Starfleet Academy: The Delta Anomaly, by Rick Barba
When a serial killer nicknamed the Doctor returns to San Francisco, Kirk is witness to the brutal attack of a fellow Starfleet Academy student with a narrow miss himself. The Doctor leaves behind victims, who appear untouched, save for missing organs that have completely disappeared. Dr. McCoy uses his expertise to investigate the strange circumstances surrounding the attack and a soot-like residue left behind. And Uhura is asked to help as well, utilizing her linguistic skills to determine what the killer is saying on captured evidence. Meanwhile, Kirk is trying to pass his next exam, and doing a bit of his own detective work on the Doctor – all while romancing a local waitress.
This story is set during the early Academy days for Kirk, McCoy, and Uhura as a tie-in from the latest J.J. Abrams Star Trek film. The banter between Kirk and McCoy and the blooming romance between Uhura and Spock are among the highlights. The characters are spot on. The technology and mysterious alien are fascinating. And the mystery and suspense are captivating. While marked to the young adult market, this is a fun read for Star Trek fans of all ages. I thoroughly enjoyed this movie tie-in and hope to see more from this new series soon.
The Declaration, by Gemma Malley
Anna has lived most of her life at Grange Hall, a place where illegal children are raised as “Surplus” and taught to be Valuable Assets to society. Many years ago, a drug called Longevity was developed giving the entire planet immortality. But the surface population soon became overwhelming, so The Declaration was created, stating that it’s illegal to have children unless the parents op-out of immortality and the Longevity drug. Anna has only known the bleak and hopeless Grange Hall where all of the Surplus children are treated like slaves. But when a boy named Peter arrives, he begins stirring up trouble and tells Anna that she is not Surplus and that she has parents who love her and want her.
Anna begins as a brainwashed, subservient girl who begins to rethink her existence because of Peter and his persistent manner. Malley’s futuristic society is a harsh and depressing possibility of what humanity could become if people could live forever and children became obsolete. The narrative is well-paced, dramatic and full of suspense. A thought provoking tale, with a couple surprises, I thoroughly enjoyed this dystopian novel.
Matched, by Ally Condie
Cassia lives in a society where everything is planned by the government – where you live, where you work, who you marry, and even when you die. When Cassia is matched with her long-time friend Xander, she is relieved and happy. But another face flashes on her screen when viewing her match’s information at home, and she knows his face too. Her other match is Ky, an orphaned boy from the Outer Provinces who always works to appear average and invisible. Cassia’s grandfather is turning 80, and is scheduled to die. But before his passing, he gives Cassia a precious but illegal gift – a paper containing two unregistered poems. The phrase from a poem “Do not go gentle into that good night” begins to register meaning within Cassia as she confronts her feelings about her structured society and lack of freedom.
Cassia is a sympathetic girl who begins to question her way of life when faced with a series life changing circumstances and decisions that are made for her. And love is her driving force. Condie’s futuristic pseudo-utopian society is incredibly vivid and imaginative. And her characters are dimensional and complex.
Geared towards young adults, the subject matter and content is refreshingly age appropriate for even a younger crowd. Though, the Society structure and decisions that people make are thought-provoking enough for adults to enjoy as well. In the end, Cassia has to make the choice between the love of Xander and a life of comfort, predictability, and safety and the love of Ky which is passionate, dangerous, and the path of freedom. While it has a reminiscent feel of the Hunger Games, the story is very different and the main characters have little in common. It’s an extremely moving tale of family, love, friendship, courage, and the cost of freedom. I thoroughly enjoyed this novel from beginning to end, and couldn’t put it down. First in a planned trilogy, it’s an entirely fantastic tale.
Matched releases from Dutton Books on November 30th.
Eureka: Substitution Method, by Cris Ramsay
The small town of Eureka is a top secret installation and home to the greatest scientific minds in the country. Jack Carter is a sheriff of average intelligence, but routinely has to save the town from their own inventions-gone-haywire. What starts off as an almost boring day, soon spirals out of control when cars, homes and even humans start switching places. Sherriff Carter must discover who and what is behind the increasing displacements before the general public finds out too much and before the military steps in.
The first in a new series of tie-ins from the hit Syfy Network show, Substitution Method is set in the time period just prior to the current 4th season. And author Ramsay skillfully depicts the show’s entire regular cast, along with the eccentric Aussie tracker Taggert. These fantastic characters are thrown into a crazy situation that feels exactly like the television show, yet without the limits of visual effects. The plot is suspenseful, fast-paced, and creative. Favorite scenes are when Deputy Jo finds herself and the office switched with a gun shop and when Zane and Taggart switch places and find themselves in each other’s homes. Awkwardness and hilarity ensue. Loaded with drama, hi-tech peril, mystery, and the ever-present lighthearted humor – fans of the show will love this new tie-in series.
Time Riders: Day of the Predator, by Alex Scarrow
Maddy, Liam, and Sal are teens who were all rescued from certain death to work for a secret organization, protecting the timeline. When the team investigates an assassination attempt in the future, Liam and a group of students are accidentally transported back sixty-five million years in the past. Circumstances worsen when Liam manages to affect the timeline and send the future into disarray. Now, Maddy and Sal have to figure out when exactly when Liam is stranded and rescue the group before the future is changed beyond hope.
Liam, Maddy, and Sal are a sharp and talented trio thrust into a huge responsibility and left entirely on their own, save for an artificial intelligence. There is never a dull moment here. This Jurassic Park-like sequel is extremely suspenseful, with dangerous predators that are a bit too intelligent. Meanwhile, Maddy and Sal have to deal with mysterious government agents that slow their search for Liam and the others trapped in the past. As each moment seems more complex and the situation more critical, excitement builds to a climactic finish. Don’t miss this action-packed science fiction series for teens and adults alike.
Time Riders: Day of the Predator is available now in the UK, and will release in the US in October 2011.
Superman: Earth One, by J. Michael Straczynski and Shane Davis
A young Clark Kent has numerous job possibilities when he moves to Metropolis. His first thought is to choose something where he’d make enough money to support his widowed mother still living in Smallville. But Martha Kent knows that Clark belongs to the world. When aliens arrive, ready to attack Earth if the last son of Krypton doesn’t show himself, Clark finally dons the familiar primary colors and embraces his destiny.
This original graphic novel explores a new, updated take on Superman’s origin story. Fantastic artwork by Shane Davis gives this rendition an edgy, contemporary feel. Clark’s younger life is told in flashbacks a he deals with tough decisions of adulthood and greater responsibilities. A favorite scene is when Martha tells Clark the reason that he can’t wear a mask. It’s both powerful and moving – which is a great way to sum up the whole of the story. With plenty of action, drama, beauty, and suspense – I loved this graphic novel from beginning to end. Both new and diehard fans alike will enjoy fresh spin on a familiar story.
Hero, by Mike Lupica
Billy Harriman is only fourteen when his father dies. But his father didn’t tell Billy everything about himself. His father was a known hero, working directly for the President of the United States. But he wasn’t an ordinary man. He was a superhero with amazing powers. And now, his father’s abilities have been passed on to Billy.
Billy is a seemingly average teen, occasionally bullied at school, until his father dies. And as soon as he discovers that he has mysterious powers, Billy is attacked my masked men. Billy knows that bad guys are out there, and that someone murdered his father. But he can’t be sure who to trust. An old man claims to know him and his father, but Billy has never met him before. His father’s best friend claims that the old man is a liar. Billy is full of doubt of others as well as self-doubt.
Hero is a highly entertaining coming-of-age story, with a superhero twist. It’s fast-paced, with several fun (if somewhat predictable) surprises. The bad guys or “Bads” as the book calls them are vague as are most of the answers that poor Billy receives. And while the ending is satisfying, there are many questions left unanswered that demand a sequel. As a sucker for superhero and origin stories, thoroughly enjoyed this engaging tale.
Hero releases from Philomel on November 2, 2010.
The Silent Army, by James Knapp
Special Agent Nico Wachalowski has still not quite recovered the death of his former love, Faye. And now that she’s an emotionless reviver, working for Samuel Fawkes, Nico will be faced with a nightmare come true. After a mission goes wrong, Samuel Fawkes gains control of weapons that could destroy more than just the city. And his army of revivors is growing quickly. Then, an opposing force surfaces, led by a woman names Ai who wants Nico to side with her against Fawkes. But Nico has been warned not to trust Ai either.
In this exciting sequel to State of Decay, situations become a bit more confusing as more players come to the field. Zoe Ott is trying to deal with her abilities, sobriety and her growing feelings for Nico. But when she’s recruited by Ai, a bigger mystery awaits behind Ai’s motivations. Calliope Flax is still a tortured character as well. But frustration mounts when she discovers that her memories have been tampered with.
With even more suspense and mystery than before, this sequel does not disappoint. There were several twists that I didn’t see coming. And a major climactic surprise kept me on the edge of my seat till the very end. This dark and dramatic science fiction trilogy will be wrapping up next year, and I’ll be impatiently waiting.