There are not many books I have though to stop in the middle, but this is one of them. The start is fairly promising, but even in the first hour we get a taste of what is to come - endless descriptions of how the technology in the world functions. Now, I do like technology - but not to this excess. In a book form I might have been more forgiving (as I could just skip over the sections), but in an audiobook form is gets old really fast.
If you can trudge through the endless exposition, you'll find a weirdly dual main character. On one moment she is a 40-something battle elite-soldier-veteran - the next a love-sick teenager falling in love with a 'vampire', Twilight style. There seems to be no clear indication on exactly why she suddenly goes off the deep end (nor why he does the same), other than what I must imagine to be Elfquest like 'recognition'. And no, it does not work.
Which is a shame, since the world is a fairly interesting one, even if a bit cliche'd - the humans are the neutral (and apparently liberal americans), the evil are nazi-vampires and refreshingly the protagonist represents the not-so-good-either side.
I got this book along with Asaro's other books in this series at Audible's 3-for-2 deal. I dare say I will be very very desperate for something to listen to before I would listen to the other two.
I was curious to see where Tonya Huff would take the Confederation series now that the war was over and Torin unemployed. With the Plastic alien riddle solved, what was left for her heroine to do? Fortunately for us, she settles in with Craig as a salvager - and finds a world just as corrupt and just as stupid as the military.
Story: Life as a salvager aboard the Promise with Craig isn't terrible - in fact, it is a nice change of pace for Torin. Until their ship is attacked and destroyed by pirates, Craig taken, and Torin left to die alone in space. But Torin never gives up and will not only have to solve the riddle of why the pirates wanted Craig alive but also to find where they have taken him and how to get him back - alive and in one piece. And without a spaceship.
Admittedly, the pirates were kind of a one dimension evil - but then again, I never expected pirates to be the smartest guys in space, either. Huff does an admirable job of creating a post war universe where stations run under the radar and there is still a lot of war debris to salvage. As well, we have yet another story where Torin makes smart choices and the right sacrifices in order to succeed. The military efficiency that saved her units' lives now works in her favor to survive the pirates and their plans for Craig and the Salvagers.
I am glad this isn't the last book and I eagerly look forward to the next book in the series.
I have really enjoyed all of the Valor books. This fourth book is just as good as the previous - proving that everyone is expendable, Torin is always going to get the short end of the stick, and never count the Gunnery Sergeant as dead until you see her body. The conclusion of this novel closes the story arc that began with the second novel dealing with the plastic alien life form. Fortunately, it is not the last book in the series.
Story: Torin is fighting a battle with her squad when her company is bombed. When she wakes up, she is in an underground prison alone. As she explores the caverns, she will find a complex group of tunnels in which prisoners from both sides of the war are kept. Some of those prisoners will rise above the situation, some will fall horribly, but all soon realize that there is simply no way out. That is, until Kerr decides to fight back and Craig Ryder (with Presit's help) refuses to believe she's dead and goes after her.
There were a lot of interesting and complex dynamics going on in this book. All of the book pretty much takes place underground without weapons or regular supplies. Torrin first has to figure out her situation then she will have to overthrow mini dictatorships and save ally and enemy alike before they all destroy each other. There were quite a few twists and turns and I never knew where the story would go at any time. Of course, at the same time Kerr is trying to figure out her prison, Ryder is trying to figure out if she's dead - not accepting that the flattened area she had been fighting in had no biological residue. Having Craig try to reach her added a great dimension to the story since he brought along Presit - and any book with Presit is going to have that wonderful humor and banter.
This is going to be one of my favorite series. I have listened to all book on Audible and although I thought the narrator was a bit stiff in the beginning, I really warmed up to her narration by this book.
Bloody Jack is a book I definitely recommend getting in the Audible version. The narrator of this book does an incredible job bringing to life the different accents and personalities of 1780s England. I don't think I would have enjoyed the book half as much if I had read it.
Story: Little Mary's family is taken by the plague, leaving her with no recourse but the streets, workhouses, or eventual prostitution. She joins a gang of street kids surviving on their wits, lucky enough to find a leader who doesn't abuse his members. But when the doctors need more cadavers for science, Mary soon discovers that they aren't above taking specimens right off the streets - cutting down the street kids. So Mary decides life as a girl is too difficult, boys have much more freedom, and takes on the identity of Jack. She signs on and sets sail on the HMS dolphin as a cabin boy. Life is tough on the lowest rungs of the ship hierarchy - and hiding her gender will make it that much more difficult for Mary Jacky Faber.
Author Meyer does a good job of giving a pretty harrowing account of life in London for the poor and then the deprivations of ship life. It can be an incredibly depressing read as a result but the historical aspects and understanding the historical milieu do make it time well spent.
Mary and her firends/shipmates are not necessarily admirable characters but they feel much more like real people as a result. I'm not quite sure I'd give this to my 11 year old to read but this would be a great book for older kids with a greater sense of the world and who could better handle the depressing nature of the story.
As noted earlier, the Audible version of this is quite amazing. Really brings the era to life.
Chaos closes the Guards of the Shadowlands with a satisfying conclusion and plenty of action. Those who liked the first book especially will appreciate that most of Chaos takes place off Earth in the afterlife realms.
Story: Juri has stolen Malachi's body and sent the guard to the Mazakin City - a place of endless torture by the entrapped Mazakin beaasts. Desperate to get Malachi back, Lela makes a deal with the Judge - she'll go to the Mazakin dome, kill the queen, and destroy the portal. Once that's done, she can have Malachi back. Ana, still bitter over the loss of Takashi, goes with Lela. But what the women find there is more than just Malachi - it is a land of horrors revisted daily and with no escape - for eternity. Armed with on a few weapons, going up against a whole city, allies will betray, enemies become friends, and lost lovers reunited.
Chaos was a very good read - the action was nearly non stop. I greatly appreciated how author Sarah Fine allowed the story to unwind slowly, without what could have been a very cliche "go in, kick butt, save hero, save world, escape." She escalates the action at each step, with plenty of twists and turns, discoveries and battles. Just when you think the battle is over, something new happens or Lela and her crew have an all new battle on their hands.
We get a lot of insight on a lot of the characters - from Lela's mother, Takashi's previous life, even more about Malachi, who suffers quite a bit in this novel. This really is Lela's story though - she drives all the action and does a lot of the saving. Malachi and crew spend much of the book either injured or out of the action. So here we truly have a heroine who is her own action hero.
I listened to the audible version and thought the narrator did an ok, but not great, job. She had the right age sounding voice but the accents, from Japanese to Spanish, all tended to sound like bad Transylvania accent from a Vampire movie.
This was definitely the best book in the series and worth the read to the end.
I honestly can't get enough of all of the Lost Stars/Fleet/Beyond the Frontier novels. While others have complained that they are too much of the 'same old', I enjoy every single book that comes out. With this third book in the Lost Stars timeline, worries that the storyline was becoming too soap operish with the Morgan developments were fortunately laid to rest. Here, we have pure action, this time on two fronts, and enough politics and double crossing to keep readers eager to see how it will all resolve.
Story: A CEO of the Ulindi Star System has declared independence from the Syndicates and seeks aid from Midway. Drakon takes a dangerous amount of Midway's defenses to help subdue the snakes at Ulindi and help the people to independence. But underground forces use the opportunity to raise serious trouble at Midway - forcing Iceni to make some terrible decisions. Ironically, the Midway ground force is on another world and her space fleet may not be able to prevent her staff and those loyal to her from being overthrown. It's a gambit that could cost Midway everything and put the Syndics right back in control. Only the intelligence of their staff will save them.
Morgan is fortunately out of the picture in this book - it's mostly about the other lieutenants under Drakon, sacrifices that will be made, and both Drakon and Iceni further wondering who they should - and who they suddenly can't - trust. People will go missing, assassination attempts become personal, and there are some great space and land battles this time.
I could still do without the whole 'jealousy/women are overemotional' thing with Iceni and Drakon. And Campbell definitely likes his 'love triangles' (which apparently aren't only a YA staple). But really, they are minor quibbles considering how greatly I enjoy all the books in this universe.
I purchased the Audible version and while I enjoyed it, the narrator doesn't have the range to really cover all the different characters in a Campbell book. As well, really poor production (annoyingly, distractingly loud intakes of breath were rampant) was disappointing.
The Young Elites started with a premise that should have been wonderfully distinct: disfigured heroine on an alternate universe planet, lack of soppy romance, and some political intrigue thrown into the mix. However, what we ended up with are a lot of character/setting cliches, safe rather than daring plot decisions, and a lot of logic holes that Lu didn't write herself out of before publishing. The result was a disappointment that failed to grab my interest at any point.
Story: On a world very similar to Renaissance Italy, a fever strikes the country for one year, killing many adults and maiming the young who survive. Those survivors are often left with physical scarring and are shunned by society as malfettos. But some survivors have found strange powers awakening within - they call themselves the young elites. When downtrodden Adelina, a survivor who lost her eye and found her appearance changed after the fever many years previous, is sold into sexual slavery by her father, she runs. The Young Elites save her - recognizing that she has a power. But she catches the attention of the lead Inquisitor - and he will use Adelina against the Young Elites in order to do away with their menace once and for all.
My first disappointment with the Young Elites was the very safe choices made by Lu with this very illogical world. It is based on Renaissance Italy but on another planet (e.g., descriptions of 3 moons rising). There are inquisitors and nearly everything else is fairly close to the renaissance, including names and other Italian conventions. So it doesn't make sense to me that they are speaking English but using Italian language conventions - e.g., "Mi Adelinita" Either they speak English or they speak Italian - not both. Also problematic for me is that we have inquisitors and Italian Renaissance but not Catholicism. It really feels like Lu took the safe/easy way out so as not to offend Catholics (Is anyone going to say the Borgias weren't wicked?).
Characters also had issues for me. Adelina is fairly broad as a character - either underreacting or overreacting to every situation so that I never really understood her character. Of course, the boys are all wickedly beautiful so nothing new there. Lu tries to give them some depth (they aren't quite prince charming perfect) but we never really get to see any depth or nuances in them.
Logic holes (such as the language melange) were frustrating. E.g., a story that relies on our main character being hunted but going about in plain sight doesn't make sense when you have a girl noticeable by having only one eye and white hair. I find it hard to believe ANYONE thought she would blend into society anywhere without being recognized immediately. Even more so in an upscale brothel that catered to the people she was supposed to be hiding from. But when you combine that issue with an x-men type of story where people develop strange powers, you have to make them really different and interesting. There's so much that can be done or imagined in this scenario and The Young Elites was such a let down in this regard. At one point, after the elaborate plot at the ending, there was such an easier "Indiana Jones just shoots the sword wielding guy and walks off" type of answer with those superpowersthat the whole ending was silly. A Wil E Coyote answer to the roadrunner.
Most problematic for me were the cliches. How many times do we have to have the 'character overhears her love interest saying he doesn't love her to someone else' misunderstanding before someone questions an author's writing chops? And during that scene, as I was listening to the Audible version, it became so hackneyed that I said out loud every give straight sentences of dialogue only to have the characters say the exact same thing. If I can predict dialogue, it's been done too often.
So while not a terrible book by any means, there wasn't a lot here for me to love and I pretty much went on autopilot while listening. Something to do the dishes or yardwork by since I wasn't going to miss anything important (or if I did, I've probably read it in another book anyway). Wasted superpowers and honestly a wasted setting (so much political intrigue from the Italian Renaissance completely wasted or never used in any depth).
Reviewed from the Audible version. The narrator tended to sound a bit too young American and really stumbled over the Italian names.
Feedback is the type of series that will rise or fail based upon the choices made for the final reveal. After book one, there was going to have to be one heck of a surprise to explain the high level of technology of the robots and the reason why the Maxfield Academy exists. Unfortunately, it felt like author Wells wrote himself into a corner and couldn't come out of the premise with enough of a unique twist. As such, I do admit to a bit of disappointment that I didn't get the payoff I was expecting at the end of Feedback. But even more problematic was the lack of impetus and action - the story is fairly static for most of the book.
Story: Benson and Becky escaped from Maxfield - only to be trapped in the village outside. Day in and out, they try to formulate escape plans. But Becky's grave injury, politics within the village, and the remote location of the Maxfield complex continually derail their plans. But while Benson learns more about the robots, they too are slowly closing in - and ready to bring Benson and Becky back into the fold.
Book 2 is very different from the first: where we had a very aggressive and strong Benson in the first, in the second we have a confused and surprisingly passive character who spends most of his time in half hearted escape attempts and mooning over Jane and Becky. In fact, not a lot happens for most of the book; we do learn more about Maxfield but never really get satisfactory answers.
I think the big problem I had with Feedback was the writing. There were a lot of times I had to reread passages to understand what was happening. 3/4 of the way through the book I gave up on the rereading and just let it go. That did distance me from the story further.
That lack of engagement - in both the writing and the plot - translated into a 3 star rating for me. A better (or more original villain) at the ending might have lifted this a star higher. I don't regret buying this but at the same time, I had hoped for more.
Note: I listened to the audible version and the narrator did a great job.
Lockwood and Co is a rare animal: a thoroughly enjoyable middle grade story that has the depth and interest to appeal to all ages, especially adults. Characters are nuanced, the plot intriguing, mysteries build upon mysteries, and there is an overall story arc that will take several books to slowly uncover. I was never interested in supernatural/ghost stories but this really does rise above the genre.
Story: For 50 years, ghosts have been a problem for England. Only the young can see/sense/fight them but the spectral visitors are returning in numbers - creating "The Problem" for modern England. Young Lucy is especially talented but an unfortunate incident has left her with no means of employment. She comes to Lockwood & Co hoping for a job fighting ghosts - but will get much more than she bargained for at the small agency.
I really appreciated that there was layer upon layer of intricacies within the plot. The whole supernatural situation is well constructed and the worldbuilding supreme. Imagine a Dickensian type of London but in a modern setting and you have a good idea of the setting. But in addition to the book-specific mystery that they solve (the Screaming Staircase), there are hints that each of the other characters have their own mysteries and skeletons in the closet. That means we have more than a 'monster of the week' plot and even more reason to anxiously await the next book. The hints are tantalizing and the books end with a very big reveal.
I've read the first two books in the series and they are both excellent - the foundation of the first book sets up more intrigue in the second. Characters are built upon from book to book and even side characters (rival agencies, government officials, etc.) are given depth and grow.
This was one of my favorite reads of the year. Note: I listened to the audible version and the narration was excellent.
Out Of The Black is an exuberant, action-packed, and wildly fun conclusion to the Odyssey One series. Although not all our questions were answered and the door was left open to continue a new series in the same world, we get a very definite conclusion as the Odyssey One crashes into Earth.
Story: Weston survives the destruction of the Odyssey One as it crashes into New York City in a last bid attempt to take out as many enemy as possible. The planet is under full assault by a massive Drasin force - from Beijing to Dallas, Cities fall to infestation and millions are dying. Weston picks up local heroes and tries to hold the City from complete destruction. But if help doesn't come, Earth will be razed. And the Priminae are very unlikely to join the battle.
Listening to this Audible reading was like watching a Bruckheimer film - over the top macho swagger, non stop action, yet in a really fun way. Sure, Weston is raised to godlike proportions - now he's a military genius, assault specialist, hidden secret agent who saved the confederation, directly linked to Mother Earth Gaia, and more. As well, his former 'covert team' is reassembled and they read like a cliche of every movie character in the past from femme fatale to James Bond. And if I make a lot of movie references in this review, it's because this book is just so cinematic. Tarantino without the blood and guts.
The entire plot of the book is the battle for Earth, told from many perspectives. There is very little Priminae here - it's all about NYPD, marines, Texas Rangers, Chinese generals, and more. There are definitely a lot of archtypes to go around.
In all, a very fun, almost silly, but ultimately enjoyable final volume in the Odyssey One series.
Stormdancer had two great things going for it: alternative universe Japan and steampunk. And if you had never been introduced to either of those worlds, then you likely would have been fascinated by the 'wealth' (read: truckload) of info dumping done to describe them. But as a long time Otaku and steampunk aficionado, I'm not impressed by the mythology or worldbuilding any more - I know it already. I want a great story first, not tell and never show. But it was all tell and I was bored to tears by this simplistic plot.
Plot: selfish jerk of a Shogun wants to show he's powerful and orders his chief beastmaster to go capture a griffin. Beastmaster and daughter (main character, Yukiko) set out on what is a hopeless task but they run into one. Griffin escapes, Yukiko uses her 'demon' powers to communicate and placate beast, they return to main City, and set out to kill evil emperor Shogun.
Right off the bat, the pace was slow, with lots of descriptions and info dumps, and the characters were very flat. There was so much loving descriptions going on about the world that it was almost annoying to have characters in that pretty place. I loved the entire concept of Lotus plants powering a steampunk type of world. And there were some great chances to really interject horror elements into the plots - demons and sacrifices and ritual deaths. But the author never stayed with the story and kind of meandered through the plot so he could show off his knowledge. This was a book that felt 600 pages long - I kept stopping and it was nearly impossible to want to return to the drudgery of endless mythology descriptions, Japanese history descriptions, societal ranking descriptions, blah blah. Especially since I was so well aware of it already anyway.
I know many will rail against how the author has portrayed Japan; but hey, it is an alternate universe. I don't mind the way he set it up at all and was fascinated by the things that were NOT authentic Japanese history. But the characters really need to live and breathe in that world and no one in the story did that. Everyone talked the same, acted the same, in very simplistic manners. There really was no subtlety or subterfuge, complexities or nuances. And that's where the story really started to drag with me. If the speaker wasn't named, it could have been ANY character that was speaking, male or female. The Achilles heel of this book was the lack of action and pace.
I listened to the Audible version and the author did a decent job, though there were some irritating tics in there. But she made it easy to differentiate between the different characters, giving them much more personality than the writer did.
Report Inappropriate Content