Showing posts with label apocalypse. Show all posts
Showing posts with label apocalypse. Show all posts

Thursday, April 27, 2017

[Review] We Are the Ants - Shaun David Hutchinson: Alien Abductions and the Apocalypse





In WE ARE THE ANTS, Henry is frequently abducted by aliens and presented with the choice to either prevent the apocalypse or let the world end.


What intrigued me:
 Alien abductions and the world is ending? Count me in!

... is that it?

WE ARE THE ANTS has a fantastic premise and an equally great narrative voice. Hutchinson absolutely had me from the first page, the cynic and observant way he writes Henry is incredibly entertaining and fun. However, all this can't mask the fact that there really isn't much to WE ARE THE ANTS aside from the premise. 

All characters in this are painfully obvious plot devices. The main problem I had with everyone in this book that Henry doesn't show any attachments whatsoever to the people surrounding him. How is the reader going to be enamored with the characters if they are all introduced like worthless scum bags? Henry's cynicism may be entertaining for the first 100 pages, but it quickly gets insanely tiring. 

Getting abducted? What else is new...

Another problem I had is that Hutchinson romanticizes depression. Protagonist Henry get depressed very early on when he realizes that the world's fate is in his hands and I just don't like the way this gets handled. The whole atmosphere just screams "your typical depressed kid from a broken home finds love and gets cured", and that's exactly what you're getting in WE ARE THE ANTS. The story has so much potential, but I think Hutchinson absolutely ruined everything that lured me to this story with the execution. 

Especially the abduction part is written so frustratingly boring that I can't wrap my head around it. Henry doesn't theorize about it much, or appears scared or worried about it! The only emotion he displays is annoyance, which seems to be pretty much his default.

WE ARE THE ANTS is nothing short from being a regular novel about a kid's high school troubles. The alien part is so redundant that this doesn't even feel like Sci-Fi. Absolutely a disappointment.


Rating:

★★½☆☆

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

WE ARE THE ANTS is just an average contemporary with a side of aliens. If you like that, and aren't expecting too much world building or fantastic characters, go ahead!



Additional Info

Published: 19th January 2016
Pages: 455
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Genre: Sci-Fi / Aliens
ISBN: 9781481449632

Synopsis:
"There are a few things Henry Denton knows, and a few things he doesn’t.

Henry knows that his mom is struggling to keep the family together, and coping by chain-smoking cigarettes. He knows that his older brother is a college dropout with a pregnant girlfriend. He knows that he is slowly losing his grandmother to Alzheimer’s. And he knows that his boyfriend committed suicide last year.

What Henry doesn’t know is why the aliens chose to abduct him when he was thirteen, and he doesn’t know why they continue to steal him from his bed and take him aboard their ship. He doesn’t know why the world is going to end or why the aliens have offered him the opportunity to avert the impending disaster by pressing a big red button. 

But they have. And they’ve only given him 144 days to make up his mind.

The question is whether Henry thinks the world is worth saving. That is, until he meets Diego Vega, an artist with a secret past who forces Henry to question his beliefs, his place in the universe, and whether any of it really matters. But before Henry can save the world, he’s got to figure out how to save himself, and the aliens haven’t given him a button for that."(Source: Goodreads)


Do you like books about alien abductions?

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Monday, April 3, 2017

[Review] Riders (#1) - Veronica Rossi: The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse - Teen Edition





In RIDERS, Gideon is resurrected as the incarnation of War, a horseman of the apocalypse, and immediately captured to be interrogated.

What intrigued me: The concept! I'm always ready for apocalyptic ya!

Not really an apocalyptic slaughterfest -... sadly

Rossi made the decision to have protagonist Gideon tell the story of how he became War in retrospective, under the influence of a truth serum. There's a sense of mystery to the story because we only get bits of it at a time, and this is just what had me on my tiptoes the entire time and really got me invested. However, because Gideon is narrating, the story sort of loses its focus on the paranormal aspect early on and turns into a typical contemporary story with a nauseating amount of filler that's super exhausting to read.

Because the majority of the book is spent dealing with the origin story, we have to wait for things to get really going. I was hoping for action from the first page and chaos and destruction. Instead of a dystopian, chaotic read with a side of fast-paced fighting scenes, this reads more like a paranormal YA with a twist. This is where I think this book completely fails, because you can't just turn a killer premise like that into a boring origin story book when it has the potential to be epic. I assume we'll find the epicness in the sequels (which I'm not going to read)

Great characters saving the day

Even though the synopsis suggests it, there isn't much romance in this book, and I'm very thankful for that. Because it has a male narrator I was very skeptical and weary of this maybe turning into a cheesy instant love romance. What ultimately breaks this book's back isn't the romance but the sheer lack of world building and plot. Nothing really happens in this, and it's just an awkward, almost road trip feeling kind of contemporary. It's really, really, really a way calmer read than I expected.

Well, at least I liked the protagonist. Gideon is a class A macho army kid, and yeah, I dig it. His voice is interesting, his character well thought-out, and his perspective seems very realistic. I especially enjoyed his relationship with his sister, it's always nice to see siblings who love each other and stand up for each other. Gideon really is what ultimately gained the two stars because the plot is absolutely boring. I like Gideon, I like the idea of this book, but with a massive lack of world building and poor pace, RIDERS isn't anything special and definitely not a must-read.


Rating:

★★

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

RIDERS wasn't really what I expected and bored me more than it fascinated me. The interesting premise is pretty much wasted through the snail pace, which is a pity - I was ready to love this.



Additional Info

Published: February 6th 2016
Pages: 384
Publisher: Tor Teen
Genre: YA / Urban Fantasy
ISBN: 9780765382542

Synopsis:
"Nothing but death can keep eighteen-year-old Gideon Blake from achieving his goal of becoming a U.S. Army Ranger. As it turns out, it does.

While recovering from the accident that most definitely killed him, Gideon finds himself with strange new powers and a bizarre cuff he can’t remove. His death has brought to life his real destiny. He has become War, one of the legendary four horsemen of the apocalypse.

Over the coming weeks, he and the other horsemen—Conquest, Famine, and Death—are brought together by a beautiful but frustratingly secretive girl to help save humanity from an ancient evil on the emergence.

They fail.

Now—bound, bloodied, and drugged—Gideon is interrogated by the authorities about his role in a battle that has become an international incident. If he stands any chance of saving his friends and the girl he’s fallen for—not to mention all of humankind—he needs to convince the skeptical government officials the world is in imminent danger.

But will anyone believe him?(Source: Goodreads)


Do you like books about the apocalypse?

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Wednesday, February 15, 2017

[Review] Station Eleven - Emily St. John Mandel: Epidemics and the Apocalypse

In STATION ELEVEN, an epidemic outbreak changes the lives of different people forever. 

What intrigued me: I felt like reading some dystopian.

Very Literary

I tried my best with STATION ELEVEN, but we just weren't meant to be. This one of those extremely literary books that you have to have a taste for, and I think I'm just lacking that. 

STATION ELEVEN is written absolutely beautifully with multiple POVS that each unfold the lingering pandemic a little bit more. I was fascinated for a couple chapters, but quickly lost interest when I realized that this is an extremely quiet story. And what can I say - I like my dystopian books to be gritty, fast-paced, and action-filled. STATION ELEVEN is none of these things. It's a story about survival over the years that couldn't be more niche.

If you're looking for classic dystopian lit, this might end up disappointing you just as much as it did me - STATION ELEVEN demands your full attention at all times. So many protagonists, so many details to pay attention to, so many filler chapters. You really have to be invested in the story and the characters. 


It's Not You, It's Me

STATION ELEVEN is one of those epic reads that span decades, have dozens of protagonists, and are more about the world than the characters. Add a couple time jumps in and you know exactly what kind of book this is I personally cannot empathize this for the life of me. This is very much a hard case of It's Not You, It's Me syndrome. It's undoubtedly a skillfully and beautifully written book that just oozes talent and magnificent prose, but for me personally none of this matters when I find the story unengaging. Again, this is a by no means an objective judgment of the quality of this book, this is just me having peculiar taste.

Ultimately I think the thing that just made this unenjoyable for me is that STATION ELEVEN is more about the journey and the story as a whole than what is happening in the moment. Everything comes together in the big picture - but this technique personally never works for me because I'll lose interest on the way if the journey isn't filled with plot twists and secrets and adventure.


Rating:

★★☆☆

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

STATION ELEVEN is a little too literary for me and absolutely not my cup of tea. I expected a regular dystopian story, but got an epic decade-spanning saga. You have to be in the mood for these kinds of books.



Additional Info


Published: September 14th 2015
Pages: 416
Publisher: piper
Genre: Adult / Dystopian
ISBN: 9783492060226

Synopsis:
"One snowy night Arthur Leander, a famous actor, has a heart attack onstage during a production of King Lear. Jeevan Chaudhary, a paparazzo-turned-EMT, is in the audience and leaps to his aid. A child actress named Kirsten Raymonde watches in horror as Jeevan performs CPR, pumping Arthur's chest as the curtain drops, but Arthur is dead. That same night, as Jeevan walks home from the theater, a terrible flu begins to spread. Hospitals are flooded and Jeevan and his brother barricade themselves inside an apartment, watching out the window as cars clog the highways, gunshots ring out, and life disintegrates around them.

Twenty years later, Kirsten is an actress with the Traveling Symphony. Together, this small troupe moves between the settlements of an altered world, performing Shakespeare and music for scattered communities of survivors. Written on their caravan, and tattooed on Kirsten's arm is a line from Star Trek: "Because survival is insufficient." But when they arrive in St. Deborah by the Water, they encounter a violent prophet who digs graves for anyone who dares to leave."
(Source: Goodreads)



Do you like literary books?

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Tuesday, October 18, 2016

[Review] Angelfall (Penryn & The End of Days #1) - Susan Ee: Angels and the Apocalypse




In ANGELFALL, the world has been destroyed by angels and people are forced to hide in the ruins of their cities. 

What intrigued me: Angels. I missed the angel hype a couple of years ago and am now in full obsession mode.


A typical post-apocalyptic dystopia

The setting of ANGELFALL isn't much different from what you'd expect from a dystopia, and the only thing that makes this world differ from the usual apocalyptic wasteland in YA, is the occasional angel flying above their heads.

It's a survival story at the core, a lot of walking, a lot of stalling time. Naturally, this isn't always easy to read, I caught myself skimming the generic descriptions of building ruins and empty streets and litter. The scenery is so generic that it almost doesn't need any descriptions at all if you've ever seen a post-apocalyptic movie in your life.

I longed for every little bit of explanation about the angels that didn't quite come. With novels with supernatural elements that are out there in the open in the real world, it's very important to me to understand how this happened. The only glimpse we get is that Penryn mentions that the messenger of God Gabriel came down to Earth and was immediately shot. That's it. Very frustrating, generally the book just throws things that happen at you and doesn't explain a lot, probably a technique to make people buy the second book. And yeah, I shamefully have to admit, it works.

Thank the heavens (or not?) for a realistic romance plot

Ee absolutely had me hooked through the character of the angel Raffe. Penryn's and his dynamics are hilariously wonderful and his dry humor and arrogance incredibly entertaining. Of course we have some obligatory side romance, but it's very subtle. 

The first time in a long time that I actually thought to myself that this story could really happen. It's very realistic, they actually take time to even just not be awkward in conversation. No premature declarations of love here. They don't even really care about the other one surviving this whole ordeal until 60% in. It's refreshing to see a relationship and friendship(!) develop at a realistic pace.

Another thing that absolutely needs to be mentioned is the ableism in this one. I was so happy to see a wheelchair user in the form of Penryn's little sister. This is a magical cure narrative. If you're a wheelchair user looking for representation, this isn't the book to pick. I'm extremely disappointed with Ee making that decision and it severely impacts my rating and opinion of this book.


Rating:

★★☆☆

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

ANGELFALL is easily one of the better dystopias out there, however it could use some more world building and is ableist. Leaves a bitter taste in my mouth.



Additional Info

Published: August 28th 2012
Pages: 288
Publisher: Skyscape 
Genre: YA / Dystopia
ISBN: 9781444778519

Synopsis:
"It's been six weeks since angels of the apocalypse descended to demolish the modern world. Street gangs rule the day while fear and superstition rule the night. When warrior angels fly away with a helpless little girl, her seventeen-year-old sister Penryn will do anything to get her back.

Anything, including making a deal with an enemy angel.

Raffe is a warrior who lies broken and wingless on the street. After eons of fighting his own battles, he finds himself being rescued from a desperate situation by a half-starved teenage girl.

Traveling through a dark and twisted Northern California, they have only each other to rely on for survival. Together, they journey toward the angels' stronghold in San Francisco where she'll risk everything to rescue her sister and he'll put himself at the mercy of his greatest enemies for the chance to be made whole again."(Source: Goodreads)


What's your favorite book about angels?

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Friday, May 27, 2016

[Review] True Born (#1) - L.E. Sterling: The Plague is Back with a Vengeance




In TRUE BORN, a plague has decimated the world population significantly. Only those who are born with a natural immunity and those rich enough to get their genes "repaired" temporarily, are able to survive.

What intrigued me: I find the concept of an epidemic always incredibly intriguing in dystopias.

Reading this is like rocket science

TRUE BORN centers around the sisters Lu and Margot who are approaching the day that it will be revealed whether they are immune to the Plague or not. They go through several tests, and suddenly their father hires bodyguards to protect them and all hell breaks loose. 

This is where TRUE BORN really lost me to be honest. While I am very interested in the premise, the execution and writing are incredibly eccentric and strange. To me the whole novel reads like chunks of it are missing. Many scenes involve time jumps to get to action, and sometimes they're not even denoted as such.

I couldn't, for the life of me, keep up with the character names because new people kept appearing out of the blue and acting like they had been there all along. I caught myself going back and forth so often that I quickly lost enthusiasm and the desire to even understand this very confusing world. The premise isn't that complicated, but TRUE BORN does its best to make it seem like rocket science. Lingo and complicated terms are thrown around a good dozen times before they are even explained, and the explanations we get aren't easy to grasp either.

Generally, it feels like TRUE BORN is trying to hide the fact that it has a very simple premise and seeming to come across as taking place in a very intricate, super complicated world. I had huge problems trying to picture the world in my head because it notoriously lacks descriptions. I still can't really picture what kind of dystopian future it takes place in because there is little to no imagery.

Not groundbreaking, yet oddly entertaining

However, as tedious as this whole confusing world might sound, it frustrated me so much that I wanted to continue. I really wanted to understand what was going on and was waiting for the moment when it would all made sense, so I could find my peace with this book. This moment sadly didn't come for me and my entire reading experience could probably be most accurately described with ???.
I did find it sort of entertaining to try to find out what exactly was going on, but I didn't, at all, form any attachments to the characters. I liked the idea of this very special bond between twins, but like many things in TRUE BORN, it doesn't seem groundbreaking. There are so many little tropes and things that I've seen so often in novels of the genre that I almost mentally found myself checking off a list.
Describing swoony love interest's eye colors for multiple paragraphs? Check. Protagonist is a special snowflake and different to everyone else? Check. Paragraphs and paragraphs of absolutely irrelevant narration to hide that there's no world building? Check.


Rating:

★★☆☆

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

TRUE BORN was a really exhausting read. I didn't connect to the characters or narrative enough to say I enjoyed it. It's undoubtedly a very unique story and Sterling has a very memorable writing style. It just wasn't for me.



Additional Info

Published: May 3rd 2016
Pages: 304
Publisher: Entangled: Teen
Genre: YA / Dystopia
ISBN: 9781633753198

Synopsis:
"Welcome to Dominion City.

After the great Plague descended, the world population was decimated...and their genetics damaged beyond repair.

The Lasters wait hopelessly for their genes to self-destruct. The Splicers pay for expensive treatments that might prolong their life. The plague-resistant True Borns are as mysterious as they are feared…

And then there's Lucy Fox and her identical twin sister, Margot. After endless tests, no one wants to reveal what they are.

When Margot disappears, a desperate Lucy has no choice but to put her faith in the True Borns, led by the charismatic Nolan Storm and the beautiful but deadly Jared Price. As Lucy and the True Borns set out to rescue her sister, they stumble upon a vast conspiracy stretching from Dominion’s street preachers to shady Russian tycoons. But why target the Fox sisters?

As they say in Dominion, it’s in the blood."(Source: Goodreads)



 Do you like novels about epidemics?

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Tuesday, November 17, 2015

[Recommendation] The 5th Wave (#1) - Rick Yancey


 In THE 5th WAVE, aliens are invading the earth. In four surges they have already murdered the majority of the earth's population.

Teenager Cassie is one of the sole survivors, preparing for the fifth surge of the alien invasion.

I'm not sure what happened here and how it happened but this is definitely my favorite read of the year. And it's November, so that says a lot. This was my first audio book in a long time, and I'm very, very happy I chose this one.



Prose to die for

Yancey manages to write the most relatable teen girl protagonist I have encountered in YA so far. Cassie's voice is just essentially teen, her thoughts, her feelings. I can't imagine how a fifty year old man managed to pull that off. I'm honestly truly, truly impressed.
I especially enjoyed the first chapter, which is essentially a monologue, but with a truckload of depth. Cassie's feelings about the invasion are described so powerfully and so movingly that I couldn't even do anything else while I listened to the audio book. I was absolutely sucked into this strange world.

Usually I groan when authors don't jump right into the story, but Yancey is inexplicably talented at info-dumping the heck out of the reader and still leave you yearning for more. The premise, the alien invasion, is just executed masterfully. Yancey doesn't give much information about it in the first place, but sprinkles the info-dumps all over the first chapters, so you find yourself yelling at the audio book narrator to hurry up / frantically turning the pages (whichever format you prefer).

There's only one cliché in this book. And it's my pet peeve...

The only things I didn't like as much about the book relate to the (of course we have one) love triangle. I really don't like them. I'm sorry.
Yancey made it a little more bearable by setting the whole thing up from the start. Cassie's infatuation with this boy Ben from her school is mentioned very early in and I understand and it does make sense, but love triangles are just a red flag for me. I'm sorry, other authors ruined this for me.

It just doesn't seem realistic for Cassie's super crush to have survived all of this, when a huge portion of humanity died. I'm surprised that Yancey went for this, because he's so realistic in his writing everywhere else. The invasion isn't sugarcoated, it's just WAR. Blunt, ruthless war without compromises. There are more plot twists that I can count, but then Yancey goes for the most persistent and arguably annoying cliché in dystopian YA: the love triangle between the MC, the crush/ old friend, and the rebel. Man. But seriously, this is the only thing I don't like about this book.

...

On audio narration:
I listened to the German audio book from Der Hörverlag Audible, which is narrated by Merete Brettschneider, Achim Buch, and Philipp Baltus as the protagonist Cassie and her love interests respectively.  Because I loved the book so much, it wasn't a smart choice to listen to the audio book - the narration speed is much slower than my own reading speed. Mainly because I'm an insanely fast reader when I love a book. Brettschneider uses pauses frequently for emphasis, which does work in terms of narration, but I just wanted to binge-listen the whole thing. I wish there had been an option to speed the whole book up a little. 

However, the character voices are so, so, so spot on. You hardly find a narrator that can pull off male AND female voices flawlessly. Brettschneider sounds believable as a 16 year-old teen just as much as a 40-something Dad. It's a little terrifying how good she is, actually. I didn't even notice it's the same person talking. This sounds strange, but she really is that good at sounding like men. I'm in awe. She could have single-handedly narrated the whole audio book alone.

Rating:

★★★★ 


Overall: Do I Recommend?

I'm an alien enthusiast and I have read more alien books than I can count. BUT: This is by far my favorite.
It's written so relatably, so believably, and the world building is amazing. "The 5th Wave" reads like mixture of "The Reapers are the Angels" and "The Host". Just more ruthless and realistic. If an alien invasion is ever going to happen in my life time, this is how it's going down. "The 5th Wave" should be compulsory reading for all YA alien stories fan. Nevermind me while I run to the next book store to pick up a physical copy of this as well.



Additional Info


Published: April 14th 2014 
Pages: 496
Genre: YA / Sci-Fi / Aliens
ASIN: B00JAD6RPU

Synopsis:
"After the 1st wave, only darkness remains. After the 2nd, only the lucky escape. And after the 3rd, only the unlucky survive. After the 4th wave, only one rule applies: trust no one.

Now, it's the dawn of the 5th wave, and on a lonely stretch of highway, Cassie runs from Them. The beings who only look human, who roam the countryside killing anyone they see. Who have scattered Earth's last survivors. To stay alone is to stay alive, Cassie believes, until she meets Evan Walker. Beguiling and mysterious, Evan Walker may be Cassie's only hope for rescuing her brother--or even saving herself. But Cassie must choose: between trust and despair, between defiance and surrender, between life and death. To give up or to get up.(Source: Goodreads)



 Have you read The 5th Wave?

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