Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

Book Review

 


Dark MatterBook Genre: Science Fiction, Thriller, Mystery

Book Series: N/A

Released: 7/26/16 by Crown

Pages:342  Price: $26.99 Hardcover

Links:  Goodreads, Author’s Site

Source: I borrowed this as an audiobook from my library.  

 

 

Book Synopsis:

“Are you happy with your life?”

Those are the last words Jason Dessen hears before the masked abductor knocks him unconscious.

Before he awakens to find himself strapped to a gurney, surrounded by strangers in hazmat suits.

Before a man Jason’s never met smiles down at him and says, “Welcome back, my friend.”

In this world he’s woken up to, Jason’s life is not the one he knows. His wife is not his wife. His son was never born. And Jason is not an ordinary college physics professor, but a celebrated genius who has achieved something remarkable. Something impossible.

Is it this world or the other that’s the dream? And even if the home he remembers is real, how can Jason possibly make it back to the family he loves? The answers lie in a journey more wondrous and horrifying than anything he could’ve imagined—one that will force him to confront the darkest parts of himself even as he battles a terrifying, seemingly unbeatable foe.

From the author of the bestselling Wayward Pines trilogy, Dark Matter is a brilliantly plotted tale that is at once sweeping and intimate, mind-bendingly strange and profoundly human—a relentlessly surprising science-fiction thriller about choices, paths not taken, and how far we’ll go to claim the lives we dream of. 

My Review:

Unpopular opinion time.  Just thought I would warn you up front that I did not love this book like so many others have.  I didn’t hate it, however, it was just alright in my opinion.  It felt like someone watched Interstellar and thought the part near the end would make a great book.  I know it isn’t exactly what happen in the movie but I couldn’t help being reminded of that scene so the parallels are there.

After reading some of the other reviews I have to agree this book read like it was written to be turned into a movie.  The lead character felt flat and I struggled to connect with him.  The action was top-notch but I feel like that was at the sacrifice of world building.  I also felt some parts of the plot were added in for pure shock value and that turned me off a bit.

So what did I find interesting, what kept me listening to this audiobook. The idea behind the plot was interesting and some of the dumbed down science as well.  If you are looking to read a pure hard science fiction novel you might want to look elsewhere as there are better ones out there.

Again it was a good book but not a great book.  Still, the book felt gimmicky to me at times and would fit better in the thriller category than the science fiction one in my opinion.  I guess I was looking for more science, less drama.  More character depth, less violence.  More exploring of the multi-verse, less personal obsession.  I also didn’t care for the ending.  I wish he had come up with something else that what he delivered because it started to get a little creepy and cliché. I’ll stop here because the more I think about the story the less I like it…

My Rating: 3 (being kind) Stars

The Flicker Men by Ted Kosmatka

Book Review

 


The Flicker MenBook Genre: Science Fiction, Thriller, Mystery, Audio

Book Series: N/A

Released: 7/21/15 by Henry Holt and Co

Pages:352  Price:$25.66 Hardcover

Links:  Goodreads, Author’s Site

Source: I borrowed this audiobook from my library.

 

 

Book Synopsis:

Eric Argus is a washout. His prodigious early work clouded his reputation and strained his sanity. But an old friend gives him another chance, an opportunity to step back into the light.

With three months to produce new research, Eric replicates the paradoxical double-slit experiment to see for himself the mysterious dual nature of light and matter. A simple but unprecedented inference blooms into a staggering discovery about human consciousness and the structure of the universe.

His findings are celebrated and condemned in equal measure. But no one can predict where the truth will lead. And as Eric seeks to understand the unfolding revelations, he must evade shadowy pursuers who believe he knows entirely too much already.

My Review:

I’m not exactly sure why I stuck this book out.  I’m also not exactly sure what the book was about in all actuality…  Some of it might be that I wasn’t paying close enough attention, some might be the book was plotted well, some might be the science going over my head.  I didn’t hate the book, I finished it after all but this book left me feeling eh.

There were parts I found intriguing and other simply annoying.  I did like the science and found the experiment the story revolves around interesting.  The delving into politics a little less so…  I almost turned it off when it started venturing down a religious path but being in the middle of an exercise session and nothing else to listen to decided to press on for at least the rest of the hour.  I eventually decided the author wasn’t trying to convert me into any sort of thinking and chose to stick the book out to the end.

The book has a vastly different feel at the end than it did in the beginning and I think that is what hurt it for me.  I didn’t really care for the shift.  I’m still not entirely sure how the book ended as by the last hour or two it was simply background noise and I was only half listening. I appreciated some of the questions the author brought up in the plot but I struggled to find a character to connect with.

It wasn’t a bad book just not a terribly good one in my opinion.  I probably should have stopped listening after the first part.  The middle I did enjoy and probably the reason for the second star I am giving it.  I’m not quite sure what type of reader this book is meant for just that it most likely isn’t me.

My Rating:2 Stars

The Accidental Universe by Alan Lightman

Book Review

 


The Accidental Universe: The World You Thought You KnewBook Genre: Non-Fiction, Science, Audio Book

Book Series: N/A

Released: 1/14/14 by Blackstone Audiobooks

Pages:157  Price: $13.35 Paperback

Links:  Goodreads, Author’s Site

Source: I actually own this book, but I ended up listening to the audio book from my library.

Book Synopsis:

From the acclaimed author of Einstein’s Dreams and Mr g, a meditation on the unexpected ways in which recent scientific findings have shaped our understanding of ourselves and our place in the cosmos.

With all the passion, curiosity, and precise yet lyrical prose that have marked his previous books, Alan Lightman here explores the emotional and philosophical questions raised by discoveries in science, focusing most intently on the human condition and the needs of humankind. He looks at the difficult dialogue between science and religion; the conflict between our human desire for permanence and the impermanence of nature; the possibility that our universe is simply an accident; the manner in which modern technology has separated us from direct experience of the world; and our resistance to the view that our bodies and minds can be explained by scientific logic and laws. And behind all of these considerations is the suggestion—at once haunting and exhilarating—that what we see and understand of the world is only a tiny piece of the extraordinary, perhaps unfathomable whole.

My Review:

I tried to read this little book a while back but just couldn’t get into it.  While I am interested in the topics this book discusses I am not that bright when it comes to science and math.  Much of it was a struggle to understand.  Simply put it was too much work…  I’ve been enjoying listening to non-fiction audio books recently, especially those with a science leaning, so when I saw this one was available and not that long I decided to listen rather than read this book.  So. much. easier.

This isn’t a very long book and is a collection of essays really on philosophy and physics.  Much of the science still went over my head but I did appreciate the philosophical discussion related to the advances in technology and knowledge.  I know I just finished listening to it so the chapter is freshest in my mind, but I enjoyed the last chapter the best which delved into how technology is changing the way we interact with not only each other but the world around us.  The idea of the virtual world not so slowly replacing the importance of the real world was fascinating and most likely true.

I’m glad I made it through this one, even if I had to listen to it.  The book provided a lot of food for thought and would be another great book to listen to with someone who you could debate the topics further with.  If this one crosses your path why not give it a listen too.

My Rating: 3 Stars

The Draco Tavern by Larry Niven

Book Review

 


The Draco TavernBook Genre:Science Fiction, Short Stories, Audio Book

Book Series:N/A

Released: 11/1/2006 by Blackstone Audiobooks

Pages: 304  Price:$22.99 Audio

Links:  Goodreads, Author’s Site

Source: I borrowed this audio book from my library

 

 

Book Synopsis:

When a tremendous spacecraft took orbit around Earth’s moon and began sending smaller landers down toward the North Pole, the newly arrived visitors quickly set up a permanent spaceport in Siberia. Their presence attracted many, and a few grew conspicuously rich from secrets they learned from talking to the aliens. One of these men, Rick Schumann, established a tavern catering to all the various species of visiting aliens, a place he named the Draco Tavern. From the mind of best-selling author Larry Niven come twenty-seven tales and vignettes from this interplanetary gathering place, collected for the first time in one volume. Join Rick and his staff as they chronicle the seemingly infinite alien species that spend a few moments pondering life and all its questions within the Draco Tavern.

My Review:

I have been in a science fiction and science fact mood audio book wise lately.  Mainly because I’m not in the mood for sex scenes and I feel like with the NF ones if I don’t pay attention for a chapter it isn’t the end of the world.  This one was quite good and I would like to now try the Ringworld series by him.

This book was a series of short stories set in the same location and were chronological I believe so the world built with each chapter.  The interactions with all the aliens were quite fun and intriguing.  With aliens it is always such fun to imagine different species that have evolved different from ourselves.  The stories in this book had a very Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy feel, but just a tad more serious or rather less wacky.  I loved the idea of a bar on Earth where races from all over the galaxy come to interact.  Imagine what kind of thing you would see, learn and experience.

The narrator was well-selected and had a pleasing voice that fit the main character.  Each chapter was a stand alone story but they all blended nicely.  It was a great listen and if you are looking for a science fiction audio book that’s not part of a series and only about 6 hours long this one is a good pick.

My Rating: 4 Stars

Stone Cold Lover by Christine Warren

Book Review

 


Stone Cold Lover (Gargoyles, #2)Book Genre: Romance, Paranormal, Urban Fantasy

Book Series: Gargoyles #2

Released: 8/26/2014 by St. Martin’s Paperbacks

Pages: 336  Price: $7.99

Links:  Goodreads, Author’s Site

Source: I borrowed the audio book from my library. 

 

 

Book Synopsis:

A prominent art restorer, Felicity is more than game to help a friend track down an obscure statue in Montreal. But when “Fil” finds it, she’s taken by surprise at how drawn she is to this statue. Attracted to it in a way a girl shouldn’t lust for a stone gargoyle, she revists it at night, longing to feel its embrace. Little does Fil know, her desire for this stone cold beast is about to heat up a notch.

Locked in stone for centuries, Spar has slept, waiting for when a human would need him. When he is awoken, Spar is taken aback to find that a human female needs his help. A very sexy woman who’s about to be the victim of a cultist attack. Saving and leaving her should be no problem. But as more questions arise, Spar knows that he cannot rest until Fil is safe in his arms

My Review:

This one started out alright but then quickly lost my focus.  Could be the recent trauma in my life or it could be that I’m just not into this series.  I struggled to finish this book and in the end I can’t remember much of what happened as I focused more on the chores I was working on than the plot of the book.  I think this might be where I leave this world and look for one that works better for me.

Like I said I barely remember what happen and did not connect with either of the lead characters in this title.  The domineering over-protective alpha male got on my nerves and the whole drama about I’m falling for him but we can never be together and I’m going to mourn his absence forever really got on my nerves.  I think it is time to try another genre until I can get my head out of this funk.  Romance is just a bit too much for my current patients level.  Perhaps a good sci-fi or adventure fantasy will pick my mood up.  My current mood is just too dark and the happily ever after crap isn’t working for me.  Maybe a good dystopian.

Anyway, I did finish the book though so I didn’t dislike it enough to DNF it was simply poor timing I think.  I did like how the heroine was a bit darker in this story but that’s about it.  The narrator was also a bit too much for me to handle and when she attempted to do an American accent for Chicago that made me want to facepalm I knew if I continued this series I would be reading it instead of listening.

So please excuse my poor attitude, it really wasn’t an awful book just not what I was in the mood for.  I simply don’t care to find out what happens next though so I won’t be continuing this series.  I do plan to check out other books by Ms. Warren as I do think she is a good author.

My Rating: 2 Stars

What If? by Randall Munroe

Book Review

 


What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical QuestionsBook Genre: Non-Fiction

Book Series: N/A

Released: 9/2/14 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Pages: 303  Price: Hard cover $14.66

Links:  Goodreads, Author’s Site

Source: I borrowed this audio book from my library

 

Book Synopsis:

Randall Munroe left NASA in 2005 to start up his hugely popular site XKCD ‘a web comic of romance, sarcasm, math and language’ which offers a witty take on the world of science and geeks. It now has 600,000 to a million page hits daily. Every now and then, Munroe would get emails asking him to arbitrate a science debate. ‘My friend and I were arguing about what would happen if a bullet got struck by lightning, and we agreed that you should resolve it . . . ‘ He liked these questions so much that he started up What If.
If your cells suddenly lost the power to divide, how long would you survive?
How dangerous is it, really, to be in a swimming pool in a thunderstorm?
If we hooked turbines to people exercising in gyms, how much power could we produce?
What if everyone only had one soulmate?
When (if ever) did the sun go down on the British empire?
How fast can you hit a speed bump while driving and live?
What would happen if the moon went away?
In pursuit of answers, Munroe runs computer simulations, pores over stacks of declassified military research memos, solves differential equations, and consults with nuclear reactor operators. His responses are masterpieces of clarity and hilarity, studded with memorable cartoons and infographics. They often predict the complete annihilation of humankind, or at least a really big explosion. Far more than a book for geeks, WHAT IF: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions explains the laws of science in operation in a way that every intelligent reader will enjoy and feel much the smarter for having read.

My Review:

I borrowed this book simply because I wanted to listen to an audio book read by Wil Wheaton.  This book also just happened to sound interesting as well, even if it was non-fiction.  I have to say I was not disappointed one bit, this book was so much fun and I am going to have to start following the author’s website.

Not a lot I can review about the book.  It is what it is; the author answers crazy questions poised to him using science.  It makes you wonder and wish you had paid better attention in science class, if only so much math wasn’t involved…  It also makes one think that there are some seriously disturbed people out there in the world.  The book is set up so that each chapter tackles a different question with break chapters where the author shares with us some of the truly disturbing questions that have been ask.  Wil Wheaton is perhaps the perfect narrator for this book as his voice adds the perfect amount of snark and inflection that bring the answers to life.  I will have to seek other books that he has read to see what I think of them as well.

Like I said this was a fun listen.  Perfect for a car ride where you don’t necessarily want a story that might have inappropriate scenes for some of the passengers.  This would be great for a ride with teens as it might spark an interest in the sciences and lead to some great discussion.

My Rating: 4 stars

A Dirty Job by Christopher Moore

Book Review

 


A Dirty Job (Grim Reaper, #1)Book Genre:
Humor, Fantasy, Paranormal, Gothic, Audio

Book Series: Grim Reaper #1

Released: 3/21/06 by Harper Audio

Pages: 12 Hrs  Price: $26.58

Links:  Goodreads, Author’s Site

Source: I borrowed this audio book from my library.

 

 

Book Synopsis:

Charlie Asher is a pretty normal guy. A little hapless, somewhat neurotic, sort of a hypochondriac. He’s what’s known as a Beta Male: the kind of fellow who makes his way through life by being careful and constant — you know, the one who’s always there to pick up the pieces when the girl gets dumped by the bigger/taller/stronger Alpha Male.

But Charlie’s been lucky. He owns a building in the heart of San Francisco, and runs a secondhand store with the help of a couple of loyal, if marginally insane, employees. He’s married to a bright and pretty woman who actually loves him for his normalcy. And she, Rachel, is about to have their first child.

Yes, Charlie’s doing okay for a Beta. That is, until the day his daughter, Sophie, is born. Just as Charlie — exhausted from the birth — turns to go home, he sees a strange man in mint-green golf wear at Rachel’s hospital bedside, a man who claims that no one should be able to see him. But see him Charlie does, and from here on out, things get really weird. . . .

People start dropping dead around him, giant ravens perch on his building, and it seems that everywhere he goes, a dark presence whispers to him from under the streets. Strange names start appearing on his nightstand notepad, and before he knows it, those people end up dead, too. Yup, it seems that Charlie Asher has been recruited for a new job, an unpleasant but utterly necessary one: Death. It’s a dirty job. But hey, somebody’s gotta do it.

My Review:

This is my first Moore book.  I’m not sure what preconceived notions I might have had before starting but I think they were met.  I have a physical copy of this book but decided to listen to it in audio format because it was sheep shearing season on our farm and none of the other books I had tagged on Overdrive sounded interesting in the moment.  This was actually a perfect choice for working outside.  Something light, funny, something it would be alright if I got distracted in what I was doing for a few minutes and missed a few paragraphs.  I’ve been wanting to try this author for some time now as descriptions of his humor sounded like they would be right up my alley.  I’m glad I finally gave him a shot.

This books started out a little heavy, in comparison to how most of the plot went, but even in that there was some fun twisted humor.  I think what made this book for me was the characters.  They were a pretty eclectic bunch of misfits that you can’t help but fall for them.  From the beginning, though, Charlie had my heart.  I rooted for the character as he struggled to figure everything out.  What this ‘dirty’ job entailed to raising his daughter to figuring out his own life.  I did see one of the plot points coming a mile away but I think it was a case of the reader was supposed to know this before Charlie did.  The ending was a tad bitter-sweet but still good and I appreciated the peek into the future of these characters that Moore gave us in the epilogue.

The only real criticism I have of the book is the author was a little heavy-handed with the ethnic stereotypes.  Some of them were a little silly and one of them a little offensive.  Otherwise I find no other issues with the book.  I enjoyed listening to the story almost like a parent telling you a crazy bedtime story with  the actor vocalizing each character to fit their heritage or personality perfectly.  He managed to keep me in the story and I didn’t find my mind wandering even near the end where I sat at the computer playing solitaire to finish the book tonight.

I do plan on trying more Moore books including the next one in this series even though I see it has less than favorable reviews.  Perhaps I will see if it is available in audio as well.  Anyway, this was a fun and funny story with some touching scenes thrown into the madness to keep it grounded.  I recommend!

My Rating:4 Stars

The Martian by Andy Weir (…Again!)

Book Review

 

The MartianBook Genre: Science Fiction, Adventure, Suspense, Audio Book, Thriller

Book Series: Stand Alone

Released: 11/4/14 by Brilliance Audio

Pages: 9 hr 59 min Price: $15.99

Links:  Goodreads, Author’s Site

Source: I borrowed this as an audiobook from my library.

 

 

Book Synopsis:

A mission to Mars.
A freak accident.
One man’s struggle to survive.

Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars.

Now, he’s sure he’ll be the first person to die there.

After a dust storm nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate the planet while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded on Mars’ surface, completely alone, with no way to signal Earth that he’s alive. And even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone years before a rescue could arrive.

Chances are, though, Mark won’t have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment or plain-old “human error” are much more likely to kill him first.

But Mark’s not ready to quit. Armed with nothing but his ingenuity and his engineering skills—and a gallows sense of humor that proves to be his greatest source of strength–he embarks on a dogged quest to stay alive, using his botany expertise to grow food and even hatching a mad plan to contact NASA back on Earth.

As he overcomes one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next, Mark begins to let himself believe he might make it off the planet alive.

But Mars has plenty of surprises in store for him yet.

Grounded in real, present-day science from the first page to the last, yet propelled by a brilliantly ingenious plot that surprises the reader again and again, The Martian is a truly remarkable thriller: an impossible-to-put-down suspense novel that manages to read like a real-life survival tale.

My Review:

I can hear it now.  O.M.G.  you are talking about that damn book again.  We get it you loved The Martian move on already.  Let me start out by saying this was not a planned re-read of this title.  I was getting ready for my BEA trip to Chicago and decided on my last day of work to pick out an audio book to listen to on the drive.  I was limited by the need to have actual CD disks as I do not have a fancy car stereo that can stream from my phone that would also be busy telling to turn left and follow highway 34 for 24 miles.  She was going to have enough to do making sure I stayed on the right route; I didn’t want to make more demands on her little battery life than necessary.  Looking through the racks for inspiration a little orange cover caught my eye and I thought perfect!  I’m going to listen to The Martian!  I have read the book before so if I miss parts no big deal, I know I enjoy the story and listening to an adventure story on my own adventure fit nicely together.  It was Kismet and the reason you are reading yet another review by me of The Martian.  Suck it up already…

Sure I could have just listened to the book and saved you tedium of reading another review (if you’ve stuck it out so far kudos), but this is the first time I have read, listened to and watched the same story so I felt honor bound as a reviewer to deliver to you my thoughts on the different versions in a compare and contrast review.  So we are going to be talking less about the plot in this book and more about the different formats available to consume this story.

So if you haven’t figured it out yet you can either read the book (print or e-version), listen to the audio book, or watch the movie.  I would have to say my preference ranks in the order I listed them in.  The book is always going to be better and not being a huge fan of audio books the print version beats the one read to you, and while the movie was great it is a pale comparison to the depth you delve into this story in either of its predecessors.  The book is ALWAYS better.  Always.

When I popped the first disk into my car stereo the first opinion I formed was, that’s not how Mark Watney sounds!  Kind of what I thought when I saw they cast Matt Damon as the character.  Unlike the movie though, this narrator did grow on me as the book progressed.  I still think Damon was a poor choice for the movie.  Sorry, but that is just how I feel.  I pushed on with the book, it was saving me from surfing from radio stations after all, and slowly got into the story line.  Once the point of view changed and I got a taste of how the actor could change his accent to fit the different characters I was sold.  This was going to be fun.  I still thought he sounded a little rough for Watney, but I got over it as his timing for jokes was far better than Damon’s, what more could I ask for…

One thing that did surprise me was how much I missed while reading the book.  Oh sure tons of stuff was left out of the movie, but there was a lot of details that I missed in my previous two readings of The Martian and that surprised me.  I love this book, devoured it, twice.  Watched the movie twice and there were still details I had overlooked.  How odd. Nothing too major, mainly just pop culture references.   Goes to prove re-reading is worth it when you enjoy a story.  When we read we don’t read. word. for. word.  We read sentences or phrases at a time and sometimes that means we miss something, but when a book is being read to you your brain can’t decide what is important and what isn’t.  You hear it all, word for word.  This is going to be something I keep in mind for future audio book selections.  I’m not going to pass something up just because I already read it,  I might check it out if it was a title I really enjoyed.  Already have some Kenyon books in mind for the next yard work project.

As to the quality of the audio book, it is one of the better ones I’ve listened to and I agree with the other positive feedback I’ve heard on this audio book.  They did a great job, and the narrator was a good pick, even if he doesn’t sound like Mark Watney… (no I won’t let it go).  This book is an excellent pick for a road trip, probably not with youngsters in the car (too many f-bombs), but for adults heading out on their own adventure why not go on one with Mark Watney as well.  This remains one of my favorite reads and if you’ve not given it a shot yet, why the hell not!

My Rating: 5 Stars

 

The Registry by Shannon Stoker

The Registry

Click to visit book’s Goodreads page.

Book # 1 of The Registry series: Published 5/28/13

I borrowed the audio version of this book from my library saving me $21.95(audio price)

Author’s Site

Book Synopsis:

The Registry saved the country from collapse. But stability has come at a price. In this patriotic new America, girls are raised to be brides, sold at auction to the highest bidder. Boys are raised to be soldiers, trained by the state to fight to their death.
Nearly eighteen, beautiful Mia Morrissey excitedly awaits the beginning of her auction year. But a warning from her married older sister raises dangerous thoughts. Now, instead of going up on the block, Mia is going to escape to Mexico—and the promise of freedom.
All Mia wants is to control her own destiny—a brave and daring choice that will transform her into an enemy of the state, pursued by powerful government agents, ruthless bounty hunters, and a cunning man determined to own her . . . a man who will stop at nothing to get her back.

My Review:

Okay, full disclosure time.  I picked this book to fulfill the book with bad reviews requirement for one of my reading challenges.  I had a hard time figuring out just what sort of book would fill this requirement, because most books have a fairly average rating on Goodreads (even this one), balanced between those that loved it and those that hated it.  I decided to just pick a book that the majority of the review were three stars or below, and this one had a majority of its reviews on the first page two or below.  The book was also available for download when I wanted to check out a new audio to listen to while doing yard work, so there you have it for why I decided to read The Registry.

So what did I think…  Well I didn’t hate it, but I can see why other people felt so strongly about it.  The story has some plot issues and is kinda weak at times.  The characters are one-dimensional and I had a tough time respecting the lead female at all.  The characters are extreme in their behaviors and personality and often lack motivation for their actions.  I agree with one other reviewer that the bad guy is almost a farce in how awful one character can be.  He ends up coming off unbelievable and odd.  He is missing that redeeming quality that bad-guys need to make them plausible.    Mia is seriously lacking of a brain, but I get that she was raised that way.  Still it would have been nice if she could have had a bit more personality.

There is a love triangle in the story that was poorly executed and the book would have been stronger without it.   The main love interest, Andrew, was the character I like the most.  Of all the characters I think he was probably the best written.  Still the chemistry between Mia and him just wasn’t there for me.

The best part of this book for me was the concept and the world in which it is set.  This is what earned the second star for my rating.  I loved this idea, just wish it was a bit better executed.  This world in this story was essentially built by Halliburton and is a right-winger evangelical’s wet dream of how society should be run.  Mandatory military for all boys, woman having no place or rights in society except as slaves to their husbands and baby machines.  Women being bought and sold online to fund the government. Massive censorship, intimidation of other countries, brainwashing, locked down boarders, and military policing of citizens.   I can see the rabid right taking notes and making plans from this story.  The only thing that didn’t fit was the positive portrayal of same-sex families, because we all know if the right-wing got control of this country and set it up like in this book they would be either deported or executed.  So kudos to the author for portraying them as normal loving families in this book.

Basically my opinion of this book is good idea, but needed more work before release.  I won’t be continuing on, but to those that loved it, yay for you.  I think the author has potential and just need a bit of experience.

My Rating: 2 Stars

The Bees by Laline Paull

The Bees

Links to Goodread’s page.

Stand Alone: Released 5/6/14

I borrowed an audio version of this book from my library saving me $ 59.99 (audio price)

Author Site

Book Synopsis:

The Handmaid’s Tale meets The Hunger Games in this brilliantly imagined debut set in an ancient culture where only the queen may breed and deformity means death.

Flora 717 is a sanitation worker, a member of the lowest caste in her orchard hive where work and sacrifice are the highest virtues and worship of the beloved Queen the only religion. But Flora is not like other bees. With circumstances threatening the hive’s survival, her curiosity is regarded as a dangerous flaw but her courage and strength are an asset. She is allowed to feed the newborns in the royal nursery and then to become a forager, flying alone and free to collect pollen. She also finds her way into the Queen’s inner sanctum, where she discovers mysteries about the hive that are both profound and ominous.

But when Flora breaks the most sacred law of all—daring to challenge the Queen’s fertility—enemies abound, from the fearsome fertility police who enforce the strict social hierarchy to the high priestesses jealously wedded to power. Her deepest instincts to serve and sacrifice are now overshadowed by an even deeper desire, a fierce maternal love that will bring her into conflict with her conscience, her heart, her society—and lead her to unthinkable deeds.

Thrilling, suspenseful and spectacularly imaginative, The Bees gives us a dazzling young heroine and will change forever the way you look at the world outside your window.

My Review:

I spent much of the week planting my garden so I thought this book would be an appropriate selection to listen to while I worked.  The book was read by Orlagh Cassidy who did an excellent job of making each character sound distinctive and brought to life with their own personality.

The book itself was one that I toyed with reading for some time now.  I was intrigued by its premise, but never really excited to pick it up and start.  Once I saw it was available through the library in audio I decided to give it a try with my limited options offered to me at the time.  In the end I think the audio format was a good decision for this story for I think I might have not stuck it out with this one either.

The story is kind of strange and probably not everyone’s cup of tea as it is told from the perspective of a bee in an anthropomorphic society that, to me, must resemble what life would be like inside a cult.  We follow the heroine, Flora from birth to death as she works her way through this twisted bee society.  I’m not sure how much this is based upon real bee life, but this book definitely made me want to learn more about bees.

For the most part there was a bit of eye rolling on my part, but the story was interesting to see how this society functioned.  Besides the cult like aspect there is a strong dystopian element to the story and we also get to watch Flora challenge her place in this world and move through the ranks and shake things up a bit.

Much of the story was a bit on the boring side for me not being interested in motherhood and all, hence my probably DNF it if I had attempted the print version, but in audio format the narrator helped to keep my interest.  I did see the end coming about half-way through the book, but it was still one of my favorite parts of the story.  There was also a fairly satisfying scene for the feminist inside me when the hive dealt with the male bees close to the onset of winter.  Kinda gruesome but one of the better part in my opinion.  I found myself rooting for Flora, even though I didn’t think much of her for much of the book. The other character I also enjoyed the one male bee, I forget his name, that kept interacting with Flora throughout the story. I was quite happy for him in the end.

It was an interesting story, I’m still not real excited about it, but I’m glad I read it.  I would highly recommend it to anyone who wishes to know what it might be to live inside a cult.   A bit too much religion in the story for me, even if it was bee religion…  I did appreciate how the author brought to the forefront of how we humans are negatively affecting bees through our technology and destruction of the environment. Being the narrator was so interesting I would also recommend this one to those who enjoy listening to their books.

 

My Rating: 3 Stars