Replica by Jenna Black
Genre: YA Sci-fi
Publisher: Tor Teen
Published: July 16th, 2013
Breathtaking new YA SF from the author of the Faeriewalker series
Sixteen-year-old Nadia Lake comes from a high-class Executive family in the Corporate States. Her marriage has been arranged with the most powerful family in her state, which means she lives a life of privilege but also of public scrutiny, followed everywhere by photographers, every detail of her private life tabloid fodder. But her future is assured, as long as she can maintain her flawless public image — no easy feat when your betrothed is a notorious playboy.
Nathan Hayes is the heir of Paxco — controller of the former state of New York, and creator of human replication technology, science that every state and every country in the world would kill to have. Though Nadia and Nate aren’t in love, they’ve grown up close, and they (and the world) are happy enough with their match.
Until Nate turns up dead, and as far as everyone knows, Nadia was the last person to see him alive.
When the new Nate wakes up in the replication tanks, he knows he must have died, but with a memory that only reaches to his last memory backup, he doesn’t know what killed him. Together, Nadia and Nate must discover what really happened without revealing the secrets that those who run their world would kill to protect.
REPLICA tries to break the YA mold by adding a twist to the relationship between the main female and male characters. Nadia and Nathan are engaged, but one of them (very minor spoiler – find out in first chapter) is gay and in love with someone else. In order to maintain her social status, Nadia pretends like she is in love with Nathan. Their superficial relationship is tested when Nathan is killed, supposedly by the third wheel in their love affair.
The most obvious (for me) person behind the killing ended up being the person to do the deed, which is the main reason I scored this book so low. I don’t like books that I can predict the end within the first chapter or two.
The other shortfall for this novel is the lack of scientific terms and technology. The only evidence that this book takes place in the future is the cover and the concept of human cloning. There is very minimal world building. There is no science involved, which makes me very wary to even call this a science-fiction novel. I don’t think of it as a dystopian novel either, though it’s class system could allude to the genre.
Nadia’s motivations in this book appear to be one-dimensional. I was hoping that she’d develop more over the course of the story, but it didn’t happen. The story was linear, like in a MG novel. The entire book felt flat and in my mind I was looking too much into the little things that happened and hoping that there would be something beyond the obvious. I had hope that there would be some kind of unexpected twist at the end.
But no. I think tween readers might appreciate the simplistic story, but this book fails in comparison to other books on the YA level.
(I received a copy of this book from the ARCycling in exchange for my honest review.)Read More
I know this is an atypical topic for me, but I wanted to share a little bit about me. Outside of books.
A little more than a year ago, my husband and I were suppose to pack up and move back to New York. With all of my family on that side of the country, I really was looking forward to the move.
Instead, he convinced me to restart our trucking company in order to stay in Arizona. He now spends 4-5 nights a week on the road. I have to be up by 7am and usually finish paperwork/dispatching by noon, though some days it doesn’t end until 4pm. Dispatching requires up typically 10 phone calls a day (up to 23 and as little as 3) and due to a very vocal toddler, I have to hide in my garage to have an uninterrupted phone call. The paperwork portion of the job allows for a much noisier setting, so I get to do that at my desk, heh. Sometime after lunch, I put the kid down to sleep. Since I’m usually up to 2am writing/blogging, I often fall asleep during nap time too. If I’m lucky enough to remain awake, this is the time of day I get to read during the week.
Without books and my book-related hobbies to keep me company, I’m not sure how I’d survive this life. It’s hectic during the day and lonely at night. My husband uses Saturday to enjoy his hobby, so the only day we get to spend together is Sunday. /sigh
I never imagined myself in this profession growing up and I know that I don’t want my husband to be still on the road when the kid starts school, but it does pay the bills. In this economy, I’m thankful to have that.Read More
Queen of Hearts (#1 The Crown) by Colleen Oakes
Genre: Fantasy, Fairytale retelling
Published: February 14th, 2014
Not every fairytale has a happy ending.
This is the story of a princess who became a villain.
A Father’s Betrayal. A Kingdom with a Black Secret. A Princess Slowly Unraveling.
As Princess of Wonderland Palace and the future Queen of Hearts, Dinah’s days are an endless monotony of tea, tarts, and a stream of vicious humiliations at the hands of her father, the King of Hearts. The only highlight of her days is visiting Wardley, her childhood best friend, the future Knave of Hearts — and the love of her life.
When an enchanting stranger arrives at the Palace, Dinah watches as everything she’s ever wanted threatens to crumble. As her coronation date approaches, a series of suspicious and bloody events suggests that something sinister stirs in the whimsical halls of Wonderland. It’s up to Dinah to unravel the mysteries that lurk both inside and under the Palace before she loses her own head to a clever and faceless foe.
Part epic fantasy, part twisted fairy tale, this dazzling saga will have readers shivering as Dinahs furious nature sweeps Wonderland up in the maelstrom of her wrath.
Familiar characters such as Cheshire, the White Rabbit, and the Mad Hatter make their appearance, enchanting readers with this new, dark take on Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.
Both WICKED and THE TRUE STORY OF THE THREE LITTLE PIGS transformed the evil villains into sympathetic and misunderstood characters. Colleen Oakes succeeds in doing the same for THE QUEEN OF HEARTS. It seems that the root of Dinah’s attitude problems stem from the fact that she wasn’t hugged enough as a child. Truth-be-told, her father makes the future queen of hearts look docile and sane. This is possibly the darkest version of Wonderland that I’ve read.
Most of the familiar characters return for this series, although in much different roles than they traditionally occupy. There’s some romance, yet it’s not center stage. I do like that Dinah’s love for this person seems genuine. I’m still on the fence about whether his feelings for her are the same.
Our main character, Dinah, is a spoiled princess who abuses her powers to get what she wants. However, her situation is so precarious that I can’t help but feel sympathetic for her. The only way she knows how to get people to respond to her is to force her will upon them. She’s a complex character, whose faults are so plentiful that it’s amazing that she can manage to smile when she does.
What’s truly remarkable is that the author manages to imply quite a bit about the other characters and the world without Dinah picking up on the clues. Dinah is so self absorbed in her own world that she doesn’t see it crashing down around her until it hits her (literally).
The story and characters deserve five stars. I just wish that the writing was as magical. Personally, I think Wonderland needs purple prose to make it feel complete. I never got the sense of how extraordinary the layout of the land or the characters were because description was either lacking or plainly written. In most fantasylands, I don’t think it’s necessary to flaunt details and quirks, but Wonderland holds a special place in my heart and I like the weirdness of the place. I do plan on continuing the series, since my love for well-written villains trumps everything.
(I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.)