Book Review – ‘Undaunted’ (#2 Fetch) by Kat Falls

Genetic virus wreaks havoc on humanity.

Undaunted (#2 Fetch)Book Review Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleGenre: Y/A, Science Fiction, Dystopian, Adventure

No. of pages: 352

From Goodreads:

Lane Everson barely survived her first journey to the Feral Zone. The forbidden, overgrown landscape east of the Mississippi River was abandoned years ago when a virus spread through the population, bringing civilization to its knees.

But Lane has crossed the quarantine line, and she knows the truth. There are survivors on the other side of the wall – people who were not killed by the virus, but changed by it, their bodies warped to display a variety of animal traits. In the most severe cases, their minds are warped as well, leaving them barely human.

Lane volunteers to return to the Zone as part of a humanitarian aid mission. But she has a darker, secret purpose. Someone she loves has been infected, and she once made him a promise: If he ever goes feral, Lane will be the one to put him down. Now, Lane fears that the time has come. 

page-border-by-casey-carlisle

Considering this was a sequel and a finale, I was expecting great things from ‘Undaunted.’ It certainly did not disappoint. The stakes were raised, the characters tested and showed growth, and there was plenty of dystopian sci-fi goodness al-laThe Island of Doctor Moreau.’

This was a difficult novel to get through however, which had me puzzled because it has all the earmarks of things I enjoy in a story. Just after I reached the halfway point I realised it was the writing style. Again another surprise to me given how much I have enjoyed Kat Falls other titles. In the afterward, the author did admit to struggling to complete penning ‘Undaunted,’ and I wonder if some of that awkwardness translated into the writing. There were moments of Lane’s narration that felt immature to me. Though it meets the intended demographic, I don’t remember feeling that way from the debut ‘Inhuman.’

Out protagonist Lane has much more direction and certainty about her in ‘Undaunted.’ It felt like she was on solid ground and no longer simply surviving from one instance to the next. You get a clear picture that she is aware of the larger mechanisms and politics of the situation at large. She has clear goals and determination to see them through – all mixed in with a hefty dose of compassion. It is a nice juxtaposition to how she was in the previous novel.

There was a hint of a love triangle with both Everson and Rafe vying for Lane’s attentions, but from her perspective, it was never a love triangle, just simply friends that she cared about; and one of those friendships blossoming into something more. Everson has a small amount of character development in the form of a shift in his morals at uncovering some truths, but Rafe has stronger growth from being, known as a thief and trouble maker, to a solid stand up guy, responsible, a leader. For some reason I was continually reminded of the main character in ‘Aladdin,’ a street hustler turned prince.

Undaunted (#2 Inhuman) Book Review Pic 02 by Casey Carlisle

I notably fell in love with the manimal orphans, and the lionesses as well both victims of the transformative genetic virus. Falls did a great job in marrying animal character traits with human ones to show strength, pride, and loyalty.

There was always something interesting going on to propel the story forward, but I felt the writing style let it down. Maybe some more sophisticated sentence structure and word choice to bring down the word count and increase the pacing of the story would have greatly improved my reading experience. Also help to eliminate a small amount of repetition. But that is me just being picky in trying to figure out why it took me so long to get through this novel.

I can’t say that there were any twists or turns that I didn’t see coming revolving around the central plot. It is very predictable in that sense, but there were a couple of minor reveals that had me raising my eyebrows. It is definitely a satisfying read, but not one that really socked it to me, or gave me the feels. The plot points are all addressed neatly – if a little cliché a times. I can see this being a great book to recommend to the younger end of the YA market. The whole manimal epidemic can be synonymous to racism and immigration themes in a sense. Because they have developed their own culture, and effectively, a different race. It also brings up themes of genetic modification, infection, and epidemics; great topics to open discussion on science, or the morality and ethics around these topics on a larger scale.

I’m happy I read it and got a conclusion to the story, even though slightly lacklustre for me. But would happily recommend it for younger readers.

Overall feeling: Get it girl, that was good.

Undaunted (#2 Inhuman) Book Review Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle

Undaunted (#2 Inhuman) Book Review Pic 04 by Casey Carlisle

critique-casey-by-casey-carlisle

© 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 – ‘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.

page-border-by-casey-carlisle

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

critique-casey-by-casey-carlisle

© 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 – ‘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.

page-border-by-casey-carlisle

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.

Hostile (#4 After Light Saga) Book Review Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle.gif

Hostile (#4 After Light Saga) Book Review Pic 04 by Casey Carlisle.jpg

critique-casey-by-casey-carlisle

© 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.

page-border-by-casey-carlisle

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.

Intransigent (#3 After Light Saga) Book Review Pic 02 by Casey Carlisle.png

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?

Intransigent (#3 After Light Saga) Book Review Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle.gif

Intransigent (#3 After Light Saga) Book Review Pic 04 by Casey Carlisle.jpg

critique-casey-by-casey-carlisle

© 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.

page-border-by-casey-carlisle

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

Sanctum (#2 After Light Saga) Book Review Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle.gif

Sanctum (#2 After Light Saga) Book Review Pic 04 by Casey Carlisle

critique-casey-by-casey-carlisle

© 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. 

page-border-by-casey-carlisle

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

ARV-3 Book Review Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle.gif

ARV-3 Book Review Pic 05 by Casey Carlisle

 

critique-casey-by-casey-carlisle

© 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 – ‘Kalahari’ (#3 Corpus) by Jessica Khoury

Kalahari will test your mental strength and physical ability to survive in the harshest of climates.

Kalahari (Corpus #3) Book Review Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleGenre: Y/A, Science Fiction, Adventure, Romance

No. of pages: 368

From Goodreads:

Deep in the Kalahari Desert, a Corpus lab protects a dangerous secret…
But what happens when that secret takes on a life of its own?

When an educational safari goes wrong, five teens find themselves stranded in the Kalahari Desert without a guide. It’s up to Sarah, the daughter of zoologists, to keep them alive and lead them to safety, calling on survival know-how from years of growing up in remote and exotic locales. Battling dehydration, starvation and the pangs of first love, she does her best to hold it together, even as their circumstances grow increasingly desperate.

But soon a terrifying encounter makes Sarah question everything she’s ever known about the natural world. A silver lion, as though made of mercury, makes a vicious, unprovoked attack on the group. After a narrow escape, they uncover the chilling truth behind the lion’s silver sheen: a highly contagious and deadly virus that threatens to ravage the entire area—and eliminate life as they know it.

page-border-by-casey-carlisle

I loved this book. Admittedly, my expectations were a little lower after reading ‘Origin’ – though that debut wasn’t bad, there were moments the pacing lagged. That was definitely not the case in ‘Kalahari.’ It was non-stop action from start to finish. It has been a while since I’ve been so wrapped in a story.

Kalahari’ is a companion novel to the other two in the Corpus collection – and you by no means have to read them in order. In fact I read Kalahari before reading ‘Vitro.’

The best way I can sum up this novel is a combination of the movies ‘The Breakfast Club’ meets Clive Cussler’s ‘Sahara.’

Kalahari (Corpus #3) Book Review Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle.pngOur protagonist, Sarah is one gutsy chick. Using all her survival skills, sheer grit and determination to drag a group of city kids through the desert… while being stalked by human and animal predators alike. She comes across as shy in social situations, which is understandable, since she is practically home schooled in the isolation amongst the South African desert – sorry, semi-desert; but is also confident and determined from years of living in remote places and dealing with all types of wildlife.

The only thing that reflected negatively for me was when Sarah started listening to a recording at the most inappropriate time… that’s as much as I’m going to say, because – spoilers. But when I read that, I was literally saying out loud “What the eff” in astonishment.

Khoury’s writing style improves progressively throughout this trilogy. Pace and tension are far superior in ‘Kalahari’ than in the debut (‘Origin.’) She also has a way of building the world and describing the landscape that is anything but delicious. You can get such a clear picture of Sarah’s surrounds you really feel like you are there. Seeing the improvement in Khoury’s skills only make me more excited to read some of her recent releases.

It was interesting to read the city-slicker group that Sarah guides through the desert and how they cope with suddenly being cut-off from all aid, under threat, and needing to push their body to the limits to survive. I felt it was a realistic interpretation of what could happen. Growing up in the Australian desert myself, and a love for nature and hiking, occasionally friends would tag along and be confronted how being in the middle of nowhere means you need to adopt an entirely different set of skills to survive.

I love science fiction that actually has some science in it. And though it’s dumbed down drastically, we get some of the science behind the story. As well as botanical and zoology references about the Kalahari environment. It really gives you a strong sense of the flora and fauna. Geek girl in me loves it! I read it in one sitting.

Overall feeling: Spectacular survival skills!

Kalahari (Corpus #3) Book Review Pic 02 by Casey Carlisle.gif

Kalahari (Corpus #3) Book Review Pic 04 by Casey Carlisle

critique-casey-by-casey-carlisle

© 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 – ‘Inhuman’ (#1 Fetch) by Kat Falls

A great addition to the dystopian genre.

Inhuman Book Review Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleGenre: Y/A, Science Fiction, Dystopian, Adventure

No. of pages: 378

From Goodreads:

In a world ravaged by mutation, a teenage girl must travel into the forbidden Savage Zone to recover lost artifacts or her father’s life is forfeit.

America has been ravaged by a war that has left the eastern half of the country riddled with mutation. Many of the people there exhibit varying degrees of animal traits. Even the plantlife has gone feral.

Crossing from west to east is supposed to be forbidden, but sometimes it’s necessary. Some enter the Savage Zone to provide humanitarian relief. Sixteen-year-old Lane’s father goes there to retrieve lost artifacts—he is a Fetch. It’s a dangerous life, but rewarding—until he’s caught.

Desperate to save her father, Lane agrees to complete his latest job. That means leaving behind her life of comfort and risking life and limb—and her very DNA—in the Savage Zone. But she’s not alone. In order to complete her objective, Lane strikes a deal with handsome, roguish Rafe. In exchange for his help as a guide, Lane is supposed to sneak him back west. But though Rafe doesn’t exhibit any signs of “manimal” mutation, he’s hardly civilized . . . and he may not be trustworthy. 

page-border-by-casey-carlisle

Another amazing adventure from Kat Falls! I enjoyed this book immensely, although dealing with Dr. Moreau type mutations, there were colours of zombies and vampires – a spreading virus, changed by a bite, causes rage and violence… I loved it!

Inhuman Book Review Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle.jpgKat’s descriptions of the bleak dystopian world, and the mutated creatures within was marvellous. I was entertained throughout and gripped from start to finish. It didn’t have as much wonder and intricate plot as her previously released Darklife duology, this was more of a quest story with less twists and turns. So I felt the book overall was slightly less surprising.

The pace is fairly constant as the characters face one problem after another. And despite Falls’ great description, the narrative felt a touch flat in places. I guess because I’m comparing it to the Darklife books, and my enthusiastic joy over all things marine, ‘Inhuman’ did not quite meet the complexity and unpredictability of that series. Sure there were a few plot twists I didn’t see coming, but not to the scale of ‘Darklife’ – but having said that, I may have to eat my words in the follow-up ‘Undaunted’ (which I’m praying will finally get released this year.)

Lane (Delaney) started off as naive and full of potential, but it was only under stress and danger that she truly began to shine. I like how she never escaped consequences from her decisions either. Though, when it came to romantic entanglements she was a bit wishy washy. But given that her focus was on her Father and staying alive, I can forgive that minor frustration – she gave it the attention it deserved.

Maybe-love-interest, Rafe is such a smartarse – for some reason he reminded me of Pacy off ‘Dawson’s Creek:’ smart-mouthed but resourceful, always hanging in there. I got a little confused, one moment he’s a brother figure, then a love interest… not sure how I felt about it all. Though despite his abrasive bravado, he remains loyal to his ‘family’ right to the end. A very attractive quality.

Potential love interest, Everson surprised me a little, plot reveals, parts of his nature. We really find out who he is and what he’s willing to sacrifice for the greater good. I was attracted to his back story, his manners, and sense of adventure. I was really shipping him and Lane.

It is definitely an easy read, gripping, but I think I wanted a few bigger curve balls thrown at Lane. The surprises we do get are great, but something had me wishing for something grander. I’d still recommend it though. A fun dystopian adventure.

The cover art clearly depicts the world that Lane has grown up in – the dystopian feel with the rotting 21st Century buildings, and a massive wall to keep out the infected. The sepia hues really attracted my eye. The font is modestly large, lending to a feeling that you are speeding through the pages. A great package for an engaging read.

Overall feeling: Run of the mill, but entertaining.

Inhuman Book Review Pic 02 by Casey Carlisle

Inhuman Book Review Pic 04 by Casey Carlisle

critique-casey-by-casey-carlisle

© 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.

Wrap up – The Matched Trilogy by Allie Condie

A dystopian adventure that left me a little disturbed.

  Matched Trilogy Wrap Up Pic 01 by Casey Carlisle.jpg

Such an amazing concept – the Matched trilogy has hues of ‘The Giver’ and ‘Divergent’ but did not deliver as well as those did. Sad to say, but this series has got to be the lowest rated I’ve read to date. Maybe it’s because it was released at the start of the dystopian craze and marketed towards a tween demographic, leaving me feeling like I’d read it all before and the immature narrative tone felt boring.

I didn’t know what to expect going into the series because of such mixed ratings on Goodreads and from my friends, so I took it on faith of Ally Condie’s popularity as an author.

I guess the best way I can sum this series up is ‘soft,’ having all the elements to make a great dystopian, but not quite hammering them home for me. The pacing felt slow to start with, though the descriptions of the landscape are inspiring, the story lagged. The poetry elements were also lost on me – I skipped over every one of them.

Each book seemed to be an improvement on the last; especially in terms of character development and pacing. Though I can say I was never sure where this story was going to go. Not because of predictability, but because of its narrative style. The changing perspectives and what felt like a lack of direction left my interest waning several times. The world-building felt over simplified and at times waffly. There felt like a compulsion from the author to pair all the characters up too. It was too nice for a dystopian series. I wanted more grit, higher stakes for the characters and the world.

Matched Trilogy Wrap Up Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle.jpg

I supposed ‘stylized’ is the best way to describe the treatment of this trilogy. While it was entertaining, the characters took a while for me to care about, I was frequently bored or frustrated. And ultimately, upon finishing the series, I did not feel satisfied. Book 1 ‘Matched’ dealt with escape; Book 2 ‘Crossed’ with a battle for survival in the wilderness; and ‘Reached’ turned out to be a rebellion… fought in a Lab. It wasn’t cohesive and felt like an author’s first draft.

The elements of medical science and technology were really interesting and I would have liked them more in the forefront of the plot (with details – many times the details were skipped over or dumbed down.) As too with the survival aspects – fighting in a war and trekking across inhospitable landscapes. I love these aspects, but wasn’t lead to feel like they were desperate and on the brink of death – which they were.

I did like the covers, the simplicity and symbolism. They definitely drew me in. The collection as a whole blended well together aesthetically. Large readable font in the hardback boxed set that I purchased. The cover art definitely lead me to believe there would be a heavier sci-fi element than was represented.

So a great premise, but lukewarm delivery for me. Sadly the trilogy took a slow downward slope to disappointment. Not a collection of books I’d recommend. 😦

Matched Trilogy Wrap Up Pic 02 by Casey Carlisle

For individual reviews click on the links below:

Matched’https://strokingfire.wordpress.com/2016/12/02/book-review-matched-by-ally-condie/

Crossed’ – https://strokingfire.wordpress.com/2017/01/24/book-review-crossed-by-ally-condie/

Reached’ – https://strokingfire.wordpress.com/2017/06/22/book-review-reached-by-ally-condie/

critique-casey-by-casey-carlisle

© 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 – Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

This book will blow you apart, infect you and melt you into a pool of your own making… sci-fi wizardry!

 Illuminae Book Review Pic 01 by Casey Carlisle.jpgGenre: Y/A, Science Fiction

No. of pages: 599

From Goodreads:

This morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do.

This afternoon, her planet was invaded.

The year is 2575, and two rival megacorporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than an ice-covered speck at the edge of the universe. Too bad nobody thought to warn the people living on it. With enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra—who are barely even talking to each other—are forced to fight their way onto an evacuating fleet, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit.

But their problems are just getting started. A deadly plague has broken out and is mutating, with terrifying results; the fleet’s AI, which should be protecting them, may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady hacks into a tangled web of data to find the truth, it’s clear only one person can help her bring it all to light: the ex-boyfriend she swore she’d never speak to again.

Page border by Casey Carlisle

I was excited to get this book. All the hype around its promotion and some great reviews from fellow bloggers had me all in a tizzy. But I held off until I had a decent chunk of time to really delve into ‘Illuminae’ and I’m so glad I planned it that way… and luckily I remained spoiler free, so the ride was even more delectable.

This book is a little bit different; and I’m not just talking about its formatting. With expert pacing and tension building to an explosive conclusion there is a lot to like. I was yanking up my feet as our protagonist, Kady climbed, Dodging in my chair as the love interest, Ezra fired on the enemy in his Cyclone fighter drone. I even felt comradery with my laptop at the heroic actions of the ships artificial intelligence AIDAN. It has been a while since I have enjoyed a book so thoroughly.

With a narrative consisting of a collection of documents – conversations, logs, IM’s, emails – it does not detract from the story at all. Some parts are thoroughly artistic in their expression as words placed unconventionally on the page. It was a refreshing and delightful reading experience.

Illuminae Book Review Pic 04 by Casey Carlisle.jpgKady had me sold from the first page. She’s capable and focused without that whole rude sassy thing. Her never-give-up hacker attitude added some of the best reading I’ve experienced in while as she faced some incredible odds. This chick rocks! I think the omnipotent POV allowed the action and pacing to excel without long winded inner dialogue from our heroine, just as it lent varying emotions in more intimate and lonely moments.

Ezra blew me away. He’s not the most capable of boys, but he’s got major kahoonies. He’s the kind of book boyfriend I love to read about. Even though he and Kady are separated for nearly all of the story, there is no sense of distance in their relationship even though he’s an ex – which is a feat in itself when you consider this story is told in snippets of reports, dialogue and documentation. Kaufman and Kristoff – we are not worthy! With moments where Ezra was so terrified he was going to soil his space suit, to sending out words of encouragement, we really see Ezra dig deep to survive in this all out hailing storm of excrement.

AIDAN : What a strange binary fellow. As a character he/she/it goes through the most significant change. I finished the book feeling both creeped out, and endeared about AIDAN. And I’m still not sure if he was simply misunderstood for playing the bigger game throughout the plot, or if evolution through computer error showed us his humanity (maybe it was both?) But I think I’m most looking forward to finding out about AIDAN in the upcoming sequel.

This was also my first introduction to the writings of both Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman (and proud that they are fellow Aussie authors) and am adding there back catalogue to my collection – and if anyone can tell me if there is a way to pause time so I can indulge in my reading addiction without wasting weeks on end, hit me up.

A true masterpiece and I highly recommend you get your hands on a copy right away! This sci-fi geek girl just about spontaneously combusted.

Overall feeling: It’s like my brain was on crack

Illuminae Book Review Pic 02 by Casey Carlisle

Illuminae Book Review Pic 03 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.