Illuminae (The Illuminae Files, #1) by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff | Review

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a-4

The year is 2575, and two rival megacorporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than an ice-covered speck at the edge of the universe. Too bad nobody thought to warn the people living on it. With enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra—who are barely even talking to each other—are forced to fight their way onto an evacuating fleet, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit.
But their problems are just getting started. A deadly plague has broken out and is mutating, with terrifying results; the fleet’s AI, which should be protecting them, may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady hacks into a tangled web of data to find the truth, it’s clear only one person can help her bring it all to light: the ex-boyfriend she swore she’d never speak to again.

Told through a fascinating dossier of hacked documents—including emails, schematics, military files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and more—Illuminae is the first book in a heart-stopping, high-octane trilogy about lives interrupted, the price of truth, and the courage of everyday heroes


Illuminae has a massive overload of reviews, so my input won’t be something that someone hasn’t already stated, but I read it so why not review it.

Cons:
  • Format – The format of Illuminae while ambitious and entertaining, didn’t leave a considerable amount of potential to build an attachment to the characters or storyline. Since the entire novel is broken up into IM’s, articles, transcribed audio and video footage, data records, and recorded codes and information from A.I.D.A.N. While the storyline wasn’t difficult to follow, it just felt weird at times.
  • Characters – This can be reflected back to the format. Because of the way Illuminae is formatted it’s hard to be connected to the characters. Kady and Ezra were funny and their love was fun and heartfelt, but I just wasn’t invested in them.

SPOILER

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The Revenant: A Novel of Revenge by Michael Punke | Review

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Thrilling tale of betrayal and revenge set against the nineteenth-century American frontier, the astonishing story of real-life trapper and frontiersman Hugh Glass
The year is 1823, and the trappers of the Rocky Mountain Fur Company live a brutal frontier life. Hugh Glass is among the company’s finest men, an experienced frontiersman and an expert tracker. But when a scouting mission puts him face-to-face with a grizzly bear, he is viciously mauled and not expected to survive. Two company men are dispatched to stay behind and tend to Glass before he dies. When the men abandon him instead, Glass is driven to survive by one desire: revenge. With shocking grit and determination, Glass sets out, crawling at first, across hundreds of miles of uncharted American frontier. Based on a true story, The Revenant is a remarkable tale of obsession, the human will stretched to its limits, and the lengths that one man will go to for retribution.


* People who’ve watched the movieThe Revenant,  will not be spoiled for the book because it’s very, very different. The concept is the same and the cinematography is very accurate of the setting of the book, however, that’s where the similarities end. Both are great (speaking as a Leo fan), but in their own way.

Being a history enthusiast, this book piqued my interest. Although written American history doesn’t date as far back as European, African or Asian history, it’s quite full. There’s a fascination toward American history because it’s extremely tragic and rich story. A time period rarely mentioned is the American frontier.

The American frontier was a special time. It highlighted a period of pure exploration, expansion and both friendly and hostile relationships between European men and Native Americans. The representation of The Revenant as a western is quite accurate because of the feel of the times and the novel.

Basically, Hugh Glass was a frontiersman and fur trapper: first European men to cross the Great Plains to the Rocky Mountains in search of fur. They traded with Native Americans from whom they learned hunting and trapping skills. (Wikipedia). This wasn’t a very glamorous job. A large portion of the animal pelts collected were in highly populated Native American land – states like Montana, Missouri, South Dakota, etc. These states still have a high Native American population, but they weren’t the minorities in their land during this time. However, the European influence in America was felt by its indigenous people immensely. In consequence, there was tension between the Natives and European trappers and the job was dangerous. Weather and the Native Americans were a big threat to trappers and (according to the novel) it wasn’t unheard of for them to be abducted/invaded and scalped.

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The Martian by Andy Weir | Review

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Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars.

Now, he’s sure he’ll be the first person to die there.

After a dust storm nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate the planet while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded on Mars’ surface, completely alone, with no way to signal Earth that he’s alive. And even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone years before a rescue could arrive.

Chances are, though, Mark won’t have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment or plain-old “human error” are much more likely to kill him first.

But Mark’s not ready to quit. Armed with nothing but his ingenuity and his engineering skills—and a gallows sense of humor that proves to be his greatest source of strength–he embarks on a dogged quest to stay alive, using his botany expertise to grow food and even hatching a mad plan to contact NASA back on Earth.

As he overcomes one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next, Mark begins to let himself believe he might make it off the planet alive.

But Mars has plenty of surprises in store for him yet.


Let me begin by commending the adaptation of this novel to the big screen! The Martian (movie) was one of the best book-to-movie adaptations I’ve ever seen – it was wonderfully done.

Now onto the review.

The Martian is a charming book.

Unlike some science fiction novels, The Martian has a great balance of humor to scientific mumbo jumbo. Although there is a great amount of science-talk and mathematical calculations  that can be distracting at first, it gets easier as the novel progresses.

Since it’s easy for a novel centered around a singular character alone on a desolate planet to be quite boring and dreadfully detailed (like A Princess of Mars), it really surprised me how entertaining this story was. However, if I’m being honest, this is largely due to Mark Watney, our protagonist, who is hilarious!

“I am smiling a great smile. The smile of a man who fucked with his car a didn’t break it.” – Mark Watney, The Martian

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The Maze Runner (Maze Runner, #1) by James Dashner

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When Thomas wakes up in the lift, the only thing he can remember is his name. He’s surrounded by strangers–boys whose memories are also gone.

Outside the towering stone walls that surround the Glade is a limitless, ever-changing maze. It’s the only way out–and no one’s ever made it through alive.

Then a girl arrives. The first girl ever. And the message she delivers is terrifying.


Not So Fun Fact: I accidentally bought the UK version of this book (who does that?!), so all the meters, stone, and centimeter talk didn’t make sense, but I don’t blame the book for that, so it won’t bring down the rating.

It seldom happens that the movie adaptation of a particular novel helps me enjoy said novel, more. So you can imagine my surprise when this exact thing happened. What do I mean by this?

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Zombie Attack! Rise of the Horde (Zombie Attack #1) by Devan Sagliani

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3 out of 5 stars

★ ★ ★

When 16 year old Xander’s older brother Moto left him at Vandenberg Airforce Base he only had one request – don’t leave no matter what. But there was no way he could have known that one day zombies would gather into groups big enough to knock down walls and take out entire buildings full of people. That was before the rise of the horde!

Now Xander is on the run, fleeing south to Port Hueneme to locate his brother with nothing but his martial arts training and the katana blade left to him. Along the way he’ll have to fight for his life against other survivors, neo-Nazi’s, outlaw bikers, gang bangers, cannibals, cult members, and a seemingly endless sea of flesh hungry zombies.

But Xander is far from alone. Traveling with him are Benji, a 12 year old comic book geek, and Felicity Jane, a childhood celebrity with wild mood swings. Will they make it together in one piece to the safe zone or will they become the next meal for a hungry horde of wild zombies?


Zombie Attack! Rise of the Horde Zombie wasn’t a contemporary classic, it’s not written so eloquently that my heart couldn’t take it, nor was it some horror-filled masterpiece, but it was fun. It was similar to the zombie movies and television shows I’ve seen with the whole “people are the true monster’s not flesh eating parasites,” which I actually happen to enjoy.

I know what you’re thinking. What possibly possessed me to read a novel with that title, well I’ll tell you why.

The only reason I read this novel was because it happened to be free on Amazon for kindle unlimited. At first I was completely perplexed with the title, so I told myself “don’t judge a book by its title”, but an exclamation point and then zombie and horde in the same book – I honestly didn’t expect much. However, it wasn’t that bad and I actually had moments where I was actually engrossed in the story. So let’s get this review started!

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So, zombies are getting smart (yup, you read that right) and learning to attack the living in huge hordes.  This happens the day, Xander and Benji escape the military base where everyone dies (I’m not certain if that’s a spoiler since it can be read in the sample).  After this, Xander becomes Benji’s primary protector and travels with twin brothers (hell, if I remember their names) to find Xander’s brother, who’s a soldier, where they run into problem after problem. They literally run into more trouble than the Grimes wolf-pack on The Walking Dead.

Their first encounter is with a group that takes them to a neighborhood they’ve secured and turned back into a civilized society. Hot water, hot food, and soft beds. It’s HEAVEN! Well, except for the Unity Gang which has some of the worst criminals ever; they pillage, rape and torture (remember the Reavers on Firefly? They’re like that) – so don’t get caught by them – but Xander doesn’t trust anyone, including the nice people that picked his crew up.

After escaping that situation we’re on the road again where Xander and Benji see some disturbing things, too disturbing for kids, and you really appreciate the simplicity of Sagliani’s scene and his respect for the reader’s maturity to understand the toll the zombies have taken on the world. This last until they arrive in a very rich neighbor to scavenge for supplies and are ambushed by Felicity Jane, former child star and current love interest for our male lead, and her longtime friend (don’t know his name). Felicity is an interesting character, although she may seem like a spoiled, diva brat, you’ll learn her history and feel for her.

Soon enough they’ll leave and encounter ANOTHER set of bad guys, but they’re a religious group recruiting long-before the zombie apocalypse started. This was actually done very well, especially the child bride thing (oops, is that a spoiler?) and really gave me the creeps. However, this is also the point I stopped liking Xander some. He does something that just rubbed me the wrong way and just lessened my enjoyment of his character.

The end is what really intrigued me and made me decide to read book two. There’s this amazing revelation at the end where I went

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If you’re in the mood for some “light” zombie, horror, post-apocalyptic, survival, YA, adventurous fun that mentions fast food, video games, and reality television (in a bad light) then you’ll LOVE this book.