Lenni Reviews: “The Testaments” by Margaret Atwood

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In this sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale, we continue our journey through Gilead through a protester of the totalitarian regime in Canada, the daughter of a Commander, and Aunt Lydia, a Gilead enforcer.

I have to say, this is a lot less subtle than the first book and perhaps that’s a good thing. Some parts ramble a bit but it’s overall very harrowing and sad. One quote stuck out to me:

“Stupid, stupid, stupid: I’d believed alll that claptrap about life, liberty, democracy, and the rights of the individual I’d soaked up in law school. Those were eternal verities and we would always defend them. I’d depended on that, as if a magic charm.”

I read this months ago and this is sadly relevant still. It’s absolutely a pageturner and the writing is of course amazing. 4.5 out of 5. 

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Lenni Reviews: “Levius/est” Vol. 3 by Haruhisa Nakata

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*This book was given to me in exchange for an honest review.

As Levius prepares for his fight with the current champion, his trainer Zack wonders if Levius could ever be prepared for a fight on this level. Meanwhile, Amethyst returns (from way back in volume one) with an unbeatable new fighter named Balthus; the brother of A.J. who claims she no longer remembers him.

I was wondering if and how Amethyst would make his return and manipulating A.J.’s brother after all she did to protect him was just the type of messed up thing I’d expect from Amethyst. This volume is a real page-turner with some interesting character development and again, the fighting is drawn incredibly well. I am super pumped for the final showdown with Amethyst! 5 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “An Unkindness of Ghosts” by Rivers Solomon

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*This book was given to me in exchange for an honest review.

Aster, a surgeon, is assistant to Theo, the Surgeon General on board the spaceship Matilda. The ship is heavily segregated with darker-skinned poor people consigned to the lower decks and forced to toil in the service of the upper decks. It is only Aster’s medical talent and connection to Theo that allows her a level of freedom to grow her own plants and discover the mystery behind her mother’s disappearance when she was a baby via a journal she left behind.

While highly creative and interesting, I think this is another book that would have benefitted from being only in the third person to give me more of the world around our characters. Don’t get me wrong, the world-building is great but I found myself getting confused too often in this book.

However, I did enjoy this book. We have some great realistic characters, a dystopian future starship, an intriguing mystery to solve, and great integration of LGBTQI characters. It’s like Titan A.E. only with even more social commentary. I came to enjoy Aster’s attitude but I really wondered as to the fate of the Matilda. Mostly Theo since I enjoyed him as well. Maybe there will be more in this universe in the future? I sure hope so. 4.6 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “Sea of Rust” by C. Robert Cargill

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*This book was given to me in exchange for an honest review.

Humanity is gone. Robots are also going extinct. Two remaining AIs are readying to go to war to claim the remaining freebots to add to their collective consciousness. While out scavaging for parts, former caregiver bot, Brittle, gets swept up in an insane gamble to save the last freebots on Earth.

If you like movies like 9, this is the book for you. The plots are similar in that the machines win a war against humans and the world is in ruins; minus any definitive heroes. Every character is flawed and out for myself, making this book ooze the very essence of a bleak, dystopian world. And I loved the adventure.

One nitpick I would have is the robots are almost too human but reading about a bunch of bland, personality drained dolls bashing up against one another would be boring. So, I’m all for it. 4.9 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “Sinless” by Sarah Tarkoff

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*This book was sent to me in exchange for an honest review.

*This review is cross-posted to Otakus and Geeks.

Grace lives in a world where your sins are physically manifest on your body. Pretty people are good and bad people have been punished with physical deformities and are ostracised from society until they earn forgiveness. When she encounters a boy seemingly immune to Punishment, it starts a chain of events forcing her to face some rather ugly truths about the world she lives it.

While an awesome concept, it feels immature in execution. About halfway through the book, Grace comes off to me as stumbling over the line between “flawed character” and “spoiled brat” so I found her hard to relate to; even as a YA novel. As things go on, (spoiler maybe??) she turns into the Queen of Being Kidnapped as this happens WAY too often in order to get her to the next plot point.

It’s a good thing this is essentially told by an older character because I am way more interested in adult Grace than teenage Grace. I almost want to read the next one with that want in mind. Despite not being thrilled with the protagonist, I still wanted to know what happened next enough to read through to the end. 2.7 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “Broken Mirror” by Cody Sisco

 

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*This book was given to me in exchange for an honest review and is rated 18

*This review is cross-posted to Otakus and Geeks.

After the death of his grandfather, Victor is convinced he was murdered. But nobody believes him due to his diagnosis of mirror resonance syndrome, which causes blackouts, nightmares, hallucinations, and a lack of control over strong emotions. Determined to discover the truth, Victor no longer knows who to trust as not only his condition worsens but a dangerous conspiracy involving a possible cure and a plot to lock up any broken mirror whether they’re a threat or not.

This is a great cyberpunk thriller. Set in a dystopian, 1990’s, you get this futuristic feel and the stakes make it tense but there are moments that drag as the next twist is set up. I really felt for Victor and I think you’ll find yourself rooting for him the entire book, as I did. The world around him is built perfectly within the narrative making the entire story engrossing and engaging. An awesome novel worth checking out. 4 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “Bitch Planet” vol 1 & 2 by Kelly Sue DeConnick and Valentine De Landro

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In this dystopian future, if a woman commits a crime (or generally doesn’t “behave”) she is shipped off to prison world; nicknamed ‘Bitch Planet.”

This mashup of Handmaid’s Tale and Beyond Thunderdome is admittedly not an easy story to read. Having personally faced many of the micro and not so micro-aggressions inflicted upon the women in these books, the trigger warning was appreciated as it dredged  up some shit I’d repressed for quite some time.

As in I have been told “Do what I say then I’ll be nice to you.” The expletive laden reply I gave would have gotten me shipped off to Bitch Planet in a hot second.

While triggering, it was also cathartic in a way to see the characters bond and support each other. It was also good to see trans women included in such a feminist laden story. It would have been easy to leave them out and going the distance to include them was a great gesture.

All that being said… There is something very superficial about it. It smacks of a hidden check list the creators are trying to complete. It gave this a exploitation B movie feel which you may want to avoid if you are trying to send a serious message. Unless that prison exploitation movie feel is what they were going for cause in that case, mission accomplished. But I like cheesy exploitation movies so I can forgive this. Solid 3.8 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “Crossing in Time” by D.L. Orton and Micah McDonald

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*This book was given to me in exchange for an honest review and is rated for 18+

*This review is cross-posted to Otakus and Geeks

Geneticist Isabel is given a once in a lifetime chance; to go back in time and get a second chance with her lover, Diego. But this is for much more than just love as their relationship may hold the key to saving humanity from mass extinction.

Now, I know one would think that knowing me and my other reviews; a “time travel, dystopian romance” would not only have my eyes rolling out of my head but send me into Serena’s Plight levels of anger. Neither of these happened. I LOVED this book.

Isabel and Diego are both whip-smart, strong brave characters and there were precious few moments in the plot where I doubted they were anything else. And while their relationship takes center stage, supporting characters like Matt are quick witted, kind, and funny. All of them have such chemistry I didn’t want to leave them (and I will be getting the next books in the series).

The time travel bits can get confusing and part of me doesn’t want to believe anyone could accidentally set off a nuke (but with how things are with a president who tweets unintelligible typos, it seems sadly likely) but overall, this story had even a cynic like me believing that one relationship could mean saving the world. 4.7 out of 5.

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Finally Watched It: “Dark City” (1998)

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In this dystopian scifi, John Murdoch finds himself with no memory in a strange room with a dead body. Mysterious figures in dark coats are on his trail as he discovers a dark conspiracy about what happens to the people around him and the city at night.

Just from the first ten minutes, I could already tell this was going to be a movie I need to watch more than once to really get it. From the way the story is told and presented, it is subtle, beautiful, and scary. From what little I to know about how to make movies, this is framed and shot AMAZINGLY well.

I just don’t understand why this isn’t more popular. Right away, it felt like Bioshock hacked The Matrix and demanded the movies become smarter and more subtle. It really highlighted for me what I have noticed about mainstream media; it’s all dumbed down, loud, sanitized, safe, drivel that doesn’t bother to challenge your brain at all. When you finally sit and watch something like this, it’s such a breath of fresh air. It ticked off every geek switch I have and I can’t wait to watch it again.

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Lenni Reviews: “W.U.M.E.: A short story” by Marc Poliquin

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**I purchased this book for free from Amazon.**

When Kate Murdoch sees her baby boy for the first time, she decided there is no way she will allow Snazzy Corp to begin a process called fetal imprinting; which ensures brand loyalty to the company before a person is even born. This corporation is powerful and devious, not simply taking no for an answer and Kate will have to fight to protect her son.

This is a cool story with an interesting premise but man is it jumpy. Where it could have been fast-paced, this story is blasting it all at you as quickly as possible. It seems crammed in where it could have been a decently written longer novel. I give it a 3.7 because I felt I blinked and it was over.

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