Science Fiction

Book Review: When You Reach Me

Author
Stead, Rebecca
Rating
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review

When You Reach Me is one of my favorite books of all time. It is such a compelling mystery from the perspective of a sixth-grader who is wise for her age. Miranda contemplates theories of time travel and the effect of the past on the future in a light-hearted manner that makes this story impossible to put down. I love every character and reading their dialogue always gets me to think about the importance of kindness and our relationships as humans during such a short time on Earth. If you love a philosophical mystery or are just looking to get out of a reading slump, give this book a try!

Reviewer's Name
Maggie

Book Review: The Giver

Author
Lowry, Lois
Rating
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review

The Giver is an eloquent novel that contains a meaning that eludes to a greater concept. It contains several twists that are revealed at the end making the book an interesting and exciting read. At the beginning of the novel, you are shown a world of gray and conformity, yet as the story progresses, you are introduced into a world of color and prominence. The characters are what make the book the great piece it is, and the way they are written allows you to relate to each of the characters. Overall an excellent book that I would absolutely read again.

Reviewer's Name
Veronica

Book Review: I Am Number Four

Author
Lore, Pittacus
Rating
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review

I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore is an entrancing sci-fi/fantasy adventure that is definitely worth the read. The story follows a boy called “Four”. Four, and his guardian Henri, are aliens from another planet. Four is one of nine children with magic powers who escaped their home planet when another alien race (called the Mogadorians) invaded. Now, it is only a matter of time before the Mogadorians, who intend to take over Earth, catch up with Four and Henri.
I love this book. I have read it upwards of ten times, but it still remains entertaining every time. Even though Four is an alien, he has completely human feelings and that makes him a really likable and realistic character. There is never a dull moment in the story, and although I have already read the second book, I want to know what happens next. I recommend this book to all sci-fi enthusiasts, and even those who don’t love it. You absolutely cannot go wrong with reading this book.

Reviewer's Name
Alayna

Book Review: Binti

Author
Okorafor, Nnedi
Rating
4 stars = Really Good
Review

If you're a fan of science fiction novels like I am, and you love to see a good book with a diverse lead, you have to check out Binti! Following the story of a young girl with strong cultural ties, Binti is going to study at the prestigious Oozma Uni, but when the Meduse attack, she has to stay strong. The story is amazing but can get confusing at a few points, however, the imagery expressed within the novel is gorgeous. You can visualize everything in your mind as you read, and the storyline itself is one that will leave you thinking about it for hours. Binti also is one of the only novels of its kind in a subgenre of science fiction known as africanfuturism, a twist on afrofuturism where instead of being set in North America or another country, it is set in Africa. If you're looking for a quick sci-fi read with a gorgeous diverse lead and beautiful imagery along with a fascinating plot, you have to check out Binti.

Reviewer's Name
Alexis

Book Review: Morning Star

Author
Brown, Pierce
Rating
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review

After a year being tortured by Adrius Augustus, better known as The Jackal, Darrow has escaped capture and resumed his campaign against the tyrannical rule of the Sovereign of the Society. But Darrow isn't the man he was a year ago: he's been broken down, dehumanized, and kept in a dark cell for over a year, and now has more doubts than ever. The people he thought were his best friends betrayed him, and the last time he saw the woman he loves, she was walking away from him after learning the truth about his Carving. While Darrow knows that he is likely the last chance at destroying the Society and bringing peace, his own self-doubts and struggles could be the thing that gets him killed.

Compared to the first two books of the trilogy, this book's plot is slower and admittedly, harder to get through. I did appreciate how there is more of a focus on Darrrow's growth from a teenager to a man, and his overall growth in shifting from fighting for himself to fighting for others and a better world for everyone, not just the Reds. However, the book is lengthy and I felt there was an unnecessary amount of "fluff" and plot points that weren't relevant to the overarching plot of the novel. The ending was nice (if not bittersweet), and I'm content with where each of the characters ended.

Reviewer's Name
Nneoma

Book Review: Earth Afire

Author
Card, Orson Scott
Rating
4 stars = Really Good
Review

It's odd how the main ideas presented in the original Ender Saga have almost no depictions of combat or war in them at all. It is then appropriate that the second book in this prequel trilogy pulls out all the stops and shows what a horrific battle against ant-like aliens would be like in the not-to-distant future. After all, war is hell, and the atrocities committed by a species trying to terraform Earth to their specifications are quite gruesome.

Fortunately, Earth Afire does not focus too much on the gory details of war. There are still subplots being explored that bring realism to this doomsday scenario—like needing to go against orders and bureaucracy to save people. The reader finally gets to spend some significant time with Mazer Rackham, who is absolutely the most interesting character in this prequel trilogy. His story is where Earth Afire really shines. Sure, there are still some leftover characters from Earth Unaware who stick around to continue their plotlines, but the events happening on the ground are much more interesting than outer space sabotage.

While I feel Earth Afire has some strengths over its Earth Unaware, ultimately it's the downbeat middle book in a trilogy that focuses on the destruction of Earth. There is still hope for humanity with a few last-ditch efforts, but it's clear the Formics have the advantage on so many levels. Also, being a prequel book, Earth Afire suffers somewhat from the fact that we know what will happen to some of the main characters. They can't be killed off because they must ultimately win the day and stall the Formics long enough for Earth to launch their own counterattack.

A visceral image of alien war on Earth, I give Earth Afire 4.0 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name
Benjamin W.

Book Review: Earth Unaware

Author
Card, Orson Scott
Rating
4 stars = Really Good
Review

Prequels sometimes get a bad rap because they often feel unnecessary. If the story was important enough to start at the very beginning, then that's where the series should have started. Still, there is a comfort in prequels that comes from knowing what will happen. Little details that the reader knows will become important for the main part of the series act as subtle nods in the early stages of the series' lore. Earth Unaware is the first book in the Ender's Game prequel trilogy and flawlessly introduces the events that lead to the Earth's drastic response.

Orson Scott Card co-wrote Earth Unaware over a decade after publishing the first books in the Ender Saga. In that time, science advanced to the point where a near-future scenario like the one presented in Earth Unaware could be plausible. All the reader ever knew about the first Formic War from the original series was that the Formics invaded our planet without warning. The beautiful twist in this book is how a few miners out in the Kuiper Belt knew this threat was coming but had unexpected challenges that prevented them from warning Earth.

Unfortunately, the most realistic parts of this book had to do with corporate greed and an ignorant public (much like the plot for Don't Look Up (2021)). The action is certainly exciting and the stakes are quite high since Ender's Game already lets us know what will eventually happen. The only thing I'm disappointed in with this book is how little Mazer Rackham was involved. It was like the authors only mentioned him in passing to introduce him, even if he's arguably the most interesting character out of all the lore presented in Ender's Game.

A plausible, action-packed start to the Ender's Game prequel trilogy, I give Earth Unaware 4.0 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name
Benjamin W.

Book Review: The House of the Scorpion

Author
Farmer, Nancy
Rating
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review

The House of Scorpion is a book set in the future in a place called Opium with a boy named Mateo who is a clone of a huge drug lord who goes by "El Patron". This book has always been a favorite of mine since I read in 6th grade for the first time, it stuck out to me because the creativity, plot, setting, it is such a fun book to read and the book also has a sequel, so its great that the book continues. There wasn't really a time I disliked the book, it always had my attention, and I think that truly matters when reading a book. I choose this book not only because its a childhood fave but I feel like others might love to read this book as much as I did.

Reviewer's Name
Makaia

Book Review: Dune

Author
Herbert, Frank
Rating
4 stars = Really Good
Review

Dune is the first book in a series by Frank Herbert (something I didn't know until after I had started reading). This was a wonderfully imaginative book with interesting characters, conflict, and world building.
You follow Paul as he travels to the planet of Arrakis. You similarly follow those close to him, notably his mother, Jessica, as they all grow accustomed to the unfamiliar landscape and the politics that encompass it.
While the language of the characters originally threw me off, I grew accustomed to it and it helped immerse me in the story and characters. Seeing the dynamics and customs of not only the Atreides family, but also natives of Arrakis, was interesting and better as they intertwined with each other.
Also seeing the various themes of the story was also appealing (thanks English class!) as they intersect with each other in ways I've never seen before.
This is a great book and I recommend it, even if Sci-fi isn't your normal genre.
Reviewer's Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name
Antwaan

Book Review: Thunderhead

Author
Shusterman, Neal
Rating
4 stars = Really Good
Review

The sequel to the dystopian novel, Scythe, Thunderhead delves deeper into Citra and Rowan's stories. Citra, now newly ordained Scythe Anastasia, is an up-and-coming junior Scythe, and already has begun to stir the pot in the community. With her unique gleanings, and progressive thoughts and opinions, Citra becomes a highly respected and wise Scythe, a Scythe who even the Thunderhead recognizes of value. Rowan on the other hand, after escaping the Scythedom, becomes the feared Scythe Lucifer, a black-cloaked vigilante Scythe who gleans Scythes that are driven by corruption. An equally as fast-paced and page-turning novel as the first book in the trilogy, Thunderhead was a fantastic installment to the series. I especially loved how this novel dived deeper into the inter-workings of the Thunderhead, and it's thoughts and opinions. I found it to be very interesting to see how an inanimate being like the Thunderhead, could still have morals and a conscience. This book, just like the first book in the Scythe series, was just as beautifully written, and the plot twists continue to be well developed and unexpected. The cliffhanger was also very interesting, and it was enjoyable to see the Thunderhead and it's "character development" that led to said cliffhanger. Overall, this novel was just as good as the first book in the trilogy, and I could not recommend it more.

Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name
Michelle