Category Archives: Science Fiction/Fantasy

Menagerie by Rachel Vincent

menagerieAh, the power of a page-turner. I hesitate to classify Rachel Vincent’s Menagerie as one particular genre because there are elements of urban fantasy, thriller, mystery, and contemporary fiction throughout. Vincent has created an alternate reality of sorts, where fantastical creatures (everything from the phoenix to human hybrid-esque mermaids, centaurs, etc.) live among us. Well, that’s not quite accurate. They don’t live among us. They have no rights at all. They are caged and abused, either for spectacle or research.

Enter Delilah, who is a smart young woman (too smart for her small hometown in Oklahoma) and is already opposed to the treatment of “cryptids.” While on a birthday trip to a traveling circus, Delilah is revealed to be more than what she seems – perhaps a cryptid herself. She quickly realizes just what this means as she is stripped of her every right and sold into the menagerie. Of course, now being on the other side of the bars means she must befriend her fellow cryptids while gaining a more thorough understanding of their lives. She also has to decide whether or not to trust the mysterious staff member Gallagher, who has his own story.

Vincent has created a world that feels absolutely real and there is a real battle of ethics here. I liked Delilah and I was desperate to know what happened next. Other reviewers have noted that the ending felt rushed, which I agree with, but it was such a thrilling read that it almost doesn’t matter. Serious page-turner alert! (Submitted by Veronica)

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Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

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Fahrenheit 451 is a dystopian novel written by Ray Bradbury. Although the book was published more than half a century ago, it remains a classical best-seller. The novel’s subject is relevant and captivating today and, very likely, it will be just as pertinent in 50 years from now.

Guy Montag, protagonist of the novel, lives in the futuristic United States. He is married and has a respected job. Mr. Montag is a fireman; he searches for, captures, and burns books. In his world, books are dangerous, illegal objects. One day, after conversing with an uncharacteristically lively and intelligent teen, Guy starts feeling uneasy about his work, family, and life in general. He tries to figure out what went wrong and how to fix it, but it’s not simple to do in a society where critical thinking or even thinking at all is deemed subversive and abnormal. To make matters even shakier, Guy secretively saves a book from burning and brings it home – an action the cost of which can be his own life.  (Submitted by Mariya)

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Dragon Books for All Ages

Image result for dealing with dragonsImagine having a dragon for a friend: powerful and perhaps capricious, but with your best interests at heart.  I have a favourite dragon friend book for every age.  For younger readers (maybe 8 and up) I recommend Patricia Wrede’s Dealing with Dragons series, about a Princess who decides she’d rather live with the dragons than the princes.  As a teenager, Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonsinger was my very favourite book.  Once I read it through twice on the same day.  Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonflight is one of the best dragon friend books for adults, and there are plenty of other books set in her world, Pern, to keep you busy for a while. (Submitted by Rebecca).

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The Jumbies by Tracey Baptiste

Image result for jumbies tracey baptiste book coverTracey Baptiste’s The Jumbies is middle grade fantasy. Corinne was taught by her father not to be afraid of the stories of monsters and strangeness in the woods, but while racing through the forest to save her mother’s locket she catches the attention of an old spirit. When the strangeness starts coming out of the woods, she must call upon the all her strengths as well as those of her friends to save herself and her village. A thrilling tale, the Jumbies is based on the classic Haitian folktale: the Magic Orange Tree. (Submitted by Meghan W).

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Uprooted by Naomi Novik

Image result for uprooted bookUprooted contains all my favorite things in a YA fantasy: a young woman put in aggravating circumstances discovers her own power and is forced to use all available will, talent, and knowledge to fight a greater evil to her community and the world as she knows it. This contribution features both a complex female friendship as well as a touch of romance as the main character is taken abruptly from her home and tries to remain true to her core values. The story is fast-paced and fully engaging–I’d open the book meaning to read a chapter and lose an afternoon.  Novik has written another series about a dragon known as Temeraire but apparently Uprooted is a significant departure. I enjoyed this read immensely.  (Submitted by Meghan W.)

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The Martian by Andy Weir

 

Image result for the martian bookI was told to read The Martian by outside sources which initially made me resist the idea (as did the imminent movie and general dislike for mass consumption Sci Fi novels).  This was a mistake. By far my favourite read of 2015, The Martian exceeded my expectations. Told through the voice of Mark Watney, a sarcastic Botonist/Astronaut/General Fix-it Man, the reader is swept into a survival story like none before: survival on Mars! Mark Watney is abandoned on Mars after a sandstorm separates him from his crew. He must employ his considerable skills to survive and possibly make it back to earth. Andy Weir manages to combine plausible science and edge of your seat drama to write this compelling tale.  The constant cliff hangers and hilarious wit of Mark Watney made this not only a read all night book, but also a read twice in one week book! (Submitted by CB).

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Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor

Ms Okorafor is an African American author, the daughter of two Nigerian immigrants. I can’t remember how this book came on my radar but I’m glad it did. It’s catalogued as Science Fiction but the first half really doesn’t seem to fit that category–later on ‘magical’ things are at work but it dovetails so well into the story it doesn’t ‘read’ as Sci Fi.

It was a hard read in that it dealt with topics of racism, genocide, genital mutilation, the use of rape as a weapon of war, the societal views of children that are a result of these rapes – and the fact that these children are a result  of two races mixing . Climate change is a small part of the story (there are more deserts in this future earth) and the problems technology has brought society is also discussed.

The book presents us with a heroine, Onyesonwu (which means Who Fears Death), who has struggles to overcome as a child of a rape victim. A ‘Quest’ must be completed–a chance to right wrongs and vengeance taken.

Onyesonwu is a strong, emotional, conflicted character but you root for her every step of the way. (Submitted by RZ).

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