Romantic · Science Fiction · SeriousSeriesLove · YA

The Illuminae Files

The chance of this not being my favorite series of the year is so slim it’s not worth mentioning. But, since I already brought it up… This is the best series I’ve read this year.

These books are winners, each and every one of them. I am obsessed with these books. I formally apologize to each and every person that recommended them to me for delaying in reading them. I’m sorry. Let me take you out for coffee so we can gush. Wait, first, perhaps I should calm down.

Ugh. I’m being obnoxious. (Clears throat). Let’s start over. The Illuminae Files…..? shrug. They were good. (So freaking good)

IlluminaeFiles

I am going to do everything in my power to avoid spoilers but this is so difficult to do in a series review. I’ve included the book jacket descriptions but even then, there are spoilers. I’ll let you know before you get there.

Note: the books look huge but don’t be put off by their size. They are not a straight forward narratives but rather, a collection of documents. I initially passed on reading the books because I thought they would take too long. That was silly of me. These stories are so ingenious and artfully crafted that the pages almost flip themselves.

Also, while books take place in space and in the future they each have a timeless feel. The romance in each book feels genuine and the balanced inclusion of action, mystery, and straight up terror keeps the story from any feeling of familiarity. Not to say they are as scary as say, Misery, but being locked on a spaceship with a virus, or being stuck on a space station with bugs are high, high, up on my own personal nightmare list. The romances are sweet and fairly clean but the language is not. Hilariously, the words are redacted, but that just made my brain work a teeny bit harder to come up with the most appropriate expletive.

Illuminae


This morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do. This afternoon, her planet was invaded.

The year is 2575, and two rival megacorporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than an ice-covered speck at the edge of the universe. Too bad nobody thought to warn the people living on it. With enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra—who are barely even talking to each other—are forced to fight their way onto an evacuating fleet, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit.

But their problems are just getting started. A deadly plague has broken out and is mutating, with terrifying results; the fleet’s AI, which should be protecting them, may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady hacks into a tangled web of data to find the truth, it’s clear only one person can help her bring it all to light: the ex-boyfriend she swore she’d never speak to again.

BRIEFING NOTE: Told through a fascinating dossier of hacked documents—including emails, schematics, military files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and more—Illuminae is the first book in a heart-stopping, high-octane trilogy about lives interrupted, the price of truth, and the courage of everyday heroes. (Goodreads)

This is the book that introduced me to the format and wonder that is The Illumnae Files. I have said it before but it is important to note that I read and listened to the full cast audiobook and it brought the book to a whole other level for me. If you have the chance, I highly recommend doing both. Please don’t make me pick between the audiobook and the physical copy – I doubt I could manage to choose.

Kady, the strong female lead of our dreams, is an talented computer hacker while still in high school. Her brusque manner belies the depth of her caring. In fact, this book introduces a cast of characters for the ages. My own personal obsession is Analyst ID 7213-0089-DN. Hello Mr. Hilarious observations!

Gemina


Moving to a space station at the edge of the galaxy was always going to be the death of Hanna’s social life. Nobody said it might actually get her killed.

The sci-fi saga that began with the breakout bestseller Illuminae continues on board the Jump Station Heimdall, where two new characters will confront the next wave of the BeiTech assault.

Hanna is the station captain’s pampered daughter; Nik the reluctant member of a notorious crime family. But while the pair are struggling with the realities of life aboard the galaxy’s most boring space station, little do they know that Kady Grant and the Hypatia are headed right toward Heimdall, carrying news of the Kerenza invasion.

When an elite BeiTech strike team invades the station, Hanna and Nik are thrown together to defend their home. But alien predators are picking off the station residents one by one, and a malfunction in the station’s wormhole means the space-time continuum might be ripped in two before dinner. Soon Hanna and Nik aren’t just fighting for their own survival; the fate of everyone on the Hypatia—and possibly the known universe—is in their hands.

But relax. They’ve totally got this. They hope. (Goodreads)

I didn’t think I could enjoy anyone as much as I did Kady but Hanna Donnelly is a woman after my own heart. Furthermore, she keeps a physical diary in which she draws her thoughts (Marie Lu Illustrates!) adding just one more layer to the experience of reading these books.

I was, admittedly, throw by the shift away from Kady’s perspective. It started to dawn on me that there was some connection between the stories when I saw my beloved Analyst’s reports start coming through. In the end, if this has been a standalone, I would have been thrilled but the way the two books connect turned me into that person on the bus that tells random strangers how fantastic their book is. That lady didn’t need to get off the bus to get away from me… Sorry lady! I hope that was your actual stop!

The book jacket for the third book contains series spoilers! If you want to avoid this: stop reading this post now!

Obsidio


Kady, Ezra, Hanna, and Nik narrowly escaped with their lives from the attacks on Heimdall station and now find themselves crammed with 2,000 refugees on the container ship, Mao. With the jump station destroyed and their resources scarce, the only option is to return to Kerenza—but who knows what they’ll find seven months after the invasion?

Meanwhile, Kady’s cousin, Asha, survived the initial BeiTech assault and has joined Kerenza’s ragtag underground resistance. When Rhys—an old flame from Asha’s past—reappears on Kerenza, the two find themselves on opposite sides of the conflict.

With time running out, a final battle will be waged on land and in space, heroes will fall, and hearts will be broken. (Goodreads)

I ignored every obligation in my life to read this book. I couldn’t even wait for the audiobook to read it to me – I cleared my calendar, holed up in my house, and read it page by delicious page.

People are not exaggerating when they talk about this series. It has something for everyone and delivers book after book. This series gets all the stars from me and will get a hug every time I see them out and about!


Tell me, please!

Have you read The Illuminae Files? Can we please talk about them??!!


 

all ages · Audio Book · Science Fiction

A New Hope: The Princess, The Scoundrel and the Farm Boy by Alexandra Bracken

The worst thing about writing only positive reviews is when you go through a terrible dry patch. Combine that with a fairly deep and weird non-reading period and it looks like I have abandoned my reviewing completely! But, the good news is that I am baaaack!

princessscoundrelfarmboyI tried listening to a LOT of audiobooks over the past few weeks. I am burned out with a specific style and so I turned to a completely new genre. Well, a new audiobook book genre anyway. I borrowed The Princess, The Scoundrel and the Farm Boy by Alexandra Bracken from my local library. Admittedly, I briefly considered not listening to it when the introduction marked the book as a re-telling of A New Hope but this whole mood reading can only go on for so long. Sometimes you just have to suck it up and finish a book! I am so glad that I persevered because this is an excellent audiobook.

Told in three parts by two extremely talented narrators, this book transported me back to the magic that was my first Star Wars experience. Aided by sound effects and selections from John Williams original score, the audiobook reminded me of my beloved Star Wars, A New Hope LP.  Here though, the author cleverly expands the inner thoughts and experiences of the three main characters to give me what all Star Wars fans want most: more Star Wars. Listening to Leia’s childhood reflections, her concerns regarding her usefulness to the Rebellion, Han’s growing admiration for both Leia and Luke and his fear of losing them, and Luke’s introduction and growing awareness of the Force stayed so true to Star Wars canon without becoming trite. It is glorious!

The whole time I was listening I could not stop thinking that this audiobook might be the perfect way to introduce young children (or older new fans) to Star Wars. The audiobook gives all the excitement and adventure, as well as wonderful character development, as the movies but without some of the scarier visual images that the film so masterfully uses. While there is no replacement for the first time you see Darth Vader’s cape fan out as he stalks down the corridor with The Imperial March thundering in your ears, this audiobook is an auditory treat. And, since I loved it after seeing the film countless times, it would be perfect for new fans and rabid older fans alike.

I have to mention as well that this book has a wonderful theme. Star Wars is my basis for explaining everything but I have never really considered how these characters break societal and self-imposed labels during their adventures. Leia is more than a Princess, Han is only a Scoundrel when he wants to be and Luke is SO much more than a Farmboy. How the world sees them and even how they label themselves changes and grows  during their time together and it is wonderful to behold. It is also an important message to send children – you can change who you are and you can change how you think about people.

I cannot recommend this audiobook enough! Whether you’ve enjoyed Star Wars since childhood or are a reluctant (but curious) fan, this is a wonderful retelling.


Tell me, please!

If you aren’t a Star Wars fan, what is holding you back?


 

Science Fiction · series

Iron Gold by Pierce Brown

When there is a new book in a long adored series there is a unique sense of anticipation. On one hand you know the world. The characters are your friends and sometimes your favorite people. And it is so very thrilling to be back again. On the other hand, the author can make choices in this place you love that give you pause. They can kill off characters you have long treasured or simply change them in a way that negatively alters your connection. Plus, anytime there is anticipation and hype the pressure can kill the enjoyment. I felt all of this and more when I finally received my pre-ordered copy of Iron Gold by Pierce Brown.

irongoldThis book was one of my most highly anticipated reads of 2018. I feel I must make two things clear. First, I do not like dystopian science-fiction. Second, the Red Rising Trilogy is  dystopian science fiction and I am still a gigantic fan. I love the characters; Darrow, Mustang, all the Howlers (especially Sevro!) and Ragnar. I am fascinating by the different planets and caste systems. The pace and action are thrilling to the point of near exhaustion. If you enjoy science fiction I feel confident in recommending the Red Rising Trilogy.

When I first heard that there was a new book by Pierce Brown I had assumed that it would be a new series. Instead it is a new trilogy that begins ten years after Morning Star concludes. Darrow, Sevro and the Howlers are still fighting to take control of the inner ring planets. And, while Darrow and Mustang have married and have a son, Pax, the three are rarely together.

I will freely admit that I found the idea that these characters were not at peace after all of their trials and tribulations to be a bit exhausting. Furthermore, I had difficulty remembering who everyone was, especially since some of the main characters in Iron Gold were children or minor players in the prior trilogy. The shifting narratives created delayed comprehension of the story as a whole but eventually gave a much better understanding of the new story Brown was putting together.

By the middle of the book, I was quite torn. Then, slowly, Brown began to rebuild a new generation for the next wave of the revolution. All of the old guard still maintain a presence in the storyline but now the light is shone on a new cast of characters that I found obsessively interesting.

I closed the book thrilled and wanting more. At more than 500 pages it is an epic story. Visiting with some of my favorite characters from the original trilogy was enjoyable but eventually I found that I was more than happy that Brown is re-focusing on other characters for the subsequent books. Not unlike the Star Wars universe, I got to go back and see Luke, Han and Leia but I didn’t expect that they would be the only stars of the show.


Tell me, please!

Have you read the Red Rising Series? Are you interested in Iron Gold?