Book Review: The Humans

The HumansImage
Matt Haig
Science Fiction
Published: July 2nd, 2013
5/5

                The bestselling, award-winning author of The Radleys is back with what may be his best, funniest, and most devastating dark comedy yet. When an extraterrestrial visitor arrives on Earth, his frist impressions of the human species are less than positive. Taking the form of Professor Andrew Martin, a prominent mathematician at Cambridge University, the visitor is eager to complete the gruesome task assigned him and hurry back home to the utopian world of his own planet, where everyone enjoys immortality and infinite knowledge
                He is disgusted by the way humans look, what they eat, and their capacity for murder and war, and he is equally baffled by the concepts of love and family. But as time goes on, he starts to realize there may be more to this weird species than he had been led to believe. Disguised as martin, he drinks wine, reads poetry, and develops an ear for rock music and a taste for peanut butter. Slowly, unexpectedly, he forges bonds with Martin’s family and in picking up the pieces of the professor’s shattered personal life, he begins to see hope and beauty in the humans’ imperfections and to question the mission that brought him there.
                Praised by The New York Times as a ‘novelist of great seriousness and talent,’ Matt Haig delivers an unlikely story about human nature and the joy found in the messiness of life on earth. The Humans is a funny, compulsively readable tale that playfully and movingly explores the ultimate subject – ourselves.

 Image

The Humans was a delightful surprise for me. I had not heard much discussion about the book in the community that I’m involved with online but I found the synopsis intriguing. An Alien takes over the body of a mathematics professor that has just solved the most important Mathematical question to humanity to date. He is expected to destroy all evidence and halt the advancement of humanity. However, along the way he begins to develop a sort of infatuation with humanity and strives to discover what exactly it means to be ‘human.’
               I thought that the character development of the unnamed Alien was fascinating and refreshing. I really enjoyed seeing him grow and to begin to question what he thought he knew. Despite the advancement of his society the primitive nature of human emotions stumped him and the social queues often left him quite confused.
                The humans is extremely funny and entertaining, the chapters are very short and that makes it really easy to read in short bursts. The story also gets quite dark at times, and I felt that helped counteract the unrealistic nature of some of the scenes.
                Overall this was an insightful, touching and completely original story. I’m extremely happy I took a chance with a book that I had not heard much about and I am greatly looking forward to reading more books written by Matt Haig.
Image

Advertisements

Book Review: This is Not a Test

This is not a TestImage
Courtney Summers
Young Adult
Published: 2012
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
4/5

 

                It’s the end of the world…
                Six students have taken cover in Cortege High but shelter is of little comfort when the dead outside won’t stop pounding on the doors. One bite is all it takes to kill a person and bring them back as a monstrous version of their former self.
                To Sloane Price, that doesn’t sound so bad. Six months ago, her world collapsed and since then, she’s failed to find a reason to keep going. Now seems like the perfect time to give up. As Sloane eagerly waits for the barricades to fall, she’s forced to witness the apocalypse through the eyes of five people who actually want to live.
                As the days crawl by, the motivations for survival change in a startling way and soon the groups fate is determined less and less by what’s happening outside and more, and more by the unpredictable and violent bids for life – and death – inside.
                When everything is gone, what do you hold on to?

 Image

               This is not a test reads more like a contemporary novel than zombie fiction. You never really find yourself too worried about the threat of the zombie hordes outside of the school, your concern really lies within the confines of the school. You learn really quickly how fast what you believed in can fall when your life is at risk and your survival is at stake. What you’re capable of, is truly unknown until you’re faced with the unknown.
                Sloane Price is a deeply wounded character. She is probably one of the most damaged and broken characters I’ve ever read in a young adult novel. She’s just so sad and you feel her despair pouring out of the pages, bleeding form chapter to chapter and even when she’s happy or seems better you can’t actually be sure.
                This is not a Test calls this into question, “What do you do when you survive something when you never wanted to exist at all?” This is an extremely fascinating character study. Who could imagine surviving the zombie apocalypse and not because you’ve been trying to but because fate seems to want to keep you around for a little bit longer.  Sloane actually went out of her way many times throughout the novel to succumb to the zombie plague and each time she is saved or it plain does not work out.      
                All of the characters are great, they all have unique voices and each give something valuable to the plot. None of them are who they seem to be, and I’m sure none of them are who they thought they were either.
                For such a small novel it is action packed, it’s not dull and everything rushes by quickly. It isn’t in a bad way, but in a good way because you get down to the nitty gritty and you don’t have to wade through useless fluff/filler.  
                This is Not a Test also has one of the most intense endings that I’ve ever read in a young adult stand-alone novel! It almost felt incomplete because the ending was rather left up to interpretation. I highly recommend this novel to anyone who ‘writes off’ young adult fiction and to those who enjoy it. I guarantee you’d be happily surprised by the quality and depth of this story.

               

               

Book Review: Gone Girl

Gone GirlImage
Gillian Flynn
Contemporary Mystery
Published: 2012
Publisher: Crown
4/5

            On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, Nick and Amy Dunne celebrate their fifth wedding anniversary. The presents are being wrapped and the reservations have been made when suddenly Nick’s clever and beautiful wife suddenly disappears from their rented mansion on the Mississippi River.
            Husband-of-the-year Nick hasn’t done himself any favors whilst daydreaming about the slope and shape of his wife’s head, but passages from Amy’s diary have revealed that the alpha-girl perfectionist could have been put anyone dangerously on the edge.
            Under mounting pressure from the police and the media – as well as Amy’s fiercely doting parents – the town golden boy parades and endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is definitely oddly evasive, and he’s bitter – but is he really a killer?
            As the cops closing in, every couple in town is soon wondering how well they know the one that they love. With his twin sister Margo at his side, Nick stands by his innocence. Trouble is if Nick didn’t do it then where is his beautiful wife? And what was in that silvery gift box hidden in the back of her bedroom closet?
Image

            This book has more curves than a roller coaster, you think you know what is going on and then bam! You’ve found a whole new story line. Definitely one of the best books I’ve read in this genre for a very long time. 
            Gone girl was a great read, easy to follow and exceedingly clever. The characters are very twisted however and I can honestly say I didn’t like a single one of them. They were all bitter, stuck on themselves and every single one of them needed to take a good long look at themselves in a mirror and revaluate what it means to be a human. That being said, the characters were twisted enough to suck you in and the story was crazy enough to keep you hooked ‘til the very last page.
            I had never read anything by Gillian Flynn before and I was quite nervous about all the hype surrounding her novels. Often times things that have been really hyped fall flat for me so it was a great pleasure to discover that she did not fail in delivering a great story for me. I’m looking forward to reading more of her work in the future and have high hopes that all her stories will be as great as this one.
            A must read for people who enjoy mysteries, surprises and stories with lots of twisty turns.
Image

Book Review: Crown of Midnight

Crown of MidnightImage
Sarah J. Maas
Young Adult Fantasy
Published: August 2013
Publisher: Bloomsbury
4/5

            After a year of hard labor in the Salt Mines of Endovier, eighteen-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien has won the king’s contest to become the new royal assassin. Yet Celaena is far from loyal to the crown – a secret she hides from even her most intimate confidantes.

               Keeping up the deadly charade—while pretending to do the king’s bidding—will test her in frightening new ways, especially when she’s given a task that could jeopardize everything she’s come to care for. And there are far more dangerous forces gathering on the horizon — forces that threaten to destroy her entire world, and will surely force Celaena to make a choice.

              Where do the assassin’s loyalties lie, and who is she most willing to fight for?
Image

            Crown of Midnight was a prime example of how fantastic a sequel can be. Where other sequels fall flat, Crown of Midnight takes this complex story to new heights.  It is possible that perhaps Crown of Midnight is even greater than Throne of Glass.
            Celaena develops and becomes considerably darker than she appeared in Throne of Glass and I was eternally thankful for that. With the life that she had lead up until this point it seemed strange to me that in the first book that she was so footloose and fancy free. She starts to develop and question things that she had already known, and we find out a whole lot of things regarding her past that I actually hadn’t seen coming. She falls in love, she is betrayed, she is lost at times and finds strength to continue on even when everything becomes bleak. She amazes me with her ability to forgive but not forget, to let go but to still hold others accountable to their actions.
           The romantic encounters are more realistic, and at times made my heart swell up with intense happiness and other times deflate with sadness, it’s clear to me whom I want Celaena to end up with if she does indeed choose either Dorian or Choal. She’s a complicated character and so are both of these men, and no matter who she chooses in the end, I’d be happy just knowing that she’s found love, peace, and acceptance with someone.
            Crown of Midnight switches point of view within the chapters and normally I don’t enjoy that very much but I felt it was important and needed and kept me captivated despite by previous grievances with novels that do this. Sarah J. Maas did an absolutely fantastic job integrating characters and giving everyone their own personalities and voices, no one person sounded too much like the other.
             The book ends on a bit of a cliff hanger as Celaena embarks on a completely new quest and her story continues to grow. I’m eagerly anticipating the third book in this installment and this is definitely turning into a series I wish was already completed and published because I’m biting my nails with need and want for the next part of the story.
Image

Book Review: Magic Knight Rayearth Omnibus 1 & 2

Magic Knight Rayearth 1 & 2Image
CLAMP
Shojo Manga
Published: 1993-1995
4/5

                Hikaru Shidou, Umi Ryuuzaki, Fuu Hououji are on a field trip to the Tokyo Tower with their respective schools. The girls are blinded by a flash of light and hear a voice calling for the Legendary Magic Knights to save Cephiro. They fall through the sky into another world, Cephiro. Once there, they meet Master Mage Clef. Clef explains, “In Cephiro, one’s will has the ability to change reality for better or worse. The dark fears in people’s hearts become monsters, while a well-intended wish can do miracles. One person, the Pillar, whose will is stronger than anyone else’s, is responsible for maintaining through her prayers the well-being of Cephiro.” In the first story arc, the current Pillar, Princess Emeraude, has been captured by her high priest, Zagato. The three girls are charged with the task of saving the Princess. Magic Knight Rayearth follows Hikaru, Fuu and Umi along with their friendly sidekick, Mokona, on their quest to save the mystical planet of Cephiro.

Image

                Hikarua, Umi, and Fuu are all from different walks of life and all attend different middle schools, however one fateful day each of their respective schools and classes take a school trip to Tokyo Tower where they are suddenly blinded by a great flash of light and a voice calling for the Legendary Magic Knights to save Cephiro.
              Once the girls are transported to Cephiro they find themselves falling through the sky and somehow they land on a giant flying fish that takes them safely to land where they meet the Master Mage whose name is Clef.
                Clef explains to Hikarua, Umi, and Fuu how the world of Cephiro works, how one’s ‘will’ has the ability to change the reality and even the landscape of the world forever, and that it can be changed for the greater good, or it could be used selfishly for dark intentions.
                The Pillar whose will is stronger than anyone else’s and who is responsible for maintaining through her prayers the well-being of Cephiro, however she has been compromised and has been taken captive and it’s up to the Magic Knights to save her and restore peace to the planet Cephiro.
                This is a fantastical tale, it moves very quickly and your attention is definitely needed for every page and picture screen otherwise it would be easy to miss information and quickly become confused. I think this series had a lot of offer and I found it very disappointing that it didn’t have more details than what was given to the reader; there are a lot of unanswered questions and plot holes that could have been easily resolved with even one more omnibus I believe. There were also some fillers that I found were unneeded as the story progressed so quickly and it would have been considerably more enjoyable to have solid story line instead.
                The artwork contained in this series is beautiful and  your mouth will water in your  desire for more. You’ll not be disappointed with a single panel.  I really wish this series had continued on for longer so I could have continued to be immersed in the strange and lovely world of Cephiro.
                Magic Knight Rayearth is one of my favourite Manga’s that I’ve read so far, and it’s a story from my childhood that I’ll treasure for a long time.
                What’s your favourite manga series? Would you recommend it to me, if so, why?

May Reads & June TBR

                I’ve read quite a few books in May (what’s new?) however nearer the end of the Month I left for a trip and only just got back yesterday… and during this trip I accomplished almost nothing reading wise!.  If I have a review up, I’ll link it to the book’s name. Looking forward to catching up with what everyone else has been reading.

1. The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss (Five Stars)
2.  I am not a Serial Killer by Dan Wells
3. Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi (Five Stars)
4. Unwind by Neal Shusterman (Three Stars)
5. Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry (Five Stars)
6. Crescendo by Becca Fitzpatrick (Four Stars)
7. Coraline: the Graphic Novel by Neil Gaimen (Three Stars)
8. The Walking Dead: Book One by Robert Kirckman (Five Stars)
9. Silence by Becca Fitzpatrick (Four Stars)
10. Legend by Marie Lu (Five Stars)
11. Sailor Moon Manga: Volume 2 by Naoko Takeuchi (Five Stars)
12. The Golem and the Jinni by Helen Wecker (Five Stars)
13. A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
14. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl (Five Stars)
15. Sailor Moon Manga: Volume 3 by Naoko Takeuchi (Five Stars)
16. Sailor Moon Manga: Volume 4 by Naoko Takeuchi (Five Stars)
17. The Painted Girls by Marie Buchanan (Three Stars)
18. Born Wicked by Jessica Spotswood (Five Stars)
19. The Selection by Kiera Cass (Four Stars)

As you Can see I’ve been doing a terriable job reviewing all the books I’ve read. I’ve writen quite a few that I haven’t posted yet, so this month is going to be a catch up month, so expect quite a few reviews!

                June TBR

1. Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier
2. Sapphire Blue by Kerstin Gier
3. Wake by Amanda Hocking
4. The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton
5. The 5th Wave by Richard Yancey

                Have you read any of these what do you think of this list? What are you reading?

Book Review: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

The Girl with the Dragon TattooImage
Stieg Larsson, Reg Keeland(Translator)
Suspense thriller
Published: 2005
4/5

                Mikael Blomkvist, a once respected finical journalist, watches his professional life rapidly crumble around him. Prospects appear bleak until an unexpected (and unsettling) Offer to resurrect his name is extended by an old-school titan of Swedish industry. The catch- and there’s always a catch- is that Blomvist must first spend a year researching a mysterious disappearance that has remained unsolved for nearly four decades. With few other options, he accepts and enlists the help of investigator LIsbeth Salander, a misunderstood genius with a cache of authority issues. Little is as it seems in Larsson’s novel, but there is at least one constant: you really don’t want to mess with the girl with the dragon tattoo.

 

___Review___

                Sometimes when a book gets a lot of attention I put off the book because I get extremely nervous the book won’t live up to my expectations and the praise of everyone else reading the book. I always usually end up reading these books but sometimes I wait a long time…which is the case with the Millennium series by Stieg Larsson, it is also off putting, in my opinion, that the series is not actually completed and that it won’t be completed as the author has passed away. However, now that the crazy mass consummation of these books is over I thought it would be safe to give it a try as the opinions I had were more likely going to be my own at this point.
                Loved it, loved it so much! It is sure a long winded book though, jam packed full of detail, and sub plots some of which I assume will be explored more in the second and third books of the series. I really thought that The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo had amazing development done. There was no confusion with anything when I read it (and I had to read this over quite a period of time as I’ve been swamped with school and looking after my husband’s grandfather) it all flowed together very well, made perfect sense and there was nothing that seemed out of place or thrown in as a filler, everything developed into the story line and I really enjoyed that a whole lot and sometimes I don’t feel like that happens enough. A lot of stories seem to start sub plots but not many make it through completely by the end of the novel or series.
                Loved all the characters, thought they were fantastically developed. I loved Lisbeth’s character portrayal and how she stayed true to her character throughout the whole novel even when she does start to trust Blomkvist more and lets him in so to speak.  She’s a very strong woman in character and physically (Despite her small size) and sometimes it’s really nice to see a woman that can take care of herself a woman that really doesn’t need much from other people but portrayed in a realistic almost saddening way.
                Blomkvist who is the main character of the story (pretty much anyways, he gets considerably more page time) was alright, I mean I wasn’t completely sold on him mostly just because every woman who he comes into contact with seems to want to have unattached meaningless sex…which I don’t know always seems kind of forced and fake… maybe more along the lines of unrealistic? But anyway, he was easy going and fairly likeable for the most part. He’s very smart and intelligent and that’s always nice to have in a main character.
                Loved how the story as a whole developed and loved that we got a whole lot of everything! Wow did a lot of stuff happen in this story which I would love to discuss with you but alas, that would leave spoilers all over this blog post.
                Anyway, Fantastic, fun, mysterious, adventurous… everything you could want basically in a book.
                Recommended: Everyone (age appropriate maybe… things do get considerably dark)
                Warning: Rape is reoccurring in this book, if this will trigger or be hurtful to you in anyway, perhaps consider not reading this book.