Quality DNA by Beth Martin


It’s so cool to see books you read in the beta stage get published. This book was one of my first beta reads, and it was a well-polished novel then. I liked it so much, in fact, I re-read it in its final form (and I very rarely do that because reading time = precious!)

Plot: In the future, due to overpopulation, each person is only allowed to have one child. DNA is monitored and men are sterilized after fathering an offspring. Except for some reason, babies are being born matching the DNA of dead men of exceptional talents, and it’s up to the social department’s investigator Irene to figure out how it’s possible.

First of all, I loved the diversity of this book. The main character is a lesbian woman, married to a bisexual Korean woman. You want to read it already, don’t you? Race, gender, and sexuality is represented not only well, but in abundance, and with no negative connotation. A+ in my book!

The characters are another big plus. No one is perfect or pure evil, just like in life. The relationships in this book, be it friends, family, or romance, are very real. I had genuine feelings when things happened to them.

The story itself is quite on the sci-fi side, and more than a dose of suspending disbelief is required. For many of the main points, such as the reasoning for population control, you just have to take them as is and not try to pick it apart. Enjoy it for what it is and you won’t be disappointed.

You can pre-order Quality DNA on Amazon.


The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood (book and show)


I wasn’t going to write a review until the Hulu series was over, but since they’ve been renewed for season 2 in 2018, I’ve decided not to wait.

Like many others, I was intrigued by the Superbowl ad for The Handmaid’s Tale on Hulu and decided to read the book before the show aired. Not my usual genre, but hey, why not. I’m not going to do a ‘review’ as this book is a classic, but I want to talk about it, and the show.

First of all, I was shocked by how accurately Atwood portrayed the pre-Gilean society. This book was written in 1986, before I was born, and yet it felt like today. From banks freezing all credit cards to martial law due to terrorist attacks, these predictions are the fears we all have – today. The TV show took it one step further and showed us the technology too, but what’s crazy is it didn’t feel like it strayed from the book. It felt right. And terrifying.

Of course, today this gender-apocalypse wouldn’t be a possibility in the US. Not in the same way. Why, you ask? We are already on the same path! I’ll tell you why. Because America is a nation of guns. And when shit hits the fan, and some militia comes in and shoots at protesters, we can shoot back. We will shoot back. If the government, or a government, says we need to give up our guns, there would be no one to enforce it because those who can, also own guns. I think, in a lot of movies and books, we forget that every thug and soldier is a human being. They have mothers, lovers, daughters. And guns. Our God-given right to protect ourselves from this very thing. No religious rhetoric would work on this belief. It simply would not fly.

Anyway, I enjoyed the book, and I’m currently enjoying the show. Some of the scenes are downright haunting, like the one where Moira asked if they would be having actual intercourse with the men. Her face was just…it hit me hard. There’s rape in the book, but it’s so much worse in the show because you see it happening over and over again, and no one cares, and you just want to scream THIS IS RAPE YOU ARE RAPING HER RAPE RAPE RAPE but it won’t matter. It’s nauseating.

To be honest, I didn’t really like the show at first. I thought the narration was forced, jarring even, like reading random lines from the book. But I got used to it. I love the memory sequences the most, learning about their lives before the regime. I do hope we get more than the book, since the ending was so abrupt. I hope we get to see the regime fall and June reunited with her daughter.

One can only hope.

The Selection by Kiera Cass


Since arranged-marriage-turned-love scenarios are my guilty pleasure books, I figured I’d give this a try. It’s kind of a modern fairy tale, and I’ve been eyeing these covers for a while.

I almost read the whole thing in one sitting. Because who needs sleep?

Just like watching TLC or any of those Bachelor TV shows, this book was the chocolate bar hidden in the underwear drawer. It was the perfect compilation of teenage romance and class dystopia, with royalty, and a love triangle, and that special girl who could have been anyone – even you.

And I loved it.

A part of me feels like a cheat reviewer giving this book 5 stars when the top voted Goodreads reviews are mostly 1 star because it’s unoriginal or the names are ridiculous or a myriad of reasons, but I don’t care. I enjoyed it. Yes, it was no literary masterpiece but reading it made me happy and isn’t that what life is all about?

However, I will say that I will not be picking up the next one. I was on the fence because I didn’t like how the competition didn’t end with book 1, so I was curious, but apparently in book 2 the love triangle continues on in a way that’s just not my style. No thanks. So I’ll sit the rest of this series out and keep the shiny memories of this 5 star in my head.

Overall, a very enjoyable guilty pleasure read. Don’t expect anything but that and you’ll be satisfied.

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline


Sometimes you read a book, and you wonder ‘why did I wait so long?’ Because it’s So. Freaking. Good.

That’s how I felt about Ready Player One.

Maybe I’m biased, because a small part of me lives in World of Warcraft (though there was a time when all of me did, much like the book). Wade’s feelings were a mirror of my own on so many levels, from friendships to anxiety to the sense of belonging in the virtual world more than the real one.

And who is to say what’s real and what isn’t? The people are real. The excitement over finally killing a raid boss is real. The memories of playing are real. As John Lennon (and many others) have said, Time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.

They may be just pixels on a screen but we are all just atoms in the universe. 

Anyway, back to the book.

Since I grew up in Russia I didn’t get most of the 80’s references, so for me it wasn’t as a trip down memory lane as for most people reading this book. ‘Nostalgia-porn’ as other reviewers seem to call it. I had to piece together a lot of it from my pop culture studies and teenage years in the anime club. Still, I enjoyed everything from start to finish. I truly did not want to put this book down. It made me wish Blizzard did a scavenger hunt in WoW, but at the same time it would just be datamined so it probably wouldn’t work. Still, maybe a live hunt, where you had to find a dev in game in a certain amount of time and then get a clue to the next place. That would be awesome. No million dollar reward needed.

I truly loved this book and boy was I ecstatic when I found out they were making a movie! /dance

So if you like MMOs you will probably enjoy this, even if you haven’t grown up in the 80s or in English-speaking countries.