The Curing Begins… (Condition #2)

Title: The Curing Begins… (Condition #2)

Author: Alec Birri

Genres: Science Fiction | Speculative Fiction

Length: 217 pages | 3093 Kindle locations

Source: Netgalley

Publisher: Troubador Publishing Ltd

Publishing Date: January 31st, 2017

Rating: 3.5/5

Premise:

As Professor Savage’s plans become clearer, we are left wondering what exactly the next stage in this process will entail.
In the meantime, how do the actions of a dubious character 50 years back relate to Savage?

Review:

The clock goes back on book #2 of this trilogy, more precisely to the 70s.
The narrative takes place on a different country too, more specifically in Argentina.

Although I was a bit thrown back since book 1 took place in 2026, I soon got in step with it, though it again felt bumpy. I just could not seem to connect to the characters. And in this book this difficulty was augmented due to the insta-love. Goodness, how I hate insta-love.

Our main character meets a young girl who just happens to be the only good looking person in the entire village he is assigned to, and soon enough he is thinking of marrying her. The first time they kiss felt awkward and inappropriate – he is a sergeant, after all – and I felt it completely came out of the blue.
Oh and it seems it is reciprocate, though for the life of me I could not tell why, because, get this: She hesitated after a few steps and turned back to her new love interest. Who says that? And why? I get instant attraction, but love? Sorry if I sound too harsh but this kind of thing truly bums me out.

Anyway… As the story advances we get the picture that something incredibly wrong is going on. There is police corruption, poverty, naivety and a lot more. Granted, I don’t know much about Argentina, let alone in the 70’s, but I found it safe to assume that the author’s depiction was probably a fair one. I could see that stuff happening. And going on and on because, really, what are you going to do? I enjoy reading about characters who are not openly good or bad.

Then a bit before halfway through the book the narrative advances to 2026 and we are left wondering how the two timelines relate. I have to admit I was impressed, especially towards the end, when all the mind-blowing stuff is thrown at us, much as in the first book.
I did feel I did not have enough time to process or digest all the revelations. I mean, everything that they would entail is just beyond comprehension.

Even if I am not 100% fan of the books’ execution, I will definitely handle it to the author, he has an amazing imagination, and I am again left quite scared that this is actually based on his personal experiences.

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 Aug 9th to Aug 20th, 2017
GR Review

A Medical Miracle? (Condition #1)

Title: A Medical Miracle? (Condition #1)

Author: Alec Birri

Genres: Science Fiction | Speculative Fiction

Length: 210 pages | 3170 Kindle locations

Source: Netgalley

Publisher: Troubador Publishing Ltd

Publishing Date: November 18th, 2016

Rating: 3.5/5

Premise:

The last thing RAF pilot Dan Stewart remembers is burning alive in a crash.
An indefinite time later, he wakes up in a hospital where the staff is clearly hiding something and the patients seem to suffer similar injuries to Dan’s.
What exactly happened to Dan?
And can he trust his own thoughts and memories?

Review:

The first book in this trilogy is very promising.

The first part of this medical thriller is the most confusing and I found myself even second guessing whether I had read about some references Dan made previously. It was like I, the reader, was supposed to know something but didn’t so yes, quite confusing. It didn’t help that the Search function on my Kindle did not work in this book, for some reason.
On the other hand, it seemed Dan knew stuff he shouldn’t and wasn’t as dumbfounded as I was.

I thought some concepts and twists could have been introduced in a more intuitive manner and that the humour was a bit tacky at times, like when Dan asked Gary to look at his naked bottom. The way he said it could have been funny and instead it was just nonsensical.

And even though there weren’t that many characters, I found it difficult to grasp who was who during that first part, I suppose because I was so confused I found it difficult to focus.

However, as the narrative advanced, I found myself more and more interested, and wanted to know what happened next.

The novel took lots of twists and turns and just when I thought it could not surprise me any further the author kicked it up a notch.

There is plenty of food for thought here and I find it quite scary that this is based on the author’s real experience. After finishing the book I find it all so out there, and yet this makes it all seem so possible.

I recommend Condition #1 and am looking forward to the next two books.

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 July 30th to Aug 9th, 2017
GR Review

All Our Wrong Todays

Title: All Our Wrong Todays

Author: Elan Mastai

Genres: Science Fiction

Length: 384 pages | 4012 Kindle locations

Source: Edelweiss

Publisher: Dutton Books

Publishing Date: Feb 7th, 2017

Rating: 4.5/5

Premise:

Tom lives in a world quite close to what we pictured the future would be like back in the 50s. Technology is so advanced that Tom’s father actually manages to build a time machine. Tom travels back in time to witness the moment where the future began but things get so messy that when he goes back to 2016 it’s no longer his world. It’s the world as we know it. Can Tom go back and fix what he did wrong? Can he fix the past so that his world can exist again?

Review:

I had a really good time reading this. I found it refreshing that the narrator was an ordinary guy who screws up a lot and throughout the book has normal reactions, he doesn’t just turn into this amazing hero just because he is the main character of a book and needs to show evolution. So in such a bizarre scenario I actually found Tom Barren quite normal. And his sense of humour contributed quite positively to the character.

The other thing I loved about the book was the pace. You don’t just get backstory dumped, the story flows and you are there every step of the way, and there are twists quite early on, as early as a quarter into the book, if I remember correctly. Everything attests to the character of Tom and his evolution, and will sooner or later be picked back up, but at the same time you are being entertained, not just reading lengthy descriptions but actually watching stuff happen.

There isn’t much hard sci-fi until later in the book and I found the semi-explanations satisfying because, again, Tom is a normal dude, he is not supposed to know how all this works.

Towards the end I gradually lost interest both because of the hard sci-fi, Tom’s decision that it was not possible to save his world, he didn’t even try and I still don’t get why and things just got really complicated, not sure if I buy into all of it but… It still wrapped up nicely. The writing got a bit gushy for my taste but it does make sense and I was pleased.

All Our Wrong Todays is quite a ride, but a good one. There is humour, failure, different ways to deal with failure, so a lot of personal growth involved, and I have to say I got emotionally involved with the story to the point where I truly cared about what happened to the characters. At the same time it is a thought-provoking book, in more ways than one. I wish I had highlighted some passages because they would make some really nifty quotes.
You should definitely pick it up.

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

Read from Jul 23rd to Jul 29th, 2017
GR Review

Alien: Covenant

Alien: Covenant

Rating: 2.5/5

From IMDB:

The crew of a colony ship, bound for a remote planet, discover an uncharted paradise with a threat beyond their imagination, and must attempt a harrowing escape.

Review:

What on earth happened here? I find it so difficult to believe the same director was behind this movie and the original Alien.

Alien: Covenant was visually stunning but sadly lacked so badly plot-wise.

The set up of the characters were disheartening to say the list. They seem not to have one scientific bone in their bodies, save for the occasional comment scientific-ish character. There was certainly not enough to match to the original one, where Ripley just blew everyone away. I found everyone in the movie so forgettable, except for the androids.

That crew makes the most ridiculous decisions. I don’t understand why they would leave the ship without a protective suit, for one. Let alone all the silliness that ensued. They don’t seem to question anything, save for a remark of how there was absolute silence – no birds, no bugs, nothing – just thrown out there and then quickly forgotten. They just keep hiking along in search of the mysterious sign they picked up while on board the main ship.

I also did not like how the creature that burst out of the host’s chest was changed. Not only was it obviously fake but it made more sense that it would evolve from that worm-like state – it still gives me chills thinking of the discarded skin, like a snake.

The reveal at the end was beyond obvious and I really wish the movie had ended there. But sadly they had to keep it open for a sequel.

The entire movie lacked finesse, tension, build-up. In the end I enjoyed it more due to the psychological horror achieved by Michael Fassbender’s superb performance and the stunning visuals. I am fairly confident that the few glimpses I will save from this film are David’s expressions and postures.

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.