Beetle Queen

Please note that this review may contain spoilers for Beetle Boy. You can read my review of this novel [here].

Beetle Queen (also published under the title Revenge of the Beetle Queen) was written by M.G. Leonard and first published in 2017. It forms the second part of The Battle of the Beetles Trilogy, following Beetle Boy (2016) and preceding Battle of the Beetles (2018). The story picks up a couple of months after the events of the first book and follows the continuing adventures of Darkus Cuttle and his hyper-intelligent rhinoceros beetle, Baxter. Because of this, I would strongly recommend reading the books in sequences to fully appreciate them.

Darkus managed to rescue his father from the clutches of the evil Lucretia Cutter, but he knows that the monstrous fashionista is planning something big. The paper reports that she is designing dresses that will be worn by every actress who has been nominated at the Film Awards in LA. Darkus does not know what Cutter will do when all of those cameras are turned on her, but it can’t possibly be good.

However, his snooping is hampered by his father. Bartholomew Cuttle knows how dangerous Cutter can be. She very nearly killed Darkus the last time they met and he doesn’t want to risk losing him. Bartholomew is keen to whisk his son away to live in the countryside but Darkus can’t allow that. He could never run away and leave his new human and beetle friends in danger.

When a close friend is badly injured by Lucretia Cutter and his father vanishes once again, Darkus knows that he has to act. With the help of Uncle Max, Virginia, Bertolt and their best beetle friends, they set off on an epic adventure that takes them from frozen Greenland to the bright lights of Hollywood. They know that they need to act fast. Lucrecia Cutter needs to be stopped before she can move her evil plan into its next stage…

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Thunderhead

Please note that this review may contain spoilers for Scythe. You can read my review of this novel [here].

Thunderhead was written by Neal Shusterman and first published in 2018. It follows the continuing story of Citra and Rowan – two youths who live in a world where humans are functionally immortal and the population is controlled by an order who are known as the Scythes. The book forms the second part of the Arc of a Scythe series and follows Scythe (2016). At the time of writing, no further instalments have been announced.

Ever since she passed her trial, Citra has struggled with leaving her past behind. Although she is now a true Scythe, it is hard to think of herself as being Scythe Anastasia rather than the girl that she once was. Her revolutionary gleaning method has also been drawing the attention of her fellows. Her decision of letting her victims choose the terms of their death is unheard of, and the order is divided on whether or not they support this. While Citra is initially unconcerned about their opinions, her view changes when an attempt is made on her life. Someone has noticed how influential Citra is becoming and will stop at nothing to silence her forever.

Meanwhile, Rowan now walks a different path. He has taken Goddard’s ring and now operates from the shadows as Scythe Lucifer. His targets are those Scythes who abuse their power – the ones that kill for sport or deliberately target racial minorities. While the Scythes initially struggle to stop him, matters change when Rowan finds himself captured and at the mercy of a Scythe with a horrifying agenda. His captor is about to put a terrible plan in motion, but first they wish for Rowan to suffer.

It’s clear that the world is in a state of flux and not necessarily for the better. Although the Thunderhead – the AI that controls most of the world – can see the coming storm, it is powerless to directly do anything to stop it. The best it can do is manipulate certain key players into positions where the can make a difference, although in doing so it puts them in grave danger. Meanwhile, Faraday may also have found something that could change the course of history – a legendary city, hidden from both the Thunderhead and Scythes alike. However, travelling there is unspeakably dangerous. One slip up and he will likely find himself permanently dead…

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Satellite

Satellite was written by Nick Lake and first published in 2017. It is a science-fiction novel that focuses on a teenager who was born on a space station as he prepares for his first journey to Earth. The novel stands alone, so you don’t have to read any of the author’s earlier work to fully appreciate it.

Leo finds it odd that people refer to Earth as being his home. He and his friends – Libra and Orion – have never known anything but the confines of Moon 2. They were born on the space station and have been unable to travel down to Earth as their frail bodies could not withstand the gravitational pull of the planet. However, now that his sixteenth birthday is approaching, everything changes.

Tests have shown that Leo and his friends are now potentially strong enough to survive on Earth. Leo is thrilled by the news. Although he loves his life in space, he’s keen to experience everything that he’s missed out on. He knows that getting used to gravity won’t be easy, but he longs to meet his Grandfather for the first time and help out on his ranch.

However, Leo is not prepared for what lies before him. Earth is not the utopia that he has imagined and he quickly realises that the Company who control Moon 2 have been hiding many things from him. When Leo came down to Earth, he thought he would be free. He soon realises that nothing could be further from the truth…

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Mortal Engines

Mortal Engines was written by Philip Reeve and first published in 2001. It is a dystopian science fiction novel, set in the far future when cities have become mobile. The novel forms the first part of the Mortal Engines Quartet and is followed by Predators Gold (2003), Infernal Devices (2005) and A Darkling Plain (2006). More recently, Reeve has also published a prequel series – titled the Fever Crumb series – and a film adaptation of Mortal Engines is due for release later this year.

Following the Sixty Minute War, the world fell into chaos. Faced with earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, most cities were transformed into hulking traction engines in order to protect the people who lived within. Now, they follow the credo of Municipal Darwinism. The successful cities are the ones that hunt and devour others, harvesting them for precious resources and slaves. The weaker cities are quick to fall.

As prey becomes scarce, London is forced to venture out into the dangerous hunting plains. Tom Natsworthy is as excited as anyone when she manages to capture the small mining town of Salthook. It even gives him the opportunity to meet his hero Thaddeus Valentine – head of the Guild of Historians. However, his luck soon turns when Valentine is attacked by one of the citizens of Salthook. Although Tom manages to save Valentine’s life, he learns that he is responsible for the brutal scarring of his would-be assassin’s face. And unfortunately this is a secret that Valentine would prefer to remain hidden.

Although Tom survives, he finds himself ejected from London in the company of the assassin – Hester Shaw – a bitter young woman who thinks of nothing more than her revenge. As the two search for a way back into the city, they learn a horrifying secret. The Lord Mayor of London has gotten his hands on an ancient weapon and soon plans to unleash it on the world…

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The Supervillain and Me

The Supervillain and Me was written in 2018 and is Danielle Banas’s debut novel. It is a science-fiction romance about a girl who slowly starts to fall for a notorious villain when she is asked to help prove his innocence. The novel forms the first part of the Morriston Superheroes series, though at the time of writing no future instalments have been announced.

Morriston City has never been safest of places. Despite the fact that it boasts two active Supers – Red Comet and Fish Boy – its crime rate is so bad that it’s unsafe for any ordinary person to walk the streets without carrying a taser. As the daughter of the mayor and sister of Red Comet, Abby knows this only too well. Her family are so busy trying to make the city a safer place that they don’t seem to spend much time together anymore.

Things get worse still when a new Super appears and burns down the mayor’s office. Dubbed the Iron Phantom by the press, he proves keen to use his powers to cause as much damage as possible. However, Abby isn’t sure quite what to make of this. Before he was revealed to be a villain, the Iron Phantom saved her life and he certainly didn’t strike her as a bad person.

It’s not long before the Iron Phantom shows up in her bedroom and begs her for help. He has reason to believe that the mayor’s office is planning to implant microchips in the general public and he needs to find out why. He also swears to Abby that he is innocent of his crimes and that someone is trying to frame him. Slowly, Abby is drawn into the conspiracy but she can’t help but worry if she is doing the right thing. How can she trust someone if she does not even know who they are, and what would her brother do if he learned that she was helping his arch nemesis?

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Animorphs 54

Please note that this review may contain spoilers for earlier instalments of this series. You can read my reviews of these novels by clicking the links below:

Animorphs: 1-5 | 6-10 | 11-15 | 16-19 | 20-22 | 23-27 | 28-32 | 33-37 | 38-41 | 42-45 | 46-49 | 50-53

Megamorphs: The Andalite’s Gift | In the Time of Dinosaurs | Elfangor’s Secret | Back to Before

Animorphs Chronicles: The Andalite Chronicles | The Hork-Bajir Chronicles | Visser | The Ellimist Chronicles

Wow. It feels weird to say this after two years but I am finally at the end of my retrospective look at K.A. Applegate’s Animorphs series. The series in question ran from 1996 to 2001 and consisted of fifty-four main novels and eight specials. It was also a massive part of my childhood and a source of huge nostalgia for me. For the purpose of this review, I’m only going to be looking at the final novel – The Beginning (2001). Please note that this post will contain massive spoilers for the entire series. You have been warned.

The end has finally come. Visser One has been defeated and the Animorphs have control of the Pool Ship. However, the battle is not over yet. Tom’s rebel band of Yeerks has taken the Blade Ship. The Animorphs have no chance of out-manoeuvring them and their weapons have been drained. Their only hope lies in the Rachel, who has stowed away as a flea on Tom’s head. With the future of the human race hanging the balance, Jake gives the one command he has always feared. He orders Rachel to stop his brother by whatever means necessary.

Rachel’s actions are enough to end the war, allowing the Animorphs to create a hasty agreement with the Andalites and save the Earth. However, it all comes at a terrible price. Not all of them came away from the Pool Ship unharmed. While some of Animorphs use their skills and fame to thrive in the years following the war, others sink further into despair. Jake, in particular, is unable to come to terms with the decisions that he was forced to make in the heat of battle. In some ways, he worries that he was as bad as Visser One.

Yet, even though the Yeerks have been defeated, danger still lurks at the edge of space. An entity that calls itself the One has begun to move, capturing any ship that it encounters and assimilating its crew into a greater whole. When Ax becomes a victim of the creature, the Andalite’s turn to the remaining Animorphs for assistance. However, are the Animorphs prepared relinquish their safety and head into battle once again?

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Animorphs 50-53

Please note that this review may contain spoilers for earlier instalments of this series. You can read my reviews of these novels by clicking the links below:

Animorphs: 1-5 | 6-10 | 11-15 | 16-19 | 20-22 | 23-27 | 28-32 | 33-37 | 38-41 | 42-45 | 46-49

Megamorphs: The Andalite’s Gift | In the Time of Dinosaurs | Elfangor’s Secret | Back to Before

Animorphs Chronicles: The Andalite Chronicles | The Hork-Bajir Chronicles | Visser | The Ellimist Chronicles

If this is the first of my retrospective posts that you have seen; welcome. This is where I’ve been gradually taking a look back at one of my childhood obsessions – K.A. Applegate’s epic Animorphs series. This science fiction series ran for fifty-four books (as well as a bunch of specials) and was published between 1996 and 2001. For the purpose of this review, I’m going to be looking at books fifty through fifty-three only – The Ultimate, The Absolute, The Sacrifice and The Answer. Oh, and there will be spoilers

The end that the Animorphs feared has finally come. The Yeerks have discovered their identities and forced them into hiding. Although most of the Animorphs managed to at least save their parents, Jake was not so lucky. Now he struggles with his depression, knowing that his mum and dad could well be Controllers. To make matters worse, Visser One has declared open warfare. There is no hiding now. The Yeerks seem to have won.

Yet the Animorphs will not accept defeat so easily. There is now no time to play fair. Jake and the others know that the only way that they can win is to take risks and do things that they previously would never have dreamed of. They share the morphing technology with others to bolster their ranks, make contact with politicians and members of the military, and even launch a final attempt to destroy the Yeerk Pool beneath the city.

Finally, they find themselves in a unique position to mount an attack on the most valuable ship in the Yeerk armada – the Pool Ship. With the help of unexpected allies, they launch a full-scale assault on the vessel. Their victory could very well save the human race. However, Jake knows that there is a good chance that, this time, they may not all make it out alive…

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The Extinction Trials: Exile

Please note that this review may contain spoilers for The Extinction Trials. You can read my review of this novel [here].

The Extinction Trials: Exile was written by S.M. Wilson and first published in 2018. It forms the second part of The Extinction Trials series, following the continuing adventures of Stormchaser and Lincoln as they are forced to return to the dinosaur-infested wilderness of Piloria. The story carries on shortly after The Extinction Trials (2018) left off, so you really need to read the novels in sequence to fully appreciate them.

Stormchaser managed to survive her mission to Piloria and win vital medical care for Lincoln, Kronar and Rune’s families. She knows that she should be happy about that, but something still eats at her. Although the dinosaurs were terrifying, she feels guilty for the role that she played in developing a virus to wipe them out. Much to her surprise, she also finds that she misses Piloria. Returning to the drab and overpopulated Ambulus City is stifling and she yearns for the leafy forests of the dinosaur continent.

Lincoln also has reasons for wanting to return to Piloria. He brought a small pot of Blaine’s ointment back with him which seems to hold the key to curing the blistering plague and saving his sister. Unfortunately, the plants needed to create it do not grow in Earthasia. If only there was some way that he could get back to Piloria to get the samples that he needs to mass produce it.

The chance comes sooner than he could have imagined. The virus has been engineered in record time and the Stipulators decide that the best people to plant it are the survivors of the first trial. Stormchaser, Lincoln and Leif are forced to put their differences aside as they once again face off against the world’s deadliest predators. However, this time they are not alone. The Council have learned that Reban Don is Storm’s father and have exiled him to Piloria. If Storm fails, she knows that the Stipulators will not let her return and she will be forced to live out her days with the man who once tried to kill her…

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The Ellimist Chronicles

Please note that this review may contain spoilers for earlier instalments of this series. You can read my reviews of these novels by clicking the links below:

Animorphs: 1-5 | 6-10 | 11-15 | 16-19 | 20-22 | 23-27 | 28-32 | 33-37 | 38-41 | 42-45 | 46-49

Megamorphs: The Andalite’s Gift | In the Time of Dinosaurs | Elfangor’s Secret | Back to Before

Animorphs Chronicles: The Andalite Chronicles | The Hork-Bajir Chronicles | Visser

Well, it’s been an age and for that I can only apologise, but I think it’s about time I pushed through the remaining Animorphs books and finished up this long-running series of retrospective reviews.

In case this the first of these that you’ve read one of these, this is my look back over my childhood favourite series – Animorphs by K.A. Applegate. The main series ran for fifty-four novels and focused on five teenagers who were given the power to become any animal they could touch in order to battle invading parasitic aliens. The series was also complimented by a number of specials and spin-off novels and it is the last of these that I am going to look at today. The Ellimist Chronicles was first published in 2000 and focuses on one of the series’ most mysterious characters. While the book can really be read at any point in the series after The Attack (book twenty-six), it is intended to fall after The Resistance, which is the forty-seventh instalment of the main series.

You should probably be aware that this review contains spoilers. You have been warned.

Before he was known as the Ellimist, he was Azure Level, Seven Spar, Extension Two, Down-Messenger, Forty-one. Or Toomin to his friends. Toomin was a Ketran – a peaceful species that lived in symbiosis with the floating crystals of his home world, but he was not a very accomplished one. While successful Ketrans became scientists or engineers, Toomin and his friends wasted time by playing immersive simulation games. However, he wasn’t even very good at that. Toomin was determined to win games through compassion but aggression almost always seems to be the winning strategy.

When Toomin is awarded a position on an experimental spacecraft, he is overjoyed. Perhaps it is finally time to stop playing games and make something of himself. Yet things quickly go wrong. A different tribe of Ketran have developed a way of sending communications beyond their planet and foolishly tested it by broadcasting a game without explanation. Thinking that the Ketrans pose a threat, a rival alien race arrives and wipes them out without warning. With no hope but to flee, Toomin and small group of others escape in their ship. They know that they are now the last of the Ketrans and – removed from their home crystal – they are shadow of their former selves.

This unthinkable tragedy sets in motion a string of events that causes a transformation in Toomin. He finds himself facing horrors that he could never have imagined but emerges from them changed – with knowledge and powers that far exceed anything else. He decides to put these to use by playing the ultimate game – one that helps him to preserve and advance other species. However, its not long before a rival player emerges and the Crayak’s motivations are far less altruistic than his own…

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Beetle Boy

Beetle Boy was written by M.G. Leonard and first published in 2016. It is a science-fiction / fantasy novel aimed at middle grade readers which tells the story of a boy’s adventures with a super intelligent rhinoceros beetle. The novel forms the first part of The Battle of the Beetles series and is followed by Beetle Queen (2017) and Battle of the Beetles (2018).

Darkus Cuttle is pretty content with his life until the day that his father vanishes. No one is sure exactly how he came to disappear from inside a locked room in London’s Natural History Museum, but everyone seems to have a theory. Some believe that he was murdered, others believe that he ran away. Darkus refuses to believe any of this. He knows that his father wouldn’t abandon him. The only trouble is that he has no idea what could have happened to him.

Darkus is sent to live with his closest relative, an archaeologist that he knows as Uncle Max, and it is there that he makes a discovery that will change his life. He sees a giant beetle fall out of the trouser leg of his disgusting new neighbour and quickly takes it home as a pet. The beetle – Baxter – turns out to be a species of rhinoceros beetle that is not native to England. Stranger still, it seems to be trying to communicate with him.

With the help of Uncle Max, Baxter and his two new school friends, Virginia and Bertolt, Darkus begins to investigate his father’s disappearance. The clues all point to the famous fashionista Lucretia Cutter – a woman renowned for making creepy clothing out of insects. However, Lucretia also seems to have an odd interest in Darkus’s neighbours. Can Darkus uncover her secret plan, save his father and protect the rare beetles that call his street a home?

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