Just Some SF/F Reviews

Over the past month, I read three hyped SF/F books… which is a lot for me, considering the majority of the books I read are contemporary, followed by straight fantasy. However, I do enjoy reading a good science-fiction/fantasy book from time to time.

But today, I’ll be reviewing four of them for you! These books are everywhere at the moment – they’ve been hyped to the max – and so I’m going to debunk that hype and tell you if these books are really worthwhile.

Renegades by Marissa Meyer

28421168Secret Identities. Extraordinary Powers. She wants vengeance. He wants justice.

The Renegades are a syndicate of prodigies—humans with extraordinary abilities—who emerged from the ruins of a crumbled society and established peace and order where chaos reigned. As champions of justice, they remain a symbol of hope and courage to everyone…except the villains they once overthrew.

Nova has a reason to hate the Renegades, and she is on a mission for vengeance. As she gets closer to her target, she meets Adrian, a Renegade boy who believes in justice—and in Nova. But Nova’s allegiance is to a villain who has the power to end them both.


This was a book that I expected to love. I mean, superheroes? Villains? Yes please. It was also chosen as our Book of the Month for The YA Room, so I had high hopes that this would be another one that I would love and be able to talk about at the Book Meet. But nope. The most positive thing I could say about this book is “meh”. And I’m so disappointed by that!

The first complaint that I had was that this book is long. I mean, that’s not a problem when it’s something like A Conjuring of Light, and it wouldn’t have been an issue if I loved this book. But nope. Nopeity nope nope. There were so many scenes that just felt like filler, and there were so many unnecessary characters and I just wanted to come in with a hacksaw and cut out the unwanted parts. Seriously, this book could have had a good 150 – 200 pages shaved off it. But instead, we were left with a novel that felt like it was never going to end. In a bad way.

And there there were the characters. Oh man. If you know me at all, or have read any of my other reviews, you’ll know that I hate books with heaps of characters. My poor tiny brain just can’t manage more than, like, three people. Then we add on the characters’ secret identities, or their “superhero” names, and things get a whole lot more confusing. I know there’s a character list at the beginning of the book, but who can be bothered flicking back and forth every time a character is mentioned? Not me. I honestly struggled to keep up because of that.

Maybe I wouldn’t have found having a lot of characters an issue if I actually connected with any of them, but again, nope. Didn’t happen for me. I wanted to feel for them, to be rooting for them, to want someone to be successful. But I honestly wouldn’t have really been put out if one of them died. Go right ahead. And the fight scenes? Like yes, they were cool, but I had no clue what was going on most of the time.

Which leads me to my final point of this very ranty review. Maybe I missed it because I was so distracted by all the characters and just being thrown into the action but… why were the heroes and villains fighting again? Like, I figured it out in the end, but for the first few characters I was just utterly bewildered. And don’t give me the whole “but they were fighting because they had different ideals and they both thought they were right!”. Yeah, I know, but that’s not enough for me. I wanted a lot more backstory than I initially got, because the reason for their epic battles didn’t seem legit enough for me.

WAIT NO. I’m not done. There are so many stereotypes and tropes in this book. I feel like the author just watched a whole bunch of superhero movies, drank a tub of coffee, and pumped out words for 49 hours straight, Paper Fury style. It was just filled to the brim with stereotypes and tropes, so much so that I felt that a lot of the characters weren’t even given a chance at being anything other than what the superhero universe had dictated for them.

Let me give you a rundown of what this book looked like…

  • Okay, this book has potential.
  • BANG!
  • Oh no, someone will die.
  • TROPE
  • Stab stab battle stab
  • CLICHE
  • unnecessary romance
  • WE HAVE POWERS!
  • TROPE
  • CLICHE
  • TROPE

So Renegades. Aha ha ha. Yep. I’m sorry. I tried with this book, and it just didn’t agree with me. If you’re a massive fan of superheroes and comics and whatnot, then perhaps you’ll like this one. Otherwise… don’t bother.

Rating:

1 Star

Thanks to Pan Macmillan Australia for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!


This Mortal Coil by Emily Suvada

35072280When a lone soldier, Cole, arrives with news of Lachlan Agatta’s death, all hope seems lost for Catarina. Her father was the world’s leading geneticist, and humanity’s best hope of beating a devastating virus. Then, hidden beneath Cole’s genehacked enhancements she finds a message of hope: Lachlan created a vaccine.

Only she can find and decrypt it, if she can unravel the clues he left for her. The closer she gets, the more she finds herself at risk from Cartaxus, a shadowy organization with a stranglehold on the world’s genetic tech. But it’s too late to turn back.

There are three billion lives at stake, two people who can save them, and one final secret that Cat must unlock. A secret that will change everything.


I’d been seeing this book around the bloggersphere for a while before I picked it up – Amie Kaufman was even raving about it – so I was so thrilled when I got my copy. I guess this book is more of a dystopian, but wow, it was amazing. It’s been ages since I read a dystopian novel and I was pleased to find that GOOD DYSTOPIANS ARE STILL BEING WRITTEN. I lost a little hope after I outgrew some of my 2013 faves, such as The 5th Wave, but This Mortal Coil could be the book that starts this whole trend again. I’m not sure many could live up to this book’s brilliance though.

I was honestly so intrigued by all the science talk and mentions of genetics and everything. I mean, I could hardly understand it because I stopped learning science when I was 16, but it was honestly so amazing to read about. I heard that author has a degree in some sciencey thing, which definitely shows in her writing. I got that same feeling while reading this book as when I watch space documentaries – an incredible sense of wonder, and while I may not know what’s going on 100% of the time, it both makes me feel amazed and a little more educated about the world. It was just incredible. I wish I could science.

And the twists! Wow. I probably had a look of surprise on my face the entire time I was reading this book, because there was a twist on basically every page and I only picked one or two of them. THE REST WERE JUST SO UNEXPECTED. I’m honestly in awe with the intricate way the plot was weaved to make the plots so unpredictable and so satisfying. The only aspect to this book that I wasn’t particularly fond of was the romance – it definitely could have done without this part, and I didn’t feel any real chemistry between these characters. But besides that, this book was absolutely phenomenal.

Did it live up to the hype? ABSOLUTELY. If you like dystopian novels and are looking for another #LoveOzYA novel to pick up, I couldn’t recommend this one highly enough. WOW. This is a book that needs to be on your TBR.

Rating:

4 Stars

Thanks to Penguin Australia for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!


Otherworld by Jason Segel and Kristen Miller

28238589The company says Otherworld is amazing—like nothing you’ve ever seen before. They say it’s addictive—that you’ll want to stay forever. They promise Otherworld will make all your dreams come true.

Simon thought Otherworld was a game. Turns out he knew nothing. Otherworld is the next phase of reality. It’s everything you’ve ever wanted.

And it’s about to change humanity forever.
Welcome to the Otherworld. No one could have seen it coming.


I read this book after reading Warcross because they were both similar in that they were about video games and virtual realities, but unfortunately, this one was pretty average as well. But what I disliked most about this book is that it just felt done already. Maybe that’s because I read it immediately after Warcross to compare the two or that I know of so many other books with the same premise, but it just wasn’t overly original. I hoped for a book about virtual reality that was original and unique, but I didn’t find it in this book.

I really didn’t like the protagonist, Simon. I get that he was supposed to be a genuine, relatable teenager, but he read as someone who was pretty smug and even pretty gross at times. I didn’t enjoy the romance in this book at all and the way he treated women, slut-shaming them and then threatening to leak nudes. That was disgusting. So yeah, I’m not his biggest fan. None of the other characters were really that spectacular either, and I had no real connections with them. They were just kind of… there.

There were some enjoyable moments in this book, like all the virtual reality stuff, but it wasn’t enough to make this a book that I liked on the whole. It wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t great either. Again, it was just something to pass the time, but not something I’d recommend or look back on anytime soon. If you’re looking for a new take on the virtual reality / futuristic genre, you won’t get it from this book.

Rating:

2-stars

Thanks to Bloomsbury Australia for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!


Unearthed by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner

25446297When Earth intercepts a message from a long-extinct alien race, it seems like the solution the planet has been waiting for. The Undying’s advanced technology has the potential to undo environmental damage and turn lives around, and Gaia, their former home planet, is a treasure trove waiting to be uncovered.

For Jules Addison and his fellow scholars, the discovery of an alien culture offers unprecedented opportunity for study… as long as scavengers like Amelia Radcliffe don’t loot everything first. Mia and Jules’ different reasons for smuggling themselves onto Gaia put them immediately at odds, but after escaping a dangerous confrontation with other scavvers, they form a fragile alliance.

In order to penetrate the Undying temple and reach the tech and information hidden within, the two must decode the ancient race’s secrets and survive their traps. But the more they learn about the Undying, the more their presence in the temple seems to be part of a grand design that could spell the end of the human race…


Oh my goodness. Unearthed just became my favourite book of this month, and one of the best novels I’ve read all year. I absolutely adored the Starbound trilogy, written by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner, so I was thrilled to get my hands on this one. These two amazing writers make such a phenomenal team, and I just love their work. This book simultaneously felt like an addition to the Starbound trilogy, and also something completely new. It was the perfect mix of everything I loved from their previous series and a space adventure unlike any other. It was just brilliant.

The romance in this book was utterly delightful. Gosh. I’m still swooning. Told in alternating chapters, I absolutely loved seeing their relationship grow, right up from when they met to that kiss scene. Wow. I just… I’m in love. I need a second book right now. There was so much chemistry between these two and while the romance taking a front seat in this book won’t be for everyone, if you liked the Starbound trilogy and how the romance was written in those books, then you’ll just devour this one. I’M IN LOVE. HOLD ME, I’M SHOOK.

And all the Doctor Who vibes? YES PLEASE. This definitely was Indiana Jones meets Doctor Who in space, and I couldn’t have been more thrilled with how the narrative played out. Although it was a little predictable at times, that definitely didn’t minimise my enjoyment in the narrative. It was just such a fun, fast-paced read with a romance to die for. If you love sci-fi novels with a good serving of romance, then you can’t go past this book. Unearthed is one unmissable book.

Rating:

5-stars

Thanks to Allen & Unwin Australia for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!


But wait, there’s more!

I was lucky enough to ask Amie and Meagan a few questions about writing and their latest novel, Unearthed.

I hope you enjoy!

notebook3-coffee

Q&A with Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner

What’s the best and the worst thing about working collaboratively on a novel?

Best: Having someone right there with you, to help you brainstorm, to laugh at your jokes the day they’re written, to cheerlead as you finish your chapter!

Worst: Living on two separate continents! We wish we were closer together!

What are some of your favourite YA novels written by two or more authors?

Hmmm, good question! One of our favourite author pairings is Garth Nix and Sean Williams (who just put out Have Sword, Will Travel, though that’s more middle grade), and we also love Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan. And of course let’s not forget Take Three Girls, a LoveOzYA title by Cath Crowley, Fiona Wood and Simmone Howell!

What books / movies / shows were most influential in forming your love of sci-fi?

We’re both huge Star Trek fans, and have loved it for a long time not just for the space setting (and frequently terrible monsters) but for the way it follows the sci-fi tradition of asking big questions, then trying to answer them. For us, that’s what the best sci-fi is all about. We grew up raiding libraries and bookshops, and one series we had in common was Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern series—we actually met in the online fandom for that!

When did you come up with the idea for Unearthed? What was it like to write this novel together while balancing other writing projects?

We were on tour in January 2015 when we came across an Indiana Jones marathon on TV in our New York hotel room. We had already been talking about what we might write next, and it was when one of us – we don’t remember who anymore – said ‘if only there was YA like this!’ that we both paused, then said… “Hang on, we write YA.” It ended up in space shortly thereafter, and the rest is history!

Would you ever want to work together to write a novel of another genre – for instance, contemporary – or is sci-fi what you think you’ll stick to writing together?

We’ll never say never! We’d definitely like to try fantasy together, but whether we go further afield than that, only time will tell.

Let's Talk

Have you read any of these four? What did you think of them? Does hype affect your reading experience? What’s the most overhyped or underhyped read of 2017 for you? I’d love to know!

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Graphics sourced from Winged GraphicsGraphicsDishDainty Doll Art,  Carousellerie CreativeOpiaDesigns, and ArtCreationsDesign.

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4 thoughts on “Just Some SF/F Reviews

    • Thank you so much! I love how you don’t really have to love sci-fi to enjoy the books that Amie and Meagan write – they manage to captivate you regardless! I hope you love UNEARTHED as much as I did once you get around to reading it ❤️

  1. I agree wholeheartedly with you on Renegades.. It was disappointing and it could have been shorter (that might have helped) And I can’t wait to pick up Unearthed It’s one of my anticipated releases for next year…

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