The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes

Please note that this review may contain spoilers for earlier instalments of this series. You can read my reviews of these novels here:

The Hunger Games | Catching Fire | Mockingjay

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes was written by Suzanne Collins and first published in 2020. It is a prequel to the popular The Hunger Games Trilogy and focuses on a young Coriolanus Snow as he mentors a tribute in the 10th Annual Hunger Games. Although it is set 64 years before the original trilogy, I would strongly recommend reading The Hunger Games (2008), Catching Fire (2009) and Mockingjay (2010) first to fully appreciate what is going on.

Coriolanus Snow is the heir of the Snow family, but since the war his family have sunk into poverty. In order to provide for his Grandmother and cousin, Tigris, he needs to win a grant to study at the Capitol’s university. Failure to do so will mean that they will certainly lose their apartment. Luckily, an opportunity has arisen. Coriolanus has been selected to mentor the District 12 tribute in the upcoming Hunger Games. If he makes a good impression, he will certainly secure the funding that he needs.

While Coriolanus does not expect that his tribute, Lucy Gray Baird, will win the games, he is pleased when her talent for singing makes her a star in the Capitol. Desperately, he seeks a way to use this to his advantage and come out on top with popularity alone. However, as Coriolanus spends more time with Lucy Gray, he comes to realise that he actually wants to her to win. Although Lucy Gray does not look like much when compared to some of the stronger tributes, he begins to plan a strategy that will allow her to defeat them by any means necessary.

Yet his victory will not be easy. Hampered by the psychotic Gamesmaster and his association with Sejanus Plinth, a classmate who is oddly sympathetic with the Districts, Coriolanus must use all of his wits and cunning to succeed. If he cannot win a place at University, how will he ever succeed in his ambition of one day ruling Panem…

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Cinder

Apologies for the delays in recent posts. The night is dark and full of terrors, and I have been struggling to find the motivation to write up my reviews over the last few weeks. Especially due to the topical subject-matter of this one, but more on that shortly.

Cinder was written by Marissa Meyer and first published in 2012. It is a science fiction reimagining of Cinderella, set in a futuristic plague-struck Beijing. The novel forms the first part of The Lunar Chronicles and is followed by Scarlet (2013), Cress (2014) and Winter (2015).

Linh Cinder’s skills as a mechanic have been recognised all over New Beijing. She has even managed to catch the eye of Prince Kai, who has commissioned her to repair his personal android. However, she knows that she will always be a second class citizen. Almost everyone looks down on her due to her cyborg limbs and Cinder knows that her stepmother only tolerates her due to the fact that she is useful.

However, when Cinder’s favourite stepsister contracts letumosis – the deadly blue fever – her stepmother is quick to blame her unwanted child. She immediately donates Cinder to the government for medical research, knowing that this is likely to be fatal. With no right to resist, Cinder quickly finds herself at the mercy of Dr Erland. Yet, in doing so, she makes a startling discovery. She is actually immune to the plague.

The secret to Cinder’s immunity is hidden within her mysterious past, and Cinder is eager to crack it if it could result in a cure for her sister. However, the political situation within New Beijing is tense. The Emperor has recently passed away and the barbaric Lunar Queen is eager to marry Prince Kai to secure her power over the people of the Earth. As Cinder gets closer to the prince, she finds herself in a delicate situation. Can she help find a way to save all life on Earth before the Prince is forced to make a dangerous choice – one that could endanger the freedom of everyone?

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Crier’s War

Crier’s War was written by Nina Varela and will be released in the United Kingdom on 20th February 2020. It is a science-fiction fantasy story that is set in a world where humanoid Automae have taken control of the planet, treating the humans that created them as slaves. The novel forms the first part of a planned series, though at the time of writing no future instalments have been announced.

Lady Crier was Made to her “father’s” exact specifications. King Hesod needed his daughter and heir to represent the very best of the Automae – intelligent, beautiful and refined. Her betrothal to the legendary warrior, Kinok, will only serve to make the Kingdom of Rabu even stronger. Yet Crier soon discovers that Kinok has learned something about her. He has discovered a flaw in her schematics which, if revealed, will certainly result in her termination. Crier soon realises that she is now just a pawn in a larger game and is powerless to stop it.

Ayla is a human girl who has good reason to hate the Automae. Her family was executed on Hesod’s orders and now she wants only one thing – to destroy his daughter from him in return. Fortune smiles on Ayla when she manages to save Crier’s life and is taken on as the lonely Automa’s handmaiden. She soon realises that this could be her chance not only to have her revenge but also destroy the Automae once and for all.

However, a deeper conspiracy is at foot. Crier and Ayla soon learn that Kinok may have made a dangerous discovery that could well remove the Automae’s only weakness. Doing so will inevitably cause a power struggle, putting both humans and Automae in danger. Both Crier and Ayla are determined to us this knowledge to their advantage, but soon find their individual missions hindered by their forbidden attraction to each other…

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The Girl Who Dared to Descend

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

The Girl Who Dared to Think | The Girl Who Dared to Stand

The Girl Who Dared to Descend was written by Bella Forrest and first published in 2017. It is the third instalment of The Girl Who Dared series, following Liana and her friends as they continue to investigate systematic corruption within the Tower. The novel is preceded by The Girl Who Dared to Think (2017) and The Girl Who Dared to Stand (2017), and followed by The Girl Who Dared to Rise (2017), The Girl Who Dared to Lead (2018), The Girl Who Dared to Endure (2018) and The Girl Who Dared to Fight (2018). Due to this, I would strongly recommending reading them in sequence to have any idea of what is going on.

Although Devon is dead, Liana is in more trouble than ever. She has now been captured and awaits trial for her part in his murder. Worse still, she does not even have Grey to comfort her. His injuries are so severe that Leo now inhabits her lover’s neural net, controlling his body while he repairs the damage to Grey’s mind.

Yet, Liana soon learns that she has allies in high places – ones that are capable of controlling Scipio and making it seem as though her crimes were actually in service to the Tower. However, they want something from her in return. The Knights will now need to hold a Tourney to determine their new Champion. Liana and her friends must enter this contest to ensure that a resistance sympathiser – Ambrose – is the one chosen.

It seems like a simple task, but danger lurks behind every corner. Unknown legacies will stop at nothing to ensure that Ambrose is killed before he can advance too far, and Ambrose himself is reluctant to accept the help of a band of criminals. Worse still, they are no closer to discovering who has been hacking into Scipio in the first place. How can Liana protect someone if she does not know how deep the conspiracy goes?

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I Hope You Get This Message

Sorry for being so quiet lately. I’ve had bit of a stressful couple of weeks and therefore put this blog on the back-burner while I focused on myself. However, I am feeling much better now so I’m going to spend the next few reviews catching you up on everything that I have been reading!

I Hope You Get This Message was written by Farah Naz Rishi and first published in 2019. It is a science fiction novel which focuses on how three teenagers spend their final week before the world ends. The novel stands alone, so you don’t have to read any of the author’s other work to fully appreciate it.

Earth has intercepted a transmission from Alma – the only other inhabited planet in the Universe. Unfortunately, it is not good news. Alma created Earth with a purpose and are unhappy about how humans are treating the planet. A jury is currently in session to determine the fate of all human life. Depending on their verdict, a virus could be released in seven days that will wipe out all life on the planet.

Naturally, this news is taken in a variety of ways. While many believe the message to be a hoax, others take to the streets and begin looting. For Cate Collins, it could well be her last chance to learn the truth about her father. With only a few clues left by her schizophrenic mother to go by, she knows that it will be difficult but she has no choice but to try. She soon meets Adeem Kahn – a teenager in search of his estranged sister – and the two decide to help each other out on their quests.

In Roswell, Jesse Hewett has decided to take advantage of the desperation of others. Claiming to have invented a way to transmit messages to Alma, he becomes an overnight celebrity but also attracts the interest of some less-savoury individuals. It’s not long before Jesse, Cate and Adeem’s stories collide, but will the world end when they do?

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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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Glow: Book 1 – Potency

Glow: Book 1 – Potency was written by Aubrey Hadley and is due for release in July 2019. It is a science fiction novel that focuses on a teenage girl whose life is changed for ever when she is abducted by aliens. The novel forms the first part of a planned series, though at the time of writing no future instalments have been announced.

Harper can’t wait to go to college. Her controlling mother has always home-schooled her and does everything that she can to prevent her daughter from going outside. She claims that this is due to her fears about the Mara Sleeping Sickness – a deadly disease which has struck a couple of random places around the globe – but Harper thinks this is ridiculous. There hasn’t been an outbreak reported anywhere near them.

One afternoon, when Harper sneaks out to play football with her friends, she sees something weird; a glowing spectral figure, roaming the desert near her home. A few days later, the Mara Sleeping Sickness strikes only a few blocks away and Harper’s whole town is put into quarantine. Although all of Harper’s family manage to escape, she finds herself trapped within the compound as her neighbours start to die.

Yet, Harper soon learns that the disease is extraterrestrial in origin. More surprising still, the Ancients – the advanced race of aliens who have engineered it – have more than a passing interest in her. As Harper is whisked off to the Ancients’ military base, she learns that she is actually a hybrid made from human and Ancient DNA. As she is introduced to other people like her, she comes to learn the Ancients’ plan for Earth. The planet has been deemed worthy of protection, but to do so the aliens plan to wipe out the human race…

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The Extinction Trials: Rebel

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:

The Extinction Trials | The Extinction Trials: Exile

The Extinction Trials: Rebel was written by S.M Wilson and first published in 2019. It tells the continuing story of Stormchaser and Lincoln, as humans are forced to populate Piloria for the first time. The novel forms the final part of The Extinction Trials trilogy, following on shortly after The Extinction Trials (2018) and The Extinction Trials: Exile (2018) left off. Because of this, I would recommend reading the novels in sequence to fully appreciate what is going on.

For six months, Stormchaser and Reban have been forced to work together to survive in the jungles of Piloria. Although the viruses seem to have wiped out the tyrannosaurs and pterodactyls, it has had the reverse effect on the raptors. These creatures seem to be growing more powerful by the day – larger, faster and dangerously intelligent. It takes all of Storm and Reban’s skill to stay one step ahead of the deadly predators.

Meanwhile on Earthsia, Lincoln’s kindness has had terrible consequences. The plants that he brought back from Piloria have saved everyone from the blistering plague. However, it soon becomes clear that this disease was the only thing controlling the population. Now, there are too many mouths to feed and not even the Stipulators have the power to quell the riots.

Loading up the last two boats with a collection of politicians and labourers, the humans have no choice but to take their chances on Piloria. However, most people are completely unprepared for life on the dinosaur continent. It will take all of Storm and Lincoln’s skills to educate the frightened survivors on how to live in the savage lands. However, Silas still struggles to keep his position of power. The former Chief Stipulator has other ideas about how they must survive, ones that could have fatal consequences…

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Archenemies

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

Archenemies was written by Marissa Meyer and first published in 2018. It is a science fiction novel which tells the continuing story of Nova – a double-agent trying to bring down an established group of superheroes from the inside. The novel forms the second part of the Renegades Trilogy and follows on directly from where Renegades (2017) left off, therefore I would recommend reading the novels in sequence to fully appreciate what’s going on.

Following her battle against the Detonator, Nova Artino has finally secured a position of respect within the ranks of the Renegades. Her secret alter ego – the villain Nightmare – is believed to be dead and she has finally been granted permission to work in the archives of the Renegades headquarters. As soon as she can get her hands on Ace Anarchy’s helmet – the device that he needs to focus his telekinetic powers – she will be able to deliver victory into the hands of the Anarchists.

Adrian Everhart has also finally found a moment of peace. When the Sentinel is believed to have been killed in battle, he is finally granted the opportunity to put his secret vigilante persona to rest and bring his life back to normal. Although he is still desperate to find out who killed his mother, he has now exhausted all of his leads. Perhaps it is time to focus on his team and budding feelings for Nova.

Yet everything changes when the Renegades unveil a new secret weapon. All patrols will soon be equipped with vial of Agent N – a fast-acting drug that has the ability to permanently strip a Prodigy of their powers. Although Nova is horrified at the thought of how this could be abused, she also realises that it could be a way to finally defeat the Renegades forever. Yet, she knows that she must proceed with caution. One of her team mates – Monarch – seems to be growing increasingly suspicious of her…

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Jumper

Jumper was written by Steven Gould and first published in 1992. It is a science fiction story about a teenage boy who discovers that he has the ability to teleport. The novel forms the first part of the Jumper series and is followed by Reflex (2004), Impulse (2013) and Exo (2014), as well as a couple of short-stories that are set in the same universe. The story was also made into a major motion picture in 2008, although this film is only very loosely based on the first novel.

Davy Rice first discovers his power when he is about to receive a beating from his alcoholic father. One second, he is in his home; the next he is in the local library. Through trial and error, he soon discovers that he has the ability to instantly teleport to any place that he has visited before, so long as he can clearly visualise that spot in his mind. The potential of this thrills him. Finally, he has a way to get away from his father and search for his mother, who abandoned him when he was little.

However, Davy soon discovers a major flaw in his plan. As a seventeen-year-old runaway, he has no chance of surviving by himself. He has no money, identification or social security number. Unable to find a job by any legitimate means, he uses his power to its full potential and successfully steals almost a million dollars from a bank.

The money is more than enough for Davy to buy a life for himself, living comfortably and quickly falling in love. However, it also makes him more confident and Davy starts to use his ability to jump more and more. After a horrible crime takes away someone that he cares about, he starts to realise that he could use his power to save lives. However, doing so draws the attention of the NSA. Is there a way that he can continue to help people without being caught or, worse still, becoming a pawn of the American government?

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