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!
Happy Monday, bibliophiles! I hope this week has treated you well.
I’ve had a bit of a chaotic week; I visited family in Florida over the long weekend, and we got back home on Tuesday—2/22/22 (happy Twosday, everyone!) My routine was all thrown off for the rest of the week, but now I’m settling back down.
I forgot to connect my Kindle to the wifi while I was away, so most of my reading this week was re-reads—the Pioneer duology and Memento, all of which were just as good as they were when I first read them. I got some more books from the library, and I’m looking forward to reading them all! I also had an unexpected book haul because my English teacher was cleaning out his room and was giving out some of his extra books. Got some poetry and Ray Bradbury in there…
I did a lot of editing while I was in Florida, and I’m in the final stages of cleaning up my second draft! I wasn’t able to do much later in the week because of all the homework I had to make up from the week before, but I think I’m making good progress.
Other than that, I’ve just been bundling up for the freezing weather (nothing like coming from 87 degree weather to 0 degree weather amirite), listening to Think Tank (great stuff!), and eating leftover Valentine’s Day cookies. And we have a new addition to the family—meet our corgi puppy Ringo!
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’d have to say Heart of Ironfor this one! It’s been a little while since I’ve re-read this one, but I can always count on these space misfits and Ashley Poston’s signature wit to cheer me up.
SNOW ANGELS: What’s a book that you love so much that you would want to be buried with it? (A little morbid, but…)
Back at it again with the MISFIT SPACE OPERAAAAAAAA
Anyway, Aurora Risingis easily my favorite book; not only does it have a special place in my heart for the writing, the story, and the characters, but Auri taught me that you don’t have to be brave to change the world. For that, I will always hold these books highly.
WARM SOCKS: What’s a book that makes you feel warm inside?
(Hey, I’m wearing fuzzy socks today! 🧦)
I read Tweet Cute a few months back, and it was just what I needed at the time–cute romance, wonderful chemistry, and grilled cheese. Can’t go wrong with grilled cheese.
HOT COCOA: What winter-themed novels have you previously read?
I suppose Ice Wolvesworks, right? Ulfar Academy has a pretty wintry atmosphere.
SLEDDING: What’s a book with the best plot twists? Who’s an author that always keeps you on your toes?
I read The Pioneerabout a year and a half ago, on vacation in Canada (remember when vacations were a thing?); I specifically remember how blown away I was by THE PLOT TWIST RIGHT AT THE CLIFFHANGER…
UGLY SWEATERS: What’s a book with the ugliest cover?
This was the cover of the edition of Nights at the Circusthat I got from the library, and that art style just does not do it for me…
MOVIE MARATHON: What’s the last book you binge read?
I recently finished Cemetery Boysin close to one sitting. Didn’t quite live up to all the hype for me, but it was definitely a lot of fun. (Expect a review next week!)
LETTER TO SANTA: What’s a book that’s on your wishlist this year?
Happy Thursday, bibliophiles, and for those of us celebrating, happy Thanksgiving! I’m extraordinarily thankful for all of you for your endless support, and I’m grateful that we’ve gotten through this year together.
I have *way too many* book tags that I’ve been tagged in/want to do piling up, but I figured that I’d go ahead and do this one because there’s not much time left until it’s winter. Thank you so much to Bertie @ Luminosity Library for tagging me! I’m not sure who created this tag, so if you know, please let me know, and I’ll credit them!
Let’s begin, shall we?
🍁FALL TIME, COZY TIME BOOK TAG🍁
CRUNCHING LEAVES: The world is full of color! Chose a book with red/orange/yellow on the cover.
I love all of the vibrant colors and patterns on the cover of Raybearer, and I’m glad to say that this fantasy did not disappoint!
COZY SWEATER: It’s finally cool enough for warm and fuzzy clothing!What book gives you the warm fuzzies?
Pumpkinheadsnever fails to give me all the feel-good vibes whenever I’m feeling down. It’s a perfect read for this time of year, too!
FALL STORM: The wind is howling and the rain is pounding. Choose a book that you would like to read on a stormy day.
The Bone Houseshas no shortage of immaculate spooky vibes–perfect for reading when the light is low and the rain is pattering against the windows.
COOL, CRISP AIR: Makes you breathe freely–What’s the coolest character you’d like to trade places with?
As much of a disappointment that the rest of this series turned out to be, I would LOVE to trade places with Irene from The Invisible Library. I can’t think of a dream job that’d be better than hopping through strange dimensions to retrieve rare books.
HOT APPLE CIDER–Warm autumn drink–what under hyped book do you want to see become the next biggest, hottest thing?
It’s so sad to see how little recognition The Pioneergets in the world of YA sci-fi–for me, it’s what sci-fi should be, at its core–inventive, thoughtful, timely, and riveting. If you haven’t given this duology a try, I implore you to do so!
COATS, SCARVES, AND MITTENS: The weather has turned cold, and it’s time to cover up! What’s a book cover you don’t like?
It kind of pains me to say this, since Prince of Shadowswas decent and I miss Rachel Caine (😭), but I was kind of embarrassed reading this one out in public…
PUMPKIN SPICE: Time for some Starbucks! What’s your favorite fall comfort food?
If we’re talking Starbucks, I LOVE salted caramel mochas! They’re just the perfect blend of chocolate and caramel…I could go on for days…
Other than that, I’d say anything that’s on the Thanksgiving table–biscuits, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie…man, I can’t wait to eat tonight…
WARM, COZY BONFIRE: Spread the cozy warmth! Who do you tag?
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…
I found this tag over at Leigh Hecking’s blog, and I figured it would be a good tag for right now–since we can’t travel in quarantine, why not travel to all sorts of amazing places in books?
Okay, I know how corny that sounded, but really, I swear books have a property to magically transport you anywhere, if the writing’s good enough. I was reading The Black Witch yesterday, and I swear that the imagery made me smell freshly fallen rain on the grass. OOH.
I found this tag over at Devour Books with Dana, and the tag was created by Wordy and Whimsical. I figured it would be the perfect tag to get me back into the feel of Spring! *desperately tries to ignore the fact that it’s going to snow AGAIN tomorrow*
Let’s begin, shall we?
ROSES: Roses are traditionally given as an expression of love. What’s your favourite romance in a book?
There’s a lot for me to choose from, but if I had to pick, I’d have to say the relationship between Jax and Rob in the Heart of Ironduology. WINNER OF COUPLE OF THE YEAR FOR TWO CONSECUTIVE YEARS
STARGAZER LILIES: Stargazer Lilies are named for their blooms that face toward the sky. Who is your favourite ambitious character?
Boy, there’s quite a few to choose from, but I’d have to say Jo from the Pioneer duology. It takes a certain type of bravery to take on an entire alien species that’s turned against you, and to do it with skill and grace.
PEACE LILIES: Peace Lilies are known for being one of the easier houseplants to care for. What is a book you think anyone could love?
I’d have to say Kids of Appetitefor this one. I don’t think there’s anyone who couldn’t relate to the characters–or the themes. Plus, there’s no denying David Arnold’s writing prowess.
CHRYSANTHEMUMS: Chrysanthemums are given on Mother’s Day in Australia. Who is your favourite fictional mother?
Is that even a question? Molly Weasley, hands down.
SPIDER PLANTS: Spider Plants are easy to propagate. What is a hyped-up book that you love?
I just read Sawkill Girls, and I must say, it lived up to ALL the hype! Five stars for me!
LILY OF THE VALLEY: Lily of the Valley is pretty but poisonous. Share a book with a beautiful cover that was actually disappointing!
Ever since I first read The Pioneer last June, I’ve been itching to read the sequel. It just came out around two weeks ago, and I bought it on my Kindle last week. Needless to say, The Survivor was worth every single penny. 🪐
WARNING: This review contains some major spoilers for the end of The Pioneer, so PROCEED WITH CAUTION if you haven’t read book one, and want to!
After the tumultuous events on Tau Ceti E, the planet where humans planned to settle, Jo and her family and crew have set a course back to Earth. But a haunting message stands in their way, delivering the news that Earth is now uninhabitable, and most of human life was wiped out in an extinction-level event.
Left with no choice, Jo and the others return to Tau. But Jo knows that in doing so, they are violating the peace agreements they barely struck with the Sorrow, the indigenous, sentient species of Tau. A war is brewing, and betrayals wait for her on every corner of her crew…
SO MANY FEELS, PEOPLE, SO MANY FEELS.
I was so glad to re-immerse myself into Tyler’s masterful writing. She has such a way with words, and understands the intricacies of human nature like no other author I’ve read. The major plot twist that WRECKED ME at the end of book 1 was still fresh in my mind, so I had a decent-ish jumping off point going into The Survivor.
Even though I didn’t feel as attached to many of the characters in book 1, most of them grew on me in book 2. And even if that attachment didn’t quite grow, there’s no denying that they have excellent chemistry, and that they’re masterfully written.
And, as always, we need to give a raucous round of applause to Ms. Tyler for ACTUALLY GIVING US WELL-DESIGNED ALIENS THAT AREN’T JUST HUMANS WITH WEIRD EYES! Not gonna lie, I was SO excited to explore the world of the Sorrow once more, and her lush writing made it all the better. We also get to explore a few more critters that weren’t mentioned in book 1, so that was fascinating, as always.
Though I’m heartbroken that this was the end of the duology, I am over-the-moon glad that I was able to discover these novels. They will always hold a special place in my heart. After a week of mulling it over, I think The Pioneer and The Survivor are equal in rating to me, which is to say that I give The Survivor 5, massive stars.
As I said before, The Pioneer series is a duology, ending with The Survivor. [single tear slides down cheek]
That’s it for this week’s Book Review Tuesday! Have a wonderful day, and please take care of yourselves!