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

Nail-biting book-crack told in an innovative and entertaining way. 5/5 stars.

Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff book cover

What it’s about: This morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do.

This afternoon, her planet was invaded.

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.

My take:

I’ve done my very best to make this review spoiler-free, so forgive me if I’m vague and cryptic!

I hemmed and hawed a while about whether to be stingy and give this 4.5 stars or give it 5. In the end, I asked myself whether I would forgo food and/or sleep to read the next installment in the series if someone were to give it to me right now. And I would. So 5 stars it is.

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Review | Zeroes by Scott Westerfeld

Interesting and entertaining enough, but lacking in action and character development. 3/5.

Zeroes by Scott Westerfeld book coverZeroes by Scott Westerfeld book cover

The blurb: Don’t call them heroes. But these six Californian teens have powers that set them apart. They can do stuff ordinary people can’t.

Take Ethan, a.k.a. Scam. He’s got a voice inside him that’ll say whatever you want to hear, whether it’s true or not. Which is handy, except when it isn’t—like when the voice starts gabbing in the middle of a bank robbery. The only people who can help are the other Zeroes, who aren’t exactly best friends these days.

Enter Nate, a.k.a. Bellwether, the group’s “glorious leader.” After Scam’s SOS, he pulls the scattered Zeroes back together. But when the rescue blows up in their faces, the Zeroes find themselves propelled into whirlwind encounters with ever more dangerous criminals. And at the heart of the chaos they find Kelsie, who can take a crowd in the palm of her hand and tame it or let it loose as she pleases.

My take:

This was fine. The characters were a diverse, interesting bunch and the events were entertaining enough. The writing and plotting were good.

So why didn’t Zeroes excite me? Perhaps it was the lack of action. We have a group of teenagers with some impressive (and refreshingly original) superpowers who then do little very interesting with them for most of the book. It was as if Zeroes was just set-up for a story we are yet to see. My edition was almost 550 pages long and the action didn’t kick in until page 450. Those last 100 pages were far and away the best part of the book; a well-executed, nail-biting race against time. I could have done with a bit more of this tension sprinkled throughout the previous 450 pages.

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Review | The Martian by Andy Weir

A gripping book with a sympathetic hero. Even with a couple of quibbles, The Martian deserves 5/5 stars.

The Martian by Andy Weir book cover

The Martian has been described as “Robinson Crusoe in space”. However, we quickly realise that Mark Watney – the astronaut marooned on Mars – makes Defoe’s hero look like a pampered, snivelling amateur.

This book does so many things seamlessly:

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