Graphic Novel Review: Spill Zone #1) by Scott Westefeld, Alex Puvilland (Illustrator)

Graphic Novel Review: Spill Zone #1) by Scott Westefeld, Alex Puvilland (Illustrator)Spill Zone (The Spill Zone, #1) by Scott Westerfeld, Alex Puvilland
Published by First Second on May 2nd 2017
Genres: Graphic Novel, Science Fiction
Goodreads
five-stars

Three years ago an event destroyed the small city of Poughkeepsie, forever changing reality within its borders. Uncanny manifestations and lethal dangers now await anyone who enters the Spill Zone.
The Spill claimed Addison's parents and scarred her little sister, Lexa, who hasn t spoken since. Addison provides for her sister by photographing the Zone's twisted attractions on illicit midnight rides. Art collectors pay top dollar for these bizarre images, but getting close enough for the perfect shot can mean death or worse.
When an eccentric collector makes a million-dollar offer, Addison breaks her own hard-learned rules of survival and ventures farther than she has ever dared. Within the Spill Zone, Hell awaits and it seems to be calling Addison's name.

Something mysterious has happened in the area that is now the Spill Zone. No one knows exactly what, and the only people who dare venture into the territory is the HAZMAT crew and Addie. Addie lives with her sister just outside the Spill Zone. Her parents are gone, taken by the bizarre and unexplained happenings of the zone. She doesn’t know what has happened to them, but now she must do whatever it takes to take care of herself and her younger sister Lexa.

Addie risks exposure to the Spill Zone, and takes photographs of the eeriest scenes, from what used to be her hometown. The Spill zone is full of strange and frightening creatures, not to mention potential traps and dangers. Addie sells her photographs to collectors in order to support herself and her sister.  Lexa herself has changed since the Spill Zone happened, and she no longer speaks.  The loss of her voice is a mystery to everyone, and because of the strangeness of it all Lexa’s only friends are her stuffed animals and dolls. Vespertine, her favorite raggedy doll is always by Lexa’s side, but there’s something not quite right about that doll.

When Addie receives an offer she can’t refuse, she risks her life and goes deeper into the Spill Zone than she has ever been before. Addie doesn’t know what she will find there, or what dangers she might accidently bring back home with her.

Scott Westerfeld has masterfully created a graphic novel that will keep you on the edge of your seat. From just a few pages you, you are immediately “sucked” into the story, and you can’t help but worry about the strong willed and determined Addie.  You hold your breath in hope that she will return home safely. The suspense is thick within these pages, and you know something dark is lurking just around the corner.  Along with Alex Puvilland’s creepy and distinctive illustrations, the story truly comes to brilliant life.

The cliffhanger at the end had me literally screaming “NOOOOOO”! I was not ready for the story to stop, and I need to know what happens next ASAP.  Will Addie be okay? Will Lexa speak?  What’s up with the creepy doll?  I highly recommend this graphic novel to lovers of sci-fi and suspense. Anyone looking for something new, different and special will not be disappointed by the creativity flowing out of this story.

 

 

Thank you to 01Firstsecond Books / Macmillan for providing me with a finished copy in exchange for an honest review.

five-stars

YA Book Review: Spare and Found Parts by Sarah Maria Griffin

YA Book Review: Spare and Found Parts by Sarah Maria GriffinSpare and Found Parts by Sarah Maria Griffin
Published by Greenwillow Books on October 4th 2016
Genres: Dystopian, Science Fiction, Steampunk, Young Adult
Pages: 416
Goodreads
three-half-stars

Nell Crane has always been an outsider. In a city devastated by an epidemic, where survivors are all missing parts—an arm, a leg, an eye—her father is the famed scientist who created the biomechanical limbs everyone now uses. But Nell is the only one whose mechanical piece is on the inside: her heart. Since the childhood operation, she has ticked. Like a clock, like a bomb. As her community rebuilds, everyone is expected to contribute to the society’s good . . . but how can Nell live up to her father’s revolutionary idea when she has none of her own?
Then she finds a mannequin hand while salvaging on the beach—the first boy’s hand she’s ever held—and inspiration strikes. Can Nell build her own companion in a world that fears advanced technology? The deeper she sinks into this plan, the more she learns about her city—and her father, who is hiding secret experiments of his own.

“Could you make a soul out of spare and found parts?”

Spare and Found Parts feels like a combination of a bunch of genres (such as steampunk, sci-fi and dystopian) and a mix of the movies The Mannequin, Frankenstein, and Surrogates/The Terminator all thrown together. A distant, yet close enough future where technology finally causes worldwide destruction and chaos doesn’t seem that far-fetched to me. This is the type of world that Nell lives in. A place where due to a sickness caused by computers much of humanity has either been killed or left missing limbs. In this world, technology is only used to make the body parts for those who need prosthetic limbs. Everyone lives in fear of technology, especially the kind that can “think” for itself (except Nell).

Nell has a lot on her shoulders. Her mother is dead, and her father is always busy working in his lab. Nell’s grandmother is constantly pushing her to fulfill her legacy and follow in her parents’ footsteps. All Nell wants to do is find a way to connect to the world and people around her. Nell is smart and independent. She doesn’t want to settle down and follow the guidelines set by the society.

Nell has a mechanical heart and it causes her peers to fear and ridicule her. She feels lonely and misunderstood. What Nell really desires to do is dabble in the forbidden technology and build herself a companion. In a society where writing code is forbidden, Nell has quite a few challenges ahead of her.

Spare and Found Parts wasn’t a light book to read. The world building is intense and complex. I made me feel a bit lost in the story. The pacing is also an issue. Throughout most of the book, the pacing is far too slow and when the end comes it feels rushed. I did like the interactions between Nell and Io. Especially since Nell is treated poorly by most of her other peers. I also like that we get to read some of the book chapters through the eyes of Nell’s companion.

Spare and Found Parts has some interesting concepts about family, challenging ideas, the relationship we have with technology and the expectations we set for ourselves as a society. Though I didn’t LOVE this book, I do appreciate the uniqueness of the story. I like that it brings up questions regarding the ethics of “making” life, as well as the concept of the soul.

Thank you to Harper Collins/Greenwillow Books and Edelweiss for providing me with an E-ARC in return for an honest review.

three-half-stars

Book Blog Tour and Review: There Once Were Stars by Melanie McFarlane

Published by Georgia McBride Media Group, Month9Books Genres: Adventure, Dystopian, Science Fiction, Young Adult
four-stars

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Welcome to the There Once Were Stars Book tour hosted by Hannah from The Irish Banana Review.

ABOUT THERE ONCE WERE STARS:

There Once Were Stars Cover

Peace. Love. Order. Dome. That’s the motto that the Order has given the residents of Dome 1618 to live by. Natalia Greyes is a resident of Dome 1618, a covered city protected from the deadly radiation that has poisoned the world outside for four generations. Nat never questioned the Order, until one day she sees a stranger on the outside of her dome. Now Nat wants answers. What else might her government be hiding from the good and loyal people of Dome 1618?

LINKS: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Kobo | iBooks

 

 

MY REVIEW:

There Once Were Stars is set during a time where people live in domes because the outside world had to be bombed in order to destroy a virus that threatened all of humanity. The heroine of our story Natalia Greyes is about to turn eighteen and lives in Dome 1618 with her grandparents. Her parents, who were scientists studying the environment and trying to discover if it was safe to live outside the domes died of radiation while on a mission outside of the domes, or so she has been told. One day while in the Outer Forest sitting in an old hollowed out tree Nat falls asleep and when she awakens she sees two strangers outside of the dome and after one of them gets taken in by the Order (their government/police) everything starts to change.

I haven’t read a dystopian book in quite a while, and felt a little burnt out on the whole genre, but this book definitely changed that feeling for me. The world building was strong and I could “see” everything that was described. It was interesting to read about all the various rules and how everything worked in this society. It’s clear that the government is up to something fishy and I couldn’t wait to find out what. The pacing of the story was fast, and it kept me turning the pages and the author did a good job with building up the mystery of what’s happening outside and inside of the dome.

All the characters were pretty likable, but Nat was my favorite. I love that she questions things and doesn’t just accept what people tell her. I like that she wasn’t afraid to break the rules in the pursuit of the truth. I was a bit put off by the love triangle going on throughout the book, but I tried to not think too much about it because there were other more pressing things to focus on such as what really happened to Nat’s parents, and what secrets the government is keeping from everyone. Not to mention the possibility that the “INFECTED” (people who were infected by the virus and turned into “zombie” like creatures that attack anything that moves) might have somehow survived all the heavy bombing after the domes were built, and managed to survive the radiation that followed too. 

Overall I think the author did a fantastic job creating a believable dystopian world, building intrigue and captivating the reader with her story. I haven’t been this into a dystopian book since the Hunger Games and that is saying something. I am already eagerly awaiting the next book in the trilogy and would highly recommend this one to anyone who loves YA dystopian books. Fans of The 100, Under the Dome, Divergent, Wayward Pines, or The Giver should be quite interested in picking up this book and giving it a try.

Thank you to Hannah from The Irish Banana Review (@Irish_Banana) and Month9Books for providing me with an e-copy of the book in return for an honest review.

 

ABOUT MELANIE MCFARLANE:

Melanie McFarlane

Whether it’s uncovering the corruption of the future, or traveling to other worlds to save the universe, Melanie McFarlane jumps in with both hands on her keyboard. Though she can be found obsessing over zombies and orcs from time to time, Melanie focuses her powers on writing young adult stories to keep the rest of the world up reading all night.

LINKS: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

 

GIVEAWAY (5 E-Book Copies US ONLY)
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Make sure to visit the other stops on the tour for Mood Boards, Reviews, Q&A, etc. See the links below…

FOLLOW THE TOUR

WEEK 1:

6/9: Reading Is Better With Cupcakes – Review

6/11: The Plot Bunny – Review

WEEK 2:

6/13: Arctic Books – Top 10

6/14: Quite the Novel Idea – Review 

6/15: The Cover Contessa – Guest Post

6/16: Cosying Up With Books – Review

6/18: Wandering Bark Books – Review

four-stars

Book Review: Tangled Webs by Lee Bross

Book Review: Tangled Webs by Lee BrossTangled Webs (Tangled Webs, #1) by Lee Bross
Published by Disney Hyperion on June 23rd 2015
Genres: Adventure, Fantasy, Historical, Romance, Science Fiction, Steampunk, Young Adult
Pages: 304
Goodreads
one-star

London, 1725. Everybody has a secret. Lady A will keep yours—for a price. This sumptuous, scandalous YA novel is wickedly addictive.
Lady A is the most notorious blackmailer in the city. With just a mask and a gown to disguise her, she sweeps into lavish balls and exclusive events collecting the most valuable currency in 1725 London—secrets.
But leading a double life isn't easy. By day Lady A is just a sixteen-year-old girl named Arista who lives in fear of her abusive master, Bones, and passes herself off as a boy to move safely through the squalor of London's slums. When Bones attempts to dispose of his pawn forever, Arista is rescued by the last person she expects: Jonathan Wild, the infamous Thief Taker General who moves seamlessly between the city's criminal underworld and its most elite upper circles. Arista partners with Wild on her own terms in the hopes of saving enough money to buy passage out of London.
Everything changes when she meets Graeden Sinclair, the son of a wealthy merchant. Grae has traveled the world, has seen the exotic lands Arista has longed to escape to her whole life, and he loves Arista for who she is—not for what she can do for him. Being with Grae gives something Arista something precious that she swore off long ago: hope. He has promised to help Arista escape the life of crime that has claimed her since she was a child. But can you ever truly escape the past?

I love books set in time periods I wish I could have lived in, especially just to wear the pretty dresses. I heard that this book had masked balls, a badass spy and blackmail. It sounded fun and exciting and I decided to give it a chance. Unfortunately, I did not love this story.

From reading the synopsis, I was expecting a really strong, determined and brave heroine in Lady A/Arista, but she wasn’t really any of those things. Her job was to blackmail the nobility, but she didn’t want any part of it. Lady A/Arista is suppose to be an accomplished and hardened spy, who is witty, clever and a skillful blackmailer, but throughout the book she is overwhelmed by her feelings. Who ever heard of a good spy/blackmailer crying all the time? Or swooning over her crush? (Also…really? Arista? As in Aristocrat? Did anyone else who read this think this name was ridiculous?).

Arista keeps getting close to the people she is suppose to be spying/blackmailing. She keeps revealing her weaknesses and falling into the same traps over and over again. If I were her boss I would have fired her a long time ago (Not that her boss deserves any sympathy…he’s a nasty piece of work). What I mean is that this girl just has no “street smarts” or common sense, yet she was apparently “brought up” on the streets. It’s amazing she has survived up to the ripe old age of 17, because whoever was training her in the school of hard knocks clearly didn’t do a very good job.

Then there is the whole falling into “instant love” plotline. On her first mission she barely can control herself from swooning at Grae’s feet. I mean “COME ON!” what are you trying to teach all the young girls out there with these constant instant love type of storylines authors? The minute this dark, and handsome stranger Grae appears Arista is all in heads over heels in love with him. She even forgets all about her previous crush on her fellow orphan and thief Nic. Nic who she has known all her life, and has helped and protected her. He just gets thrown to the sides because in comes Grae with his mysterious aura and dazzling smile.

There are so many moments in this story that instead of actually doing her job, or more importantly fighting for her life, she is more focused on her attraction for a guy. Even when she is almost discovered to be the spy she is focused on her attraction to a guy. Aside from her constant “boy-craziness” she is also constantly sobbing, blushing, falling into tears, and that is not what I wanted from this character. I wanted her to be strong, to be her own person, to actually have some common sense. I wanted to cheer for her, but instead I found myself wanting her to just be discovered already because I couldn’t take her lack of common sense, or her stupidity any longer.

I was not impressed by Tangled Webs. It could have been a really great outlet to promote some healthy girl power…but no. Instead we are left with a confused, boy obsessed, weak heroine. Also the other characters in the book like Nic, Grae, Becky and Wild also just seem to have “walk on” rolls and only come around when dialogue is needed. All the characters don’t have much depth to them, or any real development of actual personalities.

I don’t mind reading something cheesy or even fluffy, but this mainly just angered me. I finished it because I was hoping that maybe Arista would grow as a character and have the guts to actually escape her life of crime and maybe live a normal life. There is at least 2 other books coming in this series, I hope they get better. However, I won’t be returning to this story, or this character again.

**This review was originally posted on Reading In The Tardis**

one-star

Book Review: Seeker by Arwen Elys Dayton

Book Review: Seeker by Arwen Elys DaytonSeeker (Seeker, #1) by Arwen Elys Dayton
Published by Delacorte Press on February 10th 2015
Genres: Adventure, Fantasy, Science Fiction, Young Adult
Pages: 448
Goodreads
two-stars

The night Quin Kincaid takes her Oath, she will become what she has trained to be her entire life. She will become a Seeker. This is her legacy, and it is an honor.
As a Seeker, Quin will fight beside her two closest companions, Shinobu and John, to protect the weak and the wronged. Together they will stand for light in a shadowy world.
And she’ll be with the boy she loves–who’s also her best friend. But the night Quin takes her Oath, everything changes.
Being a Seeker is not what she thought. Her family is not what she thought. Even the boy she loves is not who she thought. And now it’s too late to walk away.

I received this book from NetGalley in return for an honest review.

I was really excited when I was approved to be one of the first people to read Seeker, but to be honest it took me a very long time to finish it. I felt like it read extremely slow for about at least 70% of the book. Once I got past all that, it did start to go more smoothly, but the story just did not do it for me. I really wish  I could have liked it more, especially because I really wanted a good new epic/fantasy type of series to start reading.

Lots of people keep referring to this book as Game of Thrones meets The Hunger Games, but it’s really like them not it at all. It’s different and has its own unique signature, but unfortunately, the story dragged, the characters were not developed well and some of the stuff going on in the storyline just made absolutely no sense. I understand it’s fantasy, but even fantasy needs to have explanations.

Let’s get to the story itself. There are three primary characters (trainees): Quin, Shinobu, and John (seriously…John? Everyone else gets a cool name and this one just get’s stuck with John). They are all in training to become “Seekers” (which BTW…you don’t get a clear explanation of what a “Seeker” really is for way too long). Technically a “Seeker” is a position of honor. You are meant to defend the weak. Of course, these three characters are sort of in a love triangle (just seems over done and too expected). Quin and John are in sort of a secret relationship and Shinobu (a distant cousin of Quin’s) has feelings for Quin.

As the chapters slowly go by Shinobu and Quin discover the “truth” about what being a “Seeker” means (though the reader does not really get to know what that horrible “truth” is…WTF???) Where is this vital piece of information? Why is it missing?

The whole story between John and Quin is just odd. At one point he is trying to find her so that she can show him how to use the athame (a weapon only Seekers have the ability to wield). He even has other people trying to find her and actually attacking her in order to restrain her. It all seems very strange and I was confused. Pretty much anytime Quin and John were together felt awkward and creepy to me. Quin wants nothing to do with her “ power” to wield the athame. She loses her memory for a time, and eventually she starts to stand up and fight/use her abilities, but the reader at this point is still not quite sure what she is fighting for or against. It’s how the whole book felt like. You had no idea what was really going on, or why. There was no sense of where, what, when or why. You would have people training with swords, but later one there would be guns involved in the fighting…what was the point of the sword training ? It seems like the story is set in the past, but then currently technology would appear. The story goes from places like Scotland and Hong Kong but you have no real idea of how you got there and time spans were just completely lost.

The book definitely had its moments and as I mentioned before it had a certain uniqueness about it. I hope that the sequel is a little better planned out and hopefully it will answer all the questions that were left unanswered.

**This review was originally posted on Reading In The Tardis**

two-stars