Adult Book Reviews by Genre: Science Fiction

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Ballard, J. G.
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

High-Rise (1975) begins with one of the most memorable first lines I’ve ever read, "Later, as he sat on his balcony eating the dog, Dr. Robert Laing reflected on the unusual events that had taken place within this huge apartment building during the previous three months". Laing is a new tenant in a futuristic high rise apartment building on the outskirts of London. The high rise is a microcosm containing restaurants, playgrounds, a swimming pool, and even its own supermarket. There is social order: the wealthiest tenants occupy the building's upper floors with the best views, while the middle-class tenants reside in the lower half of the building, constantly at the mercy of falling champagne bottles from the upper floors. Before long, tensions arise between the tenants of the upper and lower floors. Alternating between Laing and another tenant, Richard Wilder, we witness first-hand the deterioration of ethics and social order within the high rise. Elevators are commandeered, rooms are barricaded, alliances are formed, and blood is shed. Little by little, the layers of human behavior are peeled back, exposing a terrifyingly animalistic core at the heart of the high rise tenants.

Reviewer's Name: Brian M.
The Bees
Paull, Laline
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

My first thought when this book was recommended to me was, “Bees? Is that metaphor? What do the bees stand for?” NOPE. This book is literally about bees. But not in a nonfiction, documentary kind of way. Here we have a novel in which we discover the world of bees personified.

Enter our main character, Flora 717. She was born the lowest of the low: the sanitation worker bee. Ugly, underappreciated, but unlike her fellow floras, she can speak. One of the higher levels of bees, a priestess to the queen, immediately takes notice of her oddities and experiments with her in roles not typical to a flora.

Flora 717 finds herself in almost every aspect of bee life at some point of her journey through the hive, uncovering secrets as she learns, grows, experiences the most profound loss, and transcends to the highest joys. The ordinary life of these black and yellow creatures we see and often fear is re-imagined into a relatable tale that pierces the veil between bees and humans. Though humans play very little role in the book, the bees exhibit many characteristics of humanity.

The tone of this book can be a bit dark at times with graphic imagery, but I highly recommend it.

Reviewer's Name: Nicole
Awards:
The Fifth Season
Jemisin, N. K.
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

I loved this book. I've been looking for a new fantasy series for a long time now, but I haven't come across anything recently that's caught my eye. I almost gave up on The Fifth Season too, in part because the narration is in second person, which I found jarring at first, and in part because Jemisin drops you in the middle of the action with little explanation and no hand-holding. It took me a few chapters to get into the story and figure out what was going on, but I'm glad I stuck it out because the plot and characters ended up being great. Despite what I just said, I think it's almost better to go into this blind, but I'll try to describe it without giving too much away.

The continent our characters live on, "The Stillness," is a post-apocalyptic hellscape. There is near-constant seismic activity that triggers a new catastrophe (called a "Fifth Season") every few centuries -- sometimes in the form of massive crop-failures, sometimes in the form of volcanic eruptions, sometimes massive earthquakes that destroy whole regions (she includes a helpful appendix of these disasters if you're curious). In this world, there is a group of people known as orogenes (or more derogatorily as "roggas") who have some degree of control over seismic activity -- they can "sess" earthquakes, and, with training, prevent them from being too destructive. But they're also powerful, extremely dangerous, and widely despised -- many people kill their own children when they discover what they are, and it's often a race against time to see if a Guardian (their mysterious and sinister keepers) can arrive to collect the child before the family or the community has killed them. The plot isn't chronological; it moves around from chapter to chapter in order to tell three stories at three points in time: 20-odd years ago, when a young girl is taken to the capital to be trained as an orogene; some 10 years after that when a mid-level orogene goes off on a mission with her senior to investigate a disturbance in a coastal community; and "now," in the immediate aftermath of the latest apocalypse, when we follow a woman who is struggling to cope with her son's murder just as the quake hits.

I'm not going to say that it's an entirely original idea, but I think the execution was solid and I loved the dialogue and cast of characters. There's no lack of action, but Jemisin also takes the time to dig into her characters' emotional lives, and after a while the use of "you" starts to fade into the background. There's a strong focus on discrimination, both in terms of how orogenes are viewed in society and in terms of the treatment of subordinate nations and peoples by the Sanzed Empire that has conquered the continent. A lot of fantasy is set in pseudo-Europe (and often just pseudo-England), so it was refreshing to read something more diverse, and there's a wide variety of representation in terms of race, gender, and sexuality throughout. I would give this 4.5/5 stars if that were possible, but since it isn't I've left it at 4. It wasn't perfect, but it was a very strong start to the series, and I look forward to starting the second book, The Obelisk Gate, which just released this September. I would definitely recommend this to fans of fantasy.

Reviewer's Name: Lauren
Star Wars: Aftermath
Wendig, Chuck
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

This was a great book. I would strongly recommend it to anyone who is curious about what happens after star wars episode VI and VII. It does a great job about filling in the gap between those two episodes. It is about a small diverse group of people: a lady named Norra, her son, a bounty hunter and an imperial defector who take the fight right to the empire and attempt to stop it's reign once and for all. The empire has been severely weakened when the rebels blew up the death star for the second time and the imperials are having a summit meeting to gather together and regroup their forces and attempt to map out the future for the empire. Meanwhile the rebels have renamed their selves the New Republic and are attempting to bring democracy back to the galaxy but still have the problem of the empire's remaining forces. Even though the death star has been destroyed once and for all, the empire still has a few remaining star destroyers and a super star destroyer that are challenges for the rebels. Overall, this was a great book and it is defiantly a must read for any Star Wars fan.
Reviewer Grade: 7

Reviewer's Name: Kai K.
Star Wars Battlefront: Twilight Company
Freed, Alexander
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

I thought that this was a great book. It had a very exhilarating story line that made the book hard to put down. The main character's name is Namir and he is a soldier for the rebel alliance. Namir is in the sixty first mobile infantry better known as twilight company. This book is full of fight scenes so if you like books with a lot of action then this is a book for you.
One of the characters is actually an imperial stormtrooper who you read about sometimes so it is fun to get to see the story from the other side's point of view. One of the characters that works for the rebels is an imperial defector named Everi Chalis who gives information to twilight company about the empire's tactics. However the question remains, is she a double agent and also giving the empire information about the rebels? Overall, one reason why it is fun to read this book is because it focuses on the average soldiers in he rebel alliance as opposed to the movies which focus on high ranking people such as Princess Leia and Luke Skywalker. All in all, this is a must read for any star wars fan.
Reviewer Grade: 7

Reviewer's Name: Kai K.
Dandelion Wine
Bradbury, Ray
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Dandelion Wine is a book about an entire town in Green Town, Illinois. It follows many of the different citizens, but focuses on the character development of Douglas Spalding. The book starts with him and his Grandfather making dandelion wine, as a tradition as the beginning of summer. I am reading this for school, and at first, I wasn't thrilled with it. It has no plot, but instead makes up for it with the mini stories throughout the book. Every chapter is new, and about a completely different citizen of Green Town. I was shocked with how the book had many different themes, most of them dealing with love and death, but most of all grief. Each chapter changed my perspective of the world just a little bit, so by the end I felt almost new. I was able to relate to Doug very much, along with other characters. This book hits the hard questions, and views the tragedies of life through only a boy's eyes. I found myself gasping at parts, not because of plot twists, but because of the complete shock of innocence vs tragedy. It made me view life in a completely different way. This has defiantly made my top 5, maybe even 3, book list.
Reviewer Grade: 10

Reviewer's Name: Kaitlyn C.
Journey to the Center of the Earth
Verne, Jules
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Journey To The Center Of The Earth is a wonderful book. In it, the main characters Axel and his uncle find a mysterious message in a book saying that if you descend into the crater of Sneffels before the kalends of July, you will find a passage to the center of the earth. Putting aside all hesitations, they begin their journey and explore the depths of the earth.
Will their journey succeed or will they die in vain? Find out by reading this book. You will not be disappointed! The only bad part is that it's a bit unrealistic. Overall, this is a great book.
Reviewer Grade: 8

Reviewer's Name: Nicole B.
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
Adams, Douglas
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

When Ford Prefect, an undercover alien that got stuck on Earth, realized that Earth would soon be blown into smithereens, he and his human friend, Arthur Dent, escape and embark on an adventure through space. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy parodies other sci-fi novels, which is enjoyable for those who are experienced with that particular genre. This novel is very light-hearted, simple, and it doesn't really get too serious anywhere. The humor is random and ridiculous (in a good way), and it really was what made the book. All of the characters had strong and eccentric personalities with their own little quirks that make them special; they were all very engaging. It's a pretty good classic (that's why I chose to read it in the first place), it's very quotable (and who doesn't like quotes?), and fast-paced. It might seem a little immature to a select few, but the amount of people who like it heavily outweigh the ones who don't.
Reviewer Grade: 8

Reviewer's Name: Miriam X.
The Martian
Weir, Andy
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Every moment of this book is stricken with intense worry, suspense and intrigue! I loved every minute of it. Weir never lets you feel confident in how the events pan out, which is stressful to say the list. But that is a good quality of an action novel. It's smart, funny and powerful.

Reviewer's Name: Cassie
Captain Marvel Vol. 1: Higher, Further, Faster, More
DeConnick, Kelly Sue
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

I don't always like the first volume of a graphic novel series as the world-building can be confusing - but I really enjoyed this one! Volume 1 tells a nice story with a beginning, middle and end, and it's a great intro to the Captain Marvel story. Captain Marvel's origin story was rather hilariously told by Kit, a child, in 4 panels at the end of the first issue, and it just sounds nuts. But even with almost no previous exposure to the character, I was immediately hooked and was able to fall in line with Carol Danvers and and her crew with minimum confusion. Also, Danvers has a cat (or possible ferkin). Named Chewie. Be still my heart.

Reviewer's Name: Britt
Awards:
Fahrenheit 451
Bradbury, Ray
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury is about a fireman named Guy Montag whose job is to, ironically, start fires. Everything was going great for Guy, I mean he had money, a “loving” wife, and had an exhilarating job of burning books. That all changes when he meets a teenage girl who completely changes his view on the corrupt world and when he opens a book, which is illegal, he realizes why reading them is forbidden. Guy realizes he must escape this awful place, but where would he go? How would he get there? And who can he trust? Fahrenheit 451 is one of many dystopian society novels that catch my attention because it makes me wonder what would happen if this WAS our world. It is very boring in the beginning and is confusing at some parts, but overall it’s an amazing book and had me reading 20 pages within 10 minutes towards the end. I chose this book because I love dystopian society books and also the cover looked intriguing. I wonder what would happen if books were illegal and people were forbidden to read them?

Reviewer Grade: 10

Reviewer's Name: Joe T.
The Martian
Weir, Andy
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

After a mission to Mars goes wrong, Astronaut Mark Watney is left on Mars all by himself and must find a way to survive on the deserted planet for 414 days. The Martian by Andy Weir is a nerdy but super jaw-dropping novel because it incorporates a survival journey combined with accurate science. Having a limited supply of food, no contact with NASA, and his crew mates thinking he is dead, Watney must use his botany and dummy mechanic skills to find some way to not die on Mars before the next Ares mission. Being stuck with disco music, a variety of technical problems, and no human interaction, Mark Watney is on the route to giving up, when NASA is able to contact him and work to bring him back home, but will Watney make it? We read this book as a requirement for English and I thought it was going to be a nerdy, boring sci-fi book, but it actually was super attention grabbing and I found myself finishing it within 2 days. The whole book is so interesting because you get to learn about a guy surviving on Mars and even if it is fiction, Andy Weir actually used accurate scientific data to back up his book.

Reviewer Grade: 10

Reviewer's Name: Joe T.
Frankenstein
Shelley, Mary Wollstonecraft
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

This book definitely isn't like the movies, but it is still really interesting to read. The main character, Victor Frankenstein, goes through a lot of crazy times. He creates a so called monster by many and everything that comes after keeps you wanting to read more. There is a lot of melancholy feelings and struggles that many go throughout the book. It uses a lot of diction and has foreshadowing throughout giving you hints here and there of what might come. I highly recommend this book because it's a very cool story.

Reviewer Grade: 12

Reviewer's Name: Dominique R.
Fahrenheit 451
Bradbury, Ray
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

This book has been given more credit than it probably deserves. However, it is still a great novel. Bradbury has such beautiful writing, it grabs you from the first sentence. The story is about a man, Montag, who lives in the future as a fireman. Unlike today’s firemen, though, Montag is a fire-starter. He burns houses that have a single book in them, since books are illegal in this future. Montag meets a young girl, though, that changes his perspective on his previous perception of why books are so bad. If you are itching to read something quick, good, and that will make you think, this is a book for you!

Reviewer Grade: 12

Reviewer's Name: Madison H.
Frankenstein
Shelley, Mary Wollstonecraft
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Frankenstein begins with Robert Walton, an explorer, writing letters to his sister about his journey to the North Pole. Along the way, he rescues a man named Victor Frankenstein from an ice drift. The story follows Frankenstein down memory lane as he tells Walton about his pursuit for knowledge and the deadly consequences that followed.

I really enjoyed this book. I've always been meaning to read it, so I'm glad that I finally did. I loved how it was written; the characters were highly intelligent, and the word choice did an excellent job of showing it. The only thing that I wasn't so huge on was the end. It felt a bit too abrupt to me. Regardless, I found this to be an excellent book.

Reviewer Grade: 12

Reviewer's Name: Alex M.
Morning Star
Brown, Pierce
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Action-packed and heartbreaking, Red Rising has no doubt become one of my favorite series of all time. Morning Star is a powerful conclusion to a thrilling series that left me satisfied with how the story concluded. There are many points where I just want to stop and write down all the quotes I love in the book. Pierce Brown writes beautifully and he did every justice to Morning Star. Since it's a sequel and the final book to a trilogy, I won't say much about what happen in case someone new to the series happens to stumble on this review. If you are new, what you need to know about Red Rising is that it's a sci-fi fantasy that borrows elements from mythologies. Red Rising is a phenomenal series and I hope that more people would pick up and give this book a try.
Reviewer Grade: 12

Reviewer's Name: Vy D.
Golden Son
Brown, Pierce
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

This book left me speechless so many times, shocked by the brutality that brought upon hopes and dreams for a race of the oppressed. War is ugly, yet Pierce Brown paints art and beauty to every word written in this book. There wasn't a moment that bore me. My heart broke many times for the characters in the book, for Darrow, for the young innocent boy he once was and the death stained Reaper he has become. We witnessed the rise of the Reaper in Red Rising and his fall in Golden Son. This is one of the best book I've read so far this year, possibly one of my all-time favorite book. I definitely highly recommend anyone who has already read Red Rising to continue with this book. For anyone who have not read or heard of the series: please pick it up. It is very much worth your time.
Reviewer Grade: 12

Reviewer's Name: Vy D.
Vicious
Schwab, Victoria
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Actual Rating: 4.5

If you love anti-hero, this book is for you. Vicious follows the stories of Victor and Eli, a pair of brilliant, arrogant yet lonely college roommates who share ambition and interest in EO, ExtraOrdinary human being with unnatural superbeing abilities. Vicious blurred the line between heroism and villainy, a moral gray area we often find ourselves standing in. From roommates to enemies, Victor and Eli engaged in a game of cat and mouse that kept me on the edge of my seat throughout the book. It was a very thrilling and exciting read and I can't wait for the next book in the series.
Reviewer Grade: 12

Reviewer's Name: Vy D.
Awards:
Fitzpatrick's War
Judson, Theodore
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

This is a steampunky, military sci-fi novel that takes place in the 25th century and chronicles the life of Sir Robert Mayfair Bruce, an military engineer working for the United Yukon Confederacy, a vast empire that controls all of North America and large parts of the rest of the world. The book is written as a historical memoir/biography that has come under scrutiny for supposedly lying about the life of one the Confederacy's greatest leaders, an Alexander the Great-like young man named Fitzpatrick who is viewed as a hero many years after the events in Robert Bruce's publication. The novel is made even more intriguing by the fact that it is "annotated" by a fictional scholar who frequently refutes the facts described by Bruce. This begs the question "Do we want the 'nice' version of history, or the truth?"

Bruce is as excellent narrator, generally engaging and observant, and it is easy to see why he is so charmed by Fitzpatrick. His motivations are clear and his interactions with other characters are authentic and believable. That said, it is occasionally annoying that he lets his love interest, Charlotte, boss him around so much, but other than that, he is likable and real. (If you like Nick Carraway from The Great Gatsby, you'll probably like Bruce.) Speaking of Charlotte, I think she was one of this book's only major weaknesses. She seems unrealistically perfect -- intelligent, witty, independent, defiant, feisty, and not much else. She has an unhealthy amount of control over Bruce to the point that the reader questions his abilities as a leader since he seems to have no backbone when it comes to Charlotte's manipulation and he does everything she tells him without question, in spite of the fact that she isn't terribly likable. Fitzpatrick himself was well-done. His charismatic, megalomaniacal character develops subtly over the course of the book, and his rise and fall, involving a descent into moral depravity and possibly madness, is fascinating. Likewise, secondary characters are also well-developed.

This book moves rather slowly (the "War" of the title takes about 300 pages to begin), and occasionally the author gives excessive detail to things that don't need it while omitting other details that could have fleshed out the world, so suspension of disbelief is required to enjoy some things. Otherwise, the alternate reality is well-developed and appropriately detailed, with an intriguing history, society, and politics. If you don't like long books with minimal action, don't read this. But if you enjoy an intellectual steampunk adventure with good characters that raises interesting points concerning how history should be portrayed, I recommend trying Fitzpatrick's War.

Reviewer Grade: 12

Reviewer's Name: Caroline K.
Fahrenheit 451
Bradbury, Ray
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Fahrenheit 451 is a story about a future where people have become dull and lifeless. I liked the authors prediction of technology and how it takes over in the modern age. If you have to read it for school or if just for fun it shows the decent of peoples individuality when they are enamored by distraction all day long. Science fiction highly recommend.

Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: Diego C.

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