Genre: Sci-fi

Book Review – The Circle by Dave Eggers

December 5, 2013 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Read in 2013 6 Comments

I received this book free from Library Thing in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review – The Circle by Dave EggersThe Circle by Dave Eggers
Published by Knopf on October 8th 2013
Pages: 508
Genres: Dystopian/Post-Apocalyptic, Sci-fi
Format: ARC
Source: Library Thing
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
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one-star

The Circle is the exhilarating new novel from Dave Eggers, best-selling author of A Hologram for the King, a finalist for the National Book Award.

When Mae Holland is hired to work for the Circle, the world’s most powerful internet company, she feels she’s been given the opportunity of a lifetime. The Circle, run out of a sprawling California campus, links users’ personal emails, social media, banking, and purchasing with their universal operating system, resulting in one online identity and a new age of civility and transparency. As Mae tours the open-plan office spaces, the towering glass dining facilities, the cozy dorms for those who spend nights at work, she is thrilled with the company’s modernity and activity. There are parties that last through the night, there are famous musicians playing on the lawn, there are athletic activities and clubs and brunches, and even an aquarium of rare fish retrieved from the Marianas Trench by the CEO. Mae can’t believe her luck, her great fortune to work for the most influential company in America—even as life beyond the campus grows distant, even as a strange encounter with a colleague leaves her shaken, even as her role at the Circle becomes increasingly public. What begins as the captivating story of one woman’s ambition and idealism soon becomes a heart-racing novel of suspense, raising questions about memory, history, privacy, democracy, and the limits of human knowledge.

In the world introduced in ‘The Circle’, individuals become completely transparent and are stripped of their anonymity even when performing menial tasks. Mae Holland has just secured a position with The Circle thanks to her friend Annie, a high-ranking employee at The Circle. Mae’s involvement in the company slowly begins overtaking everything and without stopping to consider, her entire life ends up being put on display for anyone willing to see.

‘TruYou changed the internet, in toto, within a year. Though some sites were resistant at first, and free-internet advocates shouted about the right to be anonymous online, the TruYou wave was tidal and crushed all meaninful opposition. It started with the commerce sites. Why would any non-porn site want anonymous users when they could know exactly who had come through the door? Overnight, all comment boards became civil, all posters held accountable. The trolls, who had more or less overtaken the internet, were driven back into the darkness.’

So essentially the only people that truly care about privacy in this world are trolls and people who view porn online. Everybody else is fully willing to give up their privacy. Right. Because that’s totally legit. And comment boards became civil overnight all because people’s real names were disclosed thus insinuating that the only thing encouraging people to state their opinions on the Internet was their anonymity? And I loved how the creation of the Unified Operating System, also known as TruYou, which basically took all user accounts and passwords and made them into one all encompassing login, revolutionized the Internet and prevented identity theft. You’d think if you only had one single password it’d be easier rather than more difficult to hack someones information but maybe we’re not supposed to think too hard on these technological creations of Eggers, especially considering his supposed lack of research on the subject. (“There were a handful of times when I looked something up, or asked the opinion of someone more tech-savvy than I am, but for the most part this was just a process of pure speculative fiction.”Source) His lack of research is abundantly clear with the naming of his main invention, Unified Operating System, which isn’t even an Operating System at all. Windows? OS X? Linux? Android? Those are Operating Systems. Computer software that manages the computers hardware.  For someone that decided to write a 504 page book dedicated to technology I would have expected him to know that at the very least.

It’s obvious that Eggers himself harbors a deep dislike of technology and the way the Internet is growing and expanding in society as that’s the way it was written, in a smug and dismissive manner. Each time Mae’s ex-boyfriend Mercer makes an appearance the opportunity is taken to preach his opinions about her job and what companies like ‘The Circle’ are doing to this world. It’s clear Eggers is the embodiment of Mercer and he used that character to push his agenda which is completely fine by me, but the opinions of technological advances were written as black and white where people are either completely for or completely against those advances. Personally, I found myself in a grey area and I’m doubtfully the only like-minded individual.

Setting all that aside I really have to mention the worst thing about this book: the sex scenes. Not only was there a completely unnecessary romance, but the embarrassingly graphic sex scenes told from the point of view of a female were awful (not to mention the scene where Mae walked in on her parents? Served absolutely no purpose to the advancement of the storyline.) Maybe it would’ve been better if the main character was a male and Eggers could have made it sound like he has a modicum of sense in regards to what goes on in the bedroom. The bothersome descriptive words makes me hope someone will steal that man’s thesaurus. Here a few cringe-worthy examples:

‘Then his eyes closed, and he went into paroxysms, emitting a brief squeal before grunting his arrival.’
Squeal? Grunting? ARRIVAL? No, no, no.

“Sometimes,” he said, and breathed fire into her ear.
My. That sounds painful.

‘She could think only of a campfire, one small log, all of it doused in milk.’
Okay, maybe this is a little out of context and hard to understand but there had just been an embarrassing sexual situation where the man was a bit too… quick with it. And Eggers uses a ‘small log’ and ‘milk’ as the descriptive terms. Good grief, NO.

The Circle is at times a bit of a satiric story on the technological advances in this day and age but does manage to bring up some points that would be worth discussing. If it was a non-biased written interpretation on the future possibilities of technology it could have been well received (by me) but as it stands it was written too much like The Circle was ‘Big Brother’ and everything associated with technology is inherently bad. The laughable ending which involves robot drones directed by social media hordes that essentially cause a murder only solidified my displeasure.

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Book Review – All Our Yesterdays (All Our Yesterdays #1) by Cristin Terrill

October 11, 2013 Bonnie Book Reviews, Read in 2013, YA 4 Comments

I received this book free from in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review – All Our Yesterdays (All Our Yesterdays #1) by Cristin TerrillAll Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill
Series: All Our Yesterdays #1
Published by Disney Hyperion on September 3rd 2013
Pages: 368
Genres: Sci-fi, Time Travel
Format: ARC
Amazon
Goodreads


three-half-stars

"You have to kill him."

Imprisoned in the heart of a secret military base, Em has nothing except the voice of the boy in the cell next door and the list of instructions she finds taped inside the drain.

Only Em can complete the final instruction. She's tried everything to prevent the creation of a time machine that will tear the world apart. She holds the proof: a list she has never seen before, written in her own hand. Each failed attempt in the past has led her to the same terrible present-imprisoned and tortured by a sadistic man called the doctor while war rages outside.

Marina has loved her best friend James since they were children. A gorgeous, introverted science prodigy from one of America's most famous families, James finally seems to be seeing Marina in a new way, too. But on one disastrous night, James's life crumbles apart, and with it, Marina's hopes for their future. Marina will protect James, no matter what. Even if it means opening her eyes to a truth so terrible that she may not survive it. At least not as the girl she once was. Em and Marina are in a race against time that only one of them can win.

All Our Yesterdays is a wrenching, brilliantly plotted story of fierce love, unthinkable sacrifice, and the infinite implications of our every choice.

“Time travel isn’t a wonder; it’s an abomination.”

Em and Finn are the only two that can stop the creation of a time machine; a machine that will destroy the world. They’ve succeeded in traveling back in time fourteen times but those trips have only resulted in failure. This is their fifteenth trip and Em has finally realized exactly what is required to stop it for good. The note she finds written in her own handwriting tells her: “You have to kill him.”

This was a breathless thrill-ride with a few twists I didn’t see coming. The alternating points of view between the present-day Em and her past self, Marina, was my favorite part of this novel and I loved being able to see the vast differences between the two and how the harsh realities of the world transformed her and those close to her. The two storylines were slightly hard to follow until they came together in the end but was still a delight.

The characters themselves felt like cardboard cutouts at times and I thought it was a bit far-fetched the things they were capable of (geniuses creating time machines and all that). My main gripe is Em though. She wakes up in a prison and is tortured for information each and every day. She finds the note that she wrote herself the last time she traveled back in time and knows what she has to do to right all the wrongs and to keep her and Finn both from winding back up in a prison cell. She has to kill him. But she wastes several opportunities she had to kill him and I realize that she cares about this person she’s supposed to kill but it just seemed reckless. Obviously if she’s gone back in time 14 times and hasn’t been able to change things any of the other times, she’s gotta do what she’s gotta do.

The time travel concept was definitely interesting and seemed to be fairly unique however I couldn’t help but have issue with a few possible holes in the concept. Foremost is that Em and Finn continued to go back in time yet it never seemed that their actions were having any sort of impact on the past (and at the same time the future). When they kept going back in time trying to correct past wrongs and they failed to succeed they inevitably seemed to go back to the same future as if everything they had done was etch-a-sketched out. That seemed entirely implausible especially considering the note. In each instance that Em went back in time she would write herself an update letting her know what she had planned to do so that she would know what not to do the next time in case she failed. I understand that time travel isn’t a concrete science but the concept did provoke a bit of disbelief.

I really loved the idea of the concept but there were a few holes that I couldn’t overlook. If you’re able to read this without over-analyzing things I can imagine this would be vastly more enjoyable. Setting all issues aside, this was a fun read and was definitely thrilling. I have absolutely no idea how a sequel will work considering how things ended but I’m still interested enough to read and see.

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Audiobook Review – MaddAddam (MaddAddam Trilogy #3) by Margaret Atwood

October 1, 2013 Bonnie Adult, Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Read in 2013 0 Comments

Audiobook Review – MaddAddam (MaddAddam Trilogy #3) by Margaret AtwoodMaddAddam by Margaret Atwood
Narrator: Bernadette Dunne, Bob Walter, Robbie Daymond
Series: MaddAddam Trilogy #3
Published by Random House Audio on September 3rd 2013
Length: 13 hrs and 23 mins
Genres: Dystopian/Post-Apocalyptic, Sci-fi
Format: Audiobook
Source: Purchased
Amazon
Goodreads

Also by this author: Oryx and Crake, The Year of the Flood, The Handmaid's Tale

three-half-stars

A man-made plague has swept the earth, but a small group survives, along with the green-eyed Crakers – a gentle species bio-engineered to replace humans. Toby, onetime member of the Gods Gardeners and expert in mushrooms and bees, is still in love with street-smart Zeb, who has an interesting past. The Crakers’ reluctant prophet, Snowman-the-Jimmy, is hallucinating; Amanda is in shock from a Painballer attack; and Ivory Bill yearns for the provocative Swift Fox, who is flirting with Zeb. Meanwhile, giant Pigoons and malevolent Painballers threaten to attack.

Told with wit, dizzying imagination, and dark humour, Booker Prize-winning Margaret Atwood’s unpredictable, chilling and hilarious MaddAddam takes us further into a challenging dystopian world and holds up a skewed mirror to our own possible future.

MaddAddam Trilogy

Oryx and Crake (MaddAddam Trilogy, #1)The Year of the Flood (MaddAddam Trilogy, #2)

Oryx and Crake (MaddAddam Trilogy #1)
The Year of the Flood (MaddAddam Trilogy #2)

MaddAddam is the long-awaited conclusion to the trilogy which began with Oryx and Crake. It’s the story of Crake, a man who played God and developed a plague to wipe out the human race in order to usher forth a new, more advanced species called the Crakers. The MaddAddam introduction shows the few surviving humans converging with the Crakers in hopes that their combined efforts can ensure their survival in the harsh and ravaged world they are left with after the plague. In MaddAddam, it’s slow going but the Earth is on point to regenerate itself with an increase in thunderstorms and the growth of plants to help sustain their diets. Animals are even adapting to life among their genetically modified cousins, the rakunks, liobams, wolvogs and pigoons. The surviving humans are a combination of geneticists and environmentalists and we’re given several, separate stories that end up all integrating and explaining their roles from the beginning of the plague.

“There’s the story, then there’s the real story, then there’s the story of how the story came to be told. Then there’s what you leave out of the story. Which is part of the story too.”

MaddAddam is primarily told from the point of view of Toby, as it was in The Year of the Flood, however we receive much back-story about Zeb. Toby spends much time telling the story of Zeb to the Crakers, who have developed a strange fascination with Zeb. Much is left out and is transformed into a myth of sorts for them, just like the stories that Jimmy used to tell them.

Considering this is the final installment in a trilogy, I was personally expecting more of an engaging ending. It’s a slow-build of an ending and doesn’t exactly amount to much, but I believe that to be due to the way it was written. Most of the current happenings are told after the fact or retold in the form of a story rather than a step-by-step accounting of occurrences. We finally get all of our lingering questions answered regarding what led up to the plague being released on the world and how each character came to be where they are now in the story. While this managed to make it slightly less satisfying it was no less compelling. The MaddAddam trilogy is a unique interpretation of a dystopian world that is not only brilliantly imaginative but is shockingly possible.

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Banned Books Week – A Wrinkle in Time (The Time Quintet #1) by Madeleine L’Engle

September 27, 2013 Bonnie Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Book-To-Film, Read in 2013, YA 0 Comments

Banned Books Week – A Wrinkle in Time (The Time Quintet #1) by Madeleine L’EngleA Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle
Narrator: Hope Davis
Series: The Time Quintet #1
Published by Listening Library on January 1st 1962
Length: 6 hours and 8 minutes
Genres: Classics, Fantasy, Middle Grade, Sci-fi, Time Travel
Format: Audiobook
Amazon
Goodreads


four-stars

It was a dark and stormy night; Meg Murry, her small brother Charles Wallace, and her mother had come down to the kitchen for a midnight snack when they were upset by the arrival of a most disturbing stranger.

"Wild nights are my glory," the unearthly stranger told them. "I just got caught in a downdraft and blown off course. Let me sit down for a moment, and then I'll be on my way. Speaking of ways, by the way, there is such a thing as a tesseract."

A tesseract (in case the reader doesn't know) is a wrinkle in time. To tell more would rob the reader of the enjoyment of Miss L'Engle's unusual book. A Wrinkle in Time, winner of the Newbery Medal in 1963, is the story of the adventures in space and time of Meg, Charles Wallace, and Calvin O'Keefe (athlete, student, and one of the most popular boys in high school). They are in search of Meg's father, a scientist who disappeared while engaged in secret work for the government on the tesseract problem.

A Wrinkle in Time is the winner of the 1963 Newbery Medal.

‘Challenged at the Polk City, Fla. Elementary School (1985) by a parent who believed that the story promotes witchcraft, crystal balls, and demons. Challenged in the Anniston Ala. schools (1990). The complainant objected to the book’s listing the name of Jesus Christ together with the names of great artists, philosophers, scientists, and religious leaders when referring to those who defend earth against evil.’ -Source

‘We look not at the things which are what you would call seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporal. But the things which are not seen are eternal.’

A Wrinkle in Time is a story of three children and their travels through the universe to find a young girl’s lost father. Meg Murry is a self-conscious child who is constantly critical of herself. Charles Wallace is Meg’s younger brother and is a genius but does whatever he can to keep a low profile. Calvin O’Keefe is the complete opposite of the siblings but crosses paths and quickly becomes a vital link to their exploits.

The setting of A Wrinkle in Time is a strange mixture of genres and isn’t easily categorized. It’s about fantasy and adventure but religion and the battle between good and evil play a major part which is what has led to this book being challenged throughout the years. In A Wrinkle in Time Charles Wallace requests that Calvin read him a bedtime story from The Book of Genesis, Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who, and Mrs. Which are all three described as being guardian angels and messengers of God, and several bible quotes are strewn throughout. Yet fundamentalist Christians have an issue with the New Age elements, the blending of religion and science and how the book never comes out truly as a religious text but is left open to interpretation as to how literal the Biblical aspects truly are.

While a Wrinkle in Time is listed as a children’s book, it’s heavy with literary allusions that children won’t likely understand completely. Heck, I’m still contemplating it. Not only are there philosophical references and historical figures mentioned aplenty but the interpretation of how time works, the explanation of a tesseract, The Black Thing and IT and Camazotz is not simple to understand. But that lack of understanding and a slight obliviousness may be what makes this ultimately enjoyable for children. This is the first time I have read this having missed out on this as a child, and while I did enjoy this and will likely pick up the remaining installments this definitely left me contemplating how there are some things that simply can’t be rationalized or made complete sense of.

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Early Review – Parasite (Parasitology #1) by Mira Grant

July 26, 2013 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Early Review, Read in 2013 2 Comments

I received this book free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Early Review – Parasite (Parasitology #1) by Mira GrantParasite by Mira Grant
Series: Parasitology #1
Published by Orbit on October 29th 2013
Pages: 5112
Genres: Dystopian/Post-Apocalyptic, Horror, Sci-fi, Thriller
Format: eARC
Source: the Publisher
Amazon
Goodreads

Also by this author: Feed, Deadline, Countdown: A Newsflesh Novella

three-stars

A decade in the future, humanity thrives in the absence of sickness and disease.

We owe our good health to a humble parasite - a genetically engineered tapeworm developed by the pioneering SymboGen Corporation. When implanted, the tapeworm protects us from illness, boosts our immune system - even secretes designer drugs. It's been successful beyond the scientists' wildest dreams. Now, years on, almost every human being has a SymboGen tapeworm living within them.

But these parasites are getting restless. They want their own lives...and will do anything to get them.

“There’s one more good thing about being the girl who lived because her genetically engineered tapeworm refused to let her die: I lived. That made everything else possible. Everything else in the world.”

In the not so distant future, SymboGen Corporation has developed a genetically modified tapeworm that is designed to replace your daily medications/vitamins and keep you healthier than normal. SymboGen’s marketing of the tapeworm has been so successful that almost every single human on Earth has one. When a sickness begins to spread rapidly, it becomes clear that the tapeworms are no longer performing their assigned duties… but what is to blame?

“Human and implant fit together like they’d been designed for one another. In a very real way, they had been.” – Dr. Steven Banks

What worked really well in Parasite was the obvious research behind parasites and the science regarding them that was conducted. It didn’t always make complete sense and I’m not positive that all details were completely accurate but it felt for the most part legitimate. It started off feeling very sci-fi horror and was definitely creepy unfortunately did come off in the end like a cheesy sci-fi movie but it was still well done.

What ended up being a big disappointment were the various plot holes and inconsistencies that I noticed throughout the novel.

“We’ve been over this before. I have no memory of the accident itself. The first thing I remember is waking up in the hospital, surrounded by strangers.”

The main character Sal was involved in a car accident and after 10 days she woke up from her coma yet those were her first memories. She couldn’t remember being involved in the accident, she couldn’t remember her own name, she even had to relearn how to speak and write and understand English. She was practically a newborn baby.

Major Plot Hole: If she doesn’t remember anything until she woke up in the hospital, that doesn’t explain why does she have such a strong fear of cars? She was involved in a car accident so any normal person waking up would have developed this fear but she stated several times that her first memory was waking up in the hospital. Her fear is far too great to have simply been a byproduct of what someone told her happened to her.

I had a few other examples but I felt they were too spoilery to be included. I will say, one in particular was given a single sentence as back-story to explain which I didn’t feel was sufficient information and it seemed too coincidental.

Parasite is incredibly similar to Mira Grant’s other popular series, the Newsflesh Trilogy. Usually I would follow that up with “fans of Newsflesh will love this” however, I found this to actually be a fault as the similarities between the two were just too similar. The plot: simply exchange zombies for parasites/tapeworms and you had the same premise. Also, the Newsflesh trilogy dealt with corrupt politicians where Parasite dealt with corrupt doctors, scientists and greedy corporations. The ending also felt fairly similar in scope but obviously I won’t go into detail regarding that.

In regards to the ending, this was my biggest issue. The story builds in intensity and you’re left anticipating a spectacular ending, however, the ending ended up being something I had figured out from the very first chapter so it was a huge letdown more than anything. (And I don’t think I made a lucky guess, I thought this was something that was fairly obvious from the very beginning).

While Parasite was exciting and kept me on the edge of my seat, there was an absence of consistency and the writing felt stilted and choppy. There was a much-needed flow that this was lacking and I think it attributed to the plot holes. I believe maybe too much material was trying to be covered that necessary answers weren’t given when they should have been. Of course I read an early version of the book so I can only hope that maybe it gets a bit more polished before publication.

While Parasite didn’t capture my heart like the Newsflesh Trilogy did, this is still an entertaining and horrific sci-fi read that will leave you squirming.

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Book Tour Review – The Curiosity by Stephen Kiernan

July 18, 2013 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Book Tour, Read in 2013, TLC Book Tours 0 Comments

I received this book free from TLC Book Tours in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Tour Review – The Curiosity by Stephen KiernanThe Curiosity by Stephen P. Kiernan
Published by William Morrow on July 9th 2013
Pages: 448
Genres: Romance, Sci-fi
Format: ARC
Source: TLC Book Tours
Amazon
Goodreads


three-half-stars

Michael Crichton meets The Time Traveler's Wife in this powerful debut novel in which a man, frozen in the Arctic ice for more than a century, awakens in the present day.

Dr. Kate Philo and her scientific exploration team make a breathtaking discovery in the Arctic: the body of a man buried deep in the ice. As a scientist in a groundbreaking project run by the egocentric and paranoid Erastus Carthage, Kate has brought small creatures-plankton, krill, shrimp-"back to life." Never have the team's methods been attempted on a large life form.

Heedless of the consequences, Carthage orders that the frozen man be brought back to the lab in Boston, and reanimated. As the man begins to regain his memories, the team learns that he was-is-a judge, Jeremiah Rice, and the last thing he remembers is falling overboard into the Arctic Ocean in 1906. When news of the Lazarus Project and Jeremiah Rice breaks, it ignites a media firestorm and massive protests by religious fundamentalists.

Thrown together by circumstances beyond their control, Kate and Jeremiah grow closer. But the clock is ticking and Jeremiah's new life is slipping away. With Carthage planning to exploit Jeremiah while he can, Kate must decide how far she is willing to go to protect the man she has come to love.

A gripping, poignant, and thoroughly original thriller, Stephen Kiernan's provocative debut novel raises disturbing questions about the very nature of life and humanity-man as a scientific subject, as a tabloid plaything, as a living being: A curiosity.

‘And what is life but a little row in a small boat, every moment leaving what we know, every stroke unable to see where we are headed?’

The Curiosity tells the tale of a scientific voyage to the Arctic with the intent to find various sea creatures that died encased in ice. Possessing the ability to bring plankton “back to life” the scientists intend to continue studying this process in hopes to actually keep them alive for extended periods of time. Everything changes when they find a man frozen deep in the ice instead.

This story is told from various different points of view, which doesn’t always work for me but was extremely well done in this case. Each individual has a very distinctive voice and character. Daniel Dixon is a very stereotypical, sleazy-type reporter in charge of covering the latest news of the experiment. Erastus Carthage is the boss behind the research and is an incredibly snobby and arrogant man. Kate Philo is one of the head scientists and one of the only people to form a bond with Jeremiah. Jeremiah was born in 1868 and while on an Arctic voyage was pitched overboard and was presumed dead until he was found frozen in ice over a century later.

This was an immensely well-written tale, that was an absolute pleasure to read. The words had a beautiful flow to them and his descriptions were quite impeccable. What I found especially talented was how the author managed to include much of the necessary back story on his characters without it being a massive info-dump. He managed to weave their past into the story without evidence of the stitches.

‘When I pause in my exertions to understand the here and now, and contemplate the severing of that kindness, that mercy, the ache is so acute I half expect to see some place on myself that is bleeding.’

In addition to the beauty of the words and his writing style in general, the story itself was brilliant and original. A man was found encased in ice, had been there for over a century and scientists possessed the ability to bring him back to life. Not only did they restart his heart but he inevitably woke up and began his life anew. The politics surrounding his return to the life of the living was extensive and did become taxing after a while but still managed to ring true for how a situation such as this would be handled in the world today.

Although everything was explained well in a scientific sense, I can’t help but feel it wasn’t given a proper ending. It’s such an ambitious and thrilling plot I felt it was leading up to something that never quite transpired. The final chapter does serve as a sufficient ending, but when questions that arose are only given single sentence answers I found myself hoping for more. Despite this, I am immensely glad to have had the opportunity to read this. The Curiosity is an incredibly unique mix of science, romance, and the paths that simple curiosity takes us in life.

dvd-pearl
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Audiobook Review – The Year of the Flood (MaddAddam Trilogy #2) by Margaret Atwood

May 30, 2013 Bonnie Adult, Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Read in 2013 1 Comment

Audiobook Review – The Year of the Flood (MaddAddam Trilogy #2) by Margaret AtwoodThe Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood
Narrator: Bernadette Dunne, Katie MacNichol, Mark Bramhall
Series: MaddAddam Trilogy #2
Published by Random House Audio on September 22nd 2009
Length: 14 hrs and 4 mins
Genres: Dystopian/Post-Apocalyptic, Sci-fi
Format: Audiobook
Source: Library
Amazon
Goodreads

Also by this author: Oryx and Crake, MaddAddam, The Handmaid's Tale

four-stars

Set in the visionary future of Atwood’s acclaimed Oryx and Crake, The Year of the Flood is at once a moving tale of lasting friendship and a landmark work of speculative fiction. In this second book of the MaddAddam trilogy, the long-feared waterless flood has occurred, altering Earth as we know it and obliterating most human life. Among the survivors are Ren, a young trapeze dancer locked inside the high-end sex club Scales and Tails, and Toby, who is barricaded inside a luxurious spa. Amid shadowy, corrupt ruling powers and new, gene-spliced life forms, Ren and Toby will have to decide on their next move, but they can't stay locked away.

The MaddAddam Trilogy
Oryx and Crake

“What am I living for and what am I dying for are the same question.”

The Year of the Flood is a companion novel to Oryx and Crake (however O&C fills in much of the necessary back story so make sure not to skip it).

The discussion (or argument) continues with The Year of the Flood regarding the ability to alter humans in order to achieve perfection and whether it’s an ability that should be used. This time, we get to see the world through the eyes of Gods Gardner’s (and also those of whom live in the pleeblands). The God’s Gardner’s are an extremely eco-conscious group of people that have been prophesying for years of the ‘Waterless Flood’ that is impending. Because these people have anticipated this event for so long they’re more prepared than anyone else, or at least the ones that survived the initial pandemic are. This group of people has created their own ideology which melds science and nature into the fabric of religion and was really quite fascinating. The most fascinating aspect of Oryx and Crake was learning about the pandemic and how it came to be but with The Year of the Flood it was the focus on this extremely adaptive group and how they managed to survive in a world where no one else could.

The highly creative world Atwood has created is not without flaws. It is imperfect and blemished, however for me that was what appealed the most. I expect if we ever find ourselves in a dystopian/post-apocalyptic world it would be much the same lacking a perfectly wrapped up ending. Atwood has been clear to designate this trilogy as “speculative fiction” and not “science fiction”. Science fiction tends to be so outlandish that its very unlikely it will ever occur whereas speculative fiction may be outlandish at first glance yet its still dreadfully possible. That’s exactly what these stories exude: the actual possibility of these events transpiring. It’s what makes these books fantastic yet so terribly frightening.

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Audiobook Review – Oryx and Crake (MaddAddam Trilogy #1) by Margaret Atwood

May 24, 2013 Bonnie Adult, Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Read in 2013 1 Comment

Audiobook Review – Oryx and Crake (MaddAddam Trilogy #1) by Margaret AtwoodOryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood
Narrator: Campbell Scott
Series: MaddAddam Trilogy #1
Published by Random House Audio on May 6th 2003
Length: 10 hrs and 29 mins
Genres: Canada, Dystopian/Post-Apocalyptic, Sci-fi
Format: Audiobook
Source: Library
Amazon
Goodreads

Also by this author: The Year of the Flood, MaddAddam, The Handmaid's Tale

four-half-stars

Oryx and Crake is at once an unforgettable love story and a compelling vision of the future. Snowman, known as Jimmy before mankind was overwhelmed by a plague, is struggling to survive in a world where he may be the last human, and mourning the loss of his best friend, Crake, and the beautiful and elusive Oryx whom they both loved. In search of answers, Snowman embarks on a journey–with the help of the green-eyed Children of Crake–through the lush wilderness that was so recently a great city, until powerful corporations took mankind on an uncontrolled genetic engineering ride. Margaret Atwood projects us into a near future that is both all too familiar and beyond our imagining.

I am astounded at how fascinating this was.

The story opens with Snowman, a hermit of sorts, struggling to survive in a post-apocalyptic society that has experienced an originally unknown catastrophic event. Snowman is seemingly the last human left on earth, with only the Craker’s to keep him company but they are far from being close to human.

We’re treated to flashbacks to Snowman’s childhood, back when he was known as Jimmy, back before the entire Earth was changed. His parents were scientists that dealt in genetic manipulation and were in charge of creating pigoons, pigs which were engineered solely to grow human organs for transplants. We’re also introduced to Crake, a childhood friend of Jimmy’s who goes on to become a brilliant geneticist and the creator of the pill and the project behind the Craker’s.

‘They were inextricably linked—the Pill and the Project. The Pill would put a stop to haphazard reproduction, the Project would replace it with a superior method. They were two stages of a single plan, you might say.’

Oryx and Crake is much more philosophical than I had anticipated. This is a story of altering the human design to create the perfect creature. Crake intended on playing ‘God’ in order to design the perfect human being that would not continue to destroy the Earth and while it’s easy to call his actions wrong, it could also be construed as genius. The Craker’s are peaceful creatures that are physically perfect and lack any sort of violent thoughts or sexual drives and treat the Earth with far more care than any human ever did. The question remains: even if we have the power to alter life itself, do we have the right to do it? Even if it benefits the Earth and possibly saves it for future generations? But what purpose is that if all humanity is killed off for created creatures to continue living so as to repopulate the Earth? Oryx and Crake definitely raises some interesting questions.

I loved the brief glimpses into the past. We’re already given a glimpse of the world as it is “now”: Snowman is the only human remaining, he’s practically starving to death and the Earth has been ransacked. What was the catalyst that caused this change? How long has Snowman been forced to live like this? Slowly we’re given answers and paints a shocking picture. Margaret Atwood is an amazingly inventive writer and has created a world that is both inconceivable and convincing.

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Early Review – Reboot (Reboot #1) by Amy Tintera

April 19, 2013 Bonnie Book Reviews, Early Review, Read in 2013, YA 8 Comments

I received this book free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Early Review – Reboot (Reboot #1) by Amy TinteraReboot by Amy Tintera
Series: Reboot #1
Published by HarperTeen on May 7th 2013
Genres: Dystopian/Post-Apocalyptic, Romance, Sci-fi
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Amazon
Goodreads


two-half-stars

Five years ago, Wren Connolly was shot three times in the chest. After 178 minutes she came back as a Reboot: stronger, faster, able to heal, and less emotional. The longer Reboots are dead, the less human they are when they return. Wren 178 is the deadliest Reboot in the Republic of Texas. Now seventeen years old, she serves as a soldier for HARC (Human Advancement and Repopulation Corporation).

Wren’s favorite part of the job is training new Reboots, but her latest newbie is the worst she’s ever seen. As a 22, Callum Reyes is practically human. His reflexes are too slow, he’s always asking questions, and his ever-present smile is freaking her out. Yet there’s something about him she can’t ignore. When Callum refuses to follow an order, Wren is given one last chance to get him in line—or she’ll have to eliminate him. Wren has never disobeyed before and knows if she does, she’ll be eliminated, too. But she has also never felt as alive as she does around Callum.

The perfect soldier is done taking orders.

I was extremely excited for this debut because that summary could not sound any more awesome. Wren 178 is the strongest and deadliest reboot because she was dead 178 minutes before her body rebooted and she came back to life. Reboots are all stronger and faster and heal faster than ordinary humans. The other main difference is their complete lack of emotions making them the perfect super soldier. So basically reboots are some terminator zombie type thing…yep, sign me up for that.

I’ve seen this time and time again: an interesting and original concept that’s thoroughly lacking in execution. Now, I’m not saying this was a complete disaster but it definitely failed to live up to the anticipation the summary generated. It was all just very ‘meh’ for me.

The first major issue I had was the world-building. The beginning part of the story felt like one massive info-dump that never really succeeded at explaining anything. And there were so many questions I had that were never quite explained. Like why the reboots continued aging even though they’re basically a zombie, how it is that they’re still able to have children (regarding the reference that upon rebooting they’re given a birth control shot) and why in the world they become “attractive” upon rebooting. Strange additions to the Reboot world that I didn’t find made much sense.

But the second and main issue I had was the romance. Wren is supposed to be the most unemotional reboot of the bunch yet she becomes immediately intrigued by the newest reboot, Callum 22. I just couldn’t buy it, period. It was so half-hazardly thrown together, completely lacking in credibility and was extremely ill-fitting with the rest of the story. Wren is supposed to be a super solider. A complete badass. Yet the romance aspect turned her into every other typical girl with zero original qualities. The aspect of the story that she’s been their perfect soldier and obeys all orders until she begins to rebel… perfect. But something other than a corny romance needed to be the catalyst for her rebellion.

Wren’s ‘voice’ felt very authentic to me as she always seemed very monotone and didn’t elicit much excitement when recounting anything. Despite it being authentic, it still felt very tiresome to read. There were some very exciting scenes though and I just wish there wasn’t so much I had issue with since it inevitably ruined the better parts for me as a whole. Reboot fortunately doesn’t leave you with a whopper of a cliffhanger but unfortunately I still don’t see this series and I continuing.

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Early Review – The River of No Return by Bee Ridgway

April 18, 2013 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Early Review, Read in 2013 5 Comments

I received this book free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Early Review – The River of No Return by Bee RidgwayThe River of No Return by Bee Ridgway
Published by Dutton Adult on April 23rd 2013
Pages: 452
Genres: Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Romance, Sci-fi, Time Travel
Format: ARC
Source: the Publisher
Amazon
Goodreads


two-half-stars

In Bee Ridgway’s wonderfully imaginative debut novel, a man and a woman travel through time in a quest to bring down a secret society that controls the past and, thus, the future.

“You are now a member of the Guild. There is no return.” Two hundred years after he was about to die on a Napoleonic battlefield, Nick Falcott, soldier and aristocrat, wakes up in a hospital bed in modern London. The Guild, an entity that controls time travel, showers him with life's advantages. But Nick yearns for home and for one brown-eyed girl, lost now down the centuries. Then the Guild asks him to break its own rule. It needs Nick to go back to 1815 to fight the Guild’s enemies and to find something called the Talisman.

In 1815, Julia Percy mourns the death of her beloved grandfather, an earl who could play with time. On his deathbed he whispers in her ear: “Pretend!” Pretend what? When Nick returns home as if from the dead, older than he should be and battle scarred, Julia begins to suspect that her very life depends upon the secrets Grandfather never told her. Soon enough Julia and Nick are caught up in an adventure that stretches up and down the river of time. As their knowledge of the Guild and their feelings for each other grow, the fate of the future itself is hanging in the balance.

Time travel is a tricky subject. It has to make at least a modicum of sense no matter how outlandish you wish the concept to be. River of No Return handled this aspect of the story quite well and managed to create a different form of time travel that I had not personally encountered in novels before. While I believe it to of been managed well it was still one of the more unbelievable versions with resonant emotions linking individuals to the past allowing them to access those moments in time… I’m not sure I was really sold on the whole concept.

The story definitely went on far longer than necessary. I can’t help but think I would have enjoyed it far more if it was condensed down because parts of the story felt long and drawn out. The story had a slow but steady build-up in the beginning but still took forever to really ‘get going’. I read about 1/3 of this novel before setting it aside for a short time and then coming back to it… all in all it took me about a month to read which is pretty much unheard of for me.

It definitely had a distinct ‘Outlander’ feel to it and it was also reminiscent of ‘A Discovery of Witches’ minus the supernatural creatures, and despite the fact that I love both of those books I just failed to connect with this one. The characters were well-drawn but didn’t generate any interest for me. Add to that, the characters in the past didn’t act like characters in the past should. Julia was extremely modern sounding and certainly didn’t act like a normal woman of her time, despite how progressive she may be.

I was under the impression that this was a stand-alone novel (yay for that extremely rare beastie), however, it appears that this is only the first installment of a new series (trilogy? not sure.) While I enjoyed parts of this I’m not sure I’m interested enough to continue. I’ll definitely keep an eye out for additional works by this author as it’s obvious she’s quite talented, this story and I just weren’t meant to be unfortunately.

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