Category Archives: Book Reviews

My Review of “The Settlers” by Jason Gurley

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Now that I have finished reading The Settlers, I am glad I didn’t stop. I say that because I did initially stop. In fact, I made it known on Twitter that I stopped. There were no quotation marks around the dialogue. I’ve never read any book without them, so I got nervous. I decided I had to continue, and I am sure glad I did because the dialogue in this book was fantastic. I mean, it made the book.

The Settlers is a story about a group of people that are facing the greatest challenge that humans have faced. Sure, the premise is one that we’ve hear before, but it is nonetheless still based in reality. We are damaging Earth. In this book, it seems that that damage hit a tipping point and our world is rapidly spiraling out of control. Entire landmasses are underwater, and the Earth is falling apart. At least, the parts that we have inhabited for so long. Something has to be done to preserve humanity.

So humans start to build large space stations that orbit around the Earth. At first, the stations are thrown together rapidly, owing to the nature of the emergency on the planet. Gradually though, humans begin to perfect these stations. They become complex and extravagant. At some point, the crisis on Earth is solved and it seems that the planet is still habitable, but people keep coming to the new stations. Might as well, they are like small countries floating around up there.

Where The Settlers really gets interesting, and where Gurley shows his obvious love of sci-fi classics, is how these stations operate, particularly with the Argus station. This large space colony is set up to operate based on a governing system that rings familiar with elements from 1984, Brave New World, and many others. Heck, I couldn’t help but drift back to my ancient Greek philosophy class from college. It was as if Plato himself had written a modern version of The Republic. There is a sanctioned class system that includes who works what type of job as well as reproductive rights. The station goes as far as admitting that they are creating a different type of human; a smarter type of human.

Gurley does a fantastic job with the characters, though we only get to follow a few through the entire book. I found myself getting to know each one, which is no small feat considering how little time he actually gives you with each character. What made me feel particularly involved was his use of dialogue. Once you figure out how easy it is to read without quotation marks, the words flow through your mind as if you are actually talking to the characters. The dialogue was beautiful, and I actually made that exact note at one point in my Kindle. Here is one line that I highlighted that stuck out to me

Rivers are like thread…They stitch place together. They are seams that connect very different lands. I think it is lovely that you are an anthropologist. What better name for a woman who might herself be a river through time?

I’m not sure why that stuck out to me early on, but I knew that the rest would be amazing. Gurley relies on character dialogue to carry the book, which is very hard to do. Aside from character development, I think dialogue is the next hardest thing to perfect in a book. The job is accomplished here.

This is the first book in a trilogy, and I can’t wait to start the next book. The Settlers ends with two of the main characters encountering a pretty bad situation, and I can’t help but think back to an earlier part of the book when one character said

Equality, he would sometimes say, is a myth even in cultures that acknowledge and promote it.

The entire book is set on the backdrop of equality, or lack thereof. Gurley experiments with the concept, and leaves the book heading in a direction that makes me want more. Sitting here now, he has made me wonder if it is better to live in a place where the government openly denies equality, or one that says everyone is equal but in fact they never will be. Basically, would you rather someone lie to your face, or do it behind your back?

Thanks for putting out such a great book, Jason Gurley. I look forward to the rest.

Click here to see his book on Amazon!


My Review of “Longevity” by S.J. Hunter

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Longevity perked my interest because of my minimal background in law enforcement. In fact, the first page really had me interested. Chris, the main character, is about to run into a burning building and says, “I’m responsible for anything that might be lying around intact enough to tell us if there is a ‘why,’ even if it hasn’t happened yet.” My first thoughts went to Minority Report, so I decided I had to keep reading.

Longevity is set about a hundred years from now and early on in the book we can see that something has radically altered how humans live. Turns out, we have discovered how to stop aging, at least as far as our looks and health are concerned. People still count their chronological age, but continue to look and feel like they did at whatever age they were when they began their “resets.” The problem, and the main focus of the book, is the Laws surrounding the process. Apparently it was decided early on that there had to be set limits to how many times a person could reset themselves before they eventually had to age normally. Making the choice to have children also lowered the amount of years you could have as well.

As would be expected in such a situation, some of the wealthy people in the world would be able to afford to live indefinitely, and think that they should have the right to do so. Most rational people know that this would lead to a very privileged society and that those people would pretty much become the world leaders – and stay that way. It really paralleled some future version of what we see in society today – the wealthy get whatever they want at the expense of everyone else.

Chris has worked in Longevity Law Enforcement (tasked with enforcing the longevity laws) since its inception (he’s been on the job for eighty years or so) and does not particularly like having partners. Unfortunately for him, Livvy transfers into the department just to learn from him. Her background in tactical and homicide is very different from LLE and she has some issues adjusting to Chris’s style as a partner.

Both Chris and Livvy are thrust into a case dealing with an old nemesis and that is when the book really takes off. From the moment they realize who is involved, they are continually chased by the bad guy and every time I turned the page I was waiting for gunshots. It was fast paced, and took place over the course of only a few days.

The concepts Longevity brings up may seem to be far-fetched, but with the way medical science is progressing, it is only a matter of time until something similar happens. Heck, plastic surgery and pharmaceuticals do a decent job of making the rich look younger. I can definitely see Hunter’s vision here, and I hope he takes it farther. I love dystopian books, and I could see him taking this story that route.

The only issues I have with this book are relative minor. Hunter’s paragraph structure was odd for me, but I recognize that every author has a different writing style, so I didn’t care. Also, there was a lot of repetition of the concepts surrounding the law enforcement methods and a few other things. Truth be told, this may come in handy for some readers who have a hard time picking up on some of the concepts, but I understood after the first few times. By no means should either of those things keep you from buying a copy of this book. It is good and is another example of why I love self-publishing. In fact, I already bought the second book in the series!

Check out the book here


My Review of “Poor Man’s Flight” by Elliott Kay

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In my quest to review other self-published works, I came across Poor Man’s Flight by Elliott Kay. I know nothing about the author, but he sure did have me intrigued within the first few minutes of reading it. I will do my best to not have too many spoilers.

Poor Man’s Flight, set in a future realm in which humans have spread across the galaxy to other systems, parallels many problems plaguing us today. The main antagonist, Tanner Malone, is finishing high school and hopes to head off to a university soon thereafter like the rest of his friends. Unfortunately, he is not able to pass the big culminating test to place him high enough to enter school without having to gain an excruciating amount of debt. For this society, it seems like going to a good university, on loans, and getting a good job with the loan holders is the only way to make a decent living. People get stuck in a perpetual circle of debt-payments-more debt. Talk about similarities today’s world. Every kid nowadays is told they have to go off to college or they won’t succeed. Average student loan debt crushes modern day grads. In the book, Tanner, on the advice of a friend of his, enlists in the Navy to assist with some debt and help get himself reset to enter a university.

On the other side of this book, we have a ruthless, yet sometimes likable set of pirates that prey on the rich and treat their own crew members with respect. On one hand, they are much more fair than the ‘democratic’ society that they rob. The head pirate has the same rights as everyone else and they do nothing unless the majority agree that it’s the right move. Kay makes me actually think it would be cool to join this band of criminals who have managed to escape the loan and debt system while living what seems like a gluttonous lifestyle. On the other hand, my morals kicked in. While the pirates are fair to one another, they certainly have no regard for anyone outside of their circle. They are true killers.

Kay takes us through Tanner’s boot camp as we watch him transform from a true book smart kid to a trained soldier. We see him get assigned to a group of ill prepared soldiers on a patrol ship, and watch proudly as he rises to the occasion to pull them through a serious mess. Kay does a good job of relaying the different realities of military life They just happen to be in space. For all you former military people, and those interested in the military, you’ll love Tanner’s role and experiences.

This story is really a reflection of our current state of affairs. We live in a world that tells us that we have to go to college to get a good job, but neglects to prepare us for the cost. We then go on to accrue more and more debt while the same corporations gain more and more money from our debt. The book highlights the frustrations that are currently building in our society. We can almost see ourselves in the pirates. Maybe not the ruthless and murderous parts, but certainly in the part that wants to live free of the debt forced upon society. In almost every character in the book, I found a part of me. It was like looking in a mirror and having the reflection show these characters. I think you’ll find the same thing if you read it. The ending is fantastic and I know you’ll enjoy it just as much as I did!

The thing that made this book even better was the way his characters interacted. One thing that I struggled with in writing my first book was giving the characters dialogue that seemed natural and engaged the reader. Kay does that well in this book. The characters interacted realistically and I appreciate that.

This book has sold fairly well on Amazon and is selling for $2.99. It is definitely worth the price and, as I like to say now, is less than a cup of coffee. Pick up a copy and help support this fellow self-published author. From what I gathered on his blog, he recently had surgery, so that’s even more of a reason to buy his book – let’s cheer him up!

Here is the link to his book on Amazon

Here is a link to his blog 

*The only disclaimer I give is for language. I personally have no problem with foul language in books. To me, it more closely mirrors reality. Just know that it is present in this book.


My Review of “Wool” by Hugh Howey

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I’ll be honest with you, I was wary about picking up Wool. I had read about Hugh Howey and his unconventional path to success. I had read about him because I wanted to be him. I still do. I needed someone to look up to as a broke out of technical academic writing and moved into what I always wanted to do – science fiction.

I was wary because I, along with so many other people, had been told that unless a book goes through the traditional publishing route, it won’t be good. We have always just assumed that books on the shelf at the bookstore had to be the best the writing world had to offer because they know what good writing looks like. While its true that many self-published books lack polish and, sometimes, grammar basics, there is some serious talent in the writing world that gets missed because the gatekeepers didn’t like it. Thanks to Wool by Hugh Howey, I have found a respect for all routes of publishing. It gives me so much hope for the stories that don’t get told.

I found Wool on the bookshelf of my local book store a few days before its official release. I was in the bookstore writing my own book and had just finished scouring Hugh Howey’s blog for idea about how to make it work. Then is dawned on me – how could I possibly hope to have success in the indie author world if I hadn’t read many of their book. So, I picked up Wool and went home.

Now, before you read the official review portion below, I want you to know that I’m striving not to have any spoilers included. Because of that, if you haven’t read the book and have only looked at the reviews, I’m going to sound like a twelve year old girl because of the emotions the book invoked in me. You’ll understand if you read it and then I’ll challenge you not to sound like one as well as you explain it.

Opening the book with caution, I read the first two pages and stopped. I literally stopped to say, “Wow, this is really gonna be good.” Howey has the ability to convey the mood of a particular setting better than any author I’ve ever read. I became engaged with the first character of the book. I remembered that this was how Wool started for Howey. He published the first part online and didn’t think anything would come of it. Well, surprise! People wanted more. Now I knew why. When I finished the first part, I couldn’t imagine not having the rest of the book. I do remember thinking this though – there is no way I am going to let myself get attached to the next characters.

What a stupid thought that was. Throughout the rest of the book, I found myself thinking like the characters and experiencing their emotions right along with them. Folks, some of you might not know how hard that is to do as an author. Trust me, it is. It had been a while since I had to actually put a book down and take a break because I was so overwhelmed with what had just happened. I did that a few times with this book.

Wool was different. I guess we could call it science fiction, but I would call it human condition fiction. I know that sounds funny, but this really was a set of stories that let me consider how humans would react in this particular post-apocalyptic scenario. My background in political science had me wondering about how humans would naturally respond to what took place in Wool, and I think Howey was spot on. He understand us, and that is why he was able to create a book that can connect with us so powerfully.

The writing was superb and the stories were captivating. Seriously, if you want to read a book that can help you get your creative mind going, or whether you just want to sit down and be taken away from where you are right now, pick up Wool by Hugh Howey. This is one of those book we’ll want to read over and over. It’s timeless. I put it on par with 1984, Fahrenheit 451, Brave New World, etc. Great work!


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