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Category Archives: Science Fiction

The Maze Runner by James Dashner

Thomas wakes up in an elevator unable to remember anything about him other than his name. When the elevator comes to a stop he finds himself in a new world inhabited by Gladers, a group of teen boys that, like Thomas, have no memory of where they come from. The group has strict rules and wants Thomas step in line and earn his keep instead of asking questions and breaking the rules. But even they cannot answer the most pressing questions. Who are they? Why are they there? Who is the girl that just arrived and what does she mean to the group?

I watched the trailer for this book and was immediately hooked into the raw emotional situation facing these kids. How are they going to manage this new terrifying life? For me, I didn’t get that raw feeling while reading the book. The dystopian premise is a good one, I just got lost somewhere along the way. I would have loved to see more character development of Thomas and the girl that shows up right after him though I can understand that without any memory you aren’t supposed to have any character development. This is the first of a trilogy and naturally, Dashner pulled me back in with the last chapter and I’ll be reading number two…although a bit grudgingly.  2009, 375 pages.

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How I Stole Johnny Depp’s Alien Girlfriend by Gary Ghislain

So, I realized I was in a reading rut and starting picking up random green books to meet our library challenge for March. One of the ARC’s that came through the department caught my attention (really, who can resist Johnny Depp?) and I started reading…

David’s father is a renowned psychiatrist who has just acquired a new patient, Zelda. Zelda claims to be from the planet Vahalal where there are only women. Any men that show up on the planet are immediately destroyed. Zelda is on earth to claim her one true soul mate who just happens to be Johnny Depp. David immediately falls in teenage angsty love with bikini clad Zelda despite her clear disdain for him. Is David about to become an unlikely hero of an alien race or the latest sucker to believe a crazy girl just because she’s hot?

I started the book with curiosity and then just stuck around for the wild ride of teenage coming of age meets a hero’s heart of gold meets old school science fiction adventure. The story completely revolves around the plot and is so outrageous sometimes you just have to laugh and go with it. The characters are enjoyable and the French setting adds a little splash of different to the teen market. Save for one of those days when you need something quirky and fun. 2011, 208 pages.

 
 

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Match by Ally Condie

“The two desires struggle within me: the desire to be safe, and the desire to know. I cannot tell which one will win.”

Cassia lives in a future society where nothing is left to chance. The Society knows everything, especially what is best for you.  The Society controls everything from where you work, what you eat, who you will marry and even when you die. Cassia believes in the beauty and ease of her world until after her matching ceremony she sees not just her best friend Xander-who was her official match-but also another boy. One that she also knows. 

What I liked about Match was the realistic way in which we watch Cassia, for lack of better term, wake up. She starts out naive and trusting in this perfect world where the Society just wants everyone to be happy and equal.  The emotions brought by loss, a gift of something as dangerous as forbidden words and a potential love not foreseen by the Society is enough to bring Cassia into a storm of uncertainty and growth.  The secondary characters are nicely developed and do not conform to where we expect them to go in a typical dystopia. An introspective novel that encourages thought about the directions society can take us.  Fans of the Hunger Games or the Giver will most likely eat this one up.  2010, 384 pages.

 
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Posted by on January 19, 2011 in Science Fiction, Young Adult

 

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Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

With the cliff hanger provided in Hunger Games, the first book in the trilogy, I was like many fans waiting in anticipation for Catching Fire to be released.  Catching Firepicks up after the Hunger Games and Katniss and Peeta have returned home to District 12.  Katniss is uncomfortable with Peeta’s admission that their planned romance to win isn’t so business like for him as she also wrestles with her changing relationship with her childhood friend Gale.

A surprise visit from the President of Pelham quickly brings the harsh reality that Katniss and Peeta has sparked a revolution with their “love” defiance of the Capitol. With everything and everyone at stake they travel to the Capitol in hopes of squashing any rebellion. Epically failing, the Capitol shows how cruel it can really be and changes the very rules their society functions on. Will the spark become a fire or will everything be lost?

I stayed up late, really late, on a work night to finish this book. Like many readers, I am already attached to the characters and am wanting to watch them grow. I’m wanting the plot to evolve and develop into something new and I want revolution. Well, come on, the whole theme begs for it. Collins delivered to an extent on all three and I was left with my mouth hanging open at the last sentence so I’m keeping the jury out.  Book 2 is always tough and I think that is part of where it lost its punch.  Here’s to hoping that book three will provide the release that continued to build-even if only in the background-in book two. 2009, 291 pages.

 
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Posted by on September 29, 2009 in Science Fiction, Young Adult

 

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

I first heard about this book from our very enthusiastic teen librarian who had just gone to a YA workshop. The book that was the buzz of the workshop was Hunger Games, the first book in a proposed trilogy. Since then, I have seen it fly off the shelves as teens also took an interest.  Despite its popularity, I have not seen it make any of the “award” lists that are so popular these days.

Katniss lives in one of the poorest districts in what was once the United States. As punishment for a past rebellion, each district must send one boy and one girl to participate in the Hunger Games once a year where only one person survives. When her younger sister is drawn in the lottery Katniss does not hesitate to volunteer to take her place.

I won’t kid you, the topic is brutal. We are talking life and death of children here but the social commentary is wickedly smart and thought-provoking. The characters are well-drawn and the reader becomes conflicted and full of tension realizing only one person can survive. The pace is fast and uneven-surprises are everywhere but unlike a bestselling thriller, there is depth in these pages. This would make an excellent book discussion title. 2008, 374 pages.

 
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Posted by on February 13, 2009 in Science Fiction, Young Adult

 

Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

When picking the required reading for the science fiction genre class I teach at work, I read that if you read only one science fiction title, it must be Ender’s Game.  I was convinced because I trust the source and also, I knew that I really should have read this book a long time ago. I was not disappointed and the discussion we had in the class made me even more convinced that this is an engaging and certainly relevant title.

Ender Wiggin is six years old when he is taken from his family and sent to Battle School. He is thrilled to leave his sadistic older brother Peter and devastated to leave his sister Valentine who protected him and loved him unconditionally.  It is hard to remember that Ender is six as he quickly asserts himself as an intelligent and strong commander and he is promoted quickly. What we come to find out is that his success in the battle games he plays will determine the future of human life on earth.

I always forget how deeply philosophical science fiction is for the reader. It pulls you deeply in and makes you think about the ramifications of who we are and how we interact as a society.  Ender’s story is told by a master storyteller and provides the reader with a provocative view of how individuals make a difference. The pace moves quickly through the exciting action at the battle school and beyond, but readers interested in richly drawn characters who face a deep internal struggle will find much in the mind of Ender.  This is also a story that will appeal to pre-teen and teen readers who will recognize fellow students trying to fit in.  1985, 324 pages.

 
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Posted by on April 4, 2008 in Science Fiction

 

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Vossoff and Nimmitz : just a couple of idiots reupholstering space and time by Adam-Troy Castro

Vossoff is essentially evil and is always trying to conquer the world-he just never seems to get a break. Nimmitz is his sidekick and book idiot. Deja Shapiro is Vossof’s ex-wife and Nimmitz’s current wife. It gets weird from there. V & N proceed to get into lots of strange situations while trying to conquer the world. Think criminals without a clue.

This book falls solidly into the humor subgenre of science fiction that is represented most familiarly by Douglas Adams. Little character development and a fair amount of action create the bulk of this odd little book. 2002, 230 pages.

 
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Posted by on September 11, 2007 in Science Fiction