Tuesday Reads: The Body Electric by Beth Revis

“Science can make a heart beat,” Jack says softly, each word falling on me like a caress. “But it can’t make it race.”

22642971I loved Beth Revis’ Across the Universe trilogy (please can we get some more YA in space? can that be the Next Big Thing?), so when The Body Electric came out, I bought it immediately. And I regret nothing, because it’s wonderful.

There’s a lot about Ella Shepherd’s life that isn’t awesome. Her father was killed in a terrorist attack. Her mother’s terminal illness is barely kept at bay by the nanobots in her brain. Ella spends all her time at her mother’s spa, where people come to enter reveries – technology that lets them relive their happiest memories.

When her mother’s illness makes it difficult for her to enter reverie, Ella does something experimental, and possibly dangerous. She enters her mother’s reverie. Manipulates it to be as happy as possible. People aren’t supposed to be able to share reveries, but Ella can do it. The government finds out, and recruits her to enter the reveries of suspected rebels. They want her to learn their secrets. With justice for her father on her mind, Ella’s happy to do it.

This starts Ella on a path to discover the secrets her government and family have been hiding. She meets a boy, Jack, who claims to know her intimately – but she’s never met him in her life. Her memories of him have been entirely erased, and she doesn’t know by who, and she doesn’t know if she can trust him. She pretty quickly realizes she’s not sure if she can trust anyone – not even herself.

There’s so much about this book that I loved. I loved the futuristic world that Revis created. It’s filled with nanobots and androids but doesn’t feel like every other scifi book with nanobots and androids. They’re still fresh and interesting and I enjoyed learning about the world.

I loved that it’s set in the Mediterranean rather than future US. This is a scifi YA with a kickass girl of color as the protagonist. I’m actually pretty sure that there are more people of color in this book than there are white people, so that’s awesome (it was similar in Across the Universe, actually, Beth Revis is great).

I was also really into the romance aspect. It was there and it was swoon-worthy, but it didn’t overpower the plot and it didn’t define either Ella or Jack. It was part of their arcs and part of their characters, but it wasn’t everything, they didn’t drop their entire lives and beings for each other. Plus, Ella had other important relationships in her life, ones that often took precedence over Jack – her family and her best friend.

I honestly don’t have much bad to say about The Body Electric. I thought it was incredibly fun and interesting, I loved the setting and the characters, and I think all y’all should read it ASAP.

STARS: 5/5

Bonus Review: Extraction by Stephanie Diaz

You only have until midnight tonight to enter for a chance to win a bookmark SIGNED BY STEPHANIE DIAZ, and I super enjoyed her debut novel Extraction so I thought I’d post an extra review this week. Check out my post about Stephanie Diaz for more about her and for a summary of Extraction.

“What would you give for a way off the Surface, Clementine?”

Logan’s face slides into my head. The one person I know I’d miss if they took me away.

Looking into my instructor’s shining eyes, I push his face to the back of my mind.

“Everything,” I say.

9781250041173Extraction starts a lot like your usual post-apocalyptic YA novel, which is a genre that I know a lot of people are tired of…but I’m not. It’s my jam, especially if the world and the characters are interesting. I liked Extraction a lot because it’s not actually set on Earth, it’s on another planet in another galaxy, though it is also occupied by humans. It’s a little more space sci-fi than a lot of post-apocalyptic stuff is, and I dig that.

I didn’t hit that point where I needed to keep reading and needed to know more until about 30% of the way in, but once it hit that point, it didn’t let me go. At some parts in the beginning I was still a little hesitant, because I know the tropes of the YA dystopia very well and I worried it would all be too predictable. It’s not. It kept me guessing and kept surprising me.

It definitely plays to a lot of the tropes, but it does that really well. I was never bored. I love the protagonist, Clementine. She’s strong and she’s smart, but she still makes a lot of mistakes. She actually reminds me a lot of Tris from Divergent, in a good way. Seriously, if you liked Divergent you will probably love Extraction.

I really love that there isn’t a love triangle in sight.

I also got into Clementine’s development as a rebel. In the beginning, she’s just thinking about how she wants to escape her shitty life and take her friend, Logan, with her. She’s not thinking about overthrowing the whole system or revealing great injustices. She just wants to be free and to be with the one person left that she loves. Her way of doing that is working within the system: She wants to pass her Promise test, be Extracted to the Core, and become so special and invaluable that they’ll agree to make an exception for Logan and let him live in the Core, too.

But of course things are worse in the Core than she thought. The corruption and control are stronger than she ever imagined, but, for awhile, it’s still just about saving Logan and using the power structures already in place to do it. It’s not until things get to their absolute worse that Clementine goes: Screw it, I need to stop ALL of this, and I need to find my own way.

I will tell you that there are parts of the science and the worldbuilding that might stretch the limits of your ability to suspend your disbelief – there were a couple points that had me go, “What?” – but overall I was able to just go with it and buy into the rules of this world and really have fun reading the book.

The tl;dr of this review is: Extraction is a lot of fun, you should read it, and you definitely want to win one of those bookmarks signed by Stephanie Diaz.

STARS: 4/5

YA Reads 2014 Debut Authors Bash: Stephanie Diaz (with a GIVEAWAY!)

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Hello, friends! Today I am participating in a book tour run by the awesome site, YA Reads, that is all about celebrating new YA authors. I’m lucky enough to be hosting Stephanie Diaz. She’s 21, she just graduated summa cum laude from San Diego State University (!!!), and her debut novel EXTRACTION is out now.

Clementine has spent her whole life preparing for her sixteenth birthday, when she’ll be tested for Extraction in the hopes of being sent from the planet Kiel’s toxic Surface to the much safer Core, where people live without fear or starvation. When she proves promising enough to be “Extracted,” she must leave without Logan, the boy she loves. Torn apart from her only sense of family, Clem promises to come back and save him from brutal Surface life. 

What she finds initially in the Core is a utopia compared to the Surface—it’s free of hard labor, gun-wielding officials, and the moon’s lethal acid. But life is anything but safe, and Clementine learns that the planet’s leaders are planning to exterminate Surface dwellers, which means Logan, too.

Trapped by the steel walls of the underground and the lies that keep her safe, Clementine must find a way to escape and rescue Logan and the rest of the planet. But the planet leaders don’t want her running—they want her subdued.

With intense action scenes and a cast of unforgettable characters, Extraction is a page-turning, gripping read, sure to entertain lovers of Hunger Games and Ender’s Game, and leave them breathless for more.

As part of this tour, I got to interview Stephanie, ask her about her Top 10 YA Scifi Novels, and she is awesome enough to have THREE SIGNED BOOKMARKS to give away to three lucky winners. Be sure to enter before September 30th!

Adventures in Storyland: Since this blog tour is all about debut authors, I first want to ask – how does it feel to have your first book coming out? Are there any words to describe it?

ac0516_0229362101cf5713c32a5c8e838a8e14.jpg_srz_p_376_488_75_22_0.50_1.20_0.00_jpg_srzStephanie: It feels completely surreal. Awesome and freaking terrifying at the same time. My stomach does a little skip whenever I walk into a bookstore and see Extraction on the shelf.

We mostly expect our published authors to be in their thirties or forties or older. You’re 21. What has it been like delving into a world where your professional peers are mostly older than you?

At times it can feel intimidating dealing with older authors and publishing professionals, but everyone I’ve met and worked with has been nothing but supportive and encouraging. I haven’t ever felt like my age was a stigma in any way. Maybe I’m lucky. But I think most people realize it’s not really about how old you are; it’s about how hard you’ve worked at your craft. Whether you start at age ten or age forty, writing takes practice.

Do you have any advice for other young, aspiring writers?

Write the book you want to read. Ignore anyone who says you haven’t experienced enough of your life to write a story worth telling. Shake it off and write, write, write. And always follow your instincts.

What authors have most inspired you?
J.K. Rowling, of course. Also John Green and Veronica Roth.

9781250041173Top Ten YA Scifi Novels?

 

  • The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness
  • The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman
  • These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner
  • Across the Universe by Beth Revis
  • The Fifth Wave by Rick Yancey
  • Starglass by Phoebe North
  • What’s Left of Me by Kat Zhang
  • Glow by Amy Kathleen Ryan
  • Legend by Marie Lu
  • Reboot by Amy Tintera

 

Remember to ENTER TO WIN A SIGNED BOOKMARK.

I will see you all on Tuesday with a new book review!

Tuesday Reads: Salvage by Alexandra Duncan

EDIT: I somehow originally never said in this review that the cover is whitewashed. It’s clearly stated in the book that Ava has dark skin (in fact, the bulk of the main characters are dark-skinned), but the girl on the cover is super white. I can’t believe this escaped me when I grabbed the cover for this review. The rest of the review still stands.

“They threw you out,” she says. “That doesn’t mean you’re worthless. It only means they didn’t see your worth.”

salvageI am basically always going to be obsessed with YA that predominately features interesting, diverse female characters, and holy crap you guys. Salvage by Alexandra Duncan is a home run in that regard. It’s super feminist and I’m not actually sure any of the main characters are white.

Ava has lived her entire life on a highly patriarchal spaceship. Women don’t fix things, they don’t read or know even basic math, and they’re locked in their quarters every night. Ava – a natural mechanic that taught herself addition and subtraction – has questions about the way of life on her conservative ship, but has never stepped too far out of line. Instead, she fits in best she can, which is sometimes difficult since she has darker skin than anyone else on her ship and sometimes people still whisper about her black hair being a curse.

When Ava does step out of line, she does it in a major way, and has to run away to Earth to find her aunt in Mumbai or face certain death. She ends up on the ship of a single mother and abuse survivor. Perpétue captains her own ship, has no problem taking care of herself, and has taught her daughter, Miyole, to be independent and smart. They are everything that Ava thought a woman could never be.

And she struggles with it! She’s been raised in this very strict world, so it’s natural that she would be confused and would struggle with anyone going outside what she was taught. She is not automatically a strong feminist. She has to watch and learn and make the choices that lead her down that path, until she can stick up for herself and feels confident going after what she truly wants.

Too often, we’re shown a female protagonist who is maybe academically smart and dresses in an understated, practical way, and to drive home the point that she’s Good, we’re giving a woman of her opposite – someone who doesn’t do well in school and is super feminine – and she is made out to be Bad, like there’s only one way to be a woman in the world of that book or movie.

Salvage thinks that’s bullshit, and so do I. Ava loves fixing machines and math, but she finds that she hates formal academics. Miyole, meanwhile, wants nothing more than to go to school and study as much as she can and do brilliant things. Ava doesn’t really care much about clothes one way or the other, but her aunt and Miyole love clothes shopping and being feminine. And they all just are who they are. Ava isn’t better than Miyole because she wants to learn a practical trade and dress practically. Miyole isn’t better than Ava because she wants to wear pretty clothes and study. They find their own way.

This post is totally mostly about how awesome the characters and feminism and diversity of the book are, but I should note that the plot and the world? Also really gorgeous and interesting. I loved basically every part of this, and I bet you guys would, too. SO GO READ IT.

Medium: Kindle
Stars: 5/5

Sarah Reads: “Don’t Think About That”

This past year, I’ve participated in a lot of readings with other writers, mainly my fellow Ball State students. I discovered that I really love getting up in front of a crowd and reading my work and, even better, that I’m not half bad at it.

So here’s my new feature for the blog: Sarah Reads.

Once or twice a month (I’ll set a better schedule as I get comfortable), I’ll be posting audio of me reading original fiction. Currently I’m not going to post the text along with it, but I’d love to hear from my readers on whether or not you’d like to have that text.

This first edition of Sarah Reads features a flash fiction about space: “Don’t Think About That”.