Monday, 25 March 2013

iBoy - Kevin Brooks

Rating - 4 out 5 cupcakes
Cover Rating - 3 out of 5 Cupcakes
Synopsis

What can he do with his new powers — and what are they doing to him?

Before the attack, Tom Harvey was just an average teen. But a head-on collision with high technology has turned him into an actualized App. Fragments of a shattered iPhone are embedded in his brain. And they're having an extraordinary effect on his every thought.

Because now Tom knows, sees, and can do more than any normal boy ever could. But with his new powers comes a choice: To avenge Lucy, the girl he loves, will he hunt down the vicious gangsters who hurt her? Will he take the law into his own electric hands and exterminate them from the South London housing projects where, by fear and violence, they rule?

Not even his mental search engine can predict the shocking outcome of iBoy's actions.


Review
 
When I read the synopsis of this book I was hesitant in picking it up but not due to the sci-fi element, I am in fact a big fan of Science Fiction however having lived a lot of my life in London I assumed Tom would be a typical sixteen year old with an over inflated ego and superiority complex. I am glad to say that I was pleasantly surprised to find that I was quite wrong.

I have to say I really enjoyed exploring the potential benfits of having a computer inside the brain. The powers were written well and made me consider the true power of electricity in our lives however I was rather unconvinced with the electric shield. It felt as if it was written rather heistily to get a character out of trouble and served no other purposes.

A few pages into the book I realised that the book was going to be gritter than I had assumed, while it doesn't reach the same level of depravity as American Psycho, it contains frequent violence, drugs, gang culture and several mentions of rape.If you look past the obvious shroud of Tom's powers you realise that this story is not really about science fiction but rather an outlook into a typical if not rather terrible look into the infamous tower block of London. Having lived in London a long time I am aware of the reality that is hidden beneath the glitzy famous landmarks and tourists attraction.

This  book reflects the underlying need for a hero, someone who would swoop in and get you out of a mess whether that be protection from violence or simple money problems. Brooks also explored the loss of identity any masked man would face. Tom initially enjoys his power and who would not, I can't actually count the number of times I have wanted a computer in my brain however in replacing human instinct and morals with binary codes and circuits you end up lose apart of yourself, the part that makes you human, your emotions. This book also explores the short comings of the law especially in communities where fear and poverty rule the residents.

Wit didn't really teach me anything I didn't know I really enjoyed and even finished the book in one sitting. I give it 4 out of 5 Cupcakes 

p.s How awesome would it be to have an iPhone in your head. Seriously.






Thursday, 14 March 2013

The Alchemy of Forever [Incarnates #1] - Avery Williams



Rating - 2 out of 5 Cupcakes
Cover Rating - 4.5 out of 5 Cupcakes
Synopsis

Seraphina has been alive since the Middle Ages, when her boyfriend, Cyrus, managed to perfect a method of alchemy that lets them swap bodies with any human being. Sera ran away from Cyrus years ago, when she realized that what they were doing—taking the lives of innocent people—was wrong. Yet she doesn’t want to die, so she finds young people who are on the brink of death, and inhabits their bodies.

Sera has just landed in the body of a girl named Kailey who was about to die in a car accident. For the first time, Sera falls in love with the life of the person she’s inhabiting. Sera also falls for the boy next door, Noah. And soon it’s clear the feelings are returned. But she can never kiss Noah, because for her to touch lips with a human would mean the human’s death. And she has even more to worry about: Cyrus is chasing her. If she stays in one place for long, she puts herself—and the people she’s grown to care for—in great danger. Will Sera have to give up the one thing that’s eluded her for centuries: true love?
 
Review
I stumbled onto this book sometime last year and while I found the title interesting, I did not have the resolve to read it especially since the summery made it sound like some sort of love Vampire Diaries-esk love triangle. Last night however I had a brief change of heart and decided to read it after all.     
As Ideas go it was a good one, more original than the now popular Vampires, werewolves, angles, witches excreta that fills the YA genre today. In hindsight it should have occurred to me that an original idea makes not a good writer since like many books I have read in the past have turned this way but I would like to think of myself as an optimist and so I delved into it wholeheartedly. 

Now I should have seen the problem from the word go, the prologue was too brief, rushed and underdeveloped. The relationship between Sera and Cyrus seems nothing more than barely acquainted neighbours, there was simply no fire between them. Williams didn’t even do the stereotypical ‘’I will save you speech!’’ while I am not a fan of stereotypes, I have to say it would have made the whole thing better.

Looking at Sera throughout the book I realised that I didn’t like her.  First she is a spineless, I mean seriously how the hell does she let a man rule her life for more than four hundred years without much of resistance. Second she is actually quite stupid, her escape plan which is really supposed to be noble and self-sacrificial is half thought out and just about as stupid as a four hundred year old woman can possibly be. Third she is a teenage girl, hundreds of body changes and four hundred year had not changed the narrative of the woman, Williams wrote Sera like she was a sixteen year old which is fitting enough for the body she incidentally takes but wholly unrealistic. No matter what the body looks like an Incarnate should at least reflect the number of years that they have lived.

Nothing actually happens in this book, at least nothing more than the bare minimum to keep the plot moving at an excruciating pace. More than half the book is dedicated to Sera trying to infiltrate Kailey’s family and friends including the boy next door.

The moment Noah and Sera kissed was the moment I had to momentarily pull the breaks on this book and think about the logistics. Let me walk you through it, Sera is more than four hundred years old and while Noah’s age is not specified he is her class mate in which case he could not be more than a year older than Kailey so he is seventeen. I’m the only one who sees a problem with this picture, seriously? Cradle robbing is not cool, no matter who does the robbing.

The only thing I liked about this book other than the cover is Cyrus and he was mediocre at best so all in all I wasted my time and that is okay because I don’t really have anything better to do with it anyway but I have to give Sera this badge just for the sake of it.


Overall I give this book 2 out of 5 cupcakes.  


Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Night Rise[The Gatekeepers #3] - Anthony Horowitz



Rating  - 4 out of 5 Cupcakes
Cover Rating- 4 out of 5 Cupcakes
Synopsis 

The world is in great danger and only five kids can save it. But to do that, they must face off against some of the most powerful people in the world. Two of the five, Scott and Jamie, have always known they were different. Twins whose birth is shrouded in mystery, they’ve always been able to communicate with each other telepathically. Their supernatural talent has landed them no farther than a gig in a Z-grade sideshow in Reno, Nevada...until they garner the attention of a very scary clientele. Soon their lives are in jeopardy, with one of them trapped and one of them on the run.

Review
Having delved through half of American Psycho I decided a new reading material in order to keep sane and Horowitz’s 3rd installment of the Power of Five was indeed very enjoyable even if it is not quite restful.

This book introduces the Tyler boys, Scott and Jamie. Two out of the chosen five, the boys are endowed with psychic powers. At first presented as just telepathy between the twins it soon becomes more apparent that these boys have more than just parlour tricks up their sleeves.

Unfortunately for the boys they are attacked and Scott kidnapped by unknown assailants. This book is narrated in Jamie’s perspective as he tries to track down his brother even while he is being chased by the police for murders he did not commit. Lucky of Jamie he received an unexpected help from a strange woman by the name of Angela who is trying to track down her missing son. The book is fast paced and exhilarating with bursts of magic and fantasy weaved into a fantastic story.

I have always liked Horowitz’s world creation and this time he had really outdone himself by weaving Jamie through not just modern day Reno, Nevada  and the familiar dream world in which the five often mean but also an unfamiliar trip to the past, specifically speaking ten thousand years in the past. While I liked the rather odd and quirky seen change I have to say that I found the abrupt shift in location rather disorientating but probably no more than Jamie did. This scene change serves as more than just space filler, we finally get to meet the last person in the chosen five and it is a GIRL. From the brief meeting of the past Scarlett I am hoping that modern day Scarlett would be just as badass as the past Scar.

Overall I have to say I enjoyed this book, probably more than I did the previous installment. I give it 4 out of 5 cupcakes.


Monday, 11 March 2013

Rendezvous With Rama [Rama #1] - Arthur C. Clarke


Rating - 4 out of 5 Cupcakes
Cover Rating - 2.5 out of 5 Cupcakes
Synopsis
The citizens of the solar system send a ship to investigate before the enigmatic craft, called Rama, disappears. The astronauts given the task of exploring the hollow cylindrical ship are able to decipher some, but definitely not all, of the extraterrestrial vehicle's puzzles. From the ubiquitous trilateral symmetry of its structures to its cylindrical sea and machine-island, Rama's secrets are strange evidence of an advanced civilization. But who, and where, are the Ramans, and what do they want with humans? Perhaps the answer lies with the busily working biots, or the sealed-off buildings, or the inaccessible "southern" half of the enormous cylinder. Rama's unsolved mysteries are tantalizing indeed.     
Review
I was recommended this a friend so I delved into it without much of a first impression. Soon enough however it occurred to me that this was not like any science fiction book I have ever read. Most of the passages of this book are dedicated to describing the most amazing and indeed the first alien spaceship humanity had every encountered, Rama.

While reading this book I realise that there is a real reason why Clarke was considered one of the big three of science fiction writing. This book unlike its more modern counterparts is more concerned with world building rather than characterisation and heroism of its protagonists. The book dedicates chapter after chapter to exploring the mind-bending structure of Rama with brief interludes to explore the emotions of the exploring crew and the politics involved in dealing with a possible alien existence.
Clark did an amazing job in creating Rama. The world of Rama while amazingly detailed was hard to comprehend, the planes of which the unseen Raman’s built defied the basic rule that governed most humans today, Gravity. Clarke defies all expectation in creating a world that is as vivid as it is incomprehensible however the building of the world was eased by the sheer amount of real science supporting this book which makes everything all the more real.

There are no real heroes or enemies in this book or at least in the conventional way. The biomechanical creatures that appear in this book is essentially harmless and the Raman’s who build this amazing world are never seen and the only obviously danger other than falling is the nuclear missile launched by humanity itself which as it happened could be defeated by a simple wire cutter.

I didn’t think I would enjoy a book where nothing really happens but enjoy it I did. I give it 4 out of 5 cupcakes.




While on the subject of science fiction I would like to wish Happy Birthday to the late Douglas Adams, he was an amazing writer who was taken before his time.

This image makes me simultaneously happy and sad