sci fi

REVIEW: A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

Meg, Charles Wallace and their friend Calvin travel through a “wrinkle in time” to find their missing father at the advice of Mrs Whatsit, Mrs Who and Mrs Which. But can they overcome the dangerous forces they meet on their journey through space and time?

A Wrinkle in Time is said to be a children’s classic but I’d never read it nor had never heard of it till all the talk about the film adaptation which is due to be released next year. It was the film and hearing about all the people cast in it, many of them are some of my favourite actors, that got me to pick up the book.

I like how A Wrinkle in Time combines science with fantasy and how it shows different planets and creatures through the eyes of a child. As both of Meg and Charles Wallace’s parents are scientists there’s a lot of talk about maths and fact and how people work things out. This was great to see in a children’s book as in some ways it made difficult topics like traveling through space accessible – and it’s always great to see a young female character interested in STEM subjects.

Meg is a great character. She’s about thirteen years old and sometimes gets overwhelmed by the situation she is in, missing her father and being flung into danger by three strange beings, but she uses her faults to overcome her fear. That’s the thing I really liked about Meg and this book, it took a character’s faults like stubbornness, fear and anger and made them a valuable part of the character. Yes, those traits are often seen as negative but they are a part of Meg just like her love and intelligence.

The thing that surprised me most about A Wrinkle in Time is how it shows that parents are fallible. There’s a childlike wonder throughout most of the books, even with the threat of danger present, that when Meg sees her parents as normal people for moment it’s a surprise. I think this theme is a great thing to include in a children’s book.

I liked A Wrinkle in Time well enough. It’s a quick read with likeable characters but as someone in their twenties, it’s not a book I loved. I can see why it’s become a much loved book for many but it does lack that emotional punch reading it for the first time as an adult. 3/5.

REVIEW: Alien: Covenant (2017)

When the crew of a colony ship discover an uncharted world, fit for inhabitation, they are unprepared for the creatures they find there.

Alien: Covenant is a great looking film. The set design and costumes feel really lived in and real. The score often puts the hairs on the back of your neck up and all the effects, practical and computer generated, are a high quality. Alien: Covenant is also a well shot film, this is something that doesn’t really need saying when it’s directed by Ridley Scott but it is.

There are a lot of expendable characters in Alien: Covenant so you don’t really get to know a lot about them before they meet their (often gruesome) demise. Katherine Waterston give a brilliant performance as Daniels. She’s in pain but has a steely centre that helps ground others, she doesn’t lose her head in a crisis and this all makes Daniels a wonderful character. I was also pleasantly surprised by Danny McBride’s Tennessee. These two along with Michael Fassbender’s Walter are really the core of the film. All give great performances, with Fassbender proving once again how he’s one of the greatest actors of this generation.

Alien: Covenant is a prequel to Alien (1979) and a sequel to Prometheus (2012) so it’s got a lot to live up to and being in this sort of in between, doesn’t always help Alien: Covenant. There’s a lot of tropes anyone familiar with the Alien franchise will know so there’s less surprises while it also continues with this mythos that was set up in Prometheus. The mythos is something not everyone will like but I feel it was handled better here, and was more interesting, compared to what was shown in Prometheus.

There are scary moments (though I might be easily scared) and a lot of body horror as creatures burst from people’s bodies. The alien creatures themselves all look pretty great and it’s always great to see the xenomorph on the big screen again.

Alien: Covenant looks great and has a lot of solid performances. It is thrilling and often scary but it does follow a generic sci-fi pattern that makes it lack any real surprises. 3/5.

REVIEW: Slated by Teri Terry

slated by teri terryKyla has been Slated. Her memory’s erased, her personality is wiped blank and her memories are lost forever. The government claims she was a terrorist and that they are giving her a second chance – as long as she plays by the rules. But Kyla isn’t one to believe things just because someone tells her, and when she dreams things she shouldn’t know, are they dreams or are they whispers of her past? Someone is lying to her and nothing is as it seems. Who can Kyla trust in her search for the truth?

Slated is a gripping book. Some might feel it’s pretty slow and in some ways that’s true as it’s very character driven and there’s very few big action moments. It’s all about Kyla learning about herself, her new family and where she fits into her new life. She can’t remember anything so her family has to teach her simple things like how to wash the dishes and to tie her shoelaces. In many ways she is a child in a sixteen year olds body.

I found Kyla fascinating, she doesn’t act like Slated’s are supposed to act. She doesn’t know why this is, it’s just who she is but it causes problems when she asks too many questions. She’s intuitive and often untrusting but she still finds a way to express herself and tries to look after herself and others. As Kyla slowly learns more about her world and her past, you start to understand why she is a bit different but it never feels like the Chosen One cliché.

The intrigue surrounding Kyla’s world is brilliant. Slated is set in the near future in Britain so in some ways it’s familiar but in others it’s different and more sinister. Slated never stops and explains how the government and its laws work, it expects you to pick it up as Kyla does so you never really know who you can trust which is great. There’s always a sense of foreboding due to the way the mysterious Lorders dish out punishments.

Throughout Slated there’s a sense of wrongness that becomes clearer as the story progresses. The things Slated says about government control, terrorists and young people is timely and gripping. I definitely liked what it said about people being scared of those who ask questions and go against the status quo, it was definitely something you could relate to when the main story is about a girl who is a complete blank slate.

Slated is an intriguing start to a trilogy where you never know what you can believe. 4/5.