Obsidio Book Review

obsidioTitle: Obsidio
Series: Illuminae Files #3
Authors: Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff
Illustrator: Marie Lu
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers
Publish Date: March 13, 2018
Genre: Young Adult – Science Fiction
Pages: 615
Format: Hardcover

Kady, Ezra, Hanna, and Nik narrowly escaped with their lives from the attacks on Heimdall station and now find themselves crammed with 2,000 refugees on the container ship, Mao. With the jump station destroyed and their resources scarce, the only option is to return to Kerenza—but who knows what they’ll find seven months after the invasion?

Meanwhile, Kady’s cousin, Asha, survived the initial BeiTech assault and has joined Kerenza’s ragtag underground resistance. When Rhys—an old flame from Asha’s past—reappears on Kerenza, the two find themselves on opposite sides of the conflict.

With time running out, a final battle will be waged on land and in space, heroes will fall, and hearts will be broken. 

I. Loved. This. Whole. Trilogy.

This whole book was a whirlwind of emotions: anxiety, fear, anger, happiness, sorrow, joy, you name it, I probably felt it. The only thing that could’ve made it better was it actually playing out like a movie in front of my eyes because Jay and Amie brought the visuals again (literally and literary [ha, see what I did there?]) and I couldn’t have asked for a better conclusion to a trilogy. And as this is the third book, there will probably be spoilers ahead.

Alright, so, where to even begin?

After the events of Gemina, I wasn’t sure what to expect from Obsidio when it came to the plot because how could it possibly live up to that? Well, it brought on another level of many questions and action that had me on the edge of my seat from the beginning.

We’re introduced to two new main characters: Asha and Rhys. They were once star-crossed lovers, so to speak, and so totally in love, but events caused them to be separated by time and space (literally), and one went to become a medical intern (Asha), while the other got shipped to military school and went to work for BeiTech (Rhys).

Now as this was the third book, there was a lot going on. I don’t know that I’m as attached to these to as I am to Nik and Hanna, but I still loved their characters. They were just trying to each do their jobs, to look humanity in the face and question it, and to really put to the test about morality and how the decisions you make can really affect everything around you.

Asha is Kady’s older cousin and a strong, brave woman. She’s pretty ordinary, but she has a fierce love for others and she isn’t about to put up with anyone’s bullshit when it comes to that love. I loved one of the lines in one of the surveillance footage chapters where it says how she doesn’t have anything special about her like Hanna and Kady do, which probably makes her the bravest of all – and, frankly, I have to agree. She’s not a martial arts or tactician like Hanna, or a computer whiz like Kady; she’s just a young woman trying to survive on a planet much too unforgiving with people even more unforgiving than that.

And then we have Rhys who’s a tech whiz from the spaceship Magellan with the perfect quiffed hair that seems to defy all laws of physics. The part about him that I loved the most is that he never stopped questioning the morality of what was happening on the planet Korenza IV. He never stopped asking why the BeiTech soldiers did what they did, why they killed for some stupid reasons, etc. I think that even though he was a trained military soldier, he was still so fresh and human compared to the other BeiTech soldiers that it pushed some other characters to really reflect on their own decisions.

When they managed to work together despite their past, they really managed to do so well. I liked their dynamic and how one was looking out for the other while also trying to look out for others.

And then we have everyone else that was important coming back full force and there was a lot of death, a lot of pain, but so much to look forward to.

Kady and AIDEN were two of my favorite aspects of this story, in particular. AIDEN is actually one of my favorite characters in any series, and he’s an AI system. A monster. And I can’t help but feel attached to him because despite all of that, he was still… human. It’s hard to explain, really, but his character was one of the best I’ve read. And Kady was fighting so hard and showing that she wasn’t going to back down for anything, even the few times that AIDEN showed how unstable he was and how weak he was becoming.

Nik, Hanna, Ezra, and Ella were all key players in this story, as well, but not as much as in previous books (obviously, because we had two new main characters). There were a few times that they brought a lot of humor to tense situations, which I found to be a nice buffer in all of the chaos.

Also, shout out to Dr. Isaac Grant for being the best dad ever and caring not just for his own daughter, but for all of our main heroes aboard. My heart. It weeps.

Okay, but the plot? ACTION. PACKED. Like I seriously felt like I didn’t have a break from someone being shot or yelled at or AIDEN being all “I am a monster,” or anything because holy crap, this plot moved fast. But like, it was a good kind of fast like the other two books. It encompassed so much in its 600+ pages that my brain is still wrapping around it. There was a lot of death and destruction, yes, but there were also moments of tenderness, of grief, of solitude and togetherness, of mutiny and anger. There was so much wrapped up into this plot that I felt so much a part of it.

I think that’s one of the main reasons I loved this trilogy so much. It really brings you into the story – and not just because the formatting of the book is awesome and very visually stimulating, but also for its characters and the lives they’re trying to lead.

Overall, this book was a great conclusion. I didn’t know how it was going to end. There were twists and turns, places where I gasped, where I wanted to cry, where I was shocked, laughed out loud, angry. It brought out a whole well of emotions, and I’m beyond happy I read it.

As for the trilogy itself, it’s become one of my all-time favorites. From page one of book one it’s had me hooked. I can honestly say that this series is one I would recommend to anyone, especially if they’re look for a visual stimulating, high stakes, whirlwind of an adventure.

If you haven’t read this trilogy yet, what are you doing?

I rated this book 5/5 stars, and this trilogy 5/5 stars.

Gemina Book Review

geminaTitle: Gemina
Series: Illuminae Files #2
Authors: Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff
Illustrator: Marie Lu
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers
Publish Date: October 18, 2016
Genre: Young Adult – Science Fiction
Pages: 659
Format: Hardcover

Moving to a space station at the edge of the galaxy was always going to be the death of Hanna’s social life. Nobody said it might actually get her killed.

The sci-fi saga that began with the breakout bestseller Illuminaecontinues on board the Jump Station Heimdall, where two new characters will confront the next wave of the BeiTech assault.

Hanna is the station captain’s pampered daughter; Nik the reluctant member of a notorious crime family. But while the pair are struggling with the realities of life aboard the galaxy’s most boring space station, little do they know that Kady Grant and the Hypatia are headed right toward Heimdall, carrying news of the Kerenza invasion.

When an elite BeiTech strike team invades the station, Hanna and Nik are thrown together to defend their home. But alien predators are picking off the station residents one by one, and a malfunction in the station’s wormhole means the space-time continuum might be ripped in two before dinner. Soon Hanna and Nik aren’t just fighting for their own survival; the fate of everyone on the Hypatia—and possibly the known universe—is in their hands.

But relax. They’ve totally got this. They hope.

Guys.

Guys.

I LOVED this sequel. I can’t believe I waited so long to pick it up because I remember loving the first book so much that I couldn’t wait for this one to come out.

Well, here I am, sobbing into the void that is Gemina because wow, was it amazing. As this is a sequel there might be minor spoilers, but I’ll give you my general thoughts about a few things, but just know that you should definitely read this book to find out all of the things that happen!

Okay, let’s talk about the aesthetics of the book before I jump into anything else. Like the first book, Illuminae, Gemina‘s pages were filled with files and chats and pictures that encompassed the story from different points of view, and I think that that really helps you to get into the story. Seriously, the format with which the pages are in just bring this storytelling to a whole new level. I especially loved toward the end of the book the dual perspectives. That’s all I’m going to say about that because I thought it was SO cool and very well done.

Now, for the main characters we have Hanna, the Commander’s daughter, the “Princess” of the ship, if you will, and Nik, a criminal who lives with a family of criminals. Hanna, I thought, was actually not like I was expecting her to be as the story progressed. I was expecting a sex-driven, gets-what-she-wants, piss-poor attitude of a girl, but instead what I got was a sassy, funny, strong, unafraid-to-kick-ass girl with military and martial arts training, who did have a sex drive, but it wasn’t the focal point of her character. Many times I was surprised by her wit and comebacks and I loved that about her. As the story progressed, I could see her struggle with the situation unfolding around her, but that never stopped her from trying to do what needed to be done.

Nik was also not what I was expecting, either. Yeah, he was kind of a smartass like I was expecting, but even through his sexual flirting he had a heart of gold, and let’s be honest, who doesn’t love that in the “bad boy?” I wasn’t as surprised with his character and his development, but I still found that his family-oriented pride was really in the right place, and that he was willing to do anything for those that he deemed family or those he deemed close.

There were also important side characters, too, such as Dr. Grant, Ella, Jackson, and the BeiTech SpecOps people, and I found each of their character unique and compelling and hiding so many facets that I wanted to see uncovered throughout the story – especially those of Ella and Jackson, and I was not disappointed.

Ella, especially, was my favorite side character. She’s a 15-year-old hacker genius who was disabled due to a plague, but her dad spent a fortune on the best medicine and medical treatment he could to save her (she’s Nik’s cousin, so the family thing is also on her side). She’s super sassy and smart and so not putting up with anyone’s bullshit when it comes down to it, and I love that about her.

The story was action packed from pretty much beginning to end. Not only were there human threats and space-type threats, but there were also parasitic threats. Like. Creepy parasitic threats that will give you the creeps kind. Honestly, I thought that was a nice touch and really expanded upon this being a science fiction novel. Plus the way they were written was believable for the setting that they were in, which I thought really sold it. They also just added to the atmosphere of “oh shit we really need to save these people now.”

We get some surprises throughout the story that I had to dig into my memory banks to remember because it’s been forever and a day since I read Illuminae, but OMG THE PLOT TWISTS. When I read certain scenes, I felt myself confused and trying to click what exactly happened when I read it, and then something happened later and it clicked and I was mind blown. Seriously. This book had so many twists and turns, and I’m usually pretty good at catching onto those things early on in books, but this one? Not so much, which I thought was executed really well.

I was on the edge of my seat reading this book to the point where when I reached a certain scene in the book, I literally couldn’t stop reading. I finished this in practically one day and I have no regrets about it. It was fast paced, heart wrenching, mind blowing, fun, and there is so much to look forward to in the final book of this trilogy that I cannot wait to start reading it.

Overall, I highly recommend this second book and I rate it 5/5 stars.

Scarlet Book Review

scarletTitle: Scarlet
Series: The Lunar Chronicles #2
Author: Marissa Meyer
Publisher: Square Fish
Publication Date: February 5, 2013
Genre: Young Adult – Science Fiction, Retellings
Pages: 452
Format: Purchased Paperback

Cinder is back and trying to break out of prison—even though she’ll be the Commonwealth’s most wanted fugitive if she does—in this second installment from Marissa Meyer.

Halfway around the world, Scarlet Benoit’s grandmother is missing. It turns out there are many things Scarlet doesn’t know about her grandmother, or the grave danger she has lived in her whole life. When Scarlet encounters Wolf, a street fighter who may have information as to her grandmother’s whereabouts, she is loath to trust this stranger, but is inexplicably drawn to him, and he to her. As Scarlet and Wolf unravel one mystery, they encounter another when they meet Cinder. Now, all of them must stay one step ahead of the vicious Lunar Queen Levana.

As this is a sequel there may be spoilers.

Guys. This sequel. I was so enthralled with reading it, needing to turn the page to know what happened next, that I read it in under 12 hours. That’s right: I read it in one sitting. ME. A SLOW READER. HOW. I don’t know. But anyway, that’s not the point of this review. The point of this review is to inform you: I enjoyed this more than Cinder.

When I read the first book of the saga last year I didn’t get the hype. I don’t know what it was, but I ended up putting off this sequel for a long time as a result. And now I regret not picking it up sooner because this sequel was one that drew me in, kept me on the edge of my seat, made me laugh, go “WHAT THE HELL,” and so much more.

I knew that the fairytale retelling element in this book was all about Little Red Riding Hood. I wasn’t sure how the elements of the story were going to be incorporated into this world, but I think Marissa Meyer did a really great job of showing the elements without outright saying what it was! Scarlet (other than her name) had a favorite red hoodie that her Grandmother had given her, and then there was Wolf who had a lot of surprises and secrets of his own. I also loved seeing Cinder in there (she grew on me in this book) and seeing her work at being a mechanic and use her sass and wits in many situations. She wasn’t perfect, which I appreciated. And THORNE. I LOVE HIM.

So let’s talk about some of the things that happened, yeah?

When the book started out with Scarlet in an alleyway delivering produce from her Granny’s farm – and the fact that her Grandmother had been missing – was an instant hook for me. Scarlet had a fierce love and loyalty to her grandmother that I thought was so unseen in many YA novels, so I highly appreciated it. Scarlet has a temper which she tries to control, but sometimes it slips through her fingers and she unleashes her anger on the inanimate things around her (or people, depending on the situation). I thought it was endearing. Scarlet’s resolve to find her grandmother was inspiring, honestly. Her fierce determination was a constant in this book, even when she faced betrayal and imprisonment.

Wolf was a mystery from the start. I couldn’t place my finger on it, but something in me knew that something was going to happen for him to betray Scarlet. He wasn’t anything like the “Big Bad Wolf” that I was expecting – you know, strong, distant, cold, fearless. No, he was much more timid and wary, super cautious. But he was definitely strong, that’s for sure. When circumstances unfolded and it was revealed who and what he was, I was a) shocked, and b) in disbelief. There were so many questions running through my mind and I didn’t know how to place them.

Also, I’m forever shipping Scarlet and Wolf because they’re EFFING ADORABLE, OKAY?

Anywho, then we have Cinder who I don’t remember if I was impressed with or not in the last novel. But in this novel I felt much more attached to her, like what she was fighting for, what she was struggling with and what she wanted to do not only for herself, but for others, was purposeful and I wanted to see her achieve. I loved her sarcasm and wit, and I also liked the fact that she doesn’t have complete control over her powers, that they’re so underused that she doesn’t completely understand how to use them. And that she feels guilty when she does use them. I find that makes her realer than I was expecting. I also just love the mechanic aspect of hers because a) I love female mechanics in stories, and b) I find those scenes extremely fascinating given that she’s a cyborg and can use her own body to do so many things. It’s so cool!

And then we have Captain Carswell Thorne. I love him. That is all.

No, but seriously, he was so hilarious and charming, but he was also strong and smart in his own ways, even if he did act dumb a lot of the time. Does that make sense? Either way, I thought Thorne was kind of like the much needed comedy relief in this story? He had his uses, don’t get me wrong, but a lot of what came out of his mouth was really funny. I highly appreciated him and need more of him, thanks.

Kai was struggling so much in this novel and it makes me wonder what’s going to go down in the next two books now that he’s made a decision about something huge. I’m glad to see that he still cares about Cinder despite everything that happened and despite how much he tries to deny it, even to himself. I think that his role will become greater AND I have a theory about one of his advisors. Hmm.

I was surprised to see a chapter from Queen Levana’s point of view! It was interesting to see how observatory she is and how her mind works, even in that little snippet. I’m interested to see if we’ll see more from her point of view in the next books.

The plot of the book was centrally geared around Scarlet saving her grandmother and Cinder finding Scarlet’s mother for answers. It was fast paced and definitely upped the ante of the book. I thought that the plot of the book and the dangers within them were definitely heightened given that Cinder is now a fugitive, and that the story itself was well done. I did have some questions, though, at some points where I was like, “But why are you doing that?” that had me unsure of what I wanted to rate this. Also how things took place in only a matter of days and a few certain romantic things happened (which I’m totally fine with and was glad that even the characters acknowledged the short time span of things).

I rated this book 4.5/5 stars and highly recommend it!

Illuminae Book Review

illuminaeTitle: Illuminae
Series: Illuminae Files #1
Authors: Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: October 20, 2015
Genre: Young Adult – Science Fiction
Pages: 599
Format: Purchased Hardcover

This morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do.

This afternoon, her planet was invaded.

The year is 2575, and two rival megacorporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than an ice-covered speck at the edge of the universe. Too bad nobody thought to warn the people living on it. With enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra—who are barely even talking to each other—are forced to fight their way onto an evacuating fleet, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit.

But their problems are just getting started. A deadly plague has broken out and is mutating, with terrifying results; the fleet’s AI, which should be protecting them, may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady hacks into a tangled web of data to find the truth, it’s clear only one person can help her bring it all to light: the ex-boyfriend she swore she’d never speak to again.

Told through a fascinating dossier of hacked documents—including emails, schematics, military files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and more—Illuminae is the first book in a heart-stopping, high-octane trilogy about lives interrupted, the price of truth, and the courage of everyday heroes.

This book was fantastic! From the formatting to the story, the characters, everything was just brilliant and it quickly became one of my top three favorite books I’ve read this year.

I didn’t know what to expect when I first when into the book because I knew the format was extremely different to any other book I’ve read before as it’s told in IMs, case files, video surveillance logs, fancy font designs, etc., but wow. I think the format of the book really helped to tell the story and enhance what was being told and happening to the characters as they tried to live another day.

The format was pretty seamless, going from one form to another in the next “chapter” and each time it would be a different voice or character and it made feel as though I was in that world and experiencing what the characters were. Bravo to the authors for coming up with the idea!

The plot itself was one we’ve probably heard a bunch of times when it comes to science fiction: a rogue AI (Artificial Intelligence) goes rogue and the people have to stop it from destroying everything. I think that the way in which it was delivered, though, was extremely effective and allowed immersion with the story. It went through heartbreak, survival, grief, bravery, and it talked about disease, making the right call, and belief in yourself. It was delivered really well and it kept me on my toes and needing to turn the page to know what happened next. (I literally read this in one sitting. A nine hour sitting, but one sitting nonetheless.)

Kady Grant is a seventeen year old computer hacker who plays off like she’s indifferent and cold, but she really is trying to push her feelings down so they don’t interfere with what she needs to get done. She doesn’t accept a lot of things that happen during this journey, but toward the end she comes to the realization of so many things and I think that her heartbreak really broke my own heart. But through it all she was brave, willing to try the next thing, to put a stop to whatever the people in charge aboard both the Alexander and Hypatia were trying to do. I thought that she went through a great arc of character growth and that she showed resilience when it was needed, fear, grief, determination. She was truly an inspiring character.

Ezra Mason is an eighteen year old guy who just wants to get his life back together and talk out things with Kady and make things up to her. But when everything goes to shit on their planet Kerenza IV, he gets enlisted as a flight pilot aboard the Alexander. I loved Ezra so, SO much. He was funny, sarcastic, always had a joke to tell. I was so heartbroken during some of the conversations that were had regarding him, but also laughing out loud during some of the conversations he had with others. He seriously made me so happy. He was willing to take risks, willing to help out wherever he could, and he was strong through a lot of it.

AIDAN, the AI system aboard the Alexander, was a character I didn’t think I would grow so attached to. He was essentially the main “villain” in this story, and as such, I was expecting to hate him. It. Whatever. It was always saying it was trying to protect the people when it killed them, or that it was being merciful, or that it made the decisions it made within the protocols that were set for it. And, well, I could see that it tried. It really, really did. I knew that the intentions it had weren’t inherently bad ones, just the execution of them was. It was a character that I wanted to yell at and shake and hurt, but then it became a character I cried over, a character I cared about so much that I felt sorry for it rather than angry. I found that these moments were so powerful and profound that I had to stop and absorb it all.

That’s not to say that what happened aboard all of the ships were good things. In fact, quite the opposite, especially in the last quarter of the book, but I found that I was still so invested in all of the characters, even the ones that had made shorter appearances than others throughout the book. It was so fun, so heartbreaking, but so beautiful all at the same time.

There were hints of romance, which I thought were super adorable because the flirting was just… Oh man, it was funny. There were friendships and those conversations had me laughing out loud! There was correspondence, conversations had over radios and letters that went south real fast.

All in all, the formatting, the story, the characters, the language, everything used was amazing and I feel like this really deserved all the hype that it got.

I rated this book 5/5 stars and highly recommend it!

Passenger Book Review

passengerTitle: Passenger
Series: Passenger #1
Author: Alexandra Bracken
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Publication Date: January 5, 2016
Genre: Young Adult – Sci Fi/Fantasy, Time Travel, Romance
Pages: 486
Format: Purchased Hardcover

Passage, n.
i. A brief section of music composed of a series of notes and flourishes.
ii. A journey by water; a voyage.
iii. The transition from one place to another, across space and time.

In one devastating night, violin prodigy Etta Spencer loses everything she knows and loves. Thrust into an unfamiliar world by a stranger with a dangerous agenda, Etta is certain of only one thing: she has traveled not just miles but years from home. And she’s inherited a legacy she knows nothing about from a family whose existence she’s never heard of. Until now.

Nicholas Carter is content with his life at sea, free from the Ironwoods—a powerful family in the colonies—and the servitude he’s known at their hands. But with the arrival of an unusual passenger on his ship comes the insistent pull of the past that he can’t escape and the family that won’t let him go so easily. Now the Ironwoods are searching for a stolen object of untold value, one they believe only Etta, Nicholas’ passenger, can find. In order to protect her, he must ensure she brings it back to them—whether she wants to or not.

Together, Etta and Nicholas embark on a perilous journey across centuries and continents, piecing together clues left behind by the traveler who will do anything to keep the object out of the Ironwoods’ grasp. But as they get closer to the truth of their search, and the deadly game the Ironwoods are playing, treacherous forces threaten to separate Etta not only from Nicholas but from her path home… forever.

DNFed at 54%

This is actually the first book I’ve ever done a DNF for. I try my best to finish reading books, but I just couldn’t with this one, so let me explain why.

I was instantly hooked with the premise of this book. I thought, “Wow! Time traveling pirates? Cool!” And it started out much like I expected, but as I kept reading I continually found myself distracted because the writing was very long winded and I couldn’t remember what happened from one scene to the next. Bits and pieces I found interesting, but for a lot of it I couldn’t keep my attention on it. I tried to read it for over a month and made it only just past the half way mark before I put it down and haven’t picked it up since.

I found that the plot wasn’t very interesting. I was pretty bored through a lot of it because there were too many details thrown in in each chapter and I couldn’t keep a lot of it straight. I enjoyed the initial scenes of Etta on the ship, but once her and Nicholas start to get a bit further into the story, I wasn’t interested. I mean, bits and pieces intrigued me, but for the most part? Not so much.

The relationship between Etta and Nicholas was also very insta-lovey, which isn’t something I’m fond of. I mean, there are times when it can be done right, but from the moment they both saw each other it was as if they just wanted to kiss the other badly and I wasn’t feeling it. They each thought the other was attractive and they were both really into the other even if they didn’t want to admit it, and though I really like romance, I just couldn’t get into this one.

Etta seemed like she took the whole time travel thing well. I mean, she was very shocked at first, but her main priority was to go home and try to turn back time and stop her friend from dying – and to find her mom. But all of that shock seemed to wear off very fast and she just started to really take a lot of it in stride. I mean, I’m all for a strong heroine, so that’s not a huge deal, but I would’ve liked more exploration, more questioning on her part.

Nicholas was very driven to prove a lot of people wrong, which was great to see, and it was also interesting to see how the issue of race would affect the story because he is, in fact, an African American young man living in a time where they were more often than not slaves. I thought that he was an interesting character, and his reactions to certain situations were great, but I also felt he held himself back a lot. Maybe it had to do with his situation and everything, but I wished he’d have pushed a little more.

I did like the sense of mystery as to who Etta’s mother was, how she was a traveler, and what her role played in everything, and I did like it when they were back in the 1900s and Nicholas was reacting as though he was going to have a heart attack seeing all of the technology, which was funny. And I liked that Etta really strives to be the best violinist out there because I haven’t read a lot of books where that’s been a main interest to a main character.

As I stated, the story fell flat for me, as did the characters at times. I really wanted to like this one because it had such a cool premise, but I just couldn’t get into it. It wasn’t for me, but I’m sure it appeals to a lot of people, so definitely give it a chance if you’re looking for time traveling pirates and violin players.

0 star rating as this was a DNF. For me, this is the equivalent of a No Rating.