book reviews

LifeL1k3 Review

40734845LifeL1k3 by Jay Kristoff

Rating: XXXX

Published: July 26th 2018 by Harper Collins

“Your past doesn’t make calls on your future. It doesn’t matter who you were. Only who you are.”

“Your body is not your own. Your mind is not your own. Your life is not your own.” 

It’s just another day on the Scrap: lose the last of your credits at the WarDome, dodge the gangs and religious fanatics, discover you can destroy electronics with your mind, stumble upon the deadliest robot ever built…

When Eve finds the ruins of an android boy named Ezekiel in the scrap pile she calls home, her entire world comes crashing down. With her best friend and her robotic sidekick in tow, she and Ezekiel will trek across deserts of irradiated glass, battle cyborg assassins, and scour abandoned megacities to save the ones she loves…and learn the dark secrets of her past.

This was my first book written by Jay alone, as most who have read my blog before will know I’ve read and loved both the Illuminae Files books and Aurora Rising, all of which are written by Jay in partnership with Amie Kaufman. I applied unsuccessfully for an ARC copy but did manage to win an early copy in a raffle by Harper Collins at YALC last year anyway and it’s taken me just under a year to finally getting around to reading it but I wanted to make sure if I liked it that I would be ready for Dev1at3 coming out in June which I’m now super excited for.  As always I have included the Goodreads blurb but Jay himself also added his own synopsis to which I think does the book more justice.

“In the wake of an uprising in a post-apocalyptic USA, the robotic populace have been reduced to slaves, and androids (robots who look like humans) have been outlawed. LIFEL1K3 is about a girl named Eve and her best friend Lemon, who find a ruined android in a scrap heap – an almost-boy named Ezekiel, who knows the truth behind the robotic revolt. Shenanigans ensue.

It features (in no particular order) Giant Mechanical War Machines. Sexah Androids. Mutant Powers. Doomed Romance. Warring Corporations. Cybernetic Bounty Hunters. Sassy Robot Sidekicks. Rebellions. Chases. Escapes. Betrayals. Lies Upon Lies. Splosions.

My elevator pitch was “Romeo and Juliet meets Bladerunner, while Fury Road plays a guitar solo in the background.”

Jay’s writing style is very much the same in LifeL1k3 as in his collaborative works which has a nice amount of snark, wit and humour. There is a fair use of slang throughout which felt a little distracting and not needed at first but didn’t hugely bother me after a while so wasn’t a huge problem and just a niggle for me. The action scenes engrossing and you can absolutely feel the Fury Road vibes in them, especially one scene particular where I was waiting for Cricket to yell witness me and spray some weird aerosol over himself (I enjoyed Fury Road but didn’t especially understand a chunk of it). The pacing feels a little stop and start in that it’s either going 100 mph or crawling along. I’m all for non-action scenes, not everything has to be fighting or running or shooting etc but there were a couple of parts that just felt slow and although they were definitely needed in part to help move the story along they felt too long to me for the purpose they served (think Canto Bight in TLJ but not as bad).

Characters were a mixed bag for me, although I didn’t particularly dislike any of the characters I did find that I absolutely favoured Lemon Fresh, the main characters best friend, their sidekick A.I robot Cricket and their blitzhund dog called Kaiser over the main character and (mild spoiler) love interest. Lemon is sassy, funny and fiercely loyal her friendship with Eve is inspiring but doesn’t mean that she takes the usual best friend back seat slot where they may as well not be there, she’s important and intrinsic to the story with tales of her own under her belt. Crickets fighting talk despite being small enough to sit on Eve’s shoulder (just don’t mention it to him) is brilliant, he’s picked up the way Lem and Eve speak to each other and is always back talking and using human phrases that he’s obviously learned while also adhering to the three laws of robotics and doing his best to protect and keep both Eve and Lemon safe. Poor little guy tries so hard to be the voice of reason to two very strong-willed, independent teenagers who usually ignore his advice and I absolutely feel for him. Kaiser, part meat, part metal guard dog and beloved pet doesn’t say a word but is described perfectly and is just honestly the best good boy and deserves all the pets in the world.

Main character Eve, is certainly an in intriguing character and I did enjoy reading about her and her struggles but I think she spends so much of the book struggling with her identity and trying to work out what kind of person she is that I found it harder to bond with her like I had with Lemon. My disinterest in Zeke was more personal preference really as he’s certainly written well and has a great arc and backstory but he just felt too perfect to me and I know he’s meant to be physically perfect (and don’t get me wrong, he sounds gorgeous) but I just found him to be too flat for me, I’m sure others will like him though because he is pretty swoon-worthy even with his perceived flaws. After the events that transpire in this book, however, I am now basically chomping at the bit to get more narrative from the two of them in Dev1at3.

I’m told it wouldn’t be a Jay Kristoff book without some twists and there were definitely a good few of those. Having read Aurora Rising very recently I noticed that the way the twists unfolded in LifeL1k3 are hugely similar to the way a particular twist in AR turned out. I refer not to the content of the twists themselves but more the way each felt as a reader in that for both by the time the reveal comes around it is just a confirmation of the mind-blowing revelation you’ve already had and suspected. This feels strange and I’m not sure how on purpose it is but it gives me as a reader the feeling of “oh look how smart I am to have put all these pieces together and figured this out” even if often it’s only a few pages (or in the case of AR a few lines) before the full reveal happens. At first, I was unsure if this just meant the story was predictable and I think some have understandably felt that way, especially if you’re very used to not having a clue about said twist until it’s quite literally spelt out for you which is a fantastic moment when a plot point completely blindsides you (see basically every book by Lauren James) and you then spend the next half an hour thinking back on all the clues you missed thinking “of course!! How did I miss this?!” Instead, LifeL1k3 (and AR) give you a different kind of reveal that I felt like I earned a bit more and now that I’m used to them I’m looking forward to more to come.

Overall I didn’t find LifeL1k3 to quite be a XXXXX rating for me but found it hugely enjoyable none the less and would happily recommend it. The sequel Dev1at3 is out June 25th 2019 (just under a month away now) and with L1feL1k3 being only £1.99 on Kindle right now this is pretty much the best time to get into the series.

 

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spoiler free, tbr thursday

May TBR Thursday

So March took forever but April has absolutely flown by so incredibly fast! I am glad though because there are some brilliant books out this month and I’m planning to read a good few books I’ve been excited to read that have been on my TBR for far too long, I’ve been talking about it for months but…

MY SCI-FI BINGE HAS FINALLY ARRIVED!

Aurora Rising by Amy Kauffman and Jay Kristoff
One of my friends who received a copy of the Aurora Rising arc was kind enough to lend to me and you bet I’m already reading this and therefore I figured this was the absolute perfect time to begin my sci-fi binge I’ve been promising myself for ages. If you’ve been following my blog or any of my social media even slightly you’ll probably already know that this book is my most anticipated book this year, possibly even since I finished Obsido last year and discovered there would be a new co-authored series by Amy and Jay. I’m looking forward to some serious reading time over the next few days let me tell you.

LifeL1k3 by Jay Kristoff
I was so excited for this book when it came out and even won a copy at YALC last year but I’ve just not been able to quite fit it in. I’m such a mood reader and I just haven’t found myself in the right mood but I’m positive between Aurora Rising and Defy the Stars, alongside all these other awesome books I’ve been desperate to read that I’ll be at the perfect point to finally read this and prepare myself for the sequel coming in June.

The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers
Another book I acquired at YALC (I’ve just realised that almost all of the books on this lift I purchased, won or was gifted all of these books at YALC 2018, what are the odds?) I’ve heard amazing things about Becky Chambers and her books then I watched the sci-fi panel with Becky, Lauren James and Sasha Alsberg and knew I needed the Wayfarers books in my life and I’m excited to finally make a start on them this month.

Defy the Stars by Claudia Gray
I loved Claudia Gray’s Star Wars: Bloodline book and when I found that she had written her own original sci-fi series as well and there was a possible android romance kind of thing going on I was even more intrigued so brought it at YALC last year and I think it’s time.

Do you Dream of Terra-Two? by Temi Oh
So many people on my Twitter timeline that like similar books to me have adored Do you Dream of Terra-Two and it was already on my TBR but having just seen that Temi Oh will be at YALC this year on the day I can actually attend I figured now would be as good a time as any to read this book.

I think this list may be a little ambitious purely because if I enjoy the first one and time it right I will likely continue to read the rest of the Wayfarer series after The Long way to a Small Angry Planet which may affect how many of these I actually get to read. Also depending what shipping times are like I have also ordered Aurora Rising from GC Reads to ensure I receive the Memento novella so that will be read the moment it arrives as well, I’ve also got a convention coming up at the end of the month and a few bits to keep me busy so I feel like this TBR for the month is optimistic but we shall see!

 

 

#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.
 
book reviews, spoiler free

The Next Together Review

23266378The Next Together by Lauren James

Rating: XXXX

September 3rd 2015 by Walker Books

“I don’t think there are any true heroes. Just people who ignore their survival instincts long enough to do something incredibly foolhardy.”

How many times can you lose the person you love?

Katherine and Matthew are destined to be born again and again, century after century. Each time, their presence changes history for the better, and each time, they fall hopelessly in love, only to be tragically separated.

Spanning the Crimean War, the Siege of Carlisle and the near-future of 2019 and 2039 they find themselves sacrificing their lives to save the world. But why do they keep coming back? What else must they achieve before they can be left to live and love in peace?

Maybe the next together will be different…

A powerful and epic debut novel for teenagers about time-travel, fate and the timelessness of first love. The Next Together is told through a mixture of regular prose, diary entries, letters, “original” historical documents, news reports and internet articles.

After reading the most recent book by Lauren James (The Loneliest Girl in the Universe) after YALC last year and LOVING IT (reread review to come very soon!) I finally got around to reading her debut novel The Next Together and it was everything I had hoped it would be.

The Next Together spans across different lives throughout time and follows our main characters via three different versions of our protagonist Katherine Finchley in 1745, 1854 and 2039. At first I wasn’t sure I would be able to keep up with three varying but connected story lines at the same time but they each have their own unique feel to them making them easy to slip in and out of. The way each narrative began and ended also helped by making you want to read more from that particular time but without making you want to skip the next part to get back to that part of the plot (a little like Game of Thrones).

The over arching plot is a difficult one to comment on because we end up with more questions than answers I feel and that is one of the few reasons I knocked the rating down to XXXX. The events that go on through this book are interesting  and the characters especially kept me intrigued and enjoying this book, even shedding a few tears on a busy underground train but the end of the book doesn’t feel like an ending, or even much of a conclusion and more like the end part one of a book. The ending wasn’t bad it just didn’t feel as satisfying to me as I would have liked. Thankfully there is a sequel and The Last beginning (from what I’ve read so far) fills in some gaps and answers some questions in quite a satisfying way but it feels strange we had to wait for the sequel for those answers. That being said if you want to sell a sequel you need to make people want it and I was absolutely desperate for it the moment I closed The Next Together so it was certainly affective.

For me the characters and their relationships are really what sell this book for me which seems to be something Lauren James is very good at, her books really make you look at and fall for her characters and the plot kind of feels secondary (in a good way), I could have happily read pages and pages more of notes between Matthew and Katherine and still been pleased.

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Although I probably would have liked a bit more of an explosive ending with more answers I really did enjoy The Next Together and I think this and a couple of other books I’ve read recently are really starting to pull me in to the more space opera (or at least character driven – this was the closest way of describing it that I could think of) side of Science Fiction which is something I hadn’t really given much thought to before. I love the spacey and or futuristic feel in books but these books where that isn’t the main focus and is just your normal setting  but the interesting stuff that happens comes from the people in that story.I certainly recommend checking out The Next Together but if you get a good way in and decide that yes you do love it too I would advise getting the second book before you finish the first so you have it there ready to go so you aren’t kept awake at night trying to work out answers (better than the nightmares from the Loneliest Girl but still not a good addition to a good nights sleep).

As I write this review I’m already over three-quarters of the way through the aforementioned sequel (which I’m LOVING THE HECK OUT OF) and have yet to read the two short stories that accompany these books but I know I’ll get those read in time to review all three next week! I’m also hoping to get my YALC blog up this coming Thursday as well but as it’s the six weeks holiday and Nate is well…Nate please keep your fingers crossed for me! Until then.x