Category: Han’s Reviews

#YALC Sampler Round Up One: @MKenneyPR , @akemidawn ,@HoJay92 & @mkhanauthor

City of Dust by Michelle Kenney
HQ
Kindle– 2 October 2018
PB– 13 December 2018
Book of Fire: Review & Buy

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I fell back into this world like meeting up with a friend I’d not seen in forever. For both me and the story time has passed, but it feels like yesterday that I was racing through Book of Fire, as if the character’s chance of survival increased by my speed of reading. In the three chapter sampler, you are quickly caught up with the characters and their lives for the last year before Talia’s life is thrown a curve ball.
The sampler ends on a cliffhanger that will have everyone counting down to that release date.
For those who have yet to read Book of Fire, I suggest you get on it, post haste. It was one of my top reads for 2017 and I’ve been waiting with such anticipation for this sequel.

 

 


Summer Blue Bird by Akemi Dawn Bowma
Ink Road
Spring 2019
Starfish: Review & Buy

Summer Blue Bird

This five chapter sampler has such a powerful opening and lays down a solid foundation for what will be unfolded in 2019. From what I’ve read so far, the set up reminds me of Fly Away Home; my favourite film and worn out novelisation from when I was a kid.
It’s a testament to Bowma’s writing that I’m already attached to her characters. 

 

 

 


A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson
Electric Monkey Press
2 May 2019
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/40916679-a-good-girl-s-guide-to-murder?from_search=true

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“We dare you to put it down” states the tagline on the cover of the two chapter sampler. Believe me, I’m gutted I can’t meet that challenge. It’s short, but very effective and I already have so many questions and theories that I need more information to be certain.
There was already a buzz at YALC about this book and even from the pages I’ve had the privilege to read, I can tell this is going to be the big book for next summer.

 

 

 


Kick the Moon by Muhammad Khan
MacMillian
19 January 2019
First book: I am Thunder

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I knew nothing about Khan’s second book and I knew that I wanted it in my life. I work as an RE teacher in a diverse school in which some students feel they are almost invisible to society. Unless of course, they’re the subject of negative press. There are others who love reading, but find characters they identify with are tokens and there merely to check a box. It’s wonderful to say ‘here, you are being represented.’
Imagine my delight when I discover that the book will center around a protagonist that loves comic-book heroes. Not only is this perfect for me, I know of at least five students who will be fighting to be the first one to read it come January.

Ascension by Victor Dixen @VictorDixen

Release date: 28.6.2018
About:
Six girls, six boys. Each in the two separate bays of a single spaceship. They have six minutes each week to seduce and to make their choices, under the unblinking eye of the on-board cameras. They are the contenders in the Genesis programme, the world’s craziest speed-dating show ever, aimed at creating the first human colony on Mars.

Leonor, an 18 year old orphan, is one of the chosen ones.
She has signed up for glory.
She has signed up for love.
She has signed up for a one-way ticket.
Even if the dream turns to a nightmare, it is too late for regrets.
Pre-order here


Characters

I love Leonor. She’s a good voice to have when you’re stuck in space; she grounds you, so to speak. When you have a character like her; passionate, flawed and insightful. The way she works through the speed dating is interesting and something I easily identify with. Not only that, it adds a level of internal conflict that some narratives miss.

We learn bits about the other crew, but it’s those left on earth that are the most interesting. We have Serena, who communicates directly with the participants and becomes the ‘host’ of the broadcast. She’s a piece of work, you’ll quickly learn, but I want you to find that out for yourself.

Plot

It reads like a brilliant Sci-fi blockbuster. There are many threads in play and they change your perspective like a rubrics cube, waiting to be solved. Being the first in a trilogy, you go in knowing that you will have a resolve of some sorts, but there will be questions left unanswered to ensure you want more. It’s expertly done so that it doesn’t feel like it’s the first in a sequence, but a story in its own right.

Writing

Being a translated story, there’s always a worry that the writing loses something. This story, I’m delighted to say, doesn’t. It’s language is clean, its engaging and powerful. It makes for such a consumable, compulsive read.
I just wish I knew enough French to read the other two books in the series. Yes, they’re already published guys but you need to have progressed further than a GCSE in French to be able to access them.

If There’s No Tomorrow by Jennifer L Armentrout

Release date: 14th December 2017
Buy it here https://www.amazon.co.uk/If-Theres-Tomorrow-Jennifer-Armentrout/dp/1848456875/ref=sr_1_1_twi_pap_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1512218609&sr=8-1&keywords=if+there%27s+no+tomorrow+by+jennifer+l.+armentrout
Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34225450-if-there-s-no-tomorrow

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Description: Lena Wise is always looking forward to tomorrow, especially at the start of her senior year. She’s ready to pack in as much friend time as possible, to finish college applications and to maybe let her childhood best friend Sebastian know how she really feels about him. For Lena, the upcoming year is going to be epic—one of opportunities and chances.

Until one choice, one moment, destroys everything.

Now Lena isn’t looking forward to tomorrow. Not when friend time may never be the same. Not when college applications feel all but impossible. Not when Sebastian might never forgive her for what happened.

For what she let happen.

With the guilt growing each day, Lena knows that her only hope is to move on. But how can she move on when her and her friends’ entire existences have been redefined? How can she move on when tomorrow isn’t even guaranteed?

Characters
I don’t trust Lena as much as perhaps I should. I know she’s an unreliable narrator owing to her memory loss; however, even when she regains her memory, she isn’t just pulling away from her friends, she pulls away from the reader too.
Sebastian is a little too perfect for my liking. He’s not an undeveloped character and I doubt for a second he is that perfect. However the things we know about him are from Lena, and I’m afraid she has him on a pedestal.

Plot
The first half of the book jumps around the timeline, allowing the reader to feel the same confusion that Lena does. It’s a weird feeling, but it adds to the atmosphere of the narrative.
The plot follows in the manner as we might expect grief to; nonlinear, progressive with unpredictable pitfalls. It’s wonderful and painful.

Writing
It’s a solid, professionally written novel. So Clear and well written that could handle the time jumps; something other writers would make feel clunky and convoluted.

@TheMagicMisfits by @ActuallyNPH #bookreview #hanreview

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Egmont Publishing
Release date: 30.11.2017
From Goodreads:
This book contains a BIG SECRET. Read on if you dare . . .
Do you believe in magic?
Carter doesn’t. He knows magic tricks are just that – tricks. And as a street magician he’s also pretty good at them. But then Carter runs away from his conman uncle and he finds himself alone and in danger from dastardly carnival ringleader, B.B. Bosso. He could really use some magic now . . .
A chance encounter with the mysterious Mr Dante Vernon leads Carter to a magic shop, where he teams up with five other like-minded kids and the MAGIC MISFITS are born! Can the gang use their magical talents to save the day and stop B.B. stealing a priceless diamond?
And now for the BIG SECRET . . .
Inside this book you will find a treasure trove of tips, codes and stage tricks that will help YOU join the Magic Misfits and make some magic of your own. (BUT DON’T TELL ANYONE.)

Preorder it here https://www.amazon.co.uk/Magic-Misfits-Neil-Patrick-Harris/dp/1405290331/ref=tmm_hrd_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1511714070&sr=1-1
Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/28107444-the-magic-misfits?ac=1&from_search=true

The Characters

Carter is a moral and kind young man who even the coldest of hearts will warm to. He’s our eyes and ears into the world of magic, and he will keep you engaged from the very start to the last word. As an older reader, I take the perspective of wanting to protect him and keep him safe, to the point where I want to reach in and take him out of harm’s way. There’s little to fear though, as once the story gets going, there are enough characters that have his back.
Mr Vernon is very much my favourite adult within the book; part Dumbledore, part Neil Patrick Harris himself and just a splash of Mr Miyagi. I love that the characters allows the children to get themselves out of trouble, giving help in many different forms and taking almost no credit for it. I look forward to seeing more of him as the books progress.

The Plot

It’s a perfect origins story that has laid the foundation for any, and every, sequel Neil Patrick Harris will grace us with. In this novel, the protagonist is Carter; runaway orphan, looking for a place to call home when he gets wrapped up in the mystery of the Pock-Picketers and Frown Clowns.
The Magic Misfits, by the end of the book, have formed into a wonderful band of magicians and friends. While its ending is positive and delivers an uplifting success, it is more about the characters, and the magic.
If you’re anything like me, that uplifting feeling will not leave you; but pull you into the Mistfit’s charm and claim you as one of their own.

The Writing

Neil Patrick Harris, writing with Alex Azam has a wonderful way of breaking the fourth wall. I couldn’t help but read this in one sitting, even when I was reminded that it’s important to pee, I passed.
There’s a passion and deep-rooted love of magic and family woven into this narrative that not many people would be able to achieve without is feeling too overworked.
It’s undoubtedly an easy read for anyone reading alone and of a reading age beyond 12 years old, however I could imagine any parent taking joy in taking time reading this as a bedtime story; voices and all.

Illustrations

The pictures within this Middle-grade book are so beautiful, I really want to have some of them up as art work. They add to the richness of the story and with some aspects, help engage the imagination.

Almost Midnight by Rainbow Rowell Illustrations by Simini Blocker

Almost Midnight by Rainbow Rowell Illustrations by Simini Blocker

Buy it here

Midnights

Is a wonderfully charming story that will fit within a tube ride if you time it right. You can see where it’s going before the characters do, and this one does leave you wanting more.

I could see this being an individual story, showing a development over time. However, the snapshot of this one evening every year works well and will leave a smile on your face.

Kindred Spirits

This is my favourite of the two; it is relatable, nostalgic and totally sweet. Taking place in the run up to 2015’s release of Force Awakens the main character explores Geekdom and managing expectations.

I was a romance like the one that appears in this second short story. It’s not a sweeping gesture, but a warmth and comfort that comes with trusting a person.

This book will make a perfect Christmas gift for any fan of Rowell’s previous work.

Bonfire by @Krytenritter #bookreview #hanreview @NetGalley @Arrowpublishing @WindmillBooks

Bonfire

Release date: 9.11.17
Buy it here
Signed edition here

From Goodreads: It has been ten years since Abby Williams left home and scrubbed away all visible evidence of her small town roots. Now working as an environmental lawyer in Chicago, she has a thriving career, a modern apartment, and her pick of meaningless one-night stands.

But when a new case takes her back home to Barrens, Indiana, the life Abby painstakingly created begins to crack. Tasked with investigating Optimal Plastics, the town’s most high-profile company and economic heart, Abby begins to find strange connections to Barrens’ biggest scandal from more than a decade ago involving the popular Kaycee Mitchell and her closest friends—just before Kaycee disappeared for good.

Abby knows the key to solving any case lies in the weak spots, the unanswered questions. But as Abby tries to find out what really happened to Kaycee, she unearths an even more disturbing secret—a ritual called “The Game,” which will threaten the reputations, and lives, of the community and risk exposing a darkness that may consume her.

With tantalizing twists, slow-burning suspense, and a remote, rural town of just five claustrophobic miles, Bonfire is a dark exploration of the question: can you ever outrun your past?

Bonfire-book

My first thoughts

I’ve been itching to get a hold of a copy for months. I somehow knew it was going to be something I’d love, and I wasn’t wrong. I’d already pre-ordered a signed copy, but Net Galley UK approved my request and sent me a Kindle copy at the beginning of the week. Full of cold, I set myself on the sofa with a cuppa and a blanket, and past a whole autumnal day within Ritter’s world.

The Characters

Abby is so relatable, its rather scary. She’s a little bit of a loner, fuck up and passionate about her job. However, that’s not where the comparisons end for me. It’s Abby’s relationship with father that will haunt and sooth me for many days; the difficulty, the pain and guilt are all things I understand and help me to be drawn into the plot. It wouldn’t matter what the plot was; I’d have followed her into the depths of hell because I had her back, and many other readers will feel the same.
The supporting characters are all explored through Abby’s thoughts and memories and, as a result, you trust them as much as she does. Condor is one of my favourite characters, and I wish we’d been given more time with him. However, as Abby goes, so goes my nation.
There’s enough mystery behind a lot of the characters and it’s organic; allowing you to suspect and dismiss as the novel progresses.

The Plot

It’s a perfect slow burn plot that is set in motion way before the book begins. Being a book within the crime thriller genre, it would be easy to fall into the stereotypical pit falls or become so convoluted that it loses its readers. Bonfire escapes both of these, by giving a clever plot that will keep you guessing right up until the final reveal.

Underlying the law suit that the environmental lawyers are trying to uncover, Abby is returning home and opening up old wounds she never expected to face. It brings about a heart to the book that some crime novels of this ilk often lack.

The Writing

There’s a wonderful voice presented in this first-person narrative, one that I trust; Abby fast becomes a person I would love to get to know. The development of the plot and the sleep deprivation is well presented in the narration; without losing clarity of written structure.

This is a solid debut novel by Ritter, and I for one will be looking forward to any and all future offerings.

The Fallen Children by David Owen #bookreview

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Release Date: 4.5.2017

From Amazon: Inspired by The Midwich Cuckoos, The Fallen Children is a gripping ‘science fiction-meets-real world’ story of the teenagers who, during one inexplicable ‘Nightout’, have their futures snatched away by circumstances beyond their control. It is a story of violation, of judgement, and of young people who must fight to defy what is expected of them.

 

I am in love with this book. Not only do I want someone to wipe my memory of it so I have the joy of reading again, it’s currently in a pile of books waiting to be collected by a friend. I need everyone to read it. If this isn’t turned into a film by the end of 2018, it will be a travesty.

 

Characters
Owen presents a diverse group of teens who are so interconnected that it’s difficult to talk about one without mentioning the others.

Initially I am drawn to Morris. I’m not sure if that’s because he’s the first voice I hear or whether he is the one who has no reason to stay, but volunteers to be involved from the very start. He’s a likable character making the best of the environment he has grown up in. I admire most of the decisions he makes and even when he falters; he has the right intentions.

While it is an ensemble narrative, I can’t help but feel that Keisha is the protagonist. The other characters have her as the connecting feature, she drives at least the second part of the narrative and she’s surprisingly the one I identify and empathise with.

At first, I felt Olivia was a little underdeveloped, but then I realised that was more because she was not as connected as the other girls; reinforced by use never having narrative from her perspective. It’s quite a beautiful device, subtle and effective.

Effort has gone into making the women of this novel real. From emotions, cramps and fears; it’s all there. I know I shouldn’t be giving more credit to the author, it’s their job to make it believable. However, when Your author is a man, I think some time needs to be spent on that. Owen has crafted 3 distinct female voices and they are so authentic, if you told me they were written by a woman, I wouldn’t question it.

Plot
There’s two sections to this book and a time jump that splits the two. The true horror of the book comes in the second half.

The sci-fi aspect is so grounded in realism that, like the girls, you begin to question your perception of the story. It takes a perfect pace and is able to switch characters to propel the narrative along. The abilities gained by the girls also means that things can be conveyed in other ways.

The second half, however, sees the consequences of ‘Nightout’ comes to fruition. No one is left unaffected; even the reader. You are left questioning whether society would respond in this way. The horror comes from knowing they would.

I want more, but I don’t need it. The plot is resolved so as a reader you are satisfied, but there are questions that an imaginative mind will ask. The book holds a wealth of ideas for those inclined to write fan fiction and leaves enough questions on the tip of the brain to be invited to do so.

Writing

The writing is clean, clear and and just a hint of colloquial language. Some might say there could have been more of a distinction between voices, but I would rather have the character’s personalities and identities developed rather than a literary voice. For example, Maida is shown to be conscientious of her Islamic faith, right down to the Arabic used during prayer. It’s an intimate detail that Owen has taken care to include.

There are lessons to be learnt within The Fallen Children, but the writing places the book firmly into a place where you don’t think anything is rammed down your throat. Except for fear. There’s a whole chuck of atmosphere in this novel. Any more and I’d be placing the book in the freezer.

I can’t wait for what David Owen has in store for us next.

The Bone Season: Samantha Shannon #review

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Release date: 24.4.2014

From Amazon:

EVEN A DREAMER CAN START A REVOLUTION

Nineteen-year-old Paige Mahoney works in the criminal underworld of Scion London. Her job: to scout for information by breaking into people’s minds. For Paige is a dreamwalker, a clairvoyant and, in the world of Scion, she commits treason simply by breathing.

Summary

I love this book. I don’t know how I’m so late in reading it. I believe my best friend had told me about it many, many times. However, it went in one ear, out the other. I’m frustrated that it took me three days to read, however circumstances what they are, I kept getting ripped out of this world and into my own.

Characters

Paige
What I love about the development of Paige is the fact that nothing is made of her gender. There are comments of strength and weakness, but they are never in relation to her being female.
She is flawed, as the best heroes always are. Paige is our eyes into the world in which Clairvoyance has been declared illegal. She’s strong willed, moral (to a point) and selfless.

I love her and I can’t wait to delve into the sequels. At no point did I wish I could see the efforts of Jax, Nick et al once Paige had been taken. I felt like I was supporting her, just by being there. She had me hooked from the start and I will never leave Paige’s side so long as Shannon keeps writing.

Warden
Warden started life in my mind as a younger love child of Alan Rickman and David Warner. If I’m honest, he still remained that way, he just got younger as the book progressed. With an air of mystery, I wasn’t quite sure of him even as I closed the book.
However, his motives did seem clear as I came to the final act. Without spoiling them all I can say is Shannon excels in drip feeding believable hints that make the ending believable.
He’s someone I craved to see more and more throughout the book. I wanted him to be someone a little more than he seemed; Shannon does not disappoint.

Story

The story is artfully woven, throwing the reading readily into the world of seclusion, mythology and resentment. While there are action sequences, Shannon takes her time in building up relationships between characters.
Using whole chapters to delve into Paige’s past could, in other writer’s hands, seem clunky. However, Shannon develops these scenes and doesn’t allow the narrative to lose its flow while reading. Once you have finished the book, you will see how clever and creative these additions are to the story. Not only in terms of character, but to the plot and world building as well.
The story hints at a literary universe that will be with us for many years. Paige is for those of us who have needed something a little bit more substantial than the dystopian trilogies on offer. This story has given us enough questions to run for a series of books and perhaps be compared to that of Harry Potter and Cassandra Clare in terms of scope.
The most important aspect of this story is that it gives you a satisfying ending while leaving you with questions.

Writing

Part way through I text a friend and recommended this book to her. She loves The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothuss. I will have to relent and say this writing is better for me. The styles are similar, but Shannon is much more concise and flowing. As much as I love Rothuss myself, I have to read his work in chunks. The Bone Season would have been read in one sitting had I not been attacked by unrelenting conversations of my father.
For a story set in the future, I’m so happy that the writing still brought in an element of an old world. It drew itself back into nature. At least it did for me.
I would put this alongside Lani Taylor’s Daughter of… series too. The writing, like Lani’s, is griping, gritty and pure. It takes you to another world; something many writers would love to achieve and here is Shannon, doing so with an organic ease.

I’m very much looking forward to getting back to London so I can purchase the next two books available. I’m even ignoring my distress at having to buy the third in hardback.

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Solitaire- Alice Oseman #bookreview

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Release date: 31.7.2014

From Amazon:
In case you’re wondering, this is not a love story.

My name is Tori Spring. I like to sleep and I like to blog. Last year – before all that stuff with Charlie and before I had to face the harsh realities of A-Levels and university applications and the fact that one day I really will have to start talking to people – I had friends. Things were very different, I guess, but that’s all over now.

Now there’s Solitaire. And Michael Holden. I don’t know what Solitaire are trying to do, and I don’t care about Michael Holden. I really don’t.

This incredible debut novel by outstanding young author Alice Oseman is perfect for fans of John Green, Rainbow Rowell and all unflinchingly honest writers.

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Characters

I relate so much with Tori. She is a very pessimistic narrator and it’s rather refreshing. It’s not teen angst either, it’s something deeper. Something ineffable. Which is perfect for someone like me who has suffered on and off with depression since I was about 12. Of course, at the time I was just a ball of emotion and couldn’t articulate. It’s reassuring as a thirty-something that I wasn’t alone and that any children I teach, or my own will have this platform to explore these feelings that we initially don’t understand, but also are afraid to express.

I was a bit confused by the actions of Lucas, the childhood friend. However, having recently seen Colossal, this appears to be a thing. The old high school trick of; if they’re horrible to you, they like you. At least in Solataire it’s done in a refreshing, original way.

Michael is a solid character, although I don’t believe the bad boy persona for one second and I’m desperate for some material from his point of view. I always have to remember that I’m only getting the view of Tori and she’d not omniscient.

Story

The story for me, being a teacher, is a little farfetched. I can’t switch it off when reading. I always text my best friend once I’ve finished a book and my response when I informed her that I preferred Radio Silence was ‘I’m a teacher, if that was going on in my school I’d like to think we’d shut that shit down.’
That said, removing that I really enjoyed the organic progression of the plot and the impact the pranks of Solitaire were having upon Tori’s mental health. Having the addition of her brother was genius. Tori would perhaps have unravelled a little sooner had she not felt an obligation to keep it together for her family.

Writing

Alice Osemen gives a strong voice to Tori. Her style makes for a very quick and easy read. There aren’t cliff-hangers at the end of chapters, which is good because it is a book you could digest in one sitting.

Osemen is certainly up there with Holly Bourne and Cat Clarke not only in writing, but in her approach to issues that need to be addressed for us to have a happy, healthy and understanding next generation.

The Loneliest Girl in the Universe written by Lauren James

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Release date: 7.9.2017
Buy it here
Goodreads
Description:
Can you fall in love with someone you’ve never met, never even spoken to – someone who is light years away? Romy Silvers is the only surviving crew-member of a spaceship travelling to a new planet, on a mission to establish a second home for humanity. Alone in space, she is the loneliest girl in the universe until she hears about a new ship which has launched from Earth with a single passenger on board. A boy called J. Their only communication is via email and due to the distance between them, their messages take months to transmit. And yet Romy finds herself falling in love. But what does Romy really know about J? And what do the mysterious messages which have started arriving from Earth really mean? Sometimes, there’s something worse than being alone…

 

“I got so lucky. In what could have been the worst, most isolating time of my life, I’ve found the greatest friendship.”

As someone who loved The Martian (both the book and the film, but mainly the book) and loathed the Jennifer Lawrence led film Passengers, I did start this book with a little trepidation. Was Romy going to be a teen angsty version of Chris Pratt’s Jim?

No, no she was not. Instead she was a highly relatable person (not teen, not female. She is a character that spans ages and genders.) who is thrown into an isolated situation that she did not chose, had no training for and is doing the best she can,

Here’s were James truly gets me. There are two things that tend to disengage me as a reader; integrated fan fiction and emails to progress the plot. However, where other writers sometimes fail James uses both with precision and skill. Not only do I know I need to read them, I want to read them. The emails don’t feel like an invasion of privacy but an exploration of a blossoming friendship. It helps that Romy refers to them as part of her own inner dialogue.

I find the building relationship between Romy and J believable. The exploration of death, grief and guilt is impeccable and heart-breaking. You will want to lift Romy out from the pages and give her a hug; you’ll want to tell her she’s not alone.

There’s a sucker-punch, Alien-esque final act that puts Romy right up there with my favourite role model; Ripley. And while it takes a leaf out of some sci-fi tropes, it does not feel contrived. It also made me recall one of my favourite horrors; Urban Legend. In my head, I’m screaming “Natalie”! There’s a nostalgia to this novel that makes it strangely refreshing.

Despite the story being set in space, James addresses many problems we all face today. It’s the perfect landscape to explore the dangers of online dating, for example. In modern society people are finding it harder to meet a potential partner in an organic way. Our fear of being alone, leads us to this online forum that requires us to take a leap of faith.

Whether Lauren James intended to or not it feels like I’ve found one of the best modern allegories I’ve had the pleasure of devouring in a long time. When I return to school in September, this is the book I intend to recommend to each student in my classes with the hopes they do learn that sometimes there are sometimes worse things than being alone.

The Loneliest Girl in the Universe is available for pre-order and will be released 7th September 2017

 

Otherworld Written by Jason Segel and Kristen Miller

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https://www.change.org/p/yalc-uk-get-jason-segel-and-kirsten-miller-at-yalc-2018?recruiter=752308687&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=copylink&utm_campaign=share_petition&utm_term=share_twitter_responsive – Please sign this petition to get Jason Segel and Kirsten Miller over to the UK for YALC.

Release Date: 31.10.2017
Buy it Here
Goodreads
Description:
For fans of Black Mirror and HBO’s Westworld, and readers of James Dashner and Veronica Roth, Otherworld is the first book in New York Times bestselling authors Jason Segel and Kirsten Miller’s new YA sci-fi-thriller series. The future is now. And the future is terrifying.
There are no screens. There are no controls. You don’t just see and hear it–you taste, smell, and touch it too. In this new reality, there are no laws to break or rules to obey. You can live your best life. Indulge every desire.
It’s a game so addictive you’ll never want it to end. Until you realize that you’re the one being played.
Welcome to Otherworld, where reality is dead. Step into the future. Leave your body behind.
The frightening future that Jason Segel and Kirsten Miller have imagined is not far away. Otherworld asks the question we’ll all soon be asking: if technology can deliver everything we want, how much are we willing to pay?

“They forgot nothing real can be perfect.”

Slated for a Halloween release, I couldn’t think of a better time for this pre-dystopic world building cyber novel to enter reader’s lives. Yes, it will make for a spooky read for those inclined during the evening of trick or treat. Yes, it will make for a good Christmas present and yes, you will most likely get a copy from me for Christmas.

To write this review I went back to my Good Reads progress comments thinking that would give me a basis and prompt to write. There were so many quotable moments and I knew I didn’t move from my comfy spot to get some post-its. Alas, I didn’t have much written. In fact, I only updated it 3 times. That’s because I was unable to put the book down long enough to update. Only comfort breaks and the need to appear sociable stopped me from devouring it in one sitting. I guess that just means I’ll have to pick it up for another read shortly.

I came to the novel hoping to have it compete for my love of Ready Player One. What I got was so much more. While Ready Player One is consumed by 80s nostalgia and the society is already accepting of the gaming platform in which the storyline is based, Otherworld is less reminiscent, much more relevant and loaded with foreboding and fear of what this technology could bring. It is a fable and Simon is not the only person on a journey of social and technological discovery.

The thing I love most about this book is that stylistically this is a book that has been missing from my reading life for a long time. It’s a cinematic techno-thriller, worthy of sitting on myself alongside the master of the genre and my favourite author, Michael Crichton and his counterpart Robin Cook. (Interestingly enough, Crichton directed the film Coma, which was written by Robin Cook.) I hope I’m right in thinking that Segel was a fan of the original Westworld growing up. I’d even go out on a limb and say he’s seen Coma. There’s too much passion and a labour of love around the creation of this book for there not to be.

The world building, pace and ‘Coma’-like jeopardy and moral ambiguity all make this a must read that will keep you on tenterhooks right until the last line. It reads like it could be lifted right from the pages and placed onto the screen. Its a story that is inclusive, despite its focus theme. I’m the furthest from a gamer and at no point did I feel Otherworld, Segel or Miller were isolating me from the plot.

There are secondary characters that some may feel are underdeveloped. I would agree to a certain degree; I want to know more about them. However, I would argue that this is realistic of some people we meet online. There is also enough hints to prompt people’s imagination and to also feel for the characters. I suspect the two characters in question will prompt many a fanfic over the next few years.

As the book comes to a close, there is enough of a resolution to satisfy any reader, while the set up for the follow up novel is a nice touch and one that should promote many chats, both online and in person while we wait, as patiently as we can for that second book.

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In the year that you are waiting for the sequel, you might like to try the following:

  • Jurassic Park- Michael Crichton
  • Disclosure- Michael Crichton
  • Coma- Robin Cook
  • Maze Runner- James Dashner
  • The Special Ones- E M Bailey