Book Reviews: Whistleblowers, Magic Hats, and Fairy Tales

When she came in she instantly laid down on the floor.
“You’re not going to breakdance, are ya?”
“My mommy taught me it was rude to break anything.”

This is the first sequel to the book I called the best sci-fi novel of 2015, The Silver Ships. With so much to live up to, it’s inevitable that it couldn’t reach those same incredible heights, but it still makes for a fascinating and worthy continuation of this entertaining story.
Alex is growing in confidence, though he still blushes a lot and feels unworthy of leading so many people to their possible deaths. The first book had a lot of operational psychology that was fascinating to read, and this continues here, the best example being when Alex speaks to the Libre crowd, hoping to get them on his side. The inclusion of a psychotic killer AI was chilling, in a much different way than HAL in 2001.
Despite the dire circumstances, this story abounds with optimism, especially amongst the original crew of Merediens. Having become acclimated to thinking more like New Terrans, they wholeheartedly join in the fight to save the Libres, who also go along with the plan. Just as much as the first, there’s a bunch of comedic moments, both by Alex and at him, that keeps things from becoming too downer/serious.
As before there’s a character guide at the end, which will get used. Also good for a recap before heading into the third installment.

The Whistle-Blower’s Confession
When her aunt dies, a woman researches the rise in cancer and comes up with GMOs. With the help of her friend the lawyer she takes on the huge corporations, eventually finding an insider; he doesn’t last long. So they take another tack.
It’s a great idea, but the actual writing is stilted, with no flow; amateurish is the word I first think of. Since I believe in this cause, I wish I could say I enjoyed this. it’s just not well-written as far as the actual prose goes. . . damn, I tried so hard not to make that rhyme.

The Magic Straw Hat
As you would expect from the title, a hat magically bonds a little girl and her grandmother. Pies and Ireland are also involved. The hat goes off on an adventure of its own with little Caitie in hot pursuit.
This is more a short story than an actual children’s book; most of it is drawings and it still comes out to only 30 pages. (This review might be longer.) And even in a different than “small amount of pages” way, there just wasn’t much to this, not enough to the story to be interesting.

Far Out Fairy Tales
A collection of fairy tales “reimagined,” as that new word goes.
In a Japanese-influenced world—architecture, clothing, etc.—a girl from a very white family plays out the Cinderella story, fairy god-ninja and all. What makes this unique is that the girl doesn’t want to be a princess, but rather the prince’s bodyguard; she ends up leaving her sword instead of her slipper. Cute, but not a big deal. 3/5

Red Riding Hood, Superhero!
With a grandma who’s Hillary Clinton in the White House, a nemesis professor who’s a werewolf, and a visit to Grandma’s house that’s really Camp David, this is an ultra-modern retelling.
The Professor was bitten by a radioactive wolf and became an evil villain; doesn’t it always happen that way? How does she become a superhero? That’s a fun story in itself. The whole thing is full of wonderful little snarks, and I’m going to say as little about this as possible so you’ll enjoy it all on your own. This was easily my fave. 4/5

Super Billy Goats Gruff
Another ninja story! This time with goats. He and his brothers eat Rubik’s Cube mushrooms and find themselves in a video game.
I’d never heard of this fairy tale, and there really wasn’t much there to tell me what the original was about. Not much to it. 2.5/5

Snow White and the Seven Robots
Queen Regent of Techworld receives gifts from seven scientists for the young princess—such as intelligence and integrity—but she turns out to be a monster because her skin is white instead of green. . . which is what the Regent wanted, so she could stay in power. The mirror is instead a satellite, and it’s not about the fairest of them all, but rather the smartest.
The garbage scow is named Trash Talk; works for me. Chocolate instead of an apple, which makes complete sense. Each robot is different, some of them even cute; one looks like a fire hydrant, another is wearing a party hat.
No complaints. Kids will love it.

Hansel and Gretel and Zombies
More like Hansel and Gretel ARE zombies, sent by their parents to round up tourists for brain harvesting. Evil twist right at the beginning. And of course they don’t like candy.
For zombies these kids really are spoiled brats. . . spoiled, get it? The witch does, though she still wants to eat them. Can you eat a zombie?
As I recall from the original, they were good kids. Sure, zombies are evil, but this went beyond that; these kids would have been unlikeable even if they weren’t ambulatory undead. That made it my least favorite. 2/5


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