Friday, April 29, 2016

The Outliers by Kimberly McCreight

Publication Date: May 3rd, 2016

Series: The Outliers (bk. 1)

Genera(s): Suspense Thriller/Sci-fi

Subjects: mystery anxiety disorders, emotion, abilities, scientists,

Setting: Boston, Massachusetts and Seneca, Maine

POV/Tense: 1st person POV, present tense: Wylie Lang

Age/Grade Level: Teen

Length: 334 pgs.

HC/PB: Hardcover

List Price: $17.99

Publisher: HarperTeen

Summary/ product description: “From the New York Times bestselling author of Reconstructing Amelia comes a fast-paced teen series where one girl learns that in a world of intrigue, betrayal, and deeply buried secrets, it is vital to trust your instincts.

It all starts with a text: Please, Wylie, I need your help. Wylie hasn’t heard from Cassie in over a week, not since their last fight. But that doesn’t matter. Cassie’s in trouble, so Wylie decides to do what she has done so many times before: save her best friend from herself.

This time it’s different, though. Instead of telling Wylie where she is, Cassie sends cryptic clues. And instead of having Wylie come by herself, Jasper shows up saying Cassie sent him to help. Trusting the guy who sent Cassie off the rails doesn’t feel right, but Wylie has no choice but to ignore her gut instinct and go with him.

But figuring out where Cassie is goes from difficult to dangerous, fast. As Wylie and Jasper head farther and farther north into the dense woods of Maine, Wylie struggles to control her growing sense that something is really wrong. What isn’t Cassie telling them? And could finding her be only the beginning?

In this breakneck tale, New York Times bestselling author Kimberly McCreight brilliantly chronicles a fateful journey that begins with a single decision—and ends up changing everything.”

My Review:  I won The Outliers as an ARC in a giveaway that I almost didn’t enter, so I was hesitant to even read this book. I wasn’t sure what the genera was. Realistic mystery? Sci-fi thriller? It’s a little bit of both. It’s very light on the sci-fi, which was okay. I really did enjoy the non-stop fast pace of this book. It made me feel a little anxious myself with all the crazy twists.

Wylie’s got an anxiety disorder. She panics, and sometimes even passes out when too stressed. Before this trip, she hadn’t left her house in three weeks. Her mom died a few months ago and she feels broken. Her brother Gideon seems to be the normal one, attending school, making jokes. Her father has almost become like a workaholic robot, so focused on her psychological research. Wylie’s best friend Cassie isn’t talking to her anymore. Cassie’s had serious binge drinking problems that only seemed to get worse.

Wylie’s friend Cassie is missing and suddenly starts sending her cryptic texts, one of which asks Wylie and Jasper to drive up north into Maine to rescue her. On the road, they run into trouble with the car, try hitch hiking, which also ends badly. A visit to the police only endangers them even more. It seems like every one is shady. Twist after twist and Wylie’s not sure who to trust except her own instincts. 

I really though the scientific concept behind Wylie’s dad’s research was cool. It played a big role in the story. I’ve read a lot of book about teens with scientist parents that get their kids mixed up in their research, which did happen in this book kind of. Emotional intelligence sounds like a real thing. It’s like empathy, almost like ESP, but with emotions. The ones who could read emotion deaf and blind are called the Outliers in this book. I could totally read emotions, but doubt I could do it like an Outlier. Either way, it’s a really cool idea for a story. Makes me think of Shade Me by Jennifer Brown, but Nikki had synesthesia to read emotions.

I recommend this book to those that enjoyed Shade Me by Jennifer Brown, Revived and Originals by Cat Patrick, Dangerous Lies & Black Ice by Becca Fitzpatrick, Find Me by Romily Bernard, Black Bird by Anna Carey, Don’t Turn Around by Michelle Gagnon, or any other YA thriller that have action, mystery, or even a touch of science fiction.

Cover Art Review: I like the burnt match typography, but the cover itself is kind of boring with the cut off face.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Nil Unlocked by Lynne Matson

Series: Nil (bk. 2)

Genera(s): Dystopian Sci-fi/Romance

Subjects: survival, mystery, adventure, islands, animals, parallel worlds

Setting: The Island of Nil

POV/Tense: 1st person POV, past tense, rotating between Skye and Rives

Age/Grade Level: Teen

Length: 418 pgs.

HC/PB: Hardcover

List Price: $17.99

Publisher: Macmillan: Henry Holt and Co.

Summary/ product description: “On the island of Nil, the rules are set. You have exactly 365 days to escape—or you die. Rives is now the undisputed Leader of Nil City, but keeping the City united is tougher than ever.

Raiders have grown bolder, supplies are dwindling, and non-human inhabitants have taken a turn toward the deadly. New arrivals cause rifts within the City, putting the Search system at risk, and calling everything Rives knows into question. Desperate for answers, he teams up with the only other person searching for them: Skye, a new arrival with a mysterious past of her own. Soon the duo find themselves locked in a desperate race to save all the residents of Nil—and possibly destroy the island forever. But at what cost? And  

My Review: Reading Nil was exciting because it was new and refreshing, but I was a little disappointed that there wasn’t some crazy twist that involved aliens or a government experiment. The island of Nil, which doesn’t exist just is. Teens are caught by moving portals and find themselves in Nil. They didn’t want to be there. They got 365 day to find a portal to take them back home. There are animals that appear on Nil. Dangerous animals like tigers and other big cats, predators, and angry hippos. And also, the occasional zebra or alpaca.
In the first Nil book, the main character were Charley and Thad. To my surprise, this sequel was told by two other people, Rives and Skye. Rives is the new leader since Thad left. Skye is girl with a father obsessed with finding the mysterious island that changed his twin brother’s life. Skye get the chance to read the post-Nil journal written by her uncle. I really enjoyed getting a peek into her uncle’s experience. Her uncle nicknamed Nil “Giraffe Land” because that’s the first animal he saw there.

Skye’s father has a lead on a possibly Nil survivor and that’s how Skye meets Charley. Skye speak with Charley and get more information. Skye’s father finds out about a place called Spirit Island in Micronesia. He thinks it may be the mysterious Nil, or at least connected to it. On December 21, Charley and her father go to a set of islands near this Spirit Island, and that where Charley reckless follows an island boy through a stationary portal in the middle of the night and finds herself on Nil.

On Nil, she wake up naked to two boy taking, one of the boy angry that Skye was there. Sky finds the island boy she followed is named Paolo, and he’s secretive about his reason for being there. On day 3, Skye meets Rives. She tells him how she got there and about her uncle. They develop a connection. I think Skye and Rives are more interesting protagonists than Charley and Thad were, but those two had more romance.

Skye wants to know about why Nil exists and when and where the stationary portal appears. Skye’s very curious and fierce. Dex, the British guy with the Mohawk from the first book, think Sky is a bloody badass. Much like Thad and Charley, Skye and Rives try to unlock the further secrets of how Nil works in hopes of getting the islanders home.

I recommend this to fans of shows like Lost, Naked and Afraid, Man vs Wild and other shows with survival and islands. Also fans of books like Madman’s Daughter, Lord of the Flies, Catching Fire, and The Forsaken by Lisa M. Stasse.

Cover Art Review: I like the cover, but not as much as the 1st book’s cover. I do love the landscape on it though. 

Friday, April 15, 2016

Dark Energy by Robison Wells

Series: Standalone

Genera(s): Sci-fi

Subjects: aliens, UFOS, boarding schools, mystery

Setting: Minneapolis, Minnesota

POV/Tense: 1st person POV, past tense: Alice (Aly) Goodwin

Age/Grade Level: Teen

Length: 273 pgs.

HC/PB: Hardcover

List Price: $17.99

Publisher: HarperTeen

Summary/ product description: “WE ARE NOT ALONE

Five days ago, a massive UFO crashed in the Midwest, killing thousands of people. Since then, nothing–or no one–has come out.


If it were up to Alice, she’d be watching all of this on the news from Miami, Florida. Instead, she’s the newest student at a boarding school not far from the crash site–because her dad is the director of special projects for NASA, and if anything’s a special project, it’s this.


A shell-shocked country is waiting, glued to televisions and computer screens, for a sign of what the future holds. But when the aliens emerge, they’re nothing like what Alice expected. And only one thing is clear: Nothing will ever be the same again.”

My Review:  Dark Energy is a book I’ve been highly anticipating since I heard about it. I’ve read all the other books by Robison Wells, and finally he writes one with aliens! The book isn’t what I expected. Not at first. Based off the cover I expected something more creepy and mysterious and more rural. The book is set in Minnesota, mainly at a boarding school for the “gifted and talented.” Alice is sent there because her father works for NASA and he’s investigating the UFO crash site outside of Minneapolis.

Nothing has come out of the space ship yet and everyone’s anticipating the possibility of malicious aliens who want to take over, if any aliens survived, that is. When aliens finally do come out of the ship they are not what Alice expected, in fact, there’s nothing really alien about them. They call themselves the Guides, but what is there purpose? To help, or it there another reason. Two teen guides are sent to Alice’s school and Alice and her roommates try to get information out of them. Some of what they say doesn’t add up. These Guides have translators, but there’s many thing about Humans that they don’t understand.

Anyway, there’s a lot of fun dialogue. Alice and her father have some pretty funny conversations, and Alice and Kurt flirt a bit and banter too. Alice’s roommates are smart and pretty awesome. They seem pretty accepting of Coya. Alice is half Navajo, so she feels just as out of place at this school. Alice is very bold and stubborn and fun.

Dark Energy was cool and funny at times. There are so many pop-culture references, like mentions of Ancient Aliens, Star Wars, Star Treck, 2001, ect… and even pop-culture Icons like Taylor Swift. It’s not dystopian really, but it does remind me of The 5th Wave or the TV shows Falling Skies. Also this book has a crazy twist….actually a few crazy twists, none of which include time travel sadly, so I guess I was wrong this time.

I recommend this to fans of TV show like: Ancient Aliens, Falling Skies, Hunters (Syfy),  Childhood’s End (also SyFy). Movies like Independence Day, and War of the Worlds. Books like The 5th Wave, Scan, Rush, The Taking, Alienated, In the After and pretty much anything with aliens. If you listen to 3rd Phase of Moon radio show on Fridays and are a UFO geek.

Cover Art Review: The cover is cool, but doesn’t fit the content very well since the book’s setting isn’t rural and the book isn’t that creepy. The space ship is supposed to be cylindrical, not a saucer.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Mila 2.0: Renegade by Debra Driza

Series: Mila 2.0 (bk. 2)

Genera(s): Sci-fi/ Thriller

Subjects: androids, robots, artificial intelligence, identity, love

Setting: Virginia Beach, Virginia; Knoxville, Tennessee; Chicago and Glen Ellyn, Illinois, then some compound of unknown location

POV/Tense: 1st person POV, past tense: Mila

Age/Grade Level: Teen

Length: 438 pgs.

HC/PB: Hardcover and now in Paperback

List Price: $17.99/$9.99

Publisher: HarperTeen: Katherine Tegan

Summary/ product description: “There is no one left for Mila to trust. Except for a boy she barely knows.

But Hunter has no idea who—and what—Mila really is. She can’t bear to reveal her secret, even though he’s unwittingly joined her search for Richard Grady, a man who may know more details of Mila’s complicated past.

Yet the road to the truth is more dangerous than ever. With General Holland and the Vita Obscura scouring the earth for her whereabouts, Mila must rely on her newfound android abilities to protect herself and Hunter from imminent harm. Still, embracing her identity as a machine leads her to question the state of her humanity—as well as Hunter’s real motives.

Perfect for fans of I Am Number Four and Divergent, this action-packed and heart-wrenching second installment of MILA 2.0 will leave readers breathlessly awaiting the series conclusion. “

My Review:  This was such an awesome sequel. It’s been about 2 years since I read the first Mila 2.0 book and the 3rd and final one is coming out this month, so I though I better catch up. I thought maybe it’s a good thing I waited to read the sequel, but if I knew it would be this good, I wouldn’t have wanted to wait. Renegade is full of awesome.

Mila, in case you don’t know, is an android. She’s the narrator and act just like any other teenage girl would. She has feeling, which is not something you’d expect a robot to have. Mila was made to be the perfect weapon and she’s now coming to terms with the fact that she’s not human. She’s just starting to accept her android abilities and the robotic voice in her head that gives her information.

Mila invites Hunter to meet her at Virginia Beach to help her on a search for some guy her mother knew. They travel to Knoxville, Tennessee, hoping they have the right guy. Since Hunter doesn’t know the truth about Mila, she tells him that she’s searching for her real father. She keeps avoiding the truth because she’s afraid that it will hurt him. She fear his rejection. Then she starts becoming suspicious of Hunter because she never really looked into his past. Could he possibly be part of Vita Obscura?

I really like Hunter and I don’t care is Mila is an android, I ship them. I hope they work out and maybe there’s someway they can stay together. I just hope it doesn’t turn out like Chappie and Hunter becomes and android or cyborg. Hunter loves manga, and I used to be into manga and anime too. He’s sweet and adorable and funny and nerdy. Lucas, who’s not really in this book much, was also nerdy and awkwardly adorable. Mila is a really interesting character herself. I’ve only read one other series in which the main character is an android, but she had her mind downloaded into and android body after she died. Mila has very human flaws and emotions. I really enjoy all the cool abilities she has too.

I want to mention the settings in the book. There was part of the book set in my state, Illinois. Mila takes a bus to Chicago, she sees Three there and they fight. Then she rides a bike to Glen Ellyn in 2 hours (a Chicago suburb 23 miles directly west of the downtown Chicago) which I’m pretty sure in not possibly unless you’re and android, because it took my brother 2 hours to get to Bellwood. Glen Ellyn is where I went to community college (College of Dupage) for 4 years. It’s like 15 minutes away. Fun fact about it: Ghost Adventure’s Zach Bagens went to school there.

This book was so full of twists and non-stop action. I was never bored reading it. It’s completely entertaining. I hate when book feel slow and this is not a slow book at all. I wish all the books I read were this exciting. I also wish there was more contemporary sci-fi out there. Most sci-fi is dystopian, and others are more paranormal than sci-fi. There needs to be more sci-fi thrillers set in the present, without impending apocalypses.

I recommend this to fans of the Terminator movies, Chappie and Transcendence, and TV shows like AMC’s Humans, Fox’s Almost Human (cancelled after 1 season), Bionic Woman, other robot-android-cyborg TV or movies. Also book like the Insignia series by S.J. Kincaid, Robin Wasserman’s Cold Awakening series (about a girl who’s mind was downloaded into and android body), Unremember by Jessica Brody, False Memory by Dan Krokos, The Taking by Kimberly Derting, or Altered by Jennifer Rush.

Cover Art Review: Similar to first book’s cover. Lovely effect with the square coming off the model.