Rave Reviews Log: Science Fiction

December 17, 2011

Fever Crumb: A Web of Air

By Philip Reeve
Rating: 4 1/2 stars

This is book 2 in the Fever Crumb series.  Fever, along with the kids Fern and Ruan, has escaped London with the traveling barge of performers and has stayed with them ever since.  Now two years have passed and Fever has created electrical lights for the stage while the kids have become thoroughly enchanted by the lives of the performers.  Then they arrive in the city of Mayda, where Fever hears of Arlo Thursday who is attempting to recover the lost art of flight for humans.  Soon, Fever becomes fascinated with Arlo's project, and opts to stay in Mayda while the performers go elsewhere for a couple of weeks.  But others are also interested in Arlo's work--dangerously interested, where they would prefer to kill whomever succeeds with the idea of flight.  Fever and Arlo race against time to finish their flying machine before those hunting them discover their hiding place.  Will they be successful?  A fascinating story, full of twists and adventures, that science fiction and adventure fans will love.  Let's hope there are many more to this series!

September 12, 2011

The Missing: Torn

By Margaret Peterson Haddix
Rating: 3 3/4 stars

In Book 4 of The Missing series, Katherine and Jonah have been hurtled through time from the year 1600 where their friends Andrea, Brendan and Antonio were stranded to the year 1611 aboard Henry Hudson's ship Discovery on its ill-fated voyage searching for the Northwest Passage.  Jonah must take on the guise of John Hudson, Henry's son, and help fix history again...but this time, he and Katherine are on their own as the Elucidator stops working and then the only person they find who can help them is the evil Second, who started all the trouble!  Second tells them if the pair helps him, then he can help them save their friends.  Can Jonah and Katherine stop time from unraveling?  Can they stop Second in his tracks?  And will they ever get out of time traveling and make it home?  Fans of the series will be intrigued by this new entry, and hope that there will be more to come down the road.

You'll Like It Here (Everybody Does)

By Ruth White
Rating: 4 1/4 stars

With an interesting twist in the beginning, we end up following a family of aliens who have assimilated into Earth--and American--life for years before they are discovered.  As they flee in panic in their craft, they end up in a parallel Earth where some things are the same,but others are extremely different, like uniqueness being a crime.  And who are the mysterious Fathers who are never seen but roundly praised?  What are the little pills everyone takes constantly?  Soon, the Blue family is trapped in a culture they aren't sure they want to be in.  Can they escape before something terrible happens to them?  A fast-moving plot plot and some fun cameos by people who are famous (at least, they are in OUR universe) will draw in readers by the boatload.  This is a fun departure from the author's other books--she will make some new fans!

March 10, 2011

Fever Crumb

By Philip Reeve
Rating: 4 1/2 stars

If you are a fan of Reeve's Hungry City Chronicles, you will certainly want to read this book, which is a prequel taking place centuries before the Chronicles begin.  However, even if you have never picked up that series, this book is still an excellent read.  Fever Crumb is a teenaged girl, adopted as a baby and raised by the Engineers in a futuristic London where technology of our time is misunderstood and lost. She has been taught to be rational and to put feelings aside.  On her first assignment outside her home, Fever is almost immediately taken to be a Scriven--a race of outsiders who once ruled London and were noticeable by their spotted skins but have since been exterminated in riots of years past.  Despite her lack of markings, Fever is pursued by a violent mob.  But that moment touches off both a search for Fever to discover who she truly is and a revolution against the reigning government in London.  As Fever tumbles breathlessly through the next couple of days, revelations and adventure befall her and the people around her at every turn.  A fantastic story with a well-imagined world of the future that fans of scifi will eat up. 

May 10, 2010

Epitaph Road

By David Patneaude
Rating: 4 1/4 stars

It is the year 2097.  Thirty years before, a crippling disease swept the world, killing 97 percent of the male population.  In the resulting chaos, women took the reins, eliminating war and violent crimes and funneling funds into healthcare, ending world hunger, the environment and other social reforms.  And women decided that to keep things this way, they would make sure the male population never exceeded 5 percent.  Men may no longer hold any positions of power.  Some men have rejected the control, and live in nearly all-male communities on the fringes of civilization, like Kellen's dad.  Kellen is one of the 5 percent of males, 14 years old, living in Seattle in a house filled with women with his biggest worry passing his academic trials.  His mother is fairly high up in the PAC, the ruling organization and he sees her rarely.  But on one of her visits home, he inadvertently, through a teacher and some suspicious bits of overheard information, Kellen and his new friends Sunday and Tia piece together a dangerous picture--that maybe, just maybe, the virus that killed most of the world's men, wasn't as random as they thought.  And that maybe, that virus is about to unleashed again, in the town where Kellen's father lives.  Are they right?  And can they warn him in time?  This is a gripping vision of the future, where perhaps the world might be a better place, but at a terrible cost.  Lots of action makes this an exciting read, and fans may be interested in reading about another "perfect" world in The Giver by Lois Lowry.

January 05, 2010


By Margaret Peterson Haddix
Rating: 4 stars

This is book 2 in The Missing series. Readers most definitely need to have read the first book, Found, to make any sense of book 2 as it picks up exactly where we left off. Briefly, famous children have been stolen out of time and they all ended up together as infants in our present. Now at age 13, time travel experts from the future have located all of these now adopted children and want to send them back to where and when they came from originally to make history run the course that it should. But when one of these experts, JB, tries to send Chip and Alex back, Jonah and his sister Katherine tag along. They convince JB to let them stay and try to save Chip and Alex, who are actually princes of England, from certain death. Reluctantly, JB agrees to let them try. But little did Jonah and Katherine know how to manuever in 15th century England, especially when their friends lives are being threatened by their own uncle who is taking the crown for himself! Can this brother and sister team stop their friends from being murdered? And can they do it without changing history? Mindboggling time travel talk may daunt a few readers, but if they suspend their disbelief, they will be drawn into the fast-moving plot and even learn a few things about the 15th century. Fans will be happy to find that the ending is a set up for another time traveling adventure.

November 30, 2009

When You Reach Me

By Rebecca Stead
Rating: 4 1/2 stars

The day an unknown kid walks up to Miranda's best friend Sal and punches him in the stomach, everything changes. Suddenly Sal doesn't seem to want to be her friend anymore. A crazy guy she nicknames "the laughing man" is always on their corner. Their spare apartment key gets stolen. Her one solace is to continually reread her favorite book, A Wrinkle in Time. And then she finds the first note in her library book, part of which reads: "I am coming to save your friend's life, and my own." At first, Miranda doesn't think it is meant for her, but then the second note arrives with her actual name on it. And the third lists proof, proof of things that haven't happened yet. How can someone be sending her notes with things that haven't happened yet...from the future? As Miranda muddles through making new friendships, puzzling out Marcus (the kid who punched Sal), helping her mother prepare to be on the tv game show the $20,000 Pyramid, and the painful process of growing up, she starts to see things in a different light. But when she finally puts all of the pieces together, will it be in time to change anything? Can you change the past? This story is part-mystery, part-science fiction and pulls you in as you try to figure out exactly what is going on. Miranda is an interesting character, especially as she grows and changes as she discovers more about the world she lives in and the choices people make. Even if readers figure out the more mysterious piece of the story early, they will still be eager to see how everything fits together at the end. A very good story!

November 07, 2009

Catching Fire

By Suzanne Collins
Rating: 4 3/4 stars

This is the second book in the Hunger Games series and we pick up where the first book left off. Now that Peeta and Katniss have won the games, they are living privileged lives in beautiful homes with plenty to eat. But Katniss feels hollow--she has no purpose, no reason to sneak into the woods and hunt, and Peeta will barely look at her after he learned about her pretense of love during the games. And her relationship with Gale is even more confusing--is there romance there or not? Then President Snow pays a call on Katniss to inform her that rebellion has been brewing in the other Districts due to the way she showed up the government during the games. He threatens the lives of everyone she cares about if she can't calm the masses during her and Peeta's victory tour and convince him and the world that she and Peeta are truly in love. Katniss does her best, but is sickened by the government's deathgrip on the people who seem buoyed up by her appearances, even wearing her mockingjay pin symbol themselves. But her best is not enough, and President Snow has another trick up his sleeve--a trick that promises to bring about the end of Katniss and everything she holds dear. Readers MUST have finished The Hunger Games to have a prayer of following this story, but it is well worth everyone's while for this series continues to be brutal, intense, psychological and downright mesmerizing as we follow Katniss down to the cliffhanger of an ending that will have fans panting for book 3.