Review: Vicious by V.E. Schwab

ViciousVicious is, undoubtedly, extremely vicious. I’ve read books like this one before – ones that made me feel horrified, disgusted, but still intrigued and unable to look away. But the beauty of Vicious is that it keeps me hoping, and it LEAVES me hoping, despite the hopelessness that I feel throughout the story. My first Victoria Schwab book has already torn me apart, for better or for worse, but I know I WANT MORE!

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Review: The Program by Suzanne Young

The Program
This book is 80% romance + 20% sci-fi. I love the premise and the real-life issues that The Program builds upon, but the pacing was a bit too slow for my liking (because of all the romance). But this series is begging me to finish it, and I JUST WANT TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENS UGH. I’m still trying to educate myself on trigger warnings, but I think it’s good to mention that they seem applicable to this review, as I will touch on depression and suicide in the context of this book.
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Mini Reviews: Gathering Blue, Messenger, & Son by Lois Lowry

The first book of a series is usually the most famous (or infamous) one, and the same can be said for Lois Lowry’s The Giver quartet. Instead of sequels, Lowry calls the next three books “companions”, and that’s how I view them: I can do with or without them, and some of them really enhanced my understanding and appreciation for the world that she’s created, while others are a little too bizarre for my liking.

Gathering Blue
 

 
Gathering Blue is set in a society that does not tolerate physical flaws – with a deformed leg, Kira is the exception to that rule solely because she has the embroidery skills to mend a very important robe. While housed in a nicer place than she’s ever been in before, Kira discovers the secrets that the Council of the village has been hiding from the rest of the people. Like in The Giver, this dystopian world seems normal from the main character’s eyes because it’s the only thing they knew, until they start seeing the cracks and shadows in which secrets are hidden. I thought Gathering Blue was okay because it still had an interesting premise, but it does lack character development and relationship-building. I also thought that it would be connected in some way to the setting and characters from The Giver, and was disappointed when this felt like an entirely new world. It makes more sense after reading all four books, but at this point, I wasn’t too excited after Gathering Blue.

Messenger
 

Title: Messenger
Author: Lois Lowry
Series: The Giver Quartet #3
Publication Date: April 26, 2004
Genre: (Young Adult) Dystopia / Science Fiction

 
Finally, the link between the first two books is made! In Messenger, which is set in the Village that welcomes all rejects from other communities, Matty – Kira’s friend from Gathering Blue – is our protagonist. As the Village starts showing signs of evil (ex. villagers being not as welcoming to new folks and who, for some reason, start becoming less friendly and good in general), Matty plays a key role as a messenger in delivering and retrieving messages from the outside world because he is one of the few people who can go into the woods that surround the Village and not get lost. Characters from The Giver also show up in Messenger, and it’s interesting to see the concept of “magic” come up again. What I didn’t really like is the ending. There’s probably some sort of symbolism in what happened and what Matty and the other characters stood for (ex. good vs. evil, strengths and weaknesses of humanity, etc.), but it requires too much thinking. As a story, it’s abstract, but also somewhat magical – Messenger was also super short, where I would’ve preferred something lengthier with more analyses/reasoning behind certain events.

Son
 

Title: Son
Author: Lois Lowry
Series: The Giver Quartet #4
Publication Date: October 2, 2012
Category: (Young Adult) Dystopia / Science Fiction

 
Son is my favorite follow-up/companion story to The Giver. It connects all of the characters and settings in the previous books while also providing new characters and new settings that really complement what Lowry had created previously. In another writer’s hands, this story could’ve definitely become a more modern standalone dystopian piece with full-blown romances and conspiracies and sci-fi/fantasy elements – but in Lowry’s hands, the simplicity and nuances in the imagery and the characters are very characteristic of her writing, and they force the reader to think a lot more (this is a good thing!). Good imagination is key to reading this!

bird

Overall, I think The Giver Quartet is a series that blends science fiction and fantasy in an interesting way. These stories make you think, whether it be analyzing how symbols and motifs play a role or imagining and embellishing the scenery and people in your mind. Lowry provides a simple skeleton on which you can build your own ideas upon, and I think it’s good to have these types of stories once in a while.

Have you read the rest of the Giver quartet?
Have you read any books that combine fantasy and sci-fi elements?

Review: The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer

The House of the Scorpion

This book is a children’s book? Really??? The House of the Scorpion has a super-creative world and plotline, and it’s nothing like I’ve ever read before. This dystopian novel features many concepts I don’t see much (or at least not well done), including drugs, slavery, cloning/immortality, and immigration. Farmer was able to integrate all of these concepts to produce an engrossing vivid, mildly disturbing, and action-packed story.

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Review: Parasite by Mira Grant

Parasite

Typical awesome Mira Grant story, with an amazing narrative and a whole lot of suspense. The only thing I didn’t like: THE CLIFFHANGER. AHHHHHH. ūüėę As someone who’s working in public health, Parasite is like the crazy-but-believable cure-all dream that we have for solving all health problems. The grossness of parasites just adds to the disgusted-but-can’t-look-away feeling. ūüźõ (Not sure why it’s categorized as “horror” on Goodreads though, since parasites are just icky… unless you Google Image them, which I DO NOT RECOMMEND DOING.) I love the amount of research that has been done to add a layer of detail to the storyline. Our main heroine is pretty kickass, and the plot line is engrossing even when it got predictable.Read More »

Review: Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Ready Player OneUgh, I so regret not being more of a gamer/pop culture fanatic, because I would’ve loved this book so much more!!! Ready Player One is GOLD. It’s like all the nerdiness in the world just gathered together and turned into a brilliant nerdy masterpiece. I could actually see humanity’s future ending up like this, and it’s amazing and terrifying and definitely makes a great setting for a dystopian novel. Although there are some things I didn’t like about it, this book was really good.
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Mini Reviews: Pegasus in Flight & Crystal Singer by Anne McCaffrey

Behold, science fiction upon science fiction upon science fiction! (As in: Sophie reads quicker than she reviews, so here are mini reviews because she can’t keep up with all the books.) These Anne McCaffrey stories are not amazing, but are pretty good. They definitely have an 80’s feel to them, haha.

Pegasus in Flight

Title: Pegasus in Flight
Author: Anne McCaffrey
Series: The Talent #2
Publication Date: 1990
Category: (Adult Fiction) Science Fiction

Years have gone by since To Ride Pegasus, and Daffyd op Owen’s granddaughter, telepath Rhyssa, is now in charge of The First Center for Parapsychics (“The Center”). This story showcases the current state of affairs in the world, such as the beginning of implementation of a space center, the increasing importance of Talents to society, and the the hidden potential of Talents. The two main characters in this story, twelve-year-old Tirla and fourteen-year-old Peter, have unique talents that are fascinating to read about. The drawback in this story, however, is that the stories of Tirla and Peter are completely discrete for a long period of time until the storylines join, and it felt like I was reading two different stories (which I was, I guess)… this is one of those books that I picked up for the cover and the author, and my expectations exceeded reality. But still a good read.

Crystal Singer

Anne McCaffrey does it again! Crystal Singer has an amazing premise – people with perfect pitch can find crystals that can be used to power communication systems across the galaxy – and breath-taking adventures. This is pretty old-school sci-fi, and the parts that I didn’t like (such as the romance and the lack of connecting with the protagonist’s thoughts and emotions) were overshadowed by the engrossing, risky adventures that Killashandra Ree, our protagonist, takes. I still can’t get a good feel for Killashandra’s personality, as McCaffrey has put the focus on the plot and the world-building, so I’m not sure if I like her enough to read the next story.

Review: Hungry by H.A. Swain

Hungry

I love food-related books, so I thought I was going to be blown away by Hungry after reading the premise. But even though the protagonist was likable and the adventures were exciting, the plot is too convoluted and the insta-love was annoying. I’m actually in awe at how unexpected some of the plot twists are (yes, there are multiple!), and I wish this book was more focused.
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Yay! Not Another Sci-Fi November Bingo Challenge

Alright, fine, I’LL ADMIT IT – I’m a book bingo addict. I have no self-control when if comes to these seemingly innocent bingo cards, and then they take over my entire life and I devote so much time into picking which books go in which squares and I get weak in the knees for them. So I’m pretty sure I dug my grave with this one…

I did kinda sorta asked for it, and Asti delivered! Her new shiny sci-fi bingo card has some interesting prompts, and I can’t wait to get started on it! Here’s to another year spent on a bingo card, haha… ha…

20141104_SciFiBingo2014_v2

B1: Steampunk (The Rithmatist by Brandon Sanderson)
B2: Superheroes (Vicious by V.E. Schwab)
B3: Teleportation (Pegasus in Space by Anne McCaffrey)
B4: Invisibility (The Invisible Man by H.G. Wells)
B5: Shapeshifters (Written in Red by Anne Bishop)

I1: Absent-Minded Professor ()
I2: Apocalypse or World Wide Disaster ()
I3: Colonization of Other Planets ()
I4: Drugs and Medication (Hungry by H.A. Swain)
I5: Parallel Universe (A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray)

N1: Space Opera (The Ship Who Sang by Anne McCaffrey)
N2: Mind Control (Parasite by Mira Grant)
N3: Free! (The Program by Suzanne Young)
N4: Virtual Reality (Ready Player One by Ernest Cline)
N5: Domed City (Under the Dome by Stephen King)

G1: Immortality ()
G2: Lost Civilizations ()
G3: Human Zoo ()
G4: Mad Scientists (Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood)
G5: Award Winning (Dune by Frank Herbert)

O1: Floating City ()
O2:¬†Sci-Fi Classic (The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy¬†by Douglas Adams)
O3: Alien Invasion (The Host by Stephanie Meyer)
O4: Resizing ()
O5: Military Sci-Fi ()

Do you have any book recommendations for any of these bingo squares? Let me know!