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Sci-Fi – Fiction Book Review: The Galahad Legacy

The Galahad Legacy by Dom Testa

In the distant future, a passing comet has left behind a deadly pollutant in Earth’s atmosphere. Bhaktul’s disease is fatal for all humans, but only takes effect in adulthood. In the search for a cure, one scientist devises an idea to send a group of young people to another planet where they can live free of the deadly disease and allow a future for humanity. Only 251 teenagers are sent in the impressive ship Galahad. Together, these teenagers must survive and thrive in order to reach their destination and keep humanity alive.

Triana Martell has just returned from her trip through a wormhole, and with her an alien representative of the Dollovit. Radiation is destroying the Galahad’s shields, so time is running out to reach their destination of Eos. The Dollovit aliens have offered a rescue and a choice of new homes. But their offer comes with a price.

The Galahad Legacy is the sixth and final book in the Galahad series. (Yes, the cover says #5. It’s a typo.) Testa has taken his readers on a wild ride through space with unique aliens, malicious saboteurs, high tech wonders, and an artificial intelligence with a sense of humor. As it would in high school, relationships have changed and developed in unexpected ways among the teens. Though, in regards to their jobs, the teens have been forced to mature and some have gained wisdom beyond their years. Self-sacrifice is more the norm than Merit’s constant (and annoying) lust for power.

There are numerous plot twists and surprises along the way. And this latest installment is the most exciting yet. Full of adventure, mystery, suspense, teenage angst, and tough choices – The Galahad Legacy is a fantastic conclusion to a series I didn’t want to end. It felt like the adventure was just beginning.

Sci-Fi – Fiction Book Review: Partials

Partials by Dan Wells

After war with the Partials (genetically engineered beings that look like humans) humanity is the endangered species. An engineered virus called RM wiped out most of humanity, and has killed every baby born since the war. Sixteen-year-old Kira is in medical training and is tired of the countless births without one baby that lives. The government is forcing younger and younger young women to get pregnant without hope of saving the babies. Now a violent revolution is looming because of opposition to the pregnancy laws. Kira decides to find a cure to RM using any means necessary, even if it means risking her life to save humanity.

Wells’ dystopian world is dark and seemingly hopeless, with the youngest known person a young teen. Humanity is dying out, no one seems safe from violent revolutionary attacks, the Partials and their goals are still a mystery, and soon Kira will be forced to get pregnant before she even knows what she wants to do with her life. Kira is a very sympathetic character, mature yet knows she isn’t ready for marriage and her own family yet. The setting and subject matter reminds me quite a bit of the Hunger Games. Though, Partials is slower-paced and more dramatic than action-packed.

I was hooked from the start with this surprising new YA debut. First in a trilogy, Partials has a creative hook on the post-apocalyptic setting with the mysterious Partials and the added horror of humanity dying out. Dark, and full of suspense, I loved every minute of this addicting YA novel. Science fiction fans of all ages should enjoy this intense futuristic adventure.

Partials will release from Balzer + Bray (Harper Teen) on February 28, 2012.

Fantasy – Fiction Book Review: Balthazar

Balthazar by Claudia Gray

When Skye is attacked while riding her horse in the woods, Balthazar appears just as suddenly to rescue her from a blood-thirsty vampire. Skye has a new psychic power after she let a ghost possess her back at Evernight Academy. And Redgrave, the ancient vampire who turned Balthazar, is pursuing Skye and seems to know something about her gift and wants to use it for his own gain. As Balthazar vows to protect Skye from the person he hates most, Balthazar and Skye begin to develop feelings for each other that go beyond just their immediate attraction.

This offshoot story follows events in the last Evernight novel, Afterlife, and Evernight Academy is no more. The charming and ever-gallant Balthazar has been a fascinating character in Gray’s former novels, so I was excited that he got his own story. Balthazar’s backstory is told in a jumble of flashbacks, bouncing around in time till we finally see the whole of his tragic past. With diverse and intriguing characters and an intense plot, this book was completely riveting. This vampire novel involves situations for a mature young adult readership, following a similar vein as the previous novels in the series. Dark and suspenseful, with plenty of violence, mystery, and romance – this standalone novel is a must for Claudia Gray fans.

Balthazar will release from HarperTeen on March 6, 2012.

Sci-Fi – Fiction Book Review: Pure

Pure by Julianna Baggott

In the years following the apocalypse, Pressia lives with her grandfather in a former barbershop. Pressia dreams of life before, because her current reality is filled with horrors. During the Detonations, everyone outside of the Dome was either killed or left horribly scarred and mutated, fused with whatever was nearby. Pressia has reached the age where she is required to join the military, but she decides to face the unknown and flee instead. Meanwhile, inside the Dome, people are whole and trained to be the best they can be. Yet Partridge is not happy. He constantly thinks of his mother who was left outside the Dome during the Detonations. And when Partridge receives a clue that his mother may still be alive, he’ll risk the shelter of the Dome for the dangers of the Outside.

Pressia is a sympathetic girl who, despite her creepy disfigurement of a doll fused to her hand, quickly becomes captivating. Partridge is naïve, but it’s easy to get caught up in his story as well. The massive worldbuilding of this dystopian scene is both disturbing and imaginative. The setting is dark and intense. Full of adventure, suspense, mystery, and a bit of romance – Pure is a much darker young adult, dystopia than others. With an incredibly climactic and dramatic escalation of startling events, this original and gritty story has a satisfying ending that will leave readers wanting more.

Fantasy – Fiction Book Review: Vampirates: Immortal War

Vampirates: Immortal War by Justin Somper

Having discovered their dhampir natures, Connor and Grace Tempest’s unique abilities continue to grow. Connor receives a surprising gift and continues as a pirate in the war. Grace resumes work as a healer, and finds herself torn when familiar faces show up at the Sanctuary. Meanwhile, a war is in full force as Sidorio’s Vampirates have successfully amassed a fleet and continually “recruit” new forces against the Alliance of Pirate Federation and Nocturnals.

The Vampirates saga concludes with this sixth installment. This epic series has amassed a vast amount of characters, stories and relationships. Characters have developed in unexpected ways. And a looming prophecy finally comes to fruition.

I finished this novel with mixed emotions. I’ve grown to love the individual Pirate and Nocturne characters. And though the changes have been difficult, the future still looks bright. Somper has taken his readers on a wild, swashbuckling ride through pirate (and Vampirate) infested waters. This unique series is a fantastic fantasy adventure for all ages, though the darkness and violence does increase throughout the series. Full of high seas adventure, magic, romance, and action – Immortal War is a strong and satisfying ending to an amazing series.

Sci-Fi – Fiction Book Review: Alienation

Alienation by Jon S. Lewis

Sixteen-year-old Colt McAlister is joining the CHAOS Military Academy, following in his grandfather’s footsteps and already making a name for himself as a hero for Earth. Colt and his friends Oz and Danielle will be trained to better fight off the looming invasion of the Thule, shapeshifting aliens that are seemingly unstoppable. Unsure who to trust, Colt learns about a secret in his past and a Thule assassin that seems to want Colt dead.

Following the events in Invasion, Colt has learned about a dark conspiracy. He’s also dealing with infatuation for a girl, while dealing with the CHAOS Academy and attacks on his life. But thankfully, the teenage angst takes a backseat to the action and adventure. Lewis’ futuristic world has many fun gadgets, advanced technology, and incredible aliens. Even though the story follows Colt almost exclusively, I would love to see future installments delve more into the Thule and their background and motivations. Right now, they’re still too much of a mystery and just The Big, Evil Aliens.

With plenty of danger, intrigue, and suspense – young science fiction fans should enjoy this fast-paced adventure. Though, reading the first novel, Invasion, is a must to get background on Colt and the Thule. I think I enjoyed Alienation as much as the first, if not more. Non-stop, action-packed thrills and excitement made it impossible to put down. And while there’s a satisfying ending, there is a mild cliffhanger that left me wanting more.

Fantasy – Fiction Book Review: Winterling

Winterling by Sarah Prineas

Raised by her grandmother, Jennifer (Fer) has never felt like she belonged, preferring the outdoors and the forest. While out exploring, Fer saves the life of what looks like a strange boy. But the boy is a puck, from another land, brought through the Way unknowingly by Fer. Fer desides to follow the puck back through the Way to discover what happened to her missing parents. But the other land is led by a powerful, dark Lady who wants Fer for her own purposes.

Fer is a likeable girl, both brave and trusting. Thrust into a mythical fantasy land of legend, Fer not only wants to find her parents but help the land and the sick creatures she encounters. Fer learns quickly not to trust the evil Lady, as she and the puck never want to answer any of her questions. This gets a bit annoying at times, since the reader wants answers as well. Prineas’ magical world of myth also has unique, fun rules. I enjoyed every bit of her creative characters and fantasy world. Full of adventure, mystery, and magic – Winterling is a highly enjoyable story for all ages.

Fantasy – Fiction Book Review: The Cabinet of Earths

The Cabinet of Earths by Anne Nesbet

Maya and her family have moved to Paris for a year, because of her father’s job. Maya and her younger brother James are soon introduced to a variety of unusual characters. But most peculiar of all is the old house with a salamander on the door that seems to move. Maya discovers that she has relatives in town with many secrets. And one is the Keeper of the Cabinet of Earths, but the cabinet seems to want Maya for its new Keeper.

I really wanted to enjoy this one. But the Cabinet itself and the plot line were hard to grasp and not explained well enough. The saving grace for me was the characters. Maya and her cousin who is almost invisible, her friend Valko, and the mysterious rich elite who don’t seem to age – these engaging characters kept me involved in the story. This bizarre tale of magic and immortality may appeal to its target audience of middle grade readers, but it the strange plot fell short for me.