I wrote Zedger’s first draft in two weeks I was that excited. I’ve never written a novel that fast. Until now, I’ve never written a book because it was inspired by another, but Zedger came to me after reading The Fifth Wave by Rick Yancey. It’s been deeply reworked since with influences from other works and desires of my fantastic critique partners. It has become so much more than it ever was in that first draft.
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The Fifth Wave
The movie was great, but the book was far more detailed. I was intrigued the way he presented the post-apocalyptic setting and how innocence doesn’t have to mean weakness in a violent environment. I read this book years ago and followed up with the second, but didn’t find nearly the excitement in book 2: The Infinite Sea. I haven’t read The Last Star, but have seen it had great reviews. I have book three on my to-be-read list.
As with all of my work, the female lead is much tougher, rough around the edges, and less romantically interested in other characters than the average YA, including this book. It’s one of the main reasons I don’t tend to write YA. But The Fifth Wave didn’t make romance a primary end goal, only a motivator, which is why I enjoyed this. Zedger originally had a romantic theme because I believed that was what readers wanted. But I struggled to write it and my first round of critique partners (Lenn, Samantha, and Erin) all concurred it was best to cut it out. Now I’m comfortable writing scifi without romance as a heavy focus.
If you like dystopian YA, aliens that are more relatable to humans than bugs, female-led stories, and suspense, this is a great book.
A Star Curiously Singing
(Christian Scifi, Dystopian, Cyberpunk)
I read this book by Kerry Nietz years back and loved the biopunk and cyberpunk elements he presents in this unique realm where there is one supreme ruler and all religion otherwise has been banned. I loved every bit of this storyline and the character cast. It was a very different read from what I was used to, and made me truly fall in love with biopunk elements.
Super brief synopsis: A debugger, Sandfly, struggles under the control of his master and his embedded tech. He becomes the single person on a flight in space who can ultimately change the future beliefs of his people based on what he discovers.
This book has a bit of everything to include humor and odd dream sequences that when you read them, play out so naturally you can’t help but laugh at your own mind’s nightly insanity. A Star Curiously Singing has also inspired another series I hope to publish next year. (It’s a secret for now)
If you enjoy clean scifi (no cursing or intimacy), biopunk and cyberpunk subgenres, humor, and stories that challenge belief systems and travel to the stars, I definitely recommend checking this book out.
Rise and Run
(Scifi, Genetic Engineering)
This book is hard to find online, often bringing up plant pictures or other books. But it is absolutely one of my favorites. The characters are crass and unique. R. J. Plant is a master of subtlety. Her book features twists and puzzles, with a sort of first-person-shooter RPG feel. It is intense in action and description. What hooked me the most was the concept of being two people in one, each fighting for dominance, and how the thought process worked.
The main character is designed to be a government weapon, but as with any person, they (Felix and Connor) want to be free, to understand their past, and to survive. Their accents and conversations make the read fun while the toxic landscape and edgy suspense keep you turning pages. I wanted to emulate a similar mood and found a lot of inspiration in Plant’s work.
If you like crass humor, tough characters, plots that screw with your mind, intense action and suspense, genetic engineering and government conspiracies, take a look at this book by R.J. Plant.
(YA, Dystopian, Thriller)
When I read this, I found myself focused on the mental thought patterns of the main character as she struggles with her captivity. When you read Zedger, you’ll find Marci doing the same thing, as well as some of my other characters. I was searching for a book to compare my ideas to and found this to feel quite true to natural cognitive patterns. And it starts off with a heavy dose of it.
The very first chapter in Shatter Me is all about the thoughts circulating as the main character experiences the daily cycle of life in captivity. She talks about her symbol of hope, of the miserable conditions, and repeats her survival mantras. Mafi has dug deep into the thought processes when we are at our breaking points and presents them in a way that reflects the broken rhythm of the chaos as we would experience it.
While this is another YA novel, it featured more dark elements and themes than a typical YA in my experience. I think that’s why I connected with it, minus the “two men fighting for one girl” romance trope. Mafi, however, does implement the romance effectively and leaves the reader guessing at the end. She’s very good and keeping the stakes high throughout the story.
This is a popular YA series. If you’re interested in a blend of fantasy and dystopian genres, female led plots, romantic subplots, royalty and military themes, and high levels of mystery and suspense, look into Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi.
One of my all time favorite authors is Pierce Brown. His Red Rising book series has inspired much of my writing. His narrative voice reflects the way I think, a style I was afraid to write in because I doubted its acceptance in society. I always read his work exceptionally slow, taking in every description. The details are so vivid and precise that it truly creates a raw sensation of being there in the story with the characters. Brown’s science fiction settings, cyberpunk feel, space battle choreography, and ability to build suspense make reading his work a thrill ride through another universe. I wanted to, and still do, aim for that level of reader engagement and to create a world as diverse and deadly as what he has.
I was always afraid to write what I truly envisioned in my mind for my books because I feared what others would think about an author that spends so much time dwelling on the violence of war, love, tech, and life in space. But I wanted my stories to feel real and true to what one would experience in any given situation. Brown has opened me up to the possibility that I can write from the heart, from fear and doubt and expectations of the future and people will enjoy it. Though I’m still a bit uneasy about some concepts, I read his work and remind myself it’s okay to be blunt. His book series has given me confidence I can be the author I want to be. I just wish I’d found his work far earlier in my career.
You know that feeling when you finally read work by an author you connect with? I literally cried before I reached the end of the first page. My brain felt like it was on fire. I was confused and relieved… and exhausted. I suddenly didn’t feel alone in the world anymore. This is big for me since I’m adopted. I have a wonderful family, but I’ve still spent my whole life trying to find connections between myself and the world of people around me. It’s a compulsion to understand that link between families built by blood. When I read this book, I realized someone else thought, or at least narrated, like I do in my own mindspace. I’d like to think in another life, we’d be friends. Stars knows I’d be too shy to ever even be a groupie or an obsessed fan in this life. (nervous laughter)
I just hope someone makes this book into a movie. I’ve never gone to a first-showing before. But I would do that for Red Rising.
This book is not for the faint of heart. It is gritty, and spares no action or gore or cursing. If you like futuristic dystopian scifi with heavy military plots, intense political agendas, and underground resistance, you’ll like this book. It’s the first book that’s ever been openly recommended to me without provocation. The narration alone will have you sucked in. If you like books that show people at their darkest moments, challenging life and hope to the last thread, you’ve got to pick up a copy.