Once Upon a Space-Time! - Jeffrey Brown
Once Upon a Space-Time! has everything a good sci-fi story needs: robots, space, and aliens. This slice-of-life graphic novel by the author of the Jedi Academy series follows the adventures of Petra and Jide, two space cadets sent to Mars as part of an exploration program, co-run by an alien species that are all clones of an alien named Tobey. Along they way, they meet other alien explorers also here for the same purpose. The book is a fun and short read full of laughs, but also explains space concepts, like a space elevator and dangerous Mars dust (it’s scarier than it sounds). If you like space, you’ll like Once Upon a Space-Time.
Word Count: 113
Iron Man: The Gauntlet - Eoin Colfer
Eoin Colfer’s written a lot of great books. Iron Man: The Gauntlet, however, is not one of them. This book sees Tony Stark on a secret mission. Well, as secret as a genius billionaire playboy philanthropist/superhero can be. Tony, on his way to a eco-summit in Dublin, decides to check out an anomaly near the coast. However, he probably should’ve chosen a better time, because at that moment, he was wearing the Party Pack, an Iron Man suit made for showing off to the public, not the heat of battle. The book’s plot seems enticing enough, but the development of the story doesn’t live up to what it could be. The characters in the book are as unique as a slice of toast. The (spoiler), the main villain of the story, is faithful to the comics unlike his movie adaptation, yes, but his goals are still that of a generic movie villain. Iron Man: The Gauntlet has the beginnings of a strong story that unfortunately, doesn’t deliver.
Word count: 168
Mockingjay - Suzanne Collins
Spoiler warning! Read at your own risk :)
Reading Mockingjay blew my mind. If I hadn’t seen the movie a year ago, I never would have seen any of it coming, from Finnick dying, Peeta being brainwashed, to Coin’s hand in the bombing that killed Prim and the future president’s death. Hiding the grand scale might have been the smartest decision Collins made. The self-contained tasks that held a larger narrative beneath the surface made it feel like Katniss was just fighting single enemies in the arena of the Hunger Games. Not only was the action great, but the emotion of every character gave the book even more value. At the very end of the book, Katniss was as broken as District 12, having lost so much - Rue, her friend during her first Hunger Games, Cinna, her friend and costume designer at the Capitol, Finnick, her wisecracking ally from the Quarter Quell, and Prim, her loving sister, and the person she did everything she could to protect her from the dangerous world that is Panem. Everything she faces in her life cuts scars deeper and deeper, creating everlasting horrors that no one should have to suffer through. Even through all of that, however, Katniss endures, and eventually overcomes ever obstacle in her life to help bring both Panem and herself to peace.
Word Count: 214
The Trials of Apollo: The Tyrant’s Tomb - Rick Riordan
From Greek to Roman to Egyptian to Norse Mythology, Rick Riordan’s really done it all. With the Trials of Apollo, Riordan turns a god into a normal human, stripped of his power, with the only way to get back being liberating his Oracles and putting an end to the most diabolical emperors in history, who have resurfaced and are about to wreak havoc. In the Tyrant’s Tomb, Apollo finds himself in Camp Jupiter, the “camp” where Roman demigods live. Now, he has to fight off against emperor Tarquin, but that’s not all. Very soon, two emperors, Caligula and Commodus, will wage war on Camp Jupiter. Yikes. The whole series has mainly been about Apollo hilariously coming to terms with leaving his pampered immortal life and embarking on his journey as a mortal. In this volume of his story, Apollo started to understand the absurd and terrible things he had done to people. His realizing and apologizing for his mistakes had been explored earlier, but not in as much detail. This time around, his conscience and regret made him more human, and learned from the error of his ways. All in all, The Tyrant’s Tomb is a must-read for any fan of Rick Riordan.
Word count: 203
Thunderhead - Neil Schusterman
The only person who could craft a story as well as J.K Rowling is Neil Shusterman. This is evident with Thunderhead, the sequel to Scythe. In the book, Rowan, now a fugitive of the Scythedom, spends his days killing corrupt scythes. Citra, now called Scythe Anastasia, lives as a scythe, honorably taking life. Things seem to be doing relatively ok, but that’s until the conspiracy begins. When Citra’s life is put in jeopardy, a bigger plot unfolds, which leads to shocking discoveries, familiar faces, and one event that leads to severe repercussions. In many ways, this is the Scythe trilogy’s Catching Fire. In both books, the main characters are shaken after the events of the last book. They both try to do what they can bring some sense of normalcy to their lives, but to no avail. There is also word of an uprising gaining traction. The main characters hear about this and try to suppress it, also to no avail. Eventually, they are summoned to a far away place, in which everything changes. At the end of the book, one singular event shatters the world to the core, and that’s when the characters know that there’s no going back. Thunderhead delves deeper into the world created in Scythe, and jumps deeper into the rabbit hole of morality created by the scythedom, it’s limits, and those who would yearn to break them. All in all, Thunderhead is a masterpiece of dystopian fiction, which could only be crafted by an author as talented as Neil Shusterman.
Word Count: 256