Legend by Marie Lu

A fun YA book set in a dystopia that seems more the result of politics and climate change than nuclear winter or an equally dramatic break with today. Though, given the Elector’s control over information, who knows how much the world is accurately seen by either of our perceptive teens?

Day and June are both very sympathetic characters; incredibly skilled and to be looked up to from a raw potential POV, but also still victim to teenage gaps.

I enjoyed the first book and am a few chapters into its sequel, Prodigy.

The Collapsing Empire by John Scalzi

I hopped right in and enjoyed the world, but it feels slightly less deep than the other universes. Perhaps more time (and books) in the universe will help. The open ended ending–the resolution feels much less complete in one book than Scalzi’s norm–probably affected the way it felt.

The scale, too, is different. Instead of following a normal person for the universe around, we’re in the midst of nobility and the emperor’s court.

I bet that with another read, I’ll warm to the main characters further. Similarly, I like the interdependency as a universe; it feels like a screwed up world that we could easily stumble into.

Forever Peace by Joe Haldeman

An interesting tale tangentially related to Forever War–but it stands alone as much as it claims.

It’s a not too future with a fight between an imperialist America running a drug-war squared type intervention throughout the third world, remotely piloting mechs from the safety of fortified bases. Julian’s life bounces between his 10 day duty rotations and a scraping by life as a junior professor at home.

A couple of overlapping developments break the characters out of their comfortable lives and into the depths of scientific controversy and into a struggle with an apocalyptic cult. The final development comes from a crazy skew and seems to work too well… but it works.

All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders

A well written book, with super engaging characters. Patricia and Laurence begin the story young; a big chunk of the book is written with Patricia and Laurence in 8th grade.

They’re both outcasts, each with their own niche–and each with overbearing parents who want to fix them. They become their own people with a lot of struggle.

When they reconnect, it’s exciting to see them confident and come into their own. Of course, the universe keeps it tough on them…

MJ-12: Inception by Michael J Martinez

It’s been a while since I read the book, so my review is a bit less detailed.

Long story short, I really like this take on superheroes and the beginning of the cold war. It felt like a complete book, but there’s a clear opportunity for sequels.

The heroes are of the “one exceptional trick” school of superhero, rather than each being a grab bag of awesome. There’s also a strong suggestion that there’s something… deliberate about the force that’s imbuing people with powers.

I do look forward to the sequels.

Invasive Species by Joseph Wallace

This is a fascinating book set “next week” or so. The characters are well drawn, though stereotype is pretty close to the surface for most of the characters.

It’s interesting to watch the wasps and their problems spread; it feels exaggerated but plausible throughout. The science takes center stage and feels plausible–and it’s nice to see scientists spending time on science, on screen.

The relationships feel a bit more artificial or plot convenient–back to plausible but not quite convincing. They’re not at the center of the story, but they work and get us a global viewpoint.

In the end, it was a pleasant read with explorers and scientists at the heart of the story, rather than action heroes. That’s pretty novel for a modern setting.

Seven Surrenders by Ada Palmer

The sequel to Too Like the Lightning, this depends on the first book quite a bit. (It really reads as the second half of a book that was too big to fit under one set of covers.

It’s still inventive, but less amazing now that it’s building on the familiar. The world’s messy and getting messier, but the novelty of the arrangement of powers is less compelling. There are exciting developments–the story feels even more like Bridger and Jehovah are the stars everyone circles, though we don’t get to experience much on screen time with Bridger.

The world’s falling apart. We learn about everyone, and some of the additional information significantly changes who we thought we saw before.

The two books cover a week. The very last chapter jumps ahead by a few months and sets the stage for a series tackling the developments and changing world going forward.