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Hell Divers II: Ghosts by Nicholas Sansbury Smith

Source: Amazon
Format: Kindle
Rating:  5 Stars
Reviewer: Laurel

This book is hands down Nick’s best yet. A quick read, I was spellbound from the first sentence.

Once again we’re pulled in to life on – and off – the Hive, an airship that’s been aloft for well over two centuries. Familiar characters are present, but as the events occur ten years after Hell Divers I, there are new ones to love – and hate. Oh, and new monsters too. Nick’s always good with the monsters…

This is my favourite quote: ‘There was only one thing left for Michael to say. He bumped his comm pad to open a private channel to Captain Jordan and yelled, “We dive so humanity survives!”‘

This is definitely one of my favourite reads of 2017. Absolutely fantastic stuff.

I can’t wait for Hell Divers III.

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The Fall of Fort Bragg by Rachel Aukes

the-fall-of-fort-braggSource: ARC from the author
Format: Kindle
Rating:  5 Stars
Reviewer: Laurel

I received an ARC from the author in exchange for an honest review.

This is a Kindle Worlds novella in the Extinction Cycle by Nicholas Sansbury Smith.

I appreciated the opportunity to read this story written in the Extinction Cycle world as created by Nicholas Sansbury Smith. In this book we get to meet Horn’s wife, Sheila, and their girls, Tasha and Jenny.

This story did not disappoint. For all Aukes is not Smith, her story had the same level of horror, suspense and pacing I have come to expect from Smith’s books. I could have easily been fooled into thinking Smith had written it. Kudos to Aukes for remaining true to the series in this regard. Not that a change would have been awful; after all, this story is about a different group of people.

Not much else to say, really, except that fans of the Extinction Cycle shouldn’t miss this addition to the canon. It’s excellent.

Why You Were Taken by JT Lawrence

Why You Were TakenSource: Copy from author.
Format: Kindle ebook
Rating:  4 Stars
Reviewer: Laurel

Johannesburg 2021: Kirsten is a roaming, restless synaesthete: a photographer with bad habits and a fertility problem. A strange, muttering woman with dog hair on her jersey approaches Kirsten with a warning, and is found dead shortly afterwards. The warning leads her to the Doomsday Vault and a hit list of seven people – and Kirsten’s barcode is on it.

How to review this book has given me much pause for thought. I’ll be honest up front: there were things I liked very much about it, but there were equally some things that hampered my enjoyment of the story.

What I liked: This is a BIG story. And I mean it. Fascinating ideas, an intriguing premise, and some very relevant topics are discussed. Topics that are relevant to both the world as a whole and to South Africans (where this book is based) in particular. Racism, world (over-)population, scarcity of resources, amongst others. Survivors of abuse might need to brace themselves a bit, though, especially towards the end of the book.

This book doesn’t deal with ordinary people. One of the things one has to get a handle on is the fact that Kirsten is a synaesthete. This means that she sees flavours, numbers and other sensory items as colours. The frequent (not THAT frequent) references to (apparently) random colour names, both recognisable and exotic, can throw one out of the flow of this book. Once I realised what a synaesthete actually was, then the references made sense and became part of the sensory input for the book.

I did struggle to get into the book. This is partly due to the book being set on Earth. I seem to have issues getting into high-tech futuristic books: I found I had the same issue with Neuromancer. One has to get a handle on the new terminology and technologies that are in use. As these are relatively frequently referred to, one soon catches on, but it does take a bit of time to figure out – one’s constantly trying to find similarities to known tech. That said, the society is coherent and well thought-out, so while we as readers need to get used to it all as novices, there aren’t many questions in the characters’ minds as to what they’re referring to and doing.

What I struggled with: The ending fell a bit flat for me. I’m not entirely sure why, but the middle section of the book drew me in the most. I began to care for the two primary characters (Kirsten and Seth) and root for them to survive. But around the time Kirsten and Seth were brought in, I got thrown out of the story again and never really got back in. It became too easy to skim paragraphs and just keep a handle on the sense of what was happening.

Probably my biggest issue was with the mish-mash use of tenses throughout the story. I honestly didn’t know if I was reading past, present or future. This certainly gave a sense of disorientation – which may or may not have been deliberate on the part of the author, given that Kirsten isn’t exactly a “whole” person for the majority of the text.

Conclusion: Overall, while I am aware I’ve brought up quite a few issues I had while reading the book, I honestly thoroughly enjoyed the story itself and the situations the characters found themselves in. The ending was bittersweet for me, and in some ways I wish some things had ended differently. But I guess one cannot have everything the way one wants it, right? That’s life, after all.

This is a larger-than-life book that could go far in the scifi world, but I do think a thorough edit to remove the niggles would be required to make it stand out as the diamond it should be. It is because of my being thrown out at the end of the story that it gets four stars from me.

Extinction Evolution by Nicholas Sansbury Smith

Extinction EvolutionSource: ARC from author.
Format: Kindle ebook
Rating: 5 Stars
Reviewer: Laurel

There’s a storm on the horizon…  Central Command is gone, the military is fractured, and the doomsday clock continues to tick. Despite overwhelming odds, Dr. Kate Lovato has developed a new weapon to defeat the Variants–a weapon that could end the war sweeping the globe. But can Master Sergeant Reed Beckham and the remaining members of Team Ghost protect her and the survivors of Plum Island long enough to save the human race? 

Fans of this series won’t be disappointed to pick up this next instalment in the Extinction saga. Well written and fast-paced,  Smith’s writing continues to be of a quality that draws you right into the heart of the action and holds you there. The characters were still in my head a good couple of days after I finished the book.

In Extinction Evolution we get another roller-coaster ride as Beckham and Kate – and a few others – work to reclaim the world from the Variants. As usual, there are complications along the way and some pretty big challenges – not least that the Variants are, well, evolving. Things get serious, but we finally begin to see some real glimmers of hope. Even so, the situation is more dangerous than ever, and our heroes are getting tired.

Very well-written and vivid, an excellent continuation of the Extinction story. Now I need the next one please!

Extinction Age by Nicholas Sansbury Smith

Extinction Age
Source: ARC from author
Format: Kindle ebook
Rating: 5 Stars
Reviewer: Laurel
On the eve of extinction all seems to be lost, but there is still one final hope…
 
Operation Liberty has failed. Humans are losing the war. With no other option, General Kennor decides to pull back the troops and give science a second chance. 
 
Trapped in the extensive sewer system beneath New York, Master Sergeant Reed Beckham and the survivors of 1st Platoon must battle through the tunnels–where they make a grisly discovery in their attempt to escape. 
 
At Plum Island, Dr. Kate Lovato is working on a new bioweapon to destroy the Variants. But when a derelict Navy Destroyer crashes into the Connecticut shoreline, she is forced to deal with a nightmare she thought had ended. 
 
As the doomsday clock ticks down and military bases fall across the country, the human race enters the age of extinction. Will science prevail–or will mankind vanish off the face of the planet?

 

Book three in this series, and Smith isn’t done with us yet! For which, I must say, I’m grateful, as I’m really enjoying this series… if one can enjoy books that are essentially a never-ending (apparently) nightmare.

That said, this book makes one consider who really *is* the true monster: the human who has been turned into a monster as a result of a virus, or one who is yet human, yet turns on his fellow man?

It’s funny. Whenever I read these books, the predominant colour in my mind is grey. I’m not sure if that’s as a result of the covers depicting grey people, or how my mind deals with the horror within these books’ pages. I’m not saying it’s a bad thing, but an interesting fact I just realised. Everything is grey.

This book again expands our knowledge of the post-apocalyptic nightmare the characters are dealing with. We get to see a few more locations, and revisit a few as well. The action is relentless, with Team Ghost again getting little more than a few hours’ recovery time at best (less than 72 hours, mostly) between missions. I appreciated the few moments of beauty that were able to creep into the pages, reminding us of what Team Ghost is fighting for.

An excellent instalment of the saga, and I look forward to the next one with relish. Bring it on!