SciFi Book Review: Remake

Remake by Ilima Todd

Nine is the ninth female born in her batch of ten females and ten males. By design, her life in Freedom Province is without complications or consequences. However, such freedom comes with a price. the Prime Maker is determined to keep that price a secret from the new batches of citizens that are born, nurtured, and raised androgynously.

But Nine isn’t like every other batcher. She harbors indecision and worries about her upcoming Remake Day – her seventeenth birthday, the age when batchers fly to the Remake facility and have the freedom to choose who and what they’ll be.

When Nine discovers the truth about life outside of Freedom Province, including the secret plan of the Prime Maker, she is pulled between two worlds and two lives. Her decisions will test her courage, her heart, and her beliefs. Who can she trust? Who does she love? And most importantly, who will she decide to be?

Nine will turn seventeen soon and have to choose her vocation and gender. She worries more about which gender she’ll chose as it will be for the rest of her life. Until children are seventeen, they’re stuck in a pre-pubescent stage. To society, they are all equal that way. Nine was born a female, but really has no feeling one way or another towards what she wants to be. Until an accident which lands her with a rebellious family who lives a life completely foreign to Nine.

Remake sounds like an interesting concept, but wasn’t what I expected. I never get the sense that Nine ever has a true sense of self outside of society and other’s preconceived notions. Her time before the accident is spent following her friend and wishing she was more like others. And her time outside Freedom Province is spent learning a new way of life with a family unit she’s never had before. The ideas here may offend some, but know before reading that this written by a Mormon author and publisher which is blatantly for traditional family roles only. It really has little to do with gender choice or identity.

The Dystopian society is unbelievable in that ridding of gender bias, they rid of families altogether. Getting past the not-so-subversive message, the story slowed down quite a bit when Nine was with the family as well. I found myself skimming quite a bit. The love story just didn’t ring true. It felt like there was much more chemistry with her life-long friend than the island boy she barely knows. If you can’t tell, this one didn’t sit right with me for several reasons.

Emma Pass Guest Post


What Inspired Me to Write The Fearless
by Emma Pass

I first got the idea for The Fearless when I attended a workshop run by YA author Julie Bertagna back in 2011. She told us she often got ideas for her books from newspaper and magazine articles, and handed out some articles which she asked us to use to come up with story ideas.

The article my group was given was similar to this one, about scientists developing a drug to prevent Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). PTSD is an anxiety disorder caused by traumatic events, and causes serious problems such as flashbacks, aggression and insomnia. It can start many years after the event that triggered it, and is particular problem among military personnel, who witness many terrible things while on active service. According to this article in the Telegraph, one charity expects PTSD rates to rise by up to 12% each year until 2018, so any drug that could help reduce this rate is surely a very good thing indeed. But as our group discussed the article, I started to wonder what might happen if the drug stopped people from feeling any fear at all – or love – or empathy. These questions became the basis for the new novel I started writing shortly afterwards.

The Fearless imagines what happens after a drug given to UK and Allied troops to stop them suffering from PTSD and make them into more effective fighters is discovered to have a terrible side effect – it strips them of any humanity or empathy. By the time people realise what’s going on, the enemy have managed to get hold of the formula and strengthen it so that the side effects start immediately, and then they start forcing it on the civilian population. Country after country falls to these super-soldiers, known as the Fearless, until at last, they invade the UK. Cass, the protagonist, is just ten when this happens, and after her father is taken by the Fearless, she flees with her mother to an island off the south coast of England, where her little brother, Jori, is born. Seven years later, Jori is snatched by a Fearless too, and Cass must return to the mainland for the first time since the Invasion to try and rescue him, helped by a mysterious boy named Myo who seems to know more about the Fearless than he’s letting on…

The Fearless
The Fearless was a lot of fun to work on. I love playing around with ‘what if’ scenarios and I’ve always wanted to write a post-apocalyptic novel, imagining what the UK would be like after a disaster has wiped out most of society. How would people survive? What would places familiar to me look like once they were abandoned? As with my first novel ACID, many of THE FEARLESS’s settings are based on places I know, in particular Sheffield railway station and Meadowhall shopping centre (I considered using London, but as that was such a major setting in ACID, I decided to go somewhere different). I was also hugely inspired by reading blog posts and articles about urban exploration, and places like Hashima Island in Japan, upon which I based Hope Island, the refuge Cass flees to at the start of the book.

But most of all, I wanted to write a book where the monsters might not really be monsters after all – where the good guys could turn out to be the bad guys, and where nothing was quite what it seemed… It took several drafts and lots of hard work on both mine and my editor’s part to get it right, but I’m pretty happy with the results, and I hope people enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it!

Book Giveaway: Gathering Prey

Courtesy of Putnam, I have a copy of Gathering Prey by John Sandford for one (1) lucky winner!

Contest is open to US residents only. No PO Boxes please. To enter, just fill out the form below. Contest ends May 14. I’ll draw a name on May 15, and notify winner via email.


Good luck!

Read moreBook Giveaway: Gathering Prey

Fantasy Book Review: Harrison Squared

Harrison Squared by Daryl Gregory

Harrison is a lonely teenager, terrified of the ocean since a childhood sailing accident took his father – and his right leg. One of the “sensitives” who are attuned to the supernatural world, Harrison and his mother have just moved to the worst possible place for a boy like him: Dunnsmouth, a Lovecraftian town perched on rocks above the Atlantic, where monsters lurk under the waves, and creepy teachers run the local school. When Harrison’s mother, a marine biologist, disappears at sea, his attempts to find her puts him in conflict with a strange church, a knife-wielding killer, and the Deep Ones…It will take all his resources – and an unusual host of allies – to defeat the danger and find his mother.

Harrison is a smart and observant young man. The events around his father’s disappearance, and Harrison losing his leg are sketchy, but Harrison doesn’t dwell on it. When he and his mother move to this strange seaside town, he quickly learns that this is no ordinary small town. The students at school are zombie-like with their own strange language. And the whole town is involved in a mysterious cult that seems to link to his mother’s disappearance.

Harrison Squared is an enchanting fantasy and very unique. The characters are vivid and engaging. And the dark subject matter is paired with clever humor. And an air of mystery and adventure that keeps the story moving at a great pace. I highly recommend this fantastic novel. It’s eerie, funny, and captivating – and a story that I didn’t want to end.

Fantasy Book Review: Rogue

Rogue by Julie Kagawa

Ember Hill left the dragon organization Talon to take her chances with rebel dragon Cobalt and his crew of rogues. But Ember can’t forget the sacrifice made for her by the human boy who could have killed her—Garret Xavier Sebastian, a soldier of the dragonslaying Order of St. George, the boy who saved her from a Talon assassin, knowing that by doing so, he’d signed his own death warrant.

Determined to save Garret from execution, Ember must convince Cobalt to help her break into the Order’s headquarters. With assassins after them and Ember’s own brother helping Talon with the hunt, the rogues find an unexpected ally in Garret and a new perspective on the underground battle between Talon and St. George.

A reckoning is brewing and the secrets hidden by both sides are shocking and deadly. Soon Ember must decide: Should she retreat to fight another day…or start an all-out war?

Ember has fled Talon with Riley, the rogue dragon – leaving her brother behind. Since he hasn’t experienced the same things Ember has, he never believes her (or doesn’t care) about Talon’s shady dealings. He’d do anything to bring her back safely. And she’ll do anything to stay out of it, even at the cost of her brother. Meanwhile, Ember is torn between her feelings for Garret, the human who is completely wrong for her, and Riley/Cobalt, the dragon who cares for her and seemingly the smarter choice. However, the only chemistry is between Ember and Garret. And Riley’s pet name for Ember is endlessly annoying for some reason.

Rogue is the second installment in The Talon Saga. This sequel is fast-paced and action-packed. Ember is on the run the entire novel, so the suspense and danger is amped up quite a bit. And the heat (no pun intended) between Ember and Garret increases as well. Kagawa is a pro at character development. These characters are completely engaging. This fantasy series for Young Adults is riveting and hard to put down. The next installment can’t come soon enough.

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