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.

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Top 5 Sci-Fi Books

I’m ashamed to admit it, but I never really used to be much of a sci-fi person, at least not when it came to books. I’ve loved Doctor Who for as long as I can remember and I’m a massive Star Trek nerd, but somehow that love of sci-fi never infiltrated my reading habits. The few books that I attempted to pick up that were set in space always seemed to be lacking something, and it was only recently that I found a few sci-fi novels that I actually adore. There are some terrible YA books set in space out there, but there are also some brilliant ones. So today I’d like to share my top five sci-fi novels with you!

1. These Broken Stars

This trilogy was the first series that I actually liked that was set in space. Before that, all I tried to read were cliched novels about love being stronger than gravity or sexy aliens falling in love with humans. Even my younger teenage self — a smaller and more annoying version of my present self — couldn’t have been fooled into thinking that these novels were worthy of my time. But that all changed when I read These Broken Stars and found that there was actually some quality YA sci-fi novels out there. This series wasn’t just enjoyable — it was thrilling and fast-paced and blew me away with how phenomenally-written these different worlds were. I loved how each of the three books were centred around different protagonists and I adored them all equally. You really don’t have to be a sci-fi person to enjoy this series, but you’ll definitely be a sci-fi person afterwards. Read More »

The Diabolic – book review

the-diabolic

Nemesis is a Diabolic. Created to protect a galactic Senator’s daughter, Sidonia. The girl who has grown up by her side and who is as much as sister as a master. There’s no one Nemesis wouldn’t kill to keep her safe. But when the power-mad Emperor summons Sidonia to the galactic court as a hostage, there is only one way for Nemesis to protect Sidonia.

She must become her.

Now one of the galaxy’s most dangerous weapons is masquerading in a world of corruption and Nemesis has to hide her true abilities or risk everything. As the Empire begins to fracture and rebellion looms closer, Nemesis learns that there is something stronger than her deadly force: the one thing she’s been told she doesn’t have – humanity. And, amidst all the danger, action and intrigue, her humanity might be the only thing that can save her, Sidonia and the entire Empire…Read More »

Replica – book review

replica-lauren-oliver

Lyra’s story begins in the Haven Institute, a building tucked away on a private island off the coast of Florida that from a distance looks serene and even beautiful. But up close the locked doors, military guards, and biohazard suits tell a different story. In truth, Haven is a clandestine research facility where thousands of replicas, or human models, are born, raised, and observed. When a surprise attack is launched on Haven, two of its young experimental subjects—Lyra, or 24, and the boy known only as 72—manage to escape.

Gemma has been in and out of hospitals for as long as she can remember. A lonely teen, her life is circumscribed by home, school, and her best friend, April. But after she is nearly abducted by a stranger claiming to know her, Gemma starts to investigate her family’s past and discovers her father’s mysterious connection to the secretive Haven research facility. Hungry for answers, she travels to Florida, only to stumble upon two replicas and a completely new set of questions.Read More »

Their Fractured Light – book review

Their Fractured Light

Their Fractured Light is the thrilling conclusion to the Starbound trilogy, written by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner.

A year ago, Flynn Corman 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. No one 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 Cornith, all four are about to collide with two new players, who will bring about the end to LaRoux Industries. Gideon Marchant is an eighteen-year-old computer hacker who can worm his way past the best security measures to pull off hacks that others wouldn’t dare attempt. And then there’s Sofia Quinn – a girl with a killer smile who can have you offering up anything she desires, whenever she wants it. She also holds LaRoax Industries responsible for the mysterious death of her father and is out for revenge at any cost.

When a LaRoux Industries security breach interrupts Gideon and Sofia’s separate attempts to infiltrate their headquaters, their only chance at escaping is to work together. Each of them has their own reason for wanting to take down LaRoux Industries, and neither trusts the other. But working together might be the best chance the have to expose the secrets LRI is so desperate to hide.

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It felt so bittersweet to read the last book in the beautiful Starbound trilogy. It’s crazy to think that there was a time when I was reading the blurb of this book, wondering whether or not I’d fall in love with this series. I more than fell in love with it, if that’s even possible. I laughed, I cried, I fangirled… and fangirled some more… and some more… and some more… I feel like this series took me on a journey, and I’m sad that it’s finally over. Finishing this series feels like coming home from an adventure – you’re sad that you’re no longer away from home, but you’re thankful for all of the amazing memories you have from it and you dream about the day you’ll embark on another adventure. In relation to this series and Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner, I sincerely hope that they write another series together.

One of the things that I loved most about this series was how well Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner wrote together. Sometimes it’s obvious that two writers wrote a book together because the writing style can sound a little mismatched sometimes, like trying to use an iPhone app on an iPad – it’ll still work, but it won’t be the same and it won’t look as nice. I went to YA Matters in Melbourne a little while ago, which was a book seminar about YA fiction, and was lucky enough to hear Amie Kaufman speak and actually get to meet her. If I’m correct, I recall her saying that her and Meagan wrote the alternating chapters – Amie wrote the ones belonging to the guys. I thought that was a brilliant idea because it allowed the inner monologue of characters to be just slightly different, however there wasn’t overly drastic jumps from character to character in the way the book was written. I just felt like this series flowed perfectly and I really hope these two brilliant authors release another book soon!

Another thing that I simply adore about this series is that each book has different protagonists. For example, in These Broken Stars we had Lilac and Tarver, in This Shattered World we had Jubilee and Flynn, and now, in This Fractured World, we had Sofia and Gideon. Honestly, I can’t imagine how Amie and Meagan always manage to create such swoon-worthy characters every time! I think that my favourite couple will always be Lilac and Tarver just because they were the first, but spending time with Sofia and Gideon in this book was wonderful too. But just when I thought things couldn’t get any better… we get Lilac and Tarver, and Jubilee and Flynn thrown into this book around half-way as well! I loved seeing all of these people get together. I honestly couldn’t stop smiling for about two chapters when they got together simply because I was so happy to see everyone again!

However, when those four characters came back into the mix, I felt as though Sofia and Gideon kind of took the back seat for a while. I would have liked them to play a more active role in the ‘meet-up’, however I felt like the others were dominating the novel at that time. Like, I don’t mind at all because I love the others, however I felt like this was Sofia and Gideon’s book, not the others. They had their chance. This was Sofideon’s time to shine. Yes, I just made up a ship name for Sofia and Gideon. Deal with it.

I honestly held so much love Sofia and Gideon. They were such a cute couple and the hacker/grifter spin on this novel was very fun to experience. These two people had conflicting personalities in a lot of ways, which meant it was absolutely hilarious to watch how things turned out. For example, in one scene Sofia attempted to teach Gideon to dance. Snarky, sarcastic, swoon-worthy Gideon. Not to mention, the chemistry between the two of them felt real and was thoroughly intriguing. What made their romance even more heated was the sense of mistrust between them. Sofia and Gideon felt like they couldn’t fully trust one another for a lot of the book, which was refreshing because there’s an awful lot of books out there where protagonists simply fall into each other’s arms and immediately tell them all their deepest, darkest secrets. In that way, and in many other ways, this book felt incredibly genuine. I couldn’t be more pleased about that.

I guess I would have liked to have seen more romance between Sofia and Gideon though. There was an awful lot of making plans about destroying LaRoux Industries and everything, and all of that kind of blurred together for me. I became confused with what they were all planning to do because there was just so much information being thrown at me. I think some added romance between Sofia and Gideon could have been used to break up what was bordering on an info-dump at some points. But you know where there wasn’t info-dump? In regards to the world-building. I’ve read a lot of books where authors seem to think that they need to tell you everything about their ‘new world’ in the first chapter. Thankfully, this series never did that. This series has just the right amount of information about these new worlds spread throughout the book that you can build a clear picture in your mind, not be overloaded with details and forget them all by chapter nine.

While I’m sad that I’ve finished reading the Starbound series, I’m so thankful for the unforgettable journey I was taken on. This series had me hooked from the beginning and until the very end and I know that the names Lilac and Tarver, Jubilee and Flynn, and Sofia and Gideon will stay with me for a long time. If you haven’t picked up this series yet, I honestly can’t recommend it enough. If you’re into sci-fi romantic thrillers, this series is definitely for you. I’d give Their Fractured Light by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner a score of 9 out of 10. NOW – I’d love to discuss this with you! Have you read this book? Do you plan on reading it? Does this sound like the kind of series you’d be interested in? Have you ever had a really bad case of info-dump? I’d love to know! 🙂

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

Falls the Shadow – book review

Falls the Shadow

Falls the Shadow is an intriguing and thrilling book by Stephanie Gaither.

When Cate Benson was just a kid, her sister, Violet, died. A coupe of hours after the funeral, Cate’s family picked up Violet’s replacement. It was like nothing had happened. That’s because Cate’s parents were among those who decided to give their children immortality of a kind – cloning them at birth – which means Violet has the same life as before, all thanks to the advancements in mind-uploading technology. She even has the exact same memories as the girl she replaced. So is she the same Violet?

But when the most popular girl in school is murdered, all eyes turn to Violet. The paparazzi and anti-cloning protesters want everyone to think that clones are violent, unpredictable monsters. Cate is used to hearing all that. She’s also used to defending her sister. But Violet has vanished and when Cate sets out to find her, she finds herself in more trouble than she could ever have imagined. Cate is getting dangerously close to finding out the secrets that will cause her to question everything she has ever believed in.

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Ever since I heard about Falls the Shadow, I had been desperate to read it. It sounded really interesting from what I had heard about it and I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it. Unfortunately, I didn’t love it as much as I had hoped. Don’t get me wrong, this book wasn’t bad, I just couldn’t really get into it for some reason. The plot was really interesting and for the most part the book was really well written, but I didn’t really feel anything for the characters or understand quite a few elements in it. It was quite gripping in the beginning, but I felt as though it dragged a little in the middle. I wished I had been glued to the book the entire time and that just didn’t happen.

I think one of the things I had the biggest issues with in this book was the amount of information it gave me at certain times. There were certain moments in the book that felt like pure info-dumping sessions. There were a few parts that purely had one person explaining to another what was going on and what the history behind the cloning was and it just wasn’t scintillating. I would have preferred learning things more slowly and actually understanding what was happening, rather than having everything dumped on me at the one time. There was one point in the book where I actually had to put the book down because I realised I just wasn’t processing anything that was happening because I was trying to understand the things that had just been said and my brain felt like it was in over-drive and it just wasn’t taking in any new information. At that point in time, I was really tempted to pick up a more easy read and know that I would probably understand it better than I could understand this book at that moment. It was really heavy in parts and there was often a lot going on. This book definitely isn’t a quick or light read and it requires quite a bit of focus.

The sci-fi and thriller elements of the storyline were complicated, but also interesting. I haven’t read that many books about cloning and I was excited to read another one and see what they did in this one. This book revolves around the idea that at birth, the parents of a baby can decide whether they would like to clone their child and then if the child died, they could have an exact copy of the child in existence. People have different views about this, as you would expect. Some are horrified and others opt to do this – like Cate and Violet’s parents. I like thinking about whether something like this could happen in the future and how many people would actually adopt this. It was really creepy to see Violet die and then a few hours later, an exact clone of her would take her place on the Earth, having all the same memories of the original Violet. Except in this dystopian future, the clones are stronger and faster than normal people, which has the potential to be very dangerous. See, this book sounds cool, right? I felt like Falls the Shadow had so much potential to be amazing and it just lacked in a lot of areas.

One of the areas that I felt was lacking was the relationship between Cate and her sister. We never really got to see that rivalry or anything and I felt like that was pivotal to the plot to see what they were like together before the original Violet died and how the family dynamics changed. There’s a little bit of explanation for them, but I felt like it was underdeveloped and any connection between them didn’t feel realistic. It was kind of the same for the relationship between Cate and Jaxon. While they didn’t fall in love instantly – and you might know that I hate that in books – it was pretty much close to it. Some of the things that happened with them were unbelievable and I didn’t feel for these two characters much at all. I also didn’t buy the fact that they felt so close to one another, after everything that happened to each other and how they have no reason to trust one another, and yet they somehow do.

One of the few things I actually liked about this book was the few moments of action. I liked the chase scenes and the fight scenes and I felt like they often felt like the most real thing in this book. I enjoyed reading these parts and they were well written. One of the things that wasn’t well written was some of the dialogue. A bit of it felt forced and juvenile and I would have liked to read some interesting conversations that kept me hooked. Unfortunately, for the most part, I felt like skipping over the dialogue and cutting to the main action, which was when I got the feeling that I liked this book.

While this book wasn’t necessarily bad, it just wasn’t as amazing as I had hoped it would be. It’s interesting enough and if you like science fiction and cloning, you might enjoy this book. However, I don’t think this book is going to be something that I’ll remember and reread in the future. It was good for a little entertainment, though a little tiring to read at times because of everything I had to learn to understand the plot. I’d give Falls the Shadow by Stefanie Gaither a score of 6.5 out of 10. If any of you have read this book or are planning to read it, let me know!

Thank you to Simon & Schuster for providing me with this book in exchange for an honest review!