Book Review: Warcross by Marie Lu

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Summary

Emika Chen is just barely scraping by, using her hacking skills to track down criminals as a bounty hunger. That is, until she accidentally glitches into the Warcross virtual championships. That’s when everything changes. We get to follow her as she uses her hacking skills and explores the different virtual worlds of Warcross, as well as the intricacies posed by its creator and most popular players.

What I Liked

  • I loooved the world. It’s ours, but slightly in the future, when virtual reality becomes easily available for everyone. Now there’s a digital layer on top of the existing world, as well as the super cool game of Warcross. Being able to control what you see out of your car windows, or talk to people who speak a different language (and see instant translation), or play a game that allows you to fly… how cool!
  • The last third of the book.

What I Didn’t Like

  • The first two thirds of the book? They weren’t horrible, but they were very slowly paced. If I didn’t want to discuss this book with my friends, I probably wouldn’t have pushed through to finish it at all. Don’t get me wrong, the ending, and the last third, is great enough that the book still got four stars from me. But man, it took a while to get there!

In Conclusion

If you have the patience to read 200 pages to get to some action, and if you love futuristic tech or hacking, then you’ll enjoy this book.

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Book Review: Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

 

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

Summary

This story follows a couple of different characters. Arthur Dent is your average Englishmen, whose house is set to be demolished. His friend, Ford Prefect, tells him not to worry – Earth is about to be demolished anyway. Thus begins their adventure. We also meet the eccentric Zaphod Beeblebrox, president of the galaxy, set to unveil a super fancy new space ship.

What I Liked

  • The story was quirky and unexpected. It had a lot of improbable occurances and unusual additions to the story. Mice, dolphins, a large whale, petunias, and tea are all some of the weird thing you don’t expect to read about in outer space.
  • I liked some of the alien lifeforms. There were humanoids and insectoids and such, but also a super intelligent shade of blue. What a neat idea!

What I Didn’t Like

  • The plot seemed sort of aimless to me. There was no “ticking time-bomb” (as Jeff Gerke would call it) and other than a desire to survive, no real agenda. And yes, I know “desire to survive” can be a great plot point, but, for example, in Hunger Games their desire is to escape the area and that’s why they have to survive. Or in many other books, their desire is to be rescued or to reach some sort of end-point. This book didn’t have that.
  • It turns out, I don’t like wandering through space stories. I just hate the aimlessness of it. To be fair, I should have guessed by the title (they’re hitchhiking after all), but I had a little higher expectation for this book.
  • This book has been a part of pop culture (or at the very least, nerd culture) for quite a while, so it was a little bit of a let down for me. Not horrible, but not great either.

In Conclusion

If you like wandering-in-space stories, you might enjoy this one.

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Book Review: Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Summary

The day she breaks up with her boyfriend, Ezra, Kady’s planet is invaded and she has to dash to escape on a spaceship. Pretty soon, they are being pursued by the same corporation that attacked their planet. But that’s not all – there are multiple ominous occurances on her ship

What I Liked

  • This is definitely the best book I’ve read this year! I’d tell you to go read it right NOW, but you actually probably want to set aside time for this one. Once you pick up this book, you will not be able to put it down. (My friend definitely warned me about this, but I didn’t believe her. I had to pretty much pry the book out of my hands to go get food. And even then, it barely happened. :)) So set aside eight hours or so and grab some snacks.
  • The action! As I said above, this book is un-put-downable. Every time you think things are starting to make sense, something occurs to up the tension. What you think is the focus or a problem, isn’t always the case when you find out the bigger issue.
  • The format of the book is unique. It’s told almost like an FBI or crime report – through any transcripts, documents, video footage, emails, etc. the narrator could get their hands on. This is one book you want in person, not as an eBook or audio book.
  • The main character is great at IT – which I feel you don’t see very often in books, at least not done very well.

What I Didn’t Like

  • Not much. It was a fantastic book!

In Conclusion

Go read this!

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Book Review: Stone in the Sky by Cecil Castellucci

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

This is book two in the Tin Star series. It follows Tula Bane as she works to assert herself and her values against the evils in space. Her home in space, the Yertina Feray, has now become a hub for a new source of galactic currency – the alin. Thanks to all of the extra traffic, Tula attracts some unwanted attention and finds herself travelling the galaxy, reaching out to aliens she knows.

I really wanted to like this book – but it left me feeling so-so. In the first book (which I loved), Tula Bane is a kick-butt character who uses her wits and creative manipulation to become a (somewhat) respected citizen on the Yetina Feray. In this book she does a lot of sitting and letting other people do the work. I expressed my frustration to my writer friend, who said “Ahhh. She’s losing agency.” And that’s exactly why this book bothered me. Instead of taking control of her own fate, things just sort of happen to her and around her. Yes, the events may be exciting, but she’s not the one participating in them. There’s also a nice section of the book where she’s pretty desolate and hopeless. Which isn’t necessarily a problem by itself, but combined with the agency problem, makes the story weak.

Another dislike is that, as the reader, I had a hard time believing in the author’s assertations about Tula’s leadership skills. Of all the things that happened in the story, we didn’t get to see Tula’s leadership skills in action (much), we were just told she had them.

That being said, there were some good things with the story. I did enjoy following the romance(s). It’s the first time since Stephenie Meyer’s The Host that I’ve actually rooted for an inter-species relationship. I also loved the galaxy and and the aliens within. The aliens species were creative and I enjoyed how the author conveyed their different cultures and communication styles. We see a lot more of this in the first book, but I still though it was strong in this one as well. We also get a deeper look into different cultures (the wanderers and pirates) who are mentioned in the first book, but never really elaborated upon.

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Book Review: End of Days by Susan Ee

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Book 3 of the Penryn & The End of Days series

Penryn and Raffe continue to work together to survive after the events of book two, World After. Old enemies and old friends from Raffe’s past start to come to light as they face situations among the angel elite. Tensions rise as the angel’s plans increase danger to the remaining surviving humans on earth. Will Raffe continue to stay by Penryn’s side?

This book was awesome!!!! It gets five out of five stars. I definitely did not want to put this one down. It was very intense, in a Hunger-Games-Meets-Dante’s-Inferno sort of way. The action ramps up, and so do stakes. Has Penryn been making the right choices so far? Or have they all been wrong, based on feelings and not fact? The author does a great job of bringing everything together in the end.

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Book Review: World After by Susan Ee

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Book 2 of the Penryn & the End of Days series

(This post contains spoilers for book one, Angelfall. See my review of that book here.)

After the events of the previous book, Penryn and her family travel back to the only other people they know – the Resistance. Things are complicated, however, by her mother’s abnormal antics and her sister’s zombie-doll look and behavior. And, of course, the angels.

This book was great! If you plan on reading this series, I’d recommend setting aside a weekend to do so. Plans or not, you will end up reading them all in a short space of time. 🙂 My only problem with this book was that the ending seemed so… weak. I felt unsettled since the conclusion was really just a segue into book three. This book had a lot of action and was paced nicely to keep my interest the entire way. I love the intricacies that the author wove in. I also love Penryn – whose character remains strong and consistent as she goes through these events.

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Book Review: Angelfall by Susan Ee

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐
Book 1 of the Penryn & the End of Days series

Penryn is a seventeen-year-old who is trying to survive after her world has been destroyed by angels. In a desperate dash for safety, she and her family discover a group of fighting angels. One of them flies off with her younger sister, and her schizophrenic mother disappears. She takes a wounded angel hostage, hoping he can lead her to her sister.

The series overall was fantastic, but this was my least favorite of the three books, getting three out of five stars. My reservations about the book are as follows:

  1. It gets really weird really fast towards the end. It makes sense in the context of the series, but not in the context of just one novel.
  2. This book feels like part one of a three part story. Like the series should have been written as one book, instead of three.
  3. I was expecting this book to be in the young adult paranormal/dystopian genre. It’s more in the sci-fi/horror/thriller genre. Maybe if you go into the book expecting  that, it’ll read better.

That being said, there are still some great aspects of this story. Penryn is kick-butt, even in the face of everything happening. She’s a strong and spunky character who only gets better as the story goes on. Raffe (the angel) is a mystery, and it’s fun to read and discover more about him and angel society as the story progresses.

Have you read this book/series? Are there any other angel-themed series I need to pick up next?

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