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Storm Watcher by Maria V. Snyder

  • Date published: October 2013
  • Publisher: Leap Books
  • Format: Paperback, 184 pages
  • ISBN 13: 9781616030339
  • Categories: MG – Contemporary
  • Goodreads / The Book DepositoryBooktopia / Bookworld
  • Source: borrowed from Mandee @ veganYAnerds

Luke Riley is lost. His mother’s recent death has set Luke and his family adrift. Even though his father, twin brothers, and their three Bloodhounds are search and rescue volunteers, they have been unable to rescue themselves and become a family again.

The youngest son in a family of search and rescue dog trainers, Luke must face his deathly fear of storms to prove he and the dog he’s training belong in the family business.

Storm Watcher is a poignant and compelling read which had me on the verge of tears more than once.

I came into this book thinking, hoping, it was a paranormal fantasy, perhaps about a boy who can channel the power of a storm. Storm Watcher is a heartwarming contemporary about a young boy who recently lost his mother, and then found himself without the support of his elder brothers and father as well. Every individual, every family, grieves in its own way, and this is the story of how that grief can affect the youngest and the most vulnerable.

No magic powers here, except perhaps the extraordinary strength of will Luke displays. There’s a lot of darkness in his life, made of sadness and loss and guilt and blame, but the way Luke manages with it brought tears to my eyes. It absolutely killed me to see this young kid beset by so much, when the people who were meant to be helping him were too busy taking out their negativity on him.

My favourite aspect of the book are its characters, who are realistic, even the ones I hated, and I could see the motivations behind each and every one of them. Storm Watcher is a story about people, and the characters in the narrative represent humanity with its strengths and flaws. I love that they all make mistakes and snap-judgements, and don’t always know how to apologise.

Maria V. Snyder’s masterful writing has swept me away yet again, not that I should really be surprised! The characteristics that make her YA fantasy novels so well loved – the characters and their relationships, the worlds they live in, the struggles they over come – are all present. I loved Storm Watcher, and recommend it to all her fans.

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Banish by Nicola Marsh

Alyssa has one week to destroy her enemy, save her spirit… and save her soul.

After her ex-boyfriend commits suicide and her mum’s alcoholism sparks yet another psychotic episode, seventeen-year-old Alyssa Wood flees her small hometown of Broadwater and heads to New York City to stay with her bohemian aunt — a Wicca High Priestess.

Alyssa revels in the anonymity of a big city and her new life. Her grades climb, she has a new best friend, and a new guy: the sexy geek Ronan — a saxophone player who prefers jazz to pop.

But her newfound peace is soon shattered when she sees a dead body in one of Ronan’s music clips — and she’s the only one who can see it. Worse still, Alyssa recognises the body that has been murdered a week forward!

Alyssa doesn’t believe in the supernatural…despite her family’s Wicca background. So how will she overcome evil when it’s closer than she thinks?

Banish is Nicola Marsh’s début YA novel, a who-done-it mystery combined with Wiccan supernatural elements that kept me engaged and amused throughout. I liked the novel a lot, and although I think the story is perfect on its own, wouldn’t mind a follow-up book or two!

The YA aspect of the novel is handled very well, in my opinion, with the protagonist, Alyssa, painted as a mature, fiercely independent young woman who didn’t have the best parental support growing up. Now living with her maternal aunt, she’s trying to make a normal life for herself and get over the death of her ex-boyfriend. However, coming from a family that believes in Wicca and the supernatural, and not believing any of it herself, Alyssa’s hard pressed to figure out who she is. It’s this struggle for a sense of self that I found the most intriguing about her, and I identified with her in a lot of ways: she won’t let anyone get in her way, and is infuriating and stubborn at times!

I think the book is somewhat let down by the murder-mystery aspect – it’s painfully obvious who the perpetrator is from about half way, after which we get treated to Alyssa turning a blind eye to the clues, until the climax where she’s confronted with the facts. It wasn’t particularly surprising, but I did find that the motivation of the ‘enemy’ to be very interesting, and it was cool to see the pieces slowly come together.

My favourite aspect of the novel is definitely the romance – simply because the whole ‘oh there’s a cute guy’ and ‘omg he looked at me / touched me briefly’ stages have firmly passed by the time the novel begins. Ronan and Alyssa clearly have feelings towards one another, and begin to explore them early on, which is awesome, because I’m sick of the formulaic way YA protagonists go about falling in love these days. And no love triangle (although I was, briefly, very afraid there would be one). Perhaps some readers will dislike the book because of the way the romance is handled, preferring to witness the butterflies in the tummy and rushing heat propagating out from where they touch, and all that, but I loved it!

I really like YA novels inspired by Wicca and witches, but inevitably end up comparing them to my personal favourites, Cate Tiernan’s Wicca (or Sweep in the US), series. I think Banish does an admirable job of living up to this standard, although I would have loved for the supernatural aspect to be explained more in-depth. There are terms thrown around fairly carelessly and the implications of Alyssa’s supernatural journey are left too open-ended for my liking.

I recommend Banish to readers who are looking for a read that combines light-hearted humour with mystery and a hint of the supernatural. I really enjoyed it, and will be looking out for more of Nicola’s books in the future.

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Stocktake Saturday 59

Welcome to Stocktake Saturday! This feature is where I share some bookish news with you and then show you all the bookish goodies I got over the week.

The cover reveals from the last week  – (links to Goodreads pages)

  • The Offering (The Pledge #3) by Kimberly Derting
  • Cress (Lunar Chronicles #3) by Marissa Meyer
  • Words of Radiance (The Stormlight Archive #2) by Brandon Sanderson – US cover
  • Unforgotten (Unremembered #2) by Jessica Brody
  • Forever (Temptation #3) by Karen Ann Hopkins

In Bookish News, the Gallagher Girls series by Ally Carter has been optioned for film by Tonik! This goes along nicely with the announcement that Carter’s The Heist Society has been optioned by Lionsgate (the people who brought us The Hunger Games) and Max Handelman & Elizabeth Banks (Effie Trinket herself)!

In other adaptation news, Walt Disney pictures Studios, and producer Harvey Weistein have announced that they will be developing the best selling  book Artemis Fowl into a live action film.

An ebook complication of the three Books of Raksura by Martha Wells is now available! I loved the first book of the series, The Cloud Roads, and am eager read the rest! Buy it on Kindle, Nook and Kobo.

Hollywood Crush has revealed the official book trailer for The Burning Sky by Sherry Thomas. I can’t wait to read this! The Burning Sky will hit bookstores on 17th September, and it’s the first book in the Elemental Trilogy. Watch the trailer here.

This week I’ve been Waiting On … The Lair by Emily McKay.

I’ve also been concentrating on moving my blog over to WordPress.org, with the help of the brilliant Ashley from Nose Graze. This has taken up a lot of my time, but it’s so much fun, and with Ashley helping me and answering all my silly questions, there’s barely any stress involved!

We were hoping to transfer over without any downtime, but we’re having a bit of trouble. So chances are that sometime in the coming weeks you will the blog change over, but some links, buttons, images, etc. won’t work. We’ll be working to get it all running smoothly as soon as possible, but I’ll apologise in advance!!

The move will be coming with an update in the theme and branding of the site. It won’t be TOO different, but now, almost two years since the blogging journey began for me, I want the site to reflect that I, and this website, have matured over that time.  I’m invested in this venture, and it means a lot to me, so a self hosted site is the natural next step 🙂

And  a sneaky peek at the new stuff for regular readers, because I love you! This is from the test site that we’re, predictably, testing everything on before moving it over.

My book haul, beginning as usual with the physical copies, thanks to HarperCollins AU and Jo Fletcher Books (links to Goodreads):

And e-galleys from Netgalley and Edelweiss:

Last time I was even in my Read Three, Buy One scheme, and I reviewed the following books this week:

  1. Life After Theft by Aprilynne Pike
  2. Sea Change by S.M. Wheeler

Which leaves me two books ahead 🙂

I hope you have some goodies to share as well, leave your links below and I’ll be sure to visit 🙂

Happy Reading!

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Sea Change by S.M. Wheeler

  • Date published: 18th June 2013
  • Publisher: Tor Books
  • Format: Hardcover, 304 pages
  • ISBN 13: 9780765333148 ISBN10: 0765333147
  • Categories: Fantasy
  • Goodreads / The Book DepositoryBooktopia / Bookworld
  • Source: provided for review by publisher

The unhappy child of two powerful parents who despise each other, young Lilly turns to the ocean to find solace, which she finds in the form of the eloquent and intelligent sea monster Octavius, a kraken. In Octavius’s many arms, Lilly learns of friendship, loyalty, and family. When Octavius, forbidden by Lilly to harm humans, is captured by seafaring traders and sold to a circus, Lilly becomes his only hope for salvation. Desperate to find him, she strikes a bargain with a witch that carries a shocking price.

Her journey to win Octavius’s freedom is difficult. The circus master wants a Coat of Illusions; the Coat tailor wants her undead husband back from a witch; the witch wants her skin back from two bandits; the bandits just want some company, but they might kill her first. Lilly’s quest tests her resolve, tries her patience, and leaves her transformed in every way.

Wheeler’s début will leave you breathless, exhilarated, and a little disturbed. This gorgeous tale of a young girl who sacrifices everything to save her friend (a Kraken!) from imprisonment touched my heart, and I didn’t want it to end. Sadly, it did end, as all great books do, but I am left amazed, enthralled.

I love the way that Wheeler tells this story – it’s so rare to encounter a début novel with the level of sophistication that is evident throughout Sea Change. Wheeler describes the fantastic landscape beautifully, and I never had any trouble imaging the lush scenery or the wacky characters. From the very first page, readers are immersed in the otherworldly feel of the book, and the magic and mysticism, although subtle at first, won’t fail to intrigue. Coupled with the this visualisation are the hints of many things left unsaid. This is a book where the things the author and characters don’t say are as important as those they do.

The next thing that will pull readers into the book is Lilly herself – distant, sceptical and wise beyond her years, she’s a delight to read about. Alongside her is Octavius, the Kraken she befriend at an early age and her secret solace amongst the many disappointments in her life. I initially thought I wouldn’t connect with Lilly, with her character being so different from my own, but I happily found myself taking a liking to her, and applauding her maturity and loyalty. I also love the loyalty Octavius has to Lilly and the way he always strives to protect and soothe her, and relished how alien and unknowable he seemed. Their friendship is the stuff of legend, all the more inspiring when considering it’s between a girl and a sea monster.

Sea Change is peppered with the weird and the wonderful, and I love how many amazing elements of Fantasy the author has managed to weave throughout the narrative. Not only is there a Kraken, but there’s a troll, a skinless witch, a few undead, and a magical coat. Bizarre though it may seem when I list them like that, I think the elements come together to create a wonderful story, and the sheer creativity of it boggles the mind. Amongst them are the humans, who are as varied and interesting as the magical creatures.

Unexpectedly delightful, Sea Change is among my favourite reads of 2013 so far, and I highly recommend it  to those looking for a dark, gruesome fantasy with nods to the traditions of fairy tales. This book will undoubtably change you.


Waiting on Wednesday 47

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine that allows readers to showcase eagerly awaited upcoming releases.

This week I’ve picked The Lair by Emily McKay

  • Expected publication: November 5th 2013 by Berkley Trade
  • Format: Paperback
  • Series: The Farm, Book 2
  • ISBN13: 9780425264126 ISBN10: 0425264122
  • Goodreads / The Book Depository

In the battle against the vampiric Ticks, humanity was slowly but certainly headed for extinction. For months, twin sisters Lily and Mel had been “quarantined” with thousands of other young people being harvested for their blood—food for the Ticks. Finally escaping with a few friends, the twins are separated—and must continue the fight on their own . . .

After making it to a resistance base camp in Utah, Lily learned to survive at all costs. But when a Tick attack decimates the fighters, Lily and her pregnant friend, McKenna, decide to make the hard trek north to Canada—and safety.

Meanwhile, Mel is being taught how to survive by the very vampire that turned her. Living without her sister is hard, but dealing with the fact that her autism was cured by the vampire bite is an even bigger challenge.

But when a monstrous betrayal places Lily in mortal danger, Mel must set out to find her, save her, and begin to unravel the empire of destruction that the Ticks have built.

The super-creepy vibe of The Farm sucked me into the story, and I don’t think I’ve gotten over that ending yet. I need The Lair, I need it now!!

The Farm series by Emily McKay

My review of The Farm by Emily McKay

I’d love to see what you are waiting on … please leave links and I’ll be sure to check them out!

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Life After Theft by Aprilynne Pike

  • Date published: April 2013
  • Publisher: HarperCollins
  • Format: Paperback, 345 pages
  • ISBN 13: 9780007515561
  • Categories: Other Paranormal (Ghosts)
  • Goodreads / The Book DepositoryBooktopia / Bookworld
  • Source: borrowed from the library

Kimberlee Schaffer may be drop-dead gorgeous… but she also dropped dead last year. Now she needs Jeff’s Help with her unfinished business, and she is not taking no for an answer.

When she was alive, Kimberlee wasn’t just a mean girl; she was also a complete kleptomaniac. So if Jeff wants to avoid being haunted until graduation, he’ll have to help her return everything she stole. But Jeff soon discovers it’s much easier to steal something than it is to bring it back.

This is the first book I’ve read by Pike, and if it’s indicative of her writing, I’ll definitely be back for more! Life After Theft is a hilarious, expectedly emotional read that grabbed me from the very first page. I appreciate that the book isn’t part of a series, because it’s just perfect the way it is and I would have been disappointed if the story was made any longer.

I wasn’t expecting Life After Theft to be narrated solely from Jeff’s point of view. I think it’s refreshing, and I really liked Jeff’s voice. I think some authors, both female and male, struggle to write believable characters of the opposite sex, often blending them with some unrealistic ideals. But Jeff and I have more in common than I would have initially thought, and I love the way he is written.

His confusion at seeing Kimberlee, the way he reluctantly agrees to help her, and the hilarity that ensues as he realises just how much of a kleptomaniac she was in life all sucked me into the story. But underneath the comedic aspect of the book is a deep and real look at teenaged life, and how no one’s life is perfect, no matter how everything looks from the outside. The seriousness of Kimberlee’s problems throughout her life is well-balanced with the quest to return all the things she stole. I think the plot is masterfully woven, with the various elements weaving together to create a fun and quirky story.

Another awesome thing about this book: no love triangle! Jeff sees a gorgeous cheerleader in the hallway on his first day of school, and is immediately attracted to her. I think this is realistic, and have no problems with insta-lust in books, but what I really like is that their relationship developed sweetly, realistically. Yes, we were using the L-word by the end of the book, but I don’t think it was un-called for. I hadn’t expected Kimberlee to harbour such a fierce dislike of Jeff’s choice in girlfriends, and the secrets that were slowly unveiled about the two of them were intriguing.

The only negative thing I have to say about Life After Theft will probably make you laugh, but I found myself very quickly tiring of Jeff’s hate for his school’s uniform. I understand that US schools mostly don’t have a uniform policy, and it was a massive shock for Jeff to attend a school with a uniform, but the situation really drew attention to the way teens judge one another on their fashion. It’s not only Jeff’s constant griping about the uniform, or Kimberlee’s insistence on a whole new outfit for him the first time he meets his peers outside of a school setting, it was throw away comments like “you never realise now much you use clothes to describe people until you go to a uniformed school where everyone is a freaking clone” and “when you go to a school with uniforms, it’s a little hard to tell who’s preppy and who’s goth”. Jeff really, truly struggles to judge which students fit which stereotype in his high-school, and it’s really weird for me, because here in Australia most of our schools have uniforms, and I’ve never had trouble describing someone, or judging whether they were ‘goth’ or not, etc. I think this is a cultural difference, and perhaps US readers will really get where Jeff is coming from, but I didn’t like the superficiality of it all.

I highly recommend Life After Theft highly to readers looking for a lighter read. It’s very different from what I usually read, and I really enjoyed it. I am looking forward to reading more books by this brilliant author in the future (I have Earthbound, so yay!).


Stocktake Saturday 58

Welcome to Stocktake Saturday! This feature is where I share some bookish news with you and then show you all the bookish goodies I got over the week.

The cover reveals from the last week  – (links to Goodreads pages)

  • All Is Fair (The Split Worlds #3) by Emma Newman
  • Starters (Starters & Enders #1) by Lissa Price – paperback cover
  • Enders (Starters & Enders #2) by Lissa Price
  • Skulk by Rosie Best
  • Perfect Ruin (The Internment Chronicles #1) by Lauren DeStefano – UK cover
  • The Queen’s Choice (Heirs of Chrior #1) by Cayla Kluver
  • Secret (Elemental #4) by Brigid Kemmerer

In Bookish News, the title of Amanda Sun’s next book in the Paper Gods series has been revealed. Rain will be released in April 2014 by HarlequinTeen.

Sierra Pictures has acquired the rights to a film adaptation of New York Times Bestselling author Jennifer L. Armentrout’s Obsidian, the first book in her five part Lux series. Read more here.

This week I heard (for the first time) about something that Jessica Shirvington (author of The Violet Eden Chronicles / Embrace series, and Between the Lives) is working on – it’s a speculative fiction duology, with the first book, Disruption, being published in 2014 by HarperCollins AU. This is very exciting for me! I can’t wait 😀

The first chapter of Sarah J. Maas’ Crown of Midnight (Throne of Glass #2) is up on Tor.com! Very exciting! Crown of Midnight will be available from August 27th from Bloomsbury.

This week I’ve been Waiting On … The Severed Tower by J. Barton Mitchell. I also had the blog tour for Banish by Australian author Nicola Marsh drop by, where we were treated to a Survival Guide to Living Wiccan. And I helped with the cover reveal of the wonderful Brigid Kemmerer’s fourth novel in The Elementals Series, Secretcheck it out here.

My book haul this week is entirely made up of e-galleys from Netgalley and Edelweiss:

Last time I was 1 book behind in my Read Three, Buy One scheme, and I reviewed the following books this week:

  1. BZRK by Michael Grant

Which leaves me on par again! Yay.

I hope you have some goodies to share as well, leave your links below and I’ll be sure to visit 🙂

Happy Reading!

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Cover Reveal: Secret (Elemental #4) by Brigid Kemmerer

Hi guys! I’m really excited about being a part of the cover reveal for Brigid Kemmerer’s Secret, the fourth book in The Elemental Series. Without further ado: the cover of Secret!

Secret Kemmerer Final cover

So it’s a different style from the previous US covers, but it still fits in with them well. I think it’s a bit more of a generic YA cover – the covers of the first three novels (and novellas) stood out for me because of the lack of a girl in them, if that makes sense. It also, weirdly enough, reminds me a little of the Lux covers. I feel that they evoke a similar atmosphere, although it is refreshing to not see a girl draping herself all over the boy.

I wonder what Allen & Unwin will come up with for the Australian cover!

And here’s the official synopsis of Secret:

Nowhere is safe. Not even home…

Nick Merrick is stretched to the breaking point.

Keep his grades sky-high or he’ll never escape his hometown.

Keep his brother’s business going or the Merricks will be out on the street.

Keep the secret of where he’s going in the evenings from his own twin—or he’ll lose his family.

Keep his mind off the hot, self-assured dancer who’s supposed to be his “girlfriend’s” partner.

Of course there’s also the homicidal freak Quinn has taken to hanging around, and the Elemental Guide counting the hours until he can try again to kill the Merrick brothers. There’s a storm coming. From all sides. And then some.

Nick Merrick, can you keep it together?

Pre-order Secret now: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound | The Book Depository

Brigid Kemmerer is the author of The Elemental Series, about a family of four brothers who control the elements, and their battle with those who want them dead. Storm, Spark, and Spirit are available now wherever books are sold. To read the novella introducing Nick’s story, be sure to check out Breathless available as an e-book only from major e-book retailers.

You can find out more about The Elemental Series at Brigid’s website.

Storm is the first book in The Elemental Series by Brigid Kemmerer:

  • Published: Published April 24th 2012 by Kensington
  • Format: Paperback, 353 pages
  • Series: Elemental, Book 1
  • ISBN13: 9780758272812 ISBN10: 0758272812
  • Goodreads / The Book Depository

Becca Chandler is suddenly getting all the guys, all the ones she doesn’t want. Ever since her ex-boyfriend spread those lies about her. Then she saves Chris Merrick from a beating in the school parking lot. Chris is different. Way different: he can control water just like his brothers can control fire, wind, and earth. They’re powerful. Dangerous. Marked for death.

And now that she knows the truth, so is Becca.

Secrets are hard to keep when your life’s at stake. When Hunter, the mysterious new kid around school, turns up with a talent for being in the wrong place at the right time, Becca thinks she can trust him. But then Hunter goes head-to-head with Chris, and Becca wonders who’s hiding the most dangerous truth of all.

The storm is coming.

You can read my review of Storm here.

The Elemental Series: full-sized novels Storm, Spark, Spirit, and Secret, and novellas Elemental, Fearless and Breathless.

You can read all my reviews of the Elemental series here.

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Blog Tour: Banish – Guest Post

Hi guys! The Banish blog tour stops by today, and I have High Priestess Angie with me! She’ll be giving us a quick guide to all things Wicca.

– Guest Post –

Survival Guide to Living Wiccan


I’m Angie, a Wiccan High Priestess in NYC. I work for a pharmaceutical company by day and mentor covens online all around the world at night. I’m also High Priestess to the Circe Coven in NYC, one of the largest in the city.

I have one basic survival tip to living Wiccan:


Rede means law so I guess it’s a Wiccan golden rule. And the Wiccan Rede is this: ‘An it harm none, do as ye will.’

It basically means to do no harm to anyone, including yourself.

I’m all for peace. Peaceful living. Peaceful giving. Peaceful karma. Which also feeds into another well-known rule, our Threefold Law, which says whatever you do in the world will come back on your times three.

So basically, be nice!

I also make time to celebrate the Sabbats in a big way. Sabbats are the 8 major holidays of my Pagan calendar.

  • Imbolc (2nd February)
  • Ostara (21st March)
  • Beltane (1st May)
  • Midsummer (21st June)
  • Lammas (1st August)
  • Mabon (21st September)
  • Samhain (31st October)
  • Yule (21st December)

To celebrate Esbats (full moons) I keep it simple: walk outside in a simple shift dress, stand under the light of the moon and bask in the rays. My coven meets on Esbats because the full moon provides extra power and we harness that to boost our magick.

The full moon is special. Embrace it.

And lastly, I couldn’t survive without my tools.

  • Athame (a double-edged straight knife) used for directing energy during rituals.
  • Chalice (mine is pewter, holds water during a ritual.)
  • Candles (I make my own, different colors for specific spells.)
  • Crystals (amethyst is one stone that can do so much. Essential.)
  • Herbs (I grow many, but sage is my favorite, used in cleansing spells.)

So there you have it, my essential survival guide to living Wiccan.

Make sure you hop over to the previous tour stop at Shirley’s Bookshelf, where Alyssa, Angie’s niece and the protagonist of Banish, gave us a run down of a day in the life of a Wiccan teen, and today’s other stop at Moonlight Reader, where you can read an exclusive excerpt of Banish.

About the author:

USA Today bestselling author Nicola Marsh writes flirty fiction with flair for adults and riveting, eerie stories young adults. Based in Melbourne, she has published 40 books and sold more than 4 million copies worldwide. Banish, a thriller with Harlequin Teen Australia, is her young adult début.

A physiotherapist for thirteen years, she now adores writing full-time, chasing after her two little heroes, barracking loudly for her North Melbourne Kangaroos footy team and her favourite, curling up with a good book!

She loves interacting with her readers:

Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Banish on GR

Banish is published in Australia by Harlequin Teen AU, and will be available in August at all good bookstores and online (although, my local Big W has already sneakily put it on their shelves). Thank you to Nicola (and Angie) for taking the time out to give us an insight into Wiccan life. It’s been a real pleasure to have the blog tour stop by Speculating on SpecFic, and I want to give a huge thank you to Polina at Harlequin AU for organising it!

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BZRK by Michael Grant

  • Date published: February 2012
  • Publisher: Electric Monkey
  • Format: Paperback, 406 pages
  • Series: BZRK, Book 1
  • ISBN 13: 9781405264051
  • Categories: YA Science Fiction
  • Goodreads / The Book DepositoryBooktopia / Bookworld
  • Source: borrowed from library

A global war is raging. You can’t see it, but it’s happening all around you.

Inside you. Down inside the meat.

Welcome to the nano – the microscopic matrix where invisible armies will determine the future of mankind. Here, the ultimate battle is for sanity. Losing is not an option when a world of madness is at stake.

Action packed and adrenaline fuelled, BZRK is the first Michael Grant novel I’ve read, and all I can say is that I wish I hadn’t waited so long!

My favourite aspect of this novel is definitely its grounding in nano-science, and the ways in which Grant makes the nano-world come alive. The descriptions of normal, often beautiful things, turns sinister when seen in the nano-scale, and it never failed to make me cringe and freak out. Eyes and skin are way scarier than I’d ever thought they’d be! I enjoyed the way the science is explained in the book through natural dialogue, without breaking up the action or making us wade through info-dumps. Grant doesn’t fall into the pit of over explaining the science, as many science fiction writers are prone to do.

It’s also refreshing to read a young adult novel that incorporates a complex plot and intelligent world-building. Too often I read books where authors have consciously written for a younger audience by over simplifying plot elements or glossing over the world-building.

I’d initially thought I wouldn’t much like any of the characters in this book – they all seemed too different from me, I couldn’t relate to them on any level. As I got to know them better, however, I found out that I have something in common with all of them, Sadie, Noah, even Vincent. I love Sadie, especially the way she cleverly and carefully navigates that thin line between amazing, tough heroine and over-competent, unbelievable teenager. She’s drawn very well, and provides a great counterpoint to Noah, who has a tendency to jump into situations without looking to see where he’ll land.

The moral ambiguity of this novel is something I really liked, especially since these days novels are so clear-cut about which side we should be on. Sadie and Noah question themselves frequently, and are quick to point out that they are asked to do exactly the same things as their enemies, so how do they know they’re any better? I could also see the point that the other side is trying to make, and although I feel like free will should always win out over hive-mind mentality and cohesion, it does raise a compelling point about the human condition. I would, however, have liked more examination of why Bug Man and his associates believe so vehemently in their cause. And I want to know who Lear is, so so bad!

I loved BZRK! I don’t think it’s a novel for everyone – people going in for a light, science fiction read will be sorely disappointed, but fans of science fiction who want to experience a near-future world will love this.  I have the sequel, BZRK Reloaded, ready to go, and I am now desperate to find some time to read Michael Grant’s other series, starting with Gone.