ARC REVIEW: Riven – by Belina Crawford

Title: Riven
(The Hero Rebellion #2)
Author: Belinda Crawford

Genre: YA, Science Fiction, Fantasy
First published: October 4th 2016
Publisher: Odyssey Books
Finished reading: April 29th 2017
Pages: 250

Instead, she reached out to touch her mum’s mind. And ran smack-bang into a mawberry-flavoured wall. She glared at Fink.

He twitched an ear. Manners, he thought to her.

*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by the author in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***

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Riven is the second book of The Hero Rebellion series I started reading last year. It’s also probably one of the few YA sci-fi/fantasy series out there that is 100% romance free thanks to the fact that the author Belinda Crawford probably dislikes cheesy romance as much as I do. I enjoy reading the genre and tend to tolerate the romance since it seems to go with it, so not having to deal with it in The Hero Rebellion is definitely a rare treat. This story focuses on the worldbuilding of Jørn instead and is stuffed to its limit with action and more action. As soon as you start reading, you find yourself right in the middle of the action and that won’t stop until you reach the last page. The worldbuilding is interesting and I love the idea behind it; the Jørn creatures and the many street races are probably my favorite part of this series. The main character Hero’s powers and colorful ‘thought’-speaking can get a bit confusing if you are not used to it (it took me a bit longer to get used to this time), but there is no doubt it is one of the most original features of this sci-fi world. Riven ends with a cliffhanger that definitely makes me want to find out what happens next… Because there is still much to learn about Jørn and the main characters. I did feel the plot wasn’t as interesting as in book one, but that just might be because part of it was a preparation of what is still to come. If you enjoy the genre and like me are allergic to romance, this one is just for you!

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WARNING: Possible spoilers! Please don’t read this summary if you haven’t read the first  book yet. I’ll keep the summary super short but it’s impossible to keep it completely spoiler-free…

Hero Regan is a telepath and the first of a new subspecies of human; an experiment to try and find a way for the human race to survive on Jørn. But something seems to be wrong after all that happened lately. Her brain is acting up, and that might just be directly related to the ‘bad thing’. Her genetically engineered companion Fink is acting up as well… And even though she already has too many things to deal with, the Librarian once again needs her help to save the world and it doesn’t seem like she has a choice in the matter. Will Hero be able to deal with all of this?

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Riven is without doubt an action-packed and entertaining sci-fi read and the best part is that it’s 100% romance free. I struggled a bit more to get used to the whole ‘thought-talking’ and ‘colored/scented thoughts’ thing, but it is without doubt a very original concept. The plot itself wasn’t as strong as in Hero, but it did sound promising for the things that are still to come. I will be looking forward to book three!


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ARC REVIEW: Hero – by Belinda Crawford

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Title: Hero
(The Hero Rebellion #1)
Author: Belinda Crawford
Genre: YA, Science Fiction, Fantasy
First published: September 21st 2015
Finished reading: May 22nd 2016
Pages: 242
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“All my life, everyone has used my ‘ilness’ as an excuse to take my choices away. I’ve been locked up, told what to eat, who I can be friends with, where I can go to school. They even forced those damn meds down my throat.” She paused, breathing hard. “It’s my life. Even if I’m sick, I’m the only one who should get to choose what I do and how I do it.”

*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***

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I am becoming seriously tired of the fact that EVERY single YA fantasy/sci-fi series I decide to read seems to be having either a love triangle, insta-love where a strong female main character falls hopelessly in love with the pretty boy or sappy romance scenes in general. I like the genre too much to give up on it all together, but I have started screening my potential reads… So you can imagine how happy I was when Belinda Crawford contacted me about her novel Hero with the promise that it would be a proper science fiction story without any focus on romance. In fact, in her own words:

A large part of why I wrote Hero was because I was sick of all the female protagonists losing their brains as soon as a cute boy came along. Drives me nuts.”

How can I say no to that? Hero ended up being just as good as I was hoping for. First of all, the worldbuilding is really intriguing. The story is set on the distant planet of Jørn and kind of has a dystopian/futuristic feel with all those scientific elements and genetic engineering. The main character is interesting and I can’t wait to learn more about her in the sequel, although I do think I liked her ruc-pard Fink even better. In fact, the companion animals and the streetrace scenes are probably two of my favorite elements of this story, although I really enjoyed reading Hero in general. With its fast pace, interesting prose and worldbuilding and the promise of no romance, this first book of The Hero Rebellion series is without doubt worth reading!

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After careful observation centuries ago, the humans decided to colonise the planet Jørn on the far side of the galaxy. They arrived in big colony ships and settled on the surface of the planet, but soon found out that a native spore was slowly killing them. With the help of genetic engineering, the scientists were able to blend Earth and Jørn DNA and create new hybrids for their crops and livestock. Unfortunately, the same didn’t seem to work for humans. They were forced to leave the surface and turn their ships into cities that floated in the sky. Only trained teams can now travel to the surface and while Hero Regan’s mother is involved in the organization, Hero herself won’t be seeing the surface any time soon. To make things worse, she is special; surrounded by bodyguards and tutors all day and insulated from the outside world. Her only companion is a huge genetically engineered ruc-pard named Fink, who she can even share her thoughts with. One day her situation seems to improve as they allow her to attend school in Cumulus City. She will be having more freedom than ever, but things are getting more and more dangerous as well…

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It is not every day that you find an entertaining YA science fiction novel that doesn’t include any sappy romance scenes, insta-love or love triangle and this fact should definitely be celebrated. But more importantly, Hero is so much more than that. The worldbuilding is intriguing and I really liked the idea of hybrids, companion animals and humans living on a distant planet in a dystopian future. The prose is easy to read and the ending definitely left me wanting for more… If you like the genre, make sure to read this book.