Friday, August 21, 2015

Friday Round-Up: Kate Elliott, Chuck Wendig @SFFWorld, & @SFSignal Mind Meld

What? Two weeks in a row with a Friday Round-up? That’s what happens when a person gets a new job and also has three new pieces post in a week. I’ll start with the review that posted the afternoon after I posted last week’s Round-Up.

Kate Elliott’s Court of Fives is her first Young Adult novel, but far from her first novel. It shows, because it is a helluva novel and I want the next book now. Part of my review:

Elliott immediately thrusts the reader into Jes’ head and heart, and the result is a wonderful immersion in both familial love and the tensions at work within these relationships. Jes and her sisters adore their mother, and while they respect their father, they don’t know him nearly as well because he is often away, off leading armies. What makes this such an outstanding novel is Elliott’s experienced hand at revelation and building compelling characters. I was immediately drawn to Jes as a character, caught up in her plight and the story she had to tell. Much of the YA I’ve read is told from the first-person POV, and in adopting that narrative style, Elliott has placed a great deal of weight on Jessamy’s shoulders—we experience the entire story through her consciousness, and in this case, it works extremely well.

Court of Fives is a novel with very wide appeal, which benefits from a young, headstrong, and charismatic protagonist, a mythically-inspired setting that provides a fantastical spin on historical/classical antiquity (think ancient Egypt, Macedonia, and Rome), a strong base of well-rounded supporting characters, and the magnetic force of its dramatic tension, which kept this reader glued to the pages.

This past Tuesday, my review of Chuck Wendig’s gripping, dark near future SF Thriller Zer0es:

Chuck takes a look at a world Twenty Minutes into the Future and a group of hackers who are corralled by NSA Agent Hollis Cooper to do the NSA’s dirty work. They are Chance Dalton, picked up just as he was being beaten up by the football players he exposed as rapists; Aleena Kattan, DeAndre Mitchell, Wade Earthman, an old school hacker, and perhaps one of the most annoying characters I can recall encountering in SFF, Reagan Stolper. The hackers, who dub themselves zer0es, are brought to The Lodge to infiltrate America’s enemies, it is either that or serve time in prison so the choice is pretty easy. As the plot rolls along the zer0es form an odd bond, a second family almost. Working more closely together, something more frightening than they imagined becomes apparent.
The novel begins by introducing each character through their apprehension by Agent Cooper; here Chuck did a great job of making each of these characters unique and provided a solid foundation for their participation in the plot/story and later character development. Building on the solid base built for the characters, Wendig does a great job of revealing more depth to the characters, the backstory that led them to come together. He also mixes them up very nicely as they get to know each other and their pasts are revealed to each other (voluntarily or otherwise).

Lastly, my August Mind Meld posted. In it, I asked Paul Weimer, Jana Nyman, Joe Sherry, Lisa Rodgers, Jonah Sutton-Morse, Susan J. Morris, and Jason M. Hough about Author Comebacks, "Some authors publish a few titles and disappear, or move on to other things (comic book writing, tie-in writing, leaving publishing, etc) but you’d like to see more from them. So we asked this week’s panelists the following:"

Q: Who would you like to see make a comeback to writing original SFF fiction? What subgenre(s) or worlds would you hope they would write?

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