Tagged: samantha

The Prophecy of Arcadia by M. H. Soars

The Prophecy of Arcadia by M. H. Soars(Cover picture courtesy of Goodreads.)

Would you sacrifice friendship and love in order to save your planet?

Being a teenager is tough, especially when you have to pretend to be something you’re not, and you’re in love with someone you shouldn’t. 115 years ago, a small planet called Arcadia was invaded by a vicious alien race and nearly destroyed. Cut off from their resources, the Arcadians turned to Earth for help. A group of Arcadian explorers discovered a Prophecy that claimed their salvation lay in the hands of two children from Earth. To ensure their safety, the Arcadian Council sent their most gifted youngsters to Earth to act as protectors. Samantha is one of them.

To succeed in her mission she must learn to control her Arcadian powers and keep her true identity from her best friend, and the girl she swore to protect, Alexia. But Samantha will soon realize that nothing is as it seems. Someone is trying to prevent the Prophecy from taking place and the prophecy boy hasn’t been found yet. There is also a new drug circulating at school that is turning students into freakishly strong menaces.

To make matters worse, distractions keep getting in her way. Such as her love/hate relationship with her “cousin” Matthew. Or her confused feelings toward popular and mysterious Julian. She wants nothing more than to be free to live her life. But the survival of Arcadia depends on her and her friends. Free will is not an option.

[Full disclosure: I was contacted by the author and received a free ebook in exchange for an honest review.]

The only real problem that I found throughout the whole of this book is that the points of view change just a little too much.  Of course Alexia is the main character but a few of the other characters get page time as well.  Sometimes it can get just a bit confusing, particularly in the beginning and you’re struggling to name them, let alone identify their voices.  It gets better as the story goes on but it did take me quite a bit of time to keep everyone’s names, voices and backstories straight.  If you don’t have the patience for that then The Prophecy of Arcadia is definitely not for you.

But if you have the patience to let a good story unfold, you’ll be amply rewarded.  Although we readers are kept in the dark about Arcadia and the mysterious prophecy for a bit because Alexia is kept in the dark, we get to see hints of it and the prophecy throughout the story.  They’re tantalizing and combined with the massive cliffhanger ending they certainly want to make you read more to find out more about M. H. Soar’s world.  From what I can tell in this first book, her world-building is fantastic and when she goes into even more depth in the second book I think it will reveal just how much time and effort she put into creating Arcadia.  We get hints of this depth in the first book but it’s just enough to whet your appetite and make you want to read the second one even more.

Once you do get a handle on the characters and the unique world M. H. Soars has created for them, you realize that they’re actually very distinct and three dimensional.  Alexia is pretty much your typical high school girl who comes from an upper class background and has been neglected by her widower father.  She finds refuge in the summers when she gets to visit her cousins (who are actually her alien bodyguards but she doesn’t know that) but this time she’s here for her last year in high school.  And when she gets there all of her cousins are suddenly acting weird.  One cousin is off at cheer camp which is completely contrary to her personality, Matthew and Samantha are acting really weirdly toward each other and it seems like bad things keep happening whenever she’s around.  Although her cousins seem to know what’s going on, they cannot divulge the truth to poor Alexia, no matter the personal cost to themselves.

The characters are all three dimensional and that’s in part why they drive the action of the entire plot.  This is a character-driven book so there’s more drama and a little less action than you might expect but it really does work.  I was never really bored by the plot and although I could predict some of the major twists, there were some that completely blindsided me.  The ending in particular was surprising and pretty terrifying for poor Alexia and her cousins/bodyguards.  I can’t really talk much about the plot without spoiling some of the twists but suffice it to say that while you’ll see some coming, some will completely broadside you.  They make sense when you look back at the plot but they’ll certainly surprise you at the time.

If you’re looking for some YA that’s a little different from what’s generally out there, I’d recommend The Prophecy of Arcadia.  Although it deals with the whole prophecy vs. free will it does it in a very unique way, particularly when the actions of one character seem to throw a wrench into the whole works.  And also: aliens!  That’s not something as common and overdone as vampires, werewolves and fairies.  If you can orient yourself in the beginning and pick out the voices of the different characters and how they feel about each other, you’re in for a good read.

I give this book 4/5 stars.

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Genome by Gary Alan Henson

Genome by Gary Alan Henson(Cover picture courtesy of Createspace.)

Jack Thomas is amazed to find himself heading the company of his dreams, nestled in the high-tech backdrop of beautiful Boulder, Colorado.

Built with his best friend and partner Frankie, the bio-genetics company has achieved success far beyond their wildest dreams.  The company is poised to revolutionize the treatment of cancer and other diseases.

The only thing missing is Jack’s highschool sweetheart, Emily, who was brutally murdered, her killer never found.

With the help of PIP, a sexy artificial intelligent assistant, and beautiful green-eyed psychic, Samantha, Jack risks his life using the latest genetic technology to delve into a terrifying world of spirits that he didn’t even know existed.

Genome explores the boundaries between what we can create and what we may never fully understand—science and the afterlife, chance and destiny, and a love that crosses the chasm of life and death.

[Full disclosure: Gary Alan Henson sent me a free print copy of his book in exchange for an honest review.]

First off, I absolutely loved the blend of science and magic in Genome.  Science has never been my strongest area, so I won’t even begin to pretend to understand half of the technical information Gary Henson included in his debut novel.  However, the spirit world that Samantha and Jack encounter is very well-developed and is an interesting contrast to the logical, scientific parts of the novel.  It’s not very often that you see a novel where there’s both science fiction and a bit of fantasy, but this odd combination works very well in Genome.  If you’re a real science fiction lover, this book is perfect for you because of the insane amount of research Gary Henson obviously did to bring Jack and Frankie’s futuristic company to life.

The main characters like Samantha, Jack and Frankie were very well fleshed out.  This was definitely helped by the fact that we got to look inside all of their heads, which also helped move the plot along.  There were no sections that really dragged in the book because we could see the motivations and thoughts of all the major characters.  Combined with some amazing plot twists, this made for a really fast-paced read.

However, I don’t feel that the characters lived up to their full potential because of the point of view Gary Henson chose.  Genome is told in a sort of third person omniscient present tense, meaning that the narrative is in third person and switches between characters frequently but is also told in present tense (i.e.: he goes to the supermarket and picks out a nice fresh apple).  This isn’t so much confusing as it is irritating at points because we are being told what happens rather than being shown.

I think part of the problem with the writing was that this was Gary Henson’s first novel.  Now don’t get me wrong—it’s very good for a first novel—but I don’t think it lived up to its full potential.  The writing wasn’t as polished as it could have been, some of the dialogue was stiff and there were some minor typos (mainly missing quotation marks).

Still, the plot twists, great world-building, realistic characters and the amazing amount of research that went into Genome suggest that we’ll see even better things from Mr. Henson in the future.

I give this book 3.5/5 stars.