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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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The Search for Perfection: Relativity, Cristin Bishara

Relativity

Relativity

Cristin Bishara

If Ruby Wright could have her way, her dad would never have met and married her stepmother Willow, her best friend George would be more than a friend, and her mom would still be alive. Ruby knows wishes can’t come true; some things just can’t be undone. Then she discovers a tree in the middle of an Ohio cornfield with a wormhole to nine alternative realities. 

Suddenly, Ruby can access completely different realities, each containing variations of her life—if things had gone differently at key moments. The windshield wiper missing her mother’s throat…her big brother surviving his ill-fated birth…her father never having met Willow. Her ideal world—one with everything and everyone she wants most—could be within reach. But is there such a thing as a perfect world? What is Ruby willing to give up to find out?

Perfection. It’s unattainable, wherever you go, whatever you do. And in Cristin Bishara’s Relativity, that truth becomes painfully real as Ruby travels through different parallel universes, on her own search for the perfect world. If there was one thing I took home from this book, it’s that perfection is impossible, no matter how much mankind craves it. But that’s not supposed to be discouraging.: Imperfections help make you a better person, and as hard as it is to imagine, I think it is what helps us through life.

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Beautiful But Nonsensical: Tumble & Fall, Alexandra Coutts

Tumble & Fall

Tumble & Fall

Alexandra Coutts

A novel about the end of days full of surprising beginnings 

The world is living in the shadow of oncoming disaster. An asteroid is set to strike the earth in just one week’s time; catastrophe is unavoidable. The question isn’t how to save the world—the question is, what to do with the time that’s left? Against this stark backdrop, three island teens wrestle with intertwining stories of love, friendship and family—all with the ultimate stakes at hand. 

Alexandra Coutts’s TUMBLE & FALL is a powerful story of courage, love, and hope at the end of the world. 

One of my most anticipated reads of the year, I was increasingly disappointed when the average rating for Tumble & Fall began dropping lower and lower and lower as its release date neared. Now I can admit that though Alexandra Coutts’ debut was a lyrical and beautiful novel, it was somewhat meaningless, and even now, I have no idea what the whole point of the book was.

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