Happy Sunday, bibliophiles! I hope this week has treated you well.
This week’s been another sort-of-slog, what with even more quizzes to study for and homework to get out of the way. I’ve been whittling away at an eight-and-a-half page research paper for AP Lit, and I finished the rough draft, so at least I have that out of the way. We’ve also been training little Ringo, and the fact that I’ve already given him the nickname “menace to society” should say everything about how it’s going. He’s a good boy, though.
I’ve had a string of great books this week, so I’ve got plenty of choices for my review next week! Incidentally, several of them were sequels, so it was nice to have closure for a handful of duologues that I’ve been enjoying. I’ve been going through my library books and some of the books I got from my English teacher’s decluttering, so that’s been lots of fun. I got some more books at the library yesterday; one of them was the first volume of Heartstopper, which I’ve had on hold for almost two years (yep, that’s how long the wait was), so it better be good…
Other than that, I’ve been drawing a little, enjoying the handful of warm days we had this week (of course, we just got dumped with snow again), playing guitar, and catching up on Raised by Wolves (hhHHHEHSAHASHD WHAT).
Also I’m almost to 500 followers?? HOW DID THAT HAPPEN
Happy Tuesday, bibliophiles, and happy Women’s History Month! Can’t believe it’s March already…
I got hooked on the Goddess in the Machine duology back in 2020, and I stuck around for how creative and suspenseful Goddess in the Machine was. Devil in the Device came out last August, but I hadn’t been able to get around to finding it/reading it until last week. It was a little rocky at first, given that I didn’t remember parts of book 1, but once it got going, it was a wild and twist-filled ride!
Now, tread lightly! This review may contain spoilers for book 1, Goddess in the Machine, so if you haven’t read book 1 and intend to do so, proceed with caution.
thought I reviewed book 1 but apparently not oops 😵💫
In hiding underground, Andra grapples with her new identity and the secrets that she has uncovered. The rest of her fellow colonists, still in cryosleep, are relying on her to get off of their dying planet. But the further she gets on her mission, the more Andra realizes that the situation is far more complicated than she could have ever comprehended.
Aboveground in Eerensed, Zhade grapples with ruling the people while in disguise as Maret. His power holds tempting amounts of influence, but his people are in chaos, overrun by rogue Angels and unruly magic. Can he take control of the situation—and find out what became of Andra?
TW/CW: murder, loss of loved ones, blood/gore, substance abuse (alcohol), violence, grief, mind control, mild sexual content/innuendos
wordpress please stop autocorrecting “Zhade” to “Shade” challenge
Even without remembering…oh, at least half of Goddess in the Machine, I enjoyed reading Devil in the Device quite a lot—not quite as strong as book 1, but still endlessly twisty!
Getting into a sequel without a proper re-read or recap is always rocky; that was the case with Devil in the Device, especially the fact that I completely forgot about the weird, future Eerensed dialect of English that Zhade’s POVs were written in. I have mixed feelings on that part in general, but although it read in a very cringy way, it makes sense. I could have done without “certz” and “for true” and all that, but just like those corny Star Wars alien idioms that make no sense without context, they’re a necessary evil.
But once I got my memory jogged of book 1, Devil in the Device was a great sequel! Having the characters split up usually isn’t something I go for in sequels, but since there were only Andra and Zhade to deal with, it worked a lot more smoothly. Their split POVs gave a broader insight onto different parts of the worldbuilding, and beyond that, they created a lot of tension; most of the major revelation on Andra’s end of the line, and having Zhade be completely ignorant of almost all of it created a lot of suspense and buildup.
The fast pace was also a highlight of Devil in the Device, and with the amount of curveballs that Johnson throws throughout the course of the book, it makes for a very tense and exciting read! Secrets, deception, and betrayal all ran rampant through this book, and every page invited a new revelation. There are twists aplenty, but in the case of Devil in the Device, it turned out to be a double-edged sword; most of the twists were mind-boggling and earthshattering (@ Dr. Griffin WHOA CHILL JEEZ), but almost all of them were crammed into the last quarter of the book. All of those twists one after the other bordered on overstuffing, but overall, it had the effect of appropriately amping up the tension.
One other aspect that I’ll always appreciate about the Goddess in the Machine duology is its casual diversity—Andra is mixed-race and plus-sized, and there are consistently lots of queer secondary characters. Kiv, one of the secondary characters, is also Deaf, which I loved to see as well! The fact that he’s shown in a happy relationship makes me even happier—more disabled characters in loving relationships, please! (Plus, Kiv and Lilibet are so cute I CAN’T)
All in all, a sequel that wasn’t quite as strong as its predecessor but excelled in the plot twist department. 4 stars!
Devil in the Device is the second and final book in the Goddess in the Machine duology, preceded by Goddess in the Machine.
That’s it for this week’s Book Review Tuesday! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!
February’s been a little chaotic, but again, in comparison to last year, it was a good month. I’m leaving it feeling a little tired, but I’m excited for spring!
I’ve had a lot of studying to do this month…feels like I’ve had a quiz or a test every week to every other week. Yeesh. But at least I can say that I’ve done well on all of them, so I suppose there’s that going for me.
As far as reading goes, I started the month out with a week-long slump, but once I found some better books, the month improved so much! I read a lot of great books for Black History Month and discovered some new authors that I’d love to read more of. I ended up re-reading a little, and it felt lovely to immerse myself back into the Pioneer duology.
Writing-wise, I’m nearly done editing my second draft! I got in lots of good editing time and polished up a whole lot of my WIP. I haven’t been able to write much in the past few days, but we’re getting to short stories in my creative writing class, which I’m super excited about!
But by far, the highlight of the month was getting Ringo, our new corgi puppy! He’s 8 weeks old, and he’s just the SWEETEST LITTLE GUY 😭
READING AND BLOGGING:
I read 21 books this month! More re-reads than I expected (I forgot to connect my Kindle to the wifi while I was away in Florida so I read some of my old books), but a good bunch for the most part. I read a lot of books for Black History Month as well and discovered some new authors!
Make another Black History month list—I’ve read so many amazing books by Black authors since last February!—did that! See “Some posts I’m proud of”
Review some of the albums that are coming out next month!! (So many!!) rip to Everything Was Beautiful getting pushed back, but both my album reviews from this month can be found under “Some posts I’m proud of”
Actually post some art here, if I get the time…it’s about time
GOALS FOR MARCH:
Read at least 20 books
Spend some time with Ringo (of course)
That’s it for this month in blogging! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!
I’ve been trying to think of more original posts to do, and I figured that this one would be something really fun to explore. I’ve seen a lot of posts talking about tropes, but genre-specific ones are always interesting to think about/discuss, and in much of the YA book fandom, I feel like sci-fi doesn’t get as much love. So I decided to look at six tropes that are specific to sci-fi (for the most part). Sci-fi is my favorite genre, so I got super excited thinking about all of these different tropes, and some (mostly) YA books that use them in different ways.
So let’s begin, shall we?
WARNING: This post may contain some book spoilers (Aurora Cycle & Dare Mighty Things series), so read at your own risk!
CRYOSLEEP, BUT FOR WAY TOO LONG
Ellen Ripley – and Aliens in particular – probably set the blueprint for this one, but as the trope gets more popular, authors have started to push the limits on this one, which I think is a really cool move.
It’s most often the protagonist that this happens to – our hero, on the eve of something great, is put into cryosleep for an interplanetary mission, only for something to go terribly awry and stay in cryosleep for longer than they were supposed to. Ripley got an accidental 50 years, Auri from Aurora Risinggot 200 years, and Andra from Goddess in the Machinegot a whopping 1,000 years.
This trope presents two main advantages for writing: a vehicle for exploring the novel’s world through fresh eyes, and internal conflict within the character. If your cryosleep character is completely unfamiliar with the world, seeing it through their eyes gives the reader a more in-depth look at the world than they’d get with a character that’s already familiar with it. They’ll inevitably notice more things and fixate on different things than another character might, which gives the reader more insight about what’s unique about the world that the author has crafted.
As for the internal conflict piece, this part’s always touched on, but in most of the novels I’ve read with it, it’s a lot more shallow than you’d think. There’s the existential crisis that inevitably occurs when the character realizes that everything they know and love is all but gone, but beyond the first few chapters from their POV, they get over it…relatively quickly? It seems like the kind of trauma that would leave lasting psychological scars, and probably physical health repercussions as well. I’ve yet to read any book that explores all that in depth, but it seems like the perfect setup for a sci-fi novel.
So this one’s a trope that can make for a lot of creative choices, but often has a lot of untapped potential.
GOTTEN INTO A SITUATION YOU CAN’T GET OUT OF? TIME TRAVEL!
Apparently this one is a lot more common than I thought, but I’ve only started to see it in YA more recently. (Well, there’s Avengers: Endgame, but it took me a while to realize how common of a trope it is…)
This trope has the possibility of ENDLESS freaky hijinks whilst traversing through time. Sometimes it’s just pushing the events of the past so that everything lines up a little bit nicer, and sometimes it’s rocketing back to another time period entirely. It usually happens only with the last book in a trilogy or duology, just so everyone can fix the mess they got into in the first books.
I have mixed feelings on this one; one the one hand, there’s never a dull moment – time travel jokes, fitting VERY badly into a different time period, and very high stakes, most of all. If the first books have followed a similar formula, it might be good to try for something else to end the series with a bang.
On the other, though, something about it almost feels…lazy to me. Often, this trope arises from The Gang™️ getting a situation so bad that there may not be a feasible way out of it, but…maybe they could? If done wrong, it can feel like lazy writing – an easy way out, and one that provides instant comic relief. And often, the means of said time travel are vague, and often reduced to technobabble from The Smart Character™️, which, hey, I don’t know much about the science of it either, but maybe at least put a little time into it?
So this one’s a double-edged sword: instant plot, or lazy writing? The choice is yours!
*this one doesn’t come out until November [screams] but we know that time travel will play a big part in this one, so…
ALIENS THAT BASICALLY JUST LOOK LIKE HUMANS (BUT WITH A FEW MINOR DIFFERENCES)
Most of the other tropes I’m going to be discussing in this post are ones that I like on some level, but…this one gets on my nerves. For the most part.
Far too many times, I’ve fallen into the trap of picking up a sci-fi book that promises aliens, only to discover that the aliens just look like humans, but with either a) unusual eye colors, b) some sort of powers, or c) a combination of both. And of course, they have to be ✨ridiculously attractive✨ as well. 🙄
Now, I completely get making your aliens humanoid (hey, I’m doing it with some of my aliens for my sci-fi WIP), but there’s a certain point where it feels a bit lazy. Unless there’s some way you can back it up, it seems weird to me that in this entire universe, the only other intelligent beings, by some cosmic chance, are similar to us in almost every way.
But I’ve seen some authors use it to their advantage – in particular, One Giant Leap(the sequel to Dare Mighty Things) does this especially well. The main alien civilization there look exactly like humans, but it’s because of genetic modifications performed so that they could survive on Earth. See? That’s actually a really good way of turning the trope on its head, and doing so in a practical way!
For the most part, this trope never ceases to bug me, but there’s a few ways to turn it on its head.
For me, at least, this trope is the most fun – and it presents some of the scariest and most formidable antagonists in sci-fi.
Villainous AI are some of the most fascinating characters to explore – they have unmatched power, in some cases, and whether they’re a pre-installed ship AI or an android, it’s always interesting to hear their perspective on all of us puny mortals.
Given that humans trust AI a bit *too* much in most sci-fi novels, they often have a fearsome amount of power at their disposal. AI installed inside of a ship? Access to all the security footage, navigation, communications, and controls of the ship. They know their crew up and down, and have the possibility to play everybody’s weaknesses against each other. They have the power to sabotage anything and everything, and more often than not, they do. WITHOUT HESITATION. A corrupt AI often harbors a hatred or jealousy of human beings, and if it’s not that motivating them, it’s some sort of technologically-stemmed god complex, which is always terrifying to watch play out. (Lookin’ right at you, David…) It’s even more of an interesting development if their moral compass shifts over the course of the series – if there’s one thing I’ve learned from sci-fi, it’s that benevolent robot overlords never stay benevolent for very long.
Corrupt AI as antagonists are often more compelling than human or alien ones (for me, at least) partly because so much is left up to the imagination about the inner workings of their minds. We’ve never developed any kind of artificial intelligence that’s become intelligent enough to have devious tendencies like many sci-fi villains, so a lot of it is the author’s personal choice. There are endless possibilities – but more often than not, they’re all terrifying.
And even if they aren’t main antagonists, the addition of a slight unstable AI as a character is always amusing; for all of its flaws, I loved Gregorovich’s existential musings in To Sleep in a Sea of Stars, and his character added some much-needed flavor to the rest of the cast.
TL;DR: There’s nothing more terrifying than a villain that knows everything about everything, and uses that power for its own gain at whatever the cost.
HIGH-STAKES COMPETITIONS TO GO TO SPACE…WITH SOME SERIOUS ULTERIOR MOTIVES
Scared to send your experienced, highly intelligent scientists to space? Send some teenagers instead!
This one tends to crop up the most in YA, as it’s primed for a book that has a primarily teenage cast. The ones I’ve read do tend to follow a formula, but for the most part, it’s one that’s actually a lot of fun!
The worldbuilding/motives behind it are always a little bit messy (again: sending teenagers into space! What could possibly go wrong?), but often times, you just have to hang in there; it’s a given that whatever program is funding the competition is doing something astronomically shady. (No pun intended.) Part of the fun with this trope is the mystery of it; slowly but surely, the competition starts dropping like flies, and things go very wrong very quickly.
More on the mystery aspect – the mystery that often occurs in these types of novels is very slow-burn, building on itself before the heartstopping reveal at the end (often a cliffhanger). From program superiors lying to scheming androids to deaths under mysterious circumstances, there are endless possibilities for many, many things to go wrong. Add in the not-so-friendly rivalries between the competitors (also scheming, along with everybody else), and you’ve got the perfect recipe for a nail-biting sci-fi mystery.
And once/if they get to space? Everything gets way worse. There’s bound to be aliens, but whether they’re intelligent or just parasitic, things are bound to go way, way south. But there’s never a dull moment – there’s no shortage of suspense, and our protagonist is often at a loss as to how to escape their situation.
Plus, for reasons I’ve yet to figure out, these ones always tend to have the most clever pop culture references. (See: all of the Radiohead songs in the Final Six duology)
EXPLORING OTHER PLANETS GOES VERY, VERY WRONG (Or, “Don’t do intergalactic colonialism, kids”)
Here’s another common – but by no means overdone – trope that’s always open to endless possibilities!
Because our planet was never enough, apparently (or if we destroyed it…probably), there’s a whole host of sci-fi stories that are set on entirely new planets, with the sole goal of making them a new home for humankind. But just like with our planet, it’s always unpredictable, whether you’re dealing with a foreign contagion, carnivorous wildlife, or superiors who aren’t what they seem.
I’m always a nerd for creature design in sci-fi, and life on other worlds presents all sort of possibilities for creatures lurking in the bushes. Whether it’s flora or fauna, exploring these sci-fi worlds along with the characters is an adventure, especially if the author is particularly creative. Of course, most of the wildlife ends up being carnivorous, or malicious on some level, so there’s all sorts of danger lurking.
But beyond that, this trope is often a great commentary on colonialism. Human history is rife with frightening periods of raping and pillaging land that wasn’t ours to begin with at the cost of those who originally lived there; telling the same story on alien planets serves as a particularly potent comment on the malicious tendency of our species to overstep and overstay our welcome. Books like A Conspiracy of Starsand The Pioneer explore what happens when humanity comes in contact with intelligent life and unlawfully sets foot on their land; both of them do an amazing job of exploring the intricacies of the political implications, as well as the tense conflict that results. I think sci-fi as a genre is one of the best mediums for raising commentary on this kind of thing. Exploring new frontiers in space is bound to happen once we get the technology, but we must always ask ourselves if it’s the right thing to do. Just because we can doesn’t necessarily mean that we should. (Let’s be real: I would be SO excited if we found evidence of life elsewhere in the universe, but…let’s not have a repeat of all of human history, okay?)
TELL ME WHAT YOU THINK! What are your favorite/least favorite tropes in sci-fi? Have you read any of the books I listed, and what were your thoughts? This’ll probably be one of several posts on the subject, so I can’t wait to hear your thoughts!
That’s it for this post! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!
I figured that I haven’t done many book tags this month, and I’ve been in the mood to do one lately. This one’s been sitting in my sticky note for a bit and I figured it would be a lot of fun since I love the Umbrella Academygraphic novels & the Netflix show!
I mean, it’s impossible to choose just *one* best start to a series, but for the sake of not putting down Aurora Rising or Heart of Iron again, I’ll put Honor Among Thieves, because this was a SUPER strong start to the Honors trilogy!
THE HARGREEVES CHILDREN: Name a big book family. (Dysfunctional is optional)
THE WORLD ENDS IN EIGHT DAYS: If you only had 8 days left, which book would you choose to be your last read?
Frankenstein, for two reasons: it’s probably my favorite book, and just so I can have the possible luck of being resurrected. Pragmatism, folks, pragmatism.
SPACEBOY: Name a character who plays the leader, but may not be cut out for it.
BAJSDHFSJDHFSJDHF THIS PROMPT WAS WAY HARDER THAN I’D LIKE TO ADMIT
I just finished this one a few hours ago, and Abigail from Abandon just…wasn’t the best leader. I mean, most of the characters were [coughs] a wee bit interchangeable, but did you really think that going to a supposedly haunted mining town in the middle of nowhere was a good idea?
THROWING KNIVES: What literary weapon would you like in your arsenal?
MAN WHY ARE THESE PROMPTS SO H A R D
okay no I’m super stumped for this one, might just have to skip…shame on me
I HEARD A RUMOR: Name a book that has a misleading plot line.
I guess the case with Night Owls and Summer Skieswas more of a misleading synopsis, but I was lead to believe that it would be a sort of coming-of-age story about overcoming anxieties and first love. Instead, the anxiety part was barely touched on, and it was honestly just a toxic dumpster fire. Would not recommend.
KLAUS: Name a book that involves the dead/ghosts/etc.
can’t wait to see what else she has up her sleeve, because she absolutely has smarts and prowess to spare.
LUTHER & ALLISON: Name a questionable book couple, and why you do or don’t like them.
It’s been a bit since I’ve read Spinning Silver,but the relationship between Miryem and Mirnatius raised SO many red flags for me – toxic, abusive, manipulative, and…wasn’t there a significant age gap between them?
Anyone else who wants to participate! If I didn’t tag you and you want to do this tag, go ahead! I’d love to see your answers! And if I tagged you and you haven’t read/seen TUA or didn’t like it, my bad! No obligations to do it 🙂
That’s it for this book tag! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!
Happy Sunday, bibliophiles! I hope everybody’s had a good week.
I had another library haul this week, and all of them have managed to be 4-5 star reads for me! Needless to say, expect quite a lot of gushing book reviews in the next few weeks. I finally got my hands on The Shadow Wand (the third Black Witch book), and I’m *nearly* finished, so there will definitely be A Lot of Thoughts™️ on that in the near future.
Somehow, I’ve been hitting records for my stats as far as likes and views goes this week! Before this week, the most likes I’d ever gotten on a post was about 20; now, I’ve gotten multiple posts that are above 20 likes, so that’s a first. So thank you all for all the love! 🙂
Other than that, it’s been a good week. July went by in a blur, so mentally, I’m still in July, but hey, now it’s my birthday month! I also started watching the second season of The Umbrella Academy, and I’m liking it so far! Camp NaNoWriMo is done, and now I…don’t really know what to do with myself. I outlined a bit for one of my WIPs, but I haven’t written anything in about a week, so that needs to change. Of course, I’m probably going to procrastinate yet another week, but only time will tell. I also made another original book tag (linked under “posts and such”)! Big thank you to Elle @ Geekerella Undercover for being the first to particpate! 🙂
Oh, and I also made this alignment chart of YA sci-fi books as a joke:
WHAT IS YOUR MOST ANTICIPATED RELEASE FOR THE SECOND HALF OF THE YEAR?
The Burning Kingdomsis the final book in the Smoke Thieves series, and I am SO EXCITED TO GET MY HANDS ON IT. I requested an eARC of it and it got declined, but I requested it again, so we’ll see how that goes…
I had low/average expectations for The Scorpion Rules, but it ended up blowing me away! I really want to read the sequel soon…
WHO IS YOUR FAVORITE NEW TO YOU/DEBUT AUTHOR?
I just discovered The Invisible Libraryseries and Genevieve Cogman this April, and I’m so excited to read more of her novels! I have The Burning Page on hold, and it shouldn’t arrive for a few more weeks, but I can’t wait…
WHAT ARE 6 BOOKS THAT YOU WANT TO READ BY THE END OF THE YEAR?
Excluding some of the TBR ones that are already on here…let’s see…