Review Tuesday: Leviathan Wakes by James S.A. Corey

One of the endorsements quotes for Leviathan Wakes was from George R.R. Martin, which since I hated Game of Thrones (I’m pausing here for a moment for you to blink in shock and then curse at your computer…over it now? Good. Moving on.), was not an endorsement for me. I bought this book in spite of his quote. And I was not disappointed.

From Goodreads:

Humanity has colonized the solar system – Mars, the Moon, the Asteroid Belt and beyond – but the stars are still out of our reach.

Jim Holden is XO of an ice miner making runs from the rings of Saturn to the mining stations of the Belt. When he and his crew stumble upon a derelict ship, the Scopuli, they find themselves in possession of a secret they never wanted. A secret that someone is willing to kill for – and kill on a scale unfathomable to Jim and his crew. War is brewing in the system unless he can find out who left the ship and why.

Detective Miller is looking for a girl. One girl in a system of billions, but her parents have money and money talks. When the trail leads him to the Scopuli and rebel sympathizer Holden, he realizes that this girl may be the key to everything.

Holden and Miller must thread the needle between the Earth government, the Outer Planet revolutionaries, and secretive corporations – and the odds are against them. But out in the Belt, the rules are different, and one small ship can change the fate of the universe.

I was excited to start this book because I was looking for a new series to get into, and this series is at least 5 books, I think, and about 500 pages long. I ended up getting it originally from the library, and then halfway through it, I decided to buy the first 3 as a box set.

The book, at the very beginning, is a little bit challenging to get into only because there are a couple of different factions, languages, and politics to understand/learn about. Once you get the basics sorted out in your head then you fall into the story very easily.

The story was engaging, (though definitely gross in parts. This is not a book to read while you eat), and the characters memorable, (though I have to admit that I wasn’t a fan of Miller’s storyline from about the halfway point onwards). I never fully guessed what was coming down the pipeline, and I was always interested in finding out what was going to happen next.

I have not started watching the tv show yet, and I’m not 100% sure if I’m going to or not. (The gross parts really creeped me out, and I don’t know if I want those visuals in my head). However, I am definitely going to be reading book 2. I want to know what’s in store for humanity in The Expanse.

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Review Tuesday: The Human Division by John Scalzi

I love John Scalzi’s work and The Human Division was no exception. The Human Division is book five in the Old Man’s War series, and it follows Lieutenant Harry Wilson and the diplomatic team that he works with.

human divisionFrom Goodreads:

Following the events of The Last Colony, John Scalzi tells the story of the fight to maintain the unity of the human race.

The people of Earth now know that the human Colonial Union has kept them ignorant of the dangerous universe around them. For generations the CU had defended humanity against hostile aliens, deliberately keeping Earth an ignorant backwater and a source of military recruits. Now the CU’s secrets are known to all. Other alien races have come on the scene and formed a new alliance—an alliance against the Colonial Union. And they’ve invited the people of Earth to join them. For a shaken and betrayed Earth, the choice isn’t obvious or easy.

Against such possibilities, managing the survival of the Colonial Union won’t be easy, either. It will take diplomatic finesse, political cunning…and a brilliant “B Team,” centered on the resourceful Lieutenant Harry Wilson, that can be deployed to deal with the unpredictable and unexpected things the universe throws at you when you’re struggling to preserve the unity of the human race.

The first thing to note about this book is that the chapters were originally all published as separate e-books in a serial format. This book brings all of those chapters together into one unit. It doesn’t really change the flow of the story at all, but at the beginning of some of the chapters there is a bit a rehash for readers of what has happened before. It’s a wee bit irritating, but it doesn’t detract from the story at all.

This book is also a departure from the main characters that have made up the series so far – John, Jane and Zoe. Like John Scalzi said at the end of the previous book those characters deserved a happy ending and it’s good to let them be. This book like the description says is about Lieutenant Harry Wilson. Harry was in Old Man’s War. He and John were on the same ship that took their newly enlisted butts to space, and they became friends. Harry has been working a tech on a diplomatic ship, but he quickly finds out that there is more in his job description than being a technician and the fate of the universe starts to depend on him with (I’m sure for him) alarming frequency.

The book flows really well and has a good pace. It’s nice to still be in the Old Man’s War universe with some different characters. There is also a brand new plot arc in this book – or at least a twist that I definitely wasn’t expecting. I’m very excited to read the next one (the paperback version of the next books releases at the end of May!) and to see what happens with this new arc.

This is a fantastic series and one that you should definitely jump into if like science fiction or are even remotely interested in it. You will not be disappointed.

Review Tuesday: Zoe’s Tale by John Scalzi

Zoe’s Tale by John Scalzi is the fourth book in the Old Man’s War series. I don’t like a lot of scifi, but I really like John Scalzi. If his name is on it, I will read it. He’s one of those authors for me.

Zoe's TaleFrom Goodreads:

How do you tell your part in the biggest tale in history?

I ask because it’s what I have to do. I’m Zoe Boutin Perry: A colonist stranded on a deadly pioneer world. Holy icon to a race of aliens. A player (and a pawn) in a interstellar chess match to save humanity, or to see it fall. Witness to history. Friend. Daughter. Human. Seventeen years old.

Everyone on Earth knows the tale I am part of. But you don’t know my tale: How I did what I did — how I did what I had to do — not just to stay alive but to keep you alive, too. All of you. I’m going to tell it to you now, the only way I know how: not straight but true, the whole thing, to try make you feel what I felt: the joy and terror and uncertainty, panic and wonder, despair and hope. Everything that happened, bringing us to Earth, and Earth out of its captivity. All through my eyes.

It’s a story you know. But you don’t know it all.

Zoe’s Tale takes place at the same time as the events in book three The Last Colony, only from the perspective of Zoe. When I first realized that I was slightly concerned because I didn’t think that there could be that much to talk about, and that it would simply be a rehash of book three. But it wasn’t. Zoe was off doing a lot of different things in the last book, so it was interesting to see what she was getting up to. It was also interesting getting her take on things. It definitely changed how I viewed certain moments from the previous book.

There was also a massive key moment that involved Zoe in The Last Colony that was never really talked about, but in this book it was fully explained and you got to see what Zoe was really up to. I really enjoyed that. My prediction for her is that she’s going to be some kind of amazing diplomat. I can’t wait to see what she gets up to next and how she plays a role in the series going forward. I really like her. She’s a fantastic character.

This is a great series, and one that you should definitely read if you’re into scifi, and truthfully even if you really aren’t. I fly through this series. The books are just so good.

 

Review Tuesday: The Last Colony

The Last Colony by John Scalzi is book three in the Old Man’s War series, and this series is awesome. I don’t read a lot of science fiction but I love this series.

last colonyFrom Goodreads:

Retired from his fighting days, John Perry is now village ombudsman for a human colony on distant Huckleberry. With his wife, former Special Forces warrior Jane Sagan, he farms several acres, adjudicates local disputes, and enjoys watching his adopted daughter grow up.

That is, until his and Jane’s past reaches out to bring them back into the game–as leaders of a new human colony, to be peopled by settlers from all the major human worlds, for a deep political purpose that will put Perry and Sagan back in the thick of interstellar politics, betrayal, and war.

In this book we run across John and Jane again. Jane was in book two, but more as a secondary character, and John wasn’t in it at all. This book brings the two of them back and a bunch of time has past since book two.

They are put in charge of a new human colony that of course it not what it seems, and they and their teenage daughter Zoe move there. Cue, the intergalactical politics (and you thought earth politics was ridiculous at times).

The book was very well paced, and I just about flew through it. You see some character development from book one to book three, but these are mostly plot drive books, and the plot can definitely hold your attention.

The book ends on a surprising note for me. I was definitely not expecting it, and I’m very intrigued to see how book four unfolds. A book I will be picking up very soon.

Review Tuesday: The Ghost Brigades by John Scalzi

The Ghost Brigades by John Scalzi is the sequel to Old Man’s War.

One of my best friend’s Jay had Old Man’s War sitting on his bookshelf, and when I was browsing his bookshelf seeing if there was anything on it I wanted to read (there always is) I came across Old Man’s War, and Jay said that I had to read it. I’m very particular in what I read in scifi (i.e. I don’t like much of it) but I loved Old Man’s War. So naturally, when I was once again browsing Jay’s bookshelf and saw The Ghost Brigades, I asked to borrow it.

ghost brigadesFrom Goodreads:

The Ghost Brigades are the Special Forces of the Colonial Defense Forces, elite troops created from the DNA of the dead and turned into the perfect soldiers for the CDF’s toughest operations. They’re young, they’re fast and strong, and they’re totally without normal human qualms.

The universe is a dangerous place for humanity—and it’s about to become far more dangerous. Three races that humans have clashed with before have allied to halt our expansion into space. Their linchpin: the turncoat military scientist Charles Boutin, who knows the CDF’s biggest military secrets. To prevail, the CDF must find out why Boutin did what he did.

Jared Dirac is the only human who can provide answers — a superhuman hybrid, created from Boutin’s DNA, Jared’s brain should be able to access Boutin’s electronic memories. But when the memory transplant appears to fail, Jared is given to the Ghost Brigades.

At first, Jared is a perfect soldier, but as Boutin’s memories slowly surface, Jared begins to intuit the reason’s for Boutin’s betrayal. As Jared desperately hunts for his “father,” he must also come to grips with his own choices. Time is running out: The alliance is preparing its offensive, and some of them plan worse things than humanity’s mere military defeat… 

Once again Scalzi knocked it out of the park. This to me didn’t really read as a sequel. Most of the characters were different, and it takes place later in the timeline of the universe. This reads as a continuation of a series, and I loved it.

Jared is the main character and is born to the Ghost Brigades – a military group that you first learn about in Old Man’s War. The Ghost Brigades soldiers are different than the regular troops as they’re born into a full adult body. They hit the ground running just about – which would be weird for any human being. The first part of the book is really just about Jared learning things, and giving the reader time to learn about the soldiers who make up the Ghost Brigades.

Jared of course is different because he has another conscious living inside of him, so while he is a ghost brigade soldier, he is also different from the get go. He also doesn’t know about his unique situation at the beginning of the book, but as soon as he does learn the book moves quickly to bring the reader into the main crux of the novel.

I was never bored when reading this book, and the pacing was really good. There were one or two times where explanations went over my head on the first read, so I had to go back and reread them just to make sure I understood. There were also one or two times where events in the book just about brought tears to my eyes, and one scene where it definitely did.

For all that I’m not a huge scifi reading, this is a series and an author that I would highly recommend. I can’t wait to start reading book 3. So Jay…you’re making a trip to the bookstore right?