Zeroes by Scott Westerfeld/Margo Lanagan/Deborah Biancotti (Book Review)

zeroesDon’t call them heroes. But these six Californian teens have powers that set them apart
Ethan aka Scam has a voice inside him that’ll say whatever people want to hear, whether it’s true or not. Which is handy, except when it isn’t – like when the voice starts gabbing in the middle of a bank robbery. The only people who can help are the other Zeroes, who aren’t exactly best friends these days.
Enter Nate, aka Bellwether, the group’s ‘glorious leader.’ After Scam’s SOS, he pulls the scattered Zeroes back together. But when the rescue blows up in their faces, the Zeroes find themselves propelled into whirlwind encounters with ever more dangerous criminals. At the heart of the chaos they find Kelsie, who can take a crowd in the palm of her hand and tame it or let it loose as she pleases.
Filled with high-stakes action and drama, Zeroes unites three powerhouse authors for the opening installment of a thrilling new series.

Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Page Count: 546 pages

I went into this book, knowing barely anything about the plot. Apparently there were some teens with crappy superpowers, but that was about everything I had heard. It’s weird, but sometimes I just love going into a story blind (like with Star Wars Episode VII – am I glad I knew nothing beforehand), because in the end you just get surprised so much more.

So, I had no idea this was the first installment of a sort of urban superhero YA series or that there were a total of 6 POVs! By now, I am no stranger to multiple POVs, I’ve read Seven Ways We Lie this very month after all, but I am still not a huge fan of them. It is so tricky to balance them all, but Zeroes did a pretty good job on it. The book has a decent length, so you do get to hear everyone’s side of the story. The chapters were all fairly short and the POV changed so many times and I think what bothered me a little bit, was that not every character got the same amount of page-time (my version of bookish screen-time) as others. I can’t help but still wonder if it was truly necessary to give them each their own voice. I guess the answer to that is yes, even if I don’t really want to admit it, because otherwise we wouldn’t have been able to discover their powers firsthand!

The superpowers are some of the most original and coolest that I have ever seen! They were really well thought through and consistent in logic during the entire story, but since this is the first part of the series, there is still so much more to explore. However, the powers are way more personal than in some other stories, corresponding with the characters and their surrounding itself instead of being some sort of mystical thing. I thought about breaking the powers down into characters, but I am not sure I could properly explain them anyway. So, instead of trying to tell you what they can do, I will tell you what I liked or disliked about them!

  • Ethan/Scam: Everything comes into motion because of him and he is a bit of a tricky character. While he is whiny and always nervous, I think people don’t give him enough credit. Everyone criticizes that he can’t control himself, but the others can’t do it either, so I think that’s a little unfair of them.
  • Kelsie/Mob: Kelsie is the kind of girl that can really get a party started (in more than one sense in this story). She’s quirky and fun and really likable.
  • Nate/Bellwether: I am sorry, but I think I liked him the least. As leader of the group he was just really sketchy and sleek. I get why they all followed him, but I sometimes seriously doubted that his interest in the group.
  • Chizara/Crash: Like with Nate, I had some issues with her. While her moral compass is definitely pointing in the right direction, I thought she was just so self-righteous and a bit of a hypocrite. I have trouble liking those kind of people, but she does have a cool power.
  • Riley/Flicker: She is the sweet, blind girl that gets underestimated by the world. I loved her connection with her twin sister, but I did have a little trouble understanding her love life, since I interpreted some stuff different than I should have in the beginning. I usually never get romantic chemistry wrong, so this threw me off a little.
  • Thibault/Anonymous: DEFINITELY MY FAVOURITE OF THE BUNCH! He was the most developed in my opinion, while also being the one I wanted to know more about still. He is a good example for a character who didn’t get enough page-time, because his backstory was just so devastating, I would have loved to hear more of his thoughts.

In the end there wasn’t that much development, but a lot still happened. You can’t imagine what all can happen in a week! Even though I didn’t explain all too much, I hope my opinion still came across. I just want to say that I had a really good time reading this, but I think there is room for improvement in the next installments. Also, as cool as the powers were, I wouldn’t want to have a single one of them …

Fazit: 3.8/5 stars! A fun and really adventurous read as well as a great start to a series!

4stars

I am still totally slaying my TBR this month, even though I think I might make a couple of changes to it. Have you read Zeroes? What is your stand on it?

Reborn City by Rami Ungar (Book Review)

reborncityZahara Bakur is a Muslim teenager recently moved into the gambling town of Reborn City. After her parents are killed by gang violence, Zahara is forced to join the Hydras, an interracial gang whose leaders have supernatural abilities. As the violence in Reborn City escalates and Zahara becomes closer to the Hydras, including the quiet but stern Rip, she finds herself drawn into a dark conspiracy involving the origins of the leaders and the shadowy corporation that rules over Reborn City.

So, I should probably start at the beginning. Rami Ungar is a friend and fellow blogger, who I met through our shared love for Doctor Who! He is a self-published author and more than once the topic of me checking out his work has come up. I always felt like he was more at home in the horror genre, which everyone knows isn’t my thing at all, but he suggested I check out Reborn City, since it should be more up my alley. Now here we are! Reviewing the work of friends is never easy for me, but I am going to try my best to put my thoughts in coherent sentences!

What I Liked

  • Reborn City puts an emphasis on people being prejudiced towards certain races or religions. It is really blunt at talking about all kinds of racism, while offering the reader a diverse cast of characters and I can definitely appreciate that! Also, it’s a topic that seems very current to me. With the refugee crisis still going on, it’s in fact a global topic, seen as people freak out and get ridiculously paranoid and xenophobic lately.
  • The backstory of the characters was really intriguing and very satisfying once you found out how everything ties together! I think without the Epilogue, there would have been a couple of unanswered questions, but all in all Reborn City could be a standalone. However, now it is open to a sequel and does kind of make you wonder what the gang will be up to next.
  • Even though I have to admit that it took me a while, I really liked the characters in the end. I think the backflashes helped most with that because often you only got glimpses of emotions which made it difficult to bond for me.
  • I loved all the superpowers!! Some of them I recognised from other superheroes and others were completely unique. It was great to find out about them and to see how differently they could be used.

What I Didn’t Like

  • I don’t know if that was because I am not a native English speaker or not, but I did not handle the gangster lingo well. I would have much rather preferred “normal” English with a couple of slang words thrown in, than them having sort of their own language – even if it does completely make sense in that particular setting!
  • It bothered me a little how naive Zahara was about joining a gang and then how lenient they were with her. Also, I would have really liked to know more about her first two weeks with Hydra since she really seemed to take to some of the members, but I couldn’t quite get where that connection was coming from. As I’ve mentioned above, bonding was sometimes a little difficult for me, but I think it would have been easier if I had read about some actual bonding (this excludes Ilse and Zahara – I get their friendship!).
  • I am not a big fan of violence. I get why it was there and why it was necessary, but it already started out really intense and I think that those sort of stories just aren’t the most enjoyable for me to read.

Lastly, I am sorry but I have to mention one more thing. I am a cover snob! I will admit to that freely and while I can guarantee you that Rami has many talents, I think the cover needs a lot of work. But since I don’t want to be a hypocrite, here’s my suggestion for how it might look better (please take into account that I am no tech-wiz either and that I am well aware that it could need some cleaning up):

RebornCity1

Fazit: 3/5 stars! Reborn City wasn’t a bad story at all and quite the page turner in the end, but I think that other people can appreciate it more than I did!

Do you think you would enjoy Reborn City? What’s your take on my cover suggestion? Share your thoughts below!

Shatter Me Series

The Shatter Me Series by Tahereh Mafi consists of three main books called Shatter Me, Unravel Me and Ignite Me, but also two companion novellas which are called Destroy Me (the POV of Warner at the end of book one) and Fracture Me (the POV of Adam at the end of book two). The novellas can be bought in one book called Unite Me. Did I confuse you enough with that? Good! Then we’ll go on with the plot of the books.

The series is about a girl called Juliette, who can’t be touched by anyone, because her touch inflicts an indescribable amount of pain and can be lethal. Of course, this means Juliette has lived her entire life in isolation, too afraid of hurting the people around her. Shunned by society, you’d think that Juliette turned out to be bitter and angry person, but she’s not. In fact, she never once fought back! And that’s what the book is about! Sure, it does involve a heck of a lot of romance and superpowers and stuff, but it is mainly about the transformation of Juliette from a whiny and crying girl to a confident woman.

This book series was nothing like I expected! It took me a little until I got into the story, but then I couldn’t stop reading. The style of writing is unusual and oh, all the things left unsaid. Things, that Juliette doesn’t even allow herself to think. The writing also changes as she gets more confident – it was beautiful!  I laughed and I was surprised, it really gripped me!

Everything that happened; I’m sometimes still so overwhelmed! After the first book, sort of everything started to collapse and I did not see it coming how much the characters would change throughout the series.  At some point, though, I really felt like I was reading this sort of dystopian version of X-Men. Juliette somewhat reminded me of Rogue and there are also people who can turn invisible and who can control things with their mind – I get that those are like standard superpowers, but still, something really reminded me of the mutants and their restistance.

In the end, I would say that Unravel Me and Ignite Me were better than Shatter Me, but of course, that’s just my opinion. I also enjoyed reading the companion novellas, although I felt as if Fracture Me revealed much more about Adam than Destroy Me did about Warner. I can already see people building teams, which I find very unnecessary for this book, but who cares. I like all the guys, but especially Warner and Kenji, because Adam seriously started to piss me off in the end.

I would have liked to read a little epilogue about what happened to the earth after the finale, but you can’t have everything. I am excited to hear that 20th Century Fox bought the film rights, before the book was even released. Let’s hope they don’t drop that one, like they did with Legend.  Did you read the series? What did you think about it? If you haven’t read it, do you think you might check it out?

UPDATE 6/19/2015

So, Tahereh Mafi just announced that after the movie didn’t happen, ABC Signature Studios now optioned the TV rights for the series. I actually think that a Shatter Me would work better on TV so I am massively excited about it! You can watch the full announcement and her fellow writer and husband Ransom Riggs talk about his book (Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children) getting adapted by watching polandbananaBOOKS (aka Christine Riccio) video here.

The Final Season of Misfits

Misfits is by far one of my favourite British TV shows. It started airing on the network Channel 4 in 2009 and has just started it’s fifth and final season. While I do love the show, I feel like it has reached a point where it’s supposed to end.

The premise is easy. A bunch of young offenders get hit by lightning during a freak-electrical storm and get the weirdest kinds of superpowers from that. Ironic as it is, these not exactly model-citizens get thrown into situations where they have to be the heroes (not without killing a probabtion worker every now and then though). It is partially vulgar, very witty and shows a great example of British humour, but somehow it is just not as good as it was before.

For anyone who hasn’t seen the show and doesn’t want to be spoilered: You should stop reading now! I don’t want to be responsible for ruining the experience for anyone!

While the show is still not bad, I think it sort of went downhill when one of the earlier cast-members, Robert Sheehan, left after the second season and got “replaced” by Joseph Gilgun as the funny one of the bunch. After that more and more cast-members left, so that by the end of the third season only two regulars were still in it. Since season four only featured Nathan Stewart-Jarrett for half the season, because Lauren Socha got kicked out (apparently not because of her recent conviction, but I do think that that was part of the decision to not let her return). After that Joseph Gilgun became the new veteran of the show and had to deal with four new mates. In my opinion, it is alright to change actors every now and then, but changing almost the entire cast in such little time is too much. The storylines got weirder too, and while I do think that Alisha’s and Simon’s endless love-loop is very romantic, I also think that it was the same season (series 3) that lacked creative story-telling. So, as you can see there are plenty of reasons why the show should end.

I did get used to Joseph Gilgun by now and I really like him as Rudy, but I still need time for the other newbys. I guess I just really miss Iwan Rheon (who’s now in Vicious and Game of Thrones) and Robert Sheehan (who’s latest appearance was in City of Bones) and Lauren’s accent, but I can’t change anything about them not being in the show anymore.

The main actors and actresses over the seasons include: Robert Sheehan, Lauren Socha, Iwan Rheon, Antonia Thomas, Nathan Stewart-Jarrett, Joseph Gilgun, Carla Crome, Nathan McMullen, Matt Stokoe, Natasha O’Keeffe, … Furthermore, the show was created by Howard Overman, who also co-wrote the script with Jon Brown.

What do you think about the show? Could it go on forever or is it time to go for our superheroes?