Vicious by V. E. Schwab

Vicious by V. E. Schwab13638125

Published September 23, 2013

Series Villains #1

Rating   5 / 5

Goodreads

Victor and Eli started out as college roommates—brilliant, arrogant, lonely boys who recognized the same sharpness and ambition in each other. In their senior year, a shared research interest in adrenaline, near-death experiences, and seemingly supernatural events reveals an intriguing possibility: that under the right conditions, someone could develop extraordinary abilities. But when their thesis moves from the academic to the experimental, things go horribly wrong. Ten years later, Victor breaks out of prison, determined to catch up to his old friend (now foe), aided by a young girl whose reserved nature obscures a stunning ability. Meanwhile, Eli is on a mission to eradicate every other super-powered person that he can find—aside from his sidekick, an enigmatic woman with an unbreakable will. Armed with terrible power on both sides, driven by the memory of betrayal and loss, the archnemeses have set a course for revenge—but who will be left alive at the end?

I am a sucker for morally ambiguous characters, and this book introduces many poster children for the term. Victor Vale is a horrendous excuse for a human being. In fact, almost all characters in this book are.

Previously, all my favorite characters have been thieves with an agenda or assassins with a purpose, but one thing they all had in common was they faced an obvious foe with a somewhat malicious agenda. I love this story because there is no obvious line in the sand. EVERYONE is horrible and…VISCOUS, trying to advance their own agenda at whatever cost. The question of allegiance lies with the reader’s decision on who is the most “justified” (if anything these characters do is truly justifiable).

As a bit of a science nerd, the veneer of scientific reasoning surrounding the ExtraOrdinary’s “origin story” provided a major bonus. In the word’s of Victor Vale:

“Science, even completely fiction, [holds] sway.”

The time-skipping in this book was also flawlessly executed. Rather than laying all the characters’ beef out in chronological order, the quick flips to the past and the present made Vicious a true page turner. I was up until about 1 AM yesterday because I HAD TO KNOW why Eli and Victor hated each other so much (and what would happen to Sydney and Dol, two of my favorites).

All that being said, this novel is not for the faint of heart. Murders and blood and gore galore grace these glorious pages as Victor Vale searches for revenge on his once-friend. Despite his utter awfulness, Victor Vale is definitely one of my favorite characters for-EVER. I’m super excited that Schwab recently announced this previously stand-alone novel will now be a trilogy!!! Even though Vengeful (Villains #2) isn’t fully written yet, it’s definitely on my to-read list. I can’t wait to read more about these ExtraOrdinary individuals and whatever troubles they get up to.

Thanks for reading!

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Saga Vol. 1 Review

15704307Saga Volume 1 by Brian Vaughan and Fiona Staples

Series Saga #1-6

Genre Science Fiction/Graphic Novel

Rating 5/5

When two soldiers from opposite sides of a never-ending galactic war fall in love, they risk everything to bring a fragile new life into a dangerous old universe.

From bestselling writer Brian K. Vaughan, Saga is the sweeping tale of one young family fighting to find their place in the worlds. Fantasy and science fiction are wed like never before in this sexy, subversive drama for adults.

Please note that this is an ADULT novel. VERY ADULT. That being said, as my first foray into truly “adult” comics/graphic novels, Saga is amazing.

The world is fully immersive, with the images adding a layer to the story that simply cannot exist without a graphic element. Going into this series, I never imagined feeling pity for a robot-human prince with PTSD, or beginning to understand a bounty hunter’s choices.

Star-crossed lovers is a theme that I will always be obsessed with, and Alana and Marko do not disappoint on this count. It’s so refreshing to see a bada$$ warrior woman paired with a “pacifist” man for once (even if he’s only recently reformed).

I can’t wait to see where their daughter Hazel’s journey will take them all. This volume ends on a bit of a cliffhanger, so until I get my hands on Volume 2 my life will be agony. Definitely go pick this up if you love great space adventures (and can handle the Graphic part of this graphic novel).

Thanks for reading!

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Ready Player One

9969571Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Genre: Science Fiction

Published: August 16, 2011

Rating: 5/5

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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.

I was given this book during Big-Little week by my wonderful Little, and it took me a while afterward to finally pick it up. I cannot believe it took me so long! This book combined my love of digital stories with their paper brethren in a wonderful ride that brought into question what will happen to the world when computers become the main sensory experience.

Wade Watts proves to be the super hero he was named to be, representing the dream of gamers across the world; to become famous and rich by playing video games. He also represents a self-taught computer genius who is a programmer and tech guy in one. In short, I am incredibly jealous of his innate computer literacy, and now consider him one of my multitude of book boyfriends.

This isn’t just a story about a quest for money and fame, it is a wonderful exploration of how the world can change when you can look however you want. The ability to work and play all occurs in the same web for (nearly) free. A world completely digitized still has “castes” of a sort; only the wealthy can move freely and have the best equipment. This facet of the world brings to mind current issues such as net neutrality, as Wade battles the evil corporation hell bent on privatizing entry into this magical universe of binary.

Do you really know your friends if you’ve never met them face-to-face? In a world now full of social media, and sharing sites, it can be harder than ever to tell your real friends from those just hiding behind a screen. The evolution of Wade and his friendships with those online made me evaluate how I view online friendships (I really don’t have any friends as awesome as Ach).

The classics will always come back. I’ll admit a few of the 80’s references in this book went over my head (I’m a 90’s kid), but I found the nostalgia present throughout the book charming and interesting. After finishing, I did go searching out a few of the movies referenced to get a little more context, and I will likely reread again soon so I can experience the book with a bit more background.

In summary, Ready Player One is an action packed sci-fi thriller and is high on my list of favorite books ever. I absolutely love and felt connected to all the characters, and can’t wait to see them adapted on the big screen next year (please, Steven Spielberg, don’t mess them up). I highly recommend it to anyone who loves 80’s references, classic video games, and explorations of what is to come in all of our futures.

Check out my Etsy for a Ready Player One inspired bracelet!

Thank you all for reading!

emily

Archangel Review

97961Archangel by Sharon Shinn

Series: Angels of Samaria #1

Published: May 1, 1996

Genre: Science Fiction/Fantasy

Rating: 5/5

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And so it came to pass…

Through science, faith and force of will, the Harmonics carved out for themselves a society that they conceived of as perfect. Diverse peoples held together by respect for each other and the prospect of swift punishment if they disobeyed their laws. Fertile land that embraced a variety of climates and seasons. Angels to guard the mortals and mystics to guard the forbidden knowledge. Jehovah to watch over them all…

But an age of corruption has come to the land, threatening their peace and placing the Samarians in grave danger. Their only hope lies in the crowning of a new Archangel. The oracles have chosen for this honor the angel named Gabriel, and further decreed that he must first wed a mortal woman named Rachel.

It is his destiny and hers. And Gabriel is certain that she will greet the news of her betrothal with enthusiasm, and a devotion to duty equal to his own.

Rachel, however, has other ideas…

I absolutely fell in love with this book! Archangel mixes two of my favorite genres–science fiction and fantasy–in a seamless blend that immerses the reader in the world of Samaria. Many of the names found in Samaria are based off of names recognizable from the Bible and other such religious scripture.

The vague references to religion throughout was intriguing and brought to mind my own  faith. In fact, few science fiction or fantasy books that I have read have ever made me connect so strongly to my own life through immersion into a fantastical world. The characters exploration of faith throughout the novel combines theology with an analysis of what life would be like without a religious order, especially in simpler times. The division of beliefs causes tension that I saw as a mirror of tensions that are present in the world today.

The romance present throughout the book between Gabriel and Rachel follows a somewhat predictable Slave/Freer relationship. However common this may be, it is a storyline that I always enjoy thoroughly, and only added to my enjoyment. The romance in this book, while central, almost seems secondary to the exploration of tension throughout the world of Samaria. The development of the relationship between the two was endearing to witness as they worked to learn more of each other and their changing world and responsibilities.

This book provided the strong base for an introspective analysis of world views as well as a heart-touching romance. Archangel falls solely in a class of it’s own in the world of science fiction and fantasy, invoking a level introspection I have never experienced in my years reading the genre. Don’t be afraid by this though, I may have just been feeling super analytical when I was reading! Also, any of the themes in the book can be interpreted multiple ways. I will definitely be continuing the series, and can’t wait to see where it goes!

Thanks for reading!

emily

Through the Dark Review

25453426Through the Dark by Alexandra Bracken

Published: October 6, 2016 by Disney Hyperion

Genre: Dystopian/Science Fiction

Rating: 4.5/5

Don’t miss this breathtaking collection of stories set in the world of the New York Times best-selling Darkest Minds trilogy. Featuring ebook original novellas In Time and Sparks Rise, and a gripping, brand-new novella, Through the Dark is a must-have for fans of the Darkest Minds. This collection contains three novellas: In TimeSparks Rise, and Beyond the Night.

The Darkest Minds is one of my favorite series of all time, however, for whatever reason I did not read the collection of novellas from the series, Through the Dark, until recently. They were all a delightful addition to the series and I especially loved the ones with Sam. Instead of reviewing the book as a whole, I’ll go over each novella separately.

“In Time”

This is the perfect fill-in for what Zu was doing when she left the squad after The Darkest Minds. It was also cool seeing things from the eyes of a reluctant skip-tracer, highlighting that not everyone is this dystopian world is horrible. Some are just trying to survive whatever way they can.

If you were wondering about some Zu’s development, her experiences during this little novella really contributes to her change in view during In the Afterlight.

“Sparks Rise”

I always was wondering about what Sam experienced after Ruby left her, and her two novellas were really wonderful. A good love story against all odds is always amazing. At times, it did get a little graphic but I feel like it really made the torment that the children went through in these camps more present and real.

Lucas is a character which many people will see a shard of their childhood in, and was perfectly lovable. He overcame impossible odds in an attempt to save his family.

“Beyond the Night”

So glad I got to see the Squad after the end of the official story. How the world was treating the children after the collapse of the camps was an important part of this story, and a question that readers were left with. I’m glad that Bracken took on this difficult topic of children being treated as other because of outside circumstances.

This also provided closure for Sam’s unfinished story. Although I absolutely loved these last two, Beyond the Night was a little less engrossing to me, just because it kept flashing back to the Squad. While I absolutely loved them, some interactions between them did distract from Sam’s story.

This book did provide me with more closure for this series, and I do recommend it for any fan of the series.

Another shameless plug for my side business: if you like Darkest Minds check out my bookish bracelets on Etsy (link in the navigation bar).

I am also so excited for the movie that is coming out with Amandla Stenberg playing Ruby!

Thank you for reading!

Emily

Wanderlove Saga by Belle Malory

I’ve decided to take this time on #throwbackthursday to write a review of one of my favorite series of 2011 and 2012. Without further ado, here is my review of the wonderful, extraordinary Indie Series, The Wanderlove Saga!

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Wanderlove by Belle Malory

Genre: Magical realism/science fiction

Published: September 20, 2011

Rating: 4.5/5

Blurb: Lola Moori is hiding a secret she doesn’t know she’s keeping.

She begins to remember someone.

Someone important.

His name is Gabe. . .and whatever they shared, she could feel that it was epic.

Yet it seems Gabe wanted her to forget him. Forever.

The curse that repressed Lola’s memories for the span of several lifetimes is coming undone. But unfortunately, she discovers that some secrets are better left buried.

Review:

The world that Malory creates in Wanderlove is absolutely enchanting. The idea of a somewhat secret society of Gypsy’s, as well as long lost and forgotten love pulled in my middle-school-aged heart. It’s also refreshing to read a mystery love story without a love triangle. And that’s the awesome thing about this book, while it is a wonderful love story, it is also a fantastical mystery based in magic.

I especially love the flashback to Lola’s life so many lifetimes before. I have to admit I cried a few times reading this book, and have gone back to read it multiple times.

Gabe is also the perfect love interest, a compassionate and hard-working man who wants nothing but the best for his love. The way he treats her is some portions of the book is somewhat reminiscent of Daniel Grigori in the Fallen series by Lauren Kate, however I believe it is a tad more relatable in this instance.

While Wanderlove is an amazing book, it was really the second one in the series that really blew me away. Remember how I said that it was a mystery mixed in with a love story? Well that mystery doesn’t get resolved in the first one; for that you have to read on….

13506975Fortell by Belle Malory

Published: June 24, 2012

Rating: 5/5

Blurb: If you could provide anyone with the path to their deepest, darkest desires, would you?

Estelle Spencer has no choice.

With just a simple touch of her hand, wishes and dreams are instantly fulfilled. Her voice speaks of its own accord, lighting the way to good fortune.

But not everyone’s fortunes are desirable.

For most of her life Estelle hides in fear, living as a recluse in her sister’s shadow. Until the day comes when her existence is remembered.

Forced into running, Estelle meets Rex, a Romanian gypsy, and the only person who can help her hide. Together they search for a way to end the curse that controls Estelle’s life.

Before she destroys the world.

Review:

While Wanderlove was a sweet story of eternal love, this story focuses on Rex, the brother of Gabe, who is hung up on a past love of lifetimes past. Insert Estelle, a charming a cursed individual who has always done what is best for everyone else, until she becomes hunted for her gift.

It is not really necessary to read the first book to understand this storyline, but if you choose to skip it, some of the people and other background info might be a bit confusing. Lola and Gabe show up again, as I said this book is basically the resolution of that mystery from Wanderlove, and it’s great to be able to revisit certain aspects of their past that remain unanswered as well as see them find happiness. While they do show up and are instrumental in beginning the events of the book, they are not really seen throughout. Instead, it focuses on the characters mentioned earlier, Rex and Estelle.

Rex is a cynical person, and somewhat of a bad boy (and artist) which is always appealing to me. I mean, who doesn’t want to root for the bad boy? I also loved how this book was not about a first, eternal love, but in many ways overcoming an old one to welcome the new. There still isn’t a real love triangle though, as the book is told in Estelle’s view, and she is only ever interested in Rex. The only real thing holding them back is the curse, and to defeat that Estelle cannot rely on anyone else.

I will have to say that I sobbed multiple times during this book, but I am also a complete sop for love stories. Especially ones where the female finds herself and comes into her powers.

As always, feel free to comment with your thoughts. Happy reading!

Emily

Fairest by Marissa Meyer

224891071Series: Lunar Chronicles #3.5

Author: Marissa Meyer

Genre: Science Fiction

Rating: ✪✪✪ 1/2

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Blurb: In this stunning bridge book between Cress and Winter in the bestselling Lunar Chronicles, Queen Levana’s story is finally told.

Mirror, mirror on the wall,
Who is the fairest of them all?

Review: I absolutely love the Lunar Chronicles, (at least the first three books, which are the ones that I have read) and I also love villain formation stories. When I heard about the combination of these two, manifested in Fairest, I couldn’t wait to read it.

This is also not a story where you will feel sorry for the protagonist. Rather than focus on making Levana a likable character, Meyer sets out to reveal how truly twisted she is inside. I cringed more than a few times from her awkward encounters with other characters, particularly her love interest. While I never really felt sorry for her, I did come to understand her motives more, although they really just further contribute to her insanity.

A nice thing about this novella is that you get a view of Princess Selene with her mother, which is a relationship that I hadn’t really thought a lot about. This provided a nice little addition to the Lunar Chronicles, adding more depth to an important character previously unexplored. And my overuse of the word “nice” kind of sums up my feelings on this book. While it was okay, and added some interesting elements, I wasn’t really drawn into the story or invested in the characters. For most of the 220 pages, I felt very uncomfortable with the situations that were unfolding. That was the point of this novella though. It provides a look inside of a disturbed persons mind. I would be more worried about being comfortable in a villains mind than uncomfortable.

Overall I would recommend this book to someone reading the series, although I would say you should read it in the order it was published (after Cress) as there are some minor spoilers for earlier books. I have also been told it provides important backstory for the next book in the series, Winter, which I will be starting after I hit the publish button on this post ;D.

As always, feel free to comment with your own thoughts, and thank you for reading!