The Stargazer’s Embassy: Another take on aliens

The Stargazer's Embassy

The Stargazeer’s Emabssy

By

Eleanor Lerman

I got this book from NetGalley, and this was the pleasant surprise. My selection of this book was based on the quirky name it has and the description given on the book cover. I mean The Stargazer’s Embassy sounds like an odd concept! I  actually did not even know what to expect, but in the end, it was good that I did not have any preconceived notion. The book is of-course about the aliens, but more than aliens, it felt like a peek in the brains of the different stories that float around the aliens. The book’s heroine, Julia, is an oddball who can see the aliens everywhere. They are the part of her life, but they have always been on sidelines. Julia meets a professor cum the practioner of psychology named John, and that is how she gets sucked further into the aliens.

The books is a different take on aliens. I have read quite a few alien books, but most of these books have been in the field of the romance or intergalactic war. I do carry my towel with me as well for hitchhiking. 😉

But all this paints a picture in the mind where we are able to communicate with the aliens, some establish relationships too(friends, family, romance etc.) But this book is making me think differently. The book talks about a situation in which a few people are abducted, and they carry with themselves the trauma of that experience. The book treats the abduction by the other race in such an other worldly manner. There is a psychiatric treatment for these people, support groups, books, theories etc.

I have always thought about the aliens as a race–either in their romanticized form or probably in their enemy-who-are-going-to destroy the earth form. This book doesn’t take any midway. It is so realistic in its description of the confusion about what the aliens want that I am also with the characters in the story, confused as to where all this is leading to.  I don’t know how the book is going to end, but it has made a home in my mind for now. We all talk about aliens, but we rarely talk about the victims who have to go through the experience of trying to decipher what these aliens are actually looking for and want.

There are so many frightening aspects this novel brought to forefront.

Here is the official summary of the book.

The Stargazer’s Embassy explores the frightening phenomenon of alien abduction from a different point of view: in this story, it is the aliens who seem fearful of Julia Glazer, the woman they are desperately trying to make contact with. Violent and despairing after the murder of the one person she loved, a psychiatrist who was studying abductees, Julia continues to rebuff the aliens until her relationships with others who have met “the things,” as she calls them, including a tattoo artist, a strange man who can take photographs with the power of his mind, and an abductee locked up in a mental hospital, force Julia deeper into direct alien contact and a confrontation about what death means to humans and aliens alike.

What I liked about the book

  1. Characters and idea: The book is filledd with quite interestng characters. I mean, apart from the title, there is a character which can actually click actual pictures of vision in someone’s mind. There are aliens who are so out-of-place in the dimension that they don’t know how to behave like humans.
  2. Details and writing: I generally do not know much about alien abductions, fictional or non-fictional, but the way this book gave a perspective, it was a way which I found quite realistic. I  mean, of course, I don’t know the people who believe in that, but the details were so beautifully woven in the story that it never felt unreal. There was the direct connection in the story.
  3. The plot: If it is not clear till now, I enjoyed the plot a lot. Although I was not much into the ending that the book had, I still was won over by the plot. It is a mix of intrigue, psychology, sci-fi, and language. It just had me there. There were times when I felt that the book was going too slow, but I just could not keep it down because I wanted to know what is going to happen next.

What I disliked

  1. The ending: The ending of the book just did not resonate with me. I have no idea how the book could have been ended in any other way, but that ending just felt a bit forced to me.
  2. The uneven pacing: There were few sections when there was nothing happening. I knew while I was readig the book that things were happening, but it felt a bit dragged because I could not understand why they were happening. There were moments, small ones, when I thought about keeping the book down because I just could not understand what was happening. But I’m glad I did read the end. And if I try to recall those moments when I wanted to stop reading, I cannot recall them.


Final Verdict


The book is definitely worth reading. If yoou start the book, do preverse till the end. You won’t be disappointed. The book is novel in its plot, characters, and writing.

Four Stars

 

 

 

 

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Divergent

Divergent

Author’s Name: Veronica Roth

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Finally after a long wait, I picked the book. And it was so compelling that I finished it in single read.

Synopsis

Divergent is about a society where the world is divided into factions– each faction has their set function, a set of characteristic that they are supposed to emulate in themselves. Dauntless believe in bravery, Candor believe in truth, Abnegation believe in selflessness, Amity believe in peace and Erudite believe in knowledge and intelligence.

Our heroine, Beatrice, is going through the selection process wherein she has to decide which faction she wants to associate to– the one her parents belong to(Abnegation) or the one she wants herself in.  The initial story is about her struggle to complete her initiation into the faction she selects. But as soon as her initiation is complete she comes to know of a plot which will destroy one faction completely. The second half of the book is about the struggle and choices Beatrice/Tris makes to save the society.

What I liked

Concept of the book–  It’s different and it’s interesting. Although somehow the faction system reminds me of caste system in my country. I know it’s not the same because caste system doesn’t give choice to people now, but when it was initiated, the concept of it must have been similar to the faction concept. Division of work, then the division of qualities, which then somehow got changed to division by birth.

Four-  I am pretty sure that he was the strongest character of the story. The way he was described–his restraint, his beauty, his power, his fear–all appealed to me. The only thing I didn’t like about him was that I guessed in the first appearance that he was Tobias. So that mystery was quite unnecessary.

Al- I loved the author for portraying the character. I always feel that author gives the characters easy way out, but Al is beautifully portrayed. Everything about him, from his crush to his power to his cruelty, was perfect.

What irked me

Concept–  Daring does not  mean that foolishness, but the dauntless activities feels foolishness sometime. They are glamorous for sure, but they are stupid too, something which no sane person will actually do. Similar was the case with other factions.

Overall Opinion

I enjoyed the story. I was so engrossed in it to think about anything else. But I don’t want to read it again and again. It’s a very interesting book, but only for one time.

Rating
Four Stars

Mockingjay- An end to Hunger Games

MockingjayAuthor’s Name: Suzanne Collins

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Finally, the last installment of the series. Finally, the Hunger Games ended. A resounding end to the epic started with the first book. It’s one series which has impacted me deeply.  The best part, the author managed to put an end to those games. Worst part, there were just too many deaths.

Synopsis

The book starts in District 13. Katniss have become the face for the revolution, though she is still undecided whose side she should take.  All the districts revolt and the final showdown between the capitol and districts happen.This story is how each of the character makes a choice in how they want to defeat the Capitol. I can’t say more without actually revealing the story, but this book is DARK.

What I liked

President Snow: He’s still as creepy as ever. Though his scenes have decreased, his presence has not. He’s one of the best anti-hero written as per me.

Imperfect Peeta: Does this make me cruel that I liked this imperfect Peeta more than the original Peeta? He seems like a believable person now.

Finnick: I loved everything about him- his background story, his love, his performance- everything.

What irked me

Triangle Love Story: This time it isn’t Gale which irked me, but Katniss herself. For three books, she was torn between Gale and Peeta. I expected, rather hoped, that she’ll finally analyze what was there in her heart. But no, in that too she was given an easy choice and her decision was made by actions of Gale and Peeta. I felt so frustrated. :/

Too Many Deaths:  I can’t say if they were necessary or not, but after one point I stopped feeling the pain of the deaths. I got so much involved that my mind actually detached itself from the story. There were many scenes which felt that they were there only to increase the already induced shock.

Overall Opinion

It might be a dark book, but it’s one book which one won’t be able to miss or forget. It imprints itself on the minds of the reader and leaves one with a distaste of all the violence. 

There are section which you’ll want to skip, but still you won’t be able to free yourself from twists and turns of the book.

Ratings

Four Stars

 

Catching Fire

catching fire

 

Author’s Name: Suzanne Collins

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Since I finished Hunger Games, I have been itching to start this book. But I made myself wait for sometime so that I can absorb the previous book’s impact. This book doesn’t dull the impact, but fixes it in the mind. I dreamed of Hunger Games Arena and one of the Korean actors as the protagonist in the arena described in book? Don’t ask me why not the Indian actors, because my dreams have tendency to be weird.

Is it possible to like and not like the book at the same time?

Synopsis

The book starts some time after the previous book. Both Katniss and Peeta are back in District Twelve and are living in the victor’s village. Life is much better than the previous life, but still the sword of Capitol hangs over their head. President Snow informs Katniss that she started a revolution in the Districts and threatens her, but Katniss vacillates between whether she wants to stop this uprising or not. Just like she vacillates between Gale and Peeta.

What I liked

President Snow: He’s an absolutely creepy villain with his breath of snow and roses. He captures the page whenever he came into the picture.

Arena: When I read about the Arena, I was actually awed. I liked the description and the concept of the Arena.

What irked me

Gale: I tried. I really tried to see why Katniss will even think of any romantic relation between them, but I couldn’t find even a single reason. There’s no chemistry between Katniss and him. Even their kisses seem forced.

Last Explanation by Haymitch: I could bear everything the book dished out except when Haymitch tells the plan in the end. It’s such a dry commentary and also so short that I actually turned pages to see if there’s something more which I missed, or maybe the book is censored or something. How could the person with so much of wit and understanding lay out any plan like that?

Overall Opinion

Is it possible to like and unlike the book at the same time? The book kept me hooked to the story, but it could have been better. There were sections which felt too dragged, while there were sections which passed in a blink of a eye(like the speech I mentioned above).

All in all, it’s a worthy sequel to Hunger Games.

Ratings

Four Stars

 

The Hunger Games

Book’s Name: The Hunger Games

Hunger Games

Author’s Name: Suzanne Collins

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Another book which I started very late. I should have read this ages ago. But well, better late than never, right? I am not a blood-bath favoring person, neither I like the reality shows. That’s the reason I kept on postponing reading this. Now when I’ve read the first part of the book, I think the section which showed the games was the best section. I’m all set to start the second part. It’s better that I bought all the three parts together.

Synopsis

The book is about a dystopian society where Government organizes a fight-to-death match called hunger games between children of its territories to curb rebellion. Twelve boys and twelve girls are left on the field to kill and survive the others. Our heroine, Katniss, goes into these games along with a guy, Peeta from her own district. The story shows how she fares in these games.

Although it’s a story of many deaths, it’s a story about survival too. Collin takes us on a ride where we can actually sympathize and love the characters, and hate a few of them. I won’t say that it made me cry for the fate of the children, but it was intriguing enough to keep me involved in the story.

What I liked

Realistic Heroine: I liked that Katniss was shown as a realistic character. There were points where I felt that she was given an easy way out, but overall her reactions were real. She tried to survive as much as she could. She was nice, but she was practical too. I especially liked that she just didn’t fall in love with Pita.

Understanding between Katniss and Haymitch: I enjoyed how Collins  showed their understanding. It was utterly believable that Katniss could actually decipher what her mentor wanted. Also, it hammers how they both had that winning streak.

Rue: I’m pretty sure there’s nobody who hasn’t loved little Rue for her perfect fragility. She steals the heart with her cute demeanor. 

What irked me

Gale: As a character, he’s not shown at all. I mean he has one or two scenes. Yet by the end we are supposed to believe that Katniss is confused or she thinks that he thinks of her more than a friend, Bah. It might be a great premise for sequel, but then it’s a bit unbelievable stunt for the book.

Overall Opinion

It’s a good book. I won’t call it a masterpiece, but it has its own beauty. It keeps the readers hooked despite of its predictable plot.

Ratings

Four Stars 

Cinder- A Futuristic Sci-Fi Cinderella

Cinder Book CoverBook’s Name: Cinder

Author’s name: Marissa Meyer

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I selected this book because of its cover. A foot instead of glass slipper and that too with a red stiletto. What an idea! 🙂

Now you might be wondering why was I checking the cover of this book. Are you going to snort if I say it was because of the cover of its upcoming second sequel, Cress? 😀

Although I can swoon over the cover throughout the post, I do understand that the book is more than its cover. I had heard a lot about this book. I never got around to reading it because it lies in Sci-Fi genre, and anything that is not romance is not in my priority list of reading. The near-release date of Cress has forced me to prepone the reading of first two books.

Anyway, the book was a nice surprise. It intermixed the new and the old in such a manner that the resulting mocktail tingled the mind and imagination.

Synopsis

Merrisa Meyer brings to life a Cinderella in the world where android and cyborgs live. Cinder is a cyborg mechanic who lives in Beijing with her adopted family. Enter the evil stepmother, stepsisters. The book also have a prince, Prince Kai, who’s the catch of the Ball.

Like the original story, Cinder is exploited by her mom and one of the stepsisters who do not want her to go to the royal ball. But that’s where the similarity ends. Welcome our villain, the Lunar Queen Levana, who wants to rule the earth through Prince Kai with a sword of intergalactic war. And Prince Kai’s choices are quite bleak.

The book builds a world after fourth world war which is similar to the today’s world yet different. There are similar open-markets, politics and discriminations, but all of them are spiced with the ID chips, spaceships, and glamour. Cinder as a protagonist entrances the reader. Her witty sarcasm and kind-hearted nature makes the reader feel for her.

What I liked:

1) The World of Cinder- “How fascinating you’re! You reel me in with all your machine talk. You glued me to the book with your Lunar glamour. Though I guessed climax and the mystery earlier, I still wanted to read the story and understand what different things are going to happen in your universe. “

2) Iko, the android- “You, with your faulty personality  and girlfriend streak. Chuck humans! I want you as my friend and side-kick.”

This made Cinder pause and squint into Iko’s blinding light. “Why would the prince dance with me?”

Iko’s fan hummed as she sought an answer. “Because you won’t have grease on your face this time.”

Who else could manage to be so mechanically correct than you, Iko!

3) Cinder– “You are amazing with your heart and all the mechanical parts at the right places. You could have been more bold, but you still managed to tug my heart with your dilemmas in the plague-ridden world. Your vulnerabilities and your wrench will stay with me for a long time.”

4) Plot– “I can’t decide whether to love your or not. I loved you when you focussed on Cinder and the world and hated you when you branched out to give us the sequel’s introduction. I loved you when you made Cinder do the heroic things and hated you when you sprinkled romance in Prince Kai’s dishes. Bah, I can’t decide!”

What irked me:

1) Prince Kai– “Darling! You’re a nice character but your chemistry with Cinder is absolutely off. You’ll be better off with Levana because at least your communication with her is much more interesting. Don’t spoil Cinder’s attitude for us.”  

2) Plot– “Oh Plot, do you not know there should not be a public celebration during the time of plague? Think about those who died? Think about how you are enhancing the health risks? You did not play the plague card in correct manner.

3) Romance–  “Oh, honey, have you heard about inert chemistry? I know this is a YA book and all, but couldn’t you sizzle a bit more, just a bit more?”

4) Ending– “How could you be so insensitive? You ended without actually ending? What about Kai and Cinder’s romance? What is going to happen to Kai now? You have to answer these questions.”

Overall Opinion:

It’s an enjoyable read. It could have been much better if all the loose ends were tied together. but despite of all the loopholes, it managed to capture and retain my interest. I finished it not because I was compulsed into finishing the book, but because I wanted to know how is the story going to unfold. Despite the predictable plot, it kept me hooked to the personality of Cinder.

Ratings:

Four Stars