Zeroes

Zeroes was written by Scott Westerfeld, Margo Lanagan and Deborah Biancotti and first published in 2015. It is a science fiction story follows a group of teenagers who all possess supernatural abilities, thought don’t have much of a grasp on how to use them. The novel forms the first part of a trilogy and is followed by Swarm (2016) and Nexus (2017).

Ethan Cooper – otherwise known as Scam – has a voice inside him that has the ability to give him whatever he wants. Unfortunately, the voice is not one to consider the long-term consequences of its actions. When Ethan wants a lift home, the voice is more than happy to assist him. However, this soon results in the theft of a drug dealer’s money and his inadvertent involvement in a bank heist that goes horribly wrong.

When he is taken into police custody, Ethan quickly learns that the whole series of events has been caught on film. Now, the police want to an explanation as to how he came to know personal details of a bank robber and not even the voice can get him out of this one. Luckily for Ethan, there are others who can. He once belonged to a group of “Zeroes” – teenagers with powers. Trouble is, he burned his bridges with them a year previously when he allowed the voice to reveal their darkest secrets.

Fortunately, Nate Saldana – or Bellwether – has been looking for a reason to get his team back together. Utilising their skills, the teens manage to rescue Ethan but find themselves in more trouble than they could ever have imagined. It’s not just drug dealers and gangsters that are now out to get Scam. He is also being hunted by the daughter of one of the bank robbers – a girl who has a powerful gift of her own…

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The Darkest Minds

The Darkest Minds was written by Alexandra Bracken and first published in 2012. The novel follows the story of a group of teenagers with strange powers, who are forced to flee across America in search of a safe haven. The book forms the first part of The Darkest Minds series and is followed by Never Fade (2013), In the Afterlight (2014) and The Darkest Legacy (2018).

When Ruby was ten, a mysterious disease swept across America. Parents were forced to watch helplessly as a majority of their children died of Idiopathic Adolescent Acute Neurodegeneration. However, the fate of the survivors was far worse. The children were left with terrible powers, ranging from hyper intelligence to pyrokinesis. Terrified by the implications of this, the government quickly set up rehabilitation camps, spinning them as places where the children could be cured. The truth was that they were little more than prisons.

Ruby has lived in Thurmond since she was ten years old and hides a terrible secret. On the day that she was sorted, she saw into the doctor’s mind and realised the danger of seeming two powerful. Using her powers, she made him believe that she was just a Green – someone who possessed a photographic memory. She is now forced to be super careful to ensure that no one realises that she is actually an Orange – someone with the power to change memories and control minds.

Yet all of that is about to change. When Ruby’s secret is revealed, she is forced to accept the help of a mysterious doctor in order to escape the camp. Yet, once outside, she soon learns that her rescuer’s motives may not be that altruistic. As she runs away, she soon finds herself in the company of a small group of teenagers who are in search of the “Slip Kid” – someone with the power to protect them. Yet could this all be too good to be true and, in this dangerous world, is there anywhere that is truly safe?

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Goosebumps 21-25

Please note that this review may contain spoilers for earlier instalments in this series. You can read my reviews of these novels by clicking the links below:

1-5 | 6-10 | 11-15 | 16-20

It’s time to take a look at the next five Goosebumps books. In case you’re unfamiliar with these books, Goosebumps was a middle grade horror series which was written by R.L. Stine. The original run was published between 1992 and 1997 and ran for sixty-two novels. Since then, there have been a number of spin-off series, video games, movies and television adaptations. For the purpose of this review, I will be looking at books 21 to 25 (in the order that they were released in the UK). Oh, and there are going to be a lot of spoilers. You have been warned.

In Return of the Mummy, Gabe returns to Egypt to spend another vacation with his archaeologist uncle. This time, Uncle Ben is exploring a newly discovered pyramid in the hope that it is the final resting place of Prince Khor-Ru. When Gabe discovers an ancient chant that supposedly wakes the dead, he is sure it is just a hoax. However, it’s not long before he hears something stirring in the depths of the tomb…

In The Scarecrow Walks at Midnight, Jodie and Mark have been sent to spend the summer on their grandparents’ farm. While Jodie normally loves these holidays, something does not seem to be right. Her grandparents seem to be scared of something and there are far more scarecrows in the fields than she remembers. Could it be something to do with Stanley the farmhand’s newfound obsession with his “superstitions book”?

In Attack of the Mutant, Skipper is an avid collector of comic books and pours scorn on anyone who does not share his hobby. His favourite comic is about a villain called the Masked Mutant, and it comes as a real surprise to him when he finds a building that looks exactly like his secret hideout. Skipper knows that he has to find the truth about the building, but when he finds himself appearing within the pages of the most recent issue, he realises that the lines between fiction and reality may be fainter than he first thought…

In My Hairiest Adventure, Larry has started growing hair in very unexpected places. It all started after he and his friends used an out-of-date bottle of insta-tan. Now, fur keeps sprouting from his hands and he is struggling to keep it hidden. However, when his friends start to disappear and his parents seem oddly unconcerned, Larry realises that something even stranger is afoot. What is really happening in their town, and how can he possible find a cure for his embarrassing condition?

In A Night in Terror Tower, Sue and Eddie are excited to go on a guided tour of London’s infamous prison, the Terror Tower. However, things start to go wrong when they are separated from their group and chased by a sinister man in black. The stranger tells them that they will never leave and, when they do escape, the world outside is not how they remember it. What is going on and how can they possibly get back to their parents?

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Battle of the Beetles

Please note that this review may contain spoilers for earlier instalments in this series. You can read my reviews of these novels by clicking the links below:

Beetle Boy | Beetle Queen

Battle of the Beetles was written by M.G. Leonard and first published in 2018. It forms the final part of the Battle of the Beetles Trilogy, following Beetle Boy (2016) and Beetle Queen (2017). As the novel carries on directly where previous instalments left off, I would strongly recommend reading them in sequence to have any idea of what is going on.

Hidden in the depths of the Amazon rain forest, Lucretia Cutter has begun her bid for world domination. Her army of beetles is beginning to target crops around the world and slowly the governments are beginning to bow to her wishes. They have no choice – no one knows exactly where she is or how they can possibly stop such a wide-scale and devastating attack. To make worse, Barty Cuttle is known to have gone with her and has become a global scapegoat. Everyone believes him to be the mastermind, making him public enemy number one.

Darkus knows that his father is not a villain and is determined to prove it. Along with his allies – Virginia, Bertolt, Motty and Uncle Max – he begins to plan a way to find Cutter’s hidden biome and stop her before she can unleash any more monsters, or realise her plan to turn the captive Novak into a beetle-human hybrid.

Of course, Darkus will also be helped by his best beetle friends. Baxter and the other survivors of Beetle Mountain want nothing more than to free Cutter’s captive specimens. However, Darkus must be careful. Lucretia Cutter has made the world afraid of beetles, and this means that people may assume that he is in league with her if they learn the existence of his smallest allies…

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Wildspark

Wildspark was written by Vashti Hardy and first published in 2019. It is a middle grade fantasy story which focuses on a young girl’s mission to save her deceased brother’s spirit. The novel forms the first part of a planned series, though at the time of writing no further instalments have been announced.

When Francis died, Prue Haywood thought that she would never be happy again. However, this was before she learned about the Personifates. A secretive guild in Medlock have discovered the secret to capturing the spirits of the dead and binding them to animal machines, giving them a second chance at life. When a member of that guild comes to her farm seeking Francis as his apprentice, Prue is quick to take advantage. Taking on her brother’s identity, she assumes her place as a new student at the guild.

However, bringing back Francis will not be easy. Competition at the Factorium is fierce and only the best will eventually become craftsmen. The process of becoming a Personifate also wipes the second-lifer’s memory, so Prue will have to find a way to get the ghost machines to recall their past lives if she wants her brother to be the way he was.

Yet saving Francis may not be Prue’s most pressing problem. On the night of the Blood Moon, the guild plans to animate a hundred Personifates to show off their technology. However, there are people who do not wish for this to happen. When a Personifate is ripped apart in the woods, Prue and her friends realise that something dangerous is stalking the night. What she does not realise is that this creature has the power to completely change the status quo…

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Atlantia

Sorry for the delay in posting this one. I’m currently studying for an exam so please note that my reviews may be a bit sporadic over the next month or so. All being well, normal service should resume at the start of July…

Atlantia was written by Ally Condie and first published in 2014. It is a dystopian science fiction story set in a world where people have been forced to retreat to an undersea city. The novel stands alone, so you don’t have to have read any of the author’s earlier work to fully appreciate it.

When the air grew too polluted to breathe, people were forced to make a terrible sacrifice. Some chose to remain above, working hard and dying young. This ensured that their loved ones had all they needed to survive below. Atlantia – the underwater city – is beautiful and those who live there know they are blessed. Yet still some from every generation must still choose to travel to the surface to ensure that Atlantia can continue to be.

Rio has dreamed of being the one to make the sacrifice. Atlantia has always felt too claustrophobic for her and she longs to see real trees. However, when her sister Bay chooses to go above, Rio realises that she will never get her chance. One member of each bloodline must always remain below. Not only has Bay doomed Rio to a life under the sea with no explanation, but she has also left her all alone.

Yet Rio will not accept her fate and begins to desperately search for a way to get to the surface. Yet she soon discovers that she must hurry. Something is going wrong with Atlantia and if she does not leave soon, she may not get another chance. To make matters worse, she has a terrible secret. She is a Siren – one blessed with the ability to control others with their voice – and there are certainly those who would use this to their advantage…

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The X-Files: Ground Zero

Please note that this review may contain spoilers for earlier instalments in this series. You can read my reviews of these novels by clicking the links below:

Goblins | Whirlwind

I apologise for the lack of reviews over the last few weeks – I’ve had a bit of a rough time of late. Still, hopefully that is now all over with and so I can get back to working through my ominous “to read” pile…

For tonight’s review, I will be returning to the series of original The X-Files novels that were published between 1994 and 1998. This was a collection of six full-length stories by three different authors that presented self-contained adventures for Special Agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully which were never made into episodes. Today, I’ll be looking at the third novel – Ground Zero by Kevin J Anderson. And there will be spoilers. You have been warned…

Dr Emil Gregory has worked as a nuclear weapons researcher for decades and is proud to have been involved with dozens of top-secret projects. Yet his most recent one – code named Bright Anvil – is set to be the most incredible of them all. Unfortunately, Dr Gregory does not live to see it come to fruition. He is found in his remarkably intact office, burned to a crisp by radioactive fire.

As the death occurred on Federal property, Mulder and Scully are quickly called upon to investigate. However, it’s not long before they realise that Dr Gregory is not the only one to have died in such a way. Several other victims are found with similar injuries and the only thing connecting them is that they have each had some association with nuclear weapons tests in the past.

It’s not long before Mulder and Scully discover a link to a protest group lead by a former assistant of Dr Gregory. Is it possible that they have something to do with the murders and, if so, what possible weapon could they have developed to exact their revenge? As Operation Bright Anvil draws closer, Mulder and Scully enter a race against to clock to find out who is responsible before they can endanger everyone involved in the project…

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Skyward

Skyward was written by Brandon Sanderson and first published in 2018. It is a science-fiction novel set on a remote planet, where humans are forced to hide underground due to frequent alien attacks. The novel is the first part of a planned series, though at the time of writing no future instalments have been announced.

Ever since their ship crash landed on Detritus, Spensa’s people have been besieged by the Krell. The mysterious aliens frequently attack settlements, preventing them from growing too large or scavenging the materials that fall from the debris field that surrounds the planet. All it would take would be for the Krell to drop one lifebuster bomb in the right place and the human race could be wiped out forever.

The only thing protecting humans from the Krell are the pilots – brave men and women who risk their lives to engage the Krell in fierce aerial battles. It has always been Spensa’s dream to be one of them, but her father’s actions during the Battle of Alta have barred her from this forever. No one wants to give the time of day to the daughter of a coward, let alone allow her to pilot a fighter.

However, when Spensa manages to impress one of the tutors, she is given a chance to prove herself. Her time in training will not be easy due to her family’s reputation, but she is determined to prove Admiral Ironsides wrong by becoming the best pilot of all time. However, it’s not long before Spensa starts to learn the truth about her father. She has always been certain that he was no coward, but the truth about him could be more horrifying. Worse still, it could also affect her ability to fly…

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Only Ever Yours

Only Ever Yours was written by Louise O’Neill and first published in 2014. It is a dark dystopian science fiction story which is set in a world were women are genetically engineered to please men. The novel stands alone, so you don’t have to read any of the author’s other work to fully appreciate it.

freida is an eve who has just entered her sixteenth year. That means that it is finally time for her to graduate and be accepted into one of the three areas of society appropriate for females. frieda has always dreamed of being chosen as a companion – one who will become a wife and bear as many sons as she can to the husband who chooses her. The alternatives are to become either a concubine (one who will please any man who so desires her services) or a chastity (those who are undesirable to all and therefore teach the next generation of eves).

The problem is, freida’s ranking has been slipping. As she struggles with a sleeping disorder, her weight increases above the window that is deemed acceptable and, for the first time in years, she finds that she is not one of the top ten. This is a huge problem for her, as only the most attractive and obedient girls will be lucky enough to become a companion.

While freida works to improve her image and become attractive again, he notices that her friend isabel’s standards are slipping. While she was previously top ranked, isabel’s huge weight gain has completely knocked her off the leader-board. freida desperately wants her friend to see the error of her ways but can she really risk her own image by associating with someone so hideous? With the graduation ceremony only months away, any mistake could cost freida her future…

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Day 7

Please note that this review may contain spoilers for Cell 7. You can read my review of this novel [here].

Day 7 was written by Kerry Drewery and first published in 2017. It forms the second part of the Cell 7 trilogy, following Cell 7 (2016) and preceding Final 7 (2018). As the novel picks up exactly where the previous instalment left off, I would really recommend reading them in sequence to have any idea of what is going on.

Martha has been found innocent and freed from Death Row but it has come at a terrible cost. To save her, Isaac admitted that he was the one who shot Jackson Paige. Now, he has taken her place in the Cells and will certainly be executed in seven days. After all, how could the public possibly declare him not guilty when he has openly admitted to the crime?

As Martha returns home with Eve and Max, she quickly learns that all of her efforts have been for nothing. All copies of her evidence against Jackson have been destroyed and the public now believe that she is simply a liar. She may have escaped execution but her trial-by-public continues, helped by reports that she is dangerously unstable. It seems that someone at the top wants Martha to go away and will gladly hurt her allies to achieve this.

On the run and wanted by the authorities, it seems that there is little that Martha can do to save Isaac. However, she is then approached by an unexpected person who claims that they can help. Patty – Isaac’s adopted mother – claims that she has her own reasons for wanting Isaac to go free and can provide Martha with the means to save him. However, can Martha trust her or is this just another trap?

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