Tag: science fiction

Hilo: Saving the Whole Wide World by Judd Winick

Hilo Saving the Whole Wide World by Judd Winick

Hilo: Saving the Whole Wide World by Judd Winick (InfoSoup)

This second book in the Hilo series is just as fresh and exciting as the first. In this book, Hilo and his friends DJ and Gina have to figure out how to save the earth from creatures who are appearing from other planets through strange portals. Luckily, Hilo quickly figures out how to zap the creatures back to their worlds, but soon even he can’t keep up with number of portals opening. Then there is also the question of Razorwark, the villain from the first book and whether he will be arriving through one of the portals himself bringing with him a potential answer about Hilo’s origins. I don’t want to spoil a single thing in this smart and funny series, so pick it up!

Winick sets just the right tone in this second book, managing to handily escape the sophomore slump and keep the series action-filled and funny. Though this book does serve as a bridge to the rest of the story, it also fills in many gaps for readers about Hilo and his friends. We are also introduced to a marvelous new character in Polly, a sorceress martial-arts cat. She is entirely kick-butt and ferocious, leaning into every battle that comes her way.

Winick does a great job with the art as well. His action sequences are dynamic and colorful. The portals themselves add a wonderful tension to the page, where one isn’t sure what is going to arrive next. Each character is unique and delightful to spend time with and once again I applaud Winick’s decision to have strong girls and diverse characters center stage.

A second book that continues to build on a great graphic novel series for children. Appropriate for ages 6-9.

Reviewed from library copy.

 

On the Edge of Gone by Corinne Duyvis

On the Edge of Gone by Corinne Duyvis

On the Edge of Gone by Corinne Duyvis (InfoSoup)

The author of Otherbound returns with a stunning science fiction novel for teens. Denise and her mother are ready to leave their apartment, but her mother won’t move fast enough. She is trying to wait for Denise’s sister, Iris. Now they are not going to reach the shelter in time and that means that they probably won’t survive the comet hitting Earth. As they drive the empty streets to their temporary shelter, desperately late, a chance encounter leads them on another path. Instead of a temporary shelter, they are offered shelter in a generation ship that will wait out the comet hit and then leave earth. Now it is up to Denise to figure out how to fix everything, to find her sister in destroyed and flooded Amsterdam, and even more importantly get them all a spot on the generation ship before it takes off. But who is going to take Denise who is autistic and her mother who struggles with drug addiction?

Duyvis set this book in her native Amsterdam and throughout the novel, one can see her love for her nation and her city. Yes, she destroys much of it, but the spirit of the people is clear on the page as is the beauty of the city even through its destruction. The science here is done just right, with a clear connection to today’s technology but also taking it leaps ahead, allowing readers to truly believe it is 2035. This book is not afraid of asking difficult questions about disabilities and addiction and whether only the perfect deserve to survive in this situation.

The book is beautifully written, with an impressive protagonist who shows that disabilities are no reason that you can’t be a survivor and even more so, a heroine. Denise is a beautiful mixture of autistic behaviors when she is pushed but also bravery and resilience. The book is an intelligent mix of adventure and survival with a compelling question of what could make Denise worthy enough to stay. There are additional ethical questions throughout, including how far one would go to save a loved one.

A brilliant science fiction novel that offers diversity and a powerful story. Appropriate for ages 12-15.

Reviewed from ARC received from Abrams.

 

Titans by Victoria Scott

Titans by Victoria Scott

Titans by Victoria Scott

Astrid’s family has been destroyed by the Titans, mechanical horses raced at a track near her Detroit neighborhood. Her father lost everything betting on the horses and now they may lose their home. Yet Astrid also finds herself drawn to the Titans and spending time figuring out the math to create the best approaches to turns. So when Astrid meets a strange old man who has a Titan of his own, the first generation ever made, Astrid knows that she just has to try to ride it. It is up to Astrid now to secure the future for her family if she can only prove that a poor girl and an old horse can win.

Scott has written such a rip-roaring story. It is a book that will hook those who love horses as well as those who love racing. It’s a book that is science fiction, but a near future that is all too possible, where the division between rich and poor is even more strong than today and where impossibly complex robotic horses come to life. Even better, it is a world that makes sense for the reader, one with great appeal and a strong heroine to cheer for.

Astrid is an amazing heroine. She has a brain that thinks in mathematics and physics, naturally bounding ahead of others. And she uses it not just to ride differently than the others but also to face the horrible traps set into the race track that change from one race to another.  Astrid is complex. She is deeply loyal to her family, yet does not tell them what she is doing. She also takes longer than the reader to fall for her Titan, something that works very nicely so that the reader is cheering them on together.

A riveting read that is compulsively readable, this teen novel has great appeal and will set anyone’s heart racing. Appropriate for ages 12-15.

Reviewed from ARC received from Scholastic Press.

Review: Willful Machines by Tim Floreen

Willful Machines by Tim Floreen

Willful Machines by Tim Floreen (InfoSoup)

Lee is the son of the President of the United States, but he isn’t a teen who is particular positive or popular. A year ago, he tried to take his own life and now is left with a fear of heights. So when he sees a new boy at school balancing on his hands only inches away from the edge of his elite school’s waterfall, Lee is shaken. Later, the boy approaches him and the two become friends. It helps that Lee is immediately attracted to Nico with his Chilean accent and loud laugh. It’s an attraction that his ultra-conservative father will not approve of and one that his father’s national policies has made illegal. In order to get to know one another better, the two boys manage to lose Lee’s security detail a couple of times. But things at school are starting to get weird with one of Lee’s robotic creatures attacking him and a threat from a sentient computer program promising continued attacks. Lee finds himself at the center of the battle for robot rights as the robots begin to turn on him.

Floreen has set his novel in the near future. It’s a future filled with clever devices that keep people connected to the internet at all times, robots that are nearly flesh and blood, and one where terrorist attacks are created by sentient computers. He keeps a tight rein on the setting, an elite prep school where security is tight and the security around Lee is even tighter. This creates a wonderful claustrophobia as well as a paranoia about being watched and spied upon. It’s a great setting for this nail-biting adventure.

Lee is a character I adored immediately. I love his morose sadness and his unwillingness to display emotions unless he is feeling them. He is deeply grieving for the loss of his mother and his suicide attempt is an adept mix of tragedy and humor. He is honest through and through, a complete disappointment to the men in his family, and they don’t even know that he’s gay. Floreen incorporates that aspect of his character throughout the book. His romance with Nico is wonderfully hot and deeply romantic.

A great mix of LGBT, robots and science fiction, this book offers a bleak look at America’s near future with the spiciness of one hot romance. I’m hoping there’s a sequel on its way! Appropriate for ages 13-17.

Reviewed from ARC received from Simon and Schuster.

Review: Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Illuminae by Amie Kaufman

Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff (InfoSoup)

Released October 20, 2015.

Kady picked the worst time possible to break up with Ezra: just as their planet was attacked. The two of them manage to survive and are taken into space on two different ships in the fleet. The fleet must keep moving in order to escape the final ship from the attacking forces. As they travel, Kady becomes a hacker, looking at files and documents that only the commanding officers of the fleet would usually see. Ezra becomes a pilot, manning a small spaceship in battles. The two of them can only communicate through texts with one another and when communication between the two ships is shut down, it is up to Kady to reconnect them using her hacking skills. But connecting with each other may be the last thing on their minds as a combination of a deadly plague and an insane artificial intelligence threatens all of them.

This brilliant novel uses documents that recreate the events on the fleet, the hacking of Kady, the piloting by Ezra, and their communications with one another. They are documents from an investigation that takes place afterwards, piecing together what happened to the people aboard the ships. The documents are an amazing mix of different formats which keeps the long novel fresh and fast moving. The documents create a story of mysteries and then horror as the plague takes effect. Horrible and devastating choices must be made that have consequences for many, the tension is tremendous throughout the book and just grows even more ferocious as the novel continues. It’s diabolically plotted in a wonderful twisted way.

The design of this book is gorgeous. Pages loop with text as missiles and space ships weave and fight. Other pages for heartbeats, images made of words. For me, the best part of the book is the artificial intelligence after it has been damaged. It is beyond human, smarter than us all, asking questions that an AI should not be posing, and feeling things that no AI should feel. It is death, life and wonder rolled into one. Brilliance and darkness at the same time.

A glorious science fiction read for teens, this book has romance yes, but at its heart it is a dynamic horror story set in the vacuum of space. Appropriate for ages 14-18.

Reviewed from ARC received from Alfred A. Knopf.

Review: Space Dumplins by Craig Thompson

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Space Dumplins by Craig Thompson (InfoSoup)

Violet and her family live happily together in an asteroid belt where her mother is a clothing designer and her father salvages items from outer space. Then Violet’s school is eaten in a space whale feeding frenzy and she has to go to work with her mother. While they are there, more whale attacks happen and her father disappears. Violet decides that she has to find out what happened to him. She gathers two friends together, one of them a snazzily dressed chicken and the other the last of the Lumpkins. But there are many dangers in space and Violet and her friends get set upon by space gangs, have to traverse a ring of trash, and then must figure out why the whales are on a rampage. It’s up to Violet to save her dad and she just might save the entire galaxy along the way.

Thompson is the acclaimed author of graphic novels like Blankets and Habibi. This is his first graphic novel for young readers and with it he demonstrates his immense skill in writing for any age. Violet is a strong and fierce female protagonist who is the one running into danger to save others, and I love a girl who works to save her father in space. It’s a great feminist twist on a more traditional structure. Louis, the chicken, is also a great male character who also is non-stereotypical and loves his clothes and not adventuring in space. Additionally, the book uses humor constantly, creating a book filled with puns and laughter, just what I’d want in any space adventure.

Thompson’s art is wonderfully strong. He takes the time to show young readers not only the outside of the spacecrafts but the insides as well using cutaways of the hulls. The various worlds and space structures that they visit are unique and diverse, creating a full sense of adventure as the book moves along. Thompson never forgets that this is a science fiction book, keeping the art and the story fully grounded in that world and setting. He also manages to include themes of environmentalism and individuality very successfully.

Another strong girl to join Zita the Spacegirl in taking readers to space and the stars. Appropriate for ages 8-11.

Reviewed from ARC received from GRAPHIX.

Review: The Scorpion Rules by Erin Bow

Scorpion Rules by Erin Bow

Scorpion Rules by Erin Bow (InfoSoup)

400 years in the future, the world is ruled by an artificial intelligence named Talis who has the ability to blow up cities if they fail to follow his rules. Talis also demands that any ruler in the world give up a child to be held hostage. That child is raised as a Child of Peace in small schools called Preceptures. If their parent decides to go to war with another region, that child is immediately put to death. Greta has been living in a Canadian Precepture since she was five. She is the Duchess of Halifax and the Crown Princess of the Pan-Polar Confederation. She knows her destiny is either to die or to leave the Prefecture at age 18 to become the ruler of her confederation. But everything changes when a new boy enters the Prefecture, a boy not raised to be a ruler but instead raised on a sheep farm and a boy unwilling to submit to the rules of the school or the world. As Greta grows closer to Elian, she begins to question the rules she has embraced all of her life. But their countries are about to declare war upon one another, so Greta’s time is coming to a close alongside Elian and before Greta has truly learned to live.

I am in awe, seriously. I adored Bow’s previous book that merged Native Americans with zombies. So I was happy to see another book by her and then shocked to have it so wildly different. Shocked in a good way, where you realize the breadth of a writer’s vision and skill. Bow manages to create a world where machines rule and it all makes sense. She casually throws around technology terms and they all work as well. This is not a world that is a strain to see coming, but rather one that is so psychologically logical as a result of our current world that it is bruisingly beautifully complete.

Greta is a an elegant character, a bundle of contradictions held together solely by the constraints of the world she finds herself in. She is a natural ruler, even among other teens who are born to lead. She comports herself with dignity always, her greatest fear being to let her people down. And then into that constricted life comes Elian, filled with humor, laughter and bravery. Greta changes, slowly and steadily, from ruler to human in the greatest sense. It is beautiful to witness, believable and tragically timed.

I would do this book a disservice if I didn’t talk about its diversity. The characters are all diverse and unique, the group of older teens come from all parts of the world. And the diversity doesn’t end there, because there is also a lush and lovely lesbian romance alongside a gay one where it is portrayed with all of the beauty and romance one could want.

Masterful science fiction with grand world building and one hell of a protagonist, this is one of my top science fiction reads of the year. Appropriate for ages 14-16.

Reviewed from ARC received from Margaret K. McElderry Books.