Starters By Lissa Price A Review

Starters Book Cover Starters
Starters #1
Lissa Price
Dystopian, Science Fiction
Delacorte Books For Young Readers
March 13, 2012
Hardcover
352
Library

HER WORLD IS CHANGED FOREVER
Callie lost her parents when the Spore Wars wiped out everyone between the ages of twenty and sixty. She and her little brother, Tyler, go on the run, living as squatters with their friend Michael and fighting off renegades who would kill them for a cookie. Callie's only hope is Prime Destinations, a disturbing place in Beverly Hills run by a mysterious figure known as the Old Man.
He hires teens to rent their bodies to Enders—seniors who want to be young again. Callie, desperate for the money that will keep her, Tyler, and Michael alive, agrees to be a donor. But the neurochip they place in Callie's head malfunctions and she wakes up in the life of her renter, living in her mansion, driving her cars, and going out with a senator's grandson. It feels almost like a fairy tale, until Callie discovers that her renter intends to do more than party—and that Prime Destinations' plans are more evil than Callie could ever have imagined. . . .

Starters by Lissa Price is a fast-paced Science Fiction dystopian that takes place in a world where everyone is either young or old. The Starters, like the main character Callie, are often forced to live a life of squatting and scrounging for scraps, while being on the run. The Enders are wealthy, or at least quite comfortable, and live comfortable and often extended lives.

To earn money to help her little brother, Callie signs up to be a body rental for an Ender. She ends up being caught-up up in a complex plot involving missing teens and a politician. When people are literally not who they seem, it is difficult to know who to trust but Callie wants to do the right thing. There is a lot of action, car chases, shooting, and running from the bad guys. There is a little bit of romance, but that takes a back seat when the seriousness of the situation really starts to hit home.

Starters by Lissa Price has great pacing and a story complex enough to keep the reader guessing. It definitely left me wanting more and wanting to dive right into book two (Enders, which comes out on January 7, 2014). If you like your dystopian with Science Fiction that includes interesting technology, you will love Starters by Lissa Price.  

 Cover image and summery from goodreads.

Gameboard Of The Gods By Richelle Mead A Review

Gameboard Of The Gods by Richelle Mead

Title: Gameboard Of The Gods

Series: Age Of X #1

Author: Richelle Mead

Publisher: Dutton Adult

Publication Date: June 4, 2013

Source: Netgalley

Genre: Adult Dystopian, Science Fiction

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Summary

In a futuristic world nearly destroyed by religious extremists, Justin March lives in exile after failing in his job as an investigator of religious groups and supernatural claims. But Justin is given a second chance when Mae Koskinen comes to bring him back to the Republic of United North America (RUNA). Raised in an aristocratic caste, Mae is now a member of the military’s most elite and terrifying tier, a soldier with enhanced reflexes and skills.

When Justin and Mae are assigned to work together to solve a string of ritualistic murders, they soon realize that their discoveries have exposed them to terrible danger. As their investigation races forward, unknown enemies and powers greater than they can imagine are gathering in the shadows, ready to reclaim the world in which humans are merely game pieces on their board.

Review

Reviewing Gameboard Of The Gods by Richelle Mead is difficult. I liked the book and thought it was mostly good. (Not using star reviews on All The Stacks, it can be hard for me to explain what I mean by good. On goodreads, for example, I gave Gameboard Of The Gods three stars.) The book has a lot of potential but the problems made it a slugfest at times where I kept checking how long my Kindle thought it would take me to finish.

Gameboard Of The Gods has a solid story. Hot shot guy, Justin March, who is given a chance to get his job back after four years of exile. The catch is he has to solve the mystery behind these ritualistic murders. All solid and quite interesting stuff here. Here is my problem, it takes forever. Even with the book being overly long, I never felt I really understood what was happening. The story takes place in a dystopian world that is never fully fleshed out. We never really learn what happened to have society end up like it is. Why is RUNA, which stands for Republic Of North America which is not spelled out until many chapters into the book, one of the only places to prosper. There is talk about the before and hints that religion and genetic mutations caused a lot of it but I would have liked more specific details. I also had a difficult time picturing the world. There are areas, somewhere in North America, where ethnic groups live. They live within the country but separately. This is important because the murders involve these groups and the main characters do quite a lot of travelling. It took me until halfway through the book to get a good explanation about these groups and why they decided to live separately. The length of time it took to reveal many important plot points, like why Justin is sent into exile and what on earth is up with the talking birds that live in his head, is frustrating.

All of these issues aside, the actual story is interesting. I enjoyed the who-done-it-ness of the plot. I enjoyed how many strong female characters the books contains. Waiting so long to reveal really important information about the main characters lives, motivations, and backstory, made it difficult to care about them until the end of the book. I enjoyed the characters and the overarching world enough to read a book two. It will be read with caution and with the hope that it will be more concise.

Overall, I can recommend Gameboard Of Gods by Richelle Mead but would suggest checking it out from the library or borrowing it from a friend rather than purchasing it. See if it is something that you like before making the purchasing plunge. As I said in the beginning of this review, writing about Gameboard Of The Gods by Richelle Mead is difficult because it has lot of potential but quite a few problems.   

I did receive an eARC in exchange for my honest review. All thoughts are my own.

Summary and cover image from goodreads.

Zenn Scarlett By Christian Schoon

Zenn Scarlett by Christian Schoon

Title: Zenn Scarlett

Author: Christian Schoon

Publisher: Strange Chemistry

Publication Date: May 7, 2013

Source: ARC from publisher

Challenge: Debut Author Challenge

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Summary

Zenn Scarlett is a resourceful, determined 17-year-old girl working hard to make it through her novice year of exovet training. That means she’s learning to care for alien creatures that are mostly large, generally dangerous and profoundly fascinating. Zenn’s all-important end-of-term tests at the Ciscan Cloister Exovet Clinic on Mars are coming up, and, she’s feeling confident of acing the exams. But when a series of inexplicable animal escapes and other disturbing events hit the school, Zenn finds herself being blamed for the problems. As if this isn’t enough to deal with, her absent father has abruptly stopped communicating with her; Liam Tucker, a local towner boy, is acting unusually, annoyingly friendly; and, strangest of all: Zenn is worried she’s started sharing the thoughts of the creatures around her. Which is impossible, of course. Nonetheless, she can’t deny what she’s feeling.

Now, with the help of Liam and Hamish, an eight-foot sentient insectoid also training at the clinic, Zenn must learn what’s happened to her father, solve the mystery of who, if anyone, is sabotaging the cloister, and determine if she’s actually sensing the consciousness of her alien patients… or just losing her mind. All without failing her novice year….

Review

Zenn Scarlett by Christian Schoon is a fun and quirky sci-fi story about a girl who lives on Mars and is determined to become an Exovet (alien veterinarian). The first part of the book is full of descriptions of the exotic space animals that Zenn cares for at the Ciscan Cloister Exovet Clinic. To move to the next level in her training, she has to pass three tests. A mishap during the first test leaves Zenn questioning her sanity and those around her.

I really liked the character of Zenn, she works hard and is brave. She is smart and  passionate about becoming an exovet. The character of Hamish is interesting. He is pretty much a giant bug who acts as the cloisters care taker. He has difficulty thinking for himself and is constantly asking permission before doing the most menial of tasks. Zenn and Hamish have an sort-of friendship that gives Zenn Scarlett a bit of comic relief.

The middle of the book starts to pick-up as we learn more about the Martian political situation and why the neighbors of the cloisters may want it to close its doors. Zenn starts to put the pieces together and tries to find out who is behind the accidents and why. This was my favorite part of the story. I love a good mystery and Christian Schoon drops hints throughout the entire book to a much bigger, overarching story. 

Zenn does have a romantic interest in Liam, who helps around the cloisters. He is the only person her own age that Zenn has ever been friends with. I found this relationship sweet and it was nice to see Zenn open-up. (Liam is also a cat lover which to this cat lover, makes a guy so much more swoon worthy.)

I ultimately enjoyed Zenn Scarlett by Christian Schoon. The last half of the book was much more interesting than the first half, so hang in for it. The writing was very cinematic and I could easily picture Zenn Scarlett as a TV show. Overall, I would have preferred more action and fewer animals but still found Zenn Scarlett to be a solid read. The ending has a cliffhanger and left me wanting to know where this story is going. I would definitely read the next book in this series

This book was provided for me to review by Strange Chemistry. All opinions are my own.

Cover image and summary from goodreads.

Mila 2.0 By Debra Driza

Mila 2.0 by Debra Driza

Title: Mila 2.0

Author: Debra Driza

Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books

Publication Date: March 12, 2013

Source: ARC from 2013 Debut Author Challenge ARC Tour

Challenge: Debut Author Challenge

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Summary

Mila 2.0 is the first book in an electrifying sci-fi thriller series about a teenage girl who discovers that she is an experiment in artificial intelligence.

Mila was never meant to learn the truth about her identity. She was a girl living with her mother in a small Minnesota town. She was supposed to forget her past—that she was built in a secret computer science lab and programmed to do things real people would never do.

Now she has no choice but to run—from the dangerous operatives who want her terminated because she knows too much and from a mysterious group that wants to capture her alive and unlock her advanced technology. However, what Mila’s becoming is beyond anyone’s imagination, including her own, and it just might save her life.

Mila 2.0 is Debra Driza’s bold debut and the first book in a Bourne Identity-style trilogy that combines heart-pounding action with a riveting exploration of what it really means to be human. Fans of I Am Number Four will love Mila for who she is and what she longs to be—and a cliffhanger ending will leave them breathlessly awaiting the sequel.

Review

This review does contain some spoilers.

I was really excited to read Mila 2.0 by Debra Driza and elated when it showed up as part of the 2013 Debut Author Challenge ARC Tour. Debuts can often be a crap shoot but I always have high hopes. There are some that blow you away, The Cadet Of Tildor, and others that just don’t resonate, Nobody But Us.  Mila 2.0 by Debra Driza landed somewhere in the middle.

Mila 2.0 is the story of a girl who learns she is an android and has a lot of difficulty accepting it. The first part of the book has Mila going to High School, where she is the new kid. Her only friend sets her sights on the new boy in school, who of course only has eyes for Mila. Not one to take this lying down, Kaylee creates a situation that leads to a terrible accident which should have killed Mila. This accident is not fatal but it does expose (literally) that she is not like most girls.

This is where the book should have gotten more interesting but it did not. Yes, Mila is upset to learn she is an android and that all of her memories are false. She is angry with the woman she thought was her mother for lying to her. I feel this portion of the book went on a little to long. It may be that I did not feel connected with Mila but I was just not that interested in her conflicted feelings of finding her true identity. I think the point was to humanize Mila, to show how she is a real girl with real feelings but the point is nearly drilled into the head of the reader.  

Once Mila moves past the teen angst stage, Mila 2.0 does start to pick-up. There are lots of great fighting sequences and tons of action. We learn more about the people involved in the Mila project and are even teased with information about a mole from a secret organization. This part of the book was my favorite and by far the most interesting.

Mila 2.0 leaves the reader wanting to know more, as is the fashion with most trilogies. Even though I found Mila 2.0 rather middle of the road, I do think there is plenty to explore in the world created by Debra Driza. I mostly enjoyed Mila 2.0 and would say it is a good debut novel that has the potential to become a more interesting story in books two and three.

What You Will Find

  • Cute Romantic Interest
  • Teen Angst
  • Bad Ass Fighting Robot
  • Conspiracies

Summary and cover image from goodreads.