The Circle

The Circle

Rating: 2.5/5

From IMDB:

A woman lands a dream job at a powerful tech company called the Circle, only to uncover a nefarious agenda that will affect the lives of her friends, family and that of humanity.

Review:

This movie confused the heck out of me, particularly Emma Watson’s character. I don’t understand how someone who obviously valued her privacy so much, with her lonesome kayaking and small circle of friends, could vouch for The Circle’s ideas and even promote them. Every time I thought she was having second thoughts she showed she was actually buying into all that stuff. That made the events towards the end feel anti-climatic, as there was no actual progression.

It saddens me to see such a great actress as Emma Watson in a role like this. I guess she did a terrific job with what she was thrown. Tom Hanks was superb as usual. Ty and Annie’s characters were the only ones that felt real in the middle of all those hollow-minded, social media obsessed people so they were okay as well, though fleeting. Most of all, it was quite a mess and I could not relate because no one seemed to see what was obvious to me – the question of invasion of privacy and why that would be bad – not even the main character!

The Circle succeeds in making us think what if in a very bumpy ride where not everything needed to be there and certainly not in the way it was presented.
Even when things start to get interesting and we begin to grasp the immensity of the consequences of what is being done, the conclusion is incredibly rushed and there is no proper resolution.

I had been looking forward to this quite a lot but ultimately left the theatre room disappointed. Still, with food for thought, which is not so bad.

Hangman’s Army (Lake of Sins #3)

Title: Hangman’s Army (Lake of Sins #3)

Author: L.S. O’Dea

Genres: Fantasy | Horror | Paranormal | Post-apocalyptic | Speculative Fiction | Thriller

Length: 565 pages | 7940 locations

Source: Author

Format: Mobi

Rating: 4/5

Premise:

Book 3 of the Lake of Sins takes place four years after the events of the previous one. While High Hugh Truent was in prison for claiming that all classes were genetically similar, the world outside changed radically. A war is looming… and the allied classes need Hugh.

Review:

When I first looked up the book details I thought whoa, 565 pages, that is going to take me a while. But it went by so fast! I never imagined I would finish in just three days.

I cannot say this enough, L.S. O’Dea is such a talented writer. The pace is relentless but that does not mean that the world and character development is not satisfying, on the contrary. There is a lot going on but it is quite easy to follow and it only made me want to know what happened next.

It’s a YA book, not my favourite genre, so there will always be things I don’t particularly like as the characters end up sounding too dramatic for my taste. Trinity ticked me off a few times but I enjoy to see her keep growing.

There were quite a few repetitions – a lot of disgusted looks, for instance, and the way Hugh kept correcting mother to Sarah and father to General Truent when he found out the truth just felt forced and overdone, just like the excessive compliments on both Trinity and Hugh. I feel that their actions say enough, we don’t need to be told several that Trinity is brave and honest, even through the voice of another character, or that Hugh really doesn’t want more deaths on his conscience.

All in all I had a really good time reading this. Some parts made me laugh out loud, which earned me quite a few puzzled looks on the bus ride home, while others had me biting my nails. Some scenes were just so tense that I figuratively stood on my toes.

I can honestly say this is amongst the best YA reads I have stumbled upon and encourage you to pick up these books. This series has all the ingredients to become an epic.

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

Read from Jan 25th to Jan 28th, 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

We Like You So Much and Want to Know You Better

Title: We Like You So Much and Want to Know You Better

Author: Dave Eggers

Narrator: Dion Graham

Genres: Contemporary | Short Story | Speculative Fiction

Format: Audiobook

Length: 46m 36s

Source: Promotion on Amazon

Rating: 3.5/5

 

Premise:
Mae is lucky enough to get a job in a major company.
Soon she will find out that the job comes with strings attached.

Review:

This was a thought-provoking story about the impact of the media in our daily lives and how far our employers may demand us to go.

However, the main character was extremely bland.

When the agenda becomes clear, she completely loses interest, providing one or two word replies and relinquishing any sense of personality.

Some things did not seem plausible and the ending felt rushed but this is definitely a frightening glimpse of the future because it feels like it could be real.

This is free on Audible and I enjoyed the narration so I do recommend it.

Listened to on Nov 28th, 2016
GR Review

City of Endless Night

Title: City of Endless Night

Author: Milo Hastings

Genres: Dystopia | Science Fiction | Speculative Fiction

Length: 256 pages

Source: Purchased

Format: Paperback

Rating: 4.5/5

Premise:

After the first world war, Germany evolves to an underground, impenetrable city that the world outside keeps trying to defeat. One young man does not understand why such a war as gone on for over a century and will do anything in his power to change it. Going on this adventure will allow him more insight on such a society than anyone thought possible.

Review:

I have to admit I struggled with the writing on this one. This is completely different from anything I have read. The book was written in 1919 and I found the prose difficult to understand at times (English is not my native language), quite contained and very matter of fact. Yet, I still felt engaged. The book has strong politic and socialist components but it leaves room for more humane assessing as well. There is a bit of romance and enough tension of all sorts to want to keep reading.

However, right from the beginning there were things that irked me, namely how everything came together for our main character. As the narrative initially developed, things seemed to fall into place much too easily for him. He enters this world by taking the place of a dead guy who looks just like him and who happens to have his own personal biography in his pocket, after having had a life experience that would allow him to succeed brilliantly at his new persona. And everyone just assumes his lack of memory is due to gas poisoning. I don’t understand, was no testing done at the hospital to see he had indeed not been poisoned by gas? What about his tanned complexion? And he had to have an accent, even if he learned German from the age of 7. The guy admitted his vocabulary was more technical than anything! And then the right people seem to come across his path so easily as well, just the ones he needs, and who just spill their true thoughts to such a stranger, even though no thoughts are really allowed there.
All these questions and others bothered me throughout the story.

But the fact is it is a very disturbing one. The Germany described here is nightmarish in its potential to become real at that time. This book is astoundingly futuristic, in a way that I could not help but think how it all must have inspired Hitler. I mean, I was never much of a fan of History, but it seemed like the guy tried to replicate much of what went on here. That is so terrifying.

Although there were quite a few plot holes and I found the development of the story too easy for our main character, this is an amazing classic that everyone should definitely read at least once in their lifetime. Having just finished it, I am still chilled.

Read from Aug 28th to Sep 4th, 2016

GR Review

Equilibrium

Equilibrium

Rating: 3/5

Premise:

From IMDB:
In a Fascist future where all forms of feeling are illegal, a man in charge of enforcing the law rises to overthrow the system.

Review:

By now, dystopian societies where people are not allowed to feel for the greater good is no longer a new concept. This movie came out 14 years ago though, so I can only assume it was pretty new back then.

Still, having that in mind, it was not very entertaining. Some plot twists made no sense while others were predictable, and there were situations where the main character put himself that there is absolutely no chance he could not get caught in such a society. He was allowed to do those things for much too long, for the sake of the narrative evolving to where it did. Even the new sort of martial art of fighting/shooting was quite beautiful and yet there is no way trained soldiers would just wait in line to be shot like that.

Equilibrium presents itself as a blend of Fahrenheit 451 and The Matrix and if you are big on action movies you will probably enjoy it. As I mentioned, some scenes really are capable of dazzling you. However, I do felt the plot could have been polished much, much more and in the end it was just another cool sci-fi, action movie. Extra points for the newness of the concept at the time and Bale’s performance, but that’s about it.

Dark Matter

Title: Dark Matter

Author: Blake Crouch

Genres: Fantasy | Mystery | Science Fiction | Speculative Fiction | Thriller

Length: 342 pages | 4988 locations

Source: Blogging for Books | Negalley

Format: Mobi

Rating: 3/5

Premise:

After a series of strange events, a man finds himself in a reality he does not recognize. As he puzzles pieces together, he finds out the terrifying truth.

Review:

Well, it is hard to review this book without giving away spoilers, but I will try my best.

Dark Matter could have been an amazing book. I really wanted to love it. However, there were a couple of things that made me not love it:

1. A large part of my enjoyment depends on the gradual discovery of what is happening, and here I figured out within a few lines what the main character did only at 42% of the book. As the events ensue, the narrative is filled with action interspersed by mental monologues of this character, trying to make sense of what happened. Throughout the whole thing I was like… ‘Really? You still haven’t figured it out? That’s the direction you’re going?’ It was quite frustrating.

2. The perfection. Jason and his life are much too perfect. He is a very good man who has never done anyone any harm, he has great stamina even though he is a teacher and it is implied he does not exercise, and he makes odd choices such as if you are short on money and have no idea how to get more do you prefer to spend it on a hotel room or save it for food? while other times he is extremely brave. His wife is perfect. His son is perfect. His job is not that perfect but he can deal with it because as long as he has his family he is perfectly happy.
So yes, all the perfection bothered me and I could never connect to the main character. However, I do get that it is a major point of the book, to make you value what you have and so what ticked me off will surely not bother other readers.

3. Some things just did not add up and here I cannot go without spoilers. The main thing was, if Jason 2 had four times the ampoules he had, doesn’t that mean he would have generated approximately that many more versions of himself? And yet that was never addressed, I never found out why it only happened with the narrator. Also, how the heck did Jason2 manage to send him to his world if the ‘driver’ chooses which world he or she ends up in?

Still, the story was intriguing enough and I wanted to keep reading. Right about the time where Jason figures out what is going on things improve by a lot. I was actually surprised and the descriptions were very enthralling. At times there was a parallel narrative which was also quite interesting and I kind of wanted to know more about that.

Even so, the way the story developed kept leaving me uncomfortable. The first time I didn’t know how the box or the drug worked worked so I kept wondering why they were walking so far away and were not afraid of not being able to get back. Then I knew well ok the box stays there and they have the drug but what if someone finds the box? What if the military finds out it? These questions and others kept gnawing at the back of my mind and I supposed helped me from fully enjoying the story.

So in the end I found Dark Matter entertaining but lacking. I still recommend it, though, and it is one of those books that makes for a great discussion.

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

Other info:

Read from Aug 14 to Aug 22, 2016
GR Review