Posts Tagged ‘YA Science Fiction’

scarlet

“THIS COMMUNICATION IS TO INFORM SCARLET BENOIT OF RIEX, FRANCE, EF, THAT AS OF 15:42 ON 28 AUG 126 THE CASE OF MISSING PERSON(S) MICHELLE BENOIT OF RIEX, FRANCE, EF, HAS BEEN DISMISSED DUE TO LACK OF SUFFICIENT EVIDENCE OF VIOLENCE OR NONSPECIFIC FOUL PLAY. CONJECTURE: PERSON(S) LEFT OF OWN FREE WILL AND/OR SUICIDE. CASE CLOSED.”

A second fairy tale heroine joins the wildly popular Lunar Chronicles: Little Red Riding Hood.

Premise :

Scarlet Benoit doesn’t know much about her grandmother’s past. And she doesn’t care. They’re family and they love each other, and that’s enough.

All she wants is to bring her grandmother back home.

But what Scarlet doesn’t know can hurt her. She doesn’t know about the secret that stole her grandmother away and produced the conflicted, mysterious (and, okay, totally hot) ally Scarlet has come to know as “Wolf.” She doesn’t know about her grandmother’s connection to a certain Lunar princess—and she doesn’t know that the very same Lunar princess is on her trail.

Yes, Cinder returns in this second book of the series. (Check out my review of book I here!)

Scarlet picks up where Cinder leaves off, with our favorite cyborg mechanic in New Beijing Prison, scoring a few handy new cyborg parts. Cinder knows she needs to escape the prison, and along the way, she picks up a young accomplice, his spaceship and a disconcerting habit of controlling people with her newly-discovered mind magic.

And then she’s on her way to discover the secrets that haunt her past. YA Sci-Fi, Fairy tale retelling. Published February 5th 2013 by Feiwel & Friends. More details here.

Thoughts :

I have mixed feelings about the plot of Scarlet. It starts stronger than Cinder, imo—I love that police Comm on page 2. But ultimately, Cinder’s plot with the wily Dr. Erland interested me more than Scarlet’s plot.

Scarlet’s story seems disconnected from Cinder’s for much of the book. Basically, she wants to find her grandmother and she has to convince Wolf to help her do so. But, I kept wondering, what does this have to do with Cinder? It does come together, eventually; and thankfully, in the meanwhile, I did enjoy Scarlet’s romantic arc! Both books have romantic arcs, but I totally got into Scarlet’s. [Highlight to read spoiler: Because Wolf, that sexy literal beast.]

As a character, I find Scarlet more complex but less compelling than Cinder. Although Cinder is a relatively simple character, I always enjoy her pragmatic approach to life and the cyborg traits that make her such a unique being. Scarlet, on the other hand, pops off constantly and isn’t quite as bright as our runaway princess from book 1.

I did, however, enjoy the new setting: France. Sure, Meyer could give a few more details, but this setting beats the heck out of the almost-nonexistent setting of New Beijing in Cinder. The audiobook narrator, Rebecca Soler, does a terrific job with all the accents. She truly brings all of Marissa Meyers’ characters—organic, mechanical and both—to life.

Before I end this review, I have to give a shout-out to Iko the spaceship. I love this development! Touches like this are what make the Lunar Chronicles so fun.

3.5/5 STARS OVERALL

Here’s the breakdown:

Plot: 3.5/5 STARS

Characters: 4/5 STARS

Worldbuilding: 3.5/5 STARS

Writing: 3/5 STARS

Recommended To :

Teens! All of them! It’s really a fun series, for both teens and adults, if you’re in the mood for it. With the romantic arc between Scarlet and Wolf, I would say this is less of a “family read” than Cinder was, but it’s still squeaky clean and the audiobook is a great way to listen.

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Remade

“Sharply told in a fantastic new format, ReMade should be on your radar.” – James Dashner, #1 NYT Bestselling Author of The Maze Runner series

Honestly, the situation might be confusing and everyone else was freaked out, but it was the best thing that had ever happened to her.”

remade3Premise :

Nevaeh passes from her old life as gracefully as she enters her new one, in the third installment of Serial Box Publishing’s ya dystopian serial, ReMade. Unlike the other disgruntled teen characters, she’s grateful for a second chance to live, and she works to make a home for her companions in the strange wilderness.

But when a mistake with the food supply causes the group to branch out their foraging and hunting efforts, a hunting accident shows Navaeh where her talents may lie in the new society. YA Sci-Fi/Dystopian serial installment #3, authored by Carrie Harris. Published September 28th, 2016 by Serial Box Publishing. Reviews of installments 1 & 2 can be found here & here

Thoughts :

This third installment, like the second installment, drew me into the character’s narrative right away. Navaeh’s story will resonate with any teen who has struggled with long-term illness.

She had time—time! Imagine!—and now she had the strength to help Cole.”

I found myself admiring and sympathizing completely with Navaeh; her perspective is unique among the others we’ve enjoyed so far.

We also get a few clues about the elusive worldbuilding:

…the woods around them were full of animals and berries and fruits that looked kind of like things you might see in the supermarket back home, only…different…. It was tough to tell what was safe to eat, considering how much had changed.”

My theories about the world of Remade are so ridiculous, I’m not even going to try sharing them! But I’m definitely curious.

However, this third installment, like the others, primarily concerns itself with rehashing the death of the narrator. I found it refreshing to get the inevitable flashback out of the way quickly, but I’m starting to tire of this pattern. The series is rapidly becoming a collage of character sketches set against the background of some mysterious place. It’s similar to The Maze Runner, but with less action and more character-building. I feel like I’m still waiting to be introduced to the other characters—and their deaths—before anything exciting happens.

So I’m crossing my fingers for some plot movement and real problem solving, soon! I’m actually really excited to read #5, Umta’s installment, because I have a feeling she knows more than she’s saying.

Overall:

Great characters; overly mysterious mysteries.

Recommendation :

I’m definitely reading on, at least to Umta’s story; so until then, I’ll still recommend the series to teens and dystopian-addicts, but I’m going to hold off on other recommendations until I see where this is going.

***3/5 STARS

My thanks to Carrie Harris, Serial Box Publishing and Netgalley for my free review copy!

Remade2“Sharply told in a fantastic new format, ReMade should be on your radar.” – James Dashner, #1 NYT Bestselling Author of The Maze Runner series.

“ ‘Good job saving the day!’ Jing-Wei beamed. May smiled back, then ducked her head. Never expected she’d get a turn at being an action hero. She didn’t like it much, it turned out. Not if it involved near misses with getting crushed to death.”

Premise :

May never expected to be an action hero. Allergen-sensitive and ever cerebral, her success comes from her work ethic. She’s an Ivy-League-or-bust kind of girl. Even her parents don’t seem to understand her drive.

“You don’t get to be the first Chinese-American Supreme Court justice by watching cartoons, Mom.”

Duh, mom.

But one day, despite all of May’s careful preparation, she can’t protect herself from a medical emergency, and somehow she ends up among the teenagers consigned to the mysterious apocalyptic world of Serial Box Publishing’s serial YA Dystopian adventure, Remade. Published September 21st, 2016. Available now on the Serial Box Publishing website. The pilot episode 1 is also available for free on the website! My review of episode 1 is available here .

In this second installment, written by Andrea Phillips, we meet several new characters of the story’s fairly large cast, and we get to know May in particular.

Thoughts :

May is such a great character. How is an allergen-sensitive SAT kid supposed to survive in a post-apocalyptic world? Well, basically, she never gives in; that counts for something, in this sort-of-afterlife. I love everything about her perspective—the drive, the humor and the pain. I’m definitely invested in her story.

And thanks to the great characterization by Andrea Phillips, the large cast is also coming into focus. We already know Holden and Seyah, from the first installment by Matthew Cody, and now we really get to know May. The adorable little Mormon Boy Scout, Hyrum, is easy to keep track of, as is the pseudonymous Loki. Everyone seems to dislike Wesley, right now, so that marks him out fairly well. Several other characters remain unimportant, so far, but I assume we’ll be getting to know them better later on: Cole, Niveah, Jing-Wei and Gabe.

Although I enjoyed the characterization of this second installment, the plot doesn’t progress much, and the majority of the episode feels like setup. I want more answers and more plot movement. I’m hoping for more of that in “Remade 1.3.”

Overall :

This was a short stop in the journey and so far, I’m quite intrigued.

Recommended To :

Dystopian-addicts and adults who YA. Teen readers, including boys, will love this fast-paced adventure. An audio version of the season is available on the Serial Box Publishing website, and don’t forget to check out the free pilot episode, “Shadows and Dreams”!

Many sincere thanks to Andrea Phillips, Serial Box Publishing and Netgalley for my free review copy!

****4/5 STARS

Praise :

“An ongoing YA adventure told by a team of talented authors and set in a promising future world. ReMade brings to the (e)page the kind of compelling serialised storytelling made popular by TV.” – Philip Reeve, author of Mortal Engines andRailhead.

“A thrilling, diverse, character-driven adventure—a little bit of Lost, a little bit of The 100, and a whole lot of fun.” – Cassandra Rose Clarke, author of The Assassin’s Curse.

“ReMade is like the revved-up, feral lovechild of The Maze Runner and Under the Never Sky with a sharp injection of Lost. Gripping and addictive!” – Delilah Dawson, author ofWicked as They Come.

cinder_cover

Premise :

Cinder is the best mechanic in New Beijing. Unfortunately, she’s also a cyborg, and cyborgs are considered the lowest of the low in Earthen and Lunar societies. Cyborgs are even used as test subjects for plague research. So the last thing Cinder expects is a business call from Crown Prince Kai of the Eastern Commonwealth. But before Cinder gets a chance to fix his droid, her horrible stepmother volunteers her for plague research.

Things aren’t going well for the prince, either. His father, the king of the Eastern Commonwealth, is falling to the plague and the evil, power hungry Lunar Queen Levana is threatening to glamour the prince into political marriage in exchange for the cure. YA Sci-Fi/Fairytale Retelling, published 2012. Pennsylvania Young Readers’ Choice Award Nominee for Young Adults (2014), Abraham Lincoln Award Nominee (2014), Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Best Young Adult Fantasy & Science Fiction (2012).

First Impressions :

I decided to listen to the Cinder audiobook after hearing how popular it still is among my library’s 2016 summer reading teens. For the first quarter of the book, only the technological developments (such as Cinder’s cyborg traits and the little robot droids wandering around everywhere) kept me entertained. The worldbuilding is interesting on the surface, but unfortunately, it remains undeveloped. The characters, while not simplistic themselves, fall into simplistic groups of “good guys” or “bad guys,” until we meet my favorite character later into the book. I was still unsure, at 20-25% percent, what the book was going to be about

What I Liked :

But when Dr. Erland injects Cinder with the plague, I was immediately intrigued—how would she get out of this one? I don’t want to spoil anything for you, but this is where things start to get fun. The plot becomes clearer, as we find out that it hinges on several questions: Will Dr. Erland find a cure to save all of Earth? How can Prince Kai resist the evil Lunar Queen’s powers? Are all Lunars as evil as she is? And—perhaps most important—could there be another Lunar heir?

Even though some of these questions have predictable answers, I still enjoyed the ride, especially once Dr. Erland was introduced. This morally ambiguous doctor is a kind of a trickster—I couldn’t figure out where his loyalties lay until the very end. But his loyalties matter, big time. I also enjoyed the clever nods to the Cinderella story—reimagined, of course.

But my favorite aspect of the book is how the author develops the theme of prejudice by showing how we, as humans, can unintentionally fall into the “ist” traps. The prejudice, particularly surrounding the Lunars and their mental abilities, is complex and interesting, and as I have just started the audio version of Book II, I can tell you that the prejudices continues to be examined there.

Other Stuff :

The only actually irritating thing about this book is that Cinder refuses to tell the prince she’s a cyborg. I mean, seriously. JUST TELL HIM ALREADY! He’s telling you state secrets and you’re like, “What if he finds out I’m 30% metal?”

Overall :

Overall, this is pretty good YA. The plot is very “Cinderella,” but the idea is much more sci-fi than a lot of YA out there, and I enjoyed the themes developed by Meyer. Unfortunately, since the setting is painted almost entirely from Cinder the Cyborg mechanic’s perspective, we don’t get much in the way of cultural examination or character study. But we do get a fun, super clever sci-fi retelling of the Cinderella story and an ending that left me excited for more.

Recommended To :

Teens in general. It’s not too nerdy or too romantic for any particular group, and the story questions will probably keep them entertained. Some adults will enjoy this, as well, if they don’t mind the predictability and general lack of worldbuilding.

The Audiobook :

The audiobook is a perfect, relaxing way to enjoy this book. There’s no real “adult content,” so this would be a fun story to listen to with family.

3.5/5 STARS

a-mortal-song-tour

I hadn’t thought my heart could break any more than it already had. Apparently I was wrong.

Premise :

Sora believes herself to be a kami, a Japanese guardian of the natural world. Kami have made their home on Mt. Fuji for generations, and now Sora lives there with her kami parents and community.

But when hordes of ghosts invade the mountain with the help of a demon, Sora finds out that her whole 17 years of life have been a lie: she’s a decoy, a human changeling given temporary kami powers only to protect the identity of the true, prophesied kami heroine who will save Mt Fuji from certain doom. Sora’s last responsibility to the kami is to find and prepare the prophesied one to save the beloved mountain kingdom. YA Urban Fantasy published September 13, 2016 by Another World Press

About :

A Mortal Song, an action-oriented Fantasy set in modern Japan, turns the expected YA Fantasy trope—”Prophesied teen hero saves the world!”—upside down. I requested this arc based on freshness of the premise and the fact that Megan Crewe’s other work sounded so promising. But the book turned out to be a complete 4 star surprise!

First Impressions :

My first impressions, upon starting the book, were negative. The first 15-20% of the book is the weakest section, to my tastes, for two reasons: (1) I already knew the first “reveal,” which Sora spends the first 10% learning. (2) Right off the bat, Sora’s apparent crush on her friend Takeo bored me; the descriptions are painfully clichéd, such as, “My heart skipped a beat.”

But when I met some of the well-drawn secondary characters, near the 20% mark, I realized A Mortal Song was going to be more than a plot-first three star with lackluster characters. It took a little while to interest me, but I was totally hooked by 40%.

And about that boring crush? Just wait till you see how that turns out. Sora is awesome.

Other Awesome Things :

amortalsong

(1) A Mortal Song is so Japanese! Especially the good mix of unique and well-trodden mythology. I mentioned that I enjoyed the hints of Asian culture in Keira Drake’s The Continent, but those were background noise compared to the rich, thriving culture and mythology of A Mortal Song. Just the idea of the nature spirits that live on Mt. Fuji feels very Japanese, but add in the descriptions of modern-day Tokyo, the supernatural creatures and the style of warfare, and we have a totally unique YA Fantasy.

(2) The action. I felt like I was playing a video game as I read the fight scenes. The large, well-developed cast of heroes fights their ghost and monster opponents with both typical and atypical weaponry—legendary swords, yes, but also charmed slips of paper called “ofuda.” Sora and the human fighters slap ghosts with the ofuda to banish them to the underworld. In addition to the exciting action scenes, Sora actually solves problems creatively, which is a fresh attribute in a YA heroine. She combines human and kami techniques to make good tactical decisions.

(3) The plot never gets bogged down in character-building, but the female heroines are wonderfully drawn. The true kami heroine, Chiyo, is such a great character! I love her relationship with her human boyfriend and how she and Sora are both so strong, but so different. Sora’s character arc is particularly complex and interesting. She has to accept the loss of her kami powers and learn to think as a human. It’s exciting to watch her accept and use both her human and kami skill sets during the course of her heroine’s journey. I love the climax of her character arc and I’m so excited for readers to meet this new heroine.

Complaints :

(1) The antagonist isn’t entirely believable, although his plan is creative. (2) The guy characters basically feel like props to fill out the character arcs of Chiyo and Sora.

Overall :

A surprisingly moving read. The beginning and ending of the book are the weakest points, but as far as emotional resonance, the middle—from 35-95%—is full of surprises.

Recommended To :

Teens and adults looking for a good Asian Fantasy and/or good action-oriented fantasy. Fans of Mulan. This is way better than Eon by Alison Goodman, imo.

****4/5 STARS

Thanks so much to Megan Crewe, Another World Press, The Fantastic Flying Book Club & Netgalley for my arc of A Mortal Song!

megancrewe

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Like many authors, Megan Crewe finds writing about herself much more difficult than making things up. A few definite facts: she lives in Toronto, Canada with her husband and son (and does on occasion say “eh”), she tutors children and teens with special needs, and she’s spent the last six years studying kung fu, so you should probably be nice to her. She has been making up stories about magic and spirits and other what ifs since before she knew how to write words on paper. These days the stories are just a lot longer.

Megan’s first novel, GIVE UP THE GHOST, was shortlisted for the Sunburst Award for Canadian Literature of the Fantastic. Her second, THE WAY WE FALL, was nominated for the White Pine Award and made the International Reading Association Young Adults’ Choices List. Her Fallen World trilogy (THE WAY WE FALL, THE LIVES WE LOST, THE WORLDS WE MAKE) is now complete and she has a new trilogy forthcoming in October 2014, beginning with EARTH & SKY. Her books have been published in translation in several countries around the world. She has also published short stories in magazines such as On Spec and Brutarian Quarterly.

Contact Megan online at these places: WebsiteGoodreadsTwitterFacebookTumblr & Instagram

 FFBC.pngYou can click here to follow the tour!

~* GIVEAWAY *~

Includes all of the following Japanese media and treats (all books in English translation and all DVDs with English subtitles):

BooksMoribito: Guardian of the Spirit by Nahoko Uehashi and Death Note Vol. 1 by Tsugumi Ohba

Anime series (DVD, complete collections): Cowboy Bebop and Princess Tutu

Anime movies (DVD): Grave of the Fireflies and Princess Mononoke

Live action movies (DVD): Battle Royale and Hana and Alice

3-month Japanese snack box subscription: WOWBOX (your choice of type)

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Click to enter A MORTAL SONG Japan Extravaganza Giveaway!

Remade

“The next time he opened his eyes there were monsters. They surrounded him, poked at him with spindly metallic arms. He saw himself reflected in their glassy eyes, multifaceted like prisms. A dozen Holdens all screamed at once, but someone had turned his voice off…

‘He’s awake,’ said a voice near his ear…’You shouldn’t do this to him while he’s awake. It hurts him.’”

“ReMade will premiere on September 14th, 2016. It will unfold across 15 episodes, be available in text and audio forms, and is presented by Serial Box Publishing.”

And I am so excited for more.

About :

ReMade is a serialized YA that took me completely by surprise. I originally discovered this publisher of serialized fiction because I had heard that Max Gladstone, author of the awesomely original Three Parts Dead, was writing an urban fantasy serial about magical librarians, or something. That particular serial is deep into season two.

But then I noticed that Kiersten White, author of And I Darken, a YA Historical which recently blew me away, was contributing to a brand new Dystopian/Adventure YA serial called “ReMade.” So, what the heck, I figured I’d give it a shot.

This first episode is written by author Matthew Cody.

The Opening :

It starts with this episode’s protagonist, Holden, living a relatively normal teenaged life. Or maybe not. He’s playing the only male fairy in the school play to impress a girl. Is that normal?

At any rate, I found him and his situation endearing. As he changes out of costume in his makeshift dressing room, a broom closet:

“Holden could just picture that door accidentally opening onto a crowded roomful of teenagers and their parents, and him standing there in his boxer briefs and eye shadow. It would be a Holden moment to remember.”

*snicker* I enjoyed the humor of the opening scenes.

And then things go crazy. The apocalypse. You know.

Here’s the publisher description:

“You live. You love. You die. Now RUN. ReMade.

Every minute, 108 people die.

On October 14th, 2016, from 9:31-9:32 p.m. EDT, 23 of those deaths will be teenagers.

Now they are humanity’s last hope for survival.

Awakened in a post-apocalyptic world and hunted by mechanical horrors, these teens search for answers amidst the ruins of civilization. Fate, love, and loyalty face off in this adrenaline -pumping YA adventure.”

Overall:

Standard YA Dystopian fare? Maybe, maybe not. It’s too early to tell, after reading this 45 minute episode, but there are some nice sci-fi touches that I don’t want to spoil for you. Episode one doesn’t reveal a lot of answers, but I’m hoping the next episode will. I really enjoyed Holden’s voice, and I know I will love Kiersten White’s writing, in her episodes.

That’s good enough for me to move on to episode two.

I can’t wait!

Recommended To :

Thus far, plot-driven dystopia addicts. Sci-fi lovers. Adults who YA.

Thanks to Matthew Cody, Serial Box Publishing and Netgalley for my review copy!

changeplaceswithme

She woke.

And for a split second saw nothing but a cloud of red light.

‘Where am I?’

Premise :

Rose Hartel woke up, today, feeling…different. A voice in her mind urges her to be different, to be happy, to try new things.

This is what you should do, she told herself. Grab things, exist at the center of your life, not the edge.

She can’t say why, but her old life doesn’t fit anymore. Her routines, her solitude, even her pajamas feel suddenly wrong.

But why?

YA Sci-Fi, published June 14th 2016 by Balzer + Bray

About :

If you read one young adult sci-fi this year, make it Change Places With Me by Lois Metzger. Its spare economy and compelling tension mark Metzger as a true, experienced storyteller. It’s very short—I flew through it, unable to put it down. It’s not flashy or romantic, but every word counts and it will stay with you.

The plot relies on a secret, very much in the style of The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson, but I enjoyed Changes Places With Me much more. It’s been a long time since I read Pearson’s book (I was a teenager, at the time), but I remember it being very dark. In Change Places With Me, something feels subtly wrong, but there’s no creep factor and [highlight to read spoiler: no “preaching.” The Adoration of Jenna Fox explores the morality of bioethics, but Change Places With Me concerns itself more with Rose’s character arc.]

Theme :

The really interesting thing about this book is that there’s no “bad guy.” There could have been, but the author refused to simplify things that way for the reader. Instead,Change Places With Me just asks a question: “Who do you want to be, Rose?” This story isn’t about right and wrong; it’s about Rose making choices that will define her. Fourteen, fifteen, sixteen—these are young ages to begin defining your whole future, but that’s our lot, as humans, and that’s what all teenagers, like Rose, face.

Rose pressed the buzzer next to the camera lens. 

“May I help you?” said a woman’s voice that was flat and generic.

Rose just stood there, frozen.

“Yes?” said the voice. “I can see you’re still there.”

‘I know your voice,’ Rose said. ‘The kinds of things you say.’

There was a sigh….”This is Rose Hartel, isn’t it? The hair’s different—it threw me. Listen, go home, Rose. You never came here.”

“I’m not leaving,” Rose said, with a flash of what felt like a long-familiar streak of stubbornness.

Another sigh.

The door buzzed. Rose opened it and stepped inside.

Recommendation :

I recommend it to everyone, especially teens, looking for a short, compelling sci-fi with questions of identity at its center. You won’t find aliens or dystopian arenas, here; rather, you’ll find thoughtful, character-driven tension.

****4/5 STARS

You can check out the awesome book trailer for Change Places With Me below!

Thank you to Lois Metzger and Balzer + Bray for my beautiful review copy of Change Places With Me!