#NGEW2019, Book Reviews, Fiction, Science and Climate Fiction, Tags and Challenges

The Municipalists by Seth Fried

I’m slipping this review in on a lazy, stormy Sunday afternoon because, honestly, I don’t normally review books that I didn’t finish. The Municipalists, however, is an interesting dystopian tale that comes so close to being really good that I think there may be those out there who enjoy it far more than I did and for that reason I want to bring it to your attention.

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Set in the near future, man has achieved its dream of creating a near perfect city, Metropolis, that is run, along with its sister city, by the United States Municipal Survey. It’s all quite perfect, logical, white button down, starched shirts and a place that makes our protagonist, Henry Thompson, the ultimate bean-counter, very VERY content. Until the day when a series of bombs are detonated and begin to systematically destroy the infrastructure that keeps Metropolis running, including its very important artificial intelligence systems. Henry Thompson, along with his wise-cracking AI, OWEN, are tasked with hunting down the suspects, including a former US Olympian and daughter of one of the top bureaucrats.

The Municipalists has such a great premise and a cast of wonderful characters. The dialogue between Henry and OWEN is almost worth the time it takes to read the book. The problem is that no idea in itself is ever fully developed. The characters, aside from OWEN, ironically, never are fleshed out so there is no attachment to them. The idea of this world crumbling around these happens so quickly in the beginning of the book that the satire, which should be present, is not. You recognize that it should be there, and the void it leaves it palpable. There are thrills, shoot-outs, and adventures for Henry and Owen but because you are not invested in their characters, these incidents don’t really matter. In essence, the words are there, the premise is there but they are not woven together into material that is strong enough to capture and hold your attention.

I really would like to see more from this author and can recognize that there is talent here but perhaps not wholly realized just yet.

Thank you to #PenguinPublishingGroup and #Edelweiss for my copy of #TheMunicipalists.

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#NGEW2019, Book Reviews, Fiction, Science and Climate Fiction, Tags and Challenges, Uncategorized

The Psychology of Time Travel #Kate Mascarenhas – #PublicationDay

The Past, Present and Future collide in Kate Mascarenhas’ brilliant debut book, The Psychology of Time Travel.Β 

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I love and adore the concept of time travel. Thinking about the books and movies that I grew up with, some of my favorites included The Time Machine, Star Trek, Back to the Future and, of course, the cult classic, Somewhere in Time. Today we have books like Outlander that take us back and forth in time and our concept of time and relativity has grown more fluid over the past few decades. So, naturally, when I saw this book, I just had to grab it up and read it. And I loved it!

The Psychology of Time Travel begins with the story of the pioneers of human time travel who, quite wonderfully, are four female scientists. In fact, the entire book is magnificently woman powered and it is one of the aspects of the book that I found so marvelous! As we transition into the second phase of the book, the present, we find that one of the pioneers is now an old woman who is with her granddaughter. They receive a mysterious post regarding a death that will happen in the future – which, of course, leads us to the future section of the book where the murder will take place. From there the book has a fluid timeline as the characters attempt to solve the crime – or stop it from happening – either in the present or future or, for some, in the past. Confused yet? Yes, there are times that the back and forth in time does get a bit mind boggling, but the story itself is one of mystery and crime and that is what makes the book so fascinating. It’s a detective story set in time – or space – or in the time warp continuum. Hmmm. It’s like Dr. Who meets Hidden Figures.

When you’re a time traveler, the people you love die, and you carry on seeing them, so their death stops making a difference to you. The only death that will ever change things is your own.

This is, by far, my favorite passage in the entire book and, I think, it is one of the reasons that I find time travel so intriguing. Since the beginning of time, mankind has been curious about what happens after death but what if this is what happens? We are simply transported to a different time, a different place. Perhaps time, and life, and our souls are merely traveling from place to another. It’s not too unreasonable to imagine – if you dare. πŸ˜‰

I suspect there are those who will say that they don’t read books like this and that’s okay. This definitely was a book for me and I enjoyed it a LOT! I hope some of the skeptics out there will at least give it a look, I think you will like it if you do.

Thank you to the author, #Netgalley and #CrookedLaneBooks for my copy of #ThePsychologyofTimeTravel.

Dystopian/Near Future Fiction, Fiction, Science and Climate Fiction, Thriller

The Line Between @ToscaLee

Wow! Rarely would I begin a review with just “wow” but rarely have I read a book this amazing! Wow! The Line Between is a seamless marriage of dystopia meets thriller that will have you on the edge of seat from start to end which, if you’re like me, will be a day of non-stop reading!

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Wynter Roth had lived in a doomsday cult since her mother entered New World when Wynter was 7 years old. It was a cross between apocalyptic fear mongering meets vegan preppers with a lot of male chauvinism thrown into the mix. The cult leader was “Magnus,” a former scientific researcher who developed seeds. Now Magnus is attempting to bring about the end of the world to prove his prophecies are true. Wynter, for reasons you have to read to know, is kicked out of the cult shortly before a pandemic begins sweeping across America. Only she knows who is behind the deadly disease and only she can stop it.

Wynter is one of the best written characters I have read in ages. She’s vulnerable, yet strong; naΓ―ve but keenly intelligent. Most of all, she is fearless. All of these qualities will be needed in order for her to trek across America in an attempt to bring the knowledge that she has in her possession to a researcher who can find a prevention or antidote for a virus that is creating madness in the human race.

Tosca Lee is a masterful story-teller. At no point throughout the book did I doubt the plausibility of the characters or their actions. Lee takes time in the beginning of the book and through a “flashback” dual timeline, to allow readers to truly know Wynter, the cult members and their lifestyles and, through her eyes, we are able to watch as her disbelief begins to grow as well as her struggle with her faith as doubt creeps into her thoughts. I also thought that way Lee described Wynter’s post-cult re-integration was deftly written. However, the writing toward the end of the book was brilliant and breath-taking! The ending itself is nothing short of perfection – except, I WANT MORE!!

The Line Between is an amazing thriller, an even better dystopian novel and an absolute must read for 2019! You can pre-order your copy today for a January publication.

A million thanks to #Netgalley, #ToscaLee and #HowardBooks for my advanced copy of The Line Between.

Dystopian/Near Future Fiction, Science and Climate Fiction

Sunlight 24 @merritt_graves

A genre that I’ve lately found intriguing is “near-future” fiction. It’s not always dystopian in nature, nor does it fall into the realm of sci-fi, or perhaps it does. Regardless, I like books that take an event or scenario happening currently and run it to its natural conclusion. If you think about it, that is basically what Orwell did with 1984, or was done in Brave New World. The authors viewed the effects of the Industrial Revolution and allowed their imagination to see the ultimate end-game: and they were too accurate for comfort. Sunlight 24, a young adult/new adult thriller, does exactly this using nanotechnology and gene splicing as well nootropic supplements and their effects on the human brain. (see this link if you are not familiar with nootropics)

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Sunlight 24 is a fast paced, roller coaster ride and one heckuva a great read! Set in the near future, in a world where the climate and robots have completely altered the daily lives of humans, man has found ways of making themselves less redundant: Revision. Simply put, they are altering their DNA using gene therapy, nano-bots and nootropics to make themselves faster, stronger, and definitely smarter. The drawback is that only the most wealthy can afford these “revisions,” creating a world where the haves and have-nots are clearly separated with only the “haves” succeeding. Enter Dorian whose family is barely getting by and cannot afford revision. Without revision, Dorian cannot get into a good university and without a degree in Nano-technology, he will be shackled forever by his limitations. But, Dorian has a plan to steal from the wealthy in order to afford smaller increments of revision. Each revision influences his next choice of revision until, ultimately, he realizes he is losing a bit of his own self, what makes him Dorian. He also does not suspect that his brother, a psychopath, is doing the same revisions as Dorian, also funded by nefarious means. The ultimate conclusion is explosive – literally – as well an eye opening look at the monster we are creating.

Merritt Graves, author of the cult thriller “Lake of Mars,” has created a brilliant look at the future where genetic mutation and nootropics rule the day. As someone who already takes nootropic drugs, I found the ultimate conclusion of this book to be frightening as well as enlightening. In the end, I was questioning what we already are doing, what we could do and what will remain of our own humanity when we do. If this sounds confusing, it isn’t really. Graves is a masterful story teller and, although the tale became a little over the top toward the end, Graves deftly keeps the story on track to its horrifying conclusion.

Admittedly, the book is a little too long and could use a good bit of editing. There were times when I felt parts of the story weren’t necessary to the overall story-line. It also helps to remember that this is told from a high-schooler’s point of view because it is a young adult thriller. As such, you aren’t going to get the thoughts and concerns of the parents, teachers, scientists, etc. This is, ultimately, Dorian’s story and is told from his point of view only. That didn’t diminish my enjoyment of the book in the least and I heartily recommend it for those who enjoy this type of genre.

Thank you to #Netgalley #merrittgraves for my copy of Sunlight 24.

 

Science and Climate Fiction, Thriller

The Genius Plague

I’m not a microbiologist, nor do I play one on t.v.Β  I do, however, love speculative fiction that comes dangerously close to reality and that is exactly what we have with The Genius Plague – a cli-fi thriller reminiscent of Robin Cook’s Outbreak.Β 

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The Genius Plague is, at heart, the story of two brothers, Paul and Neil. Neil is a microbiologist studying fungus in the rainforest. He arrives home with never before discovered spores only after surviving what many thought was a “terrorist attack” during which all others on the boat were killed. However, upon arrival Paul becomes deadly ill with fungal pneumonia. When he awakens from his illness-fed stupor, he is… different… smarter, more focused – a genius. But at what cost and how does his new found brilliance relate to the problems (concerns) that Neil is having at the NSA? What follows is an incredible thrill ride through the South American jungles, the secret rooms of the NSA and the hidden networks of …. mushrooms. While that may seem a little far-fetched, take a moment to think about the deadliest diseases affecting the world as you’re reading this – they all are fungal related. Go out and dig in your garden. Do you see those tiny white filaments that look like spider webs? Fungi. We, humans and our environment, are completely and totally reliant on the fungi that is all around us. What happens when it decides it is smarter than its hosts? These are the questions that “plague” you in “The Genius Plague.” Β  Β