Sci-Fi

The Madman’s Daughter

In this retelling of H. G. Well’s The Island of Dr. Moreau, the daughter of a brilliantly dark surgeon follows her father to his secluded laboratory on a tropical island. On her journey, Juliet encounters two young men who both entrance and fill her with caution. Although Juliet faced trouble in Victorian England, her father’s island holds secrets and dangers of its own.

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The Madman’s Daughter
By: Megan Shepherd

My Rating: 4 of 5

Genre: Historical Fiction, Sci-Fi

Read this if you enjoy: Frankenstein by Mary Shelly,  The Dark Unwinding by Sharon Cameron

Although I barely gave this book 4, I enjoyed the plot and found some development of character. By illuminating the internal struggle between the desire to do good and to ignore morality, the novel moves beyond existing as a fun read only.Each of us have done things we felt like we couldn’t control or were later ashamed of. The book builds suspense with classic jump-scare fear tactics, but also uses setting and the unpredictability of a character to develop tension. While I am not familiar with the novel that inspired this book, I believe Shepherd accurately captures the feel of a 19th century Gothic. I have read other works by H. G. Wells, but  the mood of The Invisible Man or The Time Machine could translate to this work.

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Carve the Mark

Cyra’s current gift, or special ability, fills her and those she touches with pain. Used as a weapon by her brother Ryzek, the ruler of her people, Cyra’s terrible actions begin to torture her mind. A captive boy named Akos presents her a chance to discover mercy as he struggles to free his own brother.

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Carve the Mark 

By: Veronica Roth

My Rating: 3 of 5

Genre: Science Fiction

Veronica Roth delivers a novel with similar features of her famous novel Divergent, with meaningful inter- and intra personal character conflicts, complex parental figures, and an unoriginal premise. While the novel delivered little new in terms of plot, major themes play out well against a backdrop of planets and superpowers. The main character Cyra struggles with chronic pain and how what she’s done has affected her character. It also displays the power of redemption, and how people can fundamentally change through the positive or negative influencers in their lives.

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7 Best YA Fiction Reads Set in Space

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1. Across the Universe by Beth Revis. Aboard the Godspeed starship, Amy and 100 other cryogenically frozen colonists are on their way to a new solar system. Elder, the only teenager and the leader of the ship’s crew, unfreezes Amy to see someone near his own age. When frozen colonists start to perish, Amy and Elder must discover who is behind these murders. Packed with plot twists, the Across the Universe Trilogy is an unpredictable ride containing realistically portrayed relationships.

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2. Salvage by Alexandra Duncan. When Ava makes a rash decision and ruins her future, she is smuggled to earth where she fights to survive. With the help of family and unexpected friends, she overcomes her past and forms her own identity. Racial and gender discrimination in Salvage artfully illuminates social issues in our society today.

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3. Glow by Amy Kathleen Ryan. A desperate situation aboard the neighboring space vessel Empyrean leads to the capture of the girls aboard Waverley’s ship. Conflict brews on both vessels as the girls face a childless Empyrean crew while the boys must run the ship themselves. Glow features a strong female protagonist in a story woven with themes reminiscent of the darker side of Puritanism.

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4. The Diabolic by S.J. Kincaid.  Nemesis, a genetically engineered humanoid, was made to protect a senator’s daughter named Sidonia. However, she begins to move beyond her biology after taking Sidonia’s place in the galactic court of a power-hungry Emperor. Nemesis now works with a surprising ally to save humanity from its harsh rulers and aging technology. The complex characters and original setting of The Diabolic make it an engaging read.

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5. Cinder by Marissia Meyer. A cruel stepmother feels justified in using the tinkering skills of her cyborg stepdaughter Cinder to support her family through a mechanic’s shop. An incurable disease and threats from the Lunar Queen Levana force young Emperor Kai to look for help. With Cinder’s talents and bravery and Kai’s position, they start a team that grows in members throughout the following books. While the first book Cinder was adequate by itself, the entire Lunar Chronicles is a series full of adventure, featuring new takes on classic fairytales.

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6. These Broken Stars by Annie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner. When a luxury starship crashes, an unlikely pair must survive on a desolate planet. Lilac is the daughter of one of the richest men in the universe, while Tarver has faced hardship as a soldier. Together they uncover secrets about Lilac’s father and learn to understand each other despite their different backgrounds. These Broken Stars contains lyrical writing and a fulfilling romance for those who enjoy that genre.

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7. Entangled by Amy Rose Capetta. What happens when you mix rock n’ roll and The Hitcherhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy? A story about a girl named Cade who uses music to fight the ringing in her head. Cade finds out she has been quantum entangled with boy named Xan. She gathers a motley crew in aid in her search across the stars for Xan. Entangled delivers a fun cast of characters and satisfying conclusion.

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Matched

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Cassia is relived when Xander, her childhood friend, appears onscreen as her assigned spouse, or Match. But another boy named Ky appears onscreen as another Match for her, she questions the foundations of her society

By: Ally Condie

My Rating: 3 of 5

Genre: Dystopian

Riding on the wake of other popular dystopian trilogies, Matched capitalizes on an existing market with a packed plot and improbable love triangle. A few sentences carry weight or are constructed well enough to pause: “Every minute you spend with someone gives them a part of your life and takes part of theirs,” among others. A few themes, like the value of truth or individual choices might have been interesting if further developed, but are mostly overshadowed by the predictable, totalitarian government featured in novels like The Giver. Which comes first when writing a novel, the plot or the characters? In Matched, the characters fade into the breakneck speed of events. Because they hold little substance themselves, it becomes difficult to identify with or care about Cassia, Xander, and Ky.

The book is squeaky clean; a welcome change from authors who add cursing for shock value. However, the way it views anxiety makes me uncomfortable. All citizens carry green pills, or anti-anxiety medication for weekly use if needed. Several times Cassia mentions her refusal to take the pills, that she is strong enough to go without them. Having anxiety does not make a person weak-struggling with something like anxiety or other issues strengthens character instead.

Should you read this? In the same way a grocery store cupcake fulfills your late-night, sweet tooth craving, Matched satisfies a need for romance, action, or just entertainment. But there are likely better books, or better desserts, available to appreciate.

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Shatter Me

 

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A post-apocalyptic regime called the Reestablishment seizes Juliette, a girl with a lethal touch, from an asylum to use for their own purposes. With the help of her long-lost friend Adam, she plans to escape her newest prison and confront her terrifying powers and dark past.

Shatter Me (The Juliette Chronicles)
By: Tahereh Mafi
My Rating: 4 of 5
Genre: Sci-Fi, Dystopia
Read this if you enjoy: Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi, Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo , The Host by Stephenie Meyer
How did I find this book: library spelunking

What struck me most about this book is the unique writing style of the author. Mafi’s prose flows almost like poetry, with brief sentences full of imagery and internal thoughts. Juliette’s emotional struggle with her deadly physical touch is tangible version of the internal conflict we all face between our sin natures and what we know is right.
Admittedly, I like the character of Warner, a young leader of the Reestablishment. I tend to like characters such as Sherlock Homes, Erik from the Phantom of the Opera, Loki, etc., because their psychotic/sociopathic tendencies (yes, I know) make these famous characters complex, unpredictable, and intriguing. However, Adam is rather bland for a main character. He starts out strong, but as the book and series progresses, his character is never fully developed.
The same is true for the dystopian setting called the Reestablishment. While not as central to the plot in the first book, it’s disappointingly unoriginal and uninteresting. Although it never crosses the line, there is some PDA involved that I usually skim through.   The book feels like an X-Men movie, which is not necessarily a negative thing. Juliette is very similar to Rogue, Castle is like Charles Xavier, and so on, but the novel is decidedly its own.

Okay, so should I read this?
If you like the X-Men movies and dystopian novels mentioned above.

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