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Search tags: psi-powers
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review 2018-04-18 19:26
The School for Psychics
The School for Psychics - K. C. Archer

[I received a copy of this book through Netgalley.]

An enjoyable fast-read when it came to the ‘psychic powers’ theme. I really liked the premise: a young woman who’s been making questionable decisions, and gets a second chance in a school for people with psychic abilities, where they’re trained to protect and server… but a few people on the inside have different agendas, and it’s a constant game of trying to figure out what’s at stake, and if it’s going to be a bunch of revelations, or something much more lethal. The powers the students have are varied, ranging from precognition to telepathy and even pyrokinesis, and I liked how the novel tried to bring a scientific approach to it: after all, they’re training people who’re going to end up working for the FBI or NSA.

The first scene also engaged me from the beginning, what’s with Teddy being banned from Las Vegas casinos, but still sneaking into one, disguised as a different woman, to hopefully win the money she owes a Russian crime boss, because otherwise her own parents will be targeted. Well, OK, nevermind that she should never have let things go that far, all the more if she’s so good at reading people at the poker table, but ‘questionable decisions’ being a key here, alright, I can go with that.

On the other hand, I never really got a good feeling for Teddy, or for the other characters. Some of them had a sort of ‘larger than life’ vibe, with their quirks (the animal medium who likes doing yoga naked, the ex-cop who’s a charmer and can literally set things on fire, the hacker who’s also an empath…); but they remained fairly one-dimensional. Teddy barely thought of her family except in the beginning, we know nothing of the others except for a couple of things like ‘his family’s rich and he has a boat’, and so when the story took a more action/heist-oriented turn, it was hard to root for them.

The other thing I didn’t like—and which contributed to my not enjoying the sotry as much as I hoped—was the globally juvenile aspects. These people are 20-something (Teddy’s 24, and Pyro must be at least 25 considering he served in the police for some time, and I doubt you just start there at 15 or so), but the whole Whitfield academy had a strong high school feeling, and I constantly thought I was reading a YA novel when in fact it was marketed as geared towards adult, with adult characters. I don’t mind YA in general, even though I have my gripes about a lot of books; I don’t think that ‘because it’s YA, it’s necessarily stupid and uninteresting.’ This said, the aforementioned gripes involve a certain number of tropes that I find cringe-worthy, such as the mandatory romance and love triangle, the professor who immediately favours certain students and begrudges the heroine and her friends, or the whole ‘school stars vs. misfits’ aspect. And those tropes were clearly present here, to the point of making me forget that those characters were, uh, two years from going to work for the FBI? Suspension of disbelief was then shattered every time forensics or the shooting range was mentioned; it’s like the story couldn’t make up his mind about whether it was meant to be about teenagers or about adult people.

Not sure if I’ll be interested in the sequel.

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review 2018-04-11 18:46
Girl Harry Potter in Nigeria
Akata Witch - Nnedi Okorafor

Sunny is an outcast. Albino, returned from living overseas, ahead of her older classmates academically, and forced to live with the limitations of staying out of the sun, she has many challenges holding her down. When new friends introduce her to the magical world she was born to power in, she discovers that her flaws fuel her greatest strengths and she is absolutely necessary.

 

I loved this. The writing style is clear, direct, and seamless. The world-building is flawless and fascinating - I don't have any particular familiarity with Nigeria, but was able to understand everything I needed to just through context. The plot is unusual in that it doesn't seem to build in a steady arc toward the dramatic finale, but rather spends much of its runtime in letting its characters explore the limits of their newly expanded, magical world, and yet at no point was I bored or distracted.

 

I loved the way it treated the teen protagonists with respect; they were challenged to high standards, punished for failures and disobedience, and allowed to take risks for a worthy cause. There are good and not-so-good parental figures. The magic system was fascinating, believable (as far as these things go) and richly detailed. Loved the way knowledge was literally wealth, and the nuance it gave to abuses of power, morality/ethics, and navigating an uncertain, adult world -- there was a lot of scope to explore big ideas without putting them in boxes. Can't wait to read the sequel, and I'm ordering all her backlist to marathon as well.

 

The only trouble with books like this is that whatever I read next seems dull in comparison!

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review 2018-04-02 19:58
Wild Card
Jim Butcher's The Dresden Files: Wild Card - Mark Powers,Jim Butcher

[I received a copy of this book through Netgalley.]

I put up reading that one, thinking it’d spoil me too much about some of the Dreaden Files books I haven’t read yet, but, uhm, turned out it didn’t. Or maybe I’ve ‘forgotten’ just enough details from the books that whatever may have been a spoiler, I just didn’t realise it? Oh well. Good thing in any case.

Globally an entertaining story, with high stakes of the kind you’d find in one of the novels, and a plan coming from a devious enemy who’s clearly understood how to pit people against each other. Because, as silly as it may sound, sometimes the people in charge do act in what appears to be the non-smart way just not to lose face—as much as I find it non-rational, previous plots in the Dresden Files have seen the tension mount enough for this to be believable. This was helped by pretty dynamic fight/action scenes. Also, bonus point for little Karrin and her dad.

On the downside:
- As usual with a lot of comics, I could do without the sexualised-woman-poses, many of which looked definitely weird (you know, those ‘let’s strike a sexy pose while wielding heavy weapons, it’s not as if I need my balance for that’ poses). Just like that scene in the hospital, where a character’s wounds are listed, but when you see said character in bed, well… That didn’t look like such a beaten up and bruised body to me.
- That ending. WTF? In a way, it made sense, but it was so totally anti-climatic that I kept looking to see if I hadn’t missed a few more pages in the book.

So, yes… Something like 2.5 stars, because mostly it kept me entertained, right until that odd ending?

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review 2018-03-28 17:02
Classic short stories from a giant of golden age SF
His Share of Glory: The Complete Short Science Fiction of C. M. Kornbluth - C.M. Kornbluth,Timothy P. Szczesuil,Richard Powers

Despite his death at a tragically young age, Cyril M. Kornbluth was one of the greats from the “golden” age of science fiction.  One of the members of the “Futurians” fan club of the 1930s (a group that counted Frederick Pohl, Isaac Asimov, and Damon Knight among its members), he went on to co-author the classic novel The Space Merchants and write a number of short stories that are classics of the genre.  These stories have been brought together in this collection, from his earliest work to such classics as “The Mindworm” and “The Marching Morons” (a sure influence on Mike Judge’s more gentle take on a similar premise in Idiocracy).  This is a must-have collection for fans of golden age science fiction, one that captures the wonder of the works of the era.

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review 2018-03-22 15:05
Wanted more
Powers #1 - Michael Avon Oeming,Brian Michael Bendis

Maybe it's because I've seen the first series of the show, but I wanted more to go on.   This was all setup, and in my opinion didn't set up nearly enough for what this was. 

 

I just didn't really connect with it, so not sure if I'll continue. 

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