July 21, 2013

Christopher Pike: "See You Later"

Title: See You Later [on Amazon | on Goodreads]
Series: None
Author: Christopher Pike  [Facebook | Goodreads]
Genres: Sci-Fi
Year: 1990
Age: 12+
Stars: 3.5/5
Pros: Quirky time travel quest and completely tolerable not over-romantic love story/love triangle rolled into one.
Cons: Far-fetched and hugely eclectic (Pike's main trademark): sci-fi and spiritualism, Third World War and first love - don't go there if you don't want too much on your plate. Also, the writing is a bit stiff - but then again, that's Pike, folks.
Will appeal to: Time travel aficionados (but not puristic sci-fi fans). Believers in the power of love.

Blurb: Mark has just fallen in love for the first time. Her name is Becky and unfortunately for Mark, she already has a boyfriend. Mark tries his best, but he is unable to win Becky for himself - until he meets Vincent and Kara and strange things start to happen. (Amazon)

Review: What if you met yourself in the past? No, wait, I saw you yawning. (Been there, read that!). What if you accidentally killed yourself in the past? Has this been done before - or even after - this book was out? I tried googling "time travelers killing themselves in the past" and the likes, but apparently there aren't any references to this singular kind of incident, so I assume no one went there but Mr. Pike. And it's understandable since 1) this would result in dealing with the Grandfather Paradox, only a thousand times huger, and 2) few writers are as insane gutsy as Mr. Pike ;D. Anyway, if you know of any brave one who actually did something like that, please stop below and spill! In the meantime...on with my review.
First off, this novel is written in a blend of first person + past tense + short sentences...a favourite recipe of Pike's. The same blend can be found in Witch World a.k.a. Red Queen (read my review here) 22 years later. Actually, I'd go as far as saying that Mark sounds awfully similar to Jessie from WW, especially in the respective first chapters, which stirs up an odd feeling of course. Also, I'm not a huge fan of the spare writing style, which is the main reason why I haven't rated this book higher - this, and some inconsistencies that will be addressed later. All in all, SYL had the potential to be almost-5-star material, if only it were written in a more impassioned and flowing prose.
This is a difficult book to review if one makes a point of avoiding spoilers. On one hand, you have a doomed love story and a love triangle, albeit they're both thankfully deprived of excessive emphasis. On the other, you have an equally doomed future, and a trio of characters who apparently came back from said time frame with the intention of changing it. (This had to be said...or the book would be impossible to review. Anyway, the big secret is revealed halfway through the narration, and the second - and better - part of SYL deals with the implications of this secret). [...]

July 09, 2013

Mary E. Pearson: "The Rotten Beast"

Title: The Rotten Beast [on Amazon | on Goodreads]
Series: Jenna Fox Chronicles (Note: This is a short story from Allys' POV - you can read it for free here, thought it is also downloadable for Kindle via Amazon. Chronologically book 1.5 in the series, though it only came out after book 2)
Author: Mary E. Pearson [Site | Goodreads]
Genres: Sci-Fi
Year: 2011
Age: 12+
Stars: 2/5
Pros: Provides a bridge between the 1st and 2nd book in the series (though you don't need to read this in order to better understand the sequel).
Cons: The only dissident voice in TAOJF is domesticated - in an outrageously easy manner.
Will appeal to: Those who need a life-adfirming statement at any cost.

Blurb: A sixteen-year-old girl named Allys, living in a near future version of the U.S., is vehemently opposed to the way scientists are meddling with human and artificial life. When she awakens one day to find that her parents have gone against her wishes and had an illegal operation performed to save her life and restore her body, she is furious and must come to terms with this new chance at life, which she didn’t ask for and didn’t think she wanted. (Amazon excerpt)

Review: You may ask - what's the point in reviewing a short story that also happens to be a free read? It's not like one has to decide if it's worth one's money or not. But since I'm reviewing the whole series, it just didn't seem right to leave this one out.
First off, Pearson's writing is really good, and this is the main reason why I'm not going under the two-star mark. Let me explain the reason why, although I loved TAOJF (despite some reservations), I weren't able to love this too.
You already know how I feel about Allys...if you read my review for The Adoration of Jenna Fox, that is ;). Her character provides a necessary contrast to the empathy we feel toward Jenna, and a different point of view than the absolutely-life-adfirming one. Despite this, in TAOJF Allys got what she was most fiercely opposed to - an engineered new life. Now she has to adjust to it, and of course she feels outraged and violated. Enters Jenna with an equally engineered new fruit - a chocolate peach - and Allys is able to surrender in the space of a few pages. Which makes me sad, really.
In abstract, I endorse a writer's right to take her/his characters where she/he wants. So I shouldn't question Pearson's choice to turn Ally's world upside down. But I can't help thinking it's unfair, not to mention balance-upsetting for the main novel. And the thing that bugs me the most is how easily Allys is won and tamed - it only takes an appetizing new fruit, of the kind she would have despised in her former life.
Of course, there's no coming back now. Allys has to adjust, to surrender - since Pearson chose this path for her. Still, I would have liked to see her fall for something more relevant than a chocolate peach.

For my review of "The Adoration of Jenna Fox" (first installment in the series) click here.
For my review of "The Fox Inheritance" (second installment in the series) click here
For my review of "Fox Forever" (third installment in the series) click here.
For more Sci-Fi books click here.

July 01, 2013

Book Blogger Confessions: Author Interactions Edition

Book Blogger Confessions is a meme that posts the 1st Monday of every month, where book bloggers "confess" and vent about blogging-related topics. This meme is hosted by Midnyte Reader and For What It's Worth. So click on the link(s), grab the logo and jump right in! Let's get to know each other a little better :).


July 1 Question: Author interactions. Have you ever emailed an author to tell them you loved/disliked their book? As a book reviewer, do you think we should cross that line?
Do you mind when authors re-tweet or comment on reviews? Does that intimidate you in any way in regards to review writing, knowing that they may be reading it?
Do author interactions - both pro or con - change how you view their work?

I don't have a lot of experience in this field, since I've only interacted with two authors so far (if you don't count a couple of comments I left on blogs). One of them was B.C. Johnson, author of Deadgirl. As a matter of fact, I contacted him on Goodreads because I was about to review his book, when I found out it was out of print (due to the publisher shutting up shop) - so I wanted to know if there was any chance it would get a reprint somewhere else. He replied in a friendly manner, which was probably to expect, since I had read and liked his book and was even willing to review it ;). Anyway, Mr. Johnson told me he was in the process of negotiating a new book deal - besides writing a sequel for Deadgirl - but he didn't have any concrete information yet. So he basically said it was up to me to decide if reviewing the book at that stage or not. I bounced a couple of ideas off him, and we agreed about me reviewing/promoting the future Deadgirl reprint and sequel the way you can see here and here. I had been honest from the start about my lack of power as a reviewer (see: small trail of followers, no Facebook or Twitter or G+ accounts), but Mr. Johnson sounded genuinely happy about my interest in Deadgirl nevertheless. Now, since I'm a picky old girl, in my third message I even pointed out a couple of mistakes I had spotted in the book, saying that I hoped I wasn't coming across as rude, but since Deadgirl was getting a reprint...I added that I was surprised to find said mistakes in a book so well-written, and apologized in advance for any involuntary offense caused. After sending the message, I told myself I had managed to alienate my very first author O_o. Luckily, Mr. Johnson didn't even flinch at my bold move, and we went on happily ever after. The matter wasn't even alluded to till three weeks later, when I wrote to him apologizing for a couple of typos in my previous message, and he made a witty remark about typos even appearing in published books sometimes.
The last time I messaged Mr. Johnson, I said I had some questions for him, but I would have left him alone for a while. He replied that his readers were always welcome to ask questions and I didn't have to worry about bothering him, but I haven't written to him ever since. I will do it again at some point, but I still think it's best not to push a writer too much - even a nice one ;).