Alive by Scott Sigler

Disclaimer: I received an eArc from NetGalley, as well as a physical ARC from the publisher at PHXCC.

First line: A stabbing pain jolts me awake.

I’ve been a fan of Scott Sigler’s YA work for a while. The Galactic Football League is one of my favorite series, and I eagerly collect them all as they’re dribbled out. Seeing that Scott was doing a YA series that combined SF tropes with Horror ones, I was immediately intrigued and pre-ordered immediately.

I’m glad I did. The book is an intense ride with a lot of twists and reveals. Some of them are standard fare, but they act as red herrings for other reveals, and all of them are done masterfully. Scott manages to adeptly manipulate YA tropes in a way that allows him to drag the rug out from under us down the line.

One of my main criticisms of the work, a minor one, is that it is obviously the first book in a series. You can tell that there are building blocks being laid down for something much grander down the line.

Final verdict: Thoroughly enjoyed and will be pre-ordering the second book in the series.
Other Recommendations:

SF YA series: The Insignia series by S.J. Kincaid, Red Rising trilogy by Pierce Brown, Galactic Football League series by Scott Sigler

Alive by Scott Sigler

A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab

Twitter Summary: Raises the stakes, and lays on the characterization. A worthy successor to ADSOM.

Amazon Affiliate Link:A Gathering of Shadows and A Darker Shade of Magic

I am Delilah Bard, she thought as the ropes cut into her skin. I am a thief and a pirate and a traveler. I have set foot in three different worlds, and lived. I have shed the blood of royals and held magic in my hands. And a ship full of men cannot do what I can. I don’t need any of you.

I am one of a damned kind.

If you had shown me that quote, I’d have read the book if I didn’t know the author or had read the first one. The last line applies just as well to the author, as well. Victoria Schwab writes likes she’s running out of time. Since her first book was published in August of ’11, she’s published nine other books.

The first I read was Vicious, and though the achronological storyline had me a little out of sorts, it lead me to preorder the first book in this series, A Darker Shade of Magic. It was a good decision.

AGoS throws together pirates, wizards, royal politics, ancient evils, and a dash of pickpocketing, into a satisfying melange of a novel that deftly plays with a myriad of fantasy tropes. This was written by someone who grew up steeped in Harry Potter and other fantastic works.

Victoria is definitely an author of the “Make you love them, and then do horrible things to them” school of story writing. You want to know what happens next, and good LORD will you want the next book immediately after you finish this one.

I love tournaments. I love wizard duels. I love pirate wizards who fight in wizard duel tournaments. I love wizard duel tournaments that involve multiple wizards pretending to be other wizards. I think that you’re going to love them, too. Brilliantly written, beautifully charactered, and amazingly plotted.

Final Verdict: Thoroughly Enjoyed and GIVE ME THE NEXT BOOK RIGHT NOW.

Other Recommendations:

Badass Female Protags: Wake of Vultures (The Shadow) by Lila Bowen, Assassin’s Curse and Pirate’s Wish by Cassandra Rose Clarke (unfortunately in process of being reprinted by different publisher) , Court of Fives by Kate Elliott

A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab


Author Title Previously Read? M/F Genre
Matt Wallace Lustlocked N M Urban Fantasy
Nick Cole Ctrl-Alt-Revolt N M SF
Nnedi Okorafor Binti N F SF
Charlie Jane Anders All the Birds in the Sky N F Urban Fantasy
Nnedi Okorafor Lagoon N F SF
Mike Underwood The Absconded Ambassador N M SF
V.E. Schwab A Gathering of Shadows N F Fantasy
Jonathan Hickman Secret Warriors vol. 2 – 6 N M Comic
Rick Remender Uncanny X-Force: Apocalypse Solution N M Comic

United States of Japan by Peter Tieryas

Preface: I was given an ARC for this novel by the publisher.

Twitter Summary: Like China Mieville wrote A Man in the High Castle after seeing Pacific Rim.

Affiliate Links: United States of Japan , Project Nemesis (a Kaiju Thriller), Pacific Rim , Kaiju Rising: Age of Monsters

First line: The death of the United States of America began with a series of signatures.

I saw the gorgeous cover of this book, and immediately wanted to read it. I assumed it was in the vein of Pacific Rim, Kaiju Rising, or Project Nemesis, and it would involve big ass robots fighting big ass monsters.

It doesn’t. There’s a couple of scenes with hot robot-on-robot action, but for the most part this book is far more interested in delving into questions like “What would it be like to be on of Orwell’s thought police?” and “What kind of weird tech would an Japanized America make?” with the emphasis on weird.

We’re not talking zany weird, either. This isn’t Welcome to Night Vale or Terry Pratchett. This is a crimelord who has his minions that were genetically modified. At one point you get a gun grafted onto a main character. This is cyberpunk/dystopian/Netrunner kind of weird.

The main characters aren’t very likable, but I really think that’s sort of the point.  One’s a government censor, and the other is a member of the secret police. Their job is to oppress the populace and ensure that the Emperor’s rule is maintained. By making them the protagonists, it allows the author to examine the questions of “What’s the place of government?” and “How should the populace be controlled/directed?”

The book was well written, but I felt that the storyline was a little choppy with the transitions sort of jarring. It’s very possible that this was the intention of the author, but it’s not the sort of thing that I enjoy. The conclusion was satisfying and the book felt like it earned it.

Final Verdict: I enjoyed it. I’m interested to see what else this author puts out.

Other Recommendations:

New Weird: Shield and Crocus by Mike Underwood, City of Stairs (The Divine Cities) (review forthcoming) by Robert Bennett, Annihilation: A Novel (The Southern Reach Trilogy) by Jeff Vandermeer

Alternate History: Anything by Turtledove. Especially the In the Balance series. Also the Weapons of Choice (The Axis of Time Trilogy, Book 1) series by John Birmingham.



United States of Japan by Peter Tieryas