The Proving by Ken Brosky — A Review

theProvingThe Proving by Ken Brosky

RaeleighReads rating: love--coffee-png-image-52236love--coffee-png-image-52236love--coffee-png-image-52236love--coffee-png-image-52236

A post-apocalyptic YA series in the same vein as Veronica Roth’s Divergent, but with a science fiction angle.

After an asteroid enters Earth’s orbit, covered in creatures called Specters, life for humans is drastically altered. The specters, sort of like ghosts, sort of like large insects or animals, can kill by simply passing through you. In an effort to combat these creatures, humanity has walled itself off from them with something called Xenoshields, and they’ve divided themselves into Clans and free citizens.

The clans:  Spartans are tough, military people trained to shoot, kill, and wield machinery. Clan Athens is made up of healers, biologists, and the like. Clan Persia is full of tech geeks. Parliament is exactly what it sounds like. These are the government folks. Then there are Historians, those tasked with objectively recording (and memorizing) everything they see.

At ages 13 and 18, the Young Adults and New Adults of Earth, respectively, must go through something called the Proving. Normally, everyone stays behind the Xenoshields in their cities, but during the Proving, the New and Young Adults must go outside the walls.

In this first book, we follow Skye (Spartan), Cleo (Persian), Ben (Athenian), Gabriel (Parliament), and Seamus (Historian) along with Skye, Cleo, Ben, and Gabriel’s younger siblings as they complete the Proving. The characters are three-dimensional, complex, and at times surprising. So, I thought they were really well done. I personally felt myself drawn to Skye. She’s incredibly tough, but you can tell that she’s got one of those soft, gooey, caramel centers. I can’t wait to see how her arc plays out in the next book.

When the group first gets together they seem to be a bit of a motley crew. They don’t really mesh well and they have a tendency to argue or boast. But then, all too soon, they are outside of the walls and taking on the Proving. What follows after they pass through the Xenoshield is a hair-raising, action-packed thrill ride. And that ending! Oh my god, I can’t wait to get my hands on the next book in this series and find out what the heck has happened to our group!

Now, just one complaint because overall I enjoyed this very, very much. The story is told from alternating perspectives, and at times, they aren’t handled well. I often found myself confused at who was speaking or from whose perspective the story was being told. That was really frustrating because it caused the action and the fast pace of the story to stutter. If the alternating perspectives had been tightened up a bit more or been made clearer, this probably would have been a five-coffee-cup read for me.

I’m not sure when book two of the Earth-X Triology will be out, but I can’t wait to read it!

Happy reading, lovelies!

I received a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

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A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle — A Review

13415723A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

RaeleighReads rating: cup-of-coffee3cup-of-coffee3cup-of-coffee3cup-of-coffee3

Following is the synopsis on GoodReads (to refresh your memories 😉 ):

It was a dark and stormy night; Meg Murry, her small brother Charles Wallace, and her mother had come down to the kitchen for a midnight snack when they were upset by the arrival of a most disturbing stranger.

“Wild nights are my glory,” the unearthly stranger told them. “I just got caught in a downdraft and blown off course. Let me be on my way. Speaking of way, by the way, there is such a thing as a tesseract”.

Meg’s father had been experimenting with this fifth dimension of time travel when he mysteriously disappeared. Now the time has come for Meg, her friend Calvin, and Charles Wallace to rescue him. But can they outwit the forces of evil they will encounter on their heart-stopping journey through space?

That opening line, “It was a dark and stormy night…” UGH. That made me cringe. I’m sure I loved it when I was a kid though.

I can’t remember when, precisely, I read this for the first time, but I was much younger. I missed a lot. I remember the fantasy, and I remember liking and hating Meg, especially when Charles Wallace gets trapped on another planet. She was very, very whiny and selfish, and that was irritating to me, even as a child. (It still is.)

What I had forgotten, or perhaps not realized when I first read this, is how overtly religious the text is. I have to say, that really rubbed me the wrong way. I can’t stand preachy literature, and that’s what this felt like, and in a science fiction/fantasy novel no less. I suppose it made sense at the time of publication, but I just can’t see this book coming out today and being well-received by a general audience. Maybe that’s just my own biased opinion — it likely is. Regardless, I think this would only have a place in a Christian book store were it published today.

Despite the religiosity, I was swept up into the fantastical world of tessering and exploring the fifth dimension with Meg and crew. My favorite character was, and remains, Aunt Beast. She just makes me envision warmth and safety, and I love her name! Aunt Beast forever!

Image result for wrinkle in time aunt beast

I’m excited to see the movie when it comes out in March. I think it will be interesting to see how Hollywood interprets this whimsical and antiquated little novel. I decided to read this again this year to check off one of the requirements for the Read Harder 2018 challenge. Actually, it checks off two requirements:  #3, A Classic of Genre Fiction, and #11, A Children’s Classic Published Before 1980.

 

Read Harder stats: 4/24

In Lieu of a Review

Some of you guys have been reading for a while now, and some of you are brand new to my blog. Please just know, if you are reading this, I appreciate you.

Someone asked me awhile back why I was doing this? What did I get for it?

This person knew I was under a great deal of stress, and they assumed automatically that something that takes up so much of my time should be lucrative. Believe me, if I could get paid to read novels and write reviews of them, I’d be doing that! But I don’t get paid to do this. I do get copies of books, an item I value over many many others, but that doesn’t pay the bills!

So why do I do this? Why spend so much of my limited time engrossed in novels and anguishing over their reviews? Why? Because I LOVE books, literature, reading, the written word, authors, writers, characters, fictional worlds that I wish so hard were real.

I APPRECIATE the amount of time, effort, blood, sweat, tears, coffee (or tea), and mania that goes into creating these precious works of art.

I think authors, especially indie authors, deserve to have that time and effort recognized.

So what do I get out of it? The joy of finding a new favorite author — one I never would have discovered in a Barnes & Noble. (No offense meant to B&N — love that place!)

What do I get out of it? A myriad of world views that I never would have encountered otherwise.

What do I get out of it? Hope. Yes, you read that right. Hope.

Often times our world can seem so dreary, our options limited, our efforts ineffectual, and we may find ourselves screaming, “What is the point!?” These works, these bound bits of inspiration, represent a tenacity of spirit from people with unfettered creativity and a commendable work ethic. And I find that damn inspiring!

So, I will continue to read their works. And I will read them critically because that is just how I am wired. I will present the world with my opinions on these works and hopefully introduce, at least one person, to a brand new author who will open up a whole new world for them.

Do I sometimes get overwhelmed by this project I’ve taken on? Yes, and I’m going to try to be more honest with myself moving forward about what I can and cannot accomplish in a 24-hour day. I will falter. And I will fail. But I will keep doing this because I love it!

I guess what I’m trying to say is:

I’m back! Check for a brand new review next week!

im back baby castiel

 

And now for a word from our sponsors…

I'm_just_kidding emma stoneJK! I don’t have sponsors. Errrm, carry on!

 

Ex-Patriots by Peter Clines — A Review

Image result for ex-heroesEx-Patriots by Peter Clines

RaeleighReads rating: cup-of-coffee3cup-of-coffee3cup-of-coffee3

The saga, and misogyny, continue. Le sigh.

In Ex-Patriots, we pick up our hero vs. zombie story two years from when we ended Ex-Heroes. The heroes are holding down The Mount in L.A., but they soon discover they are not the only survivors in The States when they encounter a drone while on a supply run. And you know what drones mean…military.

I’m disappointed in how disappointing this series is turning out to be. The action scenes are a little boring and some of the characters are starting to seem one-dimensional. And someone please tell me this: why would you spend an entire chapter providing back-story for a misogynistic @ss-hat when the character is barely mentioned in the rest of the book? How on Earth does it advance the plot to spout off derogatory and violent comments toward female soldiers? Oh, it doesn’t? Right. Then let’s cut that. Kthanks.

So, why the three coffee cups, right? Well, the hinky parts are minimal. They irritated me to no end, but they were a very small part of the whole. The majority of the book was well-written. And, um, zombies. You’ve found my Achilles heel. Not sure I was ever really that subtle about it.

Image result for because zombies

In the first book, the characters were introduced one by one with chapters that followed their stories before the zombie apocalypse and after the zombie apocalypse. This book followed the same before and after format as the first book, but it also focused more on the heroes as a group — as a functioning unit. And that was nice to see. Who doesn’t love a good ensemble cast AMIRIGHT? Zzzap, Stealth, St. George, and Cerberus really come together in this to solve problems and salvage a really bad situation.

I’ll say again, if you like zombies and superheroes, you’ll probably like this. It’s nothing ground-breaking. Some of the characters have some pretty messed up views of women. But if you’re looking for a decently written sci-fi series, this one will work.

Ex-Heroes by Peter Clines — A Review

Image result for ex-heroes
Ex-Heroes by Peter Clines

RaeleighReads rating: cup-of-coffee3cup-of-coffee3cup-of-coffee3

“Zombies are like credit card payments. If you keep getting rid of the minimum amount, you’ll never win.”

 

 

 

Some of you may recall, when I first cracked the cover of this book, this is how I felt:

fangirl mode

I mean, this book has ALL THE THINGS that I love. Superheroes. Zombies. Los Angeles. Written by Peter Clines, whom I adore after reading The Fold. And, it came highly recommended by another of my favorite authors…Ernest Cline.

I. Was. Ready.

As in all things, too much hype kills a thing. I wanted too much from this book. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a decent super-hero slash zombie apocalypse novel. If you like those things, you’ll probably like the book.

Where things fell very flat for me? Rampant sexism. I love superhero everything and I love superhero things that don’t treat women as objects (ohmygodsohardtofind). Unfortunately, even though the female heroes in this novel are super bad-@ss, they are also objects for the male characters to ogle. Ugh. When are we going to let this type of writing go!? She’s a superhero. She doesn’t have to be sexy as well. Her outfit doesn’t need to hug all the quote unquote right curves (those aren’t a thing anyway). I will say, Cerberus, at least, wears a big freaking metal suit, so…hard to objectify that. AND, Stealth has this whole sub-dialogue about being objectified IRL. Perhaps Clines is aware of the issue, and trying to address it. Somehow, it just didn’t work.

St. George, the superhero who cannot keep his eyes off of Stealth, is not only sexist in this regard. He’s a “nice guy”. No, really. He is. I think he does want to do right by the world.

I turned back to her and tapped my chest. “That’s what this suit’s always been about. Not scaring people like you or Gorgon do. Not some sort of pseudo-sexual roleplay or repressed emotions. I wear this thing, all these bright colors, because I want people to know someone’s trying to make their lives better. I want to give them hope.”

He has good intentions, but he also harbors lascivious thoughts (and yes, some admiration) for Stealth.  The subtext seems to be, “I know he thinks all these naughty, objectifying thoughts about Stealth, but honest, he’s a nice guy.” Blech. He never comes right out and says that he should be rewarded for his nice-guyness, but he just seems super douche-y like that. News flash, St. George, she doesn’t owe you jack. Respect the fact that she wants nothing to do with you, and move on. Not great things to think about the main character in the series. I’m hoping the sexist aspects of his character evolve or disappear in the next couple of books.

Anyhoo…

The plot is essentially us vs. them to the death. The group of heroes is protecting The Mount and trying to develop some sort of normal life amidst all of the zombies, which they call exes, as in, Ex-Humans. Ex-living things. Across town are the Seventeens. A gang from Before-the-Zombie-Apocalypse that has survived and thrived due to their enormous,  not-entirely-human leader. Tensions mount throughout the novel and then come to a head in an epic battle royale.

It’s a good book. Solidly written, though not as eloquent as The Fold. It checks the boxes…superheroes, zombies, fighting, survival, all in sunny Los Angeles. It just disappointed me. Obviously not enough to make me stop the series. I’m already neck-deep in Ex-Patriots (Ex-Heroes #2). *shrugs*

anne shrug