Mini-review: The Unit & One of Us is Lying

Rating: ★★☆☆☆ (2/5)

* I received a copy of The Unit from the publisher through NetGalley. This in no way affected my opinion of the book.

Set in future where the elderly become dispensable (women at 50, men at 60) and are placed into the Reserve Bank Unit where they’re expected to live the rest of their lives. They’re fed well, clothed and have access to many social activities. In return for the comfortable lifestyle, they must partake in medical trials and donate their organs when needed until the final one. The longer you contribute, the longer you live.

The Unit is quite sad since it asks the question of what makes a person indispensable? Why does someone’s life mean less because it doesn’t conform to what’s required? And the government in this book tries to cover it up by treating the people who enter the Unit well. There are a few sweet moments as Dorrit makes new friends and finds a love she never had outside and despite the circumstances, they have a place where they finally fit.

The Unit is an interesting idea but there were so many plot holes and moments of ambiguity that brought down the story a lot.

Rating: ★★★☆☆ (3/5)

If One of Us is Lying was a tv show, everyone would’ve finished the entire series in a day. (Most likely would receive similar hype as Riverdale and 13RW) Five students enter detentions, but only four come out alive and become prime suspects for the death of the fifth person. Simon, the one who died, ran a blog that exposed everyone’s dirty secrets and had a secret for each suspect. McManus did a damn good job in this. Using very stereotypical aspects of a high school, she gave the characters more depth and substance than I had expected. McManus is very good at writing suspense and making the reader question everything. It’s sort of a mash up between The Breakfast Club, Gossip Girl and Pretty Little Liars.

But that’s all the good things I have to say about the series. The first half was thrilling and fun but towards the end it became so disappointing. Using someone’s sexuality and having them be outed against their will shouldn’t have been treated as a plot twist. Their sexuality shouldn’t be something shocking. Also, villainising mental illness was an instant no-no for me. (Trina @ Between Chapters has a more thorough review. There was another I had read but I’ll link once I find it again)

Content warning: a character being outed against their will, harmful rep of mental illness.


Book Review: The Fi Experiment

Book Review: The Fi Experiment

Rating: ★★★☆☆ (3/5)

A copy of the book was given to me in return for an honest review.

The Fi Experiment follows Alice, who visits her cousin, Dicky, who has previously left his job and moved into an old family home, now long abandoned. Alice hasn’t seen him in years, but when she meets him again, he’s desperate for her help to record something that will change the world. At first, Alice thinks he’s lying, but upon closer inspection, she begins to discover the secrets behind the mysterious beings that visit her cousin. Told through a written narrative, along with linked videos, The Fi Experiment is an interesting read.

The premise and the execution of this book were different and very exciting to read. I found myself kept on my toes, especially since the narrator has a lack of knowledge which continues through the novel. I thought it would be irritating, knowing there’s part of the book we’re missing out since she never experiences it herself but the way Dicky reveals it himself was intriguing. The story narrative also includes QR codes which link to videos of Dicky’s video diaries about his interaction with the aliens. I don’t think I’ve ever seen this format before, so it’s what appealed to me the most about it and it lent itself well to the plot.

[Spoilers (I think)] I think my favourite overall part of it is a fact we don’t know if Dicky is ever telling the truth. The book ends with Alice believing him, but we never really see what Dicky saw, and I liked that. It’s up to the reader to decide for themselves what was the truth.

The book doesn’t explore the political landscape of discovering aliens, nor does it show much of the scientific or technological aspects in so much detail. Much of the events happen in retrospect, but their weekend meetings/filming sessions are catch up session on events after they unfold. This lead to a much of the story being more telling rather than showing, and we witness Alice’s response in real time. Although I wanted more detail on how things happened, the book does progress at a rather fast pace that kept me surprised until the very end with an ending that I didn’t expect.


Book Review: The Astonishing Color of After

Book Review: The Astonishing Color of After

I received an ARC of each book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Leigh is only sixteen when her mother dies by suicide, leaving nothing but the words, “I want you to remember.” And this leads her on a journey to Taiwan in search of a bird, to meet the grandparents she never knew and hopefully learn about the life her mother never spoke about.

I can tell you it’s been a while since I finished a book and immediately started sobbing after completing it. The Astonishing Color of After was a wonderful, visually and writing-wise, novel about grief and family. There’s just so much to it. It’s a mystery with Leigh uncovering secrets her mother buried years ago through memories. But it’s also a love story as Leigh struggles with her relationship with her best friend, Axel. Her mother’s passing changes everything. And both sides of the story are equally beautiful and enthralling. But the family is the heart and strength of this story, and it indeed is so astonishing.

There’s also a magical element to this novel. Leigh experiences the past in the form of burning incense and items such as photographs, and she’s able to experience her family history from the perspectives of her family members. This allowed her to understand what she never could before and to accept the daunting choices that were made. This aspect of this was so, so gorgeous and Pan’s style made this so stunning to experience.

Overall, there are so many words to describe this novel: stunning, extraordinary, beautiful, gorgeous. The lyrical prose, Leigh’s strength and struggles as she tries to connect with a past she wishes she knew and while accepting a new future. She finds what she needed, and the ending was so satisfying. A beautifully-told story, and one that I’ll definitely remember.


tw: suicide – mentions of it through the book and also the moments just after it. Depression.(if you’ve read the book and feel like I’ve missed something out, please tell me!)

Book Review: The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton

Book Review: The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton

Rating: ★★★★☆ (4/5)

I received an ARC of each book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Set in the fictional world of Orléans, a small number of girls are born with the ability to use magic to create beautiful looks for a dull general population. Camellia and her sister, known as the Belles, have trained their entire lives to be chosen as the Queen’s favourite and responsible for keeping the royal family beautiful.

The world of Orléans is beautiful, a decadent society with a darker history. Everyone is born grey, and it’s the role of the Belles to bring beauty, but it comes with a price. This book is jam-packed with sweet descriptions of a seemly beautiful world until the ugliness leaks out as the story goes on. Clayton’s Orléans is unique and thrilling; while it took a while for it to grip me at first, the ending is where it gets horrific and exciting. A fantasy world means there’s a lot to set up, but once the significant event starts happening, the pace improved.

Continue reading “Book Review: The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton”

Book Review: Replica

Book Review: Replica

Rating: ★★✩✩✩ (2/5)

[So I actually wrote this review back in November, but for some reason, I lost it in my drafts and forgot to publish it]

Replica follows the lives of two seemingly different girls – Lyra, a test subject locked away in a research facility, and Gemma, a lonely teen whose investigation in her family’s past leads to her meeting Lyra and slowly unravelling the truth behind her family.

I tried, really tried, to read and enjoy this. I truly did. Its plot and concept from the outside scream a perfect read for me. Especially with the creative layout, the book can be read from one POV or alternative. I set myself up to read an excellent book, but it just didn’t grab my attention.

You get the impression of an exciting sci-fi novel, but it’s just a very cheesy YA romance with a sci-fi tint. It starts off interesting (I read the chapters alternatively), watching the lives of these two girls and how they differ but you can guess what happens. Nothing is surprising because it’s been done so many times and Oliver doesn’t add anything that makes it stand out, aside from reading format.

Continue reading “Book Review: Replica”

Book Review: Zenith by Sasha Alsberg and Lindsay Cummings

Book Review: Zenith by Sasha Alsberg and Lindsay Cummings

my rating: ★★☆☆☆

* I received an ARC of this book from the publisher through NetGalley. This in no way affected my opinion of the book.

Can I just say how I love that ‘fike’ was just completely removed from the novel entirely?

I am pretty sure that I said in my review of the first part that I wasn’t going to read this once the book came out. I didn’t request the full version so I could bash it, I wanted to go back into this with the belief it could be better. I felt low key guilty of how harsh I was on the snippet, and now that it’s the full story that has been edited so I thought, how bad can it be now? And it is bad. Which is so disappointing because it has a strong concept and inkling of a decent plot which flopped really severely.

Continue reading “Book Review: Zenith by Sasha Alsberg and Lindsay Cummings”