All Our Wrong Todays by Elan Mastai

blog“There’s no such thing as the life you’re supposed to have.” 

What if all the visions of the future that were imagined as far back as the 1950’s, were in fact incredibly accurate? Well, that is the version of 2016 that Tom knows. A reality where seemingly the wildest of dreams for the future have been realized.

“In Tom Barren’s 2016, humanity thrives in a techno-utopian paradise of flying cars, moving sidewalks, and moon bases, where avocados never go bad and punk rock never existed . . . because it wasn’t necessary.”

When Tom makes an impulsive and reckless decision, he steers the course of history in a radically different direction, and he himself ends up in the 2016 world that is familiar to us. The lack of progress and achievement is shocking to him and the consequences of his actions weigh heavily on his shoulders. However, this new timeline also has a version of his life that may be a considerable improvement. So, should he try to fix his mistake and restore the reality he erased, or should he stay and live this new version of his life? But not everything is as simple as it seems, and Tom’s search for answers leads him on a journey that may have yet more unforeseen consequences.

All Our Wrong Todays is a highly enjoyable science-fiction novel that is humorous and thought-provoking. Told through a first-person perspective, it takes us through Tom’s recounting of events before and after he, you know, altered reality. Tom is certainly no hero, in fact, he is quite ordinary and very much flawed. His voice is endearing, self-deprecating, and at times provides one-liners that, to me, are laugh out loud funny (no easy feat when it comes to books). Particularly interesting is how Tom develops as a character, especially when faced with his alternate self. While at times I did find descriptions to be a little to descriptive with regards to the science and mechanics of it all, and certain passages a tad bit long-winded, I could’t help but enjoy this wonderful and creative story. There is action, intrigue, compelling characters, and a surprising amount of depth. If this is a genre you like to reach for, then All Our Wrong Todays is definitely worth a read.

*E-copy provided by NetGalley for an unbiased review. Publication date: February 7, 2017.

Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

IMG_2376“No one tells you it’s all about to change, to be taken away. There’s no proximity alert, no indication that you’re standing on the precipice. And maybe that’s what makes tragedy so tragic. Not just what happens, but how it happens: a sucker punch that comes at you out of nowhere, when you’re least expecting. No time to flinch or brace.”

Jason Dessen is abducted from the life he knows. After an attack, he wakes up to a world that is not his own, where the facts of this newfound reality are very different from what he had come to know. He is not married to the woman he once called his wife, his son was never born, and instead of a job as a college professor he is instead a celebrated physicist. It is the life he had sometimes wondered about, the one in which he had made a different choice, where career had come before family. Jason struggles to come to terms with this new reality, while trying to figure out what is happening and how he can possibly find his way back home.

Dark Matter is an intriguing science-fiction thriller that explores some interesting concepts, any of which I mention would be hovering around spoiler territory so I will proceed with caution. The story is suspenseful from the start as we are introduced to Jason, his family, and his life, along with his thoughts and feelings on the road not taken. It is very action based and at times has the feel of an action movie screenplay. While it certainly provides a thrilling ride, the constant action does take over the novel to the point where the characters, apart from Jason, feel very one-dimensional. There is an obvious message the author is trying to convey and by the end of the novel it comes across as rather heavy-handed. However, if you are looking for an action-packed thriller based around interesting scientific theory, Dark Matter is a great option.

*ARC provided by NetGalley. Publication date: July 26, 2016.

Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel

IMG_1759“There I was, this tiny little thing at the bottom of the hole, lying on my back in the palm of a giant metal hand.”

Little Rose is riding her new bicycle when she falls into a large square hole. The hole itself is strange, with complex carvings that emit a green glow, however the strangest thing about it is viewed by the firemen who come to Rose’s rescue.  What they see is a young girl lying in a giant metal hand. Almost two decades later, there are no answers to explain this discovery and one of the people at the center of the current investigation is Rose herself who has gone on to become a physicist and to lead the secret team that is uncovering the mystery and putting the puzzle pieces together.  Whatever the answers are, it is obvious that the team is on the verge of something historic with unknown repercussions.

Told through mostly an interview format, Sleeping Giants is a page-turning novel that looks at our place in not only our world but the universe, and the meaning behind a discovery that has the potential to be used for peace and destruction.  Initially I was unsure how the interview format would work throughout an entire novel, however I found it was done very well and the story had my full attention from the start. The author does an excellent job of using a no-name, anonymous figure to administer the questions and take us through the timeline of events, while also being an active participant in what is happening.  While the format works, I would have liked more log entries from individual characters, along with newspaper clips showing the outside view and take on certain events that occur throughout.

I would recommend Sleeping Giants to fans of science-fiction and feel it is best enjoyed by going into it with limited preconceptions. It is a story that looks at the big picture and provides an excellent foundation for what is sure to be an intriguing series. Oh that ending!

Lexicon by Max Barry

BLOG“People resist a census, but give them a profile page and they’ll spend all day telling you who they are.”

In looking for a good science-fiction read, I came across Lexicon by Max Barry.  With excellent reviews and even comparisons to V. E. Schwab’s Vicious, it’s safe to assume that it is one good book, right?  In this case, absolutely.

In this world, there exists a school where select students are taught persuasion, using words and language to manipulate and control others.  The best of the best graduate to belong to a secret organization, with each person being classified as a “poet” and given a new name, one of a famous dead poet.  The book goes back and forth between two storylines.  One follows a homeless young girl named Emily Ruff, who does card tricks on the streets of San Francisco.  She is discovered by a recruiter, and after undergoing a series of exams, she is admitted to the exclusive school.  The other storyline follows a man named Will who is abducted from an airport and is being pursued by very powerful people. As the two stories progress they begin to merge and the pieces of the puzzle start to fall into place.

Action packed form the beginning, Lexicon is an intriguing, fun, page-turning read that I couldn’t put down.  I was completely drawn into the story and enjoyed the back and forth between the two narratives, which are equally engaging.  When the significance of the two storylines slowly begins to reveal itself, I was completely absorbed and couldn’t wait to see where it would go next and what else would be revealed. Towards the end of the book however, it did slow down for me with certain parts being a little confusing, where I was unsure about where the events fell into the grand scheme of things.  The book as a whole is really well structured and written, and I found the premise of using words and language as a weapon to be thought-provoking and compelling.  Overall, it is a highly enjoyable book and I would recommend it if you’re looking for an exciting, fast-paced read.

The Martian by Andy Weir

BLOG“I’m stranded on Mars. I have no way to communicate with Hermes or Earth. Everyone thinks I’m dead. I’m in a Hab designed to last 31 days.

If the Oxygenator breaks down, I’ll suffocate. If the Water Reclaimer breaks down, I’ll die of thirst. If the Hab breaches, I’ll just kind of explode. If none of those things happen, I’ll eventually run out of food and starve to death.

So yeah. I’m fucked.”

Astronaut Mark Watney was part of a mission to Mars that had to be cut short due to an unexpected and strong dust storm.  During the crew’s evacuation, Mark is hit by flying debris and separated from his crew.  Believing that he is dead, the crew is forced to evacuate without him, which leaves Mark Watney as the sole occupant of Mars and relying on his knowledge and skills to keep himself alive.

The Martian is a fun read.  It is always tricky when starting a book that has already received such great reviews and is so highly recommended. Fortunately, in my opinion, The Martian really does live up to the hype.  It is part science-fiction and part comedy resulting in a very interesting and funny book.  I enjoyed Mark’s personality and sarcasm, which was the main source of humour throughout. The scientific portions are greatly detailed and obviously very well researched.  At times it did feel a little too detailed, and the parts with the calculations and science are a bit dry.  However, the dialogue, humour and overall intrigue do make up for it.  A fun and worthy read.

Favourite quote: “He’s stuck out there. He thinks he’s totally alone and that we all gave up on him. What kind of effect does that have on a man’s psychology?” He turned back to Venkat. “I wonder what he’s thinking right now.” 

How come Aquaman can control whales? They’re mammals! Makes no sense.”