The Unadjusteds – Marisa Noelle

48874066._SY475_.jpgSilver Melody is an Unadjusted, in a world where 80% of the population has altered their DNA to gain special abilities and enhancements like wings, horns, strength or intelligence. Despite her parents being the creators of the pills used to deliver these genetic alterations, Silver doesn’t agree with what they’ve done and is proud of her unadjusted state. But then, when President Bear announces that all unadjusteds must take a pill, Silver flees to a hidden resistance camp, where she will play a key role in taking a stand against President Bear and his altered army.

The Unadjusteds is an action-packed story with a fast-paced plot. There is very little background information or world-building; instead, we are thrown straight into the action, with Silver fleeing the city within the first few chapters.

The pacing of this book left very little time for much character development, which was kind of a shame. There’s a significant romantic aspect (this is YA, after all) but it plays out in a slightly random love-triangle with next-to-no build up which felt a bit flat and unconvincing. I didn’t find this book particularly immersive, but at least it wasn’t boring.

Marisa Noelle has come up with a fantastic concept, exploring the problematic nature of a genetically modified humanity, and her writing style is good – very readable. I enjoyed The Unadjusteds, but I do think it could have been better.

I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

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Survivors – G.X. Todd

44594516._SY475_In Book #3 of The Voices, the war between people who hear voices and those who don’t is coming to a head. When Pilgrim wakes up in a shallow grave, he can’t remember who he is or how he got there. But there is a voice in his head which tells him what he needs to do: Find Lacey. As Pilgrim travels north in search of Lacey, he finds himself back in places he had long forgotten, with people he had left far behind. War is coming, and he will need all the friends he can get.

Survivors is the third book in one of my favourite series of all time. The characters are unbelievably good – I was beyond happy to have Pilgrim back (apologies for the slight spoiler, but yes, Pilgrim is alive), though I did miss Lacey in this book. But that’s part of the brilliance of this series. Each book so far has focused on different characters so, although I missed reading about some of my favourites, the story stays fresh and interesting.

It is 100% necessary to read the first two books before this one: it would not work at all as a standalone novel. It had been quite a long time for me between reading this book and the previous, and I did struggle a bit at times to remember who was who – because we do meet characters that we’ve come across before. Luckily, the story is so good that, in the end, it didn’t really matter that I was a bit lost at times. I completely loved it.

Todd’s writing is phenomenal, and has only improved book-by-book. The world-building and character development go a long way to create a totally immersive reading experience. Plot-wise, not a huge amount actually happens until later in the book. Instead, we get an insight into Pilgrim’s past and how he got to where he is now. But the lack of a completely action-packed plot does not lesson how good this book is at all. If anything, the change of pace from books 1 and 2 worked remarkably well.

The Voices is a must-read series for fans of post-apocalyptic fiction.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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We Call It Monster – Lachlan Walter

43925127._SY475_One day, an enormous creature crawled out of the ocean and destroyed a city. Soon, more creatures emerged and all humanity could do was try to stay alive. In the years that follow, humans must learn to adapt to survive in a new world, where they are not in control.

We Call It Monster is a very original Godzilla-style story. It is told in chunked time segments (years 1-5, 6-10, etc), and follows a range of different characters in more of an anthology style as opposed to a linear story-line. I believe the same characters are followed throughout the book, but it wasn’t always clear to me at all that they were the same characters, because they time jumps were quite big and the characters didn’t necessarily go by the same name in every chapter. Because of this, I didn’t feel there was much character development, or have any particular attachment to any of the characters. It all felt a little bit disjointed and didn’t flow particularly well for me.

That being said, the author has managed to take quite a common theme and create a truly original story which explores the effect these massive monsters have on society and the people left to survive in their wake.

I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

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A Second Chance – Jodi Taylor

35150831In Book #3 of The Chronicles of St Mary’s, time-travelling historian Max travels to 17th Century Cambridge to meet Sir Isaac Newton, the Trojan War, and the Battle of Agincourt.

I enjoyed the first half of this book a lot. Max’s trip to Cambridge to see Newton was as hectic and funny as ever, while the Troy adventure was detailed and (although maybe not historically accurate) really interesting. Some of it was a little bit heavy going (the Greeks did massacre the Trojans, after all), but generally not too difficult to read and added a good level of seriousness to an otherwise light and entertaining story.

However, about halfway through the book, the plot takes quite a surprising turn and the rest of the story focuses much more on some of the ongoing relationships of the series. I actually thought some of the author’s decisions were pretty lazy in terms of plot development, until things played out further and her plans became a bit clearer. Although I could accept that she had things play out a certain way for a reason – not just laziness – I’m not totally sure I liked what she did with the story.

The Chronicles of St Mary’s are still decent, funny and worth giving a go, but I hope Book #4 is better than this because there are too many of them to keep reading if they’re only going to be mediocre.

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A Symphony of Echoes – Jodi Taylor

43450940.jpgIn Book #2 of The Chronicles of St Mary’s, things are as crazy as ever. The St Mary’s Institute of Historical Research are an organisation of historians who travel back in time in order to carry out research and make sure that History stays on track. In the second instalment of the series, Max and the team visit Victorian London in search of Jack the Ripper, observe the murder of Archbishop Thomas Beckett, undertake the recovery of some dodos with no survival instincts, and make a risky visit to Mary Queen of Scots in an attempt to prevent an old enemy from changing the course of History.

A Symphony of Echoes is fast-paced and action-packed. Multiple adventures are stuffed into one book, so it’s a bit full-on but very well done and so much fun. I really love the quirky humour and adventures of these books; there really isn’t a dull moment. The characters are incredibly likeable and reasonably well developed, and I enjoy the time jumps. The historical elements seems to be reasonably well researched and accurate, up to the point where accuracy becomes irrelevant due to the actions of the characters.

My only criticism would be that there’s too much going on. The plot is a bit hard to follow because it really doesn’t stop, and story-development takes a clear back-seat behind the humour and wackiness. That being said, it’s such a fun read that none of that really matters.

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My Name is Monster – Katie Hale

40951767.jpgThe Sickness and the bombs have killed off the last of humanity, leaving only Monster, emerging from the arctic vault that kept her alive. Believing she is now alone in the world, Monster washes up on the coast of Scotland and begins the long journey back to her parent’s house. One day, she finds a girl. Naming the girl after herself and changing her own name to Mother, she tries to teach the girl everything she knows. But young Monster has her own desires that are very different to those of the Mother who made her, but didn’t create her.

The dynamic of this book – being a mother and young daughter in a post-apocalyptic landscape – bears some similarities to Cormack McCarthy’s The Road. It isn’t doing anything particularly new, but it is well-written and convincing enough to remain engaging throughout.

The back-story was extremely vague which I didn’t love. The causes of the apocalypse are only alluded to, in reference to the Sickness and the war, but the full story of what happened is never told. In some cases, this can add a level of intrigue or highlight that the point of the story is now not then, but in this case it felt more like the author just hadn’t really thought that much about that part of the story.

However, I did enjoy Monster’s story. Especially the first half, before she finds Monster Jr and becomes Mother. I found it difficult to empathise with either character. They both felt quite one dimensional, despite the quite obvious intention for them to be complex, but it was a good read nonetheless.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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Skyward – Brandon Sanderson

37635562Spensa’s world has been under attack by an alien race called the Krell for hundreds of years. Humanity are forced to take to the skies in defence of their lives, sacrificing pilots and cadets in the name of survival. Spensa has always dreamed of being a pilot, but since her father turned coward and deserted his team years ago, she hasn’t been able to escape from under his shadow. Finally, the opportunity arises for her to go to flight school, where she learns much more than just how to fly…

I haven’t read very many fantasies set in space – I usually prefer dragons and elves and other land-based fantasies – but I did really enjoy this one. Most of the plot unfolds in the air, while Spensa is flying or learning to fly, so in a way it was very similar to Star Wars, but with more of a YA feel.

The character growth in this book is very good. I really didn’t take to Spensa to begin with. She was annoying, whiny and aggressive, while her quirky violent outbursts felt very fake when put together with how insecure she was. However, as the plot developed, she changed. She became more confident and more thoughtful and considerate of others, and considerably more likeable.

Characters that I did absolutely love were Doomslug and M-bot. I also really liked Spensa’s flight mates. They were a witty and diverse group and *slight spoiler alert* the many deaths in this book are very sad.

This was my first Sanderson, and I would definitely read more.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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Battlestar Suburbia – Chris McCrudden

41951951Battlestar Suburbia is a really difficult book to summarise in any way that makes sense, but I’ll give it a go… Humanity has been downgraded to a secondary life-form, living to serve the electrical appliances that are now in charge. When Darren’s charge-cart gets knocked off the Mars-to-Earth highway, he thinks his day can’t get any worse. That is, until he accidentally short-circuits a sentient lamppost and finds himself right at the head of a human uprising against the machines.

As you may be able to gather from the synopsis, this book is very weird. Almost too weird. It took a really long time for me to get into it, so much so that I came very close to giving up and DNF-ing it. However, I’m glad I didn’t. When I finally found myself settling in to the madness, I LOVED IT. The general plot was insane but well thought-out and the characters, well, they were the best part.

Freda (an old lady cyborg) and Pam (a bread maker refitted into the body of a flashy motorbike) were my favourites. They were sassy and quirky and I loved reading about them. But all the other characters were good as well, and there were plenty of butt-kicking females.

The comedy aspect of this book is very good. It reminded me a lot of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy but with a very different plot. It’s a fun, crazy space adventure with lovable characters and laugh-out-loud moments.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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The Quanderhorn Xperimentations – Rob Grant & Andrew Marshall

39801235The Quanderhorn Xperimentations is completely bonkers and difficult to describe without sounding crazy, so I think the best course of action is to take the synopsis from Goodreads:

England, 1952.
Churchill is Prime Minister for the last time. Rationing is still in force. All music sounds like the BBC Radiophonic Workshop. People like living in 1952: it’s familiar and reassuring, and Britain knows its place in the world.
Few have noticed it’s been 1952 for the past 65 years.
Meet Professor Quanderhorn; a brilliant, maverick scientific genius who has absolutely no moral compass. With his Dangerous Giant Space Laser, High Rise Farm, Invisible Robot and Fleet of Monkey-driven Lorries, he’s not afraid to push the boundaries of science to their very limit.
Even when it’s clearly insane to keep pushing.
Despite the fact he’s saved the world from several Martian invasions, the attacks of the Mole People, the Troglodyte Shape-shifters and the Beatniks from Under the Sea, plus countless other sinister phenomena which threatened to rend the very fabric of reality, the Government would like to close him down. Why? Because they’re terrified of him. Of his reality-warping experiments, of the mysterious button on his desk which he’s constantly threatening to press. Of the unearthly secret locked in his cellar. And yet they’re even more terrified it might stop being 1952 and they’ll be out of power.

My favourite thing about this book is how completely bizarre and totally fantastic it is. Within the first few pages, Professor Quanderhorn’s team are attempting to stop a giant broccoli creature from destroying Big Ben, and it only gets madder from there. It is creative, unique science-fiction at it’s very best.

The plot is a little confusing and messy – the team jump from mission to mission without any kind of break in between, but it’s never boring or predictable. However, what really makes this book excellent are the characters: Brian Nylon, an unlikely hero with severe memory loss; the logical, semi-clockwork Dr Gemma Janussen; insect-brained Troy; and the Martian, Guuuurk. They’re the most incompetent, hilarious and lovable characters you’ve ever met.

I would recommend this book 100% to fans of Red Dwarf and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy… and anyone who loves a Martian death ray.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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Sea of Rust – C. Robert Cargill

32617610.jpgThirty years since the humans lost the war against artificial intelligence, not a single human remains. But the robots do not live in peace. Two powerful supercomputers wage war against each other, absorbing free robots into enormous networks known as One World Intelligences (OWIs). Brittle is one such free-bot fighting to remain autonomous, picking apart robot carcasses in the sea of rust to find the parts she needs to survive.

Post-apocolyptic, robot stories are not uncommon, but Sea of Rust somehow manages to bring something fresh to the genre. The personalities of the robots are complex and engaging (my favourite: the Cheshire King), bringing humour and tenderness to an otherwise quite dark story.

The AIs did appear to be surprisingly unintelligent. In a world inhabited entirely by robots, it didn’t make that much sense that they didn’t manufacture new parts themselves, or that they didn’t all reach the same calculated conclusions on how to live peacefully. On the whole, they acted an awful lot like the humans they had wiped out.

Other than that, the story (in my opinion) was very well thought out and believable. Every element of the story of the destruction of humanity and the rise of the robots makes complete sense and is entirely (and rather scarily) plausible. It is only the robot’s failure to survive afterwards that didn’t make a whole lot of sense.

There is a lot of action and drama. Sea of Rust would make an excellent movie.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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