Review: Our Dried Voices by Greg Hickey

23617219Our Dried Voices by Greg Hickey

 

Published: November 4, 2014 by Scribe Publishing Company

Buy this book at: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Synopsis: In 2153, cancer was cured. In 2189, AIDS. And in 2235, the last members of the human race traveled to a far distant planet called Pearl to begin the next chapter of humanity. Several hundred years after their arrival, the remainder of humanity lives in a utopian colony in which every want is satisfied automatically, and there is no need for human labor, struggle or thought. But when the machines that regulate the colony begin to malfunction, the colonists are faced with a test for the first time in their existence. With the lives of the colonists at stake, it is left to a young man named Samuel to repair these breakdowns and save the colony. Aided by his friend Penny, Samuel rises to meet each challenge. But he soon discovers a mysterious group of people behind each of these problems, and he must somehow find and defeat these saboteurs in order to rescue his colony.

Rating: 4 star

Review***Disclaimer*** I received a copy of this book for free from the author in exchange for an honest review. Thank you Greg!***

This book was a delightful little read. Based on the synopsis it sounded like it would be right within my area of enjoyment and it turned out that it was. I had a few irritations with it, and there were a few struggles but I found that I did not mind those things too much because the story kept my interest well.

The book starts with a bullet pointed list of all the major accomplishments and failures of humanity in the 300-ish years leading from our present to the beginning of the story. While I found this information interesting, I would have preferred that the information was packaged in a different manner. Bullet points are not that enthralling to read. There was a short excerpt from a “history” of the same time period that we get at the end of the book and a lot of the same information was covered. It confused me why this was at the end and not the beginning. It would have been a better introduction to the story than an ending.

I also got the impression that the author struggled with his narrator a bit, which is understandable and I think anyone would have struggled with it but overall it was handled well. I could tell at times that the author really wanted Samuel to be able to describe things better but he couldn’t because he lacked the language or awareness for it at that moment. At times this led to a bit of an inconsistent narrative but not often enough that it got on my nerves.

Warning: There may be some spoilers beyond this point.

As I read other reviews for this book, I saw a lot of people wondering how humanity could get to a point of being so lazy that we experience a regression in all cognitive functioning and lose the vast majority of our language and ability to communicate. I wondered that too for a while. But then I got on social media for a few minutes and it all made sense to me. We already are practically communicating only in pictures these days with memes, GIFs, selfies and emojis. And plenty of people are so lazy that they can’t be bothered to seek out answers for themselves and instead of spending 30 seconds on Google figuring something out will instead spend an hour asking other people to do it for them. So, to me at least, I can completely see this as a future for humanity.

I really liked the series of tests that Samuel encountered trying to help his community but I also got frustrated with him at a certain point. Clearly, his efforts were going to waste. The rest of the colonists didn’t appreciate, nor even notice, his efforts to keep them content and happy so after a point I was wondering why he was still trying. This also leads me to the ending, at first I didn’t understand it. Staying with the other colony seemed like a natural step. These were people like Samuel. He could improve his own life and be with people who valued their minds, like he did. So why didn’t he?

I thought about that a lot since I finished the book last night and I think I came to a conclusion. Just like Samuel decided that he no longer wanted to waste his labor on colonists who would never progress, he equally didn’t want to waste his labor toward an effort that was directed for someone else’s benefit. He wanted to use his ingenuity, his mind, and his labor to forge his own way not just trade one master for another. In the end, I really like that message. It was an enjoyable book that I liked more than I first expected that I would.

Review: Dualed by Elsie Chapman

dueledDualed by Elsie Chapmen

Published February 26th 2013 by Random House

Buy this book at: B&N / Amazon / Book Depository / Books A Million

 

Synopsis:

Two of you exist.

Only one will survive.

The city of Kersh is a safe haven, but the price of safety is high. Everyone has a genetic Alternate—a twin raised by another family—and citizens must prove their worth by eliminating their Alts before their twentieth birthday. Survival means advanced schooling, a good job, marriage—life.

Fifteen-year-old West Grayer has trained as a fighter, preparing for the day when her assignment arrives and she will have one month to hunt down and kill her Alt. But then a tragic misstep shakes West’s confidence. Stricken with grief and guilt, she’s no longer certain that she’s the best version of herself, the version worthy of a future. If she is to have any chance of winning, she must stop running not only from her Alt, but also from love . . . though both have the power to destroy her.

 

Rating: 4 star

 

Review:

This has to be one of my most highly anticipated book in months. I fell in love with the cover, I’m still in love with the cover. It is spectacular. I also loved the synopsis. The idea behind this book is one that I recognized could be either amazing or terrible, it all depended on execution. This was executed well. Some things probably could have been better but overall as a story I loved it.

The good:

West- She was a fantastic heroine. I found her to be smart, brave, loving, and normal. Unlike a lot of YA heroines, she believes herself to be subpar but isn’t perfect at everything in reality. We all know the heroines I meant. “Man I suck so bad, except for my perfect looks, perfect boyfriend, perfect hair, and inability to do anything that isn’t perfect.” West doubts herself but she’s reasonable in her doubt. She is a normal girl, good at some things and not so good at others. She neither believes she’s amazing or believes she’s terrible at everything. I found her very likely for that reason. I didn’t always understand her motivations but she always made me believe that she was a very girl who was trying her best to do the right thing.

Ending- I will be the first to admit it, I didn’t see the ending coming. Not even a little bit. Of course most of these kinds of books end in one way. The hero/heroine realized how wrong the system is and tries to subvert it in any way possible. That is what I was expecting but it’s not what I got. At this point I am at a loss for how the series will progress but I will be thrilled to find out. I am in for the long haul on this series and I think the ending played a large part in that. Best of all, the ending could serve as the perfect ending for a stand alone story. It was a satisfying end to that story that I wouldn’t mind if it ended right here but there’s still enough of a story to keep going with it too.

Narrative/World Building- West was a good narrator for the book, I liked her thoughts and didn’t mind being inside her head. Sometimes I thought she was being something of an idiot, but still didn’t mind her narration. The world building was good enough that I didn’t have any trouble at all picturing it in my head. I couldn’t quite get a grasp on the rules for the world but it was well put together for the purposes of the book.

 

The not so good:

Alts- Obviously the Alts were being presented as the protagonists of the book, but I felt that this limited the book in a lot of ways. The Alts are not necessarily the bad guys, we only perceive them that way because our character, West, is being pursued by hers. So since we’re supposed to be on her side then her Alt is automatically the bad guy. But if you honestly look at it then her Alt is going through exactly the same thing as West is. She also has to fight her Alt to the death and leave her family to do so. She also doesn’t know if she’ll be alive or dead in 30 days time. So ultimately they have the same path. I would have liked to see both West and her Alt and get sympathy for both of them. It would have made it less about us versus them and more about us being pitted against them unwillingly.

West as a Striker – I didn’t understand that decision at all. It seemed to come out of left field. Why did she want to do that? Why did she think that would help? And even if she thought it would help, why did she continue after being declared active? It puzzled me all the way through the book. It was an interesting part of the story but since it seemed to have so little effect on the character or the final outcome then I have to wonder, what was the point? Maybe this will be explained later on in the series but I didn’t get what the author was trying to go for.

It used the two most cliched phrases ever- “His eyes darkened briefly.” and “I released a breath I hadn’t realized I was holding.” Authors, please please please I beg you, stop writing these things! It makes me cringe every time I see them. Really it does. Enough is enough. I am banning those phrases from the English language forever.

Much more positive than negative and I can honestly say that I couldn’t put it down. I sat on my couch and ignored the world for the entire last 130 pages, with no break. I just had to see how it would end. If nothing else tells you whether I’d recommend this book, that should.