Now that Amazon has a selection of books available to read for free for Prime members, I've been going through the categories that interest me to find new material. Obviously, a book about Lois Lane would do that. In this case, Fallout is about a teenage Lois in high school, though her nosy reporter skills are in full effect. She's attended several schools, thanks both to her military father moving around, and her own knack for finding trouble and being disruptive, but now she's just trying to keep her head down. But when a group of kids obsessed with a strange VR war game start bullying and harassing other students both in and out of the game, Lois just can't resist investigating the just why the principal seems to let it all slide.
I was surprised at how much I enjoyed this. The characters are just what you'd expect from a younger Lois and her family (General Lane sounds exactly like the military dads I know) and the bullying feels real. It's fun to see Lois get her start at the Daily Planet and Perry White, even if it's a bit eye-rolling that she's also internet friends with a certain "SmallvilleGuy".
Fallout is a great gateway for comics-reading teens to a full-length prose novel, but would still be enjoyable even if the kid in question is only dimly aware of who the heck lives in Smallville.
The Palace Job by Patrick Weekes (writer for Bioware on both the Dragon Age and Mass Effect franchises) is a somewhat shallow but action-packed novel set in a magical fantasy world. Loch and Kail are former Scouts for the Republic who are planning to steal a priceless Elven manuscript back from the man who framed them…which would be easier if they weren’t in the jail that hangs from the bottom of a floating city. Thankfully that’s only a minor problem for Loch, and she quickly escapes and starts to gather your usual motley team to steal the thing.
The plot tumbles forward headlong from there, introducing the various players, including a unicorn, a Death priestess, an intelligent warhammer, a shifty illusionist, a farmboy, a martial artist from the enemy Empire, and more. There’s a lot of characters and Weekes isn’t too interested in going deep with all of them, but the book is genuinely funny and deals with some of the typical fantasy tropes in a unique way, so I’m good with it. The Ocean’s Eleven comparison you see a lot are apt – you’re just expected to roll with the characters after their little introductions. If that’s something that would bother you, just be aware.
The Palace Job is a fun adventure starring an eclectic cast of characters. It’s not more than that, but it *is* entertaining. You can read it for free via Prime Reading if you are an Amazon Prime member, or it’s $3.99 to buy.
I got my latest read, The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet as a gift, and had a great time reading it. The first novel from Becky Chambers, it follows a young woman named Rosemary as she joins the crew of a tunneling ship (basically they make shortcuts through space) as they get a big contract that could very well set them up for bigger and better things in the future. But with that comes danger, especially in a universe where humanity is NOT at the forefront of the great intergalactic governing body, but a minor cog.
The cast of characters are adorably quirky, with the long-suffering Captain Ashby putting up with all sorts of shenanigans that would feel at home on Farscape or Firefly. I also love the care that was taken to make the aliens truly alien. Cold-blooded aliens, aliens with differing numbers of limbs, aliens that are symbiotic with a weird virus, the works. The story of the tunnel the ship needs to make is the overall driving force of the story, but most of the book is a series of what feels like episodes, with each crewmember having an adventure or getting some backstory in.
If you've been overwhelmed by Dark and Gritty™ sci-fi or are in the middle of a 74-book high fantasy slog and need a break, The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet works great. It manages to be light and fun and still have a lot to say about gender, relationships and artificial intelligence.
The full review is at my site.
A solid YA-friendly misfit kids beating the system story that just happens to have space ships.
If you've been curious about the comic book version of Strange since his MCU debut, this current series is a solid place to start your investigation. The Last Days of Magic are coming!