5 stars · reread review · science fiction

Reread Reflection: Unwholly by Neal Shusterman

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How do you review a book after you’ve already read it? Review the reread!

Gearing up to finally read book four in this dystology, I decided to reread the three books I’ve already known and loved so I can sink my teeth back into this universe. And there’s no way I could forget just how much I’ve loved Unwholly.

I love how this book literally expanded the reach of book one, Unwind, to focus on the issues of unwinding globally. Basically, in these books, it’s been accepted that parents can decide to unwind their children, which is a jazzed up form of organ donation because technology has progressed so much that anything can be donated. Arm crushed? Replace it with a new, fresh, healthy one. Bash in part of your brain? You’ll get hundreds of pieces of brain tissue from hundreds of unwinds. Just feel like you want to try out a different eye color, or get taller legs, or graft on some better hair–there’s a surgery for all of that. Unwinding is as much a vanity as it is a health industry.

Unwholly is intense. I think what’s most insane about it isn’t the actions of the characters from the previous book, but the new kids on the block. (Not the boy band. I don’t think they exist in this AU.) It just raises new questions of unwinding morals. One character is created entirely from the parts of unwound teens. If you thought you had existential crises, then think again. It’s all at once undeniable that he is living and yet impossible to think he is his own person.

That’s what I love about these books. The questions that spring up. I mean, sure, I’m also in it for the characters, the romance, and the inescapable action-packed plot twists. But they leave you thinking, and wondering, and questioning things. One of the most important things learned is to question everything and think for yourself.

And just wait until you get to book three.

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4 stars · science fiction · young adult

Full Tilt by Neal Shusterman; a crazy ride

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full tilt

author : neal shusterman

pages : [paperback] 208

memorable quote :

Who am I? The sum of your dreams, the thrill you refuse to grasp, the unknown you fear.

favorite character : blake

summary :

Sixteen-year-old Blake and his younger brother, Quinn, are exact opposites. Blake is the responsible member of the family. He constantly has to keep an eye on the fearless Quinn, whose thrill-seeking sometimes goes too far. But the stakes get higher when Blake has to chase Quinn into a bizarre phantom carnival that traps its customers forever.

In order to escape, Blake must survive seven deadly rides by dawn, each of which represents a deep, personal fear — from a carousel of stampeding animals to a hall of mirrors that changes people into their deformed reflections. Blake ultimately has to face up to a horrible secret from his own past to save himself and his brother — that is, if the carnival doesn’t claim their souls first!

review :

love Neal Shusterman’s writing. He’s been on my insta-buy list for years when he comes out with new books. I’m fairly certain this was one of his first novels, and it’s the only one of his I’ve read that isn’t part of any series. It’s my least favorite, but that isn’t saying very much, because I still really liked it. It’s creative, it’s fun, and I feel like younger audiences will definitely fall in love with Shusterman’s writing after reading this.

Full Tilt at its core is a story of two brothers. It’s also a story about not letting your past overtake your entire life. Blake and Quinn are nearly complete opposites. Whereas Blake is quiet and reserved, Quinn is reckless and an adrenaline junkie. Blake is the one invited to this very strange, very dangerous carnival, but Quinn is the one who actually wants to go and Blake only arrives because he needs to save his brother from himself.

I love the creativity here. The carnival rides are simultaneously things from nightmares and also things that kids love seeing in movies or video games–but it’s another thing entirely when the players are gambling with their lives. If they die at the carnival, it’s game-over forever, and they’ll be trapped there forever. Blake isn’t sure what the rest of the world will think happened to them, but isn’t sure he wants to find out. Although he just wants to take Quinn and get home, it isn’t as simple as all that. It feels like this carnival has been built specifically to cater to each individual’s personal fears.

I was rooting for Blake, because I wasn’t sure if I’d do as well in his position. This carnival can literally read into your mind and worst nightmares–I don’t think I’d be able to beat the kind of games he has to play. It was interesting to see how every individual has their own strengths–for example, what’s impossible for one person to get through, another can overcome quite easily. I loved how Full Tilt managed to show that on an even playing field, there can still be an individualized experience. Not everyone reacts to identical life experiences in the same way. Just like Blake and Quinn need to learn to empathize with one another, readers do too. I feel like this is an important book to be read, because of those important messages linking these thrills.

I’m so glad that I reread this book, and Neal Shusterman continues to be one of my top recommended authors. His books are so fun, creative, and smart–everything you could want in a YA novel.

4/5 stars

 

5 stars · science fiction · young adult

Marvel-ous Mondays: Superior Spiderman Volume 1: My Own Worst Enemy

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The Superior Sprider-Man

Volume 1

author: dan slott

illustrator: ryan stegman

pages : [paperback] 120

summary :

Part of the Marvel NOW! initiative! THEN!…Peter Parker spent a lifetime living up to the responsibilities his powers foisted upon him, but his story finally ended dramatically in the historic Amazing Spider-Man #700. NOW!…The new Amazing Spider-Man has arrived, and he is better in every single way. Smarter, stronger…Superior. And he’ll prove it, both to himself and the world, when he faces down the all-new Sinister Six! But is this all-new Spider-Man in cahoots with J. Jonah Jameson? And has Carlie Cooper figured out the Superior Spider-Man’s secret identify? Plus: Spider-Man and Mary Jane…reunited?! All this and the return of the villainous Vulture! It’s an all-new era of web-slinging excitement, and it all starts NOW! COLLECTING:Superior Spider-Man 1-5.

review :

I absolutely loved this volume. I mean, at some points, I loved to hate it, because Doc Oc is kind of a terrifying Spider-Man and it just goes to show how dangerous, and downright evil, Spider-Man could have been should all of that power have gone to a different person. It reveals just how much control and integrity Peter has had all of these years, trying to keep the city safe while also preserving his moral code.

This was awesome. I finished so quickly because I was flipping through the pages, wanting to know what was going to happen next. Even though I’m not exactly rooting for Spider-Man now so much as someone he managed to trick, I’m very excited to see where this may go. There’s a lot of potential in this storyline–and not all of it is good. After all, Spider-Man isn’t exactly himself anymore. There were a few decisive moments in here in which he made decisions Peter never would have that honestly upset me, which only reminded me of the reasons why I love the real Spider. It’s kind of hard to see how much you’d hate your favorite heroes, if they constantly made slightly different decisions than what you’re used to seeing from them.

I highly recommend this volume. I mean, it’s kind of hard to resist. It’s like nothing I’ve read before. All at once, it makes you nostalgic and eager to see what will happen in the future. Because, even though the events in this volume were crazy, wonderful, and only made me cry a little bit, there’s a lot more to come in the future.

5/5 stars

 

5 stars · fiction · science fiction

Marvel-ous Mondays: Moon Girl and the Devil Dinosaur

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Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur

author : amy reeder

illustrator : brandon montclare

favorite character : lunella

summary :

Lunella Lafayette is a preteen genius who wants to change the world, but lives in fear of the Inhuman genes inside her! Now, Lunella’s life is turned upside down when a red-scaled beast is teleported from the prehistoric past to a far-flung future we call…today! Together they’re the most Marvelous Team-Up of all — Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur! But will they be BFFs forever, or just until DD’s dinner time? And Lunella soon learns that there are other problems with having a titanic T-Rex as a pet in the modern-day Marvel Universe. School, for one. Monster hunters are another — especially when they’re the Totally Awesome Hulk! Then there’s the fact that everyone’s favorite dino didn’t journey through time alone. Beware the prehistoric savages known as the Killer-Folk — New York City’s deadliest tourists!

Collecting MOON GIRL AND DEVIL DINOSAUR #1-6.

review :

This volume was so, so cute! I think I’m in love with Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur’s relationship!

Lunella is exactly the kind of child I know I couldn’t deal with because she’s just too precocious, a little intense, and kind of tends to run full-throttle into a lot of danger. I can really understand why her parents want to keep her safe, ‘normal’, and close to home . . but I can also see why she’s frustrated by this. No one seems to fully understand her. They can’t treat her as a child because of her intellect but they also can’t treat her as an intellect because of her childhood. No one tries to see her as a whole instead of these separate pieces that make her Lunella.

She feels like one of those zany kids from those children’s movies who’re coming up with whacky inventions that will hilariously attack some bad guy. Except what sets her apart is that she’s so smart. She could easily take over the world, if she wanted to. Especially with a dinosaur pal by her side.

I don’t really know where Devil Dinosaur comes from. I don’t know if he was always a thing in the Marvel universe. But he’s so adorable around Lunella and even though he happens to get into a lot of fights, he’s only doing it for good. But dinosaurs are as easily misunderstood, too. Get it? That’s why they have to be BFFs.

I feel like this is the kind of volume that could be enjoyed by anyone. Kids would love it. I definitely loved it. I feel like people older than me would love it, too. It’s a really good story with a lot of heart and I know Lunella is going places. Especially with that ending. That was a really cruel ending because when will I get more?????

5/5 stars

 

3 stars · fiction · science fiction

Marvel-ous Mondays: X-Men: Civil War

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X-Men: Civil War

author : david hine

illustrator : aaron lopresti

pages : [paperback] 112

summary :

Enough is enough. The tension between the X-Men, the 198 and the O*N*E* has finally reached breaking point. As Civil War rips apart the Marvel Universe, the X-Men also find themselves crumbling from the inside out. Will they admit defeat, or will they finally start to fight back.

review :

This book wasn’t that great for me. I’m new to the Marvel comics, really new to all X-Men who weren’t featured in the movies. I wanted to read this comic because it’s in the Civil War timespan and I’ve slowly been working through all of those comics. Unfortunately this just didn’t work for me.

It was boring, mostly because it made no attempt to explain what was going on. I understand that there weren’t clear sides in this conflict. Everyone is always changing their mind about whether they support the hero registration act, which is good, because it’s kind of a big decision that they shouldn’t be taking lightly. But there were also personal vendettas in here, and divisions among the mutants, and none of them were ever explained. You just kind of have to go with it.

There were also two issues included at the back of this volume on Mutant Town that were included, I think, because they briefly mentioned the registration act. But, taken out of context, they don’t really make much sense. I had no idea who these mutants were, what their abilities were, why they were all angry with each other . . . And after struggling so much through the more closely tied to Civil War I wasn’t really prepared to muddle through these two issues.

I’d recommend this volume only if you’re really familiar with the X-Men universe and everything that’s been going on in it. Otherwise, by itself, it doesn’t stand as a good volume.

3/5 stars

 

4 stars · fiction · science fiction

Marvel-ous Mondays: Black Widow Vol 3

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Black Widow Vol. 3: Last Days

author : nathan edmondson

illustrator : phil noto

pages : [paperback] 176

favorite character : nat

summary :

The world has turned against Black Widow. Her web is broken. How will she deal with this? The final path to Chaos is at her feet, but will her own demons keep her from finally taking it? What happened to Isaiah? Can Black Widow still turn to the Avengers, or even to S.H.I.E.L.D.? Natasha wants answers about Chaos and now she has a list of people who have them.

COLLECTING: BLACK WIDOW 13-20

review :

I liked this volume but it wasn’t an entirely satisfying conclusion to this story arc.

The volumes leading up to this have been filled with questions of identity, of loyalty, of how someone can be human if they never allow themselves to get close to others. While Last Days tried to give us a few of Natasha’s answers, she’s too much of an enigma. But there was no happy balance between the mystery and hints at what’s going on inside of her mind. It’s obvious that she’s grown much closer to Isaiah (and her cat) than she’d ever planned to. But her relationships with them, after she’s admitted this to herself, are disappointing. Nothing seems to change.

Nat is innovative as usual. She comes up with great stunts to get herself out of sticky situations and to protect those she (accidentally) cares for. But some of the situations were similar to others in previous issues, which was a little aggravating. Nat of all people wouldn’t fall for the same situation twice, especially when the incidents happen so close together.

I love Nat, and I’m going to keep reading about her, but I wish there was going to be another volume by this team coming out after this. The art is beautiful; I want more of it. But more than that I want a more satisfying conclusion.

4/5 stars

 

5 stars · fiction · science fiction

Marvel-ous Mondays: Black Widow Vol 2

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Black Widow, Vol 2: The Tightly Tangled Web

author : nathan edmondson

illustrator : phil noto

pages : [paperback] 160

favorite character : nat

summary :

On a snowy night in Prague, Black Widow must fight her way out of disaster alongside the Winter Soldier! And as Isaiah’s London business turns complicated, Natasha finds herself fighting against — or alongside? — the Punisher for access to a deadly criminal network. But trapped on an exploding oil rig with Crossbones and his Skull Squad, will Frank and Natasha complete their missions — or take each other out? Then, Hawkeye is back! But could his fight with the Widow cost Isaiah his life? And in the wake of Wolverine’s death, Black Widow bonds with the despondent X-23 over punching and espionage, and teams up with the Howling Commandos for a dangerous mission in Afghanistan. But what will the Avengers do when they learn how Natasha has been spending her days off?

Collecting BLACK WIDOW (2014) #7-12 and PUNISHER (2014) #9.

review :

I loved this! I picked up this volume right after I finished the first one, so I was able to dive right into the story. Nat is still trying to piece together exactly what foe is out there who’s been thwarting her and she has some unexpected allies on the way, with appearances by Daredevil, Hawkeye, the Winter Soldier . . and plenty of other heroes that I’m sure I’ll recognize eventually, but because I’m not completely schooled in comics yet kind of passed over my head. There was like a lady Wolverine? She was cool. I have no idea where she came from, nor how Nat managed to bring her on board on a mission, but I was entirely accepting of it. Y’know, in the moment.

There’s SO MUCH action in this book, but the art is just beautiful. It’s nothing like what you’d expect with comic art. It’s hard to describe, because I’m not an artist at all. It’s kind of minimalistic, muted, watercolor-y. It’s great.

I love the whole undertone of “is Nat actually a good guy” running underneath this entire volume. She’s kept so much of her life, her choices, even her motivations a secret, so her closest friends can’t figure her out. Even Daredevil needs to listen to her heartbeat to try to determine if she’s lying to him. It seems like she’s never able to stop lying, not even in her personal life. I liked seeing that inner turmoil, even though it was a little heartbreaking.

It was a little weird to have Anderson Cooper do a report on Nat in the middle of the book. I’m wondering if he enjoyed being in a comic like this. But it really pulled me out of the story because, y’know, that’s part of the real world and everything else about this–the espionage, the intrigue–is all more amped up.

If you love Black Widow, you’ll love this volume. If you don’t love her yet, then you just haven’t started reading.

5/5 stars