Gemina
Young Adult / May 20, 2017

The Illuminae Files #2. Authors: Amie Kaufman, Jay Kristoff, Marie Lu. Summary: Moving to a space station at the edge of the galaxy was always going to be the death of Hanna’s social life. Nobody said it might actually get her killed. The sci-fi saga that began with the breakout bestseller Illuminae continues on board the Jump Station Heimdall, where two new characters will confront the next wave of the BeiTech assault. Hanna is the station captain’s pampered daughter; Nik the reluctant member of a notorious crime family. But while the pair are struggling with the realities of life aboard the galaxy’s most boring space station, little do they know that Kady Grant and the Hypatia are headed right toward Heimdall, carrying news of the Kerenza invasion. When an elite BeiTech strike team invades the station, Hanna and Nik are thrown together to defend their home. But alien predators are picking off the station residents one by one, and a malfunction in the station’s wormhole means the space-time continuum might be ripped in two before dinner. Soon Hanna and Nik aren’t just fighting for their own survival; the fate of everyone on the Hypatia—and possibly the known universe—is in their…

Unwind
Young Adult / April 11, 2017

#1. Author: Neal Shusterman. Summary: Connor, Risa, and Lev are running for their lives. The Second Civil War was fought over reproductive rights. The chilling resolution: Life is inviolable from the moment of conception until age thirteen. Between the ages of thirteen and eighteen, however, parents can have their child “unwound,” whereby all of the child’s organs are transplanted into different donors, so life doesn’t technically end. Connor is too difficult for his parents to control. Risa, a ward of the state, is not enough to be kept alive. And Lev is a tithe, a child conceived and raised to be unwound. Together, they may have a chance to escape and to survive. (Goodreads summary) My Thoughts: Shusterman has pulled off the impressive feat of writing a book that directly addresses multiple present-day problems without being boring or preachy. It’s an action-packed dystopia – I couldn’t put the book down. The dystopian element of unwinding is distinctly disturbing, and this is exactly the point. Content Review: Sexual Content: Light kisses. Character says “I’m not like my dads – my compass points to girls”. Boy corners girl in a bathroom and threatens to further assault her, before backing off when another…

The Thousandth Floor
Young Adult / April 9, 2017

#1. Author: Katherine McGee. Summary: A hundred years in the future, New York is a city of innovation and dreams. Everyone there wants something…and everyone has something to lose. LEDA COLE’s flawless exterior belies a secret addiction—to a drug she never should have tried and a boy she never should have touched. ERIS DODD-RADSON’s beautiful, carefree life falls to pieces when a heartbreaking betrayal tears her family apart. RYLIN MYERS’s job on one of the highest floors sweeps her into a world—and a romance—she never imagined…but will this new life cost Rylin her old one? WATT BAKRADI is a tech genius with a secret: he knows everything about everyone. But when he’s hired to spy for an upper-floor girl, he finds himself caught up in a complicated web of lies. And living above everyone else on the thousandth floor is AVERY FULLER, the girl genetically designed to be perfect. The girl who seems to have it all—yet is tormented by the one thing she can never have. Amid breathtaking advancement and high-tech luxury, five teenagers struggle to find their place at the top of the world. But when you’re this high up, there’s nowhere to go but down…. (Goodreads summary)…

Scythe
Young Adult / February 15, 2017

Arc of a Scythe #1. Author: Neal Shusterman. Summary:  Thou shalt kill. A world with no hunger, no disease, no war, no misery. Humanity has conquered all those things, and has even conquered death. Now scythes are the only ones who can end life—and they are commanded to do so, in order to keep the size of the population under control. Citra and Rowan are chosen to apprentice to a scythe—a role that neither wants. These teens must master the “art” of taking life, knowing that the consequence of failure could mean losing their own. (Goodreads summary) My Thoughts: Scythe was interesting, but it didn’t live up to the standards I’d been expecting. The concept was novel: a world so advanced that death has been virtually eliminated, and mankind has taken that role upon themselves. Our two main characters, a boy and a girl, provide contrasting arcs as they are sent down very different training paths, one under an abusive, unethical master and the other under one of the ‘good scythes’. However, because this is Neal Shusterman, I was expecting a heavier emphasis on the practical and ethical results of the worldbuilding, and possibly more unexpected twists. Instead, I got…

Illuminae
Young Adult / February 1, 2017

The Illuminae Files #1. Author: Amie Kaufman, Jay Kristoff. Summary: This morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do. This afternoon, her planet was invaded. The year is 2575, and two rival megacorporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than an ice-covered speck at the edge of the universe. Too bad nobody thought to warn the people living on it. With enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra—who are barely even talking to each other—are forced to fight their way onto an evacuating fleet, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit. But their problems are just getting started. A deadly plague has broken out and is mutating, with terrifying results; the fleet’s AI, which should be protecting them, may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady hacks into a tangled web of data to find the truth, it’s clear only one person can help her bring it all to light: the ex-boyfriend she swore she’d never speak to again. (Goodreads summary) My Thoughts: Illuminae was quite a breathtaking ride. With much of the interaction taking place between soldiers and…

Quest for the Future
Adult / October 29, 2016

Author: A.E. Van Vogt. Summary: Worlds of differing probabilities and the constant search for immortality are the twin themes of this mind-toppling story. Expanding the enigmas of time, van Vogt carries the reader to the furthermost edges of past and future and outwards to a place where time loses all meaning. (Summary from Goodreads.) My Thoughts: A.E. Van Vogt weaves a complicated, imaginative story with his usual skill. I did not enjoy it myself because I took a strong dislike to the main character; a brash, arrogant man whom I could never get along with. Content Review: Sexual content: Brief kiss between a married man and a woman who is not his wife. Man says he “caught my parents in bed around then [age 14]. There they were pretending no such thing as sex existed, and they were going at it like veterans.” From narrative, ‘They made love in his apartment within an hour of meeting.’ (Adultery.) Character’s thoughts, ‘Maybe a female doctor […] might for strictly clinical purposes also be interested in sex with such a smelly type.” “There’s got to be sex. Without that I’ll kill myself.” Character reads a novel about a “sexually free society where every…

Genesis
Adult , Young Adult / October 5, 2016

Author: Bernard Beckett. Summary: Genesis is a dystopian story with a twist. It explores questions such as: what does it mean to be conscious? Can a robot be alive? The whole story takes place over four hours in a single building, through the narration of a student testing for entrance to The Academy. It leaves you with many more questions than answered. My Thoughts: Genesis can feel a bit slow at parts on the first time through, as there isn’t much action. What action there is comes through the story told in dialogue, and all happened some time ago. But the book isn’t that long, and the ending turns everything on its head. The second read through is completely different, as you see and ponder things that went right past your attention before. I thought it was a very interesting and thought-provoking read. Content Review: Sexual content: A transcript conversation has a character saying he would “Like a woman. Right here, right now. You could watch.” Language: Two f***, three scatological terms, one a** Violence: One character shoots another, there is a (told, not shown) fight in which eleven men are killed. It is mentioned that early prototypes of robots…

Across a Star-swept Sea
Young Adult / July 20, 2016

Author: Diana Peterfreund. Summary: Centuries after wars nearly destroyed civilization, the two islands of New Pacifica stand alone, a terraformed paradise where even the Reduction—the devastating brain disorder that sparked the wars—is a distant memory. Yet on the isle of Galatea, an uprising against the ruling aristocrats has turned deadly. The revolutionaries’ weapon is a drug that damages their enemies’ brains, and the only hope is rescue by a mysterious spy known as the Wild Poppy. On the neighboring island of Albion, no one suspects that the Wild Poppy is actually famously frivolous aristocrat Persis Blake. The teenager uses her shallow, socialite trappings to hide her true purpose: her gossipy flutternotes are encrypted plans, her pampered sea mink is genetically engineered for spying, and her well-publicized new romance with handsome Galatean medic Justen Helo… is her most dangerous mission ever. Though Persis is falling for Justen, she can’t risk showing him her true self, especially once she learns he’s hiding far more than simply his disenchantment with his country’s revolution and his undeniable attraction to the silly socialite he’s pretending to love. His darkest secret could plunge both islands into a new dark age, and Persis realizes that when it…

Free To Fall
Young Adult / June 28, 2016

Author: Lauren Miller. Summary: Sixteen-year-old Rory Vaughn is motivated, happy, and successful. She’s been accepted to the most prestigious school in the country, and she’s the envy of her classmates. But none of them know her secret: that she hears the Doubt, the small inner voice, aka auditory hallucination, that can herald madness. When she meets a handsome boy in town who also hears the Doubt, and listens to it instead of using Lux, the decision-making app that directs everyone’s lives, Rory’s viewpoint begins to change. There’s something strange going on here, and she’ll have to question everything she ever knew to get to the bottom of it. My Thoughts: The world Lauren Miller creates is clever and believable; with the current trends, it’s all too easy to imagine an app that millions depend on for every decision. But except for the two main characters, none of the characters are very rounded or have strong personalities. I found it interesting, but not overly amazing. Content Review: Sexual content: “Rory, look at that sky. This is a photographer’s wet dream.” Some kissing. Character finds out her mother’s husband wasn’t her (first character) father. Girl starts to undo her boyfriend’s jeans, but…