Bring Back God, Then We’ll Talk: Reviewing Only Human (Book Three of the Themis Files) by Sylvain Neuvel

Hey everyone! I’m back at it again with another book review. I hope you all missed me. In exciting life news, my grad school orientation is happening this upcoming week as I’m writing this. I’ll definitely try to give some more life updates about grad school, if anyone is interested. For now, let’s talk about the final book of The Themis Files trilogy.

It’s been almost ten years since Dr. Rose Franklin, Vincent Couture, Eva Reyes, and General Govender were transported to the alien world of Esat Ekt. They successfully returned to Earth, only to find a war between Russian and America raging on. With the use of alien technology, the human population is doomed to destroy itself unless Rose and the rest can find a way to stop it.

I have thoroughly enjoyed this sci-fi trilogy as I haven’t read one that had such a strong human element that balanced out the fantastical sci-fi elements. I will admit that this novel did feel slow in the beginning as it goes back and forth between them discovering their new alien home and them being interrogated in Russia. I did enjoy the parts of Esat Ekt, though, and how it felt so similar to the world as we know it. It almost gave the feeling of walking into your living room, but everything was moved two inches to the left. Another element I enjoyed about this book is how it was able to include the very timely topic of racial profiling and interning people just because of their ethnicity. Some people might see it as preachy. I, however, appreciated how Neuvel was able to integrate it into the story without it feeling like it was coming out of nowhere. I was also able to appreciate Neuvel’s take on familial relationships and what it means to be a family. Only Human was nice, solid ending for Neuvel’s trilogy. Overall, I found the trilogy immensely enjoyable and would recommend it to all sci-fi fans, especially fans of giant robots.

Not Surviving, But Thriving: Reviewing Vengeful by V. E. Schwab

Hi everyone! Wow, it feels like it’s been a while since I’ve done a book review. It’s taken me way too long to finish this book. If you want to, you can check out my review of Vicious, the first book in the series. But for now, let’s discuss Vengeful by V.E. Schwab.

Victor Vale and Eli Ever were only the tip of the EO iceberg. Now, a new player has entered the game. Marcella Riggins is powerful, beautiful, and can destroy anything with the touch of her hand. With her sites set on the city of Merit, Marcella decides it is time to claim what she believes is rightfully her. With Victor on the run and Eli being held in an EON detention center, the two must find away to stop Marcella and her powerful friends then end each other once and for all.

Just like Vicious, Vengeful has a thrilling and suspenseful edge to its story telling. The chapters are short but they are packed with gory detail and some great examination of the characters. The novel does get gory so, squeamish readers, you have been warned. I love the complex, morally grey nature of the characters. My only real complaint about this novel was it felt a little slower than its predecessor. There were some longer sections just dedicated to some of the characters’ backstories. I didn’t find it boring by any means. I just felt it dragged on a bit at times but, once you get back into the action, the book picks up very quickly. I found it hard to set this book down. If you loved Vicious then you will certainly love its sequel.

It’s Growing Something New: Reviewing Annihilation (Book One of the Southern Reach Trilogy) by Jeff Vandermeer

Hi everyone! It has been a hot minute since I have actually done a book review. I finally sat down and just powered through this particular novel since it is shorter. I will now tell you all about Annihilation by Jeff Vandermeer.

Area X sprouted from the ruins of a civilization and has been steadily reclaiming the land over the years. Many expeditions have tried to explore this mysterious new biosphere but have ended in death and disaster. The twelfth expedition, made up of four women, have set out to find the answers that the others couldn’t find. As they venture deeper and deeper into Area X, they come to realize that there is something thriving and it has deadly intentions.

This short and fast-paced novel offered an interesting mix of science fiction and mystery. Vandermeer’s writing style and narrative choices are certainly intriguing. Told through the eyes of a character only known as the biologist, her telling of the events is scientific and precise but also vague and ominous. Every step of her journey only offers more questions than answers. As a reader, I found myself exploring along with her. I wanted to put together the puzzle pieces of why Area X was so strange. The novel definitely reminded me of The Martian. I loved the eerie and beautiful descriptions. The plot was full of suspense that made you want more. If you’re a fan of science fiction and/or adventure, then I would definitely reckoned Vandermeer’s Annihilation. I am certainly interested in reading the rest of the Southern Reach trilogy.

Kill God then We’ll Talk: Reviewing Waking Gods (Book Two of the Themis Files) by Sylvain Neuvel

Hello everyone! It only took forever but I’m finally back with more book reviews. I’m starting to get my life back in order so I’ll have more time for this blog now. Okay, enough with the excuses. Here is my review of book two of The Themis Files, Waking Gods. 

Dr. Rose Franklin is supposed to be dead but she’s not. She is surrounded by the mystery of Themis as well as the mystery of her own existence. When Earth is brought under attack by another giant robot, Rose realizes that she is even closer to the truth about herself and the robots than before. As major cities are coming under attack, Rose and the Earth Defense Corps must unlock the secrets of the ancient alien technology that will let them win the battle for Earth.

One of my favorite things about the first book and this one is how Neuvel keeps a balance between character development as well as the action-filled parts of the story. Building character development in an unconventional story structure is difficult but Neuvel manages it. The novel doesn’t fall victim to “sequel-itis” as the stakes are higher, the mysteries go deeper, and the characters are faced with tougher choices. I was taken on many twists and turns that I did not even begin to expect when I started this novel. It kept me on the edge of my seat and I had a hard time not skipping ahead to see what would happen to my favorite characters. Waking Gods keeps the thrills going in this adventure that is perfect for sci-fi fans.

Build God, Then We’ll Talk: Reviewing Sleeping Giants (Book One of the Themis Files) by Sylvain Neuvel

Hi everyone! First of all, I want to congratulate myself for posting two days in a row. Second of all, the title is stolen from a Panic! At the Disco song (which they probably took from something else) and I’m not ashamed because it works really well with the review. I am really excited to talk about this particular novel. A lot of reviews compared it to The Martian and World War Z, two books which I love. It pretty much hit all of the marks on something I would be interested in. Now I shall tell you more about Sleeping Giants. 

When she was a child, Rose Franklin stumbled across a giant metal hand in her town of Deadwood, South Dakota. Years later, Rose Franklin is now a highly trained physicist who dedicates her life to finding the mystery behind the origin of the hand and how it works. Dr. Franklin and her team must work against powerful forces stronger than any government in order to learn whether the world will ever be the same after discovering that we are not alone in the universe.

The first thing I want to say about this novel is I love the narrative style. Like The Martian and World War Z, it is told through things like interviews, articles, and journal entries. Some people don’t particularly like this style of story but I really enjoy it as it makes me feel immersed in the story. Sleeping Giants felt like diving down a rabbit hole of conspiracies. It felt so real and unreal at the same time as the story navigates between the science fiction elements and the global political crises caused by the discovery of the hand. I find conspiracy theories fascinating so this really piqued my interest. The writing itself felt very real. The transcripts of the interviews helped to develop the characters as well the story itself. I liked the balance between the forces driving the plot. Neuvel doesn’t sacrifice character development for the sake of the alien element. There’s more than enough humanity in this novel. What is also nice about the novel is it doesn’t get involved with jargon to the point that you don’t even know what anyone is talking about. Since most of the characters are involved in science, the military, and the government, it can get overwhelming at times but the unnamed interviewer helps to serve as the one who clarifies all of it. Speaking of that, the book has an overall suspenseful feel as everyone has their own agenda and it makes the story even more interesting. I found myself not wanting to put the book down at all. If you couldn’t tell by my long review, I am absolutely going to recommend Sleeping Giants and I look forward to getting my hands on the rest of the series.

Current Favorites: Movie Edition (Part 2)

Hi everyone! I’m getting close to publishing my review of Sleeping Giants but I wanted to do something else in the meanwhile. I mentioned before that I am a huge movie buff and I already posted a list of favorite movies. Most were pretty mainstream but I still felt they were somewhat under appreciated. I decided to do another one in the same vein. So here are some more movies that I love and recommend to you all.

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Pacific Rim – directed by Guillermo Del Toro, 2013

I’m a huge fan of science fiction and Guillermo Del Toro so I couldn’t resist adding another of his movies to a list. I already talked about The Shape of Water but I wanted to talk about this particular movie. Pacific Rim delivers on amazing visuals and classic robot vs. monster action. It’s a delight to watch as it doesn’t pretend to be anything other than a fun sci-fi romp. It also stars Idris Elba, who I have a massive crush on. It really is just a fun movie to watch. Sadly, I heard the sequel isn’t that great but at least the first one is good.

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Captain America: The Winter Soldier – Directed by the Russo Brothers, 2014

I already mentioned one Marvel movie in my previous list and I didn’t think I would mention another one as most of you are more than aware of the MCU. I, however, cannot fail to mention how much I adored this movie and I will even go so far as to argue that it is one of the best Marvel movies or at least it is one of the best sequels. The action sequences in this movie are so well done and I loved the emotional stakes this movie brought. This movie also introduced two of the best MCU characters: Bucky Barnes as the Winter Soldier and Sam Wilson as the Falcon. This movie is just so wonderfully composed. It has a perfect balance between action and emotion. Also the cast is just wonderful. MCU is really great at casting in general. If you haven’t seen this one yet, I cannot stress enough how good this movie is.

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Heathers – Directed by Michael Lehmann, 1988

Now, it’s time to take a sharp left turn from sci-fi/action to dark teen comedy. I have never been a fan of teen movies and that includes the slew of movies that the 1980s produced but Heathers changed my mind. Winona Ryder is probably more relatable in 2018 than she was in 1988. I enjoy the dark, twisted humor in the movie. It definitely bends the classic teen genre in more ways than one. I also enjoy the “girls with guns” trope in this movie. I don’t think it is for everyone but it is still a good movie for anyone with a sick sense of humor. It’s also incredibly quotable. (Note: I know that this isn’t the original poster for the movie but I liked it better. Also the musical adaptation is really great.)

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Call Me By Your Name – Directed by Luca Guadagnino, 2017

Let’s get into some romance, shall we? When the Oscar buzz was going around, I heard this movie come up a lot. I was very bored one Friday night and decided to see if I could find it. I was very glad that I was able to watch this sweet and unconventional romance. The movie has a very intimate vibe that fits the beautiful aesthetic of the Mediterranean. Timothee Chalamet deserves recognition for his wonderful performance. The relationship between the two main characters is touching and understanding. I know a lot of people have gripes about the age difference in the relationship but it is in no way portrayed in a creepy Lolita-type way. This is a wonderful story about two men uncovering the truths about themselves through each other. I should note that this is based on a novel that I would love to read one day.

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The Imitation Game – Directed by Morten Tyldum, 2014

I still remember seeing this one in theaters because it was the only one available that particular night. The theatre was super busy so my mom, sister, and I decided we might as well see this one because we all love Benedict Cumberbatch. Anyways, I ended up becoming incredibly invested in this movie, which is about mathematical genius Alan Turing and his struggle to crack the German Enigma code in order to help the British forces during WWII. If you don’t know who Alan Turing is, he essentially paved the way for artificial intelligence. Sadly, his life was tormented as was on the autism spectrum and he was a gay man during a time when you could go to jail for that. This movie is more about humanity than it is machines, which makes it so enjoyable to watch. It is dramatic and heart-breaking. Cumberbatch and Knightley both give award worthy performances. I would recommend this movie to the history buffs out there.

Current Favorites: Movie Edition

Hi everyone! I currently don’t have any new books to read and a sprained ankle. But you know what I do have? I have passion for movies. I’m actually currently taking a class called Hollywood Heroines: Women in Film for my senior seminar. This got me thinking and I wanted to share with you some of my favorite mainstream and/or indie films. While I do have a ton of movies I love, I’m just going to talk about five more recent films I’ve seen that struck me in a particular manner. I hope you enjoy this list. Let me know if you have seen any of these and what you thought about them.

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The Shape of Water – (Directed by Guillermo Del Toro, 2017)

A good majority of you readers have probably heard of this movie as it has been picking up plenty of award show buzz. If you haven’t, then I will give you a quick synopsis.

A young mute woman named Elisa works as a cleaning lady at a secret government lab. When she encounters a mysterious humanoid fish creature who is being studied, she and the creature form an intimate bond. Elisa decides she must save him from the sinister government agency who have bigger plans.

Now I am a huge fan of Guillermo Del Toro’s work. I was certainly interested by the bizarre and intriguing premise. Also, I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that I had read a lot about the sex scenes in this movie. Regardless, it is still a fairy tale-like and romantic movie with plenty of beautiful visuals. With a balance between the otherworldly and the realistic, The Shape of Water is certainly an experience that the viewer can lose themselves in with its romance and fantasy.

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Colossal – Directed by Nacho Vigalondo, 2016

I stumbled across this movie after reading a review in Entertainment Weekly. It sounded interesting but I didn’t think I would get around to watching it. I ended up getting a hold of it and decided to watch it on a whim. I certainly didn’t regret it.

Gloria, an unemployed party girl, is kicked out her apartment by her exhausted boyfriend and decides to return to her hometown. Once she returns home, a monster appears in Seoul, South Korea. Gloria begins to realize that she is more connected to this phenomenon than she thought.

I know that a lot of people are not fans of Anne Hathaway but I have a feeling you might change your mind. She portrays probably the most messy and realistic character I’ve seen. The movie does an excellent job reworking the classic monster movie. It’s a nice balance of dark comedy, drama, and sci-fi. Give this one a try if you get a chance.

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Arrival – Directed by Dennis Villenueve, 2016

This one is pretty well-known for being snubbed severely during the 2016 movie awards seasons. At first, I didn’t think much of it until I was given the opportunity to watch this movie. Afterwards, I also became angry that this movie got snubbed. I also don’t really remember what the movie was up against. Regardless, here’s the premise:

Twelve stranger spacecrafts land on Earth and no one can figure out why they are here. Linguistics professor Louise Brooks is recruited to figure out a way to communicate with the inhabitants of the space crafts. Soon, she discovers a message that no one was expecting.

This one isn’t your typical alien invasion movie. There isn’t any horror to be found, nor is it overly preachy about the self-destructive nature of humanity or something like that. Instead, this movie focuses on creating an understanding between humans and aliens. What if the aliens have something important to say? Why is language so important? Arrival explores these various themes with its excellent story telling. (There is also a really good plot twist at the end that I won’t spoil.)

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The Accountant – Directed by Gavin O’Connor, 2016

I’m a fan of action movies but they tend to get repetitive over the years. When I find one that stands out, I get excited. I do realize that Ben Affleck has been rather controversial recently so I don’t mean to promote him too much but, just hear me out about this movie.

Math savant Christian Wolff has made a career on cooking the books for crime families, mobs, and terrorists organizations. When the US Treasury closes in on him, he must undo the damage he’s done and save a new friend.

I have to give this movie props for having a unique main character. Christian has high-functioning autism and I felt that Affleck portrayed it in a realistic manner. It does somewhat perpetuate the myth that people with autism tend to be savants but it is not unrealistic by any means. It’s refreshing to see a protagonist who breaks the classic “Macho Man” role. If you are a fan of John Wick, then you will definitely like this movie. It is clever, action packed, and stands out in the action genre. I recommend you give this one a chance.

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Logan – Directed by James Mangold, 2017

I would be lying to you if I said I wasn’t a huge superhero fan. I love MCU and all of the DC tv shows. The DC movies have yet to completely win me over but Wonder Woman was fantastic. Anyways, I was definitely sad to see Hugh Jackman retire Wolverine but I was at least glad that they gave him and Sir Patrick Stewart such an amazing exit. This movie is currently getting some much deserved Oscar buzz.

In the near future, an aging and reluctant Wolverine is charged with taking care of Professor X, who is going senile. Their quite lives are quickly upended when a young mutant arrives with dark forces following close behind.

The first thing I love about this movie was that they made it R-rated which was perfect for the character of Wolverine. This movie has some great Easter eggs for X-Men fans and give the perfect finale for such iconic characters. It’s touching, violent, and profound. Logan is an experience for any comic book fan as it takes the genre in a different direction that doesn’t rely on heavy special effects or anything too convoluted. (Not that I have a problem with that.)

A New Kind of Human, A New Kind of Murder: Reviewing Lock In by John Scalzi

Hi everyone! I am very excited to be ticking off another book off of my TBR list with another Scalzi novel. If you are interested, you can check out my review of his other novel Redshirts. This novel also ends my mystery novel kick but this one is a bit different as it falls more in the sci-fi category. You will see in a moment when I talk more about this novel. The terminology is a bit confusing so bear with me but I will do my best to explain everything. Anyways, here is my review of Lock In by John Scalzi.

A dangerous virus, named “Haden’s Syndrome,” swept the globe and caused sufferers to become “locked in.” They were completely aware and alive but couldn’t move or respond. A quarter of a century later, sufferers of Haden’s Syndrome (now just called Hadens) have found ways to function in the world through Integrators – humans who can help Hadens experience the world – or “threeps” – humanoid robots. Rookie FBI Agent Chris Shane (a Haden himself) and his veteran partner Leslie Vann are assigned to the case of an Integrator who appears to have murdered his Haden. As Shane and Vann follow the trails, they come to realize that this is a bigger mystery that involves Hadens and non-Hadens alike. The two find themselves in the middle of a conflict between the “old” human culture and the rising human subculture created by Haden’s Syndrome.

I want to say in advance that the terminology is a bit confusing at first. Scalzi was kind enough to create a little “cheat sheet” in the beginning of the novel in order to clarify his world building. It took me about four chapters before I became familiar with the slang but, after that, I could read the novel with ease. That’s also a good warning for any readers who may not be too familiar with science fiction and the world building in there. However, if you are an avid science fiction reader, then this novel should definitely go on your shelf as should any Scalzi novel. The world he creates is very intricate but cleverly crafted. Scalzi’s characters seem to thrive on their own in this strange world where one percent of the population must rely on other humans or robots in order to lead a normal existence. His main characters, Shane and Vann, have good chemistry and character development. As the story is told through Shane’s point of view, it gives the reader a better change to become familiar with the world of Haden’s. The dialogue is witty and realistic, with all of the new terms flowing seamlessly. There’s something a little cyber-punk about this novel that I enjoyed in particular. If you like murder and technology, then Lock In is the novel for you. Scalzi strikes again with his unique and hilarious writing along with his mashup of mystery and science fiction.

In Space, No One Can Hear You Steal: Reviewing Artemis by Andy Weir

You don’t even know how excited I was to finally get this book. I had been patiently waiting for the longest time for the release date. I don’t know how a bunch of you got a copy ahead of time but I’m glad that I can finally enjoy this novel with the rest of you. I’ve gushed over The Martian enough so it’s time to gush about another book. I will now give you my review of Artemis, Andy Weir’s second ever novel.

Life on the moon is great if you’re rich. If you’re not rich, then it sucks. Jazz Bashara has spent most of her life on Artemis, the first and only city on the moon, making a living meager living as a porter for the wealthy eccentric businesspeople. When one eccentric businessman offers her an opportunity to get rich quick, Jazz decides to take matters into her own hands in order to escape her crappy life. Soon, Jazz realizes that she is caught up in a much larger conspiracy that puts the entirety of Artemis at risk. Jazz must use her quick wit and tech knowledge in order to save her city and defeat the criminals who seek to control it.

Like I said before, I was so excited to finally read this novel and I was happy with what I had read. Weir incorporates his signature wit and humor into each character he created. It is not a fantastically futuristic book but it is founded in real science, much like The Martian was. I think what makes the setting more interesting is that it does have real science. I’m not a science person by any manes but I was fascinated with Weir’s realistic world he created. Jazz is a funny, sarcastic, and realistic heroine who definitely stands apart. I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and highly recommend it for any of you sci-fi lovers out there. Andy Weir’s second novel is a fantastic and hilarious space thriller that will keep you turning the pages.

The Horror Movies Book Tag

It’s October so I might as well do something Halloween-themed. Shout out to Thrice Read for posting this tag on their blog. I welcome you all to do this super spooky tag too.

Zombie Apocalypse: Name a book you would save when civilization ends.

If I were to pick a series, then I would say Harry Potter. If I were to pick a standalone novel, then I would pick The Odyssey.  

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The Vampire: Name a book you would stake through the heart.

The Circle by Dave Eggers pissed me off to no end with its infuriating characters who don’t learn anything at all. I get that the point of the book is that sometimes you can’t escape innovation (good or bad) but I thought that was a little pessimistic.

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Haunted House: A book that still haunts you

The Secret History by Donna Tartt has stuck with me since I read it for the first time, not knowing what I was getting into. It’s easily Tartt’s most quotable book. Bonus: The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini and The Book Thief by Markus Zusak also stuck in my mind after I read them.

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The Psychological Thriller: A book with a twist that you didn’t see coming.

Dark Places by Gillian Flynn definitely threw me for a loop. Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher also does a great job with plot twists as Hannah tells her story. Bonus: American Gods by Neil Gaiman (that I love) includes some great plot twists as well. Red Shirts by John Scalzi has a really meta plot that messed with me.

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The Creepy Doll: A book that seems innocent but it’s not.

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck and The Fault in Our Stars by John Green both begin out innocently enough only to rip your heart out and stomp on it. (I mean, you can say that for most John Green books, though. I can’t say the same for John Steinbeck.)

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The Monster: A book that you could barely tackle.

I reviewed The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt before I actually finished because the book was so long, at least for me. I still enjoyed it, though. Admittedly, I’m still not quite finished with IT by Stephen King either.

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The Comedy Horror: A book with mixed genres that worked or didn’t work.

Rooms by Lauren Oliver did a really good job mixing a ghost story with a family drama. Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman is a great combination of supernatural elements and comedy as well.

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The Cliched Teen Horror: A book you found super cliche.

The Twilight series by Stephanie Meyer was riddled with cliches. I also found An Abundance of Katherines by John Green to be a bit cliche but it wasn’t nearly as bad as Twilight if you ask me.

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The Demonic Possession: A book that was so gripping that you needed an exorcist to escape it.

The Harry Potter series, The Percy Jackson series, American Gods, The Princess Bride, Looking for Alaska, The Little Friend, The Lost Symbol

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The Science Fiction: A book you would sacrifice to the aliens for the good of mankind.

I would happily give the aliens The Book Thief and To Kill a Mockingbird in order to illustrate the best and worst parts of humanity.

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