Upgrade by Blake Crouch

Upgrade Cover

Publisher: Macmillan (Trade Paperback – 7 July 2022)

Series: Standalone

Length: 341 pages

My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

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The master of the high-concept science fiction thriller, Blake Crouch, returns with another exceptional and deeply addictive standalone read, Upgrade, which takes the reader on a deep journey into the world of genetic engineering.

In the near future, Earth is facing multiple threats and catastrophes that are slowly destroying the human race.  However, the greatest threat to humanity may come from within, as advances in genetic engineering and manipulation have allowed scientists to change DNA itself.  Following a massive genetic disaster that led to the destruction of an entire food supply and the deaths of hundreds of millions of people, all genetic research has been made illegal and is strictly policed by world governments.

Logan Ramsay is an agent in the newly created Gene Protection Agency that enforces the research ban in the United States and which comes down hard on anyone illegally modifying genes.  The son of the scientist responsible for the last crisis, Logan works to atone for his role in her work and no longer believes in the benefits of genetic research of that kind.  However, when a raid goes wrong and Logan is targeted by a bomb designed to inject an unknown gene hack into him, Logan’s entire life and grasp on humanity is changed forever.

With enhanced physical and mental capacities, Logan has been upgraded into something superhuman.  Forced to leave his family behind and flee from his own agency, Logan soon finds himself caught up in a war for control of humanity’s future, with dangerous forces seeking to change everything about the species.  To survive and prevent another genetic catastrophe, Logan must dive deep into his past and his family’s legacy.  But the more upgraded he becomes, the harder it is for him to care about everyone’s fate.

Wow, Crouch does it again with Upgrade, combining an intense and compelling thriller storyline with an outstanding and highly detailed scientific principle, to create an exceptional and extremely addictive story.  I knew that I was going to enjoy Upgrade when I got it, especially after having such a brilliant time with Crouch’s previous novel, Recursion, and the author really did not disappoint.  Upgrade is a gripping and powerful read, and I ended up powering through it in very quick order once I got addicted to its excellent plot.

I absolutely loved the exciting and clever science fiction thriller narrative that Crouch featured in Upgrade, which swiftly drags you in with its unique story and compelling concepts.  Crouch really kicks everything off in high gear right from the start, providing a quick but efficient introduction to the protagonist, Logan Ramsay, and the dystopian future of the novel, before kicking off the key plot events.  The protagonist is almost immediately placed into danger from a booby trap that alters his genetics, and he is forced to deal with the side effects as he is upgraded to superhero levels.  Forced to escape from his own employers, Logan must come to terms with the changes being done to him, while also diving into some deep family drama as he realises his connection to the person behind it.  After a journey of discovery, Logan ends up in a war to decide the future of humanity’s genetics, as he goes up against a group determined to alter humans against their will.  This led to some big and intense sequences as genetically enhanced beings face off in some powerful and cleverly crafted moments.  Everything is wrapped up in a compelling and emotionally heavy way, and readers will come away very happy after getting caught up in Upgrade’s elaborate and highly entertaining story.

I felt that Crouch did a brilliant job setting out Upgrade’s narrative, and it is perfectly designed to keep the reader absorbed in the plot.  I loved the faster pace of the book, which ensured that you power through the novel very quickly, although it isn’t so fast that you lose sight of its many featured scientific elements.  There are several time skips throughout the course of the plot, which help to move the story along and set up some interesting changes in the character’s situation.  The story is set in a near-futuristic dystopian setting which has been rocked by a series of environmental and genetic disasters.  Seeing some of the author’s suggested futures for certain famous cities (a semi-abandoned Las Vegas and a partially flooded New York), was very interesting, and it worked well with some of the other cool science fiction elements featured throughout.  I also appreciated Crouch’s interesting philosophical take on what it means to be human and the depths of human nature.  There are multiple discussions between the key characters in Upgrade, as they debate the changes being undertaken, as well as humanity’s overwhelming self-destructive tendencies.  This becomes a rather interesting overall theme for the book, and a captivating motivation for some of the characters.  I also must highlight the awesome action sequences spread out through the book, which add some exciting punch to the narrative.  Not only are these very entertaining, but I loved how they were showcased through the protagonist’s eyes, especially once his upgrades take over, and the clinical detail he attributes to various actions give them a fun twist.  This fantastic narrative really comes together well throughout Upgrade, and I felt that this was an exceptional read.

I deeply enjoyed the compelling and intense scientific framework that went into Upgrade.  Crouch does an impressive and expansive dive into the world of genetics for this book, and the reader is soon inundated with information about DNA, genes, and genetic research.  It is very clear that the author has really done their research when it comes to this subject, and this combined with his immense imagination results in some intriguing story elements.  Crouch postulates multiple potential genetic upgrades to humans and other species throughout this book and how such manipulations could be brought about.  As such, you see a lot of very cool stuff throughout Upgrade, particularly enhanced human beings who move and think at superhuman rates.  The author paints a very interesting and compelling picture about what such enhanced humans would be capable of, and it was fascinating to experience them throughout the course of the plot especially as you see them happening through the eyes of someone going through these changes.  There are various evolutions of these genetic upgrades throughout the novel and watching the characters become more and more powerful while simultaneously losing their humanity is a fantastic and captivating element.  Crouch also presents some compelling and thought-provoking discussions about whether genetic engineering should be allowed and would humanity benefit from it.  The different points of view and the resultant debates are an outstanding part of book, and I am sure that many people will come away from Upgrade with a different opinion on the subject.

While Crouch does dive deep into the science for Upgrade, I found that I was able to follow along with the various premises without too many issues.  The author really tries to explain the genetic science to the reader in an interesting way, which I really appreciated.  There were no points in the book where I couldn’t follow what was happening, and I ended up getting really interested in all the potential genetic manipulations that might be possible in the future.  I also felt that these scientific elements were worked into the plot of Upgrade extremely well, and the awesome thriller narrative really wrapped around it.  Overuse of genetic manipulation is a real potential threat in the future, so having government agencies, underground labs and world-affecting schemes in place isn’t too far-fetched, and these science elements serve as a rich ground for the cool storylines.  I loved seeing upgraded humans facing off against agents and SWAT teams, and it resulted in some brilliant scenes.  The underlying message about the responsibility of those involved in genetic research played well with the action-packed narrative, and I was once again really impressed with how the author can seamlessly combine science with fiction.

Another outstanding element of Upgrade was its fantastic protagonist and point-of-view character, Logan Ramsay.  Logan is quite a fascinating and complex character, especially as Crouch establishes him as the son of the brilliant genetic scientist who caused the ban and was partially responsible for the resulting mass deaths.  For most of the novel he is trying to redeem himself for these actions, mainly through his work as a government agent.  However, his entire life changes when he becomes genetically enhanced, and there are some deep emotional scenes and narrative threads that are explored because of this.  While he is initially horrified by the changes, Logan soon realises they are exactly what he always wanted, and he must reconcile that with his perceptions of humanity and the damage he has already caused.  At the same time, he is also finding himself changing, and the continued and detailed examinations of all his upgrades and altered perceptions are showcased in an excellent way by the author.  The increased physical and mental capacities are worked into his character well, and it was fascinating to see the first-person perspective of everything that happens to him.  I particularly appreciated the slow loss of his emotional self and as the book proceeds, he becomes less and less human in many ways, unable to connect with the people around him.  This is sad in a lot of ways, especially as he must give up his family, but you get an impressive understanding of everything the protagonist is going through and grow closer to him as a result.  There is some excellent character work around this protagonist in Upgrade, and I really appreciated the emotional depth that it brought to this already captivating story.

With Upgrade, Blake Crouch continues to shine as one of the most creative and brilliant authors of science fiction in the world today.  The compelling, science-based ideas he comes up with combine perfectly with his exciting and emotionally powerful storylines to create an excellent narrative with amazing characters.  I had such a great time with Upgrade, and it is one of the better science fiction novels I have read so far in 2022.  I also think it was also really good in comparison to the other Crouch book I have read, Recursion, which I hold in really high regard.  While I think that Recursion had the better overall narrative, I appreciated the scientific elements of Upgrade a little more and I felt it fit into the plot a little better.  As such, I think that Upgrade is another five-star read, and it comes very highly recommended by me.  A must-read for all science fiction fans in 2022!

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WWW Wednesday – 31 August 2022

WWW Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Taking on a World of Words, where bloggers share the books that they’ve recently finished, what they are currently reading and what books they are planning to read next. Essentially you have to answer three questions (the Three Ws):

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

So, let’s get to it.

What are you currently reading?

All of Our Demise by Amanda Foody and Christine Lynn Herman (Trade Paperback)

All of Our Demise Cover 2

I just started reading All of Our Demise today, one of the most anticipated young adult releases of 2022.  The sequel to last year’s epic All of Us Villains, All of Our Demise serves as the conclusion to the events of this previous book and continues to follow the unique, magical death tournament taking place. I haven’t made a lot of progress on this book yet, but the first 50 pages are pretty entertaining.  The authors are doing an excellent job of continuing the complex and captivating story from the previous book, and I am already pretty hooked, especially as each of the point of view characters have their own compelling storylines.  I cannot wait to see how this book turns out and I am expecting a lot of heartbreak and betrayals before All of Our Demise comes to an end.

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Glacier’s Edge by R. A. Salvatore (Audiobook)

Glacier's Edge Cover

I am still going with the latest fantasy novel from R. A. Salvatore, Glacier’s Edge.  The sequel to last year’s excellent Starlight EnclaveGlacier’s Edge is the second book in The Way of the Drow series, which falls into Salvatore’s larger collection of Drizzt Do’Urden books (such as Timeless, Boundless and Relentless). I am currently over halfway through this audiobook, and I am really enjoying its complex and addictive narrative.  Glacier’s Edge has a pretty wide focus and is following a range of great characters that Salvatore has introduced over his career, each of whom have their own unique plot threads.  Everything looks set to come together extremely well and I am very curious to see what final note Salvatore leaves everything on.  It wouldn’t surprise me if there is a fun cliffhanger towards the end, especially as one of the main storylines is gearing up for a full-on Drow civil war.

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What did you recently finish reading?

Blowback by James Patterson and Brendan Dubois (Trade Paperback)

Blowback Cover

I managed to finish of Blowback on the weekend, and boy was it a very fun read.  Containing an impressive story about a US President who goes mad with power and decides to destroy the world, Blowback was really intense and action-packed, and I loved its entertaining and unique thriller narrative.  One of the more exciting novels of 2022, this was an excellent read that you can really sink your teeth into.

Amazon     Book Depository

 

Upgrade by Blake Crouch (Trade Paperback)

Upgrade Cover

I also managed to get through Upgrade, the latest science fiction thriller by Blake Crouch.  I had some very high expectations for this book, especially after loving Recursion, and Crouch really did not disappoint me.  I loved its captivating tale about genetic engineering gone mad, and the elaborate and extremely compelling thriller narrative written around it was extremely good.  I had an outstanding time with Upgrade, and it was one of the better science fiction novels I have read this year.  Review to follow soon.

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What do you think you’ll read next?

Dark Rooms by Lynda La Plante

Dark Rooms Cover

Based on my current collection of books, I think that the novel I will try to check out next is Dark Rooms by leading crime fiction author Lynda La Plante.  The latest book in the bestselling Tennison series (which has included awesome reads like Murder Mile, Blunt Force and Unholy Murder), Dark Rooms looks set to contain another fantastic and thrilling murder mystery which I know I will get very wrapped up in.  I have no doubt that I am going to love Dark Rooms, as La Plante’ captivating writing style has never disappointed me before.

Amazon     Book Depository

 

 

That’s it for this week, check back in next Wednesday to see what progress I’ve made on my reading and what books I’ll be looking at next.

WWW Wednesday – 24 August 2022

WWW Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Taking on a World of Words, where bloggers share the books that they’ve recently finished, what they are currently reading and what books they are planning to read next. Essentially you have to answer three questions (the Three Ws):

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

So, let’s get to it.

What are you currently reading?

Blowback by James Patterson and Brendan Dubois (Trade Paperback)

Blowback Cover

I just started reading a particularly fun and captivating novel with the impressive Blowback.  Written by the team of the legendary James Patterson (author of such great recent books as 2 Sisters Detective Agency and Death of the Black Widow) and Brendan Dubois, Blowback is a very fun read that sees two CIA agents attempt to stop the evil machinations of an insane and brilliant American president.  I am about 50 pages into Blowback and the moment and so far I am deeply enjoying its intriguing and elaborate spy thriller plot.  I am extremely curious to see how this story develops, but this is already turning out to be a particularly awesome read.

Amazon     Book Depository

 

Glacier’s Edge by R. A. Salvatore (Audiobook)

Glacier's Edge Cover

I also recently started the new fantasy epic from the iconic R. A. Salvatore, Glacier’s Edge.  The sequel to last year’s excellent Starlight Enclave, Glacier’s Edge is the second book in The Way of the Drow series, which falls into Salvatore’s larger collection of Drizzt Do’Urden books.  Glacier’s Edge follows on from the previous book which ended with several of the protagonists in mortal danger, with help very far away.  Now it will fall to their one surviving member to recruit a new force of adventurers to rescue them, while a civil war brews deep underground in the Drow home city.  I haven’t made a lot of progress with Glacier’s Edge yet, but it is shaping up to be a pretty classic Salvatore fantasy adventure.  I am deeply intrigued to see what happens to the long-running characters in this book and I am expecting some amazing things from this cool book.

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What did you recently finish reading?

The Unbelieved by Vikki Petraitis (Trade Paperback)

The Unbelieved Cover

Wow, I finished off The Unbelieved a little while ago and I am still impressed with how amazing and moving it turned out to be. Featuring an extremely powerful and addictive crime thriller narrative, The Unbelieved was one of the best Australian novels I have read this year, as well as being one of the most distinctive and captivating debuts of 2022. Vikki Petraitis wrote something particularly special with The Unbelieved and it comes very highly recommended.  Review to follow soon.

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Death Masks by Jim Butcher (Audiobook)

Death Masks Cover

I finished Death Masks very quickly last week and it turned out to be just as epic and fun as I thought it would be.  An essential early entry in Jim Butcher’s iconic Dresden Files (check out my reviews for Storm FrontFool MoonGrave PerilSummer KnightBattle Ground and The Law), I had an absolute blast with Death Masks‘ outstanding and compelling story that saw wizard protagonist Harry Dresden caught between demons, vampires, holy knights, gangsters and more as he attempts to recover a holy artifact.  I have already reviewed this epic book (check out the link above) and ended up giving a full five-star review.  A must read for all fantasy readers and fans of this exceptional series!

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Blood Rites by Jim Butcher (Audiobook)

Blood Rite Cover

I was having such an incredible time with the Dresden Files series last week that the moment I finished Death Masks I immediately started listening to the next book in the series, Blood RitesBlood Rites was another outstanding entry in this great series and featured an amazing and layered narrative I had an exceptional time getting through.  This time the protagonist has to investigate a dangerous curse on an adult movie set while also opposing the machinations of two deadly groups of vampires, all the while dealing with some major family issues.  This was another ultra-impressive Dresden Files book and I swiftly got sucked into its epic tale.  Another book that is going to get a full five-star rating from me, Blood Rites is a fantastic and clever read that I cannot hype up enough.

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What do you think you’ll read next?

Upgrade by Blake Crouch

Upgrade Cover

The next book I am planning to read is the intriguing science fiction thriller, Upgrade, by acclaimed science fiction author Blake Crouch.  Following a man who is genetically modified against his will, Upgrade has an awesome story behind it, and I am extremely eager to see how it unfolds.  I already know that Crouch is an exceptional author, and I am exceedingly curious to find out what happens in his latest book.  I have a feeling that Upgrade is going to be one of the better books of 2022 and I am very excited to get into it.

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That’s it for this week, check back in next Wednesday to see what progress I’ve made on my reading and what books I’ll be looking at next.

WWW Wednesday – 10 August 2022

WWW Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Taking on a World of Words, where bloggers share the books that they’ve recently finished, what they are currently reading and what books they are planning to read next. Essentially you have to answer three questions (the Three Ws):

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

So, let’s get to it.

What are you currently reading?

The Unbelieved by Vikki Petraitis (Trade Paperback)

The Unbelieved Cover

 

Hide by Kiersten White (Audiobook)

Hide Cover

What did you recently finish reading?

The Darkening by Sunya Mara (Trade Paperback)

The Darkening Cover

 

Star Wars: The High Republic: Midnight Horizon by Daniel Jose Older (Audiobook)

Star Wars - Midnight Horizon Cover

 

Stay Awake by Megan Goldin (Trade Paperback)

Stay Awake Cover

 

Warhammer 40:000: Catachan Devil by Justin Woolley (Audiobook)

Catachan Devil Cover

What do you think you’ll read next?

Upgrade by Blake Crouch

Upgrade Cover

 

 

That’s it for this week, check back in next Wednesday to see what progress I’ve made on my reading and what books I’ll be looking at next.

WWW Wednesday – 3 August 2022

WWW Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Taking on a World of Words, where bloggers share the books that they’ve recently finished, what they are currently reading and what books they are planning to read next. Essentially you have to answer three questions (the Three Ws):

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

So, let’s get to it.

What are you currently reading?

The Darkening by Sunya Mara (Trade Paperback)

The Darkening Cover

I just started reading an intriguing new young adult fantasy novel today with The Darkening by Sunya Mara.  The Darkening is an intriguing and exciting novel set in a city surrounded by a magical storm that is slowly eating it away.  The story follows the daughter of a notorious rebel who joins the city’s elite magical guards to free him and get revenge on an evil prince.  I have made some decent progress on The Darkening and it is proving to be quite an awesome read with an outstanding story to it.  I am aiming to finish The Darkening off by the end of the week and I think this is going to turn out to be one of the better debuts of 2022.

 

Star Wars: The High Republic: Midnight Horizon by Daniel Jose Older (Audiobook)

Star Wars - Midnight Horizon Cover

I have also recently started listening to the audiobook version of the cool Star Wars tie-in novel, Midnight Horizon.  Part of The High Republic sub-series, Midnight Horizon is a young adult read that follows a group of young Jedi as they investigate Nihil on the planet of Corellia.  A continuation of several other great young adult High Republic books, such as Into the Dark and Out of the Shadows, Midnight Horizon has an interesting story to it so far, and I am really powering through it.  This is another book that I am hoping to finish off by the end of the week, and I am very curious to see how Midnight Horizon ties into some of the other High Republic books out there, such as the pivotal novel, The Fallen Star, which was released around the same time.

What did you recently finish reading?

Warhammer: Vampireslayer by William King (Audiobook)

Vampireslayer Cover

 

Dirt Town by Hayley Scrivenor (Trade Paperback)

Dirt Town Cover

 

Tribe by Jeremy Robinson (Audiobook)

Tribe Cover

What do you think you’ll read next?

Upgrade by Blake Crouch

Upgrade Cover

 

 

That’s it for this week, check back in next Wednesday to see what progress I’ve made on my reading and what books I’ll be looking at next.

Book Haul – 18 July 2022

I have been having an absolutely fantastic couple of week for books, as I have been lucky enough to receive several incredible and amazing new novels from some of my local publishers.  These novels include some truly awesome new releases, several of which I have been eagerly awaiting for some time.  I am extremely keen to check out all of the books below and they should make for some amazing reads.

The Accomplice by Steve Cavanagh

The Accomplice Cover

I just received the cool new entry in Steve Cavanagh’s awesome Eddie Flynn legal thriller series, The Accomplice, which sees conman lawyer Eddie Flynn defending the wife of a notorious serial killer. I have already read this book (see review above) and it was extremely good.  Highly recommended!

 

Stay Awake by Megan Goldin

Stay Awake Cover

I am pretty happy to have received an advance copy of the new book from fast-rising Australian author, Megan Goldin, Stay Awake.  I have been looking forward to Stay Awake for a while, especially after enjoying Goldin’s last two novels, The Escape Room and The Night Swim, and this new book sounds particularly impressive. Featuring a trippy thriller narrative about a woman who wakes up without her memory, Stay Awake has so much potential and it is sure to be an excellent and fantastic read.

 

The Crimson Thread by Kate Forsyth

The Crimson Thread Cover

I have already started reading the next book in the haul with the powerful historical drama, The Crimson Thread by Australian author Kate Forsyth.  Set in Crete during World War II, The Crimson Thread follows two Australian soldiers and a young Cretan woman as they attempt to weather the Nazi invasion while also dealing with their own dangerous love triangle.  I am rather enjoying this books so far and I should probably finish it off in the next day or so.

 

Upgrade by Blake Crouch

Upgrade Cover

I was particularly excited to receive a copy of Upgrade by the always impressive Blake Crouch, who has produced some outstanding and trippy science fiction novels recently.  This latest science fiction thriller looks at illegal genetic engineering and follows a man who has been “upgraded” into something more than human.  I already know that this book is going to be pretty damn epic and I will try and read Upgrade as soon as I can.

 

The Orphans by Fiona McIntosh

The Orphans Cover

I also received an advance copy of the new historical drama from Fiona McIntosh, who has another impressive sounding Australian novel coming out soon with The Orphans.  I have had a good time with some of McIntosh’s previous historical dramas, including The Champagne Wars, The Diamond Hunter, The Pearl Thief and The Spy’s Wife, and this new book has an interesting and moving narrative to it that will great to check out.

 

Dark Rooms by Lynda La Plante

Dark Rooms Cover

Another awesome book I just received is Dark Rooms, the new Tennison novel from the leading lady of crime fiction, Lynda La Plante.  Serving as a prequel to the Prime Suspect television series, the Tennison series has featured some amazing books so far, including Good Friday, Murder Mile, The Dirty Dozen, Blunt Force and Unholy Murder, all of which have made me a pretty major fan.  This new novel, Dark Rooms, features another intriguing murder mystery, that will not only see Tennison investigate a wealthy London family over a series of bodies, but will also feature a visit to Australia.  I am very excited to check Dark Rooms out and it is sure to be an outstanding read.

 

The Unbelieved by Vikki Petraitis

The Unbelieved Cover

I also received a copy of the powerful and intense debut thriller from Vikki Petraitis, The Unbelieved.  This intriguing book will follow a female detective who transfers to a small Australian town, only to discover that a dark and shocking secret waits for her there.  The Unbelieved is probably going to be the grimmest novel on this list and I am very certain it is going to be a gripping and moving read.

 

Picture You Dead by Peter James

Picture You Dead Cover

The final book on this list is the latest thriller from bestselling author Peter James, Picture You Dead.  The latest book in his Ray Grace series, Picture You Dead will see the protagonist dive into the world of fine art when a couple find a rare masterpiece and are subsequently targeted by a dangerous criminal. I haven’t had much chance to read many of James’ novels before (except his standalone book Absolute Proof), but I might try and check out Picture You Dead as it has a fascinating story to it.

 

Well that’s the end of this latest Book Haul post.  As you can see I have quite a bit of reading to do at the moment thanks to all these awesome books that have come in.  Let me know which of the above you are most interested in and make sure to check back in a few weeks to see my reviews of them.

Top Ten Tuesday – Most Anticipated Books Releasing in the Second Half of 2022

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme that currently resides at The Artsy Reader Girl and features bloggers sharing lists on various book topics.  For this latest Top Ten Tuesday participants need to list their top anticipated releases for the second half of 2022.

2022 has so far been a pretty amazing year for books, with some outstanding and impressive novels coming out and blowing me away.  However, the year is far from over and there are so many incredible and epic-sounding novels set for release in the second half of 2022.  To fill out this list I have scoured my list of anticipated upcoming releases and tried to work out which of the books coming out between the start of July and the end of December I am most looking forward to.

This proved to be a rather hard list to finalise, mainly because of how many awesome novels are coming out in the next six months.  I honestly had enough awesome upcoming novels on my radar to turn this into a Top 20, but I decided instead to make some hard decisions, and I ended up cutting out several impressive upcoming releases, leaving me with a list mostly featuring books from some of my favourite authors.  Despite this, I am rather happy with the eventual choices that I made, and I think that this list reflects which upcoming novels I am going to have the most fun reading.  Due to how much potential that I think the entries on this list have, several have previously appeared in my weekly Waiting on Wednesday articles, as well as on my recent Winter TBR list.   So let us get to my selections and find out which upcoming novels are my most anticipated releases for the second half of 2022.

Honourable Mentions:

The Accomplice by Steve Cavanagh – 21 July 2022

The Accomplice Cover

 

Oath of Loyalty by Kyle Mills (based on the books by Vince Flynn) – 13 September 2022

Oath of Loyalty Cover

 

Friends Like These by Jennifer Lynn Alvarez – 1 November 2022

Friends Like These Cover

 

Death to the Emperor by Simon Scarrow – 8 November 2022

Death to the Emperor Cover

List (by release date):

Upgrade by Blake Crouch – 12 July 2022

Upgrade Cover

An awesome sounding new science fiction thriller from the exceedingly talented Blake Crouch, this is sure to be an incredible read.

 

Glacier’s Edge by R. A. Salvatore – 9 August 2022

Glacier's Edge Cover

One of my all-time favourite authors, R. A. Salvatore, returns soon with another entry in his long-running Drizzt Do’Urden series.  This new upcoming novel will serve as a sequel to his 2021 novel, Starlight Enclave, and sounds like another fantastic adventure novel.

 

Nona the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir – 13 September 2022

Nona the Ninth Cover

I am very excited to see that captivating science fiction talent, Tamysn Muir, will continue her impressive, space-necromancer-centric, The Locked Tomb series later this year with Nona the Ninth.  Following on from the highly entertaining Gideon the Ninth (one of my favourite debuts of 2019) and the incredible Harrow the Ninth (one of my favourite book and audiobooks of 2020), Nona the Ninth has a ton of potential and I cannot wait to see how this trippy series continues.

 

The Bullet that Missed by Richard Osman – 15 September 2022

The Bullet That Missed Cover

There was no way that I was not going to include the latest entry in the hilarious and clever Thursday Murder Club series by Richard Osman on this list.  The sequel to The Thursday Murder Club (one of the best debuts of 2020) and The Man Who Died Twice (one of my favourite books and audiobooks of 2021), The Bullet that Missed looks set to bring back the titular team of retirees as they solve new murders around their retirement village.  Easily going to be one of the funniest and most addictive reads of the year, I am very excited for more of Osman’s entertaining hijinks.

 

The Golden Enclaves by Naomi Novik – 20 September 2022

The Golden Enclaves Cover Better

There are few upcoming books that I am more excited to read than The Golden Enclaves, the third and final book in Naomi Novik’s epic The Scholomance series.  Novik has really killed it with the first two books in this series, A Deadly Education and The Last Graduate, which followed a destructively gifted magical student as she tries to survive the deadliest magical school around.  These first two books were both incredible reads, and I am very, very keen to see how this series ends in The Golden Enclaves, especially after the massive cliff-hanger Novik left The Last Graduate on.  I have no doubt that this will live up to my extremely high expectations and this should prove to be pure and unadulterated awesomeness.

 

Star Wars: The High Republic: Convergence by Zoraida Cordova – 4 October 2022

Star Wars - Convergence Cover

I have been really enjoying the recent High Republic sub-series of Star Wars extended fiction, especially the main novels (Light of the Jedi, The Rising Storm and The Fallen Star), and whole new phase of The High Republic is about to start later this year.  While I am a little hesitant about the massive backwards time-skip (the entire second phase is set a substantial time before the first High Republic phase), I am very curious to see what sort of story is set out in the Convergence by Zoraida Cordova, which will set the tone for this second phase.

 

Usagi Yojimbo: Crossroads by Stan Sakai – 11 October 2022

Usagi Yojimbo - Crossroads Cover

I am extremely happy to be getting another volume in one of my favourite comic book series, the Usagi Yojimbo comics, later this year with the upcoming volume Crossroads.  This will be the second Usagi Yojimbo volume coming out this year (see my review for Tengu War!) and I am so very happy to get more Usagi action and excitement this year.  I already know this is going to be a brilliant comic, and Crossroads will no doubt contain more impressive stories and eye-catching artwork.

 

The Voyage of the Forgotten by Nick Martell – 3 November 2022

The Voyage of the Forgotten Cover

Another deeply impressive fantasy series ending this year is Nick Martell’s The Legacy of the Mercenary Kings series, which finishes off with The Voyage of the Forgotten in a few months’ time.  I have had such a brilliant time with this series, as both The Kingdom of Liars and The Two-Faced Queens have been truly epic and captivating reads with intense and complex stories.  As such, I am extremely eager to read The Voyage of the Forgotten to find out how everything is going to end.  While I am a little sad that this series will only contain three novels, I know that this finale is going to be an exceptional novel that will easily top my best of 2022 lists.

 

Desert Star by Michael Connelly – 8 November 2022

Desert Star Cover

I have been having a ton of fun with Michael Connelly’s spectacular crime fiction novels lately and I am very excited to get another Ballard and Bosch book in a few months’ time with Desert Star.  Following on from such great novels as Dark Sacred Night, The Night Fire and The Dark Hours, this upcoming book has an impressive sounding story to it and I am very excited to get involved in another powerful Connelly mystery.

 

City of Last Chances by Adrian Tchaikovsky – 8 December 2022

City of Last Chances Cover

The final book on this list is the highly compelling City of Last Chances by bestselling author Adrian Tchaikovsky.  Set in a rebellious magical city, City of Last Chances sounds like an extremely cool and intriguing fantasy novel, and I am very curious to read more from this highly regarded author, especially after having a great time reading his Warhammer 40,000 debut, Day of Ascension, earlier this year.  I look forward to seeing what amazing fantasy epic Tchaikovsky has planned for City of Last Chances, and I am sure it will end up being extremely great.

 

 

That is the end of this list.  I am extremely happy with how my latest Top Ten Tuesday article turned out, and this list contains an intriguing collection of upcoming books that should prove to be incredible reads.  I think that every one of the books I mentioned above has some amazing potential, and most, if not all, will probably end up with a full five-star rating from me.  I cannot wait to see what awesome and exciting stories the entries on this list contain, and I think that I am going to have an incredible time in the second half of 2022.  While I am waiting to get my hands on these books, why not let me know if any of the above interest you and let me know what your most anticipated releases for the next six months are in the comments below.

Top Ten Tuesday – Books on My Winter 2022 TBR

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme that currently resides at The Artsy Reader Girl and features bloggers sharing lists on various book topics.  The official Top Ten Tuesday topic for this week was around comfort reads, however, I decided to instead move up my quarterly post about the best upcoming books to read (TBR) for the following three months.  This is a regular post I do at the start of each season, and as this Tuesday is just before Winter (Summer for folks in the Northern Hemisphere), this is the ideal time to put this up.

For this list, I have come up with 10 of the most anticipated novels that are coming out between 1 June 2022 and 31 August 2022.  There are quite a few very cool novels set for release in the next few months that I am extremely excited for, including some of my most anticipated books and fantasy novels of the year.  Due to how impressive some of these upcoming books are, it took me a little while to finalise my list but I was eventually able to whittle it down into a Top Ten list (with a few honourable mentions).  I have primarily used the Australian publication dates to reflect when I will be able to get these awesome novels, and these might be somewhat different to the rest of the world.  I have previously discussed a number of these books before in prior Top Ten Tuesdays and Waiting on Wednesday articles and I think all of them will turn out to be pretty incredible reads.  I have extremely excited for the next three months as quite a few up these upcoming reads are easily going to be amongst the best books of 2022.

Honourable Mentions:

Firefly: What Makes Us Mighty by M. K. England – 19 July 2022

Firefly - What Makes Us Mighty Cover

Another awesome tie-in to the beloved Firefly franchise, What Makes Us Mighty is England’s first entry in this series and will see the crew stuck amid a deadly revolution.  This sounds like an exciting and fun read that I will no doubt have a blast with.

 

Seventeen: Last Man Standing by John Brownlow – 26 July 2022

Seventeen Cover

 

The Pride by Tony Park – 26 July 2022

The Pride Cover

Australia’s leading thriller author, Tony Park, returns with another intense and action-packed adventure set in Africa with The Pride.  This time his recurring protagonist, Sonja Kurtz, must contend with gangsters and poachers across multiple countries as she finds herself dragged into another deadly conspiracy.  Easily going to be one of the best Australia novels of 2022, I am extremely excited for this book.

 

Star Wars: The Princess and the Scoundrel by Beth Revis – 16 August 2022

Star Wars - The Princess and the Scoundrel Cover

Top Ten List:

Master of Furies by Raymond E. Feist – 1 June 2022

Master of Furies Cover

 

The Omega Factor by Steve Berry – 7 June 2022

The Omega Factor Cover

 

In the Shadow of Lighting by Brian McClellan – 21 June 2022

In the Shadow of Lightning Cover

 

The Martyr by Anthony Ryan – 28 June 2022

The Martyr Cover

 

Upgrade by Blake Crouch – 12 July 2022

Upgrade Cover

One of the leading names in science fiction, Blake Crouch, will soon unleash his next mind bending, futuristic thriller with Upgrade, sure to be one of the best books of the year.  Crouch’s latest novel will deal with genetic manipulation as a new protagonist finds himself being upgraded against his will as he is dragged into a terrible, world-ending plot.  I have some major hopes for this book, and I cannot wait to get my hands on it.

 

Star Wars: Shadow of the Sith by Adam Christopher – 19 July 2022

Shadow of the Sith Cover

 

The Accomplice by Steve Cavanagh – 26 July 2022

The Accomplice Cover

 

Glacier’s Edge by R. A. Salvatore – 9 August 2022

Glacier's Edge Cover

 

Stay Awake by Megan Goldin – 16 August 2022

Stay Awake Cover

 

All of Our Demise by Amanda Foody and Christine Herman – 30 August 2022

All of Our Demise Cover

 

 

Well, that is the end of my Top Ten list.  I think it turned out pretty well and it does a good job of capturing all my most anticipated books for the next three months.  Each of the above should be extremely epic, and I cannot wait to read each of them soon.  Let me know which of the above you are most excited for and stay tuned for reviews of them in the next few months.  In the meantime, it looks like I have quite a few books to get through soon and they should all be pretty awesome.

Outcast by Louise Carey

Outcast Cover

Publisher: Gollancz (Trade Paperback – 25 January 2022)

Series: Inscape – Book Two

Length: 394

My Rating: 4.75 out of 5

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Impressive rising science fiction author Louise Carey continues her awesome first series with Outcast, a brilliant and powerful cyberpunk thriller read that is incredibly fun and very clever.

Outcast is a sequel to Carey’s debut novel from last year, Inscape, which told a unique and intriguing story about espionage, betrayal and corporate politics in a cyberpunk world.  Set in the distant future after a major calamity, the fractured world is now ruled over by all-powerful and advanced corporations who battle for dominance while they attempt to create the latest in weaponry and bio-tech upgrades.  The protagonist of the series, Tantra, works as an intelligence operative for one of the largest companies, InTech, and investigates a mysterious theft that could have dire consequences for her company.  Filled with dystopian cyberpunk elements, such the built-in communication and information technology known as scapes, this ended up being an excellent and captivating science fiction thriller that was one of my favourite debuts of 2021.  Carey has continued her amazing series in a big way here with Outcast, which serves as an outstanding and impressive sequel to her first solo book.

Following the success of her first mission, Tantra’s life has been turned upside down.  Despite saving her company and uncovering a traitor, Tantra has been sidelined by a jealous supervisor and now works as a lowly security guard.  Worse, Tantra now knows the terrible truth: that the company who gave her everything has long controlled her mind with the invasive Harlow Programming, which she has since been freed from.  With her loyalties tested, Tantra is thrust back into the thick of the action when she discovers a bomb sent to InTech’s headquarters.

InTech soon finds itself thrust into a brutal corporate war with its main competitor, Throughfront.  The bombing of their headquarters is the latest in a series of attacks on InTech assets, and the board are desperate to get them under control.  Determining that she is their best operative to stop the culprits behind the attack, Tantra is assigned to the case.  Teaming up once again with her former partner, Cole, the brilliant scientist with severe gaps in his memory, Tantra attempts to find the culprit before they cripple InTech for good.

But, facing opposition from both deadly internal InTech politics and lethal external forces, their chance of succeeding seems slim, especially when they are banished to a remote InTech facility in the Unaffiliated Zone for the remainder of their investigation.  Barely escaping a deadly assassination attempt, this unconventional team find themselves caught in the middle of a dangerous conspiracy that is determined to bring InTech down for good.  However, when they discover that InTech is planning their own sinister machinations, will Tantra and Cole still be as eager to save their company?

Wow, Carey follows up her excellent solo debut in a big way here with Outcast.  This second book was even better than Inscape, taking the reader on a wild and action-packed adventure through the author’s unique cyberpunk world.  Bringing together some amazing characters with a powerful and thought-provoking narrative about control and the potential evils of technology, this was an exceptional read I powered through in a few short days.

Outcast has an excellent story that perfectly continues the fantastic narrative started in Inscape.  Taking place shortly after the events of the first book, Outcast sees a struggling Tantra and Cole once again placed in the middle of a big investigation with major implications, this time involving the destruction of company drones outside the city, which is impacting the company’s food supply.  At the same time, Tantra finds herself forced to deal with deadly company internal politics, while Cole finds himself involved with a mysterious rebel group who are attempting to stop InTech’s more troublesome activities, including their latest upgrade.  This forces them to venture outside of the city where they encounter unaffiliated mercenaries, enemy agents, dangerous rebels and deep secrets about InTech’s past.  The middle of this novel is filled with an excellent series of great emotional sequences, action scenes, world building, character development and shocking twists, as the protagonists get closer to finding out who is behind the attacks, as well as the true plans of their parent company.  This leads up to a brilliant final sequence where the protagonists are forced to make some very hard decisions in a great no-winners situation.  This leads up to the amazing and powerful conclusion where the protagonists, despite their best efforts, are left devastated by the events that unfolded, and which ensures that all the readers will be back for the third entry in this awesome series.

There are so many cool elements to Outcast which really help to turn it into a first-class read.  I deeply enjoyed the way the impressive story unfolded, and Carey makes great use of a couple of alternate character perspectives to tell a unique and multifaceted tale, such as the entertaining scenes told from the perspective of a smarmy and desperate secondary antagonist.  The author does a great job of combining a thriller storyline with the unique science fiction elements, and it results in a fast-paced and action-packed story that takes the time to explore certain technological implications.  There are some brilliant twists loaded throughout the book which are well paced out and ensure that the reader is constantly on their toes.  I liked how, despite the sheer amount of world building featured in the first book, Outcast still came across as an accessible novel, and new readers can probably jump into the series here.  That being said, I think you would be missing out if you didn’t try Inscape first as this sequel does an amazing job building on and expanding some excellent storylines from Carey’s debut.  However, nothing will compete with the awesome ending that this novel has, and the reader is chucked through the emotional wringer as the book’s characters are put into an impossible situation, which produces some very dark results for them.

The excellent cyberpunk science fiction elements of this series once again shine in Outcast as Carey continues to explore the advanced biotech that was such a great feature of the first novel.  Not only is a lot of this technology very cool, especially as it results in some brilliant moments in some of the action sequences, but this mind-connected technology continues to be a key part of the plot.  Multiple storylines examine the ethics behind this technology, especially as the protagonists are now fully aware of the full extent of their parent company’s attempts to program their employees’/residents’ minds using their scapes.  This leads to some intriguing and deep discussions, especially as you get to see corporate greed and a desire for control weighed up against the rights of a person and their desire for independent thought and identity.  This exciting look at the series’ unique technology becomes even more intense and important as Outcast continues, especially when certain new advancements are revealed which could have devastating impacts on all the characters.  I loved how deep and captivating some of the scenes involving this technology get, and it results in some of the best bits of the entire book.  I cannot wait to see what happens with these cool technological aspects later in the series and I imagine it is going to be very fun.

I was also very impressed with the incredible character work featured throughout this book as Carey did a wonderful job expanding on her complex and damaged protagonists.  Like Inscape, Outcast is primarily focused on the characters of Tantra, a young intelligence officer, and Cole a formerly unethical scientist whose memory was completely erased, giving him a very different personality while retaining his brilliant mind.  These two formed a unique and fun pairing in Inscape, where they both experienced a lot of development and trauma, and it was great to see them back together again here.

Both characters had some brilliant moments throughout the novel, especially Tantra, who realised in the first book that her mind and her actions have been subtly controlled by a program her entire life.  Now rid of the Harlow Programming, Tantra is in full control of her mind, but must keep this hidden from InTech, who would kill her or reprogram her if they found out.  Forced to act like the obedient drone they think she is, Tantra chafes against the restrictions and contradictions of her superiors and the company, as she can see many of the injustices or manipulations now that her mind is solely hers.  This also results in are also some excellent ethical and loyalty implications for her as she can finally see how nefarious InTech, the company who raised her, really are, and she must decide whether she is still loyal to them.  It was especially powerful to see how her relationship with Reet, her lifelong romantic partner, has been changed.  Reet is still infected by the Harlow Programming, and Tantra can only watch as she toes the company line and fails to understand Tantra’s many concerns, criticisms or newly awakened point of view.  This puts some real strain on their relationship, and it was heartbreaking to see Tantra suffer even though she is now free.  This was easily the best character work in the entire book, and if the tragedies and hard decisions that occurred towards the end of Outcast are any indication, Tantra is going to be in for a rough ride in the third book.

Cole also had some outstanding moments in Outcast as he continues to struggle with his sense of self and identity following his memory loss and the eventual revelation that his past self was responsible for many of InTech’s evils, including the Harlow Programming.  Now mistreated and mistrusted by InTech, Cole works with a mysterious group outside of InTech to try and bring them down, while also attempting to learn more about his past actions and what led him to do what he did.  He does get some of the answers he wants as the story progresses, especially when he is reunited with an old colleague, but it only leads to tragedy and despair.  Cole’s story gets pretty dark in places, especially when he realises how InTech have repurposed and enhanced his original work, and it was fascinating to learn more about his past mistakes.

Aside from these two, there are several awesome supporting characters who also add a lot to the novel, especially as several of them are utilised as point of view characters.  This includes Douglas Kenway, a senior director at InTech and Tantra’s boss, who is determined to keep his position and power no matter what.  Convinced that Tantra is gunning for his job, he spends most of the novel trying to undermine her, while also inching closer to discovering the truth about her lack of Harlow Programming.  Kenway serves as an excellent secondary antagonist, and his dive into company politics and sabotage of the protagonist adds a fantastic and entertaining edge to the novel that I really enjoyed.  Despite his self-centred nature, Kenway does provide an intriguing alternate perspective on the events of the book, and he gives some corporate context for much of what is going on.  I also really liked how his fears were mostly realised towards the end of the book, although not in the way he expected.  I should also mention new character, Fliss, the leader of a rogue gang out in the Unaffiliated Zone who gets dragged into the conspiracy attacking InTech.  Fliss provides another great alternate perspective, especially as she and her friends have no technological upgrades to their bodies and are naturally human.  I liked the story that surrounded Fliss, especially as she struggles to control her gang when forced to work for a corporation, and she ended up being an excellent addition to the plot.  These characters, and more, help to turn Outcast into a first-rate book, and I deeply enjoyed seeing all these amazing personal stories unfold.

Louise Carey continues to shine as one of the most impressive new authors of cyberpunk fiction out there with her second novel, Outcast.  This outstanding sequel does a brilliant job of continuing the powerful storylines from Inscape, while also introducing new dangers, betrayals, and some great characters.  Filled with action, intense character moments and captivating cyberpunk science fiction elements, Outcast is a fantastic novel that proves to be exceedingly addictive and fun.  I am really starting to get hooked on this outstanding series, and all cyberpunk and science fiction fans need to do themselves a favour and check out Carey’s impressive Inscape series.

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