Young Adult / February 3, 2018

The Nyxia Triad #1. Author: Scott Reintgen. Summary: Emmett Atwater isn’t just leaving Detroit; he’s leaving Earth. Why the Babel Corporation recruited him is a mystery, but the number of zeroes on their contract has him boarding their lightship and hoping to return to Earth with enough money to take care of his family. Forever. Before long, Emmett discovers that he is one of ten recruits, all of whom have troubled pasts and are a long way from home. Now each recruit must earn the right to travel down to the planet of Eden—a planet that Babel has kept hidden—where they will mine a substance called Nyxia that has quietly become the most valuable material in the universe. But Babel’s ship is full of secrets. And Emmett will face the ultimate choice: win the fortune at any cost, or find a way to fight that won’t forever compromise what it means to be human. (Published Summary) My Thoughts: Hm… the plot moves at a good clip, never too rushed but fast enough to keep me engaged. The main character was interesting, felt realistic, multifaceted and alive. Everything else was kind of a mess. The plot isn’t particularly original; at this…

The Last Girl on Earth
Young Adult / January 18, 2018

Author: Alexandria Blogier. Summary: Raised among them.> Li has a father and a sister who love her. A best friend, Mirabae, to share things with. She goes to school and hangs out at the beach and carefully follows the rules. She has to. Everyone she knows–her family, her teachers, her friends–is an alien. And she is the only human left on Earth. A secret that could end her life. The Abdoloreans hijacked the planet sixteen years ago, destroying all human life. Li’s human-sympathizer father took her in as a baby and has trained her to pass as one of them. The Abdoloreans appear human. But they don’t think with human minds or feel with human hearts. And they have special abilities no human could ever have. Fit in or die. When Li meets Ryn, she’s swept up in a relationship that could have disastrous consequences. How far will Li go to stay alive? Will she save herself–and in turn, the human race–or will she be the final witness to humanity’s destruction? (Published Summary) My Thoughts: I have no idea how Li survived all seventeen years before the book opens. None. So she’s the last human, surrounded by aliens who’d kill…

The Tea Master and the Detective
Adult / January 15, 2018

Universe of Xuya. Author: Aliette de Bodard. Summary: Welcome to the Scattered Pearls Belt, a collection of ring habitats and orbitals ruled by exiled human scholars and powerful families, and held together by living mindships who carry people and freight between the stars. In this fluid society, human and mindship avatars mingle in corridors and in function rooms, and physical and virtual realities overlap, the appareance of environments easily modified and adapted to interlocutors or current mood. A transport ship discharged from military service after a traumatic injury, The Shadow’s Child now ekes out a precarious living as a brewer of mind-altering drugs for the comfort of space-travellers. Meanwhile, abrasive and eccentric scholar Long Chau wants to find a corpse for a scientific study. When Long Chau walks into her office, The Shadow’s Child expects an unpleasant but easy assignment. When the corpse turns out to have been murdered, Long Chau feels compelled to investigate, dragging The Shadow’s Child with her. As they dig deep into the victim’s past, The Shadow’s Child realises that the investigation points to Long Chau’s own murky past–and, ultimately, to the dark and unbearable void that lies between the stars… (Published Summary) My Thoughts: Some…

Jane, Unlimited
Young Adult / December 11, 2017

Author: Kristine Cashore. Summary: If you could change your story, would you? Jane has lived a mostly ordinary life, raised by her recently deceased aunt Magnolia, whom she counted on to turn life into an adventure. Without Aunt Magnolia, Jane is directionless. Then an old acquaintance, the glamorous and capricious Kiran Thrash, blows back into Jane’s life and invites her to a gala at the Thrashes’ extravagant island mansion called Tu Reviens. Jane remembers her aunt telling her: “If anyone ever invites you to Tu Reviens, promise me that you’ll go.” What Jane doesn’t know is that at Tu Reviens her story will change; the house will offer her five choices that could ultimately determine the course of her untethered life. But every choice comes with a price. She might fall in love, she might lose her life, she might come face-to-face with herself. At Tu Reviens, anything is possible. My Thoughts: I think it’s fairly common knowledge, going into the book, that Jane, Unlimited takes an unconventional plot route, seemingly more akin to choose-your-own-adventure than most novels. (Somehow I was unaware of this, and it was quite confusing for a bit.) The whole story hinges around a single quote:…

Guardian Angels and Other Monsters
Adult / December 7, 2017

Author: Daniel H. Wilson. This ARC was provided, in return for an unbiased review, by Netgalley. Summary: In “All Kinds of Proof,” a down-and-out drunk makes the unlikeliest of friends when he is hired to train a mail-carrying robot; in “Blood Memory,” a mother confronts the dangerous reality that her daughter will never assimilate in this world after she was the first child born through a teleportation device; in “The Blue Afternoon That Lasted Forever,” a physicist rushes home to be with his daughter after he hears reports of an atmospheric anomaly which he knows to be a sign of the end of the earth; in “Miss Gloria,” a robot comes back to life in many different forms in a quest to save a young girl. Guardian Angels and Other Monsters displays the depth and breadth of Daniel H. Wilson’s vision and examines how artificial intelligence both saves and destroys humanity. (Published Summary) My Thoughts: You know how it is with any short-story collection – there are ups, downs, the “what the heck even??” stories. The over all tone of this futuristic sci-fi collection was fairly AI-themed and dark. Not surprising, given the title, but it started off with the…

Young Adult / November 2, 2017

Warcross #1. Author: Marie Lu. Summary: For the millions who log in every day, Warcross isn’t just a game—it’s a way of life. The obsession started ten years ago and its fan base now spans the globe, some eager to escape from reality and others hoping to make a profit. Struggling to make ends meet, teenage hacker Emika Chen works as a bounty hunter, tracking down players who bet on the game illegally. But the bounty hunting world is a competitive one, and survival has not been easy. Needing to make some quick cash, Emika takes a risk and hacks into the opening game of the international Warcross Championships—only to accidentally glitch herself into the action and become an overnight sensation. Convinced she’s going to be arrested, Emika is shocked when instead she gets a call from the game’s creator, the elusive young billionaire Hideo Tanaka, with an irresistible offer. He needs a spy on the inside of this year’s tournament in order to uncover a security problem . . . and he wants Emika for the job. With no time to lose, Emika’s whisked off to Tokyo and thrust into a world of fame and fortune that she’s only…

Ready Player One
Adult / October 24, 2017

Author: Ernest Cline. Summary: It’s the year 2044, and the real world is an ugly place. Like most of humanity, Wade Watts escapes his grim surroundings by spending his waking hours jacked into the OASIS, a sprawling virtual utopia that lets you be anything you want to be, a place where you can live and play and fall in love on any of ten thousand planets. And like most of humanity, Wade dreams of being the one to discover the ultimate lottery ticket that lies concealed within this virtual world. For somewhere inside this giant networked playground, OASIS creator James Halliday has hidden a series of fiendish puzzles that will yield massive fortune—and remarkable power—to whoever can unlock them. For years, millions have struggled fruitlessly to attain this prize, knowing only that Halliday’s riddles are based in the pop culture he loved—that of the late twentieth century. And for years, millions have found in this quest another means of escape, retreating into happy, obsessive study of Halliday’s icons. Like many of his contemporaries, Wade is as comfortable debating the finer points of John Hughes’s oeuvre, playing Pac-Man, or reciting Devo lyrics as he is scrounging power to run his OASIS…

The Sioux Spaceman
Young Adult / September 22, 2017

Author: Andre Norton. Summary: Kade Whitehawk had two strikes against him in the Space Service. First, he had bungled his assignment on the planet Lodi. Second, he believed all creatures had a right to freedom and dignity – and having such opinions was strictly against the rules. But when he was assigned to Klor, he found the Ikkinni there – tortured yet defiant slaves of a vicious tyrant race. Right then Kade swung at the last pitch. For rules or no rules, THE SIOUX SPACEMAN knew that he had to help these strange creatures gain their freedom… and that he alone, because of his Indian blood, had the key to win it for them. (Published Summary) My Thoughts: I like Andre Norton, but this was definitely one of her meh stories. Ye normal humanoid aliens + fairly earthen-type planet, and a straight forward simplistic plot – maybe she felt like she had to spice it up a bit by playing around with the racial issues she did? I don’t know, but it seemed like an odd choice.

Waking Gods
Adult / September 20, 2017

Themis Files #2. Author: Sylvain Neuvel. Summary: As a child, Rose Franklin made an astonishing discovery: a giant metallic hand, buried deep within the earth. As an adult, she’s dedicated her brilliant scientific career to solving the mystery that began that fateful day: Why was a titanic robot of unknown origin buried in pieces around the world? Years of investigation have produced intriguing answers—and even more perplexing questions. But the truth is closer than ever before when a second robot, more massive than the first, materializes and lashes out with deadly force. Now humankind faces a nightmare invasion scenario made real, as more colossal machines touch down across the globe. But Rose and her team at the Earth Defense Corps refuse to surrender. They can turn the tide if they can unlock the last secrets of an advanced alien technology. The greatest weapon humanity wields is knowledge in a do-or-die battle to inherit the Earth . . . and maybe even the stars. (Published Summary) My Thoughts: Um… wow. That was quite the blood-drenched roller-coaster ride. And basically anything I could say about it is highly spoilerrific, given that the entire plot is one of tension and uncertainty and waiting…

The White Mountains
Young Adult / September 9, 2017

Tripods #1. Author: John Christopher. Summary: Long Ago, The Tripods — huge, three-legged machines — descended upon Earth and took control. People no longer understand automation nor machines, and unquestioningly accept the Tripods’ power.But for a time in each person’s life — in childhood — he is not a slave. Will still has time to escape. My Thoughts: The White Mountains is an older sci-fi that I’ve been meaning to get my hands on for a while now, and… well, I’m not sure what I was expecting, so it couldn’t disappoint expectations. No, that’s not quite true. It’s a simpler story than I expected. Simpler in a couple of ways. First: the first book is a very straight-forward dystopian journey. ​All revelations on the tripods are saved for the next book (which I haven’t read yet), and there’s minimum but satisfactory world-building and development of the mind-control theme. I think one recent trend I’ve grown unconsciously used to is the “save the world” dystopian story, and The White Mountains is far too practical for that. Three boys, trying to survive. That’s it. Not a bad thing at all, mind you; I rather like it, it just took me by surprise…