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.

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”

Recommended: NYXIA by Scott Reintgen

Nyxia, young adult books, book reviewEvery life has a price in this sci-fi thriller that has the nonstop action of The Maze Runner and the high-stakes space setting of Illuminae. This is the first in a new three-book series that will take a group of broken teens to the far reaches of the universe and force them to decide what they’re willing to risk for a lifetime of fortune.

Emmett Atwater isn’t just leaving Detroit; he’s leaving Earth. Why the Babel Corporation recruited him is a mystery, but the number of zeroes on their contract has him boarding their lightship and hoping to return to Earth with enough money to take care of his family.

Forever.

Before long, Emmett discovers that he is one of ten recruits, all of whom have troubled pasts and are a long way from home. Now each recruit must earn the right to travel down to the planet of Eden—a planet that Babel has kept hidden—where they will mine a substance called Nyxia that has quietly become the most valuable material in the universe.

But Babel’s ship is full of secrets. And Emmett will face the ultimate choice: win the fortune at any cost, or find a way to fight that won’t forever compromise what it means to be human.
Excerpt taken from Netgalley.com

Could you turn down an offer of immense wealth and free healthcare for your mother with cancer? What if that offer would send you to the far end of the universe? Emmett and nine other teens are given the opportunity to join a team to mine Nyxia from a far planet. We accompany Emmett as he fights for a spot on the team, faces the bait-and-switch tactics of the company running the mining operation, and strives to find friendship amidst the cut-throat competition he’s been thrown into.

Continue reading “Recommended: NYXIA by Scott Reintgen”

Recommended: SONG OF THE CURRENT by Sarah Tolcser

song of the currentI requested an advanced reader copy of Song of the Current in exchange for an unbiased review.

An immersive fantasy debut set along the waterways of a magical world. Caroline Oresteia is destined for the river. Her father is a wherryman, as was her grandmother. All Caro needs is for the river god to whisper her name, and her fate is sealed. But at seventeen, Caro may be too late.

So when pirates burn ships and her father is arrested, Caro volunteers to transport mysterious cargo in exchange for his release. Secretly, Caro hopes that by piloting her own wherry, the river god will finally speak her name.

But when the cargo becomes more than Caro expected, she finds herself caught in a web of politics and lies. With much more than her father’s life at stake, Caro must choose between the future she knows, and the one she could have never imagined.
From Netgalley.com

I loved this watery world! The reader slips easily onto Caro’s small boat, feeling the wind in the sails and the current of the water carry them through the story. Caro’s careful listening for the voice of the river god, a voice her father says she will hear in the language of small things, the quiet whispers of animals and plants along the river, and the motion of the water itself, makes the world feel real.

Continue reading “Recommended: SONG OF THE CURRENT by Sarah Tolcser”

Book Recommendations: FOLLOW ME BACK by A.V. Geiger

follow me backI received a free advanced reader copy of Follow Me Back in exchange for an unbiased review.

Told through tweets, direct messages, and police transcripts Follow Me Back is the  first book of a new duology. Written for the online generation this thriller  will keep you guessing right up to the shocking end.

Tessa Hart’s world feels very small. Confined to her bedroom with agoraphobia, her one escape is the online fandom for pop sensation Eric Thorn. When he tweets to his fans, it’s like his speaking directly to her…

Eric Thorn is frightened by his obsessive fans. They take their devotion way too far. It doesn’t help that his PR team keeps posting to encourage their fantasies.

When a fellow pop star is murdered at the hands of a fan, Eric knows he has to do something to shatter his online image fast—like take down one of his top Twitter followers. But Eric’s plan to troll @TessaHeartsEric unexpectedly evolves into an online relationship deeper than either could have imagined. And when the two arrange to meet IRL, what should have made for the world’s best episode of Catfish takes a deadly turn…
Excerpt taken from Netgalley.com

I requested this book because it sounded fun and current, like a story ripped right from the headlines. I read it in one day. Tessa and Eric, the main characters, were believable and pulled me in. Unexpected plot twists and quick pacing kept my attention. And while I picked this as a light read, it had depth. Both the main characters are grappling with issues that make this more than a light-hearted read.

Follow Me Back, is entertaining. Pack it in your bag for vacation. And maybe pack a second book, because you’ll fly through this one quicker than you expect.

Continue reading “Book Recommendations: FOLLOW ME BACK by A.V. Geiger”