Recollections: Reviews by a Book Lover


Let’s Get Graphic: Graphic Novel Roundup

I’ve been reading a lot of graphic novels lately, probably more graphic novels than books actually. Below are some of my favorites.

The first 3 are Advanced Reader Copies through Netgalley:

Picture from GoodReads

Picture from GoodReads

First one I’ll mention is The Shadow Hero by Gene Luen & Sonny Liew. It doesn’t come out until July, so I’m going to hold off on a full review for now. I will say it’s about the Green Turtle, the first Asian American super hero, and I will say I really enjoyed it. Fans of Gene Luen Yang won’t be disappointed. My copy was an e-galley through Netgalley.

 

Picture from GoodReads

Picture from GoodReads

The Return of Zita the SpaceGirl by Ben Hatke comes out this month. This is the third installment of Zita the Spacegirl. Again my copy was an e-galley through Netgalley. I loved the two previous Zita’s, and I loved The Return as much as the first two. I love Zita’s spunk and determination. She is loyal and a true friend to all who need her help. If you are looking for a graphic novel with loveable characters then check out Zita, you won’t be disappointed.

 

Picture from GoodReads

Picture from GoodReads

The last e-galley I read recently was This One Summer by Jillian and Mariko Tamaki. Every summer Rose and her family go to a Lake House in Awago Beach. Rose hangs out with Windy, whose family also always vacations there. Rose’s parents are constantly fighting, so Rose and Windy find ways to distract themselves, like swimming, going to the local convenience store, and watching horror movies. This is the summer of growing up, transitioning from child to teen, and learning all the heartbreak and wonder that come along with it.

 

Great graphic novels I’ve read lately that are already out include:

 

Picture from GoodReads

Picture from GoodReads

Zombie’s Calling by Faith Erin Hicks. Joss loves zombie movies, but will her knowledge of the rules of a zombie movie be enough to save her and her roommates when her university is taken over by a zombie plague? Great story, loveable characters, and I personally appreciated the commentary on the price of higher education (as I, like Joss, will be paying off my college education for the rest of my life).

Picture from GoodReads

Picture from GoodReads

Mind the Gap by Jim McCann. I’m on volume two of this graphic novel series, and I am HOOKED! Elle is attacked in the subway station, and now she is lying in a hospital in a coma. Who tried to kill Elle and why? Elle’s spirit is detached from her body and trying to put all the pieces together. This is a fantastic thriller with a supernatural twist. I’m really intrigued by this story, and I can’t wait to get volume number 3.

MorningGlories

Morning Glories by Nick Spencer. I picked up with graphic novel series at work because the back said it was about six brilliant new students at a sinister boarding school. I love a good boarding school story, add mystery and something deadly lurking and I’ll pick it up! I’m on volume #3 so far and I haven’t been disappointed. The twist and turns are never ending. The teachers are straight up evil, almost drowning the 6 student on their first day. There is a weird cult and strange medical experiments. So far this series is keeping me hooked and on the edge of my seat.

 


Infernal Devices – Book 1 & 2

After reading all of the Mortal Instruments books to date by Cassandra Claire, I have to admit I have become addicted to the sci fi world she’s created. There’s something fun and exciting about having all these demons, angels, vampires, werewolves, and superhumans called shadow hunters all in one novel running around and fighting each other. So I decided to check out the Infernal Devices, which is a prequel to the Mortal Instruments and follows the tale of another heroine, Tessa Grey.

 
Tessa starts off the first books captured by some evil witches who are holding her for some authority figure called “The Magistar”. One thing I do like about Claire’s writing is that she definitely knows how to dive right into the action parts. Within a chapter or two she is being rescued by some shadowhunters, most notably a boy named Will Herondale. His personality matches up with Jayce’s from Mortal Instruments very much, which makes me a little sad because it seems like she’s almost recycling the same character with a different name.

 
Anyway, after she is rescued, she goes to live with the Shadowhunters at the institute, which is the same institute from the Mortal Instruments book, so that is a nice tie in. The Shadowhunters have offered to help her find her brother in exchange for her helping them find the Magistar. I should mention at this moment that Tessa has the power to transform completely into another person, which was why she was being held by the witches, they were honing her power before turning her over to the Magistar. Of course, there is a love triangle in the books, involving Tessa, Will, and Will’s parabatai Jem. For those who haven’t read the Mortal Instruments book, which you don’t need to in order to enjoy these, Will and Jem are basically closer than brothers, according to the parabatai bond. Naturally, this makes things complicated for the relationship part.

 
Without spoiling anything, they eventually find out who the Magistar is in book one, and spend all of book two trying to track him down, all while Charlotte and Henry, the caretakers of the institute, are fighting to hold onto the institute amidst the governing body of the shadowhunters trying to take it away from them for letting the Magistar get away. I’m trying not to spoil anything, but they are very entertaining reads, and I’m excited to finish the 3rd book in the series.


Review: Jenna Fox Chronicles

Jenna Fox

The Jenna Fox Chronicles by Mary E. Pearson

Disclaimer:  This is going to be a review of the overall trilogy

There are three books in the Jenna Fox Chronicles:  The Adoration of Jenna Fox, The Fox Inheritance, and Fox Forever.

Here is the summary for The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Goodreads.com:

“Who is Jenna Fox? Seventeen-year-old Jenna has been told that is her name. She has just awoken from a coma, they tell her, and she is still recovering from a terrible accident in which she was involved a year ago. But what happened before that? Jenna doesn’t remember her life. Or does she? And are the memories really hers?”

So what has happened to Jenna that put her in the coma?  Her parents have moved in the year she was in a coma across the country, but why? That is the mystery which Jenna tries to solve.

I’m not going to give summaries for the other two books in the trilogy, because they will give away the mystery in the first book.  I will say they are set in the future after America has had a war separating the country and robots are common (from taxi drivers to maids in a house).

Here’s why I love these books:  It makes us think about medical ethics.  More than that it asks us what makes us human?  Can robots develop feelings and thoughts of their own?  Can they dream of freedom?  Dream of becoming more?  I love the concept of robots wanting more.  While this is not a new concept (iRobot for example), it is something I enjoy thinking about.  These books also explore how the world changes.  Places change, they grow different through the years; some buildings are put up while others are knocked down.  The Jenna Fox Chronicles reminds us the world will change in good ways, but also bad ways.  While the world changes and moves forward there are things which remain the same; some things are timeless.

I think these are great questions, and you will think about them long after you finish the book.  Is it my flesh and blood which makes me human, or is it the fact that I can think, feel, and dream that truly makes me, me? That makes me human?  Who decides how far science should go to save a life?  Who decides what the standard for being human is?

I will also mention how eerie it is to hear Jenna describe what it felt like to be in a coma.  While we ultimately learn the circumstances of her comma, it is interesting to consider what it must be like for the mind to be trapped liked that.


Review: Adaptation

Adaptation by Malinda Lo

What it’s about:  Birds all across North America are crashing planes, killing thousands of people.  Reese and David are stuck at the airport with their debate teacher unable to get a flight home.  The three decide to rent a car when it becomes clear there won’t be any flights in the near future.  Events unfold and soon Reese and David are in a car crash.

27 days later Reese and David wake up in a hospital, and are only told cutting edge medical procedures have saved their lives.  Before leaving the hospital they have to sign nondisclosure agreements to never talk about what happened to them.  But what did happen to them while they were in a coma?  How did they survive the crash?

 

What I thought:  I read Malinda Lo’s Ash which I absolutely loved, so I was excited to hear she wrote a sci-fi book.  I wasn’t let down by Adaptation.  First of all, conspiracy theories abound in this book!  And who doesn’t love a good conspiracy theory?  Reese’s best friend Julian is obsessed with the conspiracy theories surrounding the plane crashes and also Area 51.  Is he right about Reese and David having been at a hospital in Area 51?  What caused the birds to go crazy?

Romance lovers have no fear, there is romance.  Reese likes David and he likes her, but she doesn’t want a relationship.  However, all that changes when she meets Amber.  Reese has feelings for Amber, feelings she didn’t realize she had for girls.  Reese’s feelings get complicated as the plot progresses.  She needs to figure out why she feels the way she does, and who she trusts enough to let in.  While I appreciate a romance worked into the plot, (especially one with the complications of figuring out how you can feel for two different people) I did feel like the focus on the relationship was center stage too often.  This may just be because I was more interested in learning what happened to Reese and David while they were in the hospital.

According to GoodReads there is going to be a sequel to this book.  I was happy to discover that because the ending left me wanting more.


Review: Starters by Lissa Price

Starters by Lissa Price

Picture edited with PicMonkey

Starters is the first book of what looks like a two book series.  The second book will be called Enders, which is fitting since the series is called Starters and Enders.  Callie, our main character, lost her parents when the Spore Wars wiped everyone out between the ages of 20-60.  So the only people still alive are the very young and the very old.  Callie and her little brother, Tyler, are unclaimed minors and therefore live on the streets surviving day to day.  Callie decides to look into Prime Destinations, known as the Body Bank.  Prime Destinations pays Starters to rent their bodies to Enders.  The Starter has a chip put in and then an Ender can rent their body.

Callie rents her body to Prime to get money in order to take care of her brother.  On the final rental of her contract Callie’s neurochip malfunctions and she wakes up in her body before the contract is up.  Callie is warned by a voice in her head not to go back to Prime.  Soon Callie learns her renter had more serious plans than just enjoying a young body; and Prime Destinations may be hiding more sinister plans.

What I thought:  The reason everyone between 20 and 60 died is because they were not vaccinated.  Instead only those at risk (the old & the young) were vaccinated.  That leaves one wondering what the government was thinking, but it is necessary for the story line.  If you have a living grandparent you would be claimed and taken care of, but those Starters without grandparents are, well, screwed.  I understand Callie is pretty desperate for money, but Prime Destinations just screams evil to me!  I think I would have run out of there, but then again I would not be keen on the idea of letting someone use my body.

Despite my hesitations towards Prime, I enjoyed the plot.  The twist at the end has me wanting to read Enders.  While the book is left open for the next, I didn’t feel like Starters lacked an ending.  Things were put to a close while other plot points remained open for Enders.   Callie is the main character and therefore character we get to know the most, while other characters remain less developed.  I’m interested to see which characters will follow through to the next book, and possibly have bigger parts.  I also enjoyed how Starters is a dystopia, but unlike a lot of dystopian novels in which everyone is fighting to survive, the Enders have money and jobs and therefore don’t struggle.  Rather it is the young who cannot work that are fighting day to day to survive on the streets.

If you’re in the mood for a dystopian sci-fi with a good cliff hanger then I recommend Starters.