Archive for the ‘Science Fiction’ Category

Review of Scythe, by Neal Shusterman

Thursday, March 16th, 2017

Scythe

by Neal Shusterman

Simon & Schuster, 2016. 435 pages.
Starred Review
2017 Printz Honor

Scythe is set in the future, when mankind has conquered death completely. The Age of Mortality is over. Everybody’s got nanites inside them that heal them quickly. Revival centers can bring “deadish” people back to life – even people who fall from buildings and splatter on the pavement. (Which of course becomes a reckless teen thing to do.)

Yes, people grow old, but when their body starts wearing out, they get surgery to “turn the corner” and rejuvenate their body to a younger age.

Earth indeed is run by computers, but that’s not seen as a disaster in this book. Here’s how they describe it.

The greatest achievement of the human race was not conquering death. It was ending government.

Back in the days when the world’s digital network was called “the cloud,” people thought giving too much power to an artificial intelligence would be a very bad idea. Cautionary tales abounded in every form of media. The machines were always the enemy. But then the cloud evolved into the Thunderhead, sparking with consciousness, or at least a remarkable facsimile. In stark contrast to people’s fears, the Thunderhead did not seize power. Instead, it was people who came to realize that it was far better suited to run things than politicians.

In those days before the Thunderhead, human arrogance, self-interest, and endless in-fighting determined the rule of law. Inefficient. Imperfect. Vulnerable to all forms of corruption.

But the Thunderhead was incorruptible. Not only that, but its algorithms were built on the full sum of human knowledge. All the time and money wasted on political posturing, the lives lost in wars, the populations abused by despots – all gone the moment the Thunderhead was handed power. Of course, the politicians, dictators, and warmongers weren’t happy, but their voices, which had always seemed so loud and intimidating, were suddenly insignificant. The emperor not only had no clothes, turns out he had no testicles either.

The Thunderhead quite literally knew everything. When and where to build roads; how to eliminate waste in food distribution and thus end hunger; how to protect the environment from the ever-growing human population. It created jobs, it clothed the poor, and it established the World Code. Now, for the first time in history, law was no longer the shadow of justice, it was justice.

The Thunderhead gave us a perfect world. The utopia that our ancestors could only dream of is our reality.

There was only one thing the Thunderhead was not given authority over.

The Scythedom.

When it was decided that people needed to die in order to ease the tide of population growth, it was also decided that this must be the responsibility of humans. Bridge repair and urban planning could be handled by the Thunderhead, but taking a life was an act of conscience and consciousness. Since it could not be proven that the Thunderhead had either, the Scythedom was born.

Scythes operate under their own jurisdiction, ruled by ten commandments. Scythes are to kill without bias, bigotry, or malice aforethought. They kill within quotas and give a year of immunity to the families of those who submit to the gleaning. The families of those who resist are gleaned as well.

Scythes are to lead an exemplary life in word and deed and to keep a journal.

So this is the background of this book. Such creative world building! It makes you think about the repercussions of such a world, and Neal Shusterman brings up many things I would have never dreamed of.

As the book begins, two teens, Citra and Rowan, are chosen to be apprentices of Scythe Faraday, a conscientious scythe. He chooses them partly because they don’t want to be scythes.

But scythes don’t usually take two apprentices. Scythe Faraday assures them that whoever is not chosen will resume a normal life after the year is up. But at the gathering of scythes, a new “modern” faction takes issue with that and demands that whichever one becomes a scythe, their first act will be to glean the other.

Scythe Faraday thinks of a way to get around this, but it backfires. The book takes the shape of a whodunit and a thriller.

Meanwhile, this other faction of scythes includes a leader who carries out mass gleanings and takes joy in killing. Which group will prevail, the conscientious gleaners who live simply and strive to serve humanity, or those who take joy in killing and think humanity should serve them?

This book is outstanding. The premise sounds a little grim, but it’s thoughtful and visionary and a good read as well.

The flap says this is the start of a series, but the book ties up completely. I wouldn’t have guessed it was more than a stand-alone if I hadn’t read the flap. All the same, I will be delighted to return to this intriguing future earth.

storyman.com
simonandschuster.com/teen

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Review of Illuminae, by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Thursday, March 9th, 2017

Illuminae

The Illuminae Files_01

by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Alfred A. Knopf, 2015. 599 pages.
Starred Review
2016 Sonderbooks Stand-out: #13 Teen Fiction
2016 Cybils Award – Young Adult Speculative Fiction

First, a nod to Illuminae for winning the Cybils Award! My committee chose the book as one of our Finalists in Young Adult Speculative Fiction, and the final team of judges chose it as the winner! (I think I was the one who first put it on my working shortlist, though definitely not the last. It was one of the first books I read for the Cybils, while I was treating myself to a reading weekend right at the start. It was a big contrast with the fantasy I had been reading.)

Illuminae is a science fiction thriller. It’s set up as a file — a file of information taken from ship’s records and other sources. There’s a memo at the front, addressed to Executive Director Frobisher from The Illuminae Group.

You’ll find all intel we could unearth concerning the Kerenza disaster compiled here in hard copy. Where possible, scans of original documentation are included. Fun Times commence with the destruction of the Kerenza colony (one year ago today) and proceed chronologically through events on battle carrier Alexander and science vessel Hypatia as best as we can reconstruct them.

I found this bit quite amusing:

Some written materials were censored by the UTA and had to be reconstructed by our commtechs, though profanity remains censored as per your instruction. Sure, the story kicks off with the deaths of thousands of people, but god forbid there be cussing in it, right?

Throughout, all swearing was blacked out. So no one can complain about profanity in this novel. It amused me how one’s mind fills in the words, though.

The story, though. The story begins with the transcripts of “extracts of debriefing interviews with the subjects of this dossier, Kady Grant and Ezra Mason. The interviews were conducted shortly after the evacuation of Kerenza.”

It all began on the day Kady broke up with Ezra and was staring out the windows of her classroom figuring out all the things she should say to him. So she saw the spaceships arrive and fire on their settlement.

Their settlement was illegal, but had been there for twenty years. But a ship from rival corporation BeiTech came to wipe them out. Kady had her truck in the parking lot because she didn’t want to ride the tube home with Ezra, so she got to her truck. When Ezra knocked on the window, they both were able — just barely — to make it to the shuttles and supposed safety, though they were shipped onto two different ships of the three escaping.

The largest ship is the Alexander, a UTA battlecarrier, going to escort the other two ships to the nearest wormhole, 7 months travel away. The Alexander suffered some damage. It is not able to create its own temporary wormhole for transport, and there’s damage to AIDAN, their artificial intelligence network.

Kady is “good with computers” and figures out how to communicate with Ezra, despite all communication being shut down. And she wants to know what’s going on.

And things rapidly get worse and worse. Ezra has been conscripted to be a fighter pilot, so he witnesses AIDAN blowing up the other ship they’re escorting, though he refuses to fire on the escape pods filled with civilians, which are now under quarantine in Landing Bay 4 — but then the powers-that-be blame the destruction on the Lincoln, a BeiTech fighter ship that is out there, closing on them.

AIDAN gets shut down, but they know they’ll have to turn it on again when the Lincoln catches up to them in order to have any chance of escaping the Lincoln.

And — from there, the situation rapidly gets worse and worse. In this book you’ve got a virus that turns people into what are essentially psychotic zombies on an enclosed spaceship, military types incompetently trying to keep secrets, artificial intelligence taking over control, and an enemy space ship quickly approaching to blow them out of the sky.

And it’s a lot more exciting than I made it sound.

I realized just how high the death count was when I read the Acknowledgments at the back. It included lines like this:

… we also hope you never find yourself unexpectedly shivved through the eyehole of your hazmat suit by a small child.

… May your throats never be snipped open by a lunatic with a pair of pinking shears.

… May you never die howling, abandoned in an escape pod at the end of the universe.

… May you never be run over by a seventeen-year-old in a stolen truck after you shot her ex-boyfriend.

… We hope you’re never incinerated in a nuclear firestorm initiated by a mostly insane artificial intelligence off the shoulder of Kerenza VII.

You get the idea!

I had a few quibbles, especially with the portrayal of AIDAN. But mostly, despite the body count, this book had me cheering for Kady and her quest to get out the truth about the attack on Kerenza. I did wonder, many times, how in the universe these files were going to survive.

I’m reading a lot of fantasy novels for the Cybils, so it was refreshing to read some hard science fiction, executed brilliantly.

And I must mention, in case you couldn’t figure it out from the subtitle, that this is only Book One of a longer series. However, that is forgivable, since this segment of the story is complete, so you’re not left in an agony of suspense — though you definitely want to find out what happens next. They hit the sweet spot of what a reader would like to see in a Book One.

amiekaufman.com
jaykristoff.com
randomhouseteens.com

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Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

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Review of Games Wizards Play, by Diane Duane

Thursday, February 9th, 2017

Games Wizards Play

by Diane Duane

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016. 620 pages.
Starred Review
2016 Sonderbooks Stand-out: #8 Teen Fiction

Games Wizards Play is the tenth book in the brilliant Young Wizards series by Diane Duane. I’m very sorry to report that I didn’t get the ninth book read – but I was still able to follow this one.

However, this is a series that you will appreciate more if you start from the beginning. The way magic works in these books is very well-worked-out by the author and all follows definite rules – but it will be easier to understand those rules if you’ve been coming along on the journey from the start.

And things do get complicated and esoteric. Somewhere around Book Five, the characters started dealing with alternate universes. In Book Three, they dealt with other galaxies and planets and sentient computers.

The books have gotten longer and longer, too, which I confess is probably why I never got around to reading Book Nine, A Wizard of Mars. It’s also why I hadn’t gotten around to reading this book until I had a whole weekend where I was planning to spend as much time as possible reading.

This book was actually perfect for a Reading Interlude. I had a nice chunk of time set aside for reading – and how lovely to get to spend that time with these characters I’ve enjoyed so long. I think if I tried to read this book a little bit at a time, I might have got lost in the technical details of wizardry, which do fill a lot of the book. As it was, this was delightful weekend reading, and I put off going to my gaming group until I got the last chapter read.

In this volume, initially neither the universe nor the planet is even at stake. There’s an Invitational competition for young wizards to present new spells they’ve worked out. These Invitationals happen once every eleven years, and our heroes – Nita and Kit and Nita’s sister Dairine – are being asked to act as mentors.

Their mentees are interesting but talented characters. Penn, mentored by Nita and Kit, has a spell designed to protect earth from sunspots (as far as I can translate the technical language, anyway). Dairine’s mentee Mehrnaz lives in Mumbai and is from a large family of wizards, but has oppressive family dynamics.

Penn behaves like a jerk, especially toward Nita, but his wizardry is good – and there seems to be more going on there than meets the eye.

Meanwhile, Nita and Kit have decided to become boyfriend and girlfriend – and are bothered by how much that changes things between them. And everyone around them seems to be talking about sex. But they’re too busy being wizards.

The pace of the book is leisurely. There is tension and they’re in a hurry to get ready for the competition – but the author puts in more scenes than are absolutely essential and takes some time exploring subtleties and thoughts and feelings. You often read the point-of-view character’s thoughts in this book. And yet, in this case, I didn’t find that annoying. Maybe because I already know and love these characters? Maybe because I’m already interested in all the different relationships and the various subtleties of life as a Wizard. Anyway, that was partly why it was nice to have a long, concentrated span of time set aside to read this book. I wasn’t impatient to get to the end, and I enjoyed the journey.

I wasn’t surprised that a fairly significant earth-changing situation did come up at the end. Though mostly this book was about relationships between wizards when there was not an earth-shaking crisis.

If you haven’t started with this series and if you like science fiction at all, I highly recommend it! Go back to the first book, So You Want to Be a Wizard? It turns out that all over our world Wizards, dedicated to reducing Entropy, are helping the Powers That Be and fighting the good fight against the Lone Power. These books tell that story and take the reader all over the universe.

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hmhco.com

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Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

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Review of Learning to Swear in America

Saturday, November 5th, 2016

learning_to_swear_in_america_largeLearning to Swear in America

by Katie Kennedy

Bloomsbury, 2016. 340 pages.
Starred Review

17-year-old Yuri Strelnikov, PhD, has been sent from Moscow to help NASA. An asteroid is headed for earth and is going to explode above Los Angeles and destroy the entire region. Unless they can figure out how to stop it. Yuri has done work with antimatter for which he hopes to win the Nobel Prize. If he survives the asteroid.

There are many factors in play. The scientists at NASA have trouble respecting a teenager. Nor do they want someone from Moscow to know what weapons are available to use against the asteroid. Never mind that this information would help with the calculations. But Yuri learns they don’t intend to let him go back home. If they survive.

Meanwhile, Yuri meets a girl, a janitor’s daughter. She is interested in showing Yuri what it’s like for a normal teenager in America. She gets him to come to high school with her to deal with her sadistic algebra teacher. He even offers to take her to prom – during which there’s a message that news about the asteroid has taken a dramatic turn for the worse.

I like the scene where Dovie and her brother Lennon take Yuri to a mall.

“You see that?” Yuri said. “If we ever have to figure out who is American spy, it will be very easy.”

“Um, what?” Lennon said.

“Look,” Yuri said, gesturing expansively. “Everybody standing near wall is touching wall. They lean, or put hand on it. It’s like you people have magnetic spines. You get within half meter of some wall and — sloooop — you touch it.” Yuri stood on one foot and then tilted toward the front of a candle store as though caught in its pull. “You tell Russian to stand by wall, hour later he’ll still be standing by wall. Not touching it.” He shook his head. “Your spies have no chance.”

This story is full of charm. Yuri’s just a kid who’s trying to save the world. Oh, and win a Nobel Prize.

katiekennedybooks.com
@katiewritesbks

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Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

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Review of Unidentified Suburban Object, by Mike Jung

Saturday, September 10th, 2016

unidentified_suburban_object_largeUnidentified Suburban Object

by Mike Jung

Arthur A. Levine Books (Scholastic), 2016. 265 pages.

Chloe Cho has always felt different. She’s the only Korean student in her entire school in her town of Primrose Heights. And her parents won’t tell her anything about their background. When she tries to research her roots, they react strangely and change the subject.

So Chloe’s excited about the new social studies teacher at their school – Ms. Lee, who’s Korean. Maybe Chloe can finally talk with someone about her heritage.

But when Ms. Lee’s first assignment is to write down a family story, Chloe’s parents simply won’t cooperate. They buy Chloe the new violin she’s wanted for years – could it just be a distraction?

Eventually, Chloe learns that she is even more of an outsider than she had thought. Then she has to figure out what to tell her best friend, who couldn’t possibly believe her, could she?

This is a middle school story about friendships and family and fitting in. Along the way, it asks some thought-provoking questions and makes you wonder about some things our society takes for granted.

mikejung.com
scholastic.com

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Review of Across the Universe, by Beth Revis

Wednesday, July 6th, 2016

across_the_universe_largeAcross the Universe

by Beth Revis

Penguin, 2011. 398 pages.
Starred Review

This is a science fiction dystopian story crossed with locked room mystery.

Across the Universe is told from two perspectives. First, we have Amy. As the book opens, she watches both her parents get cryogenically frozen to travel on a space ship for 300 years to terraform a new planet. Amy’s father tells her she doesn’t have to go through with it, but she decides to stay with them.

The other narrator is Elder, a sixteen-year-old who lives on the spaceship Godspeed, being trained to be the next leader. He’s frustrated because Eldest hasn’t been training him as he should be. He is destined to lead all the people on the ship – Shouldn’t he know more about it?

Elder finds out about the frozen people in the belly of the ship. Not long after, the beautiful girl with the amazing red hair wakes up. They are fifty years away from landing – who woke her early? How will she cope with life on Godspeed, which is not what she signed up for?

The story continues, seen from both Amy’s and Elder’s perspectives. Things that Elder thinks are normal, Amy sees as seriously flawed. Eldest tells them this is how things must be. Amy tries to explain what life was like on earth, but most of the people of Godspeed believe she’s crazy.

Then more of the frozen passengers thaw – and some die. Who is responsible? Are Amy’s parents’ lives in danger? What secrets are behind the strange life on the ship? And will Amy ever see the stars again? Does Elder have what it takes to lead his people? When should he speak up, and when is it best to simply obey Eldest? What does Eldest know about their mission that he is keeping hidden?

Eldest tells Elder that discord comes from differences. Amy is different. Will the discord she brings destroy the ship?

This is the first book of a trilogy. By waiting so long to read it (I meant to read it ever since it was first published), I will not have to wait to read the sequels! I’ll let you know what I think….

AcrosstheUniverseBook.com
bethrevis.com
razorbillbooks.com
penguin.com/teens

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Review of Seveneves, by Neal Stephenson

Saturday, April 30th, 2016

seveneves_largeSEVENEVES

by Neal Stephenson
performed by Mary Robinette Kowal and Will Damron

Brilliance Audio, 2015. 32 hours on 25 discs.

When I told a coworker how much I liked The Martian, he recommended Seveneves. I’d long meant to read some Neal Stephenson, so I took on the project, listening in the car over the course of more than a month. (Fortunately, no one had a hold on the audiobook before I finished.)

First, the good things. This book, like The Martian, has a huge emphasis on technology. Almost all of it is made to sound plausible, with facts given in context and people using actual science to solve their problems.

And they are truly formidable problems! The situation in the book is this: Something (called “the Agent”) from outer space blasted through the moon and blew it into pieces. At first, people just think of it as an amazing curiosity in the night sky. But then a collision happens between two pieces of the moon – and scientists realize that there are going to be more and more collisions until finally, in about three years, the earth’s atmosphere will be filled with meteorites and everything on earth will be incinerated. This “hard rain” will last about five thousand years.

So – the people of earth begin making plans. They’re going to send up pods that can be attached to the International Space Station and try to save humanity by sending people into orbit.

More than half the book concerns these efforts of making a place for humanity to survive on the International Space Station. Then we fast forward five thousand years when their descendants begin to go back to New Earth.

I’m afraid I’m not crazy about this book. But once I’d listened to hours and hours, you can be sure I figured I might as well finish. The book is rather depressing. Besides the 7 billion people who die on earth, there are occasional scenes of gruesome violence. This book doesn’t paint a nice picture of the human race. You’d think with such high stakes, people would work together a little better.

I’m sure the science is well-researched – but I didn’t buy it at every stage. Supposedly the human race survives in space after getting down to seven living women (the Seven Eves). This is with the help of state-of-the-art genetic engineering equipment, but that was still something of a stretch. I also wasn’t sure I believed that after five thousand years there would still be seven distinct races.

And five thousand years later, ready to move back onto the planet, humans are at war with one another. There’s a huge Cold War going on between certain sets of races. Depressing to think that humans would have learned nothing in five thousand years.

Of course, the whole premise of the book runs counter to a Christian world view. Indeed, in the book after the destruction of earth, all religions die out among humans. Because 7 billion people died.

So this is indeed an interesting book because of the technology described. The story does have many moments of tension and amazing but plausible overcoming of great odds. But if you’re looking for heart-warming, definitely look somewhere else.

nealstephenson.com

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Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

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Review of Winter, by Marissa Meyer

Saturday, April 16th, 2016

winter_largeWinter

The Lunar Chronicles, Book Four

by Marissa Meyer

Feiwel and Friends, 2015. 827 pages.

Ah! The Lunar Chronicles come to a satisfying end in this book. If you have read this far, I don’t have to say anything to get you to read the final volume, so let me make some comments about the series in general.

What I loved most was the fairy tale parallels. Cinder paralleled “Cinderella,” Scarlet paralleled “Little Red Riding Hood,” Cress paralleled “Rapunzel,” and this final book, Winter, parallels “Snow White.” However, all the characters from each of the previous books are still in the story – and by the final book, elements from Snow White’s story seemed forced. (Whereas in Cinder they arrived in natural and clever ways.) In particular, the part about the poisoned apple seemed totally unnecessary in the overall scheme, and I didn’t really believe that a disease would progress the way this one was portrayed.

But I do like the character of Winter, and even her status as Queen Levana’s stepdaughter worked well. I do like that each of the main characters is very different from the others.

I still didn’t really believe in the wolf-human hybrids, which has been a problem for me since Scarlet. I didn’t particularly like the additional information we got about that in this book – didn’t make it easier to believe.

At first when I opened this book, I thought, okay, we’ve got four couples. Two have matched up with the one they love but have some obstacles between them. Two are in love but haven’t admitted it to each other yet. And I knew all four would get together by the end of the book, and I thought that was a bit much. But I have to hand it to Marissa Meyers – she kept each romance distinct and interesting. All four plotlines are definitely not simple!

In fact, if anything the plot was a bit too convoluted with all those characters to juggle. But that did keep things from being at all boring or predictable and kept you turning pages. She is one of those authors who gives you a lot of interior monologue – which means it takes a little longer for actions to happen. This book is more than 800 pages long, since that’s what it took to tie everything together. In some spots, we were following three different sets of characters in different places, so that slowed things down, too.

However, all that said – in this book pulling all the threads together, Marissa Meyer accomplishes a well-earned Happily Ever After. Though I was able to put down the book and go to sleep, I was never even slightly tempted to set it aside altogether, and I began reading the same day my hold arrived. We’ve got life and death situations and the fate of earth at stake. We’ve got an intrepid band of rebels who go deep into the tyrant’s territory. Can they win the day?

marissameyer.com
thelunarchronicles.com
macteenbooks.com

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Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

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Review of To Hold the Bridge, by Garth Nix

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2016

to_hold_the_bridge_largeTo Hold the Bridge

by Garth Nix

Harper, 2015. 400 pages.
Starred Review

This is a collection of stories by the brilliant Garth Nix. Based on the copyright page, most were published previously, but not necessarily in the United States. (Garth Nix lives in Australia.)

They are uniformly well-written, but there is a tremendous variety of topics. The title story is set in the Old Kingdom world of Sabriel, Lirael, Abhorsen, Across the Wall, and Clariel. There are also stories set in the world of his other novels A Confusion of Princes and Shade’s Children.

But there are a wide variety of things going on here. His magic always was original. There is a dark twist in a lot of the tales, but this book makes for tremendously enjoyable reading.

I liked the story about the granddaughter of William the Conqueror and the Sword in the Stone. It turns out the magic of the Britons, holly and forest magic, conflicted with the iron magic of the Norman conquerors. This story is an example of Garth Nix’s complicated magical rules which he communicates to the reader through the eyes of his characters who already understand it. He never descends into expository hell, the bane of many fantasy writers. And he can even pull this off in short stories.

Besides revisiting his own worlds, he also goes into the worlds of The Martian Chronicles, by Edgar Rice Burroughs, Hellboy, and Sherlock Holmes — introducing his brother Sir Magnus Holmes, who is a specialist in occult magic. I especially liked the retelling of Rapunzel, where Rapunzel cleverly exploits the requirements of how a witch must treat a guest. Though the witch does some clever exploitation herself.

There are two vampire stories and a zombie story (which is also a unicorn story) and a story about a witches’ school (another one that’s especially good). I did mention there’s a wide variety in these tales. It took me a long time to read, because each story is so satisfying in itself, it’s easy to stop at the end of a story.

A magnificent collection by a master world-builder who also knows how to show you the hearts of his characters.

garthnix.com
epicreads.com

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Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

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Review of Ancillary Mercy, by Ann Leckie

Sunday, March 6th, 2016

ancillary_mercy_largeAncillary Mercy

by Ann Leckie

Orbit Books, 2015. 359 pages.
Starred Review

Wow! I suspected that I would appreciate the second book, Ancillary Sword, much more after reading the third book in the trilogy, and I was absolutely right.

Yes, you need to read this trilogy in order. It’s a unit, and everything comes together in this final book.

Book One, Ancillary Justice was about Breq, who was once the ship Justice of Toren and is now a lone ancillary, seeking revenge on the tyrant who destroyed most of her and the captain she loved. In the process of revenge-seeking, she starts a civil war, or at least makes obvious that a war is going on.

In Book Two, Ancillary Sword, Breq is Fleet Captain of a new ship, Mercy of Kalr, with a crew of humans, but with access to everything the ship senses. She goes to a distant planet and deals with politics and intrigue on the planet and its orbiting space station, which has its own AI.

In this third book, Ancillary Mercy, the part of the Lord of the Radch that hates Breq comes to the planet looking for her. Breq still wants revenge, and Breq is definitely in danger, and plot threads are woven in intricate ways.

I can’t say a lot about the plot, since I don’t want to give anything away from the earlier books. By this time, I’d gotten used to everyone being referred to as “she.” One thing I especially liked about this book was that even with the large cast of characters, there’s growth in almost all of the characters. Some things Breq was doing as a matter of course in the last book, she’s now questioning. And Breq’s lieutenants face their own challenges, and even the station and the ship come up with some surprising character development.

These books make you think about humanity and gender and perspective and justice and love and relationships in whole new ways — all while telling an intricately woven, imaginatively inventive story with thrillingly dangerous action sequences. (Yes, Breq’s trend of getting seriously injured in each book continues.)

I can’t wait for my son to read it so I can discuss it with him! (He gave me a copy of the first book for Christmas.) This book is mind-blowing and amazing.

annleckie.com
orbitbooks.net

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Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

What did you think of this book?