Review: The Difference Engine

337116The Difference Engine by William Gibson and Bruce Sterling

Genres: Steampunk, Sci-fi/Fantasy, Fiction
Maturity Level: 2
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Rating: ⋆⋆


1855: The Industrial Revolution is in full and inexorable swing, powered by steam-driven cybernetic Engines. Charles Babbage perfects his Analytical Engine and the computer age arrives a century ahead of its time. And three extraordinary characters race toward a rendezvous with history – and the future: Sybil Gerard – dishonored woman and daughter of a Luddite agitator; Edward “Leviathan” Mallory – explorer and paleontologist; Laurence Oliphant – diplomat and spy. Their adventure begins with the discovery of a box of punched Engine cards of unknown origin and purpose. Cards someone wants badly enough to kill for…


I didn’t understand this book at all, which is unusual for me. I’m not sure if that’s because it was somehow over my head, or if just wasn’t that great of the book. Aside from that, the characters weren’t especially interesting, it wasn’t very exciting (maybe even *gasp* dull), there was very little fascinating Steam Punk technologies, and the dialogue frequently reminded me of the Roaring Twenties rather than Victorian England. However, I did enjoy the element of alternate history the Difference Engine brought by keeping the same major political players, but putting them in a completely different world. Overall I was disappointed, and this definitely isn’t a book I would read again.

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Steampunk: Sci-Fi or Fantasy?

I’ve posted two steampunk reviews in the past couple weeks, and both times in the “genre” section I’ve had to put Sci-Fi/Fantasy, which REALLY grates my cheese. Science Fiction and Fantasy are NOT the same thing (except when, occasionally, they are…) and even though the get lumped together at bookstores and libraries, it’s usually pretty easy to spot the difference.

But not with Steampunk.

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Review: All the Birds in the Sky

25372801All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders

Genres: Fantasy, Science Fiction, Fiction
Maturity Level: 5
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Rating: ⋆⋆⋆⋆


Childhood friends Patricia Delfine and Laurence Armstead didn’t expect to see each other again, after parting ways under mysterious circumstances during high school. After all, the development of magical powers and the invention of a two-second time machine could hardly fail to alarm one’s peers and families.

But now they’re both adults, living in the hipster mecca of San Francisco, and the planet is falling apart around them. Laurence is an engineering genius who’s working with a group that aims to avert catastrophic breakdown through technological intervention into the changing global climate. Patricia is a graduate of Eltisley Maze, the hidden academy for the world’s magically gifted, and works with a small band of other magicians to secretly repair the world’s ever-growing ailments. Little do they realize that something bigger than either of them, something begun years ago in their youth, is determined to bring them together–to either save the world, or plunge it into a new dark ages.


I’m not really sure where to start with All the Birds in the Sky, probably because it was always changing. It started out as a kind of quirky sci-fi/fantasy mash-up, but quickly got dark and deep into adolescent bullying, abuse, and neglect. Then it lightened up again, exploring the possibilities of magic and science in the near-future. Eventually it turned into an apocalyptic battle between science and magic. The changing kept me on my toes, but it makes it hard to talk about the book as a whole.

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Review: Boneshaker

1137215Boneshaker by Cherie Priest

Series: The Clockwork Century
Genres: Steampunk, Fantasy/Science Fiction, Fiction
Maturity Level: 3+
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Rating: ⋆⋆⋆⋆


In the early days of the Civil War, rumors of gold in the frozen Klondike brought hordes of newcomers to the Pacific Northwest. Anxious to compete, Russian prospectors commissioned inventor Leviticus Blue to create a great machine that could mine through Alaska’s ice. Thus was Dr. Blue’s Incredible Bone-Shaking Drill Engine born.

But on its first test run the Boneshaker went terribly awry, destroying several blocks of downtown Seattle and unearthing a subterranean vein of blight gas that turned anyone who breathed it into the living dead.

Now it is sixteen years later, and a wall has been built to enclose the devastated and toxic city. Just beyond it lives Blue’s widow, Briar Wilkes. Life is hard with a ruined reputation and a teenaged boy to support, but she and Ezekiel are managing. Until Ezekiel undertakes a secret crusade to rewrite history.

His quest will take him under the wall and into a city teeming with ravenous undead, air pirates, criminal overlords, and heavily armed refugees. And only Briar can bring him out alive.


Boneshaker is probably the best reviewed and most popular Steampunk Novel out right now, so possibly my expectations were a little too high. Truthfully, I was slightly disappointed. While it was a lot of fun, very interesting, and extremely well-written, it wasn’t quite as suspenseful as I was anticipating. While I loved Briar and reading from her point-of-view, Zeke annoyed me and I did not look forward to reading his perspective. The friends Briar made along the way were appropriately crazy and eclectic, but the main antagonist, Minnericht, was not particularly frightening.

I really enjoyed reading this book, but I probably wouldn’t read it again. Still searching for that just-can’t-put-it-down Steam-punk Novel.

Review: The Host

1656001The Host by Stephanie Meyer

Genres: Science Fiction, Young Adult (?), Fiction
Maturity Level: 4
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Rating: ⋆⋆⋆


Melanie Stryder refuses to fade away. The earth has been invaded by a species that take over the minds of human hosts while leaving their bodies intact. Wanderer, the invading “soul” who has been given Melanie’s body, didn’t expect to find its former tenant refusing to relinquish possession of her mind.

As Melanie fills Wanderer’s thoughts with visions of Jared, a human who still lives in hiding, Wanderer begins to yearn for a man she’s never met. Reluctant allies, Wanderer and Melanie set off to search for the man they both love.


This was a really interesting concept. What can I say, I am a sucker for they-walk-among-us books, movies, TV, whatever. And while this idea brought to mind too strongly the Animorphs books I read as a kid (seriously, did Stephanie Meyer just completely rip off the Yeerks, or what?), I loved the idea of reading about what it would be like from the invading aliens point of view. But then Stephanie Meyer killed this book in her typical three ways. Continue reading

Review: Ready Player One

20603758Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Genres: ????????????, SciFi?, Fiction
Maturity Level: 5
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Rating: ⋆⋆⋆⋆


In the year 2044, reality is an ugly place. The only time teenage Wade Watts really feels alive is when he’s jacked into the virtual utopia known as the  OASIS. Wade’s devoted his life to studying the puzzles hidden within this world’s digital confines, puzzles that are based on their creator’s obsession with the pop culture of decades past and that promise massive power and fortune to whoever can unlock them. When Wade stumbles upon the first clue, he finds himself beset by players willing to kill to take this ultimate prize. The race is on, and if Wade’s going to survive, he’ll have to win—and confront the real world he’s always been so desperate to escape. 


Ready Player One was a really fun book. I’m not sure what you would call it, Sci-Fi maybe? Really they need to create a new genre, Nerd Fiction, because this book was basically just an outlet for Ernest Cline, probably the biggest nerd in the entire world, to share all of the random 80s nerd crap he knows. Particularly video game nerd crap. The result was a story that was rather predictable, slightly cliche, and definitely a first novel, but was also great fun. Continue reading

Review: The Martian

18007564The Martian by Andy Weir

Genres: Science Fiction, Fiction
Maturity Level: 5
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Rating: ⋆⋆⋆⋆


Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars. 

Now, he’s sure he’ll be the first person to die there.

After a dust storm nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded and completely alone with no way to even signal Earth that he’s alive — and even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone long before a rescue could arrive. 

Chances are, though, he won’t have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment, or plain-old “human error” are much more likely to kill him first. 

But Mark isn’t ready to give up yet. Drawing on his ingenuity, his engineering skills — and a relentless, dogged refusal to quit — he steadfastly confronts one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next. Will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him?


Wow, what an exciting read!

I couldn’t put The Martian down. It kept me constantly wondering what would happen next, although by halfway through it got to be rather predictable when something bad was about to occur. Still, I was so looking forward to seeing what the bad thing would be! How grim.

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