Sleeping Giants

sleeping-giantsSleeping Giants (Themis Files 1)
by: Sylvain Neuvel

(Science Fiction)

304 pages [Hardcover]

When a giant metal hand is accidentally discovered, a risky project to uncover its secrets begins.

Curiosity-driven stories are my favorite, and this one also just happens to be extremely easy to read. This is the first novel I’ve read that uses interviews and occasional journal entries to tell the story rather than lengthy exposition. Don’t get me wrong, I always enjoy an artful turn of phrase, but this works too.

Of all the characters, I found the interviewer, a man we know almost nothing about, to be the most interesting. He can be cold and logical, yet somehow I found myself liking him the most.

There were some great big-picture implications and the usual questions when power is involved. How far is too far in the name of progress? What is our place in the universe?

My only criticism is there was a little bit of petty emotional stuff in the middle there. It wasn’t anything too bad, I’ve read much worse, and it did end up being integral to the plot. The characters continued to evolve as the story progressed, which made up for it for the most part.

I suspect the next volume won’t be as curiosity-driven given the conclusion, although there is still a mystery or two left. But since this book was so easy to read, I’ll definitely be reading the next one, even if it’s just a break from my usual, more long-winded fare. Until next time…

Happy Reading!

The Saga of Seven Suns: A Forest of Stars

A Forest of StarsA Forest of Stars
(The Saga of Seven Suns Book 2)
by: Kevin J. Anderson

(Science Fiction/Space Opera)

496 pages [Hardcover]

The conflict with the Hydrogues escalates as humanity struggles with dwindling fuel, political challenges, and inscrutable aliens.

Oops! I completely forgot to review this one!  That’s what I get for reading too many books at once and just letting the reviews pile up. But don’t worry, I have a system now that should make sure no more books slip through the cracks. Now, I’m not sure I remember enough details to write a decent review, so I guess I’ll write an indecent review? Wait, no, that’s not how that word works…

I think I’ll be sticking with this series long term. I’ve mentioned often how much I love a deep history in a story and this series has that. Perhaps what I’m really saying is that I like depth in a story and epic histories provide that quite easily. I’m really loving the mystery of the Klikiss robots, and the mysteries within the Saga of Seven Suns.

Things escalate in this volume, as would be expected. With the Hydrogues vigorously defending their gas giants, humanity is facing a dramatic fuel shortage, causing some to go outside the law to get their hands on what they need. There’s a lot of destruction as the Hydrogues get more aggressive, but humanity doesn’t seem to be their true target. We’re just in the way. I was pleasantly surprised by some interesting new powers who enter the conflict that have the potential to be pretty awesome.

If you’re a hardcore science person this might not be the series for you. Personally, I don’t think that a story set in space is required to be researched so extensively that the author might as well have a PhD in engineering and astrophysics. It’s not a bad thing for a book to be that well researched, but being the layman I am, I enjoy a story just fine with a little less research.

As for the pace of the story and its characters, it was not always attention-grabbing. There was a time when I probably wouldn’t have bothered with this series because of that. However, I have learned, in my more recent book-obsessed years, that a slower paced and more detailed story can still be worth reading, even if I’m not over-the-top excited about reading it. I may not have been completely absorbed for every minute of it, but I enjoyed it overall. This is why I now read a few books at a time. When I have a slower, longer book to read, I make sure to have something more immediately gratifying in the mix too. It keeps the energy flowing and prevents me from getting bored.

In spite of a couple of flaws, I enjoyed this book and am curious enough about the plot to keep reading. Also, I would like to hug a world tree. Until next time…

Happy Reading!

Hyperion

HyperionHyperion  by: Dan Simmons

(Science Fiction/Space Opera)

482 pages [Paperback]

Seven pilgrims set out on a journey to the Time Tombs, each with their own mysterious reasons for risking death by the creature that is thought to inhabit them.

In some ways, this book reminds me of James Gunn’s Transcendental. Both books follow a group of strangers on a pilgrimage to a mysterious place, with each character telling his or her personal story. There is plenty of mystery and curiosity in both, with a touch of danger.

As a result of that structure, however, there are going to be some parts of the story that are more interesting than others, depending on the preferences of the reader. In this case, the Priest, Poet, and Scholar’s stories were the most captivating to me. Others were a little less interesting, and one, in particular, takes a bizarre and surprisingly disturbing turn. Regardless, each character’s tale reveals more about the universe Hyperion inhabits and its technology, politics, and mysteries.

This book is a little difficult to describe since each character’s story is so different. Overall it is a little bit dark and a little bit crazy, but definitely interesting. There is a cynical view of what humanity had become that bled into each tale. The Shrike and the Time Tombs are wonderfully sinister and enigmatic. The different planets, with their own special characteristics, were always fun to read about. From a world-building standpoint, this book is awesome. There is always so much to learn about, without it being overwhelming.

In the end, I liked it a lot, and I’m interested to see where the next three books lead. The story had its ups and downs, and I’d be lying if I said I was completely invested in every page, but there is something really cool here. If you like space opera I’d definitely recommend it. Until next time…

Happy Reading!

14

1414

By: Peter Clines

peterclines.com

(Science Fiction/Apocalypse/Steampunk)

350 pages (trade paperback)

 

Nate Tucker’s new apartment building is a little strange – padlocked doors, odd light fixtures, and mutant cockroaches… but the rent’s good.

This book is not about zombies. Just thought I’d make that clear.

So many apocalyptic novels involve one brand of zombie or another. It’s either some sort of zombie plague that makes people crazy or violent or one that turns them into vampire-like monsters that are, again, crazy and/or violent. Lots of people love that stuff, but I generally don’t, although there is the occasional exception. What is so wonderful about 14, is that this book’s brand of apocalypse is completely different, and involves a more classical approach to the end of the world. Unfortunately, saying anything more would give away the story, trust me, it’s cool.

On the cover, this book is compared to the TV show LOST, but I disagree a little on that point. Yes, they both have mysteries, but I feel like the similarities end there. I didn’t really like LOST. It was good at first, but I gave up on it a few seasons in. Why? Because the mysteries kind of sucked. Well, actually, the mysteries, at first, were great, but they ruined them over time by, either ignoring them altogether or by having really anticlimactic reveals. 14 slowly builds intensity with its mysteries, each one more pivotal than the last. Pretty much everything of importance is answered and what is revealed is awesome. I didn’t see it coming.

The characters are good and create a well-balanced atmosphere of silliness with occasional seriousness. The book has a slightly lighter feel to it in that regard, but it kept the adventure fun. It was serious when it needed to be, but there were also plenty of jokes and geek references too.

This was a fun and interesting read. I always do well with curiosity-driven books. What’s behind that door? Why is it locked? What happens if I pull this lever? It was an interesting idea and something different, so I was really pleasantly surprised. Until next time…

Happy Reading!

 

*Spoilers*

For those of you who have already read the book I just wanted to add this one little thing…

(Highlight to read)

[You know how everything on the other side is covered in sand?

Two words: Squale poop. Think about it. 😉]

Technogenesis

TechnogenesisTechnogenesis

By: Syne Mitchell

synemitchell.com

(Sci-Fi/Future/Thriller)

326 pages (paperback)

 

In a future where everyone is connected to the Net 24/7, Jasmine Reese’s means of connection malfunctions and she is forced to go without access to something she has always taken for granted. She soon notices odd things about the connected people around her. When one of the few disconnected people warns her that “The Beast is watching you…” she is thrust into danger and an encounter with something she never imagined could exist.

*   *   *

This book is one of my many book sale finds. I was trying to bolster my science fiction section at the time. Since I’ve been gathering books at such an alarming rate, I thought it was about time to try to focus on my own bookshelf for a while. We’ll see how long that lasts. Distractions abound.

The short version of this review is that this book was good, but not great. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with a good book. Not everything has to be mind-blowingly awesome. I enjoyed it, it was a quick read, and that’s really all there is to it.

I find that lately I’m  drawn more to longer, more complicated stories. There was a time when 300 pages was plenty, but these days it just doesn’t seem to be enough story. There isn’t enough time for me to get fully engrossed in the characters or the world but, then again, not all books are the kind you really dive into like that. I think it’s good to have a balance though. The lighter novels help me to appreciate the deeper ones and help keep me from getting buried by them. I think it works.

This book is a little bit technical without being overly so. You want a little technical in your science fiction, that’s what makes it plausible, you just don’t want so much that you nod off and start to drool. There are the usual fun ethics questions and technological advancement “what ifs” that are interesting to think about, and there isn’t one clear answer. The main character has a little trouble deciding what is right, and her choices aren’t easy. There were also a couple of cool quirks and interesting complications that I didn’t see coming.

If you’re looking for some quick science fiction, that doesn’t involve ark ships and galactic exploration, this is a pretty good choice. It’s entertaining, but you don’t have to invest too much either. Until next time…

Happy Reading!

Othella {Arcadian Heights 1}

OthellaOthella {Arcadian Heights 1}

By: Therin Knite

knitewrites.com

(Thriller/SciFi)

302 pages (Trade Paperback)

 

“Welcome to Arcadian Heights, where the world’s brightest minds go in…and don’t come out.”

*   *   *

Therin Knite’s books are fast paced and super easy to read, not to mention that the printed versions have such lovely print I didn’t really need my glasses! They make for great breaks in between those super long, epic, fantasy novels. In this case though, I was suffering from a bit of a book hangover from The Wise Man’s Fear, so I had a little trouble adjusting to this one.

Othella is a little bit dark since it takes place at a point in time, frighteningly not far from now, where the world is on the verge of apocalypse. The impending doom creates for a tense and interesting tale, but a more serious one.

There are no heroes in this story. Each of the three main characters’ actions are done for selfish reasons like revenge, fame, or survival. As a result, I didn’t feel for them quite as much as I could have. This is more about watching the chaos unfold and wondering what will happen when everything falls apart. I did like how we got to follow the perspective of the one character who most closely resembled a villain. Watching him do bad things in the name of ensuring a future for the human race, and then watching him live with the consequences was fascinating. There were times I felt bad for him, and then felt that I shouldn’t be feeling bad for him because of the things he’d done. There is the question of who has the moral high ground, how far is too far to go to try and save the human race?

I was a lot more invested in the story by the end. When stories move quickly and are split up across three characters like this, it takes a little time to get to know them well enough. Since this is shaping up to be a trilogy it makes perfect sense. I’ve noticed this pattern before in books that were the first of a series.

This was a solidly good book, and I would certainly recommend it. If I gave Therin’s first book, Echoes five stars, I’d give this one four, but only because I liked the subject matter of Echoes a little bit more. I’ll definitely be reading the rest of the series. Often, whenever I finish reading one of my favorite books, anything I read afterward seems terrible, whether it is or not. I have to say, this one held up well against a serious book hangover and that’s saying something. Until next time…

Happy Reading!

Book Sale Haul VI

Wow, I’ve done six of these already? Time flies. I’ve been learning to restrain myself a bit more at these book sales, since I’m really running out of room, so this time I have 21 new books to share with you. Behold the literary splendor! (click for larger images)

Apparently I'm collecting The Wheel of Time books now...
Apparently I’m collecting The Wheel of Time books now…so far I’ve got 2, 4, 5, 7, 8, and 11. That’s a start.
Two more Shannara books for the collection and some fantasy/scifi...
Two more Shannara books for the collection and some fantasy/scifi…
Elizabethan espionage, sherlock, thrillers, and Ian M. Banks since I really liked The Algebraist...
Elizabethan espionage, Sherlock, thrillers, and Ian M. Banks since I really liked The Algebraist
Tarot and math make an odd combination, but I've always had an interest in forms of divination, as well as a fear of math. It says it's painless, so maybe I'll learn something.
Tarot and math make an odd combination, but I’ve always had an interest in forms of divination, as well as a fear of math. It says it’s painless, so maybe I’ll learn something.

So there you have it, my restrained book sale finds. I’m pretty happy with it and since my personal library seems to be growing at an alarming rate, I’ve decided to focus on reading what I already have for the time being. There will be no more trips to the library for a while, since I get distracted so easily. I’m almost done with The Wise Man’s Fear so there will be some new reviews in the very near future, including an indie or two, so please look forward to them! Until next time…happy reading 😉