Friday, February 12, 2016

Review: Assassin's Heart by Sarah Ahiers

Book Description:

In the kingdom of Lovero, nine rival Families of assassins lawfully kill people for a price. As a highly skilled member of one of these powerful clans, seventeen-year-old Lea Saldana has always trusted in the strength of her Family. Until she awakens to find them murdered and her home in flames. The Da Vias, the Saldanas’ biggest enemy, must be responsible—and Lea should have seen it coming. But her secret relationship with the Da Vias’ son, Val, has clouded her otherwise killer instinct—and given the Da Vias more reason than ever to take her Family down.

Racked with guilt and shattered over Val’s probable betrayal, Lea sets out to even the score, with her heart set on retaliation and only one thought clear in her mind: make the Da Vias pay.

With shades of The Godfather and Romeo and Juliet, this richly imagined fantasy from debut author Sarah Ahiers is a story of love, lies, and the ultimate vengeance.

Reviewer's Copy: ARC

Source: Harper Collins(Thank you!)

My Thoughts:

I could smell the rich aroma of Italy off the pages. The setting was beautiful and was charged with vivid imagery and arresting landscapes. The startling difference between the kingdom of Lovero and the places beyond its scope proved how well the author fleshed out her story world. I delighted in Assassin's Heart's atmospheric quality. It was like weaving a blanket made of the feeling, the essence of your surroundings and wrapping yourself in it.

Assassin's Heart was true to its title and satisfied my expectations when it came down to it being an assassin novel. Ahiers reintroduced readers to the world of assassins. She opened the massive weaponry closet and brought us to the laboratory filled with poisons and antidotes. I liked how Ahiers described action, in such a way that made it seem cinematic, slow-motion and then lightning-speed in my mind. I am a fan of action scenes and Assassin's Heart was filled with it. The book had an intriguing concept, Family over family. Assassins were grouped into Families, more like clans with members bearing a single surname, tied by blood, tied by marriage and tied by agreements. The good of the Family would always come first before their own families. I liked the concept although I had doubts about its effectiveness. People really tended to be biased when it came down to family and it was a difficult task to uphold the rule Family over family.

Lea Saldana was fierce, determined and always ready with her poisons. She belonged to the first Family, the strongest of all the assassin Families in Lovero. There was a certain kind of high and prestige that came with the surname Saldana. Lea as a character was amusing and badass. Blade-wielding, clad in leathers and stealthy, she was the stuff my dreams were made of. However, I didn't get as emotionally attached to her as I normally did with other characters. There was something lacking in her or the way she was portrayed that affected her relationship with me, as a reader. I admired her perseverance and bravery but then I wished that she could have accepted the kindness given to her more. I wanted to break down her walls and get to know her better. Lea was grieving and out for the blood of her Family's murderers. In her journey to prepare for the single, great act of revenge against the suspects, I went along with her, witnessing her hardships, watching as she met the challenges head on. She was a promising character and I admired her bravery but I just wished that I could have connected to her more.

Val was Lea's love interest. He was handsome, dripping with luxury, charm and confidence. Although, he and Lea were from rival Families, they were both drawn to each other. When you were sly and quick on your feet, it was easy to sneak away to meet at secret rendezvous points. But when your entire Family had the same ability, the risk heightens. Every time that Lea and Val were together could be their last. One wrong move could be the spark that ignited the bomb that would plunge them headfirst into chaos. I enjoyed Val and Lea's interactions. They were both lethal and yet risking everything they had for the wrath of the people they held close. Val immediately caught my eye right from the start. I wished that I got to know him better to be able to judge his character fairly.

The Da Vias were the second highest Family in Lovero. With them sharing their territory with the Saldanas, the tension between the two Families were at an all-time-high. It was like watching a collision in slow motion, granted that collisions were always bloody affairs dripping with betrayal, pain, loss and desire for vengeance. The families had a long and dreadful history. I liked how Ahiers gave us slivers of the past, with which to understand the present of the story world. 

There were mythological/paranormal elements in the book as well. The Clippers, the assassins, were disciples of Safraella, the goddess of death. There were sound explanations and details forming the background of Safraella and her works. Lovero was plagued by ghosts, who were hungry for human flesh to control and claim as their own. When the king of Lovero started worshipping Safraella, the goddess blessed the country and kept its streets ghost-free. This theme was tackled more towards the end of the book and it brought about a literary enlightenment of some sort. I liked the history painted in the book, however, I would have liked more background on the pantheon of gods and goddesses involved in the story as a whole.

Assassin's Heart is an atmospheric, adrenaline-riddled, action-packed fantasy. This is a unique take on assassins that would interest fantasy and mythology readers. I recommend this to readers who are looking for a fantasy that is not revolving around a royal family, readers who are interested in atmospheric reads (novels that give you a taste of Europe, Italy to be specific) and readers who want books with action and blood.


Rating:


4 Cupids = Strong book love.
I really enjoyed this. I recommend this!


Monday, January 25, 2016

Review: No Love Allowed by Kate Evangelista

Book Description:

Paperback, 256 pages
Expected publication: April 19th 2016 by Swoon Reads

It's all fun and parties until someone falls in love in this modern fairy tale from author Kate Evangelista.

Caleb desperately needs a fake girlfriend. Either he attends a series of parties for his father’s law firm with a pretty girl on his arm, or he gets shipped off to Yale to start a future he’s not ready for and isn’t sure he wants. And sadly, the last unattached girl in his social circle has just made the grievous mistake of falling in love with him. Fortunately, Didi, recently fired waitress and aspiring painter, is open to new experiences. As the summer ticks by in a whirl of lavish parties, there’s only one rule: They must not fall in love!


Reviewer's Copy: ARC

Source: Kate Evangelista (Thank you!)

My Thoughts:

Upon cracking open No Love Allowed, I thought that it would be similar to the other no-strings-attached contemporary novels I have read. Instead, I was swept into a thrilling story about pretending, parties and paintings. The collision of Caleb and Didi’s worlds created a beautiful spark. They physically lived in the same area and yet they might as well be living in two different galaxies. They were the kind of people who didn’t meet and go out every day. Their meeting was exhilarating and refreshing.

Didi was under a lot of pressure. She and her mom were barely getting by, with all the bills and the medication that Didi needed. Our heroine was not as psychologically stable as we would have liked her to be but with this little handicap, came her abundance of inspiration and creativity. Didi agreed to Caleb's proposal for the fun and the chance to breakaway from her typical daily routine. I am quite fond of characters with mental conditions - I truly am. Didi was a fascinating subject. I liked that this novel didn't show the darker side of mental conditions, unlike most novels I have read in the past. Didi's condition became her "feature," a fact, a reality that brought about good and bad things. I liked how it wasn't treated as negatively as it was in other novels. This enabled me to keep an open mind easily, to witness and understand its effects on Didi as a whole without judging right from the start.

Caleb was the boy who had all the resources at the tips of his fingers. He would do everything in order to get back his gap year, which would be spent roaming Europe, far away from his distant father. I actually expected to dislike Caleb. That was what usually happens when I read stories with this kind of plot. But I was quite surprised when I ended up rooting for him. Although the No Love Allowed rule came from him, I saw in the beginning that he was in more risk of breaking the rule than Didi. He was surprisingly sweet and thoughtful in his own way. He reminded me of the song The Only Exception by Paramore, believing that love brought about bad things instead of the opposite. With Didi, the doom and gloom vibe of his otherwise glamorous life fell away.

I liked how the Caleb and Didi's relationship developed, from a catastrophic incident at the clubhouse, to agreeing on a no-strings-attached-set-up, to nearing the end of their agreement, and yet being unable to fully let go of one another. It was sweet and a little bit chaotic. The collision of two different worlds made their interaction more fun. I particularly liked Caleb's teasing and swag and Didi's personality and bubbly, enthusiastic side. Together, they made a cute pair right from the start.

I liked the story world that Kate painted in this novel. It had a movie-like quality to it, in the sense that I could imagine the setting and the vibe easily in my head. The parties and all the planning and preparation really intrigued me. I loved details in my books, and Kate gave me just what I wanted: a shower of details, from the very basic, generic ones down to the tiniest ones. I could imagine No Love Allowed as a television show, even. It was vibrant, filled with life and a cast of strong personas. The secondary characters were as magnetic as Caleb and Didi. Nathan and Preston were a sight to behold, the closest friend of Caleb. Nathan was the resident gay supportive friend. Natasha was the beautiful goddess, model-esque cousin. She was friendly and supportive to both Caleb and Didi. But to be honest, I wanted to see more of her and Preston. I wanted to get into their heads.

No Love Allowed was a vibrant, fun-filled and paint-splattered contemporary novel that would leave readers entertained, hooked and wanting more. I wished that the book was longer. I loved the story world and the cast of characters so much that I wanted to spend more time to get to know them and explore every inch of the setting. Though, I am hoping that Kate's follow up to No Love Allowed, starring Nathan and Preston, would be the answer to this. I recommend this to readers of contemporary romance, readers who are looking for a fast and fun read - you could easily finish this in one sitting -, readers who are interested in novels with psychological themes and novels exploring family dynamics.

Rating:


4 Cupids = Strong book love.
I really enjoyed this. I recommend this!


Monday, January 11, 2016

Review: Revenge and the Wild by Michelle Modesto

Book Description:

Hardcover, 384 pages
Expected publication: February 2nd 2016 by Balzer + Bray

The two-bit town of Rogue City is a lawless place, full of dark magic and saloon brawls, monsters and six-shooters. But it’s perfect for seventeen-year-old Westie, the notorious adopted daughter of local inventor Nigel Butler.

Westie was only a child when she lost her arm and her family to cannibals on the wagon trail. Nine years later, Westie may seem fearsome with her foul-mouthed tough exterior and the powerful mechanical arm built for her by Nigel, but the memory of her past still haunts her. She’s determined to make the killers pay for their crimes—and there’s nothing to stop her except her own reckless ways.

But Westie’s search ceases when a wealthy family comes to town looking to invest in Nigel’s latest invention, a machine that can harvest magic from gold—which Rogue City desperately needs as the magic wards that surround the city start to fail. There’s only one problem: the investors look exactly like the family who murdered Westie’s kin. With the help of Nigel’s handsome but scarred young assistant, Alistair, Westie sets out to prove their guilt. But if she’s not careful, her desire for revenge could cost her the family she has now.

This thrilling novel is a remarkable tale of danger and discovery, from debut author Michelle Modesto.

Reviewer's Copy: ARC

Source: Harper Collins(Thank you!)

My Thoughts:

Let me get things straight: Westie was one of the wildest characters I have ever met. She was brimming with spunk, sass and daring. As a result, she got into a lot of trouble, adventure and heart-stopping suspense. Despite her impulsive mind and her penchant for getting knee-deep in catastrophic situations, I liked her just fine. She had her reasons, background and motives and she stuck to them all throughout the book. She was the kind of heroine who knew what she wanted and worked on getting it, persistently. Her ability to try again and again and again, despite failures, obstacles and deep-seated fear, made her one of the bravest heroines in my eyes. Her wildness was a beacon of light, a reminder of youth and possibilities. But then, Westie was also an incredibly flawed character. She had a problem with drinking, which was a result of her traumatic past and Alistair’s distance. As she plowed ahead, in hopes of fixing her drinking problem, she generated a series of other problems. It was the kind of domino effect that I would normally see in a movie – seemingly unavoidable, ill-fated and dramatically comic in a way. I had so much fun reading about her experiences, whether it was good or bad.

Alistair was the loyal friend, the one who was always there when Westie needed help. Although there was some distance between them at all times. He was a harder character to understand. Alistair had layers protecting him from inspection. As the story progressed and Westie and Alistair got the opportunity to become closer, breaking through the walls they built around themselves, Alistair’s layers cracked and unraveled, revealing the boy within. He was loyal to a fault, which was a good thing in this case, given Westie’s impulsive and danger-magnet nature. They have lived together under a roof for so many years and yet, in the last three years, they barely spoke a word. How could two people not talk frequently and yet be able to understand each other just fine? I liked how the author developed Alistair and Westie's relationship. It was slow and simmering - just enough to give me butterflies.

Rogue City was a beautiful setting for the story. It was mostly isolated, far from the main cities. It was a sanctuary for humans and creatures, where both can live together in peace without the promise of death. Rogue City was protected by a magical dome that was being held in place by the Wintu Tribe. The landscape of the setting was varied, from the woods to the river, and finally to the sprawling houses.

The creatures were diverse. Almost all mythical creature mentioned across the folklores of the world were represented in the novel. But the ones I liked the most were Jezebel, the chupacabra bet of Westie and Nigel, and a thousand-year-old vampire named Costin. Costin was your typical vampire prince, devastatingly debonair, exuding charisma and confidence, with a velvet voice that could make a girl melt. Despite his inhuman nature, he had a good heart. He was protective of Westie and would do anything in his power to keep her safe. I wanted to ship him with Westie, but the powers be wanted our heroine with another boy.

The plot unraveled smoothly. One thrilling plan was followed by another, stacking up into a series of mini disasters and surprises. I thoroughly enjoyed Westie’s plotting and scheming as she aimed to get revenge for the cannibal family who killed hers. Reading the close encounters and face-offs between Westie and the Fairfield family was a hair-raising, edge-of-your-seat experience. James, the gorgeous boy who traveled with the Fairfields, was another unknown variable in Westie’s equation for revenge. He was quite well-mannered and had a sad past. For some reason, Westie couldn’t help but feel that he was innocent. And yet, in this book no one was truly innocent. I kept analyzing every move and every action of the characters.

Revenge and the Wild is a wild, suspenseful and romantic gallop into a vivid steampunk world. It had a distinct movie-esque vibe for me, in the sense that it had the kind of magic that made it vivid enough to be imprinted in my head. Readers would be thoroughly entertained and intrigued with the novel's catastrophes and perilous errands, colorful conversations, and close encounters. I highly recommend this to steampunk and fantasy readers alike, readers looking for novels with a wild, daring heroine. You won't regret it.

Rating:


5 Cupids = Eternal book love.
I will never, ever, ever forget this book. I highly recommend this!


Wednesday, January 06, 2016

Review: Uprooted by Naomi Novik

Book Description:

Hardcover, 437 pages
Published May 21st 2015 by Macmillan

Agnieszka loves her valley home, her quiet village, the forests and the bright shining river. But the corrupted wood stands on the border, full of malevolent power, and its shadow lies over her life.

Her people rely on the cold, ambitious wizard, known only as the Dragon, to keep the wood's powers at bay. But he demands a terrible price for his help: one young woman must be handed over to serve him for ten years, a fate almost as terrible as being lost to the wood.

The next choosing is fast approaching, and Agnieszka is afraid. She knows - everyone knows - that the Dragon will take Kasia: beautiful, graceful, brave Kasia - all the things Agnieszka isn't - and her dearest friend in the world. And there is no way to save her.

But no one can predict how or why the Dragon chooses a girl. And when he comes, it is not Kasia he will take with him.

From the author of the Temeraire series comes this hugely imaginative, engrossing and vivid fantasy novel, inspired by folk and fairy tales. It is perfect reading for fans of Robin Hobb and Trudi Canavan.

Reviewer's Copy: Hardcover

Source: Bought

My Thoughts:

I read this book a few months ago and I feel like I am still lost in its pages. Lost in a very, very good way. I cannot imagine anything better than this. I was addicted to it, as if it was an elixir that I was suddenly abusing out of pleasure. I couldn't pry it off my hands and I couldn't summon the willingness to stop and so I read it, day and night, until finally it was finished.

The story world of Uprooted was undeniably old world, with its own magical charm. It was like injecting fairytale serum into an old kingdom setup. I loved the vivid descriptions of the world and how atmospheric the entire novel was. I felt like I lived in the valley and in the tower. The imagery that the author created in my mind, with her words, was simply astonishing. It was like looking into a mirror to the world on the other side of it: the reader got every detail. The social hierarchy, political system and magical system were thoroughly explained. I didn't want any answers anymore because I got more than I asked for. A lot of themes were tackled such as family ties, friendship and the foundations and cracks of legends.

The Dragon was a very interesting wizard, indeed. I enjoyed reading about his snappy, almost-always-irritated and sarcastic way of talking. It was a bright star in the universe of stiff, formal dialogue that one expected when stumbling into a high fantasy. I was thoroughly amused and entertained at the banter between the Dragon and Agniezscka. I found attraction, hints of a budding romance and so much more in their lines.

Agnieszka as a character, was so genuine and just down to earth. She was just herself and didn't plan on changing for anybody else. I loved that she remained true to herself throughout the entire book. She remained anchored to what she believed in. Her humor and her determination really entertained me. Every scene that she was in had a possibility to become an instant comedy and it was refreshing to see so much humor in a fantasy novel.

The Wood was such a mysterious element of the novel. It was powerful, patient and intelligent. The wood had the capacity to plan ahead and strategize how it could expand and gain even more power. It was very much like the "Red Queen" of Uprooted, cunning and horribly unstoppable. But it was such an enlightenment to understand where the Wood was coming from, why it sought revenge and blood and why it wouldn't stop.

The plot was beautifully crafted. There was just enough breadcrumbs for me to follow, enough walls for me to find to make Uprooted a challenging guessing affair. The politics of the castle, the motives of the royal family and the critical situation of Kralia made the story even more interesting. Each character had his own motives. Each one was a bright light vying for my attention and at the same time, demanding my suspicion. I was always doubling back, rethinking and reevaluating their role in the story, deciding if they were on the good team or the bad team - this was one of the things I liked the most in Uprooted.

Uprooted is a fantasy of unforgettable, unputdownable proportions, with its amazing world building and deliciously sweet plot. Uprooted is pulsing with danger, slow-burning romance, and wondrous magic. I highly recommend this to readers of fantasy, preferably older fantasy, and readers looking for atmospheric reads!

Rating:


5 Cupids = Eternal book love.
I will never, ever, ever forget this book. I highly recommend this!



Tuesday, January 05, 2016

Review: Sword and Verse by Kathy MacMillan

Book Description:

Hardcover, 384 pages
Expected publication: January 19th 2016 by HarperTeen

Raisa was just a child when she was sold to work as a slave in the kingdom of Qilara. Despite her young age, her father was teaching her to read and write, grooming her to take his place as a Learned One. In Qilara, the Arnathim, like Raisa, are the lowest class, and literacy is a capital offense. What’s more, only the king, prince, tutor, and tutor-in-training are allowed to learn the very highest order language, the language of the gods. So when the tutor-in-training is executed for teaching slaves this sacred language, and Raisa is selected to replace her, Raisa knows any slipup on her part could mean death.

Keeping her secret is hard enough, but the romance that’s been growing between her and Prince Mati isn’t helping matters. Then Raisa is approached by the Resistance—an underground army of slave rebels—to help liberate Arnath slaves. She wants to free her people, but that would mean aiding a war against Mati. As Raisa struggles with what to do, she discovers a secret that the Qilarites have been hiding for centuries—one that, if uncovered, could bring the kingdom to its knees.

Reviewer's Copy: ARC

Source: Harper Collins(Thank you!!)

My Thoughts:

Raisa was an endearing heroine. She was realistic, in such a way that she was not entirely rebel and not entirely turning her back on the Arnathim. She was somewhere in between, being pulled to different directions by her desire to help her people, her personal goal to decode her heart-verse, the last reminder she had of her family, and her pounding heart. She struggled and grappled with hard decisions and impending consequences throughout the book. Her honesty, desperation, loyalty and perseverance made her 100% human in my eyes. Raisa knew her strengths and weaknesses and embraced them. She was a beautifully flawed character who made mistakes and sometimes, bad decisions. But she rolled along with the consequences with grace, and this was one of the things I liked about her.

Mati was the kind-hearted prince charming of the story. Devastatingly handsome with his olive skin and onyx hair, I fell for him along with Raisa. The weight of responsibilities and expectations dragged him down. With an anti-Arnathim circle, he needed to be one step ahead of everyone, if he wanted to keep his throne and protect Raisa. Mati was one of the most loyal characters I have ever encountered, through good and bad times. I liked his conviction and dedication to see things through. He was the true prince charming, minus the stallion and the armor, but with a sword and secret passages.

This book reminded me of The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski because of the class struggle and master-slave relationship. Qilarites were olive-skinned and black-haired, the reigning class in all of Qilara. They were the ruling class, composed of guards, courtiers, priests and royalty. The Arnathim, the slaves, were pale-skinned and had varying colors of hair. My first impression was this: the generic, stereotypical assumption on the races of masters and slaves was reserved. The concept was refreshing and quite daring, if I may add. The Qilarites were suppressing all manifestations of rebellion but in doing so, they were creating a bigger fire. The Arnathim Resistance was bristling with anger and thirst for revenge for all their loss and suffering. Though not all Arnathim were part of the Resistance. Most of them were too scared to lose their lives or endanger their loved ones. The situation was a mirror of real life histories, such as the Philippines during the Spanish Colonial Period.

At the beginning of every chapter, there was a short part retelling the story of the pantheon of gods and goddesses that Qilarites and Arnathim worshipped, reminiscent of the Greek mythology in some ways. As Raisa and Mati’s story developed, the mythology of the story world complimented the events. Sword and Verse was actually two stories in one book. The author did a splendid job on the elaboration of her own mythology and it resonated and fit in the story.

The plot of Sword and Verse was beautifully crafted, like a colorful tapestry: there was an abundance of twists and turns and surprises to keep the reader guessing, heart-warming, smile-inducing romance that could flip the reader's world at any time, loss, heartache and tragedy to keep the reader grounded in the story world's reality and salvation to give the reader hope. The book was quite political, too. I loved how the characters moved and thought, struggling to be one step ahead of the other in this political game. Power, influence and impending doom played into the story raising the stakes.

The writing style was fluid and easy to lose yourself into. I delighted in each page that I read. The book had an endearing cast. I enjoyed reading about the Resistance the most for some reason. Jonis, the not-so-nice, spunky rebel leader, had barbed banter with Raisa. He was just doing everything in his power to survive and keep his people as safe as possible, all while plotting how to bring down the Qilarites. The children slaves made my heart ache with their innocence, lost childhood and suffering.

All in all, Sword and Verse was a beautiful, romantic and heart-shattering debut, with the forbidden romance, the deliciously sweet rebellion, the mystery behind the writing and the mythology. I'm giving this book a five because it appealed to the softer side of me: the hopeless romantic and the lover of all things written. It might not be as epic or action-packed as I was expecting it to be, but it definitely satiated my thirst for fantasy and romance. What a way to start 2016. I highly recommend this to fantasy readers, romance readers, people who are looking for a colonial-period, historical vibe book and people who are interested in books about class struggle.

Rating:


5 Cupids = Eternal book love.
I will never, ever, ever forget this book. I highly recommend this!


Monday, December 21, 2015

Reviewing Slump, the silence and 2016 + Giveaway!

Hi guys! It's been a while. It's been quiet around here. *looks around nervously* I know that it was a sudden hiatus on my part. I have been drafting reviews and posts several times a week but somehow, I just couldn't finish anything that I write. There's so much going on: work, the novel that I'm working on, and life in general. It didn't help that I was having a bad case of reviewing slump. I read several books these past few weeks - one after another - and yet I couldn't write about them. But today, I managed to finish one of the drafts I started two months ago. I see this as a sign to continue. That, and the fact that I'm organizing a blog event for next year.

Me, reading, anywhere, anytime

My dear friend, Michelle from The Escapist, who officially said goodbye to the blogging world, to focus on something much more important to her, hosted Celebrating Debutantes annually. She passed the blog event to me and I'm more than happy to continue it for her. I typically go for fresh talent, debut novels. So it's logical for me to celebrate debutantes.


It's gonna be my first blog event since the last wave of Dystopian Domination. I'm ecstatic since I will be organizing this with a close friend, Cai from Blackplume. Keep in touch for news on Celebrating Debutantes 2016!

Before you go, I have a surprise for you. Yes, you. I met Jennifer E. Smith, the most amazing contemporary author alive, earlier this year. If you're in the Philippines, if you haven't heard of her, want to read her books, or if you simply must have the signed hardcover of The Statistical Probability at First Sight, then you can join this giveaway. Update: the giveaway prizes are now: signed copy of The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith, The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh and a signed copy of Savor by Kate Evangelista. Open to residents of the Philippines this time around. (Sorry international peeps! I will whip up something for you soon.)

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Sharing the book love,

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Review: Illuminae by Amie Kaufman + Jay Kristoff

Book Description:

Hardcover, 608 pages
Published October 20th 2015 by Knopf Books for Young Readers

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.

Told through a fascinating dossier of hacked documents—including emails, schematics, military files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and more—Illuminae is the first book in a heart-stopping, high-octane trilogy about lives interrupted, the price of truth, and the courage of everyday heroes.

Reviewer's Copy: ARC

Source: Dianne and Pinoybooktours! (Thank you!)

My Thoughts:

Illuminae is hands down the best science fiction novel I have read this year. As I'm writing this review, I find myself grasping, searching and squeezing-my-eyes-shut-thinking of words to describe my reading experience. I found the book most intriguing and incredibly unique. The format of the story was unlike any other, in such a way that it was comprised of various files that were gathered about the incident: chat conversations, official statements, outlines and blueprints of the spacecrafts involved, emails, medical reports, official exchanged between ships, written reports that were narratives of audio and surveillance footage, files and more. I thought that because of the format, I might find the narration limited and cagey. I was wrong on so many levels. The variety in the formats enabled the reader to jump from one perspective to another, while enjoying the story from the back seat. I was able to experience the story in various forms and form a thorough understanding and form healthy guesses based on the information presented.

Kady and Ezra. The two ex-lovers by label, silent lovers by choice. Ezra was a pilot, flying a Cyclone, which was the first line of defense of the Alexander. He was brutally honest and cursed too much for his own good, and yet I found him charming. He could be a representative of the modern guy, with a kind heart and a conscience amidst the darker attributes. Getting a female main character that was a talented hacker was a bonus. Kady was a genius with code. It was amazing to see her at work as she broke through the walls and security systems to get the most hidden and most coveted information about the attack on Kerenza and the chaos that was the travel to Heimdall by Copernicus, Hypatia and Alexander. I admired her perseverance, bravery and guts. She was a modern heroine, unafraid to test the water and to swim hip deep into the unknown. She was a very private person. I saw myself in her silence, in the risks that she took and in the sacrifice that she did. She was the ultimate example of a person on a "no regrets" policy in life. I loved the banter between them, albeit limited. It was one of a kind. They broke up right before their planet was attacked. The sudden separation, emotionally and physically, drew them apart. Through sparse emails and forbidden chat conversations, they reunited. There was spark between them that was easy to spot. Somehow, this satisfied me despite the fact that the novel was primarily focused on action and destruction. I loved reading about these two - how they interacted, worried about one another and eventually tried to save each other while digging for hard truths.

The plot was what I would consider catastrophically epic. When I thought things couldn't get worse, it did. When I thought the cast had suffered enough, they suffered even more. The setting reminded me of Glow by Amy Kathleen Ryan, with two more spacecrafts, more people and more firepower. I enjoyed reading about the specific culture in each vessel. But what really intrigued me the most was the Alexander and its military crew. With the Lincoln, the enemy, hot on their heels, Torrence and his men were breaking under the pressure. They were understaffed, forced to conscript civilians into service and to make things worse, their ship took damage and their artificial intelligence system, AIDAN was going crazy. I enjoyed reading about the military aspect of the book. I've always been fond of military fiction and it was so rare to find a book that goes into full detail about it. The authors were focused on every little detail, and that made me appreciate the story even more.

Another thing that I liked about Illuminae was AIDAN, the out of control AI. It was a fascinating experience to try to understand the point of view of an intelligent yet unliving, incorporeal thing. It was programmed for defense and security, to protect and prioritize the fleet. However, because it has no morals, its decision-making was surprisingly unorthodox and tragically cruel. It was a terrifying exhibit of what might happen with mankind's inventions.

Illuminae is a beautifully chaotic and wild adventure into the unknown. Readers are bound to experience the following symptoms: adrenaline rush, heart stoppage and system restart at suspense and terrifying scenes, heartache due to brutally tragic events, laughing like a crazy person over the humor injected into the story, getting butterlies in your stomach over unexpectedly sweet scenes and lastly, goosebumps over the gorgeousness that is Illuminae. Highly recommended to all human beings alive, especially science fiction enthusiasts!

Rating:


5 Cupids = Eternal book love.
I will never, ever, ever forget this book. I highly recommend this!

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