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Kindred by Octavia Butler – A powerful historical/sci-fi; absolutely exceptional in every way

kindred

Having just celebrated her 26th birthday in 1976 California, Dana, an African-American woman, is suddenly and inexplicably wrenched through time into antebellum Maryland. After saving a drowning white boy there, she finds herself staring into the barrel of a shotgun and is transported back to the present just in time to save her life. During numerous such time-defying episodes with the same young man, she realizes the challenge she’s been given: to protect this young slaveholder until he can father her own great-grandmother.

Kindred is a truly outstanding book. Not only is it the first science-fiction written by a black author Рmaking it an incredible piece of black American literature Рbut it is an amazing book by its own merits. And there are many.

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27

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adam

hitchhikers

Seconds before the Earth is demolished to make way for a galactic freeway, Arthur Dent is plucked off the planet by his friend Ford Prefect, a researcher for the revised edition of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy who, for the last fifteen years, has been posing as an out-of-work actor.

Together this dynamic pair begin a journey through space aided by quotes from The Hitchhiker’s Guide (“A towel is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have”) and a galaxy-full of fellow travelers: Zaphod Beeblebrox–the two-headed, three-armed ex-hippie and totally out-to-lunch president of the galaxy; Trillian, Zaphod’s girlfriend (formally Tricia McMillan), whom Arthur tried to pick up at a cocktail party once upon a time zone; Marvin, a paranoid, brilliant, and chronically depressed robot; Veet Voojagig, a former graduate student who is obsessed with the disappearance of all the ballpoint pens he bought over the years.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy¬†is a masterpiece – or, at least, I think it is.

For this book, I’m going to do something a little different. For this book, I’m going to set aside the ‘serious’ tone that I adopt for my reviews. This book is widely read and there are many reviews of this book – most more eloquent than I could ever hope to be! – instead of a conventional review, I’m going to¬†lay out¬†three reasons why you should read this science-fiction classic.

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14

Beauty Queens by Libba Bray

beauty-queens

When a plane crash strands thirteen teen beauty contestants on a mysterious island, they struggle to survive, to get along with one another, to combat the island’s other diabolical occupants, and to learn their dance numbers in case they are rescued in time for the competition. Written by Libba Bray, the hilarious, sensational, Printz Award-winning author of A Great and Terrible Beauty and Going Bovine. The result is a novel that will make you laugh, make you think, and make you never see beauty the same way again.

Beauty Queens¬†delighted me in every way possible. Brandishing dark comedy and satire, it elucidates and explores complex themes such as feminism, racism, ethnicity, identity, disabilities, gender, sexuality, prejudice, and social standards. That’s a¬†lot¬†of themes to explore, but Bray has done it fantastically. Paired with its plot – when a plane crashes on a remote island, thirteen beauty pageant contestants are the only survivors –¬†the result is an excellent¬†book that manages to be ridiculous¬†but also incredibly intelligent,¬†honest and genuine.

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28

Hex by Thomas Olde Heuvelt

hex

My sincerest thanks to Hachette New Zealand, for providing me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. 

Whoever is born here, is doomed to stay ’til death. Whoever settles, never leaves.

Welcome to Black Spring, the seemingly picturesque Hudson Valley town haunted by the Black Rock Witch, a 17th century woman whose eyes and mouth are sewn shut. Muzzled, she walks the streets and enters your homes at will. She stands next to your bed for nights on end. Everybody knows that her eyes may never be opened.

The elders of Black Spring have virtually quarantined the town by using high-tech surveillance to prevent their curse from spreading. Frustrated with being kept in lockdown, the town’s teenagers decide to break their strict regulations and go viral with the haunting, but in so doing send the town spiraling into the dark, medieval practices of the past.

Hex creeped me the heck out.

I don’t like anything horror,¬†especially¬†horror movies. I am the sort of person who, while walking in the dead of night to the kitchen, will think of something scary and then scare myself. I am a big, big wuss.¬†Despite – and surprisingly – I enjoyed¬†Hex¬†very much. I was told that¬†Hex¬†‘exposes how psychological fear can make a modern society spiral into dark, medieval practices’. And after much reflection, this is a perfect description of the novel in a sentence.

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18

The Rose Society by Marie Lu

therosesociety

Adelina Amouteru’s heart has suffered at the hands of both family and friends, turning her down the bitter path of revenge. Now known and feared as the White Wolf, she flees Kenettra with her sister to find other Young Elites in the hopes of building her own army of allies. Her goal: to strike down the Inquisition Axis, the white-cloaked soldiers who nearly killed her.

But Adelina is no heroine. Her powers, fed only by fear and hate, have started to grow beyond her control. She does not trust her newfound Elite friends. Teren Santoro, leader of the Inquisition, wants her dead. And her former friends, Raffaele and the Dagger Society, want to stop her thirst for vengeance. Adelina struggles to cling to the good within her. But how can someone be good when her very existence depends on darkness?

Wow, wow, wow.

The Rose Society is deliciously wild, exciting, and a monster of a book. It is not a book that suffers from middle-book syndrome; it is fast-paced with meaningful action, it introduces incredible new characters, and the story grows thicker and darker. The Young Elites was good, but The Rose Society was, without a spot of doubt in my body, better in every way.

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31

Succubus Blues by Richelle Mead

succubus blues

When it comes to jobs in hell, being a succubus seems pretty glamorous. A girl can be anything she wants, the wardrobe is killer, and mortal men will do anything just for a touch. Granted, they often pay with their souls, but why get technical?

But Seattle succubus Georgina Kincaid’s life is far less exotic. At least there’s her day job at a local bookstore–free books; all the white chocolate mochas she can drink; and easy access to bestselling, sexy writer, Seth Mortensen, aka He Whom She Would Give Anything to Touch but Can’t.

But dreaming about Seth will have to wait. Something wicked is at work in Seattle’s demon underground. And for once, all of her hot charms and drop-dead one-liners won’t help because Georgina’s about to discover there are some creatures out there that both heaven and hell want to deny. . .

I first picked up the¬†Georgina Kincaid series when I was young¬†and naive¬†about my sexuality. Because of the former, I picked up this book, read parts of it, and felt too embarrassed to continue. Now that I’m much older and mature and can appreciate its contents, Succubus Blues¬†turned out to be perfect escapist material. Succubus Blues¬†has everything that I love: Read’s writing and characterization, a compelling romance, paranormal and urban fantasy elements, and subtle exploration of ideas of mortality and love.

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19

Forget Tomorrow by Pintip Dunn

forget tomorrow

Imagine a world where your destiny has already been decided…by your future self.

It’s Callie‚Äôs seventeenth birthday and, like everyone else, she’s eagerly awaiting her vision‚Äēa memory sent back in time to sculpt each citizen into the person they’re meant to be. A world-class swimmer. A renowned scientist.

Or in Callie’s case, a criminal.

In her vision, she sees herself murdering her gifted younger sister. Before she can process what it means, Callie is arrested and placed in Limbo‚Äēa prison for those destined to break the law. With the help of her childhood crush, Logan, a boy she hasn‚Äôt spoken to in five years, she escapes the hellish prison.

But on the run from her future, as well as the government, Callie sets in motion a chain of events that she hopes will change her fate. If not, she must figure out how to protect her sister from the biggest threat of all‚ÄĒCallie, herself.

I received a copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This review is based on an uncorrected Netgalley proof. 

With its engaging premise, Forget Tomorrow by Pintip Dunn immediately drew my interest. Though I am not as fluent in the free will versus determinism debate as I would like, the contents of the dialectic fascinate me more than the truth itself. If you share my perspective, then perhaps you will enjoy Forget Tomorrow, which offers some surprising insight into the question as well as a subtle discourse on social constructionism.

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