ARC Review: Nyxia by Scott Reintgen

Nyxia (The Nyxia Triad, #1)Nyxia by Scott Reintgen

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

An enjoyable and read with a brilliantly diverse and complex cast of characters. I found it quite an addictive read and incredibly difficult to put down.

It’s let down a little by having too many similarities to other books and not moving the story on quickly enough but it’s definitely worth reading.


Synopsis (GoodReads)

Emmett Atwater isn’t just leaving Detroit; he’s leaving Earth. Why the Babel Corporation recruited him is a mystery, but the number of zeroes on their contract has him boarding their lightship and hoping to return to Earth with enough money to take care of his family.

Forever.

Before long, Emmett discovers that he is one of ten recruits, all of whom have troubled pasts and are a long way from home. Now each recruit must earn the right to travel down to the planet of Eden–a planet that Babel has kept hidden–where they will mine a substance called Nyxia that has quietly become the most valuable material in the universe.

But Babel’s ship is full of secrets. And Emmett will face the ultimate choice: win the fortune at any cost, or find a way to fight that won’t forever compromise what it means to be human.


My Review

This book seems to get a lot of rave reviews but I have to confess I’m not sure it lives up to the hype.

It’s kind of like a mash up of Enders Game and Divergent with a little bit of Ready Player One thrown into the mix. As a result there isn’t much that’s really original about it. There is a diverse cast of characters and it is an enjoyable read but I doubt I’ll remember it in a month or two and I just don’t have that pressing need to get my hands on the next book in the series.

The author has created a brilliant main character in Emmett. He’s not the type of hero you usually find in these kinds of stories. He’s a POC for a start. He’s not the smartest, the strongest, the fastest or even the one with the most troubled upbringing. He’s actually pretty average and I’m sure relateable to a lot of people.

He’s agreed to compete because his mom’s ill and they have no money for treatment. Similar to most of the others, he’s desperate and this makes for fascinating reading as he tries to decide how far he’s willing to go to win.

The other characters are similarly diverse and complex and many are not what they initially appear to be. What’s especially great is the way that they develop and change over the course of the story. This is a group of teens in exceptional situations and the author does a fantastic job of making their actions seem very real and completely believable.

The story itself is pretty familiar. Bunch of teens have to compete against each other in a series of individual and team challenges. There’s a leader board to track their progress (although I couldn’t follow the scoring) and if by the end you’re below a certain point on the board you get cut. The contest is however run by a massive corporation with highly dubious motives who keep changing the rules.

From the very beginning the whole contest thing and the reasons for it seemed very unconvincing. They’ve discovered another earth like planet that they want to go strip mine but the native aliens aren’t happy about it unless it’s children as they like children and will let them do whatever they want….hmmm. Unfortunately that is not the only unconvincing thing in the story.  There were a few things that just didn’t make sense to me (what the heck is Nyxia?) and I think there could have been a bit more explanation of elements but I suppose you’re supposed to feel as clueless as the competitors.

I did really enjoy the whole competition aspect. I loved the changing dynamics of the group as they form and break alliances and friendships, stab each other in the back and hold grudges. There’s even some romance between competitors. I do think however it was dragged on a little too long (it’s literally all that happens in the story). I wanted some answers and it looks like the only way I’m going to get them is to read the next book in the series. Unfortunately I’m not sure I care enough.

Overall an enjoyable and quite a quick read but just too many similarities to other stories to be a stand out.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with an ARC.

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Review: Nemesis by Brendan Reichs

Nemesis (Project Nemesis, #1)Nemesis by Brendan Reichs

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

I’m really struggling to write a review of Nemesis. Firstly because I really can’t decide what I think about it and secondly because it’s really difficult to talk about Nemesis without spoilers.

So what did I like? The premise is great, every other year on her birthday Min (Melinda) is brutally murdered by a man in a suit wearing sunglasses. However Min doesn’t stay dead but wakes up in the woods with no memory of how she got there and no evidence that the killing took place. Meanwhile, Noah (who coincidentally shares a birthday with Min) is having terrifying nightmares about violent murders and death.

After her latest death on her sixteenth birthday, Min decides she wants answers. Noah wants a cure. At the same time the residents of the small town in Idaho where she lives are all on edge waiting on an announcement about whether a planet killing asteroid is on a collision course with earth.

It’s definitely unlike anything I’ve ever read before and I have to salute the author for creating a completely unique and slightly crazy (in a good way) story. At times I did think maybe there was a little bit too much thrown in but I loved the unpredictability of it and found it very difficult to stop reading as I tried to figure out what was going on.

The story is told from both Min and Noah’s points of view and while Min was likeable enough it was Noah I found the more interesting, complex and frustrating of the two. Despite coming from money and hanging with the popular crowd he suffers from anxiety and is riddled with self doubt. While it is frustrating watching him hesitate, let others make decisions for him and generally just panic and freeze up it’s great to have a character behave the way I probably would if I’m being honest.

The secondary characters are a little bit cliched but they too don’t always behave the way you expect them to. It’s set in a high school so you do have the class clown, the bullying jocks, the rich popular mean girls and the various groups of outcasts. There are actually a heck of a lot of secondary characters and again I think that was one of my issues with this book. I am not great with remembering who’s who and there were so many names that I gave up trying and focused on the most important ones.

The writing is ok. The plot does get a little complicated in places and I found myself going over certain bits more than once. What I thought really let it down however, and the reason I rated as I have is that I just didn’t feel it. I was intrigued about what would happen next and the twists and surprises kept me hooked but I didn’t connect with any of the characters so felt a little bit detached from the whole thing. There were a few scenes that should have triggered some kind of emotion (tears, laughter, shock) but the whole thing left me cold.

I would still recommend you give it a try but at the moment I’m undecided about whether I’ll continue to read this series.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with an ARC. As always all views are my own.

Review: King’s Cage by Victoria Aveyard

King's Cage (Red Queen, #3)King’s Cage by Victoria Aveyard

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Another enjoyable installment in the Red Queen series by Victoria Aveyard. I found it a little bit wordy in places but the character development and world building are incredible and it builds to a truly epic conclusion that had me on the edge of my seat.

I can’t wait for the fourth and final book in the series.

Warning: This review may contain spoilers for earlier books in the seriesRead More »

Book Review: The Thousandth Floor by Katharine McGee

The Thousandth FloorThe Thousandth Floor by Katharine McGee

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

I picked this book in large part due to that cover and despite the message in this story being that you can’t judge on appearances it did work for me as the story was every bit as stunning and perfect as that cover.

It’s a fast paced and exciting story with one heck of a hook that keeps you guessing until the very end. There’s a great mix of characters and a few different plot lines which all converge to an edge of the seat finale.

A fantastic start to an enthralling new series.


Synopsis

Welcome to Manhattan, 2118.

A thousand-storey tower stretching into the sky. A glittering vision of the future, where anything is possible – if you want it enough.

A hundred years in the future, New York’s elite of the super-tower lie, backstab and betray each other to find their place at the top of the world. Everyone wants something… and everyone has something to lose.

As the privileged inhabitants of the upper floors recklessly navigate the successes and pitfalls of the luxury life, forbidden desires are indulged and carefree lives teeter on the brink of catastrophe. Whilst lower-floor workers are tempted by a world – and unexpected romance – dangling just out of reach. And on the thousandth floor is Avery Fuller, the girl genetically designed to be perfect. The girl who seems to have it all – yet is tormented by the one thing she can never have.

So when a young woman falls from the top of the supertower, her death is the culmination of a scandal that has ensnared the top-floor elite and bottom-floor. But who plummeted from the roof? And what dark secrets led to her fall?

Friends will be betrayed and enemies forged as promises are broken. When you’re this high up, there’s nowhere to go but down…


Thoughts

This is a book that starts with a bang, or to be more accurate a fall from a great height, as a girl plummets from the top of a thousand-storey building. It certainly makes for a dramatic beginning and had me instantly hooked. Who was it and why? These questions plagued me throughout the story as it jumps back to a short period before, and the events leading up to it, leaving you guessing throughout just which character takes that fateful tumble and why.

As a hook it’s definitely effective but it wouldn’t work as well as it does if not for the fast moving plot and diverse mix of characters. The story is told in the third person from the point of view of five characters, Avery, Leda, Rylin, Eris and Watt, who despite being very different all have their own issues and problems. I have to admit with this number of main characters and alternating chapters between them I did initially find it a little bit confusing but honestly I have problems with remembering peoples names in real life so it’s most definitely a me issue rather than a book one.

A substantial element of the story is the social hierarchy which is illustrated incredibly well through the use of the tower. Only the richest and most successful can afford the hugest most luxurious homes at the top of the tower with the lower floors occupied by the poorer citizens. This is a society where everyone seems to be out for themselves and will do almost anything to work their way up to the higher floors and those on the top floors will do anything to protect their position.

This type of society doesn’t necessarily make for the nicest or most relateable characters and this is true for pretty much all of the main characters. If you get at all annoyed by rich and beautiful people complaining about their problems this might not be the book for you but I love this type of story. Everyone seems to have a secret, is working their own agenda or is even just trying to survive and maintain their position and reputation. There’s blackmail and betrayal but there are also some nuggets of real friendship, romance and working out what’s really important.

If I have any criticism of this story it would be the frequent mentions of futuristic technology. I know it’s science fiction and therefore kind of necessary to have some tech but in my opinion the constant references were overkill. After the first few mentions of the super contact lenses that doubled as smart phones I kind of thought “yep I get it, move on please”. I am not however a particular fan of science fiction, for pretty much that reason, so again this is a me issue rather than a story issue. I’ve heard a few sci fi lovers say how much they loved the tech.

Overall therefore, I’d say it’s a great story that really draws you into the world the author has created and I can’t wait for the next installment.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review. The Thousandth Floor is out now.

Book Review: Resistance is Futile by Jenny Colgan

Resistance is FutileResistance is Futile by Jenny Colgan

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Funny, brilliant, weird, sad, quirky and cute.

Resistance is Futile is definitely Jenny Colgan at her best and I loved this book from almost the very first page to that incredible ending.

This is science fiction with a big dollop of romance thrown in. It’s one for nerdy girls everywhere who like math and science and are looking for a quirky and adorable story with lots of laughs.


Synopsis (from GoodReads)

Connie thinks she’s never met anyone quite like Luke Beith before.

She has no idea how right she is.

As a high-ranking mathematician in a male-dominated field – with bright red hair – Connie’s used to being considered a little unusual.

But she’s nowhere near as peculiar as Luke, who is recruited to work alongside her on a top-secret code breaking project.

Just what is this bizarre sequence they’re studying? It isn’t a solution to the global energy crisis. It isn’t a new wavelength to sell microwave ovens. The numbers are trying to tell them something . . . and it seems only Luke knows what.

The truth is out there. Will Connie dare to find it?

In this whirlwind adventure, Sunday Times bestselling author Jenny Colgan boldly goes where no author has gone before . . .


Thoughts

It’s described on the back of the book as “a charmingly quirky tale of love, friendship . . . and the possible obliteration of mankind” and I think that actually sums it up quite nicely.

I have to admit it was the title’s reference to Star Trek: TNG together with that description that initially drew me to this book when I spotted it in the library. I’ve always been a big fan of Jenny Colgan but this promised something a bit different from her recent food themed chick lit. I was always a pretty big Star Trek fan and love shows like the Big Bang Theory and Doctor Who and this has elements of all of those mixed in.

It’s pretty much impossible to say a lot about the plot without giving much away (hence the synopsis from GoodReads) but it’s mostly about a group of mathematicians brought together to try to solve some mysterious code (that’s probably nothing…honest) and the relationships between them. I absolutely loved the math and science theme that runs throughout this book and there are a lot of jokes about mathematicians, physicists and other scientists that had me laughing out loud (I’d recommend you don’t read this book in public).

The characters are probably the highlight of this book and Jenny has a fantastic ability to create unique ones that you really won’t forget. Luke was by far my favourite and I felt like I could almost see and hear him he was so real. His behaviour and statements definitely fall into the distinctly odd category (when he first appears he’s pushing a piano across a field) but there is something very endearing about him. I wanted to hug him or adopt him and could definitely understand why he fascinated Connie so much.

Main character Connie is also pretty great. It’s so good to see a brilliantly intelligent woman in a male dominated career like mathematics and there just aren’t enough books like this. She seems to be the most sensible and normal of the bunch despite being something of an anomaly. For the most part she’s the voice of reason in a group of the socially inept but she’s still totally out of her depth when it comes to Luke.

At their very first meeting he can’t look anywhere but at her bright red hair. He even takes to calling her Hair. He seems fascinated by her and she feels the same about him. She’s kind of used to mathematicians being a bit odd but he’s on another level.

The other characters are also great, from American Arthur who believes “the man” is out to get him, to Ranjit who gets far too excited and Evelyn the only other female mathematician who’s kind of like the mother to the group.

The story goes at a pretty good pace and there’s lots of action and excitement mixed in with mathematical theories. I do have a bit of a math brain but have to admit most of the maths and science stuff was beyond me so had no idea what they were talking about but it sounded convincing (and there isn’t too much of it). There was the odd bit I found myself skimming over (mostly told from the pov of another character) but other than that I thought the whole thing was a great read.

Definitely one I’d recommend if you like your chick lit a tiny big weird and quirky. I’ve actually just realised Jenny has written a Doctor Who book so I’m off to try to track that down.

 

Book Review: The Sign of One by Eugene Lambert

The Sign Of OneThe Sign Of One by Eugene Lambert

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

I had high hopes for this book but unfortunately it didn’t quite live up to them. As a YA dystopian, road trip type book it should have been perfect for me but despite being well written I felt like there just wasn’t anything new or original. It’s possible I just picked this up at the wrong point in time but it left me feeling a little bit “been there, read that”.

It is a first novel from this author and there is potential, it’s just not quite living up to it yet.


Synopsis (Goodreads)

ONE FOR SORROW, TWO MEANS DEATH.

In the Barrenlands of Wrath, no one dies of old age. Kyle is used to its harsh laws, but the cold-blooded separation of identical twins and execution of the ‘evil twists’ at the Annual Peace Fair shocks him.

When Kyle himself is betrayed, he flees for his life with the reluctant help of Sky, a rebel pilot with a hidden agenda. As the hunt intensifies, Kyle soon realises that he is no ordinary runaway, although he has no idea why. Fighting to learn the hideous truth, their reluctant, conflicted partnership will either save them – or kill them.


Thoughts

At the start it reminded me quite a lot of the Chaos Walking Trilogy by Patrick Ness as there are quite a few similarities in storyline. The main character Kyle is a teenage boy, growing up in a brutal land of settlers who feels like he doesn’t quite fit in. There is the fanatical religious belief, in this case that in every set of twins one is evil and must be executed, and secrets around Kyle’s past that make him unique. It even has Kyle going on the run and forced to team up with a girl his own age (Sky).

Where it differs though is that this is a much bigger book in terms of scale. The first book in Chaos Walking focused very much on one slow journey and the relationship that developed between the two main characters. This book also has a journey and a developing relationship at its core however it feels much wider and I’m not sure this is to its benefit as there is a heck of a lot going on.

It is the first book in a series so there is a lot of world building, possibly too much. The characters seem to travel around the whole planet and go from a fair in a mining town to barren wastelands, to a swamp, to a shanty town and a military base. As it is an alien land there are different plants, dangerous wildlife and advanced technology. That combined with a lot of characters, different factions and new terms and language make it a bit difficult to keep track of everything.

The writing is pretty good but I think it lacks a bit in terms of description, something which I very rarely say (I’m not a big fan of long winded descriptions of things). I found it difficult to picture the world and at times struggled to work out what certain things actually were (is it a plant? is it an animal?). I get the feeling that the author may have sacrificed some of the detail to keep up the fast paced action.

The story is definitely fast paced and a lot does happen in it but for me possibly too much. I think I would have preferred a slightly slower story with a bit more detail and character development.

The story is told from the perspective of Kyle who I have to admit I didn’t particularly like. Kyle was always playing the victim, “why is this happening to me”, “I don’t want this” etc and I think spent most of the story moaning. When he wasn’t moaning he was doing the most ridiculously stupid things ever. He does have some skills and knowledge but seems to lack common sense and a survival instinct. If anyone deserved what happened to them it was him (and personally I thought he got off quite lightly considering the fate of some of the other characters).

Unfortunately my feelings toward the female lead Sky weren’t much better. She is the tough girl, who has to put up with Kyle and spends most of her time teaching him about the world and keeping him alive. I do like a tough girl but she was maybe a little bit too unsympathetic and rude. She is passionate but has a bit of a tendency to over react which is a little annoying.

While there are a lot of other characters within the book I felt like they didn’t get enough development. They were introduced and then seemed to quickly disappear never to be heard from again. One particular, and very important, character towards the end literally just got a couple of pages. I think this is part of the reason that I couldn’t really connect with the story. I didn’t like the main characters and no one else was given enough time for me to get to know them.

This is the first in a series so I’m sure there will be a lot more development in subsequent books but I’m not sure I will be rushing out to get them. There just wasn’t enough in this book that was original and engaging to make me desperate to read on and find out what happens next. It’s too similar to a number of other books and is just suffering in comparison, or at least it is for me.

It’s not a bad book. In fact as a debut novel it’s a pretty good effort, I think I’ve just read too many great books recently that do it better.

I received a copy of this free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Book Review: Golden Son by Pierce Brown

Golden Son (Red Rising, #2)Golden Son by Pierce Brown

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

So it’s safe to say I was not a big fan of Red Rising, the first book in this trilogy. I think I possibly described it as a rip off of The Hunger Games and Harry Potter (sorry Pierce Brown). It did have it’s moments but I just didn’t think it lived up to all of the hype that surrounded it. As a result it was probably at least a year before I talked myself into reading Golden Son and giving the trilogy another shot. I’m so glad I did.

Synopsis (from GoodReads)

With shades of The Hunger Games, Ender’s Game, and Game of Thrones, debut author Pierce Brown’s genre-defying epic Red Rising hit the ground running and wasted no time becoming a sensation.

Golden Son continues the stunning saga of Darrow, a rebel forged by tragedy, battling to lead his oppressed people to freedom from the overlords of a brutal elitist future built on lies. Now fully embedded among the Gold ruling class, Darrow continues his work to bring down Society from within.

A life-or-death tale of vengeance with an unforgettable hero at its heart, Golden Son guarantees Pierce Brown’s continuing status as one of fiction’s most exciting new voices.

Thoughts

For me Golden Son is a vast improvement on Red Rising. It’s absolutely crammed full of action from the very first page and the writing is incredible. I will admit to struggling a little at the start but I think that was mostly due to waiting so long to read it. I’d forgotten a lot of what happened in the first book so despite the helpful character list at the start was a little bit lost in terms of who was who and what their relationship to each other was.

Once I got around a third of the way through however, and most of the characters from the first book were reunited, I was hooked. While the first book is a lot like the Hunger Games this one feels a lot more like Game of Thrones (which I’ve watched rather than read). Different families and factions are competing to rule and are completely ruthless in their attempts to seize power. Alliances are formed and broken, enemies are forced to work together and anyone could be stabbed in the back at any opportunity.

Main character Darrow, a Red masquerading as a Gold is trying to navigate his way through it all. He’s got to protect his secret but somehow manoeuvre himself into a position where he can destabilise society and create a civil war.

I have to admit I liked him a lot more in this book. He definitely develops a lot and starts to take responsibility for his destiny. This is the book where he learns he’ll need to make sacrifices and betray those he cares about to reach his ultimate goal. It’s fascinating to read him questioning himself and his decisions but pressing ahead and taking action even if it leads to guilt and the loss of friends.

My favourite character however shall forever remain Darrow’s BFF Sevro. He’s rude, violent and bent on destruction but is so loyal to his friends and so funny I just want to adopt him.

There are a lot of twists and turns in the story and more than a few shocks. There are also a lot of very violent scenes and all out war at one point leading to a lot of loss but those parts are probably my favourites. The action is well written and easy to follow despite a lot going on so you almost feel like you’re in among it all.

The one thing I struggle with, and this is a me thing, is some of the descriptions of places. I think I’m missing whatever it is you need to convert words on a page to pictures in my head of other planets, spaceships and technology. This results in me kind of skimming those bits which unfortunately there are quite a few of. I can appreciate the language and the world building, it’s incredible, I just can’t visualise it. I’m sure lovers of language, of which I know a few, will fare a lot better.

Overall therefore I’d definitely recommend this book even if like me you weren’t completely enamoured with Red Rising. The ending alone makes it worth it. Although be warned you will have to read the final book in the series too.