Dark Age by Pierce Brown – Review

Cover- Dark Age

Published: July 30, 2019

Publisher: Del Rey Books

Series: Red Rising Saga #5

Genre: Science Fiction

Pages: 757 (Hardcover)

My Rating: 5.0/5.0

Synopsis:

For a decade Darrow led a revolution against the corrupt color-coded Society. Now, outlawed by the very Republic he founded, he wages a rogue war on Mercury in hopes that he can still salvage the dream of Eo. But as he leaves death and destruction in his wake, is he still the hero who broke the chains? Or will another legend rise to take his place?

Lysander au Lune, the heir in exile, has returned to the Core. Determined to bring peace back to mankind at the edge of his sword, he must overcome or unite the treacherous Gold families of the Core and face down Darrow over the skies of war-torn Mercury.

But theirs are not the only fates hanging in the balance.

On Luna, Mustang, Sovereign of the Republic, campaigns to unite the Republic behind her husband. Beset by political and criminal enemies, can she outwit her opponents in time to save him?

Once a Red refugee, young Lyria now stands accused of treason, and her only hope is a desperate escape with unlikely new allies.

Abducted by a new threat to the Republic, Pax and Electra, the children of Darrow and Sevro, must trust in Ephraim, a thief, for their salvation—and Ephraim must look to them for his chance at redemption.

As alliances shift, break, and re-form—and power is seized, lost, and reclaimed—every player is at risk in a game of conquest that could turn the Rising into a new Dark Age.


This may be the first book I’ve ever read that I was genuinely nervous to start reading. I kept thinking to myself “What if I just don’t like it? What if it’s not as good as the previous books? What if, what if, what if”. I think this was largely because while I really like Iron Gold, I was still somewhat jarred by all the new characters, all the changes, and how the decades between series had frayed some of my most beloved characters in fiction. I downloaded the audiobook (because Tim Gerard Reynolds is a joy to listen to) not long after it’s release and braced myself. 

I need not have worried myself in the least. While the new characters were still growing on me after the first book, in Dark Age they were solid, stable, and wouldn’t let go of my imagination. Lyria, Ephraim, Pax, Lysander and the others were old friends to me now, though by no means are they all on the same side. Pierce Brown has written such complex characters that practically each chapter unveiled some new layer of their being. And boy, are they dangerous and not in the braggadocious, all bark and no bite way either – this is the casual, predatory sort of violence that curdles the blood. And Brown himself… well, I listened in horror as he slew characters left and right – appalling and brilliant and never a wasted death.

Dark Age is aptly named, for it is rather dark and every time a ray of hope glimmers, it seems to be snuffed out. Darrow is on Mercury with little hope for victory against Atalantia au Grimmace and the dread inducing Fear Knight. Our beloved Virginia struggles to hold together the Republic all the while her only child is missing along with Sevro’s eldest daughter Electra. Lysander, still a staunch supporter of the idea of the Society is travelling towards Mercury to reveal that he is alive and hopefully form an alliance between the Society and the Moon Lords to crush the Republic once and for all. At every turn our characters are facing the direst of circumstances and at times I was sure that all hope was lost. This book really got the adrenaline pumping and the emotions in an uproar. This book was absolutely on par with the epicness that I read in Golden Son, which still has one of the most incredible cliff-hangers I’ve ever read in my life. 

It’s been several weeks since I finished Dark Age and typing this review is making me want to read it again just so I can appreciate the finer details I probably missed the first time through. The number of emotions this book compelled from me was staggering – I was horrified, elated, crushed – it was literally one extreme to another. I’ve never read anything quite like Pierce Brown’s writing and I’m nervous to read the next book because I just KNOW it’s going to be just as incredible as this one and he’s probably going to kill off at least one of my favorite characters, it’s just a matter of which one at this point. If you’ve never picked up Red Rising because you heard it was YA or kind of like the Hunger Games, get your head out of your butt and go buy it. You’re doing yourself a disservice by not reading it because it’s one of the most incredible series I’ve ever read. Also, as a disclaimer, it’s not YA and is saying it’s like the Hunger Games is a cheap way to describe it.

*There was one part of the book that I thought was a little dumb – someone who was thoroughly dead from the first arc is back and I definitely rolled my eyes. Overall it was handled deftly enough and it didn’t detract enough for me to lessen my rating.

The Quantum Magician by Derek Kunsken – Review

Cover- The Quantum Magician

Published: October 2, 2018

Publisher: Solaris

Series: The Quantum Evolution #1

Genre: Science Fiction

Pages: 480 (Mass Market)

My Rating: 3.5/5.0

Synopsis:

Belisarius is a quantum man, an engineered Homo quantus who fled the powerful insight of dangerously addictive quantum senses. He found a precarious balance as a con man, but when a client offers him untold wealth to move a squadron of warships across an enemy wormhole, he must embrace his birthright to even try. In fact, the job is so big that he’ll need a crew built from all the new sub-branches of humanity. If he succeeds, he might trigger an interstellar war, but success might also point the way to the next step of Homo quantus evolution.


So, The Quantum Magician is essentially a scifi heist novel and honestly it was really weird. I love heists – they add an extra layer of tension and suspense to any story and are always a good time. The Quantum Magician is the heist of the future man. With future man (aka human subspecies with ultra weird subsets of abilities) doing the heisting.

Belisarius is of the species homo quantus and instead of using his abilities to solve the mysteries of the universe, he uses them to run complex confidence schemes. He’s a con man to his core and he’s just been offered the job of the century – moving a fleet of warships through an interstellar access point they were denied access to. To say the job is complex is a gross understatement – he has to build a team using every human subspecies available and a few regular ol’ humans to boot. Like, we’re talking genetic engineering, explosives, and deep infiltration and impersonation. The reward of success is a ship from the warship fleet that has a truly game changing technology – it’s priceless.

While the story itself is pretty cool, the subspecies are just so, so weird. The puppets are basically humans in miniature who are genetically coded to worship the Numen (their gods). It’s quite disturbing when you get into the details. There are whale people that were genetically engineered to withstand incredible pressures, but the result is that they look like humanoid whales. And their philosophy is to expect the worst and is filled with swearing. The quantus go into a state called the fugue where they lose all social function and become quantum computers, calculating the most complex of equations and outcomes.

Overall, The Quantum Magician was a unique and pretty strange book. The heist portion was good, but I didn’t love the characters and the puppets really really creeped me out. This could have been exacerbated by the narration which was actually quite good and very emotive, thus making the puppets more unsettling than they would have been (I think). My recommendation would be this – if you think the synopsis is cool then you should check it out because this is just my opinion and many others rate this book very highly!

Velocity Weapon by Megan E. O’Keefe – Review

Cover- Velocity Weapon

Published: June 11, 2019

Publisher: Orbit Books

Series: The Protectorate #1

Genre: Science Fiction

Pages: 544 (Paperback)

My Rating: 4.5/5.0

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for and honest review.

Synopsis:

Dazzling space battles, intergalactic politics, and rogue AI collide in Velocity Weapon, the first book in this epic space opera by award-winning author Megan O’Keefe.
Sanda and Biran were siblings destined for greatness. Her: a dedicated soldier with the skills to save the universe. Him: a savvy politician with ambitions for changing the course of intergalactic war.
However, on a routine maneuver, Sanda’s gunship gets blown out of the sky. Instead of finding herself in friendly hands, she awakens 230 years later upon an empty enemy smartship who calls himself Bero. The war is lost. The star system and everyone in it is dead. Ada Prime and its rival Icarion have wiped each other from the universe.
Now, separated by space and time, Sanda and Biran will find a way to put things right.


Velocity Weapon was such a surprise win for me! I wasn’t sure I would love it when I initially received it, but my hopes were high and, in this case, well placed. From the above synopsis you can see that this promises space battles, politics and rogue AI which is what intrigued me in the first place. Lemme just tell you, it had all that and then some of the BEST plot twists that I’ve encountered in a long while!

The characters were pretty darn cool as well. First of all, we’ve got Sanda who immediately gets blown up on her gunship but that’s definitely not the end of her. She shortly gets picked up by an enemy ship with no crew, just the AI named Bero who’s running it. Oh yeah, and she’s been floating in her pod for 230 years and everyone she knows and loves is dead. Next we’ve got Biran, Sanda’s younger brother, just entering the political field and trying everything he can to get someone to go check for survivors (mostly just Sanda). The split POVs and timelines makes for an interesting story and the reader gets little bits of information at a time. Biran’s POV fills in the past, detailing the perilous times after Sanda’s ship is destroyed by Icarion. There’s also a third POV featuring a character on a different planet and takes most of the book for it to become clear how she is relevant at all.

And then the plot twists guys… seriously, I did not see ANY of them coming until the moment it happened. I’m stunned and I won’t DARE spoil anything for you – you’ll just have to read it!! I literally gasped though, no exaggeration and I may have shouted at my husband, who will never understand why I was so flabbergasted.

Overall, Velocity Weapon was an absolute win in my opinion. It wasn’t perfect and I didn’t care for the third POV for most of the book because while it had it’s moments I just wasn’t connected to those characters at all. I think things will become more cohesive in future installments because it will (I think) be more relevant at that point. This was a fantastic book from the first chapter and I’d highly recommend it!

Walking to Aldebaran by Adrian Tchaikovsky – Review

Cover- Walking to Aldebaran

Published: May 28, 2019

Publisher: Solaris

Series: Standalone

Genre: Science Fiction

Pages: 140 (Hardcover)

My Rating: 5.0/5.0

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis:

My name is Gary Rendell. I’m an astronaut. When they asked me as a kid what I wanted to be when I grew up, I said, “astronaut, please!” I dreamed astronaut, I worked astronaut, I studied astronaut.

I got lucky; when a probe sent out to explore the Oort Cloud found a strange alien rock and an international team of scientists was put together to go and look at it, I made the draw.

I got even luckier. When disaster hit and our team was split up, scattered through the endless cold tunnels, I somehow survived.

Now I’m lost, and alone, and scared, and there’s something horrible in here.

Lucky me.

Lucky, lucky, lucky.


I don’t pick up novellas too often, but when I do they either sound irresistibly appealing or they’re written by authors that consistently write awesome books. Walking to Aldebaran falls into both of those categories, having an amazing synopsis and having been written by an author that produces out of this world stories (pun entirely intended).

Clocking in at 140 pages, you would expect to be left wanting more but that isn’t the case with this book at all. It is ENTIRELY sufficient as a novella and reminds me of one of the creepier episodes of the Twilight Zone. Gary Rendell is walking through a wormhole in the dark, lonely expanse of space. He just wants to find the other astronauts that survived the trek into the depths of what he calls the “Frog God” and go back to Earth. He’s the narrator, which is particularly handy for knowing his inner thoughts and also for being slightly unreliable… like maybe we’re not getting the whole picture here. He recounts his experience, what led he and his crewmates to the reaches of space beyond icy Pluto, and his horrifying journey through the dark, endless passages of what he calls the Crypts.

It’s truly haunting and so well executed that I devoured this in a single sitting. Not usually a big deal for me, especially since this is a teensy little book but I’ve been in kind of a reading slump lately. I think this successfully pried me out of the rut I was in and now I can’t wait to read more weird stuff. I would HIGHLY recommend checking this out, and Tchaikovsky fans won’t be disappointed in the least. Heck, I’m considering reading again so I can reprocess all that weird goodness.

Waiting on Wednesday: Children of Ruin by Adrian Tchaikovsky

“Waiting On Wednesday” is a weekly meme originally hosted on Breaking the Spine but has since linked up with “Can’t Wait Wednesday” at Wishful Endings now that the original creator is unable to host it anymore. This is a great way to share upcoming released you’re excited about!


Cover- Children of Ruin

AND THERE IS OFFICIALLY A SEQUEL TO THE FREAKY SENTIENT SPIDER STORY! Children of Ruin will explore the coexistence of humans and Portiids and I’m so curious to see how things go. I didn’t expect a sequel to Children of Time and thought it worked well as a stand alone, but man, now I’m so curious to see what’s happened in the thousands of years between novels. And the synopsis promises space exploration and apocalyptic catastrophe! This will be released May 2019 which isn’t far away at all!

Children of Time by Adrian Tchaikovsky – Review

Cover- Children of Time

Published: June 4, 2015

Publisher: PanMacmillan

Series: Standalone

Genre: Science Fiction

Pages: 600 (Hardcover)

My Rating: 4.5/5.0

Synopsis:

A race for survival among the stars… Humanity’s last survivors escaped earth’s ruins to find a new home. But when they find it, can their desperation overcome its dangers?

WHO WILL INHERIT THIS NEW EARTH?

The last remnants of the human race left a dying Earth, desperate to find a new home among the stars. Following in the footsteps of their ancestors, they discover the greatest treasure of the past age – a world terraformed and prepared for human life.

But all is not right in this new Eden. In the long years since the planet was abandoned, the work of its architects has borne disastrous fruit. The planet is not waiting for them, pristine and unoccupied. New masters have turned it from a refuge into mankind’s worst nightmare.

Now two civilizations are on a collision course, both testing the boundaries of what they will do to survive. As the fate of humanity hangs in the balance, who are the true heirs of this new Earth?


SPIDERS.

SPIDER PLANET.

THERE IS A PLANET FULL OF SENTIENT SPIDERS.

THEY HAVE A LEGIT SOCIETY, WITH RELIGION, TECHNOLOGY, WAR, CULTURE, EVERYTHING.

I LOVED THEM AND I DON’T LIKE SPIDERS.

Oh yeah, there are also humans who occasionally wake up from deep cryo-sleep and they blast around the universe searching for habitable planets, because Earth was destroyed and they’re the last humans.

But really, who cares about their petty dramas when we can have a multi-generational spider-verse that’s way cooler than many other ”unique” societies in sci-fi and fantasy books?

In all reality, the human POVs in this book are for the most part very interesting as well, but for vastly different reasons. These humans are on a giant colony ship that is headed towards the spider planet (Kernsworld) in hopes of finding a habitable planet for the scraggly remnants of the human species. What they don’t expect to find is a highly territorial and definitely insane AI/human nightmare that wants nothing more than to blast them to smithereens to prevent any corruption of this experimental world. They reach an impasse and the humans carry on towards another planet only to come full circle in the end. This portion follows a fairly standard plot with some exciting additions like mutiny, religious cults, and wannabe immortals.

The spiders are way cooler. This book follows them from the introduction of a virus that causes them to evolve at an unnaturally rapid pace through to a highly advanced state. The fact that you can go along with their species and society evolving is what makes this portion so darn fascinating. I loved it! There’s warfare against the ants, plague, religious factions… basically it’s a world history, but it zeroes in on a few select spideys in each generation, all of which are descendants of the first spiders to have acquired the virus.

Children of Time is only my second Adrian Tchaikovsky book and it’s so vastly different from the other that I can’t begin to compare them. Needless to say, he has a way to make you feel for characters and high quality writing to boot. I’ve got a third book by him queued up for the near future and can’t wait to see how that compares!

Altered Carbon by Richard K. Morgan – Review

Cover- Altered Carbon

Published: February 28, 2002

Publisher: Gollancz

Genre: Science Fiction

Series: Takeshi Kovacs #1

Pages: 416 (Hardcover)

My Rating: 2.0/5.0

 

Synopsis:

It’s the twenty-fifth century, and advances in technology have redefined life itself. A person’s consciousness can now be stored in the brain and downloaded into a new body (or “sleeve”), making death nothing more than a minor blip on a screen. Onetime U.N. Envoy Takeshi Kovacs has been killed before, but his last death was particularly painful. Resleeved into a body in Bay City (formerly San Francisco), Kovacs is thrown into the dark heart of a shady, far-reaching conspiracy that is vicious even by the standards of a society that treats existence as something that can be bought and sold. For Kovacs, the shell that blew a hole in his chest was only the beginning.


I picked up Altered Carbon out of my sometimes unwise desire to read/listen to the book prior to watching movie or tv adaptation. I still haven’t checked out the show for a few reasons, one being lack of time, and the other being that I was practically BORED TO TEARS listening to this. While I didn’t entirely hate this book, I definitely won’t be reading the others especially since this is supposed to be the best of them. I could end my review here and it would be sufficient, but I won’t. I’m going to attempt to break it down for you.

First and foremost, I would like to point out that this book has SO many things that I would typically enjoy in a book. Altered Carbon is set in a future where humanity is basically backed up on a hard drive inside your head – the “stack” as it’s called is an upload of you. If someone dies/get old/gets injured (provided they have the money) they can be put in a new body in a process called resleeving and carry on. Our MC, Takeshi Kovacs (pronounced Kovatch) is a former UN Envoy, which seems to me like a combo of super soldier and spy with a smidge of actual diplomatic function thrown in for good measure. He’s pulled off stack and resleeved on Earth to investigate the death of a prominent member of society named Laurens Bancroft who is several hundred years old. By all accounts, it looks like a standard suicide, but Bancroft (who was just resleeved) claims that it was not the case at all. He would never do such a thing. So here we’ve got an awesome sci-fi future, a gun toting MC with tons of skill, and a mystery – all things I love in a book… so where did it fall flat?

Thing fell flat when I realized I couldn’t wait for the book to be over. I didn’t care AT ALL for any of the characters, whether it was a minor character or Takeshi himself. I mean, I think I liked the AI hotel better than Kovacs – it popped out heavy weaponry and obliterated some murderous thugs a few chapters into the book. Honestly, there was just so much dithering around and so much talking and I just wanted Kovacs to shut his mouth and shoot people. And then he did, and I still didn’t care. I actually skipped through the last two chapters of this book because I was about to go full thousand-yard stare and drool on my keyboard.

I don’t know if it was just not the right book for my mood or what, but Altered Carbon was magnificently underwhelming. It’s been quite a while since an audiobook has been that disappointing and I think it’s just me because this book had a solid rating on Goodreads and obviously it was cool enough to get picked up by Netflix for a tv show. Which I still want to watch by the way, despite not liking the book. The show may very well be an epicly wild ride that I want to binge watch. Who knows. All I’m saying is that I didn’t like it, but if you think it sounds cool then give it a go.

Waiting on Wednesday: The Consuming Fire by John Scalzi

“Waiting On Wednesday” is a weekly meme originally hosted on Breaking the Spine but has since linked up with “Can’t Wait Wednesday” at Wishful Endings now that the original creator is unable to host it anymore. This is a great way to share upcoming released you’re excited about!


Cover- The Consuming Fire

After loving The Collapsing Empire last year, I’m REALLY looking forward to The Consuming Fire when it comes out in October. Will they be able to save the Interdependency from collapse? Can they stop the Flow from it’s trend of degradation? I really liked the characters and book 1 made me laugh out loud (Scalzi can be relied upon for humor) so this will definitely be at the top of my TBR!

Currently Reading: 1/15/18

cover-iron-gold

Iron Gold by Pierce Brown

GAHHHH I CAN’T WAIT TO READ THIS!!!! I pre-ordered the audiobook so as soon as it shows up in my library I’m going to start it! I’ve been looking forward to continuing Darrow’s journey and meeting new characters since before it was even announced to be honest. Hope it’s even more awesome that the first 3 books.

 

I’ll also be finishing up Senlin Ascends this week! So far it’s proving to be an interesting book with what feels like a disturbing analysis of humanity tied in.