Review: Invictus by Ryan Graudin

*Note: We received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Because we’re just going to be shouting about how incredible this book was from now until the end of time, we thought instead of writing a review that would be 100% incoherent, we’d shuffle our thoughts into a Reasons To Read Invictus. So, without further ado, let’s get into it!

  1. PACING
    Invictus is heart-pounding, edge-of-your-seat fast, but at the same time it has slow moments for you to savour things like the tentative conversations between the couples. There was not one moment where I thought, ‘this needs to speed up’ or ‘wait, I’ve lost what’s happening.’ It’s literally crafted to perfection so you’ll never want to put it down!
  2. FOUND FAMILIES
    If you’re a fan of The Heroes of Olympus series, or Six of Crows, basically anything where a group of kids have to come together and save the world/steal some stuff, then you’re going to love this book. Invictus has the wholesomeness of the Percy Jackson series and wicked sense of the Grishaverse. With some strong Firefly and Doctor Who vibes as well, but that just comes with the sci-fi territory. (Side-note for other influences: the recent Star Trek films. The prologue is very Star Trek opening realness, and I was living for it.)
  3. MIND BOGGLING REVEALS
    OH MAN. The twists and turns in this story were off the scale good. Like, I didn’t see any of them coming. It’s really not something you can put together yourself, and even when I thought I had a one-up on the characters, I really didn’t. I’d like to think than Ryan thought of the ways a reader could construe things and then was like ‘haha nope! They’re not going to guess this!
  4. ROMANCE
    There are two main romances. You’d got Far and Priya, and Imogen and Gram. The first are the most true-love destiny pairing you’ve read since Percy and Annabeth. They communicate and it’s pretty glorious. And even though they’re young, they’re really serious about their feelings which is so joyful to read. As for Imogen and Gram, they don’t communicate and that’s the best thing too. Like, unrequited love that isn’t actually unrequited has got to be everyone’s favourite relationship dynamic ever right? It’s like love/hate but with more angst and emotional tension rather than sexual tension. Basically, it pulls on your heart strings and turned me into a puddle of love and tears. The romances aren’t over done, they’re secondary to the action plot, but they’re pivotal to the adventure so, sign me up!
  5. ACCOMPLISHED WRITING
    It literally blows my mind that Ryan Graudin came up with both Wolf By Wolf (a stunningly original idea) and Invictus. Seriously, one person should not be allowed to be this clever at plotting books. Everything I’ve read by Ryan has been different, but all her books have the same tone and beautiful crafting. I need Ryan to run a webinar on plotting, for sure!

Also, thought we’d give a shoutout to our friends Carys, Kate and Lily who we buddy read this book with. It was super fun to discuss it with them, so maybe another pro of this book is that it’s great for a book club pick – there’s a lot of talk about!

So, obviously, Invictus is getting 5 stars from us! I so wish this was the first in a larger series, but it’s also such a rewarding standalone (and you don’t get many sic-fi ones!) that it’s perfect on it’s own! We hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

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Review: Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

All I’ve ever heard about this book is how cool the format is, with all the mixed media and unusual-ness. Theory: Due to the format, no one sees how DULL the plot is. Seriously, this was a slog of a read. It used every science fiction cliche in the book. I was just waiting for the ‘We’re running out of oxygen!’ trope, but no dice. (There are still two books to go, so can someone else tell me if this happens? I’m sure as heck not continuing on with the series.)

Kady and Ezra were so 2-D. I’ve seen both of their characters before, in similar scenarios but executed so much better (see ‘Soldier Girls’ by Michael Grant). Oh, and Kady has pink hair, by the way. Just in case you didn’t get that she was a badass and could star in her own anime. *rolls eyes*

The romance was a limp slice of cheese. I couldn’t buy into it at all, as most of the romance happened before the novel began and what did they really connect to each other over? Just saying ‘I love you’ over and over again isn’t enough to convince me. And then we get the most contrived ‘sike, we got you’ ending that destroyed any speck of emotional resonance all for the sake of a sequel.

Let me run through some MORE of the worst moments:
1. Over 500 years into the future and people still use ‘:P’ instead of emojis? C’mon.
2. why why why would anything EVER be justified to the centre?? It’s hard to read and should be preserved for middle grade poetry ONLY.
3. The boys use the phrase ‘chum’ to refer to each other in the beginning and then this is quickly dropped and everyone acts like they didn’t just try and make chum a thing. It’s not a thing.
4. People are still amazed by keyboard art. Well, just wait until they realise if you type in 01134 into a calculator and turn it upside down it spells ‘hello’
5. The AI has a poetic voice? I think this just made the centre justification even worse and I know this is supposed to be quirky and different – wow, a none robotic AI – but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t odd.
6. Kady’s humour was one note.
7. Ezra’s humour was one note.
8. I know they’d been in a relationship before but why is no one screaming ‘insta-love’?
9. Is it just me that finds white writing on a black background kind of difficult to read?
10. Unipedia pages? REALLY? This is the most obvious info dump I’ve ever seen! And it’s not even disguised!

This has just solidified that sci-fi is not for me. At least not like this.

Review: Nemesis by Brendan Reichs

Note: We received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. 

I wish I’d paid more attention to the Goodreads page before diving head first into the story, because that would have a) cleared up the genre and b) told me that this was the first in a series. Nemesis starts off as an unassuming contemporary with a mystery twist where Min finds herself being murdered every other year and waking up in the forest the next day like nothing happened. There’s also a thread about a potential apocalypse with asteroids threatening to wipe out the planet. Then things get a little crazy when Min starts to get the feeling that this is all a government conspiracy. (Hm, I wonder how she worked that out? Was it the psychiatric evaluations every other year or…?) Suddenly, Nemesis turns fill-on Lord of the Flies and logic is thrown out the window.

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Review: Defy the Stars by Claudia Grey

33154647Defy The Stars by Claudia Grey
Genre: Sci-fi
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Pages: 420
Format: ARC e-book
Rating: ★★★

I feel the same way about Defy the Stars as I do the Star Wars franchiseI thought it was a fun romp through space but I wasn’t invested much more than that. I will say that Defy the Stars is probably the best sci-fi YA I’ve read, and it’s not normally my genre, so to even say I enjoyed it means a lot.

I’m also not a fan of ‘love is the ultimate rebellion’ as the tag line, because I don’t think this story is primarily a romance, and thank goodness! That being said, let’s get onto the review.

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Review: The Thousandth Floor by Katharine McGee

31244354The Thousandth Floor by Katharine McGee
Genre: 
Sci-fi
Published by: HarperCollins
Pages: 437
Format: ARC e-book
Rating: ★★
Note: We received this book from the publishers in exchange for an honest review.

Seeing as this book is blurbed by Cecily von Ziegesar and the model on the front looks like she belongs in Gossip Girl, I went in thinking I already knew the characters The Thousandth Floor was going to use. While there were a few surprises, this book definitely fit the initial stereotypes I had. A few months ago I managed to read four of the Gossip Girl novels before realising that was as much as I could take of spoilt rich girls. But, the intriguing opening, promising a thrilling ending, was enough to keep me turning the pages. Continue reading “Review: The Thousandth Floor by Katharine McGee”

Review: The Program by Suzanne Young

11366397The Program by Suzanne Young
Genre: Dystopian, Sci-fi, Romance
Published by: Simon Pulse
Pages: 403
Format: e-book
Rating: ★★
Series: The Treatment (#2)

I started to read this book because I’d recently finished the currently available 2 seasons of iZombie on Netflix. I LOVE iZombie, it’s just incredible and I couldn’t recommend it enough. After all the medical sci-fi, I decided it was finally time to read The Program which has been on my TBR for ages. In short, it definitely reminds me of YA from 2013. It’s a little too romance heavy and insta-love is a real issue. I was really intrigued by the first 50 or so pages, but after procrastinating from continuing for almost two months (due to BTAT2016 and university reading) I was losing hope. I finished it…eventually, though! Here are my thoughts:

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Series Review: Across the Universe by Beth Revis

Across the UniverseA Million Suns, Shades of Earth by Beth Revis
Genre: Sci-fi, Romance. Published by: Razorbill
Pages: 398, 404, 369 respectively. Format: e-book
Rating: ★★.5

The Across the Universe series seemed to be one of the staples of everyone’s shelves on the booktube community when we first joined almost three years ago. And I’m sure the majority of you will have heard of this series, if not for it’s content, then for the widely contested cover change. DUN DUN DUN. Not many people are talking about this series anymore, but we decided to give it ago anyway, because if it was popular once, then maybe it could be again. Unfortunately, I don’t think this will be the case. The whole series is very typical of what the YA market was like a a few years ago. Full of adventure, insta-love, and poorly explained enemies. Had we read it when it was first popular maybe we would’ve enjoyed the series, but instead we found ourselves slogging through for the sake of this review.

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Review: Revolution 19 by Gregg Rosenblum

13667361Revolution 19 by Gregg Rosenbaum
Genre: Sci-fi, Dystopia
Published by: HarperTeen
Pages: 265
Format: Paperback
Rating:

I picked up this book on a whim. I thought I’d heard someone talk about in on booktube maybe a year and a half ago. Now, I realise why there probably hasn’t been any discussions about it since. The main premise is robot apocalypse, right? Sounding pretty awesome so far? What it’s missing is character depth, an non circular plot, characters who learn from their mistakes and – not to mention – actual world building. So, welcome everyone to, what I believe to be, my first one star review of 2016.

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Spoiler Review: Insiders Duology by Maria V. Snyder

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Inside Out and Outside In by Maria V. Snyder 
Genre: Sci-Fi, Dystopian
Published by: Mira Ink
Format: Paperback
Rating: ★★.5

I’ve made it my goal this year to try and read all of Maria V. Snyder’s works. It’ve been an avid reader of her Study series for a really long time, and her foray into dystopian sounded like exactly the kind of thing I would like. In a world were people are separated into Upper and Lowers, where the Lowers look after everyone by doing the jobs no one wants to do, we follow Trella, a scrub, who just might know how to get people to the elusive Outside where they can’t be controlled by an oppressive society run by the Controllers.

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Review: Resist by Sarah Crossan

resistResist by Sarah Crossan
Genre: Dystopian, Sci-Fi
Published by: Bloomsbury
Pages: 360
Format: Paperback
Series: Breathe (#1)
Rating: ★★★★

Luckily, I didn’t have to find out what happened next in the sequel to Breathe, because my local library has had the second book in stock for ages and finally I got to pick it up! I really loved the first book and was super excited to see how the series would conclude. I can happily say that I liked the ending and to a certain extent, wish there had been more!

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