Sci-Fi – Fiction Book Review: Article 5

Article 5 by Kristen Simmons

Ember Miller lives in a post-war America where devastation has left behind a fascist, military dictatorship. The Bill of Rights is no more; instead, the Moral Statutes are upheld as law by the military. Ember lives in constant fear of the military and her mother’s flighty and irresponsible behavior that could get them in trouble. When suddenly Ember’s mother is arrested in violation of Article 5, Ember is also taken and sent to a reformatory for “rehabilitation.” Ember wants nothing more than to break out and find her mother. But what hurts most is that it seems her former boyfriend may be the one who betrayed them.

Ember is a brave, emotional girl who puts her mother above everything. At seventeen, she will be old enough to leave the reformatory in less than a year, but she doesn’t want to waste the time when her mother’s life may be in danger. Unfortunately, her emotions and fear for her mother outweigh her common sense at times. Ember and Chase (the former boyfriend) are fantastic characters that pull the reader into the story. Their relationship develops throughout the novel, and was the highlight for me.

Simmons’s not-too-distant dystopian world is dark and horrific. The intensity and suspense made it impossible to put down. Ember’s journey is full of adventure, intrigue, romance, and heart-wrenching drama. Though, the major plot twist at the end was obvious, the exciting conclusion was more than satisfying. Fans of the dystopian subgenre should enjoy this fast-paced, poignant thriller.

Article 5 releases from Tor Teen on January 31, 2012.

Sci-Fi – Fiction Book Review: Between Their Worlds

Between Their Worlds by Barb & JC Hendee

As Magiere, Leesil, and Chap arrive at the Guild of Sagecraft to greet Wynn, she is suddenly apprehended and held for questioning with no explanation. As Magiere, Leesil, and Chap leave the guild, they are attacked by elven assassins. Meanwhile, Shade and Chane plan Wynn’s rescue and try their best to keep away from Magiere’s party. But before Wynn can leave, she needs the locations of the last two Orbs, which can only be found in the guild archives. Wynn and the others must locate the remaining Orbs before the evil Ancient Enemy, or anyone else, discovers them.

Between Their Worlds begins Series 3 (the tenth novel) in the epic Noble Dead saga. The Hendee’s rich and vast world of vampires set in a high fantasy world is only surpassed by its vivid characters. The entire ensemble of beloved main characters returns for another pulse-pounding adventure in this latest release.

This is one of the few high fantasy series that I’ve followed since the beginning and continue to love. At each new release, I’ve looked forward to their new adventures and watching the character development and drama unfold. This latest installment mainly revolves around Wynn’s rescue from the guild. But with plenty of suspense, intrigue, and drama, there is never a dull moment. The surprising return of several former characters and unpredictable plot twists made this novel impossible to put down. And with a mild cliffhanger ending, I am once again left eagerly awaiting next year’s release.

Fantasy – Fiction Book Review: The Crowfield Demon

The Crowfield Demon by Pat Walsh

In the mid 1300’s, young orphan Will is a servant for monks at Crowfield Abbey in England. Something is awakening underneath the abbey, causing a devastating collapse of the tower. While the monks rush to repair the abbey, Will searches for a way to rid them of a monstrous creature that haunts the abbey and their dreams.

Following the events in The Crowfield Curse, Will has learned that he has the gift of magical sight, able to see the magical world when normal humans cannot. The exiled fay Shadlok is now bound to Will as his sworn protector. And Brother Snail and the hobgoblin Brother Walter are Will’s only other friends and confidants.

Just as dark and mysterious as its predecessor, The Crowfield Demon is fast-paced and full of adventure. With vivid characters, a compelling story, and plenty of magic, this sequel is completely enchanting. Fantasy fans of all ages will enjoy this highly entertaining story.

The Crowfield Demon releases from The Chicken House (Scholastic) on February 1, 2012.

Sci-Fi – Fiction Book Review: Clone Codes #3: The Visitors

The Clone Codes #3: The Visitors by The McKissacks

Carlos Pace is a 10-year-old boy genius. His best friend is RUBy, the entity that everyone thinks is the ship’s computer. But when the O visits Carlos, he is told that RUBy is not just a rock but something much, much more. Meanwhile, the World Federation is about to attack, and Leanna and Houston are still wanted fugitives. And the O have said that humanity must prove that they are capable of freedom and equality for all sentient beings if they want to explore the galaxy. But with the Clone and Cyborg regulations, that seems impossible.

In this conclusion to the Clone Codes trilogy, the story is narrated by young Carlos. The only “Wholer” (first class citizen) among his group of friends, Carlos has an understanding of Clones and Cyborgs that few do. He is sympathetic, loyal, and brave for someone so young.

This short, fast-paced science fiction trilogy for young readers is creative and inspiring. Each novel in the trilogy is told from a different character’s point of view, giving distinctive insight into their perspective and situation in the unfolding drama. As events unfold, the anticipation builds to an exciting and satisfying conclusion. Full of mystery, futuristic science and technology, aliens, blended with historic significance, young science fiction fans will surely enjoy.

The Clone Codes #3: The Visitors releases from Scholastic Press on February 1, 2012.

Mystery – Audio Book Review: Death Cloud

Death Cloud by Andrew Lane

Sherlock Holmes: The Legend Begins

On a break from school, fourteen-year-old Sherlock Holmes is sent to stay with an uncle and aunt he doesn’t know, while his father is stationed in India. After befriending an orphaned that his uncle doesn’t approve of, Sherlock is assigned a tutor, a fascinating American named Amyus Crowe. When two men in town are found dead from what looks like the plague, Sherlock is immediately suspicious. As Sherlock begins to investigate the strange clues left behind, he stumbles upon a nefarious plot and a ruthless man who sets his sights on young Sherlock.

Teenage Sherlock does not have many friends. He is bright, logical, and a natural at deductive reasoning. But his education with Amyus Crowe is a turning point in his learning and detection skills. Several details about Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s original Sherlock Holmes little-known early life and family information are carried over into this new series debut.

The Justin Bieber look-a-like on the cover may only appeal to little girls, but mystery fans of all ages will appreciate this fast-paced adventure. Full of mystery, brilliant detection, drama, and intrigue – Death Cloud is an enjoyable and gripping tale of a beloved character’s coming-of-age. I’m excited to see further adventures of young Sherlock

This audio book is read by Dan Weyman, with a unique voice for each colorful character. Weyman’s clear and concise narration made for easy listening and added immensely to the tone of the story.

Sci-Fi – Fiction Book Review: The Roar

The Roar by Emma Clayton

Mika is the only one who doesn’t believe his twin sister is dead. Mika shares a unique bond with Ellie, who begins to show up in his dreams. When Ellie tries to escape her kidnappers, Mika feels her distress and becomes more convinced that he must find her. When the government provides a competition in the form of a flight simulation game, Mika is a natural. But he soon discovers that this is not a game to the government. And they have plans for Mika and his friends.

Mika and Ellie live in a dystopian future England where a plague infected all animals, and a wall was built around America and Europe, keeping out the animals. But the twins both learn the truth and the startling vast conspiracy. Clayton’s worldbuilding is fantastic; the imagery of the city is vivid. Though, more time could be spent on character development.

Fans of Ender’s Game will see similarities in this science fiction thriller. Full of adventure, suspense, and intrigue – this debut is exciting and engaging. The excitement builds to a cliffhanger ending that will leave readers wanting more. Clayton’s sequel The Whisper is set to release this February from Scholastic.

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