Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Mini Reivews (round 1): Unearthed, That Inevitable Victorian Thing, and American Panda

Unearthed by Amie Kaufman (4 stars)

Summary on Goodreads:

When Earth intercepts a message from a long-extinct alien race, it seems like the solution the planet has been waiting for. The Undying's advanced technology has the potential to undo environmental damage and turn lives around, and Gaia, their former home planet, is a treasure trove waiting to be uncovered.

For Jules Addison and his fellow scholars, the discovery of an alien culture offers unprecedented opportunity for study... as long as scavengers like Amelia Radcliffe don't loot everything first. Mia and Jules' different reasons for smuggling themselves onto Gaia put them immediately at odds, but after escaping a dangerous confrontation with other scavvers, they form a fragile alliance.

In order to penetrate the Undying temple and reach the tech and information hidden within, the two must decode the ancient race's secrets and survive their traps. But the more they learn about the Undying, the more their presence in the temple seems to be part of a grand design that could spell the end of the human race...
Mini Review:
This book had some serious ups and downs for me.

The ups:
The crazier then all getup ending.
The Indiana Jones style traps
The twists and turns
The suspense
The puzzles

The downs:
The kinda cliche characters
The similarities between this and the Starbound trilogy
The repetition

The ups definitely outweigh the downs. I thought I'd give up on this a couple of times, but my curiosity kept me going. I wanted to know what they characters would find. Super class suspense here.

That Inevitable Victorian Thing by E.K. Johnston (4 stars)

Summary from Goodreads:

Set in a near-future world where the British Empire was preserved, not by the cost of blood and theft but by effort of repatriation and promises kept, That Inevitable Victorian Thing is a novel of love, duty, and the small moments that can change people and the world.

Victoria-Margaret is the crown princess of the empire, a direct descendant of Victoria I, the queen who changed the course of history two centuries earlier. The imperial practice of genetically arranged matchmaking will soon guide Margaret into a politically advantageous marriage like her mother before her, but before she does her duty, she'll have one summer incognito in a far corner of empire. In Toronto, she meets Helena Marcus, daughter of one of the empire's greatest placement geneticists, and August Callaghan, the heir apparent to a powerful shipping firm currently besieged by American pirates. In a summer of high-society debutante balls, politically charged tea parties, and romantic country dances, Margaret, Helena, and August discover they share an unusual bond and maybe a one in a million chance to have what they want and to change the world in the process —just like the first Queen Victoria.
Mini Reivew:
I loved this. Reading it felt reminiscent of Jane Austen and regency romances. The world it takes place in was fascinating. The characters were very lovable.

I was not a fan of the random notes and news articles between chapters. I know it’s how the author developed her extraordinarily unique world. But, I kinda wish the world was developed more in the actual narrative. They took me out of the story in a bad way.

The only reason I didn’t give this five stars was the super rushed ending. Not enough time passed for the three main characters to come to the decision they did. I loved their decision; it just didn’t seem very plausible/believable. I wish that was flushed out more.

All in all though, this was a lot of fun. 

American Panda by Gloria Chao (5 stars)
Summary from Goodreads:
At seventeen, Mei should be in high school, but skipping fourth grade was part of her parents' master plan. Now a freshman at MIT, she is on track to fulfill the rest of this predetermined future: become a doctor, marry a preapproved Taiwanese Ivy Leaguer, produce a litter of babies.

With everything her parents have sacrificed to make her cushy life a reality, Mei can't bring herself to tell them the truth--that she (1) hates germs, (2) falls asleep in biology lectures, and (3) has a crush on her classmate Darren Takahashi, who is decidedly not Taiwanese.

But when Mei reconnects with her brother, Xing, who is estranged from the family for dating the wrong woman, Mei starts to wonder if all the secrets are truly worth it. Can she find a way to be herself, whoever that is, before her web of lies unravels?
Mini Review:
I really loved this one. It was both super fluffy, and super emotional. I had a few tears at one point for Mei (who I just loved). It was sarcastic, witty, and dramatic. All things I love. I love that the focus was on family and being a Taiwanese American balancing two very different worlds. The romance was just a little added side dish. I sincerely hope this author writes more books.

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