinder.  About a quarter of the way through, though, I got absolutely hooked, and I couldn’t wait to get home from work to immerse myself in this story.  Yes, there was a ton of foreshadowing, and anyone familiar with the basics of the Cinderella story could predict what was going to happen, but there were a few surprises thrown in that made this an action-packed tale that, in my opinion, male and female readers could enjoy.

Cinder is also a fine read for readers in middle school on up.  I’m not one to pay a huge amount of attention to bad language in books, but I can’t recall much of it jumping out at me in this book.  There was a sort of innocent love story in this book, but, again, there was nothing that really struck me as being inappropriate for middle grade readers.

I love that, at its heart, Cinder is a science fiction book geared primarily toward teen female readers.  For too long, girls (and women) who love science fiction have been bombarded with loads of male protagonists, but we’ve had very few—relatively speaking—that we as females could identify with.  I hope many other authors will follow Marissa Meyer’s example and write quality science fiction with strong female characters!

I look forward to reading more about Cinder in the next book in this series, Scarlet, which will be released on February 5th of 2013.  Book three, Cress, is scheduled for a 2014 release, and book four, Winter, is set for a 2015 release.  There are also a couple of free ebook novellas that go along with this series.  You can find more information about those on Goodreads.

If I still haven’t convinced you to give Cinder a try, visit the author’s website at http://www.marissameyer.com/ for a closer look at this series.  You may also want to check out the video below to hear author Marissa Meyer tell even more about this fabulous first book in the Lunar Chronicles.

Published in: on October 22, 2012 at 3:14 pm  Comments (1)  
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