Science Fiction

Book Review of The Fates Divide

fates divideI was a fan of the first book in this series – the one that followed Veronica Roth’s immensely popular Divergent series.

The Fates Divide continues the love story of Cyra and Akos, although this narrative tears them apart – for a while at least.  Now that Cyra has overthrown her brother, there is nothing that forces Akos to stay with her.  Confused and hurt by their responses to this freedom, the pair separate, only to be told that their fates are even more intertwined than they thought.  In fact, a twisted secret at their births ensures the two were destined to meet.

In the background, war is stirring.  While Cyra does not condone the actions and traditions of her people, she cannot see them conquered.  Not can she see them come under the power of Lazmet Noavek – the father she thought long dead.

There is tremendous character development for Cyra in this novel.  Now she is no longer ruled by fear of her family, her true character comes to the forefront.  She finds that she has a lot more to love for that she once thought.  There is also some interesting sub-plotting around Eijeh – the next Oracle who was servant to the Noavek family and questionably loyal to the family that has tried to re-embrace him after his captivity.

I’m not sure why this hasn’t been more popular – I think it’s a well-realised science fiction world with intriguing characters and the promise of more mysteries to unfold. Worth a try.

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Raving Book Review of The Power

the power.jpgThis book has been sitting on my bedside table for months… and I have been making my way through the pile with the sneaking suspicion that this would be amazing.

It was.  This is the best book I have read this year.

The Power imagines a world where women begin to demonstrate a capacity to cause pain via electric shock via touch.  First a few teenage girls cause pain and injury to those around them, but gradually they discover a capacity to wake the power up in each other.  Some have tremendous capacity, some learn ways to control, master, use and abuse it.

It causes a dramatic shift in the power structure of society on all levels – politics, religion, and the armed forces.

The narrative follows a few select characters witnessing and in fact shaping events that create an entirely new society – one based on female domination and complete subjugation of men.  No longer the weaker sex, I would argue that women do to men all that they have been subjected to across history – and more.

It’s a frightening but completely absorbing vision that asks us to acknowledge the transformative nature of power and how absolutely it can corrupt everyone.

The ending of the story is brilliant, as is framed equally as cleverly as a work of historical research looking back at the events that framed their civilisation by a tentative male author, and an understanding female critical friend – and even in this relationship is the dynamic of men and women explored.

This is everything – smart, well-paced and incredibly readable.  This is worthy of the award it received and the acclaim it is starting to get.

Book Review of The Boy on the Bridge

2017-05-02-boy-on-bridge-carey-0032-azambelich2015’s The Girl With All The Gifts was a breathtakingly original dystopian fiction. Sadly the follow up – a prequel – The Boy on the Bridge lacks some of the magic of the original.

We return to the world of the first novel – one dominated by “hungries”, where a small group of survivors led by an organization called Beacon, are either soldiers or scientists looking for a cure. A particular expedition is the focus, and the only points of interest are the fact that they are in the same vehicle eventually commandeered by the exceptional Melanie at the end of the first novel, and by the fact that one of the doctors finds herself illegally pregnant on a Tour of Duty.

As Dr Khan’s time of birth nears, the tension finally builds (in the last third of the novel) when they discover the same group of more conscious zombie children that have somehow managed to retain enough consciousness to function beyond the hunger that traditionally dominates the “hungries”.

We know the team piloting Rosie are doomed, but not how. A delegation to the young hungries has devastating consequences for the crew and leaves a young whizkid scientist with the key to solving the zombie virus – but it comes at an unthinkable cost.

Fans of the first novel might be interested in this, but I found it slower paced and less engaging. The mystery of the first novel has already been solved. The end is interesting – as it leaps forward several years to give us clues as to how the whole series is going to conclude. What I can say for M. R Carey though is that he is exceptional at creating characters and fleshing them out with great skill and care. You will care about the characters at the end of this book.

Book Review of Sleeping Beauties

Sleeping BeautiesStephen King co-wrote this novel with his son Owen, passing the chapters between them and re-writing each other.  The result is a novel that feels very much like King himself – his stamp is all over it.

Sleeping Beauties imagines a world in which women fall asleep and begin constructing some kind of cocoon. It’s a dangerous kind of slumber – when someone attempts to wake them unnatural strength and aggression is the result.  The world of men goes pretty much as you would expect – sense and reason fall very much by the wayside.  King is clearly a feminist.

Meanwhile, the women wake up in an alternative setting and begin setting up their own society which, while technologically behind the times, is pretty successful.  Time passes differently there, and while the Aurora virus has only taken hold in the real world for a few days, a year or more passes in the world of the sleeping women.

Behind it all is Evie Black, the supernatural force you would come to expect from a Stephen King novel.  Both malevolent and insightful, its hard to cast her as either hero or villain. She clearly sits somewhere in between.  Awake and safe in a prison cell, she forms much of the conflict in the text as the characters battle for what to do with her.

Nothing extraordinary here, this novel is very much “in the pocket” for King.  No more than a comfortable read.

Book Review of Carve the Mark

carve the markVeronica Roth’s Divergent series was so incredibly popular, that publishing a new storyline, especially one markedly different, must elicit some angst – for the author and readers alike.  And while I haven’t read that many positive reviews of her latest offering Carve the Mark, I ended up really enjoying it.

Much less dystopian than Divergent,
is pure science fiction.  It concerns itself with two peoples who live on the same planet – the Shotet and the Thuvhe – but cannot live in harmony. The Thuvhe live quietly and peacefully while the Shotet pillage and scavenge, and violent existence best represented by their tradition of carving a mark on their own arms each time they take a life.

Naturally, a young man and a young woman from each culture are thrown together and fall in love.  But its a little more complicated than that.  This is a galaxy with two particularly interesting features. Firstly, oracles make the fates of important people public – and this causes political manipulation to attempt to challenge or protect fate.  The second, is the energy source known as the ‘current’ which flows around them all, and gifts each inhabitant with a particular ‘currentgift’. Cyra, our Juliet character, can make others feel pain, but the cost is that she lives in constant pain herself.  Akos, kidnapped from Thuvhe by Cyra’s brother as he was fated to serve them, is gifted with the ability to block the currentgifts of others – and thus relieve Cyra’s constant pain.  Eventually they come to mean something more to each other than forced companions and Cyra is forced to confront her brother – a violent dictator – and take a stand for the rights of others.

There’s more to the story than this, including the brother of Akos who becomes a willing oracle to the Shotet and an underground rebellion.  Overall, I thought this was a well-realised fictional world with interesting moral quandaries and the beginning of a tasty story.  Definitely worth a look.