Tag Archives: 5*

Review of All Systems Red (The Murderbot Diaries #1), by Martha Wells

I borrowed Martha WellsAll Systems Red from my local library.

Description from Goodreads:
In a corporate-dominated spacefaring future, planetary missions must be approved and supplied by the Company. Exploratory teams are accompanied by Company-supplied security androids, for their own safety.

But in a society where contracts are awarded to the lowest bidder, safety isn’t a primary concern.

On a distant planet, a team of scientists are conducting surface tests, shadowed by their Company-supplied ‘droid — a self-aware SecUnit that has hacked its own governor module, and refers to itself (though never out loud) as “Murderbot.” Scornful of humans, all it really wants is to be left alone long enough to figure out who it is.

But when a neighboring mission goes dark, it’s up to the scientists and their Murderbot to get to the truth.

Really quite marvelous. I love that you could feel how uncomfortable SecUnit was with people, how it was completely badass but also fragile. The book was fairly spare on the world building, but there was just enough to position the story. And I 100% approve of SecUnit’s decision at the end. I can’t wait to read more of this series. Tor continues to wow me with each new book I read and Martha Wells is on my radar.

Review of Dalí, by E.M. Hamill

I purchased a copy of E. M. Hamill‘s Dali. I believe I got it straight from the publisher, Nine Star Press.

Description from Goodreads:
Dalí Tamareia has everything—a young family and a promising career as an Ambassador in the Sol Fed Diplomatic Corps. Dalí’s path as a peacemaker seems clear, but when their loved ones are killed in a terrorist attack, grief sends the genderfluid changeling into a spiral of self-destruction.

Fragile Sol Fed balances on the brink of war with a plundering alien race. Their skills with galactic relations are desperately needed to broker a protective alliance, but in mourning, Dalí no longer cares, seeking oblivion at the bottom of a bottle, in the arms of a faceless lover, or at the end of a knife.

The New Puritan Movement is rising to power within the government, preaching strict genetic counseling and galactic isolation to ensure survival of the endangered human race. Third gender citizens like Dalí don’t fit the mold of this perfect plan, and the NPM will stop at nothing to make their vision become reality. When Dalí stumbles into a plot threatening changelings like them, a shadow organization called the Penumbra recruits them for a rescue mission full of danger, sex, and intrigue, giving Dalí purpose again.

Risky liaisons with a sexy, charismatic pirate lord could be Dalí’s undoing—and the only way to prevent another deadly act of domestic terrorism.

I gotta admit, it took a while for me to get into this. The beginning felt a little like I’d been dropped into the middle of something. (I actually double checked this wasn’t a sequel to anything.) But once it got rolling, I really enjoyed it. I liked Dali. I liked the side characters. I liked Rhix. I liked the plot. I just basically enjoyed it.

Other than feeling lost in the beginning, my only complaints are that there were a number of convenient coincidences and I really wanted more resolution on the Dali/Rhix front. Those seeking romance might finish this disappointed. I however, am hoping there might be a second book coming at some point.

Review of The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas

I won a copy of Angie ThomasThe Hate U Give through Audiobook Access.

Description from Goodreads:
Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.

Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.

But what Starr does or does not say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.

OMG, so good. This book destroyed me, but I loved it. Outside of just being a great book, it was also meaningful for me personally. I had several startling experiences while reading it. The first being that I live in Saint Louis, MO, home of Michael Brown and Lamar Smith and the protests around their deaths and the acquittals of the officers who killed them. The events of this book could easily have happened here.

I wanted to read this book from the moment I saw it, but put it off (even after I won an audio version of it) because I didn’t know if I could handle it while my city and on occasion I am currently protesting yet another failure of the justice system. I don’t make it to as many actions as I’d like, but the book still seemed like it could be too close, too real.

Even once I started it, I listened to the first chapter and it took me a full week to come back and face chapter two, where I knew Khalil would die. Then, once I did, I listened in the car. Not three minutes after I managed avoid bawling my eyes out at the scene where a traffic stop about a tail light (if it was even out) turned deadly. I was sitting at a stoplight and a police officer pulled up beside me and motioned for me to roll my window down. I did. He asked, “Did you know only your top break light is working?” “No,” I said, “I’ll have that looked at. Thanks.” He nodded and drove away. The timing shook me, life mimicking art but with one GIANT difference that was impossible to miss. This book is fiction, but there are so many Khalils and I—a white women in a Subaru—didn’t even merit an officer getting out of his car! He was terse, but otherwise polite.

But those things are about me and my circumstances with the book, not the book. The book is amazing, ya’ll. It takes a community that is too often dehumanized and reduced to “thug” or “gang banger” and makes them real people.

This book is the direct opposite of another I read recently in which the author kept having generic “gang bangers” threaten the heroine. The gang bangers did this. The gang bangers did that. There was nothing human about them, “gang banger” could have been substituted with “the monsters” or “the evil entities.” This, I think, is too often the case. But even people in gangs or that sell drugs are people with families, histories, hopes and desires. They are real people and this book makes you see this in a way I think too many people sadly need to be reminded of. I honestly think this should be required high school reading!

It’s also just marvelously written and has a surprising amount of humor for such a serious topic. It is one of the best books I’ve read this year and certainly the best audio I’ve listened to. Bahni Turpin did an amazing job with the narration. Everyone go read/listen to this and Hollywood better not mess up the movie!

On a side note: Angie Thomas is gonna be speaking in my town next month!