Waking Gods (Themis Files #2)

Title: Waking Gods (Themis Files #2)

Author: Sylvain Neuvel

Genres: Fantasy | Science Fiction

Length: 320 pages | 3393 Kindle locations

Source: Netgalley

Publisher: Michael Joseph

Publishing Date: April 6th, 2017

Rating: 4.5/5

Premise:

Kara, Vincent and the rest of the team are learning to deal with the Dr Rose Franklin who, following the events at the end of book 1, is now a completely different person.
In the meantime, a new, bigger and everyone is assuming better giant robot has landed in London. It just stands there, not moving at all, but what could this mean?
And who will make the first move, us or them?

Review:

I had SO much fun reading this. I just love these characters and there was just enough action and humour to keep me fully invested. The science isn’t overwhelming but it’s there in case folks want to delve into that aspect, though I can’t tell how accurate it is. It was absolutely good enough to convince me.

For those who are unfamiliar with it, the book is narrated through the Themis Files – personal logs, reports, official logs, etc. So there is no narration, it’s all dialogue. This style is not for everyone but I absolutely loved it, as I had in the first book. It makes the book so dynamic and gives the reader a chance to connect more with the characters.

I wasn’t too keen on the Boogeyman and Mother Goose codenames and I have to admit I need to reread Mr Burns’ explanation cause I didn’t fully get it at the time. Also, I found that trying to explain the nameless man’s past totally took away his appeal and didn’t even satisfy my curiosity because I found none of that enough to explain that character but despite these things I still do not hesitate to round this up to 5 stars because it was utterly amazing.

I don’t want to spoil the story for you so I won’t comment on that but do know that you need to read the first book of the series first or this won’t make sense.

I highly recommend this to anyone and look forward to the third book of the series.

Disclaimer: I would like to thank the publisher and Netgalley for providing me a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Read from May 14th to May 17th, 2017
GR Review

The Abscission Zone

Title: The Abscission Zone

Author: Samuel Muggington

Genres: Science Fiction

Length: 338 pages | 4944 Kindle locations

Source: Netgalley

Publisher: Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA)

Publishing Date: December 30th, 2016

Rating: 1.5/5

Premise:

A couple of scientists stumble upon a plot for plants to take over Earth.

Review:

This is one of the rare cases where I wished I had looked up the reviews or even just the ratings for a book before I requested it. The blurb sounded so interesting that I just couldn’t resist.

Instead, I got one of the worst character building I have read, if not the worst, and a story that didn’t make much sense.
And the writing… Boy. At times it felt like a pre-teen wrote this book. It was just so underdeveloped.

I cannot begin to tell you how much these characters annoyed me. Every single one of them wanted to do bad things to everyone they came across. And they are such bad-asses in their own minds.

Examples:

Arnie (the boss): I wish you knew my pet name for you: “Dock the Dork.”
Dock: I don’t want to brag but I do know more about plants than almost anyone alive does.
Texie: After I kick that thing’s ass, I am going after you, you stupid (…) asshole. No one pushes me around like this.

And there is so, so much more.

These scientists talk and act nothing like scientists. The first couple of lines of the book were a hint: Texie Raynott raised her eyebrows as she stared into the microscope. Green stuff in cancer cells? That can’t be right. Stuff… That didn’t sound very scientific.

Throughout the first part of the story, random scientific-ish stuff is thrown out there but it feels more like it is meant to show the author did some research about plants because the characters constantly act like hormonal teenagers, kicking everyone’s ass, despite Dock’s constant ‘who knew I was going to die like this’ lines every time he comes across a particularly dire situation.

Some descriptions were quite entertaining and even pretty, but that is about it.

Then in the second part everything changes because for some reason people are able to travel to Mars and actually build a colony there with just 12 people. Things don’t improve much in terms of characters, they still act like teenagers, constantly throwing tantrums, pissed off at something or someone all the time, and think the world of themselves. Back on Earth, freaky assassin plants are replaced by freaky mutations and there are a few changes to human society, but there is no depth to anything, bizarre stuff is just thrown out there, for no apparent purpose other than surprise and enthrall the reader.
It didn’t work.

The book ends with many questions unanswered, so I imagine there will be sequel(s).
I am afraid I am not in the least curious to know what happens to Earth, Mars and least of all these characters.

Disclaimer: I would like to thank the publisher and Netgalley for providing me a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Read from April 23rd to 26th, 2017
GR Review

Life

Life

Rating: 2.5/5

From IMDB:
A team of scientists aboard the International Space Station discover a rapidly evolving life form, that caused extinction on Mars, and now threatens the crew and all life on Earth.

Review:

I actually watched this movie a while ago but found it so unremarkable that I forgot to write a review.

It started out well enough and the photography was quite enjoyable, as expected. The didactic aspect of life in space is not usually portrayed in films of the sort so that was good. Although naming the alien Calvin was a bit too much, in my opinion.
The familiar environment made the team immediately grow on me and I wish the characters had been further developed. The only one that I did like was the first to die. Go figure.

However, after a point, it was bad decision after bad decision and some reactions felt so unnatural that they completely broke the pace and brought the quality of the movie well down. Also, too many developments require much too much suspension of disbelief and my disappointment only grew. Just a tiny example: the alien just happens to destroy the specific thing that causes communications to the exterior to go kaput. Whaaat??

Also, the description of the alien was creepy but beautiful and yet that thing that was described as being brain and muscle and eye in its entirety, suddenly develops a face and linear vision throughout the film. It’s like everything that was unique about the movie was absolutely wasted to make it fall into the same old clichés of amazing graphics in determent of plot.

The set-up for the ending made no sense and made me anticipate it early on. Kudos for originality but it could have been less obvious.

Alas, Life had a few pleasant surprises but overall it was an unremarkable and forgettable film.

Sleeping Giants (Themis Files #1)

Title: Sleeping Giants (Themis Files #1)

Author: Sylvain Neuvel

Genres: Fantasy | Science Fiction

Length: 304 pages | 4572 locations

Source: Netgalley

Format: Mobi

Rating: 4.25/5

 

Premise:

When she was 11-years-old, Rose Franklin fell through the earth. When she comes to, she finds herself surrounded by glowing symbols and sitting on a giant hand.
Seventeen years later scientists still don’t know what it is. Rose, now a physicist, is closer than anyone else to unveiling the mysteries.
However, what consequences will her success have?

Review:

Sleeping Giants read like mature sci-fi. It is told in the form of interviews, journal entries, reports and news articles, amongst others, so it is safe to say it is not an emotional narrative style. Personally, I loved the detached approach to the narrative and I kept wanting to know what happened next. There were moments of great excitement, suspense and awe and I had never read anything quite like it.

All interviews are conducted by a mysterious individual who orchestrated all efforts into putting together a team to solve the puzzle the book relates.
The book approaches different issues like how government handles delicate situations, work relations, religion, amongst many others.

I cannot begin to tell you how much I enjoyed the narrative style not only because it was detached but because it was subtle. We are told how things happened through different characters and different methods and nothing is repeated, although you may get different perspectives of the same event. So if you are reading something through, let’s say, an interview, there might be a news article after that and then an experiment log and you get to know everything that happened, everything relevant anyway. I appreciate that a lot.

There isn’t much more I can say without giving too much away. Even though the little we know about Mr Mysterious is that he is not military, I cannot see him condone an intimate relationship betwwen co-workers, especially given the importance of the endeavour. I just did not find that believable. Still, I thought the plot was well constructed and this was a surprisingly character-driven story, which is quite unusual, at least from other sci-fi books I read. While the style is not for everyone, I for one enjoyed it very much and recommend it.

Disclaimer: I would like to thank the publisher and Netgalley for providing me a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Read from Feb 14th to Feb 17th, 2017
GR Review

A Collapse of Horses

Title: A Collapse of Horses

Author: Brian Evenson

Genres: Horror | Paranormal | Science Fiction | Short Stories

Length: 220 pages | 2683 locations

Source: Netgalley

Format: Mobi

Rating: 4/5

Premise:

A varied short story anthology.

Review:

What a wonderful collection of short stories. They manage to be thought-provoking, engaging and entertaining.

Overall they were quite disturbing, exploiting the darkest corners of the human mind, and really got under my skin. Some struck me as almost psychedelic and/or nightmarish. They were not only quite philosophical but also just plain insane and my oh my there were so many types of insanity.

As in all anthologies there were stories I liked better than others and there’s always the feeling of disappointment when I finish a story that is just too short or unresolved, but if you are a fan of the genre and don’t mind your mind being turned into jelly I am sure you will enjoy this.

Disclaimer: I would like to thank the publisher and Netgalley for providing me a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Read from Jan 21st to Jan 25th, 2017
GR Review

Dreams Before the Start of Time

Title: Dreams Before the Start of Time

Author: Anne Charnock

Genres: Science Fiction | Speculative Fiction

Length: 224 pages | 2911 Locations

Source: Netgalley

Format: Mobi

Rating: 3.5/5

Premise:

A family saga spanning five generations revolving about the future of fertility in a very near-future world.

Review:

Dreams Before the Start of Time had my head spinning. It is quite an epic book, spanning five generations. It is not a particularly easy read as it goes back and forth in time and switches characters quite often.

I don’t even know what to say about its content cause there is just so much going on and at the same time not much. We are shown snippets of several characters’ lives, at different points in their life. We meet them as babies and adults and as the narrative advances we get the view them differently but they still have their voices.

Sadly I was unable to connect with the characters. Also, the writing made me uncomfortable, as each chapter or even subchapter ended very abruptly.

However, I did enjoy the sci-fi elements. I especially enjoyed that everything felt like it could happen soon. It is not distant sci-fi as most of the stuff out there. And crazy as it may seem the stuff that comes up during the narrative made me wonder why I hadn’t thought of that before because it could totally happen.

It is a special book indeed. I just wish I could have connected more with the characters and that the narrative didn’t feel so disjointed all the time. Rounding it up because there is so much food for thought and for the originality of the concept, but it is a solid 3.5 for me.

Disclaimer: I would like to thank the publisher and Netgalley for providing me a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Read from Jan 12th to Jan 16th, 2017

GR Review

Fungoid

Title: Fungoid

Author: William Meikle

Genres: Horror | Science Fiction

Length: 177 pages | 2401 Locations

Source: Netgalley

Format: Mobi

Rating: 4.5/5

Premise:

It came in the rain. When the drops fell, people scratched madly as if burned. But that was only the beginning.

Review:

Wow, what a ride! Fungoid was a really pleasant surprise. I didn’t know William Meikle and I am so happy to have discovered him. It is amazing what the author was able to do with such few pages. And just when you think you have read every possible scenario of the Apocalypse, this sure takes a new enough spin on things.

I absolutely loved the prose. It was simple, straight to the point and incredibly eerie:

(…) they were met with deathly silence punctuated only by the sound of moisture dripping from the dead brown branches of the trees.

The tension was palpable and as the narrative evolved, the impending sense of doom was keen on crushing all hope of beating this horrible thing. The evolution of this menace, what it does to the world around the characters and how they react is so well achieved. Just when you think it cannot get worse… It does. Absolutely dismal. You just don’t know if anyone is going to make it.

At first I thought there were too many characters but as the story moved on the main ones came together and the way it was done was really cool. The main strength of the narrative is not exactly the characters so I was happy to find that what I read of them satisfied me, and their development was quite realistic.

There were only a couple of things that bothered me here and there, things that I either wished had been better explained or just felt cheesy/too easy, but overall this was a really fast, creepy read and I will be dreaming of spores for sure.

Disclaimer: I would like to thank the publisher and Netgalley for providing me a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Read from Dec 31st 2016 to Jan 1st, 2017

GR Review