The Definition of Original: Don’t You Forget About Me, Kate Karyus Quinn

Don't You Forget About Me

Don’t You Forget About Me

Kate Karyus Quinn

Welcome to Gardnerville.

A place where no one gets sick. And no one ever dies.

Except…
There’s a price to pay for paradise. Every fourth year, the strange power that fuels the town exacts its payment by infecting teens with deadly urges. In a normal year in Gardnerville, teens might stop talking to their best friends. In a fourth year, they’d kill them.

Four years ago, Skylar’s sister, Piper, was locked away after leading sixteen of her classmates to a watery grave. Since then, Skylar has lived in a numb haze, struggling to forget her past and dull the pain of losing her sister. But the secrets and memories Piper left behind keep taunting Skylar—whispering that the only way to get her sister back is to stop Gardnerville’s murderous cycle once and for all.

You know what I’m going to call Kate Quinn from now on? The Queen of Queer. It’s a rightly earned title. Like her debut novel, Another Little Piece, Quinn returned with a brilliantly crafted tale that made little sense at the beginning, but then came together at the end and smacked me right in the face with answers for all the questions I ever had. And let me tell you, she did this all through an amazingly complex and original plot that just swept me off my feet. Too bad she wasn’t able to impress me throughout the story, though.

Continue reading

Advertisements

High-Stakes? Not Really: Twinmaker, Sean Williams

Twinmaker (Twinmaker, #1)

Twinmaker (Twinmaker #1)

Sean Williams

High-stakes action combines with issues of friendship and body image in this timely and thought-provoking exploration of the intersection of technology and identity.

You can be Improved….

In a near-future world in which technology can transport you anywhere instantly, can a coded note enable you to change your body—to become taller, stronger, more beautiful? Clair is pretty sure the offer is too good to be true. But her best friend, Libby, is determined to give it a try, longing for a new, improved version of herself.

What starts as Libby’s dream turns into Clair’s nightmare when Libby falls foul of a deadly trap. With the help of Jesse, the school freak, and a mysterious—but powerful—stranger called Q, Clair’s attempt to protect Libby leads her to an unimagined world of conspiracies and cover-ups. Soon her own life is at risk, and Clair is chased across the world in a desperate race against time.

Action and danger fuel Sean Williams’ tale of technology, identity, and the lengths to which one girl will go to save her best friend.

Twinmaker is the kind of book you really, really want to love, what with its original and intriguing science-fiction premise. It delivered an interesting enough story, for sure, but its downfall lay with the world building, and that’s what brought the book down for me.

Continue reading

Disturbingly Average: Parasite, Mira Grant

Parasite (Parasitology, #1)

Parasite (Parasitology #1)

Mira Grant

A decade in the future, humanity thrives in the absence of sickness and disease.

We owe our good health to a humble parasite – a genetically engineered tapeworm developed by the pioneering SymboGen Corporation. When implanted, the tapeworm protects us from illness, boosts our immune system – even secretes designer drugs. It’s been successful beyond the scientists’ wildest dreams. Now, years on, almost every human being has a SymboGen tapeworm living within them.

But these parasites are getting restless. They want their own lives…and will do anything to get them.

Without me, SymboGen would never have existed. There are probably people who would say that was a good thing, too. I have to admit, there are days when I think it would be a good thing. I might even be willing to give it all back if it meant I still had my friends. But you can’t go home again.
-FROM “KING OF THE WORMS,” AN INTERVIEW WITH DR. STEVEN BANKS, CO-FOUNDER OF SYMBOGEN. ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN ROLLING STONE, FEBRUARY 2027.

After reading so many positive reviews from trusted friends of mine, I have to say that I am quite disappointed with Parasite. (I can’t trust you guys ever again!) It has such an original and disturbing premise — tapeworms that can enhance our bodies? said tapeworms turning restless and wanting to live their own lives? If that doesn’t make you squirm in intrigue, then I don’t know what else will. Mira Grant did a great job with the scientific aspect, but in terms of storytelling, not so much.

Continue reading

Compact Reviews: Backward Glass / Scorched

Backward GlassBackward Glass

David Lomax

Where do I start? This book had so much going in it that oftentimes, it was more confusing than it was entertaining. Time travel is not an easy subject to write about, but I think it’s safe to say that David Lomax did a fairly decent job with the whole “backward glass” concept and the idea of kids from several different years grouping together to figure out the chilling myth of Prince Harming, as well as to save an unknown baby.

Continue reading

MG With A Kick: Wake Up Missing, Kate Messner

Wake Up Missing

Wake Up Missing

Kate Messner

Meet Quentin, a middle school football star from Chicago… 
Sarah, an Upstate New York girls’ hockey team stand-out… 
Ben, a horse lover from the Pacific Northwest…
And Cat, an artistic bird watcher from California. 

The four have nothing in common except for the head injuries that land them in an elite brain-science center in the Florida Everglades. It’s known as the best in the world, but as days pass, the kids begin to suspect that they are subjects in an experiment that goes far beyond treating concussions….and threatens their very identities. They’ll have to overcome their injuries – and their differences – to escape, or risk losing themselves forever.

For a middle-grade novel, Wake Up Missing packs quite a punch, with brains, genetics, a secret lab, and a sinister plot in this heavy science-fiction mystery novel. The younger narrators aren’t a hindrance to such an ambitious book in any way, as some might be worried about, but to me, the concept of the book was a little improbable, and that took away some of the impact I would’ve liked to have felt.

Continue reading

Confusing, Queer, Pointless: Conjured, Sarah Beth Durst

Conjured

Conjured

Sarah Beth Durst

Eve has a new home, a new face, and a new name—but no memories of her past. She’s been told that she’s in a witness protection program. That she escaped a dangerous magic-wielding serial killer who still hunts her. The only thing she knows for sure is that there is something horrifying in her memories the people hiding her want to access—and there is nothing they won’t say—or do—to her to get her to remember.

At night she dreams of a tattered carnival tent and buttons being sewn into her skin. But during the day, she shelves books at the local library, trying to not let anyone know that she can do things—things like change the color of her eyes or walk through walls. When she does use her strange powers, she blacks out and is drawn into terrifying visions, returning to find that days or weeks have passed—and she’s lost all short-term memories. Eve must find out who and what she really is before the killer finds her—but the truth may be more dangerous than anyone could have ever imagined.

“Don’t be afraid, Eve. Not of this. You can be afraid of spiders or snakes or airplane crashes or a zombie apocalypse… but don’t be afraid of yourself.”

Hold on, I’m still struggling to piece together what I just read. Having gone into this book expecting a gruesome paranormal-mystery, maybe something reminiscence of Imaginary Girls by Nova Ren Suma, or Another Little Piece by Kate Karyus Quinn. So you can imagine my shock when the story took a completely different direction from what I was expecting. But before you make up your minds that Conjured was a horrible read, let me tell you that I am not wholly disappointed with this. I am just not wholly satisfied, either.

Continue reading