Tag Archives: scifi

Birthmarked #3: Promised, by Caragh O’Brien

Promised (Birthmarked, #3)Promised by Caragh M. O’Brien
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

After waiting for a year for this to come out, I eagerly reread “Prized” and dove right into “Promised.” I liked it, but I hyped it too much in my mind. The first two books in the trilogy were SO GOOD. The sequel was better than the first…Yet, the third installment did not live up to my expectations.

Certainly, there were surprises and twists–and O’Brien is amazing with her irony…but, I just feel…emotionally let down.

I can’t say there wasn’t a satisfying resolution–because there was. I can’t say that thinks were tied up too neatly, because they weren’t. Characters die that you are close to…perhaps, I am sad for the characters? Perhaps, I wanted something as unique as “Prized”? I don’t know exactly.

There are many issues that hit home and hit hard: artificial insemination, adoption, genetics, abortion, class differences, motherhood and feminist ideology…And the group of rebels is seeks justice and reformation, not just an overthrow. There is a lot of awesomeness: great themes, excellent characterizations, emotional development and great story arc.

It is missing something that the previous two books had, which I think is its freshness in the world of YA dystopias. Either way, it is a great read!

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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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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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