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review 2017-03-18 05:16
Worth the read
Starters - Lissa Price

I loved the idea behind this book. An interesting concept that makes for good reading for a novel that features dystopia themes. Although it’s not that much different from your usual themes (your usual plague ridden society, with the poor suffering, and the rich being..well rich) it was still worth a read and I rather enjoyed it. The world building and setting is well written and provides a good foundation for reading.

 

I can’t say I really like Callie though. Sure, who wouldn’t like to live the life of the Ender with all that luxury but she’s not that likable (and you just have those moments where you shake your head and think to yourself ‘really? REALLY? DID YOU JUST DO WHAT I THOUGHT YOU JUST DID?’) and Blake. I really don’t know what the appeal is with him. Sure Callie, he’s cute and all and he’s a lovely treat to look at. That’s ok right? Because poor Michael is back there at home with your suffering brother wondering where the heck you are. But that’s ok, you can walk all over Michael while you fawn over Blake like a lovesick cow.

 

I have no patience for that kind of stupidity. Really.


So aside from the characters that don’t really appeal to me, I still thought the book was worth the read.  It’s a good addition to one’s collection of dystopian fiction. Give it a try. I’ll be reading Enders (sequel to this) for sure just to see where the story ends up. (Also if my prediction ends up being correct..)

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review 2017-03-17 01:17
Version Control, by Dexter Palmer
Version Control: A Novel - Dexter Palmer

I'm seeing a theme in this year's Tournament of Books shortlist (or, I should say, those books whose samples appealed to me): genre-bending and concerns about identity. I like to think about the lines between or blurring genres, and I appreciate the lens of race or sexuality, both of which are commonly excluded from much genre fic.

 

Dexter Palmer's Version Control is speculative, but only just: its future is near, and there are certainly elements that are not at all far-fetched and therefore frightening: self-driving cars that can endanger passengers when, say, a firmware update has a glitch; data mining and what it could be used for; digital avatars, operating much like bot accounts on social media sites. There are also reminders for our own present, such as the real goals of online dating services--to keep you using (and paying) as long as possible, not successfully find a partner.

 

Palmer's novel is marketed as "time travel like you've never seen it before." I'll go ahead and preface my questions about and problems with the book by saying I'm easily confused by time travel narratives, no matter how well explained.

 

The book is structurally tight, with thematic echoes across points of view and timelines, of which there are two. The idea of "the best of all possible worlds" is central; when it's inevitably discovered that the device the protagonist's husband is working on is, well, working, despite a lack of scientific proof, the characters realize what we as readers learned about halfway through the book when details of their lives change (character x is dead instead of y; characters go--or don't go--by certain nicknames; character a cheats with character b rather than c, etc.): every time someone enters the "causation violation" chamber, a new timeline branches off.

 

Before the characters themselves are in the know, in the first timeline explored, the protagonist feels something's not right, but can't explain what. She's not alone; the phenomenon is experienced by others and has become a diagnosis. What I don't understand is why they have that sense of wrongness. I was also confused by Sean, the physicist and protagonist's son. Is his mural as his mother, Rebecca, sees it, or as Alicia sees (or doesn't see) it? Is he simply an artistic child suffering from loss?

 

Though thematically sound with some fresh explorations of gender and race in the hard sciences especially, Version Control didn't quite come together for me. I didn't particularly like or care about any of the characters; I'd say Carson was most interesting to me. The end was fairly predictable; I enjoyed the first half more. I have some stylistic quibbles that are just my bias, like chunks or pages of dialog, which reminded me of exposition in movies, and what felt like unnecessary section breaks. But I wanted to know what happened next, and the mystery of what was going on and why definitely kept me reading.

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review 2017-03-01 19:20
An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir
An Ember in the Ashes - Sabaa Tahir

4.5 stars. An enjoyable fantasy novel, easy reading. I preferred the warrior Elias to the somewhat gullible spy/slave Laia. Some great world-building, I could see this as a movie.

“The field of battle is my temple. The swordpoint is my priest. The dance of death is my prayer. The killing blow is my release.” - Elias Veturius

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review 2017-02-27 06:08
That was... something.
The Circle - Dave Eggers

Unfortunately, common sense does not always win out.

 

Don't get me wrong, this was a really enjoyable book and I read it rather quickly - in a weekend, basically. But it was creepy and terrifying and deeply unsettling. I'm not really sure what else I can say about it without diving off the depend into spoiler-land, and I don't really want to go there.

 

I do think that more people should read this book, especially before the movie comes out in April. It'll probably make a lot of people uncomfortable and squirmy, but it also makes an important point about our right to privacy.

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review 2017-02-27 01:49
The Heatstroke Line
The Heatstroke Line: A Cli-Fi Novel - Edward L Rubin

Dr. Daniel Danten is an entomologist in Mountain America.  In the future, climate change has hit hard and most of what was once the United States is now far too warm for humans to live and thrive in; they are below the heatstroke line.  Countries in the northern latitudes, such as Canada, are now in power are.  Dan studies one of the bugs that has become a major problem below the heatstroke line, biter bugs- giant insects that have evolved a taste for animal flesh, including humans. Until recently, Dan has been happy at his job that supports his wife, a food inspector, and three children.  Now, Dan feels the need to do some serious research into controlling the biter bugs instead of simply studying their evolution.  When he asks the government about this line of research, Dan is surprised at how quickly they agree.  However, when Dan is scheduled to travel to the Confederacies for his research, tragedy strikes.  Dan and his colleagues are kidnapped for his knowledge of the biter bugs and  Dan is forced to work on an alternate plan for the biter bugs in order to help the Confederacies. 

 
I have always been interested in books that deal with the very real and present issue of climate change.  The Heatstroke Line takes on this issue headfirst.  The world that Rubin has built after the climate has changed is realistic and interesting.  I was intrigued to explore the new world where the USA was no longer a world power due to wars over temperate and arable land; however humans persisted, maybe not in as high numbers, but persisted.  Among other important changes in the way people live, food production, cooling, and the change in landscape after the climate warmed, the evolution of insects was one of the main issues, and a dangerous one.  As an environmental scientist, this peaked my interest since human interaction with insects will definitely be an issue with climate change.  I enjoyed reading about Dr. Danten's studies and plans for the biter bugs; however, there was a lot of science, research and entomology included, which  might be heavy for some readers. The excitement did ramp up when Dan was kidnapped, conspiracy, political intrigue and survival were paired with the contrast of Dan's residence with a family in the Confederacies where he begins to care for their daughters.  Overall, a very interesting and science driven look at a possible future if our habits do not change. 
 
This book was received for free in return for an honest review. 
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