Thoughts on DOWN WORLD

Howdy, howdy! How’s everyone doing? Dad got his first shot of the Pfizer vaccine yesterday. I’m going to get mine today (wish me luck). If you’re trying to schedule one via the CVS website, all I can tell you is to ignore their lists of availabilities and actually go through the process of trying to schedule an appointment, then try at least three or four nearby zip codes/cities (for some reason our closest pharmacy only showed up when I searched for Forney, a neighboring city, instead of our own zip code and the pharmacy I’m scheduled at only showed up under our zip when it’s apparently in Sunnyvale). Do this multiple times a day. And be prepared to be told that you can’t make the first appointment without making the second one too, which is sometimes available and sometimes not. It’s a ridiculous process. Good luck.

Anyway, I’m way off topic. It’s the last Wednesday of the month, so it’s review time! I honestly only requested this month’s book because the cover was kind of thriller-esque. It turned out to be more soft sci-fi, which was a nice change. Down World by Rebecca Phelps was released yesterday (March 30th) from Wattpad Books. As usual, I must thank them and NetGalley for access to an ARC in exchange for an honest and unbiased review. So, let’s get to it.

Nice cover.

Down World follows Marina as she enters a new school and struggles to leave her past and the death of her brother behind her. When she realizes her new crush, Brady, and her brother’s old friend, Kieren, are hiding something, she finds herself in the middle of a weird new reality: doorways to different planes of existence, the potential of her brother actually being alive, and somehow it all connects back to her mother. As Marina delves deeper into these secrets, she has to face the past and make some difficult decisions that might completely change her present.

I called this soft sci-fi because even though the science is discussed, it feels shaky at best. The characters are unsure of what’s going on and just guessing themselves, so the science feels like guesswork to the reader. I’m okay with that. I don’t mind letting the fiction drive the story. But I do know people who prefer hard sci-fi where the science drives everything and is possible. I don’t think this book is for them. But for my fiction-with-a-dab-of-science folks, this book had some definite Coraline (but for an older audience) vibes to it that were fun.

Yes, let’s go through the weird door.

The plot was okay. It had some nice twists and turns along the way. It wasn’t exactly surprising, but it wasn’t super predictable either. I figured out a lot early on, but there were a couple of things I didn’t catch until closer to their reveals. It was enough to keep the story interesting for me. At least moreso than the characters. They were all pretty flat and could’ve used some fleshing out. I just never really felt they were people as much as stereotypes. So yeah, the plot carries this story more than the characters.

My biggest issue with this book was the pacing. The first third was beyond slow despite the lack of description (the whole book could’ve used more descriptions to help us picture the places and people). The second third felt really rushed, though I admit the description was better. Things didn’t seem to find a good rhythm until the last third. That’s always kind of annoying to me even though I know I’ve been guilty of it too.

Are we going fast or slow or what?

The writing itself was fine. It wasn’t exactly memorable. I finished the story a few days ago and am already having trouble remembering the finer details. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t great. No lines stuck out for quotes or anything. However, it was a fairly smooth read.

Ultimately, Down World just wasn’t my cup of tea. It’s a standalone, so I don’t have to worry about reading another one. It does have the potential for other books set around the same premise, like a series of otherwise unconnected stories, but I won’t be looking for them if that happens.

starstarstarstar outlinestar outline

Overall, I gave it 3 out of 5 stars. If I’m being super honest, it’s 2 and a half stars. If you like YA sci-fi, you might enjoy this. I just happen to like books that are more fleshed out.

Thoughts on THE ECHO WIFE

Hello, hello! I’m currently writing this review between power outages, so if it ends up being late, the power went out again before I could finish. If not, yay! And sorry if it’s a little shorter than usual because I’m rushing. Anyway, Jordan Hanley at Tor Books reached out through NetGalley to see if I’d be interested in reviewing The Echo Wife by Sarah Gailey. It seemed like an interesting read, so I said sure. It was released yesterday (February 16th). As usual, I must thank NetGalley and Tor/Forge for access to an ARC in exchange for an honest and unbiased review. Let’s get to it!

Cute and simple cover.

The Echo Wife follows Evelyn Caldwell as she struggles to pick up the pieces after her marriage fails, all while diving head first into her work. Enter Martine, who just brings more problems. Throw in a betrayal from the closest thing Evelyn has to a friend, a dark past full of secrets, and an experiment gone so right that she can’t even talk about it, and that pretty much sums up Evelyn’s life right now.

Seems like a fun little plot, right? It is, but it’s also super predictable. She works in clone science, which is made clear from the beginning, so all of the major twists are super easy to see coming. Even Evelyn’s backstory is easy enough to figure out when she mentions that her dad’s been missing for years. It’s a fun story, but if you have even a basic understanding of sci-fi, you won’t be very surprised.

Basically.

The characters were a mixed bag. Evelyn realizes she’s selfish and stubborn, but seems oblivious to the fact that she killed her marriage the moment she decided to have an abortion without telling her husband (not really a spoiler as much as something mentioned in passing). She told him she was pregnant, but didn’t bother including him in a decision that affects both of them. She doesn’t communicate and she doesn’t really think of anyone but herself, even her incentives for helping Martine are selfish. For a smart woman, she’s far too stupid a lot of the time. I like Martine a lot more. She’s really sheltered, but wants nothing more than to live and learn. Everyone else is basically just there to explain why Evelyn is such a crappy person.

Otherwise, the writing was lovely and made for a quick read. Things moved at a nice clip and kept me interested. It wasn’t anything new or insightful, but it was fun watching Martine grow and change over the course of the story. I just wish Evelyn would’ve evolved a little more.

Me to Evelyn.

Ultimately, The Echo Wife was just okay. It doesn’t really encourage me to look for other books by Sarah Gailey, but it wasn’t bad by any means.

starstarstarstar outlinestar outline

Overall, I gave it 3 out of 5 stars. If you don’t mind unlovable main characters and want something sci-fi, check it out. If not, you aren’t missing much.

Thoughts on THE RAZOR

Hello, hello!  It’s the last Wednesday of November (can you believe it?), which means it’s time for another book review.  This month, I requested something a little different from my usual genres: sci-fi.  I watch a lot of sci-fi, but I don’t read much of it, so I decided to give it a shot.  Today, I’ll be talking about The Razor by J. Barton Mitchell.  It was published on the 27th by Tor Books, which is an imprint of Macmillan.  I must thank them and NetGalley for allowing me access to an Advanced Reader Copy (ARC).  Without further ado, let’s get to the review!

IMG_1627
I picked it because the cover caught my eye.

The Razor follows a group of prison inmates as they team up and learn to count on each other to survive after their jailers randomly up and leave the planet.  The main focus is on Flynn, a brilliant scientist who was framed for murder and subsequently sent to serve out the rest of his life on the Razor.  Along the way, he teams up with Key (a gang member who attempts to kill him), Maddox (a disgraced Ranger with nothing left to live for), Raelyn (a doctor who made a grave mistake), Zane (a government experiment gone rogue), and Gable (a mad scientist).  Sounds pretty routine for a sci-fi adventure, right?  It is.

The book is comprised of 3 parts totaling 78 relatively short chapters and clocks in at just under 400 pages.  I bring this up because the way the book is laid out makes it feel like a super fast read. Getting through 4 or 5 chapters a day may seem like a lot, but by the time I was done, it was 2 and a half weeks later.  I actually prefer a lot of shorter chapters when I’m reading because it makes that “just one more” urge more acceptable.  But don’t be fooled.  This isn’t a quick read.

200 (1)
Okay, that’s a little dramatic.  But still.

As far as the story goes, it’s fast paced and has a lot going on.  The plot is interesting, but if you don’t pay attention it’s easy to get lost.  I had to reread some stuff a couple of times.  I’m no scientist, but some of the stuff going on seemed shaky at best.  If you’re willing to trust in the science as explained, it’s a fun story.  From a writing perspective, it’s well paced and engaging.  However, the POV shifts… a lot.  In earlier chapters, the POV shifts are pretty isolated with one character per chapter, but after everyone meets up, things shift back and forth within chapters and it gets a bit muddled.  Sometimes it took me a minute to realize “that thought was Key’s, not Flynn’s,” or whatever.

0518c1abcc7f00613824479f7c40afd6dd2ca0-wm
It gets confusing.

My main problem with this book is the characters.  I feel nothing for them.  The plot moves so fast that there really isn’t time for character development, but if you watch any sci-fi, you get the gist of who they’re supposed to be.  It’s all pretty generic.  The only one I actually kind of liked is Zane, but even he feels like a cookie cutter character.  He just happens to be the type I gravitate toward.  Then, there is Gable.  I don’t particularly feel like she is necessary.  Everything she did could have been done by one of the others.  It mostly feels like she’s there to even out the number of females vs. males.

Ultimately, I enjoyed the story enough that I’ll check out book 2 when/if it comes out.  But if some major character development doesn’t take place, it’s the kind of story I’ll eventually get bored with.

starstarstarstar outlinestar outline

Overall, I’d rate it 3 out of 5 stars.  I like it, but it doesn’t impress me.  If you’re into sci-fi and enjoy a fast plot, pick it up.  If you like a better balance of characters and plot, this probably isn’t for you.