Book Review: The Time Machine

The Time Machine (1895) is a science fiction novella by H.G. Wells and is about, oddly enough, a Time Machine.

The novella has a frame narrative and an embedded narrative; the Time Traveller (yes, that is the only name he’s given) hosts a dinner party, inviting a variety of guests to tell them about his journeys through time. The embedded narrative then begins, as the Time Traveller retells what has happened to him.

The opening frame narrative was quite dull, as the dinner guests discuss space, time, mathematics, and psychology. This was not the gripping and dramatic opening I had been hoping for.

Once the Time Traveller arrives and begins to tell his story though, things liven up. He’s eccentric and clever, which I suppose is now the blueprint for other fictional time travellers like Doctor Who.

The Time Traveller travels to Earth, A.D. 802,701, where he meets the Eloi, a species of adults that have child-like language and small attention spans because they have achieved and acquired everything possible, so there is no need for work or intelligence. This is an interesting social commentary: is it better to have everything in life but be forever bored, or to have work and goals to achieve within your lifetime?

There is a second species on Earth too – the Morlocks – who are underworld, carnivorous creatures who prey on the vulnerable Eloi in the dark. The scenes with the Morlocks were a little scary, in a similar way to the vicious Martian attacks upon mankind in Wells’ later novel War of the Worlds. These two opposing species prompt lots of interesting questions and were obvious symbols of good versus bad, upper-class versus lower-class, and so on.

The Time Machine is an incredibly creative work of fiction and good fun to read. Like War of the Worlds, H.G. Wells has provided a social commentary on the society at the time, which is in some ways still applicable today. However, I didn’t find this book quite as engaging as War of the Worlds, which was slightly disappointing, given how many praise it for being one of the first proper works of science fiction.

In many ways, The Time Machine is a science fiction story because of its focus on time, space, physics and aliens. However, it’s also incredibly similar to utopian or dystopian novels such as Thomas More’s Utopia (1516) and Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels (1726). It’s funny how so many novels supposedly predict the future, whilst only commenting on the present.

– Judith

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Book Review: Clone Secrets

Clone Secrets is the second book in the young adult dystopian series: Clone Crisis Trilogy. I have already read and reviewed Clone Crisis, the first book in the series, which you can read on my blog. The Clone Crisis Trilogy is set in a 25th century world where cloning has replaced reproduction.

Clone Secrets follows on from the events of Clone Crisis. After Yami’s friends make some new discoveries about the fertility crisis and emerging birth rates, biological children from around the country are kidnapped by masked strangers. Yami and her friends embark on a journey to rescue the children and uncover the truth about the government’s involvement in cloning.

The strength of Clone Secrets were its dramatic ambush scenes or its violent fight scenes as masked soldiers – known as Gray Suits – attacked communities and ripped young children away from their parents. These scenes were gripping, and the aftermath of these fights was always suitably dark and bleak.

However, I felt the scenes that followed were slightly less engaging, as there was more dialogue and less action. This was a shame because it gave the impression that these scenes were “filler” until the next conflict.

The leader of the community in which Yami seeks refuge, Ann, reminded me a lot of President Alma Coin from Mockingjay. In terms of character building, this was great because I remember just how much she annoyed me in both the books and the films – not sharing her ideas, being tight-lipped and secretive, and acting generally suspicious.

Image via Villains Wiki.com

I saw some of the plot twists coming, as they seemed to be referred to quite obviously, rather than the occasional subtle hint. At times, I felt there was a neon flashing sign screaming “all is not right”. Having said that, there were other moments in the book that caught me by surprise – introducing ideas or characters I hadn’t thought of or even considered could be possible. I liked these moments.

The ending of Clone Secrets works really well and leaves some plot elements nicely wrapped up and leaves other elements as utter bombshells, presumably to be resolved in the third and final book of the series, Clone Legacy.

To sum up, Clone Secrets has room for improvement, but was nonetheless an entertaining book in the series.

Star Rating: 3/5 Stars

Clone Secrets is available to buy as an e-book from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com.

– Judith

Book Review: Clone Crisis by Melissa Faye

This is a book review for Rosie’s Book Review Team.

Clone Crisis is the first in a new young adult, dystopian series. The book is set in a 25th century world where cloning has replaced reproduction. Careers and education are assigned by DNA, rather than talent. Without any parents or family, Yami is brought up to follow the slogan: what’s best for the community is best for all. However, she begins to question this, wondering if what’s best for the community may not be best for anyone.

My Photo [Clones Crisis].jpg

Clone Crisis shares some similarities to The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins or the Divergent series by Veronica Roth. In style, it also reminded me of another good YA book I read called UnBlessed, written by Crystin Goodwin, another member of Rosie’s Book Review Team.

The dystopian idea of a fertility crisis it immediately makes me think of novels like Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale or Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. Plus, filling the entire world with replicas of a previous generation is a chilling prospect.

Clone Crisis has some fun scenes and it has an interesting cliff-hanger, leaving space to explore the consequences of Yami’s actions.

Speaking of Yami, I thought the character names (e.g. Yami, Etta, Vonna) were almost at risk of being weird for the sake of being weird. A small thing to notice, I know, and not a serious issue (other names like Katniss, Triss, or Kisara aren’t exactly normal either).

I also thought some of Yami’s interactions with Ben, her ex-boyfriend, were a bit clunky. I understand things can be frosty between exes, but their dialogue came across as unintentionally awkward.

As a piece of feedback, I think the overbearing, authoritarian nature of the community leaders could be emphasised more, in order to clarify the cruelty of the community and help the reader support Yami’s own actions more.

However, I really don’t have much to nit-pick. Clone Crisis was an enjoyable read, and if you like the dystopian titles I’ve already mentioned throughout this book review, I’d recommend this series to you.

Star Rating: 4/5 Stars

Clone Crisis is available to buy as an e-book from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com.

– Judith