We Are All Completely Fine by Daryl Gregory

We Are All Completely Fine by Daryl Gregory | Tachyon, 2014

We Are All Completely Fine is a book about monsters and the scars they leave. It centers on a group of survivors who have each encountered something strange. This group, brought together by Dr. Jan Sayer, each bear the scars of their experiences. There is Stan, the only survivor to make it out alive (though not wholly intact) after being held by a family of cannibals; Martin, a shut-in geek who never takes off his glasses; Barbara, who survived flaying at the hands of a monster who carved intricate designs into her bones; Greta, a mysterious young woman with a penchant for fire; and Harrison Harrison, aka Harrison Squared who in his youth was a semi-famous monster detective who was featured in fictionalized in a series of novels based on his real-life experiences. The group gathers together reluctantly. The various experiences of each of this weird support group makes trusting and sharing rather difficult.
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Brilliance and A Better World by Marcus Sakey

Brilliance by Marcus Sakey | Thomas & Mercer, 2013
A Better World by Marcus Sakey | Thomas & Mercer, 2014

I loved that first season of NBC’s Heroes. There was so much promise, so much potential. Of course that didn’t last long as the show became muddled in its own mythology and then got tripped up by the writer’s strike. But that first season? That is some excellent television. Thankfully Marcus Sakey takes all the promise and wonder from that first season of Heroes and pours into his novel Brilliance. In the world of Brilliance’s Agent Nick Cooper a tiny, but not insignificant, percentage of the human population is born with special gifts. While some gifts are mundane and relatively harmless others, like Cooper’s own ability to “read” people through minute cues in body language, are dangerous. Cooper works for DAR, the Department of Analysis and Response, an agency founded after a “brilliant” leader assassinated an important politician and committed mass murder. His job is to track down the dangerous “brilliants” for Uncle Sam and either capture them or put them down.

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California Bones by Greg Van Eekhout

California Bones by Greg Van Eekhout | Tor Books, 2014

California Bones by Greg Van Eekhout is the first in a new urban fantasy series that takes place in California. In the world of California Bones osteomancy is the form magic takes as power if gained through distilling and consuming the bones of other creatures. Daniel Blackland, the son of a famous osteomancer was present when his father was killed by the powerful Hierarch of Southern California (I’ll leave to your imagination exactly how he was killed). Daniel escaped and was raised in the underworld of Los Angeles where he has survived through his wits and using just enough of the magic his father taught him so as to stay beneath the Heirarch’s radar. When his estranged criminal mentor contacts him for one last job Daniel assembles an Ocean’s 11 style magical team to rob the heart of the Hierarch’s magical kingdom, the La Brea Tar Pits.

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The Maze Runner by James Dashner

The Maze Runner by James Dashner | Delacorte, 2009

James Dashner’s The Maze Runner has received some attention as of late thanks to its relatively successful film adaptation. A fact I’m aware of because I am, quite possibly, the only 31-year-old male who watches the star, Dylan O’Brien, on MTV’s Teen Wolf. I find this fact only mildly embarrassing. I read Dashner’s newer science fiction novel, The Eye of Minds, not too long ago and while I wasn’t enamored with the novel I at least found it enjoyable. I have similar feelings towards Dashner’s The Maze Runner.

Looking at the Young Adult/Teen novel market I consistently get the impression that its primary audience is female. From an anecdotal perspective I get the impression that females, by and large, a willing to read a broader spectrum of novels then males. Indeed the very fact that there is an entire body of academic work on young male literacy, and at least two popular movement dedicated towards advancing literacy in boys (check out Jon Scieszka’s Guys Read for an excellent example) sheds light on why teen novels seem to trend towards a more female audience. I am perhaps a little off topic here but novels like The Maze Runner, with its almost entirely male cast, are the exception in the teen world particularly when looking at teen speculative fiction.

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