Middlegame by Seanan McGuire

GoodReads Summary:
Meet Roger. Skilled with words, languages come easily to him. He instinctively understands how the world works through the power of story.
Meet Dodger, his twin. Numbers are her world, her obsession, her everything. All she understands, she does so through the power of math.
Roger and Dodger aren’t exactly human, though they don’t realise it. They aren’t exactly gods, either. Not entirely. Not yet.
Meet Reed, skilled in the alchemical arts like his progenitor before him. Reed created Dodger and her brother. He’s not their father. Not quite. But he has a plan: to raise the twins to the highest power, to ascend with them and claim their authority as his own.
Godhood is attainable. Pray it isn’t attained.
Middlegame (Middlegame, #1)Review:
Middlegame is a dark story. I’m glad I chose to read this in October. The story follows a cast of characters. Most of all we follow Roger and Dodger, twins that don’t really know they are twins for most of the book. Roger is skilled with words. He reads whatever he can get his hands on and loves learning new words and languages. But he’s terrible at math. One night, he’s doing his homework and hears a voice in his head that is giving him the answers. This was the first time he met Dodger. Dodger is incredible with math. She solves equations that have been unsolved for many years. The twins can communicate in their minds, sort of. There are other characters we follow, like Reed, who is the alchemist that created Roger and Dodger. He’s a pretty terrible guy that thinks he’s the hero of this story. He certainly is not. All of the characters that we meet that are under Reed’s command are also terrible. There are other children like Roger and Dodger and I just felt so bad for the situation they found themselves born into.
This book is hard to explain because it was too complex and detailed. There were many things that tied to other things in the story. I was blown away by all of these little connections and ways this story was put together. I also really enjoyed the way the story was written. There are several different ‘books’ that break the story up, but the books don’t all go in order. We get bits of the ending in the middle and I thought that was an interesting choice because it really made me more eager to figure out how things got from the present to that particular future. Each chapter was also started with a date, time zone, and context of how much time it had been since the last chapter. I really liked this because there were chapters toward the end that one day was many chapters and the labels added a bit of humor.
Overall, Middlegame is a book I’m definitely going to read again. I read this with my book club this October and I really hope my friends enjoyed it as much as I did. There were really complicated family relationships, which I really enjoyed, but also made me sad. There is a scene where one of the characters tries to kill herself. This is not an easy story but it’s an incredibly complex and fascinating one. It’s dark and dirty, a story about kids that are different that are just trying to survive to adulthood. But their lives are so much more than that and they don’t even know it. Both Roger and Dodger have to make really hard choices that have consequences. I liked that we got to see the consequences. I just cannot say enough good things about this story. The beginning was a little slow as we were getting to know Roger and Dodger and learn Reed’s plan, but once I was interested, I just couldn’t put this book down.

Quotes:

“Sometimes changing things means throwing the whole world out of alignment.”

“He believes in exploiting the world for his own gains, but she’d happily ignite the entire thing, if only to roast marshmallows in its embers.”

“You can’t skip to the end of the story just because you’re tired of being in the middle. You’d never survive.”

“Words don’t mean anything without someone to understand them.”

“Most of the kids he knows are rushing toward adulthood as fast as they can, hands stretched in front of them, grasping for the unknowable future. Roger wishes he knew how to dig in his heels and stop where he is. Just for a while; just long enough to get a better idea of what’s ahead.”

“Words can be whispered bullet-quick when no one’s looking, and words don’t leave blood or bruises behind. Words disappear without a trace. That’s what makes them so powerful. That’s what makes them so important. That’s what makes them hurt so much.”

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Red Rising by Pierce Brown

GoodReads Summary:
Darrow is a Red, a member of the lowest caste in the color-coded society of the future. Like his fellow Reds, he works all day, believing that he and his people are making the surface of Mars livable for future generations.
Yet he spends his life willingly, knowing that his blood and sweat will one day result in a better world for his children.
But Darrow and his kind have been betrayed. Soon he discovers that humanity already reached the surface generations ago. Vast cities and sprawling parks spread across the planet. Darrow—and Reds like him—are nothing more than slaves to a decadent ruling class.
Inspired by a longing for justice, and driven by the memory of lost love, Darrow sacrifices everything to infiltrate the legendary Institute, a proving ground for the dominant Gold caste, where the next generation of humanity’s overlords struggle for power. He will be forced to compete for his life and the very future of civilization against the best and most brutal of Society’s ruling class. There, he will stop at nothing to bring down his enemies… even if it means he has to become one of them to do so.
Red Rising (Red Rising Saga, #1)Review:
Wow, I have been sleeping on this series. Someone gifted me the ebook and I put off reading it for so long. Now, I might be obsessed. I don’t own the rest of the series, but at the recommendation of a friend, I’m going to continue the series via audiobooks.
Darrow is a Red. This means that he is a part of the lowest color in his world. He works in the mines every day. He works hard thinking that he will someday help the other colors be able to live on the surface of Mars. But when his wife is hanged, he takes her down and buries her body, knowing that this will sentence him to death. But instead of dying, he wakes up among the Sons of Ares. The Sons of Ares is a rebellion that it working toward changing the color system. They show Darrow that the higher colors have terraformed the surface of Mars hundreds of years ago and there are even some Reds that live and work on the surface. He realizes that his people are nothing short of slaves, mining for the higher colors. The Sons of Ares give him the task of becoming a Gold and testing to get into the Institute, something they’ve tried and failed to do in the past.
This is where the story really gets interesting. I really enjoyed the start of the story, seeing how much Darrow loves his family and his wife, Eo. I also enjoyed the process of Darrow being made into a Gold. But when he passes the test and gets to the Institute, the story is almost non-stop action. I will say that this story was very graphic and gruesome, so if you don’t like that sort of thing, maybe skip this one. But I loved every second of it. It was a fascinating conversation about humanity. I think the tests they endure at the Institute were horrific and complex, but completely captivating.
Overall, I really liked this book. It was dark and gritty, but also occasionally hopeful. It’s a story about one kid being sent on a mission to change the way of the world. I hope we get to see Darrow get some support from the Sons of Ares now that he’s passed the Institute’s tests. I think the ending was perfect to leave the reader wanting more. I liked that Darrow made friends among the Golds even though it complicates his plans. I also really liked that Darrow actively thought about this. He couldn’t help but make friends, but it weighed on his heart that he was going to have to betray them eventually. I’m very excited to continue the series.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North

GoodReads Summary:
Some stories cannot be told in just one lifetime. Harry August is on his deathbed. Again. No matter what he does or the decisions he makes, when death comes, Harry always returns to where he began, a child with all the knowledge of a life he has already lived a dozen times before. Nothing ever changes. Until now. As Harry nears the end of his eleventh life, a little girl appears at his bedside. “I nearly missed you, Doctor August,” she says. “I need to send a message.” This is the story of what Harry does next, and what he did before, and how he tries to save a past he cannot change and a future he cannot allow.
The First Fifteen Lives of Harry AugustReview:
I’m having a hard time collecting my thoughts on this one. I almost DNF’d it because I had a really tough time with the writing style. The story jumps all over the place. Our main character, Harry August, has lived his life over and over fifteen times (presumably more by the time this story was published, but we only see fifteen). So, in the first 30%, the story is very complicated. It jumps all over the place, between several of Harry’s lives, and was filled with overly complicated explanations. A few of Harry’s lives were very science-focused which was not super interesting, but I could mostly follow it. I just didn’t like how convoluted the story seemed. But as the book progressed and we learned more about all of Harry’s lives, the more I found myself enjoying it.
This story was so complex and involved. The time that Harry spent working on his plan and toward his goals was incredible. Several lifetimes spent trying to stop the end of the world, an end he helped come about in one of his lives.
While I did find myself enjoying this story, I still don’t know that I would say I loved it. The story was fascinating, but I didn’t overly care about the characters. The things Harry saw and experienced were interesting, but the fact that he was just going to die and redo his life over in a different way made me not as invested in the events. This shouldn’t make sense because Harry still remembers all his previous lives, I was not Harry so I couldn’t seem to get invested.
Overall, this was a really interesting story that had some flaws. The introduction to the story was confusing and jumped all over the timelines of Harry’s life. At times, I had to go back and reread to figure out which life he was talking about. I can still appreciate how complex and involved this story was. I definitely think some science fiction lovers will enjoy this book.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.