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  • fairrosa 5:39 pm on February 22, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , sci-fi   

    Grasshopper Jungle 

    grasshopperjungleby Andrew Smith

    Genre(s): Sci-Fi, Horror

    Basic Content Information: 17-year-old Austin from Iowa, our time, records the “history” of The End of the World when he and his best buddy Robbie Bree set off a chain of events that lead to the invasion of 6-foot-tall, hungry and horny, indestructible genetically engineered praying mantises that ravage and take over the human world.  The narrative is full of crude words and thoughts.  Austin is continuously horny, many of the characters are presented through the lens of their sexual behaviors, the descriptions of events are blunt and without the sense of bashfulness.  Austin is also in love with both his girlfriend Shannon and his best friend Robbie, who is openly gay.  There is much tenderness between Robbie and Austin.  There is much confusion and resentment but also acceptance and understanding amongst the main teen characters.  There is a lot of outlandish sci-fi elements that harken to the 50s horror B-Movies and the tone and Smith’s stylistic choices might remind readers of Kurt Vonnegut’s writing.   Most used words in the book: horny, semen, blood, fuck, eat, hungry, penis, and history — much discussion about how history gets to the truth and how it does not.

    Edition: Paper Galley

    Pub Date: February, 2014

    Publisher: Dutton/Penguin

    (I’m only recording the bare bone facts about the Young Adult Fiction titles I read in 2014 — Serving on the Best Fiction for Young Adults committee means that I need to be quite cautious in expressing opinions on social media. The safest way is to not express specific reactions publicly. But I’d like to keep reporting the titles I encounter throughout the year. You can always follow the link to Goodreads to see other readers’ reviews.)

    Click here for: Goodreads summary and other people’s reviews.

  • fairrosa 11:55 am on February 17, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , sci-fi, ,   


    dangerouscover by Shannon Hale

    Genre(s): Sci-Fi, Romance, Thriller

    Basic Content Information: We follow two main teen characters with a supporting cast of adults (from trustworthy, to uncertain to purely evil) into a futuristic world that does not seem too different from our own except that some scientific discoveries and advancements have led the humans to encounter alien materials and finally aliens themselves.  The story is narrated from Maisie’s (mixed-race White/Latina) first person point of view, mostly in past tense.  Maisie is the brain and eventually also the brawn behind most of the operations and actions.  Her off and on, slightly torturous romance with Wilder (Jonathan) is what I came to expect from a Shannon Hale novel – whether Fantasy, Graphic Novel, or now, a SciFi.  The book is divided into 3 parts and could have easily been expanded and milked into a trilogy – but we got the whole story in one shot instead.

    Edition: Paper Galley

    Pub Date: March 4, 2014

    Publisher: Bloomsbury, USA

    (I’m only recording the bare bone facts about the Young Adult Fiction titles I read in 2014 — Serving on the Best Fiction for Young Adults committee means that I need to be quite cautious in expressing opinions on social media. The safest way is to not express specific reactions publicly. But I’d like to keep reporting the titles I encounter throughout the year. You can always follow the link to Goodreads to see other readers’ reviews.)

    Click here for: Goodreads summary and other people’s reviews.

  • fairrosa 2:02 pm on January 20, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , sci-fi   

    Saga Volume 2 


    by Brian K. Vaughan, illustrated by Fiona Staples

    Every bit as entertaining and thrilling as the first volume.  This one contains chapter 7 to chapter 12 — with beautifully rendered bloody and sexually explicit scenes.  What I reacted most strongly and favorably to are the cast of characters.  I hesitate to call them endearing (except for perhaps Marko and the Lying Cat) since many of them are so severely flawed and I probably will not want to deal with them in real life, but they definitely have sharply defined forms and the plot moves plausibly in accordance with their individual personalities.

  • fairrosa 2:59 pm on January 12, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , sci-fi   

    The Here and Now 

    hereandnow: Ann Brashares

    Genre(s): Sci-fi, Mystery, Romance

    Basic Content Information: Time Travelers from a devastated and plagued future back to our (Here/Now is May 2014, Tristate area) with the expressed desire to “fix the future” but as the protagonist (17-year-old Prenna) finds out, they are merely hiding in their new safe colony with stringent and suffocating rules. When an opportunity presents itself for Prenna to alter a current situation that will impact on her future, she goes for it with the help of her Time Native boyfriend. Notions of free will, choices, and sacrifices for one’s community are explored. Teen budding romance with physical ramifications are explored. Climate change, dirty and clean energies, and disease control are some scientific topics touched on in the book.

    Edition: Netgalley

    Pub Date: April 8, 2014

    Publisher: Delacorte/Random House

    (I’m only recording the bare bone facts about the Young Adult Fiction titles I read in 2014 — Serving on the Best Fiction for Young Adults committee means that I need to be quite cautious in expressing opinions on social media. The safest way is to not express specific reactions publicly. But I’d like to keep reporting the titles I encounter throughout the year. You can always follow the link to Goodreads to see other readers’ reviews.)

    Click here for: Goodreads summary and other people’s reviews.

  • fairrosa 3:16 pm on January 7, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , sci-fi   

    Saga, Vol. 1 

    saga by Brian K. Vaughan; artwork by Fiona Staples

    The first six installments (chapters) of a supposed Space Opera definitely grabbed my attention and my heart. The world is ingeniously built, with interesting and outlandish “races” — I adore the reddish ghost girl who has only top half her body…. not quite sure how I feel about the computer monitor headed royalties… I hope the story unfolds with a lot of creativity and depth. My strong and enamored reaction to this book came largely from Fiona Staples’ lush artwork. I don’t feel like calling her just “the illustrator” because I feel that she did more than mere illustrating what’s given to her — but expanded and enhanced this fictional world and its inhabitants with grace. I look forward to the next volume!

    Ah.. this is really not meant for children — even though I know quite a few of my younger teens have read this (on their own, not by my recommendation.)

  • fairrosa 10:56 am on July 28, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , sci-fi   

    The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Volume One 

    leagueofextraordinarygentlemenby Allen Moore, Kevin O’Neill, Ben Dimagmaliw and Bill Oakley

    The concept of bringing a lot of 19th century literary characters together to solve a mystery is definitely a fun one — although not unique, at least, not any more in an age of mash-up stories. I enjoyed spotting literary allusions and also learning more about characters or original stories that I was not familiar with. The art is superb. The section with all the Chinese dialog is actually fairly accurate. Kudos! I think I’ll go over all the panels more than once just to enjoy the artists’ talents. Another aspect that’s extraordinarily fun is how the whole thing is done in an 1898 serial publication style. All in all, worth my time!

  • fairrosa 12:13 pm on April 13, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , sci-fi,   

    Batman: Arkham Asylum (15th Anniversary Edition) 

    batmanaa by Grant Moorison, art by Dave McKean

    To some readers, namely my 12-year-old students, this book is a total disappointment.  It has the brand name Batman on the title.  It IS a sort of origin story — of the Arkham Asylum which houses many infamous villains, including the Joker, of the franchise; and it does have segments with Batman in them.  But, they feel somehow cheated because there is almost no treatment of the fight scenes during the Hide and Seek game on the Asylum Ground.  A couple of pages, with McKean’s signature dream-like artwork hastily showing Batman  dispensing of all the Asylum inmates, are all they got out of these fight scenes.  And as super hero comics readers, they were not satisfied.

    I felt differently.  As a McKean art adorer, I enjoyed all the panels, both the really detailed close-ups and the dream-line distanced treatments.  And I am totally ok with not “watching” longer sequences of the fights.  I enjoyed the psychoanalytically inspired (albeit superficially so) back story of Doctor Arkham more than my students.  However, I won’t say that this is one to highly recommend to either Graphic Novel enthusiasts or novices.

  • fairrosa 5:55 pm on March 7, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: DC comic, , sci-fi, super hero   

    Batman R.I.P. 

    batman rip by Grant Morrison
    I’ve never been a big fan of Batman — not his back story, and not his perpetual sorrow and the lasting vengeance. This tale didn’t change my mind. Certain aspects of it are intensely interesting — the fact that he self-hypnotized by putting another trigger phrase within his new identity is super clever. But, it all plays out too well and he is just too clever to make the second half of the story satisfying… you almost want him to fail. Definitely not my favorite story to date!

  • fairrosa 6:20 pm on February 8, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , sci-fi,   

    5805V for Vendetta
    by Alan Moore
    art by David Lloyd

    I really appreciated the intricate storytelling and some of the truly dark moments in this complete collection of the V stories. It’s great to finally know what this classic graphic novel is about and to have read something by the famed Alan Moore. At the same time, I’m not sure that I bought all the philosophical and political views underpinning the characters and the plot line: it seems to run too straight and too narrow down one singular line and everything worked out all according to V’s plans. That said, it is a rewarding read that demands quite a bit of focus and now I have to ponder hard about the ending: is it a brilliant treatment or does it too abrupt and unresolved? I’d love to hear others’ opinions on the series’ ending…

  • fairrosa 7:45 am on April 1, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: ready player one, sci-fi,   

    Finished Ready Player One.

    I felt cheated by its incredibly simplistic ending and the not at all challenging message of, “Real Life is better than Virtual Life.” Have to say that it’s a great fun run and I really enjoyed Cline’s imagination of all the things one can do in a fantasy game — but they are not so out of what people have already created (except for the total immersion suits but that will come soon enough). When a story is set against a dystopian backdrop and when the characters start the tale by thinking of the big picture, one expects that there are some elements at the end of the tale that mirror or reflect what were presented at the beginning of the story. Mr. Cline did not accomplish that: instead, the story quickly turned into a simple tale of teenage love affair and taking down one evil enemy (or an evil entity) who is not much more than a painted cardboard villain: two-dimensional and quite shallow. So, I guess, I’m chalking this up to a book that I can easily recommend it to teens for pleasure reading but if I want to show anyone that Science Fiction is THE genre that comments on society and challenges many of our accepted notions of modern day life, I will go to so many other books, and not this one. (Epic by Kostick, written for readers as young as 10, deals with so much more ethical and societal issues set in the virtual reality game in a dystopic future, with much action and effective character development comes to mind.)

    • medinger 7:51 am on April 1, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      Ha. Totally agree — felt the ending was incredibly lame. But the rest was just a lot of fun.

    • Sydney 9:29 am on May 6, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      I thought so too!

    • pitmaster73 10:02 pm on May 9, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      If nothing else, this tale was a very rich trip down memory lane for me centering on the golden era :) Everything else to me was so much window dressing.

  • fairrosa 8:56 pm on January 6, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Robopocalypse, sci-fi, ,   

    Robopocalypse by Daniel H. Wilson 

    I absolutely enjoyed the many separate pieces in the book — thinking that each chapter can be treated as a short story since there is always a beginning and an end and not too much set up is needed to comprehend most of them. There are some really intensely gory and cringe-inducing scenes and a couple tales border on horror. Some are heart-warming, too.

    One thing that I couldn’t quite get over, though, was the unevenness in keeping to the rules that the author set up for himself: That, supposedly, each piece in the book is a “translation” of something the “narrator” gathered from a massive electronic archive with audio, video, text, etc. — recorded history of various participants in the Robot Uprising and the global warfare afterwards. However, instead of using a 3rd person, observational tone, Wilson chose to tell many of these heroes’ stories from a first person point of view — EVEN if the recordings themselves are from an exterior angle. (And I just noticed that the first few stories are more in keeping with this framework — some stories are from a third person viewpoint while others are supposedly “narrated” by the participants themselves as interviewees or writers, etc. — but that consistency gradually fell apart and at the end there is a lot of “I” and how “I” felt even though the gathered records couldn’t have provided those perspectives.) And some of the voices are not quite in keeping with the characters themselves — or at least, not quite distinctive to be discernibly different from each other, even though some of these characters are drastically different in backgrounds and should probably have different tones. — Although I guess I can accept it because many of them are told from the reporter/archivist’s “voice.” (However, then why are they told from the “I” perspective?)

    Still, I can see many readers enjoying the stories and gobbling up the scenes with relish!  And, I am so enamored with the cover design!

  • fairrosa 3:36 pm on October 2, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , sci-fi   

    100 pages into Matched by Ally Condie 

    I’m about 100 pages into Matched, a book quite beloved by many of my students these last seasons.  So far, I enjoy the straightforward narrative voice, the basic premise of the rigid society, and the sense that this Society is on a grand scale — there are reasons for why the Society “chose” to become this way.  The idea of IT as a counteraction of an information-overloaded world culture definitely will resonate with many young readers.  I am curious as to where Condie takes the tale and me next.

  • fairrosa 8:36 am on August 29, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , sci-fi,   

    The Knife of Never Letting Go 

    Author: Patrick Ness
    Performer/Reader: Nick Podehl
    Publisher: Brilliance Audio
    CDs: 10 (12 hours)
    Pub Date: 10/28/2010 and 9/13/2011

    Fascinated, engrossed, emotionally affected, and admiring are some of the adjectives I associated with the experience of listening to this brilliant book, and its equally brilliant reader performer, Nick Podehl.  Podehl chose a rustic set of tones for all of his characters. With slight variations for each speaking role, he is entirely convincing as the innocent and willful Todd, the mild, intelligent but bewildered Viola, the the crazed cult leader Aaron, the faithful dog Manchee, and a host of other supporting characters.  Of course, the power of the story comes largely from the author: the imagination that created this futuristic and yet backward world, the skilled hand that penned the breathtaking pace which will NOT let go of the reader’s heart, and the thoughtful mind that wove in so many issues and themes for the readers to ponder.I find the device of the “virus” that forcefully and artificially separates men and women and how they share/not share their thoughts with others ingenious, and as a female reader, agreeing with some of the scenarios.  (I wonder how male readers view this aspect.)Manchee the dog is endearing and with such a sorrowful fate which gives the book and Todd one powerful push in the direction it/he needs to move.  I can’t wait to listen to the rest of the trilogy!  (And my apologies to Monica for not heeding her enthusiastic recommendation for the past couple of years to read this series much earlier!)
    This is a thrilling dystopian science fiction story with a very Western flavor: the characters carry rifles, farm the land, and have abandoned all modern technologies in a far off planet in an uncertain (but must be very distant) future. Lots of harrowing scenarios, people (and animals) die, and it ends with a gigantic cliff hanger.  It touches on the topics of religion, of organized crimes, of government styles, of how men and women interact, and of the nature of evil.
    • Brenda Kahn 11:20 am on August 29, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      Gee, and I thought I was the last to read The Knife of Never Letting Go! I agree. Podehl was brilliant. I was glad that I wasn’t driving when I got to the Manchee scene. I screamed, “What!?! Then I sobbed.

      I ended up listening to all three one after the other and felt wrung dry by the end. Had to take a short break from dystopian.

      The co-narrators for the next two were excellent as well. McLeod Andrews, Podehl’s co-narrator on will grayson, will grayson performs on Monsters of Men.

      • fairrosa (@fairrosa) 10:40 pm on August 29, 2011 Permalink | Reply

        And I got to meet them both at the Newbery/Caldecott/Wilder dinner this year! I am glad that I hadn’t listened to the recordings by then. Otherwise I would have been too star-struck to be able to say anything sensible in the conversation!

    • Mary Lee 7:27 am on September 4, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      Glad to know that I, too, am not the last on the planet to read/listen to these books. It was Donalyn Miller whose advice I did not heed. And I WAS driving during the Manchee scene. Driving and yelling and sobbing. I immediately went to Audible for The Ask and the Answer and I’m listening to it now. Not a fun book so far. No fun at all. But I trust Patrick Ness to tell me a great story, even if I don’t like what happens in it.

  • fairrosa 7:38 am on May 8, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , sci-fi, ,   

    Days Gone By: #1 of The Walking Dead 

    Days Gone Bye (The Walking Dead, #1)by Robert Kirkman

    The first installment in the long series focuses mostly on the relationships of the living with the backdrop of extreme hardship of the zombie plague. I imagine that that will be the flavor for the rest of the series. The author does a great job capturing the characters’ traits and presenting the interplays between characters with conflicting interests. The tension is high, the dialog realistic, and the artwork is well executed. Now I have to read the rest of the series!

  • fairrosa 11:36 pm on April 16, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , sci-fi   

    Brain Camp 

    Brain Campby Susan Kim, Laurence Klavan, and Faith Erin Hicks

    It’s really quite an oddly enjoyable weird tale. Some of the images can be disturbing, but effectively and purposefully so. I think plenty of young readers will find this a very interesting read.

  • fairrosa 11:37 am on April 1, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , , sci-fi   

    The Dark City 

    The Dark City (Relic Master, #1)by Catherine Risher

    I found myself thoroughly engrossed in this tale of fantasy/scifi blend. Usually, I get annoyed by authors who mix magical elements in otherwise supposedly a science fiction world. It always seems to be a cop-out: when something cannot be sufficiently explained with scientific theories or technical knowledge, we just throw in some magical powers and voila, the story can move on. Fisher did something different here: she created a world of magical elements with a few technological gadgets thrown in here and there. The little guessing games of what each object is (an easy one is a pair of binoculars made with the “unfamiliar” materials – plastic? -) entertains and intrigues the reader.

    I would have liked to see the Dark City developed a bit more — the city is too vaguely described and I simply couldn’t figure out why there are still people in this place since the readers are not shown how the commerce works to support such a place and its inhabitants.

    Still, can’t wait for the book to be released (May) so I can promote it to my young readers and can’t wait to read the 3 sequels which will come out in quick succession: June, July, and August!

    (Based on the Advanced Readers Copy)

  • fairrosa 10:52 am on January 21, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , sci-fi   

    Never Let Me Go 

    Never Let Me Goby Kazuo Ishiguro

    This Science Fiction reads like a lulling memoir, from a young woman’s view point, who had an almost idyllic boarding school / well-run orphanage experience growing up. The book is full of anecdotes about her friendships with two classmates and their somewhat odd and entwined past. Since I knew that the book is SciFi and there are enough hints and clues embedded in the incidents, I was never surprised by the way the story progresses.

    Yes, like many readers, I was questioning “how is this possible?” and “how can they just take it and take it and no one rebels?” For me, that is what differentiates this alternative history/scifi from many other of genre that treats this topic: the young people who are inculcated since birth of their “uses” in the world would not question the system and would not want to organize anything remotely like a movement to gain rights for themselves. They donate, they care, and then they “complete.” For this, I greatly respect and admire the author.

    Did I absolutely love the book? Not exactly, since it is perhaps too quiet and introspective, and the too minute examination of characters and their motivations is too “well done” (and thus dry and tough, not quite juicy and supple) to my taste. I wonder if this is told from Tommy’s point of view and how he might have acted if he had different encounters and friends at the “school.” That said, I believe this is definitely a great conversation starter and a worthwhile read.

    • Nikki 5:28 pm on January 21, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      I agree that the story can lose pace at times, ’cause let’s face it, there isn’t a lot happening plot-wise. But I love that Ishiguro brought a different take to clones; maybe they don’t know how to rebel or are just so used to their lives that the idea doesn’t occur to them. In most fictional stories characters are brave and courageous and ready to revolt, but in life humans often don’t rise up against something they think is wrong, or don’t want to take the energy to rebel. The story is a character study of the clones, how they think and feel – or don’t feel. If anything the book poses questions about clones and to what rights they should be entitled. A book from Tommy’s view-point would be fascinating. But the numbness that Kathy feels towards everything – Hailsham, her friends, love – ultimately makes what I think is a fantastic tale.

      • fairrosa 11:42 pm on January 24, 2011 Permalink | Reply

        I am in agreement with you here, Nikki. The minutiae of the characters’ motivations is the strength of the author but at the same time, Kathy seems too perceptive being able to interpret even the most obscure or covert emotions. Of course, she could have read everyone’s feelings wrong, too! But then, we are left with a very inaccurate “report” of the history and future of these characters.

  • fairrosa 10:23 pm on December 6, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , sci-fi, ,   


    Pathfinder (Serpent World, #1)by Orson Scott Card

    I really can’t decide whether I enjoyed this book or totally couldn’t stand it. On the one hand, I LOVE the ideas and the weird (but almost plausible the way Card presents them) time/space travel ideas; on the other hand, the story moves at a snail’s pace and so much information gets repeated so many times after I already “GOT” the ideas and just wanted to see some action or some emotional exchanges.

    Some reviewers claim that Pathfinder is like Ender’s Game. I cannot disagree more. I think, at most, it is like Xenocide and Children of the Mind: in their focusing on Card’s leaping scientific (but fantastic) complexities and strong political/social maneuvering discourses and also in that Card did not place as strong an emphasis on the impeccable pacing and climax-building as he did for both Ender’s Game and Ender’s Shadow.

    • Michelle 8:25 am on December 7, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      This is next on my list to read. My daughter just read it for her ISU and absolutely loved it. She found it both frustrating and confusing at times – but is making me read it now :)

  • fairrosa 10:57 pm on October 13, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , sci-fi   

    Clockwork Angel 

    Clockwork Angel (The Infernal Devices, Book 1)by Cassandra Clare

    I really really enjoyed the book. What’s not to like? An entertaining combination of Angel/Demon/Warlock/Vampire/Automaton/Romance (torturous)/Action/Gore! And I’m so into Steampunk right now so this feeds into my current passion beautifully.   I didn’t read the trilogy that came out in the past few years by Clare so couldn’t compare to see if this prequel is better or worse. I also don’t know whether the author, as some critics of this book have pointed out, keeps recycling the same plot pattern, characters, and relationships. For me, it feels fresh and full of earnest energy. I couldn’t put it down. Now, I have to wait for the next installments!

    • Beth Kakuma-Depew 4:58 pm on October 26, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      Cassandra Clare has said in other interviews that she completely plots out her stories before writing them, which I think is one of the reasons that the plotting feels a bit predictable (at least to someone who has read her first trilogy). But that is also the reason she can keep her plots moving along so fast! So I’m not one of the complainers.

      As for her characters, the main male lead feels very similar to the main male lead in the first trilogy, but the other characters I think are different enough. And its a very fun steampunk story!

  • fairrosa 4:35 pm on September 12, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , sci-fi   


    Sapphique (Incarceron, #2)by Catherine Fisher

    Although I still file this title under sci-fi, there is little scientific explanation of what’s going on in this convoluted sequel to the highly compelling Incarceron. Instead, the Art Magicke seems to be the predominant force that moves the events forward in the story. The belief in Magic is understandable for those in the Prison, not that convincing when it leaks into the Realm, and feels almost lazy when used as plot solutions. Of course, I can make the leap in assumptions to explain how the mind can be transported by the Portal into an object inside the Prison, but I would rather prefer that such rationales are offered by the author.

    Perhaps this is not a sci-fi series at all. I need to adjust my expectations.

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