Tag Archives: Science Fiction

The Unidentified by Rae Mariz

The UnidentifiedThe Unidentified by Rae Mariz

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Following along my dystopian kick, I picked this one up after hearing someone discuss it at the ICFA in Orlando. I thought the concept was spot on and it had a combination feel of Monica Hughes’ Invitation to the Game, MT Anderson’s Feed and So Yesterday by Scott Westerfeld.

Rampant consumerism, consumerized education, branded styles, trendsetters and cool hunters, popularity and technology all surround apathetic Kid who is more concerned with making music and just getting by than trying to get noticed by sponsors and get branded. But after she witnesses a disturbing stunt, she starts to do some research. She stumbles upon the UnIdentified–a group committed to staying below the controlling technology and constant feed access of the Game. But Kid has been noticed now, and she stumbles onto something more than a bunch of teenaged rebels.

An interesting read, and some interesting characters. Overall I enjoyed the story arc and the world building, noticing that the focus on the microcosm of the futuristic high school kept the story quote controlled and not overwhelming in regards to world building. However, I was disappointed that the novel ended where it did…it felt sudden and unsatisfying. Realistic, yes, but I would have like a few ends to be tied up. It seems that this might continue into a trilogy, though I don’t think the existing story has enough momentum to do so. So, we’ll see.

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Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar ChildrenMiss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was an awesome book. Unexpected, a little bit creepy, but impossible to put down. The photographs inspired a fantastic story that stays with me weeks later. I can’t recommend it highly enough. Definitely one of the best books I have read in recent memory.

After the strange death of Jacob’s grandfather, Jacob visits a small British island where his grandfather sought refuge as a child after his parents were killed in the Holocaust. Here Jacob searches for clues to his grandfather’s past that he hopes will help him recover from his grief.

This novel offers the unexpected constantly; it is peculiar, and mysterious, slightly creepy and yet heart-warming. You should probably read it.

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Prized by Caragh M. O’Brien

Prized (Birthmarked, #2)Prized by Caragh M. O’Brien

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Gaia continues to the Dead Forest to discover that there is civilization outside of the Enclave. Here she discovers information about her family, especially her grandmother and her role in this community. But every community has its problems and Slyum is no exception.

I really enjoyed Birthmarked, but, I loved Prized. It is a rare occurrence that a sequel is better than its initial in a trilogy, but Prized exceeds the standards O’Brien set in her first novel in this trilogy.

This book is exceptionally well-written, with exceptional character development. Gaia’s character evolves further in this novel, suggesting that Birthmarked was only a small glimpse into Gaia’s personality and strength. This dystopia sets up a promising conclusion to the trilogy that will combine the first and the second.

I really cannot say enough about how excellent this book is. So many dystopias miss an aspect–perhaps pushing the society, or a love triangle, but falling flat in some other aspect. While there was a “love square”, O’Brien handled the romantic intrigue with great care so that it did not feel forced or as if Gaia’s decisions and personality relied on the inclusion of a a boyfriend in order to complete her as a person.

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Crossed (Matched, #2)Crossed by Ally Condie

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Crossed picks up where Matched leaves off…There is alternating first person perspective between Cassie and Ky which allows for a deeper characterization of both characters. While I like the ambiguity surrounding the Enemy vs. Society with the added tension of the Rising, I hope that Condie has enough stamina to continue revelations into the third book. I enjoyed the back story and addition of new characters; I also enjoyed the suggestion that the Society is doing something even more secretive and deceptive than originally expected. Is the Enemy a fabrication of the Society? Is the Rising? These questions are interesting enough for me to continue into the third book when it is released. However, while there is more action in Crossed than in Matched, I found myself annoyed with all-too-YA-common-themes. I am truly sick of love triangles. I don’t care what they represent, I have had enough with them. I was also distracted by numerous typos in my print copy. Overall, I liked it, but think it could have used another couple months of revisions and editing.

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See my review of the first in the series, Matched, here.

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Birthmarked by Caragh M. O’Brien

Birthmarked (Birthmarked, #1)Birthmarked by Caragh M. O’Brien

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed this dystopian novel. I snuck it in between Victorian children’s books by leaving early for school and taking the long way on the T.

Gaia’s society “advances” three babies a month from her sector to the Enclave where they are raised with every advantage, technology, money and society. The divide between the walls has a long established history. Gaia’s mother and father are taken by the Enclave for questioning, and Gaia is left to take on her mother role as midwife, while also keeping a secret safe. Uncertain as to what the secret means, Gaia enters the Enclave by stealth in order to find her parents and finds that the coveted world inside the wall is a lot darker than she expected.

With a plenitude of dystopias hitting the teen market, this one offered something new. There were several moments that took me by surprise.Gaia’s strong character is tinged with a strong sense of right and wrong that does not necessarily correspond with the law of the Enclave.

If you are looking for another book to fill the gap from Hunger Games, Matched or Delirium, Birthmarked is the next title you should read.

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Veronica Roth’s Divergent

Divergent (Divergent, #1)Divergent by Veronica Roth
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Well, I will preface this review with the fact that I TRULY enjoyed reading this book. I love the characters and the character development. Beatrice’s dystopian world is interesting and the choices she has to make prove her humanity.

The premise is that humanity decided to create 5 factions based upon the human characteristics that each group believed to be the downfall of the previous society. Each faction is assigned specific tasks to run the society–the selfless are in government, those who seek knowledge are teachers and researchers, the brave defend, etc. Those who stray outside their faction are often persecuted…which seems to be an obvious flaw in the creation of this society. My suspension of disbelief was un-suspendable for this divisive premise. I cannot see ANY future society attempt a new government BASED UPON DISTINCT DIFFERENCES who shun those with mixed personalities and those who value more than one attribute (bravery, peace, selflessness, knowledge and honesty).Like most dystopias, this one also priveleges the present system of democracy and does not offer any new insights into society’s–or humanity’s problems. This dystopia does not offer a solution for the current environmental, political or societal issues, but instead complicates a possible future in order to emphasize that we have got it right in the present.

That being said, this novel is full of action and suspense and I could not put it down after half-way through. I look forward to the rest of the trilogy.

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Sapphique by Catherine Fisher

Sapphique (Incarceron, #2)Sapphique by Catherine Fisher
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I enjoyed this book much more than the first. While the first was great, this one was less predictable and there was more explanation about the world in which the story is set. This definite dystopia asks a lot of questions from its readers about the nature of reality, how technology can deceive reality and how dreams and the real intersect. Highly thought-provoking, I would recommend reading this title for the paradoxes of technology and science, creator and controller, futuristic past and the ruins of the future.

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LOST AND FOUND!! Shaun Tan wins the OSCAR!

I AM OVER THE MOON!

My favorite illustrator ever to walk this great planet just won an Oscar for his short film adaptation of “The Lost Thing”.

Truly I am ecstatic. He is the single most reason I have been considering studying for my PhD in Australia. I kid you not. I am so happy that the world will now see his amazing work.

THE LOST THING SHORT FILM WEBSITE

My favorites of his are listed in my list of my-all-time-favorite-books-ever-to-be-written-in-the-history-of-the-world but also “The Arrival” and “Tales of Outer Suburbia” are fantastic as well!

If you are interested in his PB work, I would recommend the 3-in-1 collection called “Lost and Found” (Contains my favorites and “Lost Thing”) being released in the US March first!

Here is the link: Lost and Found

Lost and Found Cover

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Some recent reads.

In the time since my last posting I have read several more books.

Hitler’s Youth by some guy I can’t remember right now. But it was a very informative, engaging Non-fiction middle/teen read about the young people involved with Nazis. The things I learned…

House with the Clock in Its Walls by John Bellairs: This was a reread. My grandmother recommended it to me ages ago so I was quite pleased to read it again. Such a good little mystery. And such queer little characters.

Coraline by Neil Gaiman: I read this ages ago as well, saw the movie last year, then reread it yesterday. And the book remains superior. But, what a creepy book. If I was 10 that thing would give me nightmares!

Sabriel by Garth Nix: When I read this 3 years ago I hated it. HATED it. Something about Touchstone and the hurriedness of the ending really turned me off. Upon rereading, it wasn’t so terrible. I moved it up to  a 5/10 from a 1/10.

Here we go queer and feminist studies in Sci-fi horror! Brought to you in Sci-fi/Fantasy class this Thursday!

 

Books I WANT TO READ REALLY BADLY BUT CAN’T BECAUSE I AM A FULL TIME GRAD STUDENT WITH A PART TIME JOB:

Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare

Solomon’s Eye by Jonathan Stroud

Harry. I miss him.

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Podkayne of Mars by Robert Heinlein

Heinlein, Robert (1963). Podkayne of Mars. NY: G.P. Putnam’s Sons.

A human resident of Mars, Podkayne (Poddy) is beautiful charming and intelligent. She wants more than anything to be a pilot and a career woman, though at the moment of writing her journal, she desires to visit Earth with her brother, Clark. Unfortunately due to a mix-up at the fertility lab, Poddy’s mother ends up giving “birth” to triplets and the trip is cancelled. Luckily, Poddy’s “Uncle” Tom–an important diplomat, Ambassador and friend of the family–offers to take Poddy and Clark on a trip to Earth, with a side trip to Venus. Little do the siblings know, their Uncle Tom is using them for leverage in intergalactic peace negotiation between Earth, Mars and Venus. Poddy’s and Clark’s lives are in danger from groups who oppose the peace negotiations. Kidnap, blackmail and possible death loom over the siblings and Tom as they must figure out a way to save their lives and keep the peace.

This novel is part of Heinlein’s juveniles for young adults and children. Often hailed as the first feminist science fiction text, Podkayne of Mars is…interesting. I am uncertain if I despise the book, or enjoy it because of the possibilities of dissection it presents. Certainly I can understand an argument for Poddy as a feminist: she wants a career before marriage, she holds power over men, and wants to have it all…in 1963. That is a fair argument. But this book was REprinted in 2010 (see various covers below) and has been reprinted continuously since its original publication. This fact amazes me, because as a member of Generation Y, I see merely an anti-feminist text: Poddy’s power comes from her sexuality, and her ambiguous fate in the end is caused by a maternal instinct to save a fairy baby. She is scorned for her desire to have a career, and as the book progresses her desire for a family and babies slowly overtakes her original ambitions. I intend on exploring these arguments in a paper panel about the “Fantastic Ridiculous” for the IAFA with a comparison to Katniss from The Hunger Games Trilogy.

How now to hook the Generation Z into such a dated text? If the book is presented as a historical text, and even as a ridiculous book, it is possible to gain critical readers who can explore this book in comparison to modern novels. I think that presenting potential readers with the more ridiculous and obviously anti-feminist quotes will stir interest and discussion. Some of these can include:

“But it is a mistake for a girl to beat out a male at any test of physical strength” (pg 66).

“It does not do to let any man of any age know that one (a  female) has brains, not on first acquaintance; intelligence in a woman is likely to make a man suspicious and uneasy” (pg 70).

Below are several covers from reprintings over the years.

 

Original 1963 Cover

Podkayne 1966

Podkayne Cover 1968

Podkayne 2010


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