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Mortal Coils (Eric Nylund)

4 out of 5 stars

Cut to the Chase:
Mortal Coils is a contemporary mythologically inspired coming of age fantasy novel with a definite young adultish slant. I wasn’t too put off by the lack of mature content, and the young adult elements have more to do with the coming of age story and the protagonist’s relationships and perspective rather than an overly simplified story or dumbed down vocabulary. Honestly, I find the inclusion of traditional mythological elements into contemporary fantasy books a tiresome trend that I wish would disappear given that, in my opinion, any somewhat talented author should be able to come up with more interesting setting material than something produced by, at best, iron age primitives, but the mythological elements are handled adroitly enough here that they didn’t unduly detract from my enjoyment of the book. The pacing is decent and keeps you entertained, although the author could definitely have eliminated substantial largely superfluous sections. This material isn’t boring ,and it fits with the overall setting of the book, but it doesn’t always contribute substantially to the overall narrative. The setting is where the book really shines; it’s a weird, dangerous, magical place that actually feels like it would work. I enjoyed reading this book, so I would recommend it, especially for people who really like re-imaginings of traditional mythological figures, coming of age stories, or the idea of a strange, threatening magical reality overlaid upon our mundane lives.

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Posted in Children's/Young Adult, Sci-Fi/Fantasy

Cinder (Marissa Meyer, The Lunar Chronicles #1)

4.5 out of 5 stars

Cut to the Chase:
As the title suggests, this is a modern retelling of the classic fairytale Cinderella. Luckily, the story is retold in an exciting, feminist-friendly update to the sexist base of the traditional Cinderella. Cinder takes place in a dystopian future where cyborgs, androids, and hovercraft are part of everyday life and a war is on the horizon with the seemingly magical beings who live on the moon (the Lunars). The character Cinder is a fiesty adopted cyborg who is trying to make enough money as a mechanic to leave her oppressive homelife in Little Beijing. All the characters (including a prince, of course) are written so well you feel as if you have actually met them in real life. Cinder is a strong female character who turns the fairy tale on its head and refuses to be rescued. This is a great book for people of all ages – my sixty-one year old dad adores this series and can’t wait for the next book in the series. It’s definitely a good read for just about anyone!

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Posted in Children's/Young Adult, Sci-Fi/Fantasy

Softly Say Goodbye (KC Sprayberry)

3 out of 5 stars

Cut to the Chase:
This novel has a very moving story but occasionally gets a little too didactic for comfort. The story follows a female protagonist, Erin, who is navigating her way through senior year of high school while facing the issue of teenage drinking among her peers, which often results in tragedy. Teenage drinking is the main theme of the book, and Sprayberry makes sure the reader does not forget how damaging it can be to the lives of young people. I haven’t been in high school of over a decade, but the amount of focus and energy given to alcohol at the school of the protagonist seems a bit overblown. However, Sprayberry’s points are well made, and if a little exaggeration is present, it does not undermine the story enough to destroy the enjoyment of the book.

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WWW:Wake (Robert J Sawyer, WWW Trilogy #1)

4.5 out of 5 stars

Cut to the Chase:
WWW:Wake is a contemporary hard sci-fi coming of age story. Apparently it is the first in a trilogy, but I was rather surprised to learn this, since this book stands so well on its own. This is one of the best hard sci-fi books I have read. I’ve read quite a lot of sci-fi dealing with the emergence of machine intelligence, but this is first one I found at all believable or well thought out. The human side isn’t neglected, either, as it often is in hard sci-fi; the author also does well here. The characters are vivid and unique, deep without a great deal of exposition. The author does a great job of condensing an intrinsically complicated story until it is both manageable and quick moving. With the exception of one brief scene (fairly PG, but non-consensual, groping) which might disturb some readers who are sensitive to such things, I would unhesitatingly recommend WWW:Wake to anyone with even a passing interest in sci-fi; I doubt you will be disappointed by this book.

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Posted in Children's/Young Adult, Sci-Fi/Fantasy