Wrap up – The Taking Trilogy by Kimberly Derting

Action packed science fiction for tweens.

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The concept of alien abduction is what first drew me to this series, reminding me of the tv show ‘Roswell’ and the 80’s movie ‘Flight of the Navigator.’ It’s a cute read, more focused on the romance than any alien technology or space travel, but the writing style, especially in the first novel is a little jarring; especially with its usage of text abbreviations in the narrative. (Luckily its only in the first book.)

There is a nostalgic and romantic feel to ‘The Taking,’ I really connected with Kyra and her love interest Tyler. They are all types of awkward teen and angst. With the mystery of what happened to Kyra, filling in the missing years while she was taken, and keeping her abduction a secret’ all adding to a great mix of tension for the series.

I can’t say that any of the concepts, or indeed the content of this series feel original; it was all very high-school-special, and something I’d read/seen before. But they are all easy quick reads and Derting manages to up the ante with each instalment.

the-taking-book-review-pic-01-by-casey-carlisleI feel that the series got increasingly messy – with too many points of view and too many characters growing with each book. It’s a trend I’m starting to see in YA which I find disturbing. Most of the time it doesn’t add much to the narrative and loses the connection we have with the main character, which is what draws us to read in the first place. ‘The Countdown’ was definitely all over the place and did not have any of that spark that attracted me from the first novel. It tended more towards conspiracies, alien races on earth and action scenes. The mystery was gone, and so was the fish out of water theme from Kyra navigating her way through the world.

Derting’s writing style got better with each book in the series, but her focus did not.

Looking back, I think I would have like to have seen more ‘sci-fi’ in this series, and had complexity introduced through characters rather than plot. And maybe a new twist on the alien abduction trope – this story line has been beaten to death already.

I’d have to say that it is quite an enjoyable read though – light escapism, nothing all to challenging. It wraps up nicely, though I still had a lot of unanswered questions. If you’re a lover of science fiction, this may not be one for you, I’d only recommend it for younger readers who like a romance with a twist. It is along the same lines as ‘From a Distant Star’ by Karen McQuestion.

Another note: I love the covers! I bought the hardbacks, and the artwork simply glimmers. Typographical headers are so much better than generic models gazing into the lens.

Overall I’d rate the series as a solid three out of five. Not terribly great, but not awful either… a guilty pleasure.

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For individual reviews click on the links below:

The Taking’ – https://strokingfire.wordpress.com/2015/03/17/book-review-the-taking/

The Replaced’ – https://strokingfire.wordpress.com/2015/09/01/book-review-the-replaced-by-kimberly-derting/

The Countdown’https://strokingfire.wordpress.com/2016/10/22/book-review-the-countdown-by-kimberly-derting/

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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.

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Book Review – ‘The Countdown’ by Kimberly Derting

Alien abduction, hybrids, and government conspiracies… wrapped up in a teen romance.

the-countdown-book-review-pic-01-by-casey-carlisleGenre: Y/A, Science Fiction

No. of pages: 368

From Goodreads:

She may no longer be human…but she’s their only hope.

In the concluding book in the otherworldly Taking trilogy, Kyra struggles to understand who she is as she races to save the world from complete destruction.

Ever since Kyra was abducted by aliens and then returned to earth, she has known there was something different about her. Now she knows the truth: she is an alien too. Her alien captors replaced all her human DNA with their own—gifting her with supernatural powers like incredible healing, enhanced eyesight, and telekinesis. But when she’s captured by an unexpected enemy, Kyra begins to wonder if her abilities are also a curse. And is she, as her enemies believe, meant to play some key role in helping an impending alien invasion? Is it programmed into her, something inescapable? Or can she fight that destiny?

No matter what the truth is, Kyra is sure of one thing: She just rescued the love of her life, Tyler, and she is not going to stand by and let anyone hurt him or her friends. Whatever it takes, Kyra will do everything in her power to save the world…even if it means making the ultimate sacrifice. 

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clipart-music-notes-zxtg75xiaIt’s the Final Countdoooowwn! clipart-music-notes-zxtg75xia – sorry couldn’t resist. With this final instalment in The Taking trilogy, I was looking forward to a mammoth dramatic end to what has been a fun sci-fi read. But there was a lot going on. A lot of characters and points of view in the narrative. It was confusing and made me dizzy. It took me half the novel to catch up and work out what was going on.

I’ve said it so many times before: I’m not a fan of multiple perspectives.

However, after a disappointing and slow first half, the storyline began to pick up. I could barely put the novel down as I neared the finish line. We got some great pacing and tension. For the last book in a trilogy it should be this way throughout – there are so many ends to tie up, questions to answer. It should be explosive.

the-countdown-book-review-pic-04-by-casey-carlisleThere’s still a tone of immaturity about Kyra and her friends, though I can see how she has grown as a character, I didn’t get all that invested in her or the story. Which is disappointing. The attention the first book of the series really captured my imagination, but things went awry here.

Tyler, our love interest and cute in the-boy-next-door way, only had that going for him. I kept wanting to get more substance. For him to pony up. I hate to say it, but Tyler was a little… forgettable.

Simon, another of the returned and member of their ‘Scooby Gang’ started to grow on me. He was showing some moxy and putting a spanner in the works. This boy had back bone, and then at the end of the novel, I was like – where did all that go. Feelings like that aren’t resolved in an instant…. The resolution felt like little bit of a cop out.

Adam (the alien), the only other character of note didn’t give me that desperation to survive and be reunited with his race I was hoping for. There wasn’t even thankfulness at Kyra and Tyler’s sacrifice to help him escape… It really felt like all the nuance of characters we got earlier on wasn’t carried through right to the end of the trilogy. Characters are the lifeblood of your story, and you need to pay them a lot of attention.

As far as plot goes, it was still light on the explanations; though we get all the relevant answers. Something about the explanation still doesn’t sit right with me. I liked the ending, and considering the romanticism of it all, was surprised there wasn’t an alternate conclusion – I think it would have been a much more impactful ending if it opened up this trilogy to a new world of possibilities. We love to dream about the what-if’s in sci-fi!

Maybe it was the attitudes of the scientists – oversimplified and some forced to fit into the role of a villain… or not. It had me wondering where the complexity was…

As much as I enjoyed the experience reading this, the characters were pretty interchangeable and bland. Their personalities could have shined in obtuse, quirky ways to add a larger dynamic to the narrative. All in all, it was “just nice.”

Great escapism for YA readers. I’d only recommend it to those who have been engrossed by the series, but don’t get your hopes up. A light, easy to read narrative, even though a little scattered. I wanted much more from this final book, but it was still a satisfying conclusion.

Overall feeling: well that didn’t go as planned…

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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 – ‘The Taking’ by Dean Koontz

 An alien invasion that will blow your mind.

The Taking Book Review Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleGenre: Horror, Thriller, Science Fiction, Paranormal

No. of pages: 391

From Goodreads:

On the morning that marks the end of the world they have known, Molly and Neil Sloan awaken to the drumbeat of rain on their roof. A luminous silvery downpour is drenching their small California mountain town. It has haunted their sleep, invaded their dreams, and now, in the moody purple dawn, the young couple cannot shake the sense of something terribly wrong.
As the hours pass, Molly and Neil listen to disturbing news of extreme weather phenomena across the globe. By nightfall, their little town loses all contact with the outside world. A thick fog transforms the once-friendly village into a ghostly labyrinth. And soon the Sloans and their neighbors will be forced to draw on reserves of courage and humanity they never knew they had. For within the misty gloom they will encounter something that reveals in a shattering instant what is happening to their world–something that is hunting them with ruthless efficiency.   

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It was good to get lost in a Dean Koontz novel again after so many years away. ‘The Taking’ left me unnerved throughout the first half. That cold shiver, glancing up at every little noise. It’s been a while since a book has managed to illicit that response from me.

I live in a rural area, surrounded by bush, and at night there is nothing but shadow outside, and reading ‘The Taking’ had me deliciously nervous about dark scary things looming just outside my window.

Our protagonist, Molly and her husband face an alien threat so unusual it can be perceived as magical or supernatural – but not the good kind. This was the gory, creepy, flay-your-skin-off kind. I loved it. It felt a little short, or possibly ended too quickly. I wanted a bit more story other than just a survival tale.

I think when I say I wanted more story, I meant that it felt like it was missing something in the guts of the novel. A purpose, a surety… and it’s the alienness, randomness and the bizarre which threw me for a loop. There is an underlying current of spirituality and human spirit, but without the surroundings of the familiar I thought I was missing something. I know that sounds a bit vague, but it’s the best was that I can articulate the sense I got after completing the book.

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There were times where the narrative got a little long winded and I sped read past. Other parts were so graphically and expressively described, I was just about slack jawed in awe. Koontz has such a special turn of phrase at times that it leaves me gob-smacked.

It does end on a note to leave the reader to form his/her own opinions about the events that take place, and I actually really enjoyed that element.

The big take home message to this novel is ‘question everything.’ And it took me a while to catch on, and when I did, the story felt even more brilliant.

A great creepy read I’d recommend to anyone who’s a fan of science fiction, horror, suspense and a good survival story. Dean Koontz had been a staple in my library since I was a tween, so I’ve never been disappointed with this writing.

Overall feeling: Had me sufficiently creeped out.

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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 – The Replaced by Kimberly Derting

Peril at every turn… alien awesomeness lives here!

The Replaced Book Review Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleGenre: Y/A, Science Fiction

No. of pages: 368

From Goodreads:

Kyra hasn’t been the same since she returned from her mysterious five-year disappearance. Now, on the run from the NSA, Kyra is forced to hide out with others who, like her, have been Returned. Yet she is determined to find Tyler, the boy she loves who was also abducted—all because of her. When her group intercepts a message that Tyler might still be alive but is in the hands of a shadowy government organization that experiments on the Returned, Kyra knows it’s a risk to go after him. What if it’s a trap? And worse, what if the returned Tyler isn’t the same boy she lost?

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After enjoying ‘The Taking’ so much I just had to get my hands on ‘The Replaced’ to see what was install for Kyra after the events in the debut of this series. Another stunning cover for a great follow up – and a third novel in this series was recently announced, ‘The Countdown’ due for release next year. Loving the story so far and will be pre-ordering the next instalment post haste.

Kyra has grown up a bit more in ‘The Replaced,’ she is more confident over her choices and tackles obstacles head on. Mainly because she is on her own. I did miss the tension Kyra had with just about everyone after she was returned having missed so much time and some people wondering if she was in fact, the real Kyra, and not an imposter – I’d loved to have seen that explored more to give a darker tone to the simplistic, light and fluffy style of the book.

The story line is less generic, but not altogether original, and I didn’t get any surprises. Additionally there was something that happened to Tyler that had me rolling my eyes (no spoilers). With sufficient going on to grab my interest, this title falls under my guilty pleasure handle. It’s not particularly challenging, but nonetheless entertaining.

A pleasant quick read, and something I’d recommend to friends for a lazy afternoon snuggled up by the fire.

I was tossing up between a rating of 3.5 or 4 for ‘The Replaced,’ but settled on 4 because it managed to up the ante as a sequel and still captured my interest even if it didn’t really challenge me. Plus plenty of feels and sci-fi goodness.

Overall feeling: Pretty cool.

The Replaced Book Review Pic 02 by Casey Carlisle

The Replaced Book Review Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle

Critique Casey by Casey Carlisle

© Casey Carlisle 2015. 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.