Book Review: SYLO by D.J. MacHale

Posted July 29, 2013 by Kara in book review, Kara / 14 Comments

Book Review: SYLO by D.J. MacHaleSylo by D. J. MacHale
Series: The SYLO Chronicles #1
Published by Razorbill on July 2nd, 2013
Genres: science fiction, young adult
Pages: 407
Format: ARC
Source: Won
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three-stars

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.

#1 New York Times bestselling author D.J. MacHale brings his brilliant plotting and breathless pacing to SYLO, the first in this ultimate end-of-the-world adventure trilogy.

The first thing I noticed about in the first couple pages of SYLO is how straightforward and kind of dull the writing was. It lacked atmosphere. As I was reading along, there were moments when I started to like the book, but then Tucker would say or do something stupid and I would be back to disliking it again. The thing is, I never hated the story. But I never liked the characters one bit. Especially since they were incredibly flat and I couldn’t figure out their motivations or personalities.


The book starts off with a bang but quickly gets boring. I thought this was really freaking weird. It’s a Sci-Fi Dystopia and those are usually paced really quickly, and there is a point where it picks up again, but I specifically marked page 56 as a boring spot. The first chapter was really exciting and riveting, and aside from the flat writing, quickly caught my attention. But it fizzles out quickly. So I definitely need to mention the uneven pacing in the beginning. 

The other thing that really irritated me about SYLO is how stupid the MC is. I love my characters flawed and real, but I have a hard time when they keep making stupid mistake after stupid mistake. He actually takes a drug from a stranger and ingests it. And it’s not like it was pot or something he was aware of. It’s a completely unknown substance and he has NO IDEA what it is going to do to him. Not to mention, he is aware that it has KILLED someone and he still takes it. No. Just no.

There is a point in the novel though (probably about halfway) where I became engaged in the plot again and started to like what I was reading. It was definitely not perfect because of the characters and writing, but I have to give the author kudos for a plot that through me for a loop. I could not figure out what was going on. I had a couple of theories but both turned out to be wrong. That’s good, right? It’s hard though because all throughout the book, the MC keeps doing stupid things. He immediately thinks SYLO is the enemy without one lick of proof. It’s all speculation. SYLO does some bad things, but how does he know they are not the good guys? He doesn’t. And this made me angry. 

Based on the disappointing ending and everything else, I really wanted to give this book a two, but I can’t justify that because I did enjoy the story to a point. There are just a lot of missing technical elements here that made me have to knock down a couple of stars. And the ending is just…not okay, in my opinion. The reader was led to believe that they would get some answers at the end. And no…aside from one reveal that wasn’t even that major, you get NOTHING. It’s such a cheap ploy to read the next book. It’s not really a cliffhanger but it leaves you hanging in the worst way and that’s just really annoying. Very frustrating finish.

 

14 responses to “Book Review: SYLO by D.J. MacHale

  1. I might be able to handle the pace if it weren’t for the MC. The plot does sound really good, and I like that it wasn’t predictable. But I find that I tend to enjoy books less if I can’t connect to the characters, and the MC sounds too frustrating here. And then to get no answers? I’m sorry this didn’t really work for you overall, Kara, but thanks for the honest, wonderful review. 🙂

    Aa’Ishah @ Reading Under the Stars

  2. I think I’ll pass. I’m tired of reading awesome ideas with bad characters. Based on your description, I don’t think I’d enjoy reading SYLO either, which is a shame since it has a cool premise. Awesome review btw.

    – P.E. @ The Sirenic Codex

  3. Lol yeah the dude wasn’t the smartest tool in the shed. Though I think he believed you had to take a lot for it to kill you, but yeah. My biggest problem with this book was the writing. The use of “…” to make it suspenseful annoyed me and it made it sound kind of juvenile – like a kid’s book or wtv. But anyways, I liked the plot a lot and I was actually happy by the ending, we don’t get many answers other then to find out the status of the rest of the world but I would have been disappointed if it was aliens or some crap. Glad it didn’t make you totally hate it though 😉 I gave it the same rating in the end.

    • I see what you are saying. I didn’t particularly hate the writing but I thought it was super flat. I also really liked the plot. I am glad you liked the ending, I just wanted more answers. I don’t like being left hanging like that.

  4. Amy

    I’ve been seeing a lot of mixed reviews on this, but I am still interested in reading it eventually. I think that I would be irritated by the MC at points too if he keeps doing stupid stuff. I’m glad that even though there was a lot that bothered you, you were still able to enjoy the story. Great review as always hon!

  5. “The first thing I noticed about in the first couple pages of SYLO is how straightforward and kind of dull the writing was. It lacked atmosphere.”
    It kind of seems like a lot of YA sci-fi is like this, like in the vein of THG and trying for that scientific tell-all flat voice that doesn’t provide an atmosphere or mood unless done *especially* well.

    “It’s a completely unknown substance and he has NO IDEA what it is going to do to him. Not to mention, he is aware that it has KILLED someone and he still takes it. No. Just no.”
    Okay, so teens make stupid decisions but willingly taking a drug that could kill you and might not have ANY benefit whatsoever? How did that make it past the editing stages?

    “He immediately thinks SYLO is the enemy without one lick of proof. It’s all speculation. SYLO does some bad things, but how does he know they are not the good guys? He doesn’t. And this made me angry.”
    This, too, seems to crop in a lot of YA dystopian lit. Can’t just say the baddies are bad; gotta show it too!

    “aside from one reveal that wasn’t even that major, you get NOTHING. It’s such a cheap ploy to read the next book. It’s not really a cliffhanger but it leaves you hanging in the worst way and that’s just really annoying.”
    Oh, hell no. Those are the worst. One author who used this at the end of her book mentioned that it’s not actually a cliffhanger, cause it’s not leaving the characters in danger, just leaving a question that’ll be addressed in the next book… but if you can’t hook readers with an ending that’s not like this, well, what makes you think this kind of ending is the right thing to do?

    • Well it does have a benefit. Like a steroid, it gives you extra strength and speed, but immediately. Thing is, he is aware it could kill him and he does it anyway.

      Yes, the world building had issues.

      Agree about what you said about endings. I don’t mind open threads but I need SOME answers or I get mad.

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