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: Adaptation by Malinda Lo

Democracy, at its root, is based on the faith that our representatives have our best interests at heart. If we as a nation no longer believe that they do, that may be even more disturbing than the idea that aliens are among us.

I’m really into disaster scenarios. Bonus points if they’re kind of weird, and big bonus points if we then get to see normal people pushed entirely out of not only their comfort zones but just their entire realm of experience. That’s what happens to Reese and David, two of our main characters in Adaptation by Malinda Lo. I was sold on this book from the first paragraph of the Amazon summary:

Across North America, flocks of birds hurl themselves into airplanes, causing at least a dozen to crash. Thousands of people die. Fearing terrorism, the United States government grounds all flights, and millions of travelers are stranded.

AdaptationARC_cover_webReese and David are two of those stranded travelers. They’re in Arizona, and they’re forced to drive home to San Francisco. But on a deserted highway, a bird flies straight into their headlights. They swerve, flip over, crash. They wake up in a military hospital, miraculously healed, and they’re…different. They can’t exactly understand what’s different, but something is off.

They eventually get home to San Francisco, and return to their lives. Reese meets Amber, this beautiful, interesting girl that flirts with her and makes her feel wonderful.

But of course, it can’t all be sunshine and roses. Reese continues to monitor her rapid healing. She can’t shake the feeling that someone is following her. Her best friend talks about government conspiracies and aliens – and Reese starts to think that maybe that’s not as crazy as it sounds. Maybe he’s onto something.

I’ll admit – I’m not super into the alien government conspiracies, but Adaptation kept me on the edge of my seat and I enjoyed it. The aliens weren’t entirely my style, either, but I like the classic scifi feel to both them and their ship (but I won’t spoil all that).

Adaptation is also an awesome example of diversity in YA (which I’ve talked about before) and which makes sense, considering that Malinda Lo’s other books (Ash and Huntress) feature queer and POC characters and, oh yeah, she’s one of the founders of Diversity in YA.

While this whole crazy conspiracy plot is going on, Reese is struggling a bit. She has this huge crush on David, but then she meets Amber and wow kissing her is pretty great. The truly great part here isn’t that she’s kissing a girl – it’s that she has feelings for and chemistry with both a guy and a girl.

Here’s the thing. Erasure of bisexuals is pretty big in popular media. “Oh, he can’t like that girl, he has a boyfriend. She can’t like that girl, she has a boyfriend.” People are either gay or straight. When there is a bisexual character, they’re generally portrayed as being slutty (which we’re also told is bad) or indecisive. Just this past week, Glee’s awesome lesbian Santana complained that she only ever dates experimental college girls and bisexuals (both groups, of course, will always leave her for a guy), and that dating a Real Lesbian was intimidating. Said Real Lesbian told Santana that she deserves a “full Sapphic goddess”.

Because bisexuals just don’t count, right?

Of course, the sad thing is that these are just backing up real opinions that people have about bisexuals.

When it comes down to it in Adaptation, it’s not that Reese is struggling to figure out if she’s gay or straight. Yeah, she gets confused a bit because she’s only ever thought she’s straight, but in the end that’s not what matters. What matters is that she has feelings for both David and Amber, and there’s a whole lot of drama with both of them. She’s not choosing between gay or straight. She’s choosing between two people that she cares about.

Normalized bisexual representation and a giant government conspiracy? I don’t know about you, but count me in for the rest of this series.

Medium: Kindle
Stars: 4/5

Tuesday Reads: The Lost Girl by Sangu Mandanna

What is this power the dead have over the ones they leave behind? It’s strange and beautiful and frightening, this deathless love that human beings continue to feel for the ones they’ve lost.

If you could have a double of a loved one made, someone that would come to you if your loved one died and take their place, would you? They’d be an exact physical replica. They’d spent their whole lives learning to be the person you lost. But would that be enough?

lost girlThat’s the premise of The Lost Girl by Sangu Mandanna. For a price, people called Weavers make perfect little clones called echoes that can be used to replace a person once they’ve died. As the technology stands now, they have to be taught to be that person, but the hope is that one day they’ll actually be able to transfer the thoughts and soul of someone into a body double that’s just standing by.

Eva is an echo. She spends most of her life in a house with her caretakers, studying her other, Amarra. But Eva isn’t exactly like Amarra. She can’t be. She has her own thoughts, her own wants and needs, people she loves. Unfortunately, she doesn’t have much of a choice – when Amarra dies, Eva gets packed off to India to become her. She’s implanted with a tracker so she can’t run away and she can’t tell anyone what she is, both because echoes are illegal in India and because most people see them as abominations. Eva wants to make Amarra’s family happy, but she also badly wants to be herself and live her own life, so what is she supposed to do?

Once I started in on The Lost Girl, I couldn’t stop. I quickly became invested in Eva and wanted her to be happy. I knew that Amarra had to die and Eva had to go live that life – what story would there be if Eva just got to stay home in England? – but in the chapters leading up to it, I still hoped that nothing would happen to Amarra. When we see Amarra die in Eva’s dream, I felt my stomach drop. When Eva leaves for India, I was even more afraid that she wouldn’t do a good job being Amarra. If she wasn’t convincing enough, Amarra’s family might get rid of her, and that would mean her death.

I really loved every character, to be honest, even those who betrayed Eva. I understood all of them and their motivations. It’s pretty awesome writing that does that.

Also, Eva ships Harry/Hermione, and that’s the coolest. Basically all of my friends have some ships (that is, fictional relationships that they support, canon or not) but you never see that acknowledged in books. In The Lost Girl, it’s just a quick, casual moment. It doesn’t make a big deal out of itself, but it was a big deal to me. It grounded the book for me and made me love Eva even more.

My only real problems with the book were that I want to know more about how echoes are made. We know that every echo has only one Weaver working on it, but we don’t know how they do it. I became a little uncertain if it was science or magic or both. There’s also not a defined time period. I’m pretty sure it’s set in an alternate version of our present, but I would have loved some confirmation.

This is not your usual future technology YA (which, let’s be honest, are usually dystopias). This is something different, and it’s easily one of my favorite books I’ve read this year.

Medium: Kindle
Stars: 5/5