Tag Archives: Sci-fi

Review: Obscura (By Joe Hart)

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Source: Goodreads

Length: 348 pages

My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Dr. Gillian Ryan could do nothing but watch helplessly as her husband withered away into someone she couldn’t even recognize. Affected by a new and fast-acting form of dementia, he lost his memory, then himself, and finally his life. Her infant daughter was the only ray of sunshine in her life at that dark time. But eight years later, her daughter begins to show the terrifying symptoms of the disease. Gillian has already dedicated her life to finding a cure, but her daughter’s sickness renews her determination. Until the university cuts her funding. Gillian is on the brink of losing hope when her college boyfriend comes back into her life. He wants her to travel with a NASA team to a space station where the crew members are showing symptoms similar to the psychosis that’s threatening her daughter’s life. Without any other option, Gillian accepts, hopeful that her research will help save her daughter too.

But things are not as she was made to believe. Gillian’s apprehension turns to paranoia as strange events begin to unfold around her. Something is terribly wrong with the crew, and things are only getting worse. Battling her own problem of addiction, one that she’d kept secret from almost everyone, she begins to lose sight of the line between reality and nightmare. But, as she realizes, the worst is yet to come. Desperate to find the solution that could save her daughter’s life, Gillian is forced to fight against an unknown danger, the unimaginable threats of space, and her own self. As precious days and weeks tick by, Gillian begins to wonder just what she’ll lose first to the horrors she faces – her daughter, her life, or her sanity.

The Bottom Line:

An edge-of-your-seat read that brilliantly blends science fiction and thriller to create the written equivalent of LIFE meets Alien meets Hollow Man.

My take:

The first thing to know about Obscura is that even though its cover says Obscura: A Thriller, it’s quite predominantly science fiction. The science fiction part of it is quite interesting although I won’t claim to fathom its actual possibility. It’s not Jurassic Park type science fiction; maybe a little simpler. But if you take it at face value, you can really get into the story.

The book has a lot of crazy plot twists. Some are expected, but most aren’t. It moves along at a very brisk pace and keeps you turning the pages relentlessly. But the best part about the book is its rawness. Every character is very real. They’re very human. They’re weak, strong, good, bad, kind, selfish, and everything in between. But more importantly, every emotion is blunt and honest, while not being dramatized. You can really experience the characters’ emotions, and this is done so subtly that the suddenness of those emotions makes them even stronger.

The book doesn’t shy away from reality and, in no way, romanticizes the notion of good vs. bad. It dabbles predominantly in gray areas (for events and people), and has parts that are graphic and disturbing primarily because of their straight-forwardness. Like in life, it offers no guarantees, and all these factors make the entire book very hard-hitting.

The only thing that works against it is that it moves back and forth a lot, which makes it a tag confusing. But other than that, the book has very little to affect the excellent reading experience it offers. While it is a bit difficult to break down the elements that make it a good read, Obscura, as a whole, is very thrilling, beautifully raw, and even emotional. It’s one of those books that stays with you long after it’s done.

I would highly recommend Obscura to:

  • fans of science fiction
  • fans of thriller and mystery (who don’t shy away from graphic details)
  • those who love/enjoy movies like Alien and LIFE

A big thank you to NetGalley and Thomas & Mercer for an ARC of Obscura. It got Joe Hart on my radar and I’m looking forward to reading more of his stuff.

Obscura is available for purchase, so get your copy, have a read, and share your thoughts on why you loved/hated it in the comments below! And thanks for stopping by my blog – I hope you find your next read here.

– Rishika

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Review: The Circle (By Dave Eggers)

 

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Source: Goodreads

 

Length: 500 pages

My rating: 0 out of 5 stars

At the outset, I’m going to tell you that I didn’t finish this book. In spite of trying my damned hardest, I got only 30% in (150 pages), before I gave up because reading it just made me so, so angry. So, my blurb is going to be based on the author’s itself.

Mae Holland finally gets a break from her dead-end job when she gets a new job at The Circle, the world’s most powerful internet company. The place has around 10,000 employees, and a sprawling campus that gets visits and performances from rock stars, Nobel Prize winners and other such celebrities on a daily basis. She loves her job, loves the campus, loves the company and forgets about the world outside of it for the most part. Some things hit her as strange but she loves everything too much to pay any attention. Then her role becomes highly public and something (apparently) happens, after which she (and I’m assuming some other persons) start questioning the company and its practices that have no respect for privacy and democracy.

Okay so maybe my blurb also includes some ranting on my part. Read on to know why.

My take:

I could do this paragraph-wise, but that’ll be too long. So I’m doing this point wise.

  1. This book has the laziest writing I have ever read. Eggers seems to write whatever he fancies, going into the most mundane and unlikely of conversation and narration, before getting bored himself and just ending it abruptly. Also, it just has bad prose that is lazy, and often redundant.
  2. I have never come across characters more annoying or lost. There is absolutely no depth to any of the characters. And half the time, there is no character to any of the characters. It’s like Eggers forgets who he’s writing about and just adds on aspects that make no sense to their already barely existent personalities.
  3. Mae is one confused character, whose entire life seems to go on with the dead-pan expression made famous by Kristen Stweart in Twilight. She is dull, uninteresting, and just too… non-existent as a character. Oh and she’s also oddly selfish and arrogant, and talks in few-syllabic responses to questions. And did I say annoying as hell? Let’s just tag Annie on at the end of this point – equally annoying, confused, and just rude in conversation while being spoken about in narration as an angel who walks among mortals.
  4. There were actually five entire pages on a discussion between Mae, a colleague she’d never met before, and their senior about how said colleague was hurt (to tears) that Mae hadn’t attended a Portugal-themed brunch to which she’d been invited through their social channel. Some apologizing later, the matter is successfully handled and the HR department is sent a written notice. Because the HR department of a company that large gives a damn about an unseen brunch invite – very busy people, these.
  5. The Circle apparently makes ground-breaking innovations and supports external individuals who do this every single day. Except the innovations are only discussed from one angle – the one that will make them seem like the best ideas in the world, when they’re actually mundane, done-to-death, concepts that are only made to seem awesome by the never-ending applause from the watching audience. It’s like Eggers couldn’t really think of good ideas, so he took dull ones and tossed in social acceptance to make people think they’re amazing.
  6. Apparently, social networking is an extremely important part of Mae’s job (and that of every ‘Circler’)… and everyone in this ‘biggest internet company of the world’ has the time to send hundred of messages to the newbie on the job congratulating her for getting good ratings on her customer interactions. There may have come about (if I’d read on) a reason for this apparent importance of one new person in a company that hires at least ten people daily; but from what was written, this seemed like just something they all did, because it’s a “community”. A community of the most brilliant minds in the world (as Eggers repeatedly reminds the reader), who are working on the next set of amazing tech for the world, and who have altogether too much time on their hands to act like college-kids who thrive on gossip. Man, how I wish this place was real and I got an awesome job like the ones all these people worked so, so hard to get. (Not.)
  7. 30% in meant I was 150 pages in. And there was still no sign of an actual story. Boring, mundane, forcibly-cool things kept happening, people kept acting annoying, and conversations driveled on without any structure or direction. I’m sure there was a story coming up, but if you haven’t bothered with it until 150 pages in, you’re not exactly scoring reader-enjoyment-points.

To be honest, I thought this would be a great book. It had been recommended to me earlier, it’s coming out as a movie starring Emma Watson who’s more or less always taken up sensible roles in her career, and the movie trailer looked good. But the book was a massive disappointment, offering no story, no characters with whom you could associate, no meaningful conversations, and a highly-dramatized, cheesy-film version of one guy’s idea of what a ‘cool tech giant’ would be like.

I absolutely hate leaving books midway, because often times even bad books get better. And I really did try to keep going on. But it was just painful, boring, and irritating to read. It had no redeeming quality whatsoever.

Book readers always hope that movie adaptations stick to the original stories. I really want to watch and like the upcoming movie because the trailer seemed to signal towards an interesting flick. So I really, really hope that the movie adaptation of The Circle is as far away from the book as it can be except for whatever the crux of this story is. After all, the last movie adaptation that starred Tom Hanks was Inferno. And they sure as heck deviated from the book for that one (check out my book review for Inferno here). Although the deviation didn’t work then (check out my movie review of Inferno here), it may be just what The Circle needs.

Recommended for:

  • nobody
  • seriously, literally, nobody

Tell us what you thought of the book and whether you’re interested in watching the movie. Or tell us anything else you’d like to share too! Just drop us a comment below.

– Rishika

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