book reviews

Chasing the Shadow by Maria V. Snyder

Book Review
48345515Chasing the Shadows 
by Maria V. Snyder

Rating: XXXXX

Published November 18th 2019 by Maria V. Snyder

QUOTE

SPOILER ALERT: Although this review will be spoiler-free for this book, this review and even the following synopsis are full of HUGE spoilers for the first book so if you’ve yet to read the first book and intend to do so without being spoiled for big plot points turn back here, I’ll see you back here when you’re ready to start the second. 

Year 2522. Lyra Daniels is dead.

Okay, so I only died for sixty-six seconds. But when I came back to life, I got a brand new name and a snazzy new uniform. Go me! Seriously, though, it’s very important that Lyra Daniels stays dead, at least as far as the murdering looters, know.

While dying is the scariest thing that’s happened to me, it morphed my worming skills. I can manipulate the Q-net like never before. But the looters have blocked us from communicating with the rest of the galaxy and now they believe we’ve gone silent, like Planet Xinji (where silent really means dead).

A Protector Class spaceship is coming to our rescue, but we still have to survive almost two years until they arrive – if they arrive at all. Until then, we have to figure out how to stop an unstoppable alien threat. And it’s only a matter of time before the looters learn I’m not dead and returns to finish what they started.

There’s no way I’m going to let the looters win. Instead, I’ll do whatever it takes to save the people I love. But even I’m running out of ideas…

After rereading/listening to the first book of the Sentinels of the Galaxy books by Maria V. Snyder in preparation for the release of its sequel, Chasing the Shadows Maria reached out to some bloggers to receive early copies of said sequel in exchange for an honest review in the two weeks surrounding its release. Not only was I lucky enough to receive an ecopy early but my paperback copy arrived early too and I absolutely devoured the whole thing in about a week which is a quick read for me nowadays.

I enjoyed Navigating the Stars (you can check out my spoiler-free review here) but Chasing the Shadows is a whole other ball game, I adored this book. It took all the best parts of the first and just improved on them and gave us more. I think a mix of Lyra having to mature after the events of the last book and perhaps getting used to her inner voice meant that the side of her that could be a little annoying at times was much less present this time around. She made a lot of rash choices don’t get me wrong but I could always see where she was coming from and why she made those decisions. I actually found I was really proud of her in this book, she’s come a long way and she’s learned so much physically and emotionally. Watching her actively take other peoples advice and at least consider her own safety at the behest of those who care for her was really refreshing and a great way of showing how much she’s grown.

book reviews, Older books, spoiler free

Navigating the Stars by Maria V. Snyder

Book Review

42756706._SY475_Navigating the Stars by Maria V. Snyder

Audiobook narrated by Gabra Zackman

Rating: XXXX

Published December 1st 2018 by Maria V. Snyder

“There’s this girl, she’s like a comet – makes the rest of the galaxy seem dull in comparison.”

Terra Cotta Warriors have been discovered on other planets in the Milky Way Galaxy. And Lyra Daniels’ parents are the archaeological Experts (yes with a capital E) on the Warriors and have dragged her to the various planets to study them despite the time dilation causing havoc with her social life.

When one of the many Warrior planets goes silent, and looters attack her research base, Lyra becomes involved in discovering why the Warriors were placed on these planets. And, more importantly, by who. 

I first read the first book in Maria’s new Sentinels of the Galaxy series, Navigating the Stars last year. Maria has been one of my favourite authors for a very long time and this month, to celebrate the release of of the second book in the Sentinels of the Galaxy, Chasing the Shadows coming out in under two weeks I decided I would reread the first book, Navigating the Stars via audiobook.

Maria has written in this particular genre before but this time feels very different, we get a lot more tech, world-building and space travel in Navigating the Stars then we did with the Outside/Inside series, I believe Lyra is a little older than Trella and their priorities and dynamics are very different. The blending of futuristic technology on faraway planets with archaeology feels right and I could honestly have read even more about the whole process and I couldn’t get enough of the mystery and wonder surrounding these Terra Cotta Warriors and their unexplained presence throughout the galaxy.

I liked most of the characters but didn’t feel a huge attachment to loads of them. Lyra is seventeen but sometimes feels a little younger but I understand that because although I’m thirty honestly I sound a bit like Lyra at times. She’s a bit snarky, very sarcastic and has a knack for getting into trouble, there are a few moments where she effectively breaks the fourth wall and sort of addresses the reader which it took a little while to get used to but honestly I kind of liked it after a while and made it feel like me and Lyra were friends. She certainly made some questionable choices but they always make sense for her character. Gabra Zackman was a perfect choice for the audiobook narration, she really captures Lyra’s snark and in my reread thanks to her I ended up spitting half of a glass of orange juice across my lounge.

I love the world-building for this book, the idea of effectively crinkling space to travel across large distances was explained really well with two different ways of measuring someone’s age as a result which was an interesting concept. I love the Q-net and the way users, especially wormers (like hackers) are able to navigate it, one of my favourite parts being the star roads within the Q-net. Then we get a whole other set of lore surrounding the warrior pits themselves and the things that lurk within but I won’t give anything away!

Navigating the Stars is already out now and it’s sequel Chasing the Shadows officially launches November 18th (my review is coming next Tuesday on the 19th!). You can pre-order the Kindle edition on Amazon now buuuuuut if you want the paperback Maria sneakily made them available to order RIGHT NOW!

 

#SixforSunday

S4S – An ode to Sci-Fi

I always thought my favourite genre was fantasy because I liked sword fights, court intrigue and magic but after reading Once and Future I now know I can have my cake and eat it as over the past few years I’ve realised I actually really like space ships and new planets, moons and stars, I like rag tag crews flying their (usually) crappy ships through the black just trying to get by and getting dragged into the wrong fight for the right reasons or vice versa, sometimes both. I love rouge A.I’s, I love cyborgs and sentient machines and advanced technology. I love Science Fiction for so many reasons and today I’ll give you six.

Science Fiction:
noun
noun: science fiction; noun: SF; modifier noun: science-fiction
Fiction based on imagined future scientific or technological advances and major social or environmental changes, frequently portraying space or time travel and life on other planets.

1. SPACE. This point kind of covers a lot of ground, space means the potential for unexplored moons and planets, unearthing ancient civilisations and finding new ones, it means somewhere for our characters to hide because DAMN space is beyond even the concept of vast and then there’s the technology required to even live and travel in space which is often a lot of fun and then there are the consequences of it as well, be that the time it takes to travel anywhere or characters perhaps being confined in close quarters to each other meaning we get a great chance for interaction where it would have been a case of simply walking away if they were somewhere that didn’t need an airlock? Oh there’s also the fact that space will almost certainly try to kill you if you mess with it too. there are just so many interesting factors brought in when dealing with space and I am nowhere near articulate enough to explain them all but I hope this makes at least a little sense.
2. THE FUTURE! Although space isn’t always a given for science fiction time is often a factor, ether travelling through it or the fact that time is needed for certain technological advances and or changes therefore almost always putting us into the future. I can’t imagine there are a lot of people out there who haven’t imagined what the future will look like in one way or another even in the simplest of terms and so this is always such a fun part, looking at the way things have changed and sometimes imagining why things have come to be as they are. A good amount of science fiction based in the future, especially the dystopian variety I think also causes us to reexamine the way we do things and what impact our actions and even day to day lives can have on our own future.  Science fiction is at it’s heart, about where we’re going and how we get there.

3. NEW TECHNOLOGY! There is a never-ending of new technology in most science fiction, some of it wonderous, some of it terrible and some of it is overlooked as an everyday occurrence. I’m not especially technologically minded myself and even I find myself inspired by the new creations we see in Science Fiction. Did you know that American inventor Simon Lake was first inspired by undersea travel and exploration ever since reading Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea and years later his company built the Argonaut which was the first submarine to operate successfully in the open ocean! OR when Martin Cooper, head of research and development at Motorola credited the communicator design from Star Trek as inspiration for his first design of the first mobile phone back in in the early 1970’s, Cooper was quoted as saying “that was not fantasy to us, that was an objective.” Not to mention influences on Atomic power, the rocket, helicopters, face time and many many more. Also just last month I had to google to find out if artificial gravity was actually a real thing…

4. TACKING BIG ISSUES! No matter when or where Science Fiction is set, often the issues that are at the heart of things can be directly tied to events that affect us in the here and now, Divergent explores early on, the repercussions of things such as stereotyping and shoe horning people into different categories and corrupt governments, much later going as far as to hold peoples genetics against each other and considering them lesser citizens for circumstances of birth which draws a frightening parallel to extreme racism and more (check out the ebook Divergent thinking for loads of great essays about this entire series) and then we have books like Enders Game which although they feature a ten-year-old main character and can easily be enjoyed as a fast paced, action packed, space fighty kind of book it is so multi-layered that it can also act as a scary close look at the ethics and accountability of modern warfare. These are two just two tiny examples, if you look closely there are a huge amount of Science Ficiton Stories out there that are no afraid to tackle big issues, even if they are disguised as an insectoid alien race.

5. ALL OF THE DEBATES AND DISCUSSIONS! Who would win in a fight, Han Solo or Captain Mal Renyolds? Could Spock beat Data at 3D Chess? Would a star destoyer or the Star Ship Enterprise win in a space battle? Is a lightsaber even possible? One of my favourite things about Science Ficiton are the discussions and debates!! I have spent COUNTLESS hours watching videos like the “Becasue Science” ones on the nerdist chanel, last week I watched one entitield “Are Alien Xenomorphs really no match for Darth Vader”, “How every Mass Effect Biotic Power works” and Could The Matrix actually be powered by human batteries?” and so on and so on. Then I go and talk about them to my friends and/or husband and some hilarious debates have come out of these, they’re fun and silly but also really get your head working.
6. NEW PROSPECTIVES! I love it when a “villains” story or prospective gets revealed and a story gets turned on it’s head, especially when the big bad is perhaps a seemingly crazy A.I or an alien race that just wants to survive, or maybe the Duplo pieces just want to be friends and play together!? (Don’t even get me started on how much I liked the new Lego Movie). These kind of reveals and reversals are one of my favourite science fiction “troupes” I love anything that can turn a story on it’s head and even better if they create moral questions and dilemmas like these often do, Star Trek has a great track history of doing this and as their crews are usually very moral people I love the turn of events this often gives the story and again it makes you think, what would you do in that situation, given that choice? I know this is something that can be present in many genres but it’s my favourite when use in Science Fiction especially.

So that ended up being a lot more involved than I thought it would so I apologise for going on, know this. I love science fiction and although those six points may suggest I love the big epics that make you think, honestly I’m such trash for space opera novels with some moral dilemmas and some good ole fighting. I’m easily pleased and happy to admit as much. Some of my favourite science fiction novels are (obviously) The Illuminae Files, Once and Future (review coming Tuesday!), The Loneliest Girl in the Universe, The Quiet at the End of the World, Skyward, Adrift, Invictus and much much more including a huge list of Star Wars, Star Trek and Mass Effect tie-in novels I won’t go in to now. Do you have a favourite Science Fiction book? Let me know!
Note: I’m aware that Star Wars isn’t technically Sci-Fi but I’m including it anyway.