Review: The One-Eyed King by Kenny S Rich

Publisher: Booksgoscoial

Publishing Date: November 2015

ISBN: 9781517627645

Genre: Dystopian

Rating: DNF

Publishers Description: in a futuristic world still reeling from the ashes of protracted nuclear warfare, resources are scarce and survival of the fittest is once more the way of the world – that is until one ruling order decides to take charge. Now equality is history and oppression is the new norm.

Review: I just could not get into this novel. Adjectives to describe the writing style and story line would be: overtly effusive, self-congratulatory and perhaps smug.  The dialogue rambles on and on in a way that you should be wholly on board with the shared perspective. If the introduction was any hint as to the content, I would have stopped there. Kind of a “shame on you” that you know nothing about blind people. 

Review: The Uploaded by Ferrett Steinmetz

Publisher: Angry Robot

Publishing Date: September 2017

ISBN: 9780857667175

Genre: SciFi/Dystopian

Rating: 4.3/5

Publishers Description: In the near future, the elderly have moved online and now live within the computer network. But that doesn’t stop them interfering in the lives of the living, whose sole real purpose now is to maintain the vast servers which support digital Heaven. For one orphan that just isn’t enough – he wants more for himself and his sister than a life slaving away for the dead. It turns out that he’s not the only one who wants to reset the world…

Review: Wow. The first half of this novel embraces an incredible writing talent that created what may become a defining moment in the genre. Too over the top in honors? Yeah, maybe but I am feeling it right now. Perhaps the horniness will pass once I have relieved myself…..with TIME. Geez, sleezy crowd here.  Anyhoo, this was fukin’ good. World building, characterization, movement, storyline etc. Plus, who names their kid Ferrett? How cool is that? 

It is at once witty, funny, thought provoking, plausible in it’s outrageousness, utterly indefatigable, revelatory and a bunch of other positive adjectives, oh and poignant. To be honest this started in a hole: slow, no relevant background, back and forth-ing  dialogue, no context….then BAM! Away we go. At about the kindle 60% mark it slows way down with mewling dialogue then picks up again. You want more storyline details? Read the book cause I aint a spoiler….well I am, but not this time.

Review: The Phoenix Cycle by Bob Collopy

 

Publisher: FIIK

Publishing Date: June 2017

ISBN: 9780991378531

Genre: Dystopian

Rating: 2.2/5

Publishers Description: New San Francisco is the last city standing on a world ravaged by storms of ash and debris. The city survived by putting the ideals of the American dream on steroids and inspiring its people to persevere, though they have become ruthless in the process. Its citizens are ruled by the General, who has made sure that his people understand that gentleness and pity have become weaknesses that nature no longer tolerates.

Review: Why is the world being ravaged by storms of ash that never seems to accumulate? Why does it cause people to scamper away in fear for their lives? Is this dystopian world biologically supportable?  These questions and many more will never get answered so either hitch up your skirts and hop in the phantasmo train or be left behind scratchin’ yur ashy-head. 

So for whatever reason everyone lives in New San Francisco, or so I presume as the world building is finite, and scramble around under the yoke of oppression and constant ash manifestations. There is a twist on the Hunger Games shtick so that the young may become part of the Inner Circle through death trials, only that Circle is never defined. The IRA is the opposing force to the evil regime, (which is kind of ironic) and the guards run around beating people senseless on whims. 

Besides all that, the writing is technically good but lacked an infusion of believable originality, rendering the story line hard to stay interested in.  The characterization is flat even with the constant movement. The depth just never develops in the main characters so you don’t really care what happens to them.  This might appeal to YA crowd that will hump anything reminiscent of  Katniss.

Review: Raid by K.S. Merbeth

Publisher: Orbit

Publishing Date: July 2017

ISBN: 9780316308731

Genre: Dystopian/Post-Apoc

Rating: 2.5/5

Publishers Description: Bound and gagged in her passenger seat is the most revered and reviled raider king in the eastern wastes. She can’t cash him in and she can’t let him go, so together they cross the wasteworld, following a dying road and dodging bloodthirsty raiders who either want to free Jedediah or claim him as their own. 

Review: Quick pace, a lot of action, great story line and great characters that leap off the page. What more could you ask for? This Mad Maxian romp through the wastes is a gutsy look at a female anti-hero that is half hot babe and half burnt to a crisp. The writing is really good and takes you to a place you would never want to be yet fascinates just the same. “So, why you no give 5 stars!!!”. What to some might be seen as a minor detail yet to me changed the course of the novel entire was the characterization of Clem. So sit back and relax while I pick the corn out of this shjt. 

Clementine. Her whole life revolves around guns. She is an expert with them, cleans them religiously, places them higher on a list than any human being in terms of importance, notes and admires others guns, got her handgun off an infamous (now dead) raider and feels naked and itchy without one in close proximity. Clearly she is obsessed as it is an important aspect of being a bounty hunter in the wastes. With every scene this intense focus on guns in general and her gun in particular, we never learn what exactly IT is. Make, model and caliber are sadly absent. Why is this important? Gunfighters know their guns and when specific elements about guns are expressed it lends authenticity to the tale and brings the reader into the inner processes of, in this case, Clem.  Additionally, relating specifics is critically important when constructing battle scenes. It is not enough to say that a rifle is good at distance (that distance and caliber is never given) and quickly discarded for a handgun during close quarters battle (CQB). There is never any scale that lends authenticity to these actions. She has a holster as well, but we don’t know if its cross-draw, thigh holster or hip. Is it FBI cant, plastic, leather? Also, AR does not stand for “Assault Rifle” like the media would have you believe. AR stands for Armalite Rifle Co.

This was easily one of the best novels I have read in a long time that sadly lacked the research necessary to bring it to great heights. Either a lack of insight into all things “gun” or really poor editing input did this novel no favors.

Review: Lotus Blue by Cat Sparks

 

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Publisher: Skyhorse

Publishing Date: May 2017

ISBN: 9781940456706

Genre: Dystopian/SciFi

Rating: 4.0/5

Publishers Description: Seventeen-year-old Star and her sister Nene are orphans, part of a thirteen-wagon caravan of nomadic traders living hard lives travelling the Sand Road. Their route cuts through a particularly dangerous and unforgiving section of the Dead Red Heart, a war-ravaged desert landscape plagued by rogue semi-sentient machinery and other monsters from a bygone age.

Review: I really cannot believe that this novel was “read now” on the book site. Meaning the publisher is handing it out to anyone who asks. This was one of the best novels I have read in a long time. Great characters, constant movement and epic world building.  So lets get to the meat of it, shall we?

Initially Star stole the show with her gumption, grittiness and guile. All her flaws are out there to see. She is extremely self-centered which makes sense coming from living in a wasteland where everyone is more likely to stab you than give you a hand up. She has base instincts that she acts upon (sex), has regrets and hopes for a better life somewhere other than where she is. I like that Star grew within the movement but the time compression in order to realize this was not real believable. She goes from a badass wall climbing, knife wielding hell-cat to needing help in every dire situation while burying her head in anyone’s manly chest. I exaggerate but her decline from independence was noticeable as she traverses the wasteland.

Much like the latter part of Star’s tale, the storyline towards the end tended to drag on a bit. It is hard to make a wasteland interesting but the storms keep you on your feet and the beasties that could have added a dash of suspense were sadly absent. This was a solid 4 stars and I would not hesitate to read any of this author’s subsequent novels as the world building was great as were the supporting cast and all the tech.

 

Review: Compile: Quest by Ronel van Tonder

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Publisher: Ronel van Tonder

Publishing Date: October 2014

ISBN: 4479836144008

Genre: SciFi

Rating: 2.4/5

Publishers Description:  The omnipotent Phoenix was left in charge of running the domes and seeing to the needs of all the denizens residing within. And after everything that it has witnessed, after everything it has been tasked to do… it has become unstable. Hope takes the form of two women from disparate halves of this terrifying future Earth, each with their own personal vendettas and agendas. But how can such fragile creatures defy their adversaries?

Review: Well no one is speshul, so that’s a relief, although Peppermint flits around it’s edges. Yeah, Peppermint. Who the fuck is named Peppermint, or Maple. How about Onyx, Topaz, Aluminum (Alum) and Jasper? I guess 300 years into the future, naming conventions are standardized to represent a Logan’s Run type civilization, sheltered from the hideousness of reality.

Anywaaaay, this was pretty good writing coupled with a ho-hum storyline a dismal plot, average character development (that failed with the movement) and great world building. We have an encore appearance of Humongous from Mad Max playing the part of a God like leader in a stinky city. The issue I had with the storyline was that at times, it seemed formulaic. Almost like the author was relying on an often tried and true movie scene.  The angry blaming Father, resentful son, mediator mom shtick wore thin as did Humongous/Bartertown. The plot goes nowhere.  Attempting to hide the plot for the entirety of the novel does not increase the impact of the finale. As the ending was abrupt, so the plot was rendered non-consequential. 

The fails on firearms function and shooting were numerous. Take for instance the Glock handgun. You don’t oil a Glock, period. You don’t cup the hand holding the gun while bending the elbow to reduce recoil. In fact, this promotes uncontrolled recoil. At one point Pearce is ordered to look in the scree for the spent cases and ends up looking for rubber bullets. So……which is it? I know that if I tried to look for bullets of either the lead or rubber kind, that it would be impossible and non-profitable.

I liked the insulated future city and it’s vacuous inhabitants looking for the next rage. The evil underbelly of the city and the crazy AI complemented the characters and extended my interest while the desert dwellers (outside) lacked any formative development. The movement was not constrained on the outside, it just failed to provide the oft used vehicle to enhance and grow the characters. Jinx never really changed even though her circumstances were in constant motion.

This received fairly good reviews across the board and one reviewer likened van Tonder to Isaac Asimov, “re-inventing the genre”. I just can’t hop on the sycophantic van Tonder train as I just don’t see a 5 star work here. What I got was  Mad Max’s uninteresting Bartertown + Logan’s porn Run= Compile: Quest with some rapey scenes thrown in.

Review: Bullet Gal by Andrez Bergen

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Publisher: Roundfire Books

Publishing Date: November 2016

ISBN: 9781785355622

Genre: SciFi/Dystopian

Rating: 3.5/5

Publishers Description: Teenage gunsel-cum-aspiring-hero Mitzi (last name unknown) breezes into Heropa with twin 9 mm pistols blazing – only to be targeted for recruitment, betrayal and assassination.

Review: Wow, me likey that cover art.

A lot of ratings on this one, but only one written review on GR. Makes sense, or rather in most instances, this novel was riveting then confusing. It was at once blistering in pace then comes to a screeching halt. Dichotomous? Bi-Polar? Mitzi was a great character, and the bulk of the novel should have been entirely about her. The  supporting characters did not infuse the story line with a shot of Bourbon. They were built one dimensionally while Mitzi and Brigit were developed nicely along with the movement. 

 If you like shifting points of view (and I do if done properly) then this novel makes a check on the ol’ entertainment balance sheet. This had mostly what I would call conversational shifting POV, where in a discussion between two people, the POV shifts chapter to chapter. The action is really good when in play and Mitzi burning up the barrels of her pistols should have remained the entire theme of the novel. More vigilante than super hero. I’m giving this 4 GENEROUS stars.

 On a side note, the idea that a Jetfire Pistol in .25 caliber with a ridiculously short tip up barrel, virtually no sight radius, a blow-back ejection system is the choice of a teenage assassin to take out roomfuls of thugs, is not believable. But hey, we are in make-believe land, n’est-ce pas?