Friday, February 28, 2014

Cruel, but Not Quite Beautiful

The tale of Beauty and the Beast is one we all recognize. It has been told, retold, reworked, and completely reimagined. Rosamund Hodge decided to reimagine a classic in a way that makes a world-known story completely unique in Cruel Beauty

Nyx was told her purpose at the age of nine. She was to marry the Gentle Lord and then kill him. Killing him would avenge her mother's death and release the curse upon Arcadia. The demons that drive people to madness would retreat, and they could live again. They could be whole again. She should have accepted her sacrifice gracefully, but she always resented her sister for being the protected twin. Meanwhile, Nyx watched her father and aunt grow closer, watched her optimistic sister swear Nyx would be successful and then return to them, and watched her 17th birthday grow closer. 

When she is finally wed to the lord, who never leaves his castle, she enters the building ready to follow through with her purpose. Unfortunately, the lord is two steps ahead of her and disarms her. Then he promptly warns her not to start roaming around the castle at will. Certain rooms are permitted, but the remainder of the castle is off-limits. Never one to listen to what people tell her to do, Nyx starts her search to find the four Hermetic Hearts that will help her control the magic. In her journeys, she realizes the lord's servant, Shade, is more than mere shadows and demon, he is trapped in the castle just as she is, and she vows to release him as well when she kills the Gentle Lord. Nyx was raised for this purpose, but there is much she doesn't know about the world she lives in. 

Well, this was certainly a different twist on the old Beauty and the Beast story, that's for sure. Unfortunately, I am not sure I really liked it. The connection to the fairy tale is minimal at best, which would have been fine, but the story was incredibly confusing. I just didn't know what was really happening a lot of the time. And the ending totally confused me, on top of the fact it was really rushed. The whole story was just so complex and confusing, I really struggled with it. I don't think I would give this story to many of my students- maybe only those incredibly strong readers who love Lord of the Rings and other complex story lines. 

One thing I did love was Nyx. All too often we read those stories about a girl forced into these situations who just accepts her fate, no matter how miserable and outrageous it might be. Not Nyx! She rages against her aunt, her father, even her sister, who she can't seem to reconcile her love for with her jealousy over. I liked the fact that Nyx knew this was bogus and wasn't afraid to play with the emotions of those she felt were responsible for her horribly unjust future. I liked that she was a girl who wasn't afraid to fight back and wanted to find the answer at all costs. I think Nyx is the redeeming factor of this story. Still, it was so incredibly confusing at times (not all the time!) that I just lost interest and had to force myself to keep going. Even my love for Nyx couldn't pull me back in. That made it a tough story for me to finish, let alone like!

Before Testing Day

Before Cia entered the Testing, her brother was fighting to find a way out of of the Five Colonies. Everyone considers getting away from home, but for Zeen, home is stifling. The Testing is a one-way ticket our of the Five Colonies, but his father never prepared him for it, even though his father had gone through it himself. Instead, his father wants to keep him here, where he can protect and shelter him. But Zeen knows there is more to the world than the Five Colonies and he will do anything to see it. 

I am glad I got this little short for free, because it was only about 10 pages. Granted, it was interesting, and would have made a perfect first chapter to Testing Day, but I wouldn't pay for it separately. I was always interested in Cia's brothers, so it was interested to see a little more of Zeen. I just wish there was more to this story- only about 1/5 of what you download is the story- the other 80% is the first chapters of Testing Day

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Floating and Desperate

It has been a long time since the fabulous Forest of Hands and Teeth series ended, but that doesn't mean we don't miss it. While we spent a lot of time in the world after the zombie plague ravaged civilization, what happened to the people who survived those first few weeks? Carrie Ryan gives us a snapshot of two such guys. 

Together, alone, floating on the ocean. He wished Nancy, his crush, had made it onto the boat, but all he got was Jeremy. They know they should try for land, but they can't bring themselves to leave the cruise ship they abandoned. That cruise ship holds their friends, no matter what state they might be in. To make things even worse, Jeremy is hiding a bite. 

This was a super short little story- maybe 20 pages or so, but it was fun. I really liked this story, and haven't seen much from Carrie Ryan since its conclusion. I wish she would come back and add more companion novels set in that world. She had such a knack for a really beautiful zombie stories, if there is such a thing! 

Defies Your Expectations

Would you be able to hide the very nature of who you were? What if it meant an actual life vs. being used and abused until you died an untimely death? In Sara B. Larson's Defy,  a young girl named Alexa must become Alex in order to stay alive in a world full of hate and corruption.

When their parents were killed by sorcerers, Marcel took his twin sister outside, cut her hair, and transformed her life. Had she stayed a girl, she would have been captured and taken to the breeding houses to produce more soldiers for the king's never-ending war. Marcel doomed Alex to a life of terrified hiding in plain sight, but he saved Alexa in the process. Now they train together, they are inseparable, and they are part of Prince Damien's guard. While it is hard to care much about an apathetic prince like Damien, Marcel and Alex are serious about the duty to protect him, even if his father is a monster who has destroyed the lives of every person in his own kingdoms and the kingdoms around them. 

After an attempt on Damien's life, the king and his adviser, Iker, put a guard in Damien's room at night. When Alex is chosen for the detail, she is terrified he will notice things about her if he spends too much time in close proximity to her. Hiding the fact that she is a girl is paramount to survival in this world. Almost as much as hiding the fact that you are a sorcerer. When Damien asks Alex to deliver a message to a rebel camp not far from the palace, she realizes there are sorcerers all around them. While they assumed they were relatively safe inside the palace, a group sent to kidnap Damien changes that perception. Damien, Alex, and her only friend, Rylan, are taken by a group who means to end the war, even if it takes great sacrifice. 

I really liked this story, but there were also some things I just didn't like. For instance, Alex is a by-the-book super-soldier who could fight better than any man on the prince's detail. She rocks. But when she is kidnapped and Damien and Rylan know her secret, she becomes a quivering pile of goop that ignores any attempt to save her prince and instead focuses on how much she wants to kiss Damien. Oh wait, now she wants to kiss Rylan. No, Damien! No, Rylan! Back and forth, back and forth. I don't mind love triangles, but I do mind when they distract from a really good story and the already established nature of a character, which it did with this story. I was so surprised by how much of the story this love triangle consumed, and if you plucked it out, the story would have been spectacular. I loved the history between the kingdoms, the surprising nature of Damien, how Alex had survived for so many years hidden as a boy, the sorcery, everything! But it felt overshadowed by the pining over two men, which directly defied the nature of Alex. She managed to keep her composure after the death of someone near and dear to her, but she couldn't control her lust for these two guys? It surprised and disappointed me. 

That being said, I really liked this story. The love triangle was annoying, but I still really liked the world, the characters, the history, and the magic. There were twists and turns around every corner that were a little predictable, but fun nonetheless. I really look forward to the second book in the series, because there is so much left to be said and read. I think this "love triangle business" will fade away, because there is certainly one clear winner in that battle. But hopefully, like all good love triangles do, it will work itself out and leave you happiest with the solution. This was a fun fantasy for all types of readers. The language is average, but occasionally the material is pretty brutal, like what happens in the breeding houses. I would use this for older readers, but the language would make it appropriate for readers with struggling skills. 

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

A Few Demigod Shorts

The demigods are as diverse as us mere mortals, and so are their adventures. In this companion to the Percy Jackson and the Olympians and Heroes of Olympus series' Riordan Riordan gives us a few sneak peaks back in time to fill in gaps around the other stories, and his son, Haley Riordan, takes the groundbreaking series his father started as his own bedtime stories and gives us his first story set in the world of demigods. 

"The Diary of Luke Castellan"
Luke is a character we see as a bad seed, but there has to be more to him. In this diary excerpt, we see Luke and Thalia fighting for their lives out in the world against the monsters who hunt them. What they don't expect is to find another kind of demigod who could be their very undoing. 

"Percy Jackson and the Staff of Hermes"
The gods can be many thing, but one thing they can be counted on for is to need the demigods to do their dirty work. All Percy wants to do is spend time with Annabeth, his newly anointed girlfriend, but Hermes has another plan for their time, and of course, it involves one bizarre and cantankerous monster!

"Leo Valdez and the Quest for Buford"
As a son of Hephaestus, Leo is an amazing tinkerer. Unfortunately, by failing to properly care for a magical end table, he may have lost the key to stopping certain disaster (Windex is NOT the same as Lemon Pledge!). Luckily, his friend would never let him fail. 

"Son of Magic"
Claymore doesn't have time for questions, and certainly not questions that will cause him as much trouble as Alabaster's question. As the leading expert on death, Alabaster hopes Claymore can help him stop the evil woman who is coming after them, but he has no idea how dangerous it is to even know Alabaster. 

This was a cute selection of short stories separated by word jumbles and quizzes to test your knowledge of the Greek vs. Roman gods. The short stories were not necessary for understanding the rest of the series', but they are certainly fun for the Olympus buff. The final story, "Son of Magic," is interestingly written by Riordan's son, Haley Riordan. Before the story, in a short note, he explains the Percy Jackson sagas began as bedtime stories to his son, and Haley was given the opportunity to write a story for this book. To be honest, that story has a very different tone from Rick's stories, which you have to be prepared for (it is very dark!), but I was quite impressed. It is a different kind of story, but the idea that the original audience for these stories delivered this contribution at the age of 16 is pretty impressive! Of course, he doesn't have the same abilities of his father, but if he keeps writing like this, he will get there some day! 

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The Flame Still Burns

When you have lost everything, is there anything left to keep you on the right path? For Waverly, Seth, and Kieran, life on the ships headed to a new planet has been nothing short of devastating. But it doesn't end there. In Amy Kathleen Ryan's conclusion to the Skychasers series, she gives us Flame, which you are sure to burn right through. 

As Waverly and the other girls approach New Horizon, Anne Mather's ship, they leave the blown up bits of their ship, the Empyrean, behind them. People have died, their home is destroyed, and they are forced into the home of their enemy, a woman who had no qualms about drugging the Empyrean girls and harvesting their eggs to repopulate New Horizon. Living with them is deplorable, but it is the only option. They aren't even sure who made it onto the ship and who is lost forever thanks to the New Horizon terrorists who planted the bomb. While the people of New Horizons welcome them with open arms, it is hard to forget what happened to them on that ship, and who was responsible for it. 

Seth managed to get on the ship undetected, but quickly, the authorities on New Horizon were notified of his existence. They don't know where he is, but they know they don't want him roaming around on his own. Waverly can't let go of what they did to her, and seeing her mother, whose mind has obviously been tampered with, makes her resentment grow into an unmanageable beast. When she is approached by a group of insurgents who wish to take down Anne Mather, she finds herself embroiled in a treasonous plan that could easily destroy her. Kieran, kind, trustworthy Kieran, is the most misunderstood and underestimated kid on the ship. Anne believes she can use him to win the faith of the entire ship, but what she doesn't realize is that Kieran may be the strongest of all of them. Never underestimate a boy who was born to lead. 

Well, Ryan certainly knew where she wanted to go with this story, and she went there, all right! While the beginning of the series trifled with a love triangle, the end of the series was nothing short of world-making. Ryan took her young, naive characters and forced them to grow up, and grow up quickly. They were teenagers, but in these circumstances, they were the most responsible and humane of any people on those ships. It was a beautiful transformation to witness, and I whole-heartedly enjoyed it. I also really loved the conflict between these teens and the adults around them. Most of my young adult readers know what it feels like to not be taken seriously because of their age. They fall victim to mall curfews, decisions made about them, not with them, and they struggle to find their place in a world that expects them to act like adults while treating them like young children. It is a difficult point of their lives when their identities are being shaped, and Ryan's characters are a quintessential example of those circumstances. I think my students would find a lot of themselves in this story, even if it is a dystopic space opera!

This is a fabulous series for any teen, male or female. I think the subject matter is appropriate for younger readers with stronger language skills as well. It is an excellent story with characters you wish you knew in real life. As with any ending, you have a way you hope it ends. I think we all have a little disappointment with series conclusions, not because they didn't end well, but because we are sad to see them go, and I feel just that for this final book. The ending was perfect, in my opinion, but I wish it didn't have to end here. I won't ruin the ending, but when you get there, you will agree with me that you want to see more of these characters. The ending was beautiful, but it isn't done for me. I want more!

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Confusing and Confuzzled

It is hard to imagine a world where fresh water is not only in short supply, it is almost completely gone, save for one tightly controlled aquifer. In Jonathan Friesen's dystopia, the world will do anything to get the fresh water it needs to stay alive.

Luca knows his fate will eventually make him an Other. As the only son of the Deliverer, he will one day have to take over for his father and travel underground to barter for water from the aquifer. His father doesn't tell him anything about what lies underground, but the rumors of the Rat men are enough to terrify him. While he is a "normal" kid now, once he descends, the community will always think of him as an other: necessary to bring them water, but still disconnected from their own lives. He doesn't look forward to that day, but he knows he must accept his lot in life.

When his father goes missing, supposed to be Undone, Luca's entire life falls apart. He knows his father hid books in their house, and Luca's own desire for the books he can't even read is just as dangerous. But the Amongus aren't just concerned with a boy who has found contraband books. They want the aquifer. Despite generations of negotiations between the Rat men and the Deliverers, they are determined to find the path to the Aquifer even though the knowledge of the journey is only passed from one Deliverer to his replacement. And you should never underestimate people who have nothing left to lose.

First, I must admit I finally gave up on this story and put it away after weeks of trying to finish it. I read over 200 pages of a 300 paged book and just couldn't go on any longer. It's not that the story itself was uninteresting, its just that the characters weren't terribly likable and the story was so confusing with tons of different elements that I just couldn't invest in it. For instance, on the surface, there is a whole layer of the Council installing these meter-type things that calculate how much emotion a person is exerting. If you are too emotional, you could be undone. This whole element is confusing and intricate, but by the time Luca goes underground, it is also completely unnecessary. So why include it? Add to that all the different people who have different, hidden identities. Then the "secret" of what is underground. Finally, ask yourself why no one tried to get to the aquifer without the Deliverer before now. I mean, really? Generations go by and no one thought to follow him or blast the crap out of the mountain to get at it? Then there are the books. This whole description about why books aren't allowed, but it really didn't matter to the story. All these different elements leave the reader confused and uninterested (at least it did to me).

Most importantly, I never cared about Luca. Sure, I felt for the guy occasionally, but he was just not the type of main character I could get behind. In truth, he was uninteresting and flat. Even his interactions with other characters like Seward and Wren fell flat for me. And finally, when he was underground, I thought to myself, "Oh why don't you just drown yourself in the bloody aquifer you ineffectual, personality-less toad!" I got so annoyed with Luca that nothing else in the story really mattered to me. So, I gave up. The story had potential, but it was too bogged down by extraneous elements to really come together and the main character was too wishy washy to get behind. I simply couldn't go on any longer!

Cress Improves an Already Great Series!

Cinder's revelations and efforts to save a world that doesn't even see her as human have made her one of the greatest heroines of the genre. The addition of Scarlet only added to that dynamic. In Marissa Meyer's third book of The Lunar Chronicles, Cress, Crescent (Cress), brings a little Rapunzel and one more amazing character to this story. 

Cinder, Thorne, Scarlet, and Wolf escaped from Earth, but all are wanted. With the Earthens after them for "threatening" emperor Kai and the Lunars after them because Queen Levana suspects Cinder isn't just a lowly cyborg: she is the missing Lunar princess who could final dethrone Levana. When they make contact with a hacker imprisoned in a satellite, they realize their luck at remaining hidden in the sky isn't luck after all. Cress has been making sure no one could find them. Even though they can't risk being detected by Levana's soldiers, they also can't live with themselves and leave Cress in her isolated prison in space. Against everyone's better judgement, they attempt to rescue the girl with the long cresses. 

The attempt goes horribly wrong, leaving Wolf critically injured, Thorne and Cress hurtling toward space in the satellite, and Scarlet captured by the Queen's most deadly servant, Sybil. While their focus should be on stopping Levana from going through with her blackmail marriage to Kai, instead they are scattered across the universe just trying to survive. With the threat of war (or rather massacre) if Kai doesn't marry Levana and make her empress, he is making a sacrifice for his people he knows will be deadly. Not marrying Levana would keep the antidote for the plague from his people, so Kai will do anything he can to get treatment for the people of Earth, even if it means marrying the one woman he despises the most. Meanwhile, all he can think about is Cinder. While he knows Lunars have the ability to manipulate Earthen minds, he can't stop thinking about her. What he doesn't know is that Cinder is doing everything she can to save Kai and the people of Earth... even if saving the world comes at a great, great cost. 

I am not sure how Meyer came up with such a simple concept but managed to create such an incredible and complex story, but boy, am I glad she did. This series just gets better and better as it goes on, and I mourn the day it finally ends (while simultaneously dying to get my hands on the final book!). First, the twist this story took with Cress was truly ingenious. Making the Rapunzel character a girl trapped in a satellite, helping the rebel forces? Brilliant! Cress appeared to be such an innocent, delicate character, but when she was thrust from her safe, but stifling, prison, she truly rose to the occasion to match the other heroines of this tale. Cress does not disappoint! Just like Scarlet and Cinder were very different form one another but still phenomenal heroines, Cress brought a third and unique dynamic to the group but did so in a way that makes you love these women even more! I really love how this story has great and loyal male leads (Thorne being the snarky but charming version, Wolf the loyal to a fault version, and Kai the bravest emperor possible), right next to these amazing female leads. Sometimes when you have strong female characters, the male characters tend to get lost behind their power, but in this story, Meyer matched her heroines with the perfect heroes. There is absolutely nothing I would change about these characters. I think they represent different types of people, but all people we would be proud to call leaders. It is a true testament to the readers that there is no cookie-cutter template for being a good person. There are many ways to do brave, kind, phenomenal things in your life (or in the universe!) and still be you, which is a message I think we all want to infiltrate our next generation!

This is a supreme example of science fiction, supernatural, and fairy tale literature all woven into one. While the premise sounds strange, I find myself daring people (skeptics) to read the first book and not get hooked. I know that is how I got over my own initial skepticism! And I think that is what this story requires of its readers- a little leap of faith. It is so new and unfamiliar, that some readers would hesitate before giving it a chance (I know I did!). But once they do, they will be as blown away as the rest of the world has been. So convince your adult or young adult readers to give this story a try, and if your powers of persuasion are good enough, you will find them as hooked as we have all become. It isn't easy to weave together so many different elements into one book, but Meyer makes it look effortless! 

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Rock Out with the Scar Boys

How can you convince someone to accept you in 250 words or less? You can't. So Harbinger decides to tell his story. In Len Vlahos' breakout novel, he gives Harbinger a voice, even though he isn't the kind of you man to stand up and shout... or at least he wasn't, until now. 

With a name like Harbinger, and a history behind that name that would make you sob, Harry was bound to live a unique life. But how unique?

He was almost struck by lightning. 

He wished he was struck by lightning.

He was a methadone addict. 

This all happened before he was 10 years old.

When a group of bullies tied him to a tree, they didn't expect or care about the lightning storm that shot a bolt directly at the same tree where he was tied. He wasn't struck by lightning, but the bolt sheared off the top of the tree in a fiery ball of flames and dropped it on an incapacitated Harry. This leads to months of hospitals, reconstructive surgeries that didn't make him look normal again, and a lifetime of hiding his face from disgusted looks. But he never gave up the kids who tied him to the tree. He was scared to death of those kids. But they were probably more scared of him than he was of them. 

Harry's life is eventful and uneventful all in one. He doesn't do anything. He isn't a stellar student. His situation is a burden on his parents' lives and marriage. He doesn't even have any friends. Until Johnny moves to his town and his school. Johnny is like an uncontainable force that changes everything in his wake, including Harry. When Harry is rejected by a girl, Johnny says, "Let's start a band." While it seemed out of place and not entirely comforting, a band was exactly what Harry needed. Harry needed to stop being a tool. He needed to stop being a doormat. And most of all, he needed to stop feeling sorry for himself. A band wasn't a panacea, but it certainly did change Harry's life in ways he never thought possible.

I personally don't read as much realistic YA as I do fantasy or science fiction, but when I do, I am usually quite impressed because I pick those titles carefully. This story was an absolute shock. It was this mix of shockingly horrible situations, endearing moments, and flawed relationships. I am not quite sure how to classify this story, but I know I loved it. Harbinger is the kind of guy who just lets life happen to him. From the lightning strike to the band, he doesn't fight for or against anything. He just goes through the motions. Johnny changes that, but not all for the good. Sure, Johnny befriended a kid most adults were even too freaked out to talk to, but Johnny liked the fact that Harry was damaged. Next to Harry, Johnny was even more impressive. From his smooth, suave talk with parents to the animal magnetism everyone was drawn to, Johnny appeared to be the model young man, but his relationship with Harry was complicated and not altogether positive. I loved and hated Johnny interchangeably, and it was a difficult pair of emotions to resolve. 

Without Johnny, however, Harry would never have become the young man who wrote this college essay (the premise for the story). He never would have lived those moments, thought those thoughts, or even stepped foot outside his door. And even as he lives this strange and legendary few years with Johnny and the band, he doesn't think he is responsible for any of it. He lives his life assuming the bad things that happen to him were all his fault and the good things were thanks to some other force in his life. It was heartbreaking to witness, but Vlahos made it into a story you can't put down. Harry's short life so far is one we thank god we don't have to live through and thank Vlahos for giving it to us to bear witness. Pretty amazing! I would give this to any student- male or female. I don't think there is a "type" of reader who would enjoy this story because I believe it will transform any reader. Excellent story, transformative characters, and enough spunk and humor to keep you going. A+ in my book!

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Undeniable Rule of Three

When the power goes out for a few days, we get a real taste for how dependent we are on our technology, but if all technology crashed... and there was no end in sight? Then we would really witness just how thin our veneer of civilization truly is. In Eric Walters' The Rule of Three, suburban America gets a makeover it never asked for. 

When Adam's school releases the students after a power failure, he hops into his old jalopy to pick up his kid brother and sister. It starts right up (which is a miracle), but as he scans around the parking lot, he sees a lot of cars that won't start. In fact, all the new, computerized cars are completely dead. When he gets home, he is surprised to find the entire neighborhood without any power- even cellphones, laptops, cars, etc. that should run in a blackout are down. When his neighbor, Herb, comes to his house, he is skeptical of Herb's need for an emergency trip to the pool store... especially since Herb doesn't even have a pool! Quickly, however, Herb's decision to stockpile chlorine tablets becomes the start of a whole new way of living: pure survival.

As the local police captain, Adam's mother has a lot more responsibility on her shoulders than the rest of the neighborhood, but her trust in Herb, even if she doesn't fully know the extent of his involvement in the government before his retirement, gives her the opportunity to take care of her precinct knowing her kids are safe at home. Herb knows things are going to get ugly, though. And fast. When he starts sharing more and more of his useful knowledge about how to protect themselves and prepare for longterm survival, not everyone is comfortable with his decisions. What they can't deny, however, is just how different their world has become. And in a ruthless world like this, there are tough decisions to be made if anyone is going to survive. 

I read a couple of reviews of this book after I finished it, and I was actually surprised so many people thought it was so derivative. Yes, I mean, we can't deny the deluge of disaster books out there anymore than we can deny the existence of a bazillion supernatural tales on the shelves, but still, I thought this was a really good book with some key surprises that made it even better than I originally thought it was going to be. For instance, Herb is your typical ex-"Black Ops" (or so they assume- he never tells!) government retiree who just happens to know how to survive a disaster. Convenient? Yep. Stereotypical? You would think so, but there is more to Herb than meets the eye. Instead, he is actually very keen on negotiations and finding ways to defuse the situation in a way that is mutually beneficial for everyone. In addition, he is willing to admit his notions might not be the best way. Even though he knows survival, he is willing to admit the cold heartless reality of their new world can truly be mitigated by friendship and a sense of community. And all that comes from his time with Adam. Usually you have the youngster learn from the old, wise man, but here we really see a shift in who Herb is as well, and that is pretty unique. 

I actually really enjoyed this story of the new apocalypse and survival, but there were some obvious plot holes that weren't fully explored. I did a little research and realized there is going to be a sequel, so I am looking forward to the caulk that takes care of these holes (like Adam's dad). Still, the story itself is pretty good in a league of many of its kind. Adam is an interesting kid who transitions just enough while not losing the type of person he was before the disaster, and Herb is a fascinating character. Since the story ends in a way that leaves you hanging and a little perturbed, I am grateful for the upcoming sequel! Adam and Herb's story isn't over, and I can't wait to see where this technology-less world takes them!

Friday, February 7, 2014

And the Fight Continues...

Review by Guest Reviewer, Andre Q. 

There are hundred of thousands of book in the world, although fantasy is one of dominate series, they appeal to both children and adults a like. They want a world that is not reality and all the pain it brings with itself. Many people escape into the world of fantasy, through Esther Hicks’s Vortex is a great example of such a book. It is a futuristic time period where the world is at war for resources and fighting has been replaced with machines shooting each other into oblivion. The best kind of a book is one where anyone could read the first few pages and instantaneously become addicted to the story.

Vortex takes place is a futuristic world that many hope to be a reality some day. Tom Rains, the main character, lives in the state New York at the Spire. He lives with a computer chip embedded within his cerebral cortex. This chip allows Rains to posses inhuman characteristics that essential to the success of his country and her allies. They fight as a combatant who drives a drone into space that is used as warfare than the traditional guns and knives. Rains is a maverick when it comes to actually training but when the matter is serious enough, he manages to pull through being assassinated, Having being a rough kid for a kid surrounded anyone in his neighborhood.

The character of Tom Rains, is a willful and private and sometimes the feeling of general resentment of his life because all of him family abandoned him to die all alone. One interesting quality that Rains never bow down to another man nor take any kind of insults to him and his friends. Rains stands firmly on the ground and refuses a solution that didn’t work out with his favor. He goes through the companies that sponsor all the combatants, that will chose their fate of whither he can become a Combatant or a walking database. Rains will always consider his actions but is also a troublemaker that lead to his humiliation numerous times. Rains does, sometimes, have his good ideas that allow him to move on and gain results from his actions that will change the outlook for the entire world that is engulfed with war.

Rains is a very dynamic character, he rushes in at first without thinking of the consequences, while later on he develops self control of his own emotions. Rains has many adventures and suffering, though his undying determination to change the world for the better. Having the same power as the Indo-China's ace pilot, Medusa, he uses his power in further better himself, though at times he uses that power for self benefit. Rains, though impulsive and often childish, puts his friends before him and does what is need to be done to protect them. Rains might have been a troublemaker and often poked fun at his enemies that later kicked him in the teeth, but he was able to turn all his misgivings around to achieve the goal of becoming a combatant. When he became a upper class of the combatants, even that was an act to save a friend from the clutches of multi-billion dollar company thats only aim was to unlock the secrets of Rains and Medusa’s hidden talents that even they can’t explain.

Overall, the book of Vortex was filled with extremely action packed and drawn me into reading more of the book. I wanted to read more of the adventures of Tom Rains, so every chance I got I picked up the book and began to read. The pilot had many turns and unsuspected events that they never ceased to amaze me. The character of Rains interested me because of his witty comments towards every event, but also his care and concern for his friends. Vortex was the one of the best books that I have read in a while.