Adult Book Reviews by Genre: Science Fiction

Saucer
Coonts, Stephen
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Saucer is an amazing Sci-Fi, Adventure, Thriller, and suspense book.

Stephen Coonts is a very talented Author who uses very good word choice. This is quite evident in his Saucer Trilogy, he seems to use the best wording at the best possible time. This book is definitely a great choice for all 13+ year old Audiences. Young Rip Cantrell is put under difficult circumstances numerous times. When his life and the life of Ex-Air Force Test Pilot Charlie Pine, and his grandfather are at stake, he makes a choice that will change his life from that point on. This Novel brings not only the thrill of life and death so many times, but amazing science fiction story line for us Sci Fi geeks. Obviously this book involves a saucer, Hence the name "Saucer", and this saucer appears to be lodged in that sandstone for over 140,000 years.

Now this saucer isn't made from man, as proven when Rip and his companions explore the object after days of digging it out. Over the course of this book, action escalates quickly, as Rip ends up across the world in Australia trying to save Charlie from the 2nd richest man in the world... Saucer is a stunning, action filled, adventurous book, at what might have been and what be. Go check this book out for yourself! I guarantee you will not be disappointed!

Reviewer's Name: Elijah A.
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
Verne, Jules
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

They're attacking our vessel Captain! Those savages want to kill us!", "Leave me Conciel! Save yourself my friend!". No doubt these few short phrases from the amazing novel strikes great interest in your mind. 20,000 leagues under the sea is an Adventure Fiction novel written by Jules Verne, and is by far 1 of the best books I have ever read. Professor Aronnax and his faithful servant Consiel board american frigate Abraham Lincoln to embark on a long journey back to France. On the way though, they spot a creature, a monster unlike anyone has ever seen up until that point. After a fierce battle with that monster Pierre Aronnax, Consiel, and a Canadian Harpooner are thrown overboard their frigate lost in the middle of the Vast Atlantic.

Later refuge is found aboard a metal island... Wait? Metal Island? In the middle of the atlantic? Something isn't right. Alast Captain Nemo and his crew surface the mighty vessel and capture Aronnax and his companions.
Sometime later Pierre and his companions alike, awake in a small, pitch black room, not knowing what had happened, or what is about to. Want to find out what happens next? Well go and find this book for yourself! Getting stuck underneath an iceberg in the antarctic! Battling 1 of earths mightiest creatures! Experience the great suspense, action, and adventure this novel brings to you!

Reviewer: 9th Grade

Reviewer's Name: Elijah A.
Notes From the Internet Apocalypse
Gladstone, Wayne
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

The main concept behind Notes from the Internet Apocalypse is interesting: one day, the internet just stops working. All the computers and phone lines still work, but the internet has just gone missing. The story that results should be considered a satire since I hardly believe people who have hidden behind a veil of anonymity for so long will do the same deplorable things in real life just to get their “internet fix.” Bringing the reality of our connected society to its extreme logical conclusion in a world without internet, Notes from the Internet Apocalypse is a harsh mirror of what we’ve become, even to the point of cringing at it.

I was a little taken aback by the amount of vulgar language, overt sexuality, and lack of common decency by the characters in this book. Of course, in a book about the internet, these types of people run rampant. If I were one to include animated gif memes in my reviews, I’d likely insert the Arrested Development “I Don’t Know What I Expected” one at this juncture. Yes, the internet is mostly pornography, and the rest seems to be filled with trolls who comment on news articles and YouTube videos, but I doubt these people would resort to acting out their internet lives in real life.

In the end, I had kind of hoped the subtle undertone of addiction was the focus of this book. With the main character who’s clearly alcoholic (even to the amusing point of calling Jameson’s Irish Whiskey “scotch”), and supporting characters who are either addicted to recreational drugs or sex, I wanted the satire of the book to focus on our addictive personalities as a culture, merely perpetuated and sustained via the ever-present internet. As it is, the ending wasn’t quite satisfying enough, providing a preachy bumper sticker to get readers to tune in to the next volume in this series.

An interesting concept that highlights the lowest common denominator, I give Notes from the Internet Apocalypse 2.5 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin
Children of the Mind
Card, Orson Scott
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Just like Xenocide before it, Children of the Mind is difficult to separate from the previous books in the Ender’s Game series. In fact, Xenocide and Children of the Mind are considered by Orson Scott Card to merely be two parts of the same book, separated at a point in the plot that makes sense.
Even further to the point, I would consider Children of the Mind the last “part” of a story that stretches across four books. While it was easy to take Ender’s Game by itself, every additional piece of the story needs the previous parts for it to have the full impact of what Card was trying to accomplish.

What’s most interesting about this series is how each book has a different focus, almost putting them in distinct genres. Ender’s Game was militaristic sci-fi, while Speaker of the Dead was more along the lines of a mystery. And while Xenocide was the philosophical heart of the series, Children of the Mind was almost a romance in comparison. I appreciated the loose strings and sub-plots being tied up by the end of Children of the Mind, especially when it came to defining the relationships between the characters I had come to know over the last few books.

Even though the basic plot of these last three books was a simple “avoid destruction” motif, the complexity of the whole scenario did require the amount of text dedicated to it. Each element of these stories came into play in some fashion to create a satisfying ending. I’m still in awe of the technological foresight and brilliant solutions to fundamental physics limitations that Card was able to develop in these four books. I rarely have found a series that has been so consistently good across all parts of its story, and I believe the saga of Ender Wiggin is now my new favorite.

A satisfying ending to an incredible series of books, I give Children of the Mind 5.0 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin M. Weilert
Xenocide
Card, Orson Scott
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Much like authors Jules Verne and H.G. Wells were well ahead of their time in their science fiction writing, Orson Scott Card once again shows that he understood some of the key concepts of our universe. Written in 1991, Card’s Xenocide deepens and furthers the continuing adventure of Ender Wiggin that he began back in Ender’s Game . Picking up where Speaker for the Dead left off, Xenocide adds a powerful adversary while also tying plot points back to the first book in the series. In this sense, the tight intertwining of Xenocide with its predecessors makes it difficult to separate and review by itself.

I appreciate what Card has done by creating a multi-book narrative that requires the reader to have started from the very beginning of the story.
While Xenocide is not nearly the end of the series, as made clear by the astounding twist near the end, it does pull enough unresolved threads from Ender’s Game and Speaker for the Dead to create the next segment of the story. In this sense, the whole story is a multi-book epic so well-written that no detail or specific piece of continuity is overlooked. Plus, with so much history behind it, Xenocide reads at a frenetic pace, just trying to “beat the clock” of an almost assured planetary destruction.

Surprisingly, if you told me that there was a sci-fi book comprised almost entirely of dialogue and profound, philosophical arguments, I would probably assume it was boring (or at least written by Robert Heinlein). And yet, Card has brought the reasoning proposed in the previous books of this series and pulled them through to their logical conclusions, creating an engaging discussion of artificial intelligence and sentience, while wrapping the whole thing in the context of moral arguments for and against exterminating an entire species. There are no easy answers in this book, but Card has masterfully included concepts like cloud computing, interdimensional travel, and genetic engineering to get his point across.

A fantastic continuation of Ender Wiggin’s story that leaves the reader begging for more, I give Xenocide 5.0 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin M. Weilert
Frankenstein
Shelley, Mary
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Mary Shelley's Frankenstein is a book about the horrors of creating life. The book succeeds in developing most of the sidecharacters. You learn in depth about all of their pasts, and the story fits together well. The tragic plot line of the book shows how the decisions made by Frankenstein, the creator of the monster, comes back to haunt him. It almost becomes a game of cat and mouse when Frankenstein chases around his creation for revenge when really, the monster is haunting Frankenstein for his own revenge. Most of the book's themes include loneliness and rejection, and are explained well throughout the back stories of the characters. I feel that the book's only weak point is how the characters face their end. While the characters do indeed learn many life lessons, they never really accomplish anything. None of the characters have sentimental deaths, other than Frankenstein; the book just tells the reader that the character you have just grown attached to...well, dies. The book moves on from their deaths, and then the cycle repeats for the rest of the book. Overall, Frankenstein is a really good book, and I'd recommend it to people that like horror or mystery fiction.
Grade: 8

Reviewer's Name: Steven L.
Ender's Game
Card, Orson Scott
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Ender's Game is an enthralling and thrilling sci-fi following a young boy as he is prepped to save the world. Ender departs for battle school at the ripe age of 6, where he is thrust into a world were children go head to head in a competition to be the best, fight in an all out war, and earn all the glory.
Although young and inexperienced, Ender is the best. But things seem to be stacked against him....
Orson Scott Card writes with incredible dexterity and Ender's Game pulls you into a new world.
(Reviewer Grade: 12)

Reviewer's Name: Lynzie M.
Welcome to the Monkey House
Vonnegut, Jr., Kurt
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Much like short story anthologies by a single author (see Neil Gaiman’s Smoke and Mirrors and Ray Bradbury’s The Golden Apples of the Sun ), Welcome to the Monkey House is both quintessentially a collection of Kurt Vonnegut’s biting wit and satire as well as an exploration of other genres not often associated with Vonnegut’s style. Fans of Vonnegut will likely have already read some of these short stories (like “EPICAC” and “Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow”), but some of the other stories might have been missed and for a good reason.

Overall, Welcome to the Monkey House is a fantastic set of stories, but a few of them fail to have the impact to make them memorable. Granted, these stories are few and far between, and help to break up the well-written social commentaries presented in “Harrison Bergeron” and the titular “Welcome to the Monkey House.” Vonnegut’s ability to show the slippery slope of such ideas as “everyone is equal” and “sex is bad,” respectively, is just as poignant in short form as it is in his novels. The fusion of technology in these stories might seem dated by today’s standards, but they do reveal that Vonnegut was, inherently, a science-fiction writer.

What this collection does well is show that Vonnegut understood the importance of the characters in a story. One of the most entertaining in this collection was “Who Am I This Time?” which contained characters at such extremes of human expression as to be completely unrealistic but somehow relatable and entertaining. Stories like this, which don’t necessarily follow the political or societal commentary that the other stories provide, are nice breathers that give the reader a smile instead of drilling thought-provoking ideas into their skulls. It’s this balance that truly makes Welcome to the Monkey House a must-read.

Vonnegut, true to form as well as outside his element, I give Welcome to the Monkey House 4.0 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin M. Weilert
Machine of Death
North, Ryan
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

The concept is simple: a machine takes your blood and spits out a card with the means of your demise printed on it. In this collection of short stories, a variety of authors explore what this truly means for individuals, as well as society as a whole. Based off an idea by Ryan North (author of “Dinosaur Comics”), this anthology has plenty of different approaches to the concept that a machine could predict how a person will die. However, many of these ideas hit upon the same concepts and social implications, making the whole thought exercise seem redundant by the end of the book.

Part of me felt the idea itself was a little derivative of Death Note, but with a more ambiguous set of constraints. Each of the short stories included in this anthology had some unique twist on the idea, ranging from humor to romance to horror. Still, every author tended to agree: a machine of death would bring about a dystopian future in some form or other. From governments requiring a “death reading” to mitigate any national disasters to a school needing to know how their prospective students will die so they can save face, the real enemies of this idea tended to be the bureaucracies of humanity.

While I honestly enjoyed the stories included in this anthology, they all seemed to suffer from the “a priori problem.” With each story titled with some way to die, you half-expect the story’s main character to end via that method. The intrigue is more in the how and when; thus providing interest to the story despite practically knowing the ending before it even starts. Granted, that’s part of the appeal of the machine: the ambiguity is as freeing as it is constraining.

A morbid set of interesting short stories, I give Machine of Death 4.0 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin M. Weilert
Flashforward
Sawyer, Robert J.
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

As time marches on, predictions of the future made in the past are tested against reality. In 1984, we didn't have George Orwell's dystopian government. In 2001, we didn't have Arthur C. Clarke's interplanetary travel. Sure, these authors did have a few interesting ideas that did come true, eventually. Still, they were writing well before the events in their books would come to pass. Robert J. Sawyer's Flashforward did not have that luxury. Written in 1999, Sawyer only imagines a future set a decade in the future. For those keeping track at home, Flashforward takes place in 2009, with a vision of a future 21 years ahead of that. Since 2009 has come and gone, there were a few things Sawyer got right, but many he could not have predicted.

The crux of this story is similar to that explored by Machine of Death: everyone in the world gets a glimpse of their future in 2030, thus causing everyone to react based on what they saw. Some were encouraged by what they saw, others despondent and suicidal. The people who had negative visions hoped the future could change, especially if their lives were on the line. Many of the "effects" of the look into the future were logical conclusions, which added an amount of interest to the story but with a cheap cop-out to keep from killing off all the characters. With all the different characters and POVs, it was somewhat difficult to follow along each time the
focus changed, since there was nothing to indicate a change of view.

I also appreciated the conversation this book had in regards to science and the many existing theories about the future. While this exploration of science also included the discovery of the Higgs Boson (which didn't happen until 2012), I was continually distracted by the narrator's pronunciation of "CERN," which sounded more like "sairn" instead of how I thought it was pronounced ("sirn"). I did appreciate the narrator's ability to mimic multiple accents, but that one pronunciation threw me.

A recent book about the "future" that gets a few things correct, I give Flashforward 3.5 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin M. Weilert
Awards:
Fish Tails
Tepper, Sheri S.
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

I decided to choose the book because it looked like it would tell a great story and it did. I liked the book due to its great lessons inside about the imperfections of our minds, but the greatness of them too. The part I enjoyed most was the journey f the main characters and how they didn't change their personalities and stayed focused on the topic. The part I didn't really enjoy was that the story went kinda slow. The book was pretty predictable, but the lessons and thoughts behind you need to think more about to get, so it was still entertaining to read. It was an amazing book to read and I definitely recommend it.
Reviewer Grade: 10

Reviewer's Name: Inayah V.
Fire with Fire
Gannon, Charles E.
2 stars = Meh
Review:

I’m not sure which is more boring in a book: a plot that doesn’t go anywhere, or a main character who is perfect. Unfortunately, Fire with Fire has both. I’ll first start with my qualms about the plot. This story started way too late, as it didn’t get interesting until halfway through.
Even when it did finally get interesting, it suddenly became bogged down in committee. Seriously? Didn’t we learn anything from the Star Wars prequels?
Adding politics to a story about traveling across space merely makes it tedious. This is also not to mention how heavy and clunky the exposition is, with almost every chapter being filled with information that isn’t important, and the jumps between chapters needing way more explanation.

Secondly, let’s take a look at “Mr. Perfect,” Caine Riordan. Aside from the egregious fact that the POV switched between 1st person and 3rd person within most of the paragraphs of his section (with no italics or indication that we were suddenly in Caine’s head), I felt this character was just the author’s way to show how smart he is. With the expansive repertoire of high-value vocabulary words and a character that always knows what to do all the time and has all the correct answers, I ended up not caring about any of it by the end. And I haven’t even mentioned the blatant and pervasive misogyny either.

Even the rest of the supporting cast was so flat and one-dimensional that I probably couldn’t tell you who they were or what their defining characteristics were (aside from that one mysterious guy who LOVED olives and feta cheese). Most of the time I was reading this book, I kept wondering, “Wait . . . what?” as what seemed to be major plot points were introduced then almost immediately forgotten until hundreds of pages later. I’m not sure how this book managed to get a series tacked on to it, or how it was even nominated for a Nebula Award, but it gives me encouragement that I could write something way better than this.

Antiquated sci-fi tropes in a recently written book, I give Fire with Fire 2.0 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin M. Weilert
Awards:
The Moon is a Harsh Mistress
Heinlein, Robert A.
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Certainly well ahead of his time, Robert A. Heinlein remains one of the definitive writers of the science fiction genre, even today. In The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, Heinlein covers such topics as artificial intelligence, extraterrestrial colonization, and interplanetary warfare. Even today, most of these subjects are accurately depicted in the narrative, even if some of the technology has advanced past where it was thought to be in 1965. Part of me is almost jealous at Heinlein’s ingenious use of Earth’s gravity well, and I know any attempt I might make to replicate the idea will merely seem derivative in comparison.

As is the case with some of his other works, Heinlein makes many socio-political statements via his writing. His stance on taxes, revolutions, and independent governing bodies is a critical section of the plot in The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, and I can certainly see the theoretical benefits he puts forth in this context. That being said, his views on polygamy and polyamorous relationships are certainly on display again, with his previous work, Stranger in a Strange Land exploring these themes in greater detail. I can only assume the "free love" culture of the 1960's shaped these opinions.

Overall, the book wasn’t quite what I expected. The initial chapters made me hope the plot would center on the relationships between man and artificial intelligence (AI). If anything, AI is shown to be a powerful tool that can influence society in ways we can’t even begin to comprehend. At the very least, the main character was quite entertaining, if not hard to understand at times with his “accent.” If we do eventually colonize the moon, I can hope we do so peacefully and in a way that doesn’t lead to an uprising of its native inhabitants. After all, I do like living in a Colorado Springs devoid of meteoric bombardment.

A well-thought out sci-fi story decades ahead of its time, I give The Moon is a Harsh Mistress 4.0 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin M. Weilert
Frankenstein: or, The modern Prometheus
Shelley, Mary
1 star = Yuck!
Review:

Frankenstein was a disappointment to me. As per the Romantic period, this novel used lots of scenes in nature to explain the characters’ emotional states. I do not mind a few good cries in a storm, but this novel borders on incessant outdoor melodrama. I decided to disregard both the plot and the setting in a vain attempt to enjoy the novel. I would only focus on the characters. As this was written by a female author, I looked forward to the female characters, which were awful. One, Justine, is a servant and seems only to exist in order to die. Elizabeth, who also seems to share this quality, is regarded as an object to be owned in a creepy incestuous manner by her cousin; she is apparently superior and virtuous only because of her noble birth. So, I dismissed the female characters to focus on the males, none of which were believable. Victor, his friend Henry, and his monster all were overly emotional, and they inspired no sympathy from me. With no likable characters and emotions running everywhere, I would only read Frankenstein if required.
Reviewer Grade: 9

Reviewer's Name: Caroline J.
Dark Matter
Crouch, Blake
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

It seems to me that the multiverse is a popular topic in fiction today. Sure, there have been plenty of stories about parallel universes and the fractal branching of our decisions, but for some reason, there’s been an uptick in the number of these stories lately. Perhaps these stories are trying to find a better universe in which to live, or perhaps they’re trying to show us that the world we have could be much worse. Either way, Blake Crouch’s Dark Matter nails the multiverse plot by exploring all the different connotations of the ability to travel between parallel universes.

Presented in a traditional, three-act narrative, Dark Matter thrusts its protagonist into another version of his reality, ripping him away from his idyllic life. Using quantum physics as a form of magical hand-waving, the narrative then turns to the main character’s relentless search for his original universe. While the result of this exploration fits nicely into the book’s natural third act, I almost would have liked to see something a little different and less predictable. Still, all three acts are entertaining as a breathless thriller driven by the emotions and resolve of the main character.

The best part about Dark Matter is how it fleshes out all the consequences of being able to travel between parallel dimensions. It’s not nearly as simple as an It’s a Wonderful Life (1946) “you-never-existed” storyline. That being said, I do question why the “original” main character had the perfect life, especially if many of the other parallel universes seemed to have relatively close representations of the life he was trying to return to.
But, in the end, the narrative is driven by the characters, and these characters are well-developed and exciting to follow.

A multi-dimensional thrill ride, I give Dark Matter 4.5 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin M. Weilert
A Game of Thrones
Martin, George R.R.
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

This book blew my mind. A Game of Thrones is the first book in the series A Song of Ice and Fire. These books are fantasy, and they follow the wars, events, kingdoms, and lives of the people of Westeros. This book is extremely dense, but that only means that it is full to the brink of background information and interesting tidbits about the world. The most amazing thing about this book is how developed the world is. Martin must have put an unimaginable amount of time into world-building, and this effort certainly shows. The plot is so complex, and almost all of the characters are wonderfully 3-dimensional.
Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: Sabrina J.
How to Survive a Robot Uprising
Wilson, Daniel H.
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

As a precursor to Robopocalypse , How to Survive a Robot Uprising: Tips on Defending Yourself Against the Coming Rebellion takes a humorous approach to educating the reader about the capabilities and limitations of today’s robots. Similar in style to Where's My Jetpack?: A Guide to the Amazing Science Fiction Future That Never Arrived , How to Survive a Robot Uprising uses the humor of preparing for the end of the world to poke fun at the limited possibility that we’d eventually be destroyed by the robots we use to make our lives comfortable today.

With my background in robotics (my Master’s Degree was in Mechanical Engineering with a focus on Robotics and Design), I quickly realized how Daniel H. Wilson was writing this “guide.” Robots are powerful and useful machines, many of which can perform actions much more efficiently and accurately than humans can, thus leading to our swift and inexorable demise.
However, by the same token, they also have limitations and challenges that we humans do not (or at least don’t consciously think about). These robotic challenges are primarily used “against” them in this hypothetical scenario, revealing that most robots aren’t as indestructible as we make them out to be in fiction.

My only qualms with this book were that it was too short (I love this tongue-in-cheek writing style) and that the structure seemed kind of “loose.” Sure, different sections went over such topics as types of robots, and what ways these robots could be incapacitated, but the flow felt a bit like “stream of consciousness” writing. Granted, many of the topics cross over into each other, so it can be difficult to box them into discrete and distinct sections. Still, the narrative seems to jump all over the place as a result. Perhaps this is why Wilson decided to eventually write Robopocalypse, to add the structure that was missing from this “pamphlet.”

A funny book that subtly educates the reader about robot strengths and weaknesses, I give How to Survive a Robot Uprising 4.0 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin M. Weilert
Awards:
A Game of Thrones
Martin, George R.R.
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

“A Game of Thrones” by George R.R. Martin tells the tale of various clashing households and their quest to conquer control over the seven kingdoms. Set in a distant, but vaguely familiar medieval-Europe, the story bears parallels to England’s “War of the Roses,” while also introducing its share of unique fantasy elements. As the reader progresses through the book, they follow the politics of the Iron Throne- a metaphor representing the complete and utter control a King possesses in a feudal government system. Furthermore, the reader tracks 8 character perspectives, which are alternated through passing chapters.

As the King rides north to Winterfell to meet with his trusted vassal, and friend, Eddard "Ned" Stark, he strikes up an agreement to anoint Eddard as the hand of the king. Reluctant, Ned follows the King back to the South, but as the plot continues to unfold, Eddard learns of a secret unbeknownst to the King and some of his most trusted advisers. With the death of the King and the ruin of Eddard’s house, war rages in Westeros- as several characters attempt to strike their claims on the Iron Throne.

I initially picked this book up after finishing J.R.R Tolkien’s, “Lord of the Rings” series and have been pleasantly surprised with it. Many fantasy readers have speculated that the literary masterpiece of Tolkien’s novels could not be out done, but I am now inclined to disagree. I thought the book was well-crafted and engaging as an intermediate to advanced reader. However, I would file the complaint that the book moves a bit slow for my taste. Some may lose interest in its plot, especially considering the sheer volume of the book series. The old-language also adds to this effect, as it may cause some readers to struggle following along.

Overall, I would say that this book is certainly worth a try for someone who enjoys medieval-fantasy novels. Admittedly, it will take a while to read and is certainly no small undertaking, but by sticking with it, I found myself enjoying every page more than the last!

Grade 10

Reviewer's Name: Ethan M
Awards:
Android Karenina
Winters, Ben H.
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Despite struggling through both Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters , I was pleased to find the most lengthy of these “monster classics,” Android Karenina, was a fast and engaging read.
If anything, it proves to me that I can’t grasp Jane Austen’s writing style nearly as smoothly as I can Leo Tolstoy’s. Part of the ease of reading Android Karenina probably came from knowing the original plot ahead of time a little better than I did for Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility . And yet, the real reason is more visceral than that.

What Android Karenina’s predecessors attempted was to take two vastly different genres and mash them together in the hope that the combination would interest readers. Where Android Karenina succeeds where the others have failed is that the addition of the steampunk/science fiction genre enhances the story. Adding zombies or sea monsters to a romantic story to liven up the boring sections merely accentuates where these boring parts are. When the robotic-themed changes to a piece of classic Russian literature directly enforce the overt themes of the rise of communism, then the story becomes much more compelling.

Granted, some of the source material can be easily implied past the steampunk coverings, but that’s always been the case with these “Quirk Classics.”
At the very least, the pacing of this story kept my interest throughout and rarely dragged itself down via the “drama” of aristocratic gossip and endless discussion of potential marriage partners. But again, this is likely the outcome of adapting Leo Tolstoy instead of Jane Austen. After reading this book, I certainly want to go back and read the original Anna Karenina , even despite the hefty page count.

An enhanced version of Tolstoy’s original in more ways than one, I give Android Karenina 4.0 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin M. Weilert
Paradime
Glynn, Alan
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

The first time I was introduced to Alan Glynn’s writing was through the
film, Limitless (2011), which itself was based off his first novel, The Dark
Fields. While I enjoyed the film for its visuals, what really struck me as
interesting was the storytelling and characters Glynn created. Now fifteen
years after his first standalone novel, Paradime continues to show Glynn’s
talent in creating engaging plots and characters. Since I really enjoyed this
book, I will do my best to review it without spoiling it for anyone.

At its most simple level, Paradime is a modernized retelling of Mark
Twain’s The Prince and the Pauper, or at least half of it anyway. Told from
the perspective of an out-of-work and out-of-luck cook, Danny Lynch, the
pacing of each of the three acts is steady and intense. Even if some of
Danny’s vocabulary seems a little advanced at times, he is the perfect
“everyman” to convey his peculiar circumstances to the reader. Those
familiar with Limitless will probably see many parallels between the two
stories, with the main exception being how the story ends for Danny.

Glynn’s writing style is very natural and easy to read in this modern
thriller. Each chapter left me wanting to read more and I found myself having
difficulty stopping because the pull of the plot was so intense. I also
appreciated the ability of Glynn to tie things up in an almost unexpectedly
expected way so that no detail in this book was left unused. While this may
have been the first time I’ve read anything by Alan Glynn, I am now
certainly a fan and will have to go back and pick up his other books to read.

A fast-paced and thrilling read, I give Paradime 5.0 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin M. Weilert

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