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 – ‘Soundless’ by Richelle Mead

Chinese folklore awakens in a this romantic tale…

Soundless Book Review Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleGenre: Y/A, Fantasy

No. of pages: 272

From Goodreads:

For as long as Fei can remember, there has been no sound in her village, where rocky terrain and frequent avalanches prevent residents from self-sustaining. Fei and her people are at the mercy of a zipline that carries food up the treacherous cliffs from Beiguo, a mysterious faraway kingdom.

When villagers begin to lose their sight, deliveries from the zipline shrink and many go hungry. Fei’s home, the people she loves, and her entire existence is plunged into crisis, under threat of darkness and starvation.

But soon Fei is awoken in the night by a searing noise, and sound becomes her weapon.

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Not the type of book I would normally choose, but as I’ve enjoyed other novels by Richelle Mead, this title became an exception. ‘Soundless’ was a quick, quaint and entertaining quest.

While nothing extraordinary, ‘Soundless’ tells a gritty story of a delicate artist with growing determination to save her village against greed and tyranny. The folklore here is beautiful, although slowly emerging throughout the story line – and you get a sense that it is only the beginning. There is no big info dump – we learn the facts as our protagonist, Fei, does. Drawing from Chinese and Taiwanese culture, the mythology for this novel provides the backdrop for our heroine’s journey.

I really got sucked into her adventure, traversing the mountain and having to find a way to communicate to all she meets without speech. It was a little disconcerting to read a book with no dialogue, but all communication is in sign language or through written words and picture… that element alone added a uniqueness to the story I was entranced by. It challenges Mead as a writer not to rely on dialogue so much to tell the story, and I feel like she has accomplished this with resounding success.

Soundless Book Review Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle

There is a distinct air of tradition and honour, deep seated into Fei’s culture that gives this book an old-world romantic feel. It was innocent yet lavish. But with all that I loved about this story, it did feel simple. There wasn’t great complexity and I felt very predictable. There weren’t any big plot twists that I’ve come to expect form Mead from reading the VA series.

The character development was a slow burn which dominated the story line. But not just for Fei and her love interest Li Wei, it was like the whole village was coming of age. Very rarely have I read a book where there is such a dynamic shift for all the cast.

A pleasant, easy read for an afternoon with a mug of hot chocolate, or if you want to really get in the mood, a pot of green tea.

Overall reaction: Elegant.

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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.

Film vs Novel – Total Recall

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You never decide to die – but you must decide to live!

I can’t believe I haven’t compared this trio yet… one of the first books I ever read back in high school when I was mad about all things Piers Anthony.

Now I didn’t picture the Mars landscape or Douglas Quaid quite like they are in the film adaptations, but nonetheless I geeked out over all three. The closest character I’ve come across in the literature to Douglas Quaid would have to be Clive Cussler’s Dirk Pitt – they both have that rugged, balls-to-the-wall leading man vibe (so if you enjoyed one, you may get a kick from the other.)

The book is certainly true to the classic sci-fi adventure, and is woven with plenty of mystery and intrigue, gadgets and an alien planet… and for the young pimply teen, I ate it up!

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The 1990 film starring Arnold Schwarzenegger remains pretty true to the novel, while the 2012 release with Farrell, Beckinsale and Biel is clearly a loose adaptation. Although I can’t fault the special effects and storytelling of the latest cinema release – I was definitely engrossed. But I did miss the traditional ending that brought in a whole other dynamic into the story… because it’s all about the twist!

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I can see how the Farrell version kept with the secret agent/ political intrigue trope and left Mars out of the equation completely to give it an edgier feel and concentrate on the action scenes. Although when picking up the book, the fact it took place on another planet was the big draw card. But still, this mammoth film was able to produce top quality entertainment with some of my favourite actors. I’m just sad I didn’t get to a new experience on many of the other elements this film left out.

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With Schwarzenegger’s adaptation, although cutting edge effects at the time, seems somewhat camp now – and even when I first watched it I laughed out loud… especially the suffocation scene. In the book I remember the desperation as they were losing consciousness – instead I was giggling away at the bulging eyes and comically horrified expressions. I’d could explain the scene more, but given it’s near the conclusion of this story I don’t want to spoil you… and those of you who’ve only seen Farrell’s version will have no clue what I’m writing about. So go read the book, or watch the earlier film adaptation, the original story line will blow your mind!

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Another notable mention – we also got Sharon Stone while still blazing the trail of her burgeoning career (Playing Quaid’s wife).

This franchise is also famous for the three breasted woman (which they keep in both films) although the context in how he appears is completely different in each, illustrates just how different each creation is. So this is by far the most difficult comparison I’ve done to date in picking a winner. Farrell’s film adaptation has the eye candy, SPFX and political intrigue going for it, Schwarzenegger’s remains true to the original story, but loses some of the seriousness of Quaid’s dilemma through the limitation of SPFX, but the performances are great from all actors – (not like now, when all that runs through my head every time I see Arnold is ‘I’ll be back,’ or ‘It’s not a tumour.’)

The novel captured my imagination about being a spy, walking in the shoes of a big action hero, and exploring life on Mars (if only we had a female lead).

Hmmm… I guess it will have to be the novel for the win by a very narrow margin, but really it’s like comparing apples, oranges and a banana! Because really, all of them are awesome!

Total Recall Film vs Novel Pic 02 by Casey Carlisle

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.