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Science Fiction

Book Review: The Clockwork Dynasty

The Clockwork Dynasty
Author: 
Wilson, Daniel H.
Rating: 
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review: 

f there's anything Daniel H. Wilson is good at, it's writing about robots. In his latest book, The Clockwork Dynasty, he takes a steampunk approach by setting the book, not in the future, but in the present and distant past. Returning to the origins of robots via the automatons created for the entertainment of the wealthy and royal, Wilson has crafted another workable piece of fiction centered on robots. Unfortunately, as is the case with some of this other writing, I didn't like a few of his stylistic choices.

The Clockwork Dynasty jumps back and forth between flashbacks and "present era" actions, which can sometimes be distracting, especially if one of the storylines is particularly interesting at the time. I almost wonder if there could have been a better way to focus on the action in the present and to reveal the details of the past in more of a "show" instead of the "tell" provided via flashbacks. Additionally, I get why some of the violence was present in this book, but it (along with the few moments of obscenity or sex) seemed a little unnecessary.

One of my other qualms with this book was with the audiobook itself. Since the individuals reading each of the sections were different between the past and the present, it did help to know where I was in the story. However, the male voice of the past was a little quieter than the female voice of the present. This meant I turned up the volume each time the story was in a flashback, only to scramble to turn it down when the timeframe switched. Some volume leveling would have made this book a little less difficult to listen to, is all I'm saying.

A steampunk story by the modern master of robot stories, I give The Clockwork Dynasty 3.0 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: 
Benjamin

Book Review: More Happy Than Not

More Happy Than Not
Author: 
More Happy Than Not
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

"More Happy Than Not" is a great LGBT youth novel chronicling a single summer of Aaron, a kid growing up in a poor neighborhood in New York. He struggles with his dad's recent suicide, his own attempt to do the same, and his one-bedroom apartment, but he's coping with the help of his lifelong friends and his amazing girlfriend, Genevieve. One day, Aaron meets Thomas, the interesting but directionless kid next door. They quickly grow to be best friends while watching movies on Thomas' roof and scoffing at those who choose procedures with Leteo, the revolutionary brain surgery which buries painful memories for those who can't deal with their past. But as the book goes on, Aaron's relationship with Geneveive and his friends becomes strained and his attitude towards Leteo becomes less scornful. This book is packed with twists and is a great choice for young readers and for fans of "Eternal Sunshine of The Spotless Mind".

Reviewer's Name: 
Mckenna R.

Book Review: Renegades

Renegades
Author: 
Meyer, Marissa
Rating: 
2 stars = Meh
Review: 

Renegades by Marissa Meyer is an average, but fun book about superheroes. The plot centers around Nova who has to join a team of superheroes to spy on them while secretly being a villain. Since I’ve seen a lot of superhero movies, I thought that this book was pretty cliche. I could figure out every twist before I read about it happening. I also thought that the pacing of this book was weird. Some scenes that were unimportant to the plot seemed to drag on while other important scenes went by way too fast. This might have been intentional, but I don't see the point of it. I thought that this book was average. It was an extremely forgetful book, which was very disappointing because I love some of Marissa Meyer’s previous books. One thing I did like about this book was the depiction of anarchy which is very rare, especially in young adult books. I don't think that this would be a good book to read if you have seen a lot of superhero movies since it uses a lot of cliches from that genre. However, if you are interested in science fiction, I would recommend this book.

Reviewer's Name: 
Sophie L.

Book Review: Scarlet

Scarlet
Author: 
Meyer, Marissa
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

Scarlet by Marissa Meyer is the thrilling sequel to Cinder. Scarlet is a continuation of Cinder’s story while retelling another fairytale, Little Red Riding Hood. Generally, I feel like the sequels are never as good as the original, but that was not the case for this book. Scarlet was definitely my favorite book in the entire series (besides Winter). I fell completely in love with the new characters (especially Scarlet). Marissa Meyer has a talent for creating likable and relatable characters. She also has a talent for describing the setting. Cinder took place in Beijing while Scarlet took place in France. Meyer illustrated France just as vividly as she illustrated Beijing. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys science fiction or anyone who enjoyed Cinder.

Reviewer's Name: 
Sophie L.

Book Review: Cinder

Cinder
Author: 
Meyer, Marissa
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

Cinder by Marissa Meyer is a fast-paced and action-packed book that you can't put down. The book is a futuristic and dystopian retelling of the classic fairytale, Cinderella. This is definitely one of my favorite books. You won't find another science fiction book with as many interesting and diverse female characters. The book has a very exciting plot that kept me on the edge of my seat. In addition to that, Cinder has many amazing characters. I couldn't pick my favorite one. All of the characters are lovable and distinct. Another aspect of the book that I enjoyed was the setting. I loved Meyer’s vision of what the future would look like. She described the setting perfectly. I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in science fiction or fantasy genres.

Reviewer's Name: 
Sophie L.

Book Review: Ganymede

Ganymede
Author: 
Priest, Cherie
Rating: 
2 stars = Meh
Review: 

Now that I’ve read the first three books in the Clockwork Century series, any hope I had of some cohesive narrative is essentially gone. While following a new character for each book helps to provide a different setting of the steampunk alternate universe, when I know these characters won’t matter outside their own books, I kind of stop caring about them. Even previous heroines are relegated to cameo and minor character status as the persistent series of somewhat pointless events drags on. And don’t even get me started on the zombies, which are a distraction to any actual story in my opinion.

I think the main problem I have with these books is the fact that things happen without much lead-up or foreshadowing. Sure, there are some fascinating factors involved with making a submarine work in the Civil War era, but the resulting battle and conclusion went exactly as I expected them to. This isn’t foreshadowing as much as it is conforming to clichés. There doesn’t seem to be much at stake in any of the character arcs, which is made all the more prevalent by the relatively uninteresting characters themselves. Some have distinguishable quirks, but they all feel flat in a world that could be that much more interesting.

As for the “twist” near the end involving one of the characters, I feel it was poorly executed, let alone unnecessary. Considering the medical techniques at the time, even in an alternate universe, the individual in question probably didn’t have the necessary “assets” to convincingly pull this deception off. If anything, it was only hidden via clothing, but since there were no hints or foreshadowing about this surprisingly minor character, I had no way to even know if anything was off to begin with. I can believe that some of them might exist in that timeframe, but it just felt like a cheap add-in for the sake of “inclusion.”

Another steampunk book in a series that isn’t going anywhere, I give Ganymede 2.5 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: 
Benjamin

Book Review: A Wrinkle in Time

A Wrinkle in Time
Author: 
L'Engle, Madeleine
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

Meg Murry is an outcast. She feels that she doesn't belong anywhere -- not at school, and especially not among her family of accomplished scientists and visionaries. But, when three strange women appear and offer to help her find her missing father, she is whisked away to another world. With the help of her brother Charles Wallace and their friend Calvin, she works to find her father and save Earth from impeding evil. I originally read "A Wrinkle in Time" back in middle school, but decided to reread it before seeing the film, and found that I loved the book just as much as I did the first time around. The writing is charming and clever. The worlds are vast and imaginative. Meg and her brother Charles Wallace undergo compelling character arcs and discover their true purpose along the journey. I have nothing negative to say about this amazing story. To anyone who loves fantasy, sci-fi, adventure, rich characters, and interesting plots, go read this book!

Reviewer's Name: 
Gillian P.

Book Review: Dreadnought

Dreadnought
Author: 
Priest, Cherie
Rating: 
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review: 

For the most part, the book series I have read progress the story from one book to another. I get that there are some series with the same character in different predicaments for each book, but jumping from one character to another in each different book is an interesting tactic. Of course, I’m somewhat guilty of this, as The Fluxion Trilogy focuses on different characters for each book. As far as I can tell, The Clockwork Century series also does this, even if the connections between the characters are flimsy at best. Even so, the plot seemed to take a step backward from Boneshaker to Dreadnought.

One of my qualms with Boneshaker was that there wasn’t a lot of world-building that established what this alternate-reality Seattle was like in the scheme of the broader United States. Dreadnought solves this problem by giving the main character an opportunity to travel across the country, thus establishing some of the world-building in the process. In fact, there were a few points where I wondered if I had picked up the first book in the series, only to confirm that Dreadnought was the second book. Unfortunately, I thought the plot of Boneshaker was a little more believable since the cross-country trek in Dreadnought seemed like an obvious ploy by the author to introduce the world to the reader.

I certainly appreciated the thinking that went into the consequences of a decades-long Civil War, but I still think the “zombie” angle of this series seems out of place. I get that steampunk is the combination of some more modern technologies in a Victorian era, but the zombie genre seems so modern that combining the two never really gelled for me. Plus, through the plots of two books, I feel like I’m no closer to understanding where the gas that creates the zombies originates, or if there’s even an endgame to the zombie situation.

A book that should have come first in the series, I give Dreadnought 3.5 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: 
Benjamin

Book Review: Firefight

Firefight
Author: 
Sanderson, Brandon
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

In the sequel to steel heart fire fight counties to adventures of young teen David. This book is a great drama, romance, and action book. Will David survive to war against epics or will he love one instead. Firefight is my personal favorite book from the series.

Reviewer's Name: 
David

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