AURORA’S END by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

The squad you love is out of time. Prepare for the thrilling finale in the epic, best-selling Aurora Cycle series about a band of unlikely heroes who just might be the galaxy’s last hope for survival.

Is this the end?


What happens when you ask a bunch of losers, discipline cases, and misfits to save the galaxy from an ancient evil? The ancient evil wins, of course.

Wait. . . . Not. So. Fast.

When we last saw Squad 312, they were working together seamlessly (aka, freaking out) as an intergalactic battle raged and an ancient superweapon threatened to obliterate Earth. Everything went horribly wrong, naturally.
But as it turns out, not all endings are endings, and the team has one last chance to rewrite theirs. Maybe two. It’s complicated.

Cue Zila, Fin, and Scarlett (and MAGELLAN!): making friends, making enemies, and making history? Sure, no problem

Cue Tyler, Kal, and Auri: uniting with two of the galaxy’s most hated villains? Um, okay. That, too.

Actually saving the galaxy, though? 

Now that will take a miracle. 


Title : Aurora’s End
Author : Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff
Series : The Aurora Cycle (book three)
Format : eBook (overdrive)
Page Count : 512
Genre : YA sci-fi
Publisher : Knopf Books For Young Readers 
Release Date : November 9, 2021

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ .5


Hollis’ 2.5 star review

I definitely didn’t expect to rate this one higher than a three but I did not quite expect to rate it lower than a three. Yet here we are.

Obviously, nothing I say in this review will make any kind of sense because it’ll all be vagueries because this here is a series ender. That aside..

This was a very.. samesies kind of series. We of course had big moments, big reveals, big heartbreaks, of varying kinds, in each instalment, but in each review I was just feeling a lot of like, no real love. Certainly not any other strong emotions about anything. And it was all that but worse in this finale.

Once again, things did take a turn I wasn’t expecting, we had some interesting direction to much of the squad’s conflict (both separate and as part of the whole) but, again, I was only half tuned in. As in, I wasn’t distracted or bored but I could easily have been pulled away from the book and not been mad about it.

Having read books by both of these authors, as solos or various duos, and enjoyed most of those other reads, I definitely don’t think it was an author or writing thing. I just think it was a plot and character thing. Mostly I just kept wishing I was reading the Illuminae Files. Sorry not sorry?

However. If you love sci-fi, if you love big stakes, aliens, romance, and action, you could probably do worse! In fact, I know you could. I also know I’m a bit of an outlier for this series so hey what do I even know. What I do know is that I might be a little less keen for whatever these specific two put out next; not in the sense that I wouldn’t pick them up but more in the sense of expectations and investment.

ANY SIGN OF LIFE by Rae Carson

When a teenage girl thinks she may be the only person left alive in her town—maybe in the whole world—she must rely on hope, trust, and her own resilience.

Paige Miller is determined to take her basketball team to the state championship, maybe even beyond. But as March Madness heats up, Paige falls deathly ill. Days later, she wakes up attached to an IV and learns that the whole world has perished. Everyone she loves, and all of her dreams for the future—they’re gone.

But Paige is a warrior, so she pushes through her fear and her grief. And as she gets through each day—scrounging for food, for shelter, for safety—Paige encounters a few more young survivors. Together, they might stand a chance. But as they struggle to endure their new reality, they learn that the apocalypse did not happen by accident. And that there are worse things than being alone.


Title : Any Sign of Life
Author : Rae Carson
Format : eBook (overdrive)
Page Count : 384
Genre : post-apocalyptic / sci-fi / YA
Publisher : Greenwillow Books
Release Date : October 12, 2021

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ 


Hollis’ 3 star review

So, I’ll admit this was only on my radar because I’m a fan of the author and I went into this knowing not even the bare bones of the summary. Which, for anyone who wants to avoid plague/pandemic/world ending events..? I would not recommend doing. Take this as your warning.

While this is not COVID (though it is mentioned that the main character did live through it during her childhood) there is another reason why she wakes up after an almost week-long coma to discover everyone around her has died. It definitely unfolds in a pandemic-life way but quickly becomes something else. Mostly.

This clearly wasn’t a favourite but I was loving the beginning. It’s gruesome, eerie, and strange, and I was really digging it. Later, as things are explained, it was still somewhat interesting but this definitely isn’t a unique premise, even if the details aren’t an exact copy from anything that I can think of.

Be warned, though, that I’m really not overusing the word gruesome.

Sadly this didn’t seem to have any of the author’s particular brand of excellence but it’s also not something I’ve seen from her before, either, as she generally sticks to fantasy, not contemporary. There were definitely some really good bits, though, and it definitely didn’t stand out as a flop by any means. But it won’t be one I can recommend, either, purely because I’m not sure everyone is ready to dive into this kind of content yet — or ever again.

FATED BLADES by Ilona Andrews

An uneasy alliance between warring families gets heated in this otherworldly novella from bestselling author Ilona Andrews.

At first glance, the planet Rada seems like a lush paradise. But the ruling families, all boasting genetically enhanced abilities, are in constant competition for power―and none more so than the Adlers and the Baenas. For generations, the powerful families have pushed and pulled each other in a dance for dominance.

Until a catastrophic betrayal from within changes everything.

Now, deadly, disciplined, and solitary leaders Ramona Adler and Matias Baena must put aside their enmity and work together in secret to prevent sinister forces from exploiting universe-altering technology. Expecting to suffer through their uneasy alliance, Ramona and Matias instead discover that they understand each other as no one in their families can―and that their combined skills may eclipse the risks of their forbidden alliance.

As the two warriors risk their lives to save their families, they must decide whether to resist or embrace the passion simmering between them. For now, the dance between their families continues―but just one misstep could spell the end of them both. 


Title : Fated Blades
Author : Ilona Andrews
Series : Kinsmen (book three)
Format : eARC
Page Count : 222
Genre : fantasy sci-fi romance
Publisher : Montlake
Release Date : November 23, 2021

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★  


Hollis’ 4 star review

So, listen, this might not measure up to other books by these authors that I’ve given four stars to but it feels like it’s been a hundred years since they published a book (time has no meaning anymore) and I started having a good time almost immediately after starting it, and said good times pretty much didn’t stop, so. It gets a four.

He felt a sudden urge to do something dramatic and impressive. He needed to get ahold of himself.

I probably should’ve reread the preceding novellas to see if there was, in fact, any carry-over or easter eggs in this one because as far as I can remember the first two were completely unconnected, beyond being set in the same universe, and this one feels the same. I’ll leave it to my blog buddy to confirm this, though, as she’s read them more recently than me.

All you really need to know is this is Andrews but sci-fi. The world, the hierarchies, it’s all pretty much explained in this novella so if you choose to start here, you aren’t going in with a loss of context. Everything relevant you need is here.

Am I seeing things? Clearly this is just a weirdly specific bad dream, one where two people who hate each other team up to bust into my office and destroy my prized furniture.

Oh, and also? It’s an enemies-to-lovers romance but more in the sense that the enmity is inherited, not personal, and they have to come together in an extreme situation when they are both, similarly, betrayed. The journey takes them through a reluctant teaming up, to respect, to.. well, more. Obviously.

If you like action scenes, if you like family politics, if you like snark and banter, if you like my-enemy-is-my-enemy-but-I’m-making-them-my-friend dynamics, and also if you can’t infer the other trope I won’t list by the title..? Well, just give it a think.

This is a very biased review because there are so few books by this duo I don’t enjoy and I would honestly read their grocery list and probably have a good time. And I make no apologies for it. If you haven’t yet joined the Andrews bandwagon, what are you waiting for?

** I received an ARC from NetGalley and the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **

THE KINSMEN UNIVERSE by Ilona Andrews

** PREVIOUSLY PUBLISHED – This is an anthology edition of the Kinsmen Universe, which includes SILENT BLADE, SILVER SHARK, plus a new short story, and three original illustrations.**

Family is everything. Talent is power. And revenge is sweet.

In a distant, future world Kinsmen-small powerful groups of genetically and technologically advanced families-control vast financial empires. They are their own country, their own rulers, and their only limits are other Kinsmen. The struggle for power is a bloody, full-contact sport: in business, on the battlefield…and sometimes in the bedroom.

Silent Blade
Old hatreds die hard. Old love dies harder.

On the planet Rada, Meli Galdes’ family is of minor rank, and were relying on her marriage to Celino, the razor-smart, ruthless leader of the powerful Carvanna empire. When he abruptly breaks their engagement, he ruins her family and guarantees that Meli will never marry, as no suitor will oppose the rich and influential Carvannas.

But Meli has a rare, secret, lethal-and valuable-talent. As a melder of energy, she’s capable of severing anything in her path. So she ‘leaves’ her family and trains to become one of the best and most lethal of assassins, all the while covertly guarding her family’s interests. Now she’s ready to quit; but she has one more assignment.

To kill the man who ruined her life.

Silver Shark
Claire Shannon is a killer…and her weapon is her mind.

Born on a planet torn by war for over 300 years, Claire is a soldier: a psycher, with the ability to read, control, and destroy the minds of enemy psychers and to infiltrate the biological network where they battle to death.

When Claire’s faction loses the war, she barely escapes extermination from both sides, as her talent brands her as too dangerous to society. By so-deeply burying her ability that she avoids detection, Claire is instead deported to Rada as a refugee, where she must find work to remain. She finds a job as personal assistant to Venturo Escana, a premiere kinsman; one of Rada’s most wealthy entrepreneurs—and most powerful psychers.

She thought she had left war behind, but now she must hide her skills and her growing feelings from Venturo…and this battle might just cost her everything…

A Mere Formality
The leader of the fierce Reigh people expires during an intergalactic summit, putting 30 million colonists’ lives and livelihoods in jeopardy. When the new heir to the Reigh throne, Lord Nagrad, demands restitution, the phrase “‘a life for a life” turns the intergalactic calamity into an arranged marriage contract between Lord Nagrad and sharply intelligent diplomatic analyst Deirdre Lebed… and the negotiation of terms becomes anything but formal!


Title : The Kinsmen Universe
Author : Ilona Andrews
Series : Kinsmen #1 -#2.5
Format : ebook
Page Count : 235
Genre : Sci-Fi Romance
Publisher : NYLA
Release Date : December 31, 2018

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★  


Micky’s 4 star review

I was feeling all slumpy and Ilona Andrews helped me through the weekend (again). Each installment featured couples in the same universe, sometimes with a little crossover. It was delicious sci-fi with a good dollop of romance. What’s pretty special with this ebook boxing of the three stories is that you get some beauiful illustrations that I can imagine are amazing in the physical book too.

This book is three elements wrapped up in one book:

Silent Blade:
This novella would have got a 4 star rating on it’s own for me. A quick transportation to a new world, easy to fathom with a couple crafted from Andrews gold. I was sad to leave these two behind and wanted to see them in the next story.

Silver Shark:
I didn’t get my wish, this was a different couple and a different perspective to these planets, but after 5 minutes of reading and hoping for the previous couple, I was wrapped up in the new guys. This story focused on psychic powers and a scary place called the bionet, less scary than real life on two warring planets though. I would happily read more into the world of both the two first couples.

A Mere Formality: I was more meh aboout this one, a very short story in the universe but it didn’t capture the magic of the previous two. That said, I’m all set for Fated Blades which is out soon.

WINTER’S ORBIT by Everina Maxwell

While the Iskat Empire has long dominated the system through treaties and political alliances, several planets, including Thea, have begun to chafe under Iskat’s rule. When tragedy befalls Imperial Prince Taam, his Thean widower, Jainan, is rushed into an arranged marriage with Taam’s cousin, the disreputable Kiem, in a bid to keep the rising hostilities between the two worlds under control.

But when it comes to light that Prince Taam’s death may not have been an accident, and that Jainan himself may be a suspect, the unlikely pair must overcome their misgivings and learn to trust one another as they navigate the perils of the Iskat court, try to solve a murder, and prevent an interplanetary war… all while dealing with their growing feelings for each other. 


Title : Winter’s Orbit
Author : Everina Maxwell
Format : Paperback
Page Count : 429
Genre : Sci-Fi/LGBTQIAP+
Publisher : Orbit Books
Release Date : February 2, 2021

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 3 star review

Headlines:
Arranged marriage
Politics-heavy
Misunderstandings on misunderstandings
Pacey

Winter’s Orbit by rights should have been the kind of book I loved, sci-fi, arranged marriage but unfortunately, I could only find like for this book by the end. This story was based around a rushed diplomatic marriage and a heavy political plot unfurled quickly, alongside the two MCs Kiem and Jaidan trying to find a way to co-exist.

The strengths of this plot lay in the growth of friendship and more between Jaidan and Kiem but this theme was peppered with frustration for me as their constant misunderstandings added up and added up. It took a long time for them to really communicate clearly and openly with one another. Now there were reasons for that, but the pacing was off for me.

The theme of abuse in this story was handled well and that’s probably my favourite thing about the plot, not the actions themselves but how it was portrayed. I also eventually liked the MCs connection with one another but we had to wait a long time to see it.

The espionage, politics and political characters in this story sadly turned me off from rating higher. It was hard to plow through at times.

I’m glad I read this, I would read the author again but I would have expectations for a more coherent plot pace. I live in hope!

FAR FROM THE LIGHT OF HEAVEN by Tade Thompson

A tense and thrilling vision of humanity’s future in the chilling emptiness of space from rising giant in science fiction, Arthur C. Clarke Award winner Tade Thompson

The colony ship Ragtime docks in the Lagos system, having traveled light-years to bring one thousand sleeping souls to a new home among the stars. But when first mate Michelle Campion rouses, she discovers some of the sleepers will never wake.

Answering Campion’s distress call, investigator Rasheed Fin is tasked with finding out who is responsible for these deaths. Soon a sinister mystery unfolds aboard the gigantic vessel, one that will have repercussions for the entire system—from the scheming politicians of Lagos station, to the colony planet Bloodroot, to other far-flung systems, and indeed to Earth itself.


Title : Far From The Light Of Heaven
Author : Tade Thompson
Format : Paperback ARC
Page Count : 384
Genre : Sci-Fi
Publisher : Orbit Books
Release Date : October 26, 2021

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 4 star review

Headlines:
Murder on board
AI…
Clever, intricate plot

Far From The Light of Heaven was a superb sci-fi thriller. It had early sinister feels and that sense pervaded the whole book. I was on tenterhooks throughout and I was so glad this was encapsuated in a standalone.

The story revolves around a locked room murder and takes some inspiration from Poe (read the very informative afterword when you’re done). Shell Campion, the captain in name only, had to really step up to the plate in this story. She was a formidable character, one I respected and admired. This becomes a small cast of characters over time and I particularly loved Francis, Salvo and Larry. Dare I say, I spent a lot of time pinning hopes on Ragtime.

The plot was complex but not too complex, with clever intricacies that I really appreciated. My friend and I buddy read this and we agreed that if there were moments of confusion, it did get ironed out. This perspective of a further earth and future human race alongside other species and synthetic beings was engaging, belieavable and entertaining. I appreciated Thompson’s ability to represent an Afro-culture space-side; it was tangible.

How the plot culminated, the person behind the events was mind-blowing, unexpected and excellent. Again, I’m going to say that I loved Francis, the cover and that element however side plot it was. Here, I also want to mention a little TW for bugs, if like me you are particularly grossed out by bugs (it was one section and not prolonged).

I need to now retreat and try Tade Thompson’s other series as I’m fascinated by his writing and any world he can create.

Do not come to heaven, mortals, says God, and trieds without success to kick them back to the surface of the planet.

Thank you to Orbit Books for the early review copy.

IRON WIDOW by Xiran Jay Zhao – double review!

The boys of Huaxia dream of pairing up with girls to pilot Chrysalises, giant transforming robots that can battle the mecha aliens that lurk beyond the Great Wall. It doesn’t matter that the girls often die from the mental strain. 

When 18-year-old Zetian offers herself up as a concubine-pilot, it’s to assassinate the ace male pilot responsible for her sister’s death. But she gets her vengeance in a way nobody expected—she kills him through the psychic link between pilots and emerges from the cockpit unscathed. She is labeled an Iron Widow, a much-feared and much-silenced kind of female pilot who can sacrifice boys to power up Chrysalises instead.​ 

To tame her unnerving yet invaluable mental strength, she is paired up with Li Shimin, the strongest and most controversial male pilot in Huaxia​. But now that Zetian has had a taste of power, she will not cower so easily. She will miss no opportunity to leverage their combined might and infamy to survive attempt after attempt on her life, until she can figure out exactly why the pilot system works in its misogynist way—and stop more girls from being sacrificed.


Title : Iron Widow
Author : Xiran Jay Zhao
Series : Iron Widow (book one)
Format : eARC
Page Count : 400
Genre : YA fantasy
Publisher : PenguinTeen
Release Date : September 21, 2021

Reviewer : Hollis/Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★.5/★ ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 4.5 star review

I’ve gone from one debut to another, had huge expectations for both, and yet wow what a different experience has been had. I’m actually | | close to rounding up and giving this the full five star treatment, to be honest. It’s so close to that feeling. And wow has it been a long time since I’ve felt that.

How do you take the fight out of half the population and render them willing slaves? You tell them they are meant to do nothing but serve from the minute they are born. You tell them they’re weak. You tell them they’re prey. You tell them over and over, until it’s the only truth they’re capable of living.

You’ve probably seen the pitch by now : The Handmaid’s Tale meets Pacific Rim and I think that’s actually a great vibe to have going into this because it lives upto it so well. But there’s also a lot more going on than just that so don’t worry. Much awaits you.

Men want us so badly for our bodies, yet hate us so much for our minds.

But before you even get to the story the author has a fabulous note to explain their inspiration, their themes, and more. It did such a great job setting the tone for this story and even though I’m very spoiler averse (not that there were any) I really appreciated the insight.

[..] nothing in this world has been created, built, or set up in our favour. If we want something, we have to push back against everything around us and take it by force.”

Maybe I should actually talk about the book though? As with many favourites, though, sometimes that’s hard to do. Because even though this book isn’t subtle about its themes, there is still nuance to explore, evolutions to witness, and a few little surprises that didn’t exactly surprise me but I was delighted to see play out.. only to then be actually surprised by something. Which maybe happened once or twice. I was digging it.

Love cannot save me. I choose vengeance.

As for the romance, well. I don’t know if it counts as a spoiler but for those who haven’t yet seen the reveal, and want to experience that on page, I won’t say anything. It isn’t hard to search out if you’re curious though! That said, I would’ve liked some of it to be a little better developed but.. well, again, saying more would be a spoiler.

Rarely, no matter how much I love a book, do I feel the desire to flip back to the beginning and immediately reread. But Iron Widow makes me want to do so. I’m sure there were things I missed because I d e v o u r e d this in one sitting but I will save my reread until book two comes out. Which, like.. can that be now? Please?

[..] he’s trying to worm into my mind and shackle me down with morals, so he can feel more comfortable about my existence. Too bad. I am exactly the kind of ice-blooded, rotten-hearted girl he fears I am. And I am fine with that.

If you want to read a down-with-the-patriarchy story that is less “girl power!” and more “I am sick of this shit”; about a character who streaks right past shades of grey and fully embraces the dark; who claws her way out of the pain, literal and figurative, of existence to fight, every day, and challenge everything she’s been brought up to believe; in a world where pilots are both celebrity and saviour as they battle aliens.. and I mean, I could go on. I haven’t even touched on Li Shimin who, besides Zetian, stole my heart.

Preorder this book, request this book, beg you library to buy it. Do whatever you can to read this book.

** I received an ARC from the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **


Micky’s 4 star review

Headlines:
F*** the patriarchy
Interesting relationships
Foreshadowing and twists

Iron Widow was a middle finger to this fantasy world’s patriarchy, seemingly modelled on historical and contemporary issues. How could any feminist not rise to this reading occasion and enjoy? The women in this fantasy/sci-fi/dystopian (take your pick) society were demeaned, abused, used, trafficked and raised to serve the men. How this was perpetuated through the society was totally believable, we’ve seen the like in our world and still do. Zetian’s empowerment was a small growing beam of feminism, surging into a path towards dominance and I couldn’t resent her decisions one bit.

What’s holding them back is that they don’t believe there’s any way for a women to live a meaningful life other than by rearing a family. I’ll show them; I’ll prove to them that it’s not true. We can live for more. We can live for justice. Change. Vengeance. Power.

Zetian was a morally grey character with totally understandable motivations. Her frienships in Shimin and Yizhi brought balance to her ferocity. Nevertheless, expect violence, gore and unconventional relationships in this story, that for me, made it all the richer.

There was a fair bit of foreshadowing in this book and colour me surprised when a few crucial plot twists were called out much earlier in my mind. I didn’t mind that at all and I really appreciated the plot directions.

The end section felt a bit of plot chaos, understandably fast-paced, twisty with battle prominence. The ending secures readers for the next installment and I can’t wait.

THE SECOND REBEL by Linden A Lewis

Astrid has reclaimed her name and her voice, and now seeks to bring down the Sisterhood from within. Throwing herself into the lioness’ den, Astrid must confront and challenge the Aunts who run the Gean religious institution, but she quickly discovers that the business of politics is far deadlier than she ever expected.

Meanwhile, on an outlaw colony station deep in space, Hiro val Akira seeks to bring a dangerous ally into the rebellion. Whispers of a digital woman fuel Hiro’s search, but they are not the only person looking for this link to the mysterious race of Synthetics.

Lito sol Lucious continues to grow into his role as a lead revolutionary and is tasked with rescuing an Aster operative from deep within an Icarii prison. With danger around every corner, Lito, his partner Ofiera, and the newly freed operative must flee in order to keep dangerous secrets out of enemy hands.

Back on Venus, Lito’s sister Lucinia must carry on after her brother’s disappearance and accusation of treason by Icarii authorities. Despite being under the thumb of Souji val Akira, Lucinia manages to keep her nose clean . . . that is until an Aster revolutionary shows up with news about her brother’s fate, and an opportunity to join the fight.

This captivating, spellbinding second installment to The First Sister series picks up right where The First Sister left off and is a must-read for science fiction fans everywhere.


Title : The Second Rebel
Author : Linden A Lewis
Series : The First Sister #2
Format : Hardback
Page Count : 512
Genre : Sci-Fi
Publisher : Hodderscape
Release Date : August 24, 2021

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 4 star review

Headlines:
Deep plot
Four main character arcs – so lush
Politics and prejudice

Woah, so if I thought The First Sister was deep, The Second Rebel took the reader even deeper. There’s much at play in this series, politics, military strategy at the battlefront, prejudice and torture against other races and then the individuals working to find some sense of rightness in all the wrong. This book is one you need to invest in, but it is completely worth it.

The second book told the story from four main character perspectives: Hiro, Lito, Astrid and Luce. It wasn’t difficult to have four POVs at all, I welcomed each perspective but Luce and Astrid stole the show at times, then Hiro would grab the show back. That’s just my favouritism showing through but these characters were fabulous. Luce in particular was a foolhardy heroine in the literal sense but I loved how her story developed; some bits had my heart pounding and anxious.

I feel like I have been on a journey with this book, learning more about the Asters and the synthetics was really interesting. I loved/hated how Sorrel and Castor had me on side, then off side, then (insert a Micky shrug here). The twists when they came were epic and there were a number that felt like quick punches.

Linden Lewis has created a complex and worthy sci-fi world that I am completely a fan of. The descriptions of life planet-side and on board the ships paint such vivid and easily imaginable scenes. I have been left having no idea what will come in book three but I will be lining up to read it.

Thank you to Hodder Books for the early review copy.

A PSALM FOR THE WILD-BUILT by Becky Chambers – double review!

It’s been centuries since the robots of Earth gained self-awareness and laid down their tools. Centuries since they wandered, en masse, into the wilderness, never to be seen again. Centuries since they faded into myth and urban legend.

One day, the life of a tea monk is upended by the arrival of a robot, there to honor the old promise of checking in. The robot cannot go back until the question of “what do people need?” is answered.

But the answer to that question depends on who you ask, and how.
They’re going to need to ask it a lot.

Becky Chambers’ new series asks: in a world where people have what they want, does having more matter?


Title : A Psalm for the Wild-Built
Author : Becky Chambers
Series : Monk & Robot (book one)
Format : eARC
Page Count : 160
Genre : LGBTQIAP+ scifi/fantasy
Publisher : Tordotcom
Release Date : July 13, 2021

Reviewer : Hollis / Micky
Rating  : ★ ★ ★  / ★ ★ ★.5


Hollis’ 3 star review

I’ll admit that I didn’t look too hard into what this was about (though that’s not too much of a surprise as I’m #TeamNoBlurb) but I was definitely hoping this would be more in line with To Be Taught, If Fortunate, than the author’s Wayfarers series. Alas it wasn’t; but it wasn’t bad, either.

I figured you’d be all numbers and logic. Structured. Strict, y’know?
What a curious notion.”
Is it? Like you said, you’re a machine.[..] And machines only work because of numbers and logic.”
That’s how we function, not how we perceive.

I think this was a little more philosophical and cerebral, definitely existential, than I expected it to be. But in hindsight, a series about a robot and a monk? How didn’t I see this coming. That’s on me.

I made made of metal and numbers; you are made of water and genes. But we are each something more than that. And we can’t define what that something more is simply by our raw components.”

This is definitely a gentle, wholesome, thoughtful, novella, not unlike we are to expect from this author, that simultaneously makes you think while also taking you out of your head a bit — as the dedication goes, this is for all of us who need a break (boy do we ever). Much like the art of choosing a tea and savouring it, there was something meditative about this, and, as a side effect, made me a little sleepy.

This won’t be a favourite but I’m definitely curious as to where this series is going.

Side note? I’m so in love with that cover.

** I received an ARC from NetGalley and the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **


Micky’s 3.5 star review

A Psalm for the Wild-Built was conceptually clever (when is Becky Chambers ever not?) and in many aspects, it was quite a beautiful tale. It started off curiously, then built and built into a connection between a monk and a robot. Yes I did just say that and if that doesn’t draw you in, I don’t know what will.

This sci-fi offering comes with Chambers unique perspective on the genre, it carries a ecological tone along with sense of searching. Robot and humans were estranged for centuries in this book until the monk and robot happen upon one another.

The story was engaging the most from the point of those two meeting and exploring each other’s species. There was banter, misunderstandings and poignant moments. There were also some slower moments, where I had to push on, thus my rating.

“So, that’s…sorry, I’m slow at math.”
Dex frowned. “What?” How was the robot slow at math?
“Hush, I can’t multiply and talk at the same time.”

I’m definitely pleased that this is going to be a series. I have questions and a desire to see this journey through. A gorgeous cover and clever concept from Chambers.

Thank you to Tor for the early review copy.

SUBJECT TWENTY-ONE by A.E. Warren

What if our future lies 40,000 years in our past? Subject Twenty-One is an astonishing debut novel in which a young woman’s refusal to accept the status quo opens her eyes to the lies her society is built on.

Elise’s world is forever changed when she is given the opportunity of a lifetime – to work at the Museum of Evolution and be a Companion to the Neanderthal, Subject Twenty-One.

As a Sapien, a member of the lowest order of humans, she and others like her are held responsible for the damages inflicted on the world by previous generations. This job may be Elise’s only chance to escape a stagnating life in an ostracised and impoverished community.

But it doesn’t take long for Elise to realise that, away from the familiarity and safety of her home, her own secrets are much harder to conceal.

And the longer she stays the more she comes to realise that little separates her from the exhibits . . . and a cage of her own.


Title : Subject Twenty-One
Author : A.E. Warren
Series : Tomorrow’s Ancestors #1
Format : Paperback
Page Count :304
Genre : Sci-fi
Publisher : Del Rey UK
Release Date : July 1, 2021

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 4 star review

Headlines:
Great concept
Page turner
Friendship & respect

Subject Twenty One was so easy to get into and honestly, this was such a fast and easy book to read. This ‘Jurassic Park-esque’ concept grabbed me immediately and I really enjoyed the immersion in such an unusual story of a dystopian future.

This world with three different species of sapien, showed humanity not at its best. Elise, at the bottom of that rung was employed at a museum to be a companion to Subject Twenty One. The build up to this and the time working with him was just so interesting. Still, I wanted to know Kit better than I did at the end. I’m hoping for more of that from the second book.

There was so much plot to unfurl in this story but it was easy to follow. Trust was an underlying theme and it was truly hard to know who was trustworthy. Even Elise’s family were suspicious to me. I liked Samuel, quite a lot and again, I want to know more about him.

This book was a fresh, gripping read with themes of suspense, trust, ethics and friendships. I am so on board with this world and I’m dying to read more; I can’t wait for book two.

Thank you to DelRey UK for the review copy.

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