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The Lives of Tao

The Lives of Tao by Wesley Chu
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

DISCLAIMER: I received The Lives of Tao as a publisher ARC through NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

This review can also be found at The Title Page

I really wanted to like The Lives of Tao, I really did. I have heard nothing but great things about it, and it’s under one of my favorite publishing houses so I was excited when I was provided the ARC.

I’m not going to lie, The Lives of Tao is just as funny as everyone claims. It’s filled with embarrassing moments and snarky conversations. In that sense, yes, it was entertaining.

The issue I has was that I was bored out of my mind reading this book. It follows Roen in his training by his alien-life-partner, Tao. He is enlisted by Tao to work for the Prophus, and be an undercover spy. Sounds exciting, no?

No.

Just as Roen claims in the book, the job of being an international super spy is not as exciting as it looks, and this is where the book suffered. We are plagued by pointless conversations and training, and then when we finally get to the exciting part, it is skimmed over with just a few short sentences.

This book takes more focus than I can give it. Maybe I will return to it someday when I have more time to spend between the pages of a novel.

The random flashbacks to Tao’s past lives reminded me a lot of The Amulet of Samarkand in that we caught a glimpse of historical figures from the inside of their minds. It was cool, but it subtracted from the already drizzling story.

I gave it a shot, and I’m willing to try again at another point in my life. This review is my opinion of the book and unless you are exactly like me, don’t immediately throw it in the Abandoned pile. Give it a shot.

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Filed under The Lives of Tao ARC Review TheTitlePage Wesley Chu 2 Stars Aliens NetGalley Angry Robot Books

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Wither - Lauren DeStefano

Wither (The Chemical Garden, #1)Wither by Lauren DeStefano
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Before the opening page, there is a quote from a zombie novel I read a while back. I instantly knew I had read it before even before I arrived at the credit.

“This is the way the world ends, not with a bang, but a whimper.”
— T.S. Eliot, Hollowmen

Do you know how many post-apocalyptic books have copied this exact quote? Either stolen it and put it in the novel as works of their own, or quoting it at the beginning of the novel or a chapter. Can we be a bit more original please? Way overdone.

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Right off I get the feeling that this author is attempting to write way above her skill level. The sentences are overly cryptic and forced.

“They keep us in the dark for so long that we lose sense of our eyelids”

Umm… what? I don’t even…

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First grammar mistake? *ding, ding, ding!*

Second page; author uses ‘its’ as possessive.

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Even Microsoft Word will tell you that’s wrong.

Looking past the author’s blatant disregard for common grammar laws, we move on the the main character being ‘noticed’. Oh how swell, this would be a boring story otherwise.

“His eyes, green, like two exclamation marks, meet mine.”

Umm… what?

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“The strange color of my eyes is the first thing anyone ever notices”

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Screaming; “LOOK, I’M SPECIAL!”

Apart from the grammar mistakes in this quote, it’s obvious the author wants us to know just how Mary Sue her character is. HER EYES, HER EYES, OMG HER EYES!

I get to the part where Rhine is ‘chosen’ with two other girls. The guards then shoot all of the girls who were not chose. Tell me this… in a post-apocolyptic world where women don’t live past age 20 (don’t even get me started on this idea) what good could it possibly do to kill a dozen or so sixteen year olds? The only thing I see them doing is killing off potential breeders.

I just died. Might stop reading this sad excuse for a novel, all it is doing is pissing me off and boring me.

We move on and Rhine (along with the other pretty-but-not-as-gorgeous-as-Rhine) brides get married to their mysterious gold-teethed fiancé (and that is supposed to sound attractive? Eew)

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This whole (what, 10%?) of the book is useless and boring. I had to stop myself from putting it down. It’s filled with “I went upstairs”’s “she led me down the hall”’s and “yet another”’s. I’m bored.

“The other brides are dressed in black and yellow versions of my outfit, respectively.”

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Ok… does the author not know how to use the term ‘respectively’? You can’t put it at the end of a description without previously determining who was listed first. And of course, little miss “I have pretty eyes” get’s the only good color dress… red.

I find the author goes off on these tangents. A secondary character will say one sentence and Rhine will bloom into thought about how she used to eat bananas before taking her evening dump. Very obtrusive.
Every time I happen upon one of these, all I can think is “Here we go again”

She is also contradictory to the point of confusion, for example; Rhine mentions she didn’t know much geography at all when asked if she knew what Japan was. Then, not even 3 paragraphs later, she is explaining about how her father was a “world enthusiast.” and had an atlas, where Japan was a favorite of hers. (Why Japan? Just cause? Oissh, of course, the Geisha’s, the only thing anyone in the US seems to know about Japan.)

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Another time, she says Linden did not come into her bedroom. Next sentence; “But in the early hours of the morning, I’m awakened by the turn of the doorknob.” Umm.. ok, who could it be? Linden…

Get your story straight.

How about this… these girls are stuck up in this mansion for a year with all the food they can imagine, sucking on candies all day long… wouldn’t they get fat? I know I would.

And Rhine whines and whines about wanting to leave, but she never actually makes an attempt at it. What does she have to go back to? I’m sure her brother would be fine without her, and it’s not like she had a job or friends. And I’m sure, with Linden head over heels for her, he would be fine with her sending a letter to her brother telling him where she is and that she is fine. Maybe he could even live with them and work in the house, I don’t know, cause she never tries it!

As much as other reviews say that Gabriel is practically nonexistent, he does seem to be around a lot in the first half of the book. And he does seem to have an awful lot of ‘rare’ smiles…

The author goes on and on throughout the novel about how Vaughn is dissecting the bodies in the basement. She assumes this because she saw them wheeling Rose’s body down the hall on a gurney…
Her body was being taken down the hall…
God forbid…

And she is always saying how one day they will all be corpses lines up for his experiments. Excuse me, but how long do you think a body will last? Bodies need to be dissected within weeks of death. By her math, it will be at least 6 years before all four of the sister-wives are dead, I don’t think anyone would want to keep a rotting corpse in their basement for 6 years for study, even someone mad as Vaughn.

I feel I have overdone the face-palm GIFs on this one…

Overall though, the book tied together really well. The polygamy was so farfetched with where we are in today’s society, I wanted to punch the author for even having such a ridiculous plot idea. And I’m sorry, but girls getting some sort of ‘virus’ right after their 20th birthdays, and men doing the same at 25? That’s just fucking stupid. You can’t be healthy your whole life and then BOOM, as soon as you turn 20 you get TB. Dumb, dumb, dumb.

If this took place in a parallel universe, or in the past, where polygamy was common, I would have enjoyed it much more. And it wouldn’t have taken away from the novel much at all because they don’t seem to have computers in this story at all… or phones… or surveillance cameras (don’t you think someone like Vaughn would put up cameras in his basement/laboratory?)

After I got past the boring parts, I enjoyed the book, albeit the massive amount of “OMG, WTF?!”’s.

However, if you care about believability, I wouldn’t bother with it. If you are one who can just brush off a pile of super-important-plot-related-crap that makes absolutely no sense, enjoy yourself. :)

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Filed under Wither Lauren DeStefano crap 2 stars

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Closed Hearts - Susan Kaye Quinn

Closed Hearts (Mindjack Trilogy, #2)

Closed Hearts by Susan Kaye Quinn
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Check out my other book reviews at my blog; The Title Page

Closed Hearts is the sequel to Open Minds, a novel set in a world where everyone normal is a mind reader. Kira, however, is not normal. She’s a jacker. Jacking is a special skillset in which the Jacker can enter and ultimately control a Reader’s mind.

In this novel, Kira has exposed the jackers to the public, and is set on a mission to free the trapped jackers and protect the ones she loves.

I found this novel to be slightly disappointing compared to it’s predecessor. Kira has completely changed in terms of her attitude and determination. In Open Minds, she would stop at nothing to bring Kessler down, and in this one she gives up two separate opportunities to do just that.

Her regard for those she loves is pushed until the end of the novel, only then does it occur to her that the best thing she could do to protect her loved ones is to leave them behind.

Her powers which were considered so remarkable in the first book seem weak and useless in this one. At times she can defeat extremely skilled jackers and at others she can’t even get in the heads of weakly protected readers. The inconsistinsies in her skill make me think the author got worried that Kira might become a Mary-Sue type character. Her attempts to correct this leave Kira a weak, unimpresive protagonist and one I’d much rather see replaced.

Honestly, I would much rather the story continue on in Julian’s perspective, he is the stronger character and while mysterious, much more developed.

Another large red flag to me in this novel is that so many of the Mages’ enemies are jackers. Being a jacker, wouldn’t you want to help a group that is fighting solely for jacker rights? Or at least do not stand in their way. The anti-jacker readers would be completely powerless without their jacking body guards. This is like saying gay people would fight against gay rights. It makes absolutely no sense.

One of the biggest disappointments I think is the scene set up. The big climax of the book takes place a good amount of time before the ending, almost at the halfway point. If I was an editor, the beginning and end of this book would not interest me enough to back it.

All over, this book is an obvious read if you enjoyed the first book. I would suggest reading it only in hopes that the third one will be much better, and you’ll need it to fill in the space between the two novels.

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Filed under Closed Hearts Susan Kaye Quinn 2 stars disappointing future