REVIEW – The Martian by Andy Weir

“Things didn’t go exactly as planned, but i’m not dead, so it’s a win.”

You know, for a book that should be pretty horrifying (trapped on another planet, with little chance for survival and no way of communicating with Earth…) The Martian is HILARIOUS. Mark Watney is a fun character – he’s resilient, he’s insanely smart (I mean, duh. Astronaut.) and he has a dry sense of humor that translates so well on the page.

“I guess you could call it a “failure,” but I prefer the term “learning experience.””

One of my favorite things about The Martian is that it feels real. It feels…possible. Granted, I know basically nothing about the logistics of space travel. Or physics. Or…botany. But nothing in this felt so ridiculous that it couldn’t be maybe somewhat plausible. You can tell that Weir at least did a little bit of research (or he’s smart enough to make something completely ridiculous seem totally legit). I don’t want to reveal too much of the plot because I knew very little about this going in – so some parts were a complete surprise.

Now of course The Martian isn’t perfect. It can be a little repetitive at times. Watney doesn’t seem to exhibit any signs of trauma despite being alone on Mars and facing multiple, devastating setbacks. I’m not sure if that makes Watney inspiring, unrealistic or maybe an idiot. But if you throw those expectations out the window, you’ll get to enjoy an optimistic tale of survival in space against all odds.

One more criticism: there are a few uses of the term “ghetto” that pinged as problematic to me. Granted, this book is a few years old…but it’s not THAT old. It didn’t ruin my enjoyment of the book, but it did pull me out of the reading experience for a second and make me roll my eyes.

REVIEW – Unknown 9: Genesis by Layton Green

{Available March 13, 2020}

Genesis is first in a book series that will eventually tie in to the Unknown 9 universe, featuring movies, podcasts, video games and more.

The book is reminiscent of The DaVinci Code (or the National Treasure movies). It combines a cat-and-mouse chase that spans the globe with a cult-y secret society. Genesis features dual timelines – most of the book takes place in the present, with snippets of the past (the mid- to late-1930s, for what it’s worth).

It held my attention for the majority of the book. However, precious little is actually revealed (due mostly in part to the fact that this is merely the first of a series, so they can’t just show their hand in book one). If you don’t mind dealing with a cliffhanger for a while (I think book two is due for release in the fall of 2020?) this is a relatively fun read.

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

REVIEW – Anyone by Charles Soule

Be anyone with Anyone. Sounds kind of neat, right? NOPE. I’m glad this is purely fiction and this technology doesn’t exist.

This book is incredible – it moves at a breakneck pace and never slows down. The reader is treated to two timelines – present day, and 25 years into the future.

The story is visceral. It’s gory and gritty. I exclaimed “omg!” and “holy sh*t!” out loud a few times while reading. The stakes are incredibly high, and I was shocked by quite a few plot points throughout the book.

All in all, an insane entry into the sci-fi thriller genre – amazing for those who are looking for something dark and uncomfortable, but maybe not so great for the faint of heart.

Thank you Harper Perennial for sending me an ARC of this book!

REVIEW – Wanderers by Chuck Wendig

“This is how the world ends, with both a bang and a whimper.”

A bang and a whimper – this perfectly explains how I feel about this book. It hooked me from the beginning. Wendig is a talented writer – he nails the thoughts, feelings, sights, sounds, etc of mundane, everyday life (interwoven with the impending apocalypse, of course).

As more details unfold, this becomes a chilling page-turner. I was dying to learn more, to figure out how it ends. But then…it’s just a bit too long. A little repetitive (we get it, bad guys are bad. The world is ending.)

And ultimately, the ending just…didn’t work for me. It should be terrifying, but it didn’t quite deliver the punch I think it intended to. A solid entry into the apocalyptic fiction category, but hindered by an excessive page count.

REVIEW – Recursion by Blake Crouch

“Because memory…is everything. Physically speaking, a memory is nothing but a specific combination of neurons firing together – a symphony of neural activity. But in actuality, it’s the filter between us and reality.”

Holy sh*t. This book. It went above and beyond what I was anticipating and just got more intense with each section. Even when you might think you have a handle on what’s happening, it just gets more bananas.

I won’t say much because it’s best going in having only read the synopsis. Blake Crouch is a genius. READ THIS BOOK!

REVIEW – Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

“No one tells you it’s all about to change, to be taken away. There’s no proximity alert, no indication that you’re standing on the precipice. And maybe that’s what makes tragedy so tragic.”

Dark Matter was so much sadder than I anticipated, and so, so good. It’s like an insane action movie in literary form; gave me Inception vibes (a little bit, at least). It’s surprisingly emotional, and incredibly thought provoking.

“Until everything topples, we have no idea what we actually have, how precariously and perfectly it all hangs together.”

REVIEW – Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton

“There is a problem with that island. It is an accident waiting to happen.”

Jurassic Park has been one of my favorite movies for as long as I can remember. I first saw it in theaters when I was six – I was obsessed with dinosaurs. I don’t know if it was my age, or if it was just a “thing” in the early 90s, but it seemed that dinosaur mania had taken over. Dinosaurs were EVERYWHERE. And as a kid, that was awesome.

I’ve seen Jurassic Park more times than I can count. I know the movie backwards and forwards. But for some reason, I had never read the book.

I am kind of glad I waited until I was older to read the book. It’s amazing – it’s much more in depth than the movie. Some parts are scarier. It’s gory. It’s tense.

I didn’t think the ending was as impactful as the movie, but it was still good.

I’m a Jurassic Park purist. I think the first movie is perfect on its own, and the sequels are pure entertainment (but unnecessary). However, I will definitely consider picking up The Lost World (and checking out more of Crichton’s books).

I know the T-Rex is always a fan favorite, but the raptors steal the show – both on screen and in the book.

“Believe me, all the problems we have so far, are nothing compared with what we’d have if the raptors ever got out of their holding pen.”

REVIEW – Inspection by Josh Malerman

My middle-ish rating is not indicative of Malerman’s writing. Malerman is a fantastic writer. However, I think this book was maybe 80 pages too long, or may have been more impactful as a short story.

It does start to get a bit slow and repetitive at times, but the ending is fast and insane and…brutal.

Inspection has elements reminiscent of 1984, Never Let Me Go and The Giver.

It’s an incredibly unique story, and although not quite as memorable as Bird Box, still enjoyable for those who like some sci-fi/light horror.

REVIEW – Vessel by Lisa A. Nichols

I have been looking forward to reading Vessel since I first read the synopsis. I’ve been wanting to try out the sci-fi genre a bit more, and I love creepy stories about space (Alien is one of my favorite movies!)

Vessel isn’t what I expected, but I still enjoyed it. It’s a relatively complex and rich story, with interesting characters. Some parts in the book definitely creeped me out!

However, it does read more like women’s fiction than sci-fi. (That didn’t stop me from enjoying the book.) There’s a lot of focus on how Catherine adjusts to life back on earth, and how her return impacts her family. This isn’t a negative at all, just an observation.

I was expecting this to be a bit creepier, and a bit darker, but I think it’s a great choice for readers who are interested in a book with a sci-fi theme without being too heavy handed.

Thank you to Atria for sending me a review copy of this book!

REVIEW – The Last by Hanna Jameson

If I could describe this book in one word, it would be: claustrophobic.

I’m so used to post-apocalyptic books involving a lot of movement and travel and discovery, but we spend the majority of The Last inside L’Hotel Sixieme – and it WORKS.

I don’t want to say too much because I think it’s worth going into only knowing the synopsis. I know it’s probably being compared to Station Eleven, but this also gives me some Bird Box vibes.

One of the blurbs on the back of the book says “It’s Stephen King meets Agatha Christie” and I think that’s fairly accurate. The Last features a cast of characters who aren’t all what they seem, and also there’s horror in the mundane and routine (which is the most chilling part of this book).

We only know what’s happening from the perspective of one character, so I’m sure there’s a lot going on at the hotel that we miss. He also seems to be unreliable at times, but that just adds to the feelings of isolation and insanity that run underneath the main plot.

Don’t sleep on this book – it’s a great one (and make sure you visit the dentist regularly!)

Thank you to Atria for providing me with a copy of this book.