I decided to review the #COYER book club reads together in one post. These are our September 2021 picks – Science Fiction month. Although I had already read the YA book, it had been so long that it was like reading it for the first time. And the Adult book ended up being a pleasant surprise!
YA book club choiceRenegades by Marissa Meyer
Narrator: Rebecca Soler, Dan Bittner
Series: Renegades #1
Published by Macmillan Audio on November 7, 2017
Genres: Science Fiction, Young Adult
Length: 17 hours 5 minutes
From #1 New York Times-bestselling author Marissa Meyer, comes a high-stakes world of adventure, passion, danger, and betrayal.
Secret Identities.Extraordinary Powers.She wants vengeance. He wants justice.
The Renegades are a syndicate of prodigies—humans with extraordinary abilities—who emerged from the ruins of a crumbled society and established peace and order where chaos reigned. As champions of justice, they remain a symbol of hope and courage to everyone...except the villains they once overthrew.
Nova has a reason to hate the Renegades, and she is on a mission for vengeance. As she gets closer to her target, she meets Adrian, a Renegade boy who believes in justice—and in Nova. But Nova's allegiance is to a villain who has the power to end them both.
My second reading more than three years later and my review is EXACTLY the same. I didn’t remember anything until it was happening, so it was like reading for the first time. I feel the same conflicts and this time I am going to move to the 2nd and 3rd books quickly.
Marissa Meyer is such a reliable author – I pick up one of her books and I ALWAYS seem to love it! I had somehow missed Renegades release, but as soon as I saw a review I grabbed it on audio and was thrilled to immediately hear it was narrated by Rebecca Soler! She narrated all the Lunar Chronicles, so I already knew I loved her. And she did not disappoint. I was surprised (because I didn’t read anything before purchasing the book) when I heard a male voice – but it was a pleasant surprise. Dan Bittner is another narrator I’ve listened to before (can’t remember what books) and really enjoyed. So it was three great pieces all in one.
I enjoyed the world building in Renegades – despite being book one it never felt like an information dump and I also never felt confused about the world. It was the perfect balance. I loved the characters and the way so much tension is put on the idea of good versus evil. The “good guys” aren’t clean and shiny and the “bad guys” have some seriously redeemable qualities… in fact, I’m not 100% which group I’m really talking about when I say “good guys” or “bad guys”! Are the Renegades – the super heroes – really the good guys? And are the Anarchists – the villains – really the bad guys?
I think because the story is told from the perspective of Nova, someone raised by the Anarchists but now getting to know the Renegades pretty closely, it’s harder to see it as black and white. She has her loyalties and she’s been taught certain things… and a lot of it I can’t really argue with. But the values of SOME of the Renegades aren’t so very different from her own. Watching her navigate those internal conflicts was enjoyable and I can only assume will grow more so as the series progresses.
The ending is awesome… but watch out! It’s a cliff-hanger. Not so bad that I’m angry to be hanging. I can wait. And while I think it was supposed to be a shocker, I had been suspicious for a while that it was going to go that way to an extent. But I’ll be eagerly awaiting book 2, regardless 🙂
Adult book club choiceProject Hail Mary by Andy Weir
Published by Ballantine Books on May 4, 2021
Genres: Science Fiction
Ryland Grace is the sole survivor on a desperate, last-chance mission--and if he fails, humanity and the earth itself will perish.
Except that right now, he doesn't know that. He can't even remember his own name, let alone the nature of his assignment or how to complete it.
All he knows is that he's been asleep for a very, very long time. And he's just been awakened to find himself millions of miles from home, with nothing but two corpses for company.
His crewmates dead, his memories fuzzily returning, he realizes that an impossible task now confronts him. Alone on this tiny ship that's been cobbled together by every government and space agency on the planet and hurled into the depths of space, it's up to him to conquer an extinction-level threat to our species.
And thanks to an unexpected ally, he just might have a chance.
Part scientific mystery, part dazzling interstellar journey, Project Hail Mary is a tale of discovery, speculation, and survival to rival The Martian--while taking us to places it never dreamed of going.
One thing you should know about me before reading this review… I’m not a Science Fiction fan. I wouldn’t go so far as to say I dislike it – I just don’t generally LOVE the popular Science Fiction books/movies/tv shows. For example, I do not like (but also don’t hate, just meh about) any of these popular franchises: Star Wars, Star Trek, Dr. Who, or X-Men. The ONLY reason I picked this book up was that it was our September COYER Book Club pick and I wanted to be able to talk about it. I didn’t actually intend to finish it, or at least not quickly.
Well… I ended up really enjoying it and because I had delayed reading until the last minute and didn’t want spoilers at book club ended up staying up until 3am to finish. Had I given myself adequate time, I WOULD have been able to put Project Hail Mary down but it was worth the lost sleep to find out what happened BEFORE book club.
I did struggle with the science a bit, this book is heavy in it. There were definite sections where my eyes got glassy or my head started to hurt. But I get why he included it. The science explanations were part of the characters – it helped understand who Dr. Grace (and, to a lesser extent, Rocky) were. The brilliance of how Andy Weir wrote Dr. Grace is that he’s a Jr. High School Science teacher, so it makes sense that while he knows this really high level stuff, he knows how to explain it in more simplistic terms. I won’t lie, there were parts I STILL didn’t get (like how time is impacted by space travel – thanks to Lark for explaining that one to me at book club), but I got really good at just taking the character’s word for it on things LOL!
So the science heaviness aside, the characters and the situation are compelling enough that I was okay pushing through that science. Dr. Grace is SO HUMAN. He struggles with what’s right vs what he wants. He makes some really dumb mistakes (well dumb for someone of his intelligence. For me, those mistakes would be genius LOL). He is sarcastic and has a dry sense of humor, which I love. And he grows so much from the person he was when the book starts to the person he is at the end. I enjoyed the way the story was told in flashbacks, I think it really added to the experience of Dr. Grace’s partial amnesia. And I LOVED Rocky. I don’t want to spoil anything, but Rocky is the “unexpected ally” mentioned in the book’s description. He might have made this book for me.
The book did leave me with lots of unanswered questions, which is a little frustrating since it’s nearly 500 pages long. But I understand why Weir decided to go the direction he did — to answer my questions he might have had to write a second book. To do it well he would probably have to. Personally, think I would enjoy that book a slight bit more than this one because it would be a lot less Science Fiction (I guess that’s no shocker that my questions are not in the science bits!).
I’m glad book club pushed me out of my comfort zone and got me to read this book, it was absolutely worth it!