Science Fiction

Book Review: William Shakespeare's The Empire Striketh Back

William Shakespeare's The Empire Striketh Back
Author: 
Doescher, Ian
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

I said it for my review of Shakespeare’s Star Wars , and I’ll say it again: this combination of old verbiage and meter with popular science fiction is a match made in heaven. The follow-up to the first part of the original trilogy, Shakespeare’s The Empire Striketh Back continues to be an amusing exercise that anyone who loves Shakespeare and/or Star Wars will enjoy. Some consider Empire to be the best part of the original trilogy, and its adherence to the plot won’t disappoint. Additionally, the audiobook version continues to use music, sound effects, and voice acting to recreate an experience as close to the source material as possible.

While the audiobook did provide a robust experience of the text (especially the voice actors who recreated Han Solo and C-3PO’s speech patterns), the author’s explanation at the end made me realize there were some aspects that weren’t quite as clear as they would have been if I had just read the book normally. For instance, Yoda’s typically backward speech wasn’t as backward as I would have thought—mostly because the Shakespearean cadence sounds a little backward. Instead, Yoda spoke in haiku, which I’m sure would have been more evident if I was reading the words on the page.

As I mentioned above, Empire is the favorite of many Star Wars fans. However, I’m one of the rare few (like the author) who find Return of the Jedi to be their favorite of these first three films. Consequently, since this book held close to the original plot, it seemed to sag a little between the opening act on Hoth and the third act in Cloud City. At least the added soliloquies from ancillary characters like the AT-AT walkers, random Stormtroopers, and the dangerous creatures of the universe added in some humorous elements to the narrative that weren’t strictly canon.

A fantastic audiobook that still might require a read-through, I give Shakespeare’s The Empire Striketh Back 4.5 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: 
Benjamin W.

Book Review: Old Man's War

Old Man's War
Author: 
Scalzi, John
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

An excellent adult Sci-Fi novel in a future where to join humanity's military, the CDF, you must be 75 years old. Interesting takes on aliens, human interactions with other species, and combat. Be warned, there are sections of this book that go quite in depth about the background of certain story elements and they can seem long winded, but they all contribute to the story at large. Great read and hard to put down once you've found a little traction.

Reviewer's Name: 
Kyle

Book Review: The Point

The Point
Author: 
Dixon, John
Rating: 
2 stars = Meh
Review: 

***THIS BOOK WAS RECEIVED FROM THE PUBLISHER***

With the rise in popularity of the superhero genre, it was only a matter of time before it leaked into other genres. While some genres like steampunk (like in The Esper Files ) make for an interesting twist, others like military YA sci-fi are so similar as to be just one other entry in the zeitgeist. The problem with this is that other, more famous handlings of supernatural superpowers bring much more to the table than books like The Point (which doesn’t necessarily add much to either genre on the whole).

As far as I could gather, there are only three or four different “types” of mutants in The Point: telekinetic, pyrokinesis, super strength, and “other” (like dream manipulation and energy storage, the latter of which was reasonably original). I suppose franchises like X-Men and One Piece, which give each of their unique characters unique superpowers and rarely (if ever) repeat themselves, is what ruined this book for me. This only added to the sense of the faceless military machine presented in this book, as few characters stood out to me at all.

Furthermore, I didn’t like the main character at all. Sure, most YA (and this is mature YA at that—an oxymoron, I know) start with a character who needs to undergo growth by the end of the story. However, I don’t need a main character that’s so fully flawed for so long that I end up hating her before she even learns anything. This, added with numerous questions I had that were never answered, plenty of redundant and boring sections, and the fact that I wholeheartedly agreed with the villain meant that I didn’t particularly like this book.

A book that’s likely trying to cash in on superhero and/or YA trends, I give The Point 2.0 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: 
Benjamin W.

Book Review: Foundation and Empire

Foundation and Empire
Author: 
Asimov, Isaac
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

One of my qualms with the start of Isaac Asimov’s Foundation series was how different the stories were from each other. Each was set in the same universe but failed to have much of a cohesive narrative that tied them all together. While Foundation covered five different short stories, its sequel, Foundation and Empire managed to whittle this method of storytelling down to twonovellas. The result was a clear improvement in clarity and focus as each half of this book only covered a single plot each.

In Foundation and Empire, I finally was able to read a story that stuck with me in this series. Up until this point, I probably couldn’t tell you the premise of any of the short stories in Foundation, let alone the plot of the first half of this book. However, once this book transitioned over from topics that were more in line with science into ones that had a more fictional bend, I found the narrative to be much more enjoyable. It’s almost a shame that the whole book wasn’t an exploration of the universe presented in the second half.

Even if it took a book and a half for me to warm up to this series, I could honestly say that “The Mule” piqued my interest and will likely contribute to my continued reading of the Foundation series. This was probably because this particular half of the book introduced a clear antagonist to the story. It’s not that other stories in the series up until now didn’t have antagonists, it’s more that they weren’t an individual villain up until now. Now things are getting interesting!

A natural evolution of Foundation and an improvement on its predecessor, I give Foundation and Empire 3.5 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: 
Benjamin W.

Book Review: Foundation

Foundation
Author: 
Asimov, Isaac
Rating: 
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review: 

For years, people have asked whether or not I have read the penultimate science fiction series that is Isaac Asimov’s Foundation. Up until now, I could not say that I had. While I knew the series by its name, I hadn’t ever heard any comparisons or even knew what these books were about. This probably should have been my first indication of what to expect. I wasn’t expecting anything other than its notable status as a pillar of classic sci-fi. If anything, the fact each “section” of Foundation is its own short story says volumes about the origin of the genre.

Set within the same universe, Foundation follows five different groups across the timespan of a couple hundred years. Asimov explored a few different concepts and spent most of this book in world-building mode. I’ll applaud his ability to remain fairly consistent across these different stories, but the fact that there isn’t much that ties them together is the main issue I have with this book. Because they’re mostly five separate short stories, there’s not too much “action and consequence” between the different sections. This is what I would expect from a book with a standard three-act structure plot.

Additionally, I think the science fiction stories I tend to enjoy lean more on the “space opera” side than where Foundation lies. The fact that Foundation dives so deep into heady—and often controversial—topics like religion, politics, and economics is probably what lost my interest. Sure, there are some neat applications of technology that drives these topics. However, since it felt more like an academic lecture instead of an entertaining read, I glossed over a lot of the details. Maybe the other books in the series remedy this but for Foundation I just kind of felt “meh” about it.

An OK start to a highly-lauded science fiction series, I give Foundation 3.0 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: 
Benjamin W.

Book Review: A Storm of Swords

A Storm of Swords
Author: 
Martin, George R. R.
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

If things hadn’t already turned dark in Westeros, they certainly do in A Storm of Swords. The complicated political situation in the end of A Clash of Kings gets even more complicated as this third book dives into complex armies, weddings, wars, and so much more. George R. R. Martin’s writing may be dense, but I have never encountered a fantastical world as deeply developed as his. A Storm of Swords is jam-packed with intrigue and excitement, and it left me wanting more. I would recommend this book even if you have already seen the show; reading the books adds a whole new dimension to the characters, the plot, and the world.

Reviewer's Name: 
Sabrina J

Book Review: The Fate of Ten

The Fate of Ten
Author: 
Lore, Pittacus
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

The Mogadorians have invaded. Earth is falling under Setrakus Ra's rule. However, new hope has arisen for the Loric, new Garde have arisen. Now the new Garde must choose whether they will fight with the Loric or if they will fall to the Mogadorians. The epic saga continues with another exciting adventure. Pittacus Lore continues to twist the plot in new and exciting ways that will keep you engaged. I highly recommend this page-turner to any middle or high school aged reader.

Reviewer's Name: 
John B

Book Review: Storm of Lightning

Storm of Lightning
Author: 
Evans, Richard Paul
Rating: 
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review: 

In the Michael Vey series, book four, Storm of Lightning, the resistance movement against the Elgen has been compromised. Micheal must prevent the Elgen from taking over the small island nation of Tuvalu. Hatch, the antagonist, is working to take over the world and wants to use Tuvalu as his base of operations. Since the island has no army and only a few police to defend themselves the island people are nearly helpless. Hatch plans on using his fleet of battleships to initiate a naval invasion of Tuvalu and quickly rid the island of the police force that is protecting it. Michael and his friends work on a plan to stop the naval invasion and destroy the boats before they make landfall. This book has some easily predictable moments, but is still very interesting and fun to read. My favorite part is when Michael and his friends nearly fail to accomplish one of the important parts of a plan they had made together, I would highly recommend this book and series to anyone who is into science fiction and fantasy because this book combines the two very well. However, make sure to read the first 3 books in the series first so this book is easier to follow and understand.

Reviewer Grade: 9

Reviewer's Name: 
Alexander M

Book Review: Hunt For Jade Dragon

Hunt for Jade Dragon
Author: 
Evans, Richard Paul
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

The 4th book of the Michael Vey series begins with Michael and his friends returning to a secret base. The reason they have returned is because they are preparing to go find and rescue a girl named Jade Dragon. She had been captured by the antagonist Dr. Hatch. The reason she was held captive is she is considered a genius and is able to solve problems the Elgen have had for many years. The part of this book I liked the most was when one of the plans that Michael and his friends come up with goes well. This is unexpected because most of the time his plans go very wrong. This book was not very predictable, which I enjoyed. There is no part of this book I would say I didn’t enjoy. This book is definitely worth reading and is slightly better than the 3rd book in this series. Overall this entire series is worth reading because the further into the series you go the better the books get.

Reviewer Grade: 9

Reviewer's Name: 
Alexander M

Book Review: Battle of the Ampere

Battle of the Ampere
Author: 
Evans, Richard Paul
Rating: 
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review: 

In the book, Battle of the Ampere, Michael, the protagonist, finds himself attempting to rescue his friends as he is the only one not being held captive by the Elgen. This book is good but predictable at times. Hatch, the antagonist, has captured the Elgen fleet and is beginning his quest for world domination.The part I liked the most was when Michael’s plan fails and he comes up with a new and better plan. The thing I liked the least is how predictable it is. This book is one of seven books in this series, and it was not the best in the series. However, this book is still worth reading and the entire series is definitely worth reading and very good.

Reviewer Grade:9

Reviewer's Name: 
Alexander M

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