Tag Archive | futuristic

Review: Thunderhead by Neal Shusterman

Series: Arc of a Scythe #2

thunderhead -neal shustermanRowan and Citra take opposite stances on the morality of the Scythedom, putting them at odds, in the second novel of the chilling New York Times bestselling series from Neal Shusterman, author of the Unwind dystology.

Rowan has gone rogue, and has taken it upon himself to put the Scythedom through a trial by fire. Literally. In the year since Winter Conclave, he has gone off-grid, and has been striking out against corrupt scythes—not only in MidMerica, but across the entire continent. He is a dark folk hero now—“Scythe Lucifer”—a vigilante taking down corrupt scythes in flames.

Citra, now a junior scythe under Scythe Curie, sees the corruption and wants to help change it from the inside out, but is thwarted at every turn, and threatened by the “new order” scythes. Realizing she cannot do this alone—or even with the help of Scythe Curie and Faraday, she does the unthinkable, and risks being “deadish” so she can communicate with the Thunderhead—the only being on earth wise enough to solve the dire problems of a perfect world. But will it help solve those problems, or simply watch as perfection goes into decline?

4 Drink Me Potions

Explore this new facet of yourself with my blessing, he would imagine the Thunderhead telling him. It’s fine as long as you remember who you truly are and don’t lose yourself.
But what if this is who I truly am?

Thunderhead leaves me oddly impressed with the progression of the series. With unexpected twists and new characters thrown into the story, the problems Citra and Rowan now face are crazier than before as they each embark on a journey of self-identity in the new circumstances they now face.

While its predecessor, Scythe, made me think more as I wrapped my head around the different concepts of the futuristic world Shusterman has created here, this sequel was more about the intensity of what’s happening with our favourite characters as the worldbuilding seamlessly continues and fits like a second skin as I re-immerse myself into it.

This book was split more into individual storylines as each character faced a different challenge that occasionally merged together with another, but rarely as each could hold its own. It’s tricky with these kinds of stories as some plotlines I find are more intense whereas the others lack behind and feel so very bothersome to read in between, like filler for the exciting scenes. However, I never found myself feeling that, which is a very strong compliment for Shusterman’s writing skills as he can so easily craft separate stories that can (and eventually will) tie into each other that makes each part of the whole more understandable in the grand scheme of things.

Citra, now Scythe Anastasia, is in mortal danger. I know, that’s weird, right? She’s a scythe, for goodness sakes! Yet someone, or some GROUP, is out trying to kill her and Scythe Curie for good for who knows what reasons. The ramifications of how she chose to glean and her secret popularity among young scythes makes her a possible target for numerous enemies. Meanwhile, Rowan’s off hunting bad scythes, hiding from the rest of the scythedom only to appear to Citra occasionally (aww, how romantic! which means a lot because you know there’s really not much “romance” in this book). Although his storyline sounds less structured, a great amount of action and surprises were through his POV that I thoroughly enjoyed. I can’t tell you what, but I liked these new developments as it made the story juicier.

There’s also a new guy who’s been added to the roster of main POVs. Greyson Tolliver. He’s your average guy who had a conscience and wanted to do the right thing. When his life crossed with Citra’s, nothing stays the same. Out of the 3 teens we get to follow, I felt the most for him. Life took unfair turns (for interesting reasons that you’ll find out!) and he was left to deal with all its messes. But he also had the most amount of growth/re-growth/change. His character really spiced up the story and I think there’s more potential in where his role comes in with regards to the scythedom as the series continues.

As for the ending, we don’t exactly get truly ridiculous cliffhanger moment, but all 3 characters find themselves in some dire or strange circumstances. Neal Shusterman really knows how to amp up his game as this makes me so much more excited for the next book to come out! His worldbuilding is superb and it’s like you could live in this world after reading 2 books. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a scythe walking down the street in MidMerica. We get more layered understanding of how the scythedom works and its hierarchy of authority.

But most importantly of all, we get more of the Thunderhead. As the title may suggest. Where Scythe provided snippets from certain scythes’ journals, we get to see how the Thunderhead thinks. What it sees. What it wishes it could do. What it feels – if a system could express true feelings. I liked the change-up, but it is also a timely move that I think prepares us for how things may be different in book 3. Does anyone else feel like the Thunderhead may be benevolent towards humans, but it could go all bad AI at any moment if it could justify its actions? Hmm? Anyone?

So. Having read all that, you probably realized that I didn’t really say much of anything about the book. That’s ’cause there’s just so much beauty in how it was laid out and the surprises that came along the way that I think it’s best to leave most of it unsaid here. It was well-balanced between action, suspense, and continual worldbuilding. The only thing missing was a tad bit more romance between Rowan and Citra. Hey, I know it’s technically “wrong” for scythes to be together, but they could try being a bit rebellious, right? Here’s to hoping there’s more of those 2 together next time. Then maybe it’ll move to 5 stars.

Overall Recommendation:
Thunderhead continued seamlessly from where Scythe left off after months since the dramatic events of book 1 has passed. With individual storylines that are still full of action and surprises, Rowan and Citra – along with a new guy named Greyson – are faced with tough circumstances that make them question their actions, decisions, and just who they truly are after everything’s said and done. Although there’s still a lack of romance in this book (why, Shusterman??), the little teases of romantic chemistry whenever Citra and Rowan are together suffice as unexpected events take up precedent. With crazy things happening one after another towards the cliffhanger ending, I’d say this book wonderfully connected our introduction to scythes in book 1 to the ultimate conclusion to these characters’ fates in book 3, which marks it a true sequel.


Review: A Conspiracy of Stars by Olivia A. Cole

Series: A Conspiracy of Stars #1

a conspiracy of stars -olivia a coleOctavia has only ever had one goal: to follow in the footsteps of her parents and become a prestigious whitecoat, one of the scientists who study the natural wonders of Faloiv. The secrets of the jungle’s exotic plants and animals are protected fiercely in the labs by the Council of N’Terra, so when the rules suddenly change, allowing students inside, Octavia should be overjoyed.

But something isn’t right. The newly elected leader of the Council has some extremist views about the way he believes N’Terra should be run, and he’s influencing others to follow him. When Octavia witnesses one of the Faloii—the indigenous people of Faloiv—attacked in front of her in the dark of night, she knows the Council is hiding something. They are living in separate worlds on a shared planet, and their fragile peace may soon turn into an all-out war.

With the help of Rondo, a quiet boy in class with a skill for hacking, and her inquisitive best friend, Alma, Octavia is set on a collision course to discover the secrets behind the history she’s been taught, the science she’s lived by, and the truth about her family.

3.5 Drink Me Potions

**A Conspiracy of Stars comes out January 2, 2018**

Thank you Edelweiss and HarperCollins for this copy in exchange for an honest review

I always love a good book that ties in a bit of science into it, and A Conspiracy of Stars definitely adds this wonderful layer into it well.

In some far off planet where humans escaped after the demise of this Earth, they’ve learned to survive among the new life forms found here. Whether it be fauna or flora, the surviving humans on that fateful spaceship learned to categorize and utilize the animal and plants’ abilities to live and even thrive in such environments. I thoroughly enjoyed the curiosity and learning aspect of this book through the eyes of our protagonist, Octavia.

I will admit, it can get a little slow and dry, even for someone who can appreciate the bits of science here. And what normally keeps me going is a good romantic element to the story, but it lacked somewhat in this area as well. Octavia is very much focused on being a scientist (or a white coat as they call it), but she does develop some sort of new attraction to her classmate Rondo as they get a bit closer.

The suspense of what’s happening in the labs the students are now accessing as part of their studies does build up if you can hold on long enough. And there’s of course a wonderful mystery surrounding the nature of Octavia’s strange symptoms whenever she interacts with any species on this planet directly. It wasn’t all too unpredictable but how it all tied together was definitely interesting.

At the end of the day, this book made for a fun read that could be quickly gobbled up no matter if you’re uninterested in the technical details of taxonomy and species in general. A little bit of romance and a huge dollop of suspense goes a long way into creating a fun story formula, and I felt this story has enough of it to be enjoyable.

Overall Recommendation:
A Conspiracy of Stars is a mystery at the heart of it. From Octavia’s strange symptoms to the going-ons in the middle of the night at the labs she’s been wanting to work at, there is definitely something weird going on in this faraway planet the humans have settled on. While I normally enjoy a decent amount of romance in any book, the bits of romance and attraction between Octavia and Rondo was satisfying enough without detracting any bit from the suspense that’s building in the central plotline. I think overall this is an interesting book and I look forward to seeing more from this series and author.

Review: This Shattered World by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner

Series: Starbound #2

this shattered world -amie kaufman & meagan spoonerThe second installment in the epic Starbound trilogy introduces a new pair of star-crossed lovers on two sides of a bloody war.

Jubilee Chase and Flynn Cormac should never have met.

Lee is captain of the forces sent to Avon to crush the terraformed planet’s rebellious colonists, but she has her own reasons for hating the insurgents.

Rebellion is in Flynn’s blood. Terraforming corporations make their fortune by recruiting colonists to make the inhospitable planets livable, with the promise of a better life for their children. But they never fulfilled their promise on Avon, and decades later, Flynn is leading the rebellion.

Desperate for any advantage in a bloody and unrelentingly war, Flynn does the only thing that makes sense when he and Lee cross paths: he returns to base with her as prisoner. But as his fellow rebels prepare to execute this tough-talking girl with nerves of steel, Flynn makes another choice that will change him forever. He and Lee escape the rebel base together, caught between two sides of a senseless war.

3.5 Drink Me Potions

This Shattered World continues the epic story weaving of an intergalactic conspiracy with a new strong pair of protagonists. Fairly fast-paced and steeped in underlying romantic tensions, this book would easily please most non-picky readers.

There were many things that went right for this book, which isn’t surprising due to the huge success and popularity of this series. Maybe it was just my high expectations, but there still was just something missing that prevented it from hitting the highest rating. However, the breakdown of likes and dislikes about this book clearly favour an overall favourable impression.


-Strong protagonists ~
Flynn wasn’t just your ordinary cliched male lead. He may have been thrusted into the rebel side of Avon’s war, but sometimes it seemed that he had more empathy for the other side (aka the military on his planet) than the military did for his family of Avon-born citizens. He was the heart of the pairing, while Jubilee “Lee” Chase was the brain. She was by all means a soldier through and through, but I was delighted in seeing how she became more than simply that over time. Her POV was fun to follow and piecing together the fragments of her past kept things intriguing.

-The thrill of a star-crossed romance ~
I don’t know about you, but making the romance seem so much more difficult is always a fun trope in a story. In the beginning it seemed so hard to imagine how these two could ever fall for each other. I liked how it progressed, not being all “OMG, I’m like SOOO attracted to you after just literally meeting you”, but at the same time, it could’ve developed a little faster with a bit more heat. (SEE BELOW)

-Seamless cameos from previous characters ~
For the kind of series where each book features a new cast of protagonists, it’s always exciting to see old and well-loved characters coming back in the new book. We get more than a little cameo of Tarver from book 1 These Broken Stars and a slight feature from Lilac. I was pleasantly surprised by how much “screen time” they were given, and it was a good amount in my opinion. It was enough to satisfy previous fans of theirs to see how they’re doing after the events of their book, but it didn’t take away from what was going on with Flynn and Lee.

-Good pacing of the plot ~
It lagged here and there but the plot did move along well enough. There was always something happening either on the warfront between the military and the rebels, or the secrets Avon carried that our protagonists were investigating. I don’t think this book suffered any Middle Book Syndrome at all, and definitely added details to the war against LaRoux Industries found out in book 1.


-Not enough ramping up of their romance ~
I get that the story had so much more to it than just the developing romance between Lee and Flynn. However, it just sometimes felt like it took a backseat to everything. I wanted to feel excited for them, and occasionally it stirred my heart at their few and far between moments, but overall it just lacked a certain spark. At most there was a lot of romantic tensions underlying their actions – which makes sense given they’re enemies – but I just wasn’t so satisfied with this.

-Maybe not enough info on the main plot of this series ~
As mentioned above, there were certain things that added to the overall knowledge about the conspiracy occurring. I may just be picky but I had hoped for a little more than what happened nearer to the end of the book. Most of the plot really focused on the fight on Avon and less on what was started in book 1. I suppose that means book 3 is gonna have a lot of things to wrap up on (hopefully).

Aside from being picky, This Shattered World could easily please many people as it had a lot going for it. I look forward to book 3, no matter what negatives I had to say about this book.

Overall Recommendation:
Kaufman and Spooner have done it again, creating another interesting book in their futuristic world. While featuring two strong protagonists and a fairly fast plot, a sizzling forbidden romance fell between the cracks a little as the other pieces of the story took precedence. Overall, the book does add to the mysteries discovered in book 1, but clearly they are saving up the juicier bits for the conclusion. It’s worth the read as we hurtle a little further towards what would hopefully be a dynamic end to this series.