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review 2019-12-28 08:39
The Deep Beneath
The Deep Beneath - Natalie Wright

How unlucky can a bunch of teenagers be?

While they were just minding their own business on some military training ground, they first encounter some rapist, then H.A.L.F 9 and to top that they are finally held at gunpoint by the military. Just another weekend I guess.

This was one of these books were a lot happens, but nothing is really worked out well, and it all feels a little bit flat. For me the most interesting part was the interaction between H.A.L.F. 9 and 10, with their different upbringings and conflicting principles. I hope to see more of that in the next novel.

Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!

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review 2019-01-20 16:15
Audio Book Review: H.A.L.F. Origins by Natalie Wright
H.A.L.F.: ORIGINS - Natalie Wright H.A.L.F.: ORIGINS - Natalie Wright

*I was given this free review copy audiobook at my request and have voluntarily left this review.

We pick up where the second book, The Makers, ended with our characters. They are all still separate in a work of turmoil as a few major cities on Earth are attacked by a deadly alien. Erika, Jack, Ian, Tex, and Alecto learn what they must do to save the world.

Dylan voices the story with different feelings in his voice for the characters, even different tones for our characters. One thing that I struggled with though, the audio sounded as though there was an object that moved in front and away from the microphone, blocking it and sounding muffled from time to time. I always wonder if it's my iPod or if it's the actual audio when I hear these things. There is one small section that's repeated, missed in editing. But these are small if you are looking to listen to the ending of the series.

Everyone's in tough spots. They've all done things they aren't proud of, and still doing those things to survive. There are attacks in Europe - London and Paris - putting the area in darkness. The attack on Earth has started. The world feels to be falling apart and Tex, Erika, Jack, and others feel to be the glue to bring it all together and save the world.

We get a few POVs that tell us what is happening as information is gathered from different directions. We stay with our friends, all in different areas as they fight to survive. Erika, Jack, and Tex. We also get to see through William Croft's eyes. He's one of The Makers and has insight to what was created to save them when the attacks started. Ian wasn't as much a main character in this book as he was in the past. And we got a point of view for the captain of the M'Uktah who have invaded the Earth.

Our friends learn much about themselves as they age in feelings and mind through this book. They live through terrible tragedies and have to do things to survive they don't want to do, like kill. But through this they see things are changing, and so are they. They even find loves in their lives they never thought they'd find, and worry about what their dear friends would think.

The M'Uktah we see here learns much about his world and what was to happen to him based on those who were around him. I thought at the end that there's possibly more to the story with M'Uktah and on their world. But things care cleared up here on Earth for everyone.

We see Tex and our friends figure out what to do with the M'Uktah along with what happens to the The Makers organization that had plans in place for when the M'Uktah arrived. This was the reason all of this started, with Tex and Alecto, bring the story full circle for the reason Tex and Alecto and the underground city were created.

Tex grows as a person as well. He makes some huge discoveries but also learns what it's like to be a teenage boy in love. He has some huge decisions to make. Alecto struggles a little with not being commanded by Lillian Sturgis. Alecto feels she was created to take and follow commands, so this is something she needs to learn to work through, and become an individual.

The title of the book is true to the story. Origins. We learn where the human race along with others came from. This is a journey that Tex needs to make to figure out how to save the people he's come to care deeply about. In doing so, he learns of the origin of his people along with humans and other races in the universe. This is where the story stretched further than just aliens in science fiction fantasy.

There are lines in the story that feel as though they were lines the author wanted to use like others have. These lines are ones that feel to be said in about every other book. I would have loved these to be written differently. All I do and will do are for you, where one ended and the other began - in a love scene, emotions run high, they are a matched pair, she fits perfectly to him. Ugh. Put these in different words. It would have felt to have fit the writing style better for me if the author reworded these sayings.

These small sayings aside, the book came to a conclusion for the series. It all comes together as things tie up.

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review 2017-08-24 00:00
H.A.L.F.: ORIGINS - Natalie Wright H.A.L.F.: ORIGINS - Natalie Wright Natalie Wright’s H.A.L.F. Origins, the conclusion to the H.A.L.F. series, will delight her faithful audience. The series, which is aimed at young adults, skillfully mixes science fiction, politics, and heart.  The trio’s journey, which took them all briefly along different paths, has brought them back together again. Humanity’s existence as something more than foodstuff depends on more than just the three of them, though. It rests mainly on the shoulders of H.A.L.F. 9, and he’s going through some changes of his own in this book.

I have mixed feelings about almost every character in this series besides Erika and Jack. And, for the most part, that’s a very good thing. If you want to read a book where the good guys are undoubtedly good guys, this is not the series for you. Almost all of the characters end up doing things that are repugnant, but they’re doing them for the right (or at least understandable) reasons. I think this is where Wright’s strength lies. Though I do wish the romance angle would have been tamped down a bit in this third book.

H.A.L.F Origins has us witnessing the final play for humanity. In the previous books, it was a fight for survival on a personal level. This time, it’s very much more than that. Not everyone is going to make it out of this unscathed, whether it’s on a physical or an emotional level. And most of the weight rests upon the shoulders of two alien-human hybrids who have no real reason to try to save the world.

This book feels like a much quicker read than it actually is. I had no trouble immediately immersing myself in it, but I was also a little disappointed by it. H.A.L.F. Origins feels like it skimmed the surface of what was happening. Part of that is to be expected as young adult novels tend not to show things quite as harshly as adult novels do. Not that she slacked on the violence, mind you! There is plenty of action, confrontations, and growing up to be found in H.A.L.F. Origins.

I won’t lie, H.A.L.F. Origins didn’t really do it for me. I definitely liked it more than I liked book two, but… Well, there’s a reason I tend to not read trilogies, and this is a perfect example of that. It’s not that I don’t think Natalie Wright is a good writer, because I do. Objectively, she is able to craft a story that appeals to its intended age range. She has characters that appeal to a wide range of readers and that aren’t cardboard cutouts. I just didn’t care. My interest blazed in book one, dwindled to sparks in the second book, and made a valiant effort that amounted to a mediocre flare in the third book.

I did like the ending of H.A.L.F. Origins, though. The direction Natalie Wright went in for one of the primary characters had me expecting a typical ‘rise from the ashes’ type situation. But she defied my expectations and instead gave me something that was a bit more hit-in-the-feels. The book ended on a bit of a melancholy note, and I thought that was a perfect choice. I also liked the story line with the Vree. It definitely went in an unexpected direction. It was these two things that ended up bumping H.A.L.F. Origins up to a 4 star rating for me.

I would love to see the author let her talents out to play on something a bit darker and for adults. I have a feeling she could turn out some really interesting work for older readers as well! Still, for what it is, the H.A.L.F. series is well-written and I think teens and young adults will enjoy it.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the author for review consideration.
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review 2017-08-19 00:00
H.A.L.F.: The Makers
H.A.L.F.: The Makers - Natalie Wright H.A.L.F.: The Makers - Natalie Wright Even though I really liked The Deep Beneath, I ran out of steam on The Makers about halfway through. It’s not that it was a bad book (it really isn’t), but it does suffer from a little bit of sequel-itis. I did finish the book, but it was a conscious effort on my part to do so, rather than any particular drive to continue the story. Now, keep in mind though, I’m an atypical case because I don’t really like reading series. I prefer to stop at the first book 90% of the time, and it takes (generally) a lot of sarcasm, action, and monsters to keep me reading. Given the nature of The Makers, it only hit about, pardon the pun, half the marks for me to stay interested.

The Makers splits its time between two of the main characters from The Deep Beneath. They’re in entirely different, albeit both very deadly, situations. Jack’s situation is fairly straightforward action-thriller. Erika’s is the one that stays decidedly in the sci-fi zone. I never thought that I would actually change my view on some of the characters from the first book, but I definitely did. My views on Jack and Ian changed rather drastically, as they did for one other person that played a pivotal role in the first book. I mean, don’t get me wrong, that person is still a Grade A douche bag, but, considering the circumstances… Well, let’s just say that I can respect what they’re trying to do even while I still want to slap them silly.

In regards to the alien’s weakness from the first book, I was definitely caught off guard by a revelation in The Makers. It does make me want to read the third book just to see exactly how she’s going to tie the two things together. Because right now it doesn’t really seem to make a lot of sense.

And, of course, there’s the true threat referenced in the synopsis. I’m not sure how I feel about this particular threat. I will say that I appreciate the idea of the krindor, though! I would love to see an illustration of this particular threat in action. The author has a solid imagination and even though I’m not exactly on the edge of my seat, I can still admit to liking the sandbox she’s created so far.
The pacing in The Makers was a bit better than in the first. The dialogue, descriptions, etc, are all consistently well-done. There were a few lines in here that I particularly appreciated for the truths that they were. (Especially the one about looking like a model and acting with balls of steel.)

Hopefully the third book, H.A.L.F. Origins, finishes everything off in a satisfying manner. We shall see!

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the author for review consideration.
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review 2017-08-06 00:00
H.A.L.F.: The Deep Beneath (H.A.L.F. #1)
H.A.L.F.: The Deep Beneath (H.A.L.F. #1) - Natalie Wright The Deep Beneath was a well-written young adult science fiction novel. It introduces us to the characters we will follow throughout the next two books. Natalie Wright does a good job of keeping it at a young adult level, but not pandering to the hormonal crowd too much. Yes, there is a little bit of a romance mentioned, but as the novel is almost immediately a fight for survival, it's not much of a problem.

Ian, Jack, and Erika are a likable bunch, and feel like 'real' friends. They're not all buddy-buddy on every single aspect of what they do. They ram heads frequently over things. Erika is not treated with any particular deference because she's a girl. (It probably helps that the gorgeous one of the bunch is gay.) H.A.L.F. 9 is an interesting character in his own right. I liked watching him interact with the trio. I think the author made the right decision in not having them click instantly, nor having everyone be super accepting of the situation. Again, it was one of those things that made it feel a bit more realistic than it otherwise might have.

The rest of the characters are almost entirely dislikable. Especially the person in control of the base. It's rare that a character in a book makes me want to punch them so quickly, but that's exactly how I felt within pages. 

I love the take that Natalie Wright has on aliens and how certain elements of our world might affect them. I haven't read it anywhere else. It's such an interesting concept that it remains one of my favorite aspects of the books. A fairly simple thing, but so effective.

The pacing feels a bit slow, but steady. The dialogue is believable. The setting is extremely effective in The Deep Beneath. There's just something about the desert that makes it feel like the perfect setting for something otherworldly to happen.

This is definitely my favorite of the first two books in the H.A.L.F trilogy. Natalie Wright is a talented science fiction author and she does a great job of doing a young adult book that isn't all focused on the hormones. (It probably helps that almost immediately they were all fighting for survival, but still.) The end of the novel definitely sets up for the rest of the trilogy, but at the same time, you could stop at one and still feel like you got a complete story.

The Deep Beneath makes you wonder: How would you react if you encountered someone like H.A.L.F. 9? Would you do the right thing, would you be afraid of him, would you run? What? I guess no one really know how they're going to react to something until they experience it.

Disclaimer: I received a copy from the author for review consideration.
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