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H.A.L.F.

The Deep Beneath (H.A.L.F., #1)

H.A.L.F by Natalie Wright tells the story of H.A.L.F 9, a Human-Alien Life Form that escapes from the military facility where he was created. During the course of his escape, H.A.L.F 9 meets teenagers, Erika, Jack and Ian, with whom he strikes up a friendship. Among other abilities, H.A.L.F 9 has extreme telekinetic and telepathic powers which make him a valuable asset to the government and one that they are not willing to lose. The government, claiming ownership of H.A.L.F 9’s life, sets out to retrieve him. Having no human technology that can match H.A.L.F 9’s power, they have to enlist a force stronger and more cunning than even H.A.L.F 9 is prepared to face.

Right from the start of the book the characters are likable and relatable. Even though the first couple of chapters were a bit confusing, each one was intriguing enough to make me want to keep reading. It isn’t immediately obvious how the characters in the first chapters are related to one another, but once you do discover the connection the direction of the story makes perfect sense. The writing is actually done very well for a Young Adult novel; which the book appears to be, as all the main characters are teenagers. I was very surprised at how each chapter really kept me on the edge of my seat; my interest in finishing the book never waned. Most books have at least a few chapters that are somewhat slow but I didn’t find this to be the case with H.A.L.F., it kept a great pace and remained interesting throughout. I think the struggle within H.A.L.F 9 between his alien and human personalities were done incredibly well. Having spent hardly any time at all actually interacting with humans on a personal level, he isn’t quite sure what to make of the new feelings that he experiences outside of the facility. For instance, there is a moment at which he finds himself wanting Jack to feel pain, even though he can acknowledge that Jack has never done anything to deserve his ill will. H.A.L.F 9 isn’t able to recognize that he feels this way toward Jack because of Jack’s romantic involvement with Erika, whom H.A.L.F 9 is also developing romantic feelings towards. I also appreciated how this aspect of the characters relationships is subtle and not the focus of any particular chapter in the story. Sometimes Young Adult fiction does not have a good balance of romance to substance but this book does not have that problem.

Natalie Wright does an excellent job with the element of surprise. I don’t want to give any spoilers so I will just say that in several places throughout the book the outcome that I was imagining is not at all what came to pass. I eagerly await the next installment of this series.

Pages: 293 | ASIN: B00R6U32CA

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Goo of the Gods

Goo of the Gods: Rising Saints High4 StarsP. Joynes’s novel Goo of the Gods, part of the Rising Saints High series, centers around the life of teen prodigy Jonah Polopolus and his traumatic past. Under pressure to live up to his famous father’s reputation, Jonah joins the Sci-6 team and learns that Science Club is so much more than an after-school activity. Jonah must balance his “normal” teen responsibilities (if you call dangerous science projects normal) while also befriending a beautiful ghost who haunts him and seeks his help. Once Science Club turns into a battle of good versus evil, Jonah and Sci-6 must use their unique traits and scientific prowess to defeat demons, save their school, and solve the mysteries behind their hometown’s tragic history.

There’s something suspicious about the tragic accidents and missing people in Jonah Polopolus’s hometown, and Sci-6 plans to figure it out. D. P. Joynes’s Goo of the Gods, part of the Rising Saints High series, is a suspenseful YA science fiction novel with twists that keep you on your toes. With a dynamic plot and an intriguing protagonist, I found this novel quite compelling and hard to put down.

Jonah, a brilliant science student, returns to his hometown five years after the death of his parents and begins his junior year of high school. He’s constantly reminded of his famous father, Dr. Jeremiah Polopolus, and his brilliant discoveries. I loved how the novel jumps between flashbacks to Jonah’s childhood trauma and his present reality, while also interweaving Dr. Polopolus’s journal entries. While there were a few moments that needed more development, I thought that Joynes did an excellent job with transitioning between the past and the present. I liked that this format let me piece together Jonah’s puzzling life.

Even though the novel jumped between time periods, there was a consistent motif of good versus evil throughout the novel, like when Jonah faced situations where people’s actions didn’t easily fit into one idea. Urged by the suspicious, yet charming Dr. Ug, Jonah joins Science Club and is thrown into a competition against a team whose members have a demonic appearance. Jonah and his friends call themselves Sci-6, and they bond over their project on gray “goo.” I feel like the goo becomes a metaphor for something much deeper than its modest appearance, as Jonah is constantly trying to understand the “gray” areas of life.

While working on their “goo” project, Sci-6 encounters many strange occurrences and dangerous situations at CorPP, Dr. Ug’s laboratory. Jonah also faces a unique problem: he’s haunted by a ghost, named Ambriel, who seeks his help. These supernatural situations show how Joynes masterfully blurs the lines of science and faith. Major plot events combine these two typically opposing concepts, which is quite unique for a novel in this genre.

Ultimately, the discovery of old journals inspires them to figure out what, or who, is truly behind the tragedies in their lives. Sci-6 embarks on a mission to conduct risky experiments in order to uncover the truth, help Ambriel, and defeat demons. Even though I wished that Jonah’s friends, Gia and Naomi, had more consistent character development, Jonah’s dynamic characterization made the story that much more enjoyable. It was great to see how Jonah learns to think about the world in both scientific and supernatural ways. The novel ends on a captivating note, and I can’t wait to see what Jonah and his friends do next.

Pages: 183 | ASIN: B01NCNCL4M

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