Review: Will Weisser – Ankaran Immersion

Ankaran Immersion
Will Weisser

Evie and her brother have been separated from their tribe – and now Hunter is very sick with something that only the Tainted can cure. Will Evie be able to help her brother in time? Or will her hatred of the Tainted get in her way.

I found myself quite confused a lot of the time and I struggled to follow the point of the novel. The blurb led me to believe that it was all about Evie and Hunter, but in fact it focussed just as much on Ono/Aurio and the struggle of wills. I was left feeling confused about the aim of the novel. Did this novel want me to sympathise with Evie and conclude that the strand was evil? Or did it ask me to set that aside and see the positives of the strand? I’d lean towards the former, but I couldn’t work out why it was relevant to me (despite the maps suggesting that this was a future world of our own).

I was enjoyably surprised by the quality of the prose in this novel and the detailed world building. However, I was left with many questions: What is an Int? Are they real poeple? What makes a virus a virus? I really couldn’t understand what was going on for a lot of the time with the strand and the resultant mess. It is rare that novels allow tech to take over the world (although The Matrix springs to mind), and I often struggle to understand why the tech lets the humans live at all.

To sum up – Evie developed as a character, but a lot of it was difficult to follow because just as I was starting to understand her, the perspective started flicking erratically between Hunter, Evie and Ono. Then I felt like I was getting some real knowledge out of Hunter, but I couldn’t understand what was wrong with him in the first place (and didn’t really ‘get’ why he became what he was). And Ono had the potential to answer my questions about the strand, but it really didn’t come through clearly.

This novel did keep me entertained, just not as well as SpellSlinger (I read them concurrently). I’m giving it 3 stars for its readability. I’m not really sure what audience it would be best suited to however. I previously interviewed the author, and I think it would be worthwhile keeping an eye out for his future novels.

Review: Garth Nix – A Confusion of Princes

A Confusion of Princes
Garth Nix

Khemri is Prince. But unfortunately, there are 999 other candidates for Emperor – and the rest are not as new to their roles as he is. With less than 2 years to prepare before the Emperor resigns, Khemri is asked to go on seemingly innocuous missions to prove his worth.

This is a usual good-quality Garth Nix novel that didn’t disappoint me. The main character Khemri certainly develops as a character, and it is interesting to see his progression/regression from Prince to person. Basically Khemri is ripped away from everything that is familiar, and then thrust into a world that not only does he have faulty information about, but also is out to kill him. The ending really came as a surprise to me. Wow!

I confess, I rescued this novel from a garbage bin. My copy was donated to the op-shop where I volunteer, and it was a rather badly beaten up ex-library copy, not even good enough to pass on for a book sale. Never fear though, it will now have a long and healthy life on my shelf.

You could consider this sci-fi, but it is very light sci-fi, perfect for a teenager to get into the genre for the first time. I confess that I am probably too old for this novel now, which is why I have starred this as both 4 and 5 stars. But if I need a light read, and Garth Nix is calling my name, this one might be it (or Eoin Colfer’s The Supernaturalists).

Review: John Scalzi – The Collapsing Empire

The Collapsing Empire
John Scalzi

Kiva thinks that the worst of her problems is potentially infected Haverfruit… not the collapse of inter-space travel as they know it. While the characters struggle to understand the devastating consequences this will have on their personal lives, the potential to wreak havoc on the universe is limitless.

This is a low key science fiction novel that is easy to read, with not too much jargon or assumed knowledge. I found myself slipping effortlessly into the pages and refusing to come out again. The parts of physics and basic explanations of the Flow made my eyes glaze over a little, but I didn’t need to completely skip those sections to keep my interest!

This is definitely an adult’s novel. There are graphic sex scenes and unflinching comments from the characters who have failed to get a sex life happening. It’s actually quite refreshing as there is nothing romantic going on in these couplings, it’s sex just because it’s desired! Which I can imagine is quite freeing for people in this universe, as well as an open mind to practically everything.

The characters are nicely fleshed out, and I enjoyed getting to know each of them. I was devastated to discover that this was ‘Book One’. I’m ready to know more about them, and I can’t wait to read the next novel. I can’t think how they can fix things the way they are now, but I look forward to finding out.

I’m giving this 5 stars as the first adult sci-fi novel I have enjoyed in some time. If you love sci-fi, I’m not sure this will be for you because it’s too light!

Pan Macmillan | 1st April 2017 | AU$19.99 | Paperback

Review: Will McIntosh – Burning Midnight

Burning Midnight
Will McIntosh

David Sully is a usual teenage boy. In his modern world, the economy rides on spheres. Spheres can make you smarter, or taller, or have nice teeth, or give you supersonic hearing. He’s been successful before, but having been burnt once by the resident sphere millionaire buyer, he’s reluctant to trust anyone. When Hunter comes along, the whole spectrum of spheres is going to shift…

25489041This innovative magic system – I could have had more! The basis was spheres – burn a Ruby Red one, have straight teeth, or Aqua ones so that you can sleep whenever you need. The price point is all you need to worry about to do. In the manner of Brandon Sanderson, I wished there had been an index at the end of the novel to remind me what each of the spheres burned did to each person. Then I could have flipped back and forth as I wanted.

They have to be super sneaky and smart to survive, but sometimes they are just plain stupid! Hunter was the highlight for me, because she was so pigheaded all the time, and seems to still get there in the end. Unlike Sully, who once burnt, becomes a suspicious bastard. The Spheres had been around for around 5 years, and hunting them is what makes a living for Sully and Hunter. Sully has created a second wave, and the new ones are something special again. And that makes the whole premise of this novel.

Yes, yes, there’s romance in this novel. It was inevitable. You can’t have teenage fiction without it it seems. Hunter did the usual ‘I’m not girlfriend material speech’, and Sully did his ‘I don’t care, you’re so hot, mighty sphere hunter’. And didn’t everything work out very interestingly, and not so straight forward and good? Yes, yes it did.

Burning midnight drove me absolutely up the wall with really wanting to read it. Worst of all, I had to stop about 10 pages from the end and do some other things in the mean time, and that was just cruel! I’d recommend this novel without reservation to any teenager who enjoys an action packed time.

The ending could have frustrated me, but actually I thought it left me feeling quite satisfied, despite it ending a little abruptly. Some other reviews I have read suggest it needs a sequel, but it’s not at all clear where that would go. For me, it was very satisfying and I think it’s going to give you a couple of really good hours of reading. 


Review: Alexander Key – Escape to Witch Mountain

Alexander Key

Escape to Witch Mountain

Tia and Tony have been different all their lives. With abilities that seem to only get them into trouble, and branded as aggressors and thieves, Tony and Tia are alone in the world with only each other for support. When someone from their past comes looking for them, they know it is time to move into the future.

6576481I only picked up this novel because its listing in my digital borrowing app from my local library said it was a ‘blindingly brilliant piece of sci-fi’. I thought it couldn’t be that bad. And it wasn’t horrific, but nor would I recommend it.

Everything is completely see-through. Tony and Tia always have to succeed, even as it seems like they will be ruined forever. It’s a children’s fiction book as far as I am concerned, and that makes it all the more likely that everyone will escape without a scratch.

The reader on this one (and perhaps Tia’s character) drove me mad. Ugh! I hated the way Tia spoke, and the way she was all ‘don’t make me tell the hurty things’ Tony. Suck it up princess! I could barely listen to her. Tony wasn’t much better, and Father O’Dey could have done with a deeper and more commanding voice (especially since he’s the priest that adds validity to their claim that they aren’t the devil’s work).

What redeems this novel? None of the ideas are new. Or they aren’t new now. As another reviewer said, this feels like a predecessor to Harry Potter! If there is a child in your life, and you think they might be ready for some ‘gentle’ sci-fi, let them have this novel. There’s nothing offensive, the good God remains prominent, and it fits in nicely with tales of UFOs.

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Review: Jennifer Word – The Society Book One: Genesis

The Society Book One: Genesis

Jennifer Word

Jessica Wembly is a normal human being as far as she knows. She’s got a typical life of a mid-twenties woman, and yet someone is suddenly interested in her. She is captured, and taken to a hidden facility – but isn’t brought down without a fight. Her reluctance to give up  forms the skeleton around which escape plans are made.

The SocietyThis cover isn’t as pretty as the version I have (not to mention horrifically bad quality from GoodReads). *Update, I took a photo of the book cover I have. Pretty!* These people don’t have anything to do with plants at all! But a plain, simple cover means that the inside can be all the more intriguing.

The novel cuts a fine line between evolution, science-fiction,  and faith. Creationism is in full force for some of the characters, and others try to think of things as just fate, or normal evolution that other people are coming up with.

I found the aliens a little hard to stomach, but in for a cent, in for a dollar? I had gone along with the rest of the novel, and the idea of the mutants having been created, so there was no point in disbelieving it. I’d be interested to see what comes out of the second novel.

I felt like that with more polishing this novel could have been very powerful. Some relationships that could have been more explored, and some language that made me a bit doubtful at times but all this was held up by a solid storyline and multiple intrigues for each character. Nothing like a little love side story, and some knowledge that is missing from everyone’s minds (including the mind-reader’s) to keep things interesting.

I wasn’t entirely convinced by the state of Jessica when in solitary confinement. What would I know though? I never felt like she was in real danger – someone with her abilities, even with PTSD, would still be useful to the government and wouldn’t be allowed to die. Whether they would escape or not, that was another thing, and it was definitely not certain.

Sadly, I was hit with poor research right from the beginning. A ‘special substance’ is added to the drinking water the moment inhabitants arrive at the facility. The only problem there is that the substance is ATP. Now, for those of you who aren’t science nerds like me, basically ATP is what makes your entire body function. Your body would actually just use it as normal fuel, no matter how much you tried to ingest. Every time the doctor mentioned it, the more frustrated I became. So basically, the background of the science is wrong – but it didn’t effect the rest of the story.

To be totally transparent, when Jennifer contacted me to ask me to review her novel, she was looking for an honest review after a spate of ‘glowing’ reviews, to find something she might improve on, and a bit of variety in her review ratings! That hasn’t actually made me want to give her any particular stars from me, so take it as my word that I think this novel is worth 3 to 4 stars, and isn’t a waste of your time. All those ‘negative points’ aren’t as much negative as helpful.

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Review: John Lauricella – 2094

John Lauricella
It is 2094, and life has changed for humans all over the planet. The majority of humans are pretty much comatose, and the few on the run are dying out. Others are trapped in cages – and the overload lives on Mars. The question asked by this novel is whether life is worth it, and what people can be happy living with.
If you’re sensitive to mentions of sex, please do be aware that that’s the currency of the majority of the world. There are few scenes that are explicit in a way (I mean, two SexBots having sex), but I’m sure you could skip those parts if you wanted to. For once though, sex is woven into the text, and it’s gratuitous. Rather it’s moving the novel forward, always keeping in mind that sometimes sex doesn’t solve everything.
My initial reaction was ‘Wow. This novel was really something awesome.’ I would strongly recommend it for both personal reading, and as a school text. It’s about time the high school curriculum got a shakeup, and this novel is just the thing to do it. The sex will bother some people, but at the same time, teenagers are growing up a lot faster these days.
For once the genre listings on the back were completely spot-on. It’s ‘fiction, literature and dystopian’. It doesn’t read as a fiction, it reads as if the author has seen into the future, and brought back the true of it. Some others categorise it under sci-fi, which is reasonable enough, but there’s nothing that we couldn’t expect to see in the next couple of years.
The back asks me to ‘suspend my disbelief’ – I barely needed to do that. Given the news in the media at the moment and the way that some human seem to act, it’s likely this is a step towards the future. I guess everyone needs a minion?
What I couldn’t understand was why any humans were kept alive at all. The only ones seeming to reproduce are the Initiates, and even then, it’s a product of genetic manipulation. Why keep trying to survive? That’s a clear question that each person needs to answer for themselves.
Some people have faith, and that enables them to keep strong in the face of ‘Discipline & Punish’. Others have their families, and a strong resistance to being broken up. But the world is a harsh place, and sometimes death is the only way out without losing yourself.
It’s obvious that this book has been created with 1984 in mind, even if you didn’t pick it up from the title. It mirrors some things, such as the failures of human decency, and yet gives the next thought of what Big Brother could be doing.
Get out there, buy a copy, and read this novel.
While getting the novel’s cover from Goodreads, I found this comment from the author:
“Mainly the risk is that the narrative’s interconnectedness goes unperceived. For that reader, the novel is going to seem scattered and random. It should not be possible to misread 2094 in that way, as a haphazard, sprawling farce, but an inattentive reading could cause it. Especially dangerous — to the book, to the reader — is the cursory sort of skim-job practiced by review-writers. Rifling through the book quickly, reading just five or ten pages here and there then skipping, skipping, and moving on, would allow such a reader, particularly one not much interested in the novel’s premise or subject-matter, to form a very wrong impression of how the book works and what it’s trying to do. Add any strong bias to this scenario and the result is probably a disaster. “
I’ve been reading about author/blogger relationships this week, and this is really summing it up for me. I feel slightly put out that it intimates that all review-writers don’t read the book throughly. After I read about the top reviewer on Amazon who reads 30+ novels A DAY I’m not surprised with having that opinion.
Don’t worry John and other authors! I’m not a reviewer like that, and that’s why I tend to have extended wait times for reviews. Peace.

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