Blog Tour Review: Genesis 2.0 by Collin Piprell

 

Genesis 2.0 by Collin Piprell

Published by: Common Deer Press

Publication Date: October 5, 2017

Genre: Science Fiction, Dystopian

Page Count: 660

Rating: 4/5

Source: eARC from Common Deer Press

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A nanobot superorganism lays waste to the Earth. Is this the apocalypse? Or does the world’s end harbor new beginnings? Life will always find a way. Though some ways are better than others.

Evolution on steroids and crack cocaine–the most significant development since inanimate matter first gave rise to life. You can’t predict novel evolutionary developments, you recognize them only after they emerge.

Then you have to deal with them.


“Immortality isn’t all it’s cracked up to be”

Stop, take a step back, and marvel at this creation. I want to pick apart Collin’s mind because his writing is beyond what I imagined. Collin takes science fiction and flips it upside down. So get ready, world. Here comes Genesis 2.0.

The last survivors of the human race have been lied to. Now their lives have changed, and they must learn to live in a world they don’t understand. Problem is that Brian, the original human malls operational manager (MOM) and general badass who wreaked havoc in the first instalment, is on the warpath with the self-aware artificial intelligence, Sky, who’s in bit of a hurry to reboot herself, and now the heroes may run out of time to save themselves and their loved ones.

I usually write my reviews within the first day or two after reading, but when I finished this book, I had to adjust my thinking, digest what I’ve read, and somehow wrap my head around this impossibly creative world building. Collin adds layer upon layer, and each one is unbelievably complex in its own right. He doesn’t just stick with one arc, whether story or character. He throws in multiple storylines, and somehow, they combine together to make a captivating science fiction story. He makes me want to read that genre.

At first, Collins throws you in a new environment with new characters. Son and his family live in mondoland, the real world outside of the generated realities and the former malls. He, one of the few people to be born after a virus that made everyone sterile, eventually meets up with our favourite characters Cisco and Dee Zu, two tests pilots. And that is where everything goes to hell.

Mondoland, the remnants of our old world, isn’t what MOM, or Sky, made it out to be. No superorganisms are out to kill the rest of the human race. And now since the malls, where the last survivors of humanity lived, are non-operational, and the main characters’ world is completely turned upside down, they must survive in a landscape they’ve never lived in.

Beyond the world building, Collin excels at writing a deeply flawed yet compelling character. Even Sky, the AI, shows her humanity, yet you want to die as much as Brian. But what stands out the most is Cisco and Dee Zu. They lose everything, they realize their lives were built on a lie, and yet they create an incredible bond. I enjoyed reading their scenes, even though they were short. And I’m dying to see how their future plays out in the third novel, which, if you haven’t figured out, I want right now.

I don’t always read science fiction, but I think Collin has convinced me to jump into that world. So here it goes.

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Blog Tour Interview: Genesis 2.0 by Collin Piprell

 

Hey everyone!

Guess who’s back on the blog? Collin Piprell! The author of MOM and Genesis 2.0 from the Magic Circles series sat down (digitally) to talk with me about his new book. I’ve been wondering how this insanely thought-up series will go, and finally, we get to find out.

Genesis 2.0 is now available online!

 


Hey, Collin. Welcome back to my blog. I’d like to congratulate you on your latest release, Genesis 2.0!

 

 

  1. You’re on your second novel in your Magic Circles series. Can you explain what’s happening in Genesis 2.0? What are Cisco and your other characters facing?

The book begins with a new character, a young man who negotiates a grueling gauntlet through the terrifying world Outside that we saw in MOM. He eventually encounters survivors of MOM’s cast of characters. Some of these have come to resemble the Olympian gods of old. Cisco himself resembles a hero out of myth, operating in both Aeolia, a virtual realm, and in mondoland, the ruined remnants of the pre-PlagueBot world (real world).

The story involves (1) a titanic contest between our villain-in-chief Brian Finister and the AI that superseded him as MOM (mall operations manager), (2) another contest between the personality alters of the fragmented AI MOM, (3) contests between our young heroes (Cisco, Dee Zu, and Son) and the Olympians (and others), and (4) two different love triangles with all the attendant drama.

 

  1. What surprised me the most is how the former generated reality test pilots don’t know how to survive in the wild (the real world). They’ve lived in malls for most, if not all, of their lives. This dependence on technology smacks you in the face when you read Genesis. Were you hoping for that effect from readers? Is there some message you are hoping to impart?

If there’s a message in that, it’s simply that digital tech and, more so, the qubital tech to come encourages us to outsource our mental faculties to the point we’re in danger of becoming entirely dependent on that technology. (Though Dee Zu and Cisco are uncommonly resourceful, for mallsters, and cope pretty well with losing their qubital umbilicals.)

For a take on the outsourcing theme, you can visit this blog post: “Outsource our minds? What a good idea.” http://www.collinpiprell.com/outsource-our-minds-what-a-good-idea/.

Even without all that, imagine your average modern urbanite reduced to living off the land. Would they have the skills to find food and water, to find adequate shelter or defend themselves against physical threats from animals and other people?

 

  1. Cisco’s (the main character) world has fallen apart. His life is turned upside down at the end of your first book. What is his frame of mind in the sequel? What is he fighting for?

He finds he’s even more in love with the “wet” Dee Zu that he was with the virtual variety. And the Lode has enough of Cisco—enough of the “right stuff,” the properly stressed personal data—that, as he has already proven, he’s capable of ascension as an autonomous ebee to Aeolia, Sky’s qubital alternative to mondoland, or what you refer to above as the “real world.” He wants to ensure that Dee Zu survives long enough the Lode can absorb enough of her data that, should the wet Dee Zu die, she also has this option of a second life in Aeolia.

At the same time, Cisco is co-opted by Sky, serving as her agent in resisting both Brian’s machinations and the attempts of Mildread, one of Sky’s personality alters, to shut down Sky’s Aeolia project.

 

  1. Who or what inspired you to write Brian and Sky (the antagonists)?

Sky, to some limited extent, is a virtual version of the ancient Pygmalion story. A human creation that comes to life in a way that causes people to become infatuated, even sexually embroiled with her. But that’s a real stretch, and is misleading.

Other than that, I wanted an AI with human qualities, at least in part, and discovered a fine source of dramatic conflict between a machine MOM (mall operations manager) who has ascended to self-aware autonomy, and Brian Finister, the megalomaniacal last human MOM, whom she superseded.

 

  1. What was your favourite part in writing Genesis?

I enjoyed writing all its various parts, but maybe I had the most fun with Brian. First of all with his “despatches,” his raving fulminations and attempts to supply a history for a future readership he believes will never exist; and, secondly, with the chapters where his scendent personality fences with the super-intelligent Sky, determined to prevail in the end, no matter how unlikely that outcome appears.

 

  1. Can you give us a glimpse into your third novel, Resurrections?

To reveal the essential theme and plot device would prove a spoiler for readers of Genesis 2.0. The best I can do is say that, underlying MOM and Genesis, we find developments that point towards a game-changing evolutionary emergence. This element is brought to surprising conclusions in Resurrections, and our heroes (including, again, new characters in addition to the old cast) have to cope with these developments, which offer at once huge promise and dire threats for the future.

Blog Tour Spotlight: Genesis 2.0 by Collin Piprell

 

Hey everyone,

This is my first stop on the Genesis 2.0 blog tour! I’ve been curious to see how Collin’s characters have dealt with their lives being turned upside down by a self-aware AI. Genesis 2.0, the sequel in the Magic Circles series, is now available online.

Don’t miss my next two stops tomorrow and Thursday.

But for now, enjoy!

 

Genesis 2.0

Collin Piprell

Publication Date: October 5, 2017

Buy Links: Common Deer Press Website, Amazon CAN, Amazon US, Book Depository, and Barnes & Noble

A nanobot superorganism lays waste to the Earth. Is this the apocalypse? Or does the world’s end harbor new beginnings? Life will always find a way. Though some ways are better than others.

Evolution on steroids and crack cocaine—the most significant development since inanimate matter first gave rise to life. You can’t predict novel evolutionary developments, you recognize them only after they emerge.


About the Author

Collin Piprell is a Canadian writer resident in Thailand. He has also lived in England, where he did graduate work as a Canada Council Doctoral Fellow (later, a Social Sciences and Humanities Fellow) in politics and philosophy at Pembroke College, Oxford; and in Kuwait, where he learned to sail, water-ski and make a credible red wine in plastic garbage bins.

In earlier years, he worked at a wide variety of occupations, including four jobs as a driller and stope leader in mines and tunnels in Ontario and Quebec. In later years he taught writing courses at Thammasat University, Bangkok, freelanced as a writer and editor, and published hundreds of articles on a wide variety of topics (most of these pieces are pre-digital, hence effectively written on the wind). He is also the author of short stories that appeared in Asian anthologies and magazines, as well as five novels (a sixth forthcoming in 2018), a collection of short stories, a collection of occasional pieces, a diving guide to Thailand, another book on diving, and a book on Thailand’s coral reefs. He has also co-authored a book on Thailand’s national parks.

Common Deer Press is publishing the first three novels in his futuristic Magic Circles series.

Collin has another short novel nearly ready to go, something he only reluctantly describes as magic realism. Less nearly ready to go are novels he describes as a series of metaphysical thrillers. Not to mention several Jack Shackaway comic thrillers, follow-ups to Kicking Dogs. He also has a half-finished letter to his grandmother, dated 10 October 1991, saying thanks for the birthday gift.

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Blog Tour Review: MOM by Collin Piprell

 

MOM by Collin Piprell

Published by: Common Deer Press

Publication Date: April 5, 2017

Genre: Science Fiction, Dystopian

Extent: 324 pages

Rating: 4/5

Source: eARC from Publisher

A GOD IS BORN!

TOO BAD ABOUT THE PERSONALITY DISORDER

So reads the graffito.

MOM is the mall operations manager — the greatest intelligence in history, a machine awakened to self-awareness at a time when the last few human survivors have withdrawn to the last two remaining refuges on Earth. Quarantined from the global nanobot superorganism outside the malls and from each other inside, the mallsters are utterly dependent on MOM for everything — including the ever-more suspect information they’re getting about the world Outside.

Now the malls are crumbling.

A mystery thriller set in the second half of the twenty-first century, MOM is the first novel in Collin Piprell’s darkly comic and always thought-provoking MAGIC CIRCLES science-fiction series.


Stepping just an inch inside Collin’s world is not only terrifying but also thrilling. I wondered what I have gotten myself into. I haven’t dived in to sci-fi for a long while. But Collin creates a richly dark and gritty story that will keep any science fiction lover up at night.

 Our society is dead. The last remaining humans retreat and find shelter in Malls, where MOM (mall operations manager) protects them from the outside post-apocalyptic world and the superorganisms that destroyed it long ago. Cisco the Kid, the protagonist, and other test pilots “world” in generated realities. Throughout the book he starts to lose himself, and he finds that something in these virtual worlds doesn’t add up. Once Cisco and the others discover MOM may have misled them and may also have become a self-aware AI, which may be slipping into insanity, life as they know it will change forever.

Overall I enjoyed reading MOM. I discovered an intriguing side to futuristic sci-fi, which isn’t always on my TBR list. You get a strong sense that Collin takes the time to flesh out his work. And he dedicates his efforts to create an entirely unique world. How many times have you heard the word “autonomous ebee” (electronic being)? For this fantasy lover, I’m lucky if I understand it (and thankfully I do).

Collin’s world building is superb. It hooks you in and takes you on a sci-fi junkie’s mind-altering adventure. His characters move the story along and keep your attention. I’m not a huge fan of multiple POVs in stories. Sometimes I find any more than three distracting. However don’t let that issue waylay you from reading the book. From chapter one to the next, you aren’t sure which POV you’ll read next, but that change keeps the story stimulating. One big tip any readers need for MOM is to pay attention to every detail. Collin incorporates intricate information into his work.

I think my only negative for the book is the terms and the language characters use. Understanding what each new word means took me awhile. If you aren’t accustomed to this type of writing, you may feel a bit lost. But, and I mean but, I am grateful for the glossary (yes, this book has one). You know you’ve stepped into a multi-faceted universe when you find one at the end of the book.

But if you’re a sci-fi fanatic like some people I know, MOM should be your next book. This book will take you on the craziest trip you’ve ever been on. And it will make you question everything. So get ready and strap in. MOM has just arrived.

Wrap-up: March 2017

 

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Faeries, a Beauty and the Beast retelling, beautiful storytelling, and political plays? I’m set. This series has been on my TBR list for almost a year, and I regret not reading it sooner. I’d definitely recommend it, but hold out on your opinions on the book until you read the sequel! You’ll be surprised at the turnaround.

Goodreads | Indigo | Amazon CAN | Amazon US | Book De

 

A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

How many times do I say the sequel is better than the first book? RARELY. But A Court of Mist and Fury destroys every expectation you may have. Sarah masters foreshadowing. Perhaps some people didn’t like the pacing in the book, but I enjoyed it a lot. This sequel is definitely on my reread list. I can’t wait to get my hands on A Court of Wings and Ruin.

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Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

This book was a huge surprise for me. I wasn’t sure if I’d like it, but surprisingly, I do. I may have liked it better if I weren’t in such a reading slump, when I read it. Labyrinth Lost is a unique, diverse find. Zoraida incorporates many Latin American traditions. The culture in this book makes it shine and stands out against many YA novels. And I’m a sucker for beautifully designed books.

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MOM by Collin Piprell

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

MOM has taken me on a psychedelic trip, and I’m still trying to land on my feet. Picture a futuristic world where the remaining human population lives in malls. And MOM goes from protecting people to becoming self-aware. But their world is turned upside down when they realize MOM may have lied all this time.

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Blog Tour Interview: MOM by Collin Piprell

Today’s my second stop on the blog tour! I had the pleasure to read an eARC of MOM by Collin Piprell. And I had to learn more of this futuristic world, so I set up an interview with him.

Hope you enjoy!

Siobhan

 

 

  1. MOM is one of the most complex multi-layered stories I’ve read in a long time. Can you tell the readers what it’s about?

That may be true, but I’d like to reassure readers that the novel focuses on dramatic developments between the characters — the heavier themes and multiple dimensions frame the action without intruding on what’s otherwise just a rollicking good read.

MOM is the “mall operations manager,” a machine intelligence become self-aware. And one theme in this book is the question of reconciling machine and human evolution. MOM also takes disintegrative trends in our current material and cognitive worlds and extrapolates to what may not be unrealistic extremes in the not very distant future. Forces for disintegration contend with reintegrative moves as background to the dramatic conflicts.

In the Magic Circles series as a whole, this becomes in part a contest between opposing cosmic imperatives — call it a war between the urge, on the one hand, to bring everything in the world under the control of one agency in the search for absolute security, and, on the other hand, the acknowledgement that error and diversity and conflict play essentially positive roles in our experience, essential to our staying open to the rise of real novelty — what some describe as creative emergence.

In fact, the story eventually proposes novel developments at least as revolutionary as the rise of life itself, or cultural evolution’s supersession of biological evolution. That thread is developed more surely as the story unfolds in Genesis 2.0 and Resurrections and beyond.

Throughout MOM and the novels that follow, there’s also much play with the variety of ways we can experience “reality.”

Here I should say again that, despite all that, MOM basically presents a ripping good read. And so my dear, departed mother would agree were she still with us.

 

  1. MOM has been published before. Can you explain what has changed from the first publication?

Not much has changed. The publisher chopped about 10,000 words (10 percent) — mostly a first few chapters I’d thought were needed to introduce readers to life in the malls and in the Worlds — and I had to agree that, after I wrote patches, the book now gets off to a faster start, while nothing essential has been lost.

Other than that, it’s pretty much the same book. I’d had the ruins of the Baiyoke II Tower, formerly the tallest building in Bangkok, poking up out of the sea that surrounds the Eastern Seaboard, Southeast Asia (ESSEA) Mall. In the current edition, I’ve substituted the MahaNakhon, an even taller building that’s almost finished.

 

  1. I see that Bangkok holds a special meaning to you. Why have you incorporated it in your stories, especially this one?

I’ve lived in Bangkok for quite some time, and it seems natural to borrow settings from that city and the rest of Thailand. MOM is set in (1) the ESSEA Mall, what remains of a coastal megalopolis; (2) generated realities set in 1980s-90s Bangkok; (3) a subterranean site beneath a much-changed landscape several hundred kilometers north of Bangkok; and (4) the Eastern Seaboard, United Securistats of America (ESUSA) Mall, roughly where New York used to stand.

 

  1. What inspired this futuristic sci-fi? Has recent (or older) technological advances inspired the book at all?

I believe nanotech and qubital computing will together transform our lives far more than the digital revolution ever has. And — like the digital revolution, or the Industrial Revolution before than, and so on back to the rise of agriculture and cities and to even earlier radical transformations of our human worlds — these technologies will bring new advantages, some of which would seem miraculous to people from our time. At the same time, they’ll bring new problems, some of them so horrendous as to threaten the extinction of all life on the planet.

At the start of MOM, the PlagueBot — a global superorganism emergent upon a failed “gray-goo scenario” involving self-replicating nanobots — presents one of these threats. But nanotech and qubital computing have also provided fixes, however inadequate, by way of the malls and the Worlds, among others. Much of the drama arises amid the ever-accelerating failure of these fixes.

Later in the Magic Circles series, we see what looks like the end of humanity and the rest of the planetary biosphere transformed into a strangely familiar but in fact radically new basis for Gaia 2 and a human renaissance.

 

  1. Can you explain to readers what worlding is and what’s its purpose in this dystopian world? How did you come up with the concept? How does it affect Cisco and others?

Worlds UnLtd is an infinite manifold of interactive, totally immersive generated realities accessible to denizens of the malls on certain days. These are the only escapes from the quarantine imposed on the mallsters. Except for telepresent encounters in their holotanks or in the Worlds, these few surviving people are kept strictly isolated both from Outside and from each other inside. One of the early mysteries in MOM is why it’s an offlining offense to try entering the Worlds on a Monday. Another mystery is why the ever-more frequent Mondays are getting longer and longer.

Meanwhile “to world” has become a verb, and people can be more or less adept at worlding. Because of their special training and experience, Cisco Smith and Dee Zu, two of the main characters, are Worlds test pilots, making sure they’re safe for the average mallster. The Worlds — realer than real, higher-rez and infinitely customizable — are utterly addictive, and most mallsters, if they could, would spend their entire lives in them.

 

  1. Now you’re expanding on your series, what are you looking forward to in the next instalments? What do you have planned?

In MOM, I established a variety of fictional “worlds.” When I started writing Genesis 2.0, I was delighted to find that, rather than creating worlds, it was more like I was exploring worlds that were already there. Implicit in the settings that underlay the dramatic action in MOM I found all kinds of new features and dimensions. The same thing is proving true as I work on Resurrections.

Much of the pleasure of writing Magic Circles, one reward for all the hard work, has been this excitement at learning what happens next and where those developments are going to lead.

Book Haul: March 2017

I’ve been catching up on my TBR list, so I haven’t bought anything recent. However, my friends at Common Deer Press sent me an eARC of their book coming out in April, and my bestie told me I must read her two favourite series (I love book lovers 😌).

What have you bought this month? Are you trying to tackle that growing TBR pile?

 

MOM by Collin Piprell

I admit I haven’t read a lot of sci-fi books. Some are good, and well, others don’t stand up to time. But I’ve been intrigued by this book since I first heard of it.

MOM is the first book in the Magic Circles series. Society is wiped out, and the last remaining humans live in malls and are protected by MOM, which is a mall operations manager. Humans are entirely dependent on this machine, and unfortunately for them, it’s become self-aware.

Next month I’ll be involved in the MOM blog tour. So watch out for some posts!

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The Darkest Night by Gena Showalter

Demons, mythology, and gorgeous men? Oh hi, I haven’t read you before. I may not be a huge romance reader, but with this book, I’m in. I’m a bit late getting into the series, but naturally I usually am.

I’m looking forward to the mythology in The Darkest Night. I’m usually an instant fan when authors incorporate Greek lore (actually, any good lore) into their work! I can’t wait to read this book.

Thank you, Beth! ❤️

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Dark Lover by J. R. Ward

I haven’t read vampire books in several years. I can’t remember the last time I have. When my friend handed me the book, I was a bit hesitant. But the author’s J. R. Ward, and she’s huge in this genre, so I have faith in this book recommendation. From the start, the Black Dagger Brotherhood appealed to me. And I like the whole pureblood concept.

I have an inkling these two fantasy romance novels may get me hooked. Help me if they do. Or at least drag me out to get some fresh air once in awhile.

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Wrap-up: February 2017

february-wrap-up

I loved February. I got to read the books I’ve been dying to get my hands on. And my heart, psyche, and well, mind are all in revolt. I can’t count how many times I’ve cried. So here are the reads that kept me up past midnight!

Caraval by Stephanie Garber

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Naturally, my first carnival book is, in fact, my favourite. Yes, Caraval has a insta-love feel to it, but the author makes a nice twist to it. The hype is real, so magically real, and I can’t help but gush about this book.

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A Darkness Absolute by Kelley Armstrong

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Kelley’s books are always instant buys and instant reads for me. I’ve read most of her work and probably own well over thirty of her books. I’ll warn you now: this book is dark and may trigger some readers. Kelley has an uncanny talent for writing complex and utterly intriguing characters. I can’t get enough of the series and hope to get my hands on the next instalment.

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King’s Cage by Victoria Aveyard

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I need a support group, stat. Please. King’s Cage is a vast improvement from Glass Sword. You can feel how much time and effort Victoria put into this book. It’s deliberately slow paced, yet it smacks you with intensely real emotions at the end. The sequrel cannot come soon enough.

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Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

A poignant tale of a girl falling in love with the Goblin King and finding herself and her music in the Underground. I knew I had to read this story. Don’t expect anything similar to the Labyrinth. Wipe the slate clean and prepare yourself for this gut-wrenching love story. Highly recommended!

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Review: Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard

23174274Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard

Published by: HarperTeen

Publication Date: February 9, 2016

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Science Fiction, Dystopian

Extent: 464 pages

Rating: 4/5

Source: Purchase


If there’s one thing Mare Barrow knows, it’s that she’s different.

Mare Barrow’s blood is red—the color of common folk—but her Silver ability, the power to control lightning, has turned her into a weapon that the royal court tries to control.

The crown calls her an impossibility, a fake, but as she makes her escape from Maven, the prince—the friend—who betrayed her, Mare uncovers something startling: she is not the only one of her kind.
Pursued by Maven, now a vindictive king, Mare sets out to find and recruit other Red-and-Silver fighters to join in the struggle against her oppressors.

But Mare finds herself on a deadly path, at risk of becoming exactly the kind of monster she is trying to defeat. Will she shatter under the weight of the lives that are the cost of rebellion? Or have treachery and betrayal hardened her forever?

The electrifying next installment in the Red Queen series escalates the struggle between the growing rebel army and the blood-segregated world they’ve always known—and pits Mare against the darkness that has grown in her soul.


Victoria Aveyard’s Glass Sword is a heartbreaking, volatile, and twisted sequel that tests the strength of every character. Savagery seeps through and corrupts even the most loyal ones.

Betrayed, accused of murdering the King, and hunted by Silvers, Mare and Cal search for and recruit newbloods, Reds who possess Silver abilities. But they aren’t the only ones who do the same. They escaped their execution, but Maven, the new merciless king, now haunts them still. Lines blur, loyalties are tested, and Mare fears that what she’s demanded to fulfill will turn her into the very monster she thought she loved.

I wouldn’t be surprised if Victoria revels in her readers’ pain. She has a knack for hitting you in the heart and expects you to turn the page. Clearly, I’m a sucker for her writing. She expands on her characters and gives you a larger scope of her world. She shows you the inner workings of the Scarlet Guard. And she has written a diverse cast of newbloods. Finally! I get more Shade, the brother who apparently faked his death in Red Queen. She even includes more scenes of Farley and Kilorn.

 

“No one is born a monster. But I wish some people were. It would make it easier to hate them, to kill them, to forget their dead faces.”

Maven’s cruelty over Mare intensifies. He finds new ways to taunt her and to control her every move. Some scenes shocked me, and not many do in other books. Glass Sword is dark. Victoria heightens the brutality of warfare, and you get a sense of how savage this world truly is. But she does gives you some light within the dark.

Cal and Mare know their love for this tainted king may be their undoing. But they understand the love they share between each other will also hinder their task. Their private moments make me tear up. They both live in chaos, pain, and guilt, yet they find solace in each other.

 

“I am a weapon made of flesh, a sword covered in skin. I was born to kill a king, to end a reign of terror before it can truly begin.”

Am I cruel to say I enjoyed reading Mare’s progression? I do. Her strength is in her pain. Mare secludes herself from the people she loves so they won’t feel the debilitating control Maven holds over her. While reading, I felt conflicted with her development. She questions herself on if she’s turning into Maven. Yes, she gives the newbloods a choice to join the Scarlet Guard, but she makes the hard decisions. Reading this growth tugs at your heart.

Cal is still the reluctant heir. He cannot come to terms with killing Silvers, even though they threaten the mission. He fears the group’s actions will simply put a new king onto a throne and not change the course of the nation. Taking down one monster but sliding in a new one don’t sit well with him.

Victoria offers you a better perspective of how Elara, Maven’s mother, infects and pollutes Maven. She turns him into her own puppet, and yet he has the power to destroy her. He commits to tracking down Mare and Cal, ending their mission, and getting her back. He develops an obsession with his lost red queen. But he doesn’t scare me as much as Elara does, though.

I’m intrigued with the Scarlet Guard. It offers sanctuary for Reds and aligns itself with new allies. You delve deeper into this secretive resistance and see how it works. But I sometimes question the loyalty it has now when it faces a new obstacle: the newbloods. The Colonel, Farley’s father, spares no trust for them. And I find him a difficult character to read.

The ending! Oh God, that ending. Why. Why, why, why?! Yeah, I knew that scene was coming. The book I’ve been dying to read gets spoiled by the author. How? Tumblr, that’s how. I can’t catch a break.

Glass Sword shapes into a fast-paced, gut-wrenching story. You’ll cry, you’ll yell, and you’ll more than likely curse. But it demonstrates how humans stay resilient, resist oppression, and stand up when they have little chance of survival.

FREE MARE!

 

What did you think of the ending? Are you excited to read King’s Cage? Let me know in the comments.

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Review: Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

22328546.jpegRed Queen by Victoria Aveyard

Published by: HarperTeen

Publication Date: February 10, 2015

Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult, Dystopian

Extent: 383 pages

Rating: 4/5

Source: Purchase


This is a world divided by blood – red or silver.

The Reds are commoners, ruled by a Silver elite in possession of god-like superpowers. And to Mare Barrow, a seventeen-year-old Red girl from the poverty-stricken Stilts, it seems like nothing will ever change.

That is, until she finds herself working in the Silver Palace. Here, surrounded by the people she hates the most, Mare discovers that, despite her red blood, she possesses a deadly power of her own. One that threatens to destroy the balance of power.

Fearful of Mare’s potential, the Silvers hide her in plain view, declaring her a long-lost Silver princess, now engaged to a Silver prince. Despite knowing that one misstep would mean her death, Mare works silently to help the Red Guard, a militant resistance group, and bring down the Silver regime.

But this is a world of betrayal and lies, and Mare has entered a dangerous dance – Reds against Silvers, prince against prince, and Mare against her own heart.


“We will rise. Red as the dawn.”

I read Red Queen last year, and it has stuck with me ever since. I took a risk with it because I was hesitant to fully get into YA. Sure, I’ve read some YA series, but I hadn’t dedicated enough time to the genre and wasn’t sure how I’d enjoy it. But sparks have flown. And I am hooked.

Mare Barrow, a Red living in the impoverished Stilts, is thrown into a politically charged world when the Nortan nation discovers she posses powers. The King hides her among the Silvers so they won’t discover her true identity. Once he transforms her into a long-lost Silver princess, she swears allegiance to the Resistance. When she does, she puts her world in chaos.

Victoria blends together dystopian and high fantasy into a captivating universe. While you’ll see old relics from the former country, she creates a world entirely her own. Fear, death, and slavery govern the poor while the royals live in grandeur but fear political turmoil. The hierarchy stays prominent throughout Red Queen. People are either Red, who are humans, or Silver, whose silver blood provides otherworldly abilities. But Victoria throws in a divide in the Silvers by creating a sub-hierarchy. I enjoy the change in society. Instead of the Silvers fighting oppression and starvation, they dominate the Reds. But, as we all know, humans push back, and you see the first inklings of a revolution.

Victoria has written an enthralling tragedy. Our society doesn’t exist. Our history is lost. And another race has risen out of the ashes. What strikes me the most are the character relationships, politics, and family. The story dug in to my mind and stayed there days after finishing it. She also hasn’t put in a lot of teen angst, and I have to thank her for it. Her characters are also authentic to her world.

 

“I told you to hide your heart once. You should have listened.”

Mare, who posses the ability to create and to control lightning, loses her fate, her life, and her choice. The heroine encounters manipulation and betrayal at every step. She’s forced to summit to the Silver King, who demands her to marry his second son, Maven. He pits her against her own kind. So she must play princess, or she faces a deadly future. I liked her sarcasm and strength. But I find that she needs some character development.

Cal, the heir to the throne, extrudes filial piety. He’s an intriguing character. His crown has mapped out his life. But how can he change an already predesigned fate? He can’t. The attraction between him and Mare balances out the story, and it’s rather sweet. But his loyalty will test them.

Maven lives in his brother’s shadow and under his mother’s control. I find him a conflicting character who I can’t seem to wrap my head around. But somehow I see his humanity, which confuses me even more.

 

The political tension in Red Queen is superb. Victoria weaves in current political issues into her debut novel. The Scarlet Guard, a rogue Red organization looking to overthrow the current government, sparks my interest. While it’s a strong opponent for the King, Victoria doesn’t quite lift the veil, making it more mysterious. What I look for in a book is how much I hate certain characters. And I can’t help but loathe the weak King, Evangeline, and Elara, Maven’s mother. You know you’ve written convincing antagonists when I wish for their deaths.

 

She has written a compelling multi-layered story that triggered my love for YA. Yes, Red Queen is a typical dystopian novel with some clever twists. And it does give off a “special snowflake syndrome” vibe. The politics and human resilience help with some of the drawbacks, though. But I see past the issues a debut novel will contain. Her writing draws you in. Her characters are engrossing, and her hidden message will speak to you.

“I am finally learning my lesson, Anyone can betray anyone.”

What are your thoughts on Red Queen? Do you like the change from supernaturals being the oppressors? Let me know!

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