Science Fiction

Stranger in a Strange Land

Stranger in a Strange Land

Summary:

NAME: Valentine Michael Smith
ANCESTRY: Human
ORIGIN: Mars

Valentine Michael Smith is a human being raised on Mars, newly returned to Earth. Among his people for the first time, he struggles to understand the social mores and prejudices of human nature that are so alien to him, while teaching them his own fundamental beliefs in grokking, watersharing, and love.  (Summary and cover courtesy of goodreads.com)

Review:

While I absolutely adore Heinlein, this was the weakest in his books as far as I’m concerned.  I found it a very slow build (not that divergent from other Heinlein books), but without the fascinating characters to make the build all worth it to me.  Frankly, I found Valentine just plain weird.  I can see how folks in the 60’s who were into all sorts of things would adore this book, but it just didn’t work for me.

There are certainly redeeming factors.  At some points, I found the thought-experiment fascinating and an interesting project in the sense of challenge long-established beliefs and structures in our “normal” world.  That being said, once I got to the ending I had the shell-shocked “what the heck???” moment that left me feeling discontent and not a fan of this one in the end.

Warning: Contains a little bit of everything to offend anyone the least sensitive.

Rating: 3 stars!

Who should read it? Heinlein devotees, but otherwise I’d say skip or try a different Heinlein first.  I think if this was your first Heinlein it could be quite off-putting.

The End of Fun

The End of Fun

Summary:

Everyday reality is a drag™.

FUN®—the latest in augmented reality—is fun (yay!) but it’s also frustrating, glitchy and dangerously addictive (boo!). Just when everyone else is getting on, seventeen-year-old Aaron O’Faolain wants off.

But first, he has to complete his Application for Termination, and in order to do that he has to deal with his History—not to mention the present, including his grandfather’s suicide and a series of clues that may (or may not) lead to buried treasure. As he attempts to unravel the mystery, Aaron is sidetracked again…and again. Shadowed by his virtual “best friend” Homie, Aaron struggles with love, loss, dog bites, werewolf pills, community theater, wild horses, wildfires and the fact (deep breath) that actual reality can sometimes surprise you.

Sean McGinty’s strikingly profound and laugh-out-loud funny debut unearths a world that is eerily familiar, yet utterly original. Discover what it means to come to the end of fun.  (Summary and cover courtesy of goodreads.com)

Review:

This is one of those books that you end up really disliking Aaron at times, yet still want to see how things turn out.  His life seems to be one bad choice after another followed by not knowing how to say “no” to friends presenting bad situations.  I will definitely admit that this book was not what I was expecting it to be, yet I was still intrigued and went with the flow.

The context of FUN is never explained very well, yet it is interesting to see how it reflects how people do get sucked into social media.  There were funny, cringe-worthy, self-reflective and horrible moments, but all in all it ended up being a good read.  The book would have been more on the 3-3.5 star level for me, but I really liked how the ending turned out.   Aaron realized some tough love and how things actually work in the “real world”.

Warning: Contains some violence and sexual references.

Rating: 4 stars!

Who should read it? Fans of “Ready Player One” and self-discovery novels.

Dune (Dune Chronicles #1)

Dune

Summary:

Set in the far future amidst a sprawling feudal interstellar empire where planetary dynasties are controlled by noble houses that owe an allegiance to the imperial House Corrino, Dune tells the story of young Paul Atreides (the heir apparent to Duke Leto Atreides and heir of House Atreides) as he and his family accept control of the desert planet Arrakis, the only source of the 'spice' melange, the most important and valuable substance in the cosmos. The story explores the complex, multi-layered interactions of politics, religion, ecology, technology, and human emotion as the forces of the empire confront each other for control of Arrakis.

Published in 1965, it won the Hugo Award in 1966 and the inaugural Nebula Award for Best Novel. Dune is frequently cited as the world's best-selling science fiction novel. (Summary and cover courtesy of goodreads.com)

Review:

“Dune” is a book that starts out very slow and slowly builds into a culmination of events.  I really struggled to get through the first few chapters before getting a little more intrigued.  It seems like there is a lot in this book that is setting up for future sequels (or superfluous information) and at times I found that distracting.  That being said, once I was about halfway through I didn’t want to put the book down and was extremely interested to find out what would be happening next.  Paul is both lovable and a frustration at varying points making an imperfect protagonist that keeps things interesting.

One complaint is the aspect of being a messiah to the people.  Parts of that felt forced or borrowing a lot from existing cultures, but perhaps I’m reading too much into it.  It’s tough to put modern perspectives on a book that was originally published in 1965.  As such, I am extremely glad I’ve read the book as it’s considered by many to be “the best” of science fiction, but I won’t be in a rush to read the subsequent books in the series.  Reading the epilogue by his son at the end of the book made me appreciate the book a little more so I’d highly recommend including that in your read.

Warning: Contains repeated violence.

Rating: 4 stars!

Who should read it? Folks who want to know what all the fuss is about and read a more “classic” science fiction novel.

Want to read the whole series?

  • Dune Messiah (Dune Chronicles #2)
  • Children of Dune (Dune Chronicles #3)
  • God Emperor of Dune (Dune Chronicles #4)
  • Heretics of Dune (Dune Chronicles #5)
  • Chapterhouse: Dune (Dune Chronicles #6)
  • Hunters of Dune (Dune Chronicles #7)
  • Sandworms of Dune (Dune Chronicles #8)

River Marked (Mercy Thompson #6)

River Marked

Summary:

Coyote shifter Mercy Thompson knows that life with her mate, the Alpha werewolf Adam, will never be boring, but even their wedding doesn't go as planned. Nevertheless, a ten-day honeymoon camping on the banks of the Columbia River, alone, just the two of them, should make up for it. But the trip - and the pimped-out trailer they're using - is courtesy of the fae. And nothing from the fae comes without strings attached...

Being a different breed of shapeshifter - a walker - Mercy can see ghosts, but the spirit of her long-gone father has never visited her. Until now. An evil is stirring in the depths of the Columbia River - and innocent people are dying. As other walkers make their presence know to Mercy, she must reconnect with her heritage to exorcise the world of the legend known as the river devil... (Summary and cover courtesy of goodreads.com)

Review:

This book was a little unique in that we only are focused on Mercy and Adam.  I was absolutely cracking up at the antics in the beginning of the book involving the wedding, but absolutely fitting.  What’s great about this book is that we get to see a devoted view of what Adam and Mercy’s relationship is like day-to-day.  In the previous books we get somewhat of a peek, but it’s always very brief. 

I loved the incorporation of heritage throughout this book as well.  There are a lot of characters that are not quite what they seem and it creates a wonderful mysterious tension throughout it all.  And let me just say, I’m never looking at otters quite the same way again…

Warning: Contains repeated violence and sexual content.

Rating: 5 stars!

Who should read it? Fans of Mercy and Adam – you only really get the two of them in this installment!

Want to read the whole series?