Fiction

Book Review: Armada

Armada
Author: 
Cline, Ernest
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

In a science fiction world shown by Ernest Cline, the protagonist, Zack Lightman, seems to have the whole world against him. His Dad has died in a freak accident, his school as well as his social life is miserable, and to make things worse everyone thinks he has gone crazy after breaking under this pressure. Having no interest in the real world, Zack throws himself into the vast world of science fiction and video games. One of his favorite games is a game called “Armada”, which is essentially a flight simulator involving space based combat. Not all is as it seems after a slew of strange missions and movements by the military it may be that this game is all too real. In this amazing work of science fiction by Ernest Cline, the future of Earth’s survival is seen through the eyes of Ernest’s protagonist. I greatly enjoyed this book, mostly due to the nature of the protagonist, Zack Lightman and the light humor played out on more serious concepts. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys science fiction.

Reviewer's Name: 
Liam G

Book Reviews: Saga

Saga
Author: 
Kostick, Conor
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

This book gives its audience a look into a virtual world that has run without human intervention for many decades. In this world the many NPCs have developed intelligence and personality, becoming almost human. This world is run by a strict, class based society, where each class is separated by “color”. Originally used to represent levels like in a game, it now is used by the matriarch of this society to suppress the many artificial intelligences that make up this world’s citizens. One of these citizens, Ghost, fights back against the system which eventually ends up with her in a bit of trouble. Soon after this, some familiar characters show up, such as Erik and from then on the story continues. In this virtual world shown in Conor Kostick’s book, the real world concepts of artificial intelligence interweave with the many dynamic characters’ actions and thoughts. Due to this and the premise of the story, this book has turned out to be one of my favorites so far. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a blend of dystopia and science fiction.

Reviewer's Name: 
Liam G

Book Review: Prodigy

Prodigy
Author: 
Lu, Marie
Rating: 
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review: 

In the second book in the Legend trilogy, the story begins in a world shattered by an extreme rise in sea level. The protagonists, Day and June have escaped the Republic’s forces and are heading towards Vegas. When they arrive, the dictator of the Republic, the Elector Primo, dies and his heir takes his place. Presented with a mission from a rebel group known as the Patriots, the duo is tasked with assassinating this new leader. June, seeing this new ruler is different, is conflicted by both the world she left behind as a member of the Republic and the world she now knows from her experiences with Day. In this action packed book, Marie Lu explores many concepts that are both relevant to the reader and thought invoking, through the conflicting perspectives presented by her two protagonists. The world put out before this book’s audience gives its characters breath as well as gives the reader a stunning view into a different world. One of my favorite aspects of this book is the dynamic protagonists and the direct look into their development throughout the story. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone interested in a dystopian science fiction story placed in the not so distant future.

Reviewer's Name: 
Liam G

Book Review: Epic

Epic
Author: 
Kostick, Conor
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

This book presents a colony world far from Earth, in which power in a virtual reality based game means everything. The protagonist, Erik, lives in a less privileged community suppressed by the policies of the ruling administration. In an attempt to get even at the unfair treatment of his parents and their community, Erik attempts to best them in an in game arena with a team of his friends. The team they are against doesn’t necessarily play fair and Erik loses. Angry with this loss, Erik creates a new character completely on a whim, focusing on other attributes people typically don’t use. Having gone against the status quo Erik has some mysterious encounters that lead him on a quest to rediscover this virtual world. In this work of science fiction, Conor Kostick introduces his protagonist and the many other characters into a living breathing world. The openness of the world and the protagonist’s dual nature were some of the main aspects I enjoyed about this book. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys science fiction, particularly one that revolves around virtual reality.

Reviewer's Name: 
Liam G

Book Review: Champion

Champion
Author: 
Lu, Marie
Rating: 
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review: 

In the final book in the Legend trilogy, the story begins in a world shattered by an extreme rise in sea level. The protagonists, Day and June have overcome the Republic’s forces and are now trying to maintain balance in the nation along with their Patriot and Republic allies. When it seems the peace has just started, the neighboring nation, the Colonies, is hit by a terrible plague outbreak. Blaming the Republic, war seems inevitable. Day and June must now overcome yet another threat in the final book in the series.
Marie Lu demonstrates one last time, the conflicting yet agreeable perspectives presented by her two protagonists and how they make this story so interesting. The world put out before this book’s audience gives its characters depth as well as gives the reader a stunning view into a different world. One of my favorite aspects of this book is the dynamic protagonists and the direct look into their development throughout the story, especially in comparison to the first book.. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone interested in a dystopian science fiction story placed in the not so distant future.

Reviewer's Name: 
Liam G

Book Review: Throne of Glass

Throne of Glass
Author: 
Maas, Sarah J.
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

Throne of Glass is the first of many in the series by Sarah J. Maas. The story follows Celaena Sardothien, a young woman assassin who was imprisoned for a year by the King of Adarlan. The King’s son, having heard of who she is, requests her to become the King’s champion, but first she must compete with all the other assassins and thieves to get the title officially. If she wins, after she serves for 4 years, she will be granted freedom. But there is something more going on when as the competition goes on, bodies start piling up.

The reason I enjoyed this book is it has a very well done mystery aspect to the book along with an immersive fantasy setting with a land of magic, fantastic creatures, and being unpredictable with what’s going to happen next. What I enjoyed the most about the book is the mystery involved because it was the perfect addition to a story that already had my attention. My reasoning for picking the book is the same for why I enjoyed it. I wanted a fantasy book with a story that’d keep me reading and that’s exactly what I got, but I wouldn’t say it’s the best book I’ve read this year, but it did introduce me into the series that keeps getting better as you read it.

While the book itself felt as if it hadn’t been written well in the beginning, the story was entertaining and intriguing enough, that kept me reading through the full book and onto the next in the series.

Reviewer Grade: 10

Reviewer's Name: 
Gregory B

Book Review: Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry

Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry
Author: 
Taylor, Mildred D.
Rating: 
2 stars = Meh
Review: 

"Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry" is about an African American family living in the South during the Great Depression who faces the daily struggles of racism. The novel is told through their oldest child's, Cassie Logan, point of view. The Logans own their land and are successful which makes them a prime target for lynching or other racist acts. Cassie's family perseveres through the situation due to their independent lifestyle.

I wouldn't recommend "Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry". I found the book extremely boring and uninteresting, but other people might not. I read this book with my class because I had to. I couldn't relate to any of the characters, however what the Logans faced can relate to other people. In my opinion it was predictable and it was by far not the best book I have read this year. "Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry" is not a bad book I just found it boring.

Reviewer's Name: 
Oriana O.

Book Review: Keeping Corner

Keeping Corner
Author: 
Sheth, Kashmira
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

"Keeping Corner" by Kashmira Sheth is about a young Indian girl named Leela who struggles with the unfair traditions of her culture. She is about to get married and everything seems to be going well until her fiance is bitten by a poisonous snake and dies forcing Leela to become a widow. Since she is a widow she must keep corner which is an Indian tradition for female widows where women and young girls must stay inside for a year, shave their head, remove their jewelry, etc. While she is forced to keep corner she sees how unfair things really are and that she must use her voice to make a difference.

I would recommend this book. "Keeping Corner" really made me realize the unjust things women have to go through in other countries. I read this book for a geography project, but I ended up liking it. I couldn't relate to Leela but I could relate to her brother because when he tried to introduce modern ideas no one listened to him or valued what he was trying to say. The book was not predictable. "Keeping Corner" is the best book I have read so far this year.

Reviewer's Name: 
Oriana O.

Book Review: The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest
Author: 
Larsson, Stieg
Rating: 
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review: 

Now that I’ve finished the third book in this series, I realize it falls into the “trilogy conundrum” of having a strong, standalone first part, followed by two sequels that rely on each other to finish out the story. Heck, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest should have just been Part 3 of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo since it completed the story arc started back in book one. I had my suspicions this book would continue from the exact moment where The Girl Who Played with Fire ended. After all, there were a ton of loose ends, and the story ended abruptly.

Part of my issue with this book was that it was primarily tasked with tying up all the subplots from the first two books. However, it still felt like it needed to spend time on new storylines that didn’t add much to the overall plot and were only there because the main character wasn’t able to do anything interesting. I also didn’t particularly like how some of these story elements concluded, as they felt unfulfilling (the resolution of the conflict with Lisbeth’s father stands out in particular). Overall, these two qualms made the book drag on longer than I think it should have.

There were still some positive elements in this book, including the trial of Lisbeth Salander. In fact, this coup de grace was by far the most entertaining section of the entire trilogy. I also appreciated the tension created early on when Lisbeth was in the hospital, as well as the action in the Epilogue that tied up the very last loose end of the trilogy. In the end, I still think this trilogy was a good read. It’s just that its final volume
felt a little bloated and distracted at times.

A mostly satisfying conclusion to the original Millennium series, I give The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest 3.0 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: 
Benjamin W.

Book Review: Artemis Fowl

Artemis Fowl
Author: 
Colfer, Eoin
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

With the movie adaptation of this book coming out in a few months, I figured the premise of Artemis Fowl looked interesting enough that I’d want to read it before seeing the film. After all, a child genius going up against fantasy forces sounded like it would be entertaining. Overall, this was true. Granted, this book starts one of those classic Young Adult series that’s actually meant for children, so I can forgive a bit of its bathroom humor—but only to a point. Still, I found the fusion of modern technology and fantasy elements to be the strength of this book.

Much in the vein of the science fantasy genre, Artemis Fowl uses scientific principles and concepts to explain the numerous phenomena connected to creatures like fairies, dwarves, and trolls. It only makes sense that these creatures would evolve technologically along with humanity. Being able to explain how these creatures could remain undetected for thousands of years was nearly as engaging as the technology used to find them. The fact that this book only gave me a taste of what’s capable in this universe makes me want to come back and read the rest of the series.

Aside from the aforementioned bathroom humor (and some more adult jokes that probably aren't for children), my one qualm with this book is that the titular character doesn’t seem to play a huge role in the proceedings. I mean, I get that he’s a criminal mastermind working from the shadows, but I found the character so interesting in the few moments where he appears that I wanted more of him. Instead, many chapters focused on the military-fantasy world of the fairies, and I’m not that into military-based stories anyway.

A classic YA military science fantasy, I give Artemis Fowl 4.0 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: 
Benjamin W.

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