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review 2018-11-10 00:44
It would be hard to sit in a chair if your legs faced backwards
Only Human - Sylvain Neuvel

Believe it or not, this is my second time writing this particular post. The first one which was ready for publishing was accidentally deleted in its entirety by yours truly. Well, I guess after this many years I was due a massively huge screw up. IT WAS SUCH A LONG POST, GUYS. I'm afraid this is going to be missing some essential points as a consequence but I'll do my best to recreate what I hardly recall writing (even though it was earlier this week).

 

Today I'm going to be reviewing Only Human which is the third and final book in The Themis Files trilogy by Sylvain Neuvel. If you've forgotten (or never knew in the first place) this series began with Dr. Rose Franklin who found a giant robot hand when she was a little girl and from that moment a series of events led to a giant robot (definitely of alien origins) being pieced together. Things spiraled out of control pretty quickly after that especially once other governments outside of the U.S. discovered that this behemoth could be piloted and used as a weapon. Moreover, raising this robot from the depths of the earth alerted the alien race which left it here and prompted their return to reclaim their property with mass genocide being the result. Cut to Only Human which opens years after the conclusion of Waking Gods with 2 pilots inside huge robots killing civilians in a war being waged between the U.S. and Russia while thousands of others are being held in interment camps because of impure bloodlines (sound familiar?). (This is where the dystopian tag on this post comes in by the way.) Meanwhile on a distant planet called Ekt, Rose and her team (Vincent, Eva, & the General) are trying to acclimate/come up with an escape plan back to earth. They are essentially refugees on this world which is wildly different from anything they've ever known. The parts where Neuvel focused on describing the planet, its people, and their customs were by far my favorites of this book, ya'll. So original and engrossing. The most distinguishing factor of the Ekt (besides their backwards facing legs) is that they have a strict policy of governmental non-interference which forbids them from any further action against or for the people of planet earth (even though they were the cause of its current state of awful). This is sci-fi political angst at its finest. 

 

If I had to rank the books in this series it would be 1, 3, and then 2. A lot of the magic from the first book came from the total originality of the plotline and Neuvel's descriptive capabilities. A lot of that was lost in the second book which in my opinion was super dry. He got a lot of that oomph back with this book though. Taken as a whole, it's an excellent series and I wouldn't say no to checking out more of his work in the future. 7/10 for Only Human.

 

[A/N: To catch up with the first two books check out my posts on Sleeping Giants and Waking Gods.] 

 

What's Up Next: Founding Mothers: The Women Who Raised Our Nation by Cokie Roberts

 

What I'm Currently Reading: Space Dumplins by Craig Thompson

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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review 2018-11-09 21:49
This Cruel Design by Emily Suvada...Book #2 in This Mortal Coil Series.
This Cruel Design - Emily Suvada

๏ ๏ ๏  Book Blurb ๏ ๏ ๏

 

*Do Not Read if you haven't read This Mortal Coil (Book 1) **My review is safe to read, though.

 

The nightmare of the outbreak is finally over, but Cat’s fight has only just begun.

Exhausted, wounded, and reeling from revelations that have shaken her to her core, Cat is at a breaking point. Camped in the woods with Cole and Leoben, she’s working day and night, desperate to find a way to stop Lachlan’s plan to reprogram humanity. But she’s failing—Cat can’t even control her newly regrown panel, and try as she might ignore them, she keeps seeing glitching visions from her past everywhere she turns.

When news arrives that the Hydra virus might not be as dead as they’d thought, the group is pushed into an uneasy alliance with Cartaxus to hunt down Lachlan and fix the vaccine. Their search takes them to Entropia, a city of gene-hackers hidden deep in the desert that could also hold the answers about Cat’s past that she’s been searching for.

But when confronted with lies and betrayals, Cat is forced to question everything she knows and everyone she trusts. And while Lachlan is always two steps ahead, the biggest threat to Cat may be the secrets buried in her own mind.

 

 
 
 
 

๏ ๏ ๏  My Review ๏ ๏ ๏ 

 
I seriously loved the first book in this series...and I almost, but not quite, loved the second book, too.  When I wrote about This Mortal Coil, I said this was completely comprehensible and seriously compelling story, especially for a book involving gene hacking, splicing, decoding and lots of technical terms and such.  I wish I could say that this book was the same for me...and it almost was, I just got a little lost in the beginning (and maybe, a little throughout)...but, eventually things started clicking for me.  The storyline goes in a direction that I didn't see coming at all and the end is kind of mind-blowing.  Almost literally, so.  All I can say is, I'm not looking forward to the wait for the third book. 

๏ ๏ ๏  MY RATING ๏ ๏ ๏ 

 

☆4.5☆STARS - GRADE=A-

 
 
 
 

๏ Breakdown of Ratings ๏ 

 

Plot⇝ 4.3/5
Main Characters⇝ 5/5
Secondary Characters⇝ 4.5/5 
The Feels⇝ 4.5/5
Pacing⇝ 4.5/5
Addictiveness⇝ 4.2/5
Theme or Tone⇝ 5/5
Flow (Writing Style)⇝ 4/5
Backdrop (World Building)⇝ 5/5
Originality⇝ 5/5
Ending⇝ 4.8/5 Cliffhanger⇝ Most definitely...
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Book Cover⇝ Explosive...
Narration⇝ ☆4.5☆ for Skye Bennett, her voice feels right for Cat.
Series⇝ This Mortal Coil #2
Setting⇝ A Futuristic United States
Source⇝ Audiobook (Library)
Goodreads
Amazon
Booklikes
 

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review 2018-10-29 02:23
Human and Freakn'
Human and Freakn' - Eve Langlais

Ruth's sister is kidnapped and worried about her, unable to just sit at home and wait for news, she flies out to search for her. Kendrick and Joel, best friends, are part of the shifter search crew. Expectantly, they realize Ruth is both their mates. But she's human!
While at first Kendrick was a mean asshole to Ruth, he eventually explained why and made it up to her. I didn't like Ruth's fixation on her size, and the boys, for what it's worth, did notice it, but it wasn't an issue for them. This, of course, lead to a misunderstanding at the end that needed to be remedied.
This ends in a cliffhanger 

Stu gets arrested

(spoiler show)

 setting up book 6. Book 5 is Ruth's sister's story. I'm going right into Ruth's story (although I'm pretty sure I'm going to have issues with it).

Halloween Bingo- Shifter square

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review 2018-10-28 19:53
"We were all Dark Stars, but Luc...he was the darkest..."
The Darkest Star - Jennifer L. Armentrout

 

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

~BOOK BLURB~

The Darkest Star

Jennifer L Armentrout

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When seventeen-year-old Evie Dasher is caught up in a raid at a notorious club known as one of the few places where humans and the surviving Luxen can mingle freely, she meets Luc, an unnaturally beautiful guy she initially assumes is a Luxen...but he is, in fact, something much more powerful. Her growing attraction for Luc will lead her deeper and deeper into a world she'd only heard about, a world where everything she thought she knew will be turned on its head...

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

~MY QUICKIE REVIEW~

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

I do love when the title of the book is subtly worked into the story, as it is in the above quote.   I so went into this wanting to love it, but it just wasn't happening.  The first half of this book was a struggle to get through…by far, there is too much silly high school drama.  I don't remember the Lux Series being this childish, I actually really liked it.  It was overwhelmingly disappointing for me.

 

With the second half, the story slowly improved little by little…once JLA stopped being so evasive and actually started giving us something plot-wise, anyway.  She was so evasive that I found myself wishing I could remember more about the Lux Series, especially the final book, just so I might know wtf was up.

 

By the ending, it finally felt like something intriguing was being hinted at…unfortunately, I don't know if that hint will be enough for me to continue the series.  Maybe, if I wait for the Audio, it will be doable???  I was looking at other reviews for this…and it seems most people loved it…so it's possible I'm in the minority here.

 

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~MY RATING~

2.7STARS - GRADE=C-

๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏

 

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

~BREAKDOWN OF RATINGS~

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Plot~ 2.8/5

Main Characters~ 2.7/5

Secondary Characters~ 2.5/5

The Feels~ 2/5

Pacing~ 2.5/5

Addictiveness~2.7/5

Theme or Tone~ 2.7/5

Flow (Writing Style)~ 2.3/5

Backdrop (World Building)~ 2.5/5

Originality~ 3/5

Ending~ 3.2/5 Cliffhanger~ "to be continued"

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Book Cover~ It's Starry…

Series~ Origin #1

Setting~ Columbia, Maryland

Source~ I received an ARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

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review 2018-10-15 18:48
Guns, Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond
Guns, Germs and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies - Jared Diamond

This is an interesting and influential book that in its broad conclusions makes a lot of sense, though I have doubts about Diamond’s reasoning on some of his smaller points. It’s longer than it needs to be, but largely because it is thorough and takes the time to break down academic subjects to be accessible to intelligent but non-specialist readers.

First published in 1997, this book sets out to explain why Europe was able to colonize such a large part of the world in the last few centuries. Europeans’ possession of “guns, germs and steel” was an immediate cause, but why did they have these things when people on many other continents did not? Diamond’s answer comes down to the environment in different parts of the world. In essence, all of these advantages come down to agriculture. In a hunter-gatherer society, population is kept relatively small, people have to focus on acquiring food, and (unless they live in an especially bountiful area), small groups typically need to move from place to place, such that they can’t have too many belongings, especially if they have no domestic animals to carry them. A society built on farming, however, tends to be much more populous, can support a class of people who do something other than farm (an elite class of nobles, but also specialized trades), and can accumulate belongings, which makes developing new technology more worthwhile. So, parts of the world that had a head start on farming also had a head start on developing technology, such as metallurgy.

Meanwhile, European germs played probably the most decisive role in their conquest of the Americas, as well as some other parts of the world; given the size of the native population (an early European visitor to the east coast of the modern U.S. wrote that there didn’t really seem to be room for colonies because the area was so heavily populated) and the difficulty of getting even small numbers of people across the ocean on wooden ships, one can imagine that this could have turned out much more like the English conquest of India, or might not have happened at all, if not for the epidemics that killed some 90% of the population. Why were the Europeans the ones with the germs? Well, human epidemics have come from domestic animals (think swine flu and avian flu today), and epidemics need a large population to stay alive; otherwise they will simply kill everyone they can kill and then die out with no new hosts. Therefore, epidemics evolved in places where people lived in close quarters with domestic animals, and stuck around in populations large enough to produce a new crop of children before the epidemic died out (this is why diseases like measles were once considered “childhood diseases” – not because children were more susceptible, but because the diseases were so prevalent that children would almost inevitably catch them before growing up). Both individuals and populations exposed to these germs would eventually develop immunity if they survived.

But the opportunity to domesticate animals wasn’t spread evenly around the world. Asia and Europe (referred to throughout the book as “Eurasia” since it’s really one landmass, considered two continents for political rather than geographic reasons) had lots of options, including horses, cows, water buffalo, sheep, pigs, and goats. As far as domesticable large mammals go, the Americas had only the llama (which didn’t spread beyond the Andes), while sub-Saharan Africa had none. It isn’t that people didn’t try – people will keep almost anything as a pet – but numerous factors influence whether a large mammal is a good candidate for domestication. It needs to live in herds, to tolerate its own herd’s territory overlapping with others (or you’d never be able to bring in a new cow that wasn’t related to your current cows), to not be overly or unpredictably aggressive toward humans (this is why the zebra has never worked out), to not panic, bolt and throw itself against the fence until it dies, and more. Eurasia had a couple of major advantages here. Being the largest landmass, it had the most animal diversity. And, as modern humans evolved in Africa and Eurasia, animals evolved alongside them, presumably learning how to deal with human hunters’ increasing skills; on the other hand, most large mammals went extinct in the Americas and Australia shortly after people arrived.

With agriculture, too, Eurasia had an advantage, causing it to kick off there early. Again, there was a greater diversity of plants, only some of which make sense to domesticate and begin to grow. The Fertile Crescent (roughly modern-day Iraq and Turkey), perhaps the first site of agriculture in the world, had it particularly easy: wheat already existed in a form quite similar to its modern equivalent, and grew bountifully, so the idea of taking it home and growing it wasn’t much of a leap. On the other hand, with corn – a staple crop of Mexico and eventually the eastern U.S. – there isn’t even agreement on what the wild ancestor was; the plant that might have been the original corn produced husks only about an inch long with tiny kernels and other disadvantages. People had to work on it for a really long time before it became a suitable staple crop for large swathes of the continent.

And then too, you wouldn’t switch from hunting and gathering to farming for just one crop. While hunting and gathering seems like a precarious lifestyle to us, it can actually be better than subsistence farming. Farmers worked harder – which makes sense, since they had to nurture their food every step of the way rather than simply finding it and bringing it home – and based on their skeletons, early farmers’ nutrition was worse than that of hunter-gatherers. So it’s the total package that counts; in areas that provided a nutritionally-balanced diet of domesticable plants, plus domesticable animals to supplement that diet and also provide labor and fertilizer, farming made a lot more sense than it did in areas without such a bounty. Essentially, the sort of lifestyle people had depended on the food options available, and some places supported agriculture much more than others. Nobody’s building a densely-populated empire from a desert like the Australian outback.

There is a lot more to the book of course, but I think it’s the central thesis that’s the most convincing. Many of Diamond’s other points – ancillary to his main argument – don’t work so well. For instance, he’s very interested in how a Spanish force of about 150 managed to defeat and capture the Inca emperor Atahualpa, who was supported by thousands of troops. Certainly the Spanish weaponry played a decisive role, particularly since it was the first time the Inca had encountered guns or cavalry. But Diamond claims that we know well what happened based on the (likely self-serving) accounts of several Spaniards, without apparently realizing that the Inca would probably have told a different story, and then makes a big deal of the fact the Inca lacked writing, arguing this is why they weren’t aware of prior Spanish conquests in Central America and therefore walked into a trap. But this ignores the fact that people who can’t depend on storing information in written form tend to have far better memorization skills than people who write everything down (Homer was not unusual in being able to recite epic poems from memory), and the fact that “they’re going to try to kill you with terrible weapons” is a simple message that could certainly have been transmitted intact had the Inca had envoys in Central America, all while assuming that Atahualpa didn’t know it was a trap. Without contemporary Inca sources, we have no idea whether perhaps he did know, but being new to the throne of an empire destabilized by epidemics, had to go anyway or risk looking weak to his subjects and promptly being overthrown.

There’s some other questionable reasoning here: that it makes sense that the wheel, while invented in Mexico, wasn’t actually used for transportation because there were no animals capable of pulling carts. (So what? People too can transport far more weight on wheels than they can carry.) That New Guineans are probably smarter than Europeans because their society has a higher homicide rate. (A society with lots of murder and warfare would select for strength, skill with weapons, and ability to maintain strong social ties far more than it would select for abstract, creative, or analytical thinking. Plus, an anthropological study of a New Guinea tribe found that those typically targeted for murder were the elderly, who would have already passed on their genes regardless.) And the 2003 epilogue, attempting to apply principles of societal development to how corporations should organize themselves to best promote innovation – apparently inspired by business leaders writing to Diamond about the book – even if true, has nothing to do with the contents of this already-long book.

Obviously there’s a lot to chew on here, hence the long review. I do think the book is worth reading, though it’s unfortunate that Diamond doesn’t cite sources for individual facts, and only includes generalized “further reading” lists. The book has some repetition that makes it a little longer than it needs to be, but overall I think it does a sound job of explaining some of the broad strokes of human history.

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