Recommended: DEV1AT3 by Jay Kristoff


Publisher’s Description of DEV1AT3

In the wake of a climactic battle in the ruined city of Babel, two former best friends suddenly find themselves on opposite sides of the same quest. Eve is torn between the memories of the girl she was, and the synthetic she’s discovered herself to be. Together with her lifelike “siblings,” Eve sets out to find the real Ana Monrova, whose DNA is the key to building an army of lifelikes.

Meanwhile, Eve’s best friend, Lemon, is coming to terms with a power that she has long denied– and that others want to harness as a weapon. When she meets a strange boy named Grimm, he offers to lead her out of the horror-ridden landscape and to an enclave of other abnorms like herself. There, Lemon quickly finds a sense of belonging–and perhaps even love–among the other genetic deviates. But all is not what it seems, and with enemies and friends, heroes and villains wearing interchangeable faces, Lemon, too, will join the race to locate Ana Monrova before her former best friend can get to her.

Rebecca’s Thoughts

I’m picky about the sequels I read but thought the 1st book in the LIFEL1K3 series was as imaginative as it was action-packed. (You can read that review here.) It pulled me in for another 448-page romp through post-apocalyptic cities and barren desert with Jay Kristoff and his characters. I wasn’t disappointed.

Image via Goodreads.

Science fiction fans will appreciate Kristoff’s reinterpretation of Asimov’s 3 Law’s of Robotics, which he uses to underpin the conflict in this series. His characters include machines made to serve humans, humans—all sorts, including deviates with special abilities, and machines made to be better than humans. While LIFEL1K3 was primarily told from a human point-of-view, DEV1AT3 gives more time to the viewpoints of the machines. This allows Kristoff to explore more deeply their thoughts and choices, and the prejudice each faces at the hands of others. The correlation between this prejudice against the “other” in Kristoff’s dystopia and that in the world around us boils under the story’s surface.

At the surface level, I love Kristoff’s characters. Whether human or machine, they come alive with voice and personality. The world he builds is larger-than-life and the story’s action is out-sized enough to fill that world. Growing conflict and quick pacing make the story a page-turner.

What did I not like about this book? That because I read an advanced reader copy, the wait for book 3 will be really, really long.

Highly recommended!

I received an advanced reader copy of DEV1AT3 in exchange for an honest review.

DEV1AT3 will be released on June 25th. You can check it out on Goodreads, or pre-order via Indiebound, Barnes and Noble or Amazon.

If DEV1AT3 sounds like a book you’d like, you might be interested in other young adult spec fic books we’ve reviewed recently on the Winged Pen:

Aurora Rising by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
The 2018 CYBILS Book Award Short List – a Wrap Up
Enchantée by Gita Trelease
Stronger, Faster, and More Beautiful by Arwen Elys Dayton
Salt by Hannah Moscowitz

The review was originally posted on TheWingedPen.com.

Recommended: HULLMETAL GIRLS by Emily Skrutzkie

hullmetal girlsPublisher’s Description

Aisha Un-Haad would do anything for her family. When her brother contracts a plague, she knows her janitor’s salary isn’t enough to fund his treatment. So she volunteers to become a Scela, a mechanically enhanced soldier sworn to protect and serve the governing body of the Fleet, the collective of starships they call home. If Aisha can survive the harrowing modifications and earn an elite place in the Scela ranks, she may be able to save her brother.

Key Tanaka awakens in a Scela body with only hazy memories of her life before. She knows she’s from the privileged end of the Fleet, but she has no recollection of why she chose to give up a life of luxury to become a hulking cyborg soldier. If she can make it through the training, she might have a shot at recovering her missing past.

In a unit of new recruits vying for top placement, Aisha’s and Key’s paths collide, and the two must learn to work together–a tall order for girls from opposite ends of the Fleet. But a rebellion is stirring, pitting those who yearn for independence from the Fleet against a government struggling to maintain unity.

With violence brewing and dark secrets surfacing, Aisha and Key find themselves questioning their loyalties. They will have to put aside their differences, though, if they want to keep humanity from tearing itself apart.

Rebecca’s Thoughts

I picked up this book because of the promise of kick-butt girls in space. It had that and more!

The book pulled me immediately into the life and motivations of Aisha. Her religious beliefs give her every reason to NOT allow her body to be enhanced – except that it’s her only chance to protect her sick brother and younger sister. Aisha’s closely-held beliefs feel genuine and make her a stand-out in the YA spec fic market. The fact that she’s caught between her beliefs and the cybernetic enhancements she’d taken on creates a constant source of tension in the story.

Aisha’s beliefs also put her in direct contrast with Key, a girl of action, not faith. But beneath her tough exterior, Key struggles to hide her faulty memory, a difficult thing to do since their team has been augmented with mental connections which allow them to read each other’s thoughts and emotions and therefore perform well as a team. Both girls struggle with the mutual acceptance and cooperation they’ll need work together effectively and earn a spot among the elite units protecting the fleet.

I found this a quick read for space sci fi. Skrutskie includes plenty of world-building, but not world-building for its own sake, only as needed to move the plot forward. The story is told in first person, alternating perspectives, which allows the reader to really get to know both girls and move with them through the story. Twists and turns along the way keep the plot interesting. It will appeal to readers of Nyxia by Scott Reintgen and LIFEL1K3 by Jay Kristoff.

Hullmetal Girls will be released on July 17th. You can check it out on Goodreads or order from IndieBound, Amazon, or Barnes & Noble.

I requested an advanced reader copy from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

This book recommendation was originally posted on TheWingedPen.com. If Hullmetal Girls sounds good, you might also like other young adult books discussed on The Winged Pen.

Allegedly by Tiffany Jackson
Unearthed by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner
The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert
LIFEL1K3 by Jay Kristoff

REBECCA J. ALLEN writes young adult science fiction with heroines much braver than she is and middle grade stories that blend mystery and adventure. She reviews young adult books, is a judge for the CYBILS YA Speculative Fiction book award and fangirls all things bookish. Find her on Twitter and Instagram, or on TheWingedPen.com.

Recommended: LIFEL1K3 by Jay Kristoff

Lifelike, Jay Kristoff, YA science fictionPublisher’s Description

On an island junkyard beneath a sky that glows with radiation, a deadly secret lies buried in the scrap. Seventeen-year-old Eve isn’t looking for trouble–she’s too busy looking over her shoulder. The robot gladiator she spent months building has been reduced to a smoking wreck, she’s on the local gangster’s wanted list, and the only thing keeping her grandpa alive is the money she just lost to the bookies. Worst of all, she’s discovered she can somehow destroy machines with the power of her mind, and a bunch of puritanical fanatics are building a coffin her size because of it. If she’s ever had a worse day, Eve can’t remember it. The problem is, Eve has had a worse day–one that lingers in her nightmares and the cybernetic implant where her memories used to be. Her discovery of a handsome android named Ezekiel–called a “Lifelike” because they resemble humans–will bring her world crashing down and make her question whether her entire life is a lie. With her best friend Lemon Fresh and her robotic sidekick Cricket in tow, Eve will trek across deserts of glass, battle unkillable bots, and infiltrate towering megacities to save the ones she loves…and learn the truth about the bloody secrets of her past.

Rebecca’s Thoughts

Full of awesome future tech and kick-butt characters fighting their way out of one tight-corner after another, this book will keep your heart thumping fast and the pages turning! Each of the characters is grappling with their own secrets, ones that at times unite them to fight common enemies and later force them to question who they can trust. The slow reveal of the secrets makes the story a sci fi-adventure-mystery mash-up.  Kristoff writes secondary characters who you’ll want to befriend with voices that will keep you smiling.

Fun read! Highly recommended!

LIFEL1K3 will be released on May 29th. You can check it out on Goodreads or pre-order from Amazon Barnes & Noble or IndieBound.

I requested an advance reader copy from NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review.

Need more book suggestions? If LIFEL1K3 sounds good, you might also like other young adult books discussed on The Winged Pen:

Unearthed by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner
Dear Martin by Nic Stone
The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert
The Takedown by Corrie Wang

REBECCA J. ALLEN writes young adult science fiction with heroines much braver than she is and middle grade stories that blend mystery and adventure. She reviews young adult books, is a judge for the CYBILS YA Speculative Fiction book award and fangirls all things bookish. Find her on Twitter and Instagram, or on TheWingedPen.com.

Recommended: Unearthed by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner

unearthedPublisher’s Description

When Earth intercepts a message from a long-extinct alien race, it seems like the solution humanity has been waiting for. The Undying’s advanced technology has the potential to undo environmental damage and turn lives around, and their message leads to the planet Gaia, a treasure trove waiting to be explored.

For Jules Addison and his fellow scholars, the discovery of an ancient alien culture offers unprecedented opportunity for study… as long as scavengers like Amelia Radcliffe don’t loot everything first. Despite their opposing reasons for smuggling themselves onto the alien planet’s surface, they’re both desperate to uncover the riches hidden in the Undying temples. Beset by rival scavenger gangs, Jules and Mia form a fragile alliance… but both are keeping secrets that make trust nearly impossible.

As they race to decode the ancient messages, Jules and Mia must navigate the traps and trials within the Undying temples and stay one step ahead of the scavvers on their heels. They came to Gaia certain that they had far more to fear from their fellow humans than the ancient beings whose mysteries they’re trying to unravel. But the more they learn about the Undying, the more Jules and Mia start to feel like their presence in the temple is part of a grand design–one that could spell the end of the human race…

Rebecca’s Thoughts

Aliens secrets in ancient temples? Puzzles reminiscent of an Indiana Jones movie that must be unlocked to continue exploring? Traps have already left members of the first International Alliance team dead? A scholar and a scavver who have opposing reasons for coming to Gaia but must work together to survive? YES PLEASE!

Unearthed is full of conflict and action from page one. It’s a quick read. And its promise of alien mysteries and confusion about their motives don’t disappoint. I wouldn’t have minded a bit more hard science in the space travel and communication. Travel times from Earth to Gaia seemed rather short even with a portal left behind by the aliens to help things along. But the richness of this book is in the two teens, each on Gaia for something they desperately need and with opposing goals. A slow burn romance as Jules and Mia learn they must work together facing the highest stakes propels the story forward as much as the action. Highly recommended!

No advanced reader copy on this one! I was excited enough about the concept to request from the library right after it released. You can check it out on Goodreads or order from Amazon, Barnes & Noble or Indiebound.

Need more book suggestions? If Unearthed sounds good, you might also like some of the young adult fantasy and science fiction releases I’ve reviewed including:

The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert
5 Must-Reads from the CYBILS YA Speculative Fiction Award nominees.
– 5 More Great Reads from the CYBILS YA Spec Fic Award nominees.

REBECCA J. ALLEN writes young adult science fiction with heroines much braver than she is and middle grade stories that blend mystery and adventure. She reviews young adult books, is a judge for the CYBILS YA Speculative Fiction book award and fangirls all things bookish. Find her on Twitter and Instagram, or on TheWingedPen.com.

Book Review: THE HAZEL WOOD by Melissa Albert

hazel woodPublisher’s Description

Seventeen-year-old Alice and her mother have spent most of Alice’s life on the road, always a step ahead of the uncanny bad luck biting at their heels. But when Alice’s grandmother, the reclusive author of a cult-classic book of pitch-dark fairy tales, dies alone on her estate, the Hazel Wood, Alice learns how bad her luck can really get: Her mother is stolen away–by a figure who claims to come from the Hinterland, the cruel supernatural world where her grandmother’s stories are set. Alice’s only lead is the message her mother left behind: “Stay away from the Hazel Wood.”

Alice has long steered clear of her grandmother’s cultish fans. But now she has no choice but to ally with classmate Ellery Finch, a Hinterland superfan who may have his own reasons for wanting to help her. To retrieve her mother, Alice must venture first to the Hazel Wood, then into the world where her grandmother’s tales began–and where she might find out how her own story went so wrong.

Rebecca’s Thoughts

The Hazel Wood is as dark and creepy as the Grimm fairy tales its main character Alice has spent her childhood reading. The author’s vivid description pulls you first into Alice’s life in New York City and then into the stranger world of Hazel Wood and beyond. Alice’s thirst for the truth about herself and drive to find her mother propel the story forward, and obstacles at every turn and keep the pages turning quickly. I particularly liked the stories within this story–excerpts from her grandmother’s book provide glimpses of the twisted characters and deeds that lie ahead on Alice’s path. The Hazel Wood is a great pick for fans of Stranger Things and Holly Black’s novels.

Continue reading “Book Review: THE HAZEL WOOD by Melissa Albert”