Category Archives: SciFi

Book Review: Star Trek: Unspoken Truth

Star Trek: Unspoken Truth

Star Trek: Unspoken Truth, by Margaret Wander Bonanno

Introduced in early Star Trek films, Saavik is a half-Vulcan, half-Romulan protégé of Spock. This is her story. As a child, Saavik was rescued from Hellguard along with other children that the Romlulans had abandoned after a failed biological engineering experiment. Spock brought Saavik home to Vulcan to be raised by his parents, Sarek and Amanda. Saavik is now an officer in Starfleet with a bright future. But her world is turned upside down when childhood friend Tolek, tells her that the now-grown survivors of Hellguard are being hunted down and killed. Then, a Romulan confronts Saavik with news that he is her biological father and that she must help him destroy her adoptive father Sarek’s career as an ambassador. If Saavik doesn’t agree, not only will she be killed, but Sarek as well.

This ambitious novel tracks the life of a minor character (though certainly an interesting one) in the Star Trek universe. Despite Saavik having been portrayed by two different actresses (Kirstie Alley, Star Trek II and Robin Curtis Star Trek III & IV), we are only given a glimpse of her relationship with Spock, and nothing about her origins. Author Margaret Wander Bonanno wrote of one of my favorite Trek novels – Strangers from the Sky. And here, she fills in the blanks about where Saavik came from and her connection to Spock and his family. Bonanno fleshes out this complex character and gives her incredible depth and motivation.

It is not a requirement, but definitely helpful to have a good knowledge of Star Trek films II-IV as the novel references all of her scenes and the circumstances with Spock’s death and regeneration. But then, what original series fan doesn’t know the movies well?

Drama, mystery, intrigue, and first contact – this story will appeal to any true Star Trek fan. The plot is as complex as Saavik herself. It’s thought-provoking and moving, yet full of wonder and excitement – this is why I love science fiction and Star Trek novels in particular. I will now be tracking down Bonanno’s novels that I haven’t yet read. First the classic Strangers from the Sky, now this inspiring Unspoken Truth – I am dually impressed.

Graphic Novel Review: Star Trek: Spock Reflections

Star Trek: Spock Reflections

Star Trek: Spock Reflections, by Scott Tipton, David Tipton, David Messina, and Federica Manfredi

On a mysterious journey from Romulus to Federation territory, Spock reflects on his life and what brought him to his current situation – bringing Vulcan philosopher Surak’s teachings to the Romulans. Spocks reflections highlight his life from his childhood on Vulcan, to his station aboard the Enterprise under Captains Pike and Kirk, to his recent quest to bring unification to the sister races of Vulans and Romulans.

I have been very impressed with the Star Trek comics that IDW has been producing; and this one is no exception. Artist David Messina does a fantastic job of rendering several familiar characters as well as new, and adding scenes and images that speak just as loud as words. Star Trek fans should certainly enjoy this poignant graphic novel. It’s an absorbing and heart-tugging story about one of Star Trek’s most interesting characters.

Book Review: Max Cassidy: Escape from Shadow Island

Max Cassidy: Escape from Shadow Island

Max Cassidy: Escape from Shadow Island, by Paul Adam

Teenage Max Cassidy is an escape artist, following in his father’s footsteps. But his father was murdered two years ago, and his mother wrongly accused and imprisoned. When a strange man shows up after Max’s latest show, he claims that Max’s father is still alive. Max’s one clue is a piece of paper with only numbers written down. But Max will return to the place that his father was last seen in Santo Domingo, a country with a corrupt regime. Max’s search leads him to a small island with a former prison that is still guarded with armed men. Risking his life to save his family, Max begins a dangerous journey to discover the truth.

Max is talented, smart, and extremely brave. When faced with a hard decision, he does the brave thing and won’t stop until he rescues his loved ones. He’s a brilliant combination of a young James Bond and Harry Houdini. And Max’s adversaries are just as mysterious and deadly as any Bond villain.

The story is fast-paced, with heart-pounding suspense. Excitement and mystery abound. As the climactic ending approaches, Max just begins to unravel the secrecy behind Shadow Island that ends in a fun cliffhanger. I devoured this book in record time, loving every minute of it. Young action and adventure fans shouldn’t miss this new series.

Book Review: The Shadow Project

The Shadow Project

The Shadow Project, by Herbie Brennan

Young Danny Lipman is a talented thief. But when he breaks into a secret government facility, Danny is introduced to a world he didn’t know existed. Teenagers are being used as government spies for MI6, via remote viewing, which a person’s energy leaves their body and travels anywhere, not being seen or heard. This has been a completely safe procedure, until Opal’s latest mission. When tracking a dangerous terrorist, Opal is seen by an evil mystic and captured outside of her body.

Despite being a thief, Danny is a likeable character, brave and protective of his elderly grandmother. Danny’s grandmother is not the frail, ill woman she appears to be either. Opal and Michael, the current available teenage operatives are confident on the outside, but on the inside just insecure teens. A fantastic, complex plot, edge-of-your-seat suspense, and a new look at the world of the paranormal; this was a surprising and completely unique story. With the feeling of a spy novel, this science fiction/fantasy novel covers a lot of ground, literally and figuratively. The blending of these genres should attract a wider range of audience, from teens to adults.

Book Review: Cosmic

Cosmic

Cosmic, by Frank Cottrell Boyce

12-year-old Liam is tall for his age, and is often mistaken for an adult. He has a fascination with thrill rides and theme parks, so Liam jumps at the chance to try out a new one involving a rocket. But the problem is that Liam enters the Greatest Dad Ever Contest as a dad. But this is no ordinary thrill ride. Liam and a rocket full of only children are blasted into space, where things go horribly wrong.

Liam is a smart and gifted boy, but at heart is still only 12. He makes many bad decisions, but along the way discovers what it means to be a good dad. With many humorous twists, Liam also consults a book on being a good dad and how to talk to children. The characters are wacky, reminding me a lot of “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” at times. Loads of laughs, crazy situations, and several feel-good moments throughout made this a surprising treat. This science fiction story for children is a fun read for all ages, and is truly “cosmic” as Liam would say.

Book Review: The Breach

The Breach

The Breach, by Patrick Lee

Former policeman Travis Chase has just been released from prison when he decides to journey through the Alaskan wilderness. But when he comes across a plane that has crashed, his vacation abruptly ends. Aboard the plane, there are no survivors, and the President’s wife is among the victims. But before she died, the First Lady left a disturbing message that will lead Travis on a mission to find the remaining hostages and recover a dangerous artifact.

Travis Chase is a smart and tough hero with a past that haunts him. His detective instincts and skill lead him on the adventure of a lifetime. Lee’s characters are all vivid and well-developed. And this is no ordinary thriller, as the plot revolves around mysterious and advanced technology. As the complex plot unfolds, the massive conspiracy is not what it seems at first glance.

Thrilling action and suspense paired with elements of science fiction make for a fantastic combination. With characteristics of a good James Rollins adventure, this stunning debut blew me away. Non-stop excitement and danger, and I never saw the final climactic twist coming. The build-up of suspense, fascinating technology, a unique hero, and plenty of action, I couldn’t put this one down. This will certainly go on my list of favorites of the year.

Book Review: Star Trek: Inception

Star Trek: Inception

Star Trek: Inception, by S.D. Perry and Britta Dennison

Young doctor Carol Marcus is researching an exciting field that could terraform barren planets and end hunger. But this latest project will take her away from her beau in Starfleet, Jim Kirk. The two are in love, but their career comes first for both of them. Meanwhile, botanist Leila Kalomi meets Starfleet officer Spock, while trying to find direction in her life and decides to join Marcus’ team. But there are some that do not want the terraforming research to continue. And those with a grudge may be a danger to the project and the scientists themselves.

Star Trek fans are familiar with the events in the film Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, where we are introduced to Carol Marcus and Jim Kirk’s son that he never knew, as well as a project known as Genesis. This story takes us back to the relationship between Carol and Jim and what happened between the two, years before Jim becomes captain of the Enterprise. The authors bring new light to events only hinted at in the movie. Here, we are able to see a moving but fated love story. Though I knew the eventual outcome of the lives of several of the characters, it didn’t lessen the intensity or feeling.

Inception is an interesting story of love, loss, ambition, and the impact of scientific advancements. The characters are vivid and their stories poignant. This novel is quite different than others in the various series, but I found it wonderfully written and captivating. The story focuses more on personal interactions and drama than action and adventure, yet I found it very engaging and a quick read.

Book Review: Malice

Malice

Malice, by Chris Wooding

When Luke and Heather decide to read a comic called “Malice,” Luke decides to try out an urban legend. He calls for the character Tall Jake to take him away. And Luke disappears. Luke’s friends Seth and Kady decide to track down a copy of the mysterious comic book, but soon find themselves in danger. For the world within “Malice” is real.

Told in an incredibly creative way, Malice goes back and forth from novel format to comic. The world within Malice is creepy and foreign, with dangerous machines and desperate, trapped children. Seth is a brave friend, who seeks adventure and excitement. Kady is a bit more reserved, but has surprising secret of her own. The characters involving the Malice world are eerie and larger than life, just as the world itself.

Malice is an extremely fast-paced and gripping read. Written for Grade 7 and up, it is a bit dark, as some children do die. I was pleasantly surprised at how well the story flowed between the novel and comic. The suspense had me captivated. With plenty of surprises along the way and a cliffhanger ending, I’m looking forward to the sequel coming later this year. Teen and adult fans of comics and fantasy will enjoy this spine-chilling tale.


Check out the interactive website here:
http://www.scholastic.com/malice/

Malice