Wednesday, 21 May 2014

kindle samples; science fiction & dystopian novels

One of the best things about kindle is the 'try before you buy', where you can get samples of books, usually the first chapter, sent to your device for free.

Dystopian fiction (like The Handmaid's Tale, The Huger Games, The Road) is my favourite genre to read, and I've recently being getting more into science fiction. I'm always on the lookout for more authors, so taking advantage of Amazon's free samples I downloaded several to try.

Drifting House, Krys Lee:  
Synopsis: A collection of stories that looks at Korea in the turbulent years post World War II and crosses the ocean to record the struggle of immigration and assimilation.
My thoughts: From the sample, there is currently no indication of SF, so I presume that this collection includes a mixture of genres. I did enjoy the first chapter though, partly because I used to live in South Korea and have interest in the culture, but also because the immigrant experience has a lot of dramatic potential.   
Verdict: would buy the full novel 

The Lives of Tao, Wesley Chu
Synopsis: A civil war is raging between the peace-loving Prophus and the ruthless Genjix, and as both rival factions use humans and animals as hosts, the war is threatening the survival of Earth and humanity.
My thoughts: The sample starts with a high-octane chase, very James Bond. I get the impression the rest of the book will be more plot driven than character based, so will probably make a good beach read. I am slightly put off, because I can't help but compare it with Stephenie Meyer's The Host, which also includes parasitic aliens and which I though was a poor read.
Verdict: wouldn't buy (unless cheap) but would borrow from the library 

Riddley Walker, Russell Hoban
Synopsis: Set in the aftermath of a nuclear holocaust, 12 year-old Riddley is trying to survive in the ruins of civilisation. Written phonetically with a distorted syntax, for example "O Im so col Im afeart Im going to dy" it is difficult to read.
My thoughts: The premise of this is right up my street, a classic dystopian novel about survival and rebuilding society from the rubble of the past, I'm not sure if the phonetically language would get on my nerves. I did have to use at lot of concentration to understand what was being said, and I'm not sure if my dyslexia would be a hindrance or a help in deciphering the language.
Verdict: would try and borrow from library, as there is a strong possibility I would give up halfway  

A Bottle of Storm Clouds, Eliza Victoria 
Synopsis: A compilation of short stories, considering morality in alternate realities. Including a story that features a pawn shop in which healed bones can be traded for a month's laughter, or sight for a singing voice.
My thoughts: The sample included one full story, and half of another one, both of which I loved. The supernatural and the mundane are beautifully and surprisingly blended. The only downside is, I'm not really a fan of short stories, I would prefer it is they intertwined somehow.
Verdict: would buy the full book (plus it's only a tiny £1.23 for the kindle edition) 

Who Fears Death, Nnedi Okorafor
Synopsis: In post-apocalyptic Africa the world is harsh and violent, the Nuru kill and rape the Okeke without remorse. Onyesonwu is conceived through rape, and therefore shunned and feared, even more so when she starts to exhibit signs of powerful magic. 
My thoughts: since reading Octavia Butler's Wild Seed I've been on the look out for some more afrofuturism, so was thrilled to discover this. The book is of to a strong start, and the sample left me wanting to read more. 
Verdict: would buy the full book

Halfkinds Volume 1: Contact, Andrew Vu
Synopsis: In the near future animals are now equals with humans, but some taboos remain, including interspecies relationships. When an isolated human prostitute dies, her children (the result of interspecies liaisons) are threatened with exposure and experimentation.
My thoughts: I was hoping for something like Margaret Atwood's The Year of Flood where gene splicing had given animals near-human intelligence, but Halfkinds isn't anything like that. Actually is weirded me out, and I couldn't even finish the sample. Plus it isn't very well written and it doesn't feel like the alternate reality has been comprehensively created.
Verdict: would most certainly not buy or read 

What do you think? Have you read any of these books, or would you like to? If you've got any suggestions of dystopian/ science fiction I should read please leave your suggestions in the comments below:-

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