Book Review: I, Robot: To Protect

I, Robot: To Protect, by Mickey Zucker Reichert

In the year 2035, Susan Calvin is a new psychiatric resident at a prestigious New York hospital. After a couple of discoveries, Susan is able to help two of her patients to the point of release from the long-term psych ward. She immediately impresses her superiors and is asked to participate in a clinical research trial involving nanobots on psych patients. But when some of her patients begin terrorist-like activity, Susan begins to question the nanobot programming.

Inspired by the collection of Isaac Asimov’s classic science fiction stories, I, Robot, Reichert’s new trilogy incorporates the same rules of robotics.
1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
2. A robot must obey the orders given to it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws.

Susan is a brilliant doctor who speaks her mind and respects honesty from others. The patients in her long-term psych ward are children with a variety of mental problems. Reichert’s characters are incredibly fascinating. The children’s stories are heart-wrenching and thought-provoking. I found myself caught up in the story immediately.

This first installment in the trilogy feels more like a medical drama, lighter on the science fiction. I hope the robot/cyborg aspect is explored more in future releases, but the story certainly wasn’t lacking. While there is an ending to this first novel, there are still plenty of questions left unanswered to be addressed in the next. Reichert is a gifted storyteller, bringing me into Susan’s life and putting me through all of her obstacles, successes and failures. And every bit of it was engaging and captivating.

I, Robot: To Protect releases from Roc Books on November 1, 2011.

Book Giveaway: Doctor Who: The Silent Stars Go By

Courtesy of BBC Books, I have a copy of Doctor Who: The Silent Stars Go By by Dan Abnett for one (1) lucky winner!

Contest is open to US and Canada only. To enter, just fill out the form below. Contest ends November 25. I’ll draw a name on November 26, and notify winner via email.

Good luck!

Read moreBook Giveaway: Doctor Who: The Silent Stars Go By

Book Review: Tempest

Tempest by Julie Cross

In 2009, nineteen-year-old Jackson Meyer is in college with a girlfriend named Holly. But only he and his best friend Adam knows Jackson’s secret: that he can travel through time. In all of his jumps back in time, nothing ever gets changed, and he feels a pull back to his original time so no problems have ever come up. Then, one day strange men arrive at Holly’s apartment, and during the struggle, Holly is shot. And Jackson is thrown back in time to 2007, before he knew Holly. Now Jackson has the time to save Holly and figure out who the men were and what they wanted. But Jackson isn’t the only time traveler. And he is far from safe in 2007.

Jackson is a seemingly average young man with an incredible ability, one that he doesn’t even fully understand yet. He loves Holly, so his first thought is to integrate himself into her life early and get to know her and win her over all over again. While there are bits of romance in this young adult novel, the relationship seems to take a back burner to the time travel and espionage aspect. Many marketing blurbs and reviews have compared this novel to Hunger Games, but there is next to nothing that resembles the dystopian trilogy. Instead of Hunger Games, I’d say this is more Time Traveler’s Wife meets The Jumper.

First in a new trilogy, Tempest is a bit bewildering with the amount of characters and time jumping involved. Without delving into too many spoilers, Jackson’s father has many secrets and it’s unclear if his side is good. Their opposing force is the EOT (Enemies of Time), who are even more cryptic and never fully explain their actions or motivations. Though, emotions seem to be a deterrent, which may explain their flat character development for now. Cross does have a creative take on time travel, with partial jumps that don’t change the timeline as opposed to full jumps that create alternate realities. Obviously, the science fiction themes are heavy, which I enjoyed. Alternating between suspenseful time jumps, dramatic storylines with Holly, and bizarre intrigue with Jackson’s father and colleagues, Tempest is something different, with plenty of mystery that kept me reading.

Tempest releases from St. Martin’s Griffin on January 3, 2012.

Book Review: The Dark Elite: Firespell and Hexbound

The Dark Elite: Firespell and Hexbound by Chloe Neill

When Lily Parker’s parents go to Germany for work, she is sent to St. Sophia’s boarding school in Chicago for her junior year. Lily quickly becomes friends with her suitemate named Scout, but soon learns Scout has a secret and disappears at night. When she sees Scout being chased by a ruthless teens with strange powers, Lily becomes involved in a struggle between good and evil.

While out patrolling the Chicago underground for Reapers, Lily and Scout stumble across mutant rat-like creatures with a killer instinct. Meanwhile, Lily is trying to master her powers unsuccessfully. A boy with similar abilities claims he wants to help her. The only problem is that he’s one of the bad guys. Though, he claims the sides aren’t as black and white as they seem.

Firespell and Hexbound are the first two installments in the Dark Elite series. Lily and Scout are good friends with a great sense of humor. Their witty banter is what is most appealing about them. Add supernatural powers, a bit of romance, and plenty of mystery for a winning combination. Neill’s world of paranormal abilities, vampires, and werewolves does have something that sets it apart from others. It seems that magical abilities are given to a select number of teens, but when they reach adulthood, the magic fades. Reapers are super-powered humans who take innocent lives in order to keep magical abilities past adulthood. Factions of Adepts are their only opposition, fighting to protect humans, and willing to give up their powers when they become adults.

As Lily slowly learns more about the Dark Elite, she also discovers that her parents have been keeping secrets. Over the course of the first two novels, readers learn along with Lily more about her parents’ secret and more about the Dark Elite. But there are still many questions left unanswered that will keep readers wanting more. The suspense and danger is intense, and the intrigue and twists are fun and sometimes surprising. With plenty of humor to balance the drama, teen and adult urban fantasy fans alike will enjoy this promising series.

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