A Million Suns by Beth Revis

10345927Title: A Million Suns

Series: Across the Universe, Book 2

Author: Beth Revis

Published: January 10th 2012, Razorbill

Genre:  Science Fiction, Dystopian, Mystery, Romance

Age group: Young Adult

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

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Summary:

Godspeed was once fueled by lies. Now it is ruled by chaos.

It’s been three months since Amy was unplugged. The life she always knew is over. Everywhere she looks, she sees the walls of the spaceship Godspeed.

But there may be hope: Elder has assumed leadership of the ship. He’s finally free to act on his vision—no more Phydus, no more lies.

But when Elder learns shocking news about the ship, he and Amy race to discover the truth behind life on Godspeed. They must work together to unlock a mystery that was set in motion hundreds of years earlier. Their success—or failure—will determine the fate of the 2,298 passengers aboard Godspeed. But with each step, the journey becomes more perilous, the ship more chaotic, and the love between them more impossible to fight.

Beth Revis catapulted readers into the far reaches of space with her New York Times bestselling debut, Across the Universe. In A Million Suns, Beth deepens the mystery with action, suspense, romance, and deep philosophical questions. And this time it all builds to one mind-bending conclusion: They have to get off this ship.

My review:

‘A Million Suns’ is the continuation of the sci-fi YA novel ‘Across The Universe’ by Beth Revis, which takes place three months after the events of the first book.

Following the death of Eldest, Elder is now the one in charge of ‘Godspeed’. That turns out a very tough occupation, as, firstly, Elder decides not to use Phydus anymore, the drug Eldest used to manipulate all the people on the ship, making them apathetic and emotionless, and thus more controllable. That is a difficult thing in itself, because people, now free in their thoughts and actions, naturally come to wonder about the general life system on ‘Godspeed’. They have lots of questions, and the answers they get are not satisfying to them. And, secondly, Elder is also the youngest person on the ship, the fact, which, of course, makes people doubt his ability to rule and be trustworthy.

Also, now that Eldest is no longer present, it means that all the information Elder earlier had no access to is now free to come by. And there definitely are lots of secrets on ‘Godspeed’. Did it stop moving, now hanging in space for seemingly centuries already? And how far away exactly is the planet, their final destination, their supposed new home? Is there a chance for all of them or are they going to die on this ship?

Among all the chaos with people’s rebellion against the obtained orders of Eldest’s system, Amy and Elder find out that there’s only one person, who can help them learn the truth. But he is coincidentally a killer, and definitely crazy. Orion is the only one, besides Eldest, who knows all there is to know about Godspeed. But he is frozen and it’s too dangerous to wake him. Luckily, though, it turns out that he left a set of clues, which Amy hopes to solve, while Elder is busy with restoring peace on the ship. Maybe it’s not over yet, and there’s still hope for all these people to survive.

The story is again narrated from two points of view – Amy’s and Elder’s. And while they are interwoven with each other, especially considering Amy and Elder’s growing affection towards each other, they at the same time present two separate subplots.

Elder’s part is all about dealing with people’s emotions. It’s a really hard time for him, as everyone on the ship rebels against him, people get violent and even kill each other. At the same time Elder tries to learn more about the ship and what keeps it going.

I liked Elder here much more, than in the first book. He is definitely growing up, he learns to be responsible and reasonable. It’s clear that he has all the necessary traits of a leader. I also admired his dedication to the people under his patronage. No matter how they act, Elder still tries to protect them, make them see reason.

Amy’s story is a quest, as she plunges into finding all the clues Orion might have left for her. Especially for her, as he makes it very clear, that only Amy can make the right decision about the ship’s future. I liked this quest-like development of the storyline, it was really exciting to find with Amy every other new clue and guess at the possible meaning behind it. But at the same time I couldn’t get the point of it. If, as Orion stresses, it’s so important that Amy finds all the clues and makes her choice, than why not let it be known to her as soon as possible? Sometimes it felt to me, like the whole point of inclusion the quest into the plot was just to keep the suspense growing.

Once again I was not particularly interested in the romance between Amy and Elder, it seemed pretty unimportant against all the other things going on.

In general, I was slightly less excited about the book, mainly because I thought there were too much suspense, that at times I got overwhelmed with all these million secrets. Sometimes, simplicity is not a bad thing.

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The Host by Stephenie Meyer

1656001Title: The Host

Series: The Host, Book 1

Author: Stephenie Meyer

Published: May 6th 2008, Little Brown and Company

Genre: Science Fiction, Romance

Age group: Adult

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

The Host (The Host, #1)

Summary:

Melanie Stryder refuses to fade away. The earth has been invaded by a species that take over the minds of human hosts while leaving their bodies intact. Wanderer, the invading “soul” who has been given Melanie’s body, didn’t expect to find its former tenant refusing to relinquish possession of her mind.
As Melanie fills Wanderer’s thoughts with visions of Jared, a human who still lives in hiding, Wanderer begins to yearn for a man she’s never met. Reluctant allies, Wanderer and Melanie set off to search for the man they both love.
Featuring one of the most unusual love triangles in literature, THE HOST is a riveting and unforgettable novel about the persistence of love and the essence of what it means to be human.

Review:

‘The Host’ is another book by Stephenie Meyer, which is now totally outside of the world of vampires and werewolves. In some way, it’s sort of outside of our world. This book’s main character is a female alien, called Wanderer. The species she belongs to is called souls. Souls are these tiny and sparkling light creatures, whose only way of surviving is by inhabiting bodies of other species.

Souls travel from planet to planet, occupying them and their inhabitors, facing in most cases practically no resistance from their hosts, the bodies they take possession of. When they come to Earth, though, it’s not that simple. The human resistance is unlike anything they’ve ever seen. Not only the bodies are not so easily subdued, but people actually try to fight back and drive the souls away from the planet.

Wanderer is a very legendary soul. She’s lived on way more planets than anyone of her kind, but she’s never felt any feelings or emotional connection to any of them. On Earth she’s placed in the body of Melanie Stryder, who’s a captured member of human resistance.

Melanie is the strongest host Wanderer has ever had, and as she keeps present in her head, Wanderer is set to unlock her secrets and find the refuge of the resistance. But the more time Wanderer and Melanie share the same body, the closer they become. So now Wanderer is not so sure about whose side she’s on, as for the first time ever she comes to feel things she hasn’t before, like love and friendship.

Despite having written so many books about vampires-werewolves confrontation, Stephenie Meyer did unexpectedly great writing a sci-fi novel. Of, course, this is no Star Trek, the interplanetary world she presents is not that detailed. The descriptions of other planets are pretty vague, focusing mostly on it’s inhabitors and Wanderer’s personal connection to them as her hosts.

But, personally, I was particularly interested in the souls themselves, what they look like, how they travel through space, and what they are after, and this was described very thoroughly.  It’s said that the souls consider themselves harmless and in their occupying somebody else’s bodies they see no harm. In fact, they believe it’s for the better for either party. The souls see the humans as a very aggressive and self-destructive species, so they believe they would bring only good for the Earth. But, of course, it’s not like this, as what good is there in totally erasing somebody’s personality?

The book is written from Wanderer’s point of view, and on the one side, this was a very interesting approach. I don’t remember, that I’ve ever read a book narrated by an alien. On the other side, though, I hated Wanderer! Or Wanda, as the humans, she makes friends with, start to call her. She’s just so much Bella! And while I wasn’t that frustrated with Bella in ‘Twilight’ I can’t deal with her the second time around. Wanda was always such a martyr, and this is probably the only prominent feature of her personality. In the end it got to the point, where she would be like: “We’re not gonna be doing anything to save ourselves, unless I have to sacrifice myself!” I truly understand, where she comes from, it’s not her planet and she’s not supposed to be here, occupying the body of another girl, and she really wants to help, but does it really always have to be so dramatic?

The character that I absolutely loved, though, was Melanie. Too bad there was so little of her in the book in comparison to Wanda. But I liked that she was so strong and fierce, and maybe in some times cruel or vindictive, but that’s just what made her so alive and easy to connect to. She and Jared are the only characters I truly cared about, and their love story was way more interesting to me than Wanda and Ian’s. (I didn’t like Ian, too. Where Wanda was self-sacrificing to the extremes, he was a total egoist).

Also, the love-quertet? Way too much! I’ve been cringing the whole time I’ve been reading the scenes with it! I think it’s a really fresh idea about two persons living in the same body, but loving different people, but this didn’t really translate that great into the book. (I can’t even begin to think how it looks in the movie, I have to see it yet).

Stephenie Meyer stated that there would be two sequels to ‘The Host’. I’m sure I’ll be checking them out, as the first book didn’t give all the answers and the whole future of the souls’ presence on Earth is unclear. I  hope for less love dramas, though.

Across the Universe by Beth Revis

8235178Title: Across the Universe

Series: Across the Universe, Book 1

Author: Beth Revis

Published: January 11th 2011, Razorbill

Genre: Science Fiction, Dystopian, Mystery, Romance

Age group: Young Adult

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Across the Universe (Across the Universe, #1)

Summary:

A love out of time. A spaceship built of secrets and murder.

Seventeen-year-old Amy joins her parents as frozen cargo aboard the vast spaceship Godspeed and expects to awaken on a new planet, three hundred years in the future. Never could she have known that her frozen slumber would come to an end fifty years too soon and that she would be thrust into the brave new world of a spaceship that lives by its own rules.

Amy quickly realizes that her awakening was no mere computer malfunction. Someone-one of the few thousand inhabitants of the spaceship-tried to kill her. And if Amy doesn’t do something soon, her parents will be next.

Now Amy must race to unlock Godspeed’s hidden secrets. But out of her list of murder suspects, there’s only one who matters: Elder, the future leader of the ship and the love she could never have seen coming.

My review:

This book was on my TBR list for seemingly ages! I really liked the cover, there is something both mysterious and romantic about it. Also, I genuinely like anything involving space or space adventures, so I was interested. But for so long time I didn’t feel a strong desire to read it. Maybe due to the book’s very vague summary, that doesn’t actually hint at what really is going to happen. Or maybe I was just not in the mood to read a long sci-fi story.

But this year the last third installment was released, and I’ve seen like millions reviews on it, or people saying how they needed to read it right away, so I was kind of compelled to find out what the hype was about.

I’m not gonna lie. I LOVED this book! It was amazing and absolutely not something I expected. Well, I guessed it would be just another teenage love story only set on a spaceship, with some drama that would all end happily when they land on a new planet. But that’s not what this book is about at all.

The beginning of the book reminded me of ‘Alien’ movies, where people would get into hypersleep to fly to different planets. This type of journey would typically take ages, so there’s no other way to survive it.

In ‘Across the Universe’ Amy and her parents are sent to a whole new planet, which is 300 hundred years away, to build a colony there. So the three of them, including a hundred other scientists and military people are frozen, and I really liked the scene depicting this process. It was really creepy, but so greatly described, like the author had seen it done before.

The storytelling of the book shifts from two points of view, one belongs to Amy, and the other to Elder. Elder is a 16 year old future leader of the spaceship ‘Godspeed’ that’s been sent to this new planet. The thing with this whole journey is that, apparently, there were needed active people on the ship to ensure it would function properly. This is the thing that I never fully understood, as it’s mentioned later on, that ‘Godspeed’ is on autopilot…. So there’s a whole human population counting many generations. And there’s also a sort of imitated world inside the ship, with houses, farms, where people grow plants and breed animals, and also a solar lamp as a sun.

It’s really hard to maintain a normal society, especially in an enclosed space, so the leader is needed. On ‘Godspeed’ the leader is called Eldest, he controls every aspect of the ship, both its functioning and the people on it. At the same time Eldest is preparing his successor Elder. This scheme has been working for years, but it’s all getting messed up after Amy is accidentally woken up when it’s yet too early for the ship to land.

What happens next is a whole set of mysteries that just kept me unable to put this book down. There was so much stuff going on, I always wanted to know more. I really admired the way Beth Revis took this absolutely unimaginable and totally unrealistic theme about space travels and made it so believable and realistic. Before that I would only need a movie to be able to imagine this type of setting, but her writing certainly built a very bright picture in my mind. Everything, starting from the moment Amy gets frozen, to describing the life on a spaceship perfectly recreated this feeling of being in confined place, yet terrifying as there’s only endless space outside and no other place to go.

Speaking about the characters, I think they were all OK. I liked both Amy and Elder, though I didn’t care that much about the romance between them. I really did feel like the storyline was so much stronger in itself, that all the characters sort of blended into it and simply played their parts to keep it going. Because I seriously couldn’t care less about Elder pining over Amy, or Amy worrying if her attraction to Elder is the reason of having no other choice, when there are people getting killed by someone, and this happening on a freaking spaceship, which left Earth like 300 years ago! Teenage angst definitely could wait!

All in all, the book was amazing, and I really loved it. I really hope they would make a movie version of it, I think it would be terrific!

 

The Eye-Dancers by Michael S. Fedison

16182898

Title: The Eye-Dancers

Author: Michael S. Fedison

First published: November 16th 2012, self-published

Edition: ebook, 217 pages

Genre: Sci-Fi, adventure

Age group: Children, Young Adult

Rating:  ★ ★ ★ ★

The Eye-Dancers
 

Synopsis:

Seventh-grader Mitchell Brant and three of his classmates inexplicably wake up at the back edge of a softball field to the sounds of a game, the cheering of the crowd. None of them remembers coming here. And as they soon learn, “here” is like no place they’ve ever seen. Cars resemble antiques from the 1950s. There are no cell phones, no PCs. Even the spelling of words is slightly off.

A compulsive liar, constantly telling fantastic stories to garner attention and approval, Mitchell can only wish this were just one more of his tall tales. But it isn’t. It’s all too real. Together, as they confront unexpected and life-threatening dangers, Mitchell and his friends must overcome their bickering and insecurities to learn what happened, where they are, and how to get back home.

The answers can be found only in the mysterious little girl with the blue, hypnotic eyes. The one they had each dreamed of three nights in a row before arriving here. She is their only hope. And, as they eventually discover, they are her only hope.

My thoughts:

The Eye-Dancers is a self-published novel by American author Michael S. Fedison. It’s a young adult sci-fi story, which the author claims to be inspired by his childhood years spent in Western New York State. Aside from being a story about teenagers (the main characters are about 12 years-old), it also gives a new (both for kids and adults) look on the concept of “reality” and its immensity, but put in a very simple and easy may making it approachable and entertaining both for kids and adults.

The novel centers on 4 boys, who are classmates but not actually a friendly group. Having finished the sixth grade they are eager of having fun during their summer vacation, But the citation they find themselves in exactly resembles the one from the movie The Nightmare on Elm Street, though without streams of blood and murders, of course. Mind you, this is no horror story.

The boys are very much shattered and confused when they learn that the 3 of them – Mitchell, Joe and Ryan – have been seeing the same dream for three nights in a row. They didn’t see Freddy Krueger, but a little, apparently 7 years-old, girl with a very strange pair of spinning blue eyes. The girl makes it a habit to appear in their dreams standing in the street outside their houses and asking them to come help her.

Having no idea why they were having this dream or how to get rid of it, the boys decide to follow the girl in their dreams and see what would happen. They ask their classmate Marc Kuslanski, who is the school’s geek and know-it-all, to watch them while they sleep, just to be sure.

And so the boys dream of getting closer to the girl and taking her hand, looking deeply into her eyes. As a result all for of them, including Kuslanski, wake up on an unknown ball field without any notion where they are and why everything around them seems outdated, like they traveled back in the past.

The things they eventually learn about this new world they found themselves in are that it’s not simply resembles the past, but it seems like from another universe. Their library history books give account to very different historical events, there is no technical progress we are used to in out world. And the town itself turns out to be the copy of their hometown but founded by another person and thus named differently.

So the boys have to face not only the challenge of finding the girl but also understanding where they are and who they are as persons.

There are a lot of aspects of the book to be interested in. Personally, I was very intrigued by the concept of the universe and reality. It’s really intimidating to imagine that the universe contains layers upon layers of different worlds each overlapping each other, thus creating different realities. In some of this reality you may be a single child having your parents on a brink of divorce, and in another one you have a sister and a very happy family. You can’t help thinking about your other self in another world. What is he or she up to? What does his or her life look like?

The author created a very eventful and unpredictable plot, there wasn’t a moment while reading the book that I could predict what would happen next. But I also liked that being a sci-fi story it wasn’t overly informative. It’s definitely a book first of all meant for teenagers and that’s why the content is very light and understandable. Author explains everything perfectly, though he keeps reminding that not in the real world not everything can be explained, sometimes you just have to take the world as it is.

The ending was very peaceful comparing to the whole story, but it summed the story up and I liked the fact that the boys not only learned the necessary life lessons about friendship, courage, hope and mostly about themselves. It’s great that in the end having lived through such an experience they became true friends, especially with them being such different personalities.

The book is a nice read, especially worth reading for teenagers, I’m sure they would really get into it, what with all its twisted plot and mysteries. As for me I was pleased with the story. I haven’t read much sci-fi books in my life, but I wanted to try this genre for a long time. This book is a great start for me.