Saturday, October 25, 2014

Review: The Body Electric

The Body ElectricTitle: The Body Electric
Author: Beth Revis
Genre: YA, science fiction, post-apocalyptic, dystopia
Release Date: October 6, 2014
eARC received through NetGalley

A Quick Introduction: Something strange is happening to Ella Shepard. She's been having vivid nightmares about her dead father, and she's plagued by imagined bees. She thinks she's losing her mind, though she's trying not to let on that anything is wrong, especially because everything else seems to be falling apart- her mother's illness grows worse by the day, there's unrest in the city, and she's been given a cryptic warning by a boy she's sure she's never met before.

Out of Ten: 5/10

Review at a Glance: Though plot and characters didn't engage me, fans of the Across the Universe trilogy might want to check it out.

Review: I do like the cover of this one. I just like the layout a lot... and green is a wonderful colour. I read the first two books in the Across the Universe trilogy, but I never finished Shades of Earth. As this book is just a spin-off, and contains only passing references to the trilogy, it wasn't really a problem.

Unfortunately, this wasn't really for me. I had the same problem with is as I did the Across the Universe series- I just wasn't pulled in, and I think that there were a couple things that contributed to this.

I found that I didn't feel anything for the characters- it was like they were placeholders. I just didn't find myself buying their feelings or following their thought processes. It wasn't that they were unlikable, it was just that they weren't really anything one way or the other, and they just didn't feel complete. They didn't compel me. This meant not only that the characters were difficult to invest in, but that the relationships felt contrived sometimes, just because there was no connection there.

Second for me was the world-building and plot, which I felt went hand in hand for this novel, the world was revealed as the story went on, as Ella lived in a very limited sphere when the story started. The world-building often occurred as the plot was rapidly moving forward, and both things were not done at once, leading to gaps in action to describe the setting, which impaired the flow of the novel. The plot felt, overall, sort of loosely created, jumping from event to event, and somewhat predictable, though there were aspects that I felt had potential. I liked the idea of the bees, and I enjoyed aspects of the futuristic world, like the androids and the computer-cuffs, though I struggled somewhat with some of the finer points of the nanobots (some of their behaviours in the book didn't mesh with my knowledge of nanotechnology, though I am, admittedly, no expert) and the reverie technology (I found myself curious about how it worked, but it wasn't ever explained to my satisfaction).

Finally, the writing. For me, it just didn't carry the plot. The writing can be a clincher for a story with a somewhat flawed plot, but, unfortunately, it just didn't pull me in enough to make up for the fact that the plot and characters didn't engage me. It felt somewhat inconsistent.

While this book wasn't really for me, I think this book is something that people who loved the Across the Universe trilogy will probably like, though it doesn't revisit the characters or places they'll be familiar with from the trilogy.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

A Peek Into My Non-Book Life

Because I feel like I have been on an impromptu hiatus. It wasn't the intention, I promise, school has just been very hectic. Here's how:

  1. I'm currently in a co-op option for my course, which means I'm applying to something very like internships while I'm doing my courses. This means resumes and cover letter, as well as occasionally interviews. It's been draining, because the application process is kind of stressful, and then there's the lingering anxiousness of the fact that even if I do get a job, it will be a very steep learning curve.
  2. I've been trying to figure out the release date of Blue Lily, Lily Blue in Canada, since there has been some sort of communication breakdown between Scholastic Publishing and Canadian bookstores. Basically Scholastic says the week of Oct. 20th, and the bookstores say Nov. 1... I don't know how these things happen, but it happened.
  3. I've been DNFing everything. It's been incredibly frustrating for me, to be honest. I just want a book to really pull me in and not let me go until it's over (or possibly not even then), and this really hasn't happened at all in October. Not even for Blood of Olympus, which I was looking forward to. It's just been aggravating.I'm hoping I'll get through Heir of Fire... though I've struggled with finishing any of the Throne of Glass books the first time I try. 
  4. I've been obsessively rereading books. They're the only thing that I can actually get through. (In other news, my Goodreads challenge is likely to be doomed). I'm in several read-alongs this month, and those are always fun.
So that's what has been happening. I'm hoping to pull out of my reading slump as soon as possible...

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Review: The Boundless

The BoundlessTitle: The Boundless
Author: Kenneth Oppel
Genre: Fantasy, Alternative History

A Quick Introduction: The Boundless  is the greatest train in the world- hundreds of two-story cars bound for Victoria, British Columbia, from Halifax. When Will, first-class passenger and son of a railroad executive, gains possession of a key to a car containing priceless treasures, he finds himself target of a ruthless man from his past. To stay alive, Will joins a traveling circus, and attempts, with the help of the ringmaster and escape artist, to reach his father and warn him before it is too late. But, as they hurtle through the unknown, Will finds that even those helping him have  ulterior motives, and that not only those on the train pose a threat.

Out of Ten: 6/10

Review at a Glance: An alright read, but it's characters, plot and world didn't meet my expectations.

Review: This book was alright, it just wasn't quite at the standard that I expected. It was fine, but it didn't capture me as some of Kenneth Oppel's other works did. I've read both The Silverwing trilogy, which I enjoyed and The Matt Cruse trilogy (Airborn, Skybreaker and Starclimber), which is one of my favourites, and this book just didn't work as well for me as either of them.

The world building was something of a weakness in this book, it was just somewhat unclear what exactly did and didn't happen in the world. The lack of structure made it somewhat difficult to fully invest in the story. The Sasquatches worked for me but everything else didn't seem to fit with the world up until then.

Another thing that made it challenging to cultivate any interest in the story was the characters. They just didn't make me feel anything- not even a vague sense of interest. There just wasn't anything about them that I liked about them. Nothing about them felt very real to me, not their interests, or, really, any of their choices.

This book is told from third person, in present tense, which is a perspective that I don't read much of (I'm not a huge fan of present tense narration). The perspective is generally limited to Will, the main character, and Brogan, his main adversary. They style of the storytelling distanced me from the characters.

All this said, I loved the idea of the Boundless itself. A giant train? Yes please. This is the tale of the Boundless's maiden voyage, so it was interesting to see the cracks that were already showing in the social structure on the train, and how the train was designed. It also acknowledged the darker sides of the building of the railroad- the treatment of the rail layers, especially immigrant workers, as well as the treatment of Native peoples in Canada's history. Seriously, anyone who thinks Canada has this super-nice history where people didn't get hurt should have a look at a residential school for starters. This country definitely has some dark blots in our history... but I digress.

Overall, I felt parts of the story had potential, but it didn't really bear fruit for me. In the end, it wasn't really for me, I don't think- it just didn't hit enough notes for me, personally, as a reader.