The Family: The Brotherhood
By Donte M McNeal

Based in Michigan, Donte's Playground is a blog by Donte M McNeal. His posts range from nonsensical ramblings about anime, in-depth reviews of books and television/film, to random spurts of philosophical babble.

Johan Twiss' "I Am Sleepless" Series

Johan Twiss' "I Am Sleepless" Series

Howdy folks! I'm back this week with a series recommendation. I enjoyed these two books immensely, and I just had to do a spotlight on them. They're that entertaining! What are they? Well, I'm the post title gave it away, but the series I'm talking about today is Johan Twiss' I Am Sleepless series.

I Am Sleepless: Sim 299 (Book 1)

Book 1 cover

Book 1 cover

So, there aren't many books that I know I'm going to enjoy merely based off the premise alone, but Sim 299 was one of them. I mean, the pitch was "Avatar the Last Airbender meets Ender's Game", and those are two properties I enjoyed much more than I should be willing to admit. The start of the story pulls you in, and though it took a short while to understand what each of the Prime abilities were (which I could have learned by going to the tail end of the book where the abilities and their defects are listed), I could tell that this book was going to be entertaining (especially the action sequences). It did not disappoint.

Our introduction to the main character and his close friends was great. Early on, you get a gist of the types of characters that Aidan, Fig, and Palomas are. I must say, I adore characters who can utilize sarcasm effectively. Makes them that much more entertaining and likeable in my opinion.

Our main character, Aidan reminded me of the generic OP main characters from shounen anime. What I mean by that, is he is a likeable, confident and charismatic person, and he has the aura of a natural leader. Also, he's the "chosen one," for lack of a better term. He is anything but generic though. He is fleshed out enough that you can't help but care for him and those around him. One of the many good things about this book, is that the side characters get important character arcs, not just Aidan (even if they aren't necessarily as important as Aidan).

The powers of the Primes were creative. I don't read a lot of sci-fi, so maybe they aren't as original as I think, but changing body density, vibration-based powers, mek suits, and the eidetic abilities were all interesting powers. The puzzler power was the most intriguing to me. Can't wait to learn more about the abilities in this Sleepless-verse.

The monsters in the story weren't wholly creative, since they were mish-mashes of creatures we know. They were terrifying for sure, but could have been more creative still. However, the illustrations of said monsters were a nice touch.

All in all, I enjoyed this book more than most I've read in recent memory.

I Am Sleepless: The Huntress (Book 2)

Book 2 cover

Book 2 cover

To say I was excited and (I'm)patiently waiting for this sequel would be a massive understatement. I enjoyed the first book so much! The characters were interesting, the world immersive, and the abilities creative and bittersweet. The Huntress was more of the same.

The pacing was steady throughout, holding my attention the entire book. The character interactions had me laughing, getting suspicious and worrying about the characters more than I think is healthy hahaha...haha..ha. These characters grabbed me in Sim 299, and reading trough The Huntress, I was reminded just how much I cared about Aidan and co. (Paloma is freakin' awesome and officially my favorite character). I'll be honest, even Sheva, the titular Huntress, grew on me as a character, especially as you learn more about her.

The Huntress picks up where Sim 299 left off, with Aidan and his brothers and sister having beat Sim 299, and learned secrets that put them in grave danger. They are forced to escape from the facility they've spent their entire lives in, and must learn to survive the harsh world outside Mount Fegorio. We get to see this small family overcome hurdles that would be difficult for adults to deal with, let alone children. And speaking of their age, I constantly forgot that they were children, with all the unfortunate things that happened to them, and how it seemed the world was against them. You feel their pain when they go through something horrible, their struggles (and the accompanying anxiety) become yours, and their triumphs bring with them a sense of satisfaction unlike any other I've experienced from a book in years.

There's something about this world and the characters that inhabit it; Twiss has created something special, something original, something that refuses to let you go. The Huntress brings back the characters I loved from Sim 299, builds on them while introducing even more characters that have burrowed their way into my heart, mind and soul. The more you learn about these characters, the harder it is to deny them a place in your life. The Huntress is an outstanding follow-up to Sim 299, which was one of my favorite reads last year. It ups the stakes in ways I didn't expect, making me care even more about these characters and their journeys. I'll be eagerly (and impatiently) awaiting the next book, Traitors and Tyrants.

This series earns my highest recommendation:

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