Book Review: Humans, Bow Down, by James Patterson & Emily Raymond

cv_humans_bow_downI have been an avid James Patterson fan for years. I especially enjoy the Alex Cross series and eagerly await new titles. His collaboration with a number of authors allows a wider repertoire and probably a greater spread of the profit. Sometimes the collaborations work, sometimes they make uneasy bed-mates.

So when I picked up Humans, Bow Down I was taken by surprise. This is no detective novel. This is a completely new genre but written superbly and a thoroughly gripping tale.

Here we are introduced to an earth in the future where humans are the minority, living on the fringes and subservient to their HuBot masters. It sounds like a simplistic plot, but it actually works well. Can the human race survive in a world where they are emotive and illogical? The intelligent, controlled and skilled HuBots are the masters on this earth.

The story follows the life of Six and her family as they struggle to survive in the underworld of the Reserve. On the HuBot side we have a malfunctioning family who appear to express emotions which leads to the empathy formed between the two lead females.

I felt the story was incomplete and rushed towards a conclusion. The setting lends itself to a new series of books based on these characters, which may perhaps be the hidden agenda. I look forward to further titles from this combination of writers telling of the future of HuBots and Humans on this strange new earth

Reviewed by Kathy Watson

Humans, Bow Down
by James Patterson & Emily Raymond
Published by Century
ISBN 9781780895505

Book Review: Spark, by Rachael Craw

cv_sparkEvangeline Everton, aka Evie, isn’t having a great year. Her mum has passed away, and with no father on the scene she has been shipped off to live with her aunt Miriam, her mum’s twin sister, in a different city. As if that isn’t enough, Evie seems to be going through an unusually violent growth spurt which includes strange fizzing pins and needles in her spine, insomnia, and a loss of appetite. And New Hampshire, where she now lives, may be home to one of her best friends, Kitty, but it is also home to Kitty’s magnetic brother Jamie, with whom Evie has a Past.

But there is more to Miriam than it seems, and it’s not long before Evie discovers that Miriam’s secret is about to become her own. Evie, like Miriam, has altered DNA, the result of tampering by a government agency, Affinity, a couple of generations ago. The tampering, in the form of a synthetic gene known as Optimal, was originally intended to create a group of super-soldiers, but didn’t go quite to plan. As a result, there are now three types of DNA mutations. The first, Sparks, are carriers – they spark the abilities of others. The second, Strays, are killers, who attach to a Spark and won’t stop until that spark is dead. The third are Shields, defenders, designed to protect their Spark from the Stray. A Spark will only spark once. A Stray and Shield will remain attached to their Spark until either the Spark or Stray is dead. And then it begins again.

Evie’s first Spark is her best friend, Kitty. But Shields almost never manage to save their first Spark. And the presence of Jamie only adds to Evie’s distress and confusion. There’s something different about Evie though: her abilities seem to be stronger and improving faster than normal – but will it be enough?

I found it interesting that Craw, a New Zealand author, decided to set her debut novel in the USA, when really the location doesn’t seem to be all that important. I wonder whether this was to appeal to a potentially wider audience, or whether the next two books in this intended trilogy will make the choice of location more apparent. It certainly didn’t detract from the book, but had I not known this was a New Zealand writer, I would never have suspected it from the writing.

Evie is a great protagonist – like the Hunger Games’ Katniss Everdeen she is a strong female character, but with flaws and insecurities that make her human and relatable. The book was compelling and I read it quickly, and the twists and turns made sense without being predictable.

The details about Affinity and Optimal were a bit long and overly complex, and there were way too many acronyms, but the plot wasn’t hard to follow even with only a skim read of Miriam’s explanations. It will be interesting to see how Craw handles this in the second and third books – allowing enough explanation for readers who haven’t read the first book without relitigating everything for those who have.

The blend of sci-fi “lite”, romance, and supernatural themes is well tested on the YA audience, and this new series brings a fresh perspective to the genre and will not disappoint. I’m certainly looking forward to reading the rest of the series.

Reviewed by Renee Boyer-Willisson

by Rachael Craw
Published by Walker Books
ISBN 9781922179623


Words of the Day: Wednesday, 20 November 2013

words_of_the_day_graphicThis is a digest of our Twitter feed that we email out most Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Sign up here for free if you’d like it emailed to you.

Book reviews
‘Botanical illustration is alive and flourishing despite a world full of gadgetry.’ @Te_Papa

Book Review: Jim Henson: The Biography, by Brian Jay Jones

Author interviews
Something for paranormal fiction fans

Come on folks, tell us what should be on the PM’s Summer Reading List here   #nzpmsrl

Book News
Booksellers – check out some christmas collateral at . It’s free, festive and fun.

The perfect gift for him, her and them…

The Indie Christmas Catalogue has landed…

The Australian PM’s think tank has made his summer reading list. What should be on @johnkeypm‘s?

From around the internet
Dystopian fiction fan?

Introducing The Hungry Games: Catching Fur. May the cookies be ever in your flavor.

‘I want a girl that reads’ @markgrist

Today in 1969, the first episode of Sesame Street premiered on TV. Pictured is one of Jim Henson’s designs of Big Bird.

George R.R. Martin shows no mercy. Every death in the series is tabbed (see pic).

The 10 Most Notorious Parts of Famous Books | PWxyz