Review : Genesis (Project Nemesis #2) by Brendan Reichs

Genesis (Project Nemesis, #2)

I wasn’t sure Project Nemesis by Brendan Reichs was a series I wanted to continue with but I’m so glad I did as book 2, Genesis, is absolutely brilliant. Packed full of action from the very first page to the very last and with more than a few twists this is seriously addictive reading.

Note: as this is the second book in a series there will be spoilers for the first book from here on in.


THE BLURB

Noah Livingston knows he is destined to survive.

The 64 members of Fire Lake’s sophomore class are trapped in a place where morals have no meaning, and zero rules apply. But Noah’s deaths have trained him–hardened him–to lead the strongest into the future . . . whatever that may be. And at any cost.

Min Wilder knows that survival alone isn’t enough.

Trapped in a violent world where brute force passes for leadership, it’s tempting to lay back and let everyone else fight it out. But Min’s instincts rebel against allowing others to decide who lives and who dies. She’s ready to fight for what she believes in. And against whomever might stand in her way.


MY REVIEW

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When I finished the first book in this series I have to admit I wasn’t sure I wanted to continue. I loved the premise but didn’t connect to any of the characters and felt there was maybe too much going on. I couldn’t however resist Genesis when it popped up on NetGalley as I was just too curious about where the story would go.

It turned out this was a very good decision as this is a very enjoyable read. It picks up not long after the dramatic conclusion of the first book with a bang (literally) and the pace never lets up. I will admit that I’d forgotten some of what happened (and what was revealed) in Nemesis so was a little confused in the beginning but it didn’t take long for me to get back up to speed.

I’m not going to say much about the plot but there are elements of Lord of the Flies, the Hunger Games & Battle Royale all mashed up with something quite unique and different. There are more than a few twists and turns and I loved how the dynamics of the various groups of characters changed and developed with each new reveal. I will admit I’m not wholly convinced by some of the science behind it but I was willing to go with it and it did answer a lot of the questions that I had from the first book.

There is a lot more action in this book and, I should warn, a lot more violence and death, some even I found shocking. It does however raise a lot of issues over how far you would go to survive or to gain power but also what you’d be willing to sacrifice for your beliefs and those you care about. I thought the way the author used a diverse mix of characters to demonstrate this was very well done.

Unfortunately though the number of characters in this book was also something I struggled with. There are various different groups and a lot of different names and changing allegiances to keep track of. I don’t have the best memory for names I’m afraid so I did get muddled on who was who from time to time before deciding it didn’t really matter and focusing on the main ones.

Like Nemesis, this book is told in alternating chapters from the povs of Min and Noah and they really are intriguing characters. Both have had similar experiences but react in different ways. Min is the steadier and more stable of the two and I loved how she held onto her morals and beliefs. Noah was however much more erratic and therefore interesting. It is so good to see a male lead who is so uncertain and anxious. He makes mistakes and deals with things badly but I still found myself rooting for him and hoping he’d come good.

I did feel some of the other characters were a little stereotyped and I would have loved to get to know them better but with so many characters and so much going on there just wasn’t time.

This is a seriously action packed and fast paced story and I pretty much read the whole thing in a day, I couldn’t put it down. It’s not perfect but it is a series I’d recommend. I’m hoping that there’s a book 3 as I want to know what happens next.

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

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Review: Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi
Shatter Me
by Tahereh Mafi

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The first half of this book was easily a five star read, intriguing and addictive with a style that was truly unique. I felt like it lost focus in the second half but I still can’t wait to read the rest of this series.


THE BLURB

Juliette hasn’t touched anyone in exactly 264 days.

The last time she did, it was an accident, but The Reestablishment locked her up for murder. No one knows why Juliette’s touch is fatal. As long as she doesn’t hurt anyone else, no one really cares. The world is too busy crumbling to pieces to pay attention to a 17-year-old girl. Diseases are destroying the population, food is hard to find, birds don’t fly anymore, and the clouds are the wrong color.

The Reestablishment said their way was the only way to fix things, so they threw Juliette in a cell. Now so many people are dead that the survivors are whispering war – and The Reestablishment has changed its mind. Maybe Juliette is more than a tortured soul stuffed into a poisonous body. Maybe she’s exactly what they need right now.

Juliette has to make a choice: Be a weapon. Or be a warrior.


MY REVIEW

Okay, I know I am very possibly the last person on the planet to actually read this book and everyone is off reading Restore Me the first book in the new trilogy but for some reason I’ve never really been able to find it. It’s one of those series that everyone seems to go on about how much they either love or hate it but while I was really desperate to read it (so I could make up my own mind) it just wasn’t on Amazon (and okay I could have ordered it from somewhere else but I’m lazy).

Needless to say when it popped up on NetGalley I started hammering that request button like a request button hammering machine (these should totally exist) and hurrah my request was approved (thank you NetGalley gods). As you can probably guess I had to start reading it immediately, and from the very first few pages it blew me away.

The style of it is just so unusual but so absolutely brilliant, I loved it. There was a warning at the start from the publisher that there would be crossed out words, numbers and generally just jumbled sentences and repetition and that this was deliberate (I guess some people have complained) and this really intrigued me and I thought worked so well for the story. Main character Juliette has been locked away, completely alone for almost a year so I think having some slightly scatty thoughts should be expected. I’m not sure what this says about me but there was so much I could relate to in terms of how her mind worked. Becoming fixated on things, getting easily distracted by objects that catch your eye and counting when stressed are all things I have been known to do on occasion so for me this seemed, not quite normal but certainly understandable.

This also made me sympathetic towards Juliette from the very beginning and I have to say that as a character I did like her a lot. I felt incredibly sorry for her, the prison spell is just the latest in a long list of bad things that have happened to her, but for the most part I really admired her. It would be so easy for her to be angry or dark but she fights all of the time to be a good person and to not hurt anyone.

The beginning of this book was definitely the highlight for me and I felt certain this was going to be a five star read. I loved the confined setting and the way the relationship between Juliette and her new cell mate Adam develops, I loved the writing style and how stream of conscious-like it was and I loved how the author slowly introduced this dystopian world through Juliette’s memories and Adam’s updates. I even loved when Juliette was plucked from her confinement and given the option of freedom in exchange for working as a weapon for the Reestablishment.

Captor and potential savior Warner is an absolutely wonderful villain. There’s something about him that could most certainly turn you to the dark side even while he’s being completely evil. He can rationalize everything and almost convince you that he’s right. The scenes between him and Juliette were absolutely wonderful. He tempts and torments and somehow worms his way into her mind, promising everything she could ever want while showing her just how dark he is. I really wanted as much of him as possible.

It is however around this point that I felt the book began to lose its way and what began as an intriguing dystopian turned into more of a romance. I do like a good romance and was definitely on board with that ship but it seemed to take over the whole story and was focused on at the most inappropriate of times. Yes, they may be on the run, seriously injured, possibly dying but let’s just have a big long conversation about our feelings, rather than ya know running, getting help. Added to this the wonderful style used in the beginning was gradually phased out as Juliette became used to being around other people. I do understand this, it makes sense with the story but combined with the focus on the relationship it became a little bit average (sorry).

It is for the most part an intriguing and exciting story and had the focus not shifted this would have received the full five stars from me but unfortunately the second half was a little too heavy on the romance (and I read a lot of romance). I am however very excited about reading the rest of the books in the series and pre ordered the lot. I’m keeping everything crossed it returns to form, I really think it will.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with a copy of this book. As always this has not influenced my review.

Review: The Boy On The Bridge by M.R. Carey

The Boy on the Bridge (The Girl With All the Gifts #2)
The Boy on the Bridge
by M.R. Carey

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Wow, Carey has done it again. The Boy on the Bridge is incredibly clever with some wonderfully complex characters and an ending that will leave your jaw on the floor.

Warning: There may be some spoilers for The Girl with All the Gifts, so go read it before reading this review (or watch the movie). It’s really good.


THE BLURB

Once upon a time, in a land blighted by terror, there was a very clever boy.

The people thought the boy could save them, so they opened their gates and sent him out into the world.

To where the monsters lived.


MY REVIEW

The Girl with all the Gifts turned out to be an unexpectedly brilliant read and while I had high hopes for sequel/prequel The Boy on the Bridge I will confess I also had some doubts. Did we really need another book, could it ever be as good? The answers to both of those questions is a very definite YES!!!

This has all of the elements that made The Girl with all the Gifts so wonderful (and is fairly similar in terms of plot) but, if like me the first book left you with a lot of questions, this is the story with the answers… well some of them.

It’s very much a character driven story as it follows a team of scientists and their military escort as they set out on an expedition in an armored lab on wheels (with a very familiar name) to try and find something that will help them fight the infection that has destroyed the world. This is a long trip with not a lot of personal space for the crew so as you may expect tensions rise. Add to that the split between the civilian scientists and the military, different beliefs and a mixture of personalities and there is almost more conflict amongst themselves than with the hungries.

The story is told from the point of view of the various members of the team giving different perspectives on the same events but also giving a real insight into the reasons for their actions. In the beginning I did struggle to remember who was who (my feeble brain struggles with lots of names even with the handily provided list) but I soon came to recognize each of the individual voices.

Some characters and personalities do feel a little familiar but the youngest member of the team Stephen Greaves is truly unique and absolutely fascinating to read. His brain doesn’t work the way everyone else’s does making him a bit of an outcast from the others and the one who’s either going to save everyone or get them all killed. He could be a genius or he could just be a very troubled and traumatized child and he’s ostracized by almost all of the crew who view him as the latter.

Unsurprisingly given the mission of the team and the number of scientists there is a lot more science in this story. It’s incredibly detailed and well thought out, explaining how the infection began and it’s effects on the host but I have to confess it became a little too heavy for me at times and lost me. It is interesting to learn more about the hungries and their behavior, and I’m sure those more knowledgeable about biology and chemistry will find it fascinating, but it was a little too much for me and I may have skimmed a little.

Even with this focus on the science and the characters, there is enough action to keep the story moving forward and the reader on their toes. There are moments of extreme violence (some which made me squirm), they’re generally sudden, unexpected and over quickly but have a lot of impact. There are all of the best zombie story tropes and it raises those intriguing ethical dilemmas around sacrificing for the greater good and following orders which will leave you pondering whether the characters actions are right or wrong and just what you would do in that situation.

I wouldn’t necessarily say it was a fast paced story, it’s a little slow in places but there is a gradual build in tension throughout and the ending when it comes is absolutely jaw dropping. Those characters who I wasn’t too fussed about had somehow snuck their way in and I was truly invested in what happened to them and without spoilers, it was horrifying, heartbreaking and absolutely wonderful. And, I kinda want more….

Overall, this is an incredibly well written and intelligent story with a focus very much on the characters. It’s a little heavier on the science than I would like but the ending more than makes up for any quibbles I may have had along the way. If you read and enjoyed The Girl with all the Gifts I’d really recommend you read this.

Thank you Netgalley and the publisher for giving me the opportunity to read this.

Review: They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera

They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera
They Both Die at the End
by Adam Silvera

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Unsurprisingly this was an emotional read but what impressed me the most was the incredible detail that went into the world building. I loved how this made me think and how when I finished I wanted to rush out and live my life. Absolutely brilliant.


THE BLURB

When Mateo receives the dreaded call from Death-Cast, informing him that today will be his last, he doesn’t know where to begin. Quiet and shy, Mateo is devastated at the thought of leaving behind his hospitalised father, and his best friend and her baby girl. But he knows that he has to make the most of this day, it’s his last chance to get out there and make an impression.

Rufus is busy beating up his ex-girlfriend’s new boyfriend when he gets the call. Having lost his entire family, Rufus is no stranger to Death-Cast. Not that it makes it any easier. With bridges to mend, the police searching for him and the angry new boyfriend on his tail, it’s time to run.

Isolated and scared, the boys reach out to each other, and what follows is a day of living life to the full. Though neither of them had expected that this would involve falling in love…

Another beautiful, heartbreaking and life-affirming book from the brilliant Adam Silvera, author of More Happy Than Not and History Is All You Left Me.


MY REVIEW

Do you know what, I’m not sure that title was wise. This is an absolutely brilliant book but honestly I spent pretty much the whole time afraid to get too attached to Mateo or Rufus just in case they did in fact both die at the end. I kept hoping it wouldn’t happen, that they would be the exception, there was a mix up with the names and they received the call in error or that just by finding each other they’d save each other but just in case I kept myself that little bit detached. Consequently I think it lost that emotional punch I was expecting. It is still packed full of feels and some very touching moments but I was ready for out and out devastation.

It is an incredibly well written story and I really loved both Mateo and Rufus. Both are a little bit lost in the beginning but it was so wonderful to watch them develop over the course of the story. Mateo was probably the more relatable of the two, anxious and afraid to live (or leave his bedroom) in case he does something that results in the dreaded death cast call informing him he has less than 24 hours to live, I could see elements of myself in him. Wanting to go on adventures and be brave but just too scared and needing that little push. He was also just the nicest and sweetest guy. I really wanted him getting the call to be a mistake. Rufus took a little longer to warm up to, he’s beating someone up at the story, but you can’t help but grow to love him when he helps Mateo so much and starts becoming more like him.

The relationship between them is just so sweet and funny and wow. They begin the day as complete strangers and opposites but somehow they compliment and bring out the best in each other. Rufus encourages Mateo to be brave and break out and Mateo makes Rufus kinder and better…. oh god I’m gonna cry.

Anyway, moving swiftly on, I just loved their story but what made this even better was the little glimpses into the lives of others who cross their paths. The chapters more or less alternate between Mateo and Rufus’s povs but there are these other chapters thrown in from the pov of their friends, the people who make the calls to inform people they’re going to die that day, and others who have either received their call or just bump into Rufus or Mateo in some way. These gave such an insight into the world and raised so many questions I found it fascinating.

Actually the whole world just fascinated me. What would it be like to live in a world where everyone finds out between midnight and 3am whether they’re going to die that day? What would you do if you found out it was your day to die? Would you deny it, try to fight it? Would you accept it and try to make your last hours count? Take control and decide for yourself how you’re going to die? Or what if you don’t get the call? Does that mean you can’t die no matter what you do that day? Would you take more risks? It really makes you wonder about fate, self fulfilling prophecies and whether you have any control over your destiny.

The world the author creates and the way he presents all of these issues and questions was just brilliant. Such clever writing to create a world that’s so similar but so different in terms of attitudes to life and death. I think this is a story I’ll be thinking about for a long time.

Overall an absolutely brilliant but emotional read.

Review: My Side of the Diamond by Sally Gardner

My Side of the Diamond
My Side of the Diamond
by Sally Gardner

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

One of the most unusual stories I’ve ever read.


THE BLURB

An extraordinary tale about the search for love from the acclaimed Costa and Carnegie winning novelist Sally Gardner.

Jazmin has been shunned ever since her best friend Becky disappeared. But Becky didn’t just disappear – she jumped off a tall building and seemingly never reached the ground. It was as if she simply vanished into thin air. Did Jazmin have something to do with her disappearance? Or was it more to do with Icarus, so beguiling and strangely ever youthful, with whom Becky became suddenly besotted . . .

With detailed and intriguing black and white illustrations throughout.


MY REVIEW

This is possibly one of the most bizarre and down right weird books I think I’ve ever come across and while that might put a lot of people off it’s actually the thing I loved the most about it. It took me a little while to figure out what the heck was going on but once I did I found it fascinating.

Where it went wrong for me was the form the story took. Rather than being in the moment it’s told through a series of interviews with the various characters involved in the events. This might have been okay except for the fact you never hear the questions asked, there are a lot of different narrators telling their stories and it jumps around in time. It is very cleverly done but this reflection on events which in some cases happened many years previously left me feeling distanced from them and from the characters. For me to love a book I need the closeness and the connection and that never happened.

I was curious about what had happened and very intrigued as to who the interviewer was and why he was looking into the story but I wasn’t emotionally invested. I didn’t particularly like or relate to any of the characters and I didn’t fully buy into the relationships between them. The romances are very sudden and I didn’t feel any connection or chemistry to make them seem believable.

There were elements that fascinated me, there were parts that confused the heck out of me and there was even the odd creepy moment but unfortunately as a whole I have to say it didn’t do it for me.

It hasn’t put me off Gardner’s writing, I love how unique her stories are, but this was a little disappointing.

I won a copy of this book from ReadersFirst. This has not influenced my review.

Review: Hold Back the Stars by Katie Khan

Hold Back The Stars by Katie Khan
Hold Back The Stars
by Katie Khan

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

More of a love story than a space adventure, this story may not be for everyone but I have to praise it for being so completely unique and yet so completely real.


THE BLURB

Ninety minutes.

A few years from now, not too far in the future, two people meet.

It is a classic story of boy meets girl.

Except that it’s not.

When we find them, they have an hour and a half left.

Unless they can save themselves, they won’t survive.

The clock is ticking.


MY REVIEW

It seems to have taken me forever to come up with a review for this as my thoughts on it have been and, a few weeks later, remain rather muddled.

Firstly I want to say that I absolutely loved it for its originality. In fact, I was so drawn to the concept behind it that I somehow ended up both buying a copy and requesting it from NetGalley (I forgot I already owned it). There was something about the idea of a man and woman adrift in space with only 90 minutes of air left and almost no hope of salvation that really appealed to me. Space has always seemed so big and terrifying to me and the thought of being adrift…. wow.

However, if you’re expecting a tense and nail biting fight for survival similar to Gravity or The Martian I fear you will be disappointed. While there is some attempt to save themselves the majority of the story is spent with Max and Carys reflecting back on their relationship. Interspersed with the current time, and their rapidly diminishing air supply, we get flashbacks to their first meeting and all of the ups and downs of their romance, leading up to how they ended up in their current predicament.

The story of their time together does make for a fascinating story and combining that with some truly incredible world building really did engage me but given how little air they had remaining I couldn’t help but think, shouldn’t you be trying harder and focusing more on that?

I felt there should have been more tension. The portrayal of their relationship is wonderfully real and the story is truly heartbreaking at times but I found it difficult to reconcile this leisurely stroll through their past with the thought of their rapidly approaching deaths.

Added to this I have to admit that I didn’t particularly take to either Max or Carys. The characters are believable and well rounded but Carys was too insecure and needy and Max too committed to his beliefs and unwilling to compromise. They do balance each other out in many ways but I never really got behind them as a couple and I couldn’t help but wonder if it was worth it (although maybe I’m just too much of a cynic).

The biggest highlight of this story for me was probably the world the author created. Set in the future it’s so incredibly well thought out and believable. There’s no info dumping but rather all of the details around the state of the world, the political situation and belief systems are revealed gradually and in a very natural way. I liked this idea that their are no real nationalities or religion but rather everyone is encouraged to be an individual, although it did seem a tad lonely and a selfish way of existing.

The pacing of the story is a little bit on the slow side but the writing does make it very readable and it was yet another I found difficult to put down. The ending when it comes is like a lot of the book, a little confusing, a lot unique but ultimately felt right.

Overall I have to say I loved how unusual this book was and also how real it was. I just wish there had been a little more tension and passion to it. If you’re looking for a sci fi space type story I don’t think this will necessarily be for you but if you like unique love stories this may be perfect. I know I will definitely be looking out for more from this author.

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

ARC Review – Renegades by Marissa Meyer

Renegades (Renegades, #1)
Renegades
by Marissa Meyer

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A brilliant beginning to a new series from Marissa Meyer. It’s packed full of all the best super hero cliches making it a really fun read but the real highlight is the wonderful writing and twists and turns which make you question just who’s the superhero and who’s the villain. I can’t wait for book 2.


THE BLURB

Secret Identities. Extraordinary Powers. She wants vengeance. He wants justice.

The Renegades are a syndicate of prodigies—humans with extraordinary abilities—who emerged from the ruins of a crumbled society and established peace and order where chaos reigned. As champions of justice, they remain a symbol of hope and courage to everyone…except the villains they once overthrew.

Nova has a reason to hate the Renegades, and she is on a mission for vengeance. As she gets closer to her target, she meets Adrian, a Renegade boy who believes in justice—and in Nova. But Nova’s allegiance is to a villain who has the power to end them both.


MY REVIEW

I’m a huge big fan of Marissa Meyer’s and a huge big fan of all things super hero so this should have been a match made in heaven for me and for the most part it was.

The writing is as always wonderful and Meyer certainly knows how to create brilliant and complex characters who are kind of morally grey but it was maybe that little bit too long and had a bit too much going on for me to love it.

The story itself felt very X-Men, two groups of people with super powers (the Renegades and the Anarchists) who have very different ideas about what’s best for society and end up at odds. Nova (or Nightmare to use her super villain name) has been raised by the Anarchists following the death of her family at the hands of a gang. She feels the Renegades let her down and is determined to bring them down at any cost.

Adrian (aka Sketch) is a Renegade and, while he’s not wholly on board with the way some of the Renegade teams operate, he believes in the cause and wants to protect all of those who need it. His mother was one of the original members of the Renegades and after she died in mysterious circumstances he’s been determined to find out what happened to her.

When an attack by the Arnarchists on the Renegades goes wrong Nova decides her best chance to defeat them is to become one, going undercover to destroy them from the inside. Adrian however is obsessed with tracking down Nightmare as she seems to hold the clue to just what happens to his mother. Like Nova though, he also has a secret identity to protect.

I absolutely loved how twisty this story is. Pretty much every one seems to have some kind of secret so there’s a lot of mystery and reveals. The whole secret identity thing is just so wonderfully superhero-y. Although, like Superman, I found myself wondering just how no one could spot it was the same person with a change of clothes/mask/pair of glasses.

There are in fact a lot of the best cliches from the super hero movies, tragic backstory, discovery of powers, changing allegiances, double crosses, ya know all that good stuff. It may not be wholly original but it’s fantastically good fun. What I loved most however is how Meyer manages to take something that should be black and white and make it grey. As the story progresses it become increasingly difficult to work out just which side are the baddies and which are the goodies and I think I ended up with more sympathy for the villains than the heroes.

I really, really liked both Nova and Adrian as characters. Nova is a wonderfully strong character. She begins with some very strong convictions but finds herself questioning them. She does come across as a little naive (especially considering she’s part of the Anarchists) but I can let that go. Adrian is just very sweet and awkward and extremely gallant. He just wants to save everyone.

I absolutely adored the relationship between them. It’s a little bit Romeo and Juliet although Adrian is completely clueless that Nova’s there to destroy his family and she’s completely clueless about his secret identity too. It’s frustrating as hell (why don’t they know) but it’s also totally addictive reading.

The other characters are very well done and many of them surprised me. One in particular I was completely shocked to find myself feeling sorry for but it’s just a mark of how good the authors writing is that I was almost in tears when this horrible character got their comeuppance.

If I had one big gripe about the story it’s that there is possibly too much to keep track of. There are a lot of characters and I have to admit I struggled throughout to keep them straight in my head. Each one has a real name, a superhero name and a super power and it was all just too much for my feeble memory. I kind of hope there’s some kind of character list with all of this information, their relationships to each other and affiliations in the physical book and with a bit of luck in the next book too as I’m never going to remember.

I also think it was maybe a little bit on the long side. There were a few moments in the first half of the book which were on the slow side to allow for all of the world building and scene setting. I can completely understand why it was needed and by the second half I couldn’t put it down but I do wonder if it could have been done differently.

All that being said though I do think this was a brilliant start to the series. Towards the end I was finding it incredibly difficult to put down and ended up staying up till 1am wanting to know how it was going to end and it was totally worth it. That ending was wow and now I don’t know how I’m going to wait for the next book, I need it now.

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