Tag Archives: 2 stars

The Mad Trinkets by Cameron Scott Kirk

 Stars: 2.5 out of 5

I honestly don’t understand all the 5 stars ratings and raving reviews for this book. I didn’t see complex characters or well-realized world. All I saw was gratuitous violence, oversexualization, and very wobbly worldbuilding.

My biggest pet peeve is the worldbuilding, actually. I am a firm believer that in fantasy, you either create your own world with its own geography, mythology and religions, or you use our world, but very carefully. Then it’s called alternative history anyway. 

What we have in this book is a complete mess. It’s set up in the fictional land of White Cloud, where two kings rule and an evil Hungry King had been defeated barely a year ago. Of him, we don’t know much. He was a cannibal, maybe? He had magic, maybe? Who knows. We never get any details on him apart from a few mentions… There is a tall mountain, and a city at the border of a vast desert, and maybe evil metal that fell from the sky. With me so far? Okay. All that is good. All that paints an interesting and fictional world…

And then we get the mention of God and Jesus Christ and real places like Jerusalem. One of the characters is a Norsewoman… who carries a katana. No, seriously, a real Japanese katana… and was given a Japanese name. So are we in our world or some kind of invented one? If we are in the real world, then where exactly is this land of White Cloud on the map of our world? When are these events taking place in reference to our present time? And if it’s NOT our world, why mention a religion from our world? Especially since it has no influence on this story whatsoever? Why give your Viking woman a Japanese katana? Again, it isn’t relevant to the story. All it does is kick me out of the story and irritates me, because I can only suspend my disbelief so far.

The characters are also nothing to write home about. All the women are good and righteous, even in their anger and thirst for vengeance. Other than that, we are not privy to their inner thoughts or desires. All men are overly sexualized pigs… apart from a few obviously good guys who somehow overcome their base nature by the end. Again, we aren’t particularly privy to their thoughts either. 

By the end of the book, I sincerely couldn’t care less for any of the characters. I skimmed the last 10% of the book just to get to the end of the story. This hasn’t become a DNF only because I was almost at the end and I was too stubborn to quit. Honestly, won’t recommend this.

PS: I received an advanced copy via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Shadebringer by Grayson W Hooper

Stars: 2 out of 5

I added one extra star for the originality of the premise. A soldier who dies during the Vietnam war ends up in a sort of transitional afterlife world where souls are supposed to heal and deal with their hang-ups before they transition into Heaven or Hell or reincarnate, depending on their religious preferences. Oh, and all the souls in this world are soldiers from all the wars ever fought on Earth. This could have been such an awesome story! I was so looking forward to exploring that! Unfortunately, the execution was mediocre at best.

The story takes a long time to get up to speed. I mean, the protagonist doesn’t even end up in Irgendwo until about 40% into the book. Until then we have a long and tedious account of him fighting in Vietnam. Well, by fighting I mean drinking, cursing, and being a total ass to his subordinates in Vietnam. We don’t get much actual fighting. And when we do, the fight sequences are confusing and not particularly well written.

Once we finally get to Irgendwo, the story doesn’t get much better. The author tells us a lot, but doesn’t show anything. He also doesn’t particularly explain how his world works. We travel through a desert and some woods and reach mountains, but there is no sense of scale. At one point it says that it’s days to the sulfur caves from the city where the protagonist is, yet it seems like an army of over two thousand people covers that distance almost instantaneously. I mean imagine the logistics involved in moving this many people over a long distance? Provisions, tents, etc.? Nope, no mention of that. They cover the distance seemingly by magic.

Speaking of magic. Apparently, there is such a ting in Irgendwo, but how it works is never explained. It’s like, here, put your hands like this and throw a fireball. Look at that, it works! There is mention of necromancers, and scryers, but how any of this works is never explained.

Nothing is explained or actually SHOWN. We are told that the people of Mora are evil and want to destroy this world, but apart from a brief scene where the protagonist witnesses a public hanging, I saw nothing that proves this supposed evilness. Or the goodness of the other guys… who force conscript anyone coming to their city. But it’s for a good cause, because the author said they are the good guys…

Also, we have soldiers from different conflicts throughout human history, including the most recent ones like WW1 and WW2. Heck, the protagonist died in Vietnam… yet all their weapons and armor are stuck in the middle ages. We have swords and maces and bows, but no guns? Why? Once again, nothing is explained. 

I think by now you can see the trend here.

I could have forgiven the lack of decent worldbuilding and explanation, if the characters were interesting. Unfortunately, that is not the case. All the secondary characters have the personalities of a cardboard cutout. And the cutout isn’t of a real person, but of a cartoon. Seriously, I can hardly remember their names, yet alone their descriptions. 

The main protagonist doesn’t fare much better. I found him extremely unlikable. He comes across as an entitled asshole who thinks that he is better than everyone else, so he treat them like dirt. Oh, and he gets away with this because he is the Chosen One. He is so quick to pass judgement on people based on their appearance or actions, yet we have seen him being a horrible excuse for a human being during his time in Vietnam… yet he considers himself so good and righteous. I wanted to slap him or throttle him for most of the book.

I quit reading at 85%, smack in the middle of the last decisive battle that was supposed to decide the fate of Irgendwo, because I realized that I simply didn’t care one way or another. I wasn’t invested in this story and the people. I couldn’t care less if that portal was closed or if the Children (which we know next to nothing about) were finally going to invade and burn everything to the ground. As far as I’m concerned, they are welcome to it.

This is supposed to be the first book in a new series, but I have no interest in picking up the next one. Me and Irgendwo are parting ways.

PS: I received a copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Plague Birds by Jason Sanford

Stars: 2 out of 5

If you are looking for a book with a story that keeps you on the edge of your seat and driven by memorable characters… this is not a story you are looking for. If you are looking for a mismatched bag of great ideas loosely wrapped into something resembling a story with characters that have the depth of cardboard, then by all means, give Plague Birds a try.

This was a very disappointing read. I was lured into this book by the excellent cover (I mean, seriously, look at this thing, it’s gorgeous) and a blurb that promised an interesting story set in a unique world. The world is unique, alright, and that’s why this gets 2 stars instead of 1, but the interesting story never materialized.

Instead, I felt like the author had a basketful of interesting concepts that  he really wanted to play with and include in the story, but he couldn’t quite figure out how to weave them into a coherent narrative, so he just tossed them all in, shook it a little and left the end result to chance. So we get villages governed by AI, cannibal monks in a monastery dedicated to preserving the knowledge of a lost human race, a forest that becomes sentient by torturing people who venture into it, and so on and so forth. Yes, those are fascinating and often horrifying concepts that were interesting to explore, but what they add to the main story is unclear.

Speaking of main story. I am still not sure what it was. What was the end goal here? Was it to discover the through behind the death of Crista’s mother? Was it to reach the city of Seed? Was it to catch the villain killing plague birds? The stakes are not clear, and there is no sense of urgency, so the story meanders along with Crista seemingly without purpose. Yes, they need to stop the Veil, but there isn’t a ticking clock to create a sense of urgency. They can hunt those people for hundreds of years without anything bad happening for all we know.

And I could have forgiven this lack of cohesive story if the characters I was forced to follow were interesting. Not the case here. I am still not sure I know Crista even after spending this journey with her. Despite this being told in first person from her point of view, the author does a very poor job actually showing us her thoughts, motivations and inner workings. 

This goes for all the other characters as well. In fact, this book is all tell and almost no show. We get flashbacks and infodumps galore. People react in ways that often puzzle me because the author never explained what made them tick. Though in the case of the main villain, I am not sure even the author knew what made him tick, because his motivation is thinner then rice paper. I mean, he could have killed Crista several times over, but he chose to mess with her mind and/or even help her instead. Why? Never explained.

Another big disappointment for me was that this book reads like a YA story. With all the typical YA shortfalls and tropes. Including insta-love (or should I say insta-lust?). Yet it’s not classified as YA on NetGalley or Goodreads. Had I seen that before I had requested this book, I would never have bothered. I have nothing against the YA genre. I just don’t read it.

PS: I received a copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Wakers (The Side Step Trilogy 1) by Orson Scott Card

Stars: 2 out of 5.

DNF at 70%, so you darn right I’m leaving a review for this, since I put so much effort into this book!

I am very disappointed. I loved The Ender’s Game by the same author so I had high hope for this story as well. 

And the beginning was pretty good actually: intriguing and suspenseful. I was along for the ride with Laz, and even his constant monologue and the tendency to over-analyze every little thing to death wasn’t all that annoying at first. He was looking for answers, after all, and we, as the reader were looking for them with him. Yes, the pacing was rather slow, but I was willing to forgive that as long as I got the answers I was looking for in the end.

Then Laz finally wakes up Ivy… and things took a nosedive from there. 

First of all, the pace, which was already slow, became glacial. I mean the story progression grinded to a halt to be replaced by pages and pages of mindless and mind-numbing dialogue between two obnoxious teenagers. It was pointless. It wasn’t interesting. It didn’t bring ANYTHING useful to the story. It made my eyes roll back in my head and make me want to take a nap every time I opened the book. It’s an endless stream of verbal vomit between two people who I found more and more unlikeable the further in the book I got. 

Because most of the book is written in these horrible dialogues, the author does a lot of telling, but almost no showing. The characters debate scientific theories, explain to each other things that should be self-evident for them just so the reader can catch up with the science here. Problem is, the reader has checked out ten pages ago. 

I got no sense of the world, because the descriptions are almost non-existent. It’s all just Laz made a snide remark, Ivy retorted with something the author meant to sound smart, but just made her sound like a spoiled brat, Laz retaliated in the same fashion, blah, blah, blah…. twenty pages later we still haven’t learned anything new and the story hasn’t progressed an inch. Heck, I don’t even know what the dogs in the pack of four look like because mighty Laz didn’t care enough about it to talk about it.

I understand that this is a YA book, but I still didn’t particularly appreciate how all adults are described as complete idiots. Seriously, Laz and Ivy have this “better then everyone else” attitude to them when they talk to anybody else that would never have worked in the real world. You might be smart and possess a unique ability, but you are still a teenager, no you are a clone with fake memories, so if you talk to me this way, you will get smacked. I think that’s my biggest pet peeve with the author’s approach – you CAN create smart and resourceful teenagers without making them disrespectful at the same time. 

It made me hate the main characters more and more, and by the end I didn’t care about them or finding the answers to the big questions enough to read through the last 30% of obnoxious dialogue.

I will not continue with the series. I will definitely not recommend this book. And if this is the author’s new style of writing, I doubt I will try any of his newer book going forward. I’d rather re-read the Ender’s Game.

PS: I received a free copy via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

The Black Coast (The God-King Chronicles 1) by Mike Brooks

 

Stars: 2 out of 5

DNF at 51%

This book suffers from the first book in a series syndrome. The author is so excited to introduce the reader to his brand new world, that he throws everything but the kitchen sink into the first book. This leads to a book that is a hefty 700 pages long… that are a slug to read. 

I know there is a story there, but it’s so muddled by the different side-stories and a multitude of different POVs that it progresses at a glacial pace. Well, glaciers move faster than this story, actually. I mean, when I called it quits at 50%, only two weeks narrative time had passed, and only a handful things had happened.

As I already mentioned, this story has too many narrators. I counted at least 8 or 9 different protagonists whose POVs we are privy to. That would work if they all contributed to the same story. Unfortunately, at least 4 of them (that I remember) are narrating events that don’t even happen on the same continent, that I could tell. And have no connection whatsoever to the main events in the story. Maybe the connection becomes evident later in the book, but seriously, if I can’t tell why half of the characters are even in the story after reading half of the book, something is wrong with the plotting. 

It doesn’t help that of all the protagonists, I was truly interested in maybe 2 or 3. Daimon, Saana, and her daughter. They felt fleshed out. I could understand their motives and desires. The rest of the cast? Cardboard cutouts, all of them. I couldn’t care less about them or their stories, especially since they mostly had nothing to do with the main story.

This book would have benefited with sticking with the main story of the Raiders coming to ask asylum from the very people they had been pillaging for generations. Cut all the other POVs out. Put them in the next book in the series if you want, but don’t muddy the waters unnecessarily. This forced cohabitation story was so ripe with conflicts and possibilities! It had so much potential for violence, reconciliation, and character growth! It would have made an excellent book all by itself.

My other problem with this book is the dialogue. I get what the author tried to do, and the idea that different cultures have different languages and different ways to defining genders (one culture has 9 of them) is fun and exciting in theory… but the execution of that was less than stelar.

How do the character define which gender they are and where they stand in the hierarchy of their society? By talking about themselves in third person. I mean seriously! After the tenth “This lord wants you to do this” or “This woman/sister/daughter is telling her brother/father this”, I wanted to scream. After 400 pages of this? I wanted to throw the book at the wall. Since it’s an eBook on my kindle, I had to refrain myself.

This doesn’t sound natural. It makes for stilted and convoluted dialog that grated so much on my nerves that it took me out of the story every time.

Finally, since so little time was spent on the main storyline, the author didn’t explore any of the cultural and historical conflicts that should have arisen between the two people. Oh, some of those conflicts are mentioned… then resolved in what seems like minutes. It’s all too tidy and civilized, when it’s never so in real life. I mean slavery was abolished over 200 years ago, but the repercussions are still felt in modern USA even now. Don’t underestimate the potential for violence the human race has. This easy resolution makes the story less believable and it lessens the stakes. 

But even though I DNFed this, I cannot give this story a one star rating. There is potential here. The world seems really interesting. And dragons! Well, more like dinosaurs, but still. This book would have benefited from a good developmental edit that would have cut the fat, tightened the plot, and moved the extraneous storylines out. As it stands, however, I am not interested enough to continue with the series.

PS: I received a copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Sorrowland by Rivers Solomon

Stars: 2.5 out of 5

This book had so much promise! The premise was intriguing, and the book started strong with Vern on the run and not much explanation of what had happened but with a growing sense of urgency that even the reader could feel.

The book was good for the first half at least, while we followed Vern as she learned to live in the woods and tried to raiser her children by herself.

Unfortunately, by the second half of the book, the novelty of the story ran out, and I discovered a couple things that started gradually dampening my enjoyment of the book until they ruined it completely. I’m sad to say that I finished this as a hate read. I was so close to the end that I had to finish it just to say that I did.

First of all, the story just keeps circling the drain for most of the book. Vern knows that the answers to what’s happening to her are back in Cainland, but she never actually does anything to find them. She knows that the woods are not safe anymore for her little family, but her answer is to go back to civilization nilly willy and follow a dream. No recon beforehand, no explanation or basic training for her children before she subjects them to such a traumatic change. It’s a wonder she even got to her destination at all. The way they were dressed and the way they acted, she should have been picked up by cops almost immediately.

I think my biggest problem is Vern herself. I have never seen a more selfish and pig-headed protagonist in my life! It was okay in the beginning because she was young and on the run, overwhelmed by circumstances. Problem is, she never changes. She doesn’t grow up. She doesn’t evolve and mature. She stays the same bull-headed and selfish teenager throughout the book. She is stubborn, and prideful, and rebellious just for the sake of being rebellious, or that’s what it seems at times. She is the kind of person who would stick her arm in the fire and let it burn just because somebody told her not to do that. That’s just incredibly stupid.

She abandons her babies for nights at end alone… in the woods… in a makeshift shelter open to elements. She hurts the only person who had information about Cainland and what was happening to her, instead of listening and trying to get information out of her first. She pouts and shouts, instead of admitting that she can’t read, even though learning to read would help her find the answers she wants.

And the most infuriating part is, despite all those shortcomings and acts of tremendous idiocy, she always escapes scoot free. There are no dramatic consequences to her actions.

She leaves two newborns in the woods all night? Sure, they are all nice and safe in the morning. No animals found them and hurt them. They didn’t get cold or hungry and started crying. In fact, how the heck did they survive for 8 years in the woods and never once got sick with anything?

Vern literally walked them into a mall, dressed them in new clothes, grabbed essential… and just walked out? And the tags on the clothes didn’t’ set off the alarms? The security in the mall didn’t catch her? Right…

The further we venture into the story and out of the woods, the more implausible this lack of consequences gets. To the point that I didn’t even care for any of this anymore. Whatever Vern did, she would get out of it looking better than ever, with an “upgrade” to her supernatural abilities. If the protagonist has a “Mary Sue shield” around her, what’s the point reading her story?

The ending is even more underwhelming because it reads like the final boss level of a video game – Vern gets her maximum upgrades and goes to fight the bad guys who don’t stand a chance. Only it’s all kind of pointless at that point, pun intended.

In conclusion, I wouldn’t recommend this. There are better and more impactful stories out there that don’t need deux ex machina elements to keep the protagonist from dying because of her own stupidity.

PS: I received a copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Sleepless by Louise Mumford

Stars: hesitating between 2 and 2.5 out of 5.

This book had such promise! The idea behind it was excellent and the blurb drew me in. Even the beginning was rather exciting. I was really pumped about reading it for about the first 35-40% of the book… Then things went downhill.

There were several reasons for this quick fall from grace, at least for me.

First of all, to create a good mystery, you need tension. To create a good horror story, you need to create the atmosphere of constant unease, when the reader and the characters know that something is wrong, but the tension is slowly winding up, like a tightening spring. Or you can have monsters jumping out of the dark and eating your face off… whatever works. The point is, it has to be scary but BELIEVABLE within the rules and limits of the world the author created.

This is were this book fails spectacularly. All the characters, especially the villains, have never heard of the word “logic”. They turn form a group of sleep study researchers into murderers seemingly in the blink of an eye. So the protagonist is asking questions about an apparition she saw in the ruins? Let’s take her there and try to kill her! But we already moved the crazy patient in a different location, so she won’t find anything. Why kill her? Oh, who cares, let’s just kill her anyway because reasons. Not to mention who is the genius that decided a ruined monastery was the perfect place to keep a sedated patient chained to a hospital bed? When you have a perfectly functional remote lighthouse on the island that has the advantage of having a roof and all the walls intact?

Also, the main premise of this book is completely destroyed about 40% in. So the protagonist is suffering from chronic sleeplessness. She can’t fall asleep… like ever. She does on 1 to 2 hours to sometimes zero a night. She’s been to all kinds of sleep studies and tried all sleep aids under the sun, right? She signs up for this experiment out of desperation… Yet not a week into this study, she is told that she doesn’t have a sleep problem. She has an internal clock problem instead. Meaning, she falls asleep between 7am and 10am instead of doing it night like normal people. Really? All the other doctors hadn’t noticed that? SHE didn’t notice that she can actually sleep on weekends when she doesn’t have to get up for work? Find a different job. Work second or night shift and your problem is solved…

The technology itself is explained rather badly. Nobody would give Thea a straight answer about how it works or what exactly they will do to her… yet she goes along it it all the same. I get it that you are desperate, but this borders on stupid.

But the nail in the coffin of this book for me was the protagonist herself. I can (usually) suffer through a bad plot if the protagonist is believable or likeable. Or suffer a bad protagonist if the story is amazing, but I can’t do both.

Thea is the type of protagonist who let’s the story happen to them, instead of creating that story with her actions. She spends about 90% of the story in an indecisive stupor, doubting herself, terrified, or simply going along with the flow. She is dragged from one place or another, from one plot point to the next by other people or circumstances. When she needs to act, she freezes and watches the action unfold around her. Granted, this is probably a realistic depiction of what an average person would do when presented with these kind of circumstances… but I read fiction to escape from reality. I want to read about characters who take action, even if with disasters consequences instead of being dragged behind the train of the story like so much useless baggage.

So I’m sorry, but this book and I had a rather messy and angry divorce and I hate-read it to the end.

PS: I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Spec Ops Z by Gavin G. Smith

Stars: 2 out of 5 for the novelty of the idea.

DNFed at 85%. Yes, I know, I was so close to the finish… I really tried to power through, I promise.

It had a fun beginning and an interesting premise. It was fast paced and fun during their attack on NY and their escape from Manhattan afterwards.

It got boring and yawn inducing during the time on the boat. Too much drama and blatant insubordination. I’m not sure about the author’s background, but spetsnaz are ELITE forces, a bit like Navy SEALS. The shit Gulag was pulling in this book would have gotten him shot back in Afghanistan already… and to add insult to injury, Vadim is an idiot incapable of leading a pack of 5 year old’s, least of all a squad of elite soldiers. He has no authority, no personal charisma, and he doesn’t command respect. He is a joke. Fraulein was a more believable commander than him. Come on, author, you could do better than this.

But even the more than subpar protagonist would have been okay. I was looking for gruesome zombie fun, after all… only we didn’t really get much of it after the escape from NY. Mostly it’s people vs. people with the walking dead as a distraction.

Also, the author seems to forget his protagonists are zombies half the time, only remembering their “condition” when it’s convenient. They go from barely being able to keep their sanity every time they are in proximity of human beings to spending weeks with over 100 live humans on a boat. Not to mention that Princess is still alive and by the end, it didn’t seem to bother the rest of them anymore.

Not to mention that being zombies doesn’t make them superpowered. They are dead. They should start decomposing by now. And there is only so much punishment a dead body can take before it isn’t functional anymore. Yet they walk, talk, shoot, etc. without any problems even over a week after turning… after being shot at, beaten, etc. Yeah, my disbelief meter was slowly reaching boiling point.

At this point, I was still resolved to drag myself painfully across the finish line. But then the author introduced fake (and not so fake) Nazis… in 1980s England. Yeah, no. The level of stupid just overwhelmed my desire to finish the book. Welcome to the DNF graveyard.

PS: Thanks to Netgalley for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

The living dead by george A romero

2 out of 5 stars

I was excited to read this book, because I loved the Dawn of the Living Dead and I think that George Romero pretty much invented the zombie apocalypse genre. So I was eager to start the book as soon as I got the ARC from NetGalley, but my excitement soon turned into bewilderment, the disappointment.

First of all, this book is way too long at 700 pages and it feels a lot longer when you read it. At least 250 pages could have been safely cut without loosing any plot, which says something. In all the chapters, action scenes are constantly interrupted by characters’ introspection, flashbacks, and philosophical musings. The worst offender is the scene of their “softie” recovery towards the end of the book which is interspersed verbal accounts by all characters present of how they got to that particular point in time. This makes this one scene last over 100 pages! It could have been tense and heart-pounding, or even deep and poignant, considering their mission, instead it’s a snooze fest. When we finally reached the end of that scene, I wasn’t even sure why the characters were there anymore or why I should have cared.

That’s another problem – of all the impressive cast or characters, I could maybe sorta care for about one or two, and even that is pushing it. To my growing disappointment, almost all the characters I cared about died in the early stages of the book. I would have much rather followed Jenny than Nakamura, especially considering the stupid way she died and that we had to then follow the story of the person who killed her.

The biggest problem though is that when George Romero died, somebody else had to finish the book, and the two parts do no gel well, at least in my opinion. And you can clearly see where the original book ended and the new chapters began – instead of continuing the story in its logical progression, the new author chose to jump 15 years ahead. That wouldn’t have been too bad. A lot of books use this plot device, after all. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work well here.

I was expecting at least some kind of character growth or change between the two parts of the book. After all, nobody stays the same during 15 years. Heck, I’m not the same person I was 15 years ago, and I didn’t have to live through a zombie apocalypse. But these characters, it’s like they were frozen in time for those 15 years. NOTHING changed for them. They still act the same, have the same motivations or quirks, heck, some of them are still hung up about a lover they lost 15 years ago. That’s why the two parts don’t gel for me. You tell us over a decade has past, yet you don’t SHOW us that, not with your characters.

And that’s the biggest problem of the second part of the book for me. Because of that time jump, instead of following the characters through their struggles in this brave new world past the initial days of the zombie uprising, we have to listen to them recount the experience… as a series of interviews. This is the classic mistake of tell, not show. Sure, some authors managed to use this technique brilliantly (just think of World War Z, which is nothing but interviews and verbal accounts of things that already happened), but it DOESN’T WORK here. Sure, the characters are telling these stories, but as a reader, I am not emotionally invested in them, especially considering that the sometimes horrible things they recount didn’t seem to change them at all.

So by the time I got through the interviews and the slog of a “softie” recovery scene, I wasn’t really invested in the book anymore. Why should I care about Richard and the vote for the leader of Old Muddy? I didn’t get a chance to follow the characters while they met and bonded and built that settlement, so I wasn’t emotionally invested in the stakes anymore. I finished the book, but at that point it was out of cheer stubbornness – I was 85% done and didn’t want to quit this close to the end.

To summarize, this is an over-written, disjointed and disappointing book. The only reason I gave it 2 stars instead of 1 is because there was one glorious chapter that I absolutely loved – the chapter with Greer at the trailer park in the very beginning of the book. That was scary, heart-pounding and horrible just like the best zombie books should be. Too bad that nothing that happened afterwards would even come close.

Lost and Found by Orson Scott Card

Stars: 2 out of 5.

Sometimes even authors we like disappoint us. Ender’s Game is still close to the top of my list of favorite scifi books. I re-read it several times since I discovered it in my tender teens and had my mind blown away. So to say that I was excited to get my hands on this new book by Orson Scott Card is an understatement. I couldn’t wait to read it! I dove into it as soon as I got it! And… I don’t know… I guess I am not the right audience for his YA books.

I mean the story itself had potential. Kids with micropowers and being ostracized because of them? Excellent. A support group that lets them explore those powers and find useful applications for them or at least to come to terms with having them? Very good. A commentary on friendship and the concept of found family? I’m along for the ride. Add to it a missing person case and cooperation with the police, and this sounded like the perfect book.

Unfortunately, even though these sounded like great individual elements, the mixture turned out to be rather underwhelming. Even though the book is very well written and easy to read, I had several problems with the story.

First of all, the incessant banter between the characters. For a solitary kid, Ezekiel sure talks a lot. While some of it was fun and relevant to the story, but most of it is just that… banter that has nothing to do with the story itself and just fills page after page with words. I think the author wanted to show us how his protagonist thinks and feels by making him talk about irrelevant stuff, but to me it was mostly a snooze fest. I found myself skipping pages upon pages of dialogues that could have been cut without loosing any story at all.

My second problem is with Ezekiel himself. Some of his actions, especially towards the end of the book, make no sense. He is almost 17, not 12. He is painted to be a thoughtful and smart kid… yet he chooses to ditch a cop, who is armed and trained to take down criminals, and go rescue his friend with his dad instead who is… a butcher and doesn’t even own a gun. And that after he HEARD at least 2 criminals being at the place his friend is held at. Two unarmed civilians against criminals who are known to torture and kill their victims. Right. What can go wrong?

And deriving from that second frustration is my next one – there are no consequences to this stupidest move of the century. This whole rescue and taking down of the villains goes way too easily and bloodlessly. The resolution isn’t on par with the stakes. At no point during the book did I feel a real sense of danger or worry for the characters. I understand that this is YA, but the author describes serious crimes here: sex trafficking, kidnapping, murder, etc. Yet the language is so sanitized that it doesn’t grip you. The incessant dialogues about nothing inter-spaced in the story might also be at fault.

Finally, I found that apart from Ezekiel, his dad, and his friend, none of the other characters were particularly developed. The micropower support group kids had no personality beyond their individual powers. Heck, I can’t even remember their names. The cop was… a cop who really wanted to save that little girl and was willing to use unconventional methods to do it. Other than that, he is a blank page. And the school counselor? Why was she even in the story to begin with?

So in the end, this book was a disappointment. The brew didn’t turn out quite like I had expected. Maybe because of the addition of too many different ingredients. I think I might go re-read Ender’s Game.

PS: I received and advanced copy from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.