The Lord of The Rings, Harry Potter, Hobbit and The Chronicles of Narnia have already won the hearts of millions of readers of all ages. Fantasy novels with complex plots, written in the understandable even for the youngest readers language, keep older generations excited and thrilled as well. The Fairy Tale by Stephen King can definitely be included in this honorable list. Describing the incredible adventures of Charlie Reade, it takes us to the mystical world and introduces to the ancient evil monsters and brave fighters for freedom.
Everything starts simple enough. The characters are living their ordinary enough lives and dealing with their down-to-earth duties and routines. But everything changes when a 17-year-old Charlie Reade decides to help his old grumpy neighbor. He discovers the door to the hidden world, where life is paralyzed by a curse that erases people’s faces and takes their sensations away from them. An evil tyrant Flight Killer and is the one who stands behind it. And, as it normally happens in fairy tales, Charlie turns out to be the one, whose mission is to defeat the evil, liberate the city of Lilimar and save the fallen princess. Is it truly up to a high-schooler to beat the powerful monster? And what does it have to do with an old ill German shepherd? The Fairy Tale has the answers for all these questions.
The audience gets a chance to dive into the exciting and cozy atmosphere of the good old stories, heard in childhood, and, at the same time, enjoy the complicity of created by King universe and charm of human feelings and behaviors. Classical fairy tale plot and motives make the novel easy and pleasant to read, however, as any fairy tale, it contains hidden moral and promotes eternal values.
Reviewer Grade: 12
Flowers for Algernon is stunning commentary on the way society perceives intelligence and its connection to personal value. The creative liberties taken with this book to modify diction to match Charlie Gordon's knowledge create a more personal connection with the beloved narrator. I found myself celebrating the first time he used a comma or a metaphor. Although this book was difficult to read at first, I understand that those creative choices enhance the impact of the story later on in the book. The reason I wouldn't call Flowers for Algernon perfect is I feel some of the development in the middle diverted from his climactic conversations with the doctor and professor. The story seems to split into two at once: one of Charlie's emotional intelligence struggling to keep up with his knowledge, and one of his environment's reactions to his sudden genius. Though I enjoy both perspectives, I feel the conjunction creates clutter in what could be one flawlessly streamlined story. However, both stories are executed beautifully, and the journey of Charlie Gordon is both profound and emotionally charged. Flowers for Algernon is certainly a novel I'll mull over in years to come.
In a future where the Population Police enforce the law limiting a family to only two children, Luke has lived all his twelve years in isolation and fear on his family’s farm, until another “third” convinces him that the government is wrong.
The book is a dystopian world set in present day where teenagers are able to come together in crisis to try and change the government and let their voice be heard. I chose to read this book back in third grade and still remember to this day how good it was. The elements of the book were enticing and had me looking forward to what was next. It gave great arguments of why the government is wrong and how the rich, called “barons,” get to do what they want. As a kid I didn’t have any negative thoughts, and if I were to pick it back up, I would still have good thoughts about it. This book is part of the Shadow Children collection, with seven books in it and each of the books get better. People who enjoy adventure, plot twists, and exploring different perspectives would like Among the Hidden.
After being disappointed with the length of the first entry in the Murderbot Diaries series, I'm glad that I stuck with it and read the second book, Artificial Condition. While All Systems Red was necessary to introduce the concept of a sentient (and pacifist) murderbot, this book was much more interesting from a narrative perspective. At this point, I'm used to the short length of these stories, but after reading this book now I have to know how the rest of the series plays out.
The titular murderbot in this book felt much more fleshed out (ha ha) as a character. Having moved past the phase where it recognizes that its sentience is an anomaly, the challenge of fitting into society as a murderbot or as a human as the circumstances warranted was much more enthralling. The interactions with other AI like ART were much more entertaining than merely hearing about how the murderbot liked to binge TV shows. Perhaps the fact that much of the exposition covered in the first book is now out of the way, I felt this book didn't feel as much like an info dump.
Now that the murderbot is on its own, the goal of learning about its past is something that is not only interesting to read but provides a lot of opportunities for great action sequences. The author expertly puts the main character in situations where it has to use its AI advantages to make life-saving decisions despite the core code of its being originally designed to kill humans. The amount of character growth from the first book to the end of this one is definitely what will bring me back to finish out this series.
An improvement from the first book in the Murderbot novella series, I give Artificial Condition 4.5 stars out of 5.
I loved this series! As a big sister, I was hooked the moment Katniss said "I volunteer!" It is a great read about hardship and rebellion. How one person can make a big difference even without intent. I have read it with my oldest and will read it with my youngest at some point. But this is the book that got me reading again and I love to read it over and over.
You know how sometimes a series has overstayed its welcome? How, even though the author has wrapped up most of the loose ends, there's another story afterward that only exists to extend the series even farther than it has already come? The only times I can forgive these extensions is if the story in question isn't particularly long. For instance, the "epilogue" story in Marissa Meyer's Stars Above is a great way to show the characters settling into normal life after the main conflict ends. Shadows in Flight is almost unnecessary, but at least it's short.
Shadow of the Giant was a satisfying conclusion to the Ender's Shadow saga, so the fact that Shadows in Flight exists is merely to wrap up Bean's story even if the rest of the world had already reached its peaceful conclusion. After all, one question remained from this series: can those with Anton's Key be cured of their premature death and still keep their incredible gifts? This story sets out to answer that question and give Bean the (second) send-off he deserved. Fortunately, it's a relatively short book, since there isn't much else to say on the matter.
The problem is, there's nothing particularly new in this book when compared to the other eight books in both the Speaker for the Dead and Ender's Shadow series. This is perhaps because the three new characters (Bean's children) were repeated archetypes from their respective namesakes. It's always nice to have a little more content in the Ender universe, but even I think this feels like a post-it note scribbled on the back of the end of the series.
Wrapping up the final loose ends of the Ender's Shadow saga, I give Shadows in Flight 3.0 stars out of 5.
Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency is a story about love, loss, stuck couches, time travel, bad magic tricks, and the beginning of everything. It's an examination of death, life, conscious, and missing cats. But mostly, it's about a detective agency that does no detective work, and the people that get roped into it.
It would be very hard for me to describe the plot of Dirk Gently's Detective Agency. It's a book that's highly based on time travel, and this is fully taken advantage of in the novel. Things happen out of order, and it doesn't follow the protagonists journey through time. Rather, the reader and the characters are forced to piece everything together one strange moment at a time. I had to read this book, reread the ending again, then cave and read Wikipedia before every piece fell into place. This is a book that needs to be read more than once. The question is if it's worth it. I feel that it is!
This book exhibits some of the best of Douglas Adams: nonsensical stories, quirky characters, silly syntax, and an emphasis on the absurd. I especially love how are the characters are connected, by circumstance or otherwise. I like the protagonist is confused all the time, because that made him very relatable over the course of the story. The story managed to be both extremely funny and heart wrenching and heartwarming in a relatively short amount of time, without too much whiplash. Every character makes you laugh while they pull at your heartstrings. Basically, everything weaves together like a quilt, whether the writing or plot or characters, to make something fun and fascinating and endlessly comfy!
All in all, this is an extremely interesting and funny book. I docked it some points because the confusing plot can detract from the story, but that's the only flaw I could find! I would recommend this to anyone who likes time travel, hilarious writing, and a real rollercoaster of a story!
Reviewer Grade: 12
This Body's Not Big Enough for Both of Us is a wonderfully witty Jekyll-and-Hyde-esque tale of crime, passion, and sibling squabbles. Adrian and Zooey Kimrean are twins forced to share the same body: the same brain, the same limbs, the same life. After establishing a Private Eye business to utilize Adrian's deductive analysis and Zooey's creative skills, the two are thrown into the path of a mob war. Can they learn to work together, or will their self-destructive self-sabotage spell the end for the both of them?
This book is insane. It's absolutely insane. It's a rollercoaster of emotions, plot points, and story trajectory, and I loved every minute of it. The mastery of the book comes in large part from Cantero himself, and his mastery of humor and pacing and personality. Every character, especially the two main leads, seem to explode from the page. The book acknowledges the tropes of the detective story, and a lot of it plays into it, but there are also some wonderful subversions in the simple act of giving two-dimensional characters a lot more depth than they usually warrant. Very few characters are taken for granted. Beyond that, there's a beautiful vibrancy to the dialogue, and it highlights the unique character dynamics that emerge from the story. The story takes full advantage of its goofy premise, using it for all the drama and humor and plot fodder that it can. Both the hilarity and the absolute tragedy that is the main character's situation is wonderfully balanced. The jokes about it have some of the best slapstick and back-and-forth I've seen in a book. The sorrow of it was genuinely moving, and wasn't undercut or dragged out. Finally, even the writing was wonderful. The imagery was gorgeous, the prose was moving, and the general comic air of the book make the serious parts hit that much harder.
There are some problems with the book. Yes, the wildness of the plot can detract from the mystery. Sure, the humor can be crude and the ending was pretty conflicting. But I don't care. I read this book in a straight 48-hours and I wish it could've lasted for hundreds of hours more. It's a masterclass in characterization, dialogue, humor, and out-of-the-box writing. All in all, I'd recommend this for anyone who wants detective stories, mob wars, unlikely friendships, fantastic action, and one of the most interesting sibling dynamics you'll ever see!
Reviewer Grade: 12
This book is genuinely one of the funniest I’ve ever read. I mean, it’s iconic for a reason! The characters are a hoot, and the world is even more so. The world may be nonsensical and the humor is a little crass, but it adds to the charm in my opinion. It wasn’t a life changing read by any means, but it kept my middle-school monkey brain entertained, and that’s all I can ask for. A must-read for sci-fi and comedy fans alike! (8th Grade)
While I haven't seen the Amazon TV series based on this book, I had enough awareness of the basic premise going in. An alternate reality where the Allies lost World War II felt like such an interesting concept, I had to read the book that spawned this idea. Of course, I also enjoy Philip K. Dick's writing for the same reasons: he has novel ideas that he executes well. Unfortunately, I found The Man in the High Castle to be underwhelming.
To Dick's credit, his world-building for a history where Japan took over part of the United States after World War II felt quite thorough. Little subtle ways that people act, economies based on American antiques, as well as other differences that made sense with such a drastic change to history. The problem is, Dick was so focused on world-building that he forgot to write an actual story. None of the characters really stick out, and the titular Man in the High Castle is a Maguffin at best. I was left disappointed, which is rare for a Philip K. Dick story for me.
Maybe modern action thrillers have ruined this story for me, but when there are vast swaths of text dedicated to counterfeit antiques instead of forced cultural changes for the residents of the United States, a story like this can get boring quite quickly. If I had to pinpoint the worst part about this book, it's that the ending was not at all satisfying. There should have been something that better explained the book that told of an alternate history, considering how provocative the rest of this book made it seem.
An underwhelming execution for a top-notch idea, I give The Man in the High Castle 2.5 stars out of 5.
The book is about a world where a virus made all animals poisonous of people so the world turns to cannibalism to survive. The main character is Marcos who works in a meat processing plant to ensure his family is taken care off. It describes this daily work, slowly building how the world adapted. He's given a gift of live meat. Marcos seemed to look down and seemed to be the only one who saw something wrong with this. However a the end of the book the last few pages changed everything you know about Marcos, you see him in a different light. It feels like it came out of nowhere but, slowly looking through you see it building up.
The book is hard to put down and it explores the darker side of humans abilities to adapt. It makes you think and leaves you wondering about the world that Marcos built for himself afterwards.
Sentient artificial intelligence is a topic that science fiction has covered for decades. Somehow, in all that time, I haven't really come across many stories from the perspective of the newly sentient AI. All Systems Red scratches that itch in a way that's intriguing but merely feels like a prologue to something much more interesting. Perhaps I'm just used to longer-form stories that explore such a complex topic like this. Still, to so densely convey what it's like to be a robot now in control of its destiny takes a certain level of skill.
The problem is, it's been about six months since I listened to this audiobook and I can't recall much about it other than it's in first person via the "Murderbot" point-of-view. I guess there was some humor involved with this robot describing things that we as humans almost take for granted—using the external observer to point out the quirks in our species. And maybe the bigger reason it hasn't stuck with me very much is that the titular Murderbot decides to be a lazy human with its freedom.
I understand that this novella is still early in the series, so I haven't read far enough to get invested yet. I just wonder if it would have worked better as a "book one" in a combined volume of three or four novellas. Once I can get my hands on the other "Diaries" in this series, I might change my opinion about this first entry. As it stands right now, it's short enough that I think others should read it for the unique point-of-view, regardless of how deep it gets into the larger story of the series.
A short but interesting take on an AI who gained their sentience, I give All Systems Red 3.5 stars out of 5.
Five middle-school kids living in Serenity think it's the most perfect place in the world, but is it? This page turning novel by Gordon Korman has everything: intrigue, mystery, action, and more. It's impossible to put this book down. There's a twist and turn around every corner. The kids in the book think they're living in a utopia, when really they aren't. Eventually, they learn the awful truth about their home town, and formulate a plan to escape, but does it work? Read Masterminds to find out.
War and Hatred flood the world, leaving the USA broken, but through the ashes hope arises when a group of scientist forge a city experiment that will one day restore humanity. They re-build Chicago: however, they change the way the new civilization will see the world. The citizens of Chicago are divided into five different groups: Erudite (The intelligent), Amity (the peaceful), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), and Candor (the honest). At the age of 16, teens take an aptitude test to determine which faction they belong in. Two decades after this city is born, the story begins with the life of Tris Prior. When taking the aptitude test, Tris discovers that she is divergent. A divergent individual is someone who is aware during simulations because of their genes. The story follows her life as she discovers love, sacrifice, and heartbreak.
This is a great story for anyone who loves romance and is fine with some gore. I chose to read this book because it was one of my mom's favorites and she thought that I would enjoy it.
Divergent teaches the reader that in order to see clearly one must not only focus on one singular flaw in a community, they must look at the body as a whole not just looking at one arm or one leg. Event though this is a great story, most problems are solved with violence, and this may affect some readers in a negative manner.
Divergent takes place in a dystopian world where the characters are restricted to a small "city" and are divided into factions. This story follows a girl who does not particularly fit in any faction and has to make a decision what group she wants to be a part of. When she makes this decision she learns that people like her are not accepted and she must work hard to hide her identity.
This story is very engaging and always had suspense to keep my on the edge of my seat. The more casual writing style that Veronica Roth uses makes me more engrossed in the story and engaged with the characters. It's also very interesting how the plot line excels and how the author can describe each faction and character with such detail.
This is the book that made me interested in dystopian fiction. It is filled with suspense, comedy, and phenomenal character development that had me crying.
Waste of space is the third book in the moon base alpha trilogy. It follows the adventure of Dash, who is tasked with finding out who poisoned Lars Sjoberg. Unfortunately, the man is a terrible person, so literally anyone can be a suspect. Even his own family. To make matters worse, there is an oxygen crisis, which is not good considering they all live on the moon.
The story is a fun conclusion to the series. It's a great mystery, and has some incredibly tense moments. It's also funny! Highly recommend.
A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray is a science fiction and adventure novel that anybody would love. This easy read quickly starts off with our main character, Marguerite, jumping into an alternate reality chasing her friend who killed her father. She catches him, but before he slips out of her grasp, she is conflicted with the question if he really did it or not. This book mixes physics for any math lovers, adventure for any aspiring traveler, and just a little bit of romance that makes it difficult to grasp onto what is real or fake. I would recommend this book to anybody who is in a reading slump and needs a good pick me up.
The Hunger Games follows the gripping story of Katniss Everdeen, a 16-year-old that is the main provider for her younger sister and her mother after her father's passing. However, Katniss lives in Panem, built on the ruins of North America. In Panem, every year there is a deadly brawl in which 24 teens, 1 male and 1 female, from each of the 12 districts in Panem, face off in a fight to the death. Only 1 victor emerges alive. When Katniss's younger sister, Prim, is chosen to compete for the Hunger Games, Katniss volunteers herself to take Prim's place. What will happen in the arena? Will Katniss make it out alive?
Collins' creation will have you gripping the edges of your seat in suspense, shrieking with fear, and experience huge floods of relief! The Hunger Games truly grips the reader with all the emotions Katniss experiences and will leave you impatient to read the next books in the series.
The strength of Andy Weir's hard sci-fi storytelling was evident in The Martian . He sets up a problem, shows us a solution, then does everything in his author-ly power to prevent the main character from achieving that solution. His scientific explanations might get a little dry, but they are necessary to understand the situation without diving too deep into details. While his sophomore effort with Artemis showed me he struggles with writing women, he came back to his roots and knocked it out of the park with Project Hail Mary.
There are many similarities between The Martian and Project Hail Mary, which is probably why I like both books equally. Sure, the stakes are higher in Project Hail Mary—with the survival of humanity on the line instead of just one astronaut—but the explanation of the science follows the same format he used in The Martian. Specifically, a problem derails all the progress made so far, and it requires more science (often jury-rigged) to fix. The twist that gives this book a slight edge over The Martian is how science is a universal concept.
I came into this book blind, which helped me fully appreciate the "buddy" dynamic between the two main characters. The flashbacks felt a little like an exposition cop-out due to Ryland Grace's amnesia, but they were necessary to ground the motivation of his character. Without Ryland's "friend" that he found on the journey, it's difficult to know if the result of the last-ditch effort to save Earth would have had the same outcome. There are strong comparisons to Ted Chiang's short story, Story of Your Life (and its film adaptation of Arrival (2016)) here, which just shows how well-thought-out this book was.
Another perfect hard sci-fi adventure by Andy Weir, I give Project Hail Mary 5.0 stars out of 5.
'll admit that watching the Expanse television show spoiled this book for me. I already knew what was going to happen, so there weren't too many surprises in this book because the show kept close to the source material. Even with this a priori knowledge going in, I found Abaddon's Gate to be my favorite book of the series so far. The plot felt like it was actually getting somewhere instead of just dancing on the edges of the important series arc that finally solidified in this book.
Some of my favorite moments of the series were retained in the written form of this book, including the description of the first "sudden stop" when someone tried entering the alien portal. The human drama was also interesting because it wasn't entirely geopolitical but wove in elements of religious beliefs as well. It helped that the crew members of the Rocinante are fully fleshed out characters by this point in the series, since these books really are about how they react to being in the middle of this interplanetary (and now intergalactic) alien conspiracy. And while it might be nice to have the "character of the day" stick around for more than one book, I understand the decision to only focus on the Rocinante throughout the series.
As with previous books in the Expanse series, Abaddon's Gate excels in its depiction of realistic science in a fictional setting. Unlike more traditional hard sci-fi, this book uses these moments of real science sparingly to drive the plot forward instead of stopping at every instance and lecturing the reader as to the mathematical physics behind what is happening. This is so effortless in its execution that it never distracts from the action, which keeps the pacing at a nice, brisk action-based pace.
An exciting turning point in the Expanse series, I give Abaddon's Gate 4.0 stars out of 5.