No Ordinary Star – Book Review

No Ordinary Star (No Ordinary Star #1)
Author: M.C. Frank
Published: November 2015
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Dystopia 

Rating: 5 Stars
Cover: Like it51pe2yum8l-_sx324_bo1204203200_


A soldier is summed to the North Pole, days before the year changes, told to fix the great Clock for a celebration. He has no idea what to do.

A girl, hunted for the crime of being born, almost dies out on the ice. She is rescued by the last polar bear life alive.

A library waits for them both, a library built over a span of a hundred years, forgotten in the basement of an ice shack.

The world hasn’t known hunger or sickness in hundreds of years. It has also forgotten love and beauty.

The year is 2525.

Inspired by the short stories of Ray Bradbury, this futuristic novel is set in a world where Christmas – among other things – is obsolete and a Clock is what keeps the fragile balance of peace.

Written in three installments, this is the breathtaking and sensual story of how two unlikely people change the world, and each other, one book at a time.

“How can such a small person cause so much chaos?” p. 74

*I received a free copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review*

In the beginning of No Ordinary Star, the author writes an introduction about how these books are inspired by the short stories of Ray Bradbury. When I saw this, I knew immediately that this was something I needed to read—Ray Bradbury is a genius. While M.C. Frank has her own unique voice, I can definitely see the influences from Bradbury. Frank does not disappoint.

NOS takes place a couple weeks before the turn of the New Year—2525. This futuristic, dystopian novel explores ideas that are not completely new, specifically creating a world of advancements that have lost touch with humanity and the beauty of the world around them. Though this concept, wrapped up in a dystopia, is becoming increasingly popular, M.C. Frank does an excellent job capturing the reader’s attention and describing something that feels completely new, creating vivid descriptions and wonder inducing images of things we consider the norm in our world today.

In this new world, people don’t have families and pills keep them alive. Each person is created, their personalities and characteristics are chosen, and their flaws basically eliminated. This is why it comes as a surprise when, one day, the soldier receives a message from his grandfather—a familial role he had never heard of. The people in this future have no need for sleep, no need to eat, and are just driven to keep moving. Food, vitamins, health maintenance including rest otherwise gained by sleep—all these necessities are rolled into pills taken every day. Food is just an excessive attempt to connect with the old times, and animals are far less populous. With no need to sleep, many of the men join the military and run drills and missions for 23 hours a day. Ideas are discouraged and the norm of society is to follow orders. Those who rebel are thrown into “the Box,” along with the women, who are punished for even being alive. Diversity, beauty, and love are non-existent. What a bleak, hopeless future. However, one man begins a new awakening that begins to blossom in this book, and, I’m assuming, will reach full bloom in the next two.

One of my favorite things about NOS is that Frank doesn’t take an extended period of time to build the world, but rather dunks you right in and explains the absolute necessary things as you go. This allows for more of an immersive experience that calls for collaboration with your imagination. This book does not explain the world, but shows it. Plus, let me tell you, the descriptions and writing are just so beautiful: “…he feels himself falling away from sight, sinking into the snow, its crystals parting to welcome his weight” (p. 6).

Frank uses this book as a commentary on society, much like her hero, Bradbury. If our world were to strive for perfection and order, would we lose our humanity? Our choices, uniqueness, ideas, and even our mistakes are the building blocks that create the rich world we live in. I look forward to see how Frank continues to weave this world, knowing I will struggle to put the next book down just as I did with this one.

Book Review – Illuminae

Title: Illuminae: The Illuminae Flies _01
Author: Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff
Published: January 2015
Genre: Young Adult Sci-Fi/Fantasy

Rating: 5 Stars
Cover: Like it


This morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do today. This afternoon, her planet was invaded.

The year is 2575, and two rival mega-corporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than an ice-covered speck at the edge of the universe. Too bad nobody thought to warn the people living on it. With enemy fire raining down on them, exes Kady and Ezra—who are barely even talking to each other—are forced to fight their way onto the evacuating fleet, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit.

But the warship is the least of their problems. A deadly plague bas broken out and is mutating, with terrifying results. The fleet’s AI, which should be protecting them, may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what the fuck is going on. As Kady hacks into a tangled web of data to find the truth, it’s clear only one person can help her bring it all to light: the ex-boyfriend she swore she’d never speak to again.

Briefing note: Told through a fascinating dossier of hacked documents—including emails, schematics, military files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and more—Illuminae is the first book in a heart-stopping, high-octane trilogy about lives interrupted, the price of truth, and the courage of everyday heroes.

This is my first read by either of these authors, though I have the beautiful UK edition of Nevernight by Jay Kristoff on my shelf to read and I’ve already preordered the second book in the Illuminae series. After finishing this book, I will keep an even closer eye on these authors and their work.

Illuminae is the most engaging book I’ve read in a while. I thoroughly enjoyed the formatting of the text, using files, footage, and communications between ships. It felt like I was reading a real case file on an incident. Black pages are used for Kady’s diary entries and for the Artificial Intelligence’s, AIDIN, readings. Words dance across the pages in twists to illustrate the Cyclone ships flight paths, or to create a picture of the ships at war. Some words break to pieces to show a life lost during battle. I took extra long to read each page as the digital aspects through the illustrations mesmerized me, completely engaging me in the plot line. My only frustration with the format of the book was that I was constantly leaving fingerprint smudges on the black pages. When I complained about this to my boyfriend, he told me I should just buy two copies of every book—one to read and one to stay pretty looking. A girl can dream, can’t she?

Disclaimer as I move into the plot: PEOPLE DIE. So many people die. Three ships are able to escape the Kerenza colony when it is attacked by Bio-Tech. Though the ships suffer damages from the battle, they are able to save thousands of civilians and make headway as they escape the only Bio-Tech ship left standing, Lincoln. Before long, however, they are faced with troubles among their own fleet, including a plague that causes severe paranoia and their AI—which is programmed to protect them—suddenly and inexplicably killing their own people. The violence is not for the faint of heart. The hardest death for me in the whole book was the hardest one for Kady. I could almost hear the sound of my heart breaking and sinking into my stomach.

Kady is one of my favorite characters I’ve read. She is determined, feisty, and refuses to sit down and do nothing. Even AIDIN is charmed by her: “She tosses lank hair from her eyes. Eyes narrowed to knife cuts. Refusing to kneel. To break. To fall. I can see why they loved her” (p 548). She will not let the truth be hidden, but instead fights for knowledge through hacking into documents and even escaping one ship to help another. While rule-breaking never should be encouraged, Kady’s spunk and struggle for the truth to be known universally is admirable. We need more women like her in America today.

While Kady is primarily preoccupied in her illegal hunt, a part of her is preoccupied with her relationship with her ex-boyfriend, Ezra. The morning before their home was invaded, she had broken up with him, much to his dismay. However, since he is on a separate ship than her, he has access to information she needs. She finally breaks the silence and starts to work with him. It is apparent he is still smitten by her when he continues to send her cheesy love poems in the shape of hearts and roses (insert eye roll) and tells her sweet encouragements like this (insert melting of my heart):

“Mason, E, LT 2nd: you have me
Mason, E, LT 2nd: until the last star in the galaxy dies
Mason, E, LT 2nd: you have me” (p 232).

While their relationship does not take up the whole plot line, it plays a big part. It’s encouraging to see people fight for each other in the midst of chaos, and to chose to work out their issues instead of ultimately running away.

The amount of twists revealed in Illuminae are innumerable. I constantly found myself gasping in shock at new information or even the shear brutality of everything. This book is well advertised by the line “Am I not merciful?” (p 307), but once I actually got to that part, I was completely horrified by what it meant. Once again, this book is not for the faint of heart. Every twist and turn provided more shocks, more horror, and hope was constantly handed to me and then ripped away. This book was so engaging, I’d think about it even when I wasn’t reading it. It is gripping and perfectly descriptive. I am counting down the days until book #2 hits the shelves.