Thrillers/Suspense

Book Review: The Point

The Point
Author: 
Dixon, John
Rating: 
2 stars = Meh
Review: 

***THIS BOOK WAS RECEIVED FROM THE PUBLISHER***

With the rise in popularity of the superhero genre, it was only a matter of time before it leaked into other genres. While some genres like steampunk (like in The Esper Files ) make for an interesting twist, others like military YA sci-fi are so similar as to be just one other entry in the zeitgeist. The problem with this is that other, more famous handlings of supernatural superpowers bring much more to the table than books like The Point (which doesn’t necessarily add much to either genre on the whole).

As far as I could gather, there are only three or four different “types” of mutants in The Point: telekinetic, pyrokinesis, super strength, and “other” (like dream manipulation and energy storage, the latter of which was reasonably original). I suppose franchises like X-Men and One Piece, which give each of their unique characters unique superpowers and rarely (if ever) repeat themselves, is what ruined this book for me. This only added to the sense of the faceless military machine presented in this book, as few characters stood out to me at all.

Furthermore, I didn’t like the main character at all. Sure, most YA (and this is mature YA at that—an oxymoron, I know) start with a character who needs to undergo growth by the end of the story. However, I don’t need a main character that’s so fully flawed for so long that I end up hating her before she even learns anything. This, added with numerous questions I had that were never answered, plenty of redundant and boring sections, and the fact that I wholeheartedly agreed with the villain meant that I didn’t particularly like this book.

A book that’s likely trying to cash in on superhero and/or YA trends, I give The Point 2.0 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: 
Benjamin W.

Book Review: Immoral Code

Immoral Code
Author: 
Clark, Lillian
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

"Immoral Code" tells the tale of five seniors in high school planning something even bigger than Homecoming. When Bellamy's billionaire father refuses to pay her college tuition at MIT, the gang gathers together to right the wrong, her friend Nari in particular. Under the code name d0l0s, Nari and the rest of Bellamy's friends search for the much needed money- and revenge.

The story's plot circles around a small hiccup in their plan: to get the money, they'll have to sneak into the Foster Inc. building! This story is full of suspense, humor, and 3-dimensional characters each struggling through their own adolescence problems simultaneously. Lillian Clark does a fantastic job of weaving multiple view-points together to tell this memorable tale. I would recommend t it to anyone my age!

*Note: This story does contain a good amount of profanity. Definitely for older readers.* Reviewer Grade: 8

Reviewer's Name: 
Adia R.

Book Review: The 39 Steps

The 39 Steps
Author: 
Buchan, John
Rating: 
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review: 

It’s weird to think that stories like The 39 Steps have only been around for 100 years. Perhaps their ubiquity in modern action thrillers has made me numb to their “man on the run” plotline, but I didn’t find this book to be as interesting as I had expected. Sure, it’s short, but how many of its twists and turns were merely repeating the same way of escaping the main character’s pursuers time and again? And perhaps that’s the main issue I have with this book: the main character seemed to be too skilled at eluding capture for it to be believable.

I know the “wrong man” trope that thrusts an ordinary person into these kinds of circumstances isn’t as realistic as it could be, but when Richard Hannay just happens to know exactly what to do at each instance, I wonder how “ordinary” he really is. Don’t get me wrong, the chase is exciting, it’s just oddly convenient for the protagonist. Of course, maybe I was already ruined by having seen Alfred Hitchcock’s version of this story in The 39 Steps (1935), which added in elements of romance and changed some key plot points.

In the end, The 39 Steps still stands as one of the originators of its genre. Even if the style has morphed and evolved over time, it’s essential to recognize where it came from and what its early influences were. If you’re interested in the history associated with the genre, then this book for you. Heck, if you have a few hours to kill in an airport or waiting room, this book might be the ticket. Just don’t expect much out of it other than some slightly-entertaining distraction.

A basic, if perhaps unbelievable story, in the early action-thriller genre, I give The 39 Steps 3.0 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: 
Benjamin W.

Book Review: Something in the Water

Something in the Water
Author: 
Steadman, Catherine
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

Great book! I really enjoyed the entire story line. It had me guessing until the big reveal. At times I wanted to yell at Erin "Girl! just walk away from it all and stop being so nosy!" I think Catherine Steadman created well developed characters. I wanted to know more about each of them. Maybe she will borrow from Tana French and some of the characters will get their own books. (Seriously, I am dying to know what the next favor is!). If you like page turners combined with mystery, this one is for you!

Reviewer's Name: 
Melissa M.

Book Review: American Psycho

American Psycho
Author: 
Ellis, Bret Easton Ellis
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

American Psycho is a bitter, biting satire about consumerism, and the dark side of the American Dream. The story follows Patrick Bateman who works on Wall Street. He is charming, handsome, and rich. He is also a murderer and a psychopath. We follow him as he falls further and further down the rabbit hole as he becomes more consumed with wealth and money. The satire is biting, the humor dark, and Patrick Bateman feels like a real character that is both relatable and hated by the reader at the same time. This book is amazing. I would recommend this novel to anyone who is looking for a great book to read.

Be prepared for some shocking scenes, though!

Reviewer's Name: 
Peter C

Book Review: Private Down Under

Private Down Under
Author: 
Patterson, James
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

I listened to Private Down Under as an audiobook. This was the first James Patterson book I've ever read/listened to. I can't wait to delve into even more; I was instantly hooked. I finished another in less than a week. I wasn't sure what to expect, but after the main characters, a male and female who work for a private investigating firm, I anticipated somewhat of a romance. I was pleasantly surprised that was not what it was. Craig Gisto is launching "Private", an investigating firm, when almost instantly three cases land in their lap.

I was so anxious to find out how the cases unfolded that I found myself sitting in my car waiting for the end of each chapter. More than that, I dug out the CD player from the garage so I could end my evenings listening. Each case had it's own twists and turns, each with their own level of suspense. They were not able to be "solved" by the reader until the author gifted you that information. There were a few gory details, but nothing most adult readers will squirm at. The tone was pretty serious, with moments where I may have emitted an audible gasp. I truly appreciated how they had a native Australian read this book, considering the locale. The reader did a great job adjusting his accent to the characters he was speaking for. Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I am looking forward to discovering more of what Mr. Patterson has to offer.

Reviewer's Name: 
Kristina

Book Review: One Of Us Is Lying

One Of Us Is Lying
Author: 
McManus, Karen M.
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

Five students walk into detention one day, but only four make it out alive.

One of Us is Lying follows the gripping story of Bronwyn, Addy, Nate, and Cooper as suspects in the murder of Simon Kelleher. Each of the high school students have secrets that they would do anything to protect, so how far would they go to make sure they’re kept out of the spotlight?

I liked this book because it delved into the personalities and thoughts of each individual suspect to keep the reader guessing who did it until the very end. Overall, One of Us is Lying is a surprising and engaging book that was hard to put down. I especially liked how each perspective of the characters was described in depth so that the audience was not left out of the storytelling. I would recommend this book to anyone who loves murder mysteries and young adult fiction.

One of Us is Lying is a teenage-take on themes as dark as murder and depression, and although other writers are unsuccessful in developing such deep plots for a younger audience, Karen M. McManus writes with an enjoyable voice that establishes her story very effectively that, additionally, is targeted well toward a young adult audience. So, if you’re wanting to sit down and unravel a complex and grounded mystery, you should check out One of Us is Lying.

Reviewer Grade: 9

Reviewer's Name: 
Anya G

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: The Girl Who Played with Fire

The Girl Who Played with Fire
Author: 
Stieg, Larsson
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

Despite some of its weaknesses, some of which were due to my reading it via audiobook, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is a great book. In its sequel, The Girl Who Played with Fire, some of these weaknesses were addressed, but others manifested in their place. Again, these faults might be attributed to the audiobook format, but are fairly minor when considering how fantastic the story is as a whole. In fact, I probably like The Girl Who Played with Fire more than its predecessor. Of course, part of this was how events in the first book carried over to influence the plot of the second.

In the first book of the Millennium series, I didn’t realize just how much sex was in it. This was mostly because of the rape scene that made everything else seem tame in comparison. In this book, the sex is still there, but there’s so much of it at the beginning that it starts to become distracting. At least when book one included it, it was generally through the guise of a budding friendship. This time, it felt more like the author was trying to hammer home the point that the two main characters were sexually liberated. Other than that, it was also a little challenging to keep track of the timeline, since it jumped around a bit when it followed different characters. This is perhaps a limitation of the audiobook format.

Overall, though, the plot of The Girl Who Played with Fire is superb. Uncovering the past of our favorite, titular character was a great way to continue a series that started with such an engaging and enigmatic figure. With less mystery present in this volume, the twists are still believable and entertaining while also focusing more on the action that centers on Lisbeth Salander’s desire to remain as disconnected as possible.

A fantastic follow-up to a great book, I give The Girl Who Played with Fire 4.0 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: 
Benjamin W.

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