Tag Archives: sci-fi

Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

I am a geek and happy to admit it.  I love science fiction stories, whether it is in book or movie form.  There have been some great sci-fi stories for teens published in recent years, my favourite being Beth Revis’ Across the Universe Trilogy.  A few months I was hearing alot of hype about a new YA sci-fi series that was going to blow everything else out of the water.  That series is The Illuminae Files by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff.  The description of the series from the publishers, Allen and Unwin, was ‘Battlestar Galactica meets 10 Things I Hate About You,’ which hooked me in straight away (Battlestar Galactica being my all-time favourite TV series).  Luckily the hype was totally deserved as this is one incredible book!

The year is 2575, and two rival mega-corporations 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, exes Kady and Ezra – who are barely even talking to each other – are forced to fight their way onto the evacuating fleet, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit.

But the warship is the least of their problems. 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 the hell is 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.

Illuminae is an out-of-this-world, sci-fi thriller that is absolutely addictive!  It has the elements of all the best sci-fi stories (giant spaceships, fighter pilots, an artificial intelligence, corporations fighting for control) but this story is told in a completely different way.  The book starts with the attack on Kerenza by BeiTech, the escape of the survivors on board the Alexander, Hypatia and Copernicus, and follows the events as they spiral further and further out of control.  The protagonists are 17-year-olds Kady and Ezra and we follow their story, which is interspersed with emails, chat transcripts, action reports, laboratory reports and various other communications.

One of the things I really love about Illuminae is that it doesn’t hold back.  It’s violent, bloody and pretty freaky in some places.  The body count is huge, from the thousands of people who die when ships are blown to pieces to those who succumb to the Phobos virus.  The tension of everyone on board the ships is taut and you can sense it in the way that people react to the disastrous situations they find themselves in.  It’s not surprising that soldiers are trigger happy or that commanders find themselves ordering people to be ejected out of airlocks.  Who would want to be a leader in their situation? Not me that’s for sure!

Amie and Jay are brilliant at building the suspense.  I found it very difficult to put the book down, especially near the end.  You are just never sure how the story is going to end and who is going to make it to the end of the book.  There were times when I really was on the edge of my seat in anticipation of what would happen next.  I felt like I was right there with Kady as she was making her way through the almost-abandoned Alexander.

Kady is a brilliant character who is gutsy, determined and incredibly sarcastic.  She’s the sort of person you want by your side in a crisis.  Some of my favourite parts of the story are her interactions with the AI of the ship, Aiden.  Aiden is an intriguing character itself.  My perception of Aiden changed completely over the course of the book but I never quite knew whether it could be completely trusted.

Illuminae is an epic read that left me desperate for more.  It’s the start of a trilogy, so I know there are two more books to look forward to.  I just hope that I don’t have to wait too long to read the rest of the Illuminae Files.

 

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Lifespan of Starlight by Thalia Kalkipsakis

I love books, movies and TV series about time travel.  The Back to the Future trilogy are some of my all-time favourite movies and I love Doctor Who.  I love a good wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey story, especially when it’s fresh and unique.  Thalia Kalkipsakis’ new book, Lifespan of Starlight, is exactly that and it’s incredibly exciting!

It already lies dormant within you: the ability to move within time. In 2084, three teenagers discover the secret to time travel. At first their jumps cover only a few seconds, but soon they master the technique and combat their fear of jumping into the unknown. It’s dangerous. It’s illegal. And it’s utterly worth it for the full-body bliss of each return. As their ability to time jump grows into days and weeks, the group begins to push beyond their limits, with terrifying consequences. Could they travel as far as ten years, to escape the authorities? They are desperate enough to find out. But before they jump they must be sure, because it only works in one direction. Once you trip forwards, there’s no coming back.

Lifespan of Starlight is an amazing book that had me hooked from start to finish.  Thalia’s vision of time travel is unlike anything I’ve come across before, which is what hooked me in.  Thalia builds the suspense and tension throughout and I had to keep reading to find out how it would end.

Scout is an illegal.  She has lived her life sharing her mother’s food and water rations and living ‘off the grid.’  If anyone found out that she was illegal she’d be in serious trouble.  Her life changes forever when she finds a strange woman in her sanctuary (a secret cave in a park), a woman who takes her last breath just minutes after Scout meets her.  This woman has the chip of a citizen and Scout takes it, hoping it will give her opportunities she’s never had before.  However, when Scout trawls back through the woman’s history, there are gaps where she seems to disappear for large chunks of time.  Scout’s search for the truth of the woman’s identity leads her to Mason and Boc, two teenage guys who believe she holds the key to time jumping.  Scout sets up a new life for herself using her newly acquired chip and life starts to look up.  As Scout and her friends start to understand time jumping they become able to time jump for longer and longer, from minutes to hours to days.  The more they test the limits though, the more dangerous things become, until they have to make a huge decision.

Unlike so many sci-fi books for teens there is no romance in Lifespan of Starlight.  This means there is no complicated relationship to get in the way of the story.  The difficult decisions that Scout has to make mainly relate to her mum.  Her mum has helped protect her and made sure that she has everything she needs to survive, so Scout has to think about how her time jumps affect her mum.  When Scout gets the chip her main thoughts are how she can repay her mum for all the food she has shared with her.

Thalia leaves you on the edge of your seat with a cliff-hanger ending.  I certainly can’t wait to read the second book in the trilogy!

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Light by Michael Grant

CAUTION: May contain spoilers

I need to get this out of the way now: OMG! This book is AMAZING! Michael Grant, you are brilliant and I bow at your feet!  OK…calming down now.

Ever since Michael Grant launched his Gone series I have been wondering how the series would end.  With each book, the situation in the FAYZ (Fallout Alley Youth Zone) has got progressively worse.  When you trap a bunch of kids inside a dome (some with super powers), with no adults, limited food, disease, and no idea if or when they’ll ever get out, you know it isn’t going to end well.  After the previous book, Fear, I have to say I had no idea how the series was going to end.  One of the things I love about Michael Grant is that he certainly keeps you on your toes and isn’t afraid to shock you.  He certainly does this in the final book in the Gone series, Light.

All eyes are on Perdido Beach. The barrier wall is now as clear as glass and life in the FAYZ is visible for the entire outside world to see. Life inside the dome remains a constant battle and the Darkness, away from watchful eyes, grows and grows . . . The society that Sam and Astrid have struggled so hard to build is about to be shattered for good. It’s the end of the FAYZ. But who will survive to see the light of day?

Light is everything I hoped it would be and much, much more.  It is a truly EPIC conclusion to the series and the way in which Michael wrapped the series up left me totally satisfied.  I won’t go in to any details because I’d hate to spoil the ending, which fans have been waiting years for.  Michael had me on the edge of my seat and it was nerve-wracking from beginning to end.  I read it over a couple of days and found that I could think of little else but the story.  As soon as I put it down I wanted to know what was happening to the characters.  By the time I’d read the final page, I felt like I was a survivor of the FAYZ who had to adjust to normal life again.  You’ve been with these characters through the whole experience so you really feel like one of them.

Everything that I love about Michael Grant’s books is here in Light.  There is plenty of violence and gore (including some cannibalism), the action is non-stop, the suspense makes you tear out your hair and chew your fingernails, and there are the characters you love (and those you hate) fighting against incredible odds.  There is also plenty of death and destruction, and not all of the main characters survive the ordeal.  I found myself saying ‘Oh no Michael, not them!’ several times during the story.

Out of all the things I love about this series, it’s the characters that have made me keep reading.  Michael has created so many great characters in this series and they get a lot thrown at them.  From the very first book, I’ve wondered who would make it through to the end, and I’m pleased to say that Michael totally surprised me.  It has been really interesting to see how the characters react to different situations, and seeing their true nature shine through.  None of the characters have made it through unscathed and I’ve loved watching their development throughout the series.

Thank you Michael Grant for creating this incredible series and these memorable characters that I’ll never forget.  I absolutely found it worthwhile and I had so much fun getting lost in your crazy world.

Even though this series has ended, we still have much more of Michael Grant to look forward to, with his BZRK series, The Magnificent 12 series (for younger readers), and hopefully more of Eve and Adam (with his incredibly talented wife, Katherine Applegate).

5 out of 5 stars

Win a copy of Light

I have a copy of Light to give away to one lucky Gone fan.  All you have to do is enter your name and email address in the form below and tell me who is your favourite Gone series character.  Competition closes Wednesday 10 April (NZ and Australia only).

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When We Wake book trailer

When We Wake is the fantastic new YA futuristic thriller from New Zealand author, Karen Healey. Cryogenics, questionable morals and ethics, government secrets, and a kick-ass character are only some of the things that make When We Wake stand out.

When We Wake by Karen Healey is available now at libraries and bookshops from Allen and Unwin.

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The Rosie Black Chronicles: Dark Star by Lara Morgan

First there was Genesis, then Equinox, and now there is the dramatic conclusion to The Rosie Black Chronicles, Dark StarLara Morgan grabbed me right from the start of Genesis and I’ve been dying to find out how Rosie’s story will end.  Will she be able to bring down Helios and save her world?

To protect Pip and fulfil her deal with Sulawayo, Rosie Black has joined Helios. But trouble is brewing within the ranks of the powerful organisation a rebellion is rising. Who is part of the rebellion? Who is trying to take full control of Helios? How does the mysterious Dark Star fit into these plans? The stakes are high for Rosie. The survival of Pip and the world as she knows it depends on her. Can Rosie find the truth and save those she loves before it is too late?

Dark Star is an action-packed, tense, sci-fi thriller and the perfect end to this fantastic trilogy.  Our favourite characters return to help Rosie bring down Helios, and Lara also introduces us to some new characters who have their part to play.  There are plenty of twists and turns in the story as, like Rosie, you’re never sure who to trust (is that person part of the rebellion or is it all an act?).  From the moment you enter the Enclave with Rosie you’re on edge, and as Rosie discovers more information about Helios and her situation gets more desperate you start to turn the pages faster.

One of the things I like the most about the series is that the romance between the characters doesn’t get in the way of the story.  There has always been a thing between Pip and Rosie, and in Equinox (the last book) a relationship developed between Dalton and Rosie, but their relationships don’t take over the story (like many YA series).  In the world that they live in there isn’t really time to stop and stare longingly into each others’ eyes, but their relationships still affect their decisions.  The bonds between them mean that they are willing to sacrifice their own safety (and their life) to help each other escape.  You just hope that they will all make it through and be able to have their romantic moments after they’ve saved the world.

I also love the technology that Lara has created in her future world.  There are medical patches that heal wounds, AI taxi cabs, pulse guns, a portal to transport people onto other planets, and many other fantastic inventions.  A lot of her technology is more advanced versions of what we have today so it’s not hard to imagine a world like Rosie’s.

Lara ended the story perfectly, tying up the loose ends, but also leaving it open so that you can wonder about what might happen next.  If you haven’t read The Rosie Black Chronicles get them from your library or bookshop now.

4 out of 5 stars

Thanks to Walker Books Australia I have a set of The Rosie Black Chronicles, signed by Lara Morgan, to give away.  You can enter here.

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Win a signed set of The Rosie Black Chronicles

The Rosie Black Chronicles is an action-packed, fast-paced series set in the not-too-distant future.  There are corrupt organisations, secret plans, a killer virus, rebellions, space travel, a colony on Mars, a touch of romance, and a butt-kicking main character, Rosie Black.  Dark Star, the dramatic conclusion to The Rosie Black Chronicles has just been released in Australia and NZ (you can read my review here).

To celebrate the release of Dark Star Walker Books have given me a signed set of The Rosie Black Chronicles to give away.  All you have to do to get in the draw is leave a comment telling me Who is your favourite butt-kicking book character? Competition closes Wednesday 28 November (Australia and NZ only).

Thanks to everyone who entered.  The winner is Christine.

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Love YA sci-fi? Grab The Rosie Black Chronicles

The Rosie Black Chronicles is a fantastic young adult science fiction series, written by Australian author Lara Morgan.  The series is published by Walker Books Australia, who also publish some other exciting science fiction/futuristic books for children and teens, including Brian Falkner’s The Tomorrow Code and Brainjack, and Ambelin Kwaymullina’s The Tribe series. 

The Rosie Black Chronicles is an action-packed, fast-paced series set in the not-too-distant future.  There are corrupt organisations, secret plans, a killer virus, rebellions, space travel, a colony on Mars, a touch of romance, and a butt-kicking main character, Rosie Black.  If you like futuristic stories like The Hunger Games, The Maze Runner, Across the Universe, and Legend then The Rosie Black Chronicles is the perfect series for you.

Last week I received a top-secret package from Helios, the secret organisation from The Rosie Black Chronicles with a flash drive containing information about Rosie Black.  I was told to spread the information, so below you will find links to chapter samplers from each of the three books in the series, character profiles, book trailers and an interview with Lara Morgan.  Feel free to print these off and share with readers far and wide.  Next week I’ll have a special giveaway of a complete set of The Rosie Black Chronicles signed by Lara Morgan, so watch out for this.

Rosie Black Book 1: Genesis Chapter Sampler

Rosie Black Book 2: Equinox Chapter Sampler

Rosie Black Book 3: Dark Star Chapter Sampler

Rosie Black Character Profiles

Q&A with Lara Morgan

Rosie Black Mini Poster

For more about Lara Morgan and The Rosie Black Chronicles visit www.rosieblack.com

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Eve and Adam by Michael Grant and Katherine Applegate

Michael Grant and Katherine Applegate have introduced us to characters that we both love and love to hate.  They’ve coauthored over 100 books together, including one of the coolest series of my childhood, Animorphs.  Michael is the author of the fantastic Gone series and BZRK, and Katherine stole our hearts earlier this year when she introduced us to the loveable, One and Only Ivan.  They’ve joined forces once again to bring us creation story like no other, Eve and Adam.

Evening Spiker is recuperating from a freak accident in her mum’s medical facility. She is healing at a remarkable rate, faster than physically possible. As she grows closer to the hot lab assistant Solo, who seems to be hanging around a lot, she realises that things at Spiker Biotech are not quite as they seem. Joining forces, Solo and Eve uncover a secret so huge it could change the world completely. Spiker Biotech is about more than just saving lives. It’s about creating them.

Eve and Adam is an exciting, futuristic thriller, and one hell of a cool book!  Take some ordinary teenagers, throw in a billion-dollar biopharmaceuticals company, genetic engineering, morally corrupt scientists and some sexual tension, and you have Eve and Adam.  Michael Grant and Katherine Applegate sure know how to write and they suck you in from the very first sentence.  This has to be one of the best first sentences ever – ‘I am thinking of an apple when the streetcar hits and my leg severs and my ribs crumble and my arm is no longer an arm but something unrecognizable, wet and red.’

The narration of the story alternates between Eve (Evening or E.V. to her friends), the daughter of Terra Spiker (head of Spiker Biopharmaceuticals) and Solo who is Terra’s ward.  After her accident, Terra gives Eve the task of designing the perfect boy, using special software that her company has developed.  After some initial skepticism Eve takes to the task and it takes her mind off her injuries, but it’s not long before she starts to wonder why her leg doesn’t hurt and there are no scars.  Solo is a mysterious character and you wonder what his motives are.  He seems to be sneaking around looking for something in particular, and puts on an act to make himself seem dumber than he actually is.  When he finds what he has been searching for it’s shocking and neither him or Eve are quite prepared for the trouble that follows.  Into this mix comes Adam, Eve’s perfect boy.  I love the way that Eve describes him when she first sees him in person,

“He’s the most beautiful male I’ve ever seen.  Ever.  Anywhere.  George Clooney and Johnny Depp and Justin Timberlake and all of them, all of them, would be cast as Adam’s less attractive best friend.”

The story is so gripping that I read it in one day.  The end left me wondering whether Eve and Adam is the start of a new series or whether it is a stand alone novel.  I felt like there were a few unanswered questions so this may not be the last we see of Eve, Adam, Aislin and Solo.

5 out of 5 stars

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Starters by Lissa Price

Imagine a world that is populated only by the very young and the very old.  Everyone in between has been killed by biological warfare because they weren’t vaccinated.  Children and teenagers who don’t have living relatives survive day by day, living in abandoned buildings and scrounging for food.  There is one company who offers a way out of poverty for teenagers who are willing to rent out their bodies to the elderly, who just want to feel young again.  This is the situation that Callie finds herself in when we first meet her in Lissa Price’s amazing debut novel, Starters.

16-year-old Callie lost her parents when the ‘genocide spore’ wiped out everyone except those who were vaccinated first – the very young and very old. She and her little brother must go on the run, living as squatters, fighting off unclaimed renegades who would kill for a cookie. Hope comes in the form of the Body Bank run by a mysterious figure, known only as The Old Man. The Body Bank allows teenagers to rent out their bodies to ‘Enders’ – the elderly members of society – who want to be young again. But Callie discovers that her renter intends to do more than party in her body. She intends to commit murder.

I absolutely loved this book!  Starters really stands out among all the other young adult science fiction/dystopian books being published at the moment.  It kept me on the edge of my seat the whole time and Lissa Price was constantly surprising me.  There were so many twists and turns that I gave up on trying to figure out what would happen next.  Callie is an intelligent, kick-butt female character that is always putting the safety and health of her brother over her own life.  The reason she first goes to the body bank is to get the money she needs to make a good life for her brother, and she is constantly thinking about him and doing everything she can to make sure he’s safe.  I liked that the story is told in first person from Callie’s point of view as it helps you understand her motives and you really feel the punch to the gut when she uncovers the truth.  I loved the character of the Old Man because there is so much mystery surrounding him.  He always seems to be just out of reach and you don’t really know who he is or what part he plays.  I can’t wait to find out more about him in the next book.

Lissa Price is an extremely talented author and definitely one to keep an eye on.  The sequel to Starters, called Enders, is due out in December 2012 so I’m glad I don’t have to wait long to read the next part of the story.

5 out of 5

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172 Hours on the Moon by Johan Harstad

One thing I really love about the Young Adult books that are being published at the moment is the amount of great science fiction stories.  Whether it’s the paranormal, like Andrew Hammond’s CRYPT series and Will Hill’s Department 19 or set in outer space, like Beth Revis’ Across the Universe and Philip Webb’s Six Days, these stories grab me and don’t let me go until the very last page.  Johan Harstad’s new book, 172 Hours on the Moon is one of these stories.

Set in 2019, it’s the story of 3 lucky teenagers who are chosen from millions of others around the world to be the first teenagers to travel to the moon.  A worldwide lottery is announced to find the 3 teenagers and it’s Mia from Norway, Antoine from France, and Midori from Japan who are chosen for this once in a lifetime experience.  In the first few chapters we find out who they are and what their life is like in their countries.  Each of them want to escape their lives and the moon mission gives them that chance.  They know that once they return from the moon, they will live very different lives.  Before they leave for their training, each of them experience some strange events that make them questions whether they should be going to the moon.  After their weeks of training they say goodbye to their families and leave for the moon.  You know that things are going to go wrong and sure enough, they do.  From the moment they land on the moon a series of strange events occur, and soon they find themselves fighting for their lives, millions of miles from home.

172 Hours on the Moon had me hooked from the blurb ‘Three of them will go on the trip of a lifetime.  Only one will come back.’  Johan’s story was originally published in his native Norwegian and Tara F. Chace has translated it well, capturing the fear and claustrophobia of the moon perfectly.  You know as soon as you start the story that everything is going to go horribly wrong, but you have to find out how and why.  The suspense keeps you reading and I found it really difficult to put the book down even to make a cup of tea.  The teenage characters were very real and I was really hoping they’d make it home (even though I just knew they wouldn’t).  I loved the way the author held back certain details about the true nature of the mission and revealed these slowly throughout the story.  One of the adult characters would reveal some details, but wouldn’t tell the teenagers the whole truth, which makes you keep reading to find out the truth.  Johan ends the story with a punch to your guts and leaves you catching your breath, marveling at the story you’ve just read.

4 out of 5 stars

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