Double Feature: The Platform (2019) & The Predator (2018)

As I took a few days off to get my mind back on track and figure out what needs to be written (because I basically forgot after Fantasia Festival), we’re back on the double feature! As we gear into October’s Halloween Horror month, I’m leaving some horror on Shudder for next month so we’re focusing on the rest of the alphabet with only Netflix choices and maybe some shortcuts along the way.

Picking up where we left off, its time for the P selection. The first is a Netflix movie called The Platform and paired with the fourth movie in the Predator franchise called The Predator. Let’s check it out!

The Platform (2019)

Director: Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia

Cast: Ivan Massagué, Zorion Eguileor, Antonia San Juan, Emilio Buale, Alexandra Masangkay, Zihara Llana

A vertical prison with one cell per level. Two people per cell. One only food platform and two minutes per day to feed from up to down. An endless nightmare trapped in The Hole. – IMDB

The Platform is a Netflix Original Spanish sci-fi horror film which works a lot like Snowpiercer where its moving horizontal through a train, this one moves in a vertical structure via a platform that passes from the top levels to the lowest levels. As a man gets trapped there, his conversation with his cellmate becomes one where he starts to notice the patterns and the system and wants to fight for a change to actually survive this ordeal. The backstory and mystery of why these people are there and how do they get out is all a key part to the story. Sure, the platform itself plays a big part as the people shift every while from one level to another so that they can experience the upper and lower levels and the ugly and selfish side of humans in the face of survival.

Netflix automatically started the movie in its dubbed English version for myself which was a decent experience. It would be interesting to watch it again in its original audio. Overall, The Platform is a pretty good film. It builds up on the mystery and the intensity of the situation pretty well and has a decent pacing and execution throughout.

The Predator (2018)

Director (and co-writer): Shane Black

Cast: Boyd Holbrook, Trevante Rhodes, Jacob Tremblay, Keegan-Michael Key, Olivia Munn, Sterling K. Brown, Thomas Jane, Alfie Allen, Augusto Aguilera, Jake Busey

When a young boy accidentally triggers the universe’s most lethal hunters’ return to Earth, only a ragtag crew of ex-soldiers and a disgruntled scientist can prevent the end of the human race. – IMDB

There are days I wonder why we just keep going back to making more and more of a franchise when it should’ve been left at the first movie. It sometimes feels like Predator is one of those situation, maybe because I’m also not a huge fan of this franchise in comparison to Alien franchise, I guess. Although, credit where its due, Predators (review) was a pretty fun one even though I think some people wasn’t a big fan. Back on track to this one, the story here is far-fetched and it runs rather off track the further it goes. The only thing that worked for it was the ragtag team and the twist of the concept of the predators end-game although the whole “twist” of what they wanted wasn’t exactly a twist but fairly obvious.

I don’t hate on this completely since I thought Olivia Munn’s character was fairly resourceful and there’s some familiar faces with Thomas Jane and Keegan-Michael Key, two people that I rather enjoy in movies. Then there’s the little boy played by Jacob Tremblay who right away is different but intelligent for his age. The characters do work rather well. Its a pity that the story gets a little odd especially when the Predator world starts showing up with alien pups which was supposed to add some humor which it kind of did at times especially with whatever it would fetch back.

Its a fairly flat experience. Its not good but not horrible either. There are some glaring issues with it for sure but then, the director definitely has a special place for this movie as it puts in some references to the original film (or at least a very obvious one).

That’s it for this double feature!
Have you seen these two films?

Fantasia Festival 2020: The Block Island Sound (2020)

The Block Island Sound (2020)

Director (and writer): Kevin McManus & Matthew McManus

Cast: Chris Sheffield, Michaela McManus, Neville Archambault, Jim Cummings, Willie C. Carpenter, Jeremy Holm, Matilda Lawler, Trisha McManus Heidi Niedermeyer

Something terrifying is happening off the coast of Block Island. A strange force is thriving, influencing residents and wildlife alike. – IMDB

Set on the island south of Rhode Island called Block Island (which I knew nothing about prior to this movie), The Block Island Sound uses its setting, the small town community as well as the mystery of conspiracy theory, reality or another unknown reason as its basis. Its main draw is the unsettling suspense and horror behind each development and how the targeted characters, first the father followed by the male lead character Harry falls into this unknown state that sporadically has him doing things he doesn’t want to and shouldn’t do.

A lot of the unsettling and eerie nature comes from its music score and sound effects and background sounds blended with the scene. Starting from this radio static that sounds almost like growling meshing with the frequency. There are also these different types of droning sounds that can easily get under the skin. Let’s face it, directors and scripts that can build on the unknown and mystery and execute it well can make a movie a million times scarier just by the power of the viewer’s imagination and anticipation.

The Block Island Sound is a giant mystery that fluctuates between the different pieces of evidence and the various opinions of people on the island. Its a question of what is going on overall that constantly hangs in the air. Someone rambles on about government testing and conspiracy theory, another believes its just sleepwalking and then there’s the science and medical deduction of electromagnetic sensitivity. Its a choice of what will be believed by the viewers with the little pieces presented. Its always the unknown until the final act where things starts making a little more sense. While the mystery part might drag out maybe one scene too much of Harry’s situation as a part of this whole unknown, the end game and final act is completely worth the wait and is absolutely more than the sum of its parts. It circles back to a conversation at the beginning as the wrap-up that is done so clever.

With any movie like this, subtle and focusing a lot on the reactions and interactions of the characters involved, the cast and character design is a big part. Neville Archambault starts off as the dad and he starts off the movie already in an unsettling manner from what he does and just the look in his eyes. As it seems to transfer over to his son Harry (Chris Sheffield), its hard to not see a different way of how he derails from realizing something is wrong and trying to resist whatever is happening to him. And then, there’s the balancing role who is doesn’t understand what is going on as the “good sister” Audrey (Michaela McManus) that pulls out a decent role especially since her character creates a little contrast. However, if there was a character that brought the most convincing side of the whole equation (and I’m not usually someone who believes in this) is the character of Dale who starts talking about all the conspiracy theories he believes in and it starts right from the first act and throughout the film and each time being doubted in the film which makes you wonder whether its the deal here since that’s how movies usually go.

The Block Island Sound is a story that needs to be experienced and let the story reveal. The more I talk about it, the surprise of the viewing will be ruined. Its a case of knowing less before going in and letting yourself follow and figure it out on your own. Block Island is a great setting and the story itself was done pretty well with some very slight pacing issues in the middle. The unsettling feeling is fairly on point as well. This is a good science fiction horror mystery story.

Conscience (Short Story) by Jonathan Pongratz

Conscience
by: Jonathan Pongratz

Rory Bennels lives in a world ruled by a business entity known as the Corporation. For years he’s executed cerebral uploads for the recently deceased, but when the famed anarchist Epher Lore ends up in his lab, a series of events occur that shakes Rory’s world to the core. – Goodreads

*Received in exchange for honest review*

Running a swift 37 pages, Conscience is a science fiction novel set in a futuristic dystopian world. As with short stories, its a fairly quick-paced as the story sees Rory experiencing an error with his cerebral upload that would usually go smoothly. The story gives a little slice of this world and who the Corporation is. As the plot dives deeper between the interaction of these two characters, Rory starts seeing another side to the world that he thinks that he knows and having to test which truth that he would believe to lead up to the end.

For a short story, the characters actually get rather padded out especially since the anarchist Epher Lore is one that takes on this different approach of being transferred into a robot by accident and as they call it, becomes immortal for most part which makes it a bad situation for Rory and the consequences from the Corporation that he is afraid to face. The dialogue between Epher Lore and Rory also have a lot of weight in the whole scenario as the characters somehow build their understanding of each other. Epher Lore is more than the anarchist that he has been caught for while Rory also develops throughout the story from the starting point until the ending. For a short story, its a bit of surprise how well the characters are written.

Conscience is really just a snippet of this futuristic dystopia and the world that it could be with the Corporation and these characters and some robots/AI put in the mix. It outlines a general state of the world on hand and yet leaves so much room to build this world. Some of the individual science fiction elements might not be completely unseen or unique but its how Jonathan Pongratz delivers and puts together these elements that gives it a distinctive turn of events. With how this story ends, it leaves an intriguing space to revisit this world if ever he decides to write another story and one that I’d definitely be interested to read more of this world if it happens.

Score: 5/5

Other Jonathan Pongratz stories: Reaper

Blog Tour: No Signal (iMe Series #2) by Jem Tugwell

NO SIGNAL BLOG TOUR v2

No Signal (iMe series #2)
By: Jem Tugwell

No Signal

Publisher: Serpentine Books
Publication Date: June 4th, 2020
Pages: 336
Available in Paperback, eBook & Audio

In a breathtaking follow-up novel to ‘PROXIMITY’, Serge says it’s the ultimate Augmented Reality game. He’s chosen his Ten carefully – the reckless, driven and strong. He tests them. Ten become Four.
DI Clive Lussac wants to fight the system that controls everything, but he’s ill and losing the people closest to him. In the middle of eco-protests, he’s lost four tourists.
As Clive’s world unravels, he and his partners DC Ava Miller and DS Zoe Jordan race to find the tourists and the true reason behind the game. It may already be too late. – Goodreads

No Signal is the sequel of Proximity, the second book in the iMe series. While the first book was set on creating a technothriller set in a futuristic dystopia where technology has now become the tool that governs every single person’s life to every single detail to create a crime free and healthy society through their technology iMe and set a very solid foundation for this world building. No Signal had a kick-off point in this established world that took a different path. This time, its not about a crime set in one city using the technology and the different ways its governed from police to citizens to all the red tape involved but it takes the angle of a further technology called iTourist that sees a person who creates this augmented reality game that leads the four remaining challengers from around the world to enter into this controlled world to race for a big prize at the finish line. Other than the technology and crime-solving elements, this story also has dives into a little bit of this dystopian future’s politics.

No Signal is divided chapter to chapter from a few different point of view.  Its a lot of characters to maneuver at first as it bounces between last book’s main character police detective Clive Lussac, “game master” Serge and the four challengers. This is a great structure to approach this story as it gives a good overlap from one location to the next while also being able to keep the book paced incredibly well and really action-packed and also to connect better with each of these characters. The connection from the first book actually is only through Clive Lussac and his character still maintains a lot of the traits from the first one that makes him notice the things and plays along the more experienced cop role as he leads another younger partner after his partner in the last one has moved to another department. If there was anything, it felt a little unnecessary to put in his personal life drama. It connects to the first one and maybe makes him more human but the story stood well enough on its own focusing on the thriller on hand.

One of the most outstanding parts of this series is definitely the use of its technology. The technology itself has so much detail from how it evolves and what it is capable of doing. iMe still plays a lot as it controls the citizens in this space whereas the rest of the world seems to not be controlled like this future UK. As it brings people from outside of this country inside, the technology behind iTourist is really only an introduction but it adds another element when the scenario changes as they find a way to complete their challenge without this country’s monitoring. Every point of No Signal is done with a lot of thought in its execution and how each plot point should land and give it further intrigue and thrills. For a sequel, it keeps the same intensity as its first book and dives deeper into this world. Honestly, I can’t wait to see where else this world can go to hopefully a next novel.

Score: 4.5 out of 5 

You can also check out the review of the the first book, Proximity HERE.

Amazon Australia : https://amzn.to/2WcgE2z
Goodreads link  : https://bit.ly/2WbnhSN
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jem Tugwell is a crime fiction author with a Crime Writing MA from City University.
NO SIGNAL is the second book in the iMe series and follows his thrilling debut novel PROXIMITY.
Jem is inspired by the fascinating possibilities of technology, AI and the law of unintended consequences. In a past life, Jem had a successful career in technology and investment management, and he lives in Surrey with his wife and dog. He has two great children. Outside of his family and writing, Jem’s loves are snowboarding, old cars and bikes.
GIVEAWAY
As part of the blog tour, Serpentine Books is running a Rafflecopter competition to give a way 2 signed copies of Proximity (it is open to UK addresses only).

Blackthorn by Terry Tyler

Blackthorn
By: Terry Tyler

Blackthorn

The UK, year 2139
One hundred and fifteen years ago, a mysterious virus wiped out ninety-five per cent of humanity.  Blackthorn, the largest settlement in England, rose from the ashes of the devastated old world. It is a troubled city, where the workers live in crude shacks, and make do with the worst of everything.  It is a city of violent divisions, crime, and an over-populated jail block―until a charismatic traveller has a miraculous vision and promises to bring hope back to the people’s lives.  Blackthorn falls under Ryder Swift’s spell, and the most devoted of all is the governor’s loyal servant, Lieutenant August Hemsley.  Twenty-one-year-old Evie has lived her whole life in the shacks. She and disillusioned guard Byron Lewis are two of a minority who have doubts about Ryder’s message. Can they stand against the beliefs of an entire city? – Goodreads

Blackthorn is a story about beliefs and cults in a dystopian future where the balance has been offset. In the current state of the world, calculating back the years of how this story is sets up its future scenario, it almost hits a little too close to home. However, much like the other book that I read Hope from Terry Tyler, this author excels in building immersive dystopia worlds. In Blackthorn, its one that works thoroughly from the society’s lowered population built up and almost driving everything back to the basics in older times with different societal classes doing different jobs and someone ruling over the different cities/districts by richer families and the concept to carry on the family name by passing it on.

This brings in all kinds of characters that weave together a story of bringing back the concept of faith in the Bible and having the community come together to be better in order to reach the Light. With that, it brings up questions of how truthful the situation actually is as well as the motives of different decisions by the different characters that manage to bring in some deeper characters. Characters is where the story is executed well as it bounces between the perspective of three characters: Lieutenant August Hemsley, a lower class baker Evie and guard Byron Lewis. Their different perspectives of the different elements of the society completes the picture in many of the scenarios and fills in those blanks to connect the dots while at the same time, having perspectives from different characters also creates enough gaps of the unknown to have their own secrets and msyteries in the story that slowly unveil in the third part. With that said, the book is divided into three parts plus an epilogue, giving it a progression of time and shift in time and events as well as Blackthorn’s position.

If there was something to criticize about this book, its that the pacing at times felt lacking here and there. It had to do with its length perhaps and that some moments were made to create a link between the perspectives of the three. Provided that most of the time, the three views did work very well together but at times, it did make some situations a little longer to read. Plus, with three characters, it also needs to create enough dilemmas to solidify their purpose, push and feelings towards the society and predicament. Although, I say this, overall Blackthorn is a satisfying read. Its world-building and dystopian future plus the intricate details of putting all the three characters together from little events popping up in their passing at the beginning to having the three characters’ path intersect was done really well. Despite its little moments, its still well-executed in the scope of the story that it wants to tell.

Score: 4.5/5

Check out my review of Terry Tyler’s other book, Hope HERE.

BITS 2019: Majic (2019)

BITS 2019 banner

Majic (2019)

Majic

Director (and co-writer): Erin Berry

Cast: Paula Brancati, Richard Fitzpatrick, Marc Hickox, Michael Majeski, Debra McGrath, Paulino Nunes, Anand Rajaram, Michael Seater

An anti-conspiracy video blogger thinks she is slipping into an alternate reality after being approached by an old man claiming to have worked for the legendary Majestic-12 (aka majic), the covert US spy agency, created after the UFO incident at Roswell, New Mexico in 1947. –IMDB

Majic is a mystery science fiction thriller that lands a lot of its punches. In the field of anti-conspiracy and research regarding secret agencies, its hard to be certain what side of it is real even what evidence can be trusted. This is what Majic does exceptionally well. As it dives into the world of debunking conspiracies, we follow a video blogger on a secret meeting with an old man claiming to be part of the Majestic-12 or as he calls it, Majic. As she follows the path he offers her, she ends up going on a road that ends up messing up her timeline. The reality she knows has suddenly slipped into an alternate reality where she struggles to find what is the reality and what is the cause. Is it related to UFOs? What is the truth?

As she falls down the rabbit hole of what is real, all she has left is herself to figure it out and yet, in a story that flips back and forth in what is real and what isn’t, Majic executes its mystery so well that its hard to not sucked into it and get our own minds boggled as well. It remembers that its story is where the complexity lies and keeps the rest of the elements simple and straightforward.

MAJIC

Other than having a well-built mystery, what lifts Majic is a clever script. Its dialogue between the characters leave a lot of room for the suspense and mystery to build. It adds questions on top of questions and doesn’t leave a lot of answers lying in the open. Each encounter is slightly cryptic and yet the back and forth never drags and keeps it intriguing. With a clever script, you also need a great cast to execute it. Paula Brancati plays as the central character Bernwood who does an incredible job in capturing the many states of the character, right up to the big final twist which pulls the whole story together. At the same time, she is faced against two strong performances by Anderson, who is played by Richard Fitzpatrick as well Specter who is played by Paulino Nunes. The latter actually almost feels like this confusing verbal spar that is so satisfying to watch.

Majic

There isn’t enough great things to say about Majic. Its a film that will become a hidden gem of this year (or at least I hope so). It keeps a lot of the other elements simple to boost up the fantastic performances given here especially with a strong female performance by Paula Brancati. Its been a while that I’ve watched a mystery that truly boggles the mind right to the very end with a rather mind-blowing ending that pulls it all together and adds substance to the little detail that ties it all together. Its bit wordy and packed with a lot of quick dialogue for some but this one was a surprisingly great film and one that shouldn’t be missed.

BITS 2019: Dead Dicks (2019)

BITS 2019 banner

Dead Dicks (2019)

Dead Dicks

Director (and writer): Chris Bavota & Lee Paula Springer

Cast: Heston Horwin, Jillian Harris, Matt Keyes, Kristina Sandev

After Becca receives a distressing call from her suicidal brother Richie, she rushes over to his apartment and finds him alive and well – surrounded by copies of his own dead body. – IMDB

Its hard to imagine what experience to expect when you go into a film called Dead Dicks. Is it supposed to be funny and not serious? Or even in general what direction it could all go. As the movie get through its first act, it starts to fit together why its this title, which actually takes a warning in the beginning about seeking help for suicidal thoughts via a hotline and then right away picking up its first opening scene with an intense suicide scene.

Dead Dicks has its dark humor approach to the whole issue while also leaving in some bloody horror, some science fiction and a lot of drama as the siblings both try to get rid of the bodies while dealing with their lack of communication of their feelings towards each other whether its Richie’s suicidal tendencies or his mental illness to Becca’s fear of sharing her successes. The story goes much deeper than is anticipated and gives it a lot to think about by the end. Its easy to expect this as the title is fairly multi-layer from Dick being short for Richard and it having multiple dead Richie’s on the scene as well as the whole layout.

Dead Dicks

Dead Dicks chooses to have a one location setting. The majority of the events happen in his apartment with some starting scenes outside or in the vicinity of it. This gives the apartment a lot of depth in layout and the various places that the different deaths can happen and the bodies. The location has somewhat of a treasure trove element where behind every close door, there is something more to discover that furthers the story. It gives it some twists. Some that are surprising and probably one that felt a tad more predictable. Its one that emphasizes on the details of each scene.

Dead Dicks

The final element that brings the whole film together are the siblings, Becca and Richie played by Jillian Harris and Heston Horwin respectively, who do a fantastic job in each of their roles. Their roles build quite a bit over the course of the film. It has this subtle development as the one night of events brings them both together as they communicate with each other about their own feelings to all come together for a very touching (yes, I said touching and emotional) final act. Its really quite an unexpected moment.

Overall, Dead Dicks is a film that hard to really explain. Its title makes it hard to take it seriously and describing the first part of the film without giving any spoilers also makes it sound rather weird. However, its a movie that is well worth a watch. There’s a lot of appreciation in how it executes the “less in more” in its details, the one location setting, the focus on very little characters of mostly just the sibling relationship which is rather dysfunctional and the effect of mental illness and suicide tendencies. Its rare to call a horror film genuinely emotional and powerful and yet, this one does achieve that. Its not a film for everyone but if you aren’t sensitive to the two elements mentioned above, this one has a lot of unexpectedness to it that really comes together in a subtle way.

FNC 2019: Little Joe (2019)

LITTLE JOE (2019)

Little Joe 2019

Director (and co-writer): Jessica Hausner

Cast: Emily Beecham, Ben Whishaw, Kerry Fox, Kit Connor, Phénix Brossard, David Wilmot

Alice, a single mother, is a dedicated senior plant breeder at a corporation engaged in developing new species. Against company policy, she takes one home as a gift for her teenage son, Joe. – IMDB

It’s never a good idea to play God and mess with the biology of any living organism as we’ve seen time and time again in movies of all genres. Little Joe plays as a science fiction fantasy drama with horror elements. It probably would most be related to films like Invasions of the Body Snatchers and yet, Little Joe, this new species of red flower that is both sterile and produces a fragrance that generates happiness looks a little like Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax’s Truffula trees (in a smaller flower version).

Little Joe is a slow-burn fantasy drama. Running at 105 minutes, the execution of pacing in this film could definitely have been polished further. A lot of the scenes do manage to leave enough space for the viewer’s imagination to wonder which way it could go as well as what the flowers named Little Joe’s real effect is. The mystery element is present giving it some fairly thrilling moments.

Little Joe is a reflection of how nature’s biology, no matter how it is changed, will always find a way to survive. Just like animals in the wild who adapt and change to protect themselves, Little Joe’s also manage to do the same. When discovering the “motives” of Little Joe (it does sound silly to think a plant has motives), its what gives the layers of the film. However, there is too much in the middle part of being stuck in the cycle of the after-effect of Little Joe and not so much progressing the story further, which makes it drag out a little too much before the finale. Its the technical elements here that works well like the design of Little Joe, the color palette, as well as how some of the scenes are done which gives it so much style.

There are only a few central characters which keeps the story tightknit and easy to follow. The main character is Alice, played by Emily Beecham who does a pretty decent job as she discovers that her experiment has a more serious effect than she anticipated. Her performance is one of the better elements of Little Joe as a while. Playing opposite her is Ben Whishaw as her colleague Chris who has romantic feelings for her. Ben Whishaw has the look to him that just shows off something strange is going on so it makes his character give away a little too much at times. At the same time, the other element of the story is who Little Joe is named after which is her son Joe, played by Kit Connor. Much like a lot of the very obvious character personality shifts throughout the film, its anything but subtle, which is odd. 

All of those little issues with characters and performances and pacing can probably be overlooked however, Little Joe also likes to use the overbearing sound effects to create the jumpscare element or create an uneasiness. Subtle films (like this one or The VVitch or Vivarium) would benefit from letting those unsettling feelings come from the power of quiet scenes rather than bombarding the audience’s eardrums with an array of sounds which after a few times feels more annoying than unsettling.

Its a pity that Little Joe is somewhat of a disappointment as it had a lot of very nice technical elements and a premise that had a lot of potential to be good. However, the repetitive pacing and the over-deliberate need to make the characters act strange as well as the overpowering soundtrack wears it down. As good as the cinematography is and how the colors of both the species and the lighting here works, it feels a bit like style over substance. Of course, if you are fans of films I mentioned above, then this film might be for you.

Little Joe has one more screening at Festival du Nouveau Cinema on October 20th at 5:15pm at Cinema du Parc. You can find more info HERE.

Twisted Pines by Lane Baker

TWISTED PINES
By: Lane Baker

Twisted Pines

Where have all the children gone? At rustic summer camp Mendocino Pines, that’s the question on everyone’s mind. First one, then two, then three campers vanish—only to reappear a short while later with no recollection of the missing time. The disappearances raise questions about the children’s safety, not to mention the camp’s time-honored reputation.

When Abe, a freshman camp counselor from UCLA film school, stumbles upon a ghoulish-looking humanoid roaming the coast, he suspects this creature might be responsible for the children’s unsettling disappearances. Armed with a camera, a journal, and a thirst for the truth, Abe sets out to pry the lid off the uncanny mystery hidden among Mendocino’s Twisted Pines. – Goodreads

*Received in exchange for an honest review*

There is an obvious fascination of Lane Baker with science fiction and aliens in particular. Following the previous story Slippery Things (review), this new story is also along the same lines. This time around, the main character is a young adult Abe who takes up a summer job as camp counselor when weird things happen and he discovers what is the cause. As the story unravels about this mysterious lurker, the motives come together.

There are few things done well here. The first is execution. It has something of a novella length which gives it space to develop a story but also a quick pace for events to happen without things lingering and dragging therefore making it a nice little page turner, more and more so as the story pulls together and the heart of the situation and the two central characters start interacting.

Another element done really well here is characters. There are quite a few because of the setting in the summer camp with counselor names bouncing around the pages and young campers being caught up in the mystery. However, there is a definite focus on Abe as the main character and a lot of this going from his perspective. Telling a story from a perspective always works well to still create mystery out of what is unknown to the character. The two sided (both good and bad depending on the part of the story) is that while the humanoid does have some character development and as gaps of mystery behind him because of taking Abe’s perspective, it also has the issue that the character doesn’t have quite the depth and is more of a supporting sort of deal. At times, it works and at times, it doesn’t.

Overall, Twisted Pines is a well-paced YA sci-fi novel. There’s an obvious improvement in dialogue here (in comparison to the previous story).  A lot of Twisted Pines is well-written, whether its building up the suspense or how the chapters are structured and the progression of the Abe’s character and his discoveries, especially on how it starts and ends. I can’t say that Abe, as well done of the character as it is, is too memorable but feels suitable in this story. There’s a lot more that can be explored with this story especially in terms of the humanoid however, its a simple page-turner story that keeps things straight forward and because of that, it also manages to keep it intriguing enough to keep want to know more about what happens next. This one is well worth the read.

Book Review: Lifel1k3 (Lifelike #1) by Jay Kristoff

Lifel1k3 (Lifelike #1)
by: Jay Kristoff

Lifelike

On a floating junkyard beneath a radiation sky, a deadly secret lies buried in the scrap. Eve isn’t looking for secrets—she’s too busy looking over her shoulder. The robot gladiator she’s just spent six months building has been reduced to a smoking wreck, and the only thing keeping her Grandpa from the grave was the fistful of credits she just lost to the bookies. To top it off, she’s discovered she can destroy electronics with the power of her mind, and the puritanical Brotherhood are building a coffin her size. If she’s ever had a worse day, Eve can’t remember it. But when Eve discovers the ruins of an android boy named Ezekiel in the scrap pile she calls home, her entire world comes crashing down. With her best friend Lemon Fresh and her robotic conscience, Cricket, in tow, she and Ezekiel will trek across deserts of irradiated glass, infiltrate towering megacities and scour the graveyard of humanity’s greatest folly to save the ones Eve loves, and learn the dark secrets of her past. Even if those secrets were better off staying buried. – Goodreads

Post-apocalypse, YA, Androids: it seems like a rising theme in the next phase of science-fiction fantasy novels. Its not a bad thing to say the least. After the success of The Illuminae Trilogy, its hard to not give some regard to what comes up next for the two authors. While I have yet to look into Amie Kaufman’s solo novels, I’ve been stocking up on Jay Kristoff’s (coming soon is reading Nevernight). Since I’ve been on this sci-fi roll, I decided to give Lifelike a go, the first novel in a currently ongoing series where the second book has been released recently.

While the end game of the story, the twist and such wasn’t exactly hard to figure out, what works a lot here is the execution of the story. Lifelike introduces its characters very well. It also keeps a decent limit to how many characters are in focus while being able to make sure that all the characters serve their purpose in their existence in the story itself. The world itself gives it a lot more to think about because the main girls are Eve and her best friend Lemon Fresh who end up with their robot dog of sorts Cricket while finding a lifelike android which is referred as the almost-boy Ezekiel who starts waking up the memory of Eve throughout their journey to save Eve’s grandfather from the evil androids. There are relationships and conflicts and dilemmas as more secrets get dug up and remembered. Lemon and Eve’s friendship/sisterhood doesn’t get enough depth, but builds a general foundation, while Eve and Ezekiel end up having a lot of the drama involved.

While there isn’t anything particularly issues with the story, its a pity that the world doesn’t have more focus (although I’m sure as the story moves along in the sequels that it will). The future and the technology and the android lifelikes and such in this mass world feels very intriguing to discover and yet, its more focused on the people in the story than using it to build up. While I can’t say that I liked Lifelike quite as much as say the entirety of the Illuminae Files, even at its lowest point (which was very rare because that trilogy ranks very high on my favorites), Lifel1k3 as the first book does a good build for the foundation and has a decent reveal in establishing its characters. While there is some drag at a little part, it does do itself justice in the big finale and reveal.

Goodreads Score: 4/5