Book Review – ‘Retribution’ (#5 The After Light Saga) by Cameo Renae

The conclusion to worst series I’ve ever read. Love the concept but the writing was extremely undercooked.

Retribution (#5 After Light Saga) Book Review Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleGenre: Y/A, Science Fiction, Dystopia

No. of pages: 301

From Goodreads:

War is coming between humans and Arvies, leaving me trapped between two enemies. This time, I don’t think I’ll survive.

The government will stop at nothing to get me back in their clutches. They want what’s inside me—a power I call Venge—and will use my greatest weakness to bring me to my knees. 

The Arvies know of my gift, and use my telepathy and their numbers, in an effort to take me out. 

My name is Abigail Park, and I promise retribution against those who’ve wronged me, even if it’s the last thing I do.

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All I can say is thank goodness this series is over and my OCD can pack up and leave! I still maintain the concept of The After Light Saga is brilliant, and I loved this story in theory, but the writing and execution was hella-poor.  It had every bad YA trope I can think of. I still cringe when I remember how Protagonist Abi named her gun and her psychic ability. Hellfire and Venge. Ugh! It wasn’t even done ironically.

Abi loves to blurt out everything to complete strangers. She hasn’t learnt to be cautious despite all of the crap she has found herself in since leaving the bunker. People are fighting to survive, so some caution should be common sense by now. Especially by book five. Not only does this reflect badly on her as a character, but is a form of info-dumping. I hope Cameo Renae grows as a writer because she has a great imagination and I’d love to read her stories if she can level-up.

How many times was Abi going to pass out? It felt like every two or three chapters ended with ‘my world went black.’ It felt like cheap storytelling. I was really gritting my teeth trying to get through this novel.

Retribution (#5 After Light Saga) Book Review Pic 02 by Casey CarlisleI’m still not convinced of the romantic paring of Abi and Finn. I can’t relate to either of them. From the first novel until this finale, still every description of either revolve around how sexy they are. Nauseating. The overly lovey-dovey carry on didn’t feel like it was properly established or grounded in connection between Abi and Finn. It was all about muscles and abs – a strong emotional connection that wasn’t explored. This pairing could have been iconic if treated differently.

But having said that, some of the romance is cute – though other parts immature and sickly sweet, bordering on unrealistic. People that age don’t wax poetic like Cameo has written. It felt more like wish fulfilment than grounded in the character and relatable to the demographic of this series.

Reference to ‘normal’ life’ pre-bunker was made, but given that Abi has spent her life underground, she couldn’t have possibly experienced everything mentioned. Big contextual error there.

The introduction of the dog was a pleasant surprise – it added some interest and lightness to the narrative. Though this, and the astral travelling thing, felt a bit forced and not in the same vein as the rest of the story.

It feels like everyone is dumb. The army grunts, the government. And it only amplified how immature I felt the writing was. Characters are so quick to offer forgiveness and detailed explanations (more info-dumping) – they feel two-dimensional and obviously guided by the hand of the author. Where’s the complexity, the tension, diversity. It added to my frustration. This whole series reads like a child’s imaginings.

However, ‘Retribution’ cutely wrapped the series up (even if it had a tone of convenience.)

I hate to say this, but this collection makes me want to gag. ‘Retribution’ is a touch better than some of the previous sequels, but certainly not one I recommend. I’ll be donating the series, it’s not something I want to keep in my library.

Overall feeling: Blurgh!

Retribution (#5 After Light Saga) Book Review Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle

Retribution (#5 After Light Saga) 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.

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Book Review – ‘Hostile’ (#4 The After Light Saga) by Cameo Renae

This series is turning into one big *facepalm*despite a promising concept.

Hostile (#4 After Light Saga) Book Review Pic 01 by Casey Carlisle.jpgGenre: Y/A, Science Fiction, Dystopia

No. of pages: 257

From Goodreads:

Wanted. It’s something I’ve had to get used to since being placed on the government’s Most Wanted list. On the run, with my family and Finn by my side, we now have to evade not only the Arvies, but teams of soldiers sent to find and capture me.

Little do they know, I’m battling my own demons. After receiving large doses of mind-enhancing serum, a monster has been unleashed inside my mind. It promises death and destruction; its power, greater than anything I could imagine. Now, I’m too dangerous, and the lives of my loved ones depend on my separation from the group. I must leave and face the hostile world alone.

My name is Abigail Park. I will do whatever it takes to save the ones I love.

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Again, another book in this series that really isn’t a novel – more like a tale… the middle part of something happening.

I found ‘Hostile’ awfully spoony and over-ridden with typical YA tropes. Instances of bad grammar and immature writing. I was hoping this series would get better as the author got to hone her craft, but it is just getting repetitive with the same kind of underdeveloped writing style.

The concept is still full of potential, but feel like the author should take some classes or spend a year or two honing her craft.

Hostile (#4 After Light Saga) Book Review Pic 02 by Casey Carlisle.jpgProtagonist Abi was very two dimensional. The story at times is led by the author’s hand. Some of the events are implausible, even in this dystopian fantasy because there is no motivation, or not driven forward by the plot.

Some of the action scenes were well crafted though, and I enjoyed a few of these towards then end of the novel.

Hostile’ is a very quick read: 2-3hrs was all it took. Which is lucky, I wouldn’t invest any more time than that on such a poorly executed novel.

Again, I love the premise, but the basics of structuring a novel were amiss. One more book in this series to go, which I will read, just because I want to confirm how it all ends. Then I’ll probably gift the entire collection to one of my nieces or nephews because I have no intention of keeping books of this calibre in my library.

Even the covers are recycled of stock images – it hurts my heart to see, and read this kind of book.

On a side note, I burst out laughing at her shameless plug for another series she’s written – ‘Hidden Wings’ in the narrative. Big brass ones lady! I like it.

It was so cheesy and poorly written it was funny. Like a low budget syfy movie. Not recommending this one unfortunately.

Overall feeling: I think I have to dub this the book of eye rolls and gag noises.

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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 – ‘Intransigent’ (#3 The After Light Saga) by Cameo Renae

It’s all going pear-shaped.

Intransigent (#3 After Light Saga) Book Review Pic 01 by Casey Carlisle.jpgGenre: Y/A, Science Fiction, Dystopia

No. of pages: 235

From Goodreads:

Arriving at the new government bunker, things quickly go from bad to worse. I am separated from Finn and my family because of my ability to connect with Arvies through telepathy. Housed with three other Readers—and kept away from the general population—we are given serum injections in effort to enhance our thought transference. The end goal? Thought manipulation.

We are considered humanity’s only hope in the war against the Arvy race.

With the ever growing threat of an invasion, the government demands results from the Reader program by doling out ultimatums, and using our loved ones against us.

But they will not break me.

My name is Abigail Park. I am intransigent.

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Intransigent’ has got to be the weakest book of the series so far. My reaction is one massive eye roll. I had high hopes that the writing and plot would grow and develop through this series, but it seem not to be the case. The best reprieve is that these novels are short and can be completed in half a day.

I still love the concept, though the story took a direction that really didn’t interest me. A new batch of characters were introduced, but they felt generic and two dimensional. I’ve been wanting for this series to start getting meatier, delve into character development, mythology, a more complex plot because we have already done all the world building and got to know the main characters… none of that happened. The writing in this series has been taking a slow nose dive since the debut.

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I’m caring less and less about protagonist Abi and her fiancé Flynn – as a couple and as characters. The only reason I’m continuing with this series is because of my incessant curiosity, and bloody O.C.D. There’s only two novels left to wrap things up, so we’ll see how it all goes and if Cameo can redeem herself.

At this point I’d only recommend you give this collection a hard pass. The writing and characterization feels immature and underdeveloped. It is very predictable and has about every tired YA trope you can think of.

Overall feeling: …really?

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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 – ‘Sanctum’ (#2 The After Light Saga) by Cameo Renae

What a doozy… thumbs down from me.

Sanctum (#2 After Light Saga) Book Review Pic 01 by Casey Carlisle.jpgGenre: Y/A, Science Fiction, Dystopia

No. of pages: 272

From Goodreads:

The Arvy threat worsens each day. They continue to destroy the hive’s vital fuel resources, leaving us with one option— evacuate to the largest government bunker, located in South Dakota. 

The injured hive members are moved as first priority, but a disastrous event occurs on the way to our drop-off zone. We find ourselves in a ghost town, surrounded by spiteful, revenge-filled Arvies. Chaos ensues and our death toll rises. Just when we think the end has come, unsuspected help arrives. We are rescued and brought to an underground bunker.

They call it Sanctum.

With no way of reaching outside help, we must depend on each other to reach our pick-up zone, thirty miles away. If we don’t make it in time, we will be left for dead. 

Time is ticking.

My name is Abigail Park. I am a survivor.

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This is the worst book that I have read in a while. I’m finding it difficult to even review ‘Sanctum’ because of the numerous issues I had with the writing…  This sequel is a step down in quality from the debut ‘ARV-3,’ and considering it was recommended to me from a well-known reviewer I am flabbergasted as to what entranced his attention so vigorously.

All the lovey-dovey stuff between protagonist Abi and her fiancé Finn was getting over the top. It felt inappropriate to the tone of the novel and failed to serve much of a purpose in the plot.

Additionally, since when are Finn and Abi the leaders and experts with all these army guys from the unit around them who have specialised training and instructions. I’m getting exasperated with the poor context of writing…

Sanctum (#2 After Light Saga) Book Review Pic 02 by Casey Carlisle

The story concept was again interesting and had potential, but the plot was very simplistic. I found myself wanting more sophisticated storytelling. To be frank, I’ve read better from my high school students when teaching.

All I can say is lucky it was a quick skim-able read, especially the long drawn out love banter. I just wasn’t feeling it. So a saccharine sweet.

I’m still hoping that Cameo is going to up the ante and this series will improve with the next installments. Here’s wishing that ‘Intransigent’ brings some vast improvements, but I’m not holding my breath.

Notes on the physical book include how the chapter headings suddenly changed after chapter 9 like the book wasn’t formatted properly. And the cover art… using the same clip art throughout the series left it feeling amateurish.

Overall feeling: thththththth

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Sanctum (#2 After Light Saga) 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 – ‘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.

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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 – ‘ARV-3’ (#1 The After Light Saga) by Cameo Renae

All the ingredients for a great dystopian read, but fell far short.

ARV-3 Book Review Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleGenre: Y/A, Science Fiction, Dystopia

No. of pages: 316

From Goodreads:

The beginning of the end. The Apocalypse. A nuclear fallout wiped out every living thing on the planet, except for a few thousand of us who took shelter in underground bunkers across the globe. Now, after thirteen long years, we were finally able to return to the topside to begin to rebuild. We thought we were alone. We were never more wrong. Before the fallout, scientists had worked on creating an anti-radiation vaccine (ARV). The first two attempts failed, but despite the incomplete tests and results, the government approved and distributed the third serum to the masses in an effort to aid those who had no shelter. It worked, keeping those who remained on the topside alive, but it also altered and mutated them. This new and infectious threat had completely outnumbered us. Now, we not only had to rebuild our planet. We would have to fight for it. My name is Abigail Park. I’m seventeen, and this is my story. 

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ARV-3’ has a great concept for a YA dystopia, with tones of ‘The 100’ and ‘Wayward Pines’ we find a teen female protagonist face a plethora of challenges in a desolate world after emerging from an underground hive to survive an irradiated planet.

ARV-3 Book Review Pic 04 by Casey Carlisle.jpgI  love the concept, the story line, but I feel like the characterization and writing style let this novel down a great deal. It felt immature. Plus there were so many contextual errors cropping up regularly that, even though it’s all a fantasy world, not a lot felt plausible. The spirit of ‘ARV-3’ is there, and you can see the potential, and I feel a great content and developmental editor would have helped this novel shine.

My main reason for picking up this novel was because of Benjaminoftimes singing its praises on his YouTube channel… and I’m finding on average about half of his recommendations fall short for me. I’m beginning to question his palette, or wonder if he’s not partaking of some psychedelic mushrooms at times because there are some novels he’s awarded 5 stars to which are in blatantly obvious need of editorial assistance.

Again ‘ARV-3’ has all the mechanics to make a great read, but the protagonist Abi (Abigail) came off as cocky and immature. Insert YA tropes a dozen too… instalove, bad-ass-gun-toting-chick, ninja warrior, always right, has special talents that mean only she can save the world, uninvolved parents, everyone is incredibly good looking and muscular, no diversity, and well kinda sexist. It was like an 80’s teen film mentality in a dystopian world. It felt disjointed.

ARV-3 Book Review Pic 02 by Casey Carlisle

With all the issues I had with ‘ARV-3’ I did not hate it. It still managed to draw me into an imaginary world, the action scenes had me sitting up straight and nibbling on my lip. And I still want to know where the story goes in the rest of the series. I like escapist fiction. And ‘ARV-3’ is a quick and easy read. I feel if the narrative was clunky and slow reading, or if it was another 50 pages longer I would have skimmed it and abandoned the series completely. But it shows promise – and I’m hoping that Cameo Renae’s writing improves with each instalment. So we’ll see if she is able to redeem my opinion.

There isn’t anything new in this novel – I feel like I’ve read or seen it all before. I didn’t get any unexpected surprises in the plot either. It does end on a cliff hanger, and while it ends on a note of a natural conclusion, many of the plot points are not resolved. It’s not a novel I’d recommend freely, but maybe the younger end of the teen market would enjoy it. But there are many more intelligent books in this genre out there which would be far more entertaining.

I’ll see if my opinion is altered in the sequel ‘Sanctum.’ Stay tuned for a review coming soon 🙂

Overall feeling: Potential

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ARV-3 Book Review Pic 05 by Casey Carlisle

 

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© Casey Carlisle 2017. 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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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.