Thursday, January 15, 2015

Audiobook Review: SYLO (The SYLO Chronicles #1) by D.J. MacHale

Title: SYLO
Book Series: The SYLO Chronicles, Book #1
Author: D.J. MacHale (Facebook | Twitter)
Genres: YA, Dystopian, Science Fiction, Mystery
Format: Audiobook (Amazon | Audible)
Narrators: Andrew Bates
Length: 10 hours & 42 minutes
Release Date: July 2, 2013

Does Tucker Pierce have what it takes to be a hero when the U.S. military quarantines his island?

Fourteen-year-old Tucker Pierce prefers to fly under the radar. He’s used to navigating around summer tourists in his hometown on idyllic Pemberwick Island, Maine. He’s content to sit on the sidelines as a backup player on the high school football team. And though his best friend Quinn tells him to “go for it,” he’s too chicken to ask Tori Sleeper on a date. There’s always tomorrow, he figures. Then Pemberwick Island is invaded by a mysterious branch of the U.S. military called SYLO. And sitting on the sidelines is no longer an option for Tucker, because tomorrow may never come.

It’s up to Tucker, Quinn, and Tori to uncover the truth about the singing aircraft that appears only at night—and the stranger named Feit who’s pushing a red crystal he calls the Ruby that brings unique powers to all who take it. Tucker and his friends must rescue not just Pemberwick Island, but the fate of the world—and all before tomorrow is too late.

FIRST IMPRESSION:: Yes! This is the kind of “Chapter One” I like. Start off with a bang and don't beat around the bush with unnecessary pretense! A perfectly healthy, all-star football player, Marty Wiggins, drops dead after celebrating the final touchdown in a blowout game. And that was just the first death in a "Night of Deaths." Our main character, the all-stars back up, who's more interested in cheerleaders than football. A not-so-obvious hero. A possible villain - a surfer-looking guy scribbling furiously in a notebook during play who is the only one not paying attention to the game and the only one  missing from the stands when Marty dies. Im I intrigued... Uh, heck yeah!

THE STORY:: I must begin on the negative and address my major two criticisms of the book because, I came down hard from my first chapter high. First, it was a bit of overkill on the aspects of the island. The theme of this book’s Forward, McHales's love of travel, seeped into the story a little too much form. The idyllic atmosphere of the island was explored more than the plot was, which annoyed me because the central plot was really interesting.

Secondly, it's Tucker. He just doesn't seem like a strong enough lead. I didn't mind him being an antihero in the beginning, but as the story goes on he's so disillusioned with life. For a fourteen year old, it's pretty sad. Also, a coward in a distracting way. I'm assuming he's going to do some kind of 180, but I don't know. When the big decision the trio had to make a about whether or not to leave the island, he didn't want to go. Tucker's reasoning -- a defiant stance about not wanting to leave life on the island despite his world going to hell and his need to put 100% faith in his parents though he just learned they're working with the enemy -- was just odd. I guess it goes back to Quinn's criticism of him not wanting to take risks, though he did run race toward armed Sylo soldiers when they chased down the two guys they murdered. I don't know, I guess he was just a little inconsistent for me. However, I do have to say agree with Tucker's philosophy about working hard. Hard work in school and a degree doesn't really equal anything anymore. 

Everything that I just said, this relates to the first half of the book. Which was a slow burn to the action. Because the second half explodes like a powder keg. The plot goes from having sinister undertones to all out warfare. I have to admit, while it was an abrupt shift it was a needed one. As soon as Tucker is face with major conflict and has no choice but to step up too the plate after loosing Quinn and his parents support, he does. He was faced with adversity and fought through it. I can appreciate it. Brave Tuck showed up, and things really got good. Classic MacHale action!

FINAL THOUGHTS:: I won't reveal this books big reveal, but I'm genuinely interested and I'm invested. I've already started the second book.

RECOMMENDED FOR:: YA sci-fi adventure lovers.

Andrew Bates is new to me and I thought he was perfect. It was a performance rather than just a reading, which I love. He definitely contributed a lot to my enjoyment of this story. I really thought he got the essence of the characters, the plot, and Pemberwick Island. 

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