Kind of Doctor Who-ish: 172 Hours on the Moon by Johan Harstad [REVIEW]

15790843172 Hours on the Moon by Johan Harstad
First published in Norwegian by Cappelen Damm in September 2008
Pages: 376
Young AdultScience FictionHorror
Buy: Amazon | Book DepositoryB&N

Source: Library

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It’s been decades since anyone set foot on the moon. Now three ordinary teenagers, the winners of NASA’s unprecedented, worldwide lottery, are about to become the first young people in space–and change their lives forever. Mia, from Norway, hopes this will be her punk band’s ticket to fame and fortune. Midori believes it’s her way out of her restrained life in Japan. Antoine, from France, just wants to get as far away from his ex-girlfriend as possible.

It’s the opportunity of a lifetime, but little do the teenagers know that something sinister is waiting for them on the desolate surface of the moon. And in the black vacuum of space… no one is coming to save them.

In this chilling adventure set in the most brutal landscape known to man, highly acclaimed Norwegian novelist Johan Harstad creates a vivid and frightening world of possibilities we can only hope never come true.

I want to read more Norwegian books and I decided to start with this one, because it sounded fairly interesting, plus it has an English translation and is thus relevant on this blog. Yay. 
I listened to this on audio and I think listening to it made me enjoy it more than if I actually read it. I feel like if I was reading it then I would have been more bored than I was during the first half of the book. 
Because the first half of the book is a little bit slow. I don’t think they leave for the moon until the second half and there’s a lot of background information for the characters as they go about their every-day life back home. Speaking of the every-day, I found the chapter from Antoine’s ex pretty unnecessary. That’s not to say the first half isn’t interesting though, because it is. Especially the chapters from the old man in the retirement home, those were great. 

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Space wars and rogue AIs: Illuminae by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff [REVIEW]

young adult scifi booksIlluminae by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff
Series: The Illuminae Files #1
Published by Random House in October 2015
Pages: 599

Young AdultDystopia, Science Fiction, Thriller
Source: Purchased
Buy: Amazon | Book DepositoryB&N
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This morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do.

This afternoon, her planet was invaded.

The year is 2575, and two rival megacorporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than an ice-covered speck at the edge of the universe. Too bad nobody thought to warn the people living on it. With enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra—who are barely even talking to each other—are forced to fight their way onto an evacuating fleet, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit.

But their problems are just getting started. A deadly plague has broken out and is mutating, with terrifying results; the fleet’s AI, which should be protecting them, may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady hacks into a tangled web of data to find the truth, it’s clear only one person can help her bring it all to light: the ex-boyfriend she swore she’d never speak to again.

Told through a fascinating dossier of hacked documents—including emails, schematics, military files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and more—Illuminae is the first book in a heart-stopping, high-octane trilogy about lives interrupted, the price of truth, and the courage of everyday heroes.

The spoilers in this review have been hidden, so you can safely read without being spoiled, if you so wish.

This book is hard for me to review, because I can’t really figure out what it is that made this book not get five stars from me, and instead 3.5. Maybe I’ll figure it out as I write. Let’s see… 

I really love books written in alternative formats, with pieced together information found-footage style. I love it and if you know more books like that then please let me know. Illuminae, as you all probably know, is a dossier consisting of interviews, chat logs, emails, reports, wikipedia articles, etc., about the Kerenza disaster (the main character’s planet). At times you have to turn the book upside down to read, which is another thing I enjoy (House of Leaves anyone? Oh boy.)

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For the nerds & geeks: Ready Player One by Ernest Cline [REVIEW]

20603758Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
Published by Random House in August 2011
Pages: 374

Young AdultDystopia, Science Fiction
Source: Purchased
Buy: Amazon | Book DepositoryB&N
Rating:  photo five stars_zpsr2o5iiuv.png

In the year 2044, reality is an ugly place. The only time teenage Wade Watts really feels alive is when he’s jacked into the virtual utopia known as the OASIS. Wade’s devoted his life to studying the puzzles hidden within this world’s digital confines, puzzles that are based on their creator’s obsession with the pop culture of decades past and that promise massive power and fortune to whoever can unlock them. When Wade stumbles upon the first clue, he finds himself beset by players willing to kill to take this ultimate prize. The race is on, and if Wade’s going to survive, he’ll have to win—and confront the real world he’s always been so desperate to escape.

There is a chance you will really love this book if you A) love video games B) consider yourself a misunderstood nerd/geek or C) love 80s pop culture & games. Even if you don’t do or like any of these things you will probably still enjoy this book, because it’s awesome. I know I got very few of the 80s references, being a 90s child, but that didn’t bother me. (Though when I got to the Pac-Man part I was like AHA! I KNOW PAC-MAN. 10 POINTS FOR GRYFFINDOR)

If you’ve ever played Second Life, the OASIS is kind of like that. Just way more immersive and real. It’s kind of like Second Life + Oculus Rift + a suit that makes you actually feel things inside the virtual reality + a smell tower that makes you smell the virtual reality. Oh, and + Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory where Halliday is Willy Wonka and the OASIS is the chocolate factory.

People in this book literally live their entire lives inside the OASIS, they even go to school and get married there. You don’t even need to get out of the house, you can go to a restaurant in the OASIS, order a pizza, and that order will transfer to a the pizza place near you in the real world and they’ll deliver to your door. Amazing. 

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Review: The Girl With All the Gifts by M.R. Carey

The Girl With All the Gifts reviewThe Girl With All the Gifts by M.R. Carey
Published by Orbit in January 2014
Pages: 460

Genres: Adult, ApocalypticScience Fiction, Thriller 
Buy: Amazon | Book Depository | Barnes and Noble
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Melanie is a very special girl. Dr. Caldwell calls her “our little genius.”

Every morning, Melanie waits in her cell to be collected for class. When they come for her, Sergeant Parks keeps his gun pointing at her while two of his people strap her into the wheelchair. She thinks they don’t like her. She jokes that she won’t bite, but they don’t laugh.

Melanie loves school. She loves learning about spelling and sums and the world outside the classroom and the children’s cells. She tells her favorite teacher all the things she’ll do when she grows up. Melanie doesn’t know why this makes Miss Justineau look sad.

I really don’t think it’s a spoiler that this is a zombie book. Like really, it’s implied heavily in the synopsis, plus it’s revealed very early on in the book that we’re dealing with zombies here. 

So yes. Zombie children. But not regular zombies, because these children actually have brain function, which is a far cry from the other zombies roaming about outside. And we’re reading to figure out why that’s the case, among other things. 

I found this to be a really interesting take on the whole zombie thing, I especially liked the how and the why to the epidemic, it made a whole lot of sense. And I’ve actually thought of the same thing before so imagine my delight when I realized someone has actually used it in a book. I liked the ‘normal’ zombies too (i.e. the ones without brain function), I found their nature very intriguing and different from what I’ve seen previously. I hated the word “hungries” though, it sounds so juvenile. But then again, there aren’t many words for zombies left that haven’t been used before. I’ll give it a pass even though I cringed a little every time I read it. 

I really enjoyed Melanie’s relationship with her favorite teacher, the beautiful and kind Miss Justineau. Miss Justineau treats the children like people, which is a rarity. She tries to teach them things and she reads them stories from Greek mythology. It’s not a secret that Melanie has a crush on her, I found that so sweet and lovely. This child would do anything for this woman and my heart can’t take it. Too precious. 

I love you, Miss Justineau. I’ll be a god or a Titan for you, and save you.

The first part of this novel is absolutely amazing. Like the first 130 or so pages? Fantastic. If you’re looking for a book with a gripping start definitely try this one. I hate it when books start slow but this one took you straight into the action and I couldn’t stop reading. The middle part lost a little bit of oomph here and there, but I was still immersed in the plot and the characters.

I enjoyed all the character development, because pretty much every character starts out as a generic stereotype but then reveal deeper parts of themselves as we read on. I grew to really like one character that you wouldn’t think you would ever like in the beginning. 

I was ready to give this book a solid 4 stars until the very last page. Holy shit, that last page gave me actual chills and I had to change my rating to a very strong 4.5. I really loved the way this ended. It was melancholic, tragic, yet beautiful and somewhat hopeful. 

I’d recommend this book to everyone, it’s haunting and gripping and makes you think about what it means to be human. 

Have you read this book? Or are you going to? Tell me what you think!

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Review: The Ask and the Answer by Patrick Ness

19547856The Ask and the Answer by Patrick Ness
Series: Chaos Walking #2 (Completed trilogy)
Published by Walker Books in 2009
Pages: 536
Genres: Dystopia, Young Adult, Science Fiction, Thriller
Buy: Amazon | Book Depository
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Book 1: The Knife of Never Letting Go review

If you haven’t read The Knife of Never Letting Go then I don’t know what to tell you because there will be spoilers here. I don’t recommend reading this review if you have plans to read the first book but haven’t yet.

Let’s start with a brief summary. 

The novel starts off directly after the first one and we find Todd imprisoned by President Mayor Prentiss and Viola being healed by the women, led by Mistress Coyle, of New Prentisstown Haven. Todd and Viola are separated and desperate to find each other again, but they both fall victims to the manipulative forces of the two opposites sides in the civil war now breaking out on New World.

It is a novel about war and resistance, of bombings, terrorism, and genocide, and yet it is very much a psychological thriller compared to The Knife of Never Letting Go‘s action-packed cat-and-mouse adventure. I love me some psychological thrillers and dramas, but I found the first half of this book to be a bit slow at times, thus the slightly lower rating than the previous book. Don’t despair though, because shit went down in the second half and the first half did have some really interesting parts, namely Todd and Davy Prentiss’ work with the thousands of captive Spackle. I loved reading about that, it was awful and heart-wrenching but so interesting. 

One of the really interesting things about this novel is how Ness approaches the topic of war. He makes sure both sides (Mayor Prentiss’ and Mistress Coyle’s) are realistic in the sense that no side is completely good. Both sides do terrible things, both sides get a lot of innocent people killed, and Todd and Viola both have to struggle with that, wondering whether or not the other has been a part of the horrible things the other side has done. 

The novel is told from both Todd and Viola’s perspectives this time around and we are told when the POV changes so it’s no problem keeping up. Todd and Viola also have different fonts, which was a nice way to ensure you don’t forget who’s speaking since it uses first person.

The character development here is great too. Ness made the highly unlikable Davy Prentiss Jr. likable, so much so that towards the end he reminded me so much of my all-time favorite fictional character and that just punched me right in the gut. DON’T PLAY WITH MY EMOTIONS LIKE THAT. 

And of course Ness ripped my heart out in the end once again, as if Manchee wasn’t enough. Goddamn it. I’m still not okay. If you’ve read it you probably know what I’m talking about. 

Patrick Ness is so good. I don’t even know what it is exactly, but he’s so good. There’s something about this series that just comes to life in my head when I read it, I see everything. It’s like a movie and it’s beautiful. I’m usually good at visualizing what I’m reading but I don’t know, this just comes to life in a completely different way. I’m swear I can ever hear the background music when I’m reading. 

Go read this series, it’s great. I don’t dare to think about what’s going to happen in Monsters of Men, which is no doubt going to be an even bigger war with probably two more opponents. 

Have you read this book? What did you think? 

Review: Saga (volume 1-4) by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples

volume 1-4 by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples

Published by: Image Comics
on March 1st 2012
Pages: ?
Genres: Graphic Novel,  Adult, FantasyScience Fiction, Romance
Buy: Amazon | Book Depository (volume 1)
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Star Wars-style action collides with Game of Thrones-esque drama in this original sci-fi/fantasy epic for mature readers, as new parents Marko and Alana risk everything to raise their child amidst a never-ending galactic war.
– Goodreads

I’ll be reviewing all the volumes that are out this far, which is four. The fifth one comes out on September 15h, you can pre-order it here

In this sci-fi/fantasy series we meet Marko and Alana, lovers from different species from different sides of the war in a Romeo and Juliet-like situation. Alana is from the large planet Landfall and Marko from the moon Wreath, which is heavily oppressed by Landfall’s people. Alana and Marko met when Alana was assigned to be Marko’s prison guard, but instead they ended up eloping and having a child, causing major outrage. Drama ensues.

 I’m really enjoying these, they’re so intriguing, the characters are complex, and the artwork is stunning and sometimes really creepy. The Stalk, a human/spider woman with boobs and no arms and four sets of red eyes comes to mind as a character that both intrigues and freaks me out. There’s the ghost of a teenage girl that’s just a floating upper body with her guts spilling out (she’s really nice though), there are giant naked cats called Lying Cats that know when you’re lying (I love them), and then there’s the robot people, with humanoid bodies but television heads. I have now seen a royal robot person give birth, that was… new.  

Speaking of the robot people, that’s an interesting plotline in the story. The Robot Kingdom is on Landfall’s side in the war, and Prince Robot IV is assigned to recapture Marko while his pregnant wife waits for him at home. In volume 4 something dramatic happens and I’m so excited to know what’s going to happen in volume 5 based on the very last page. If you’ve read it you know what I’m talking about. I’m so here for that type of plot development.

Out of the characters I really love Alana, Gwendolyn (Marko’s ex), Lying Cat, and Izabel (the teenage ghost). I pretty much like them all but these all stand out. I also love the gay tabloid journalists, Upsher and Doff, I want more of them. I really love how diverse the cast of characters is. It’s wonderful. 

Alana and Marko’s relationship is something I really like too. They argue, they bicker, they have ups and downs, but they love each other. Their banter is really funny too, I found myself chuckling several times. In volume 4 they start having more serious relationship problems, and while it’s heartbreaking it feels very realistic. 

I have to say that it’s got a lot of adult content, so it’s not for the younger audience. Or, it can be if you don’t mind that sort of thing, I’m not going to tell you what you can’t read, that’s lame. But it doesn’t shy away from nudity, swearing, sex, or violence. I like that though, it keeps it raw and real.

I don’t really know what else to say about this, other than I really like it. I gave the four volumes the total 4/5 starts because… I don’t know. The first volume I gave 3.5 because it was more like a pilot, it set everything up for the rest of the series. The other volumes range between 4 and 4.5. 

Have you or are you going to read Saga? What do you think? 

Review: More Than This by Patrick Ness

MORE THAN THIS by Patrick Ness

Published by: Candlewick Press
on September 1st 2013
Pages: 472
Genres: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Post-Apocalyptic, LGBTQIA
Buy: Amazon | Book Depository
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“Here is the boy, drowning.”

This book starts with the main character drowning. Yep, he dies. That’s not a spoiler because that’s there in the very first sentence. Seth is a 16 year old boy and he drowns in the ocean. And then he wakes up, bruised and thirsty but seemingly alive. Where is he? And how did he get here? 

You shouldn’t go into this book knowing anything more about it than that. I knew nothing more than that and I’d have been a bit angry if I did, because the thing that makes this book so good and so exciting is not knowing what the hell is going on. Did he actually die? And if he did, why and how is he here? Is he in hell? Heaven? Or somewhere else entirely? And why was Seth in the ocean in the first place? 

This book is so. good. I was hooked from the very beginning on both the plot and the writing. It’s a survival story and I love those. It keeps you guessing. It keeps you scratching your head and asking yourself “how??” “why??” I personally love that about books, as I’ve previously said in my review of The Knife of Never Letting Go, also by Patrick Ness.

More Than This is split into 4 parts and while the first part might come across as slow to some, that first part was my favorite. I found it intense, engaging, and quite terrifying in its utter desolation. In the second part things changes, and you might have to reconsider your theories on what’s going on. You will have to do that a lot while reading this. 

The characters in this novel are great too. It alternates between present time and flashbacks to Seth’s life before, dealing with his family and friends, where we find out about a tragedy from his childhood that has shaped his entire life. Tomasz is one character that I really liked. What a cutie-patootie.

Another thing I really loved is the casual homosexuality in this book. It’s very matter-of-fact, like it should be, no big deal. 

This book has a pretty open ending and while I liked how it ended I’d kill for a sequel. You’ll find out why that is if you read this book, which you should. John Green says it best in the blurb: “Just read it.”

Have you read this one or other Patrick Ness books? Have your read anything similar to this, because if so I want it right now.