Reviews by Jane Funk

Review

Freeze Frame Revolution

Posted: July 17, 2018 by Jane Funk in Books We Love Tags: Peter Watts, Science Fiction
Freeze Frame Revolution

Author Peter Watts’ newest offering, FREEZE FRAME REVOLUTION exists somewhere in the squishy space between a novella and a novel (according to the ‘Afterword’ it’s 1,000 words over the length of a standard novella, but who’s counting?). Watts is of the opinion that he has written a novella and I think that the story he tells is well-served at this length, which allows him to explore a single incident in-depth and with a focus that wouldn’t be well-served by irksome sub-plots or other novel-length narrative features.
Read the rest of this review »

Review

Amberlough

Posted: July 3, 2018 by Jane Funk in Books We Like Tags: Fantasy, Lara Elena Donnelly
Amberlough

AMBERLOUGH is the kind of novel that makes you want to throw adjectives at it. Sleek! Provocative! Captivating! This is due in large part to Lara Elena Donnelly’s prose, which gives the alternate world setting an immediate and richly textured sense of place. AMBERLOUGH (Amazon) is a remarkably self-assured debut, as Donnelly carves an unique space for herself in the fantasy world.
Read the rest of this review »

Review

Soleri

Posted: May 31, 2018 by Jane Funk in Books We Don't Like Tags: Epic Fantasy, Michael Johnston
Soleri

One of my favorite things about reading a book is reaching that point where you just can’t put it down. It’s always magical to feel immersed in another world. Some books draw you in right away. Others can be a slow burn, but the wait feels worth it when you go from “I’m enjoying this book” to “talk to me in approximately 150 pages.” And then, there are the books that just never take off. Michael Johnston’s SOLERI (Amazon), despite its interesting premise, is one of those.
Read the rest of this review »

Review

Provenance

Posted: May 10, 2018 by Jane Funk in Books We Like Tags: Ann Leckie, Science Fiction
Provenance

Ann Leckie’s PROVENANCE (Amazon) is not a space opera. While the scope is broad, covering an uneasy interstellar treaty and the implications of a society obsessed with origins and authenticity, the real focus is on Ingray Aughskold, a foster child from a public crèche, acutely aware that in her mother’s eyes, she has always lacked “a certain something” (423). PROVENANCE plays out on an intimate scale, the coming-of-age story of a woman who should have come into her own years ago.
Read the rest of this review »

Review

Weave a Circle Round

Posted: May 8, 2018 by Jane Funk in Books We Like Tags: Fantasy, Young Adult
Weave a Circle Round

I hate to start a review by saying that a book was good because of what it did NOT contain, but when a YA novel does NOT contain handsome supernatural beings, sorting, life-or-death romantic longing, cancer, or shockingly young children being pressed into military service, I feel like that bears mentioning. In fact, I’m not sure I can remember the last time I read a YA novel in which not a single character was sorted into a color-coded societal group. ‘Sorting’ isn’t necessarily a bad thing; like any trope, the success depends on the author’s skill. Still, reading WEAVE A CIRCLE ROUND (Amazon) and not having to remember which ‘team’ anyone was on was… genuinely refreshing.
Read the rest of this review »

Review

The Genius Plague

Posted: April 3, 2018 by Jane Funk in Books We Like Tags: David Walton, Techno Thriller
The Genius Plague

I was telling a friend about this book and the first thing that came out of my mouth was “I learned a lot about fungus.” Don’t worry! There are plenty of other fun things to recommend this book, such as NSA code breaking and creepy assassinations, but Walton has found an interesting hook and then amplified it until you will willingly read an entire book about fungus taking over people’s brains. Really.
Read the rest of this review »

Review

Elantris

Posted: March 27, 2018 by Jane Funk in Books We Like Tags: Brandon Sanderson, Fantasy
Elantris

I love a good series. From J.R.R. to George R.R., there’s a plethora of ways to enjoy the intricate plot and character development that occurs when you start counting pages not in the hundreds, but in the thousands. But sometimes I just… want to read a book? Singular?

Brandon Sanderson’s ELANTRIS is one of these rare standalone novels; rare in the sense that the genre, and Sanderson in particular, tends towards producing series. Not that I would complain if ELANTRIS became a series–I had a great time reading it and I would say that thirteen years after its initial publication the story is as fun and compelling as ever.

ELANTRIS (Amazon) begins with Princess Sarene of Teod sailing into the kingdom of Arelon only to discover that she is a widow. The man she was supposed to marry, Prince Raoden, has died, but her marriage contract stipulates that she is still his wife, whether or not she had the chance to meet him. Disappointed but not distraught, Sarene immediately begins puzzling out the political situation in Arelon.
Read the rest of this review »

Review

Children of the Fleet

Posted: March 21, 2018 by Jane Funk in Books We Like Tags: Orson Scott Card, Science Fiction
Children of the Fleet

I first learned the term “bottle episode” while watching “Community” (thank you, Abed). One episode of Season 2 takes place entirely in a locked room as the characters search for a missing pen. While the premise is absurd, trapping everyone in the same room allows for hilarity, as well as serious revelations about their relationships, to ensue. Not only are ‘bottle episodes’ cheap to shoot, relying on one set instead of several, they are also light on plot, allowing writers to spend more time focusing on character development. In his newest addition to the Enderverse, CHILDREN OF THE FLEET, Card immerses his readers once again in a world of precocious children, absent but watchful adults, and a life or death mission. While it’s not exactly a bottle episode, Card’s narrative shares a similar intense focus on depth, not breadth. By limiting himself to a relatively simple plot and using the already familiar setting of Battle Fleet School, Card can fully explore the emotional journey of Dabeet Ochoa.

Set in the aftermath of Ender’s victory in the Third Formic war, CHILDREN OF THE FLEET (Amazon) begins after Battle School has been converted to Fleet School, a place to train future leaders for humanity’s colonization efforts. Dabeet Ochoa is a preternaturally intelligent child who is convinced that he belongs in Fleet School, not stuck on Earth.
Read the rest of this review »