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Review – Mad Science Institute July 8, 2012

Posted by thehypermonkey in 3 stars, Sci-Fi, Young Adult.
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Title: Mad Science Institute

Author: Sechin Tower

Publisher: Siege Tower Entertainment

Publication Date: December 9, 2011

ASIN: B006KGNKMS

Available at: AmazonBarnes and Noble

From Goodreads:

Sophia “Soap” Lazarcheck is a girl genius with a knack for making robots-and for making robots explode. After her talents earn her admission into a secretive university institute, she is swiftly drawn into a conspiracy more than a century in the making. Meanwhile and without her knowledge, her cousin Dean wages a two-fisted war of vengeance against a villainous genius and his unwashed minions.

Separately, the cousins must pit themselves against murderous thugs, experimental weaponry, lizard monsters, and a nefarious doomsday device. When their paths finally meet up, they will need to risk everything to prevent a mysterious technology from bringing civilization to a sudden and very messy end.

Review*:

While this book is well-written, I had several problems with it. The heroine “Soap” was unreasonably naive. She receives ten thousand dollars in cash for a job and believes it to be a student job. I have a hard time believing even a naive girl genius would think that. She was not only extremely naive, she was also very awkward and immature.

I had less of a problem with Dean. Although I did find it hard to swallow that he’d propose to an ex-girlfriend of his that he hadn’t seen in what I thought was years. I was able to suspend belief enough to grasp that their relationship was strange enough for them to become engaged after such a long hiatus though and carry on. He becomes motivated to become the dean of Mad Science Institute even though he doesn’t have  a college degree. Once more I had to suspend belief to swallow that. I had to suspend belief many times in this book.

The villains are a corny unwashed biker gang. They were all of enormous size and of minuscule brain power.  I found it too stereotypical and cliched for words.  The main antagonist was the most stereotypical of all, but maybe that was part of the book’s appeal. The ultimate crime fighting, world saving good guy versus bad guy.

For all that the book still had its interesting twists and turns. The plot moved along at a nice clip. There was a Batman and Robin feel to it that you couldn’t mistake. Once you suspended belief, got past the flaws, and took the book for what it was, it was a light-hearted, entertaining read.

*I received a free copy of this book for an honest review.

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Review – Legend June 27, 2012

Posted by thehypermonkey in 3.5 stars, Sci-Fi, Young Adult.
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Title: Legend

Author: Marie Lu

Publisher: Putnam Juvenille

Publish date: November 29, 2011

ISBN-10: 039925675X

Available at: AmazonBarnes and Noble

Summary:

June is a military prodigy. Day is the Republic of America’s most wanted Criminal. They have nothing in common but their worlds will collide when Day murders June’s brother. June will be tasked with hunting Day down.

Review:

In the beginning of this book I had a lot of unanswered questions. The book takes place in Los Angeles so which lake are they near? How is Los Angeles sectioned into sectors? Who and what are the Colonies that the Republic have been at war with so long? None of my questions were ever answered but they didn’t become very important after awhile as the story evolved.

The novel is written in alternating perspectives between Day and June. It could be confusing, but it works. You’re given glimpses into two very disparaging worlds. The elite and the very poor. I still didn’t get a very good grasp of the world, but I was sufficiently gripped by the characters to keep reading.

Day is able to scale buildings in a matter of seconds. June is able to do likewise. They play a very intriguing cat and mouse game that held me breathless. There were a lot of twists in the plot. Enough to keep you guessing.

Day is motivated to find plague medicine for his family. June is determined to find her only brother’s killer, the only family she had left. They’re both extremely sympathetic characters which made it hard to cheer on just one person in the chase.

Even though the world building is lacking, the character development makes up for it. It’s still a worthwhile read.

Review – Drayling June 6, 2012

Posted by thehypermonkey in 3 stars, Sci-Fi.
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Title: Drayling

Author: Terry J. Newman

Genre: Science Fiction

Publisher: Indepenpress Publishing

Publish Date: March 2011 (first edition)

ISBN-10: 1907499911

Available at: Amazon Barnes and Noble

From Amazon:

Twenty-fifth century Drayling, and Britain as a whole, has benefited greatly from advances in technology and medical science, and life in the Graves’ household, and in those of their friends and colleagues, is secure, clear and very content. The desire and need for clarity, truth and order has motivated communities to live in harmony, abandoning any potentially controversial aspects or ways of life, including all religions, in favour of a modern civilised society that upholds order, simplicity, honesty, love and honour as its ideals.

Review:

We find ourselves peeking into the lives of Uri, the Local Historian, and his son Marius. They rebel against changes their government institute against their community, Drayling. Specifically, a name change. They find that the motives behind the name changes shake the basic values they have for the society they hold dear.

While we hear a lot about the society of Drayling and their country, the BFF I didn’t get any sense or picture of the community or culture.  While there are word usages such as “thence” and “whilst”, high technology is in place giving you a sense of confusion over the lack of detail for the rest of the overall feel for the culture. I also wondered why in the twenty-fifth century, why the women were relegated as homemakers and as secondary decision makers.  Was this part of their culture? Did women’s rights regress back to the nineteen-fifties? If it did. then why were they so adamant about joining the cricket’s team as equals? And then why did the men include them in some discussions and not others for fear of “worrying them”?

There was no visualization of what kind of world they actually lived in. I couldn’t envision the setting in which they dwelled in. There was little to no imagery of this self-sufficient village, if it was a village, that they were living in and fighting for. Sometimes I got the impression of a rural village. Sometimes I got the impression of a high-tech industrial complex. This vaguery left me confused.  Was this a hybrid Amish/Factory complex?

This is a very slow-moving book that’s very concerned with the minutiae of details when it came to specifics. For example, the technology they did use was described in detail. Each step of their insurgence was plotted out to a nicety. On one hand it was nice to know the author had such thoroughness. On the other hand, I became a little impatient with the book and I wished for a quicker pace.

I did like the way the book came to an end.  It was very satisfying and it almost made up for the books many flaws.

I would recommend this book to the patient reader who truly loves science fiction. The plot is well thought out. It could be a rewarding book in the end.

 

 

*I received a free copy of this book for an honest review.

Review – Insurgent May 31, 2012

Posted by thehypermonkey in 5 stars, Sci-Fi, Young Adult.
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Title: Insurgent

Author: Veronica Roth

Genre: Dystopian Science Fiction

Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books

Publish Date: May 1, 2012

ISBN-10: 0062024043

Available at: AmazonBarnes and Noble

(This review contains some spoilers if you haven’t read book one.)

Summary:

From Goodreads:

One choice can transform you—or it can destroy you. But every choice has consequences, and as unrest surges in the factions all around her, Tris Prior must continue trying to save those she loves—and herself—while grappling with haunting questions of grief and forgiveness, identity and loyalty, politics and love.

Tris’s initiation day should have been marked by celebration and victory with her chosen faction; instead, the day ended with unspeakable horrors. War now looms as conflict between the factions and their ideologies grows. And in times of war, sides must be chosen, secrets will emerge, and choices will become even more irrevocable—and even more powerful. Transformed by her own decisions but also by haunting grief and guilt, radical new discoveries, and shifting relationships, Tris must fully embrace her Divergence, even if she does not know what she may lose by doing so.

Review:

This second books was just as good or maybe even better than the first book, Divergent. The action is much more highly concentrated. Tobias’ and Tris’ relationship gets even more complicated.

The complications are completely realistic and I loved how practical their relationship became. Instead of a highly idealistic version of love, they had a completely reasonable version of what it would be like to have two teenagers in love in the midst of war.

The danger in the book had me breathless. As Tris became more like an Abnegation in her selfless behavior she also became more Dauntless with her bravery, showing the two intermingle. Perhaps she showed just how Divergent she truly was or perhaps she showed how Divergent everyone was.

As we get to know Tris and Tobias more in book two, we understand their motives more and appreciate them better. At the same time Tobias remains somewhat of a mystery since it’s not his perspective we see the world from.

Veronica Roth continued with the surprises she had with book one onto book two. My head spun with the plots twists and turns. It was a joyful ride!

The book ends in a cliffhanger which left me yearning for book three. I’m sure it’ll be worth it!

Review – Divergent May 30, 2012

Posted by thehypermonkey in 5 stars, Sci-Fi, Young Adult.
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Title: Divergent

Author: Veronica Roth

Genre: Dystopian Science Fiction

Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books

Publish Date: May 3, 2011

ISBN-10: 0062024035

Available at: AmazonBarnes and Noble

Summary: 

Beatrice Prior must choose among five factions: Candor (the honest); Abregation (the selfless); Dauntless (the brave); Amity (the peaceful); and Erudite (the intelligent. Her choice is made the more difficult when she finds her aptitude test scores show that she doesn’t fit in any of the groups.  Her decision will also either keep her with her family or tear her away from them forever.

Review:

This book was fantastic. It was fraught with just the right amount of tension. From the romance to the trials and tribulations Beatrice goes through, it was a wild ride.

Beatrice, who takes on the name Tris, makes a difficult choice. At the age of 16 she shows a maturity beyond her years. Yet at the same time Roth manages to show that she’s still a vulnerable youth in those instances where it matters most.

Each character flew off the page and into my heart. From Tris to Four to Al, they all found a way to come to life. Even the minor characters had a vivacity to them that you don’t find in most books.

While this is a character driven novel, you can still feel the grunge of the city that they live in. From the racing trains to the dilapidated building, the world they lived in was alive.

The plot twists kept me surprised and on my toes each and every step of the way. Nothing was quite predictable except maybe the romance. Even that managed to surprise me now and then. While the characters were unique and unlike any I’ve come across, the plot was also quite very different from the norm.

I applaud Roth’s debut novel. It was a show stopper.

Review – Raven's Children May 24, 2012

Posted by thehypermonkey in 4 stars, Sci-Fi.
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Title: Raven’s Children

Author: Sabrina Chase

Genre: Science Fiction

Publisher: Worlds Away Press

Publish Date: Sometime in July 2012

Available at: Not yet available

I received an ARC courtesy of the author.

Summary: (This review may contain spoilers for both readers who haven’t read book one and for readers for book two.)

Moire and the crew of the Raven continue to evade Toren. They continue to salvage ships in the hopes of accumulating enough money to build enough defenses for Sequoyah against the attack they know will happen when Toren discovers Sequoyah. Meanwhile, they launch an offensive against Toren to stop the manufacturing of the Created.

Review:

So much happens in this book I couldn’t quite summarize it. The action was non-stop. It was one long rollercoaster of movement. I was left breathless and I loved every minute of it.

Ennis and Moire meet up again on equal footing and passions ignite. It was a little corny at times, but it wasn’t overwhelmingly so. I thought it was appropriate.

Moire and Alan’s relationship deepened and it was touching. You could see her struggling with her feelings as a new mother and it was heart-warming. They have an odd situation so it was sometimes humorous. I loved the quirkiness of that.

The introduction of the alien was fascinating and exciting. It was a little like Close Encounters of the Third Kind only the advantage was all on the humans side. There was enough of foreshadowing with the alien that left me wondering what’s in store for the next book between the it and Moire.

The only exceptions I have to make is in one action scene they seem to have gotten away a little too easily. They impersonated Toren personnel and I can’t help but wonder if that was just too easy. Also when Lorai was looking for Harrington, he just happened to be the one man she rescued. In a perfect world that might happen, but I don’t expect it in the real world. It was a little too predictable, but for the sake of fiction I can suspend belief and make believe.

Other then that I have no exceptions to make with this book. It was extremely well done and I can’t wait for the third installment. I only wish Sabrina Chase could write faster.

Review – Raven’s Children May 24, 2012

Posted by thehypermonkey in 4 stars, Sci-Fi.
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Title: Raven’s Children

Author: Sabrina Chase

Genre: Science Fiction

Publisher: Worlds Away Press

Publish Date: Sometime in July 2012

Available at: Not yet available

I received an ARC courtesy of the author.

Summary: (This review may contain spoilers for both readers who haven’t read book one and for readers for book two.)

Moire and the crew of the Raven continue to evade Toren. They continue to salvage ships in the hopes of accumulating enough money to build enough defenses for Sequoyah against the attack they know will happen when Toren discovers Sequoyah. Meanwhile, they launch an offensive against Toren to stop the manufacturing of the Created.

Review:

So much happens in this book I couldn’t quite summarize it. The action was non-stop. It was one long rollercoaster of movement. I was left breathless and I loved every minute of it.

Ennis and Moire meet up again on equal footing and passions ignite. It was a little corny at times, but it wasn’t overwhelmingly so. I thought it was appropriate.

Moire and Alan’s relationship deepened and it was touching. You could see her struggling with her feelings as a new mother and it was heart-warming. They have an odd situation so it was sometimes humorous. I loved the quirkiness of that.

The introduction of the alien was fascinating and exciting. It was a little like Close Encounters of the Third Kind only the advantage was all on the humans side. There was enough of foreshadowing with the alien that left me wondering what’s in store for the next book between the it and Moire.

The only exceptions I have to make is in one action scene they seem to have gotten away a little too easily. They impersonated Toren personnel and I can’t help but wonder if that was just too easy. Also when Lorai was looking for Harrington, he just happened to be the one man she rescued. In a perfect world that might happen, but I don’t expect it in the real world. It was a little too predictable, but for the sake of fiction I can suspend belief and make believe.

Other then that I have no exceptions to make with this book. It was extremely well done and I can’t wait for the third installment. I only wish Sabrina Chase could write faster.

Review – The Long Way Home May 23, 2012

Posted by thehypermonkey in 4.5 stars, Sci-Fi.
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Title: The Long Way Home

Author: Sabrina Chase

Genre: Science Fiction

Publisher: Worlds Away Press

Publish Date: May 3, 2012

Available at: Amazon

From Amazon:

Webspace pilot Moire Cameron is one of the best–but even she can’t fly her way out of a catastrophic drive failure that triggers a time-dilation bubble. Left suddenly eighty years out of date, she is on the run in a world she no longer knows, caught in the middle of a human-alien war while agents of Toren hunt her for the information only she has–the location of the pristine world of Sequoyah.

The Long Way Home is the first book in the Sequoyah trilogy.

Review:

The scope of this book is magnificent. From the frontlines of a war in space to the backwater planets on the Fringe, this book has a little bit of everything.

Mercenaries, Fleet military, pirates, and pioneers. The cast of characters are vast, varied and colorful. The landscape is just as rich. From planetside to ship life, you get a taste of everything. All without missing a beat.

The character development is phenomenal. Moire is vulnerable in her pain at being stranded 80 years from her time. Yet she shows a strength that is admirable. Her resourcefulness causes even more respect.

I really felt her loneliness at being the only survivor from her crew and her determination to complete her mission. I also felt her desperation as she felt the odds weigh against her as she realized how unlikely it would be for her to succeed against the giant corporation Toren with all its resources. You can also feel her desperation as she struggles to survive despite these odds. Her difficulties with adjusting to life in the present age with all its idiosyncrasies also makes it a very realistic story.

Ennis is an intriguing character with his strength and his sensitivity.  His intelligence is something I admire, if not his ambition. I really enjoyed reading about him as his story unfolded and intertwined with Moire’s.

There were unexpected plot twists that I appreciated as the book went on. It kept me on my toes and kept me glued to the pages. I look forward to the second book of the series which I’ll be reviewing next.

Sabrina Chase doesn’t disappoint fans with The Long Way Home. It was a very entertaining and satisfying read.

Review – Heaven 2.0 May 22, 2012

Posted by thehypermonkey in 3.5 stars, Sci-Fi.
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Title: Heaven 2.0

Author: Scott Haworth

Genre: Science Fiction

Publisher: Scott Haworth

Publish Date: March 1, 2012

Available at: AmazonBarnes and NobleSmashwords 

I received a free copy of this book for an honest review.

Summary:

Mike Kepler is an extractor, bringing back people from the 21st century to the 28th century. There they face judgment in the courts of the Taipei Corporation that will decide if they will spend their immortal lives in an artificial Heaven or Hell.

Mike learns that the system is rigged. Many of the people sentenced to an eternity of Hell do not deserve it.

Review: (There are possible spoilers in this review.)

I thought this book had some innovative ideas. It wasn’t overly wrought in religious dogma. There were some outrageous moments for me though. Such as the moment when it was stated that in the 28th century they had successfully stamped out the “homosexual disease”. It was just another instance of proving what a dystopic society it truly was though.

The trips back in time were enjoyable diversions, but I think they took away from the main character. I think we could have done with less of the diversions and more character development.

This book was only 161 pages and the brevity showed in the character development. Mike was a great character, except he ultimately lacked a certain emotional depth that I would normally have found in a longer novel. I actually got more of a sense of who some of the supporting cast members were rather then who Mike Kepler was.

Another problem I had was when the rebels attacked they were armed with steak knives. Against guns. Obviously they had no chance.  Steak knives against guns? I have an issue with that. Needless to say the rebels got captured. How they thought they’d have a chance I have no idea.

Parts of the climax of the story was interesting. Although it didn’t sound very plausible. It just seemed too neat and pat. It also felt a little rushed. I wasn’t entirely happy with the end either, but that’s just my personal taste.

Overall, I did enjoy this story despite its flaws. I enjoyed the innovative ideas. I enjoyed the characters of Nicole and Paul from the 21st century.  They had a depth to them that I couldn’t find in the 28th century characters.

There were some humorous moments I liked, but they were few and far between. I liked the idea of time traveling. The idea of an artificial Heaven was interesting. I don’t think it was my idea of Heaven, but I suppose it might serve for some.

So this wasn’t a bad novella. It just wasn’t great.

Review – Orphan's Gold May 13, 2012

Posted by thehypermonkey in 3.5 stars, Sci-Fi.
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TitleOrphan’s Gold

Author: David Loeff

Genre: Sci-Fi

Publisher:  David Loeff

Available at:  Amazon

 I received a free copy of this book for an honest review.

Orphan’s Gold is about young Virgil who sets out to the Colorado gold mines in search of his father. Once there he finds out that his father has died when the mine collapsed. Virgil is determined to find out for himself whether or not his father is really dead. He  breaks through the tunnel only to find a strange room. Once he emerges the world is a different place. His adventures take him to such places where wooly mammoths exist and ambulances scream through the night. He finds out he has the power to save humanity.

While I did enjoy this novella, I thought it lacked depth. Virgil never fully developed into a 3D character for me. He never became anyone other then a “kid with a good-nature”. Sure, he had adventures and he had relationships but his emotions never fully came to play. However I did admire him for his strength and resilience when they came to play in the situations he faced.

Argoura, the love interest of Virgil, was the most interesting character for me. She had the most depth out of everyone involved including Virgil. She had a range of emotions I couldn’t quite decipher in any of the other characters.

As far as the time traveling machine goes, I had a hard time believing it went undiscovered so long. However once I let my issues go, I managed to enjoy the story.