Review of EXTRAORDINARY by Nancy Werlin

Extraordinary by Nancy Werlin

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A bargain between the faerie and human worlds has gone wrong, wreaking havoc among the faeries. Mallory and Ryland, a fey brother and sister, are dispatched by the faerie queen to the human world in a last-ditch effort to salvage the situation. Their mission: to masquerade as humans in order to manipulate Phoebe, a descendant of the original human bargain-maker, into fulfilling the the terms of the pact.

There are familiar paranormal elements here (faeries–yeah, OK), and familiar romance elements as well: [...]

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Review of DEVIANTS by Maureen McGowan

Deviants by Maureen McGowan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Dome is the last community of human survivors on an asteroid-devastated Earth, which is now the province of savage Shredders and lethal Dust. Or so say the privileged elite who run the Dome. But when orphaned, 16-year-old Glory–whose power to kill with a glance makes her one of the Deviants who are feared and hated by the Dome’s inhabitants–is forced to run for her life to protect her crippled brother, she discovers that the world, and the Dome, are nothing like she has been taught [...]

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Review of EMBASSYTOWN by China Mieville

Embassytown by China Miéville

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I won’t even attempt to summarize the complicated premise of EMBASSYTOWN. The novel is a bit slow to start, and the characters aren’t deeply drawn–especially the protagonist, who is more a narrative device than a real character (rather like the vestigial narrators in some 19th century Russian novels, who serve principally as camera eyes to reveal the doings of others). I also have some misgivings about the premise–for instance, if the Ariekei’s unique language doesn’t allow for abstraction, how could they ever [...]

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Review of SHIP BREAKER by Paolo Bacigalupi

Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A coming-of-age novel that’s a bit slow to start, but ultimately engrossing.

What stands out for me aren’t so much the characters–protagonists Nailer and Nita are complex and believable, but many of the supporting characters are sketchily drawn–or the plot, which has a familiar shape–shipwrecked rich girl rescued by gutter rat, flight from bad people wanting to use rich girl as pawn, a big fight, a hairsbreadth rescue–but the meticulously detailed, multi-layered post-climate change world in which the action takes place.

Bacigalupi presents a scenario [...]

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Review of WHEN THE SEA IS RISING RED by Cat Hellisen

When the Sea is Rising Red by Cat Hellisen

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A haunting YA fantasy by a debut author.

Seventeen-year-old Felicita, a sheltered aristocrat, flees the rigid traditions and stifling conventions of her caste, taking refuge in the slums and falling in with a rag-tag band of outcasts, grifters, and revolutionaries. Struggling to adjust to her new life, she plunges headlong into a dangerous infatuation, and is swept up in events she doesn’t understand. By the time she realizes the true nature of what she’s become part of, it’s too late to escape.

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Review of THE NIGHT CIRCUS by Erin Morgenstern

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Really 3.5 stars, but I rounded up because of the quality of the writing.

A circus of dreams, open only during the hours of darkness. An ancient duel between two powerful sorcerers, enacted by proxy through a succession of students who are never allowed to understand why they are competing, or for what. A love story as doomed as it is inevitable. Lovely writing, sumptuous imagery, ingenious and exotic magics. All the ingredients, it would seem, for a truly extraordinary book.

And yet, though this [...]

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Review of DEARLY, DEPARTED by Lia Habel

Dearly, Departed by Lia Habel

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Sexy teenage zombies? Yeah, I was skeptical too. But in Dearly, Departed Lia Habel just about made me believe it.

This is a fun adventure/romance with an intriguingly unusual take on the zombie theme. Yes, there’s a zombie plague, with hordes of ravening flesh-eaters–but some zombies wake up with their minds intact and are able to refrain from gobbling flesh. Of course they require a lot of medical and mechanical intervention by sympathetic living people to keep them from, well, rotting [...]

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