Book Review – ‘Immunity’ (#2 Contagion) by Erin Bowman

Bacteria fuelled telepathic zombies (sort of).

Immunity (#2 Contagion) Book Review Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleGenre: Y/A, Science Fiction, Horror.

No. of pages: 434

From Goodreads:

They thought their nightmare was over, but Thea, Coen, and Nova’s rescue was only the beginning. After being imprisoned on a ship they thought was their ticket to safety, it’s clear that the threat they left behind isn’t as distant as they’d hoped—and this time the entire galaxy is at risk.

Now that threat is about to be unleashed as an act of political warfare. To prevent an interstellar catastrophe, the survivors must harness the evil they faced on the planet Achlys and learn to wield the only weapon they have left: themselves.

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This was a great conclusion to the series. Plenty of action. Copious twists and turns. All the sci-fi things that I love!

We follow the three escapees from Achlys: Thea, Coen and Nova, and introduce Amber as well as Naree – all taking pivotal roles in not only a political war, but one against the spread of the deadly bacteria.

We get the omnipresent perspective and insights into all the characters, and I like how the sections of the novel were broken up into locations.

The only thing that didn’t quite ring true for me was the pacing. Thea and Coen spent half the novel locked up in a cell, so it sapped all the action and pacing out of the novel.

There is slightly more romance and some of it tied into the Psychrobater achli with bonding pairs, but that felt a little forced rather than borne from a biological imperative, so it felt a little corny – as too did the telepathy. But the latter was a major plot point for the story so I can forgive these interesting side effects of the contagion.

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While ‘Immunity’ is heavily plot driven, we get some character development as well. With everything the teens have to overcome and sacrifice, they grow up real fast and start taking into account the safety of planets above their own. Also having a spectrum of cultural backgrounds and sexuality as something every day and matter of fact was refreshing.

I absolutely loved Erin Bowman’s writing style and am definitely picking up her taken trilogy next. Hopeful I have discovered my next auto-but sci-fi author.

I can’t say I predicted this series all too well, I was always surprised by the plot twists and loved how Erin Bowman can craft a reveal.

Totally recommend this to sci-fi geeks like me everywhere, but the pacing wasn’t as good as the debut.

Overall feeling: Oh My SpaceOpera!

Immunity (#2 Contagion) Book Review Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle

Wreck Book Review Pic 04 by Casey Carlisle

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© Casey Carlisle 2019. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Book Review – ‘Contagion’ (#1 Contagion) by Erin Bowman

A brilliant surprise of a read!

Contagion (#1 Contagion) Book Review Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleGenre: Y/A, Science Fiction, Horror

No. of pages: 432

From Goodreads:

It got in us.

After receiving an urgent SOS from a work detail on a distant planet, a skeleton crew is dispatched to perform a standard search-and-rescue mission.

Most are dead.

But when the crew arrives, they find an abandoned site, littered with rotten food, discarded weapons…and dead bodies.

Don’t set foot here again.

As they try to piece together who—or what—could have decimated an entire operation, they discover that some things are best left buried—and some monsters are only too ready to awaken.

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I picked this up one evening intending to read a few chapters and get a feel for ‘Contagion.’ Skip to 3am and I was halfway through. I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. It was a little bit ‘Illuminae’ and a little bit ‘Alien.’ I was hooked from start to finish.

The only point that played against ‘Contagion’ for me is a tiny one. We get introduced to a lot of cast members in the debut chapters and it took a lot of concentration to keep it all straight. I nearly sketched up a diagram… but as the narrative began to focus on a small handful as the story progressed my enrapture increased exponentially. This is a real thrill ride.

We get many different perspectives in the novel, some only lasting for a paragraph or two. Normally I would find this jarring, but it drove the story forward, each new member bringing something unique to the storyline, or revealing a plot point. The main characters we end following the most, however are intern scientist Thea (to a Dr. Tarlow – who is also important to this story), Black Quarry survivor Coen, student pilot Nova, and young ambitious captain Dylan. They all have their secrets and all have an individual drive to be where they are. ‘Contagion’ reads a lot like a mystery thriller as each of their back stories comes to light. I loved Erin Bowman’s writing style, it totally captivated my attention from start to finish. The cast all have their own arcs and have changed by the conclusion of the novel. Bowman did not miss a beat. She has made me an instant fan from this book alone.

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Be warned – ‘Contagion’ ends on a cliff hanger. You might want to pick up the sequel ‘Immunity’ straight away… if you’re one that does not have a lot of patience.

There were many plot twist revealed in ‘Contagion.’ Many I did not see coming, and I loved the surprise! I had a few predictions, but none of what I thought came about (well one sort of did, but that’s another story.)

This novel plays with themes of trust, fear and paranoia, the science of how epidemics come about, isolation, zombies (of sorts), and greedy corporations.

An excellent read that I am giving the highest recommendation.

Overall feeling: Holy fuzzknuckle what a ride!

Contagion (#1 Contagion) Book Review Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle

Contagion (#1 Contagion) Book Review Pic 04 by Casey Carlisle

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© Casey Carlisle 2019. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Book Review – ‘Demon in Sight’ (#6 Translucent) by Dan Rix

 The saga of Leona and her discovery of dark matter and alien beings draws to an epic climax.

Demon in Sight (#6 Translucent) Book Review Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleGenre: Y/A, Science Fiction

No. of pages: 337

From Goodreads:

It’s like somebody hit the pause button for the entire planet.

Earth’s streets are jammed with motionless cars, their still-warm occupants slumped over the steering wheels, bodies paused mid-breath. They have no pulse.

The sun has winked out, plunging the globe into permanent darkness. Fire no longer burns. Electronics sputter and die, inexplicably drained of charge. The whole world, and all seven billion inhabitants, are in suspended animation.

But three people are awake. 

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Demon in Sight’ was a well anticipated read. Having to wait over a year for it to be released in paperback after the e-book publication date, and having enjoyed the previous five novels in the series, there were a lot of expectations wrapped up in this finale. It stayed true to the tone and writing style we’ve come to expect from Dan Rix and the protagonist, Leona.

I had been hoping for a little more seriousness and maturity from Leona herself. But she still had her moments of idiocy and stubbornness. Personally it was a little infuriating, but she has been this way all along, so why did I expect some miraculous transformation I don’t know. Characters aside, the plot itself is pretty amazing Rix has a way of letting things go wrong for his protagonists and there is a very organic feel to how they react and find solutions to overcome roadblocks.

Demon in Sight’ is another quick engaging read. There is plenty of mind-bending action and science fiction theory to warp your mind. I love his concepts. I will say there was a something about the writing style of this finale that felt a little flat: maybe it was my feelings at Leona slipping back into her behavioural patterns from earlier in the series, that immaturity; or the sudden soppiness between her and love interest Emory. The angst was gone. Something just wasn’t grabbing me as much as before. It feels all very ‘teen drama.’

That aside, the action and adventure aspect to this series, and indeed this finale is cool beyond measure. I was enthralled by those climactic scenes and this is definitely the novels stand out feature. The tension and challenges Rix weaves into the narrative is what I will keep coming back for.

MOUNT ST HELENS

Leona definitely has a unique style of facing challenges – which I found to be an admirable trait, but that remaining thread of jealousy and reactionary impulses held me back from truly loving her. Emory morphed in this final book to become a true, if not, somewhat overly sappy romantic lead. I felt like he needed to be in more of the action, show more physical prowess, and challenge Leona for control a bit more. The best friend, Megan, took a back seat for most of this novel. I could usually count on her for some hilarious one liners, or leading Leona astray, but there was very little Megan for those moments to break the tension. Fellow cast mates, Sarah and Natasha instead have their time to shine. Providing maturity and level-headedness for the team they helped form in saving the world. I really appreciated having them so prominent in ‘Demon in Sight’ and found a small amount of disappointment at the series ending and not having to get to spend more time with them.

The Translucent series is definitely bang on the money for a YA science fiction read – skewed more for a younger market in tone, but definitely interspersed with some adult content. I’d either like to have seen more mature protagonists, or have the adult content removed to give this series a better chance at being marketed to the best demographic. Rix is certainly a fantastic writer, and I enjoy his novels, but there needs to be just one level up on the editing/publishing end of his process. I’ve found an occasional spelling or grammatical error and some issue with the formatting or presentation of the physical book. ‘Demon in Sight’ was superior in this aspect of the series. But I feel with this small attention to detail, it will give him an even more professional edge.

I’m certainly eyeing off another series to jump into next, and with Rix being such a prolific author there is definitely plenty to choose from.

Overall feeling: Bittersweet goodbye

Demon in Sight (#6 Translucent) Book Review Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle

Demon in Sight (#6 Translucent) Book Review Pic 04 by Casey Carlisle

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© Casey Carlisle 2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Book Review – ‘Castor’ by Shaun Young

An excellent premise, action packed, but lacked a little something.

Castor Book Review Pic 01 by Casey Carlisle.jpgGenre: Y/A, Contemporary, Romance, LGBT

No. of pages: 230

From Goodreads:

James Fisher’s memories of Earth are distant, replaced by the harsh realities of life on the planet Castor. As a “Half-Adapt,” James is one of many who were biologically engineered to survive conditions on Castor—and to labor for the benefit of the ruling class. Indentured to servitude, James has no way to defy or escape the severe caste system… until he meets Vidal Centa, his master’s nephew. The draw they feel toward each other is instant, powerful, and maybe even enough to move beyond the unyielding regulations of their society.


But not everyone blindly accepts the absolute power of the oligarchy. The Independence Society fights for freedom and equality, and since James shares in their ideals, he joins their ranks. Soon he’s faced with an impossible decision: continue the fight against the oppressors or choose the love of the young man who embodies everything the Society loathes. With a looming conflict threatening to tear the planet apart, James fears he cannot continue to fight if he wants to keep his relationship with Vidal.

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The concept of ‘Castor’ stood out to me most of all – colonising a new planet, refugees terraforming a poisonous atmosphere; and a protagonist coming to grips with his past, a revolution, and his attraction to another man. It had all the elements to make ‘Castor’ a momentous read. But sadly it fell short of a few of these marks.

I really enjoyed the characterisation of the protagonist James, though found the backward politics of Castor to be counter-intuitive for an evolved society. But it worked in giving a population of mostly blue collar men, adapted or half adapted to the toxic atmosphere, where it was all male bravado and hard yakka. It also helped to establish a class system on the planet. So the world building was heavily supported, intricate and logical. I do think it was missing all those elements of science fiction though. Bits of technology, a more prominent role of the gene tampering that was going on, the terraform process, and colonising of the planet. It was there, but only in a small dose. This story was more focused on James and the revolution against the dominate powers in charge.

Castor Book Review Pic 02 by Casey CarlisleSo while I applaud the structure and tone of the novel, the writing style felt a bit dry. There didn’t feel like there was enough angst between James and his love interest Vidal. There romantic interaction were few and brief on the discussion of emotion. I felt a little cheated out of the romance part of this story. Especially given the odds these two were facing – so much potential tension wasted. The writing style was all very masculine – brief, to the point, and full of action.

A lot of action. Things getting blown up, chase scenes, murders, subterfuge. The mechanics of this part of the story line were brilliant, and in my opinion, the saving grace of ‘Castor.’ The cast were believable and felt realistic. Castor is a hard place to live. I think a more emotional aspect of James’ building relationship would have balanced out all of the difficulty the pair of boys was facing.

So too with the description of the landscape – while I could imagine it fairly well, I don’t think Young spent enough time painting a picture of the environment. His writing style would be perfect of a terrestrial modern day thriller or adventure story, but in science fiction, you need to spend a bit more time world building – because everything is new and unfamiliar to the reader. Especially in an off-planet environment.

I liked James as a protagonist. He didn’t fall into the usual tropes. He was moralistic without being a rebel leader. Strong and intelligent. But there was a sense of vulnerability that held him back – let him take the knocks that were dealt out. His faults humanised him.

These traits were similar in Vidal. Though I felt he needed more personality, the two of these boys were really just trying to survive. They weren’t there for a cause. They just wanted to find a safe place to live and be together. That’s the story I wanted to resonate with a stronger note in ‘Castor.’

I have to applaud the concept of this novel. It felt unique. It wasn’t contrived or over written, and you definitely get a sense of a great future to come for this writer. ‘Castor’ is his first published novel, and I can only imagine what he can produce with more experience under his belt. I’ll definitely be keeping an eye on Young.

I would not recommend this for sci-fi buffs, there was an element of something missing, so too if you enjoy reading M/M romance. It has moments of both, but either not fully realised. But I do recommend this for its overall concept and execution. If you go into it realising this is a young author’s first swing at the genre, than you will be able to marvel at his strengths and forgive the weaknesses.

A shorter novel that took me a day to read with enticing cover art. The editing is on point, no grammatical or spelling errors. The font and formatting give an ease to the story. It never felt a chore to read. Harmony Ink are delivering some great products and I’m eager to see what this writer and publisher collaborate on next.

Overall feeling: Adventurous and action-packed, but slightly apathetic

Castor Book Review Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle

Castor Book Review Pic 04 by Casey Carlisle

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© Casey Carlisle 2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Book Review – ‘Black Sun’ by Dan Rix

A plot line that zigs and zags…

black-sun-book-review-pic-01-by-casey-carlisleGenre: Y/A, Science Fiction

No. of pages: 304

From Goodreads:

Orbiting three hundred miles above an alien planet, Space Shuttle Endeavour desperately searches for signs of life following the mass abduction of all humanity. Its crew: an Air Force colonel, an astronaut, and two teenagers.

To Leona, the mind-numbing hours of radio silence mean everyone who loves her is dead. Onboard, the one boy she might confide in hates her guts. It’s all she can do to not give up.

But when an explosion knocks the shuttle out of orbit, forcing them to crash land on the dead planet, it seems all hope is lost.

But no one expects the bizarre reality awaiting them on the surface.  

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The Translucent series has been a bit of a roller-coaster ride – so much going on, characters popping in and out of established traits – and ‘Black Sun’ sticks to this pattern. We go back to annoying and immature Leona at the start of this novel… why are you punishing me Dan Rix? I was just starting to like her and now it feels like nails on a chalk board.

Black Sun Book Review Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle.jpgLeona took this step backwards for much of the novel, but I was glad to see her redeemed before the end – though this is something that is going to have me deducting a point. After so much growth and development I don’t want to waist a large part of the book reading drivel. I also got annoyed at the repeated phrase of Leona biting her nails – surely you can use your writers brain and come up with a few more synonyms Mr Rix.

A tawdry sex scene later in ‘Black Sun’ did nothing for me. It was uncouth and animalistic (and sudden,) no build-up of emotion to the moment. I thought I was reading soft core erotica. It seems to be the trend in YA at the moment, many titles have rough and urgent copulation that doesn’t add a lot to the story or the characters’ motivations; and I can only guess it’s included for sensationalism and titillation. It’s not something you expect to read in YA science fiction if it is not driving the story forward in some aspect.

I was delighted again for the last quarter of ‘Black Sun’ when we got ballsy Leona again, thank goodness. I hope her strength and sassy nature remain throughout the final novel in this series.

Loving the twist with her love interest Emory! And I didn’t really have a clue what was going on. That kind of plot developments is what keeps me reading.

The sci-fi element is fan-bloody-tastic! Dark matter, portals, white space, black holes, evil entity/alien… I’m totally engrossed. Still trying to make sense of everything – and appreciate how it’s not all explained and the story keeps changing – Leona being an unreliable narrator – well, they all are, because no-one knows what the hell is going on. What started off as slow and annoying, ‘Black Sun’ changed its tune with pacing towards an end that was invigorating. All that craziness (and the conclusion in a hum-dinger of a cliff hanger) – now I’m hankering for the 6th and final book to come out near the years’ end.

Overall feeling: I had ups, I had downs

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© Casey Carlisle 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Wrap up – Across the Universe Trilogy by Beth Revis

From ‘meh’ to marvellous.

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Honestly – it took me two years to finish this series. While I liked the premise of an arc of humanity journeying through the stars, off to colonise another planet, and issues raised on how different factions evolved over the journey, and their ultimate clash against each other, the first two books were lacking that special spark to keep my interest. (Which is why there is so much time in between reading each instalment – I needed to let my disappointment fade and get excited for the next book.)

But that gives a big disservice to this trilogy, for the last book is by far the best – better story line, better characters, better plot and execution. It is streaks above the previous two.

With alternating P.O.V’s between ship-born and leader Elder, and a newly awakened from her cryogenic stasis, Amy; I felt like the narrative kept getting interrupted, and it prevented me in truly losing myself in the book.

I had difficulty relating to Elder in the first novel, and some intensity was missing from the coupling of Amy and Elder to enable me to really care about them being together. The second book raised the stakes and had some great plot twists. We see some great character development and pacing, but I still had the same issues with Elder as I had in the debut, and it was hard for me to care about their story at all. Additionally, the way religion was brought into the narrative didn’t sit well with me either, I think It could have been executed in a much better fashion.

In the final novel though, without the influence of the familiar surrounds, Elder finally gets to step up and flex some muscle. The cast face some physical and political dangers all set on an alien planet. The elements that had previously urked me were gone.

Still uncertain if I would recommend this series to my friends – suffering through the first two books was uncomfortable – but luckily Beth Revis’ writing style lend itself to a quick read. Then you can enjoy the goodness of the last instalment. It’s so unusual for the difference in ratings across the series, but it is what it is. Targeted towards a younger market, but dealing with some heavy issues like racism, free will, rape, abuse, drugs, faith, and murder.

I’m interested to see how Beth’s latest release (‘A World Without You’) is in comparison to these, it will probably be the deciding factor as to whether I’ll pick up any more of her titles.

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For individual reviews click on the links below:

Across the Universe’ – https://strokingfire.wordpress.com/2014/08/30/book-review-across-the-universe/

A Million Suns’ – https://strokingfire.wordpress.com/2015/05/12/book-review-a-million-suns-by-beth-revis/

Shades of Earth’https://strokingfire.wordpress.com/2016/06/17/book-review-shades-of-earth-by-beth-revis/

Critique Casey by Casey Carlisle

© Casey Carlisle 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Book Review – ‘Shades of Earth’ by Beth Revis

Warring factions from a spaceship settling a colony on an alien planet – two teens thrown in the mix – mayhem ensues.

Shades of Earth Book Review Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleGenre: Y/A, science fiction, Mystery, Romance

No. of pages: 369

From Goodreads:

Amy and Elder have finally left the oppressive walls of the spaceship Godspeed behind. They’re ready to start life afresh–to build a home–on Centauri-Earth, the planet that Amy has traveled 25 trillion miles across the universe to experience.

But this new Earth isn’t the paradise Amy had been hoping for. There are giant pterodactyl-like birds, purple flowers with mind-numbing toxins, and mysterious, unexplained ruins that hold more secrets than their stone walls first let on. The biggest secret of all? Godspeed‘s former passengers aren’t alone on this planet. And if they’re going to stay, they’ll have to fight.

Amy and Elder must race to discover who–or what–else is out there if they are to have any hope of saving their struggling colony and building a future together. They will have to look inward to the very core of what makes them human on this, their most harrowing journey yet. Because if the colony collapses? Then everything they have sacrificed–friends, family, life on Earth–will have been for nothing.

FUELED BY LIES.
RULED BY CHAOS.
ALMOST HOME.

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Shades of Earth’ was so much better than the previous novels in the trilogy. I wasn’t really overcome by any need to move forward with this series after low ratings on ‘Across the Universe’ and ‘A Million Suns,’ but after a lengthy hiatus I decided to wrap up this collection… and I’m really glad I did.

Our protagonist, Amy, stopped being so flighty and immature, and has grown into a young woman I really respect and loved to read about. Her strength really shines in this conclusion, as does her ingenuity, and no longer needs to rely on Elder for her safety.

Elder (Amy’s love interest) did not seem so young either, and has really started growing into a leader. I think the added dynamic of planet fall and the addition of the cryogenic passengers now awake have given both of these two a chance to challenge themselves in so much adversity.

There are moments where the couple are fighting against parents or “rulers” that annoyed me. Yes, their actions are justified, but to have so many unreasonable adults around, in the situation of colonising an alien planet, it did not seem so realistic. The type of people to make a new home in somewhere completely new and alien takes ingenuity and adaptability – and I did not see a lot of that (even if they were under orders from their bosses). This was the biggest issue I had with the plot – it represented more of a power play than any realism of surviving in a hostile alien environment.

Amy’s parents fell into this category as well; even though it was juxtaposed with moments of empathy and parental care, I was frustrated at their behaviour. Respectively, ‘Shades of Earth’ really captured that love-hate thing we go through as teens.

I had guessed all about our new cast member introduced in this novel, Chris, within the first scene. He was a great character and added a fresh dynamic to Amy and Elders relationship. But still a clever story arc, and one that I thinks adds a lot of interest to the novel.

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Loved the descriptions of the new planet, though, I would have liked to find out more about the ecology there. I was expecting more flora and fauna – it is an evolved planet that can support life, just a few scary lifeforms seems deficient… I love a good fight for survival, and as much as ‘Shades of Earth’ is that, the aboriginal life on Centauri-Earth could have been amped up more.

The development of technology over time is brilliant in this story, and I loved how it was intertwined within the plot – how elements of Earth, Godspeed, and the planet are all included in Amy and Elders plight.

This is the right way to end a series.

I don’t think I would have bothered to pick up anything written by Beth Revis based on my experience of the first two novels, but ‘Shades of Earth’ has totally redeemed her writing in my eyes and turned me into a fan. Even though it took me two years to finally finish the trilogy.

Overall reaction: That came out of nowhere!

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© Casey Carlisle 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Book Review – ‘Ash and Darkness’ by Dan Rix

And she bounces back for the win!

Ash and Darkness Book Review Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleGenre: Y/A, Science Fiction

No. of pages: 212

From Goodreads:

It’s called dark matter, a living substance secreted by a meteorite that can make people invisible. Sixteen-year-old Leona Hewitt has been wearing it for twelve hours. It should be every teen’s fantasy—unbeatable pranks, a front row seat in her crush’s bedroom, a place to lick her wounds all alone. And it is . . . it is. 

Until she can’t get it off.

In an instant, the fantasy becomes a nightmare. She’s stuck like this, invisible. Scratching at it, burning it off, cutting her skin off with a knife—nothing works. Dark matter is eating her, consuming her body like a bacteriophage and leaving behind a ghost.

But when she wakes up in her bedroom, seemingly back to normal—only to find the city outside abandoned and ghostly quiet, she realizes she’s been transported to an impossible parallel realm. Electronics barely function, food turns mealy and rotten, fire snuffs out in seconds . . . and the only signs of life are the clues to a strange riddle left behind by a dead girl.  

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After being disappointed in ‘Of Starlight’ I was hesitant to pick up ‘Ash and Darkness,’ but glad I finally caved. This was so much better than I was expecting!

We really delve into the science fiction aspect of the series, the implications of dark matter, what it is, all come to the forefront and had me begging for more.

Ash and Darkness Book Review Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle.jpgGone is whiny, immature, wise-cracking Leona. We get a triple dose of survivalist-never-giving-up Leona. And it was such a refreshing take for this franchise that my faith in Dan Rix is restored. I’d like to say, skip book two, but there is important information you need to understand what is going on in ‘Ash and Darkness’ all I can say is – persevere. It gets so much better! Character development shines abound. I really hope Rix continues in this fashion for the rest of the series, because if Leona turns back into a flake I’ll be holding me a book burning party.

Pacing in this installment is above par in comparison to its predecessor. You get a sense of time, urgency, isolation and desperation. Especially in a landscape of unknowns. I completed this book in a day because I was so eager to find out what happens. With such great pacing and an easy styled narrative, you can fly through this novel. Granted some of the sections dealing with the physics of dark matter had me re-reading, but that was a good thing. Not only was I learning something science-y, I was genuinely fascinated in the world Rix has created.

Word of warning – it does end on a cliff hanger, so have ‘Slaying Shadows’ ready and waiting if you aren’t the type of person who deals well with waiting. This book marks the halfway point in a series of six books to the franchise, and I am truly excited and intrigued to see where it will all go.

Overall feeling: Faith restored!

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Critique Casey by Casey Carlisle

© Casey Carlisle 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Book Review – A Maze of Death by Philip K. Dick

Dark, mysterious and loaded with insensitive protagonists… and very aggravating.

A Maze of Death Book Review by Casey CarlisleGenre: Science Fiction, Mystery

No. of pages: 192

From Goodreads:

When fourteen people arrive to colonize the otherwise uninhabited planet of Delmak-O, they quickly discover that their bizarre new world is more dangerous – and much, much stranger – than they could ever have imagined. The colonists have nothing in common and no idea why they’ve been sent there. All they know is that there’s no way to leave and, one by one, they are being killed..

Page border by Casey Carlisle

I’d been longing for science fiction title for a while, having reviewed so many YA paranormal and contemporaries lately, I was itching for a change. So I picked up ‘A Maze of Death’ because it looked promising and reminded me of the types of books I liked to read in high school (yes I was having a melancholic moment) And well… what can I say?

Firstly, I put this book down a few times, because the narrative is oddly formal, making it feel jarring. With long stretches of dialogue, followed by a simple description of action … it was more like reading a screen play. The dialogue also ran on in a continual stream in some parts, without formatting, so it was difficult to determine who was talking at times. So you can see why I put it down and walked away for a rest.

Additionally, for such a science driven writing style, the narrative felt immature – like absolutely everything had to be explained. Distracting. And with that said, the content was very technical, but the way the characters addressed each other, was like they were talking to a child… the whole novel felt out of wack!

On the plus side, ‘A Maze of Death’ has a dry wit, reminding me of a very unfunny grandpa.

Through the first part of this novel, I had a hard time working out what was going on with the characters – they are all snarky and not very relatable.

There is a point to all this whinging… it was written that way on purpose. I’d explain, but you know – spoilers!

Yes this book is extremely grating and frustrating to read. But has a great twist that leaves you floored.

A Maze of Death Book Review Pic 02 by Casey CarlisleThe planet, Delmak-O where most of the novel is set is a puzzle, and the beginning had me intrigued. Weird things that didn’t make sense. A murder. So many questions I wanted answers for… I was so, so curious.

And you know what curiosity did right?

Well, it slayed me.

I would’ve loved to have experienced better world building, and a more articulate flow of dialogue (also formatting). The conclusion is completely unexpected. Some readers loved it, some loathed it! For me – it felt a little like a cop out and left me wondering why I’d wasted my time with the book. But ultimately it’s a great novel to get you critically thinking. And possibly re-read with this new knowledge.

I appreciate it for what it is, but it’s ultimately not the kind of enjoyable reading experience for me.

Overall feeling: Did that really just happen?

 A Maze of Death Book Review Pic 01 by Casey Carlisle

A Maze of Death Book Review Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle

Critique Casey by Casey Carlisle

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