2019, Books, reviews

The Illuminae Files Trilogy

Title: Illuminae
Author: Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff
Published: 2015
Genre: YA Science Fiction

Synopsis: Kady and Ezra’s home planet and illegal mining colony, Kerenza IV, was invaded by the BeiTech Corporation, an industrial rival. Fleeing aboard different ships, they must evade an enemy warship and survive long enough to report the attack and hopefully get help before a rogue AI, a zombie virus, or both take them out too.

Title: Gemina
Author: Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff
Published: 2016
Genre: YA Science Fiction

Synopsis: Hanna and Nik are aboard Jumpstation Heimdall when their home is attacked and taken over by BeiTech Industry soldiers. Without knowledge of the attack on Kerenza IV, they must try to stop a wormhole from ripping apart time and space while saving their space station and everyone on it.

Title: Obsidio
Author: Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff
Published: 2018
Genre: YA Science Fiction

Synopsis: Asha and Rhys, working for the underground resistance against BeiTech on Kerenza IV, hope to signal anyone for help to save the survivors. Meanwhile, the survivors of the Kerenza IV and Heimdall attacks return to Kerenza IV in hopes of finding survivors.

The format is unique and told through a dossier of hacked files, voice chats, memorandums, internal communications, and video surveillance footage. It drives the story and makes it a quick read, even though each book is 600 pages. There are pictures, images, diagrams, and journal entries that give the story a realistic feel and form a unique reading experience. Many also laud the audio books for the sound effects and full cast of characters that make the story come alive and even more fun to experience.

Each story is focused on different characters but they all connect and take place around the same time. Illuminae follows the invasion of Kerenza IV and the journey of those who were able to escape from the planet and are heading toward Jumpstation Heimdall. Gemina takes place shortly after the events of Illuminae, as the survivors from book one journey toward Heimdall (I think it was a 6 month journey but am not entirely certain). The two cross and come together at the end. Obsidio takes place after the attack on Kerenza IV and tells the story of those who survived the initial assault and are under military rule from their invaders. The three converge and tie the stories together.

What I liked: I personally enjoyed the idea of the story and the potential it had for an interesting plot. I found the entire journey intriguing and was compelled enough to continue through the story to find out who the Illuminae Group is, what happened on Kerenza IV, Heimdall, and the warships, and why BeiTech Industries invaded in the first place. The unique format kept the story moving and brought different perspectives from all the characters and situations that were simultaneously occurring. Had this been told in a different format, it might’ve lost some of the suspense and excitement.

What I didn’t like: Each story, while following different characters, read and felt the exact same. You could interchange Kady, Hanna and Asha and I wouldn’t have known the difference. Same for the main male characters. Even the story format and dossier documents felt the same. My biggest problem I had was the incredibly cringey and annoying dialogue with almost every single character interaction. I understand this is YA but the amount of violence, sexual content and language (although blacked out but still there) implies this would be a bit on the older YA range spectrum. However, the writing was so immature and frustrating that I literally skimmed books 2 and 3 because I didn’t care. The characters bored me and all I enjoyed were the action scenes and the overall plot. It honestly felt like 2 adults trying to be the cool parents and using slang, phrases and other manners of speaking to relate to kids and failing miserably. The story could’ve easily moved along with better writing and still provided the same sense of excitement, fear, frustration and anger that the characters experienced.

Overall, I am disappointed that I didn’t like the books as much as I’d hoped. Were they bad? No – and I can see why so many people love them. Did they work for me? No – because I just couldn’t deal with the content. The plot and ideas were awesome but how it was presented just didn’t jive with me and ultimately led me to being bored and just skimming through to get the major plot points and finish the story.

2019, 2019 unhaul challenge, Books, readathons, reading, reviews

Scallywagathon Wrap Up: May 5-12

Hey friends!

I finished Scallywagathon 2019 last night and read 3 books!

For more information and the prompts, please visit https://sites.google.com/view/scallywagathon2019/home

The Map

I double-dipped and chose books from my 2019 Unhaul Challenge to try and work on those stacks a bit.
(https://allthesewanders.com/tag/2019-unhaul-challenge/)

Here are my thoughts

Title: The Hate U Give
Author: Angie Thomas
Published: 2017
Genre: YA Contemporary

Synopsis: Starr and her friend Khalil are stopped by a police officer after a party. The officer shoots and kills Khalil and Starr struggles with the event and finding justice for her friend.

My thoughts: This was written very well. I was afraid that I wouldn’t like the story because YA Contemporary is just not my favorite genre to read, but I found that this story was engaging, heart wrenching and eye opening, all at the same time. I would highly recommend this to anyone looking for a story based on lives that many people have lived and that happens in America all too often.

Title: The Queen of Hearts (Queen of Hearts Saga #1)
Author: Colleen Oaks
Published: 2014
Genre: Fairy Tale Retelling/Origin Story

Synopsis: Princess Dinah is destined to be Queen of Wonderland and rule beside her father. When her father brings a long-lost sister to court, Dinah’s world is turned upside down.

My thoughts: Although I thought the first half was a bit slow, I liked the build up of Wonderland that is very different from how Alice will find it in the future. Dinah is a conflicted character and I am curious to see where the story leads and how Oaks envisions her descent into becoming the evil queen we all know her to be in Wonderland.

Title: Speak
Author: Laurie Halse Anderson
Published: 1999
Genre: YA Contemporary

Synopsis: Melinda’s first year of high school isn’t going so well. After a traumatic experience at a party that involved her calling the cops, her friends shun her and her parents don’t understand her. Afraid to speak up, she withdraws completely until enough is enough.

My Thoughts: This was done well, although the writing style isn’t my favorite. I am not a fan of short, choppy chapters and vignettes because they typically don’t hold my attention. With that said, the format worked for the story as we are in the head of a traumatized and erratic teenager who is trying to deal with the aftermath of being attacked. It was sad and heart wrenching because I’ve unfortunately known too many people who’ve had similar experiences and were afraid to speak up.

2019, Books, booktube, reviews, videos

New Video!

Hey friends!

I used to run a booktube channel but then school got in the way and I just didn’t have the time to film, edit and upload as much as I wanted to. So I started the blog instead.

Now that I’ve graduated (yay!) and have a free summer before grad school, I wanted to reattempt my hand at booktube! So here’s a new video with a few more coming soon.

Hope y’all have a great day!!!

❤ Chris

2019, 2019 unhaul challenge, Books, reviews

2019 Unhaul Challenge – The Immortal Rules

To see the books I’ve been working through and my thoughts on them, please select the “2019 Unhaul Challenge” category at the top of this post. For a review of all my books, please select “Book Reviews” from the tabs on the menu bar.

Title: The Immortal Rules
Author: Julie Kagawa
Published: 2013
Country: USA
Genre: YA Paranormal/Dystopian

Synopsis: Allison, a young teen from the Fringes of New Covington, struggles with her new life as a vampire and retaining her humanity in a world where vampires are the rulers and the enemies.

I liked the writing style a lot more in this one than many recent YA titles I’ve read. The story flowed nicely and the heroine was interesting and someone I’d root for.

Allison is an Unregistered, meaning she is basically a scavenger and homeless in the city of New Covington, where vampires rule. After a plague broke out, vampires surfaced and protected citizens, and eventually took over and established a social system. Additionally, outside of cities are Rabids, vampire-zombies that kill anything they come across.

Allison, who hates vampires and is afraid of them, gets attacked by a pack of Rabids while on a scavenging mission. A vampire offers to save her life by turning her. She chooses life and is turned, then trained by this mysterious vampire. After an attack targeting them, Allison and her mentor Kanin must flee. Allison leaves the city alone and meets up with a group of humans on the search for a refugee city free of vampires, called Eden.

There are four parts and honestly, the book is a bit long. There are some wandering parts that could’ve been shortened but the actions scenes make up for the boring parts. They are written well and are actually pretty violent. The romance wasn’t cringey and the dialogue was fun and sometimes snarky. Allison isn’t helpless or boy-crazy, making her refreshing in a world of seemingly silly YA female heroines.

Final verdict: It took me a while to get through this because I wasn’t inclined to pick it up. While the story is fine, it just didn’t pull me in like I’d hoped. However, for a vampire story, it wasn’t bad. I won’t continue with the serious but if you like this genre, you might enjoy this trilogy.

2019, Books, reading, reviews

The Illuminae Files #1

Title: Illuminae
Authors: Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff
Published: 2015
Country: United States
Genre: YA Science Fiction

Synopsis: An illegal mining colony is destroyed, so the survivors aboard three space vessels must fight a virus, an industrial nemesis, and an AI system gone rogue.

Sequel: Gemina

The story was interesting and the format was intriguing. I had no problem with the overall way the book is presented, since it’s supposed to be a dossier given by someone named Ghost to some Executive Director. The intentions behind this wouldn’t make any sense if the story was written in a traditional format so this was fun to experience. It felt like a real investigative file someone would obtain about an event that happened.

I also listened to the audio book because everyone won’t stop raving about how it’s got a full cast and sound effects. While it made it more entertaining to experience, the audio book was more annoying than anything for 90% of the time. The sound effects were cool and enhanced battle scenes and some of the more intense events going on, however, the voice actors were annoying. The accents seemed super fake and in the end it sounded like 4 people doing every voice with variations. It was too slow to listen to on 1.5 speed but sounded stupid on 2 speed. But if you don’t follow along with the physical book, you get less of a visual effect, which is the whole intention of the story. It’s a conundrum.

My biggest gripe with this was the content itself. The dialogue was extra cringey and over the top. The chats were so annoying that I skipped over some of them because I couldn’t handle it. I know it’s YA, I know there’s a teen romance at the center, but it was tiresome and made me roll my eyes so hard. I think my favorite parts were the surveillance analyses because it gave us an idea of what was happening with some snarky commentary. The AI’s thoughts were interesting as it struggled with consciousness and understanding humanity versus it’s programmed code as a machine. But it was way too long and got old real quick.

Everyone says how this book is amazing and unique. It’s definitely different and I give the authors props for playing with a new format and trying something different. This could definitely make for a fun TV show, if done correctly. In the end though, I was incredibly underwhelmed and almost put it down. I watched/read some reviews that stated the first half was slow, which it was. I guess the build up was needed? I think there could’ve been less but since the format is unique, it goes by quickly, even though it’s 600 pages. In reality, it’s closer to 300 because of the way it’s presented.

Will I continue on with Gemina? Yes. I am curious as to where it will go and what happens next. Do I have high hopes? No. Will I listen to the audio? Yes, only because it made it more entertaining, although it didn’t add any value to it so I will likely skip parts.

Final verdict: An average story with a unique format that everyone has over-hyped and touted as this amazing book that is a must-read.

2019, 2019 unhaul challenge, Books, reviews

2019 Unhaul Challenge – Glass Sword

To see the books I’ve been working through and my thoughts on them, please select the “2019 Unhaul Challenge” category at the top of this post. For a review of all my books, please select “Book Reviews” from the tabs on the menu bar.

Title: Glass Sword
Author: Victoria Aveyard
Published: 2016
Country: United States
Genre: YA Fantasy/Science Fiction

Synopsis: Mare and Cal meet up with the Scarlet Guard to fight against Maven, but new troubles and betrayals will question all we know.

Oh geez…okay. I am soooo annoyed right now. I don’t know what it is about this book in particular but the writing style has gotten on my last nerve. The choppy sentences, the constant reminders and reminiscing of events that happened in book 1, and the non-plot by page 115 have done me in. Is it me or did this seriously regress from book 1? Were these the same problems as the first and I just didn’t notice because the story was interesting? Does this suffer from middle-book/sequel syndrome? Someone help me out here.

I’ve DNF’ed at page 115. I just really can’t deal with this. I even tried the audio book to see if it would help me get over the choppy sentences but it’s no better and when I heard Farley’s weird British accent and Kilorn’s stupidity/betrayal (again), I almost threw the speaker. This is ridiculous and not worth my time. I feel like the story isn’t moving anywhere. Barely anything has happened, which is crazy to say if you’ve read it and know the first scene in the book! It was explosive and started with a bang…and then it got really slow and boring. Not in the way where I would expect more backstory or scheming, but in the sense that all Mare does is pity herself, tell us how she will act weak to make people think she’s broken yet pretends she’s not just acting, and the constant reminders of backstabbing and deaths from book 1. Honestly….I’ve read book 1 so stop reminding me past page 50. I remember what happened, quit telling me and start moving the story along!

Anyway…this is a huge disappointment because I was psyched when I read Red Queen and enjoyed it (even though I didn’t like it the first time around). So here I will put this down, unless convinced otherwise. My friend Nicole is reading this too (check her Youtube, I’m sure she’ll have some thoughts) https://www.youtube.com/channel/UChVCae-LXrII_0qSQ3xNdBw and will tell me what’s happening so I can stop being frustrated. I might check out book 3 if she deems it to my liking (she’s a good judge of my reading after all haha) so standby. Otherwise, this series is getting unhauled pronto!