Review Round-up

Okay, so my review of Liz de Jager’s Vowed wasn’t quite the end of my review line-up for the year. That said, I’ve been doing my best to tear through so many novellas and short stories, as well as novels, that I felt a round-up to highlight them was called for rather than trying to cram full reviews into what’s left of 2014. There may well be a Part Two to this post, but for now, here’s what I’ve been up to my eyes in over the last couple of weeks…

TriplerThree versions of the same person all want to kill you

In the near future an impossible virus is giving people the ability to summon two identical physical copies of themselves into existence at any time and in any situation – sending them murderously insane as a side-effect. They call the infected ‘Triplers’.

Harry Allwear is a specialist tracker working to eradicate the Tripler threat, a disciplined, highly-trained ex-soldier with an impressive kill record. He’s also a Tripler himself, kept sane only by experimental medication, nicotine, and an obsession with the music of David Bowie. Distrusted by the boss of his organisation and considered a liability and a wild card by those in power, he’s a Tripler hunting others of his kind in order to serve the greater good – and keep his sanity-preserving medication coming.

But when a Tripler bomber wreaks havoc in his home city of London, Harry discovers his tracker colleagues murdered, his organisation devastated, and the doctor who created his medication kidnapped. Out of meds, low on resources, and burning with a desire for payback, Harry learns the startling truth: the Triplers have unified into an army, and are engineering a radical new dawn for the planet Earth.

Harry may be the only one equipped to stop the coming war, but he has a serious problem: his sanity is already slipping away. And the most lethal enemy of all could be one of his own selves…

Series: Tripler Trilogy #1 | This edition: eARC | Publisher: December House | Publication date: December 2nd 2014 | My rating: 4/5

As science fiction thrillers go, this one is well worth looking at. The premise was one I found undeniably interesting, and despite some narrative roughness, it pays off. The SF angle here tilts a little more toward psychological thriller than straight science fiction, though both elements are definitely present. The explanation of the ‘science’ part on which this book’s premise hangs is a little slow in coming along, but in light of the psycho-thriller angle, it gets interesting fast when it does. (As the blurb indicates, ‘psycho’ is quite apt in that respect…)

This story isn’t without its issues – I suspect anyone who’s easily annoyed by info-dumping might frown a bit along the way in reading this – but the payoff is a solid one, and the book’s ending did leave me wanting more, so I count this as a win! It’s dark, and when it counts most the tension is cranked up pretty darned well. It’s also not without its moments of dark humour, which went over pretty well with me – too much darkness and I tend to get turned off (*cough*Game of Thrones*cough*). So, yes! I would like some more, please.

Messenger's Legacy

Humanity has been brought to the brink of extinction. Each night, the world is overrun by demons—bloodthirsty creatures of nightmare that have been hunting the surface for over 300 years. A scant few hamlets and half-starved city-states are all that remain of a once proud civilization, and it is only by hiding behind wards, ancient symbols with the power to repel the demons, that they survive. A handful of Messengers brave the night to keep the lines of communication open between the increasingly isolated populace.

Briar Damaj is a boy of six in the small village of Bogton. Half Krasian, the village children call him Mudboy for his dark skin. When tragedy strikes, Briar decides the town is better off without him, fleeing into the bog with nothing but his wits and a bit of herb lore to protect him.

After twenty years, Ragen Messenger has agreed to retire and pass on his route to his protégé, Arlen Bales. But for all that he’s earned the rest, he has no idea what to do with the rest of his life. When he learns Briar, the son of an old friend, is missing, Ragen is willing to risk any danger to bring him safely home.

Series: Demon Cycle (novella) | This edition: Hardcover (UK) | Publisher: Harper Voyager | Publication date: December 4th 2014 | My rating: 4/5

With the buzz about the next novel in Peter V. Brett’s Demon Cycle series starting to rise, I figured this was the perfect way to gear myself up for it. I’ve been hooked on the series from the first book, and given the way the last one ended I think “hooked” is an understatement…

Set at a point between books three and four, there is mention of That Ending and the natural speculation that comes with it, but for the most part it remains apart from Arlen’s story. That said, it might be about a minor character but this story was a touching one, and I was right about it being perfect to keep my appetite for the next novel sharp. How Peter’s going to progress from this point, I honestly have no idea – and that, I must admit, is also part of the appeal of it all for me right now. I MUST KNOW.

Hawkeye 3Kate Bishop heads to Los Angeles to get away from New York, life, and Clint Barton – but not away from trouble! Because Madame Masque is hanging out at poolside with the rich and famous as well! As Kate helps a reclusive and Sixties-damaged pop music genius find his lost masterpiece, Madame Masque finds Kate. By which we mean starts trying to kill her again. This one has it all! Characters! Plot! Story! Dialogue! Theme! Meaning! Message! Action! A little exposition! Fire! Arrows! Criminals! Neighbors! Large bodies of water! Clients! Cops who don’t care! A system that victimizes the victims! The dog! In a broken town where cynicism and apathy has its claws around the throat of the good and decent, Lady Hawkguy is the only hero you can trust!

Collecting: Hawkeye Annual 1, Hawkeye 14, 16-18, 20.

Series: Hawkeye (Marvel NOW!) | This edition: Paperback | Publisher: Marvel | Publication date; October 8th 2014 | My rating: 4/5

It looks as though I’m finding more graphic novels and comics to take an interest in than I thought was possible these days, and if I’m being honest this delights me. Largely responsible for this is Matt Fraction’s Hawkeye. While I have to admit to not being terribly impressed with Volume Two, I’m glad I stuck with this collection for Volume Three. Here we get a lot more of Kate Bishop, and while this collection of her stories might be a bit of a wildly adventurous mess, I thoroughly enjoyed it. It’s messy for much more entertaining reasons compared to Volume Two, and I’m happy to say I will definitely be getting my hands on Four as soon as possible.

Bitch Planet

2014 Best Writer Eisner Award nominee KELLY SUE DeCONNICK (PRETTY DEADLY, Captain Marvel) and VALENTINE DE LANDRO (X-Factor) team up for the very third time to bring you the premiere issue of BITCH PLANET, their highly-anticipated women-in-prison sci-fi exploitation riff. Think Margaret Atwood meets Inglourious Basterds.

This edition: ebook | Where I got it: Comixology | Publisher: Image Comics | Publication date: December 10th 2014 | My rating: 4/5

Well, now. For once I got into a buzz-heavy comic early – and I must say, I’m glad I did! This was short, sharp and impressively punchy, and even for a first volume there’s a twist in here that had me raising the eyebrows… I am thoroughly taken with this story, from the premise and this setup to whatever the hell it might lead to. I’m a bit nervous about that, actually. Nonetheless, sign me up. Yes. *Stamp of approval*

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