Review: The Face in the Mirror: a transhuman identity crisis (Reflections #1) ~ T.R. Brown

The Face in the mirrorWhat does it mean to be human?

Imagine you’re in a tragic accident.
You expect to die!
Instead you awaken in a body that is not yours.
Not even your own species!
Not even your own gender.

In a desperate attempt to save your life your brain has been transplanted into the only body available, the body of a genetically engineered slave.

Everyone is quick to assure you that you are still “legally human,” but you know that when any stranger sees you they see property or perhaps a Frankenstenian abomination.

It is a transformation that forces Todd Hershel to reevaluate his sense of self, his gender identity, her sexual orientation and how humanity relates to its biological creations.

If your brain is in a new body whose soul do you have?

3 Thumbs-UpThere is an old saying “never judge a book by its cover”, and that is especially true in the case of this book.  If I had picked this up in a store, the cover alone would have made me put this back on the shelf, without even reading the synopsis and, by doing that I would have missed out on interesting read.  However, for those who are made uncomfortable by gender identity issues I would recommend giving this book as miss as they are a strong theme here.

This is the second book I’ve read in about a week that has really made me re-evaluate the world we live in, and what exactly it means to be “human”, and what happens when elements of our own “personality” clash with those of the donor of any organs we may have.  This book brings with it a whole slew of questions, many of which it manages to answer through its main protagonist.  This character is being pulled six ways from Sunday, not only by the confusion they feel within themselves and their dreams, but from also from the futuristic society that they live in.  Through the emotional trials and tribulations this character encounters, the reader is also made to address issues that are the forefront in many circles today, and without giving away any spoilers, it is hard to indicate what these are.  It was easy for me to feel sympathy for the main as they went through their growing pains from denial to acceptance, and the way in which the Author portrays this transition makes the journey feel real and not far-fetched as one might think.

Despite this being a very constructed and detailed plot line that makes this kind of future plausible, it felt at times as if the Author own technical knowledge took over the plot at the times when more action or drama would have been suitable.  There has obviously been a lot of research in the fields covered in this novel; such as ethics, and psychology, but again this seemed to dominate in places where it just didn’t seem appropriate and this, I feel, will make the book a rather ponderous read for some people.  What made me give the rating I did to this book was the lack of background on some of the players mentioned within its pages, I’m not sure if this is going to covered in more detail in future books in the series, but the omission of it in the first book left me feeling that the book was definitely lacking something that would have taken it up a notch.

If you are a reader looking for something a little different, that will make you think outside the box, and actually take notice of the world we live in, and on, then this is a read of you.  Despite my 3 thumbs rating I will be reading others in the series to see how it develops.


Review: Imperfect ~ Tina Chan

ImperfectLife is harsh for Kristi. She’s the only Accident living in a world of Perfects. More often than not, she feels like a blemish on an otherwise utopian society. And her life is about to get worse. The government has arrested her adoptive parents and her brother goes missing. To top things off, Kristi somehow gets dragged into the mess and now she’s a wanted fugitive…

Troop is less than he seems. Teachers love him. Colleges want him. Students revere him. There’s even a hot girl after him. Life couldn’t get any better than this, right? So, why does he feel like he’s a devil in disguise as an angel?

5 Thumbs-UpThis is a debut novel for this Author, and in a reading world where the dystopian genre is becoming tired and stale, it brings a welcome breath of fresh air.

Aimed at the YA reader, this book is full of vibrate young characters, full of humour and life.  There are four main protagonists in this book and each is written with as much care and detail as the others, there is no skimping on character development from this Author, and this makes this book an easy read full of characters the reader can care about to the point where you don’t want anything untoward to happen to them.  The Author broke the chapters contained within the book into a way to tell the story from each of these character’s perspectives; again this works really well as through the telling of the tale this way more of the back story of each of the characters is unveiled, giving even more depth to what are already some very well written and three-dimensional characters.  There are romantic interludes in the novel, but this didn’t make me cringe in any way, as they are written in a manner that reflects romance in real life; they are full of all the expectations and tensions that can be felt in these instances.

As well as being a good read, this book can be seen at some levels as being a commentary of the current body image trend that seems to be rampant in our society; an image is projected of the perfect man or woman and people will go to any lengths to achieve this.  In building the world contained within this novel it is apparent that the Author has done a great deal of research, as the book is full of science.  However, do not let this put you off as the Author has managed to include real science, without going too deeply into details and making the intended audience want to stop reading.  Another great achievement in my opinion, as trying to get the demographic this book is aimed to read in the first place, let alone to want to keep reading is no easy task; this Author manages to achieve both with ease.

The ‘new world order’ that the Author uses as her locations are also very well written, and the attitude that is prevalent in this ‘new world’ causes chills to run down the spine in some places, as the reader reflects on the world they live in now and wonders just how close we could be to the chaos and disruption they are reading about, and an all-powerful government dictating our every move.  Again, like the character development, the way this world is split and divided is not throw at you in one large chunk, but a gradual trickle that appears when the reader needs to know this information; this prevents any reader from feeling overwhelmed and adds a nice dimension and flow to the novel as a whole.  With intelligent, sharp and witty prose the book is easy enough for any YA reader to understand without becoming lost and, at the same time, manages to appeal to any adult reader who may pick this up without insulting their intelligence.

I would highly recommend this novel to readers of all ages, and especially lovers of The Hunger Games series.  I will definitely be reading further instalments in this series.