Sci-Fi/Fantasy Reviews: UPGRADE & THE BOOK EATERS

 

Hey everyone!  I hope you all had a nice weekend. I’m back today with something I haven’t shared in a while, sci-fi/fantasy reviews!  I think I’m finally starting to get over my pandemic aversion of all books that were somewhat dark in theme, and I’m happy to share my thoughts on these two new releases.  Blake Crouch is one of my favorite sci-fi authors so I was thrilled that my inner mood reader finally decided it was time to dive in to his latest.  Sunyi Dean’s is her debut, and after reading this book, I can’t wait to read more from her!

 

Sci-Fi/Fantasy Reviews:  UPGRADE & THE BOOK EATERSUpgrade Goodreads

Author: Blake Crouch

Publication Date: July 12, 2022

Publisher:  Random House/Ballantine Books

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Netgalley.  All opinions are my own.

 

What I love about Blake Crouch’s novels is that I can always count on him for an action-packed, mind blowing read that will completely absorb me from the moment I read that first page.  Crouch’s latest sci-fi thriller Upgrade delivers in a big way.

Set in the near future, the story follows Logan Ramsay, a federal agent who works for the Gene Protection Agency or GPA.  The GPA was formed after a genetic modification project that was meant to save our species goes terribly wrong and instead leads to famine and mass death.  The project was headed up by Logan’s mother, and he has joined the GPA in hopes of preventing similar incidents from ever happening again.  When the novel opens, Logan is following up on a tip about an illegal genetics lab. Almost as soon as he enters the lab, he is hit with a bomb.  It’s not just any bomb though, as Logan realizes soon after waking up in the hospital.  No, this bomb contained a genetic upgrade and Logan can feel himself starting to transform into a much enhanced version of himself.

I very much enjoyed the way this story unfolds.  It was fascinating to watch Logan’s transformation and what he’s able to do now that he has been “upgraded.”  I also found the story riveting as Logan encounters a few others who have also been upgraded but who are not on his side when it comes to the need for caution regarding genetic research and modification.  These encounters are an action-packed adrenaline rush and made for a fast-paced read.  It was also mind blowing when it is revealed who is responsible for these genetic upgrades and what their intentions are if they are not stopped.

Aside from the fascinating science and the thrilling action scenes, I also enjoyed that the story had a more personal element to it when it comes to Logan. Logan is a really likeable guy that I couldn’t help but root for.  He’s smart, well versed in genetics and genetic modification and the associated dangers of going too far, and he also has a huge conscience.  With his GPA job, he’s trying so hard to atone for what he sees as his mother’s sins, and I thought that was very noble of him.

I don’t want to give anything away, so I’ll stop here and just say that if you’re in the mood for an action-packed sci-fi thriller that will keep you on the edge of your seat but also leave you with plenty of food for thought regarding science, ethics, and the future of our species, Upgrade is the book for you!  4.5 STARS

 

Sci-Fi/Fantasy Reviews:  UPGRADE & THE BOOK EATERSThe Book Eaters Goodreads

Author: Sunyi Dean

Publication Date: August 2, 2022

Publisher: Tor Books

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Netgalley.  All opinions are my own.

 

I first became interested in reading The Book Eaters by Sunyi Dean when I read somewhere that the author was interested in crafting a unique vampire story, something that hadn’t already been done to death.  Dean succeeds too because The Book Eaters is, by far, one of the most unique vampire stories I’ve ever read.  For that matter, it’s also one of the most unique fantasy novels I’ve read in a long time.

The story takes us deep into the world of book eaters, a species who can pass for humans with the exception of their diet.  Rather than eat food and drink water, they rely on eating books for sustenance.  The author does an incredible job with creating this world, showing us what the eaters get from the kinds of books they eat.  Whatever books they eat are immediately committed to memory, and the eaters have a definite “taste” preference when it comes to things like glossy vs. non-glossy pages, etc.

The book eaters also have a real problem on their hands because their species is dying off.  Very few females are ever born, and so in an effort to stave off extinction, the few females who are born are raised to eat only fairy tales in order to groom them all to become wives and mothers. Arrangements are made, and basically, as soon as each female gives birth to a child and it is weaned from her, she is then sent on to fulfill her next arrangement and get pregnant again.

The story follows Devon Fairweather, a young book eater who has been forced into motherhood, hates the oppressive nature of the life she is being forced to live, and ultimately wants out of it.  Devon sees the especially cruel nature of her world when Cai, one of the babies she gives birth to, is considered to be a monster.  Cai is one of those few babies who are born to book eaters, that instead of existing on a diet of books, they exist on a diet of brains, thus leaving behind a trail of bodies whenever they feed.  The elders in Devon’s family want to get rid of Cai, and Devon is not having it, which spurs her into motion and propels the overall action of the book.

I don’t want to give away any more details because this unique story is best experienced knowing as little as possible going in.  I did occasionally have to re-read pages to really understand the worldbuilding and the relationships between various people Devon encounters throughout the book, but I think that was more of a me issue than anything wrong with the writing itself.

Devon was a fascinating character to me.  I’d classify her as morally gray in the sense that she makes a lot of hard choices when it comes to doing what she feels is right to ensure Cai’s survival.  I loved her mama bear instincts though and, as a mom myself, was 100% on board for her doing whatever it takes for the child she loves so much.  I also loved the way the author has the story unfold through dual timelines, one with Devon as a child and the other after she becomes a mother.  It really illuminated the oppressive nature of the book eater world, and that oppression of women and their bodies resonated all the more with me after what has happened with Roe v. Wade this year.

I highly recommend The Book Eaters to anyone who is a fan of vampire stories, and also to anyone who enjoys thought provoking, action packed dark urban fantasies with fascinating morally gray characters. 4 STARS

22 replies
  1. Angela
    Angela says:

    Upgrade sounds awesome!! I can’t wait to read it, I love how Crouch creates this sci-fi thrillers that still have a very human component to them.

    Reply
    • Suzanne
      Suzanne says:

      It’s definitely an exciting read that leaves you with so much to think about. I finished reading it a couple of weeks ago and still find myself thinking about some of the ethical issues that were touched on.

      Reply
  2. verushka
    verushka says:

    The Book Eaters is definitely one of the more original blurbs I’ve read in a long time. And Devon definitely in a complex character.

    Reply
  3. Sharon
    Sharon says:

    I am so glad Upgrade as good, I have it and cannot wait to read it. And I love the sound of The Book Eaters so much that I added to my to read list 😀

    Reply

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