Category Archives: Amy Kathleen Ryan

[REVIEW] Flame – Amy Kathleen Ryan

Amy Kathleen Ryan
Flame (Sky Chasers, Book 3)
Macmillan (US: 7th January 2014; UK: 16th January 2014)
Buy (US Kindle Edition) Buy (US Hardcover) Buy (UK Kindle Edition) Buy (UK Paperback) Buy (CA Kindle Edition) Buy (CA Hardcover) Buy (Worldwide Hardcover) Buy (Worldwide Paperback)

My history with trilogies is that usually the first book is the best. In the case of Amy Kathleen Ryan’s Sky Chasers, the third book is the best. Which fills me with such delight, because it means the author’s skills have IMPROVED over the course of the series – just the way writing should be.

With the two earlier novels, the three lead characters were very annoying. That’s gone here in Flame – Waverly, Kieran, and Seth are more concerned with staying alive and the wellbeing of their parents than they are about relationship dramas.

In the earlier installments Anne Mather seemed like a cult leader, but here she’s just a political figure – and there’s more political intrigue in store. Will Waverly and Kieran commit perjury? It’s Mather and her crew versus the church elders, and neither team is ideal to lead.

What I’ve most loved throughout this whole series is the marvellous setting, complete with nebula. This is science fiction the way it should be: more about actual SCIENCE, rather than military/war/invasion. And there are medical issues all the way to the end.

I was all set to rate this five stars, until I got to the final chapter. It’s not labelled as an “epilogue”, but we all know what it is. The more this last chapter continued, the more disappointed I became.

Less is more, authors. You don’t have to tie every knot – you can leave something up to the reader to decide for themselves. Better to leave something unknown, rather than erase possibility. I still heartily recommend this series to anyone willing to try it. Just go without that final chapter.

Space-set Stories Appeal to Me. Have Yet to Identify WHY Exactly.

(Image via Wikipedia.)

NOTE: Though there are discussions about specific films and books, there are no spoilers.

Had a bout of unexpected melancholy this afternoon, which was a bit troubling since I couldn’t identify a definite trigger. So I tried to think of what I’d done differently today…which was going to the local cinema to see Interstellar.

When it comes to commenting on films, I always feel the need to qualify my opinion with, “I rarely watch films – maybe once or twice a year at most.” Which is true. (2013 was an anomaly, because not only did I watch two films, but I watched the second movie the very next day after watching the first. As a result, I may have used all up all my emotions – I cried – during Rush, so when I watched Gravity the next day I…felt kind of blank in comparison.)

Generally speaking, film is not an easy medium for me to connect with. The circumstances have to be right: I have to watch alone, in a half-full cinema at most, so I can properly immerse. I have to really want to see a particular film at the cinema, or else I just won’t see it. (DVDs at home just aren’t immersive.)

So about the melancholy: I wasn’t sure if it was because of the film. Others may (and will) disagree, but the last third of Interstellar is schmaltz. It’s laughable, and I heard someone else in the cinema laugh, so it can’t have just been my opinion. I did rather enjoy the film overall, especially the first two acts, but the final part…I think it required too much suspension of disbelief, and that’s something that pulled me out of the immersive experience.

So why the melancholy? Maybe I wasn’t quite ready to leave the world of Interstellar. It goes for almost three hours, which is long enough, but I found myself more interested in Amelia Brand’s story, from that glimpse at the very end. And maybe that sparked my belated melancholy – there were still more stories to be told. I wanted to remain immersed.

And I think it’s good to analyse why we like what we like, because that may help us find more things to enjoy. Here are all the films I remember seeing in recent-ish years (the order may be incorrect):

Lars and the Real Girl
Black Swan
Melancholia
Rush
Gravity
Interstellar

If you see a pattern there, you’re not alone. Rush is an obvious anomaly, but you can see my tastes change from psychological to…space? Melancholia is the perfect bridge – weird, fascinating science with psychological trauma to make it relatable.

Also, Melancholia, Gravity, and Interstellar have another factor that makes them appeal: interpersonal relationships that aren’t romantic. In film, storytelling is more condensed, so it makes sense that there’s no romantic subplot. Interstellar easily could’ve forced a romantic relationship, but it didn’t and I’m glad it didn’t.

So while I didn’t love Interstellar, I certainly got value from it. Even though the last third is ridiculous 😉

My reading also tends toward science fiction. It may have been Mary E. Pearson’s The Adoration of Jenna Fox that taught me that sci-fi isn’t always military battleships in space against aliens (which was the stereotype of sci-fi that I had, for better or worse). My first book set in space was Tess Gerritsen’s Gravity (have you heard about the legal action?), and I absolutely loved it – reading it anywhere and everywhere, because I didn’t want to NOT read it. Albeit, that was in the days of dial-up Internet, so I had fewer distractions, but still…an immersive experience.

And Amy Kathleen Ryan’s Glow that taught me that stories set solely in space can work for me, too. Since then, I’ve read and enjoyed more space-set books (Maria V. Snyder’s Inside Out duology, Imogen Howson’s Linked duology, and Alexandra Duncan’s Salvage), with many more on my wishlist. (Beth Revis’s Across the Universe, to name just one.)

But why space? Why is it calling me? I know nothing about physics or quantum mechanics, or whatnot. Is it because I like the pretty photos taken by the Hubble telescope? Because shiny coloured lights appeal to me? Because I like science, even though I don’t necessarily understand it? Because it’s “other”?

But maybe I don’t NEED to understand why I like what I like. So I’ll just go with it, and see where my tastes might lead me to in the future…

7th January 2014 Releases

Happy Release Day to:

Lissa Price
Enders (Starters, Book 2)
Random House Delacorte (US & CA: 7th January 2014)
Buy (US) Buy (UK) Buy (CA) Buy (Worldwide)

Someone is after Starters like Callie and Michael – teens with chips in their brains. They want to experiment on anyone left over from Prime Destinations – Starters who can be controlled and manipulated. With the body bank destroyed, Callie no longer has to rent herself out to creepy Enders. But Enders can still get inside her mind and make her do things she doesn’t want to do. Like hurt someone she loves. Having the chip removed could save her life – but it could also silence the voice in her head that might belong to her father. Callie has flashes of her ex-renter Helena’s memories, too…and the Old Man is back, filling her with fear. Who is real and who is masquerading in a teen body? No one is ever who they appear to be, not even the Old Man. Determined to find out who he really is and grasping at the hope of a normal life for herself and her younger brother, Callie is ready to fight for the truth. Even if it kills her.

Jennifer Rush
Erased (Altered, Book 2)
Hachette (US: 7th January 2014)
Buy (US) Buy (UK) Buy (CA) Buy (Worldwide)

After fleeing the Branch with Sam, Cas, and Nick, Anna is trying to make sense of the memories resurfacing from her old life. At the same time, she’s learning how to survive in hiding, following Sam’s rules: Don’t draw attention to yourself. Always carry a weapon. Know your surroundings. Watch your back. Then a figure from Anna’s childhood reappears. Is it a Branch setup, or could it be the reunion Anna has hoped for? Uncertain of where her loyalties lie, Anna must fight to learn the truth – before she is betrayed again. Ultimately, the answers hinge on one question: What was the real reason her memories were erased?

Amy Kathleen Ryan
Flame (Sky Chasers, Book 3)
Macmillan (US: 7th January 2014)
Buy (US) Buy (UK) Buy (CA) Buy (Worldwide)

Waverly and the other members of the Empyrean have been scattered, and their home ship destroyed. Their mission to rescue their parents didn’t go as planned, and now they’re at an even greater disadvantage: trapped with their enemies on the New Horizon, trying to find a way to survive. Kieran has been pulled under Anne Mather’s wing, but is she really trying to make peace, or just using Kieran to build her own power? Meanwhile, Waverly is taken in by a mysterious old man who wants to help her bring Anne Mather down – but the more Waverly cooperates with him, the more dangerous her position is, and the more at odds with Kieran she becomes. Seth’s situation is even worse. After setting out from the Empyrean on his own, with only a vague strategy to guide him, he is a fugitive aboard the New Horizon. He’s doing what he can to challenge the power of Anne Mather, but he’s badly hurt, and getting sicker. All the while, unknown to him, the terrorist Jacob is making plans of his own. Will Seth ever see Waverly again? Will his health hold out long enough to help her topple their enemies? And will Waverly find a way to unite with her friends before they all fall?

4 New Covers (Graves, Ryan, Seles, Williams)

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January 2014 Releases

Done with December 2013 Releases? Here are January 2014 Releases. For future releases, check Reading Wishlist.

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8 New Covers (Brody, Lunetta, McGarry, Quinn, Ryan, Stolarz, Worth, Yovanoff)

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5 New Covers (Aguirre, Barnes, Harrison, Littlefield, Ryan)

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[REVIEW] Spark – Amy Kathleen Ryan

Amy Kathleen Ryan
Spark (Sky Chasers, Book 2)
Macmillan (US: 17th July 2012; AU: 1st August 2012; UK: 2nd August 2012)
Buy (US) Buy (UK) Buy (CA) Buy (Worldwide)

Behold: a trilogy with a middle book that doesn’t dip in quality compared to Book 1. Straight off the bat, you’ve got to give the author points for that.

What I love most about the Sky Chasers series is the setting: a generational spaceship on the way to a new planet. Also, the rival spaceship, and the space between. Love it, fascinated with it, want more of it. Book 3 can’t come soon enough.

And life inside the Empyrean and the New Horizon involves conflict upon conflict, and all this tension forms an awesome page-turner.

But here’s where things get difficult: I really don’t like the main characters. They piss me off so much. Which I guess is better than “meh” characters to whom I feel indifferent, but still – annoying characters downgrade what would have otherwise been a five-star read. Kieran is power-hungry and Waverly is trigger-happy, and Seth’s more of a plot device so he doesn’t really have a personality.

Kieran Alden is acting Captain, and still trying to push religion upon the Empyrean’s residents. He’s a real pain in the arse until after the elections, when he matures preparing for peace talks with the New Horizon. Here we come to understand Kieran and appreciate his efforts, because as a leader he’s damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t. His decisions aren’t popular, even if they’re the right ones.

Waverly Marshall is one pissed-off special snowflake, convinced that Kieran is a dictator and she’s the one to call an end to his regime. She leads the push for elections and gets on the Command Council. But plans for a bloodless coup to retrieve the parents from New Horizon go astray when it’s clear Waverly has violence in mind. It’s hard to remember she’s on the side of good when she gets such a kick out of torturing suspected terrorists. Waverly would’ve loved working at Guantanamo Bay.

P.S. One character remarks that stalking isn’t creepy “if you’re doing it for a good reason”. I laughed my arse off at that. How wrong he is…

August 2012 Releases

Done with July 2012 Releases? Here are August 2012 Releases. Fur future releases, check Reading Wishlist.

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17th July 2012 Releases

Happy Release Day to:

Amy Kathleen Ryan
Spark (Sky Chasers, Book 2)
Macmillan St. Martin’s Griffin (US: 17th July 2012)
Buy (US) Buy (UK) Buy (CA) Buy (Worldwide)

After a desperate escape from the enemy ship, Waverly has finally made it back to the Empyrean. The memory of home has been keeping her alive for the past months…but home is nothing like she left it. Forced to leave their captive parents behind on the New Horizon, she’s returned only to find that Kieran has become a strict leader and turned the crew against Seth. What happened to the Kieran she thought she knew? Now Waverly’s not sure whom she can trust. And the one person she wants to believe in is darkly brilliant Seth, the ship’s supposed enemy. Waverly knows that the situation will only get worse until they can rescue their parents – but how? Before they have time to make a plan, an explosion rocks the Empyrean, and Seth and Waverly are targeted as the prime suspects. Can they find the true culprit before Kieran locks them away…or worse? Will Waverly follow her heart, even if it puts lives at risk? Now more than ever, every step could bring them closer to a new beginning – or a sudden end.