Aurora Rising: sarcasm in space

Aurora RisingIt took some time before my copy of Aurora Rising arrived. So I already saw a couple of reviews on blogs I follow. They weren’t negative, but also not very enthusiastic. That’s why I lowered my expectations a little. The Illuminae Files, also written by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff, is one of my favourite trilogies. If I expected Aurora Rising to be that great, I probably would have been disappointed. Yet I really enjoyed reading it!

Summary
On a crucial point in his life Tyler Jones is busy rescuing a girl in space. That’s why he misses his Draft, the moment squad leaders can recruit their members. Now Tyler is left with the ones no else wanted to choose. Then there is Auri, the girl he saved. She has become conscious after trapped in cryosleep for two hundred years.

My thoughts
From the first page onward this is a book full of action. The story is told from seven different points of view: the six members from the squad and Auri. I always like multiple POVs. It’s interesting to see a story through different eyes. Only in the beginning the narrators sounded a bit too much alike to me. When I got to know them better though, it also became easier to tell the characters apart. They are different than I expected. On the cover these characters are advertised as ‘they’re not the heroes we wanted, they’re just the ones we could find.’ The squad members are actually all pretty handsome, smart and good at their job. And every one of them is so sarcastic. This regularly made me smile, but I do think the sarcasm was a bit overdone. However, the more I read about the characters, the more I came to love them! It was also amazing to read how this squad of mostly strangers becomes a team.

There’s enough space for world building too. A big part is interwoven in the story. In 2380 we have contacted several alien species. Because some of the squad members are not human, we learn about these other species. I loved to read how their culture is different from ours! We also get some background information on black pages between the chapters. This reminded me of the Illuminae Files and it’s a nice bonus.

Conclusion
So I loved Aurora Rising! It has an interesting world and characters that really grew on me. Although the ending was excellent, the plot could be stronger. It was hard to rate this book. I hesitated between 4 and 5 stars. In the end I decided to give Aurora Rising 4 stars. Despite this, I cannot wait to read the sequel!

The Boy Who Steals Houses: lots of feelings and lovely characters

The Boy Who Steals Houses

“He’s officially taken house burglary tot the next level. Forget stealing a bed, a key, a home for the night. He’s stealing families and their Sunday lunches.”

I was so happy that my copy of The Boy Who Steals Houses arrived on Saturday! I know the writer as Cait from Paper Fury. I love her blog, so I was looking forward to reading one of her books. Here is a small, spoiler-free review of her second book.

Sam and Avery are in the center of this story. They are fifteen and seventeen years old, but already have gone through a lot. Sam is a quiet Hufflepuff who does everything to protect his older brother. Sam is the boy who steals houses, because he has no place to go. He just wants to have a home, even if it’s until the inhabitants come back. Avery is a soft-hearted, autistic boy who has a talent for fixing cars. The brothers dream of the impossible: having a house for themselves. They were the reason I couldn’t stop reading. Sam and Avery felt so real to me. At some point I just wanted to adopt them, so I could make them feel better.

One night Sam accidentally steals a house that is not empty. In the house lives a big family. Because there are so many children, no one notices Sam. The De Lainey family is chaotic, but there’s a lot of love and hope in their household. Some of the family members also make delicious food.  I can totally understand why Sam likes them so much. The parts set in their house made me so happy. When a story makes me feel things, it’s usually a sign I really like it. That’s the case with The Boy Who Steals Houses. I give this book five stars and highly recommend it!

The book has trigger warnings for child abuse and physical violence.

Warcross in review – an exciting story about a virtual reality game

Warcross + Wildcard

“Everything’s science fiction until someone makes it science fact.” 

When I found out my library had ordered Wildcard, I immediately reserved it. When I got the book, I finished it in one day! Wildcard is of course the exciting sequel to Warcross, written by Marie Lu. Here is my spoiler-free review about the duology.

Summary
In the first book we are introduced to Emika Chen. She makes money by chasing down players who bet illegally on Warcross.  This is a virtual reality game with players all over the world. Emika takes a risk when she hacks herself in the opening ceremony of the international Warcross Championships. The consequences are unexpected…

The characters
The book is told from Emika’s perspective, a rainbow haired bounty hunter. The rest of the cast is diverse: one Warcross-player is in a wheelchair and two boys are gay. Because a big part of the book is about the Warcross Championships, we get characters from various countries and of different colours. I liked most of the characters, but no one really stood out for me.

World-building
Emika’s world seems not far in the future. I can totally imagine that playing a game like Warcross will be possible in about thirty years. I would love to! The world-building is definitively a strong point of the books. Warcross itself can be played in different virtual worlds. It reminded me of The Hunger Games, but just a little.

The plot
Both books are full of action. I guessed the plot twists in Warcross, but those in Wildcard were unexpected. In the first book the game plays a central role in the story. In the second book  the focus lies on the consequences of something that happens in part one. It’s a current dilemma with lots of possibilities. Marie Lu doesn’t really use them. The discussion stays superficial. I did like the ending. It was satisfying and suited the story.

Final judgement
I give both books an 8 out of 10. In my opinion some characters as well as the plot had more potential. But if you don’t expect too much, you will like this book. The story is exciting, the main characters are likable and the world is interesting.

My thoughts about the Liveship Traders

Liveship Traders

“Look forward, not back. Correct your course and go on. You cannot undo yesterday’s journey.”

I just finished part three of the Liveship Traders by Robin Hobb. She is a female fantasy writer from the United States. This is the first time I read her books. Here is spoiler-free review in bullet points about the series.

Summary

Only a ship made from wizardwood can sail over the Rain Wild River. So just families who own a liveship can negotiate with the Rain Wilders. A liveship will come alive when three members, from successive generations, have died on board. Vivacia, the liveship of the Vestrits, is close to coming alive. Although this means the death of Altheas father, Althea cannot wait for the ship she loves to awaken. But then Vivacia appears to be signed away in her father’s will to her brutal brother-in-law, Kyle Haven.

Liveships are rare and faster than normal ships. Others wan to steal or win one for themselves…

The trilogy has triggers for rape and quite graphic violence.

Things I like

  • Multiple POVs: The books are told from about ten different point of views. That seems like a lot, but it is never confusing or boring. It was rather interesting to see situations and characters through different eyes.
  • The character development: It was amazing to see how almost all characters changed during the series. Due to the length of the books I really got to know them. Especially the character development of Malta was interesting. She started out as a spoiled and naive child. She changed in a way I came to like her as a character.
  • Rain Wild: I loved this part of the world! In Ship of Magic it is only a small part of the story,  but we learn more about Rain Wild as the trilogy continues.
  • The plot: I read the last 300 pages in one sitting. The end was amazing, everything came together!

Things I didn’t like

  • The pacing: I don’t mind big books, but this trilogy could be shorter! In the second book and in the first part of the third book there is too much talking between characters. This slowed down the story for me.
  • The chapters about the serpents: At the end they make sense, but in the first two books they were kind of boring.

Final judgement

Ship of Magic: 8/10
The Mad ship: 7,5/10
Ship of Destiny: 8/10
In the end the Liveship Traders trilogy was totally worth my time. The characters are complex and well-written and the plot is strong. I would recommend it for people who like character-driven books and don’t mind a slow pacing.

My thoughts about The Queen of the Tearling

The Queen of the Tearling trilogy

“Even a book can be dangerous in the wrong hands, and when that happens, you blame the hands, but you also read the book.”

This November I read The Queen of the Tearling trilogy by Erika Johansen. I had mixed feelings about the series: I loved the first book, but I was a little disappointed by the rest of the series. Here is a small and spoiler-free review about the books.

Summary

Princess Kelsea was raised in a small house in the forest. On the day she becomes nineteen, the Queen’s Guard takes her to the castle where she was born. As a queen she has to rule the Tearling and defeat the Red Queen, the evil dictator of the neighbouring country. Help comes not only from the Queen’s Guard, but also from the Tearling sapphires, a necklace with mysterious magical powers.

The books have triggers for abuse, rape and self harm.

Things I liked

  • Strong female main character: Kelsea is brave, decisive and independent. All character attributes I like to see in a main character. However, she is not perfect. She makes mistakes and is sometimes unsure of herself. I also loved the fact that Kelsea is very fond of books!
  • The villains: They are not just evil for the sake of being evil. I especially liked to read the background story of the Red Queen.
  • The Tearling: Kelseas world turned out to be different than I expected. I was positively surprised.

Things I didn’t liked

  • Kelseas transformations: As you can expect from a book series, the main character goes through some changes. Between the first and second book, Kelsea changes in two mayor ways. To me these transformations are too sudden. I sometimes felt like she was a different character.
  • The parts about Lily: These parts in The Invasion the Tearling slow down the story. I now understand they are important for the plot, but I think Lily’s story was too lengthy.
  • The necklace: In my opinion the role of the sapphires is overdone. Too much problems are resolved with them. It would have been more interesting to see Kelsea handle the problems without the necklace.