A few quick reviews of some books I haven’t gotten around to reviewing yet. Kind of a mixed bag this week, but one clear winner! Hopefully these bite-sized reviews will be enough to feed your fiction addiction!
Published by Random House in 8/2011
Genres: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Dystopian
In the year 2044, reality is an ugly place. The only time teenage Wade Watts really feels alive is when he’s jacked into the virtual utopia known as the OASIS. Wade’s devoted his life to studying the puzzles hidden within this world’s digital confines, puzzles that are based on their creator’s obsession with the pop culture of decades past and that promise massive power and fortune to whoever can unlock them. When Wade stumbles upon the first clue, he finds himself beset by players willing to kill to take this ultimate prize. The race is on, and if Wade’s going to survive, he’ll have to win—and confront the real world he’s always been so desperate to escape.
This book had a little bit of something for everyone. First of all, anyone who grew up in the 80s (like I did) will love it for the copious 80s references – if you happened to be a computer or video game geek in the 80’s this book was pretty much written for you! But even if you don’t get all of the 80s pop culture references, I still think you’ll love this book if you’re a fan of video games, dystopian or sci fi. Okay, I’ll admit that this doesn’t cover everyone, but this book is sure to please a good portion of the population. (I loved it and so did my 13-year-old son).
This book looks into the possibly-not-so-distant future when people are living more virtually than they live in the real world. Who needs to have a living breathing job or life when you can live out a much more exciting virtual existence? Wade is one teenager living in this world – he barely exists outside of OASIS, and he’s just fine with that. He’s dedicated his life to searching for the “Easter egg” that will give whoever finds it untold fame and riches. So far, no one has been successful in even making a first step toward finding it, but when Wade gets the ball rolling, he’s suddenly thrust into a very deadly race toward the final prize.
Like I said, the book has a little bit of everything – sci fi, action, a virtual world where anything can happen, fleshed out characters that have you rooting for them, a bit of romance – even though I wouldn’t consider myself a video game or computer person, I was engaged every moment of the read! I highly recommend this one. It’s definitely an all-time favorite sci-fi – my favorite since the old days when I read Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy! 5/5 Stars!
Published by Katherine Tegan Books on 3/1/16
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance
Sonya was born with the rare gift to feel what those around her feel—both physically and emotionally—a gift she’s kept hidden from the empire for seventeen long years. After a reckless mistake wipes out all the other girls with similar abilities, Sonya is hauled off to the palace and forced to serve the emperor as his sovereign Auraseer.
Tasked with sensing the intentions of would-be assassins, Sonya is under constant pressure to protect the emperor. But Sonya’s power is untamed and reckless, and she can’t always decipher when other people’s impulses end and her own begin. In a palace full of warring emotions and looming darkness, Sonya fears that the biggest danger to the empire may be herself.
As she struggles to wrangle her abilities, Sonya seeks refuge in her tenuous alliances with the charming-yet-volatile Emperor Valko and his idealistic younger brother, Anton, the crown prince. But when threats of revolution pit the two brothers against each other, Sonya must choose which brother to trust—and which to betray.
For some reason, this book just didn’t click with me. I think the main reason was that I couldn’t connect to these characters. Too much time was spent building up a “forced romance” between Sonya and the emperor, and Sonya’s confusion about her feelings just got a bit old and frustrating after a while. On the one hand, there was this epic potential – Sonya could feel other people’s emotions and she sometimes had trouble separating them from her own. The book actually started out fabulously – with her struggling to keep herself from falling victim to the emotions of a desperate mob – but after those initial few scenes, her powers weren’t used for anything except to be overcome by the emperor’s lust for her. I wasn’t thrilled. And there actually wasn’t much to the plot besides the love triangle romance, so I found myself getting bored. Sure, there was a revolution – that should be a big plot point, right? But, eh – I don’t know, I just wasn’t inspired to care. On the positive side, even though there’s going to be another book, there was no cliffhanger ending or anything. Things were wrapped up, but left open enough for future books. Unfortunately, I don’t think I care enough to read them.
***Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was given and all opinions are my own.***
Published by Zondervan on 3/1/16
Genres: Young Adult, Christian, Historical Fiction
The only thing harder than fighting for what’s right…is fighting their feelings for each other.
For three years, the Cloaked Bandit has terrorized Wessex, robbing the nobility by knifepoint and a well-placed arrow. But little dos anyone know, this bandit is in fact Juliana Wessex, the rightful ruler of the land and a girl her tyrannical uncle—the current Lord Wessex—believes was killed along with her father.
Juliana has become skilled at hiding from Lord Wessex in the forest, using her stolen goods to provide food and shelter to the peasants her uncle has taxed into poverty. But when she robs Collin Goodrich, her red hair betrays her true identity. Lord Collin remembers Juliana from their childhood—and challenges her to stay on his estate for a week in hopes she will leave her thieving ways and become a proper lady once more. Juliana is intrigued by Collin and his charms, but only time will tell if he can overcome her distaste of the nobility—as well as win her heart.
I have to admit that it took me a little while to warm up to this book. At first, I was frustrated that Juliana was supposed to be this really impressive thief that had escaped capture for years, and yet she suddenly turned into a bumbling amateur as soon as Collin arrived on the scene. First off, she apparently had no idea how to cover her tracks (how had she gotten away so often before?). And Collin bested her at every turn (and had to save her in the beginning when she fell due to pure incompetence). I was starting to get a little perturbed at all of this – I’m not opposed to the man coming to the rescue, but it just didn’t seem to fit with who Juliana supposedly was. Then there was the fact that Juliana seemed to be completely hung up on the fact that Collin had made fun of her hair – when she was five! I mean, really? I’ve heard of holding grudges, but that seemed more than a little extreme. And the fact that Collin seemed to remember the incident so well as well just didn’t ring true to me.
Luckily, things got much better as the book went on and I started to connect to the characters more. By about a quarter of the way through the book (maybe a little further?) I was much more invested in both Juliana and Collin, so that helped me root for them as a couple. And I really enjoyed the last quarter of the book. By that point, Juliana stopped being a damsel in distress and the themes of sacrifice truly took root. I was very happy with the way that Hedlund wrapped everything up, and I’d definitely be interested in reading more from this series of standalones.
***Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was given and all opinions are my own.***