Friday, December 16, 2011

Review: I am not a Serial Killer by Dan Wells

Author: Dan Wells
Publisher: Tor Books
Release Date: March 2010

I Am Not a Serial Killer tells the story of John Cleaver. John is a teenage sociopath with all the common characteristics of serial killers, who has designed very strict and important rules in his life to make sure that he doesn’t fall into the horrible life of a serial killer. His rules and his life are on the line, however, when an honest to goodness serial killer starts killing people in his hometown

The story is told in first person through John's eyes, and this is where the book really shines. John is creepy. He's so creepy that you have to keep reading, because you don’t know if he’ll actually let loose and do something terrible or not. For those of you that can’t stand to read about people getting killed, or wouldn't be able to stomach the description of an embalming procedure at a funeral parlor, you might want to avoid this one. If that’s not an issue, this is a very exciting and page-turning read that also has a lot of depth and heart. The book is in equal parts comedy, horror and thriller, with John getting more and more obsessed with who the killer is, why he's doing what he's doing, and who the next victim will be.

Dan and Rob Wells (brother authors) must really like big plot twists, because both of their books take a decidedly interesting turn at right around the midpoint, and it makes for some truly great reading.

There's also something of a twisted love story between John and his next door neighbor, and it really gives Wells a chance to showcase what makes John so different from people who aren't sociopaths, and keeps you turning pages, just waiting for something terrible to happen to that poor girl, or to John as he delves deeper into the Clayton County Killer murders.

Score: 8.75/10- A good beginning to a wonderful series. I will eventually post reviews on each of the next two books, but I can tell you right now that this is one of my favorite YA series of all time and is well worth the read for anyone that's at all interested in serial killers, or just YA novels in general.

I loved
  • John. He's incredibly interesting, and shows how an author can really use the first person narrative for his benefit if he's got a great character.
  • John's relationships with others. Every little detail of his life is so much more interesting because of the way his mind works.
  • The big twist. This one really rocked me at the time that I read it. Suddenly, a whole new story!
I hated
  • The length. I wanted more.
  • There were a couple of places where I thought the pacing could have been slightly improved.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Retribution Falls by Chris Wooding

Author: Chris Wooding
Publisher: Gollancz
Date: June 18, 2009 (paperback).

I have a confession to make. I first started reading this book when it came out in paperback a year and a half ago. I'd made it about 35 pages in when something else caught my interest more strongly, and this book fell by the wayside. After recently finishing Retribution Falls, I'm disappointed that I don't even REMEMBER what took me away from this book. I should have had this review up back in 2009, and I'm sorry that many of you have had to wait until now to hear about this great book.

Retribution Falls tells the story of Darian Frey, Captain of the Ketty Jay. She's not much for beauty, but she flies and Frey loves her. The crew...well, they don't quite hold the same place in his heart as the Ketty Jay, but they're all right.

Frey is a small-time smuggler, and occasional pirate (if the job's easy and not too messy, that is). When he gets offered a once in a lifetime opportunity, he's hesitant, but eventually takes the bait. Thus begins the great adventure of our crew, as they're soon on the run from just about everyone in the country, and trying to stay one step ahead of the headsman's axe.

Retribution Falls is a book that I'd immediately put on your to-read list if you're a fan of the "loveable rogue" archetype. I'm talking Locke Lamora, Tom Sawyer, Kvothe (sometimes), Silk, Mal Reynolds, etc. Darian Frey is right up there with them. He's a broken man who sometimes does some pretty low things, but you can't help but love him.

I'd also put this book on your Christmas wish list if you're a fan of adventure books. Peter F. Hamilton's cover blurb says it quite nicely: "Retribution Falls is the kind of old fashioned adventure I didn't think we were allowed to write any more..." I can't agree more. Sometimes I'm in the mood for a book like this, something lighter, but something that still has a deep world beneath it. Sure, the characters all have their problems, but you get a feeling that this is going to be a book where the characters' problems eventually push them closer together and form something special between them, and they do.

Finally, this book needs to go in your to-read pile if you're looking for fantasy with guns. It's nice to see a book where magic co-exists with pistols nicely. It's happening more and more lately, which I think is a good thing.

Speaking of the magic, there's a lot to like here. It's just complex enough to keep you interested, and the magic often has a light-hearted feel to it since it's often involved in some of the more comical aspects of the book. I thoroughly enjoyed the Daemonist Crake and his...well, her name is Bess, and that's the best way to describe her.

Don't get me wrong, even though this book is bursting with adventure and there are some very good laughs to be had, there's plenty of serious talk going on as well. These characters are all flying for a low-life small-time pirate captain for a reason, and by the end of the book you'll know them all. They're not happy stories, but they really give depth to the characters, and make those final scenes of action much more meaningful.

I loved

  • Frey. He's just so darned hard to hate!
  • Guns & Magic. It's nice to see them getting along again.
  • The excellent balance of humor and sadness.
  • The characters. We're working heavily with archetypes in this book, but they all have a vibrant life of their own. Very well done.
I hated

  • Some small parts of the ending. It seemed like things just happened a little too fast in places for my liking.
Retribution Falls gets a 9/10. I'm already sailing my way through The Black Lung Captain, the second volume in the series, and it's just as enjoyable as the first. If you're a fan of capers, adventure, magic with guns, or the loveable rogue, you owe it to yourself to give this one a go.

Friday, December 9, 2011

The Reason I haven't been around much lately

got her home from the hospital today and everything's great so far! I thought you might understand. Sorry for the lack of new reviews ;)

Friday, December 2, 2011

Review: On Stranger Tides by Tim Powers

Author: Tim Powers
Publisher: Harper; Reprint edition (April 26, 2011)

First, let me just say that...I like pirates. There's just something about a swashbuckling adventure that I can't help but love. So, obviously, I had to try very hard to put my nerdy love of pirates aside and make at least a half-hearted attempt to review the book as a book and not as, "Dude, it's got pirates."

On Stranger Tides is a novel by Tim Powers. Qualifications? Yep, he's got 'em. Two World Fantasy Awards, and this novel was optioned for adaptation as the fourth Pirates of the Caribbean movie. After reading this book, I could easily see why.

All the elements of a great pirate movie are there. Humor, action, and a surprising amount of dark magic are contained in this 300 page novel. I felt that the pacing of this novel was excellent and the characters were deep and enjoyable creations. One thing that disappointed me a little bit was the characterization of Beth. To be honest, she felt a little too flat for me, being the only female character with more than 3 lines, but I was willing to forgive her, since for large portions of the novel she didn't really have much of a chance to stand up for herself and really be a strong character.

Also, I have to say that the ending of the book didn't really appeal to my need for completion. I'm the kind of guy that, if I can get it, wants every loose end tied up nicely. However, given the way the novel ended, I can understand that Powers was going by the old adage, "In late, out early." The main conflict was finished, and everything else after that couldn't have possibly been as exciting, so he gave us a little bit of closure and dropped the curtain. I don't really think tying up all the loose ends would have made it a better novel, and it certainly could have made it worse.

Overall, I'd say that if you're a fan of high seas action, dark voodoo style magic, or Monkey Island (yes, the creator of that game sites this as a big influence) you owe it to yourself to give this book a go. For me, this book was an excellent way to discover Tim Powers. Obviously he has other novels that have met with greater critical acclaim, but this was fun, well written and enjoyable. This book definitely convinced me that I've been missing out on a great writer.

Final Score: 8.5/10. An exciting, well paced swashbuckling adventure that's deserving of a movie all its own.

I loved
  • The action and adventure on the high seas. Dude, it's got PIRATES!
  • Powers' ability to suck a reader into the story.
I hated
  • The ending without enough closure for yours truly
  • The fact that I kept seeing stupid Johnny Depp in my head every now and again while reading it.

Review: The Magicians by Lev Grossman

Author: Lev Grossman
Publisher: Viking Adult
Release Date: August 2009

From Amazon:
Quentin Coldwater, a Brooklyn high school student devoted to a children's series set in the Narnia-like world of Fillory, is leading an aimless existence until he's tapped to enter a mysterious portal that leads to Brakebills College, an exclusive academy where he's taught magic. Coldwater, whose special gifts enable him to skip grades, finds his family's world mundane and domestic when he returns home for vacation. He loses his innocence after a prank unintentionally allows a powerful evil force known only as the Beast to enter the college and wreak havoc. Eventually, Coldwater's powers are put to the test when he learns that Fillory is a real place and how he can journey there. Genre fans will easily pick up the many nods to J.K. Rowling and C.S. Lewis, not to mention J.R.R. Tolkien in the climactic battle between the bad guy and a magician.

     The Magicians by Lev Grossman is a great book. If I had to describe it to someone, I would probably tell them to imagine what a book would turn out like if J.K Rowling, C.S. Lewis and Ernest Hemingway all decided to write a fantasy book together.

     As one Amazon reviewer puts it"In 'The Magicians,' Lev Grossman has done something unusual, and remarkable, perhaps even unique: this is a grown-up fantasy. This book is to fantasy what "The Grapes of Wrath" is to travel books, what "The Metamorphosis" is to self-help: so much more depressing and visceral and funny and horrifying, and genuine, and fascinating, and hard to read and therefore valuable..."....Yeah, I guess that's a pretty good way of saying it, too.

     This is one of those novels that a guy like me won't read over and over again, but I'll always remember it. It's got that special something, that something that makes a book stick with a person, makes them think about it at the strangest of times. Understand this, I'm generally a pretty happy-go-lucky fellow. I enjoy a fantasy with a happy ending, I enjoy the confrontation of good and evil. The fantasy written by Brandon Sanderson, Patrick Rothfuss, or even Scott Lynch, is much more up my alley than things like Abercrombie, Baker or Lev Grossman. But, there is no doubt in my mind that Lev Grossman is an incredibly talented writer, and that The Magicians is a great novel. 

     I feel a lot like Patrick Rothfuss who couldn't quite put a finger on what he liked about the book. I think it was very well written, and written in more of a literary style than typical fantasy. The pacing was excellent, plenty of action at the right times to keep you turning the pages. The last half of the novel was miserably depressing to me. It reminded me a lot of The Sun Also Rises by Hemingway, characters that seemed so full of potential, but the timing was off for a love story and everyone was far too busy being an alcoholic to really do something with their lives. In this way, it made me think of Bakker and Abercrombie, writers whose characters are much more gray, and where terrible things can happen to any character, at any point. 

     In conclusion, if you're a smarty pants, a person who loves the classics, or just a fan of gritty "Hemingway Fantasy" (I think Dark Fantasy and Gritty Fantasy just sound stupid, and I haven't heard anyone come up with a better term to describe this type of writing) I think you'll really like The Magicians. This book definitely isn't for everyone, and I'm only about 60% sure it was for me, but I still give this book a 9/10, and highly recommend it.

I loved

  • The writing. It was beautiful, and sometimes simplistic, which only made it more beautiful
  • The fear of the future. This is a book where things can go terribly terribly wrong at any moment. You NEVER have the feeling that a character isn't in jeopardy, or that there's some God or magical thingamajig waiting behind a curtain to save them at the time they need it most.
 I hated
  • The depression. Ugh, this book was sometimes depressing to read. I haven't touched the sequel yet, because it's winter time and I'm already a little bummed out. Don't need that crap in my life just yet. I'll review book two next summer :)

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Review: The Alcatraz Series by Brandon Sanderon

Author: Brandon Sanderson
Publisher: Scholastic
First Book Published: October 2007

Many people know Brandon Sanderson as the author that's finishing Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series. Others know him as the author of the Mistborn books, or Elantris, or Warbreaker. But my favorite way to think of him is as the goofball that writes the Alcatraz series.

The Alcatraz books are written for a younger audience, and it shows. Sanderson is downright goofy at times, while still managing to get a solid story out. Older readers will notice a lot of jokes that will most likely fly right over the heads of the younger readers, so there's fun to be had for all ages.

Alcatraz is a young boy who breaks things. Radios. Televisions. Chickens. He can’t seem to touch anything without it breaking. He’s an orphan, who upon his 13th birthday receives his inheritance in the mail from his father…a bag of sand. Oh, and did I mention that there are evil librarians seeking to conquer the world and spread their lies about its history?

There are four books out at this point, and the author is hoping that he'll get around to a fifth one at some point. The first book is titled Alcatraz Vs. The Evil Librarians, just so you can get started.

What I loved

  • The Smedry Talents. Each person in that family has a very peculiar Super Power, and Sanderson really plays with these and makes them into something great throughout the story.
  • The humor: It's over the top, it's downright cringe-inducing for adults in parts, but it's there in spades, and it's plain old fun.
  • It's nice to get a glimpse inside the mind of one of the top fantasy writers of this decade, and see that there's some pretty goofy stuff in that noggin of his.
What I hated

  • A lot of the humor in the books isn't for the children that will be reading them. Some people might hate that, some might not. The kids won't likely notice either way.
The Alcatraz series gets 8.75/ 10, and would be an excellent addition to any twelve or thirteen year old's book collection.

I'll be AtHomeCon'ing this weekend. What will you be doing?

Make sure to head over to to get your AtHomeCon on!

What's AtHomeCon, you ask? Well, I think it's explained quite well here. In short, lots of cool posts from bloggers, authors, etc. There will be readings, flying ferrets, an Abraham Lincoln impersonator, and at least one free 55" TV give-away. Okay, some of those things might not actually happen, but it will still be a great place to check in over the weekend for some very informative and fun articles from bloggers and authors. Have fun, and I'll see you there!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Review: Hard Magic: Book I of the Grimnoir Chronicles

Author: Larry Correia
Publisher: Baen
Date: May 3, 2011
Genre: Um....Alternate History Noir Fantasy? Yeah, that'll probably do.

Author's Bio (from Larry Correia is hopelessly addicted to two things, guns and B-horror movies. He lists his occupations: gun dealer, firearms instructor, accountant, and writer, and was until recently part-owner of a company specializing in firearms and movie props. He shoots competitively and is a certified concealed weapons instructor. Larry resides in Utah with his very patient wife and family.

Visit him on the Facebook Group, Monster Hunter International, Hunters Unite! or his blog,

My Awful Review: Larry Correia has no shame at all about writing exciting, pulpy novels full of action and lots and lots of things that go boom. What's more impressive is that over the last two or three years, he's turned those novels into something that has characters you can care about and root for, villains that you hate, but understand, and plots that are well-paced and worth the read. He may claim that he loves writing pulp, but he's not writing anything close to that anymore.

When I first met Larry, he was signing books at my local Borders Books in Logan UT. I'd gone to talk to a buddy of mine, author John Brown. Larry was at the same table, and he very quickly sold me (he could sell a ketchup popsicle to a woman in a wedding gown). I bought it, got it signed and took it home.

That book was Monster Hunter International, a book that Correia had originally self-published, and which sold over three thousand copies. This got him the attention of the good folks at Baen Books, who republished it, and are currently in the process of buying everything that he's every scribbled on a truckstop napkin. That book had its flaws (I would have given my left arm for a contraction, just one in the entire book!), but it was clear that this man knew how to make you turn pages.

Now Larry's doing the same thing, but this new series takes place not too long after World War I, in an alternate history where some human beings have developed X-men style powers, and it's completely changed the world.

I'll go on record saying that this book is probably three or four times better than Monster Hunter International. The characters are a little less wooden, the writing has vastly improved, and I think we're really starting to get a glimpse at the Golden Age of Correia, where he's going to be doing some wonderful work for a number of years to come. It's worth noting here that I DID enjoy Monster Hunter International quite a bit, but that it's my least favorite book he's written. It's a worthy series, though, and I thoroughly enjoyed the two sequels so far. Definitely worth a read.

The story of Hard Magic revolves around Jake Sullivan, an ex-con who has the ability to change a number of things that relate to gravity. Jake's often called a Heavy, the nickname for his particular type of power. There are a lot of different powers, and it's incredibly enjoyable to see how the world has changed as a result of them. Jake is about to run into a society of people that defend the world against the forces of evil (yes, this sounds corny on paper, but it's just plain awesome in the book), and it's all going to end in a giant fight over a huge weapon on a massive dirigible thousands of feet in the air. Relax, I didn't give anything away, I just want to give you a sense of how quickly this book escalates from ex-con who falls in with some cool people to epic battle for the future of mankind.

There are other points of view in the story, most notably Faye, a young girl who has been through some really rough times in her past, and can teleport. I honestly don't want to go into too much more detail than this, since I don't want to spoil it for you.

I love fantasy books, in all shapes and sizes, but the idea of mankind suddenly coming to the realization that a number of them have "superpowers" will always hold a special place in my heart. Combine this with Correia's transition from B-movie horror style writing into polished and experienced author who can weave multiple storylines together and leave you dying for more, and I was immediately sold. I think you will be, too.

What I loved

  • The different talents that the people have were just great. He's clearly gone to some lengths to think about how certain powers would impact our world
  • The noir, detective feel of the story. The early 1900s is a wonderful place to put something like this. Technology is just starting to take off, and with the right superpowers, some real advances could be made that moves the world forward dozens of years in a single leap.
  • The character of Faye harkens back to the old naive apprentice learning the ropes and coming to grips with the loss of her Obi-wan. Yet it doesn't come off cliche.
What I hated

  • Correia was still pandering to fans of his Monster Hunter series in this book, and there's some overly-descriptive writing about guns ever now and again that kind of drew me out of the story. I have privately coined the term "gunsterbation" when referring to this sort of thing, and when I do my retro reviews of his older stuff, you'll see this a lot more. It's worth it to note that in the second book of the series (I bought the e-ARC from Baen's website a while back) this has decreased to almost nothing, which must have taken quite a bit of effort coming from a gun nut like Correia.
Hard Magic gets 8.75/10, and is my absolute go-to recommendation for people that want something that takes place in this world (along with the Dresden Files), or for people who want something similar to X-men-style powers.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Review: The Dragon's Path by Daniel Abraham

Author: Daniel Abraham (also writes under MLN Hanover and James S.A. Corey)
Publisher: Orbit
Release Date: April 7, 2011

The Dragon's Path is the first novel of Daniel Abraham's new series, The Dagger and Coin. If you've read Abraham before, then you'll know that his novels are always slanted slightly different than a lot of the other fantasy out there. While a great deal of fantasy spends its time with the magic system or war or wizards, Abraham seems to find a way to portray those same things with a different slant. For instance, in his novel A Shadow in Summer we saw magic, but it was interesting because it had a very economic slant to it, which not a lot of other authors have done before. In the case of The Dragon's Path we get to learn about medieval banking systems, something that Abraham has reportedly been very interested in over the years.

From Amazon: "All paths lead to war...

Marcus' hero days are behind him. He knows too well that even the smallest war still means somebody's death. When his men are impressed into a doomed army, staying out of a battle he wants no part of requires some unorthodox steps.

Cithrin is an orphan, ward of a banking house. Her job is to smuggle a nation's wealth across a war zone, hiding the gold from both sides. She knows the secret life of commerce like a second language, but the strategies of trade will not defend her from swords.

Geder, sole scion of a noble house, has more interest in philosophy than in swordplay. A poor excuse for a soldier, he is a pawn in these games. No one can predict what he will become.

Falling pebbles can start a landslide. A spat between the Free Cities and the Severed Throne is spiraling out of control. A new player rises from the depths of history, fanning the flames that will sweep the entire region onto The Dragon's Path-the path to war.

This first book primarily deals with four main points of view, which are entwined in a couple different main storylines.

Cithrin is a seventeen year old girl whose entire life has been spent as a ward of the Medean Bank. When things spiral out of control in her city, the head of the bank sends her out alone on a dangerous mission.

Marcus Wester is a war-hero who spends his days guarding caravans. When the majority of his mercenary group get arrested, Marcus is forced to find someone, anyone, to fill their next caravan guarding contract, or be forced to enlist for the latest war that's going on.

Geder is a young man, son of a small-time nobleman, who would much rather read and ponder history than make it. Through a series of events, his life will be forever changed by what he's learned through the old books he loves so dearly.

Dawson and King Simeon were as close as brothers growing up, but as the King ages, he is not as bold or as brave as Dawson wishes he were. There is treason afoot, and Dawson will go to great lengths to see his old friend safe through it.

I found myself really enjoying The Dragon's Path . Nothing immediately stood out to me. The prose was solid, the story was well-paced, the action was swift and just descriptive enough, and the characters are all progressing along nicely. I honestly couldn't find anything that I thought Abraham did poorly in this book. I think maybe there were some parts that dragged just a little bit (I found myself taking much longer to read this book than I would normally take on something with this many pages), but it wasn't so poor that I felt like there needed to be any major overhaul.

Overall, I would give this book 8.5/10. The Dragon's Path is well worth reading if you're a fan of George R.R. Martin, Robert Jordan or (to a lesser extent) Patrick Rothfuss. It's a very solid start to what can only get better. Don't fear to read this one, wondering if there will ever be another book. Abraham's quite an accomplished writer (he has two other pen names, one for Urban Fantasy and one for Science Fiction) and gets plenty of work done. We'll probably have another book by this time next year, if not sooner. On a side note, has anyone else noticed that Orbit really seems to be getting a lot of good authors? Abraham, now Tregillis, it's got to be a good time to be working at Orbit.

What I loved

  • Cithrin - You can't help but root for this girl. She's a little dim at the beginning, but she really shines when she's plotting and scheming.
  • Banking as a major focus. It's nice to not have a book be all about a magician, or a king. Sometimes we just need to focus on someone that's not a typical fantasy hero.
  • The characters - There are some archetypes here, but they're very well done, and at least one character seems to be becoming someone very different than he was at the beginning of the novel.
What I hated

  • Nothing, really. I think maybe a tiny bit more action wouldn't have hurt this novel, and moved some things along more quickly.
  • Not a fan of Dawson as a character, but that doesn't mean he's not well written, just that he annoys me.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Uh oh. Someone's got some 'splainin' to do!

I was looking at the Publisher's Weekly list of books that Robison Wells' Variant is a part of, and I noticed this little gem just a few books down from it.

Yeah, looks like someone's art department wasn't feeling particularly creative that day. It's not as terrible a copy as some of the others out there. The trees are green and Wynne-Jones' name is in red. Still, Blink and Caution by Tim Wynne-Jones is pretty much a bullet-hole-filled Variant. But, after more careful examination, it seems that Blink and Caution came out first, by about seven months. I'm not surprised, since YA novels often try VERY hard to imitate other covers for whatever reason, but I just had to point it out because it made me chuckle.

Variant by Robison Wells

Author - Robison Wells
Publisher - HarperTeen, October 2011

Variant is a part of the many many many YA dystopian books that have been coming out lately. But don't cast this one aside simply because it's part of the ever-rising number of YA dystopian books coming out. This book is a very strong entry, especially for a debut author, and there' s plenty to love.


    Benson Fisher thought that a scholarship to Maxfield Academy would be the ticket out of his dead-end life.

    He was wrong.

    Now he’s trapped in a school that’s surrounded by a razor-wire fence. A school where video cameras monitor his every move. Where there are no adults. Where the kids have split into groups in order to survive.

    Where breaking the rules equals death.
But when Benson stumbles upon the school’s real secret, he realizes that playing by the rules could spell a fate worse than death, and that escape—his only real hope for survival—may be impossible.

    This book first caught my eye when I listened to Rob Wells' podcast The Appendix. I think it was right around the same time that I found myself listening to him on several panels at Life the Universe and Everything (a writer's convention in Utah). Anyway, tangent over.

    The book centers around Benson Fisher being trapped in a school where there are very few rules, plenty of punishments, and the students must band together to survive. And, of course, there's no way out. It immediately reminded me of the famous Stanford Experiment where several students were made into guards and other students into prisoners, and then all hell broke loose. The book puts you in the trenches with Benson, as he joins a group of the students, but refuses to drink the Kook-Aid and accept that he's trapped here forever.

    As far as the writing itself goes, Wells' prose is plain but effective, and the story moves at a very fast pace. I read this book in one day, basically in one evening sitting (I have a two year old, so NOTHING is ever in one sitting). It was very easy for me to get into the story and I couldn't put the book down,  something that has been happening for me less and less over the years. Fans of some of the other BIG dystopian novels in the YA genre (Hunger Games, Incarceron, Uglies, etc.) will be right at home with this book, but I think it's got more potential than almost all of the others. So does Publisher's Weekly, which voted it one of the top books of 2011.

    I think the thing that I enjoyed about the book was how quickly it went from typical dystopian YA book to a break-neck thriller. The novel also has some great twists, which completely change the entire book for the main character as well as the reader. The only thing I can say that I didn't enjoy was the cliffhanger ending. Be prepared for the mother of all cliffhangers on this one. I honestly didn't realize that this was a series until I was probably 90% of the way through the book and realized there was no way he could wrap up what was going on in a single book.

    I loved:

  • The pace. Things just move faster and faster
  • The characters. Well done, and their motivations seemed real
  • The twists. This book really sends you for a loop.
  • The love story. I always enjoy books where the love story takes on a different feeling due to the environment. Not quite a classic romance here.
    I hated:

  • The cliffhanger ending. The book was over so abruptly that it felt like the author just said, "Oh, this seems like a decent place to stop for now."
Variant gets 8/10. A very solid debut from an author that I hope to be hearing from again soon. The cliffhanger ending was bad for me, but others might not mind it. Especially once the series is complete and people can go straight through.