Showing posts with label space. Show all posts
Showing posts with label space. Show all posts

Saturday, December 3, 2016

[Review] Other Systems (#1) - Elizabeth Guizzetti: Aliens and Human Colonies | #ReadIndie





In OTHER SYSTEMS, future humans are coming back to Earth because their colonies can't survive without human DNA much longer.

What intrigued me: I love everything related to aliens!

What's happening?

The initial idea is absolutely brilliant, I was very excited about reading this. However, OTHER SYSTEMS really, really lacks in execution. 
The story is told from the POV of Abby, a girl that is taken to Kipos, the future human colony's home planet, and Cole, a space traveler. I especially struggled with Cole's POV because just didn't understand what was going on. 

There are so many specific terms in this that are hardly explained, it took me too long to even understand what the different kinds of humans are and what happened to Earth. I can safely say that I spent the first 150 pages being absolutely confused and not really knowing what was happening. You'll definitely need to be invested and/or don't mind about not really understanding all details to finish this. I feel like there are different stories in this, three books tried to be told in a single volume. Resulting from this, OTHER SYSTEMS seems very chaotic and difficult to read.

Fascinating idea, but too very complicated

Even though it is difficult to read, the idea is just too fascinating to toss OTHER SYSTEMS aside and give up. I absolutely love novels about humans going to space, even more so when everything has already taken place and the humans are going back! The world building truly is impeccable and there is a lot to explore. I would have liked this a lot more, had I been given the opportunity to actually have those elements all explained instead of just getting bombarded with information.

Generally, OTHER SYSTEMS really would have benefited from being told from one person's POV. Abby's chapters are significantly easier to read and it does feel like you're actually reading a YA novel. With Cole's POV thrown in, the book just gains a strange dynamic, again, it's just multiple stories fused into one. 


Rating:

★★

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

OTHER SYSTEMS displays a magnificently built, fascinating world, but simply makes the mistake to leave out explanations. It portrays an interesting possible human future that is truly fun to explore.



What's #ReadIndie?



Additional Info

Published: 10th April 2013
Pages: 532
Publisher: 48Fourteen
Genre: YA / Sci-Fi / Space & Other Planets
ISBN: 9781937546144

Synopsis:
"Without an influx of human DNA, the utopian colony on Kipos has eleven generations before it reaches failure. Earth is over ninety light years away. Time is short. 

On the over-crowded Earth, many see opportunity in Kipos's need. After medical, intelligence, and physiological testing, Abby and her younger siblings, Jin and Orchid, are offered transportation. Along with 750,000 other strong immigrants, they leave the safety of their family with the expectation of good jobs and the opportunity for higher education. 
While the Earthlings travel to the new planet in stasis, the Kiposi, terrified the savages will taint their paradise, pass a series of indenture and adoption laws in order to assimilate them. When Abby wakes up on Kipos, Jin cannot be found. Orchid is ripped from her arms as Abby is sold to a dull-eyed man with a sterilized wife. Indentured to breed, she is drugged and systematically coerced. 

To survive, Abby learns the differences in culture and language using the only thing that is truly hers on this new world: her analytical mind. In order to escape her captors, she joins a planetary survey team where she will discover yet another way of life.(Source: Goodreads)

What's your favorite book about aliens?

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Saturday, October 1, 2016

[Review] Sleeping Giants (Themis Files #1) - Sylvain Neuvel: Giant Robots and Outer Space




In SLEEPING GIANTS, a little girl finds an enormous robot hand made of metal in the woods and the military immediately grows interested in it.

What intrigued me: The tagline they used in promotion got me. World War Z meets THE MARTIAN? Um yeah, get on my shelf ASAP.

Perfect transitional read for people who don't like Sci-Fi

SLEEPING GIANTS is told through interview snippets and diary entries from multiple characters. All in some way connect to a mysterious man who is secretly in control of the operation to get the robot to work.  Most of it is actually dialogue, which I loved. 

It makes this way easier to read and hides the fact that this is a pretty heavy Sci-fi thriller with political elements. Especially for people like me who shy away from epic Sci-fi or political thrillers, this could serve as a nice transitional read to get more into the genre.

I definitely struggled a little with the tone of the novel. Most of the plot is told from the perspective of military officials and scientists who use highbrow language and complex scientific processes to explain things. Even though Neuvel tries to simplify all concepts and processes, I found myself zoning out whenever someone started talking about chemical elements. This is very minor though, because the story about the ancient robot hand will eventually suck you in and force you to keep on reading until your eyes burn. It happened to me. At some point the story just starts to become so gripping and you get so invested that it's almost impossible to put it down. 

Enchanting and thrilling

I was surprised to grow attached to the characters and their fate. Neuvel manages to paint multi-faceted character relationships by telling the majority of the interactions in retrospective. If two characters who aren't the mysterious interviewer and another character interact, it's always told after it happened and through the eyes of one of the people who were there. 

You'd think that format would get tiring after a while but it really doesn't. I'm so glad Neuvel wrote this almost exclusively in dialogue, because I'm sure I would've zoned out or even quit the novel altogether if that story was told in a classic way. Like this it's easy, it's handy, it fits the plot. I enjoyed this a lot and found myself unable to predict any of the twists, which is really rare. SLEEPING GIANTS is a very unique, almost experimental read that will surprise and enchant you.


Rating:

★★★★

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

Following the events in SLEEPING GIANTS almost became an addiction. It's really impossible to put down and a fantastic thriller that you should read if you like conspiracies and aliens. It put me in the worst reading slump ever because it's so genius!



Additional Info

Published: August 8th 2016
Pages: 416
Publisher: Heyne
Genre: Sci- Fi / Aliens
ISBN: 9783453316904

Synopsis:
"A girl named Rose is riding her new bike near her home in Deadwood, South Dakota, when she falls through the earth. She wakes up at the bottom of a square hole, its walls glowing with intricate carvings. But the firemen who come to save her peer down upon something even stranger: a little girl in the palm of a giant metal hand.

Seventeen years later, the mystery of the bizarre artifact remains unsolved—its origins, architects, and purpose unknown. Its carbon dating defies belief; military reports are redacted; theories are floated, then rejected.

But some can never stop searching for answers.

Rose Franklin is now a highly trained physicist leading a top secret team to crack the hand’s code. And along with her colleagues, she is being interviewed by a nameless interrogator whose power and purview are as enigmatic as the provenance of the relic. What’s clear is that Rose and her compatriots are on the edge of unraveling history’s most perplexing discovery—and figuring out what it portends for humanity. But once the pieces of the puzzle are in place, will the result prove to be an instrument of lasting peace or a weapon of mass destruction?"(Source: Goodreads)


Have you read SLEEPING GIANTS?

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Tuesday, July 12, 2016

[Review] Alight (Generations #2) - Scott Sigler: Mayan Culture and New Planets




In ALIGHT, the Birthday Children have arrived at planet Omeyocan and are exploring it.

What intrigued me: I absolutely loved the first book ALIVE.

Solid pace and jungle adventures

What initially fascinated me with the predecessor was definitely the mystery. In ALIVE, we don't get answers until the very end, which sort of made me forgive that the book had a very dragging middle and little plot.

ALIGHT follows a similar formula: We have to wait for every bit of information to make sense, so despite the fact that there's lots of exploration and action, it still feels dragged out. You really have to be patient to get to the interesting parts of the story, which are indeed quite fascinating, but the mere fact that it takes a ridiculous time to get there frustrated me immensely.

Omeyocan is a very interesting setting and managed to fascinate me. I was a little frustrated with the characters' lack of information and didn't really like the little guessing games that arose every time they encountered something they didn't immediately recognize. Omeyocan is based in Mayan culture appearance-wise, which is to be expected if you take a look at names like Xolotl. Called that one! I was hoping for more of an alien feel to the whole planet. Like this, it just feels like your average Mayan-inspired jungle with a hint of modern technology.

All the little nods to colonialism somehow give this book a cautionary tale kind of feel. Especially with Aramovsky and his neverending missionary crusade I got tired of it very quickly.

Sigler didn't quite manage to keep my interest in this sequel. I was hoping for more information and reasons very early on, maybe a big revelation or something. Though the change in scenery is quite neat, it can't hide the fact that there isn't really much plot in this.

Too many characters and a very forced romance

As for the characters - there still are too many. I couldn't keep up with them in the first novel, and has tremendous problems remembering these people and trying to figure the relationships out. It hasn't even been that long since I read ALIVE and if it weren't for the little information dumps before each character gets introduced anew, I would have been completely lost. 

ALIGHT focuses a little more on the dreaded love triangle and I just couldn't warm up to it. There is little to no real reason why these people are attracted to each other - aside maybe from superficiality and hormones. There is no base for their relationship, which just couldn't make me sympathize with Bishop and Em as a couple, even less with her and O'Malley. Honestly, I wouldn't even have minded all that if Em was an LGBT protagonist. I will never understand books in which societal norms don't exist, yet everyone turns out to be straight.


Rating:

★★☆☆

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

ALIGHT didn't have me hold my breath and frantically turn the pages like the predecessor, but it's a solid read. A typical second book that lowered my enthusiasm for the third, mainly because it's just too heavy on the instant hump romance.



Additional Info

Published: April 5th 2016
Pages: 448
Publisher: Del Rey
Genre: YA / Sci-Fi / Space and other Planets
ISBN: 9780553393156

Synopsis:
"Alight reveals to readers the further adventures of Em, Spingate, O’Malley, Bishop, and the other young heroes introduced in Alive. In Alive, Em fought to assert herself as leader and her friends tried to comprehend their own mysterious identity; now she must wrestle not with the challenge of winning power but the grave responsibility of having assumed it, and she and her friends must contend with a grim fact: the revelation of their identity is not an answer but another question—and one with terrifying implications."
(Source: Goodreads)


Do you like books set on other planets?

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Saturday, July 9, 2016

Recommendation: Alive (Generations #1) - Scott Sigler: Dystopian Prison World and Suspense


In ALIVE, a girl wakes up alive in a coffin with no recollection of who she and why she was put in there. 

What intrigued me:
 Sounds like a YA version of Matrix. I love conspiracy theories. Absolutely a synopsis-buy.


This novel will mess with you

The less you know about it, the better. In order not to spoil the experience for anyone, I'll be very vague when talking about this book, because ALIVE strives from the cluelessness of the reader. After Em wakes up in coffin you know just as little as her about this world. You figure out everything with her and that's what kept me glued to the pages. It's such a simple way of encouraging the reader and getting them invested in the story, and it's absolutely works.

Sigler brilliantly manages to channel this feeling of not knowing what's going on through the protagonist Em and it's just fabulous. You won't know what's going on until it's happening, and I guarantee you the resolution will leave you gasping and yelling. If you love plot twists and mind games, this is the novel for you.

As someone who is not inherently very into most Dystopian YA on the market, this is really refreshing because it doesn't play into the stereotypes we've all read about a gazillion times before. ALIVE is truly very unique, very interesting, and very strange. 


That's how you write a leader!

I usually don't like typical leader-like characters, especially in YA. Often these people come across as awkward and not really fit for the job, but Em is among the best strong protagonists I've ever read about. The choices she has to make along the way are realistic, full of sacrifices, and just made her such a likeable and wonderfully real character.
I absolutely enjoyed the way Em navigates through the story, however, I wished at some point that the story progressed a little more quickly, simply because I was so desperate to find out what was going on. There is a lot of walking around in this and after a while it does get exhausting to read all these scenes, even though Sigler did his best to make them as enjoyable as possible. Technically, this isn't even criticism, just me being impatient.

The twist truly made me want to buy the second book instantly and read more about this interesting world. Despite it all taking too much time for my taste to unravel, it was truly a great read and I enjoyed this immensely. If you're a fan of being kept in the dark until the end and then having your world shattered into a million pieces by a wonderfully grim twist, this is the read for you.


Rating:

★★★★

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

If you're not a fan of the genre usually, give this one a try. Don't read any reviews, just get the book and trust me. It'll be worth it. 



Additional Info

Published: July 14th 2015
Pages: 368
Publisher: Del Rey
Genre: YA / Dystopian

Synopsis:
"A young woman awakes trapped in an enclosed space. She has no idea who she is or how she got there. With only her instincts to guide her, she escapes her own confinement—and finds she’s not alone. She frees the others in the room and leads them into a corridor filled with the remains of a war long past. The farther these survivors travel, the worse are the horrors they confront. And as they slowly come to understand what this prison is, they realize that the worst and strangest possibilities they could have imagined don’t even come close to the truth."
(Source: Goodreads)

What's your favorite Dystopian read?

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Wednesday, February 10, 2016

[Review] The Science of Interstellar - Kip S.Thorne





I've been absolutely obsessed with the movie "Interstellar" lately so it was just a given that I'd check out Kip S. Thorne's explanation of the scientific facts behind the movie.

For those who don't know: Interstellar is a movie starring Matthew McConaughey as a astronaut-turned-farmer in a distant future that gets the opportunity to travel to a different galaxy in order to find a possible inhabitable planet.


NOT a good pick for non-scientists

Honestly, I was confused the whole time. This isn't popcorn literature, this doesn't feel like a Degrasse Tyson lecture. This feels like a straight-up text book and is therefore very poorly marketed.
I expected a book that's aimed at the same audience that loved "Interstellar" the movie. Thorne tries very hard to refrain from using formulas and too much established wording, but I had an extremely hard time reading this book. I had to read every chapter over and over again and concentrate to even grasp half of what he's saying. Thorne is absolutely unable to word complicated science in an easily understandable way. I felt straight up stupid reading this because I didn't understand as much as I would've liked to.

Too many topics - too little depth

There are chapters about every single plot point in Interstellar, explaining for what reasons Nolan and him decided to create Gargantua, Mann's and Miller's planets the way they ended up looking like in the movie.
However, I craved some knowledge beyond that. I don't care about an in-depth explanation of gravitational force. I care about gravitational force in relation to "Interstellar", but I don't want a whole chapter dedicated to cramming astrophysics theory into the reader. It's too much and it ends up being super unimportant if you want to understand the movie. I liked that Thorne features a lot of illustrations and sub-chapters, but I ended up skimming a lot of the theoretical stuff, because it seems unimportant.

What I really expected from this is to gain some insight on the probability of all this. Thorne explains the blight, the possibility of interstellar travel, and that's exactly what I wanted to read. Then again, there are pages and pages focusing on the black hole Gargantua that just ended up confusing me. I still can't tell you how black holes work and it's extremely frustrating. Instead of trying to cram in the planets, gravitational force, black hole theory, and a very unsatisfying explanation of the ending, there should have been a clear focus.

Science is such a wide term, there is no focus, the book tries to loosely move along the plot of the movie, but that's not really helping to ground the reader if you don't really get what's going on.


Rating:

★★☆☆

 


Overall: Do I Recommend?

Not if you don't have any clue about astrophysics like me. You'll end up feeling more clueless than before. You'll really have to study this one, it's not a light and entertaining read.



Additional Info


Published: November 7th 2014
Pages: 336
Publisher: W.W. Norton & Company
Cover: W.W. Norton & Company, 2014.
Genre: Non-Fiction / Space
ISBN: 9780393351378

Synopsis:
"Interstellar, from acclaimed filmmaker Christopher Nolan, takes us on a fantastic voyage far beyond our solar system. Yet in The Science of Interstellar, Kip Thorne, the physicist who assisted Nolan on the scientific aspects of Interstellar, shows us that the movie’s jaw-dropping events and stunning, never-before-attempted visuals are grounded in real science. Thorne shares his experiences working as the science adviser on the film and then moves on to the science itself. In chapters on wormholes, black holes, interstellar travel, and much more, Thorne’s scientific insights—many of them triggered during the actual scripting and shooting of Interstellar—describe the physical laws that govern our universe and the truly astounding phenomena that those laws make possible."
(Source: Goodreads)


Have you read any good non-fiction about space?

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Sunday, December 27, 2015

[Review] Zodiac (#1) - Romina Russell




In ZODIAC, humanity has long left the earth and moved on to another group of planets named after Zodiac signs. Telling the future is the new science of this galaxy, until one girl starts predicting the impending doom of all twelve planet constellations brought upon them by the mysterious thirteenth star sign.

Why it intrigued me: I love everything astrology and I'm a sucker for books with a space theme. Also, this probably has the most beautiful cover of 2015.


Mediocre World Building Can't Carry This Premise

Though the premise is very, very promising, Russell absolutely fails in world building. The biggest problem of the book is that it's set in a distant future instead of an alternate timeline or fictional world. Having those twelve planet constellations named after the star signs with each person living there having a personality associated with that star sign, is pretty hard for me to believe. Even taking this as just high fantasy concept, it's nothing that we haven't seen before.  *cough* DIVERGENT *cough* 

ZODIAC has this nice concept and promising idea of fortune-telling futuristic humans living somewhere in space, but that's it. A lot of it doesn't make sense and the biggest problem is that so many concepts are named, but remain unexplained. I don't even remember all the specific names for emperors and soldiers and matriarchs. There is so much lingo in this and so much unexplained, complicated pseudo-world building that I was just at a loss at some point and felt like giving up. 
I'm not sure what the world of ZODIAC is trying to be. High fantasy, futuristic, science fiction, something entirely unique? For a different galaxy there is just too little imagery to even create a world in my head. 

From Zero to Holy Mother of Everything??

I'd forgive all the issues I have with the confusing world of ZODIAC if the characters were decent and likable. Rho Grace is a fortune teller from the planet Cancer that somehow is able to tell the future without any science-y gadgets. So far so good. She's one of those blank slate characters that you can't help but not care about because she doesn't really have a personality. 

But then she randomly gets promoted to emperor of everything and addressed as Holy Mother for literally no reason at all and her voice and everything just changes and I felt like I must have skipped 300 pages of character development by accident. Honestly, I've never had the issue with too much character development before, but this novel will probably become my standard example. 

The whole novel is simply about her trying to convince everyone that someone coming from the ancient long forgotten thirteenth planet is trying to kill everyone. Along the way she also falls in love with two very easily forgettable, replaceable love interests who I'm sure were pretty much taken straight from SHATTER ME by Tahereh Mafi. It's just every cliche every packed in an insanely beautiful cover and thrown into space. Can I get my time back?


Rating:

★★☆☆

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

You can try, but it's just too light for me. Nothing I haven't read 700 times before and with a way better execution. It's every debut YA novel ever smashed into one. I'm grieving for the wonderful premise.



Additional Info

Published: November 9th 2015
Pages: 448
Publisher: ivi
Genre: YA / Sci-Fi / Space and Other Planets
ISBN: 9783492703819

Synopsis:
"Rhoma Grace is a 16-year-old student from House Cancer with an unusual way of reading the stars. While her classmates use measurements to make accurate astrological predictions, Rho can’t solve for ‘x’ to save her life—so instead, she looks up at the night sky and makes up stories.

When a violent blast strikes the moons of Cancer, sending its ocean planet off-kilter and killing thousands of citizens—including its beloved Guardian—Rho is more surprised than anyone when she is named the House’s new leader. But, a true Cancerian who loves her home fiercely and will protect her people no matter what, Rho accepts.

Then, when more Houses fall victim to freak weather catastrophes, Rho starts seeing a pattern in the stars. She suspects Ophiuchus—the exiled 13th Guardian of Zodiac legend—has returned to exact his revenge across the Galaxy. Now Rho—along with Hysan Dax, a young envoy from House Libra, and Mathias, her guide and a member of her Royal Guard—must travel through the Zodiac to warn the other Guardians.

But who will believe anything this young novice says? Whom can Rho trust in a universe defined by differences? And how can she convince twelve worlds to unite as one Zodiac?"(Source: Goodreads)

Have you read ZODIAC?

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Saturday, September 26, 2015

[Review] The Martian - Andy Weir



In "The Martian" by Andy Weir, astronaut Mark Watney gets accidentally left behind on Mars and has to fend for his life until the next expedition crew arrives to save him.

Unfortunately, the next crew arrives in four years and he only has food and water for one year.

As you might know, I love everything related to space, so picking this one up was a no-brainer. I haven't read a novel set on Mars before and I am a huge fan of Sci-Fi novels that heavily build on facts.


Not a Good Choice for Non-Scientists

Even though Weir does his best to make everything easily understandable, the book mostly consists of the technical and scientific alterations Watney has to make to survive. If you're neither an astronaut, mechanic, or gardener, it will easily get tiring and exhausting to try to keep up.

I was hoping to see a book along the lines of "Ready Player One" just for space - a book that makes me feel like I'm an expert on something that I know nothing about. "The Martian" doesn't give me the notion that I know what's going on. I kept on reading, but actually understanding none of the processes, especially the chemical ones, that Watney tries to explain in detail. It's definitely not light reading.

It reads like a how-to book - just in case you get left behind on Mars. However, even if you couldn't care less how Watney splits rocket fuel atoms and mixed them with oxygen to create water, it's a fun read. I salute to Weir - it's incredibly difficult to write a book set in one place with a single character and keep it interesting.

I was hoping for a lot of flashbacks, for a little more plot to add more depth and sympathy for Watney.

The Sassiest Gardener/Astronaut You'll Ever Read About

Mark Watney is a really likable character. The first line already got me hooked and I caught myself chuckling over his frustration all the time. He makes the best out of a pretty much hopeless situation and always has a sarcastic line prepared. He's a cool guy and that definitely adds more entertainment value to the book!
Weir could have easily made Watney emotionally affected by it all, but the mere fact that he keeps a clear head and makes plans makes him insanely likable to me. I rooted for him from the start, because he's so eager to succeed.
...
I'm slightly disappointed with the POV changes. Weir tries to simultaneously tell the other side of the story, how the NASA is reacting to finding out Watney still alive. There is pretty much no structure to it and the second you've already sympathized with one of the side characters, there are time jumps. The pacing is really off, sometimes Weir chooses to skip months at a time, and sometimes he decides to describe redundant processes annoyingly detailed.


Rating:

★★☆☆


Overall: Do I Recommend?

Maybe. "The Martian" is a decent survivalist sci-fi novel set on Mars, with a chamber play feel. Certainly a must-read for chemistry savvy space adventure fans, but a little too difficult and packed with science for the average Joe.



Additional Info

Original Title: The Martian
Author: Andy Weir
Published: 14th September 2015
Pages: 512
Medium: Paperback
Publisher: Heyne Verlag
Cover: Heyne, 2015
Genre: Adult / Science Fiction
ISBN: 978-3-453-31691-1


Synopsis:
"Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars. Now, he's sure he'll be the first person to die there.

After a dust storm nearly kills him & forces his crew to evacuate while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded & completely alone with no way to even signal Earth that he’s alive—& even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone long before a rescue could arrive. Chances are, though, he won't have time to starve to death.

The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment or plain-old "human error" are much more likely to kill him first. But Mark isn't ready to give up yet. Drawing on his ingenuity, his engineering skills—& a relentless, dogged refusal to quit—he steadfastly confronts one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next.


Will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him?"
(Source: Goodreads)



 Have you read a good novel set in space lately?


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