“Ender’s Game”—A Book Review

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Ok, let me start off by saying, I get why people love this book. I get the psychology and mental aspect of being a soldier in the midst of a war. But, it’s just not my cup of tea.

Ender Wiggin is a Third, the third child born in a society where the limit of offspring a couple can have is two, unless they have been granted special permission from the government. Ender, like his older brother and sister, is genetically gifted—meaning, he is a child genius.

At the fragile age of six, Ender was handpicked by the government to attend battleschool aboard a spaceship, where he will receive military training. The smallest of his group, Ender has been separated out from the beginning, making him a continuous target for bullying.

For some reason, the government thinks that Ender is the key to human survival. For the “buggers” (aliens) are preparing to strike Earth again, and if there is any hope for the survival of humanity, we need a fierce Commander. Constantly pushed to his limits, Ender will be tested and challenged to extents unimaginable.

Can he save us?

 

Again, I state, I understand why certain people would absolutely LOVE this book. I’m just not one of them. I really tried, but I found most of it pretty boring. I absolutely appreciated the “mind-fucking” aspects, but overall, I just didn’t really like it.

I found the “battle” scenes boring because they weren’t descriptive enough for me to get a clear picture in my head. And in general I don’t like the whole “military” thing anyway, because I am much too stubborn of a person to ever allow anyone to completely control me in any way. In being a “good soldier”, you completely forfeit all ability to think or act for yourself. And I don’t agree with that. I guess I can understand why it would be necessary while in battle to never question your authority figure, and blindly do everything they tell you to do, but I just couldn’t do it.

“No one with him to tell him he must eat, he must go to practice, he must sleep. Freedom. The trouble was, he didn’t know what to do.”

And the fact that they are taking all of these kids and turning them into their own personal tools…it’s just f*cked up.

“Human beings are free except when humanity needs them. “

“Individual human beings are all tools, that the others use to help us all survive.”

“Frightened children are so easy to win.”

 

I do think the book sends a good overall message with this line:

“So the whole war is because we can’t talk to each other.”

Isn’t that pretty much the cause of most disasters? From personal relationships all the way up to world wars, communication is usually the key. One party always tends to have their head so far up their own ass that they lose their ability to see reason. Such a simple thing, listening, yet no one really seems capable. 

And at first, Ender was a very free thinker:

“All he had to do was watch the game and understand how things worked, and then he could use the system, and even excel.”

He was brilliant. He knew how to read people and machines and figure out how to trump them against all other logic. Every time the “teachers” threw a curve ball at him he figured it out. He had a kind heart, but was ruthless when he needed to be. He quickly figured out their game, he just couldn’t seem to stop it. Also, I would like to point out the irony of them turning these kids into soldiers to “save humanity”, when in doing so, they are basically stripping them of their humanity.

“I’ve got a pretty good idea what children are, and we’re not children. Children can lose sometimes, and nobody cares. Children aren’t in armies, they aren’t commanders, they don’t rule over forty other kids, it’s more than anybody can take and not get crazy.”

“The power to cause pain is the only power that matters, the power to kill and destroy, because if you can’t kill then you are always subject to those who can, and nothing and no one will ever save you.”

To push one kid that far, it just pissed me off. They made Ender into something he wasn’t and didn’t want to be. They broke him and killed his spirit to achieve their goal.

“There was no doubt now in Ender’s mind. There was no help for him. Whatever he faced, now and forever, no one would save him from it.”

So, I guess it’s because I don’t have a military mindset and am completely hard headed, but Orson Scott Card’s celebrated book Ender’s Game just wasn’t for me. I will see the movie, because it has an outstanding cast, and I’m hoping that maybe the visual representation will help me get a better feel for what was actually going on during the battles, as the text just didn’t quite get me there.

Thus, for my own personal rating I will give it three out of five stars. I feel the writing could have been better, but it did keep me reading.

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“Arclight”—A Book Review

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Arclight by Josin L. McQuein was an interesting read. It definitely put a new spin on the post-apocalyptic genre.

In the future, very few humans remain. The small number of humans, that are still human, live within a compound surrounded by the Arclight. Anything beyond the Arclight means death. Light is safety. Light is life. The people in the compound live on a nocturnal schedule, doing normal activities at night, so they can be on high alert, ready to take action if necessary.

Then one day a girl comes out of the Dark, giving people a reason to hope again. Maybe there is a way for humans to regain their rightful place as the dominant species. In order to save Marina from the Dark and bring her into the light, several members of the compound had to sacrifice themselves, causing a lot of hostility from her new classmates (having lost a parent in her rescue).

“They died for the hope that a human coming though the Dark alive meant…something.”

Outside of the Arclight, living solely in the Dark, are creatures called the Fade. The humans must do all that they can to keep themselves safe from the Fade, holding on to everything they can that still enables them to identify with humanity. Living in a walled off compound, never being able to experience nature (for the Fade have claimed anything outside of the Arclight as theirs), or any part of the outside world is the most saddening part of this tale.

“The Fade took that from us. They stole the moon, and robbed us of the stars.”

Arclight contained an interesting lore on creatures I haven’t encountered yet. This aspect of the book I found pretty interesting, if not a little confusing at times. But I found the pace of the book to be a little slow and lack luster. The romance wasn’t pulse-pounding enough for me to care too much about the fate of the young lovers involved.

All in all, it was pretty interesting, just not outstanding. I give this YA book three out of five stars.

“Icons”—A Book Review(ish)

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Icons by Margaret Stohl…where to begin? Well, to be totally honest, that all I read…the beginning. I could only manage to make it 130 pages in before I gave up. And I’m not one to just stop reading books; I usually suck it up and finish them no matter how crappy (I think completing The Casual Vacancy can attest to that).

Maybe it’s because I just finished reading The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey, which was awesome, so this book just couldn’t hold my interest in comparison, but Icons was just really boring. I hate to say it, but it drags on, just like the Beautiful Creatures series did. 130 pages into reading this book and nothing has really happened. I have ZERO attachments to the characters in the novel. I honestly could care less what happens to him.

AND, I’m a third of the way through and I still really don’t have a clue about what exactly is happening. Here is the gist of what I have gathered thus far:

1)      An event called “The Day” happened about 16 years ago, when an alien mother ship came to Earth and the majority of people just dropped dead.

2)      A few people lived (which was never explained how or why).

3)      A VERY select few that survived are known as “Icon Children.” These few children (only 3 that we know of so far) have different types of “abilities” and have a dotted birthmark on their wrist to symbolize which power they possess. The main character, through which this story is told, is one of these Icon Children. Both of her parents died on The Day, and she was rescued and raised by some man and grew up in some sort of borderland outside of the cites called the Grasslands or the Mission or something to that effect.

4)      It is never really explained what an Icon is, only that there are like 16 Icons above the few select cities that have managed to survive since The Day.

5)      All we know about these “aliens” are that they are called the “Lords.” Apparently they have never actually “invaded” Earth? They just kind of watch from afar? And some humans called Sympas work for the aliens?

I’m sorry, I just can’t finish this book. It is horribly slow and boring. One out of Five stars.

“The 5th Wave”—A Book Review

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All I can say about The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey is “wow.”

After the 1st wave, only darkness remains. After the 2nd, only the lucky escape. And after the 3rd, only the unlucky survive. After the 4th wave, only one rule applies: trust no one.

Let me start off by saying that I am totally not into aliens and planetary takeovers, etc, but even though this is exactly what this book is about, at the same time, it’s totally not. It’s about humanity and survival.

An alien mother ship looms in the sky, the power has gone out, tsunamis and plagues have hit, the majority of the human population is dead. Only a few remain, and here are the rules:

“The first rule: Trust no one. Which leads to the second rule: The only way to stay alive as long as possible is to stay alone as long as possible.”

Cassie’s mother and father are both dead, and her little brother, Sammy, was taken away by “soldiers.” Cassie made a promise to Sammy when the soldiers took all of the kids away on a yellow school bus…that she would find him and come back for him.

Cassie is alone in the world, fighting to keep her promise despite the fact that she doesn’t even know if Sammy is still alive. For all she knows, she is the last human being on Earth, amongst many who “appear” to be human.

“Using the ratio of infected to clean here at the base, we estimate that one out of every three surviving human beings on Earth is one of them.”

“If the enemy looks just like you, how do you fight him?”

This story takes you to the heart of the only thing that really matters in this f*cked up world—love. After all, love is what makes us human, separates us from “The Others.” Fans of Alexandra Bracken’s The Darkest Minds are sure to absolutely love this pulse pounding, harrowing tale.

I give this book five out of five stars!

 

 

“I wasn’t sure exactly what it was, but I felt that, when it came to God, there was a broken promise in there somewhere.”

“Gameboard of the Gods”—A Book Review

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I have to say, I was super excited for Gameboard of the Gods by Richelle Mead to come out, seeing as I am obsessed with her teen Vampire Academy and Bloodlines series. But sadly, the start of her new adult “Age of X” series just didn’t do it for me, and I can’t help but feel disappointed. I pretty much had to make myself finish this book 😦

Set in the future the RUNA is basically the only government sanctioned area, which resides in the Vancouver area. All throughout the United States lays “provinces,” which are basically areas that the government keeps tabs on, but doesn’t necessarily reside in.

Justin March used to be a servitor (government official who goes around making sure religious organizations have a license for their establishment and are abiding by the government’s rules for religious practice). Justin was exiled four years ago for mentioning “the supernatural” in an incident report and was exiled to Panama City. You see, the government is big on trying to quell out any “nonsense” of supernatural happenings and trying to get people to stop believing in any kind of religious entity.

The thing is…Justin has been target by a god that is trying to get him to follow him.

“The truth is, when you banish the gods from the world, they eventually come back—with a vengeance. Humans can’t stay away from gods, and gods can’t stay away from humans. It’s the natural order of things. Our country’s treatment of the divine was too harsh after the Decline. Our people have pushed the gods away for too long, and now the divine is pushing back. That’s why these forces are stirring around us. There’s a vacuum here, and entities we haven’t seen for a very long time are rushing in, seeking followers. Belief is what powers the gods, and they’re picking out their elect to conduct their earthly business.”

Mae is a praetorian—basically a supped up solider for the aid of the government. All praetorians receive an implant when they sign on with the military that amps up their body’s natural defenses (insane amounts of adrenaline kick in during a fight, they no longer need to sleep, the implant quickly recognizes and dissolves any kind of poisonous toxins that enter the body—alcohol included).

Well, Mae got into a fight at the funeral of her deceased lover and ended up hospitalizing another praetorian. Her punishment: Justin March’s new bodyguard.

A string of unexplained murders have been going on in the provinces. A security camera from one of the victims shows a smoke/shadow intruder killing the victim and no forced entry is apparent. Thus, the government calls upon the aid of Justin March (seeing as he kicked ass at his job and seems to believe in supernatural weirdness). The government believes some kind of unorganized religious zealot is responsible for the string of murders, and wants Justin to find the unsanctioned organization, find the murderer, and have the religion stopped.

And so, Mae is to follow Justin around to make sure he doesn’t die while raiding sketchy “underground religious groups”, shutting them down in hopes of drawing out the one that may be responsible for the bizarre murders.

Oh yeah, and Mae has some “dark” goddess following her around, trying to get her to swear fealty. BUT, Mae can’t see it, even though she feels it sometimes when she gets in fights. Justin on the other hand knows that a god is after him because he has two ravens in his head that converse with him, telling him when he is being an idiot, and try their damndest to get him to give in and swear full devotion to their god. And yes, these ravens have names: Horatio and Magnus.

“Gods consolidate their power in places and people. Breaking belief is the biggest way to hurt one. You do that by disbanding their followers. Gods need people to believe in them. Could be as simple as someone like you revoking a license. Or it may take more drastic means. Destroy their place of worship. Take out some of their leaders. Once the followers start to stray, the god weakens. It’s why their all scrambling right now to build their power—and followers.”

So that’s basically the sum of the book. Justin and may going to different places of worship, checking for licenses and looking for the “mysterious murderer” while a whole lot of sexual tension hangs out (because naturally there are reasons Justin and Mae can’t be together).

I kind of felt like this book tried too much to be political and send “a message.” I found it really boring and it took forever for them to actually find out anything useful. I didn’t even find the “futuristic” world remotely intriguing.

Sadly, I can only give this book two out of five stars 😥 I will not be reading the sequel.

 

I do want to add that regardless of how let down I felt by this book, I am very eagerly awaiting the next installment in the Bloodlines series, The Fiery Heart, which is scheduled to hit bookshelves this November!

“The Maze Runner”—A Book Review *movie being filmed*

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The Maze Runner by James Dashner is a thrilling book fans of The Hunger Games are sure to enjoy.

Thomas wakes up in a steel elevator, having no memory, other than his name. He still knows basic skills and objects, but has no memory of having learned them or where he came from.

When the elevator stops, and the doors open, he finds himself face to face with a group of teenage boys. The place he arrived in is called “The Glades,” and it is run by this ragtag group of boys, each having a duty to perform. And just like Thomas, none of them have any memories from before they got there. They inform Thomas that every thirty days, a new boy is delivered, as are supplies needed for survival.

The Glades is a sort of camp, encased by a giant maze, alive with out-of-this-world mechanical creatures. Each night, the doors to the maze close, and each morning they open up again, so that the boys tasked as a “maze runner” can venture out and run the maze. These maze runners literally must run the entire time they are in the maze, to avoid being caught by one of its menacing creatures and killed. While in the maze, they must make maps, so that hopefully the boys will one day figure out how escape The Glades.

But something strange happens. The day after Thomas arrives, the elevator is back, twenty-nine days ahead of schedule. In it: a girl. No girl has ever entered The Glades. And even more disturbing: she is unconscious, frozen in a coma. And even more alarming still: the girl carries with her a message: “no more supplies or boys will be sent.”

The boys are now completely on their own, with no more mystery supplies and kids appearing through the elevator. The creatures in the maze are growing more ominous by the hour…and time is ticking.

This pulse pounding tale is sure to get your adrenaline flowing. I like to think of this book as “The Hunger Games, but at an all boy camp—with one comatose girl.”

Overall, I give this book four out of five stars.

Unfortunately, I didn’t like the sequel, The Scorch Trials as much as I liked the original, but I would still give it 3 ½ stars.
This series is definitely worth the read.

The Maze Runner movie is currently being filmed in my hometown, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and is announced to be released in 2014 🙂