ARC Review: Exo by Fonda Lee

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review

It’s been a century of peace since Earth became a colony of an alien race with far reaches into the galaxy. Some die-hard extremists still oppose alien rule on Earth, but Donovan Reyes isn’t one of them. His dad holds the prestigious position of Prime Liaison in the collaborationist government, and Donovan’s high social standing along with his exocel (a remarkable alien technology fused to his body) guarantee him a bright future in the security forces. That is, until a routine patrol goes awry and Donovan’s abducted by the human revolutionary group Sapience, determined to end alien control.

When Sapience realizes whose son Donovan is, they think they’ve found the ultimate bargaining chip . But the Prime Liaison doesn’t negotiate with terrorists, not even for his own son. Left in the hands of terrorists who have more uses for him dead than alive, the fate of Earth rests on Donovan’s survival. Because if Sapience kills him, it could spark another intergalactic war. And Earth didn’t win the last one . . .

description

**** Thank you to Scholastic for sending me a review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review****

I was on and off with “Exo” a lot because there were many things I enjoyed and a few that I didn’t so I was debating between a 3 star and 3.5 star rating which in the end I decided 3.5 was a good rating since I did actually enjoy myself.

PLOT

“Exo” gets into the action immediately at the start of the book with Donovan and his partner going to capture some rebel humans and Donovan getting kidnapped instead. It really grabs your attention and makes you want to read more, however, that fast pacing does NOT last. The pacing (and my interest) slowed down considerably after Donovan is captured and it all seems really boring and pointless, it took a lot of effort to make it past this point in the plot for me. This actually happened a few times so the pacing overall was very uneven.

I was also left kind of wondering what exactly the main conflict was in this book because as stated in the description Donovan is kidnapped by human revolutionaries but this is actually resolved pretty early in the story. So after that I didn’t really understand what was happening and why. Is there going to be some war between humans and aliens? Aliens versus other aliens? Who knows? I didn’t really like this free floating feeling I had through the plot….

However, I did really like that what conflicts there were in the plot weren’t black or white they were all very much in a grey area. No side is strictly good or evil, they both have their reasons for doing what they do. So I thought that was very interesting and added a lot of complexity to the story.

Also the main reason I rated this book higher than I probably would have is because of the world building, which was absolutely excellent. Fonda Lee does an amazing job of building a very complex world in which humans have been “conquered” by an alien race and now co-exist with them. There’s a caste system, different technologies, and everything from the language to the biology of the aliens is provided. There’s a lot of imaginations and detail put into this world and I very much appreciated it, even though I wanted to learn so much more! Plus there’s no info-dumping!

characters

So we actually get a male POV in this book which I thought was a big plus since it isn’t something we normally see, especially in YA. Just a fun tidbit!

To start off I will say that all of the characters, including, Donovan were pretty flat and reading I felt very distant from them. I didn’t relate and I didn’t really care what happened to any of them because I felt I didn’t actually get to know any of them. That’s not to say I didn’t learn anything about the characters, I did learn quite a bit, I just felt that no one was really developed at all.

Donovan, however, I came to have a certain degree of respect for because he is put through absolute hell in this book but some of the actions he took were stupid and therefore annoying. That’s really all I can say for our main character.

I also found that all of the characters that received any degree of development all had a significant relationship with Donovan, any other secondary characters lacked any development or even “screen time” so to speak. Even the relationships weren’t depicted as being really strong either, they all felt really bland to me such as Donovan and his father and Jet (his BFF).

I especially felt that Donovan’s romantic interest Anya was completely unnecessary because of how underwhelming and underdeveloped it felt. I felt that this was only added for the sake of having some form of romance and I felt like asking “But why?” a lot.

in conclusion

Overall I did like this book even though there were times that I felt very bored and wondered if I would even finish. I think the world building is very unique and I liked the fact that this was alien-scifi because who doesn’t love aliens? I am excited to continue the series and see what happens next even though it hasn’t been confirmed yet that this is a series, with that ending there better be more though!

What I Liked:

  • The world building was amazing, detailed, and imaginative
  • No info-dumping
  • The action parts that were fast paced were awesome
  • No side in the conflict was black or white, everything’s a shade of gray
  • Male POV
  • Aliens!

What I Disliked:

  • Uneven pacing
  • Not much character development
  • Main conflict was confusing and obscure
  • Romance was very underwhelming and unnecessary

RECOMMEND

This is kind of “meh” as far as recommending goes I would say if your a fan of YA science fiction or want to try out a sci-fi book that involves aliens then give this a go! It’s overall a pretty decent read.

Links: Goodreads / Amazon / Book Depository

The Sassy

Book Review: The Diabolic (The Diabolic #1) by S.J. Kincaid

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description

Nemesis is a Diabolic. Created to protect a galactic Senator’s daughter, Sidonia. The girl who has grown up by her side and who is as much as sister as a master. There’s no one Nemesis wouldn’t kill to keep her safe. But when the power-mad Emperor summons Sidonia to the galactic court as a hostage, there is only one way for Nemesis to protect Sidonia.

She must become her.

Now one of the galaxy’s most dangerous weapons is masquerading in a world of corruption and Nemesis has to hide her true abilities or risk everything. As the Empire begins to fracture and rebellion looms closer, Nemesis learns that there is something stronger than her deadly force: the one thing she’s been told she doesn’t have – humanity. And, amidst all the danger, action and intrigue, her humanity might be the only thing that can save her, Sidonia and the entire Empire…

review

I just KNEW I was going to adore this book although at first I was skeptical, “The Diabolic” managed to 100% win me over though with it’s utter perfection (or really it just contained everything I look for in a book and did it awesomely).

I really don’t have to much to complain about and thus will spend this review trying to convince YOU to read this book!

PLOT

Also just one little side note here! This book WAS supposed to just be a standalone and apparently it is now a trilogy which is a little upsetting to me since I thought it was all wrapped up 100% and I’m not sure I’ll like it having more books now since the ending was completely satisfying. I’d also love to hear YOUR thoughts on this too so leave some comments down below!

Now before I start gushing about how amazing this book is I will start with saying this book takes a little patience at the beginning! When I first started reading I was thinking to myself “Wait, I thought I was going to love this book? Why does everyone else love this book? Am I even reading the same book?”. Turns out I just needed to push my way through the beginning of the book to get to all of the awesomeness! So the beginning is a little slow to start and actually a teeny bit boring honestly but I understand that it was needed to set the stage for all of the cool stuff that happens later.

As I said the beginning is a little slow paced but once it gets going it really gets going! The rest of the story is very fast paced and action packed without any dull moments or lulls. And the  plot twists are BRUTAL by which I mean they’re pretty jaw-dropping, there’s conspiracies, politics, mind games, betrayals, and revenge! How could you ever get bored?

One thing I really thought was interesting was the setting and world building for this story. The galaxy (universe? space in general?) is run by an Imperial Court/Senate type of thing with the ruling figurehead being an Emperor. So this had a very Roman feel to it mixed in with the futuristic/space-y atmosphere. How is that NOT awesome?

I also thought that the world building was just minimal enough to keep you interested and not confused especially since this book was SUPPOSEDLY a standalone when I read it. It was just enough and it was perfect, however, now that this is a trilogy I’m sure they can (and should) expand way more on the world building.

characters

Let’s just say the characters are pretty amazing in this story especially the main character and her love interest I thought the development and complexity was spot on.

Nemesis is our main character and she is a badass, vicious, and ruthless…..I loved her. Her sole purpose in life is to protect Sidonia (who is her charge basically) and she will do this at all costs even if it means sacrificing herself. Her personality is very robotic and animalistic she doesn’t exactly have feelings or experiences like humans, however, she does care for Sidonia and Sidonia cares greatly for her as well and insists Nemesis is human too. Thus we see a lot of conflicting emotions inside Nemesis as she develops throughout the story as she tries to deal with her nature and her growing human feelings. SO MUCH COMPLEXITY, IT IS AMAZING!

Then there’s Tyrus. Holy crap I absolutely loved his character so much, I thought only Nemesis was complex and developed but Tyrus is right up there as well. He’s so clever and when I say clever I mean so unbelievably smart and devious with all of the plot-hatching and mind games. He’s just awesome, okay?

The secondary characters were also pretty great, they had JUST enough development to keep them interesting although overall they paled in comparison to Nemesis and Tyrus. Everyone had their own agendas and additions to the story. Plus the villains are so VICIOUS and cold-hearted that you just loved to hate their guts.

romance

Let me describe this with a gif:

Image result for i ship it gif

I rarely love YA romances and especially not this much! I adored the romance in this book to little bits and pieces, it had a kind of “forbidden love” feel to it and there were definitely NO tropes or cliches with it either this was a complete slow burn romance. I think that Nemesis and Tyrus fit so well together because they’re both ruthless but also with a strong underlying goodness to them.

Also without naming whos or whats there is a bit of a LGTB romance in here toooooooo!

in conclusion

I very much loved “The Diabolic” it was all kinds of vicious and trope-free and just really unique! There weren’t really a whole lot of things I DIDN’T like about it thus giving it the 5 star rating.

What I Liked:

  • Ruthless, vicious characters
  • A badass main character
  • SO MUCH CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT/COMPLEXITY
  • The romance was so freaking cute and I ship it so hard!
  • The setting and world building were interesting
  • The plot is fast-paced and there’s constant action
  • Space politics and mind games!

What I Didn’t Like:

  • The beginning was hard to get into (the pacing was slow to start)
  • The fact that this went from a standalone to a trilogy even though the ending was perfect for a standalone!

RECOMMEND

Most definitely I recommend giving “The Diabolic” a read! Especially if you’re into YA sci-fi, vicious/badass characters, and you like a little politics in your plots! Also if you like action because there are things constantly happening!

Links: Goodreads / Amazon / Book Depository

The Sassy

Book Review: The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness

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description

Prentisstown isn’t like other towns. Everyone can hear everyone else’s thoughts in an overwhelming, never-ending stream of Noise. Just a month away from the birthday that will make him a man, Todd and his dog, Manchee — whose thoughts Todd can hear too, whether he wants to or not — stumble upon an area of complete silence. They find that in a town where privacy is impossible, something terrible has been hidden — a secret so awful that Todd and Manchee must run for their lives.

review

“The Noise is a man unfiltered, and without a filter, a man is just chaos walking.”

Wow, this has got to be one of the best books I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading. Seriously, everything about it was perfection. It was heart wrenching, beautiful, adventurous, thought-provoking, and original. Everything about it was SO ORIGINAL, I’ve never read anything like it before. I also don’t think I’ve ever felt this emotional about a book ever, or at least not in a very long time.

Reasons Why You Should Read “The Knife of Never Letting Go”:

  1. It’s fast paced with plenty of action, adventure, and heart-break. It’ll keep you reading and on the edge of your seat begging to know what happens next.
  2. The world building is extraordinary it’s original and unique and there’s always new things being learned even when you thought you knew everything.
  3. Every single character you meet is complex and full of personality, you will fall in love with them. Even the ones you hate, you’ll love to hate them.
  4. There’s no romance! I don’t know about you but that’s fantastic for a YA book! That means no insta-love or love triangles!

PLOT

Trust me when I tell you that you’ll have a hard time getting bored with this book, it never has a dull moment. I hated to even put the book down at all!

There’s quite a bit of traveling in the story and usually ,for me, that equals slow pacing or a boring book overall. That was not the case with “The Knife of Never Letting Go”. There’s always something happening during their travels that’s interesting whether it’s a sort of chase scene, meeting a new character, or unveiling secrets. No slow pacing here which is awesome for an almost 500 page book, could you imagine reading that many pages and getting BORED? Yeah, I didn’t think so.

The world-building Ness did with this book was simply amazing, practically nothing was left to the imagination! There were no info-dumps either, you gradually learned about the world throughout the course of the book. Not to mention how original and creative the world Ness built is. People hearing each others thoughts, animals talking, native aliens, and space ships. All of which are explained in extraordinary detail, it was fascinating to learn about.

Now to the actual plot, you will be frustrated A LOT and yes that is a good thing. It means you actually care enough about what’s happening to get frustrated! Yay! Don’t let all of the action I mentioned earlier deceive you though, this book will test you emotionally and it will rip your heart out and stomp all over it. There’s much more to this book than meets the eye, you will feel absolutely moved by the time you reach the last pages. I guarantee it.

Another point I’d like to make is that every thing that occurs in “The Knife of Never Letting Go” and every choice Todd has to make is never easy. Never. Nothing about this book is easy and none of it is black and white. Everything exists in a moral gray area. Which if you ask me just makes the book that much more interesting and that much more unpredictable.

Seriously, I dare you to try and predict anything that happens in this book.

This book was utterly flawless, I don’t have one single complaint about anything in it. However, there are two things that I’ll discuss that may bother you or other readers.

Todd’s slangy speech. This didn’t bother me any while I read but it might bother you, Todd’s speech in the book is lots of slang and mispronounced words. Here’s a quote that demonstrates this:

“That’s the thing I’m learning about being thrown out on yer own. Nobody does nothing for you. If you don’t change it, it don’t get changed.”

See what I mean? He also pronounces the word creatures as creachers and so on.

The second thing about this book that may bother you is that it ends on a big cliffhanger that demands you pick up the next installment right away. Cliffhangers don’t really bother me any, I’ll either pick up the next book or I won’t, but you’ve been warned now.

characters

First off let me tell you that every single character you meet will make an impression on you. Everyone in this story is more than meets the eye, and practically everyone is well developed. Random people you meet on the road? You’re damn right they’re developed characters. I felt that I really KNEW every person Todd came across in his journey.

If that’s not great character writing I don’t know what is!

Our main protagonist is Todd (which I keep accidentally typing as Tood, how embarrassing) who is probably one of the most deep, complex, and well developed protagonists I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading about. He’s a fantastic narrator, and not only that but he’s an incredibly real and relatable character.

(Yes I just made a meme to use to make my point)

We get to watch Todd grow as a person throughout the course of this book, and it’s enough to make you feel almost proud of him.

Viola is the other main character in this book and I loved her as well. She’s strong, smart, loyal, and very capable. Pretty much everything I love in a heroine!

Then we have Manchee, Todd’s dog. Holy crap is he ever the greatest dog in any book I’ve ever read. He talks! And he talks EXACTLY how I imagine real dogs would talk.

“The first thing you find out when yer dog learns to talk is that dogs don’t got nothing much to say.
About anything.
“Need a poo, Todd.”
“Shutup, Manchee.”
“Poo. Poo, Todd.”
“I said shut it.”

If dogs ever talk while I’m alive and they don’t talk like this, I’m going to be so disappointed. Manchee is as loyal a friend to Todd as anyone, and he’s actually very smart. He helps Todd throughout his journey more than anyone I think. Manchee just warms my heart, he’s basically Doug from the movie “Up”. If you think I’m lying go read the book and you’ll agree with me. I’m patient….I can wait.

Other Things I Have To Say:

There’s no romance in this story, which always merits points from me. Sorry, I’m just not a romance fan. There’s no love triangles or insta-love or any of that. Nope, this book has something better. Bonds and the kind of love we feel towards friends or family, not romantic love. That’s the kind of love that’s in this book and you’ll feel it too.

in conclusion

“The Knife of Never Letting Go” is a very emotional book that will succeed at completely immersing you into its story. I just wish I could properly explain how wonderfully beautiful this book truly is and writing this review was very difficult. How do you write a review for such perfection? I hope I did OK.

RECOMMEND

Yes! A million times yes! This book makes all of my other 4-5 Star ratings seem like 2’s!

Although I’d say if you’re NOT a fan of crying or getting super emotionally attached to characters then skip this one. You will cry. That’s the only reason I have to not recommend this though.

So hurry up and read this dang book that I love! Then we can all sit and cry together! I mean discuss this great book together!

Links: Goodreads / Amazon

 The Sassy

Book Review: The Scorpion Rules by Erin Bow

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description

Greta is a duchess and crown princess—and a hostage to peace. This is how the game is played: if you want to rule, you must give one of your children as a hostage. Go to war and your hostage dies.
Greta will be free if she can survive until her eighteenth birthday. Until then she lives in the Precepture school with the daughters and sons of the world’s leaders. Like them, she is taught to obey the machines that control their lives. Like them, she is prepared to die with dignity, if she must. But everything changes when a new hostage arrives. Elián is a boy who refuses to play by the rules, a boy who defies everything Greta has ever been taught. And he opens Greta’s eyes to the brutality of the system they live under—and to her own power.
As Greta and Elián watch their nations tip closer to war, Greta becomes a target in a new kind of game. A game that will end up killing them both—unless she can find a way to break all the rules.


review

“No, blowing up cities doesn’t work, not in the long term. You’ve got to find something that the people in charge aren’t willing to give up. A price they aren’t willing to pay.

Which leads us to Talis’s first rule of stopping wars: make it personal.

And that, my dear children – that is where you come in.”

This book is very exciting, nerve racking, and ultimately a little heartbreaking. So in other words I freaking loved it.

The story was very original everything about it was one of a kind, there are no annoying, common YA tropes in this book! Which is probably why it appealed to me so much.

Insta-love? Nope.

Love Triangles? Yes and at the same time definitely no. You’ll see why.

Mary Sues or Gary Stus? Nope.

See? So already we’re set up for a great YA dystopian novel.

The world building was excellent, we’re introduced to such an unique worldstate. Humans (and the Earth for that matter) are under the “control” of an AI, Talis, who basically blackmails them with their own children to keep the peace. Let’s just say this book is very….gritty. Oh man, will it break your heart too. It broke my heart, I have all these feelings I don’t know what to do with now.

The pacing may get a little bit slow sometimes but it wasn’t super noticeable to me, although I can see it annoying some other readers.  I was too wrapped up in the events of the book to let the pacing get me down though.

And that ENDING, I don’t even know what to say or do about that ending! I basically NEED the next book NOW. I just want to understand!

The writing though wasn’t particularly good, it was kind of bland and boring. It got the job done is what it did. Which is a reason why other people probably haven’t enjoyed this book as immensely as I have.

Really, though,  the best part of the book BESIDES the awesome world building, were the characters.

 The characters in “The Scorpion Rules” are very strong and complex such as: Greta, Xie, Elian, Talis, and the Abbot. Everyone else is basically a secondary character and they all fell really flat for me, very uninteresting and unimportant.

  Our MC Greta is very dutiful, strong, and smart. She is a very perfect heroine for the situation she has been put in, and her best friend Xie is the same way. Overall I agree with all of the actions and choices Greta makes throughout the book.

Xie is always standing up for what she believes is appropriate or right, nobody messes with her.

Elian is a loose cannon, he does everything his way and he brings pretty much ALL the adventure in the first half of the book.

Then we have an AI character called the Abbot. The Abbot runs the Precepture where the children are kept, and he’s just…very wise. He plays a pretty vital role in the story.

Then there’s Talis. Oh how I LOVED Talis. He’s the AI that “took over the world” and he is hilarious. Talis is my absolute favorite character, is that bad? Rooting for the city-destroying, world enslaving AI? I don’t care I still love him. I basically picture him as this:

Yep that’s definitely Talis using his orbital weapons on the Earth. That’s probably why I like him so much, because I was picturing him as Chris Pine…..hmmm.

Also the romance in the book was very subtle and yet still very important, I actually really liked it. This is coming from a person who could do without side romances completely. Now remember when I said there was no love triangle? There isn’t..but there is. There really isn’t any way to explain it without spoilers sooooooo. But I will tell you it’s a bisexual romance.


All in all “The Scorpion Rules” may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it IS my cup of tea. I pretty much loved everything about it and I definitely recommend it to anyone looking for a really unique dystopian YA novel.

Links: Goodreads / Amazon