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Archive for the ‘Science Fiction’ Category

Skulduggery Pleasant Bk12. Bedlam by Derek Landy

June 15, 2019 Comments off

skulduggerySkulduggery Pleasant Bk12. Bedlam by Derek Landy. Pub. HarperCollins, 2019.

Skulduggery and Valkyrie are Arbiters who are not answerable to anybody. It is their purpose in life to walk the wire in several worlds of mortals and magic.

There are bad girls and guys out their jockeying for power such as Abyssinia who sees herself as princess of the Darklands and China who wants the Magical world under her control.

When Bertram Wilkes an adviser to Martin Flanery, a Trump like President of the mortal world, goes missing, the Arbiters are called in to find out why.

This is a complicated plot but totally thrilling with the banter between the characters a highlight. For me the most fascinating part was a visit by Skulduggery and Valkyrie to the airbourne asylum of Greymire. Valkyrie is sorely tested but Skulduggery is in his element. As he says “my mind is in a permanent state of finely tuned chaos”

Fans of this series will be happy for this new part and new fans will be bemused at first but it will grab you once you are into it.

First class adventure/ action/ fantasy. Brilliant cover.

The Quiet at the End of the World by Lauren James.

March 18, 2019 Comments off

quiet worldThe Quiet at the End of the World by Lauren James. Pub. Walker Books, 2019.

Is it possible that the human race could become extinct? This is a major theme of this new sci-fi novel from Lauren James and her next after The Loneliest Girl in the Universe also reviewed on this blog.

Shen and Lowrie are 16 & 17 and are the only humans left on the planet. A virus years before rendered humans infertile and once the storehouse of eggs and sperm was used up no more humans were born. Shen and Lowrie are the last and they are yet to discover the truth.

They live in London which has a population of only three hundred and spend their lives in a hi-tech world run by androids and robots with their parents. Their parents have not told them everything and as the book evolves the whole truth comes out and it is mind-blowing.

While exploring an old Tube station Lowrie discovers a wallet belonging to someone called Maya who lived through the period when humans became infertile. They read her Posts on a social web site as some old sites are still available, and find out what happened and how humans reacted.

Humans became lonely without children so created their own robotic children in a programme called Babygrow. For a while living humans and Babygrow children existed together and how they related makes for interesting reading.

Then a helicopter accident sparks off a series of events that reveals the astonishing truth. Read the novel and find out what.

Excellent science fiction that feels like normal life. But is it? Well structured with old facebook and Twitter like comments from Maya and friends feeding the historical information. Great environmental message for the future

Senior and young adult fiction. Confident intermediates could handle it too.

Helen and the Go-Go Ninjas by Ant Sang and Michael Bennett.

June 27, 2018 Comments off

go go ninjasHelen and the Go-Go Ninjas by Ant Sang and Michael Bennett. Pub. Penguin Random House, 2018

There is a filmic quality about this excellent graphic novel for readers as wide as intermediate to young adult. It has a lot of depth to it.

It is set around a city like Auckland and is in two time zones. In the present Helen is a protester of environmental issues while her prig of a boyfriend is a PhD student working on sound vibrations emanating from plants called paramecia. The two have all but reached the end of their relationship.

The boyfriend scientist, named Marion after John Wayne, has found that by stimulating the queen paramecia he can create sound vibrations that eliminate the need for anaesthetics and create endless possibilities for humankind.

Meanwhile Helen has been arrested for hanging a protest banner off the SkyTower and confronts Marion in his laboratory. Suddenly they are invaded by GoGo Ninjas from the year 2355 who mistakenly kidnap Helen because they felt Marion was a girls name and take her back to the future.

In the future Marion’s invention has created social chaos and the Ninjas want him to reverse the process. But  all is not as it seems. Read it and find out what happens. There is even a Stockholm Syndrome romantic relationship

Very clever, very imaginative and full on action. I was amazed how much philosophical , scientific and emotional argument can be communicated in Ant Sang’s brilliant comic illustrations. Combine this with Michael Bennett’s tight script and you have a film classic in the making. There is even a copy of a Planet of the Apes scene involving the SkyTower in the future, just as Charlton Heston finds the Statue of liberty on the Beach.

I read this very quickly in like 30 minutes, then sat down and read it again. You will two. I am off to read it again. If you miss this you will kick yourself. Very cool indeed

Thunder Head by Neal Shusterman.

April 27, 2018 Comments off

ThunderheadThunder Head by Neal Shusterman. Pub. Walker Books, 2018.

This is part 2 of the Arc of the Scythe series the first being Scythe which is also reviewed on this blog. It is brilliant.

There are two powers in this dystopian world, Thunder Head the creator and the Scythes who rule death, and never the twain shall meet. Each has it’s role but there is division in the Scythe world that Thunder Head is deeply concerned about. That conflict is what this novel is all about as population control is essential in a world where nobody needs to die.

Thunder Head rules this idyllic world because it has solved all humankind’s problems. Global warming, the gap between rich and poor, crime, you name it Thunder Head has solved it. Nobody dies unless they want to or the Scythes deem that they are to be gleaned permanently from the planet. Those prone to crime have been treated genetically, sociopaths have been given a conscience and psychopaths have been given sanity. The age of mortality and suffering are over.

So why is there division among the Scythes? Who can be unhappy in paradise? Has the human ego, ambition and capacity for greed been eliminated?

There is much philosophy in this book told in short chapters amid the action, narrated by a humanised Thunder Head that gets to the soul of Humankind. The other chapters advance the plot and there  is action and intrigue aplenty.

Citra has become Scythe Anastasia and works with master Scythe Marie Curie. Yes all the scythes have names famous from the old world of mortality and they will give you a smile as you read. Jim Morrison, Golda Meir and Nelson Mandela are others.

Rowan has taken a secret role trying to remove corrupt scythes from the world and this has precipitated a lot of action but it is Citra who has caused the most ripples. In the background Scythe Michael Faraday is working on a different tact that is hopefully going to be the salvation of the world.

Brilliantly conceived and written by Neal Shusterman, the action at times is breath taking and the philosophical argument thought provoking. One of the best novels this year or any other year for that matter. I await book 3 with bated breath.

Senior fiction and young adult but good intermediate readers will devour it too as they did with the latter novels in the Harry Potter series which dealt with equally complex topics. There is even a Voldemort like resurrection.

Dawn Raid by Pauline (Vaeluaga) Smith.

March 13, 2018 Comments off

dawn raidDawn Raid by Pauline (Vaeluaga) Smith. Pub. Scholastic, 2018

This most impressive novel is part of the My New Zealand Story series and concerns the Dawn Raids on Pacific Islanders during 1976 on the orders of the Muldoon Government. never has new Zealand got closer to being a police state than during these years of the seventies.

Thirteen year old Sofia Christina Savea keeps a diary from June till November 1976 and documents family life of the time plus the slow politicising of the Pacific Island community brought about by the racist acts of the police in chasing up overstayers in New Zealand.

The best part of the novel is Sofia’s home life, her life at school and her quest to earn money on a milk round to pay for some impressive go go, leather, knee high boots. The role of her mother father and siblings is superb.

Sofia has a talent at public speaking and has entered a competition. She is struggling for a topic until on a visit to Auckland for a family reunion they are dobbed in by a neighbour and the police dawn raid their property at 4.00am in the morning.

Lots of great writing and memories in this novel, in fact one of the best in this series.

Last Chance by Gregg Hurwitz

February 14, 2018 Comments off

last chanceLast Chance by Gregg Hurwitz. Pub. Penguin Random House, 2018.

This sequel to The Rains reviewed earlier on this blog is thrilling action writing at its best from an author who has written for Marvel and DC comics and the Orphan X novels amongst others.

After every adult over 18 years was infected by pollen from seeds spread about the Earth by asteroids, they turned into zombie like creatures called Hosts whose function was to capture all the children and to map the Earth for the alien invaders. Now these Hosts are rotting away and been replaced by a more daunting enemy the Hatchlings.

The children were collected to have eggs implanted inside them and give rise to the alien invaders who have been bred to survive in Earth’s conditions. They are flesh eating and are designed to finish humans off and prepare the planet for what? Read it and find out’

Once again the novel is narrated in diary form by 15 year old Chance Rains who with his 18 year old brother Patrick and Alex a 17 year old girl who provides the romantic conflict in this novel, basically fight the enemy single handedly.

These three have a special status within the young survivors of the Dusting and are going to find out that they have a bigger role than they could ever have conceived. They meet with one of the aliens who tells them a story that will blow their minds. .

Meanwhile the action continues as they fight tthe Hosts and Hatchlings to protect their commune set up inside a fenced off high school which has internal power struggles of it’s own. Can the enemy be defeated and the World saved? It’s the stuff of heroes. To tell you any more would ruin the novel for you.

The science is mind boggling and the ending may owe something to John Wyndham’s Day of the Triffids.

Compulsive reading for lovers of zombie books and of science fiction. Not unlike the 5th Wave novels also reviewed on this blog. Check it out, your mad if you don’t.

This Mortal Coil by Emily Suvada.

November 4, 2017 Comments off

mortal coilThis Mortal Coil by Emily Suvada. Pub. Penguin Random House, 2017.

This Young Adult novel can be described as science meets literature and indeed literature meets science. Mortal Coil from Shakespeare and the double helix coil that is the shape of human DNA. Very clever from a very intelligent and literate writer.

It is set in a dystopian world in which gene technology and software rule the planet through a conglomerate called Cartaxus. The World is swimming in toxins and Cartaxus seized control by offering people implantable panels in which are embedded gene control codes that allow them to survive. These panels respond to electronic pulses sent from outside and actually grow inside the body. Most Cartaxus people live underground.

Human gene editing is at the heart of everything until a virus called Hydra begins to infect the planet with clouds of explosive toxins for which there is no cure. Humanity is threatened with extinction.

Dr Lachlan Agatta who reluctantly worked for Cartaxus was a genius who wrote codes to protect people through their implanted panels. Before his death he wrote a code for a vaccine that could nullify Hydra. Cunningly he hid the code inside his 17 year old daughter Catarina without her knowledge and told her to hide outside the Cartaxus World. Catarina is a genius just like her father.

Catarina who narrates this novel, survives in the wild for a couple of years  with help from the underground resistance called Skies. Then one day a superbly wired up Cartaxus soldier comes looking for Catarina asking for help to write the code to destroy Hydra before it is too late. His name is Cole and there is chemistry between him and Catarina which both are trying to avoid. This brings a romantic side to this astonishing story. Together they find out some extraordinary information and have crises and adventures that will blow your mind. The World is at stake.

Superbly written as the science is complicated yet plausible and the reader must be able to understand what is going on to enjoy the story. Emily Suvada achieves this with some panache and keeps the drama up from start to finish.

If you like Rick Yancey’s series The 5th Wave you will love this. The best scifi novel I have read in years.