Review Crew Book Reviews by Genre: Science Fiction

A Thousand Pieces of You book jacket
Gray, Claudia
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray is a science fiction and adventure novel that anybody would love. This easy read quickly starts off with our main character, Marguerite, jumping into an alternate reality chasing her friend who killed her father. She catches him, but before he slips out of her grasp, she is conflicted with the question if he really did it or not. This book mixes physics for any math lovers, adventure for any aspiring traveler, and just a little bit of romance that makes it difficult to grasp onto what is real or fake. I would recommend this book to anybody who is in a reading slump and needs a good pick me up.
Jaala 12

Reviewer's Name: Jaala
Caliban's War book jacket
Corey, James S. A.
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Caliban's War is the second book in The Expanse series. It continues with Earth, Mars, and the Outer Planets with high tensions after barely avoiding interplanetary war with the destruction of Eros. When a figment of the planet-destroying protomolecule tears through some Martian marines, war once again becomes a possibility. Will a disillusioned crew, a grieving scientist, a stubborn UN officer, and a self-destructive Martian be able to find the truth, or will war and violence and alien evolution consume them all?
This book is as good as the first book. That's high praise, since the first book was very, very good. It continues the somewhat difficult experience of lots and lots of characters in lots and lots of places, but I feel like this novel was a bit easier to digest since most of the worldbuilding was out of the way. The characters also pick up smoothly from last time, with the effects of the last book's events heavily influencing them and their actions. The way they interact with this world, their situations, and each other is so organic and complex that I found it hard to feel I wasn't reading about real people. I also like how the author lets so many of her characters hate or dislike each other while still juggling all their perspectives in different chapters. It is such a treat to see through one character's eyes while they do something they think is perfectly normal and rational, then pivot to another character's point-of-view that sees the first characters actions as completely stupid. While the new cast of characters was initially overwhelming after the amount of emotional investment that was steeped into last book's characters, I found them extremely interesting and fun. They were all completely different from one another, and gave so much variety to the way we see the story. Once again, the realism of this series is striking. Even if every little political nuance isn't picked up, we can still follow the general vein of alliances and rivalries as well as we follow them in our world. It almost feels like reading a historic fiction book, with every plot point a mirror to similar groups and events in our own history. Finally, the plot of this book was very solid. There was some dragging on the beginning, and the ending wasn't nearly as climactic as the first book's, but it was still a wonderfully gripping and satisfying story.
All in all, the Expanse story remains a tour de force with Caliban's War, and I can't wait to see what the next story holds. I would recommend this to anyone who loves great sci-fi, lovable characters, and a plot that's out of this world!
Reviewer Grade: 12

Reviewer's Name: Eve
The Maze Runner book jacket
Dashner, James
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

I started reading this book in 2012, just a few years before the movie was released. This book is a personal favorite of mine that I have read over and over again. This dystopian story follows a boy who was placed in the center of a maze with several other boys and follows his journey as he uncovers dark truths and attempts to escape the maze. Personally, I love the attention to detail in this book and how it keeps you on your seat throughout the story all the way to the end. In no way was this book predictable. When I first read this book I wasn't aware that it was of a series, so I was delighted to find out there were more books because of how great of a story it was. I would recommend this book to tweens and up since there is some mature material such as fighting and dying (it doesn't go into gory detail). Overall, this is a great read that I would personally highly recommend!

Reviewer's Name: Ashley
John Dies at the End book jacket
Wong, David
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

John Dies at the End is a story on two levels. On hand hand, it's a poignant exploration of the darkness of humanity, the fear of the unknown, the tragedies of life, and the devastating realities we exist besides everyday. But also, it's about two idiots on a space drug and their strangely resilient dog.
This book should be the blueprint for every dark comedy. It isn't a needlessly tragic story with a few laughs thrown in or a joke fest that undercuts every poignant moment. It blends comedy and tragedy seamlessly, balances it perfectly, and hits it for a home run with meticulous writing and characters. This is mostly done by finding the hilarity in tragedy, specifically the tragedy of life. This book is strangely and wonderfully existential for being mostly about shadows and movie monsters, a very classic demons of a character mirrored by demons of the world. The characters in general are stellar, with so many flaws and so much cynicism but with some shining nuggets of morality and love that makes them very easy to root for.
The entire thing is a joke that takes itself seriously in the best way possible. There are horrible moments of death and gore and dehumanization, and I would definitely look up some content warnings, but it's still such a fun ride. One minute there's gruesome character deaths and existential dread and body horror and such, the next minute one of the characters need to just kill the alien larvae quickly to get to work on time. Or their dog explodes and shows up like two days later and they don't care enough to investigate that. It's a rollercoaster of mood swings, but in a good way.
All in all, I don't know how to describe this book without using far too many words. Basically, despite some anticlimactic moments and weaker plot structure, this is a perfect dark comedy. I'd recommend this to any fans of horror, humor, existential dread, nihilistic humor, and well-written alien drugs!

Reviewer Grade: 12

Reviewer's Name: Eve
Scythe
Shusterman, Neal
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

In a perfect world where overpopulation is the only problem, an elite group of unbiased assassins called Scyths are expected to “glean” the population to keep it at a manageable level. This is by far one of the best young adult sci-fi books that I've ever read. With its fast-paced plot, Scythe is a captivating story of two teenagers faced with enormous responsibility and life-or-death consequences. I have a soft spot for skillful world-building, action, and fleeting romance; this book was a masterful concoction of all three! Also, on a personal note, I have read far too many books with idiotic plot twists. I am pleased to say that this was not one of them. Get ready for an addicting read, as this book isn't easy to set down.

Reviewer's Name: Kate
The Hunger Games
Collins, Suzanne
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins is an incredible book full of suspense, surprise, and action! It was one of the best books I have read this year and I would strongly recommend it to dystopian lovers.
In a post-nuclear war world, there are twelve districts and the capital that are safe enough for people to live in, and every year the government holds a competition between 12-18 year-olds. A fight to the death, and the winner gets to live a peaceful, worry-free life away from the stress and labor of the districts. Everyone of age is entered into the drawing and when Katniss Everdeen's younger sister is chosen to take part in the Hunger Games she takes her place. Now Katniss faces stronger, faster, and better opponents, and the capital's clever propaganda. She must do all she can to survive.
I liked this book because the author did well at portraying the emotions of the characters and they were all so relatable. Hunger Games is a great read that kept me up all night. I decided on this book because of amazing recommendations and because I love dystopian books, Be warned... it measures up to its greatness! I would recommend 12+ for this book because it gets a little violent and the idea of kids being put in a competition to kill each other is a little dark. Overall this book is brilliant and worthy of recognition! Hunger Games was very surprising and I enjoyed the storyline very much. I would certainly suggest this book to you!
Reviewer Grade: 8th

Reviewer's Name: Ella
Leviathan Wakes
Corey, James S. A.
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Leviathan Wakes is set in a time where humanity has reached the edges of the solar system, desperate to grow past the confines of Earth. Jim Holden is on a ship meant to drag ice from asteroids when he discovers a secret that kills most of his crew and puts the rest of them in horrible danger. Detective Miller has just been assigned to a throwaway missing persons case that is far more than it seems. The two men will find their stories colliding in a way that could either create a new, starward path for humanity...or end it for good.
This was one of the first serious, in-depth science fiction books I've read in a long time, since those types of books usually wear me out. But this one blew me away. The first surprise was the world building. Most science fiction has complex world building, its a staple of the genre. But this was beyond insane world building that still stuck itself between the lines, in small observations or bits of daily life. It hardly ever had to derail the story to go in depth about the mechanics of this world, but by the end my brain was still clogged with what felt like endless information about this fascinating future for humanity. The second surprise was in the characters. No one felt like a staple science fiction character. Detective Miller at first seemed like the stereotypical sad grizzled cop, but the complexity of his character blew everything I was expecting out of the water. Jim Holden at first looked like the paragon leader type, but he often gets things wrongs or makes bad choices in a way that still endeared us to his endlessly moral character. The side characters also deliver, with memorable personalities and motivations. The third surprise was in the plot. It starts slow, meandering its way through the characters, but then it takes off like a shot. There will be huge chunks of action and long bits of calm, but the two are well balanced. The twists are also wonderful, because they aren't trying to be surprising or upsetting. They just want to tell a good story. And it does that job well.
All in all, this book is wonderful in so many ways. I'd recommend it to anyone who loves complex science fiction, well-written characters, breathtaking action, and a twisting mystery alongside!
Reviewer Grade: 12

Reviewer's Name: Eve
This is How You Lose the Time War
El-Mohtar, Amal
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

This Is How You Lose the Time War is a correspondence set throughout the whole of time, between two people on opposite sides of an eternal war. Red is a member of the Agency, a stark, metallic technotopia wielding bionic creations to tear time into place. Blue is a part of the Garden, an organic monolith determined to sink its roots into every part of time. The two of them are the best of the best, clashing invisibly over and over through time and space. When one of them leaves a letter, it begins a conversation throughout time, one that will change both of them, and the world, forever.
This book was a phenomenal read. It was a difficult thing to work through, something that refused to hold your hand and guide you through the sudden shifts and strange situations. But after drowning for a little while, everything starts falling into place, and soon you can't tear yourself away from the pages. The prose was brilliant, bringing every place and century and emotion vividly into focus. The characters are endearing and heartbreaking, and their development as they grow to understand and care for each other is profound. The storylines were vivid and fascinating, creating a whole new meaning to "the butterfly effect." Even the world building, as intentionally vague as it is, is still understandable and entrancing. I honestly don't know what it is that made me obsess over this book. Maybe it was the evolution of the characters, transforming from hellbent killers to cautious friends. Maybe it was the distinctiveness of the two characters voices, made all the more special since both sides of the story are written only by their given author. Maybe its the fascinating world around the characters, the future dystopias and steampunk cities and sand swept temples. I don't know what it is, but its one beautiful, wild ride.
From what I can tell, most people either love or hate this story. The ones who love it give gushing reviews not dissimilar to mine. The ones who hate it call it confusing, obtuse hogwash that doesn't properly develop its world or characters enough to be compelling. I can't tell what side of the spectrum anyone is going to fall on, but I know that everyone should give this a chance. All in all, I recommend this book for anyone in the mood for strangely poetic science fiction, star-crossed enemies, or an examination of a universe that can be forever changed by the beating of wings.
Reviewer Grade: 12

Reviewer's Name: Eve
Fahrenheit 451 book jacket
Bradbury, Ray
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury is a dystopian novel written in 1953. Although some of the concepts and references are harder to understand due to when the story is written, it still holds many good messages relevant today. In this novel, books are banned, and firefighters burn houses with books inside instead of saving them. They are the protectors of happiness because books make people unhappy. Fahrenheit 451 follows a fireman, Guy Montag, as he starts asking questions about his job and society. This novel has many hidden meanings and is worth the time to read. The author does a beautiful job of keeping the writing and concepts simple enough for younger audiences. Overall, I would give it a five out of five stars.

Reviewer's Name: Lucia
The Handmaid's Tale
Atwood, Margaret
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

The Handmaid's Tale, written by Margaret Atwood, is a fictional account of Offred, who is a handmaid that lives in a dystopian society. A handmaid is a woman whose purpose is to have a child. Offred is conflicted with her job; she is separated from her lover, Luke and her child, thinking that they are dead but hoping they are alive. The new government slowly took away power from females until the females are essentially powerless. I chose the book because my Aunt recommended it to me. One thing I liked about the book was that the ending was essentially left to the reader's judgment. As a male, it gave me helpful insights to events that are happening right now that I never would have thought about.

Reviewer's Name: Finn
Prey
Crichton, Michael
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Here, you follow Jack Forman as he wages through his wife's unusual behavior and the nanotechnology her company created and developed.
For my first Crichton novel, I really enjoyed it. Watching Jack as he waded through his suspicious and the dangers he faces was a thrill to watch. While the characters themselves felt a bit bland, the plot, scientific mystery, and thriller aspects of the story make up for it. Learning about nanotechnology and different parts of programming was also fun to read, even if I didn't understand all of it. The pacing of the novel was done pretty well, from the beginning with Jack's wife, to the her place of work later in the novel. The way the danger was presented and changed was done well and kept me on my toes until the resolution. I recommend this for those who like thrillers and/or sci-fi.
Reader's Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: Antwaan
Ender's Game
Card, Orson Scott
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Ender's Game, written by Orson Scott Card, is a fictional account of an interplanetary war between the human race and aliens (known as "buggers"). The protagonist, Andrew "Ender" Wiggin, is a young boy when he is selected to battle school, where the elite of humanity is sent to train in case of war. Ender quickly rises through the ranks and joins the Command School, where the elite of the elite train.
In the previous war against the buggers, one man's actions saved humanity, and that man's name was Mazar Rackham. For the upcoming war, Mazar Rackham refines Ender's ability to exploit weakness in the enemy. After the war (no spoilers here!), Ender learns of the importance of communication and trust.
My favorite part was the ending. Even thought it felt a little rushed, it was beautiful. It was filled with kindeness and hope for the future. I enjoyed reading the book because it challenged my vocabulary and helped me look at situations and misunderstandings in a different light. I would recommend the book because it teaches valuable lessons that the reader can apply to their own life.

Reviewer's Name: Finn
When You Reach Me
Stead, Rebecca
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
The Giver
Lowry, Lois
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
I Am Number Four
Lore, Pittacus
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
Binti book jacket
Okorafor, Nnedi
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
Morning Star
Brown, Pierce
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
The House of the Scorpion book jacket
Farmer, Nancy
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
Dune book jacket
Herbert, Frank
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
Thunderhead book jacket
Shusterman, Neal
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