The Backlist: The Illuminae Files

Hello all! I’m back with another set of backlist reviews. This time around I look at The Illuminae Files by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff. This trilogy was one of my surprise reads of 2018. I constantly avoided these books, honestly, because I hated the bright orange cover of Illuminae. Well, you know the saying about judging book covers and ooooh boy did my aversion to orange kick me in the teeth because The Illuminae Files are STELLAR!

 

Illuminae | Read March 1 -3, 2018 | 5 Stars

HOLY HECK I LOVED THIS BOOK! I didn’t know to expect going into this read, but a fast paced, hilarious, and INTENSELY CREEPY science fiction story that was told in an incredible and unique format was not it.

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Me for basically the entire book.

To say this book exceeded my expectations would be a vast understatement. The story stars Kady Grant, a spectacularly snarky computer hacker, Ezra Miller, her very pretty and very recent ex-boyfriend, and AIDAN, who I won’t say much about because I’m not sure if it’d count as spoilers but hot damn they are the best character. There is inaudible profanity, snark, slow burn creepiness, snark, space battles, snark, dire situations with dire consequences, and oh, did I mention the SNARK? This little quick review doesn’t even begin to describe all the awesome held within the obscenely orange cover of this book. If you like science fiction, or want to dip a toe into this genre pool, I 1000% recommend this book. Honestly, it is probably my favorite book read in 2018.

 

Gemina | Read March 7 – 16, 2018 | 4.5 stars

Oh boy, was I full of trepidation going into this one. I’m never a fan when a story suddenly shifts to the perspectives of whole new characters for large chunks of the story. What if these new characters didn’t fill the snarky, murder-y desires of my heart? But my fears were for naught BECAUSE HOLY HECK I LOVED THIS BOOK! Honestly, I have but one issue with this book and I’ll save it for the very end of this review because it is a spoiler (don’t worry, I’ll put up a warning before it hits). In Gemina, we get a new main trio to love, along with a cast of awesome and/or villainous characters. Hanna is the rich, spoiled, but well-trained daughter of Jump Station Heimdall’s captain. Nik is the attractive bad boy from the station’s crime family who supplies Hanna with drugs and snark. And Ella is Nik’s cousin who put’s Kady’s wit and hacking skills to shame. All three of them are forced to work together as a BeiTech strike team attack the jump station. But there is another sinister and creepy plot going on throughout the jump station and basically everything crescendos into glorious chaos. This book is another intense and snarky space adventure told in the same amazing format as the previous book. And now we come to the…

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SPOILER ALERT!

Literally the ONLY reason I knock this book down to a 4.5 is because of the author’s fall back on killing off a main character in an emotionally traumatic way and then bringing them right back. I LOATHE when this becomes a repeat thing. And while it was handled in a different way than in Illuminae, it still irritated me a bit.

END SPOILERS!

 

Obsidio | Read March 17 – 24, 2018 | 4 stars

I struggled with the rating of this one. Honestly, as I write this I am still wavering if I should kick it up to 4.5. Because this was a fantastic end to this trilogy. But I can’t explain much without being completely spoilery. I’ll dance around it for a bit and see if I can figure out how to say it. This book brings us yet another new set characters and I think these are the ones that deeply explore the emotional trauma of war/invasion the most. The scenes on the occupied surface of Kerenza are intense. It reminded me a lot of Season 3 of Battlestar Galactic. But even with how emotionally impactful the concept of the Kerenza scenes were, I felt like I had very little left to give the new characters. I think they were still well written and the Kerenza plot was good, but I spent most of the time waiting for scenes with the original crew. The plot is tense, and the action is superb. There are twists and turns and some damn fine writing. Certain things that are revealed in this book kinda blew my mind a little bit. As an ending goes, it was wholly satisfying.

SPOILERS BELOW FOR WHY I KNOCKED THIS ONE DOWN TO 4 STAR

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The authors pulled the “dead but not dead” fake out AGAIN! I was so damn angry with this. So angry. It’s lazy and I saw it coming a mile away. It makes me even angrier considering how often Jay Kristoff harps on other writers for lazy writing (his Instagram stories are amusing AF). And now that I’m typing this out I am fully okay with a 4 star. Either kill your darlings or don’t. You shouldn’t have it both ways. Especially more than once. Ugh.

END SPOILERS

 

All in all, I am angry at myself for staying away from these books for so long (*shakes fist at orange cover of Illuminae*). While I had one consistent issue with these books, I still consider them one of my new favorite Sci Fi series. I’d give the trilogy as a whole 4.5 stars. Kaufman and Kristoff have a new Sci Fi series that they are working on and HOLY HECK I CANNOT WAIT!

 

Thanks for joining me for another Backlist post! I’m not sure which ones I’ll be doing next. I must go stare at my shelves and see what jumps out at me.

The Backlist: Weregirl Trilogy

Many moons ago, when I was first starting to gain traction in the #bookstagram community I was asked by Chooseco Publishing to review their upcoming book, Weregirl: Typhon. I got the book and then realized that it was third in a series. I managed to snag a copy of the first book in a used bookstore and then I got a copy of the second book through NetGalley. This is all to tell you that 2 out of the 3 reviews below are from books that were provided to me by the publisher. All opinions are my own and are in no way impacted by the publisher providing me a copy of the book.

 

Weregirl | Read August 31 – September 3, 2018 | 3 Stars (Goodreads)

Weregirl is not your average werewolf story. Instead of pack mentality and alpha wolves, we are given a shadowy bio-tech corporation and a newly turned werewolf who must figure out her new powers on her own. While I appreciated that the main character, Nessa, wasn’t a typical YA MC, many of the side characters were not fleshed out nearly enough and fell flat for me. There was also quite a bit of focus on Nessa’s high school struggles. While I tend to read a lot of YA, I have to be in the right mood to handle high school stories and I don’t think I was in quite the right mood when I read this. Though, I do feel that Nessa’s personal struggles make her relatable and vulnerable to the reader. The book was at time predictable, but I appreciated a different take on a “new werewolf” story.

 
Weregirl: Chimera | Read September 3 – September 5, 2018 | 3 Stars (Goodreads)

The 2nd book in the Weregirl trilogy, Chimera, takes us back into the life of Nessa and her newfound status of werewolf in the small town of Tether. If you thought Weregirl was wild, well, Chimera kicks it up a few notches. Which is both good and bad…
In Chimera we get more background into Nessa’s mother and her estranged father. All that background could be a trilogy of its own. Chimera felt at times, slow and then suddenly fast paced, because of all the plot and twists. This book is much heavier on the science side, with more exploration into hybrids and chimeras (whether or not the science holds up is beyond me). I also really enjoyed the relationships between characters in this book and how they evolved.

One of my biggest complaints is the writing style and this may come from the fact that C.D. Bell is actually a group of six authors all writing one book. I find that sometimes Nessa will realize something important, seemingly forget it, and then remember it all over again. Which really throws off the pacing. While I am all for collaboration, this is something that should have been noted and fixed in editing.

All in all, Chimera was a decent second book to this series. I truly enjoy the “evil science corporation” side of this werewolf story and this makes it stand out over more traditional werewolf books. A lot of this book felt like set up for the third book and that made it a little less enjoyable than the first book.

 
Weregirl: Typhon | Read October 19 – October 22 (ARC read) | 3 Stars (Goodreads)

From start to finish the Weregirl trilogy has been a solid and unique werewolf story. Weregirl: Typhon continues much in the same fashion as the first books: new characters are introduced, the story is intriguing, and I enjoy the science-y edge these books bring to the werewolf genre. However, like the first two books, there are times when the plot slows down and sometimes I want to yell at Nessa A LOT for her choices. Which, I get it, she is a teenager and teenagers are supposed to make stupid choices sometimes. Honestly I want to yell at a lot of teenagers for their choices (I swear, I’m not a bitter old lady AT ALL). Anyways, I do like how the friendship between Nessa and Bree stayed solid throughout the series. This is a great representation of friendship, especially female friendship and that is sometimes quite hard to find in YA books.

At the end of the day, there is nothing particularly groundbreaking in these books. I found them enjoyable enough, but they didn’t make my reread list which is a true sign to me of a great book (at least, a great book in my opinion). I would recommend them to anyone who likes werewolf stories and is looking for a slightly different take on typically werewolf mythology.

The Backlist: Jay Kristoff

Throughout my many years of reading I never knew the importance of book reviews. I figured the reviews left on Amazon, Goodreads, etc. didn’t matter and that the ones that mattered were only by people who did reviews professionally. Now that I know the error of my thinking (Thanks #bookstagram) I am trying to work through reviewing all the books I’ve read in the past. Hence, The Backlist.

Nevernight – Read October-November 2017 – 5 stars!
This book. This damn book. I avoided Nevernight for ages because that cover (specifically the font) just did not work for me. Yes, avoiding a book for the cover is pretty lame but whatever. At the end of the day I was the loser because I kept myself from this gloriously blood soaked book. Mia Corvere is the strong, vicious, yet beautifully vulnerable female main character that this world needs. The world building in this book is…unique. Footnotes, people, there are so many footnotes. At first I thought it was going to drive me crazy but it settled down after a while, so don’t let it deter you! There is great mystery and OMG THE PLOT TWISTS! All the characters are well developed and I found myself liking all of them, even the assholes. This was my first Kristoff book and hot damn was it a good introduction. FYI: if you don’t like lots of metaphors and a wee bit of smut, this might not be the book for you.

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If The Princess Bride existed in Mia’s world, Inigo would be her hero.

Godsgrave – Read December 22-31, 2017 – 5 stars!
This was the last book that I read in 2017 and a way to end the year. Literally finished it at about 11pm on the 31st. AND I STILL AM NOT OVER THAT ENDING. Godsgrave takes what we experienced in Nevernight and dials it all the way up until the damn thing breaks. The banter between Mr. Kindly and Eclipse is one of my favorite things in this book. There are some slower parts to this book, but the action packed parts wholly make up for it. There is a fantastic relationship at the center of this book (which I won’t go into because SPOILERS!) and it was done so darn well. Have I mentioned the ending? BECAUSE OMG. I was devastated when I found out the Darkdawn (book 3) was being delayed, even though I totally understand the reasoning behind it. Godsgrave continues the dark, bloody adventures of our favorite pale daughter.

LIFEL1K3 – Read May 25-25, 2018 – 5 stars!
I read this book in 24 hours. If I wasn’t such a sleep addict I probably would have read it in less. One of my dear friends on Booksta described this book as a fever dream that Jay Kristoff had one night and then turned it into a book. I didn’t know what to expect from this book but it was not this. The cast of characters in this book is so varied and unique. The world building is STELLAR (have you sensed a theme with Kristoff books?). I really feel like I can’t say much about this book without spoiling the fun and surprise of the read. If you want a crazy, fever dream adventure, then this is the one for you.

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Me, at the end of LIFEL1K3.

 

I’ve also read the Illuminae Files by Jay Kristoff (and the awesome Amie Kaufman) but those are going to get their own post because they are just that good.

I hope you enjoyed this new feature! I’m looking forward to doing more in the near future considering I’ve got a backlist of a couple hundred semi-recently read books I can pull from!