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Strange Exit by Parker Peevyhouse

“‘The sun never set, and you kept bringing me things, and it was the only day of my life I knew what forever would feel like. And you were there, so forever didn’t feel bad.’”

Year Read: 2019

Rating: 3/5

Context: I received a free e-ARC through NetGalley from the publishers at Macmillan-Tor/Forge. Trigger warnings: death, parent/sibling death, violence, mild body horror, injury, grief, trauma, survivor’s guilt, bullying.

About: Lake spends every day wandering a post-apocalyptic world, looking for survivors. The catch is that the world isn’t real; it’s a simulation, and everyone has forgotten that they’re in it. When the nuclear apocalypse happened on Earth, Lake and a number of other teenagers boarded a ship to orbit the planet in stasis until it was safe to return. But the ship is failing, and the only way to regain control of it is to wake the sleepers. The only way to wake the sleepers is to convince them that they’re in a simulation. A fellow passenger, Taren, joins her in her mission to wake the rest of the ship, but the more Lake and Taren use the sim, the less connected they are to reality and the easier it is to lose themselves completely.

Thoughts: I enjoyed Peevyhouse’s last novel, The Echo Room, and Strange Exit reaffirms most of my initial impressions. She’s a solid YA science fiction writer, and if science fiction were more popular right now, I have a feeling a lot more readers would know her name. I’m not even that big of a sci-fi fan, so the fact that she continues to make it interesting and engaging says a lot. The science is always realistic enough to be believable but still accessible to a novice. The technology is intricate and well-developed, but I never feel like it’s going over my head. It’s a delicate balance to strike, and she makes it look effortless.

The characters are strong as well. Lake and Taren feel realistically like teenagers who are trying to solve problems that are way bigger than them. They often don’t know what to do, and they sometimes make terrible choices. Lake is particularly well-characterized in her grief over losing her sister back on Earth and her unwillingness to let her go in the simulation, even when she knows it’s hurting her. I don’t feel like we get to know Taren quite as well, and his character takes a somewhat abrupt turn near the end of the novel that doesn’t have as much build-up as it needs to feel plausible. The nice thing is that there’s no hint of romance between them. They’re more allies than friends, bound by a common cause and heavy doses of survivor’s guilt.

Plot-wise, I enjoyed the mystery aspects of the novel more than the action scenes that populate the end. We know that characters are hiding things, perhaps even from themselves, and that the more they use the simulation, the less reliable they are. There are secrets piled on top of secrets: what happened to Lake’s sister, why other people are having Lake’s dreams, what exactly is going on with Ransom–who knows he’s in a sim but still can’t leave it–and it was these that kept me going throughout the novel. There are layers to everything. The ending happens rather quickly and fails to provide closure on one of the major characters, who isn’t present in the last scenes. I was wishing for another chapter or two to help flesh this out and answer any remaining questions. Regardless, it’s a lovely, entertaining read from an underrated author.

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The Echo Room by Parker Peevyhouse

“After that night, Rett started drawing his own comics. Scrap-paper issues, filled with magical artifacts–amulets, wands, keys–found just when they were needed most. There’s always something that can help. There has to be.

Year Read: 2018

Rating: 3/5

Context: I received a free e-ARC through NetGalley from the publishers at Macmillan-Tor/Forge.

About: Rett is terrified to wake up in a strange, dark room with the door jammed shut and an unfamiliar girl singing an eerie song. He doesn’t remember her or how he got there. It’s clear they’ll have to work together if they want to escape, but there’s danger outside of the bunker as well as within. When a mistake has deadly consequences, Rett wakes up in a strange, dark room with no memory of who he is or how he got there. For some reason, he’s reliving the same day again and again until he and Brynn find what they were put there for.

Thoughts: This is a solid science fiction/dystopia novel, and if those were my genres, I think I would have rated it higher. The Echo Room is very well put-together and masterfully structured so that reading about the same day doesn’t get boring or repetitive. Rett discovers new things about Brynn and the bunker each time so that it feels like things are happening and the characters are developing even though time isn’t moving forward. It’s a little like a video game in the way that they have to complete certain steps in a specific order before they can move to the next “level”, or escape the bunker and find what they’re supposed to find. I was impressed by Peevyhouse’s controlled storytelling; it’s almost experimental without being difficult or off-putting to readers who don’t like experimental novels.

I didn’t really get attached to the characters, but I think it’s more personal preference than a lack of development. Rett and Brynn are both resourceful and a little ruthless, which are good qualities in a slightly futuristic world with widespread famine, disease, and poverty. Rett is the more compassionate and needy of the two, and Brynn the more cutthroat, which puts an interesting dimension in their relationship; they need each other, but it’s never clear whether they can trust each other. The dialogue is surprisingly funny for overall grim circumstances. I typically find romances unnecessary, but there’s a slow burn in there that fits well with Rett’s general character.

Books like this are rarely as interesting in explanation as they are in premise, so I was pleasantly surprised by the direction Peevyhouse takes it in. It’s a little more science fiction than I’m used to, but it’s well-explained and near enough to plausible that I didn’t feel like the rug was being yanked out from under me. The end provides enough closure to the plot but is still somewhat open-ended, and I was satisfied with the way things turned out. I would highly recommend it for fans of things like The Maze Runner (only with better writing).

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Rett wakes on the floor of a cold, dark room. He doesn’t know how he got there, only that he’s locked in. He’s not alone—a girl named Bryn is trapped in the room with him. When she finds a mysterious bloodstain and decides she doesn’t trust Rett, he tries to escape on his own—

Rett wakes on the floor of the same cold, dark room. He doesn’t trust Bryn, but he’ll have to work with her if he ever hopes to escape. They try to break out of the room—

Rett and Bryn hide in a cold, dark room. Safe from what’s outside.

But they’re not alone.

mobilepubliclibraryteens
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📣 Upcoming event! 📣 I’m joining fellow Bay Area author and excellent person Parker Peevyhouse at Hicklebees on Saturday, September 15 to launch #TheEchoRoom, the YA sci-fi escape-room-in-novel-form you never knew you needed (until now)!
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Join us at 7pm for a party, or stop by the bookstore between 4-6pm to test your mettle against Parker’s very own mini escape room! 🔑❓🚪 Hope to see you in September!

tracichee
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Автор: Паркер Пивайхаус
Книга: Комната Эхо
Жанр: Научная фантастика, антиутопия, триллер, YA
Итоговая оценка: 5/10
Дата прочтения: 05.06.2018
Ссылка на Goodreads

Аннотация:
A smart, claustrophobic thriller where two teens escape a strange prison only to discover they weren’t locked in, but were locking someone—or something—out
Rett wakes on the floor of a cold, dark room. He doesn’t know how he got there, only that he’s locked in. He’s not alone—a girl named Bryn is trapped in the room with him. When she finds a mysterious bloodstain and decides she doesn’t trust Rett, he tries to escape on his own—
Rett wakes on the floor of the same cold, dark room. He doesn’t trust Bryn, but he’ll have to work with her if he ever hopes to escape. They try to break out of the room—
Rett and Bryn hide in a cold, dark room. Safe from what’s outside.
But they’re not alone.

Отзыв:
Когда я прочитала раз 10-ый о том, как Ретт, к своему ужасу, обнаруживает кровь на своей одежде, мне захотелось застрелиться. Я вообще очень не люблю «дни сурка» в книгах, а когда героям каждый день стирают память, и автор заново описывает каждую деталь, обнаруженную ими раз 10-20, это для меня настоящий ад. Примерно половина книги именно об этом.
А остальная часть сложная для моего (только ли моего?) понимания научная фантастика.
Книга – нечто среднее между «Поступью Хаоса», «Бегущим в лабиринте» и фильмами «Куб» и «Помни». И, надо сказать, по-настоящему понравился мне из этого списка только «Куб».
Эта книга – мягко говоря, не для меня. Хотя она, в целом, несмотря на все выше представленные сравнения, довольно оригинальна, но я бы лучше прочитала триллер. Я надеялась, что это будет прямо триллер, как в «Кубе». И если закрыть глаза на день сурка и отсутствие воспоминаний у героев, поначалу так и казалось. И в целом, было интересно. Но когда все уперлось в научную фантастику, я разочаровалась.
Наверняка от книги многие будут в восторге. Но, повторяю, она точно не для меня. Еле дочитала.

Итоговая оценка: 5/10

momentarythingsbymarochka
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Parker Peevyhouse, Where Futures End
People don’t change you. They can’t, because you’re never one thing to begin with.”
“They do. They do terrible things and you go to pieces. You can be put together again.”
She brushed a hand over this forehead, light as a falling leaf. “That’s what people are. Just all different pieces.
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