Are you afraid of the dark?

The CavernThe Cavern by Alister Hodge
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

No messing around in this book. Slow build-up? Pffft! It‘s B-Movie Horror Flick Night! Body count of the epilogue: 2:0 for the monster. And it keeps going. It‘s bloody, there is gore, there is a lot of action, suspense, oh-shit-moments and it‘s a lot of fun. It is well written to boot and the characters actually have personalities.

It‘s a little predictable, but that‘s to be expected with a creature feature fest like this.

If you are in the mood for uncomplicated monster fun with plenty of blood splatter—this is a pretty damn good choice! Oh yes, and I multiplied my knowledge of Aussie slang by a lot!

PS: very, very creepy! Caves! Cave diving! Darkness! Weird noises! Eep! It‘s vicious!

Recommended! 4.5 stars. Thank you, Dennis, for pointing me towards this particular cave system!

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It‘s not just the thought that counts.

The Contingency (The Contingency War, #1)The Contingency by G.J. Ogden
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

The writing:
Verbose, with overlong sentences. Everything explained truly well, including the obvious, which really takes the fun out of things. Repetitive. Juvenile humour. Overabundance of metaphors. Some grammatical blunders. The writing irritated me so much that I had a hard time immersing myself into the story.
With the plot twist in the middle of the book, the writing became tighter and more focussed for a while, but then wandered off again into over-explaining mode. It almost felt as if written by somebody else for a while. Alas, …

The characters:
Barely developed characters. Interchangeable and immature. Casey reminded me of Jar Jar Binks and was really annoying. The Hedalt remained blanks. In that case it would have been nice to get at least a little information. If the humans didn’t know what the Hedalt look like, why not say so? Did I miss something in the beginning?

The plot:
Light space opera. Not a lot of world building, very little backstory.
Nice twist in the middle. It took the tale into a more unusual direction and offered something new. The next major plot development after that was a bit too much too soon. It all needed more depth, there wasn‘t enough meat to it.
The epilogue (wasn‘t called that, but felt like it) was nice. The story idea was not bad and had its moments.
I wish the first half of the book had been only half or a third as long. As it was, the plotting felt uneven.

Would I recommend this or get it for a friend? No.

I received this free e-copy from the publisher/author via NetGalley as well as BookSirens, in exchange for an honest review, thank you! Sorry, I just didn‘t like this much.

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Anemone?

Maelstrom (Rifters, #2)Maelstrom by Peter Watts
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The sequel to the first Rifters novel, Starfish. Difficult. Lenie Clarke comes to shore and with her the apocalypse, of a sort (two sorts, actually).

The first half of the book was confusing. Multiple viewpoints with different agendas, some of them of the artificial kind. I was pretty lost. Cyberpunk meets the apocalypse meets a revenge story and…. it was a mess. I skimmed some of the more indecipherable parts. I contemplated to DNF, but my curiosity kept me going. It was a case of „what the hell did I just read“, but it had its moments.

A plot finally coalesced about two-thirds into the book and it was pretty slim. This book is more about the noise than about the red thread. The ending was satisfying enough. I might even pick up the third book at some point.

★★¾☆☆

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Groundhog day

The Last Conversation (Forward collection)The Last Conversation by Paul Tremblay
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Do not read any reviews beforehand. You will get spoiled.

A little creepy and a lot ominous. Psychological horror. Our protagonist wakes up blind, without memories, restrained to one room, with the embodied voice of a doctor telling him what to do. Slowly memories return.

Desperation comes to mind, especially when the story and its secret begin to unravel.

The audiobook narration was ok. So was the story overall.

★★★½☆

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May the Force be with you!

Descender Vol. 6: The Machine WarDescender Vol. 6: The Machine War by Jeff Lemire
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The beginning of this last volume starts with major backstory. We find out, how the humans discovered the tech to start building bots, drones et cetera.

Switching back to the present day, the plot does not fully make sense to me. Why did machinekind warn humans ten years ago, but then not follow through? That‘s a fairly big plot hole right there. Regardless, it was a good volume.

I liked the ending. Was it a great ending? Did the story develop in a satisfying way? I am not actually sure. It all worked, loose ends were tied, there was suspense and excitement and sorrow, it definitely had its moments…

Excellent art.

P.S.: Did anyone else feel the reawakening of the Force?

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Creepy AI

Summer FrostSummer Frost by Blake Crouch
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The story was ok. Matrix meets Terminator isn‘t quite right, but went through my thoughts anyway. The exploration of AI has an unusual start, but doesn‘t lead to anything new. What is awareness, what are the dangers and how do we protect ourselves?

Then there is some slight exploration of gender identity, but it‘s so peripheral that Crouch might just not have bothered. Skin colour is thrown in there, but not elaborated at all.

I do not completely believe the developmental process of AI that Crouch depicts here. I know that it‘s done like this on purpose, but I still don‘t buy it.

The twist at the end is well done. The parallels to the beginning of the story are a clever reflection.

The audio narration came across as boring at first. Unemotional and monotonous, as if the narrator had no interest in the story or in narrating it. Even „Gawd, you‘re sexy“ sounded anything but. Halfway into the story it either got better or I simply had gotten used to it.

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