Wednesday, July 18, 2012

SciFi Summer Update 2

Time for another update on my SciFi Summer! Someone really needs to remind me not to wait a month to do my next post. Whew!

Environmental disaster. Living on other planets. The long journey to a new home. Time travel.  All excellent fodder for stories. All fabulous ways to reveal more truths about who we are, right here on earth.




Eye of the Storm - by Kate Messner
(Check out some great reviews and summary at Goodreads)
Set in the "not too distant" future, Eye of the Storm captures a world where climate change has completely altered the landscape. Immense storms sweep through everywhere, altering life as we've known it. Jaden is sent to live with her father in StormSafe community to attend a cutting edge science camp when she uncovers secrets her father is hiding about his weather research.

Environmental "near future" science fiction at its best, this book will appeal to readers who are fascinated with meteorology, climate science, and even mystery. A tiny hint of romance sweetens the tale.

Age Levels - Middle grades.

Science Concepts - Climatology, meteorology, some genetics (in the science camp)

Wonders and What Ifs - What will happen if our climate continues to change? How far would you go to protect the ones you love? When is it okay to have secrets or to reveal the secrets of others?

Narrator / Main Characters - Kate Messner is a master at the strong female protagonist. Jaden is a joy to read, and I love how her math and science background is just a part of who she is - not something that is seen as "odd" in any way.


The Knife of Never Letting Go - by Patrick Ness
Life in Todd's town is filled with Noise. Not just ordinary noise... this Noise is the thoughts of everyone that surrounds you, even your dog. Todd is the youngest in his town - almost a man - when he stumbles onto a secret so disturbing that he must run to save his life. But how can you escape when everyone can hear your every thought?   (Read more summary at Goodreads)

I have to admit it, this was one of my favorite books I've read so far this summer. It stood out as having a unique voice and a conflict that gripped me tightly and wouldn't let go. The gender conflicts in the story reminded me a lot of A Gate to Women's Country (another all time favorite book).


Age Levels - Young Adult. Violence and language.

Science Concepts - life on other planets (and human colonizing)

Wonders and What Ifs - When something traumatic happens, what determines how different populations will handle it? What would happen if others could hear your every thought? How would we interact with alien life forms?

Narrator / Main Characters: Told from a male perspective, though the female secondary character becomes more and more important during the course of the story.


Obsidian Blade - Pete Hautman
"Kicking off a riveting sci-fi trilogy, National Book Award winner Pete Hautman plunges us into a world where time is a tool - and the question is, who will control it?" (from Goodreads )


This book is the latest in my "Batty About Books" chats with my buddy Kathy. We discussed the first half of the book already, and will be discussing the second half this Friday. (Be aware, the chats include spoilers).

Obsidian Blade includes chilling insights into history, human nature, and faith. I'm still working through many of the thought provoking questions it brought up in my own mind. That, in itself, is a perfect reason to read this book (and science fiction in general!)


Age Levels - YA. While the character himself comes across as young, the topics we wrestle with in the story would probably be best handled by older readers.

Science Concepts - Time Travel, genetics

Wonders and What Ifs - What would happen if people could travel in time? Would we change the past and alter our present?  What is "faith"?

Narrator / Main Characters - Told from a male perspective. There is a female secondary character, and I found her quite intriguing, but she was not the focus of the tale.





Across the Universe - Beth Revis
"A love out of time. A spaceship built of secrets and murder. " (From Goodreads)


Imagine being sent across the universe with your parents, who have the skills needed to create a hospitable human world. Now imagine having to endure cryosleep for 300 years to get there. When she is yanked from her slumber 50 years early, she is thrust into a life on-board the ship that she never expected. Someone is trying to murder the sleepers... can she figure out who is responsible before they are all lost?

The first few pages honestly almost made me ill. Not a terrible thing - the description of being prepped for cryo sleep were exceptionally detailed and traumatic to me. I loved the concept and the mystery aspect of the plot. I think the thing that brought it down from a full 4 was the romance. I don't object to romance in my science fiction (far from it!), but I just didn't "feel it" for this couple as much as I had hoped. With that said, I think that the target age range for this book WOULD like this facet of the tale. 

Science concepts: Space travel, cryogenics, genetics

Historical Tie-in: I have to be a little careful here, as I don't want to give away the whole plot. But I can safely say that you'll find this book would pair very well with any study of the role of dictators in history. It would also go with any discussion of revisionist history or population control.

Wonders and What Ifs: What do we need from leaders? How much knowledge is "safe"? Is there information that should be withheld from people, for their own good? What is "hope"?

Age range: Firmly YA - Sex and mating is a major theme in the story - though it isn't overly graphic. The trauma of inducing cryosleep in the beginning of the book could also be a bit much for younger readers. 


Narrator / Main Characters: Continuing the trend of many current stories, this tale is told in alternating voices. One male, one female. I really love this. 

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