Song of Scarabaeus, by Sara Creasy
Prodigy Edie Sha’nim was trained at a young age to program technology called biocyph. But when she is kidnapped by mercenaries wanting to exploit her gift, she is given a taste of actual freedom away from the forced labor of the Crib government. Edie is assigned a bodyguard, Finn, who has no choice in the matter. But the two must work together to fight for their freedom against the mercenaries and the Crib.
Creasy has created a fascinating universe of advanced technology with debatable repercussions. Edie and Finn have great chemistry and are a bit of an “odd couple,” being complete opposites. Edie is naturally submissive and highly emotional. Whereas, Finn is stoic and rebellious. With subtle description, the characters and landscapes jump off the page. And within the first few chapters, I was pulled into the story.
This was a highly impressive science fiction novel from a promising new author. The technology was described enough to seem believable, yet not enough to get bogged down in explanation. And its blend of technology and moral ethics was surprisingly fresh. With plenty of mystery, danger, suspense, intrigue, and alien life – fans of the genre will definitely enjoy this exciting debut. Ending in a mild cliffhanger, readers like me will be eager for a sequel.
Song of Scarabaeus will release from Eos Books on April 27, 2010.
Project U.L.F. Reacquisition, by Stuart Clark
Wyatt Dorren has retired from alien trapping, leaving the Interplanetary Zoological Park (I.Z.P.) to start a family. But when a fanatical group breaks into the zoo, releasing its deadly inhabitants, Wyatt is the only man qualified to coordinate a reconnaissance and rescue effort. While Wyatt and IZP employee and protégé Chris Gault track down the escaped alien creatures, police officers Ed Lieberwits and Ed Wood track down the people responsible for the mayhem. But the detectives discover a shocking mystery behind the break-in, one that began years ago.
I can’t say enough about how much I enjoyed this one. Clark’s characters are sympathetic and engaging. And the aliens are scary and unpredictable and loose in Chicago. While this novel is a sequel of sorts, it’s also a solid standalone. And as before, this latest installment is an action-packed, nail-biting, thrill ride. The book reads like movie, the action jumping from scene to scene between the various characters. And the non-stop suspense builds throughout the novel, to its exciting conclusion. It’s a fantastic, engrossing story that any scifi fan will enjoy. Don’t miss this or Clark’s debut novel Project U.L.F.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.