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Archive for the ‘Science Fiction’ Category

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.

Landscape With Invisible Hand by M.T. Anderson.

September 27, 2017 Comments off

landscape invisibleLandscape With Invisible Hand by M.T. Anderson. Pub. Candlewick press, imprint Walker Books, 2017.

Life reflects art and art reflects life. That is one of the messages of this extraordinary novel that is written and structured like a catalogue of paintings.

It is set in a world that has been overtaken by an alien culture called Vuvv. They came to this world and convinced humans that their technology and way of life would solve all our problems. They clinically took over using the tools and techniques of capitalism while they themselves lived in the sky. Now human culture and commerce have been destroyed by Vuvv culture, millions have gone broke and struggle from day to day to exist. The changes are not unlike those caused by the computer revolution and economic shifts in today’s world.

Adam is 17 years old and his parents have separated, gone broke, looking for work and barely existing. Adam is an artist he paints the world he sees in spite of suffering from a gastronomic disease that threatens to overwhelm him. It is said that an artist does his best work when he suffers and this applies to Adam.

To make money to exist Adam and his girlfriend Chloe, with the heart shaped face and gorgeous body, make money by acting out their romance for the benefit of Vuvv viewers who love human romance and 50,s doo wop songs such as Take good care of my baby, and One eyed one horned flying purple people eater, because it is nothing like Vuvv life. When the romance goes pear shaped they are in trouble.

I am not going to tell you any more you can find out for yourself but it is just brilliant. I will tell you that when the relationship between Adam and Chloe falls apart the Vuvv are nonplused -“human love lasts until the end of time. If it does not, then it is not love”.

Wow this novel will blow your mind. For senior high school and young adults but here’s a warning. Once you start this novel you won’t put it down. Go get it.

 

The Loneliest Girl in the Universe by Lauren James.

August 16, 2017 Comments off

loneliest girlThe Loneliest Girl in the Universe by Lauren James. Pub. Walker Books, 2017.

This sci/fi, futurist, adventure romance for high school students and young adults is without doubt one of the books of the year. I was spellbound from beginning to end and you will be too.

Romy is 16 years old and is alone on a space ship called Infinity taking a 50 year journey at a tenth of the speed of light, to colonise a planet in another galaxy called Earth 2.

Romy was born on the space ship against NASA instructions. The Infinity is filled with thousands of frozen embryos and astronauts in a stasis condition until the journey is over. Things have not gone well on the Infinity and Romy now runs the whole ship on her own with communication back to Earth to a person called Molly. Messages take 2 years to reach Earth and back to Infinity.

Then Romy is told that a faster ship called The Eternity captained by J a 22 year old boy with the two ships programmed to dock in a year. They correspond and a relationship develops between them that provides the romance to the story. Then J tells Romy that war on Earth has destroyed NASA and a new government called UPR is in control and that all future communications are to go through him on the Eternity.

Is this all true? Is J who he says he is? has Earth really had a war? Why is Romy all alone?

Things become rivetting as Eternity catches up to Infinity. The ending is stunning and will keep you on the edge of your seat. You will not forget this novel in a hurry.

Beautifully written, totally believable and some of the cleverest plot lines I have ever read. If you miss this one you will kick yourself.

Kid Normal by Greg James & Chris Smith, illus. Erica Salcedo.

August 8, 2017 Comments off

kid normalKid Normal by Greg James & Chris Smith, illus. Erica Salcedo. Pub. Bloomsbury, 2017.

This novel for middle school, intermediate and junior secondary school readers is one of the most bizarre stories I have ever read. That’s not putting it down, its a compliment because reluctant readers are the big challenge these days and this story will suck them in.

There are two strands to the plot, one for each author, and they are skillfully brought together as the book proceeds. The first is about Murph, a boy who has moved schools so many times he is fed up to the back teeth. He is mistakenly accepted by a school that deals with children who have a weird talent or capability some of super hero status but not all. They discover Murph is just normal but he adjusts to his new life. Will he become a hero?

The second strand is about Clive Meeke a scientist working on DNA who is pressured by his boss. Who isn’t these days? While conducting an experiment with a wasp in the room things go pear shaped and Meeke becomes power crazy Nektar, half man half wasp.

If you want to know any more you will have to read it yourself but if you just want a snippet to get the feel of the book there is a short story in the middle of the book that mimics James Bond, about a super hero The Blue Phantom,  that is just brilliant.

Written by two BBC Radio 1 jocks who have the gift of the gab the story is never drab. Some of the idiom and metaphor are superb with Erica Salcedo providing illustrations that enhance the plot and give you an idea of what the characters look like.

It is a good laugh and reading should be fun.

Edgeland by Jake Halpen and PeterKujawinski.

July 10, 2017 Comments off

edgelandEdgeland by Jake Halpen and PeterKujawinski. Pub. Allen & Unwin, 2017.

It is said that you shouldn’t judge a book by it’s cover. Make this book the exception because the cover introduces you to this novel in the best way possible. The sea surging through arches into a chasm. The people in this novel call it The Drain and it is 30 miles wide and 100 miles across.

Where is it going and what mysteries surround it? For the population in this novel the drain is at the core of their hopes and dreams particularly at death. Are they being deceived?

Wren is a lower caste urchin with a strong sense of survival and caring for others. Alec is from a rich family who needs to prove himself to his family. He works for a funeral parlour to assist the bodies of the dead and some of the living  over the edge of the Drain to the afterlife.

Alec and Wren are friends but they are going to find out things that they never thought possible. Their journey in the land of the dead is thought provoking and deep. Look out for the links to this pair of authors first title together the very impressive Nightfall also reviewed on this blog.

Drown the serpent of Fear is a mantra that characterises this novel for Intermediate and high school students. A very good read. The ending will have you on the edge of your seat.

 

Moa by James Davidson

April 4, 2017 Comments off

moaMoa by James Davidson. Pub. Earths End, 2017.

A comic book story in 5 parts concerning two Moa Rangers Possum von Tempsky and Kiwi Pukupuku. Both ride Moas and are sort of watchdogs cum cultural police cum super heroes who wander round NZ’s bush and seashore sorting out the bad dudes including tough looking pigs, stags and lizards. All the local population are kiwis.

Their adventures fringe onto Maori legends including Hatupatu and the Birdwoman and of course Maui. There is a story of the largest Kauri tree that bushmen want to cut down. Everytime they try it is restored again as it is protected by a Mauri stone.

The last story which is not finished is a serial story concerning the theft of Maui’s magic jaw bone by Otto who wants to use it to fish for his own land and conquer the World. You will need to get the next part to find out how it ends.

Comic book illustrations with speech bubbles from the characters. Lots of action and tongue in cheek humour without offending the cultural aspects.

Another example of the changing way Maori legends and culture are proceeding to appeal to modern kids. I like the movement.

 

Horizon. survival is no game. by Scott Westerfeld

February 14, 2017 Comments off

horizonHorizon. survival is no game. by Scott Westerfeld. Pub. Scholastic, 2017.

This can only be the beginning of a new series because the end is inconclusive and elusive to the reader who is kept guessing all the way through the novel.

It is a science fiction/adventure novel with survival a major theme and is aimed at intermediate, junior secondary readers.

The novel begins with an unusual airplane crash by an aircraft en route from USA to Japan. In mid flight over the Arctic the aircraft is sliced through from nose to tail by something weird and crashes in a lush and dangerous jungle. How could this be?

Furthermore during the ripping of the fuselage all 500 adults disappeared leaving behind 8 teenagers and there seemed to have been some sort of electric selection system that decided who survived. Could this be true?

The teenagers wonder where they are. The plants and animals seem to indicate they are on Earth but two moon like lights in the sky suggest another planet. As the teenagers face what has happened to them they find an anti gravity device which allows them to explore the surroundings and they encounter a flesh eating vine and birds with razor sharp beaks that hunt in a flock.

Cool heads are needed to get out of this because if they got there, there has to be a way back. Read it and find out.

Imaginatively written by Scott Westerfeld, this series will be a winner.