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Review – The Portal December 11, 2012

Posted by thehypermonkey in 5 stars, Sci-Fi.
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Title: The Portal

Author: Alan Zendell

Publisher: FeedBrewer, Inc.

Publication Date: March 21, 2011

ASIN: B004TBC4DW

Available at: Kindle Barnes and Noble

From Goodreads:

Harry Middleton is born in an America staggered by a century of decline, a time of medical and technological marvels beyond the reach of most people in a shattered economy. Pessimism and despair are more common than optimism and hope, and a desperate government bets the future on space.  The lunar and Martian colonies have not provided the hoped-for salvation, so despite an angry, disillusioned public, the first star mission will soon be launched.

Harry is a special child, smart, precocious, his only confidante an embittered grandfather.  When the old man dies, Harry is lost, until he meets Lorrie.  At thirteen, they bond, certain they’ll spend their lives together, but a year later, she disappears, and Harry is desolate.

With help from his friend Carlos, Harry begins a quest to find her, but he quickly learns how powerless he is.  Even the police lack the resources to help.  Harry and Carlos can only depend on themselves and each other.  An unlikely duo, Harry is an academic prodigy while Carlos is a stud athlete.  Realizing that school and baseball are their  tickets out of the morass they’re caught in, they inspire each other to greatness in both.

Trying to move on with his life, Harry has a college sweetheart, but as long as Lorrie haunts him, he knows the relationship is doomed.  He gains celebrity and wealth, but the thing Harry wants most, finding and saving Lorrie from whatever fate took her from him remains beyond his reach.  And always, in the background, are the deteriorating state of the country and the coming star missions.

And of course, there’s the Portal.

Review: *A free copy of this book was given in return for an honest review.

This book basically chronicles the life of Harry Middleton during the 22nd century. It centers around his high school sweetheart Lorrie Grissom who disappeared when he was just fifteen. He spends a lot of resources searching for her and she’s never really far from his mind.

I’m a huge baseball fan. Huge. Naturally when baseball came up in this book I was thrilled. Futuristic baseball! Harry’s baseball career starts young and is an integral part of his life. His boyhood friend Carlos is also a baseball player and together they become a team.

Carlos was a rough around the edges type of guy. He was incredibly street smart. Harry drove Carlos to do better at his studies while Carlos drove Harry to do better athletically. They complimented each other extremely well. After Lorrie went missing, Carlos and Harry became inseparable.

The decline of America that the book shows is staggering. It shows itself all through the book. It made me wonder if that’s where we’re really heading. At the same time, the book shows the resiliency of the American spirit. Despite the dismal conditions,  Americans still fought to keep their country great.

This book made me look at the future differently. I look at it with a bit of hope and with a bit of dread. Either way, I enjoyed this book tremendously and it’s something I hope to reread in the future.

5 Stars_Star Rating System

Review – What’s Left of Me October 12, 2012

Posted by thehypermonkey in 4 stars, Sci-Fi.
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Title: What’s Left of Me

Author: Kat Zhang

Publisher: HarperCollins

Publication Date: September 18, 2012

ISBN-13: 978-0062114877

Available at: Amazon Kindle Barnes and Noble

From Goodreads:

I should not exist. But I do.

Eva and Addie started out the same way as everyone else—two souls woven together in one body, taking turns controlling their movements as they learned how to walk, how to sing, how to dance. But as they grew, so did the worried whispers. Why aren’t they settling? Why isn’t one of them fading? The doctors ran tests, the neighbors shied away, and their parents begged for more time. Finally Addie was pronounced healthy and Eva was declared gone. Except, she wasn’t . . .

For the past three years, Eva has clung to the remnants of her life. Only Addie knows she’s still there, trapped inside their body. Then one day, they discover there may be a way for Eva to move again. The risks are unimaginable-hybrids are considered a threat to society, so if they are caught, Addie and Eva will be locked away with the others. And yet . . . for a chance to smile, to twirl, to speak, Eva will do anything.

Review:

In an America where the citizens are born with twin souls, Eva and Addie should have settled into one soul by the time they were twelve. But Eva doesn’t want to fade. She wants to see a thousand sunsets, experience a first kiss, and watch her little brother grow up. So Addie and Eva keep Eva’s presence a secret.

The relationship between Addie and Eva is special. They’re closer then sisters by necessity and by love. They help each other in ways too many to enumerate. When they do argue the silence between them afterwards is hard for Eva to bear. There are problems in their relationship as you can imagine. Eva can’t move or speak but she never once takes it out on Addie. The danger of being found out is a strain on both of them. I always got the feeling that Addie only started letting Eva try to move and speak reluctantly. It was as if she was forced to relinquish control and didn’t think there was ever a real possibility of Eva gaining it.

Ryan and Devon, on the other hand had a much different relationship. While Devon was dominate, Ryan was still able to control the body when he wanted to. There was no fighting for the use of the body. They were in much better harmony.

The America that Addie and Eva lived in wasn’t a friend to hybrids like themselves. In fact, it systemically weeded out hybrids as much as possible. Hybrids were public enemy number one. The Great World Wars were with other countries that allowed hybrids freedom. This America stood on its own against those countries.

There wasn’t a moment in this book when the action let up. It was pretty much non-stop. There was always something happening in rapid succession. I thought this was a good thing though. It kept things exciting and I loved it. I didn’t think the pace of the book was too fast or too rushed.

I really liked how complete this book felt. There was no cliffhanger to contend with. Everything wrapped up nicely enough within one book yet there was enough of an opening for another. This is book one in what I hope is a series but is most likely a trilogy. I can’t wait for the next book, but I’ll just have to wait!

Review – What's Left of Me October 12, 2012

Posted by thehypermonkey in 4 stars, Sci-Fi.
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Title: What’s Left of Me

Author: Kat Zhang

Publisher: HarperCollins

Publication Date: September 18, 2012

ISBN-13: 978-0062114877

Available at: Amazon Kindle Barnes and Noble

From Goodreads:

I should not exist. But I do.

Eva and Addie started out the same way as everyone else—two souls woven together in one body, taking turns controlling their movements as they learned how to walk, how to sing, how to dance. But as they grew, so did the worried whispers. Why aren’t they settling? Why isn’t one of them fading? The doctors ran tests, the neighbors shied away, and their parents begged for more time. Finally Addie was pronounced healthy and Eva was declared gone. Except, she wasn’t . . .

For the past three years, Eva has clung to the remnants of her life. Only Addie knows she’s still there, trapped inside their body. Then one day, they discover there may be a way for Eva to move again. The risks are unimaginable-hybrids are considered a threat to society, so if they are caught, Addie and Eva will be locked away with the others. And yet . . . for a chance to smile, to twirl, to speak, Eva will do anything.

Review:

In an America where the citizens are born with twin souls, Eva and Addie should have settled into one soul by the time they were twelve. But Eva doesn’t want to fade. She wants to see a thousand sunsets, experience a first kiss, and watch her little brother grow up. So Addie and Eva keep Eva’s presence a secret.

The relationship between Addie and Eva is special. They’re closer then sisters by necessity and by love. They help each other in ways too many to enumerate. When they do argue the silence between them afterwards is hard for Eva to bear. There are problems in their relationship as you can imagine. Eva can’t move or speak but she never once takes it out on Addie. The danger of being found out is a strain on both of them. I always got the feeling that Addie only started letting Eva try to move and speak reluctantly. It was as if she was forced to relinquish control and didn’t think there was ever a real possibility of Eva gaining it.

Ryan and Devon, on the other hand had a much different relationship. While Devon was dominate, Ryan was still able to control the body when he wanted to. There was no fighting for the use of the body. They were in much better harmony.

The America that Addie and Eva lived in wasn’t a friend to hybrids like themselves. In fact, it systemically weeded out hybrids as much as possible. Hybrids were public enemy number one. The Great World Wars were with other countries that allowed hybrids freedom. This America stood on its own against those countries.

There wasn’t a moment in this book when the action let up. It was pretty much non-stop. There was always something happening in rapid succession. I thought this was a good thing though. It kept things exciting and I loved it. I didn’t think the pace of the book was too fast or too rushed.

I really liked how complete this book felt. There was no cliffhanger to contend with. Everything wrapped up nicely enough within one book yet there was enough of an opening for another. This is book one in what I hope is a series but is most likely a trilogy. I can’t wait for the next book, but I’ll just have to wait!

Review – Defiance September 25, 2012

Posted by thehypermonkey in 4 stars, Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Young Adult.
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Title: Defiance

Author: C.J. Redwine

Publisher: Balzer + Bray

Publish Date: August 28, 2012

ISBN-13: 978-0062117182

Available at: Amazon Kindle Barnes and Noble

From Goodreads:

Within the walls of Baalboden, beneath the shadow of the city’s brutal leader, Rachel Adams has a secret. While other girls sew dresses and obey their male Protectors, Rachel knows how to survive in the wilderness and deftly wield a sword. When her father, Jared, fails to return from a courier mission and is declared dead, the Commander assigns Rachel a new Protector, her father’s apprentice, Logan–the same boy Rachel declared her love for two years ago, and the same one who handed her heart right back to her. Left with nothing but a fierce belief in her father’s survival, Rachel decides to escape and find him herself. But treason against the Commander carries a heavy price, and what awaits her in the Wasteland could destroy her.

At nineteen, Logan McEntire is many things. Orphan. Outcast. Inventor. As apprentice to the city’s top courier, Logan is focused on learning his trade so he can escape the tyranny of Baalboden. But his plan never included being responsible for his mentor’s impulsive daughter. Logan is determined to protect her, but when his escape plan goes wrong and Rachel pays the price, he realizes he has more at stake than disappointing Jared.

As Rachel and Logan battle their way through the Wasteland, stalked by a monster that can’t be killed and an army of assassins out for blood, they discover romance, heartbreak, and a truth that will incite a war decades in the making.

Review:

I have to admit, I’ve been looking forward to the release of this book for awhile. To my consternation I found that it was written in alternation points of view, Rachel’s and Logan’s.  I wasn’t sure how it was going to work out, but to my surprise it worked out well and I came to enjoy it.

Rachel is a sixteen-year-old girl who has suddenly come under the protection of Logan. I didn’t take to her immediately. She seemed a bit too petulant and sulky. The more I read the more I liked her though. What I took to be petulant and sulky was actually humiliation. She had professed her love to Logan when she was fifteen and he had rejected her. Who wouldn’t be humiliated? As the book went on, there were moments I became impatient with her but I think she was just acting like any sixteen-year-old would have done in such impossible situations.

What I loved about Rachel the most was how she was such a kick-ass warrior in such an oppressed misogynistic society. She was a fiercely independent woman in a culture that stressed that women were nothing more then chattel. I think it spoke volumes to have such a strong heroine. And she showed a lot of soft emotions as well showing you don’t have to be a one-dimensional person.

I loved Logan! He was absolutely gush and crush-worthy. He’s smart and kind. He takes his responsibilities seriously and he always tried his best with Rachel despite the animosity she felt and showed towards him in the beginning of the book.  I loved Logan’s inventions. The mix of inventor and warrior was too sexy to resist.

What I loved about Rachel and Logan the most was how their love evolved. It grew from mutual circumstances and time spent together. No insta-love here! There was a lot of give and take too. Although there was one point I felt Logan got a bit too needy. Maybe that’s just me. That was towards the end of the book. I don’t want to give too much away.

The Commander was one of the most evil tyrants I’ve come across. He made a great bad guy. He was just someone you love to hate. The Cursed One was a fantastic monster. It reminded me of a wyrm. Together they added some great tension to the book.

There’s enough resolution to leave you satisfied in the end. Yet there’s also an opening for more books in the future. It’s a well done ending to a very good book. I did have one pet peeve. Only I can’t mention it without giving away a spoiler. Needless to say something was repeated endlessly and I got tired of the repetition. That’s all I can say. It was something I was able to brush off though.

Review – The Forsaken July 31, 2012

Posted by thehypermonkey in 4.5 stars.
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Title: The Forsaken

Author: Lisa M. Stasse

Series: Forsaken Trilogy

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers

Publication Date: July 10, 2012

ISBN-13: 978-1442432659

Available at: AmazonBarnes and Noble

From Goodreads:

As an obedient orphan of the U.N.A. (the super-country that was once Mexico, the U.S., and Canada), Alenna learned at an early age to blend in and be quiet—having your parents taken by the police will do that to a girl. But Alenna can’t help but stand out when she fails a test that all sixteen-year-olds have to take: The test says she has a high capacity for brutal violence, and so she is sent to The Wheel, an island where all would-be criminals end up.

The life expectancy of prisoners on The Wheel is just two years, but with dirty, violent, and chaotic conditions, the time seems a lot longer as Alenna is forced to deal with civil wars for land ownership and machines that snatch kids out of their makeshift homes. Desperate, she and the other prisoners concoct a potentially fatal plan to flee the island. Survival may seem impossible, but Alenna is determined to achieve it anyway.

Review:

This book was great. I was captivated. Alenna was strong and resilient and brave in the face of bewildering adversity. She’s plunked on The Wheel at age sixteen after she fails the test with no warning. She’s caught in the middle of a war between two factions.

The Wheel is a Lord of the Flies explosion. There are two divisions. The villagers and the disciples of the Monk. The villagers are more orderly and civilized. The Monk resembles a cult and are rather lawless.

As Alenna acclimates to life on the wheel, she learns more about how she might have a connection to it. There’s also some romance. It’s not the main story though and I liked that about this book. The main story is how Alenna tries to get off The Wheel. There’s a lot of action.

Alenna and her comrades are all nicely fleshed out as characters. I never got the feeling that I needed more information to get to know them. They were all fully rounded and multi-layered.

Gadya was an intriguing character as she was definitely three-dimensional and never completely on Alenna’s side. Something always got in the way of their friendship.

Liam’s character was very well done. He was mysterious and sexy. Yet he had enough of a soft side to make you melt. He’s the most swoonworthy character to date that I’ve come across.

Although I do see an opening for more books to come, the book didn’t end on a horrible cliffhanger. The climax was satisfying enough in the end. Yes, there could have been more resolution but that’s why it’s a trilogy!

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 – Masque of the Red Death June 3, 2012

Posted by thehypermonkey in 5 stars, Fantasy.
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Title: Masque of the Red Death

Author: Bethany Griffin

Genre: Dystopian Fantasy

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Publish Date: April 24, 2012

ISBN-10: 0062107798

Available at: AmazonBarnes and Noble

Summary: 

The plague has taken over the city. The rich hide themselves away in the upper city and seek pleasure at places like the Debauchery Club. Prince Prospero rules with an iron hand. Araby Worth seeks the means to obliterate the memory of the loss of her twin brother. Instead she meets Will, a handsome brother of two young siblings that works at the club and Elliot, an arrogant but charming aristocrat.

Review:

This was an extraordinary book of amazing imagery. From the first scene where you see them taking bodies out to the corpse takers to the lower city where the poor live, it’s gritty and it’s grimy.

Araby is a multi-layered character. She’s vulnerable yet she can be tough in certain situations. She’s resourceful. She’s compassionate and she’s strong. I found myself admiring her throughout the book. Her grief over the loss of her brother was palatable. She had no source of comfort which most likely prolonged it.

I usually don’t care for love triangles. I mostly find them tiresome and annoying, but this one was tense and exciting. Elliot was an intriguing character and I never knew what he was going to do next. Will was exactly what I would have wanted in a lead man but he you never could tell if Araby was going to suddenly fall for Elliot. The tension between the two men made it even more dangerous.

The atmosphere in the city was exciting too. Between the plague and the rebellion that was stirring it was action packed. There was never a dull moment and I couldn’t stop pressing my Kindle button. There were a lot of surprises in the plot too. I won’t say what they were for fear of spoiling the book.

The story ends on a cliffhanger but I still got the sense of fullfillment to a certain extent. I didn’t feel like there was any sense of an incomplete story. Yes, there were a lot of unanswered questions, but at the same time the book ended just as they were about to embark on another adventure. Not as they were in the middle of one.

I’ve never read Poe’s short story so I’m not sure how closely this matches to his masterpiece, but I love this story for what it is. It’s a fantastic read!

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.