Street Freaks by Terry Brooks
Grim Oak Press
Sci Fi & Fantasy
Pub Date 02 Oct 2018
Terry Brooks is well known for his beloved Shannara novels. Classic fantasy is his specialty. Street Freaks is his first science fiction novel, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. I was astounded. Street Freaks is as innovative as Sword of Shannara was, giving readers a story that will appeal to teens and adults alike. On one level it is a story about growing up and finding where you fit. On another it is an action adventure pitting corrupt corporate and government forces against a teen who may be able to reveal their secrets. The characters have more breadth than found in most young adult novels. All are exceptional in one way or another, labeled as “rejects” by the majority. They’ve made a family of sorts in the workshop of Street Freaks, using their unique talents to design and build exotic street racers for rich clients. The juxtaposition of the beautiful and individualistic cars they b...
Ascendant Unrest (Faded Skies #2) Book TWO of the Faded Skies
by Matthew S. Cox
Curiosity Quills Press
Sci Fi & Fantasy
Pub Date 24 Jul 2018
Matthew S Cox returns to the world he created in Ascendant in his second novel - Ascendant Unrest. His newest novel exceeds the high expectations set by his debut. Ascendant Unrest is a fantastic science fiction novel. Not only is the world rich in detail and history, his characters have emotional depth, and he does a convincing job with both the adults and the children and how their lives and personalities have been shaped by their world.
Maya tried to change the world, but while there have been some changes in how the Authority treats nons, Ascendant is still powerful, and Maya’s mother is still in control. All appears to have settled down, but soon after Gemma departs on a job, mercenaries try to kidnap Maya and Sarah, injuring Sarah’s father in the process. It quickly becomes clear that Ascendant has not forgotten Maya, and tha...
Cross My Path by Clea Simon
Mystery & Thrillers
Pub Date 01 Jul 2018
Clea Simon is an astounding author with a unique talent for capturing the essence of both humans and animals in writing. Since its start, this series has been one of my favorites. The world of Cross My Path is a decaying one. There is limited commerce, and jobs and food are hard to come by. Few are literate, and women and children are always at risk from the more powerful who seek to profit off the weak. Care has taken over her mentor’s business, finding the lost and righting what wrongs she can - a difficult and dangerous job. Her cat Blackie does what he can to help and support her. If you have read the previous novels in the series (spoiler) you already know that some of her mentor’s consciousness survives in Blackie. This is of central importance to Cross My Path.
First, an old woman calling herself Blaze hires Care to find her brother’s effects. Care accepts the case after s...
The Wild Dead by Carrie Vaughn
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
John Joseph Adams/Mariner Books
Sci Fi & Fantasy
Pub Date 17 Jul 2018
I went into The Wild Dead without expectations. What I discovered was a world where little remained of the past, where most lived relatively primitive lives in households along the Coast Road. Quotas are carefully maintained and resources managed. Women are implanted with birth control that is only removed when a household proves it can support a child and receives a banner. Enid and Teeg are investigators, called to resolve a dispute between households. The issue is a simple one, but the discovery of a body changes everything. It quickly becomes clear that the young woman is one of the Wild Folk, who live a nomadic life beyond the Coast Road and rarely interact with the settlements. Enid wants to find the truth, while Teeg, young and zealous wants the easy out. The town folk are keeping secrets, and old grudges live long lives.
IT TAKES DEATH TO REACH A STAR by Stu Jones & Gareth Worthington
Literary Fiction , Sci Fi & Fantasy
Pub Date 22 May 2018
It Takes Death to Reach a Star depicts a dystopian future where the last of society is divided between the Graciles, genetically engineered individuals who live in luxury above, and the Robusts, the plague survivors who struggle in the frozen habitats below. The Robust population of Eytom is divided into walled segments according to belief. Travel between is dangerous, as violent, cannibalistic outcasts live between sectors. The two central characters are Mila, a courier and Demetri, a gracile struggling to keep a secret that could lead to his death. As you might expect, they end up working together to stop a plot that would result in the destruction of life as they know it.
I have mixed feelings about It Takes Death to Reach a Star. I did like how the authors went counter stereotype, portraying the very real fear a person like De...
Vanity in Dust is one of the most captivating fantasies that I’ve read in recent months. With its strange politics and Asian feel, it is very different than most dystopian reads. The setting is gorgeous, at once decadent and desolate. Magic is at once ever present and tightly reined in.
The Realm is ruled by the Queen, rarely seen but immensely powerful. The area surrounding her tower is divided, controlled by three families who regularly war amongst themselves. Dust, a magical drug, distracts and dulls the senses, giving the ruling families immortality. All Dust is produced and sold by the Queen - it is a jealously guarded monopoly. Vaun is a prince of the realm, able to go anywhere, sleep with anyone and do anything. His life of leisure begins to crack when bad dust begins to be seen throughout the realm and he is poisoned by it. Once free of the Dus...
When you consider the current political environment, the rerelease of Passion Play makes all the more sense. In this dystopian version of the US, the government is controlled by ultra conservatives who force their version of Christian Fundamentalism on the public. Vigilantes are prevalent and “sins” are violently punished. Diane Fletcher is an investigator, an empath whose abilities allow her to solve crimes through understanding the nature of the perpetrator. When Jonathan Mask, a Fundamentalist Icon and celebrity is killed, Diane is brought in to determine whether the situation was an accident or murder. The case is a difficult one, made more so by Mask’s nature. He was a celebrity, the voice of fundamentalism, but as Diane discovers he was also far more than that.
Passion Play questions the nature of judgment and justice. The society is supposedly Christian, but it i...
Magpie's Song by Allison Pang
Literary Fiction , Sci Fi & Fantasy
Pub Date 08 Aug 2017
Great books linger in your thoughts long after the last page is turned. Magpie’s Song is such a book, and I am eager to read the next book in the series. The world of Magpie’s Song is divided in three. Meridian, the city of luxury and technology flies above. It rules Brightstone, the city below with an iron fist. Brightstone fears the Rot, a flesh eating plague that randomly attacks members of the population, and turns others inexplicably into Moon Children, silver haired, capable of great physical prowess and immune to the Rot. They are the Sineaters of Brightstone, looked down upon and often sent to the Pits where the plagued are isolated.
Raggy Maggy is a scavenger of scrap, struggling to meet her quota. When she and her friend discover a clockwork dragon, a series of cascading events leads her to become a wanted criminal involved in a conspiracy t...
The hallmark of a good novel is that it lingers in the mind long after the last page has been turned. Gilded Cage is such a novel. It is a dystopian fantasy, but far better than the majority being sold. The characters are captivating, particularly Silyen, the youngest son whose magical gifts far outstrip his family’s. While his father is ruthlessly ambitious, Silyen has a far more complex plan in mind - a plan that will shake the foundations of their world.
The people of the Gilded Cage are divided into two groups, the commoners and the wealthy aristocratic families who possess magical abilities (The Equal). Commoners are all required to spend 10 years in slavery. That is how it has always been. Abi and Luke’s family try to schedule their slavedays in a way that allows them to stay together. The plan goes awry when Luke is sent to a slavetown while Abi and...
The Last Girl has an interesting premise. Women are scarce and no female babies have been born for almost a generation. Zoey is amongst a small number of young women kept in a fortress and told they are the only hope for the world.
Like most dystopian novels, the villains of this piece (the NOA) are the worst of the worst. The girls have scarcely any education, live a prisoner's life, and are placed in isolation where they are tortured in retaliation for any rule breaking. If that isn't enough, Hart throws in lecherous and abusive guards. To avoid falling into the YA category, Hart places the girls on the cusp of adulthood. They don't "graduate" until they are 21. In theory it's because the women are most fertile at 21, though the eggs are harvested and gestation is in tanks. Oh and to make the bad guys extra bad they kill the women who can't give birth to a female....