August 20, 2019

Christopher Pike: "Thirst No.4: The Shadow of Death"

Title: Thirst No.4: The Shadow of Death [on Amazon | on Goodreads]
Series: Thirst (previously: The Last Vampire) (4th of ?? books)
Author: Christopher Pike [Facebook | Goodreads]
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Year: 2011
Age: 14+ (please note: for years it's been considered YA lit, but the human age of the protagonist would place it in the NA category nowadays, and the series gets more mature - and darker - by the book)
Stars: 5/5
Pros: Original take on vampires. Plenty of kickass action and entertaining (if often bloody) moments. Blends urban fantasy with thriller, history (though just slightly in this specific installment), and more than anything, Eastern spirituality. This particular installment is top-notch horror, with a strong supernatural bone.
Cons: If you're not into a mix of supernatural/spiritual/sci-fi, this one might not work for you (though it's done well). The open ending might not sit well with some.
WARNING! Child death (they're evil and dangerous children though). Gore, violence and really creepy villains.
Will appeal to: Those looking for a fresh approach to vampires, in what was probably the very first YA/NA series about them.

Blurb: Alisa is a five-thousand-year-old vampire, stronger and more cunning than her adversaries. But now she's trapped in the body of a newborn vampire and at the mercy of a terrible thirst. Worst of all, she's facing enemies whose fierce desire for domination grows ever stronger. The immortal race the Telar is threatening to release a virus to decimate humanity. But Alisa and her friends can't take down the Telar on their own, and they must turn to the mysterious organization the IIC for help. But the IIC has secrets of its own and may have ulterior motives. With two rivals and no one to trust, Alisa must rely on her dark side to defeat them. But it could cost her life, or her soul...(Goodreads)
[Please note: "Alisa" is the main character's alias when she's undercover for some reason...or when it suits her, but her real name is Sita. I SO wish these blurbs called her by her birth name 😒]

Review: This series is not perfect. And I won't shun its faults in this review. But for some reason, I can't bear myself to rate it less than 5 stars (except for Thirst No.3). It's not author bias - there are a bunch of Pike books I rated 3 stars and even less. But if TLV/Thirst stills works its magic on me almost 20 years after I first read Book 1, and if I'm still peeling its layers after all this time, that should count for something...

REACH HIGH

Thirst No.4 takes off exactly where the previous installment in the series stopped - and yes, that one ended with a cliffhanger. In Pike's defense though, he rarely (if ever) does that - but you can't have a single book that's almost 980 pages long 😲 😂. (Or maybe Stephen King could get away with it, but I'm not sure. Or maybe he actually has already?). Anyhow, while I had a few pet-peeves against Thirst No.3, this one is my favourite installment in the series so far, if by a notch (I rated every one of them 5 stars except for No.3, and I couldn't have borne to give them a lower rating, but I would have rated this one half a star higher if possible. Yes, I'm complicated 😅). The whole series is spiritual/philosophical and full of (bloody) action at the same time, plus a successful blend of supernatural and sci-fi (not an easy feat)...but Thirst No.4 has the highest stakes, the creepiest villains (whether human or not), the steepest ethical dilemmas, the most unexpected twists, the scariest (and most creative) horror scenes - plus a whole afterlife section that probably would have made me biased toward it regardless 😂. (Except I don't really think I'm biased - again, see my review for No.3). If the blurb makes it sound like half the conspiracy books out there (only with vampires - well, one of them, to be precise), it's just because you can't fit a quarter of of what happens here into a blurb...especially if you don't want to spoil things. [...]

August 11, 2019

Karen Healey: "While We Run"

Title: While We Run [on Amazon | on Goodreads]
Series: When We Wake (2nd of 2 books)
Author: Karen Healey [Site | Goodreads]
Genres: Sci-Fi
Year: 2014
Age: 14+
Stars: 4.5/5
Pros: Strong, mostly diverse characters with distinctive voices, often dealing with moral dilemmas and hard decisions to make. Never a dull moment, even when the pace gets slower.
Cons: A few familiar tropes/premises.
WARNING! Offscreen torture (but we also get a few glimpses of it) and rape. Some gruesome deaths.
Will appeal to: Readers who care about the state our world is in. Readers who like a thrilling yet romantic adventure.

Blurb: Abdi Taalib thought he was moving to Australia for a music scholarship. But after meeting the beautiful and brazen Tegan Oglietti, his world was turned upside down. Tegan's no ordinary girl - she died in 2027, only to be frozen and brought back to life in Abdi's time, 100 years later. Now, all they want is for things to return to normal (or as normal as they can be), but the government has other ideas. Especially since the two just spilled the secrets behind Australia's cryonics project to the world. On the run, Abdi and Tegan have no idea who they can trust - and, when they uncover startling new details about the program, they realize that thousands of lives may be in their hands. (Amazon)

Review: I'm ordinarily all for books without tropes, or employing as little of them as it's humanly possible - but sometimes an author can breath new life into an old concept, or make up for a familiar scenario with a great execution. Both things happen in While We Run - hence my rating. (Also, for your information, this one is set in Australia, which is a nice change from your usual all-American scenario).

A DIFFERENT ANGLE

For books with such a meaty sci-fi premise, both While We Run and its predecessor When We Wake are, at their core, good old dystopians, but with an unusually strong SJW vein, dealing with ethical, environmental, and even political issues. And the latter is especially true about WWR, since its main character Abdi (who was Tegan's sidekick in When We Wake) is a Djibouti immigrate, whose politician mother has indoctrinated him since a very young age with the tricks of her trade. This duology may be built on a few tropes, but it's entirely its own thing, and one we rarely see in YA. Especially WWR, with its diverse lead and his peculiar outlook. Abdi is a thinker, an observer, even a manipulator if need be (but he questions himself and realises it's not ethical to act like that around friends). He's also an atheist, unlike Tegan and Bethari (and most of his family, not to mention country), and while believers might find him harsh, he's a fascinating, complex character with a conscience, if not a creed. And he does struggle with doing the right thing, or choosing the lesser of two evils, which makes him stand out among your usual holier-than-thou or (most often) one-track-mind characters. [...]

August 04, 2019

Tooting Your Trumpet #3


Some people toot their own trumpet. I mean to toot yours. On the first Sunday of every month, I'm sharing your posts, your sites, anything interesting I stumble upon during my internet vagrancies. This month on TYT...
  • TUNNELVILLE (a YA novel, the second installment in the Mad World series by Erin Callahan & Troy H. Gardner, that recently got a makeover)
  • LIBRARY MISCONCEPTIONS (a funny post on Shayna's blog Clockwork Bibliotheca - and the first one in her "library series" - where she discloses all the weird things librarians get told on a daily basis/people assume about them)
  • FEEDBOOKS (a site where you can find copyright-free books to download!)
  •  DIVERSE BOOKS (a list on Kristen's blog Metaphors and Moonlight)