Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Bionic and other speculative fiction titles

29563574Weyn, Suzanne. Bionic.
October 25th 2016 by Scholastic Press
ARC from Young Adult Books Central

High school senior Mira is a fantastic lacrosse player hoping for a scholarship, and is also in a rock band. When she is critically injured in a car accident coming home with the band, she loses a leg and an arm. Fearing that her days of "normality" are behind her, she is okay with experimental technology that is being used to reconstruct her limbs. She even has a copper chip implanted in her brain to help with the integration. Soon, Mira is better than she ever was. She is offered a place on the school swim team, but is soon kicked off because other teams feel threatened by her augmented technology. Her hair and skin start to glow, and she feels great. She's recruited as a spokes model for Snap cosmetics. There is even a nice romance with one of her band mates. She does occasionally have flashbacks to the accident, and requires repeated surgeries to upgrade her arm and leg, but life has never been better. Eventually, though, her bionic parts catch up with her and she must have a downgrade in order not to overwhelm her system.
Strengths: I loved that the bionics were essentially good, even though the levels needed to be tweaked a bit. Maybe I'm old enough to equate science with advances in civilization instead of dystopia, but this was so much more enjoyable than viruses infecting the world or some other scenario where EVERYTHING goes bad. 
Weaknesses: Even though Mira is a high school senior, this is still completely appropriate for middle school. I was on edge for a lot of the book, however, just waiting for something inappropriate. Also, I really wanted Niles to have some bionic parts installed!
What I really think: This is a great sci fi title for readers who don't think they like sci fi. I can see people who liked Uglies really enjoying this. And it involved BIONICS. What's not to like? A great, quick read. 

26848831White, Wade Albert. The Adventurer's Guide to Successful Escapes
Little, Brown (first published September 13th 2016)
Public library copy

Pretty standard Lemony Snicket-esque adventure. Mixes the Victorian orphan in horrible circumstances with medieval-ish quest. Embraces unusual names and general quirkiness. If I had a lot of readers who still liked Snicket, I might buy it. Perhaps is would be more successful in an elementary school. My fantasy/adventure readers want more serious books. 

From Goodreads.com: 
"A thrilling debut novel where fantasy and science fiction meet, dragons aren't as innocent as they look, and nothing is quite what it seems. 

Anne has spent most of her thirteen years dreaming of the day she and her best friend Penelope will finally leave Saint Lupin's Institute for Perpetually Wicked and Hideously Unattractive Children. When the big day arrives, a series of very curious happenings lead to Anne being charged with an epic quest. Anne, Penelope, and new questing partner Hiro have only days to travel to strange new locales, solve myriad riddles, and triumph over monstrous foes--or face the horrible consequences."

28954233Liss, David. Rebels (Randoms #2)
September 20th 2016 by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Public library copy

I knew that Randoms would be a hit with my hard core sci fi/ fantasy readers, and when my library reserve came in yesterday, my helper got really excited because he thought it was for him. Had to disappoint him and rush through it last night so that he could have it before the long weekend. (Conferences tomorrow and Thursday, Friday off!) My fantasy amnesia kicked in, but this had even more shades of The Hitchhiker's Guide and other slightly wacky British fantasy books. I have a copy on order. It won't get checked out a lot, but it will last for a long time. Win.

From Goodreads.com:
"It’s difficult to return to Earth and live a simple, unadventurous life after having seen the wonders of the universe—especially when you find yourself with Smelly, a self-important artificial intelligence living in your head, reminding you how much of a primitive meat bag you are. But with Smelly’s help, Zeke is on his way back to space on a new, super-secret mission. Zeke may earn Earth a second chance at intergalactic membership—and better yet, he’ll be reunited with Tamret, the alien girl of his dreams.

However, things never go as planned for Zeke. Conspiracy abounds as he’s once again blamed for destroying a spaceship, and sent deep into the dangerous Forbidden Zone to find the military tech tree that the enemy Phands are already using. Will his knowledge of pop culture and science fiction that saved him in Randoms help again?

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