fantasy · review

Unseemly Science – Rod Duncan

AR_UnseemlyScience

 

Blurb: “In the divided land of England, Elizabeth Barnabus has been living a double life – as both herself – and as her brother, the private detective. Witnessing the brutal hanging of someone very close to her, Elizabeth resolves to throw the Bullet Catcher’s Handbook into the fire, and forget her past. If only it were that easy! There is a new charitable organisation in town, run by some highly respectable women. But something doesn’t feel right to Elizabeth. Perhaps it is time for her fictional brother to come out of retirement for one last case? Her unstoppable curiosity leads her to a dark world of body-snatching, unseemly experimentation, politics and scandal. Never was it harder or a woman in a man’s world.”

This is the second book in the “Fall of The Gas-Lit Empire” series and a hanging is taking place in the Kingdom.  It is hugely anticipated due to newspaper coverage and speculation. Elizabeth plans to sneak in to watch. However, she is wanted by the law. So a disguise is required.  Placing herself among the crowd she watches as the woman who gave her the Bullet Catcher’s Handbook is hanged. Elizabeth returns home and goes to burn the wretched book only to save it from the fire moments later as it is her last connection to the deceased woman.

The reader sees the return of Julia – personally my favourite character – who is caught up in a fight with her mother as usual. Julia wants to move to the Kingdom and study law, her mother wants Julia to get a husband.

A stranger – a royalist called Yan Romero – offers Elizabeth legal advice for a price. This immediately appears sketchy to Elizabeth who knows that passage in and out of the kingdom boarder is pricey. When he leaves, she follows and watches him enter the home of a farm labourer who is not the kind of person a royalist would hang out with. Elizabeth speaks to the farmer a few days later and quickly assesses that he once lived in the kingdom like she did, but fled too. She gets information from him, learning that an extradition treaty is to be made and if it goes ahead “they’ll get us all. Drag us home in chains.”

Julia becomes increasingly interested by a woman called Mrs Raike who runs a charitable organisation which runs soup kitchens, Sunday schools and other works that benefit the poor and needy. As per usual, Elizabeth doesn’t trust this mysterious Mrs Raike and begins investigating.

A register is brought in and both Elizabeth and her brother had to return every two weeks to re-sign the register. A feat which will quickly prove difficult as Elizabeth is both herself and her brother so the two cannot appear and sign the register together.
In my years of reading, I often find that sequels are sub-par compared to their debut counterparts. Unseemly Science is an exception to that idea. This book is fantastically written to the point where it sucks you in and you forget that you are in fact, not a part of the world but actually reading a book. Julia proves yet again to be a strong side character and some form of support for Elizabeth. And of course, Elizabeth’s adventures only leave you hungry for more.

 

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Dystopian · review · young adult

Created – Peiri Ann

Blurb: “After a devastating world war, our government has manufactured genetically altered humans. These “creations” are designed to manage and enforce law and order among the citizens. Creations don’t know fear or pain. Their sole function is to fight the enemy and live to battle again. Orphans Kylie and her twin brother, Lukahn were born for this purpose. Dedicating their lives to sharpening their deadly skills and forfeiting the chance of love and freedom. They ready themselves for Separation, the deadly rite of passage where the oldest teens are drafted into the final preparation for war. Humans and creations alike have become lethal foes when a plague of the living dead becomes the number one hazard. Strategies change as the twins discover they may not be the saviours of humankind after all. They may be the real enemy of the people.”

*I was sent this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review*

I’m not really a big sci-fi fan. I’m just going to put that out there. But every so often a book catches my attention and draws me in. Created is one of them. Just look at the utterly breathtaking cover!

The story follows twin orphans Kylie and Luke (narrated by Kylie) who live in a world made up of “normals” (humans as we know them) and creations. Kylie and Luke are the latter. They train hard, knowing they need to be prepared for a war and eventually they are taken by force in the night to a training camp: “our government holds a training camp every year for us. It’s practically three months of death. They try to kill us and we fight to stay alive.” The duo find themselves among other creations and are placed into groups. Naturally, Kylie and Luke are made leaders of different groups. As the story develops, Luke and Kylie are told in secret what it is they’re going to be fighting.

It’s really hard to review this book without giving away all the twists and turns that make it interesting. Overall, I came out of this reading experience feeling very mixed.

I like reading books about siblings that have a strong bond and there’s an emphasis on that: “You were each born in twos. You each will die in twos. This is not every man for himself. You live for your twin and them for you.” It made a nice change from some sibling relationships I’ve read before. It was refreshing seeing them work together as a team. However, this relationship they had became quite unhealthy and kind of creepy the further you delved into their characters.

The training sequences felt very similar to the way Dauntless train in Divergent so nothing felt particularly exciting or new. I could deal with this though, because there isn’t any really way you can make hands-on fighting original.

What really lost all hope in this book for me was the love triangle. You read that right. Love.Triangle. I hate them with a passion. They just made the arc of the story really tedious and I’m surprised I actually finished reading this book after this development occurred. I understand that the prospect of having affections for another being was new to Kylie but I eye-rolled so many times. I don’t mind if they add something to the story but it felt like this plot device was used to fill up the pages to when the real action happened.

When I finished the book I found a chapter entitled “the beginning” which basically explains how everything came to be. This would have been more useful to have at the start of the book to provide some context into what actually makes the creations different to normals before going into the story.

I just feel a bit let down by this one.

Let me know your thoughts!
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