Black and White, by Nick Wilford

Harmonia is the definition of quintessential dystopian futures. The government has a tight hold on everything the citizens do, right down to when they have free time. Everything is carefully controlled and regulated: theie disease-proof, pain-free bodies, their waste and tears, their media. However, the appearance of one little boy threatens to unravel all that the government worked for.

I really felt like this novel did really well in creating a dystopian future. It differed from other novels in the genre in that it didn’t rely heavily on violence; manipulation and deception took its place instead. I liked how the chess game between the government and the main characters played out as a back and forth, each one trying to stay one step ahead.

There were times when things felt a little too easy for the characters. While I enjoyed the interactions with their peers and environment, their personalities felt flat. Certain revelations at the end seemingly came out of nowhere and made the ending feel forced. There was little to no foreshadowing in the book even toying with the idea, so the reader is hit with it and it doesn’t have much of an emotional impact. Not to mention that I felt as though one of the characters involved got left behind with only brief mentions here or there after playing such a huge role. It was a neat twist, and I liked the idea, I just wished it would have been planted better. There was something in the writing style that just…didn’t click or fit with the story.

This was still a worthwhile read. The game of cat and mouse held enough intrigue and drama to keep me turning the pages. I think this was a breath of fresh air in an oversaturated drama.

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Arena: Omnibus, by D. Michael Withrow

When Roman culture makes it into the American justice system, convicted killers become the gladiators of the rich. Thousands turn out for the sport, and it’s a brutal, brutal thing that tears families apart.

Colston acquires one such fighter, a giant of a man named Cole. The two become fast friends. Colston’s perspective on life changes and he develops enough to finally start standing up to his father to fight for his own ideals.

Overall the book wasn’t bad. The story was interesting, and the integration of Roman culture wasn’t bad. It enhanced the plot in many ways. The fight scenes were written well, and they filled a good portion of the book, so that was nice.

There were also a few themes, like depression and sexual assault, that weren’t executed well in relation to the story. I liked the fact that the author touched on them, and I liked the fact that the attempt was made. However, I felt like it was rushed and just kind of thrown in for the emotional impact, which didn’t succeed very well for me.

Most of the relationship dynamics were interesting, and relatively unique, with the exception of the romantic one. It, too, felt rushed and thrown in just to give them something to do. I was a big fan of Anna, and I really liked her, I just wished she could have played a slightly different role. I understood what the author was going for; it was just such an overdone trope.

I wish the world would have been expanded for the reader a bit. I had an okay idea as to the state of things, and how it differed from the modern day. I know things were different, I just wasn’t clear on a good portion of the details.

Like I said, overall the book wasn’t bad. It was still an interesting read. There was a lot I liked about it, but there were also opportunities to improve, just like anything else.

Invinciman, by R. T. Leone



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Welcome to the exciting world of Robox, where robots beating the snot out of each other in cage matches are used to settle disputes on a scale you won’t be ready for. 

Ray Martin gets involved with Daniel Darque’s brainchild–a sentient robot named Darquer–and man does his life go wrong. Between a revolution, a botched assassination, and a genius’ downward spiral, poor Ray doesn’t have much time to breathe. 

I really enjoyed how well-organized the narrative was. It bounced a lot back and forth between past or present quite a bit, but only a handful of times did it feel awkward. They back and forth usually mirrored each others’ causes and effects. Backstory was given without an information dump using that method. Ample time was provided to get to know the characters and get a feel for their depth. 

I liked how friendship and loyalty were tested. Just how far can one be pushed in order to show continued support for their best friend? Ray found that out whether he wanted to or not. There’s many levels of dynamic storytelling involved with the narrative: corporate takeovers, political satire, and brilliantly engineered plots all weaved together. 

A tightly woven narrative with characters pretty well-developed and an ending sure to make even the most stoic of readers feel something. 

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A Perfect World, by Shari Sakurai

9_6_17 A Perfect World.jpg

4 stars

 

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I was introduced to this series by reading Adam first. It was only a companion piece, but it was an excellent introduction to the world, the conflict, and the characters. However, I will warn readers that reading Adam first will spoil this novel.

 

 

Eric’s got it all. Literally. As the genetically engineered poster boy for the L. S. A, he faces off against the notorious terrorist Adam Larimore. Things aren’t always as they seem, and Eric’s unwavering loyalty will really be put to the test.

 

 

I liked the layer and depth to the two factions. Adam and the L. S. A. were constantly trying to outdo and stay ahead of each other. Things that seemed insignificant at the time became the catalyst for something much bigger. However, the reader doesn’t realize it until much later. Character motivations were always in question. The lines between morality were heavily drawn. It was a nice dynamic that kept the reader from getting too comfortable.

 

 

As far as romances went, this one showed rather than told character emotions towards one another. It was subtle the whole way, something I really enjoyed. Things felt more natural. It progressed at a reasonable rate, though still a little on the fast side. There were a lot of nuances that went into character interactions. It made them more tense, more dramatized so the reader stayed interested. There were dynamics all over the place. It was great.

 

 

When talking about sci-fi, this certainly took a very dystopian view. The world was in shambles, and a corrupt government is maintaining those shambles. The two genres overlap nicely, in a very young adult way.

 

 

Dialogue was awkward at some points. Receiving character emotions was difficult. An impassioned scene would arise in which a character was supposed to make the reader sympathize and reciprocate said feelings. Some of those scenes fell flat.

 

 

The cliffhanger at the end was really good. It ended on such a note that I want to find out what happens next. There’s a few routes this series could take, and I’m excited to see where it leads.

 

 

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John Smith, by Roland Hughes


Hearing differing versions of the apocalypse is always an interesting thing. Especially when they coincide with conspiracy theories. Then there are those that take conspiracy theories to the next level, and boom: we have John Smith, Last Known Survivor of the Microsoft Wars.

 
It starts out interesting enough. It’s formatted in the way of an interview conducted by Susan Krowley. There’s a huge slew of information that follows, and it’s all over the place. It sort of follows a logical progression, but jumps around a lot. I know there were times where even though I had the knowledge, I was trying to piece together how things were related, much like Susan did. The tone is condescending, treating Susan like an ignorant child. Or someone below him.

 
Creativity was on point with how the history of the world unfolded. The picture that the reader starts forming of the world is clear when talking about the past. Not so much when talking about what happened after the Wars. Hoping the author is saving that for later books. Giving the reader bits and pieces of the world at a time, letting the veil gradually lift on just how bad things are.

 
Reading the creative history the author presented was nice. The theories do all tie together, regardless of how they jump around. There’s a lot of information, however, and if the reader’s not careful, they’ll miss something. Breaking up the interview format would help readibility.

 
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The Revolutions of Caitlin Kelman (Book 1), by Matthew Luddon

5_12_17 Caitlin Kelman

4 stars

Oscar Wilde once said that “life imitates art far more than art imitates life.” While I tend to agree, sometimes there’s glaring evidence of the opposite.
The Revolutions of Caitlin Kelman is one such novel. A dystopian YA that takes us through the corrupted streets of Dominion City. A place where the rich get richer, and the poor die in the streets. A city on the cusp of revolution as the Empire is set to crumble. Where the people might finally have a voice without fear of oppression.
Sounds awfully familiar, doesn’t it? Especially given the fact that Caitlin’s considered an illegal immigrant. Pretty sure I read that in the news only yesterday…
I will admit that while the story is good, the world-building is a little convoluted in areas. Or, rather, the reader needed a little more information. I want to know a little more history of how the Empire took power, how things were before. Something to compared Caitlin’s life to.
An interesting mystery takes place as both factions want Caitlin for themselves. And, no, this isn’t a case of “the Chosen One” trope. There’s different agendas and storylines hinted at. I’m hoping the next novels will continue to expand on them. Motives are political, and Caitlin’s adverse reactions reflect that well. As a whole, her character felt right for the story. There’s a myriad of supporting characters, but most of them felt fleeting. By the end of the novel, Caitlin’s character development had started. Some of the other characters got left behind.
There was, of course, a love story. It wasn’t too bad. The best part was that it was integral to pushing the plot forward, instead of just being a subplot.
Most of the writing was solid. The story tied together well. And it stands to set the other novels and their conflicts up. Detail felt lacking in a few places. The scenery, for the most part. The action was well-described, and there was plenty of that. I still don’t feel like I’ve got the best idea of what Dominion City looks like. I keep picturing a weird amalgamation of Gotham City and the Hooverville shantytowns of the Great Depression.
The worst part about starting a new series is that you don’t get all your answers at once. I have so many, and the author sets up a tantalizing cliffhanger at the end. I’m interested to see where the world ends up at the conclusion. Sincerely hoping that Dominion City has a much brighter future than how our own is looking.
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I Am Epic, By Daniel Robledo

5_7_17 I Am Epic

4 stars

Let me preface this review by saying how much I adored I Am Epic.

 

Part of a larger collection of AI, 3p1c is a bot sent to scavenge for useful remnants of the human culture. He stumbles upon one such remnant, and goes against his programming to keep it safe.

 

It follows a lot of tropes handed down by the “AI becoming self-aware” plot. That made I Am Epic predictable in some ways. What made it stand out was the setting: humanity was already wiped out. Yet it didn’t have a steampunk feel to it. It embraced The Last of Us-style setting. Everything wasn’t all “gloom and doom” with a dark, gritty feel. It was upbeat. Hopeful. The entire tone is set by 3p1c’s childlike curiosity and wonderment.

 

The writing is equal parts technical and evocative. 3p1c’s interactions with others are very robotic, thusly true to his character. The voice of the narration manages to change something emotional happens. You feel your chest tighten, even though you know how things are going to play out. You follow along with 3p1c’s ups and downs as he discovers himself.

 

The story made sense and progressed at exactly the right pace. It drip-fed the readers the right amount of information without being overwhelming.

 

Now on to the reasons why I can’t rate this any higher, after gushing like that.

 

There’s so many glaring errors. Not only misspellings, but grammar, paragraphs, and format. There’s also a slight lack of detail when it comes to world building, and it leaves enough for you to feel satisfied. But it leaves some questions unanswered. It was a weird sort of feeling I had at the end. I was full, but I still wanted more, a little more meat to the world, if you will. Especially since it ended in the perfect way to not want a sequel. It did so many things well and right that there should be only one. As amazing as it was to read in its first form, I can only imagine how good this would be with some extra editing.

 

Because of the story quality and writing style, I’m going to justify the higher rating. While numerous, I still can’t say that it was all that bad. It’s such a weird thing to say, I know. I don’t know how the author pulled it off, but they did. I Am Epic thoroughly impressed me.

 

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