Lab Rat One : Touchstone Part 2

Rated 4.83/5 based on 6 reviews
Test subject was not the career path Cassandra Devlin had been planning.

In the months since Cass walked off Earth onto another planet, she has grappled with everything from making blankets to helping psychics battle the memories of monsters. And discovered she is a valuable thing called a Touchstone.

Can Cass learn what that means in time to save not only her rescuers, but herself? More
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About Andrea K Höst

A Swedish-born Australian writer working in fantasy and science fantasy.

Learn more about Andrea K Höst
About the Series: Touchstone
Cass walks into adventure. Adventure gives her blisters.

Also in Series: Touchstone

Also by This Author

Reviews of Lab Rat One : Touchstone Part 2 by Andrea K Höst

Tsana Dolichva reviewed on April 3, 2013

Lab Rat One by Andrea K Höst is the second book in the Touchstone trilogy, following on immediately from Stray. This is definitely not the kind of series you could read out of order and still easily follow what was going on.

Lab Rat One continues to tell Cassandra's story, the Sydney girl that took a wrong turn and ended up on another planet. The story continues with more of her training with the Setari — psychic space ninjas — and more discovery's of the alien people's past. As with the first book, the plot is driven in large part by things unexpectedly happening to Cass, often as part of the larger experimentation with her still mysterious powers. It gave me the inescapable feeling that she is both terribly unlucky and very lucky to still be alive. She continues to almost die a lot.

The writing has gotten tighter in this volume. Whereas in book one I felt there were some slow bits, I didn't get that feeling in Lab Rat One, where everything moved things along or was hilarious. The last quarter or so of the book (roughly from the snowball fight onwards, for those familiar with it) made me giggle a lot and the very end, though slightly surprising, was well done and made me happy and keen to keep reading.

The way the romance was done (or not done) in this book appealed to me. Without spoilers, Cass has a crush (since Stray, actually) on one of the Setari but decides that a relationship between them is unlikely to happen. She spends a lot of time trying not to have a crush on him, unsuccessfully but without it getting tedious for the reader. The former aspect struck me as realistic in the circumstances. She also doesn't let her feelings get in the way of almost dying her work.

One thing that didn't quite fit for me but I couldn't quite put my finger on when I was reading Stray is the YA label for this series. At first I put it down to the diary entry style being unusual, but I think it's more than that. Yes, Cass is eighteen so if the only requirement for YA is a teenage protagonist, it does technically fit the bill. But the story starts after she's finished school when — aliens notwithstanding — she would be starting to make her way in the world as an adult. Much as I'm not fond of the moniker, perhaps "new adult" is more apt than "young adult". Don't let either of those labels put you off though; it's first and foremost a science fiction book and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to readers of all ages. (Or if the term "science fiction" puts you off — why are you reading this blog? — my all means latch onto one of the other labels.)

I loved Lab Rat One and I couldn't not pick up the third book after I finished it (which was very inconvenient, since it was the middle of the night). For anyone who enjoyed Stray, this is a must read. If you thought Stray was kinda all right but weren't sold on reading more, I strongly encourage you to give Lab Rat One a go.

5 / 5 stars

You can read more of my reviews on my blog.
(reviewed 6 days after purchase)
Witchmag reviewed on Dec. 16, 2012

Wow, WOW and again WOW! Usually I like a sequel about the same as the first book or a bit less, because the concept isn’t as new. But not with this one, this one rocked! Although there is less action, it’s great to discover the planet Muina. This is the planet where Cass landed and managed to survive on her own for a month. I had so many questions while reading this book that I had no other choice than to read this book in one go. But I was very sad when it ended, since a lot of my questions haven’t been answered yet. So now I’m waiting till the third book comes at the end of this month. Sigh, have to wait a bit more…

So many things happened in this book, so much I just couldn’t write a summary about the beginning as I usually do for you guys. So many important events happened that I would have had to copy the entire beginning to write a fitting summary ^^ So this time you’ll have to figure out if this book is something for you by reading just the review and blurb .

Despite that there was less “real action” in this book, so much happened that I was nearly overwhelmed, occasionally. But that just added to the fun! I wasn’t bored for a minute while reading this story. Although, because of all the events, it was easy to forget. Not really a compliment, but if you consider the fact that I’m actually planning to read this book again soon, it is. I can’t give a bigger compliment to Mrs. Höst. Even Twilight, a book I also loved, I read only once, but I think I’ll be rereading this book often! It’s just that good ^^

The focus in this book was the rediscovery of the world were Cass was found, Muina. And what an amazing world it is! Since it’s been completely abandoned by people for some time it returned to how our Earth once was: untouched. The world is described in such a way it’s like seeing a movie and what a beautiful world it is! It reminded me a bit of the nature in the movie Avatar. I especially liked that winter started and there was snow everywhere. That doesn’t happen often at my home, and since I love snow I really enjoyed reading that part ^^

Cass is again subject to the necessary tests and spends much of her time in the medical facility, especially after her powers start to grow. Definitely her ”favorite place to be” . With every page I read, I love her more and more. Despite everything she experiences she stays with both her feet firmly planted on the ground. She has a very hard time when her powers develop, but she isn’t put down by it and trains very hard to keep them under control. Although staring at a certain handsome Setari might or might not help that process .

Overall rating 5 hearts. I loved this book from the beginning to the end. I enjoyed reading about Muina and the untouched nature. I’d love to visit a place like that once! I can recommend this book to everyone who loves a good science fiction, but I advice to read the first book first, otherwise you won’t understand a thing that’s going on . At the moment I’m impatiently waiting for the last book of this series. I so wanna now what happens next!
(reviewed 2 years after purchase)
wayne michael reviewed on Feb. 21, 2012

Another great adventure that will keep you busy for hours waiting for the next thing to happen to our heroic young lady.

Exploring strange planets and new technology is something I can only dream of.. and I like to dream!
(reviewed 30 days after purchase)
Emily reviewed on Oct. 31, 2011

I loved both this book and the first book. It was great to read books featuring a strong female lead. Can't wait for the next one. After reading this, picked up others by the author and loved them.
(reviewed 25 days after purchase)
Lexie Cenni reviewed on Sep. 19, 2011

One of my complaints about Stray, the first book, was that we see so little of the world outside of the Setari compound once Cass is sent there to train/live/be tested.  That's mostly resolved in this book, though we still see much more of the entertainment side of things then the actual society.  Cass is a catalyzing effect for the entire planet--politically, culturally, medically, you name it and Cass in some way effects it.  For parts of the book Cass is detached from this; due to the nature of her living arrangements and her abilities she doesn't spend much time with others.

Some of that changes.  With news of her being leaked and her life being used as a publicity stunt things begin to boil over for both Cass and her Setari friends.  It got a bit tedious though whenever Cass would decide to become stronger, or healthier or more productive only to get horribly sick or lost or a flare up of her powers making things go crazy.  It felt like Cass never got better.  I'm not sure if Host is doing this on purpose, leading up to something life-altering in the third (and final) book Caszandra or if its just really plot convenient to keep her constantly at health risk.

Occasionally Cass would lapse into what seemed like perfect Taren, but overall she still had many of the language difficulties she faced in the first book.  An expansion of her powers affords her the opportunity to show her friends more of Earth (or Urth), which kind of cracked me up.  Host peppers both books with a lot of pop cultural references, some of which I get (Johnny Depp!  Doctor Who!) and some of which I think are more Australian based and out of the scope of my understanding.  She actually does a really good job keeping the slang and colloquialisms to a minimum, but some crop up that I have no experience with and the context is not always handy.

Friendships and relationships deepen, though as this is in diary format I'm wary of truly trusting them.  A person's diary is never truly unbiased, thoughts and beliefs are colored by experiences, though with her abilities reaching new heights Cass is remarkably intuitive at times.  I'm a bit miffed with how things turned with Ruuel....another drawback of the diary format is that since its all on Cass to describe what happens she can't describe what she doesn't see or understand.  So why she thinks Ruuel is angry is a guess at best or why he seems to be comforting is just a deduction.  It made it hard to 'get' the relationship between the two.

As of the end of the second book we're at mid-July (the book having covered April 2nd or so to July 13th) and about nine months have passed for Cass since she ended up on Muina.  Things are reaching some sort of head and I'm rather worried for the outcome.  The cover of the third book isn't at all encouraging, so a bit worried about that I won't lie. 
(reviewed 40 days after purchase)
carod reviewed on Aug. 29, 2011

Lab Rat One is the second book in the Touchstone trilogy by Andrea K. Host. It is a YA science fiction novel written in the form of a diary. Cassandra Devlin is an 18 Australian who walked through a "gate" into another world. In the second book she has been on the technologically advanced world of Tare for a few months. She is now a "touchstone": someone who enhances the psychic powers of others. She has become an invaluable weapon in the continuing war of the Setari (or "psychic ninjas" as she calls them) and the Ionoth, monsters in the shattered shadow worlds that surround Tare, and which encroach on and attack their world. Cass also becomes the key to unlocking many of the mysteries on the Tareans' original home planet Muina. As her powers grow, so does the danger she is in. She also deepens her relationship with some of the Setari, including some romantic complications.

As in the first book, Cass uses on line gaming, television and SF & F references to understand and describe her experiences. This is a clever device which helps explain Cass's ability to cope with all the strangeness around her in a humorous way. It is reminiscent of Spider Robinson's SF and Host's style is similar in many ways. There is a glossary and dramatis personae in the appendix which are helpful for those unfamiliar with Australian and gamer slang or who are not as familiar with reading fantasy fiction rich in its own invented language.

I think I enjoyed this book even more than the first. Cass really grows up in this book. Her relationships deepen and develop. We learn more about, and come to care about, the other characters. Cass has difficult choices to make and frightening discoveries about herself and her growing powers. The mysteries deepen, as does the danger. Unfortunately the last book of the trilogy isn't out until December!

There is some mild sexuality and swearing but no content inappropriate for YA readers. I would recommend this book for readers who enjoy SF & F from authors such as Maria Snyder.
(reviewed 3 days after purchase)
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