Pines (Wayward Pines #1) (Review)

15034320Title: Pines (Wayward Pines #1)
Author: Blake Crouch
Genre: Fiction; Mystery; Thriller, Sci-fi

Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Release Date: August 2012
Format:  E-book
Acquired:  Netgalley ARC
Pages: 309

Date Finished: May 15, 2015
3 Stars

Goodreads Description

Secret service agent Ethan Burke arrives in Wayward Pines, Idaho, with a clear mission: locate and recover two federal agents who went missing in the bucolic town one month earlier. But within minutes of his arrival, Ethan is involved in a violent accident. He comes to in a hospital, with no ID, no cell phone, and no briefcase. The medical staff seems friendly enough, but something feels off. As the days pass, Ethan’s investigation into the disappearance of his colleagues turns up more questions than answers. Why can’t he get any phone calls through to his wife and son in the outside world? Why doesn’t anyone believe he is who he says he is? And what is the purpose of the electrified fences surrounding the town? Are they meant to keep the residents in? Or something else out? Each step closer to the truth takes Ethan further from the world he thought he knew, from the man he thought he was, until he must face a horrifying fact? He may never get out of Wayward Pines alive.

My Review

In anticipation of the new show, Wayward Pines, Netgalley opened up requests for Pines, the first book in the Wayward Pines series.  I had seen the previews for the show and thought I should read the book before it started.  Well, as usual, life got in the way and I didn’t get the book read before the show started, but I decided to go ahead and watch the first episode.  I was not impressed.  Matt Dillon is not one of my favorite actors.  That goes all the way back to my 1980s teenage years.  In addition to that, the show seemed purposefully confusing.  I hate books and shows that confuse the crap out of you just so they can spring a big, dramatic ending on you.  Anyway, after watching that one episode of the show, I was really torn about whether to read the book, but decided to give it a try.

The book did the exact same thing as the show!  The storyline misled and misdirected and then BAM! big, dramatic ending that brought it all together in the last two or three chapters.  I will begrudgingly admit I liked the ending.  That is the whole reason the book got 3 stars.  But for the most part, I kept thinking, “What the heck is going on?”  The reason I think this book irritated me so much is because I love a good mystery.  I love it when the author has fed you all the clues and you still couldn’t figure it out.  I hate it when the author withholds all the pertinent information and then hits you with a resolution out of left field.  And boy was this one out of left field!

Wrap-Up

3/4 of this book irritated the heck out of me.  The last 1/4 was really good.  If you like to read books that mislead and misdirect in order to surprise you with an ending that you never saw coming, then this is the book for you.  One good thing about the book is even though it’s a series, it really could stand alone.  I was happy where it ended and didn’t feel the need to continue on with the series.  Happy reading!

Special Thanks…

I’d like to give a shout out to Netgalley, Thomas & Mercer, and Blake Crouch for giving me the opportunity to read and review this ARC.

Sharkman (Review)

23453287Title: Sharkman
Author:  Steve Alten
Genre:  Sci-fi, Thriller

Publisher:  Taylor Trade Publishing
Release Date: October 7, 2014
Format:  E-book
Acquired:  Netgalley ARC
Pages: 272

Date Finished: December 31, 2014
3.5 Starts

Goodreads Description

Kwan Wilson was a high school basketball star living in San Diego when a tragic accident changed his life in ways no one could predict. He only looked at his phone for a few seconds, but that was all the time it took to crash his car into a telephone pole, killing his mother and paralyzing him from the waist down. After the accident his father, Admiral Douglas Wilson, sent him off to live with his maternal grandmother in South Florida.

Kwan’s new principal, anticipating his depression and isolation, tells him about an internship at a genetics lab in Miami that s testing shark stem cells on rats in an effort to cure cancer and repair spinal injuries. Kwan declines until he learns the beautiful Anya Patel is an intern at the lab. The good news is that the stem cells are curing their rat subjects; the bad news is it alters their DNA so much it kills them. When a promising breakthrough is made, Kwan risks his life and injects himself with the experimental stem cells altering his destiny and the lives of millions in the process.

My Review

I was first introduced to Steve Alten’s work years ago when I read The Loch.  I had always been intrigued by the Loch Ness Monster and couldn’t pass up a fictional tale about Nessie.  It ended up being a dark and twisted tale which I loved.  I’ve always held Steve Alten in high esteem since then.  So, when I saw a new book by Mr. Alten on Netgalley, I put in my request immediately.

The premise of Sharkman was a good one.  Kwan is a paraplegic following a car accident.  He is given the opportunity to intern at a research facility which has very promising research on shark stem-cells and the repair of spinal injuries.  That is where the story went off the rails…

Like every mad-scientist tale, Kwan ends up injecting shark stem-cells into himself and is healed, but there are dire consequences.  Unfortunately, the science, or lack there of, is utterly ridiculous; however, the ride it takes you on is quite fun. You have to be willing to suspend your logical thinking in order to enjoy this book.  I am used to reading some really good techno-thriller authors who have tons of real science to back up their facts.  Sharkman did not fall into that category.  Let’s just say, it was more Sharknado than shark science.

So, with that being said, I’ll leave it to you to decide whether Sharkman is the book for you.  As I said, it was a fun read and I enjoyed it, but if you’re looking for serious science, you might want to skip this one.

Special Thanks…

I’d like to give a shout out to Netgalley, Taylor Trade Publishing, and Steve Alten for giving me the opportunity to read and review this ARC.

Conquest ((4 Stars))

Conquest: Book 1, The Chronicles of the Invaders (The Chronicles of the Invaders Trilogy)Title: Conquest
Author:  John Connolly & Jennifer Ridyard
Genre:  Fiction, Sci-fi, YA
Publisher:  Atria Press
Release Date:  February 11, 2014
Format:  E-book
Acquired:  ARC from Edelweiss
Pages:  418
Date Finished:  2/10/14

4 Stars

Goodreads Description It is ruled by the Illyri, a beautiful, civilized, yet ruthless alien species. But humankind has not given up the fight, and Paul Kerr is one of a new generation of young Resistance leaders waging war on the invaders. Syl Hellais is the first of the Illyri to be born on Earth. Trapped inside the walls of her father’s stronghold, hated by the humans, she longs to escape. But on her sixteenth birthday, Syl’s life is about to change forever. She will become an outcast, an enemy of her people, for daring to save the life of one human: Paul Kerr. Only together do they have a chance of saving each other, and the planet they both call home. For there is a greater darkness behind the Illyri conquest of Earth, and the real invasion has not yet even begun. . . .

I have to admit, I am just starting to edge my way into science fiction, and I typically stay away from anything having to do with aliens and their invasion of earth.  I can handle vampires and werewolves all day long, but for some reason, aliens go beyond my realm of comfort.  I know, it makes no sense.  Anyway, I decided to give this one a chance.  I tend to be a bit more adventurous with my ARC requests.  (It helps that they are free!)  Luckily, I was pleasantly surprised.

My Review

The whole thing started off slow.  I had to get about 25% into the book before it took off, but once it did, it was non-stop action.  I’m used to fantasy, so world building is something I’m accustomed to, but the authors crammed way too much into the beginning before they really got into the story.  It read more like a history book, than a novel.  I personally prefer to get the story going and get the world building on the fly.  Every author seems to handle world building differently, some more successfully than others.  It can be done flawlessly, but more often than not, I find it is just something you have to trudge through to get where you’re going.

After the story got its legs, I really enjoyed the storyline.  Syl, as an alien, was likeable enough and she seemed believable.  I, however, threw my hat in with the human rebels.  I guess because the humans were the underdogs here.  I always find myself rooting for the underdogs, and I love a book that stirs up my righteous indignation.  Syl was pretty much the same way which is why I think I identified with her.  She couldn’t handle the unjust treatment of the humans.  Her father, as a politician, tried to do the right thing, but unfortunately, he was in the minority.  Syl chooses to leave her posh lifestyle and support a cause she believes in.  While some of Syl’s decisions were a bit teenage angst driven, I applauded most of Syl’s choices.

The rebels were not as hardened as I would’ve liked.  They sometimes seemed more like Robin Hood’s merry band of brothers than a group of surly freedom fighters.  I could see that they were written as real, everyday people who were forced into their roles as freedom fighters, but they still seemed a little soft to me.

The Illyri were also very human like.  It didn’t take much to forget they were aliens at all.  In many ways it seemed like they were just invaders from a neighboring country rather than another planet.

Wrap-Up

The book is apparently going to be a series based on the very open ending.  You are left with a lot of questions.  I am actually looking forward to reading the next in the series.  Although it had its flaws, Conquest was a fun read.  If you are a die-hard science fiction fan, you probably will not like this book.  I would label it as gateway or soft science fiction.  For someone like me, who is just dipping my toes into the sci-fi pool, it was a good introduction.

Special Thanks…

I’d like to give a shout out to Edelweiss, Atria Press, John Connolly and Jennifer Ridyard for giving me the opportunity to read and review this ARC.