Hugo Award

Book Review: This Is How You Lose the Time War

This Is How You Lose the Time War
Author: 
El-Mohtar, Amal
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

This time-travelling story of love and genocide centers on two rival agents battling to secure the best possible future for their warring factions. It opens with a blood-covered Red, the last woman standing on a battlefield heaped with corpses. She finds a letter that starts with “Burn Before Reading” from Blue, her rival whom she has spent lifetimes trying to thwart. So it starts with a taunt followed by a challenge scratched in a lava flow and a message woven into the DNA of a tree cut down by marauding armies. These spies never meet but these compromising letters – certain death if discovered by their superiors – build upon a mutual understanding that evolves into love. Who better to understand someone weary and confused by merciless, contradictory orders than their rival? Or is this an attempt to turn the other into a double agent? Or lay a deadly trap? This novella deftly avoids the confusion that spoils average time-travel yarns by making each of the chapters into a vignette, told from either Red or Blue’s perspective, until a satisfying, meaningful conclusion.
Awards: 2020 Nebula Award for Best Novella, 2020 Hugo Award for Best Novella

Reviewer's Name: 
Joe P.

Book Review: Ender's Game

Ender's Game
Author: 
Card, Orson Scott
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

Ender’s Game is a science-fiction book set in the future of Earth. Humans have battled with the Formics or “Buggers” three times before. Mazer Rackham was the only reason why the Humans won the first two wars, and he can no longer fight. In anticipation of the third war, and in search of the next Mazer Rackham, Humankind has been training their youth to battle by the use of realistic war games, which are sometimes in zero gravity. When Andrew “Ender” Wiggin joins the other boys in the Battle Room, he clearly exceeds them in battle tactics, and leads his team to victory. Ender eventually finds himself being trained by Mazer Rackham himself as the battle draws nearer. This book displayed excellent character development, along with a sensational plot. Ender’s Game was action packed from start to finish. This book is an easy five stars, despite the author’s use of profanity. I would recommend this book to anyone who wanted to read a quality Sci-Fi Novel.

Reviewer's Name: 
Zach M.

Book Review: The Murderbot Diaries #1: All Systems Red

The Murderbot Diaries #1: All Systems Red
Author: 
Wells, Martha
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

We all struggle to figure out who we are. It’s no different for a robot that’s managed to secretly override its governor unit and develop self-aware independence. The artificial construct, made up of regenerative organic and artificial parts, privately calls itself Murderbot out an emerging sense of guilt it tries to squash by watching hours of mindless TV. But even that distraction cannot keep a socially awkward, self-conscious entity from developing feelings about the humans it serves. That internal conflict is so realistic it is easy for the reader to forget it is an artificial construct narrating. Murderbot’s deadpan humor keeps the 2017 novella from bogging down and raises it well above a familiar action/corporate malfeasance plot. The novella is the first of a five-part series, all available through PPLD, with a full-length novel, Network Effect (May 2020) continuing Murderbot’s journey of self discovery and soap operas. A sixth series entry is scheduled for April 2021.

Honors: 2017 Nebula Award for Best Novella, 2018 ALA/YALSA Alex Award, 2018 Hugo Award for Best Novella, 2017 Philip K. Dick Award finalist.

Reviewer's Name: 
Joe P.

Book Review: Ringworld

Ringworld
Author: 
Niven, Larry
Rating: 
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review: 

It can be difficult to judge a book, especially one as critically acclaimed as Ringworld, with 50 years of scientific and societal progress between when it was written and today. On the one hand, there are many scientific concepts explored in this book that we almost take for granted in modern sci-fi. On the other hand, the stink of 1970s misogyny doesn’t age very well, and this book is a prime example. Even today, sci-fi authors are still trying to dig out from the sexist tropes that books like this perpetuated throughout the genre. It’s a complicated, uphill battle, but we’re trying to be better than this.

For 1970, I do have to admit that the science presented here is relatively revolutionary. Unfortunately, the descriptions were occasionally a bit dry and felt more like reading a textbook than a sci-fi adventure. I could appreciate how Niven described the indescribable scale of something as massive as the Ringworld. Additionally, the alien races were well-rounded and had complex physiologies and backstories that made the group dynamic entertaining to read. However, the only thing well-rounded about the women in this book were their bodies.

Aside from the considerable age difference between the two romantic leads being an acceptance of pedophilia, it’s clear that Niven only thought of women as objects. This is disappointing because the story could have been more interesting if the female characters had any agency other than being driven by pleasure or luck. I have to recognize that this book is still a snapshot of its temporal circumstances, but that doesn’t necessarily excuse it in today’s society. Acknowledging that it’s from the 1970s, modern works should be more aware of these flaws when using such a pivotal science fiction book as a base for today’s books.

Some great science with not-so-great misogyny, I give Ringworld 3.0 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: 
Benjamin W.

Book Review: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Author: 
Rowling, J.K.
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

This book trails Harry Potter, who mysteriously gets selected into the Triwizard Tournament played between three major wizarding schools, in which one player's name is drawn by the Goblet of Fire. This means that only 3 players can play.

But this contest gets weird when the Goblet of Fire selects Harry Potter's name. As per the rules, Harry has no escape route and he must compete in this vicious contest, including challenges like fighting dragons, saving hostages underwater, and finding a way out of a labyrinth.

This book is full of memorable moments and interest, like in one part, a Sphinx, which is a human head on a lion body, is placed in the maze as an obstacle. This Sphinx asks a riddle to Harry Potter, if he gets it right, Harry gets to continue with the contest, but if not, the Sphinx would attack.

With a lot of adventurous parts, this book is definitely a good read. So I'm going to go with 4/5 stars for Harry Potter & The Goblet of Fire.

Reviewer's Name: 
Gurman

Book Review: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Book Review: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Author: 
Rowling, J. K.
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

Harry Potter & The Prisoner of Azkaban is about Harry’s 3rd year at Hogwarts. Along with friends Ron and Hermione, Harry investigates the case of Sirius Black, an escaped prisoner from Azkaban, the wizard prison. Sirius Black is believed to be one of Voldemort's allies, and he is the only wizard ever to escape Azkaban, so he is definitely powerful. Harry Potter then overhears that Sirius Black wants to kill him.

This book is full of creeps and chills, like in one part, the train to Hogwarts is stopped because of terrible flying things that can suck out your soul. Because of these soul-suckers, Harry almost dies, but in the end, Harry learns a lot about himself, his parents, and friends (both of his, and his parents’).

But this book is still full of interest. In a memorable moment, Harry Potter flies on a Hippogriff, which is a hybrid between a horse and eagle. In another part, The Prisoner of Azkaban goes from fantasy to sci-fi, because of time travel, where Harry goes back in time to save himself.

With the adventurous and scary parts in perfect balance, this book is a good read, and personally, it is my favorite book in the whole series.

Reviewer's Name: 
Gurman S.

Book Reviews: Leviathan Wakes

Leviathan Wakes
Author: 
Corey, James S. A.
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

For years, my co-worker has been suggesting that I read the Expanse series of books. Before I finally got around to the audiobook for Leviathan Wakes, I took a slight shortcut and watched the television series on Amazon. This came in handy because I was able to pick up this book and immediately be able to visualize what was happening and who the characters were. Sure, the actors cast in the show are slightly different from their literary counterparts. Still, overall there was a lot in this book that I had already experienced with the television show.

I will applaud this book for being a hard science fiction story, but not shoving the calculations in the reader’s face. Sure, The Martian did an excellent job of explaining all the scientific challenges of interplanetary travel. However, Leviathan Wakes took this a step further and created a universe that’s still controlled by the same physical laws we encounter in the real world. Unless you know what you’re looking for, you’d never realize that the little ways to make life livable in outer space would manifest in the forms presented in this series. Basically—to quote the title of a Heinlein book—Gravity is a Harsh Mistress.

And while the television show had lots of different plotlines to follow through its four seasons, I do like how Leviathan Wakes focused on just two main characters and the discovery of the Protomolecule. Although—even though both characters came from different backgrounds—I would have expected their reactions to situations would have been more drastically different than they were. Still, even if both Miller and Holden felt like very similar characters, they were both written well enough that it was an entertaining ride, nonetheless.

A perfect blending of story and hard sci-fi, I give Leviathan Wakes 4.0 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: 
Benjamin W.

Book Review: Little Brother

Little Brother
Author: 
Doctorow, Cory
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

Little Brother is a book about what happens when in an attempt to keep citizens safe after a terror attack the government terrorizes it's own citizens. The government jails and torture teens in an effort to find terrorist. One of the teens they torture is a rebellious computer whiz and hacker name Marcus. Marcus is broken and humiliated while being detained and interrogated by home land security. When he is released he vows to get revenge.

Reviewer's Name: 
Rayn

Book Review: Boneshaker

Boneshaker
Author: 
Priest, Cherie
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

Boneshaker is the novel that kicks off Cherie Priest's "Clockwork Century" series - one of the most widely acclaimed book series in the Steampunk genre. Boneshaker explores an alternate history of the United States during the Civil War era. The plot centers around Briar Wilkes, the widow of the infamous Leviticus Blue - inventor of the titular boring machine that he was commissioned to create, in order to retrieve the vast veins of gold that are hiding under the thick ice of Alaska in the midst of the Klondike Gold Rush. During a devastating test run, the Boneshaker destroys the foundations of a good portion of Seattle, killing many, and releasing a dangerous gas that turns survivors into zombies. Leviticus disappears, and walls are erected around Seattle to contain the "blight" gas, and the "rotters". Briar does her best to survive and raise her son Zeke in the "Outskirts" of Seattle, suffering the prejudice shown to both of them, due to her husband's actions. Zeke is convinced that he can prove that his father was innocent, and that the destruction was purely unintentional, so he journeys beneath the wall, into Seattle to find the evidence he needs. Unlike Leviticus, Zeke's
grandfather (Maynard Wilkes) is revered as a folk hero, having lost his life in the exodus of Seattle, freeing inmates from the prison. Zeke feels this may help him if he runs into trouble within Seattle's walls. When Briar finds Zeke gone, and what his intentions are, she arms herself with Maynard's accoutrements and catches an air ship over the wall, to search for her son. Separately, Briar and Zeke find people who help to save them from being devoured by the "rotters", and attempt to aid them in their respective searches. Briar learns of the mysterious Dr. Minnericht who seems to run the
doomed city within the walls, and that many are convinced that he is in fact, Leviticus Blue (something she doesn't believe). When events draw Briar and Zeke both into Dr. Minnericht's stronghold, it seems the heart of the mystery
will be resolved with this fateful meeting.

Boneshaker is an epic foray into a dystopian alternate universe, and readers of various genres, are sure to find many wonders to be fascinated by in this version of Washington's famous "Emerald City".

In addition to physical book and audiobook formats, Boneshaker can also be downloaded and enjoyed at home, in either ebook or eaudiobook form.

Reviewer's Name: 
Chris W.

Book Review: Ender's Game

Ender's Game
Author: 
Card, Orson Scott
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

5 Stars(Though it’s not for everyone)

Ender's Game is a dystopian future revolving around a little boy named Ender. I like that the character is real, while everything around him is a mess. It shows him hurting others that try to hurt him. The details and unraveling suck you straight into the book. You definitely feel as though you are there. It’s like watching the ripples on a pond after you throw a rock into it.

Reviewer's Name: 
Ethan W.

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