The Wicked Deep

Defy the Stars (Defy the Stars #1) by Claudia Gray

Defy the Stars (Defy the Stars #1) by Claudia GrayDefy the Stars (Defy the Stars, #1) by Claudia Gray
Published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers on April 4, 2017
Pages: 503
Goodreads
two-stars

She's a soldier -- Noemi Vidal is willing to risk anything to protect her planet, Genesis, including her own life. To their enemies on Earth, she's a rebel.

He's a machine -- Abandoned in space for years, utterly alone, Abel's advanced programming has begun to evolve. He wants only to protect his creator, and to be free. To the people of Genesis, he's an abomination.

Noemi and Abel are enemies in an interstellar war, forced by chance to work together as they embark on a daring journey through the stars. Their efforts would end the fighting for good, but they're not without sacrifice. The stakes are even higher than either of them first realized, and the more time they spend together, the more they're forced to question everything they'd been taught was true.

I’m really sad that I didn’t enjoy Defy the Stars. The concept sounded really cool and when I realized it was kindred to a favorite show of mine, Battlestar Galactica, I was even more psyched.

I had a hard time getting into this book. Defy the Stars threw a lot of heavy information at me all at once. I had a hard time understanding the setting, the character’s casual use of unique words and phrases, how the controls on an intergalactic ship work. I was discouraged right from the beginning.

My favorite character was the ‘mech’ Abel, a human-looking robot built with machinery and organic material (just like the Cylons!). Even though there are 26 different mech models Abel is one-of-a-kind. He is the only model A mech. He stands above the other mechs, because he has the combined abilities of all models, like strength and medical experience. Abel was also equipped with the capability to feel emotions, to come to his own conclusions, and make his own decisions. This programming is unheard of in any other mech models. Abel’s journey to understanding human emotions, as well as his own, was fascinating. I loved his inner dialogue, how he learned to analyze the motives and emotional responses from the humans around him, as well as his own.

I hated Noemi. She was my least favorite character. She was bland and boring and I dreaded when the POV switched to her. Noemi says people call her miserable, a “rain cloud”, so I expected her to be sardonic, argumentative, or even snappy, but she wasn’t any of those things. She was lifeless, and I didn’t care about her at all. I just wanted more Abel.

The plot was interesting but Noemi kept ruining it for me. I wanted to see how her and Abel’s relationship would continue to grow, to see how Abel would react and start to understand why he was feeling certain ways about her like caring and even lust. I thought that once Abel acknowledged those thoughts, that this book would be amazing, but I despised Noemi so much that I couldn’t even enjoy that aspect of the story.

I read the first 50% of Defy the Stars, skipped 40%, and then read the last 10% because I wanted to know how book one would end. Minus Noemi, I really liked the last 10%. I can’t bring myself to read that missing 40% which means I’ll be passing on book two.

two-stars
The Wicked Deep

These Broken Stars (Starbound, #1) by Amie Kaufman

These Broken Stars (Starbound, #1) by Amie KaufmanThese Broken Stars (Starbound, #1) by Amie Kaufman, Meagan Spooner
Published by Disney Hyperion on December 10th 2013
Pages: 384
Goodreads
three-half-stars

Luxury spaceliner Icarus suddenly plummets from hyperspace into the nearest planet. Lilac LaRoux and Tarver Merendsen survive – alone. Lilac is the daughter of the richest man in the universe. Tarver comes from nothing, a cynical war hero. Both journey across the eerie deserted terrain for help. Everything changes when they uncover the truth.

The Starbound Trilogy: Three worlds. Three love stories. One enemy.

Before I started These Broken Stars I was convinced that I was going to love it. Unfortunately this book ended up being just an “okay” read. I liked the characters and the setting in These Broken Stars but not the huge plot twist that occurred 3/4 through. The twist confused me and I didn’t like the direction the story went after it was introduced.

I really liked the dynamic between Lil and Tarver, because they come from completely different worlds, and therefore they often contradicted each other. Tarver is a well-mannered, country boy, with a military background, and Lil is a spoiled, young heiress, who gets everything she wants. At least, that’s what people like Tarver believe. Yes, Lil’s been pampered her whole life and has a taste for upper class life, but she’s not a snob who thinks she’s above everyone else. It was so much fun watching them try to work together to survive when they constantly challenged each other.

I definitely understand why some readers have made the comparison between These Broken Stars and the movie, Titanic. Lil (Rose) and Tarver (Jack) come from completely different classes. They fall in love and then try like heck to survive an impending tragedy. Their story also reminded me of Romeo & Juliet, because their forbidden romance is living on borrowed time.

Things got really weird 3/4 through this book. There was a big plot twist that I didn’t like. I thought the story was just going to focus on Lil and Tarver getting to know each other, falling in love, surviving the planet’s climate and creatures, but then out of nowhere this huge, weird plot twist entered the mix and I didn’t know how to respond to it. The concept was heavy and confusing and I wasn’t happy with how it changed the overall story

In conclusion, I didn’t care much for These Broken Star’s story-line, but I did love Lil and Tarver’s relationship. I’ve skimmed the descriptions of books two and three and see that they follow new characters. I’m hesitant about continuing with the series, because I want more Lil and Tarver, and I’d be super disappointed if the new characters didn’t compel me like they did.

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three-half-stars
The Wicked Deep

Amid Stars and Darkness (The Xenith Trilogy #1) by Chani Lynn Feener

Amid Stars and Darkness (The Xenith Trilogy #1) by Chani Lynn FeenerAmid Stars and Darkness (The Xenith Trilogy, #1) by Chani Lynn Feener
Published by Swoon Reads on July 18, 2017
Pages: 368
five-stars

Delaney’s entire world is thrown into chaos after she is mistaken for Lissa Olena, an alien princess hiding out on Earth in order to escape an arranged marriage.

Kidnapped by the princess’s head bodyguard, Ruckus, and imprisoned in an alien palace, Delaney is forced to impersonate the princess until Olena can be found. If she fails, it will lead to an alien war and the eventual enslavement of the entire human race.

No pressure or anything.

Factor in Trystan, the princess’s terrifying betrothed who is intent on unraveling all her secrets, and her own growing feelings for Ruckus, and Delaney is in way over her head.

Squee! Thinking about this book makes me so giddy. It’s such a fun story with a lot of heart and great character-building. Ruckus and Delaney are just too great together. Their interactions made my heart pitter-patter. No insta-love guys. I repeat NO-insta love. Just two individuals who meet in a kind-of-funny, yet also unfortunate way, and make the best of it by getting to know one another.

Delaney is the perfect YA heroine. She’s brave, but not reckless, sweet, but not naive, smart, but not cocky. She’s the complete opposite of Princess Olena who slyly switches places with Delaney. Olena, who everyone (including myself) hates, is a spoiled child who plays with people’s emotions to be cruel and to amuse herself. I felt bad that Olena was being forced into the marriage with prince Trystan in order to solidify a peace treaty between two opposing alien kingdoms, but the more I got to know Olena, the less bad I felt. I feel totally horrible saying that, but she’s not one of those characters you can easily feel pity for. Olena is selfish and entitled and doesn’t see the big picture. She likes to play games and only serves herself. Delaney is like a whiff of fresh air in the palace, because she actually has compassion and cares for others. She doesn’t let the icy prince Trystan intimidate her, at least, she doesn’t let on that he does. Delaney is a fake-it-til-you-make it girl. Even when she’s scared and full of sorrow, she raises her chin and gets the job done.

OMG. Trystan is so horrible. Entitled. Rude. Demanding. Intrusive. And yet. I’m so in love with him. Not like new bookish boyfriend, but just like, invested in him. It’s my weakness, those damn broody, rude, bad boys that I hope a strong girl will come along and soften up. It’s those attractive jerks who are on the cusp of redemption that I fall the hardest for. Regardless, I’m still team Duckus… or is it Relaney?  Ruckus is just so perfect. He’s attractive, sweet, and protective. He’s the type of guy who doesn’t want to lock you away in a tower, because he knows your’e not a damsel in distress. He treats you like an equal and wants to teach you self-defense so you can kick ass too. Those book boyfriends are so hard to come by. Most YA book guys are so overprotective and you have to fight with them constantly just to show them how strong and bad-ass you are.

I felt like this book lacked planet Xenith world-building, and that there was also a lack of details regarding how Earth coped with the aliens revealing themselves a few years ago, but I still gave it five stars. Call it personal preference, but sometimes when a book has characters that are so enjoyable, and reveals that continue to surprise and delight me, I can overlook small disappointments in other areas.

The cliffhanger was totally cruel, but also totally understandable. I mean, how could you not need book 2 immediately after the end of book 1?!!

This book made me smile and melt and left me shocked. I re-read many passages, one, two, even three times, because I wanted to re-feel the feels they gave me. This is one of the books you keep in your head for a while down the road. I just know that I will have a hard time not comparing it to the next couple books I read, because it was so good and the next few have a lot to live up to. I’m not huge fan of aliens, but this book made me a believer!

five-stars

Alienated by Melissa Landers

Alienated by Melissa LandersAlienated (Alienated, #1) by Melissa Landers
Published by Disney Hyperion on February 4th 2014
Pages: 344
Goodreads
two-stars

Two years ago, the aliens made contact. Now Cara Sweeney is going to be sharing a bathroom with one of them.

Handpicked to host the first-ever L’eihr exchange student, Cara thinks her future is set. Not only does she get a free ride to her dream college, she’ll have inside information about the mysterious L’eihrs that every journalist would kill for. Cara’s blog following is about to skyrocket.

Still, Cara isn’t sure what to think when she meets Aelyx. Humans and L’eihrs have nearly identical DNA, but cold, infuriatingly brilliant Aelyx couldn’t seem more alien. She’s certain about one thing, though: no human boy is this good-looking.

But when Cara's classmates get swept up by anti-L'eihr paranoia, Midtown High School suddenly isn't safe anymore. Threatening notes appear in Cara's locker, and a police officer has to escort her and Aelyx to class.

Cara finds support in the last person she expected. She realizes that Aelyx isn’t just her only friend; she's fallen hard for him. But Aelyx has been hiding the truth about the purpose of his exchange, and its potentially deadly consequences. Soon Cara will be in for the fight of her life—not just for herself and the boy she loves, but for the future of her planet.

I enjoyed Alienated in the beginning. Cara was fiery and fierce. She really spoke her mind and stuck with her personal beliefs. Aelyx was cute and funny. His ways are so different than ours. His people are very formal, bland and unemotional. It was great following his explorations and budding emotions. I was really digging the slow building relationship between him and Cara.

Unfortunately, halfway through this book the storyline took a nosedive. It just really dragged and I found myself steadily losing interest.

Also, I appreciated that there was no insta-love but when the feelings were finally expressed between the two leads it was extreme (to say the least). They were ready to forget everyone else for each other. Cara is bitter and constantly remarking on the fact that her older brother, barely takes interest in her, or their parents. The moment that Cara falls in love with Aelyx she’s ready to ditch Earth and hop on a ship with him. She herself, quickly forgets her parents and sees only Aelyx. That was a huge 360 for Cara’s character. And a letdown.

I don’t know what else to really say. This book just ended somewhere completely different than it started. I’ve easily become bored with the Cara and Aelyx relationship. Given hints towards the end of Alienated, a love triangle might be on the horizon for book two. If anything, I might read the sequel to see what this new guy is like and if he can re-spark this story for me again.

two-stars
The Wicked Deep

The Taking by Kimberly Derting

The Taking by Kimberly DertingThe Taking (The Taking, #1) by Kimberly Derting
Published by HarperTeen on April 29th 2014
Pages: 368
Goodreads
five-stars

A flash of white light . . . and then . . . nothing.

When sixteen-year-old Kyra Agnew wakes up behind a Dumpster at the Gas ’n’ Sip, she has no memory of how she got there. With a terrible headache and a major case of déjà vu, she heads home only to discover that five years have passed . . . yet she hasn’t aged a day.

Everything else about Kyra’s old life is different. Her parents are divorced, her boyfriend, Austin, is in college and dating her best friend, and her dad has changed from an uptight neat-freak to a drunken conspiracy theorist who blames her five-year disappearance on little green men.

Confused and lost, Kyra isn’t sure how to move forward unless she uncovers the truth. With Austin gone, she turns to Tyler, Austin’s annoying kid brother, who is now seventeen and who she has a sudden undeniable attraction to. As Tyler and Kyra retrace her steps from the fateful night of her disappearance, they discover strange phenomena that no one can explain, and they begin to wonder if Kyra’s father is not as crazy as he seems. There are others like her who have been taken . . . and returned. Kyra races to find an explanation and reclaim the life she once had, but what if the life she wants back is not her own?

The Taking  is the first book in a sure-to-be epic new series by Kimberly Derting. I’m a big fan of Derting’s Body Finder series, so I had complete confidence that The Taking  would be a great and organic story. Which it was! Derting really excels at creating meaty characters and engaging story-lines.

After fighting with her father during the ride home from a softball game, Kyra jumps out of the car and attempts to contact her boyfriend for a lift. A sudden, blinding light appears that instantly disorients Kyra. She blacks out. When Kyra finally awakes, to her, it feels like 5 minutes have passed. In reality it’s been 5 years.

Nothing is familiar to Kyra. Her boyfriend is now 21, at college and in a relationship with someone else. Kyra’s home-life is also especially different. There’s been a lot (emphasis on A LOT) of changes. It’s very hard for Kyra to grasp her new reality.

She’s confused. No one knows where she went because she has no memory and there’s no evidence. Tests show that Kyra is physically the same as she was when she was 16. It appears as though she hasn’t aged. She’s also having trouble connecting to anyone. She doesn’t know how to live in this new life, especially since everyone is 5 years older, wiser and more experienced than her.

This book was eerie. Strange events keep happening. Besides a body that doesn’t appear to age, Kyra is exhibiting other strange… behaviors. There’s two new men that keep appearing. One doesn’t seem to be watching Kyra, just suspiciously showing up all the time. Another is from the NSA and asking Kyra multiple weird questions. They both unnerve Kyra.

The Taking  was an original and addicting story. I needed to know what happened to Kyra. The closer she got to a semi-normal, and more importantly enjoyable life, the more strange things began to occur. You feel like a bomb is going to drop any moment.

The Taking  also has a killer ending – a big finale and epilogue – that has you eager for the next book.

five-stars