Review: The Dark Side of Nowhere by Neal Shusterman

by Captain Lyaf Yarr

Title: The Dark Side of Nowhere
Author: Neal Shusterman
Format: Paperback
Page Count: 192
Grade Reading Level: Grades 6-9

Summary: Jason has always lived in the same town his whole life and thinks it’s so boring. But when Jason’s friend, Ethan dies from a burst appendicitis everything changes. Not only is everyone sad that he’s gone but something really weird happens. Grant, the janitor tells Jason that Ethan isn’t dead. Is he right? How is that possible? Then Jason is given a robotic-like glove by Grant and finds out that his whole life has been a lie. Everybody he knows, including himself, are aliens!

Why I Started the Book:

I started this book because it was a book we were reading in class before school got out for the year. We didn’t get to finish it so I decided to cheek it out of the library.

Likes:

  • The writing in this book was phenomenal! I was at the end of my seat after every chapter. I could understand how the characters felt and their whole experience. It was like I was there in the same situation.
  • I liked how his parents never lied. He told Jason the truth about them through a bedtime story, he just didn’t know it was true.
  • The cover of this book is way awesome and fits the suspenseful  haunting quality of the story.
  • The book’s main point is what it means to be human.

Last minute thoughts: I wouldn’t suggest anyone under sixth grade read this book. It’s very dark and I don’t know if they would understand everything or just be completely creeped out.

Neal Shusterman is my favorite author at the moment! I look forward to reading more of his books!

Buy: The Dark Side of Nowhere

Book Rating: I give this book 5 treasure chests!

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Review: Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

ender's gameReviewed by First Mate Keira

Title: Ender’s Game
Author: Orson Scott Card
Narrators: Stefan Rudnicki, Harlan Ellison
Format: Unabridged Audio Book
# CDs + Minutes: 9 CDs (11 hours, 11 minutes)
Grade Reading Level: 9th Grade
Summary: In a near-future society, the human race is in a war against the buggers, a hostile alien race, who nearly won twice in two wide scale confrontations against humankind. Fearing a third invasion, a system was put in place to discover and train child prodigies in the art of war. This system found Ender Wiggin, and set a course for him unlike any other kid that has gone before. Is Ender the general humankind desperately needs?

Meanwhile a second (side) plot revolves around Earth, Ender’s siblings, and it’s three separate governing bodies. The Hegemon, Strategos, and Polemarch, all struggle for supreme control and threaten humankind on the home front. Peter and Valentine are determined to make the world over in their image and work to achieve this through the “Nets” to influence how the masses think. Are two kids capable of achieving that sort of influence?

Why I Started This Book:

I can name approximately half a dozen boys over the last several years telling me I had to read this book. It was essential, a must read! I caved. Got it in audio format, because I’m grooving it right now and settled in for the long haul. I now have to apologize to the first five guys who said to read it and I ignored. Great book!

Likes:

  • Orson’s style of writing. It’s obviously a style meant to be read aloud; in fact audio format is the best version to meet this book and is something the author mentioned at the end of CD #9.
  • Orson’s writing is very evocative. You see pictures and feel emotions and think thoughts as if you were a part of the book itself.
  • Battle School is fantastic. I loved it when Ender finally goes up in rank and starts commanding. The mock battles are some of my absolute favorite moments.
  • The surprising twist at Command School. It was an ending I did not expect it. I liked it even more when Orson took the story further and explained the aftermath. That too did not go how I pictured it might. Frankly, I was expecting that Ender was going to have to watch out for Peter.

Dislikes:

  • Very little. I was going to say the graphic nature of some of the fights or the violence but as Orson pointed out in his ramble at the end of the CD #9 the language is in fact very plain. All graphic nature is rendered through the reader.

Last Minute Thoughts: It’s definitely a book for boys as it deals on many fronts issues boys face more often than girls such as bullying and warfare. Ender also goes through a crisis of identity of self. He does not want to be a killer (or hurt others) but is forced to become one. I think the following quote explains this very well:

Unlike his brother, Ender does not take pride in destroying others and commits this action because he is often pushed into situations which demand physical defense. This portrayal and situation in the novel justifies Ender’s actions. (Nick M. on Amazon.com)

I am glad I came to this book now instead of earlier in my life. I don’t think I would have appreciated it then. I do now. It’s terrific! I’m giving the audio book to my dad and telling him to listen to it. He’s on CD #2 and loves it so far.

Buy: Ender’s Game (Unabridged Audio Book), Ender’s Game (Paperback), The Ender Quartet Box Set (Ender’s Game, Speaker for the Dead, Xenocide, Children of the Mind)

Find books by Orson Scott Card on ebay.

Book Rating: 5 Treasure Chests.
tc5

Keira runs a book review blog for readers by readers on romance novels entitled Love Romance Passion. She’s been reading romance since she was in her teens and began blogging about romance so she could share her passion for her favorite genre. She loves reading paranormal, Regency, historical America, and highlander most of all and completely adores blind and wounded heroes.

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Review: Across the Universe (Across the Universe, Book 1) by Beth Revis

Reviewed by First Mate Keira

Title: Across the Universe (Across the Universe, Book 1)
Author: Beth Revis
Format: Hardback
Page Count: 416 pages
Grade Reading Level: Ages 14 and up

Summary: Godspeed is a spaceship that was sent into space by a group on earth, hoping to find a new earth planet. Amy joined her parents aboard as frozen cargo, not wanting to grow up without them. The journey is only supposed to take 300 years, so when Amy awakes she thinks they must have landed, but that is not the case. They can’t put her back to sleep without risking that she might never wake up again. That leaves Amy stuck on a spaceship, fifty years from its destination that is slowly spiraling into chaos. This is so not what she signed up for at all. How can she get her life back?

Why I started this book:

I picked this book up to read because it has been floating around the blogosphere for some time now and I’ve seen it on the shelf at the library. After reading and enjoying the Hunger Games I went searching for more books to read that would give me a similar read of dystopia and romance. This book fit the search criteria.

Likes:

  • The alternative view of history by a group of people stuck in outerspace desperately hoping to avoid mutiny. (Still horrifying! Amazing how awful histories can be rewritten to sound like a good thing – but that’s propaganda for you.) Take heart; never trade the illusion of safety for the actuality of freedom.
  • The heroine has some guts.

Toss-Up:

  • How the Elder/Eldest is perpetuated. It’s hard to like a hero when you see how he can be warped. It does bring up an interesting issue about personality/character/individuality/soul.

Dislikes:

  • I can’t believe they are really fifty years from reaching the planet. I really thought they were already there and orbiting around the planet for some reason.
  • Oh and the creepy descriptions of getting frozen or waking up from being frozen – and is it me or does the idea of two strangers (middle age men) putting your naked body (teenage female) into a deep sleep seem like a really terrible idea? Where were the female scientists to cover the issues of propriety?

Buy: Across the Universe

Rating: 3.5 Treasure Chests

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Review: The Fall (Seventh Tower, Book 1) by Garth Nix

Reviewed by Quartermaster Alyx

Title: The Fall (Seventh Tower, Book 1)
Author: Garth Nix
Format: Paperback
Page Count: 195
Grade Reading Level: 3rd-5th

Summary: In this world if your family doesn’t have a Primary Sunstone then you will be forced into a life of servitude and will never be able to acquire a Spirtshaddow (a helpful companion that you bind to yourself in place of your shadow). Unfortunately for Tal, his dad has gone missing and with him his family’s Primary Sunstone. Even worse, his mother is sick so no one can help him find a way to gather a new one so it falls to Tal to save himself and his younger siblings. He tries everything from asking his aunts to entering a competition to trying to seek an audience with the Empress but is unable to procure a Primary Sunstone. This only leaves only one option for Tal: he must steal a sunstone.

Why I started reading:

My brother really enjoyed the series so I decided to give the first one a go.

Likes:

  • There was tons of action!
  • The characters are great. Especially the hero, Tal, and his crazy uncle. The vast majority of the characters feel very real and I found myself wishing that I could meet them.
  • The world the book takes place in is super original and is described very well. I was able to picture everything that was happening in my head perfectly.
  • The shadow creatures that (almost) everyone who lives in the towers receive. They are so cool, I want one myself!
  • The Beastmaker game that Tal play’s is remarkable. I think the scene where he plays against the guards is my favorite.

Dislikes:

  • Huge cliffhanger at the end, it’s definitely not a stand-alone book. I had to run to the bookstore as soon as I finished so I could find out what was going to happen next.
  • I think that Tal’s immediate family should have been developed a little more. He’s going on this quest for his mother but the only thing that we really know about her is that she’s sick.
  • Tal’s aunts. They are unnecessarily cruel. I can’t believe that they wouldn’t help their own family out.

Buy: The Fall (Seventh Tower #1)

Rating: 4.5 Treasure Chests

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Review: Wax by Phil Duncan

waxReviewed by Cap’n Evelyn Knifenose

Title: Wax
Author: Phil Duncan
Format: Ebook
Page Count: 272 pages
Grade Reading Level: Ages 13+

Summary: Yancey Muncey is a geek. And he is also dead. Then Dr. Blankenship offers to bring him back to life again, in what becomes known as the Frankenyancey Project, and how can his family refuse? But now his eyes are yellow, and his skin is blue — and he is indestructible. If you lop off a limb (as his friend does) it grows right back. But Dr. Blankenship wants Yancey to steal information from his competitor and also murder him. In exchange, he will get Yancey’s family out of debt.

Why I started this book: I was offered the book to read for free.


Likes:

  • I loved the basketball scene, shades of our own son’s time on the court.
  • His family is almost comically dysfunctional. His sister Ruth uses a tape recorder to record all the experiments she does with the new Yancey. His brother Martin wishes him out of the way. His parents…
  • In the meantime, there is a girl that Yancey liked, but didn’t have the nerve to ask out.

Dislikes:

  • It took me a long time to get into this book. I was about half way through when it began to pick up for me.
  • It was confusing for me at first, because I would set the book down, then not know the time frame when I picked it back up again. A chapter would be titled: before (or) after. And the following chapters would still be in that time frame until the next chapter which would reverse it.
  • I did not like the end of the book. It’s a bit dark. Until then, from the second half on, I liked the book a lot. I would have liked it to have ended on a happy note. Maybe there will be a sequel. I don’t know that I would read it.

Final thoughts: Towards the end of the book, you find out how Yancey died. If I had known how the book ended, I seriously would not have read it. I hated the ending.

Buy: Wax

Rating: 3 Treasure Chests

tc3

Review: A Million Suns (Across The Universe, Book 2) by Beth Revis

Reviewed by First Mate Keira

Title: A Million Suns (Across the Universe, Book 2)
Author: Beth Revis
Format: Hardback
Page Count: 386 pages
Grade Reading Level: Ages 14+

Summary: Overthrowing Eldest seemed like a good decision at the time, but now that the masses are coming out of their drugged sleep, deep distrust and restlessness are overtaking the ship. It is only a short matter of time before mutiny happens, but if they can keep the peace, Amy and Elder might make it to the world they both are desperate to see… but fifty years is a long time and one thing is clear, they don’t have the time to spare.

Why I started this book:

I wasn’t really sold on the first book, and it took reading several book reviews of this one before I decided to pick it up. I was finally swayed by the spoiler that told me my guess for how things really were was accurate. Expect spoilers if you continue.

Likes:

  • Orion’s clue goose chase through Godspeed to figure out what is actually going on. Remember when I said their being 50 years away seemed illogical? That’s because it isn’t the truth.
  • Good pacing and ramping up of anticipation throughout the story. It will keep readers focused on the mystery. Can you solve it?

Toss-Up:

  • Amy’s mental dialogue as she debates her feelings. On one hand she really likes Elder but then on the other it’s all – Do I like him because he’s the only guy around my age?
  • Elder becoming “distant” as he tries to maintain control of his ship.

Dislikes:

  • Irrational masses that blame a girl (who looks different) for their troubles. I felt there should be more kernels of actual logic from the group but apparently Phydus brainwashes even after it is out of your system.
  • Good guy character death!

Buy: A Million Suns: An Across the Universe Novel

Rating: 3 Treasure Chests

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