The Field on the Edge of the Woods (Volume 1), by Michael Weber, Gary Morgan, and Loran Skinkis
When film producer Gary falls asleep, he wakes up in the middle of the woods. But when the Grim Reaper pitches a script idea to Gary, the real story begins.
Impressive artwork accompanies a story that begins to unfold, in this first of four planned books. The characters are fantastically drawn. Though, some of the wording is cut off and a bit hard to read. At just 48 pages, this graphic novel is a fast and easy read. Infused with fantasy, mystery, and humorous characters, this is a highly entertaining debut with a promising start.
For more info, check out http://FilmsandComics.com
The 13th Hour, by Richard Doetsch
When Nick Quinn is held for questioning at the police station, it seems the police are convinced that Nick killed his own wife. Someone has framed Nick for her murder. But then, a stranger arrives with a bizarre opportunity for Nick. The stranger gives Nick 12 hours to save his wife and prevent her death. Each hour he will travel back in time to the previous hour in hopes of unraveling the plot around her death. But everything he does in the past, will affect the future, for better or worse.
The plot seems a bit confusing at first. I thought it might be hard to read. Instead, we live hour-by-hour with Nick and experience his race to uncover clues to his wife’s murderer. Nick makes occasional mistakes that have serious repercussions. But each hour, he is able to learn from the previous one and try to stop events from happening in the past.
Not only is the plot and design unique, but the story is incredibly fast-paced and impossible to put down. The suspense is intense, caught up in drama and fantastic characters. There are twists and turns in each hour that unfolds, leading to a surprising climax. This is a must for mystery and science fiction fans alike. But simply put, I loved this book and would recommend it to anyone.
The 13th Hour releases from Atria on December 29, 2009 in bookstores everywhere.
Incarceron, by Catherine Fisher
Incarceron was created to be a paradise. Instead, it has become a warped and ruined prison world. Finn is one such prisoner, but with no memory of his past beyond waking in a cell. But Finn has dreams of an outside world, dreams that may be memories. And when he discovers a mysterious key, Finn embarks on a journey to escape Incarceron, if there is a way out at all. Meanwhile, young Claudia is betrothed to Prince Caspar, a cruel and naïve boy. Her only hope in escaping an unwanted future is a key that she has found to Incarceron, of which her father is Warden. Claudia and Finn hang all of their hopes on each other, when they discover they can communicate through the keys. But escaping Incarceron will be much more difficult than either of them can imagine.
Finn is a sympathetic character, especially when he mourns his bad decisions. He wants nothing more than to escape Incarceron, but not at the expense of his friends. Though, we’re never quite sure what some of his friends would do if the situations were reversed. Never knowing what was going on inside of their heads definitely added to the suspense of each circumstance they were thrown into. The story is told mainly from Finn and Claudia’s point of view. Claudia is often called haughty and cold, though the reader only sees her as a compassionate girl towards her teacher and Finn. The greatest suspense of the story is driven by the Warden’s and Queen’s treachery and deceit.
I confess to being a little confused when first starting the story. The setting was unclear, and characters even more so. But after a couple chapters, the story set into motion, characters started developing, and I was soon caught up and couldn’t put it down. Incarceron is a fantastic story that both science fiction and fantasy fans will enjoy. Written for young adults, the main characters are teenagers; but the story translates for adults as well. No sappy, teenage angst. But there is plenty of drama, intrigue, and mystery in this captivating tale. This was definitely one of my favorite reads of the year.
Incarceron will be released from Dial Books on January 26, 2010.
Diving into the Wreck, by Kristine Kathryn Rusch
Set in the distant future, Boss is a professional wreck diver, who salvages valuables from abandoned spacecrafts. When she comes across a mysterious and ancient ship, her curiosity is overwhelming. But an unknown danger waits inside. The ancient ship contains stealth technology that has yet to be perfected. Years ago, Boss lost her mother to similar technology. After the death of several comrades, Boss is faced with the moral dilemma of whether or not to leave the stealth technology in the hands of the military, potentially endangering countless more lives.
Written in first person narrative, readers experience everything from Boss’ point of view. Boss is a recluse, never fully trusting anyone. And we are shown the reason why during flashbacks of Boss’ past. The story focuses more on the plot and events, rather than character development. But what it lacks in character depth, Rusch makes up for in creating suspense and making readers think. I also give praise to Rusch as well for not overdoing the details for stealth technology. Enough information is given to make imaginations flare, but not enough to burden the story.
I have read several of Rusch’s media tie-in novels, but this is the first original novel of hers that I have read. I now consider myself a fan. Full of adventure, danger, intrigue, and futuristic tech, this is what scifi readers, like me, crave. Science fiction fans should definitely check out this latest release by Rusch.
The 4400: Promises Broken, by David Mack
Following the events in The 4400: Welcome to Promise City, tension is escalating between the US government and Jordan Collier promicin-positive followers. And the 4400’s greatest foe, the Marked, have devised a plan to wipe out the p-positive, but countless innocents will die as well.
David Mack and Pocket Books have finally given fans of the show the resolution we have been waiting for, since its untimely cancellation. The characters have changed and developed, but not beyond reason. And suspenseful as ever, this latest installment has Agents Baldwin and Skouris making the most difficult decisions of their lives. They must choose sides and risk everything. And, ultimately, Kyle’s prediction of the fate of the world lying with Tom Baldwin comes to a head.
With all of the characters we’ve come to know and love, Mack has skillfully rendered each with believability and soul. The story is gripping and fast-paced, with a climatic ending that no 4400 fan should miss. And while there is a satisfying ending to the overall story arc, there is plenty left open for future accounts and other avenues to explore. This was a fantastic conclusion to an incredible series. And I, for one, would love to see it continue on in further novels, particularly if the same authors return.
Star Trek: Voyager: Unworthy, by Kirsten Beyer
When Seven has a mental breakdown after hearing about the death of her beloved aunt, Chakotay resigns his commission to take care of her. He decides to take her back to Voyager to join a fleet heading back to the Delta quadrant, searching for answers to the recent Borg assimilation by the Caeliar. Shortly after arriving, the fleet comes across a cooperative of races that idolize the Borg. To make matters worse, there seems to be a saboteur on board, with an unknown agenda.
Besides Chakotay and Seven, several other original Voyager characters return. Tom Paris, Harry Kim, and the Doctor have joined the fleet. And B’Elanna Torres and her daughter have planned a rendezvous with Paris that goes awry. Following the aftermath of the Borg invasion and Janeway’s death, spirits are low. But when the remaining former crew members meet up again, it soon begins to feel like old times. Though, there were quite a few new characters, of which I sometimes lost track.
Since there has been a revamp to the Star Trek universe (and of course, Voyager found it’s way home), this is a different crew than the one we’re all familiar with from the show. But there is no less mystery and adventure. The story is complex with quite a bit of emotional turmoil involving several characters. But race relations and exploration remain at the forefront, leaving this Star Trek fan satisfied and excited about where Voyager ventures next.
Flashforward, by Robert J. Sawyer, is the basis for the new hit show on ABC.
In an experiment gone awry, the entire population of the world loses consciousness for two minutes and has a vision 21 years in the future. Then the world wakes up to chaos. As a result of the world-wide blackout, there were countless accidents and deaths. And it seems that scientists Lloyd and Theo from CERN are responsible. In Lloyd’s vision, he is married to a different woman than his current fiancé. And Theo didn’t have a vision at all. Which leads people to believe that he will be dead within the next 21 years. When someone steps forward to say they have information on his death, Theo begins an investigation into his own future murder.
This story is so unique, that I had no idea what to expect. The main characters are completely wrapped up in worrying about their own futures, even though that future is quite far off. Guilt about the aftermath of the Flashforward seems to be secondary to everyone involved. In a lame attempt at shifting blame, Lloyd insists that there is no free will, and that the future will happen no matter what.
It will certainly make readers think and ponder over the future and reality. Those not into physics, may gloss over at some of the long descriptions. But overall, the story is suspenseful and complex. The jump to 21 years later, at the end of the book, seemed abrupt. But the threads of the story were wrapped up. And with a few interesting twists to the story, I thoroughly enjoyed this distinctive science fiction tale.
Century: Ring of Fire, by Pierdomenico Baccalario, is the first of four books in the Century series.
“Every hundred years, four kids from four cities must save the world.”
On December 29th, three families arrive at a small hotel in Rome. Due to an error with reservations, Elettra’s family finds themselves overbooked. But that night, four children from different countries discover a strange coincidence. They all share the same, rare birthday: February 29th. When a blackout occurs, the children wander outside and encounter an odd man who hands them a briefcase. Later, they discover that the man was murdered. Elettra and her new friends must follow the clues inside the briefcase before the evil killer can catch up to them and stop them from finding the mysterious Ring of Fire.
Written for pre-teens, the story is short and very fast-paced. The mystery/mission is a bit muddled. It’s still not clear why the children need to be from different cities, why there need to be four of them, what the significance is of their birthdays, and why there is an evil presence trying to stop them (since their supposedly saving the world in some manner). Hopefully, these things are explained in the later books. As it is, this first episode is very suspenseful, to say the least. A menacing assassin is at their heels, and the children are never sure who they can trust.
The characters are larger than life, some comical. But readers are left in the dark about certain key characters and their motivations, for now. This definitely had the feel of a “Da Vinci Code for young readers” but with quite a bit more at stake. Ring of Fire is certainly a fun and exciting start to a series with certain potential.