A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers

BLOG“The planet was beautiful. The planet was horrible. The planet was full of people, and they were beautiful and horrible too.”

*Because this novel is a sequel, this review may contain slight spoilers for The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet.

A Closed and Common Orbit is a stand-alone sequel to one of my favourite science-fiction books, The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet. In the original novel, we were introduced to a crew aboard an intergalactic ship called the Wayfarer, and followed their journey to a small, angry planet. Here, we follow the character of Lovelace, who served as an artificial intelligence system for the Wayfarer and is on her own path following the events of the first novel. She finds herself in a new body and with no memory of prior events after a full system shut-down, and is slowly figuring out the world and her place within it. Alongside her is Pepper, an engineer with a difficult and painful past, who is determined to help Lovelace.

The novel takes turns, chapter by chapter, following Lovelace’s current journey and telling a story from the past. There is no grand plot or action, instead the focus is on the characters and their lives. While The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet felt more expansive as we got to know different planets and beings, A Closed and Common Orbit feels more contained. I love reading character-based stories so I was really at home with this one. It took me a few chapters to get into the rhythm of the novel with the switch in story from chapter to chapter, but once I got into the groove I felt connected to the characters and their narrative. The two stories compliment one another well. As with her previous novel, Becky Chambers does an exceptional job of bringing fascinating worlds to life and giving depth and emotion to characters that makes everything feel so very real. By the time I finished the last page, I have to confess I was a little teary-eyed. Continue reading “A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers”

Only Human by Sylvain Neuvel

Processed with VSCO with hb1 preset

“I hate this world. People are small. They’re ignorant, and they’re happy to stay that way. They make an effort to. They’ll spend time and energy finding ways not to learn things just to feel comfortable with their beliefs.”

The third novel in the Themis Files trilogy, Only Human picks up ten years after the events of Waking Gods, and brings the series to a conclusion. In the first novel, Sleeping Giants we learned of Rose discovering a giant metal hand as a child, which over the years led to more discoveries of metal parts that eventually resulted in the assembly of a giant robot. As an adult, Dr. Rose Franklin was a key figure in bringing the robot to life, and along with linguist, Vincent Couture, pilot, Kara Resnik, and an unnamed, mysterious interviewer, she helped protect Earth from an alien invasion in Waking Gods.  Now, after ten years on an alien planet, she returns to a home in chaos. While attempting to make sense of what has occurred, she must also figure out a way forward.  Continue reading “Only Human by Sylvain Neuvel”

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Processed with VSCO with hb1 preset

“Everyone my age remembers where they were and what they were doing when they first heard about the contest.”

Ready Player One has been a very popular science-fiction book for a few years now, and one I have wanted to read simply because of all the hype surrounding it. Now that the movie version is being released I had to give it a read before seeing it on the big screen.

It is set in the year 2044, at a point where civilization has greatly deteriorated and the majority of people spend their time plugged into a virtual reality system called the OASIS. With many individuals and families living in poverty, the OASIS provides an escape and an opportunity to create a vastly different reality. When one of the original creators of the OASIS dies, he leaves behind a challenge in the form of a contest, with the winner receiving his vast fortune. A high school senior, Wade Watts, has dedicated his time to studying everything there is to know about the reclusive OASIS creator and consuming all his favourite games, movies, music, and tv shows, all of which are very 1980’s themed. The race truly begins when Wade does the seemingly impossible and solves the first clue. Soon, he is not only focused on the contest but also survival as there is an organization that will do anything to win the prize and take control of the OASIS. Continue reading “Ready Player One by Ernest Cline”

Nyxia by Scott Reintgen

BLOG“But they don’t tell you the pain comes with you. They don’t tell you that hurt travels at light-speed too.”

Emmett is among a group of young people recruited for a space mission by the mysterious Babel Corporation. The reason behind his recruitment is unknown to him, but the one thing he knows for sure is that it is an offer he cannot refuse. The dollar amount offered along with added benefits would change not only his life but the lives of his family and those he treasures most. With this in mind he sets out into the unknown, and soon discovers that it is not as easy as signing on the dotted line. Instead he will have to compete against the other recruits and fight for his spot. Those successful in securing a spot will travel to a hidden planet, which is only known to Babel, and mine a substance called Nyxia. But soon it becomes apparent that there is more happening than they have been led to believe.

“Wanting something and actually making it happen are two different things.”

This is the first book in a new YA science-fiction trilogy (The Nyxia Triad). The plot is interesting, the pacing is on point, and I couldn’t help but be completely drawn into the story. There is plenty of action and competition as the training of the young recruits progresses and interesting dynamics arise. The only thing that really fell short for me was the tiny bit of romance involved, which felt awkward and didn’t really click for me. I would have liked to know more about the hidden planet and its inhabitants, but that is sure to follow in the next release. Nyxia is an entertaining read and a great setup for what looks to be a very compelling series. I look forward to the next part of the adventure.

Waking Gods by Sylvain Neuvel

IMG_4487“I came to realize that good and evil were out of my reach, that time was the only thing I had any control over. I could buy time, create intervals. I could not truly make the world a better place, but I could make part of it a better place for a short while.”

Waking Gods is the second novel in the Themis Files series, and a follow-up to the popular, Sleeping Giants. Rose Franklin discovered a giant metal hand when she was a child, and dedicated her scientific career to uncovering the mystery of what she found that day. With answers, come even more questions. Now, the world is under a massive invasion and the question of why it is happening must be solved in order to discover a solution.

Sleeping Giants was a big surprise for me, and a novel I thoroughly enjoyed. However, I wasn’t sure what to expect from its follow-up, or how it could maintain the qualities that made Sleeping Giants such a page-turning read. The great thing is that it absolutely does. Waking Gods has all the intrigue, profound questions, and sarcastic humour of its predecessor that had me completely swept up in the story and eager to see what would come next. The characters we came to know are back, and we get to see what their lives are like now, as a new threat takes hold. It is told in the same format, through interviews and journal entries, which is done very well and moves the story forward at a great pace. Waking Gods is a truly great sequel and a novel that does not disappoint.