Review: Hold Back The Stars by Katie Khan

33773650

After the catastrophic destruction of the Middle East and the United States, Europe has become a utopia and, every three years, the European population must rotate into different multicultural communities, living as individuals responsible for their own actions. While living in this paradise, Max meets Carys and immediately feels a spark of attraction. He quickly realizes, however, that Carys is someone he might want to stay with long-term, which is impossible in this new world. As their relationship plays out, the connections between their time on Earth and their present dilemma in space become clear. When their air ticks dangerously low, one is offered the chance of salvation—but who will take it? An original and daring exploration of the impact of first love and how the choices we make can change the fate of everyone around us, this is an unforgettable read.

Sometimes, you need a book that is different from your usual genre. A book outside your comfort zone. And that is what Hold Back The Stars was for me. I’ve stated multiple times that I watch plenty of sci-fi films and I love them. However, when it comes to reading, sci-fi it’s not a genre that I find particularly appealing, maybe because I prefer to watch the story take place on a screen. Still, every now and then, there are some titles that catch my attention and Hold Back The Stars was one of them. It came highly recommended, part Gravity, part One Day, two stories that I quite enjoyed back in the day. And this book ended up being quite a unique read for me.

This is a love story, plain and simple. It’s basically like the Gravity film, but with romance and a lot of flashbacks. I know it will sound weird because I usually love flashbacks, but in Hold Back The Stars, their present scenes were my favorite part. There were tension and great dialogue, and I couldn’t wait to know what happened next.

At times, I wish I could have read two different books, one focused on Carys and Max in space and another one dedicated to exploring Europia’s world. I find utopian/dystopian realities fascinating and the universe created by Katie Khan was incredibly attractive, but I felt like we were never given enough of it. I enjoyed both Carys and Max’s perspectives, as they were really likable characters and I wished the best for them. So yes, of course I wanted them to be together, but I didn’t fall in love with them or their relationship.

The ending is probably what made the whole story more meaningful for me. I had no idea of what was going on and I was confused but fascinated at the same time. I know some of you disagree because it’s a risky technique and it won’t be for everyone, but I love to be surprised and Hold Back The Stars managed just that.

Buy Here

Netgalley, Gallery Books 2017

Dark Matter (Blake Crouch)

27833670.jpg“Are you happy with your life?” Those are the last words Jason Dessen hears before the masked abductor knocks him unconscious. Before he awakens to find himself strapped to a gurney, surrounded by strangers in hazmat suits. Before a man Jason’s never met smiles down at him and says, “Welcome back, my friend.” In this world he’s woken up to, Jason’s life is not the one he knows. His wife is not his wife. His son was never born. And Jason is not an ordinary college physics professor but a celebrated genius who has achieved something remarkable–something impossible. Is it this world or the other that’s the dream? And even if the home he remembers is real, how can Jason possibly make it back to the family he loves? The answers lie in a journey more wondrous and horrifying than anything he could’ve imagined—one that will force him to confront the darkest parts of himself even as he battles a terrifying, seemingly unbeatable foe.

I didn’t know what to expect when I began to read Black Matter. Although I definitely love sci-fi in films (especially stories about time travel or alternate realities) I don’t usually read science fiction books. But here’s to trying new things!! I absolutely loved this one.

Dark Matter tells the story of Jason. Jason is a really good guy and he makes it so easy to root for him. He’s a science teacher and is married to Daniela, who used to be a promising artist. They have a son, Charlie. They’re happy, although they sometimes wonder what would’ve happened if they hadn’t decided to stay together. One night, Jason goes out and is kidnapped by someone very dangerous. When he wakes up, he discovers he’s now in a different world where he’s a famous scientist and isn’t married to Daniela. But why? And how can he go back?

Interesting premise, huh? I can assure you the hype is totally worth it. And well, as I’ve said before, I’ve watched plenty of weird-time-travel-paradox movies, which means I guessed the first twist early on. But I had no problem with that, as it was what it had to be. It didn’t prevent me from enjoying the story at all.

By the time I reached 70%, I thought the book was coming to an end (though I didn’t understand why there were so many pages left). I WAS SO WRONG. Dark Matter had me gasping with shock at something I hadn’t even considered. And it was awesome. The ending was brilliant as well, as it was just the perfect conclusion to a book that I will remember for a very long time.

Because even though this is strictly sci-fi, Dark Matter is clearly a love story too. And I like them so much when they’re written like this. When you connect with the characters so much that you want them to survive everything and be happy forever and you don’t understand how Blake Crouch makes them suffer so much.

The writing is… kind of strange.
Short sentences.
Like this.
Weird but well-executed.

Dark Matter is a book I’d highly recommend. Not to everyone (after all, this is sci-fi), but I just can’t find anything I didn’t like about it. It’s super fast-paced, engaging and, most importantly, unforgettable.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Crown, 2016

Buy Here

The Last One (Alexandra Oliva)

The Last One Captura de pantalla 2016-06-29 a las 22.26.09.png
Alexandra Oliva
Ballantine Books
2016

She wanted an adventure. She never imagined it would go this far. It begins with a reality TV show. Twelve contestants are sent into the woods to face challenges that will test the limits of their endurance. While they are out there, something terrible happens—but how widespread is the destruction, and has it occurred naturally or is it man-made? Cut off from society, the contestants know nothing of it. When one of them—a young woman the show’s producers call Zoo—stumbles across the devastation, she can imagine only that it is part of the game. Alone and disoriented, Zoo is heavy with doubt regarding the life—and husband—she left behind, but she refuses to quit. Staggering countless miles across unfamiliar territory, Zoo must summon all her survival skills—and learn new ones as she goes. But as her emotional and physical reserves dwindle, she grasps that the real world might have been altered in terrifying ways—and her ability to parse the charade will be either her triumph or her undoing.

I have to say I’m a bit surprised I liked this book so much: I’m not outdoorsy at all and I have never watched any reality shows like Survivor or anything like that. That being said, The Last One is one of the best books I’ve read this year. I loved it from page one and didn’t stop until I reached its great ending.

I don’t want to spoil much, but I’ll say that the concept is awesome: what if you didn’t realize something terrible had happened?

I got nervous, frustrated, I was scared, sad and hopeful. This book makes you feel a lot of different things and that’s something I highly appreciate. I can’t believe this is Alexandra Oliva’s first novel: she’s crafted a wonderful story and clearly knows how to get the reader hooked. Such good writing.

I think it was pretty innovative that you didn’t know the real names of the contestants: they’re Zoo, Waitress, Black Doctor, Carpenter… and the author always makes comments about how each scene is going to be presented to the audience, in a really clever way. There was even a section at the end of some chapters with Reddit-like comments about the reality show: that part was amazing.

As for the characters, Zoo was unlikable at times, but in the end, you understand her. My favorite was, of course, Brennan: I wanted to hug him and never let go. I loved how loyal he was, how he cared about our protagonist.

Some have criticized the ending, but I think it’s actually perfect. The again, I usually like endings like this one, where you don’t know what’ll happen for sure.

The Last One is original, smart and fresh. It’s true that, at first, it’s a bit confusing, as the story is told via two different perspectives: the actual show and the aftermath with our main character, Zoo. But I guarantee it is worth it: keep reading and you’ll see.

Is there going to be a movie soon? Please, say yes.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I received a copy via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.