The Otissito Review

Category: Apocalyptic

Total 2 Posts

Book Review: “Anthem’s Fall” by S.L. Dunn

Anthem's FallWhat do you think would happen if a team of scientists were to somehow discover a way to create a living cell that was completely synthetic? Even if that cell were nothing more than a single, non-replicating cell, such a discovery would shake the very foundations of science and inevitably lead to more and more discoveries down the road, some of which promise to be amazing, but also potentially terrifying.

Anthem’s Fall by S.L. Dunn puts forth what might happen if that very thing happened not only on Earth, but also on a distant planet that humanity has no idea exists. As you might imagine, the civilizations on the two planets are destined to cross paths. As a debut author, S.L. Dunn has put forth a very strong work with Anthem’s Fall, staying true to some common science fiction tropes while still pushing the envelope just a little bit so his story has its own little slice of unique. I’ve read a lot of debut novels, and this one, while still a little bit rough in some spots, falls near the top of the list.

Interestingly, Anthem’s Fall is a little bit like two separate books that run in parallel and then eventually veer towards each other on a collision course. By the time I was finished with Anthem’s Fall I could see what the author was doing with this format, but something about it still had me feeling skeptical. It all worked out okay in the end, but I really wanted more screen time with the plot line taking place on Earth because I felt that was the stronger of the two main veins of story. Don’t let that discourage you from giving this book a try though because there is an awful lot of good going on within its pages.

On the planet Anthem, scientists have created genetically enhanced beings possessing a serious amount of power. However, this group of beings proceeds to annihilate Anthem’s civilization and Vengelis Epsilon, the young emperor is forced off the planet in search of a solution to the problem. An old mentor of his sends him careening towards Earth for reasons Vengelis does not discover until well after he lands on the planet.

Kristen is on Earth working with some of the top scientists on the planet as they work through the implications of having discovered a way to create a synthetic cell. There are a lot of ethical and moral decisions that need to be made and Kristen is not entirely sure her boss is making those decisions properly. While struggling with how to deal with the situation, Kristen meets Ryan, an intelligent college student (she is very young considering all of her success in life to this point), whom she connects with very strongly after just their first date. The thing is, Ryan has a secret of his own, a huge secret, and it’s pretty spectacular in my opinion.

When Ryan, Kristen, and Vengelis all ultimately cross paths fireworks ensue and things get pretty intense. There are a lot of things that get revealed and some pretty epic battle both on the ground and in the sky. There are superpowers on display and intelligence making itself known in wonderful ways. The only real downside is how the book ends on a major cliffhanger and now I have to wait for the sequel to be finished. I think there are a lot of details in Anthem’s Fall that are still to be fleshed out in coming volumes, the idea of Sejero genetics being one of the larger details I’m most interested in.

I’ve got S.L. Dunn on my list of authors to keep checking on for another book to grab and I hope I don’t have to wait very long in order to see what happens next with this story.

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Top Ten Most Unique Books I’ve Read

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

When it comes to unique books I’m not sure I have read very many that really qualify as truly unique because most of what I read is rather mainstream. However, there are a few books despite that which I think are pretty unique for various reasons. I’m not sure if I can come up with a full list of ten books, but I’ll try my best.

Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie
What makes Ancillary Justice so unique is how the author bends gender with everyone on the page being referred to with a feminine pronoun. It makes for an incredibly unique reading experience and to be honest, it makes things a little bit confusing for the first piece of the novel. You really have to force your brain to work a different way in order to make sense of the characters and their actions.

World War Z by Max Brooks
I loved this book because of its unique format. The choice to use imagined interviews with key players to create a chronicle of the events surrounding a zombie apocalypse was a fantastic storytelling device. I was glued to this book the entire time I was reading it because the interviews felt so real despite the fact that I knew they were fictional.

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
I’m sure there have been other books that tried the approach of featuring a player inside of a massive online game, but if I ever find another one worth reading I’ll hold it up in comparison to Ready Player One every time. Ernest Cline did a great job creating a virtual world for his characters to run around in and there was something exciting about having a fictional world inside of another fictional world be the main playground for the story to take place within.

The Maze Runner by James Dashner
There is a lot of post-apocalyptic YA fiction out there in the world to consume, but very little of it is so unique that it really grabs your attention. So many of those stories follow a very limited number of tropes, but The Maze Runner does a lot of things very differently and I’m very excited to see how the general public accepts the movie version later this year because I think it’s exactly the unique YA infusion the genre needs.

Gone with the Wind by Margaret Atwood
Most people might not thing Gone with the Wind is all that unique, but it was pretty unique for me to decide to read it. My wife loves the book and I’d never read it before so I took the plunge to see what it was all about. I had a very mistaken understanding of what the line, “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn,” was in reference to, so when I finished the book in the early morning hours one day I was very upset. I can usually accept just about anything in a book without getting angry, but this one got me.

Kraken by China Mieville
I’m not sure Kraken is unique in comparison to other books of its kind, but it was certainly unique to me when I read it. I had never read a book quite like Kraken before and it took a lot of brainpower for me to dive into that kind of writing style. I thought it was a great book and I’d like to read more of the author’s work someday.

The God Engines by John Scalzi
This is actually a novella, but I still think it’s one of the most unique things I’ve read in the past few years. There are some really interesting religious themes in The God Engines, and the end of the story is mind-blowing in not only its abruptness but in its intensity.

Legion by Brandon Sanderson
Legion is another novella, and I really liked how Sanderson took the main character and turned him into a cast of characters by having the supporting characters be manifestations of the main characters psyche. The interplay between characters is very unique as a result and it allows for some interesting plot developments. There is a sequel coming out later this year that I’m very excited to read.

Feed by Mira Grant
Zombie stories are a dime a dozen these days between comics, television, and books. The thing is, almost all of these stories deal with the actual outbreak of the zombies. What makes Feed so unique is that it deals with life after the outbreak when society has figured out how to survive and make a life in a world that has zombies roaming around. I think that’s pretty unique within the particular sub-genre.

The Daedalus Incident by Michael J. Martinez
It hasn’t been very long since I read The Daedalus Incident but I still love how it’s a wonderful mix of science fiction and fantasy all rolled into one. Most books only manage to focus on one of those two genres, but this one blends the two almost seamlessly to create something entirely new and exciting.

Look at that! I managed to find ten unique books after all!