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 »

Illuminae – book review

Illuminae

Illuminae is an intriguing and one-of-a-kind novel, written by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff.

This morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do. Then her planet was invaded.

The year is 2575 and two rival megacorporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than an ice-covered speck at the edge of the universe. Too bad nobody thought to warn the people living on it. With enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra – who are barely even talking to each other – are forced to fight their way onto an evacuating fleet, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit.

But their problems are just getting started. A deadly plague has broken out and is mutating, the fleet’s AI has turned frighteningly psychopathic, and no body will say what’s really going on. As Kady hacks into the tangled web of data to find the truth, it’s clear only one person can help her bring it all to light: the ex-boyfriend she swore she’d never speak to again…

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This is probably one of the most talked about books in recent times. I had heard so much about Illuminae before I even started reading it – and I was even lucky enough to receive a signed Illuminae poster from Allen & Unwin! But sometimes, I feel like hearing too much about a book before reading it isn’t a good thing. Although, admittedly, this book is amazing, I don’t think any book should be built up so high that if people don’t experience the same evangelical zeal as you do when reading it, they should be shunned. Instead, people need to be able to read a book at their own pace, have time to ponder on it and collect their thoughts, and then share their thoughts in a calm and collected manner. I’m guilty of sometimes screaming at you through reviews, raving on and on about how good a book is – and I apologise about that. But that doesn’t mean I’m going to stop anytime soon. I’m selfish, I know. Like every book, Illuminae was both brilliant and of course, like all things, flawed. It was a very enjoyable read but if you are going to read Illuminae, I recommend not putting it on a pedestal before reading it. Enjoy it at your own pace and decide from there how you’d rate it.

One thing that I was very surprised about when reading this book was its general layout. May I be so bold to proclaim that there is no traditional prose in this novel? Yes, there are some moments where there is a retelling, or ‘surveillance account’ about what happened, but there was nothing like you’d find when opening up your average YA book. I definitely think that’s worth knowing before picking up this book. A lot of this novel is told mostly in the form of instant messages, emails and other documents. I loved how unique this book was in that aspect. The format of Illuminae is honestly the new free verse poetry novel. We all thought books like Rumble by Ellen Hopkins and One by Sarah Crossan were awesome because of the way they’re written, but now Illuminae is going to rule the world. I can already tell there will be come ‘copy-cat’ books coming soon.

Another thing I loved about this book was the awesome graphics and how the words aren’t always just in perfect lines on the page. That must sound super weird, but let me try to explain. Sometimes the words reflect what’s going on. If someone is floating through space, the words will curve around the page, white letters against a black page. Sometimes there’s almost an illustration, made entirely of a word in different shades of black. Sometimes there’s even diagrams of starships. This book is completely insane – I love it! I can’t believe the publishers let them have pages of black ink. Sometimes there was only one word typed in white on the page. No wonder this book smells funny. Do you think it’s all the extra ink? Anyway, I know if I was printing that book from home, that would cost me a lot of money in ink. I’m sure publishers get discounts, though. And imagine having to type all that out to make sure everything was sitting perfectly on the page! I would not have the patience for that. Kudos to you, Allen & Unwin!

However, there was as aspect about the writing style in this novel that I didn’t like, or rather, found confusing. I found it a little hard to get into initially and I would have really appreciated some more background information. It took me quite a while to actually understand what was going on and to form a close bond with some of the characters. Because I knew nothing about the protagonists or the planet, I couldn’t feel for them and I honestly didn’t care about what was going on. Sometimes reading all those emails and ‘Unipedia’ pages were a bit tedious after a while. I found myself wanting to skim them to get back to Kady and Ezra. To be honest, I don’t think I would have missed much if I hadn’t read them. Oh, and side note, this book does a lot of blacking out of swear words. Like, all the time. This also got a bit annoying after a while, but it didn’t really disjoint my reading of this book because supplementing swear words for the black boxes was quite easy for me. Just a heads up to brush up on your swear words! You might want to swear at this book after a while as well…

Honestly, I can’t say I knew the characters all that well. I enjoyed the messages shared between Kady and Ezra, but I never felt like I knew them completely. They were enjoyable enough to read about, I suppose, but nothing about them really stood out. It’s disappointing to say that I only felt emotional twice when reading this book. Normally when I read, I experience everything from laughing to cringing for the characters and slamming my book down, and even crying so much for so long that the ink gets slightly smudged and my fingertips get wet from wiping my tears and then my book starts crinkling like it does when it gets damp and then I literally have to take a break before my book becomes irreparably waterlogged. Unfortunately, I didn’t experience much of that in this book. I think the most dramatic feeling I had when reading this book was shock. And there was a very shocking moment in this book, I have to tell you. I could not believe it. I still don’t trust authors after that. Can I ever forgive the wonderful authors of Illuminae for toying with my emotions? Maybe if they write another book together I’ll forgive them… As long as it’s not a sequel to Illuminae. I did love Illuminae, just not enough to read a sequel to it. I’m sorry.

All in all, I think I may have expected too much from this book. If you’re considering reading this, please don’t presume this book will be the best book you’ve ever read. You’re allowed to read it and love it, or read it and hate it. Personally, I liked quite a lot of this book while I also disliked other aspects. Message of the day: don’t get pressured into liking things, peoples! I’d recommend reading this book if you’re a fan of books set on other planets and are looking for something unique to read. Just keep in mind that the pacing isn’t very fast and you might have trouble connecting with the characters initially. Overall, I found reading Illuminae fairly enjoyable and I’d give it a score of 7 out of 10. I’d love to hear your thoughts! Have you read Illuminae yet? Are you planning to? Do you agree or disagree with what I discussed? Let me know!

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! 

Across the Universe – book review

across-the-universe

Across the Universe is the first book in the science-fiction fantasy series by Beth Revis.

Hundreds of years in the future, a space ship called Godspeed is travelling through space to a new planet to inhabit. 100 citizens from the original earth are cryogenically frozen on board and will be woken up upon arrival at the new planet.

17 year-old Amy expects to be frozen for hundreds of years and to be awoken on arrival at the new planet. She finds herself suddenly awoken 50 years from her destination. Confused and alone, Amy finds herself in the middle of a futuristic and strange society made up of people born on Godspeed over the generations. Amy soon realises that her awakening wasn’t just a malfunction of a computer on board the ship. She’s the victim of an attempted murder. And her parents could be next…

With nowhere to hide or run, Amy must learn to trust the only other teenager and future leader on board: Elder. Amongst all the mystery and secrets, Amy finds herself falling in love with Elder. But on Godspeed, who can Amy trust?

I had mixed feelings about this series. At the very beginning, I loved it. I loved how well being frozen was explained and it made me imagine what Amy was going through. I really enjoyed reading that part. But once Amy was frozen and up until half way through the book I found it quite uninteresting. For those hundred pages or so, I struggled to keep reading it and almost stopped reading it. But I kept reading (and I recommend you do too), and then it became more exciting. Only then did I become involved in the story line and got caught up in Amy and Elder’s lives. I really enjoyed reading from both Amy and Elder’s point of view and I found each character both different and intriguing. Towards the end of the book I began to unravel the secrets of Godspeed and I loved how the story unfolded. There were lots of twists in the story line, which I loved, and it was because of those twists I kept reading. If you are considering reading this book, be sure to read the whole book and not give up… although the beginning may be a little boring, the ending is really worth it. I enjoyed Across the Universe by Beth Revis and I would give it a score of 7 out of 10. I can’t wait to read A Million Suns!