Book Reviews

3/4/19

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Thunderhead by Neal Shusterman

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*Spoilers if you have not read Scythe*

Thunderhead is the second book in the Arc of a Scythe series from Neal Shusterman. It continues the story of Rowan and Citra as they continue to fight the growing greed and corruption in the ranks of the Scythedom. This story introduces new characters as well as bringing back some of the old favorites. Despite her unwillingness to accept it, Citra is growing a following and establishing herself as a leader within the ranks of young Scythes. Her unconventional gleaning routines have caused a stir across the Scythedom, and she has become a target for those disapproving of her ways. Scythe Curie continues to mentor Citra, but through this mentorship has become a target as well. Meanwhile, Rowan is trying to bring down the corrupt Scythedom one corrupt Scythe at a time. But his vigilante ways have angered many, and an old friend plans to put a stop to Rowan and make him pay off his debts. 

Throughout it all, the Thunderhead watches. Unable to interfere in the matters of the Scythedom, the Thunderhead must find a loophole to try and stop what only it can see coming. But a computer, even one as great as the Thunderhead, is limited in its capabilities. A train is flying uncontrollably down the tracks, and there may not be anyone, human or machine, who can stop it. 


 

The first half of Thunderhead nearly put me to sleep. As the story is being built, and new characters and character arcs are being introduced, my interest waned. The narration before each chapter by the Thunderhead itself was unimaginative, oddly worded to sound more mechanized, and left me uninterested. However, what the first half was building toward was well worth it, and as I made my way into the second half of the book, I could not put it down. The pace increased, the narrative shifted, the writing became more interesting, and the story sucked me in. Scythe was a challenging book to follow. A unique and interesting take on a dystopian novel in a world of dystopian novels, Scythe stood out. Now, Thunderhead picked up the mantle, and despite the slow start, carried a strong second act leaving me anxious for book 3. The ending of this book will both enthrall you and anger you and leave you not just wanting more, but needing more.

Currently Reading: The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson

1/17/19

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Zer0es by Chuck Wendig

 

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Zer0es, by Chuck Wendig, is a redemption tale for five hackers. Black hat hackers blackmailed into turning good come together to help the government – or so they thought. Soon they find themselves in a life or death situation to stop the computer program Typhon from infiltrating all aspects of modern civilization and essentially taking over the world. Zer0es is a fast-paced thrill ride that will leave you questioning whether our growing dependence on AI is truly worth the risk. 


 

Zer0es is the first Chuck Wendig book I’ve read (besides books on writing), and I am surprised I have not read more by him. I enjoyed this book, but I especially enjoyed the beginning – which focused more on the actual hacking – as opposed to the end. The second half of the book turned into an odd terminator-like action novel with the hacking details a thing of the past. The beginning of the novel gave me nightmares more so than any horror book ever could. The ease at which it seemed these people could hack into someone’s account or steal their identity or ruin their life seemed extremely realistic and, admittedly, I went and changed some of my passwords.

Books are made by their characters, and each character depicted in this novel had their own interesting background and separate hacking story. This made the novel very enjoyable as the characters spent more and more time with each other, letting their personalities out. Most of the characters continued to grow on me as I learned more about them (Alina (sp), for one, is a badass), except Reagan, who I found to just be annoying and found myself wanting to fast forward any time she would speak. I listened to this book on Audible and the narration was phenomenal. NAME’s narration added a fun element to the story that enhanced the listening experience. I would definitely recommend listening to this one.

The sequel, Invasive, was released in 2016, and I am adding it to my to-be read list for future reading. Zer0es foreshadowed some of the action that is to come, and I am excited to see what happens.

Currently Reading: Thunderhead  by Neal Shusterman

1/5/19

An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green

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An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green tells the story of April May after she makes an incredible discovery and turns into a celebrity overnight. Late in the evening one night, April comes across a strange robot statue-like thing in the middle of New York City. Eliciting the help of her friend Andy, April films herself with the statue (which she has named Carl), and they upload the video to YouTube. Quickly, April reaches new levels of fame as she discovers more and more about the strange Carls which turn out to be not of this Earth. The story follows April as she copes with the ups and downs of celebrity, social media, and relationships all while trying to discover the meaning behind the Carls. An Absolutely Remarkable Thing is a New York Times Bestseller written by Hank Green, the brother of John Green. Green has a long history of YouTube success, and An Absolutely Remarkable Thing is his debut novel. A follow up novel is believed to be planned, but there is not a lot of information out publicly yet.


My first book of 2019 turned out to be a dud. An Absolutely Remarkable Thing has received a lot of praise since its release on September 25th of last year, but I found the book to be somewhat boring. It might have been because the name Carl for the randomly appearing space robots was somewhat off-putting, and I’m not sure why everyone would refer to invading alien robots by that name, including the president of the United States, or it may have been the fact that I did not find April May all that interesting. I am not in the habit of detailing every single thing I did not like about a book. Many people enjoyed this book, but it was not for me. I am a big science fiction fan, but the sci-fi was often subtle and backgrounded for a large portion of the book. There is nothing wrong with that, the main theme seemed to focus on April and her friends coping with her ever growing celebrity and the challenges fame brings, but that is not as interesting to me. A sequel is planned as the ending left on a giant cliffhanger, and there are a lot of questions left to be answered. The end of the book did not feel satisfying to me even despite the purposeful nature of ending on a cliffhanger. I guess in the end I did not really understand the purpose of the novel, the Carls, or the dream. I may have missed it, and will have to do a reread before the next one comes out as I am sure much of that will be answered in the coming book.

Currently Reading: Zer0es by Chuck Wendig

Next up for me Fire & Blood by George RR Martin. I cannot wait to get back to Westeros and learn a little more about the Targaryens.