MINI-REVIEWS: Act of Will, Virus on Orbis 1, Someone Like You

MINI-REVIEWS: Act of Will, Virus on Orbis 1, Someone Like YouAct of Will (Hawthorne Saga #1) by A.J. Hartley
Published: Tor Books (2010), eBook, 384pg
Source: Borrowed
Genres: Fiction, Fantasy, Action, Adventure

Act of Will is a boisterous fantasy adventure that introduces us to Will Hawthorne, a medieval actor and playwright who flees the authorities only to find himself inextricably bound to a group of high-minded adventurers on a deadly mission. Will travels with them to a distant land where they are charged with the investigation and defeat of a ruthless army of mystical horsemen, who appear out of the mist leaving death and devastation in their wake.In the course of Will’s uneasy alliance with his new protectors, he has to get his pragmatic mind to accept selfless heroism (which he thinks is absurd) and magic (which he doesn’t believe in). Will must eventually decide where his loyalties really lie and how much he is prepared to do--and believe--to stand up for them.

I was pleasantly surprised by this book. At first I thought it was a comedy story, something like a Terry Pratchett book. Then it turned into something else, something more like…I don’t know. A Megan Whalen Turner book? (Only not YA.) And then I stopped trying to compare it to other books and just enjoyed the story.

It’s a great story, very entertaining and yet also kind of heartbreaking. Will’s an interesting protagonist. If this were a different kind of book, I’m pretty sure Will would be the sidekick character that dies a manly death somewhere in the second act which then spurs on everyone else to kick butt and save the day. He’s clever, but in the stupid way that unwordly people tend to be. He’s funny, but also kind of sleazy and gross. He’s more brains than brawn and should by all rights be a dead man walking in a swords-and-sorcery fantasy book, but he’s NOT dead. And best of all? He actually starts to use his brains in such a way that makes him a) less annoying and b) less likely to die a cowardly death. (Although he’s still a coward.)

Anyway. Act of Will: a great book with an unusual, near-unlikable protagonist and some fantastic secondary characters. I really enjoyed it.

Read: August 26-30, 2011

MINI-REVIEWS: Act of Will, Virus on Orbis 1, Someone Like YouThe Softwire: Virus on Orbis 1 (The Softwire #1) by P.J. Haarsma
Published: Candlewick Press (2006), eBook, 288pg
Source: Freebie
Genres: Fiction, Sci-fi, Action

"Filled with exotic aliens, dangerous situations, and fast-paced adventure. Younger sci-fi fans will happily hang in with JT." — BOOKLISTThirteen-year-old Johnny Turnbull has always known there was something different about him. It turns out he’s the first-ever human softwire —- able to enter and communicate with computers with his mind. Now that JT and two hundred other orphans have been put to work in alien factories on the first ring of Orbis, things are going very wrong. The "perfect" central computer is malfunctioning, and suspicious eyes are turning to JT. Could he be the one responsible?

This started off somewhat rocky, with a scenario that seriously reminded me of some other YA sci-fi books I’ve read before (hello). And yeah, it’s kind of unimaginative in that regard. But! The rest of it was pretty good. I like sci-fi novels with actual aliens in them, and I like YA novels with kids that save the world (or a world) against all odds. It makes for an entertaining book, you know?

And the last half of the book was really good. It was exciting, and scary, and there were computer-y things which were really fun. The alien world was scary and weird, but also pretty fascinating. I do wish there had been more secondary characters that weren’t humans, but I’m hoping there’s more aliens in the next book. I just really like aliens, you guys.

Read: September 5, 2011

MINI-REVIEWS: Act of Will, Virus on Orbis 1, Someone Like YouSomeone Like You by Sarah Dessen
Published: Puffin Books (April 1st 2002), Paperback, 250pg
Source: Bought
Genres: Fiction, Contemporary

Halley has always followed in the wake of her best friend, Scarlett. But when Scarlett learns that her boyfriend has been killed in a motorcycle accident, and that she's carrying his baby, she's devastated. For the first time ever, Scarlett really needs Halley. Their friendship may bend under the weight, but it'll never break--because a true friendship is a promise you keep forever.

I feel like I’ve read quite a few books with pregnant teens in them this year. Anyway– this is the second Sarah Dessen book I’ve ever read, my first being Keeping the Moon. I like Keeping the Moon better than this one, but Someone Like You was still pretty good.

The characters were a bit cliched, yeah. I mean, can’t there ever be a redheaded person who ISN’T named Scarlett who is really popular and also a firecracker and so on? You know? But for all that Scarlett plays a big part in SLY, it’s really Halley who’s the protagonist and who does all the growing up.

I really like coming-of-age novels, even if they almost always happen because of sex/dating/etc. I kind of wish there were more where romance wasn’t involved, just for something different, but I can understand why romance plays such a big part. The romance in Someone Like You was pretty good, too– understated, but exciting/important, and a bit scary. And, even though I had to read about it on Wikipedia because I forgot about it, I really liked the ending. It’s happy, but not cliched happy, if you know what I mean.

Read: September 18, 2011

3 thoughts on “MINI-REVIEWS: Act of Will, Virus on Orbis 1, Someone Like You”

  1. I read Someone LIke You a little while ago, too, and I can’t remember the ending either. Like you, I thought it was okay but it obviously wasn’t memorable.

    This is really going to bug me – how did it end??

    1. The baby comes, Halley breaks up with what’s-his-face, and…everyone hugs each other? Or something like that, anyway.

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