Books

Book Review: Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor

(5/5 stars)  I'm not sure where I heard of Akata Witch; it was probably one of my podcasts. I was just excited to read a fantasy novel based on a magic system from a non-European mythology. I did not know it was a YA novel, though, and I was very delightfully surprised by what I found. The story structure and plot aren't exceptionally different from other stories of this sort: a young outsider learns that she has a destiny and finds camaraderie in a community of other outcasts.  But the characters are fun and interesting. The culture is lush and fascinating.  And the magic system is scary and fascinating.  Overall, I really enjoyed this book quite a lot. 

By Trey McIntyre, ago
Books

Parasite (Parasitology, #1) By Mira Grant

(2/5 stars) Strange, inconsistent characterization in the main character combined with an extremely predictable plot made this a distinctly un-entertaining read for me.  You can pretty much guess everything about this book from the summary on Amazon: A decade in the future, humanity thrives in the absence of sickness and disease. We owe our good health to a humble parasite -- a genetically engineered tapeworm developed by the pioneering SymboGen Corporation. When implanted, the Intestinal Bodyguard worm protects us from illness, boosts our immune system -- even secretes designer drugs. It's been successful beyond the scientists' wildest dreams. Now, years on, almost every human being has a SymboGen tapeworm living within them. But these parasites are getting restless. They want their own lives . . . and will do anything to get them. If you want a book about parasites taking people over, I would recommend The Girl with All the Gifts instead.  And in my parasite hobbyist's opinion, I think the chosen parasite in The Girl with All the Gifts makes more sense than a genetically modified tapeworm.

By Trey McIntyre, ago
Books

A Review of Two Books About Google

I recently chose two audiobooks from one of my local public libraries and they just happen to both be about Google.  Kinda. They are Mr Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan and The Circle by Dave Eggers. It was a coincidence that they turned out to hinge on common themes and elements, but it was a very interesting contrast in perspective.  Mr. Penumbra's takes a rather positive view of technology and data and how it can help us solve mysteries and enjoy life more deeply.  The Circle, however, takes a far warier view of our connected, internet society and the threat it poses to individual freedom and liberty. I would recommend them both for different reasons.  The first book is a fun, light-hearted mystery/adventure with lots of literary color.  The second book is basically a horror story in the tradition of 1984 and A Brave New World.

By Trey McIntyre, ago
Books

Book Review: Outpost (Donovan #1) by W. Michael Gear

(5/5 stars)  I have mixed feelings about this book. I didn't LOVE it, but I kind of loved it.  Donovan is an alien world on the backside of nowhere and owned by The Corporation which intended to mine its plentiful mineral deposits.  Unfortunately, Donovan is the Australia of space and everything on the planet wants to kill people.  So, in the years since the last supply drop, the population of Donovan has made do with what they have and many of them have grown to despise life under The Corporation's thumb. So, when a new corporate supervisor comes to the planet, things get... awkward. Donovan is a dangerous and truly alien world. The universe the characters occupy is interesting and detailed. And I really love some of the characters. Parts of the novel seem a bit dry and cliche, but I still couldn't get enough of it and I am kind of annoyed that the second and third books are not available right this minute for me to buy it. So, yeah.  A solid sci-fi adventure. Five stars.

By Trey McIntyre, ago
Books

Book Review: Into the Drowning Deep by Mira Grant

Summary: (4/5 stars) Into the Drowning Deep is a monster thriller novel with the pacing of a movie and reminds me a lot of Michael Crichton's later work. The basic premise is that a big, scientific ship is going to the Mariana trench to do some marine research.  Some of the people on the ship are going to investigate the deaths of all the people on another ship that went there seven years earlier.  Some of the investigators believe that the other people were killed by previously undocumented sea monsters that everyone calls mermaids. Spoiler alert: a buncha people die.  It's fun!

By Trey McIntyre, ago
Books

Book Review: Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup by John Carryrou

Summary: (5/5 stars) I think I heard about this book via an interview with the author, John Carryrou, on a podcast.  He's the journalist who scooped this story for The Wall Street Journal.  I decided to pick it up for two reasons. First of all, I'm fascinated by stories of such audacious frauds and that's what Theranos is.  Second, I wasn't an investor, but as an observer, I was totally taken in by Elizabeth Holmes' story and what Theranos claimed it was able to do and I wanted to understand it better.  The real story was worse than I thought!

By Trey McIntyre, ago
Books

Book Review: The Final Six by Alexandra Monir

(3/5 stars) The Final Six is probably a better book than my star rating indicates. I just didn't love it because it felt like a lot of build-up with little pay-off.  But I think that's because I'm far less interested in the interpersonal relationships of young people than I am in space travel and the associated mysteries.  It's a YA book, mind you. So, it feels a little wrong to evaluate it by standards that aren't quite right for YA, but whatevs. The basic premise of the book is that earth has been devastated by climate change and is becoming uninhabitable.  So, the various countries and space agencies around the world have teamed up to send a team of teenagers to Europa where they will begin terraforming the moon for human habitation.  The reason they pick teenagers is because they're old enough to learn complicated things, but young enough to remain adaptable to all the things that the mission requires.  But there's more to the mission that the teens are being told. DUN DUN DUUUUUUUUUUNNNNN! An interesting, if far-fetched premise, with characters that I liked pretty well.  The conflicts don't build up high enough for my tastes and don't pay off in the way I wanted.  But it's good enough that I will probably pick up the next book at some point in hopes of getting more of that space travel goodness.

By Trey McIntyre, ago
Books

Book Reviews: Sorry! Sorry! Sorry!

I have been exceptionally negligent about my blog posts for several weeks now and I'm sorry! I just had more fun, interesting, and compelling things to do with my time.  OK. Maybe I'm not that sorry.  But I'm sorry you missed me, so I got up this morning and decided that I needed to get caught up on my book reviews. 

By Trey McIntyre, ago
Books

Book Review: The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty

(4/5 stars) The third book on the Book Riot Read Harder Challenge is "A classic of genre fiction," and after scrolling through their list of suggestions, I decided this would be a good one to pick up.  Everyone is probably familiar with the story because the movie is superfamous. The book is pretty much the same with a few additional details.  I wish it weren't so familiar because the book is really well put together and it would probably be a thrill to experience the story for the first time through this book.

By Trey McIntyre, ago