Review of Hunger Makes the Wolf by Alex Wells

30688858Hunger Makes the Wolf by Alex Wells. ★★★★

I’m not sure how I found this book, but I’m so glad that I did. It’s a kick ass science fiction story with a great world and two female leads who are both strong in their own way.

Tanegawa’s World is a company planet, controlled by TransRifts Inc, which has a monopoly on interstellar travel. Those blacklisted by the corporation tend to wind up dead. Yet some resist the might of TransRifts. Hob’s a Ghost Wolf, a mercenary biker troop that does what TransRifts won’t. They’ve run under the radar of the corporation, never directly challenging them. Then Hob finds the body of her adopted uncle out in the desert, shot in the back. The reasons are unknown, but the culprit is clear. And worse than that, his daughter and Hob’s best friend, Mags, is missing.

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Review of The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter by Theodora Goss

26006537The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter by Theodora Goss. ★★★★

In The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter, Theodora Goss mixes together some popular literature of the 19th century (particularly science fiction and horror) with an emphasis on female characters.

The story opens with Mary Jekyll burying her mother. Her mother’s death has left her penniless, and she has no idea what course her life will now take. Then she discovers that her mother paid a monthly sum for the care of “Hyde.” Mary immediately remembers her father’s old associate, who still has a reward out on him for information leading to his capture. She takes the information to London’s greatest detective, Sherlock Holmes, and his associate Dr. Watson, who are themselves investigating a series of gruesome murders. Mary quickly learns two things. Firstly, “Hyde” is not her father’s old associate but his young and troublesome daughter, Diana. Secondly, the mysteries of her heritage may be bound up in the current murder case.

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Review of Wilders by Brenda Cooper

31246586Wilders by Brenda Cooper. ★1/2

Trigger warning: suicide

Reading Wilders was a struggle from the get go. It took me three weeks to finish. I haven’t had this much difficulty forcing myself to finish something since my senior English class read Faulkner. I may take Faulkner over Wilders.

The future is divided between the cities and the unincorporated land outside them, intended to be restored to nature and wilderness. Coryn Williams lives in the megacity of Seacouver but is left orphaned after her parents double suicide. Her sister Lou leaves her behind to become a ranger, working for an NGO on the outside. On her eighteenth birthday, Coryn is determined to reunite with Lou… so she ventures outside her city, accompanied only by her robot Paula.

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Parable of the Talents by Octavia Butler

60932Parable of the Talents by Octavia Butler. ★★★★

Trigger warning: Sexual assault

Parable of the Talents somehow manages to be even darker than the first book, Parable of the Sower. Of course, I knew it’d be dark. Octavia Butler’s work is always intense. But even prepared for it, Parable of the Talents was difficult to read in places.

Like it’s predecessor, Parable of the Talents follows Lauren, a young woman driven by her religious revelations of something she calls Earthseed. At the end of Parable of the Sower, Lauren had formed Acorn, a small community based around Earthseed. Six years later, the world is a less chaotic place than it was during Parable of the Sower. Things are still bad, but they’re bad in a different way. Mobs of arsonists and looters are no longer the main threat to Acorn. The danger is instead in growing religious intolerance and the rise of a far right Christian group, Christian America, that wants to make “America great again.” And by “great,” they mean their type of Christianity.

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Review of The Refrigerator Monologues by Catherynne M. Valente

32714267The Refrigerator Monologues by Catherynne M. Valente. ★★★1/2

Catherynne Valente tackles gendered superhero tropes with this collection of six stories. The girls of the Hell Hath Club are dead, but they’ve found each other for company is the strange expanse of Deadtown. They gather together, drink Styx water, and commiserate about their lives and deaths. Superheroines, girlfriends of superheroes, supervillainesses… they all got the short end of the stick.

I’m not super knowledgeable about comic books. I’ve seen some movies, read a few issues of Ms. Marvel, but that’s pretty much it. However, I could still tell which comic book characters most of the dead girls were supposed to be. The first one, a scientist who accidentally gives her boyfriend superpowers, is clearly based off of some girlfriend of Spiderman. The extremely powerful, only woman on her team heroine with psychic powers sounded a lot like a certain X-Man. An off kilter villainess with an impressive but misplaced loyalty to her man could be no one but Harley Quinn. Another’s the wife of Aquaman, not quite dead but slipped out of her asylum to search Deadtown for her murdered son. Of the six women, there were only two I couldn’t connect to any Marvel or DC characters. One is the famous girl in the fridge, who I’ve heard of before but don’t know much about. According to other reviewers, the last is a riff off of Karen Page, who I only know from the Netflix series.

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Review of Six Wakes by Mur Lafferty

28962996Six Wakes by Mur Lafferty. ★★★★

I’ve always loved science fiction mysteries, and Six Wakes did not disappoint.

Maria Arena is a clone. Whenever she dies, she wakes up in a new body with memories from whenever she last downloaded them. But now Maria has awaken in a new body where her old one is still floating dead — the entire six person crew of the spaceship Dormire are clones, and all of them have woken up with no memories of the last twenty years after they’ve apparently been murdered. Not only that, but the cloning machine is broken. If the killer strikes again, there will be no more second chances.

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Review of A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers

29475447A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers. ★★★1/2

This turned out to be one of those books that makes me wonder if I’m a shallow reader. How could I not have loved A Closed and Common Orbit? All of my book friends are raving about the humanity and loveliness of it, and I’m sitting here being like, “Yes, but I was bored for half of it.”

A Closed and Common Orbit is a loose sequel to The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet, but can easily be read independently. Lovelace is a spaceship’s artificial intelligence system, but after a complete shut down and reboot, she wakes up in an artificial body with no memory of her prior existence. She now has the task of figuring out who she is and what her purpose is in life, as well as adjusting to pretending to be human. From the beginning, she’s aided by Pepper, an engineer who’s own past as a Jane, a clone built to work in scrap factory, parallel’s Lovelace’s. A Closed and Common Orbit alternates between Lovelace’s (now Sidra’s) start at life and Pepper’s past as Jane.

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