Mini Book Reviews: The Sci-Fi & Fantasy Edition

All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill

Young Adult Sci-Fi/Contemporary

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I read several reviews for this book and knew of all the hype, but I still didn’t fully know what to expect from it. As you can see above, it blends genres, which I love. The book follows two timelines, a previous timeline that reads like a contemporary-turned-thriller, and a later timeline that reads like a sci-fi with just a taste of dystopia (but don’t let that scare your dystopia-weary soul, because I promise it’s not like another rehash of Divergent or anything). The plot was great, the characterization interesting, and I just loved seeing how everything weaved together. And the way time travel was handled in this book was well-done. I will say that while I thought the ending was really great and fitting, it made me raise my eyebrow a little like the Fringe finale, where I was questioning how exactly that could have happened that way, but I do forgive it because I think it was the right ending.

I really enjoyed this one and only had a few minor issues with it. However, for some reason this one doesn’t really stick to as a favorite that will stand the test of time, so it’s not quite a 5 star read, but it was definitely worthwhile.

Rating: 4.5 stars

The Winner’s Crime by Marie Rutkoski

Young Adult Fantasy

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I really enjoyed The Winner’s Curse, and while I didn’t love this one as much, I still enjoyed it a good bit! I admit, I’m suffering a bit from book amnesia on this one since I have waited a while to review it, but I do remember the twisty mind games that I enjoyed in the first book continuing through this one, though it did play out a bit differently. It’s more of Kestrel trying to tiptoe around the emperor and not reveal her hand to him, rather than her manipulating situations.

My biggest complaint about the book is that I wanted more of the emperor’s son, who I actually really liked and would have liked to have seen more friendship between him and Kestrel. I was also very sad about how things turned out with Jessi and Ronan, but I’m not saying Rutkoski made the wrong choices about them because sadly, I don’t think she did. I just liked them in the first book and hated to see how they acted in the second.

I think I found the romance between Kestrel and Arin a little more interesting this time around, but I’m actually still not a super hard shipper for them. But the ending definitely left me intrigued for the last book and to see how it all plays out.

Rating: 4 stars

The Hero of Ages by Brandon Sanderson

High Fantasy

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I don’t know what I can say about this book. There is so much heartache, so many surprises, an adorable and perfect dance scene with Vin and Elend, and the ending is just… WOW. I think Brandon Sanderson is a master when it comes to endings (well, writing in general really). I was so floored by how it all played out, how it simultaneously ripped my heart out and crushed me and made me kind of angry to being so perfect and what it needed to be. I mean seriously, how does that happen?! Also, I think every question I had about this world and the characters was answered. So yeah, if you have any interest in these books, read them.

Rating: 5 stars

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

Science Fiction

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I enjoy the movie adaptation of this book, but I did not expect for the book to actually line up with so much of the movie! There are a few things I like better about the book, and a few things I like better about the movie, but overall this book is a fun romp through the galaxy that makes you think of improbable possibilities. I will say that the book ends much more abruptly than the movie, without a really nice wrap-up, and is clear you are supposed to continue on with the next book, which I imagine I will do one day!

Rating: 4 stars

Have you read any of these books? What are your thoughts?

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Why You Should Watch Deep Space Nine if You Love Mistborn, & Vice Versa

As I was reading The Hero of Ages (which I’ll attempt to review in the not-too-distant future, but how can I even?!), I suddenly became struck with the similarities between the Mistborn books and my favorite TV show, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. On the surface, it can be hard to miss. Mistborn is a fantasy set in a made-up world, and there are people who are able to draw powers from metals. Deep Space Nine is science fiction, set on a space station that is next to made-up worlds, but many characters come from Earth and none of them have special powers, though there are aliens who have unique abilities. And yet, I found some themes in both that I could not ignore the similarities between, and I feel that if you enjoyed them in one of these stories, you’ll enjoy them in the other.

Overall Character & Story Arcs

Before we get into the common themes, I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that both Mistborn and DS9 have strong arcs for a wide variety of characters and for the story as a whole. Garak, who is in only 37 episodes of DS9, is a fan favorite who plays a significant role in the show. Nog, who is only in 47 episodes, starts off in DS9 as an annoying kid and ends up with a profound character arc, and there’s even an episode dedicated to him in the seventh season.

In a similar fashion, while the trilogy mostly focuses on Vin, Elend, and Sazed, and there are important secondaries such as Breeze, Ham, etc., and there are characters who are present in one or two of the previous books who go through big changes in the final book, such as TenSoon and Spook.

Religion/Religious Icons Theme

In both DS9 and Mistborn, there is a definite theme of religion and religious icons. Deep Space Nine focuses on the faith of the Bajorian people; we are introduced to leaders of their faith and see how different they can be from one another, and Sisko, an outsider, is revered as their “emissary,” a religious icon.

In Mistborn, all religion died under the Lord Ruler, save for his. After he is overthrown, the Church of the Survivor is born, turning characters into religious icons, and in the end of the trilogy, without giving away too much, I’ll just say we see this really manifest, in a way much like it did in the Deep Space Nine finale.

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Source

Shades of Gray, Particularly in War

Both DS9 and Mistborn also explore what it means to be a good man or woman, yet to have to also make tough decisions, to possibly kill, and to do things in war that you would normally not approve of. When I was reading The Hero of Ages and Elend struggled with decisions he made, I thought, wow, this is reminding me of In The Pale Moonlight. The season 6 episode of DS9 is one of my favorite in Star Trek, and I can’t imagine a fan of Mistborn not loving this episode, because it really explores the dark underbelly of the good guys.

Bittersweet End

 Both of these endings will give you feels, both sad and sweet. They close some chapters but open up new beginnings and possibilities for many characters and really for the world the story is set in.

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So seriously, if you’re a fan of one, you should really look into the other. They’re obviously different mediums, but both are fantastic stories. Deep Space Nine will not start off like Mistborn; it might even seem silly or just kind of OK to you at first, but I promise if you stick with it you’ll see all the things I’ve mentioned. And Mistborn is a slow burn of a book, taking its time to tell the story, but none of it feels unnecessary. Brandon Sanderson masterfully weaved together all the threads throughout the three books and leaves you without any confusion.

Are you a fan of one, or both, of these stories? 

Review: Mistborn

How to sum up Mistborn…

totally-wicked

5stars2The end.

Wait, did you want more than that? You want to know my thoughts on the plots, the characters, the world, be convinced that you should read this? Fine. I’ll oblige.

gr-mistbornHere’s what you need to know up front: This is 600+ pages of fantasy goodness. This is not for everyone, but if that doesn’t intimidate you, or at least you’re open to the idea, then this book probably is for you. One of my first inclinations of the book after I had started reading was that the story is a bit of a slow burn. Let me emphasize: it’s not a slow, drawn-out beginning with massive info dump and waiting for the story to begin. But the story takes its time to develop. The characters take time to develop. That’s part of what makes this story so worthwhile, because in the end it will impact you in ways a lesser developed story just could not have done. It’s all completely worth it and it’s never boring, even when things are moving slower. I never felt that Sanderson was just feeding me unnecessary filler.

The book focuses mainly on Kelsier and Vin, both born as skaa (slaves, essentially), both gifted, but otherwise pretty different. Vin is a 16 year old girl; Kelsier is a 30-something year old man. Kelsier has spent much of his adult life leading people; Vin just tries to scrape by unnoticed and unharmed. Kelsier has developed his abilities; Vin is only vaguely aware of hers. But when the two meet, Kelsier recruits Vin and takes her under his wing, and though she believes he intends to use her for whatever purpose he has and then dispose her, she slowly learns to trust him and his friends as they work and train together.

After a while, we also get introduced to my favorite character ELEND! It seems I have a thing for young noblemen who are a little defiant (Prince Kai in The Lunar Chronicles, Kiggs in Seraphina, Nikkolai in the Grisha trilogy…), but seriously, he brings books to balls and reads them there! What is not to love about that? And his interactions with Vin are gold. In fact, my only complaint for this book is that I think the development between Elend and Vin ended up being a little rushed (which feels crazy to say about this book); they seem to go from flirtatious banter to relationship suddenly. Not that it was too soon, but there is no explanation that I recall about them talking outside the balls, so I don’t when they established things because suddenly it was like bam, they’re a couple. I just wanted more of those interactions, dang it. But hopefully there will be more in the next two books.

This book is hard to explain because it is a fantasy with an intricate world and magic system, and the plot has a little bit of everything going for it: action, adventure, drama, comedy, romance… But seriously, it was all good. It’s character-driven but the plot is great too. And while the ending for this book was satisfying and does not leave you on a cliff-edge, I am certainly anticipating more. (But Nikki did warn me that I will need to read books two and three back-to-back, so that has been noted!)

By the way, just as a warning, not everything in the ending is happy. But the ending is still good and worth it, I promise. There are feels of all kinds in this book.

So basically, if any of this sounds appealing to you at all, you should read it. I think you’ll love it. I know I’m glad I gave it a shot. And I’m happy to give my first read of 2015 5 stars!

If you’re a Mistborn fan, feel free to gush in the comments! 

Content advisory: Mild language, moderate violence