The House of the Scorpion

51mqbohbfol-_sx331_bo1204203200_by Nancy Farmer
Review by KM

It’s no secret that I work in a library and I’ve spent the past month knee deep in preparations for our Summer Reading Program. For those who don’t know, the United States has this team called the Collaborative Summer Library Program. This organization arranges our awesome themes and compiles a ton of resources for us librarians. While not all libraries follow it, there’s a huge percentage that do. Why am I telling you this? Because it’s really likely that your local library’s Summer Reading theme is: On Your Mark, Get Set … Read! 

Our library has kind of transformed this theme into The Reading Olympics. We’re handing out additional prize tickets to all the people who read books from around the world, whether they be by a foreign author or the setting takes place in another country.

If you live in my town or if your library is doing anything similar, The House of the Scorpion is a great choice to grab an extra ticket.

Plus, it’s awesome. I’m so happy this theme came up this year; I was majorly overdue for a reread of this novel.

Summary

Matteo Alacrán was not born; he was harvested.
His DNA came from El Patrón, lord of a country called Opium–a strip of poppy fields lying between the United States and what was once called Mexico. Matt’s first cell split and divided inside a petri dish. Then he was placed in the womb of a cow, where he continued the miraculous journey from embryo to fetus to baby. He is a boy now, but most consider him a monster–except for El Patrón. El Patrón loves Matt as he loves himself, because Matt is himself.

As Matt struggles to understand his existence, he is threatened by a sinister cast of characters, including El Patrón’s power-hungry family, and he is surrounded by a dangerous army of bodyguards. Escape is the only chance Matt has to survive. But escape from the Alacrán Estate is no guarantee of freedom, because Matt is marked by his difference in ways he doesn’t even suspect.

Musings

I have to say, in my opinion and feel free to disagree, that House of the Scorpion is the best YA book about cloning. It takes place in this marvelously detailed futuristic world, but one where you can see how our current society changed into that. I loved the explanations, which weren’t laid out in a info-dump, but scattered through the narrative where you needed them.

As with most science fiction novels I encounter, my favorite part has to be the ethics of the entire situation. Clones aren’t meant to be people in this. They aren’t sitting on an island, living lives without the knowledge they’re clones. In this, they are not meant to ever have enough brain function to realize they’re missing out. But Matt does function. He realizes the intents and purposes of his creation. Whether that is more merciful or cruel is definitely a question.

Summer is a perfect time to pick up this book. You may be waiting each week for the next Orphan Black episode and this can certainly fill your time with more science-fiction fun.

More than that, please check out your local library to see what programs they’re running for this summer. We have awesome things for every age group and they’re all free.

Moxyland

by Lauren Beukes
Reviewed by SA

Prepare yourselves for an insane thrill ride, not for the feint of heart. This novel is everything a science fiction novel should be an more, and you’re going to fall in love with Beukes’s writing. And you’ll probably come out hating humans, but we all need a good dose of that from time to time.

Summarycover90409-medium

A frighteningly persuasive, high-tech fable, this novel follows the lives of four narrators living in an alternative futuristic Cape Town, South Africa. Kendra, an art-school dropout, brands herself for a nanotech marketing program; Lerato, an ambitious AIDS baby, plots to defect from her corporate employers; Tendeka, a hot-headed activist, is becoming increasingly rabid; and Toby, a roguish blogger, discovers that the video games he plays for cash are much more than they seem. On a collision course that will rewire their lives, this story crackles with bold and infectious ideas, connecting a ruthless corporate-apartheid government with video games, biotech attack dogs, slippery online identities, a township soccer school, shocking cell phones, addictive branding, and genetically modified art. Taking hedonistic trends in society to their ultimate conclusions, this tale paints anything but a forecasted utopia, satirically undermining the reified idea of progress as society’s white knight.

Moxyland is very character driven. All four characters live in South Africa, and their lives all intersect and their paths cross in interesting ways. And each of them are just so incredibly relatable: they’re all a little hot-headed, maybe entitled, self absorbed, and cynical about the world they live in. Whether they like it or not, they all have an important role to play.

We have Kendra, the artist, who’s trying to be independent: she joins a nanotech research program/marketing scheme, which will change her life forever. There’s Lerato, who’s trying to climb the corporate ladder while still hating the corporations. Ten, a activist who slowly begins to cross the line into terrorism, and Toby, a gamer and blogger who just wants to live his comfortable lifestyle. They all have different views of the world they live in, many too comfortable to do anything to change it, while others may try and do too much. it can all end in tears.

The future that Burkes imagines for South Africa is a very plausible one. Everyone is very dependent on their smart phone, as it carries their identity, their bank account, and will even be used in riot control or police arrests. Losing your phone is being tossed out of society. This, and other cool technologies I won’t spoil for you, made so much sense for the world of tomorrow.

The plot itself is a little complicated to get into at first, to see how everyone fits together, but it grows until a climax that is absolutely heart stopping. Seriously, I could not put this book down. It was so exciting, and terrifying… but no, no spoilers!

The novel is also a bit of a social commentary on us (well, a lot of a social commentary), about the power of consumerism and corporations, about complacency, about giving up our freedoms for perceived comfort. It’s not exactly eye opening, but still an amazing study. It kind of makes you hate us current humans.

For fans of Snow Crash, and cyberpunk, who love classics like Brave New World. This book will leave you breathless.

A new paperback edition comes out 16 Aug 2016 from Mulholland Books.

 

The Secret King: Lethao – New Goodies!

Not too long ago we reviewed this fantastic, self published novel. Now it’s time to share with you some great news:

THE BOOK IS FREE UNTIL THE 31ST!512borfpclzl-_sx331_bo1204203200_

The secret King Lethao is the first book book of the epic SciFi adventure. Book one takes you on an epic journey as the Aonise rush to flee their planet before it implodes. But their journey to planet Earth is far from smooth. Treachery, secrets, danger and battles all make for one exciting novel.

The Secret King is free to download for just two more days. So get your copy now. Leave Reality and step in the another world.

On mybook, Facebook.

Their website is awesome, too. Lots of amazing goodies! Plus access to the Aonise dictionary.

The Audio books are just about to launch as well, so get excited! Enjoy!

Dissolution

by Lee S. Hawke
Reviewed by SA

Ah, Self Published Saturday! The day we here at Readcommendations celebrate amazing self published books that deserve a place on your bookshelf. And I have read a lot of self pubbed books this month, let me tell you! Yet none of them stood out to me as much as Dissolution, a brilliant (YA) science fiction novel which will have your mind in knots for days.

Summary29603794

What would you sell yourself for?

Madeline knows. She’s spent the last eighteen years impatiently waiting for her Auctioning so she can sell herself to MERCE Solutions Limited for a hundred thousand credits. But when the Auctioneer fails to call her and two suits show up at her doorstep, Madeline discovers there are far worse bargains to be made.

So when your loved ones are in danger, there’s a bounty on your head and your entire city might turn out to be a lie… what would you sell yourself for?

The future Madeline lives in isn’t a bright one. Toxic rivers, arid deserts: the world beyond the wall is beyond hope of saving. But her city, Unilox, seems to be a beacon of life and hope, minus the freedom. You see, the city is run entirely by corporations, and being a citizen means being a part of one of them. Not just as an employee… but as a purchased product what belongs to them. At 18, gaining citizenship means being auctioned off, and having your contract purchased by any one of these corporations. Your life belongs to them, and they decide your value.

But it’s a system that works. Everyone gets along swimmingly in this future: there are incredibly high tech body augmentations available to everyone, which allow you to have bionic eyes, or to have  tastes fed to your brain which make the nutrient mush you eat taste like anything you want. People are healthy, and happy. The problem is that they all wear collars.

Madeline belongs to ANRON, the medical corporation. They run tests on everything, and her own parents have payed the cost with their own health, being experimental themselves. Madeline wants to be purchased by MERCE, the tech industry, but when she isn’t even called up at the auction, her hopes of reaching her dreams are shattered. When she learns that ANRON never intended to give up her license, and they would rather have her on a metal slab to slice her open, she must make a daring escape to fight for her freedom in a world where only a handful are truly free.

Hawke creates an amazing world for us to fall into. The world of people as products and human auctions almost feels real, and somehow completely believable. From the first page we’re pulled into Unilox, and we’re rooting for Madeline as she nervously prepares to be sold at auction. Yup, we’re excited for her.

At first glance, you might think this looks like the ‘usual’ YA, but I’m here to tell you that it’s much much more. For one, you don’t have a silly love triangle getting in the way of the plot. Madeline’s relationship with Jake is something that both drives her and motivates her, and it’s healthy and heartbreaking. Honestly it was refreshing to read! Even though it broke me in the end…

The plot is also intensely gripping. Madeline’s only goal is to survive, and this leads her to discover the true workings of her city, and realize that it’s not right. We can’t help but cheer for her when she realizes what we’ve known from the start: that people are not products, and that companies may have the same rights as a human being, but they are only as strong as the people who make them up. But this makes the read even more enjoyable: a clear goal, a world bent on catching her, Madeline’s plight is something we can latch on to.

As a matter of fact, I would only call this YA because of the age of the protagonist (18). It is so much better than those ‘trendy’ books out there! The plot is rich and exciting. The protagonist is relatable and you want to root for her.  And the ending absolutely destroyed me, making me feel like I’ve been ripped apart. It is such a brilliant way to shut the book. And now I’m stuck here, with feels.

Trust me on this:  you won’t read another book like Dissolution. Pick it up on amazon STAT!

Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B01DEGTLGK
iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/au/book/dissolution/id1096943300?mt=11

The Secret King: Lethao

by Dawn Chapman
Reviewed by SA

It’s another self published Saturday! This week I’ve had the pleasure to read an amazing science fiction novel that needs to be in your hands immediately. It’s fast, gripping, complex, and reads like a season (yes, an entire season) of Battlestar Galactica. So if you want some brilliant science fiction, this is the book for you: now let me tell you why.

Summary26220955

Kendro, King of the Aonise, can do nothing to prevent their sun from collapsing, consuming their home planet Letháo in a single fiery blast. Running out of time and options, he evacuates the entire population, setting off into the unknown galaxy in four crowded ships. Under constant danger from their ancient enemy, the Zefron, treasonous dissent seeps into his inner circle. Threatened inside and out, Kendro struggles with who to trust, until a mysterious vision finally brings hope to the distraught King. A new home awaits the Aonise, if Kendro can only unite them long enough to survive the journey.

Their world is dying, and the Aonise must evacuate their planet, heading to the stars in massive ships in hope of finding a new world. But their journey is not without its threats: they are hunted by the Zefron, an ancient enemy who seem hell-bent on trying to destroy them, as well as whispers of treason from within. Kendro. the king of the Aonise and their hope for the future, must protect himself while trying to save his people, not to mention his wife and unborn son. The risks are great, and the journey ahead is not an easy one…

The first thing that hit me about this novel was just how gripping it was. Much like in “The Martian” (Andy Weir), the second the Aonise think they are safe, as soon as one problem has been solved, they are thrown head first into another life or death situation. There is never a dull moment or a lull in the plot. They must work together to save their species, or none will survive. Because of this constant action, the book is incredibly difficult to put down and is addicting as heck.

There are multiple characters to follow, which makes the book read a lot like a show. This brings you to different parts of the ship, and introduces you to many aspects of their culture and customs. They’re humanoid, but in many ways they differ completely from us humans, showing the quality of the author’s world building. For example, every Aonise is born with a birthmark, which differs from person to person and across the houses. Their life forces, if you will, contain actual power: Croex. It runs through their veins and has tremendous potential. It lights their birthmark with raw emotion, meaning their feelings are always on display. This, and the croex itself, binds the people together, the king connected to every single one of his people, feeling their pain and anguish as his own. It’s incredibly how the author has managed to make this aspect of their lives seem so natural to the reader when we have nothing like it here on earth.

It’s a space saga of epic proportions. Not only is there the military aspect, but the life of these characters is studied, we share in their loss and their loves and their joys. We are following in their darkest times and their greatest hopes. It gives us surprising emotion, for a science fiction novel. You can’t help but cheer for Kendro, whose faith in his people is remarkable, even when he knows there are those who wish him dead. Some of the storylines are a little more difficult, darker, like Octav’s for example: he has difficult decisions, with his home life falling apart and his own emotions in turmoil. Life on the run, trying to keep your people safe, is not easy.

All in all, as a Sci Fi fan, I got my fill with this fantastic beginning of an awesome saga. With brilliant world building, tough characters, and great writing, I’m hooked and I can’t wait for more. Hopefully we’ll get the sequel soon!

Sleeping Giants

by Sylvain Neuvel
Reviewed by SA

Those who know me know that I NEED good science fiction in my life. I need a story that pushes the limits of modern day thinking and make us dream about the possibilities the universe has to offer. When I saw that this novel was compared to The Martian, one of my all time favorite books, I jumped at it, and was no disappointed: Sleeping Giants is a fun, intriguing, fascinating novel that had me hooked from the very first page.

Summarycover72457-medium

17 years ago: A girl in South Dakota falls through the earth, then wakes up dozens of feet below ground on the palm of what seems to be a giant metal hand. Today: She is a top-level physicist leading a team of people to understand exactly what that hand is, where it came from, and what it portends for humanity. A swift and spellbinding tale told almost exclusively through transcriptions of interviews conducted by a mysterious and unnamed character, this is a unique debut that describes a hunt for truth, power, and giant body parts.

When a second body part is found almost twenty years later, a team is assembled to figure out exactly what these giant pieces are for, and what on earth it all could possibly mean. A team is assembled, comprised of a physicist, a pair of pilots, a linguist, and a biologist; pieced together by a mysterious, nameless figure who seems to have more power than we could ever possibly know…

Rather than using the usual novel format, the story is told through a collection of oral journal entires, and interviews with the nameless figure. This makes it somewhat complicated to connect with the characters, as everything we know about them is given through dialogue, so there is no direct connection with any of them.

However, this is definitely not a problem: the plot is so compelling, you’re hooked either way. It was a fascinating story from start to finish, with the characters throwing out hypothesis over what this giant could possibly be about as fast as you could. There were twists and turns, some awful moments that make you cringe, some exciting events that make you grip the novel so tight your hands will hurt.

It’s sciency, but not science heavy: perfect for geeks like me, and lovers of robots of all ages. The interview format gives it all a sense of realism, without going too deep into scientific explanations that would have scientist groaning. Instead, there is a lot of speculation, coupled with recent discoveries based on the scientific method.

And it’s rather beautiful, actually. Myths and legend play an important role towards the end, and it’s rather gorgeous how they intertwine with history. Somehow, a novel about a giant buried in pieces across earth manages to be delicate and profound. It’s possibly one of the best science fiction novels I have read in ages, and I’m adding it to my list of favorite books.

For fans of science fiction and myths, this book is gripping and beautiful. Too bad you have to wait until April 26th to read it! Published by Random House.

Also, isn’t that cover just gorgeous?

Gravitas: Valkyrie in the Forbidden Zone

by Lynne Murray

Reviewed by SA

It’s self published Saturday! What, it’s not the last Saturday of the month, you say? Well, I have been having such a great time reading amazing self published novels that I’m going to try to now do TWO self published Saturdays a month! (let’s see if I can pull this off!)

This month, I’ve had the pleasure of reading Gravitas: Valkyrie in the Forbidden Zone, an amazingly fun science fiction novel full of powerful women, angry warriors, and humans who’ll believe just about anything you tell them too. Fast paced and clever beyond belief, this book will have you wishing for more, begging for great science fiction novels like this one to fill your afternoons.

Summary

An urgent mission.
A woman with a past.
A dangerous burden.
Sybil, from Planet Valkyrie, carries a risky amount of Gravitas, a top secret aphrodisiac, to trade at a conference on ending slavery in her sector of the galaxy. Attacked by an angry warrior from slave-holding Planet Roggr, Sybil falls through an unmarked portal to land on Earth. The Forbidden Zone. Rescue is impossible. Portals to Earth are sealed. Sybil needs to defend herself, protect her hazardous cargo, and find a way home–while dealing with a damaging overdose of Gravitas.

In a remarkably unique take on the “Lost on Earth” scenario, we follow Sybil, a diplomat from Walkyrie, accidentally stuck on earth with no way home,  and it’s more than just a phone call away. Earth is in the forbidden zone, a planet that she should never be allowed to even get near to, after all those alien races came and influenced ours to worship them. To make matters worse, she’s carrying a very strong aphrodisiac in a necklace around her neck, and it’s driving her insane; she’s got her personal demons on call, and they have a lot to say; her long lost husband – the first one, while her three others are safe at home – has just reappeared in her life, and seems to know a whole lot about earth culture; and she’s being stalked but a lustful, obsessed warrior. To top it all off, Earth people don’t seem to take too kindly to big, powerful women. Sybil must navigate this strange planet, while avoiding getting stuck in the middle of feuding warriors, in order to get back home safely.

I think what really got me loving this novel was how the unusual plot just worked so well. All the elements mesh together in a tapestry of creative storytelling: starting off in media res with an exciting, somewhat confusing beginning, which allows you to get your bearings in this new book just as Sybill does on this new planet, then moving backwards to understand where this woman has just come from, then moving forward again while keeping certain elements hidden until later, the author manages to keep you gripped in the story by keeping everything quickly paced, and by making you care about the characters she has created.

Sybill is a powerful woman: there is no doubt about that. She comes from a Matriarchal society, has three husbands (not including the ex), can carry vast amounts of Gravitas, is well respected and given important responsibilities. Not to mention she is gorgeous: though Walkyrie tends to favor the larger woman, and, sadly enough, that doesn’t translate well to earth. She is strong, smart, and can hold her own in any situation. Not to mention she even manages to empower women on earth, though I will not spoil anything. I found Sybil wonderfully written, relatable even though she is alien.

The premise us unusual, the characters uncommon; it’s fun, it’s funny, with great moments which hit the science fiction high note. It was good to laugh so much.  I think my favorite aspect of this novel was the way the author incorporated alien tourism into world religions. It was incredibly funny to see how certain alien races, alien mannerisms, physical appearance, names, and multiple appendages could have influenced the birth of many religions around the world. Cultural heritage and practices somehow evolving from interaction with beings from another world? Something you hear a lot about in “Ancient Aliens,” maybe, but never tackled with such fun. It was clever to have THAT be the reason that aliens do not visit us anymore: humans are TOO kind, too prone to manipulation, even if it is accidental. Loved it.

The ending I found spot on; I wouldn’t have had it any other way. It was a beautifully written scene. I don’t want to say much here, seeing as how I don’t want to spoil it, but it had me close the book with a smile on my face.

So if you’re looking for some fantastic science fiction, the classic great premise but with a modern, fresh take, you are going to absolutely love Gravitas. You can find it on Amazon, in epub and in paperback.

Check out more from Lynne Murray:

http://www.lmurray.com

http://lynnemurray.blogspot.com/

Zero World

by Jason M. Hough

Reviewed by SA

I didn’t think I’d find another thrilling science fiction book this summer, but I was proven wrong the second I picked up this amazing novel. Thrilling, intriguing, smart and most of all, fun, this novel rocketed up high on the list of my favorite books of 2015. There’s so much to love about this novel, and if you’re looking for one last book to read this summer, make sure it’s Zero World.

Summary – From Goodreads

Technologically enhanced superspy Peter Caswell has been dispatched on a top-secret assignment unlike any he’s ever faced. A spaceship that vanished years ago has been found, along with the bodies of its murdered crew—save one. Peter’s mission is to find the missing crew member, who fled through what appears to be a tear in the fabric of space. Beyond this mysterious doorway lies an even more confounding reality: a world that seems to be Earth’s twin.
 
Peter discovers that this mirrored world is indeed different from his home, and far more dangerous. Cut off from all support, and with only days to complete his operation, Peter must track his quarry alone on an alien world. But he’s unprepared for what awaits on the planet’s surface, where his skills will be put to the ultimate test—and everything he knows about the universe will be challenged in ways he never could have imagined.

The basic premise of the novel – if it can even be called basic – is what really got me. I hadn’t read the blurb before picking up the book, so it started off as a particularly well written novel about an assassin whose memories are wiped after every mission. Already pretty cool. But only a chapter or two in, they send you into space. Then the author ads the extra dimension of a TWIN EARTH. And then… then it becomes much more. I was, in a word, captivated.

I seriously could not put this book down: I wanted to know everything, about this new world, about the mission. So much happens in such a small amount of time! There’s no time for the novel to slow down, it keeps going strong, against the clock, forcing Peter to push himself to his limits. It’s so fast paced you’ll need running shoes to keep up.

It’s amazing that in such a fast, action packed novel, there is still room for character development. Peter begins as a hardened assassin, but as details of his mission start to change, he does too. It’s almost as if he is an entirely different man from one minute to the next, and the man at the end of the novel is not the man we met at the very start.

Melni, the woman from the alternate earth, is an amazing woman, and develops alongside Peter during the course of this story. She too begins hardened and focused, and in the end, her focus has shifted to a much larger scope than she had started with… though I won’t give you any spoilers there. She is an outcast in this world, but also a talented spy, with firm conviction and amazing skill. I liked moving to her perspective, have her view of Peter to balance with Peter’s view of her world. It was fantastic writing, as you would really tell the difference between whose mind you were in.

The relationship between the two of them just works. There’s a chemistry there – nothing sexual – just a great match and great teamwork. While Peter and Melni didn’t always see eye to eye, they managed to plan (which Peter hates) and get the job done. I am so glad to have read a great book without a weird love story to set it off balance: their relationship only served to add balance to the novel.

But my favorite thins about Zero World isn’t the plot or the characters – as awesome as they are – but the world building. My gosh! Creating this alternate Earth, a new history, with depth, huge events, small events, thinking all the way down to clothes and architecture, even considering the ethnic diversity of the population, and the discrimination! A work of art. The language, however bugged me – why are “shoes” now called “Treadmellows” but “boots” are still boots? It probably shouldn’t bother me, it’s such a small detail. But with all the attention everywhere else, it made me laugh just a little bit.

Now this book also comes with an entire novella, which is awesome as well. But reading on kindle, I was at 75% when the novel ended – I was shocked! I thought it had more to go! I think i even yelled at the book for ending too soon. I may be greedy, but I was more! I’m very excited for the sequel, which I hope comes out soon.

Zero World comes out August 18th. Be sure to pick it up – though I know you’ll never put it down.

On another note, the reason we didn’t write last week was because we both decided to take a week off and spend time with out families. Happy summer everyone!

Circle Unbroken

By M.A. Kropp

Reviewed by SA

When I picked up this book, I admittedly had no idea what to expect. But I was quickly hooked:  Science Fiction AND magic? I’m being spoiled here! Circle Unbroken is an awesome mix of two genres, masterfully woven together into a strong story. Intrigue, plots, and schemes? Sign me up!

Circle UnbrokenBook Blub

When your family runs the mining operation on a planet that supplies a long-depleted Earth with needed resources, there are bound to be those who would like to see you fail After five years away with the Interstellar Security Corps, Kaili is coming home after the death of her grandmother as a key participant in the ceremony to install her sister as head of the company and the ruling planetary council. She and her partner land in the middle of old resentments and new threats.

Like all of her people, Kaili is gifted with psi abilities developed over generations living in close harmony with their world- what outsiders see as magic. The ceremony investing her sister with her new positions will be a formal ritual, and Kaili, as her sister’s closest relative, will complete the binding Circle.

Accidents and unrest are growing in the mine operations, and Kaili and her partner, Jeff, uncover evidence that her sister will be formally challenged at the ceremony. When Kaili goes missing right before the ceremony, and returns with no apparent memory of the past few days, Jeff  knows something is not right. He will need to use a little magic of his own to make sure Kaili is ready to face the family’s enemies. If not, it could mean both sisters’ lives.

I really loved bringing magic into the mix of a science-fiction driven universe. It somehow doesn’t seem out of place: we know little about where these abilities come from, just as the characters still haven’t solved this mystery. Jeff, the captain of the Slingshot and Kaili’s ISC partner, is awkward in a magic-driven society, but he doesn’t write it off as hocus-pocus when he sees what people can do. And for the people of Geb, living with magic on the one hand and a thriving mining industry on the other is just everyday life for them. It was interesting to see what an advanced, space faring civilization could do with magic on their side.

Kaili is caught between two worlds, the world she was brought up in, with magic and ceremonies, and the world she has chosen to live in, the world of the ISC, where things are driven by technology and work. She’s smart and determined, even working on scientific research to try and figure out why the psi abilities of her planet will not work in hyperspace. Even when worse comes to worst, she keeps her head up and doesn’t stop fighting. A great protagonist in this universe.

I did really like the characters: Jeff and his space-captain attitude, Humfrid and his cheerful fatherly demeanor. The mystery revolving around who could be trying to sabotage the ceremony makes you watch everyone incredibly intently, and the depth that was shown demonstrated the author’s fantastic writing skills.

The mystery itself is slow growing – is there a plot, or are they paranoid? Who is involved if it is? I honestly did not see the ending coming, or at least, I didn’t see the full scope of it until very late. It was a great amount of suspense.

However, with the story revolving around this slow mystery, it made the plot a little slow itself. I was wondering when some great incident would come rippling through their lives, and was surprised then there wasn’t some huge intergalactic event. Not to say that the mystery wasn’t compelling, only that it threw the pacing a little off.

Circle Unbroken is a fun and enjoyable book, set in a universe I’d quite like to see more of. Hopefully we’ll get to hear more from Kaili and Jeff in the future!

The novel is set to come out on August 18th, but the author is hosting a pre-sale event: if you purchase the novel anytime between August 2nd and 17th, you will receive a free download of TWO other books by the same author!

Find it on Smashwords. Enjoy!

Alive

By Scott Sigler

Reviewed by SA

Looking for your new favorite book this summer? Summer fast and fun that will stay with you forever? Then I would seriously recommend Alive, Scott Sigler’s new book coming out today. It’s a fun, fast paced thrill ride that will leave you breathless and asking for more, offering you questions upon questions of mystery and intrigue. You’ll never want to put it down.

Summary

When she breaks free from the coffin shaped box that was holding her, our protagonist has no idea who she is. She knows only one thing: it is her twelfth birthday. But her clothes are too tight, her body too large for being twelve; and what is that strange circular mark on her forehead? As people begin to emerge from the coffins, each claiming it to be their twelfth birthday, none fitting the bill, and with no other memories, our hero takes on a name: Em, for the M. Savage on her coffin. She will lead her crew into the corridors of their strange prison – if it even is a prison – where every hallway is strewn with the remains of the dead, and rooms hold horrors they would never want to see.  As their questions get answered, more questions are asked. Who are they, and what are they doing here? What do the marks mean? And are they alone?

The second I read “its my twelfth birthday”, I groaned internally. ‘ I assumed much too quickly that this was just another YA*… I was wrong, thank goodness! In less than a chapter, Sigler had managed to get me completely hooked. Already, every question that was out there made us want, no, need an answer. And he wasn’t going to just give it to us, no!

Now the difficult thing about this book is writing a review with no spoilers: the answers to the questions our heroes ask are astounding, and something you could not have anticipated at all. The best of all, however, is that the answers do not let you down. Frequently, a good book or show will ride on the intrigue to keep you reading, but when all is revealed, you feel cheated. For some, think Lost. What’s fantastic about Alive is that the answers enrich the novel and give it a whole other dimension. You don’t learn anything until near the very end, so the reveal actually leaves you asking more, wanting more.

Em herself is a fantastic lead. She’s smart, she’s insightful, and she’s flawed. It’s an incredible amount of growth for a character with no memories. She watches and judges, plans and fights, all the while trying to keep everyone together and proving herself to be an incredible leader. In her mind, she is still twelve, which means she has some quite interesting insights (mainly on modesty, she’s not a fan of her tight clothes) and remarks (she’s confused by white people skin for a while). I absolutely loved her. The internal turmoil after a defining moment is something you don’t get a lot of in novels these days: it’s either brushed over, or brought up every five minutes. Em is a great person to follow, and get to know.

Alive strikes balance in everything: it finds the balance between asking hundreds of questions and answering them, balance in a fast paced plot and internal turmoil, balance between good and evil. It’s bother horror survival and human growth. It may not be ‘the perfect novel’ (does it even exist?), but I could find nothing wrong with it, nothing negative to say at all. It was gripping and fun! It was surprisingly fast to read – possibly because I couldn’t put it down – and I loved piecing everything together with Em. This is definitely my favorite YA science fiction novel in a long, long time. First time I’ve read something as good in year! It was… awesome, for lack of a better word..

So if you’re looking for a great, fun, fast read this summer, you’re going to love Alive. Drop everything and start it now! Comes out today on amazon.

N.B. I just found out that this is the first in a trilogy. It ends in such a way that I had no idea! I’m super excited for the sequel, when do we get it?

*Not that I have anything against YA! It’s the whole “Cash Cow” mentally that’s bugging me these days. You can tell when a book is written just for the money of it, taking everything that appeals to the key demographic and shoving it together for optimum readership. Thankfully, this is not that book.