This Mortal Coil (Emily Suvada)

This Mortal Coil (Emily Suvada)This Mortal Coil by Emily Suvada
Published by Penguin Books Ltd on November 2nd 2017
Genres: Dystopia, Science Fiction, Young Adult
Pages: 464
Format: Paperback
Source: Borrowed
Goodreads

When a lone soldier, Cole, arrives with news of Lachlan Agatta's death, all hope seems lost for Catarina. Her father was the world's leading geneticist, and humanity's best hope of beating a devastating virus. Then, hidden beneath Cole's genehacked enhancements she finds a message of hope: Lachlan created a vaccine.

Only she can find and decrypt it, if she can unravel the clues he left for her. The closer she gets, the more she finds herself at risk from Cartaxus, a shadowy organization with a stranglehold on the world's genetic tech. But it's too late to turn back.

There are three billion lives at stake, two people who can save them, and one final secret that Cat must unlock. A secret that will change everything.

Plot: ★★★★
Characters: ★★
Readability: ★★★★★

I expected to love This Mortal Coil – science, basically zombies, end-of-the world? These are serious buzz words for me!

Good things first: This Mortal Coil was immensely readable.  It’s more than 400 pages long, and yet despite that I flew through it in three days, squeezing it into every spare moment around work.  The story is full of twists and turns that made sure I didn’t want to put it down. The science is great – it reminded me of The Martian, in that both books give you actual science and just expect you to keep up, which I absolutely loved.  Cat’s smart, and feisty, and likeable. The world is genuinely interesting, and believable, and complex.

Onto the less good: for a book with so many twists and turns, I thought the ending was predictable. I felt a bit like the overall story was very predictable, and so Suvada had deliberately tried to make the story more convoluted and unexpected to try and distract from that – while that made it an addictive read, some of the twists also felt a bit like unecessary diversions, and the book could easily have been a fair amount shorter.  There’s a love triangle which wasn’t my favourite thing, but it wasn’t overwhelming or too angsty so it definitely wasn’t a dealbreaker.

This book definitely seems to be polarizing: most of the reviews I’ve read have either been adoring or hating, with not much in the middle. For me, despite the flaws, it was an interesting read and I’m certainly intrigued to see where the rest of the series goes if I can borrow a copy, but I won’t be rushing out to buy one.

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Review: Morning Star

Review: Morning StarMorning Star by Pierce Brown
Series: Red Rising #3
Published by Hodder & Stoughton on February 11th 2016
Genres: Action & Adventure, Dystopia, Science Fiction
Pages: 512
Format: ARC
Source: From the publisher
Goodreads

Darrow would have lived in peace, but his enemies brought him war. The Gold overlords demanded his obedience, hanged his wife, and enslaved his people. But Darrow is determined to fight back. Risking everything to transform himself and breach Gold society, Darrow has battled to survive the cutthroat rivalries that breed Society's mightiest warriors, climbed the ranks, and waited patiently to unleash the revolution that will tear the hierarchy apart from within.
Finally, the time has come.
But devotion to honor and hunger for vengeance run deep on both sides. Darrow and his comrades-in-arms face powerful enemies without scruple or mercy. Among them are some Darrow once considered friends. To win, Darrow will need to inspire those shackled in darkness to break their chains, unmake the world their cruel masters have built, and claim a destiny too long denied - and too glorious to surrender.

Plot: ★★★★★
Characters: ★★★★
Addictiveness: ★★★★★

When I read it…

I took just over a week to read this one, between February 5th and 14th 2016.

What I’d heard before I read it:

All good things! [Sidenote, anyone else incapable of hearing the phrase ‘All good things, all good things’ in a voice other than Olaf’s from Frozen? Just me?]  Morning Star was by far one of my most anticipated reads for 2016 so I couldn’t wait to read it, but I’d deliberately not gone looking for reviews in fear of spoilers. I had seen a few comments on twitter though, and they were all VERY favourable!

What worked for me:

  • The plot: Sometimes, a writer tries so hard to be unpredictable that it becomes predictable (Steven Moffat & Doctor Who for example), but that wasn’t at all the case with Morning Star. Given the ending of Golden Son, I didn’t think Morning Star could shock me – I was wrong.  There was at least one occasion where I wanted to update my GR progress and couldn’t think of a single update that didn’t involve swearing because I was so surprised by what had just happened.  Morning Star‘s plot is brilliant; full of epic drama and exciting plot twists that meant I just didn’t want to put it down.
  • The characters: There are so many characters to love, and love them I certainly do! Sevro, of course, remains the favourite, but I also adored Ragnar, had a total soft spot for Kavax au Telemanus and Sophocles, and loved how kickass Victra is.
  • The relationships: From Sevro and Darrow’s witty back and forths to Victra’s casual flirting to the Howler initiation, Morning Star is full of funny, teasing moments between characters that had really believable, satisfying relationships.  In a book that could otherwise be so dark, the humour is surprisingly frequent, and I loved that – while the drama is still heart-pounding (and at times heart-warming and heart-breaking) the book felt epic rather than grim.
  • The world-building: From the beginning of the series, Darrow’s world has fascinated me, and with each new book we get more details about the intricate, complex world that Brown has created.  I particularly loved seeing the Obsidians, meeting Alia Snowsparrow and Sefi and seeing a bit more of Ragnar’s world.

What didn’t quite work for me:

  • Mustang: I found Mustang a little less likeable in Morning Star than in the first two books – maybe just because we had so many other awesome female characters who were more readily accessible!  I didn’t dislike her, and I certainly still wanted her to get her happy ending, I just found her a little harder to connect with than the other characters.

Something worth mentioning…

  • I’m not sure why, but it took me a little longer than I expected to get truly engrossed in Morning Star.  I’m not sure how much of that was because I was reluctant for the series to end or due to nerves that the book wouldn’t live up to my hopes (which it did!) or even that I was too excited to concentrate 100% (this genuinely happened on the first day I tried to read it) but I didn’t feel as instantly addicted as I did with the two earlier books.  Once I did get hooked, I just didn’t want to put it down, and it was every bit as gripping as I’d expected it to be based on Red Rising and Golden Son.  The question of WHY it took me longer to get hooked (whether it was the pacing of the first section, or whether it was a matter of timing/my reluctance to finish the series) is one I’ll figure out when I re-read, but I thought it was worth mentioning.  If you’ve started Morning Star and aren’t instantly hooked, rest assured you will be soon!

Overall thoughts:

I had to think for a while on the ending of Morning Star and whether it was satisfying, but ultimately I’m very happy with it – it wasn’t what I expected, but the more I thought about it the more I realised I couldn’t think of anything I would have found more satisfying!  Now that it’s all over, I’m confident in saying Red Rising is one of the best trilogies I have ever read.  I adored Red Rising and Golden Son and have been pushing the books on friends and family even more than usual since reading this truly awesome finale.

If you’re looking for something light and fluffy, this is definitely not the book for you. If you’re looking for an awesome plot, kick-ass characters and a fantastically built world then this is absolutely the book for you – just be prepared for an emotional rollercoaster too!

Other Reviews of Morning Star: Stephanie’s Book Reviews | Rabid Reads | Star-Crossed Book Blog

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Review: The White Rose (Amy Ewing)

Review: The White Rose (Amy Ewing)The White Rose by Amy Ewing
Series: The Lone City #2
Published by Walker Books, Limited on 1-10-2015
Genres: Dystopia, Fantasy, Love & Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 320
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Amazon
Goodreads

Violet is on the run. After the Duchess of the Lake catches Violet with Ash, the hired companion at the Palace of the Lake, Violet has no choice but to escape the Jewel or face certain death. So along with Ash and her best friend, Raven, Violet runs away from her unbearable life of servitude.

But no one said leaving the Jewel would be easy. As they make their way through the circles of the Lone City, Regimentals track their every move, and the trio barely manages to make it out unscathed and into the safe haven they were promised—a mysterious house in the Farm.

But there’s a rebellion brewing, and Violet has found herself in the middle of it. Alongside a new ally, Violet discovers her Auguries are much more powerful than she ever imagined. But is she strong enough to rise up against the Jewel and everything she has ever known?

The White Rose is a raw, captivating sequel to The Jewel that fans won’t be able to put down until the final shocking moments.

SPOILER ALERT: As book 2 in a series, this review will contain spoilers for The Jewel, so stop here if you don’t want to see them!

Plot: ★★★
Characters: ★★★
Readability: ★★★★

The Story

Violet Lasting, former surrogate for the Duchess of The Lake, is running from The Jewel and the Duchess herself after being caught with Ash.  Running from the city, learning more about The Auguries and the stirrings of rebellion made for a gripping and fast-paced follow-up to The Jewel.

When I read it…

I picked this up on the 1st of October and couldn’t put it down – finished the 3rd of October 2015.

What I’d heard before I read it:

Actually very little – I downloaded a copy through Edelweiss because I can’t resist a dystopian, even though I thought The Jewel was just okay.  I tried to avoid reviews of this one because I knew this book would either make or break the series for me and I didn’t want to let anyone else’s opinions skew my own!

What worked for me:

  • The pacing: I found this fast-moving, gripping and easy to get engrossed in
  • Getting a few more answers: I was frustrated by the lack of information in The Jewel and felt it was trying too hard to be mysterious, so I liked getting some more information in The White Rose
  • Character development: Violet was less perfect and much more real feeling, and I loved getting to know Garnet & Raven more
  • The romance: The relationship between Violet and Ash is more developed, and less shallow feeling, which I definitely enjoyed

What didn’t quite work for me:

  • Ash: There were times when I liked Ash but there were also times I couldn’t stand him, and I guess I’m just not convinced by him.
  • The world-building: like in The Jewel, I still feel like maybe there’s just too many elements, and they still feel somewhat disjointed, though the information we did get definitely made this less of an issue than in the first book
  • The cliffhanger: it’s sad but true that cliffhangers feel so common now that I was looking for it – and I thought it was easy to see coming

Overall thoughts:

Overall, I enjoyed The White Rose, and I was definitely more hooked by it than I was by The Jewel, but it just didn’t wow me.  I liked the quick pacing and the storyline, but I also always had a slight feeling that something was missing.  I felt like I never truly connected with the world, and it just didn’t stand out enough for me to give it more than three stars.  I suspect I’ll end up re-reading The White Rose before the final book comes out, as I have a feeling I won’t remember all that much.

Will I continue the series?

I’ll be keeping up with the series, but the sequel isn’t one I’ll be pre-ordering or rushing out to pick up on release day.

Other Reviews of The White Rose: Ex Libris | Laura’s Little Book Blog | Feed Your Fiction Addiction

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Firefight (Brandon Sanderson)

Firefight (Brandon Sanderson)Firefight by Brandon Sanderson
Series: Reckoners #2
Published by Gollancz on 16-01-2015
Genres: Dystopia, Science Fiction, Young Adult
Length: 11 hours & 37 minutes
Source: Purchased
Amazon
Goodreads

They told David it was impossible--that even the Reckoners had never killed a High Epic. Yet, Steelheart--invincible, immortal, unconquerable--is dead. And he died by David's hand.

Eliminating Steelheart was supposed to make life more simple. Instead, it only made David realize he has questions. Big ones. And there's no one in Newcago who can give him the answers he needs.

Babylon Restored, the old borough of Manhattan, has possibilities, though. Ruled by the mysterious High Epic, Regalia, David is sure Babylon Restored will lead him to what he needs to find. And while entering another city oppressed by a High Epic despot is a gamble, David's willing to risk it. Because killing Steelheart left a hole in David's heart. A hole where his thirst for vengeance once lived. Somehow, he filled that hole with another Epic--Firefight. And he's willing to go on a quest darker, and more dangerous even, than the fight against Steelheart to find her, and to get his answers.

Plot: ★★★★
Characters:
★★★
Readability:
★★★★

 

In Firefight, we go with David, Prof and Tia to Babylon Restored, a new city in what used to be Manhattan, to face the Epic there, Regalia, and for David, to try and find answers about Firefight.

I admit, when I started Firefight that I was disappointed to find we were getting a new cast of characters – Abraham and Cody were two of my favourites from Steelheart, so not having them there on every adventure was disappointing. Combined with the fact Megan wasn’t with the gang either, I admit I was a little less enthused.

In the end, I liked the new characters we got to meet – Regalia is completely different from Steelheart, which was really interesting, and Mizzy has this infectious enthusiasm that makes her hard to dislike. Ultimately, I did miss the old gang, but once I adapted to the new group dynamic, I quite liked this one too!

The setting reminds me in some ways of the city in which the Zaltana’s live in Maria V. Snyder’s books, or the city in the Rain Wilds of Robin Hobb – although those are treetop cities. In Babylon Restored, Regalia has raised the water levels, creating a city made up of skyscrapers barely surfacing, connected by bridges. I think Rinn was spot on with saying it has a jungle vibe – the bridges, the plants and the sense of being less industrial that comes from the raised water levels and the people camping definitely made me feel that way too.

I felt like Firefight had quite a different feel to Steelheart – David’s burning with questions, there isn’t as clear a mission, no one really knows what to make of Regalia, and of course the team is different. The differences aren’t bad at all, and of course they’re necessary unless you just want the same thing twice, it’s just that I was quite attached to the first one!  For me personally, I liked the very clear mission of the first book, and there were times when Firefight reminded me a little of Jurassic Park 3 – like it was trying to ‘one up’ the danger level compared to Steelheart but instead just went a bit too far.

Buy it? This is one worth buying for me.
In a nutshell: This didn’t quite live up to Steelheart for me, but I still really enjoyed it and I can’t wait to read book 3.

Other Reviews of FirefightRinn Reads | Not Yet Read | The Book Addict’s Guide

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Steelheart (Brandon Sanderson)

Steelheart (Brandon Sanderson)Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson
Series: Reckoners #1
Published by Gollancz on 24-09-2013
Genres: Dystopia, Science Fiction, Young Adult
Length: 12 hours, 14 minutes
Source: Purchased
Amazon
Goodreads

Ten years ago, Calamity came. It was a burst in the sky that gave ordinary men and women extraordinary powers. The awed public started calling them Epics. But Epics are no friend of man. With incredible gifts came the desire to rule. And to rule man you must crush his wills.

Nobody fights the Epics...nobody but the Reckoners. A shadowy group of ordinary humans, they spend their lives studying Epics, finding their weaknesses, and then assassinating them.

And David wants in. He wants Steelheart - the Epic who is said to be invincible. The Epic who killed David's father. For years, like the Reckoners, David's been studying, and planning - and he has something they need. Not an object, but an experience.

He's seen Steelheart bleed. And he wants revenge.

Plot: ★★★★
Characters:
★★★★
Readability:
★★★★★

Despite being a huge fantasy fan, I have a confession – Steelheart is actually the first Brandon Sanderson book I’ve read.  I bought the audiobook of The Final Empire but I hated not being able to visualise how names were spelt etc, so I returned it.  I picked up Steelheart instead because the plot looked great, and there were normal names so I hoped it’d work on audio for me.  And it really, really did!

The storyDavid’s father was killed by an Epic, and ever since, he’s sworn revenge against the Epics.  The Epic who killed his father though, is none other than Steelheart, the reigning Epic, said to be invincible.  Since his childhood, David has been learning everything he can about Epics – their strengths, their weaknesses, their abilities – and now, he’s trying to convince the Reckoners, the infamous group who takes down all Epics, to let him join them.

The characters

David, our main character, is great.  Despite his protests to the contrary, he is, at heart, a geek – he’s like a walking, talking Epic encyclopaedia, and he could talk about them for hours.  He’s got drive and ambition to kill the Epics for certain, but what he’s got above all is passion, and that’s something that made it impossible for me to dislike him.  Combine that with his terrible metaphors and the fact that his point of view on the world will have you laughing out loud, and he’s a definite winner.

The Reckoners are a bit of a mixed bunch, but I really liked them.  Cody is a bit silly at times, putting on Scottish accents and talking about leprechauns and so on, but he’s a good guy, and he and Abraham, the more serious of the two, balance each other out perfectly.  They’re like Ari & Janco (Maria V. Snyder), Silk & Barak (David Eddings) or even Tyrion & Jaime (Game of Thrones) at times.  Basically, I loved them!  We also have Tia, the brains behind the operation, and Megan, the girl David can’t stop eying up, but who’s far more interested in working on the Reckoner’s mission.  Finally, the leader of the group, Prof, the guy who makes the decisions and provides the Reckoners with the tech they need to even the fight with the Epics a little.  I didn’t mind any of the other characters, but David and Cody were definitely the stand outs for me (though Megan was pretty kick-ass so points for that).

final thoughts

If you like superheroes – and really, who doesn’t? – Steelheart is definitely worth picking up.  It had action, drama, serious moments and funny ones, a little romance and a great protagonist….what more could you really need?

If you’re considering it on audiobook, I can also say that MacLeod Andrews did a great job, and since finishing Steelheart I’ve gone actively searching for other things he’s narrated (though in my head, he IS David, so I’m not sure how well that will work!).

Buy it? This one would be worth buying in my opinion.
In a nutshell: A dramatic superhero story with a great main character and plenty of funny moments.

Other Reviews of Steelheart: Rinn Reads | There Were Books Involved | Bookworm Dreams

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