Time for the second installment of Mini Book Reviews. This time, it’s ALL SCI FI, ALL THE TIME!
The Light at the Bottom of the World
Author: London Shah
Release Date: October 29th, 2019
Synopsis: At the end of the twenty-first century, the world has changed dramatically, but life continues one thousand feet below the ocean’s surface. In Great Britain, sea creatures swim among the ruins of Big Ben and the Tower of London, and citizens waver between fear and hope; fear of what lurks in the abyss, and hope that humanity will soon discover a way to reclaim the Earth.
Meanwhile, sixteen-year-old Leyla McQueen has her own problems to deal with. Her father’s been arrested, accused of taking advantage of victims of the Seasickness-a debilitating malaise that consumes people,often claiming their lives. But Leyla knows he’s innocent, and all she’s interested in is getting him back so that their lives can return to normal.
When she’s picked to race in the action-packed London Submersible Marathon, Leyla gets the chance to secure his freedom; the Prime Minister promises the champion whatever their heart desires. The race takes an unexpected turn, though, and presents her with an opportunity she never wanted: Leyla must venture outside of London for the first time in her life, to find and rescue her father herself.
Now, she’ll have to brave the unfathomable waters and defy a corrupt government determined to keep its secrets, all the while dealing with a secretive, hotheaded companion she never asked for in the first place. If she fails, or falls prey to her own fears, she risks capture–and her father might be lost forever.
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Stop sleeping on this book! The Light at the Bottom of the World is a fascinating sci fi novel with underwater worlds, submersible racing, and a government that is not handling a deadly sickness well. *stares directly into camera*
London Shah crafts an intricate and endlessly fascinating underwater world that I could read another 300 pages on. And while the world Shah builds is highly captivating, the real strength in this book is the focus on family bonds. The loyalty the characters have to blood and found family is a wonderful theme throughout the story. I thought the characters were well fleshed out, though I could have done without the romance subplot. My one gripe about the book is that the romance felt like it was just there because that’s what people expect in a YA novel.
If you are looking for an action packed story set in a highly unique world, go pick up The Light at the Bottom of the World. Immediately.
The Vanishing Deep
Author: Astrid Scholte
Publisher: Penguin Teen
Release Date: March 3rd, 2020
Synopsis: Seventeen-year-old Tempe was born into a world of water. When the Great Waves destroyed her planet, its people had to learn to survive living on the water, but the ruins of the cities below still called. Tempe dives daily, scavenging the ruins of a bygone era, searching for anything of value to trade for Notes. It isn’t food or clothing that she wants to buy, but her dead sister’s life. For a price, the research facility on the island of Palindromena will revive the dearly departed for twenty-four hours before returning them to death. It isn’t a heartfelt reunion that Tempe is after; she wants answers. Elysea died keeping a terrible secret, one that has ignited an unquenchable fury in Tempe: Her beloved sister was responsible for the death of their parents. Tempe wants to know why.
But once revived, Elysea has other plans. She doesn’t want to spend her last day in a cold room accounting for a crime she insists she didn’t commit. Elysea wants her freedom and one final glimpse at the life that was stolen from her. She persuades Tempe to break her out of the facility, and they embark on a dangerous journey to discover the truth about their parents’ death and mend their broken bond. But they’re pursued every step of the way by two Palindromena employees desperate to find them before Elysea’s time is up–and before the secret behind the revival process and the true cost of restored life is revealed.
Rating: 4 Stars
The Vanishing Deep by Astrid Scholte is a fast paced story that focuses on sisterly bonds and the dangers of not letting go.
Scholte writes a world so real that I swear I could feel the sun on my skin and the salt in the air. Where the world building could have been very heavy handed due to the complexity of the novel’s setting, Scholte was able to delicately and precisely create a fascinating water world for her story. The pacing is tight and there are some genuinely shocking twists (one literally made my jaw drop!), but the ending falters a little. While this is a standalone novel, there are more than a few parts of the ending that are left open and felt unsatisfying. If this was a duology and we’d be getting some more in this world, I honestly think this would have been a 5 star read. Definitely worth the read, but just know the ending may not satisfy you as much as you would hope for.
Author: Melissa Landers
Release Date: February 2nd, 2016
Synopsis: Life in the outer realm is a lawless, dirty, hard existence, and Solara Brooks is hungry for it. Just out of the orphanage, she needs a fresh start in a place where nobody cares about the engine grease beneath her fingernails or the felony tattoos across her knuckles. She’s so desperate to reach the realm that she’s willing to indenture herself to Doran Spaulding, the rich and popular quarterback who made her life miserable all through high school, in exchange for passage aboard the spaceliner Zenith.
When a twist of fate lands them instead on the Banshee, a vessel of dubious repute, Doran learns he’s been framed on Earth for conspiracy. As he pursues a set of mysterious coordinates rumored to hold the key to clearing his name, he and Solara must get past their enmity to work together and evade those out for their arrest. Life on the Banshee may be tumultuous, but as Solara and Doran are forced to question everything they once believed about their world—and each other—the ship becomes home, and the eccentric crew family. But what Solara and Doran discover on the mysterious Planet X has the power to not only alter their lives, but the existence of everyone in the universe…
Rating: 4 Stars
A fast and fun YA science fiction read with shades of Firefly and plenty of action to keep you reading.
Starflight was not what I was expecting. I had somehow missed the comparisons to Firefly before I read the book, so I was utterly delighted during my read while I picked up on similar tropes. A ragtag crew of space pirates takes on a sassy female mechanic and a rich boy who has been wrongly accused and has to outrun the government? Sign me up!
The world building was strong and thankfully not dense at all. The characters were all amusing and well built. I wavered as to how I felt about Solora and Doran having a romance, considering how they treated each other in the beginning, but it wasn’t a deal breaker for me. There were some genuine twists and turns, none of which I saw coming, and the story was well paced. All in all, a fantastic YA sci fi read that deserves far more recognition.