Mark Watney is in real trouble. His EVA suit has been punctured, as well as his side. He is leaking atmosphere, and blood. This is the good news. The bad news is that the rest of the crew just lifted off the planet, believing he is dead. He is stranded on Mars, with the next mission from Earth due to arrive in four years. His current supplies are enough for a couple months.
This is hard science fiction at its very best. Either author Andy Weir knows a mind-boggling amount about science and NASA technology, or he knows an army of real scientists. Nearly every word of this novel rings true to space exploration and science, which may be the largest hurdle for readers not interested in such things, because through Watney, Weir explains a ton of science. It’s the backbone of every step the astronaut takes on Mars, and is crucial to his possible survival.
The bulk of the novel is a first-person account, told in Watney’s regular mission journal entries. At first, his sarcastic sense of humor grated a bit, but soon I realized how vital it is to his ability to roll with increasingly-deadly events. Sometimes things are so bad that you just have to laugh. For anyone with a love of realistic space travel, exploration, and science, this is a must-read. I can’t imagine an actual tragic space event happening any differently than this. It’s Apollo 13 times ten. Very highly recommended.
Smek for President! is the sequel to The True Meaning of Smekday, a book I adored. I love the fact that J.Lo and Tip are back for another adventure. In this book, things have settled down on Earth now that the Gorg are gone and the Boov have moved one of Saturn’s moons. J.Lo is still a bit of an outcast as a Boov on Earth and he and Tip have not revealed how they actually saved the world. Dan Landry has taken all the credit and fame. J.Lo decides he needs to talk to Commander Smek and make things right. So he and Tip head for Saturn, but the trip doesn’t turn out like they thought it would. Turns out the Boov are having an election for High Boov and Commander Smek might not win. He throws J.Lo in jail and sends Tip on the run. Tip has to find J.Lo, free him, convince all the Boovs they are heroes not villains and not get killed by a mysterious masked Boov chasing them. She makes friends with Bill the Billboard and FunSize the garbage man, who help her along the way. This is a fun trip back into the world of the Boov. I find this series hilarious. J.Lo and Tip are a great team and pretty entertaining. I enjoy their interactions. This book also has some interesting thoughts on the democratic process, celebrity and the media. I’m not sure why more people aren’t reading Adam Rex but they really should.
I received an ARC of this book from Netgalley.
Dorothy isn’t an ordinary girl. For that matter, she isn’t even a girl. She is the most advanced artificial intelligence ever created by NASA, and was designed to operate autonomously within a probe destined for the largest of Saturn’s moons, Titan. Her creator, Melissa Shepherd, designed her so well that Dorothy realizes she is destined to die, and desperately wants to do something about it. Soon, Dorothy is loose on Earth, and wondering why humans should be allowed to live.
Douglas Preston takes a familiar killer A.I. scenario, and adds just enough twists to keep things interesting. As Melissa and former CIA agent, Wyman Ford, attempt to track Dorothy down, an unscrupulous Wall Street trader hopes to do the same, for very different (and lucrative) reasons. At whatever cost, even in human lives. I’ve always enjoyed Preston’s work (both solo, and with Lincoln Child), and this is no exception. Several moments reminded me of the film, A.I., but that’s not such a bad thing. Enjoyable, if not quite believable.
This is one of Ray Bradbury’s shortest but most meaningful stories.
This is the final book in the wonderful WondLa series. Eva Nine and her companions must find a way to stop the evil Loroc before he completely destroys the civilizations of Orbona. We see the cast of characters we met in The Search for WondLa and A Hero for WondLa plus a few new ones as Eva travels across the land trying to save everyone. I loved her journey in this series and how much she has grown and changed. I thought the ending was a very satisfying one and I enjoyed the epilogues that told of the future of Orbona in the centuries to come. It had been a while since I read the previous books and this one made me want to read the series all together so I could really enjoy the progression of Eva’s character and the story. Fabulous series and one I would definitely recommend.
What if the Norse Gods were living among us? What if all of the past gods were still around, trying to blend into their surroundings and watching for an opportunity to regain their status? The Lost Gate is about Danny North, the son of Odin and Frea, and showed little magical abilities. However, he soon learned that he could create gates, making him a Loki-like god. Since gates are forbidden (the punishment is death), Danny goes into hiding and discovers others with abilities that the great god families do not know about. The book concludes with a confrontation with The Gate Thief, who could strip Danny of his powers if victorious. A good light read.
Taking place in an alternative history America, this book introduces the Alvin Maker series. Alvin is born the seventh son of a seventh son, giving him certain magical abilities. The seventh son uses his abilities to help people, however, there are elements that disapprove of his actions. However, Alvin’s true enemy is slowly closing in and uses his human allies in his scheme to kill Alvin.
The book was fast paced and interesting. I would be interested in a prequel that explains the alternative history and political landscape of the United States. Some of these conversations were intriguing, but not fully played out.
In a far distant future, Tucker Feye and the inscrutable Lia find themselves atop a crumbling pyramid in an abandoned city. In present-day Hopewell, Tucker’s uncle Kosh faces armed resistance and painful memories as he attempts to help a terrorized woman named Emma, who is being held captive by a violent man. And on a train platform in 1997, a seventeen-year-old Kosh is given an instruction that will change his life, and the lives of others, forever. Tucker, Lia, and Kosh must evade the pursuit of maggot-like Timesweeps, battle Master Gheen’s cult of Lambs, all while they puzzle out the enigmatic Boggsians as they search for one another and the secrets of the diskos. Who built them? Who is destroying them? Where — and when — will it all end?
Cress is the third book in the Lunar Chronicles series. Cinder and her fugitive crew are focused on evading capture while simultaneously attempting to overthrow the evil Queen Levana. Their only hope lies in getting Cress, a professional hacker, to help them. Their plans go awry when the group is suddenly separated, leaving them crippled when they need each other most. Will they manage to stop Kai’s marriage to Levana, thus saving Earth from utter devastation?
This book was fast paced and a great read. My only complaint is that this book ended on a major cliffhanger when I thought the series would be over. I am now anxiously looking forward to the next book in the Lunar Chronicles series.
In the violent country of Ludania, the classes are strictly divided by the language they speak. The smallest transgression, like looking a member of a higher class in the eye while they are speaking their native tongue, results in immediate execution. Seventeen-year-old Charlaina has always been able to understand the languages of all classes, and she’s spent her life trying to hide her secret. The only place she can really be free is the drug-fueled underground clubs where people go to shake off the oppressive rules of the world they live in. It’s there that she meets a beautiful and mysterious boy named Max who speaks a language she’s never heard before . . . and her secret is almost exposed.
Charlie is intensely attracted to Max, even though she can’t be sure where his real loyalties lie. As the emergency drills give way to real crisis and the violence escalates, it becomes clear that Charlie is the key to something much bigger: her country’s only chance for freedom from the terrible power of a deadly regime.
A flash of white light . . . and then . . . nothing.
When sixteen-year-old Kyra Agnew wakes up behind a Dumpster at the Gas ’n’ Sip, she has no memory of how she got there. With a terrible headache and a major case of déjà vu, she heads home only to discover that five years have passed . . . yet she hasn’t aged a day.
Everything else about Kyra’s old life is different. Her parents are divorced, her boyfriend, Austin, is in college and dating her best friend, and her dad has changed from an uptight neat-freak to a drunken conspiracy theorist who blames her five-year disappearance on little green men.
Confused and lost, Kyra isn’t sure how to move forward unless she uncovers the truth. With Austin gone, she turns to Tyler, Austin’s annoying kid brother, who is now seventeen and who she has a sudden undeniable attraction to. As Tyler and Kyra retrace her steps from the fateful night of her disappearance, they discover strange phenomena that no one can explain, and they begin to wonder if Kyra’s father is not as crazy as he seems. There are others like her who have been taken . . . and returned. Kyra races to find an explanation and reclaim the life she once had, but what if the life she wants back is not her own?
The third graphic novel in the Serenity series. The Shepherd’s Tale gives the back story of one of my favorite Firefly characters, Shepherd Book. The high points and low points of his life are told from childhood to where he joins the crew of Firefly. To say anymore would give too much away
If you enjoy the Star Wars saga, you will enjoy this trilogy. Six years after the Return of the Jedi and the fall of the Empire, Han Solo and Princess Leia are trying to hold the New Republic together. Making the problem more difficult, is the Empire has been reborn with a super weapon. Luke is struggling with the Dark Side as his father once did years ago.
Eve Spiker is the daughter of biotech giant Terra Spiker. When she is in an accident and loses her leg she is immediately whisked off to Spiker Biotech to recuperate. Miraculously the leg is healed in a matter of days with no pain and no scars. Eve is introduced to Spiker lackey Solo who explains that she has been genetically modified by her mother with super healing. Solo lives at Spiker ever since his parents (Spiker scientists) were killed in an accident and he has hated Terra Spiker for years. He thinks she is evil and wants to take her down. Only his new love for Eve stops him short. While recovering Eve is tasked with creating her perfect boy and testing out some new genetic software for Spiker. Eve creates Adam, who is beautiful and intelligent and perfect in almost every way.
I thought I was really going to like this book; I have really enjoyed other books by Michael Grant and Katherine Applegate in the past. However, this one just fell short of my expectations. I think the premise is intriguing. I like the fact that it is set in present day and deals with genetics and biomedical ethics and what it means to be human. However, all of those ideas fell by the wayside when confronted with the one-dimensional characters and the over-used plot ideas.
Eve and Solo and eventually Adam narrate the book and unfortunately there is little to distinguish them personality wise. They all seem like caricatures of typical teen novel characters. Eve is brainy and innocent and naive and never really questions anything. She loses her leg and has her arm crushed but doesn’t question the fact that there is no pain. She also doesn’t really react when told she is genetically modified. Solo claims to hate Terra Spiker and believes her to be evil, but never really gives us any reasons for this hate. He comes of as someone overly stuck on their own importance. Adam is supposed to be the perfect creation and he must be because he can literally stop traffic. In fact he is so beautiful everyone who sees him stares and wants him no matter the sex or age. Really??? Every time this was described I cringed with incredulity; it just seemed so impossible and such a stupid plot idea. Then we have Aislen, Eve’s best friend, she is so overly sexualize that she is barely a person. And her story about a drug-dealing loser boyfriend really has no place in the story at all. The ending is fairly ridiculous with the Spiker scientists becoming evil henchmen all the sudden. And don’t even get me started on the stupid love triangle.
I can say that this story moved at a fast-pace and was entertaining in spots. However, I don’t think I would recommend it.
Piper is a scrapper in a scrap town on the fringes of society. Scrappers pick through the bits that come into their world from the meteor showers. These meteor showers deposit things from other worlds. Piper works to fix the things up and make them work again. One day she chases a friend into the dangerous meteor shower and discovers a destroyed caravan with a girl inside. She brings the injured girl back home with her. Soon Piper and Anna are running for their lives as they are chased by a mysterious man who claims to be Anna’s father. Anna has no memories. The only thing she has a is a dragonfly tattoo which marks her has protected by the king of the Dragonfly territory. Anna and Piper make their escape onto the 401, a train headed to the Dragonfly capital. Along the way they become friends with the 401’s crew: Jeyne, Trimble and Gee. There is danger, adventure and new insights into who exactly Anna is.
This was a fun steampunk story for middle grades. I really enjoyed learning about Piper and Anna’s backgrounds and abilities. I think kids will really enjoy the adventure of this story; however, it is a bit on the long side which might turn off some readers. I think my complaint is that it started out one way and ended up another. I was fascinated by the meteor showers and the debris from other worlds at the beginning of this book. However, that pretty much got dropped once they boarded the train. I think I would have liked for the two parts to tie together a little bit more. I still really enjoyed reading it though and the ending does leave the story open for further adventures.
Volume two kicks off with Spider’s partner, Channon, moping over her boyfriend’s decision to download his consciousness into a sentient gaseous cloud. And it just gets weirder from there. Spider has some catching up to do after his self-imposed exile. He takes an extended tour of reservations, where ancient cultures are preserved (for better or worse). Volume two ends with Spider on the run from a variety of parties who want to see him come to harm (including a talking police dog with a serious bone to settle) and who somehow believe that he would actually care that they’re holding the cryogenically-frozen head of his ex-wife for ransom. They clearly don’t know Spider Jerusalem very well at all.
Darkly funny and full of surprises, volume two of Transmetropolitan doesn’t disappoint.
Journalist Spider Jerusalem has been off the grid for years. He’s got everything he needs to avoid humanity. Everything except for a completed contract, the remainder of which is now being called in by Jerusalem’s editor. Spider reluctantly moves back to the city, a futuristic hellscape of depravity and corruption. In other words, Spider’s back in his element.
I’ve read this volume before, but it was so long ago that I decided to reread it now that the library has the whole series. Transmetropolitan is hilarious, filthy, sacrilegious and all-around entertaining. Spider is a bit of a Hunter S. Thompson for the future, drugs, smokes and all. A great choice for cynics everywhere.
Thirty years after a nuclear holocaust, survivors struggle to rebuild society in the few remaining areas not poisoned by radiation and germ warfare.
One of the founders of the colony of Carthage, Hadrian, joins forces with a police woman to solve mysterious murders that have started happening. The most painful for Hadrian is that of his close friend and the colony’s leading scientist, Jonah. Is it a government plot? Have some mobsters from the days before infiltrated and re-established a crime syndicate? Why would either of these groups encourage stories among the children of a better life in the afterlife that has lead to so many child suicides?
Jeffrey Brown’s second book. Here he imagines the challenges Darth Vader would have faced raising a girl while still a Sith Lord. Parents of girls will recognize some of these scenarios as Leia moves from sweet little girl having a tea party to rebellious teen. I think teens will enjoy the humor in this book too. Small amount of adult humor in this book but it is suggestive rather than blatant so it would go over most younger kids heads. As an adult Star Wars fan, I thought this book was funnier than Darth Vader and Son. I recognized more lines straight out of the movies and more situations slightly changed. A fun, quick read with fun illustrations.
Jeffrey Brown imagines what it might have been like for Darth Vader if he had taken an active role in raising Luke. In this sweet snapshots of Luke’s childhood, Vader is a dad like any other dad, except all of his staff are afraid of him. Luke appears oblivious to all the adult goings on. This was a fun and humorous book. Kid-friendly humor and illustrations. It could be book for a child, teen or adult, but adults and teens that are ardent fans of Star Wars will get references to the movies and quotes straight from the movies rewritten to fit a parenting scenario.