One Trick Pony by Nathan Hale

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Title: One Trick Pony by Nathan Hale

Premise:

The earth is being decimated by an alien species that is harvesting all of its technology.  A traveling band of humans is trying to salvage as much history as they can while staying one step ahead of the aliens.

My thoughts:

This was a really unique book.  The landscape and characters are interesting and imaginative, but definitely on the bleak side.  Imagine big swaths of the earth just cut right out.  And freaky aliens who are scooping up anything on earth which contains technology.  That will give you an idea of just how desolate the earth is in this story.

The action centers around a group of children who are out exploring and accidentally draw the attention of the aliens.  They try to evade them, but end up right at the heart of the alien enclave.  I won’t tell you the end because that would just wreck the story, but it’s satisfying.

I recommend One Trick Pony to fans of dystopian science fiction.  If you like aliens, this would be right up your alley!

Rating: 3 1/2 Stars

Until next time…

Lori

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Doctor Who and the Day of the Daleks by Terrance Dicks

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Title: Doctor Who and the Day of the Daleks (#1) by Terrance Dicks

Premise:

The Doctor and Jo Grant find themselves caught up in an assassination attempt when men from the future come back in time to kill Sir Reginald Styles.  The earth’s future is destined for domination and ruination by the Daleks, and the guerrilla group hopes to stop that from every happening.  Can The Doctor set earth back on its proper course of history before it’s too late?

My thoughts:

I found this book and most of the rest of my Doctor Who collection one day while browsing at Goodwill.  Apparently somebody had offloaded a whole Doctor Who collection at the thrift store.  I was over the moon!  There were several of these early Doctor who novelizations, but I just now got to reading one of them.  So many books, so little time…

Now, let’s be real here.  Anything featuring Doctor Who automatically has a soft spot in my heart.  That doesn’t mean that I would read drivel if it had The Doctor’s name on it, but it does give me warm fuzzies just seeing his name.  When I picked up this book I thought that it might be one of those sloppily produced fan fiction books.  I was very pleasantly surprised, however, to discover that the story was very well written.  It’s not that the plot is amazingly complex (it follows the typical action sequence of a Doctor Who episode), but the writing itself was really well executed.  That was refreshing and gratifying.  Thank you, Mr. Dicks, for your writing talents.

This story features a dystopian future earth, which is always a fun concept to explore.  In this case, it is the Daleks who have taken advantage of the earth’s misfortunes and exploited it for its resources.  Their flunkies, the Ogrons, are an impressive, if intellectually uninteresting species.  They’re the ultimate henchmen, really.

There is one issue with the book, which I could probably figure out if I did some research on the evolution of the Doctor Who story.  In the beginning of the book it is stated that The Doctor stole the Tardis from the Time Lords because he was no longer content to sit around and watch injustice played out across the galaxy.  Apparently when this book was written the story was that the Time Lords were still alive and that The Doctor was a sort of renegade Time Lord.  We know that later in the series the story changes to the annihilation of the Time Lords in the Time Wars with the Daleks.  In that version The Doctor is an unwitting survivor who no longer has a home or people to call his own.  That’s quite a difference in story and I’ll have to figure out when it changed, but right now I need to go take a shower.  😉

Update: I have since figured out the explanation for the change in story and it all worked itself out.  🙂

I recommend Doctor Who and the Day of the Daleks to all of you Doctor Who fans out there.  If you’re a fan, I’d say that these classic novelizations are a must-read.  If you’re not a fan, you probably won’t see the merit in this book.


Possible Objections:

  • Some violence

Rating: 4 1/2 Stars

Until next time…

Lori

Empyrion: The Search for Fierra by Stephen R. Lawhead

empyrion-fierra

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Empyrion: The Search for Fierra is a book which my husband recommended.  It’s an older book, but one he enjoyed as a young man.  Now it’s my turn to enjoy it!

Premise:

Orion Treet is hired to take part in a mission to check on the status of a space colony which has been established by a private company.  Three others are a part of the team and they successfully locate the colony on a far distant planet, but something has gone horribly wrong.  Not only have they arrived in the wrong time period, but they’ve also stumbled into a dystopia.  Their reception is less than ideal, and they must find a way to escape and find the Fieri, the other group of human descendants.  Can they find the answers to what went wrong and make things right again?

My thoughts:

I liked this book a lot more than I expected to.  It’s a unique story about how a human society develops, removed from the influences of Earth.  The setting is interesting and the supporting characters are unique, if a bit odd at times.  Yarden, Treet’s love interest, is definitely an enigma.  The end of the book segues into the next, when Treet continues his mission to keep Fierra safe.  I left out a lot of details, but I didn’t want to totally ruin the story for you.  It’s more fun to discover Empyrion for yourself.  🙂

I’m looking forward to reading the next book in the series, but it will probably have to wait a little while.  We’re scheduled to move in a few days and I don’t want to tote library books along with us!

I recommend this book to teen and adult fans of science fiction.  It’s a unique and entertaining adventure story, which I think you’ll really enjoy.

Favorite quotes:

“Treet had to admit that he did indeed like living; it was, after all, one of the things that made life so worthwhile.” (p.2)

“To be alive and know you were dying and know too there was nothing you could do about it, thought Treet in one of his lucid moments, was surely the worst trick of a whole universe full of lousy tricks.” (p.343)

Possible Objections:

  • A little violence
  • A bit of bad language
  • Religious commentary (There is a distinct good vs. evil undertone to the book, which can easily be ascribed a Christian influence.)

Rating: 4 Stars

Until next time…

Lori

The Giver – Movie 2014

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Since I’m a big fan of The Giver, I wanted to check out the movie adaptation of the book.  Meryl Streep plays the Chief Elder, and Jeff Bridges the Giver.

I’d say that the movie follows the book quite well, though there are some parts that have been changed and/or expanded.   The Chief Elder’s role and personality have been more fully developed.  Fiona is said to have volunteered most in the Nurturing Center (with the babies), when in the book it was actually with the old.  Asher’s career path is also changed–he becomes a drone pilot.  Jonas’ journey in  leaving the community has been expanded and changed a bit.  There are many other subtle changes to the story that I don’t really need to go into here.

The way in which the memories are transmitted was also changed, but I thought it was for the better.  It always seemed a little creepy to me that Jonas had to take his shirt off and lie face down on The Giver’s bed to receive the memories.

I liked the look of the movie.  It starts out in black and white, as the people in the community see things.  As the movie progresses, colors start to appear until it’s all in color.  I also thought the acting was pretty good.

If you’re a fan of the book, you’ll probably enjoy the movie.  Don’t look for an exact duplicate of the story, though.  The movie does its job of raising the question of the value of experience and memory in shaping who we are.  It made my eyes leak at the end.

Possible Objections:

  • We see an elephant being shot.
  • There is a war scene with people being shot.  It isn’t really gory, but it is disturbing.
  • Jonas’ father is shown euthanizing a baby.  Also quite disturbing.
  • During Jonas’ journey to get past the boundary, Gabe is seen crying and seemingly suffering.  That can be tough to watch.

Rated: PG-13

Rating: 3 1/2 Stars

Until next time…

Lori

OTHER THE GIVER POSTS:

The Giver by Lois Lowry

 

The GiverThis post contains an affiliate link.

The Giver is a story about a boy who is chosen to carry the burden of an entire society’s memories and feelings.  People in his community value sameness and following rules.  Jonas (the main character) is chosen as the next in line to carry the heavy burden for the rest of society, so that others don’t have to feel pain, confusion, fear, etc.  As Jonas progresses in his training, he decides that it is not right that the people in his community should not have to help carry the burden.  In the end he leaves to find an alternate type of society, not only to force the people to feel again, but to save somebody who is in danger.  It’s the Newbery Medal winner for 1994.

I read The Giver as a kid, and I remember that it had a great impact on my thinking.  It helped shape my understanding of feelings, the role that we should play in our society, right and wrong, what is important in life.  For that reason, I wanted to share it with my boys.  There were parts of the story where I changed the wording as I was reading.  There were also sections/topics that caused my boys a bit of discomfort or which they didn’t quite understand.  This led to many interesting conversations and some deep thinking.

I would recommend this book for older school-age children or teens.  It depends partly on the child’s maturity level.  There are some parts of the story that would be shocking and/or confusing to some children.  I would also recommend that parents read the book first, to judge whether or not it’s appropriate for their child.

Possible Objections:

  1. Something called “the stirrings”–basically when the main character starts to be sexually attracted to the opposite sex.  It’s in chapter 5, if you want to check it out.  I changed the wording while reading aloud to my boys.
  2. Children are allowed to bathe older people, while fulfilling their volunteer hours.  It is only talked about as a caregiving action.
  3. An infant who happens to be a twin is injected with a lethal drug and dies.  For us, this brought up a discussion about abortion.

Rating: 5 Stars

Until next time…

Lori

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