Book Review – ‘Vixen 03’ (#5 Dirk Pitt) by Clive Cussler

Great adventure but passé attitudes.

Vixen 03 (#5 Dirk Pitt) Book Review Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleGenre: Action, Adventure

No. of pages: 464

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1954: Vixen 03 is down. The plane, bound for the Pacific carrying thirty-six Doomsday Bombs—canisters armed with quick-death germs of unbelievable potency—vanishes. Vixen has in fact crashed into an ice-covered lake in Colorado.

1988: Dirk Pitt, who heroically raised the Titanic, discovers the wreckage of Vixen 03. But two deadly canisters are missing. They’re in the hands of a terrorist group. Their lethal mission: to sail a battleship seventy-five miles up the Potomac and blast Washington, D.C., to kingdom come. Only Dirk can stop them.

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Misogynistic. Sexist. Discrimination. Transphobic. So many times I nearly threw up in my mouth. I figured ‘Iceberg’ as the only one of Clive Cussler’s early works as being problematic in this matter of insensitivity. But ‘Vixen 03’ is giving it a run for its money. Women are objectified just about every time they are in a scene. I hate to say it, but this was fairly typical of this James bond adventurer genre in the 70’s. So I shouldn’t be surprised. Thankfully Clive Cussler evolved as a writer and this kind of writing is left in the past where it belongs.

This was the first novel I read after the news of Cussler’s passing, and I wish it had done a better in service of his legacy. I was really disappointed and searched for some redeeming qualities. ‘Vixen 03’ deals with themes of racism, nationalism, terrorism, and international espionage. And the premise sounds interesting, as do all of Clive Cussler’s novels. They promise adventure, action and intrigue. But to be honest this left the taste of disgust in my mouth.

The pacing terribly slow with frequent tangents around non-essential topics to the plot. So much time is spent building the South African contingent part of the story that Dirk Pitt was featured in less than half of the story. This did not feel like a Dirk Pitt novel, more like he swooped in at the end to resolve the mystery.

The plot itself is a good one, there are plenty of red herrings, heroics and a massively woven web of intertwined actions boiling down to a single event. If it weren’t for all of the inappropriate representation, I would have really enjoyed this fare.

Vixen 03’ was not the Dirk Pitt I’ve come to appreciate. He felt very one-toned. An un-killable saviour, putting his life on the line to save the world (*cough-America-cough*) I would have liked some nuance outside of all this male bravado. Thank goodness I know it gets better in later volumes of this franchise – a bit campier and stereotypical – but better and more entertaining.

The whole reading experience was marred by old-fashioned, politically incorrect attitudes.

I recommend you skip this one.

Overall feeling: One of the first books I felt like burning – I’m using it as an example of the attitudes we thankfully have put behind us in storytelling.

Vixen 03 (#5 Dirk Pitt) Book Review Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle

Vixen 03 (#5 Dirk Pitt) Book Review Pic 04 by Casey Carlisle

Critique Casey 2020 by Casey Carlisle

© Casey Carlisle 2020. 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 – ‘Iceberg’ by Clive Cussler

A clusterf*#k of political incorrectness.

Iceberg (#3 Dirk Pitt) Book Review Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleGenre: Action Adventure

No. of pages: 340

From Goodreads:

Frozen inside a million-ton mass of ice-the charred remains of a long missing luxury yacht, vanished en route to a secret White House rendezvous.  The only clue to the ship’s priceless-and missing-cargo: nine ornately carved rings and the horribly burned bodies of its crew. 

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I’ve been a fan of Cussler since my teen years, but this singular novel really tested my nerve. I can forgive a little machismo – it’s to be expected in this genre and series, but when Cussler has Dirk Pitt playing a stereotype of a gay man – even so far as to use the word faggot a number of times, I wanted to set the book on fire. It was in such poor taste to read these hate-filled slurs. It highlights all the issues of discrimination that the LGBTQIA+ community face.

Cussler used about every negative trope around this issue in ‘Iceberg’ with the protagonist Dirk Pit undercover as a homosexual artist, staring hungrily at men’s crotches like a sexual predator, acting submissive and weak, wearing over-the-top colourful clothing, and flowery speech. This goes on for half the novel. It is obvious that Cussler adopted this writing style for it to come off as comedic, but it just shows his insensitivity and ignorance.

To compound the issue there are continual cracks about crazy women and menopause, or someone on their period – that was also meant to be jocular. The female characters were irrational tittering things meant to look pretty and fetch coffee. Their only goal to land a good husband. They were diminished to a sexual object, nursemaid, or servant. It came off as highly offensive.

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I just don’t understand. Was Clive Cussler on some sort of acid trip writing ‘Iceberg?’ I’ve read over 15 of his novels and never come across such blatant misogyny. Maybe I should stop making allowances for Cussler’s overused tropes and start calling him on them in my reviews… I read his novels for the emphasised adventure, the marine environment, and the espionage. ‘Iceberg’ was overshadowed with such a distasteful display of tropes and writing I am literally gobsmacked. Way to offend half your audience dude.

Looking at other aspects of ‘Iceberg,’ like pacing and plot, it wasn’t so bad, but by no means anywhere near his best. There was a plot twist at the end that I didn’t see coming, but that too left a horrid taste in my mouth. I enjoyed the surprise, but hated the premise it supported.

In all honesty I do not recommend this book to anyone. If fact Cussler should pull it from his catalogue entirely. I know I would be ashamed to have written a novel like this.

Overall feeling: Anger and nausea.

Iceberg (#3 Dirk Pitt) Book Review Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle

Iceberg (#3 Dirk Pitt) 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.

Wrap up – The Book of Ivy Duology by Amy Engel

A dystopian and heroine with a lot more gumption.

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This is by far one of my favorite dystopian series. It’s gritty, realistic and not afraid to venture into the dark side of humanity. It is a real survival story.

Our protagonist Ivy is practical, strong and we see her start to question those around her and form her own opinions. So many times we get a waif, or a character bred for a situation who neglects to question if what they are doing is right until it’s far too late in YA. Ivy has the inner strength and intelligence to view her world with open eyes.

This series has been compared to ‘The Selection’ series and ‘Cruel Beauty;’ but it is only in premise. Ivy has been selected to be married off to the leader’s son, but her family are a rebelling faction and are priming Ivy to assassinate the boy. Bishop, her hapless victim, is everything you’d expect coming from the cushy life he’s had… and then not. He’s got his head on his shoulders and is compassionate. I really liked how both our main characters do not fall into a trope.

I’ve read in some reviews that this is an instalove romance – but I strongly disagree. Their age (sixteen) is brought up, and so is their sensibility knowing that they are not ready for a marriage, let alone an intimate relationship with someone who is basically a stranger. Their approach in a practical one. Their friendship develops organically, and has got to be one of the better developed coupling I’ve read in this genre.

There is a lot going on in their society, and the world outside of it, and both the main characters have been sheltered somewhat, and it was fascinating to see them uncover truths and cope with the burden of that knowledge. Some decisions wield heavy repercussions, and both Ivy and Bishop are not immune to them.

There are moments of violence and manipulation. It is raw, but dealt with responsibly. And the in world they live in, it’s unavoidable, and I’m greatful the author took us down these avenues instead of glossing over the uglier aspects of humanity.

Where ‘The Book of Ivy’ is more a political struggle, ‘The Revolution of Ivy’ is a physical one for survival. Both rated four stars from me and is a solid, engaging read. I can’t recommend this series more.

On a side note – if you don’t handle cliff hangers well, then I’m pre-warning you – the first book has a doozy, so if you hate waiting, get these together to alleviate any angst 😉

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For individual reviews click on the links below:

The Book of Ivyhttps://strokingfire.wordpress.com/2016/11/07/book-review-the-book-of-ivy-by-amy-engel/

The Revolution of Ivy’ – https://strokingfire.wordpress.com/2016/12/13/book-review-the-revolution-of-ivy-by-amy-engel/

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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 – ‘Nod’ by Adrian Barnes

A new twist on the (zombie) apocalypse.

nod-book-review-pic-01-by-casey-carlisleGenre: Y/A, Dystopian, Science Fiction

No. of pages: 206

From Goodreads:

Dawn breaks over Vancouver and no one in the world has slept the night before, or almost no one. A few people, perhaps one in ten thousand, can still sleep, and they’ve all shared the same golden dream. 

After six days of absolute sleep deprivation, psychosis will set in. After four weeks, the body will die. In the interim, panic ensues and a bizarre new world arises in which those previously on the fringes of society take the lead. 

Paul, a writer, continues to sleep while his partner Tanya disintegrates before his eyes, and the new world swallows the old one whole.

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I picked this up because I’d heard it was a new take on a zombie-esque dystopian. I was not disappointed. It’s certainly a wild ride.

Nod’ is probably one of the more realistic depictions about the fall of the human race due to the sudden infection of a virus which leave most people no longer being able to sleep. Apart from a handful of survivors. The rest of society slowly goes insane under the throws of sleep deprivation. Our protagonist, Paul, writes down his experiences for this novel. Being compelled, as Paul is a writer and wants to leave it for someone, something… afterward.

I found it hard to connect with this novel. The writing style is deliciously descriptive, but the turn of phrase is so poetic that I kept having to re-read lines to garner true meaning from the author. Appreciation for this narrative comes in spades – but better swallowed in small chunks. With that said, there is a lot of action and the pacing is continually ramped up to drive the story forward. It’s about survival. There is no quest, no way out. Just getting through the next ten seconds, and the next ten after that, and so forth… all the while dealing with, or avoiding people descending into madness.

nod-book-review-pic-03-by-casey-carlisleSuch a unique concept. I found it fascinating.

There is a masculinity about the writing that kept me from truly connecting with the narrative, though the bleakness Barnes paints of the emerging world is garishly compelling.

It’s hard to discuss character development and plot when the message of this story is more philosophical. But like being unable to drag your eyes off a car wreck on the side of the highway as you drive slowly by – it’s oddly compelling.

Charles, one of the stories main antagonists is indicative of the messed-up world, both before and after the event. He embodies the fantastical world of Nod, the subject of Pauls half written novel he’d managed to steal a copy of. This book is a real mind bender, taking you towards part of the insanity itself.

If maybe there was a stronger female presence in the narrative, something to soften the sharp edges of the dystopian landscape, offer a place to juxtapose the desperate need to sleep, to survive, I would have enjoyed it more. Plus the narrative stylings of Barnes, though masterful, does not lead to an easy light read. This is a thinking man’s book. A lover of literature and philosophy and imagination. And as toffy as it sounds I’d only recommend this to the more high-brow reader. It’s not like the YA dystopians, it’s literal, bleak, and cerebral. But I’m glad I got to have the experience and share Paul’s world.

I guessed the ending – the tone of the narrative suggested that it wouldn’t end any other way, but the events that happened along the way… well, a book about mad people running around, it’s a bill of a rollercoaster. Zip and zag. Like I said, a lot of action.

Overall feeling: Gah! What a shizstorm! It’s all happening!

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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 – ‘Losing Lila’ by Sarah Alderson

Felt like it was straight from the scripts of a CW show…

Losing Lila Book Review Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleGenre: Y/A, Paranormal, Romance

No. of pages: 346

From Goodreads:

Alex and Lila are on the run, desperately trying to stay one step ahead of the Unit, which is somehow tracking their every move. While Alex is determined to keep Lila safe and her ability secret at any cost, Lila’s only thought is of finding a way back to California so she can rescue her brother and mother from the military base where they’re being held.

Struggling to control both her growing power and her deepening feelings for Alex, Lila decides the time has finally come to stop running and start fighting. Together with Alex, Demos, and the others she’s come to think of as family, Lila plans not only to save her brother and mum, but also to completely destroy the Unit and everything it stands for. But the plan requires Lila to return to California alone, andto make friends with the enemy – and in doing so, she risks losing everything: Alex, her family… even her life.  

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I really liked this follow up to ‘Hunting Lila.’ A group of teens with special abilities on the run from a maniacal Military Contract Organisation. Winner, winner chicken dinner.

It was great to see our protagonist Lila get a little more independence; although that was counteracted by her swooning and needing Alex (her love interest and brothers best friend) all the time. It felt a little weak. It was compounded by the narrative tone and actions of Lila (and Suki) which came of as childish far too often. But I had less problems stopping me from enjoying the novel than I did in the first book of the series ‘Hunting Lila.’

Losing Lila’ is very much like a Disney or NickTeen movie of the week. Saccharine sweet, moments of stereotypical teen behaviour mixed with an action infused plot. I do class it as a guilty pleasure though, I got caught up in the subterfuge, the development of their psychic abilities, and was floored by a few of the plot twists I didn’t see coming.

The story itself is engaging. I think if the comical notes of the story were approached differently, they could have pulled the story along in that Buffy-like pun in the middle of action style.

The element of family, and how it was woven into the storyline was fun; and I appreciated how bonds are tested and reshaped. Though there was some moments where I thought it was too premeditated by the author.

I think I like the relationship between Lila and Alex the least, even if they are the main characters in ‘Losing Lila.’ There was no tension and build up, it moved right into this desperate place that felt like it lacked substance – it was the 10 year old girl’s version of love.

Great follow up and conclusion to the series, probably better suited to a younger tween audience, but still an interesting way to spend a winter’s day tucked up on the couch with a light action-filled book.

Overall feeling: *eating popcorn*
Losing Lila Book Review Pic 02 by Casey Carlisle

Losing Lila Book Review Pic 03 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!

Shades of Earth Book Review Pic 02 by Casey Carlisle

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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 – ‘Pacific Vortex!’ by Clive Cussler

Dirk Pitt is borne of pages and a passion for oceanic adventure!

Pacific Vortex Book Review Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleGenre: Action Adventure

No. of pages: 346

From Goodreads:

Dirk Pitt’s first, most terrific adventure! Dirk Pitt, death-defying adventurer and deep-sea expert, is out to the ultimate test as he plunges into the perilous waters of the Pacific Vortex — a fog-shrouded sea zone where dozens of ships have vanished without a trace. The latest victim is the awesome superb Starbuck, America’s deep-diving nuclear arsenal. Its loss poses an unthinkable threat to national defense. Pitt’s job is to find it, salvage it, before the sea explodes. In a furious race against time, Pitt’s mission swirls him into a battle with underwater assassins-and traps him in the arms of Summer Moran, the most stunningly exotic and dangerous toward disaster, Clive Cussler plummets his hero onto an ancient sunken island-the astonishing setting for the explosive climax of Pacific Vortex!

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In the past I’ve really enjoyed the Bond-esque adventures of Dirk Pitt, and having been away from his action packed crusades for many, many years, I decided to catch up from the beginning. A goal of reading all the Dirk Pitt works from beginning to end and fill in the gaps of books I’ve missed.

Pacific Vortex!’ was better and worse than many of the other books I have read…

Pacific Vortex Book Review Pic 02 by Casey CarlisleBetter, because it really invoked a feeling of fear and anxiety around some of the undersea challenges Pitt faced, as well as the adrenalin filled awe at the scale and grandeur of the mysteries of the deep. I don’t think the other novels in this universe I’ve read quite captured that feeling as effectively.

Worse, because of all of the trappings that go along with a terminal bachelor ladies action man. So many archetypes which felt two dimensional and had me cringing. But I was expecting this. Dirk Pitt adventures are typically patriarchal, male-centric and reduce many interactions to machismo and objectification. It’s the same in the Bond franchise. The spoony and camp factor seem to come hand in hand in this genre.

The result was, that why I loved the adventure and marine elements, some of the stereotypes and interactions were hard to swallow. But you need to take it for what it is.

It was great to see the beginnings of a wonderful franchise. Clive Cussler writes with authority and conviction. He really knows his stuff when it comes to the marine environment – which, to be frank, is the main reason why I began reading his novels. That, and I crave a good adventure.

I know in later novels his character development and comedy are greatly improved, and female characters are painted with more than just an objective gaze or a damsel in distress. I think if I hadn’t already experienced Cussler’s later works I may have rated this lower, but have made an exception due to his legacy and the hours of wonder I’ve spent in his pages. Cussler’s writing is in part what spurred me into getting a Marine Biology degree in the first place.

So it’s only onward and upward from here. Can’t wait to see what the next adventure brings.

Overall feeling: machismo, but mad fun.

Pacific Vortex Book Review Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle

Pacific Vortex Book Review Pic 04 by Casey Carlisle

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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 – Earth Girl Series by Janet Edwards

Fantastic world building.

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I happened across this series from a recommendation on Amazon.com, and after discovering it was a science fiction story set in a dystopian world involving archaeology, a kick-ass teen heroine, portalling across the universe, and the possibility of alien contact – I was sold!

This trilogy started on a promising tone. I had some issues with serendipity – you could feel the Godly hand of the author shaping the direction of the story all too frequently. It’s not to say I didn’t enjoy it, but at times, the protagonist Jarra had it too easy. Having things fall in her lap felt like lazy storytelling. But that was the biggest issue I had with this series. One other small issue it that suffered is that I did not feel like Jarra herself went through any considerable personal growth after some of the events she survived. There is some growth, which was handled really well, but towards the end she was starting to feel boring and I did not have as much invested in her.

As for the rest: I adored the aspects of technology blended into archaeological dig sites, the use of portals as an everyday transport system. The politics between worlds. I could list on and on. Edwards has created a phenomenal futuristic planet under threat from solar storms and trying to find answers in the past.

If you can overlook a little repetition in slang with the dialogue, and a certain amount of happenstance, you will love this collection. I certainly did. Additional news from Janet Edwards on her plans to write several more books in this universe has me excited. They will be set in different places on the timeline, so with new characters, I’m hoping the issues I’ve had with the Earth Girl trilogy will be improved upon.

The debut is definitely the best of the series, with a slight downward slope – in my opinion – in quality and engagement. But on the whole, pretty awesome.

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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 – ‘Earth Flight’ by Janet Edwards

Great with the familiar story and world building, not so great with the rest…

Earth Flight Book Review Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleGenre: Y/A, Science fiction

No. of pages: 390

From Goodreads:

It’s time to risk it all!

Jarra never wanted to be a celebrity. All she ever wanted was to gain some respect for the people left on Earth: the unlucky few whose immune system prevents them from portalling to other planets.

Except now she’s the most famous Earth girl in the universe – but not everyone in the universe is happy about it, nor the fact that she has found love with a norm. Jarra’s actions have repercussions that spread further than she ever could have imagined, and political unrest threatens to tear apart the delicate balance of peace between humanity’s worlds.

On top of everything, the first alien artefact ever discovered appears to be waiting for Jarra to reveal its secrets. But to do so, she must somehow find a way to leave Earth – or else the alien artefact will be lost forever. Is there a way for Jarra to travel to another planet? Or is her destiny only to look to the stars – but never to reach them? 

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I was excited to finish off this series after falling in love with Edwards’ future dystopian world and student archaeologist/military officer Jarra. With so many elements that I adored and a cliff-hanger in ‘Earth Star,’ ‘Earth Flight’ had the set up for an epic adventure and explosive end to the franchise. But it failed to meet my expectations. Though fun, I wish it could have been so much more.

Jarra as a character did not really develop much from the end of the first novel, her reactions and characteristics were pretty much the same throughout all three novels. You’d expect the life-threatening events she’d suffered through, Jarra’s personality would have matured and become wiser. I was expecting that maturity to be reflected in the tone of ‘Earth Flight,’ but was disappointed.

Fian (Jarra’s love interest) felt two-dimensional in this novel, maybe it’s because he didn’t have his own story line and was an observer to what was happening with Jarra. This was a sad missed opportunity, especially in the final book for the series.

The humour and narrative style was also starting to feel a little juvenile. Janet Edwards had to explain so much, this book fell into the cringe-worthy category of telling instead of showing. This was a book of happenstance… the events that unfolded did not feel organic, but lead by the hand of the author.

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It’s not all bad – there are some fantastic action scenes that had me dodging and lifting up my feet from the floor. Pacing is great in the last quarter. I guess the points that I found detracted my enjoyment of this book stem from repetition and lengthy exposition. Moments of surprise coincidence and doors opening for Jarra were cute in the first two books, but it happened in spades in ‘Earth Flight’ to the point I actually started rolling my eyes while reading.

The ending is satisfactory, if somewhat spoony – as I mentioned before, too much happenstance.

While I did enjoy this book, and many of the delightful surprises and new scientific elements had me eagerly flipping to the next page, pacing and directive narration held it back from being truly fantastic. A satisfying yet lukewarm finale to the Earth Girl trilogy.

Overall feeling: Somebody dropped the ball…

 

Earth Flight Book Review Pic 02 by Casey Carlisle

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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 – Hunting Lila by Sarah Alderson

A paranormal cat and mouse with great potential.

Hunting Lila Book Review Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleGenre: Y/A, Paranormal, Romance

No. of pages: 318

From Goodreads:

17-year-old Lila has two secrets she’s prepared to take to the grave. The first is that she can move things just by looking at them. The second is that she’s been in love with her brother’s best friend, Alex, since forever.

After a mugging exposes her unique ability, Lila decides to run to the only people she can trust—her brother and Alex. They live in Southern California where they work for a secret organization called The Unit, and Lila discovers that the two of them are hunting down the men who murdered her mother five years before. And that they’ve found them.

In a world where nothing and no one is quite as they seem, Lila quickly realizes that she is not alone—there are others out there just like her—people with special powers—and her mother’s killer is one of them…  

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Hunting Lila’ is a fun adventure with a group of individuals possessing psy(chic) abilities pitted against a military group – and Lila is caught in-between. Certainly a great premise, and a very enjoyable novel, but it fell a little flat for me.

It’s hard to place why it felt unremarkable – quite possibly it was a little too busy – with so much going on in plot and sub-plot, where character development became secondary.

There was also an element of instalove between Lila and Alex – I found that kind of infuriating. But he was a nice piece of eye candy to read about.

The story had an air of the superficial as well – everyone was gorgeous, everyone was a hero – whether they had special abilities or military training and gadgets, a lot of the ordinary and the relatable just wasn’t there.

Plus, half of the cast intrinsic to the story line were introduced in the second act.

Now that the yucky stuff is done and dusted, let me share what I appreciated about ‘Hunting Lila:’

I loved the different types of psychic abilities – telepaths, astral projectors, a psychokenosist, telekinetics, sifters, all reminding me of the graphic novel (and subsequent film adaptation) ‘Push.’ This had a very strong X-Men Origins vibe.

Lila, our protagonist is very relatable in the beginning and I felt all of her choices during the actions scenes made complete sense. It was the decisions pertaining to her love interest that had my hackles up. Lila is cute, spunky, somewhat naive and has the potential to be a great character and force of nature. She does tend to flounder a bit and I’m excited to see where Sarah Alderson takes Lila in this trilogy.

Jack, Lila’s brother added a fun dynamic into the romance between her and Alex, as well to the bait-and-switch scenario.

But I think ultimately, the military aspect felt unrealistic, as did the change of heart Lila comes to – I hungered for more angst and tribulation for her predicament.

The twist at the end was a great surprise amongst a sea of predictability. This would fall more into my ‘guilty pleasure’ category, and something I’m on the fence about recommending to others. While I enjoyed ‘Hunting Lila,’ and there is certainly a lot to revel in, it didn’t have that spark.

I have a hunch what is going to happen in the second book for this series, and I will pick it up as I am still interested to see where this story will go. Let’s hope that it is even better than ‘Hunting Lila’ and redeems the author in my eyes. Bring on ‘Losing Lila!’

Overall feeling: A bit of a love/hate relationship for me.

 Hunting Lila Book Review Pic 02 by Casey Carlisle

Hunting Lila Book Review Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle

Critique Casey by Casey Carlisle

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