I honestly had somewhat high expectations for The Border, mainly because I've heard great things about McCammon's Swan Song. Plus, after being burnedI honestly had somewhat high expectations for The Border, mainly because I've heard great things about McCammon's Swan Song. Plus, after being burned out over post-apocalyptic/dystopian novels, I'm starting to come back to it with a vengeance. So, I thought The Border was going to be all types of great. However, The Border was somewhat of a mess...a sometimes (or rarely) interesting kind of mess.
My main issue with The Border was that it was an immense slog to get through. The beginning was somewhat interesting, and the middle even more so. However, once the end started to roll around, I realized that I was dying to put this book down so that I could start on another (any) one. And when I did put it down, I was dreading picking it back up. It was just one of those books where the pacing was all over the place. What was even worse was that I didn't care about any of the characters or what they were going through. There's absolutely no development in any of the characters and I sometimes got them mixed up. I didn't even care enough to figure out who was who.
So, overall, I found The Border to be disappointing. Some of the alien stuff was interesting, but for the most part, I was utterly bored while reading this book. It still hasn't put me off reading Swan Song, though....more
I was skeptical when it came to The Silence. I love monster books and movies, I really do. However, I'm more partial to horror books and movies when tI was skeptical when it came to The Silence. I love monster books and movies, I really do. However, I'm more partial to horror books and movies when the big bad is something that already exists in the fictional world; y'know the standard zombies, vampires, aliens, werewolves, etc. I didn't think I'd really like a book where the monster is something new. Oh, how wrong I was!
The Silence was pretty damn great. While the monsters didn't scare the ever living crap out of me (or at least not much) at first, the whole atmosphere in The Silence was incredibly creepy and bone-chilling. That's kind of how I like my horror. I don't need gore or excessive violence (although that is in The Silence as well), but I do need a horror book that lures me into a false sense of security and then proceeds to continuously terrify me. The Silence exceeded in this endeavor. Another great thing about The Silence (besides it's freaking amazing plot!) was that it held the tension throughout the entirety of the novel. The whole time I was reading The Silence was spent tense and rigid and (it bears repeating) terrified at what was going to come next. There was not one slow moment in this book. When I wasn't reading it, all I could think about was getting back to it.
More Good: Lebbon excelled at writing characters that make you care for them. I wanted no harm to befall any of these characters. Lebbon also excelled at writing a teen character and a child character that were the farthest thing from bratty...and I love that. A lot of "adult" novels tend to write pre-teen and teen characters as whiny, annoying, bratty people and nothing makes me want to throw a book against a wall more than that. I get that there are bratty teens in the world, but I have no desire to read about them. Every time they had an overload of feelings, they were completely justified. It wasn't teen angst for the sake of having angst.
The reason I'm giving The Silence four stars instead of five is because the shifting narratives seemed slightly clunky. I'm not a fan of shifting POVs to begin with, but with The Silence, I was jarred every time I went from Ally's 1st person POV to Huw's third person POV. If I'm jarred and taken out of the story momentarily because of that, then that means that I feel it doesn't flow very well. Another thing that bothered me was Huw's penchant for every single variation of the word "love". "He saw Ally's smile and he was filled with love for her", "He saw Kelly walk and he was loving her", He saw Ally do something or other and he was loving her". After a while I was like "I get it! Can we move on to the creepy creatures, please?!"
Despite these flaws, I still think that The Silence is a pretty great horror book. It's creepy, somewhat gory (for those who like gore), and it has characters that make you want them to live. Overall, I classify The Silence a win and I will definitely be checking out more of Lebbon's books because of this....more
I just---I can't----what the fucking hell?! I just don't understand how a book that started wayyyyy upHere there be spoilers...Read at your own risk.
I just---I can't----what the fucking hell?! I just don't understand how a book that started wayyyyy up here (trust me when I say it's really fucking high) ended up wayyyyy down here (this time, it's really fucking low). The Darkest Minds just had me second guessing the hell out of myself because of this. I read about 30% of it yesterday night. Went to sleep. Got up. Went to work. Came home...read a couple of articles about the best heroines in classics...thought "Huh. I should really read more classics"...decided to finish The Darkest Minds. Thought "Huh...this seemed way more awesome yesterday." Followed by "I'm just not feeling this book that much anymore." Followed by sobs in the way of "WHAT THE HELL IS HAPPENING? WHY AM I NOT INTRIGUED? IT HAS TO BE ME! SOMETHING HAS SIGNIFICANTLY CHANGED WITHIN ME! IT'S NOT THE BOOK! IT'S MEEE!." Followed by "Dude, what is wrong with this picture? I don't think it's me...", followed by "Oh, come on!." Then finished with "Huh. Definitely wasn't me. Yep. The book sucked."
Again, The Darkest Minds starts off great. You have an intriguing premise. You have a somewhat interesting heroine. You have angsty best friend issues going on with Sam (the bff). You have internment camps for freaky (I say that with love) teens. All things that would make this book seem unique and really all it does it sets you up for failure. Why? Because after our heroine leaves said camp (leaving behind the bff that I really wanted to know more about), it's road trip time. Road trip? Awesome! Only it's not. Because a big chunk of the book is just Ruby (the heroine) with two sidekicks and your typical saintly type of guy that Ruby is so in love with because...because he's the only good looking male she's seen since she was 10. Again, we have them all on a road trip. And then they're road tripping...and then they're road tripping...Okay, they're still road tripping...Oh look, Ruby and Liam are sharing moony, stupid-looking looks...Not subtle at all, by the way, but okay...okay back to the road trip. Ugh, Ruby enough with this whole "I'm a monster!" crap...No seriously, I don't feel bad for you, it's starting to get annoying. Either own up to you monster-ness or just stop fucking discussing it. Oh, wait, we're back on the road. Lingering looks, lingering touches (lingering thoughts from yours truly wondering what the fuck happened to the previously enjoyable book)...And then more stupid, big plot holes types of things happened...with a sprinkle of annoying love triangle.
If you couldn't guess from above, not much happens during that road trip. And then too much (that makes little to no sense) happens at the end.
Another thing that bothered me was that while the main characters, the heroes if you will, are supposed to be intriguing and you're supposed to root for them, I didn't. They left me cold. And on top of that, we're thrown in with the most aggravating, frustrating villain...with absolutely no motive as to why he is, in fact, a villain. So, I'm led to deduce that he's so bad for the sole purpose of making our heroes look oh-so-good. At some point, I was like "stop throwing pity parties and sob stories at me. None of you "heroes" are interesting. I don't care how bad douche bag is...I still have no connection to you. I'm not rooting for you. I don't care what happens to you." And that's when I started praying that The Darkest Minds would be over in the next 10 minutes...or that someone would come bursting into my room and put me out of my misery.
What did I find good about The Darkest Minds? The beginning chapters...Sam, who in her very short time with us managed to be more in-depth, complicated, yet endlessly intriguing than the heroine we're supposed to root for, an interesting, unique, dark, disturbing plot...that all went to hell the more that the author put words on paper. Zu...was the only character I cared just a little bit about besides Sam. And that's it. After everything, I ceased to give a damn and just wanted to get started on something deeper...and better. The only reason I kept reading was because The Darkest Minds had magnificent reviews (note to self that bears repeating: just because everyone else thinks it's good, doesn't mean YOU'RE going to think it's good) and because I really wanted to see how it ended...so that I could see how everything went so wrong. I thought that maybe, just maybe the author would pull it back to its tracks. Instead, she continued to veer it off course...Just skip it. Save yourself the aggravation...and the WTF-ness....more
I feel like I'm constantly getting bombarded my dystopian novels. Either at the bookstore or on Goodreads or on Amazon. Each one is trying to break ouI feel like I'm constantly getting bombarded my dystopian novels. Either at the bookstore or on Goodreads or on Amazon. Each one is trying to break out and be the next Hunger Games. Due to this, I've read more than my fair share of dystopian novels. For varying reasons, I found some amazing (like The Hunger Games), some merely okay (like Ashfall), and then some that I found utterly terrible (like Inhuman). However, when it comes to world building, Unwind sort of pwns them all, both good and bad, due to the sheer brilliance in Unwind.
In dystopian novels, the world-building tends to be secondary to the characters. But in Unwind, it was so intriguing that the characters could have been completely daft and horrible, and I still would have been awed by Unwind. It was so disturbing because I can see a future where those who are pro-life and those who are pro-choice all go batshit crazy and decide that splitting up kids' body parts and implanting them into other people would make everything all better. There's way more to the world-building than that, but part of the enjoyment of Unwind comes from thinking "this whole process can't possibly get more twisted" and then thinking "holy shit! It just got MORE twisted!". So, I'd rather not deprive you. Just know that the world-building is all sorts of win here.
So, you know how some characters tend to elevate an already amazing plot just by being extremely awesome? And, you know, how the reverse can happen and characters can take an amazing plot and utterly destroy it due to their sheer annoyance? Well, none of this happened in Unwind. I mean, we do sort of see a character arc for Connor and for Lev. We see how they've changed from the beginning of the novel up until the end. Risa remains a blank slate for me. I didn't see any particular growth in her. She remained exactly who she was. It's not necessarily a bad thing, I just don't feel like I know much about her and therefore, I'm not too connected to her. I actually found even the more minor characters in Unwind to be more interesting than Risa.
The thing with Unwind is since the world is so intriguing, I as a reader wanted to know more about the war. I wanted to know more about the ramifications of the unwinding process. I basically just wanted to know all about the politics of how unwinding came to be. Therefore, everything else, the characters, the romance, just took a backseat for me. I can sort of excuse the fact that we don't get to know everything about the politics seeing as how Unwind is the first in a series. The good news is that it doesn't really feel like it. Unwind doesn't seem as though it's a plateau to the meatier next part of the series. It stands alone in all its disturbing glory.
However, these minor quibbles aren't enough for me to vote Unwind down even just a little bit. It's just one of those novels that haunts you. I know that I'm going to be thinking about this one for a long time. It's completely disturbing and it completely blew me away! Highly recommended!...more
So, I knew basically nothing about Into the After when I started reading it. Just read the synopsis in the inside flap, decided it sounded good enoughSo, I knew basically nothing about Into the After when I started reading it. Just read the synopsis in the inside flap, decided it sounded good enough to check out of the library, and that was that. I read no reviews (and that's rare for me), just looked at the GR rating and thought "Why not?"...Therefore, I had no idea that Into the After was kinda about...aliens. I'm not that big of a science fiction fan, I don't find aliens to be extremely scary (I mean, if aliens are the way we go down when the apocalypse comes, I'm sure I'd be terrified...and very dead), so had I known beforehand that Into the After was about aliens, I probably wouldn't have read it. And that would have been a mistake because I found Into the After to be pretty damned fantastic.
The atmosphere in Into the After was what really wowed me. Again, aliens in literature don't tend to scare me. However, while reading about how isolated Amy and Baby were and how conscious they were to not make noise, to not attract attention, I realized that it was starting to get to me. Case in point, when I went into the kitchen, I noticed the deathly silence...and therefore, started to realize that my boots were really loud in said silence, and then my dog barked and I jumped like three feet into the air. So, Into the After got to me. It was creepy.
What really makes or breaks a story for me are the characters. Into the After has a fantastic heroine in Amy. She's strong and logical, yet flawed. Here's the thing about Amy: she's a hero, sure but...she's not a martyr. I liked the fact that at the end of the day, it was going to be her and Baby against the world, and if anyone got in the way of that...well, they just shouldn't that's all. There was not one character in this book that rubbed me the wrong way...except the ones that I'm not supposed to like (and boy, did I loathe them). I also wanted to know more about all of the characters and their pasts...even the ones that I loathed. They were all so intriguing. Of course, no one is as intriguing as THEM.
It's sort of inevitable that a YA dystopian about aliens is going to get compared to another YA dystopian about aliens. And while I feel that Into the After beats The Fifth Wave in almost every conceivable way, the thing that The Fifth Wave does have going for it is the aliens. In the Fifth Wave, the aliens are smart, cunning, and therefore, stuff of nightmares. While the aliens in Into the After are more bloodthirsty, they're all not that smart. In fact, while reading this book, I said "oh, they're stupid" in a mild disappointing voice. Now, if this were a real alien apocalypse, I'd be praising the heavens, yelling "YES! They're STUPID!". But it's not, so I'm not. However, the alien timeline in Into the After is less predictable (i.e. I did not see THAT coming, but in a good way) than the alien subplots in The 5th Wave (i.e. the minute said character is introduced you just KNOW he's a kinda, sorta bad guy).
Now, the one thing that makes Into the After the KING of sci-fi dystopian novels (of two I've read so far) is the romance. Do you want to know why? Because it's barely a blip on the radar here! There's romance, of course (apparently there has to be), but it's really not at all the main point or not even one of the main points in Into the After. That made it more realistic for me. Nothing takes me out of a novel more than "The world ended! We're being terrorized by [insert catastrophic end of the world event here]! What are we gonna---oooh, who's that boy with the dreamy eyes? I LOVE him! [insert eternal angst and eyeroll by yours truly here]". So, Into the After scored many points with me by putting the romance on the backburner and focusing mostly on the relationship between Amy and Baby.
Because that right there is what's going to tug at the heartstrings. That's what made Into the After such a fantastic book. The relationship between Amy and Baby was what kept me interested. Sure the aliens were creepy, all of the characters were interesting, but Amy and Baby was what set this book apart from most of the other dystopian novels. I love a book that focuses less on the romance and more on the friendships and family relationships. That warms my heart more than an angsty bad boy and the formally badass heroine that turns into mush when encountering said bad boy.
So, I found Into the After to be a really great book (a bit more better than The 5th Wave). It's a massive page-turner that I read in one sitting (not counting my terrifying, silent infused foray into the kitchen). This book also doesn't feel like it's just a gateway into the sequel (which is one of my pet peeves in YA series). There's more to be known, but the conclusion in this book was satisfactory, at least to me. Highly recommened and probably my favorite read for this month (tied with Perfect Ruin)!
Holy cliche, Batman! I'm just gonna say it: Inhuman is not a full-on dystopian novel. This is a romance! A romance with a hint of dystopian thrown in!Holy cliche, Batman! I'm just gonna say it: Inhuman is not a full-on dystopian novel. This is a romance! A romance with a hint of dystopian thrown in! And not even a good romance! Again, this was a cliche romance. Basically, think about the things that are in every annoying YA novel...multiply that by 10 and then, lo and behold, you have Inhuman.
Before I get started on my rant regarding the romance, let me preface that by talking about the characterization. Inhuman pretty much starts with a bang. You would think that'd be a good thing, right? Wrong. Instant bang means you don't get build up. No build-up means you don't get to know much about the protagonist you're supposed to be rooting for. That means you don't really get a feel for them. That was my main issue with Lane. All I know about her is that she has the best heart in the whole wide world. I mean, she takes in animals that are blind, deaf, and/or have one leg. Insta-gold heart. And that's all we get to know about her. We're constantly told by other characters how wonderful she is...how fierce she is...how epically badass she is...But here's the thing...she's not. I'm told these things, but there's no follow through with Lane's actions. In fact, Lane spends most of her time obsessing over two guys.
That's right. Inhuman features the epically annoying LOVE TRIANGLE! That whole torn between two loves thing needs to die a painful death in everything that is not a country western song. Not only is the triange cliche, but the characters featured in it are epically stupid. Well, not so much Everson, but having 2/3rds of your love triangle act like infatuated idiots is pretty much 2/3rds too much. Here's the thing: Lane gets obsessed with this super "hot" (is there any other kind in an epically annoying YA love triangle?) guy who slashes her arm with a knife because...I don't know, he's hot, he's strong, he's kind of a sociopath... After all, who doesn't want a side of sociopathy and violence along with their epic love? She's also sort of in love with Everson (who was the only not horrible thing in this book). She glances moonily at him and runs her hands up his body, while being jealous of Rafe's past lovers....while moonily looking at him, as well...in a situation where she's not only in a bit of a time crunch, but where she's also in complete danger and surrounded by a plague! Lane...is an idiot.
The most disappointing thing is that the plot actually had a lot of potential. I came into Inhuman expecting it to be zombies. So when it wasn't, I was kind of put off for a few chapters. But then when the truth was actually revealed, I started to appreciate the freshness of what the plague actually was. But it was so hard to concentrate on the actual plot when every other page that featured Morgan and infatuation with paper cutout hot guy #1 and paper cutout hot guy #2 had me rolling my eyes. And when I wasn't rolling my eyes, I was loudly exclaiming "Ugh!" . So, overall Inhuman was hugely disappointing. Good premise...sucky execution with a cliche love triangle (at this point I'm starting to think, is there any other kind?), annoying main character, typical violent "hot" guy, bad characterization, blah writing. Skip it! I implore of you!...more
What the hell happened? No, seriously. I loved The Hallowed Ones. In fact, it was my favorite book of the month last month and it reached my all timeWhat the hell happened? No, seriously. I loved The Hallowed Ones. In fact, it was my favorite book of the month last month and it reached my all time favorites list. And yet, The Outside...just wasn't good. Everything that I loved about The Hallowed Ones was just...gone. Oh, how the mighty have fallen.
One of my favorite things about The Hallowed Ones was that while it was a book that heavily dealt with religion, the book itself wasn't overly religious. What I mean by that is that I didn't constantly feel like I was being preached at. See, that lulled me into a false sense of security in which I thought "See! Books about religion don't have to try to convert me to said religion!" And then that security blanket was gone because The Outside was extremely religious. In fact, Katie was all "science sucks, and religion pwns!" (not really, but kind of). It was disheartening to realize in The Outside, the author starts veering towards christian/religious fiction...a genre in which I can see the appeal, but alas it isn't one that appeals to me.
The overt religious tone wasn't the only thing that turned me off of The Outside. My main issue with it was that it just wasn't engaging. The Hallowed Ones was one of those books that I just did not want to put down. All I could think about was getting back to that book. The only thing that I could think of while reading The Outside was "Ugh, when is this book going to be OVER?!". It didn't have that spark, that star quality that The Hallowed Ones had. It just meandered without completely grabbing me and taking me along for the ride.
So, overall, I found The Outside to be a huge disappointment...one that falls heavily short of its predecessor. It wasn't captivating, the tone was decidedly different, and the characters just weren't as engaging as they were the first time around. It just felt like an entirely different series. The only reason I even kept reading was because I had hoped it would get better and be a sequel worthy of The Hallowed Ones. It wasn't. I'm not sure if this is the last book in the series, but I am sure that I won't be checking the next installment if there is one....more
When it comes to The Uninvited, I'm a little bit of two minds. On the one hand, it's a really unique and different premise from any other post-apocalyWhen it comes to The Uninvited, I'm a little bit of two minds. On the one hand, it's a really unique and different premise from any other post-apocalyptic/dystopian novel I've read (and I've read my fair share) which made it cool. But on the other hand, it was so different from what I've read that it might have dampened my enjoyment of the book a little bit.
Here's the thing: most of the P.A./dystopian novels I've read are action-packed, if not in the first page, well then at least in the first couple of chapters. The Uninvited doesn't start out that way...at all. It starts off slow and it continues to be slow for a big chunk of the novel. However, it has some short parts where it picks up and makes you (if you're me) feel bad if you decide not to finish it because you think it might get completely kick-ass in the last half of the book. And it did...sort of.
The Uninvited gets to that point where you can't put it down at about 70 percent into the novel, I believe. Yet, by that time the end is so near that I kept thinking that it couldn't possibly get wrapped up in any kind of satisfactory way. Compared to the leisure pace The Uninvited was at the beginning (and in some of the middle), the ending just seems rushed. I felt like it needed at least 50 more pages to be more coherent instead of jamming everything in a few chapters from the end.
Another thing that made me pause was that in The Uninvited, I didn't get a real sense of panic from people. Before the end, everyone was just really calm and matter-of-fact about what was going on, or at least those in Hesketh's circle were. There wasn't a real sense of dread, which is what intrigues me in most post-apocalyptic/dystopian novels. I get that Hesketh tends to be more level-headed and rarely shows his emotions, but since this book was lacking panic or any sense of urgency, I started to feel just as "meh" about what was happening.
Besides this, I did find The Uninvited to be an interesting take on the end of the world. The relationship between Hesketh and Freddy is pretty much the heart of the novel and added some warmth to the novel. I also found it fascinating how Hesketh's inner circle started talking about how once society classifies any sort of group as sub-human, it makes it easier for society to stamp them out particularly because the group wouldn't be labeled as human and wouldn't have the same rights. I never thought of that before.
So, overall, The Uninvited was a good read. It was a deeper type of dystopian novel and not as much fluff-filled the way some dystopian novels are. I don't regret reading it and enjoyed it, but still feel it was sort of rushed towards the end. ...more
Okay, so The 5th Wave is about aliens...I figure I should mention that considering that when this book popped up on my Amazon Vine newsletter, nowhereOkay, so The 5th Wave is about aliens...I figure I should mention that considering that when this book popped up on my Amazon Vine newsletter, nowhere did it state that it was about aliens. If it had, I might have thought twice about selecting it. Not that there's anything wrong with aliens (The Faculty and Independence Day are two of my favorite movies ever!), it's just that when it comes to big badness, I felt like aliens wouldn't translate well onto a written page. Boy, was I WRONG! They translated big time! And they were translated wonderfully.
The Good: The aliens! I liked that they weren't all "let's blow up the White House just cause!." These aliens had an actual plan. They were manipulative, organized, intelligent, and due to all this, more than a little scary. I would've liked for them to show up a little more, but I get that they didn't because the book kind of had to be mysterious about them. More Good: The writing in The 5th Wave was fantastic. I'm usually put off my shifting narratives, but I wasn't in this novel. I was only thrown the first time because I didn't expect it to shift from Cassie's persepective into another character's perspective. But after that initial hurdle, it was smooth sailing.
I also loved the characters in The 5th Wave. They were all very strong in their own right and they didn't fall into the stereotypes. None of the characters were bland, either. All of the supporting characters were fleshed out and the main characters weren't too annoying. My favorites in The 5th Wave were definitely Ringer and Teacup. Ringer was everything a strong female character should be and even though she didn't make as much of an appearance here, she was still awesome those times she did appear. The same goes for Teacup. Only 7 years old and she was more badass than all of the characters in The 5th Wave put together.
The Just Okay: Cassie. She starts off strong and badass, but she definitely loses some of her spunk when she meets Evan. She starts to become very redundant with the whole "should I/shouldn't I trust him". At one point I thought, "I don't friggin' care whether you should trust him or not! Just pick one and stop moaning about it!". I think the times when she didn't annoy me, were the times when she was with Sammy or talking about rescuing Sammy. Now there is a brother-sister relationship done right. However, it's kind of hard keep looking strong and badass when you're compared to Ringer and Teacup...it's just not going to happen.
Another just okay thing was the whole reveal with Evan. I'm not sure if that was supposed to be an "Oh my God, I can't believe it!" moment or not. Because it was entirely predictable...so predictable, in fact, that I'm thinking that it wasn't supposed to be a huge twist, but rather just something you're waiting for the main character to catch up on.
Overall, I thought The 5th Wave was a fantastic entry into the whole post-apocalyptic/dystopian YA genre. It was creepy, intriguing, with strong main characters AND supporting characters thrown in. Apparently, it's part of a series, but it doesn't seem that way in that The 5th Wave seems finished with a bit more intrigue thrown in as to what if. Nothing annoys me more than a series that waits until the second entry to get things rolling and leaves huge cliffhangers at the end. The 5th Wave doesn't do this. So, it gets 4 stars for awesomeness....more
I have now reached the point where I start to read a post-apocalyptic/dystopian novel with some trepidation. I feel as though we book-obsessed peopleI have now reached the point where I start to read a post-apocalyptic/dystopian novel with some trepidation. I feel as though we book-obsessed people have reached the same kind of post-Twilight era only this time with post-apocalyptic/dystopian novels. We all remember what happened when Twilight came out. All of a sudden there was a plethora of YA books that were paranormal romances that tried to capitalize on Twilight's(some people say undeserved, some people say well-deserved, I just say it's annoying) fame. Now there are a slew of p.a./dystopian novels coming out which are trying to capitalize on The Hunger Games fame. If these were all tremendous novels, it wouldn't bother me that much. But they all aren't. Most of the time, it's a smattering of horrible, cliche-ridden ones, a whole lot of "they were just okay" ones, and just a teeny, tiny sprinkle of actual amazing YA dystopian/p.a. novels. So, trepidation was there when I picked up Monument 14.
Getting right into it, when I first started Monument 14, I was sort of baffled. Not by the way the world was ending or anything, but by the character of Dean. Here's the thing: Dean...is not a leader. He isn't very active. In fact, for the first half of Monument 14, Dean doesn't really DO anything. Or at least not anything too productive. He just writes in his notebook and obsesses over Astrid. So, at first, I was truly annoyed by Dean. But then I started appreciating his perspective. Very rarely do we see a book narrated by someone who's an outsider. I don't mean that in the typical outsider (in high school) sort of way, but rather in the way where a character SEES the action, but doesn't partake in it. Most of the YA books are narrated by someone with a "take-charge" attitude, but Dean wasn't like that. Sure, it was annoying half the time, but I found him rather refreshing since he never really tried to play the hero.
When it came to the actual world ending, Monument 14 deserves tons of kudos. Natural disasters are just so terrifying to me because those things can actually happen (and as much as I love zombies, I don't really think that's how it's going to go down). I also loved the different effects that one could get from the chemical spill depending on which blood type you were. I thought that was particularly unique. And as always, it's the end of the world. So you just KNOW things are going to get more drastic by the day. And they do.
I thought the pacing of Monument 14 was fantastic given that a lot of the time the book just dealt with the day to day activities of children and teens. But I found the reactions of each individual fascinating, especially those of the smaller children. And despite the fact that the action isn't all "BOOM" all of the time, I found that this book was a great page-turner regardless of that. It also helps that when things got real, they got really real and really horrifying, really friggin' fast.
Now, the reason Monument 14 didn't get five stars from me? Well, like I mentioned before Dean was really annoying in the beginning. I'm not talking about his penchant for being inactive, but more about his constant obsession with Astrid. I always groan when there's a YA novel (particularly dystopian/p.a. ones) narrated by a chick and yet the only thing she can focus on is the object of her affections. But I'm all about equality and I just realized it's just as annoying when a guy does it. I guess it's more understandable in Monument 14 since things weren't really all that dire (when you take into account other apocalyptic scenarios) given that the kids all had water, food, and shelter and therefore, their energies were focused on something else, it still grated. You know who else grated? Sahalia. I don't like bratty teenagers and I do not want to read about them. And frankly, all those stunts she pulled? They were massively aggravating. One thing I like less than bratty teenagers? Well, that's bratty, attention-seeking, overly sexualized teenagers.
So, all in all, despite a few hiccups, I thought that Monument 14 was one of those wonderful sprinkles of books that crop up right when you get sick of all of the "just okay" novels in its genre. I just CANNOT wait for the sequel.
So, I love and adore zombie novels. They are my favorite kind of "Oh my God! The world is ending! All hell is breaking loose!" novels. Is Ashfall a zoSo, I love and adore zombie novels. They are my favorite kind of "Oh my God! The world is ending! All hell is breaking loose!" novels. Is Ashfall a zombie novel? No. So, why am I even mentioning zombie novels in a non-zombie novel review? Because as much as I love zombie novels, when the world goes down, that's NOT how it's going to happen. There will be no zombies anywhere when the world ends. If the world is going to go "BOOM!" (and I'm thinking it will), it's more likely to happen like it did in Ashfall: with a natural disaster. And that gives Ashfall all types of points for realism.
Ashfall also gets massive points for the inclusion of a totally awesome, badass chick by the name of Darla. I'm sure many have heard of a little jingle that shows up in some type of commercial that goes along the lines of "Anything you can do I can do better. Anything you can do I can do better than you. No you can't. Yes I can. No you can't" and you get the picture. Well anyway, that little jingle is Darla and Alex (the male main character who narrates Ashfall) in a nutshell. Anything Alex could do, Darla did it, but 20 times better. She also did things that Alex could not do. And man, could Alex not do A LOT! Due do that, I found him kind of...useless. He wasn't annoying or anything, but I didn't find him as active nor as smart as Darla. And I found that to be a bit of a problem since as kickass as Darla is, she's also a supporting character. Alex, as the main character, should have been more engaging.
Ashfall also gets points for compulsive readibility. The book starts off with a "BANG!" (or is a "BOOM!" more accurate?). The action continues for at a great pace at the beginning of the book, however, it does taper off about a little more than halfway through. Even with all of that though, I never once thought about putting the book down and when I did, in fact, have to put down, I was in a bad mood and antsy to go back to the book.
In the end, I found Ashfall to be a pretty solid book. It's not without flaws, but I did enjoy reading it. That being said, I did find it to be a bit...forgettable. It's just when it comes to other dystopian/apocalyptic novels, it fell a bit short. However, I do recommend it and I am planning on reading the next installment when it comes out. Oh, and it does have me interested enough to read about that volcano underneath Yellowstone Park. Now that...all kinds of creepy and scary (again points to Ashfall for its realism)....more
When I started Dark Inside, I thought it was going to be exactly like other dystopian YA novels. Not that I don't like dystopian YA novels, I love theWhen I started Dark Inside, I thought it was going to be exactly like other dystopian YA novels. Not that I don't like dystopian YA novels, I love them. But there are so many of them coming out that most of them start to blend together and they then become average. Needless to say, Dark Inside was not your average Dystopian YA novel. In fact, I found it to be an extremely unique (and, not to mention, terrifying) way for the world to end.
Dark Inside doesn't have zombies (much to my initial disappointment), it doesn't have vampires (much to my relief cause the last thing the world needs is ANOTHER series like Twilight), it doesn't have this supernatural being inflicting damage and inciting evil. What it does have are terrifying people that USED to be normal, but just aren't anymore. They now have a thirst to kill (as cliche as it sounds) and are generally very, very bad. So, how do these baggers (as they're referred to in Dark Inside) differ from zombies, you ask? Well, they look, sound, and think like normal people (or normal "psychotic" people anyway). Let's face it, you're not going to walk into the street and mistake a zombie for a "normal" person. But with the baggers, most of the time, you don't know they're actually infected until you start feeling their rage, which is when they're a second or too away from killing you (and probably too late by that point). So, points to Dark Inside for originality.
Points also go to Dark Inside for intriguing characters. I never once confused any of the characters with one another. And it's sometimes hard for me to keep up when a book has multiple POVs. But with Dark Inside it wasn't. The characters were all very different from each other. They all had their own personality and were, much to my relief, not stereotypes as I had assumed they would first be since you had all the types there. For example, you had the athlete, the small-town girl, the creative characters, etc., etc., but again, their personalities didn't fall into that one type. Also, I didn't really dislike any of the characters (not even any of the supporting characters). Sure, I found Aries annoying sometimes with being exta focused on Daniel despite the fact that they were, oh that's right, in MORTAL DANGER (cause in the words of Piper Halliwell "Demons now...drooling later"), but she got a little better as the story went on. But again, yeah, the characters were likeable most of the time and not without flaws.
So, I highly (do you hear me? HIGHLY) recommend Dark Inside. It was scary as hell, enthralling, captivating, amazing, well-written and just all around made of awesome. Oooh and something extra special about Dark Inside, it isn't one of those beginning books where you can sort of feel that it was just a filler until the second book comes along. This book is WHOLE. That being said, I absolutely CANNOT wait for the next installment. Fall 2012 cannot come fast enough. Pick up Dark Inside....more
I've read more than my share of young-adult fiction. I've read more than my fair share of apocalyptic fiction. I've read my share of zombie fiction. NI've read more than my share of young-adult fiction. I've read more than my fair share of apocalyptic fiction. I've read my share of zombie fiction. Needless to say, I enjoy these genres. So I expected Ashes to be amazing like the other two zombie young-adult apocalyptic novels I've read. While Ashes was good, I didn't find it amazing and I felt that it was sort of lacking compared to other zombie novels, particularly The Forest of Hands and Teeth and Rot & Ruin.
The Forest of Hands and Teeth had an annoying main character (Seriously. I wouldn't have cared one bit if Mary was killed by a zombie), but what it lacked in favorable characters, it made up for with the creepy atmosphere surrounding the novel. The Forest of Hands and Teeth wasn't all blood and gore, but rather took the time to create a bleak, grim, spooky atmosphere which I loved. Now, Rot & Ruin while not incredibly creepy was action-packed every step of the way. Plus, the relationship with the brothers brought heartwarming tingles which I also loved. Ashes doesn't have either one nor the other. Yes, it is one hell of a page-turner and yes you didn't immensely dislike the main character enough to actually want her to get eaten by zombies, but it wasn't terribly creepy. I also didn't get heartwarming tingles from any of the relationships. For one, the main character is worried about Ellie (the 8 year old she supposedly considers family after the apocalypse) for all of 20 minutes (I exaggerate a bit) when she's nowhere in sight, yet endlessly worries for Tom...right up until a younger, viable guy shows up. Huh, the main character is sort of unlikeable... Although, I did like that she was fiercely independent and did hold her own without waiting for a guy rescue her. No damsels in distress here. But thinking about it now, what Ashes has going for it is really the fact that it's a page-turner and maybe some of the unanswered questions that crop up towards the end of the book.
Speaking about the end of the book, another thing that bothered me was Part Four of Ashes. It did not mesh well with the first three parts. It was all so disconnected that I started thinking that Part Four would probably have fit better in Book 2 even though I have no idea what Book 2 is supposed to be about. That's how unrelated it was to the first three parts...that it would fit better into an unknown book than it did in the book it popped up in. The writing in Ashes was pretty damn good, but again, Part Four just seems...off. Sure, Part Four is off in the fiction sense (much to my delight), but I'm pretty sure the author didn't want it to seem off in the writing sense. Yet it did.
So all in all, I found Ashes to be okay. Some parts were really good, but other parts of it just seemed inconsistent. Pick Ashes up if you want a semi-good zombie young adult fiction novel. Pick up The Forest of Hands and Teeth or Rot and Ruin if you want AMAZING zombie young adult fiction novels. Regardless of my problems with Ashes, there's a pretty big chance that I'll read the whole series because the premise (particularly the way Ashes ended) intrigues me to no end. But I say, pick it up at the library if you desperately want to read it. ...more
Okay, so I absolutely loved The Walking Dead Vol. 1: Days Gone Bye. It was my first graphic novel (so I think that pretty much guarantees that it's alOkay, so I absolutely loved The Walking Dead Vol. 1: Days Gone Bye. It was my first graphic novel (so I think that pretty much guarantees that it's always going to be memorable) and it was just amazing! While I did like Volume 2, I don't think it compares to the pure awesomeness that is Volume 1.
First things first: the plot. It was basically the same as the first one. I don't really have a problem with that (now anyway) as the plot is just so enjoyable. However, the whole pairing off, as another reviewer mentioned, did make Miles Behind Us seem more soap-operaish than the first one. It's just very unrealistic (I know that it's sort of a "Duh!" that a zombie graphic novel would be a bit unrealistic, but still) that people would be feeling particularly amorous while running from zombies. I know if I were in that situation, I would never be in the mood, being busy running for my life and all.
Another thing that I noticed was that the artwork was different. I didn't really pay attention to who the illustrators were for the first one or for this one, but I kept thinking that something about the drawings was a bit off compared to Volume 1. Firstly, all of the women (with exception of Lori and the later newcomers) look the same. I kept confusing them. There just wasn't a lot of attention to detail. The drawings here were more dark and gritty (which I guess isn't too bad considering the subject matter was dark and gritty) and just weren't as great as the first volume. So when I (finally!) noticed that there were two different illustrators, I thought "That's what was bothering me!"
Other than those minor flaws, I still enjoyed Miles Behind Us. The characters are still all in despair and still have to battle with their own humanity (and I love crap like that) and of course there is still all of the zombie goodness that zombie books/comics/films need. So I thought this was still good, just not as great as the first one. However, I am still looking forward to picking up volumes 3 and 4 (they're waiting for me at the library along with Y: The Last Man Vol. 1: Unmanned) and to watching the AMC show....more
Okay, so I've never read a comic book or graphic novel in my life. It just didn't seem like my type of thing and I've always thought that I would neveOkay, so I've never read a comic book or graphic novel in my life. It just didn't seem like my type of thing and I've always thought that I would never get into reading something like that. But I figured since the TV show is coming out soon, I love zombies/horror/apocalyptic books and movies, what better way to branch out of my reading comfort than to about things I usually enjoy. And I must say that it was far from a mistake because I loved the first volume of The Walking Dead.
Zombie fan that I am, I had assumed that the only thing I would like about The Walking Dead would be, you know, the zombies. However, while I liked the zombies, I was completely enthralled by the characters and the whole dire situation that they were in. I was also very into the drama of their lives: the love triangles, the spats between the non-judgmental with the actual judgemental, etc., etc. The way humanity was portrayed just seemed very real to me. In times of crisis, people's true colors come out whether those colors happen to be pleasant or not (and most times they aren't pleasant). There was no sugar-coating of the human spirit. It was what it was.
Like I've mentioned before, I've never read a comic book before so I'm not sure what's considered to be "good" comic book art and "bad" comic book art. The illustrations seemed pretty well done to me (Sure, I confused Rick and Shane a couple of times until I remembered "Okay, Shane is the bulky one with the scowl permanently attached to his face and Rick is the string bean one with the heroic facial expressions"). The zombies seemed zombie like and brutal (of course not as they look on TV or movies but still pretty damn good).
It did take me a few pages to follow who was saying what (the bubbles got a bit confusing for a minute) and to get used to the comic book format in general. But it wasn't too bad for a complete and total newbie like me. And I did laugh when the zombies "Ugh"-ed and "Glak"-ed since apparently that's all the zombie vocabulary requires; in fact it's practically a staple.
So, I did love The Walking Dead. It was brutal and gory but most importantly it had heart. It's about a man trying to protect his family. That was heartwarming. In the interest of full disclosure, I am going to say that this comic book did make me cry, not only once, but twice. This was just very entertaining and really great. I have Volume 2 waiting for me and I've already put volumes 3 and 4 on hold from my library. Yay! for me finding a new form of reading. Can't wait to seek out more comics/graphic novels. ...more
What is it about apocalyptic/dystopian novels that make most people love them so much? I mean, they can't be good for the soul. Great books have the uWhat is it about apocalyptic/dystopian novels that make most people love them so much? I mean, they can't be good for the soul. Great books have the uncanny ability to make you feel as you're not merely observing what's happening, but rather you are right there experiencing everything that's happening. That happened with me and The Things That Keep Us Here (and a big chunk of other dystopian/apocalyptic novels I've read).
I was extremely distressed while reading The Things That Keep Us Here. It's just that when I'm reading a apocalyptic/dystopian novel, I can't help but think "What would I do in that situation? Would I help my more unfortunate neighbors? Or would it be every man (or woman) for himself (or herself)?" And that just gets me all sorts of depressed. However, I felt like this novel really took those issues and dealt with them in a realistic way. Not once did I think "No one would ever act that way" because as depressing as it may seem, in a situation like this most people would be looking out for themselves primarily. And humankind would also disintergrate in an unfortunate way.
Now when it comes to the characters, most of the time I found them likeable. However, there were times were they where I really couldn't stand them. But I think that was kind of the point. In an end-of-the-world type of situation, most people are going to be unlikeable. You're going to be worrying about survival and not about keeping up pretenses. Part of my distress came from caring about these characters. I felt for Ann, Peter, Kate, Maddie, Shazia, and even Barney (I'm a huge dog person). I suffered when they suffered. I was scared when they were scared (and boy were they scared a lot). There were lots of tears for me while reading The Things That Keep Us Here.
I've read a few reviews (including one in Publishers Weekly) that state that the book didn't make much of an impact because it was written in the third person. I didn't feel that way. In fact in dystopian and apocalytic novels, I would rather them not be written in the first person because that just makes it worse for me. One that I can recall that was written in first person and had a huge impact on me was Life as We Knew It. I felt absolutely terrible when I finished the book and to this day cannot recall a book or a movie that has made me cry that much (wait, I stand corrected, the last three Harry Potter books are exceptions). Seriously, I was a wreck. When I finished reading it, I cried for ten minutes straight. So, I don't think that the third person view made the book any less enjoyable (I think that's the wrong word. How about interesing?) than had it been written in the first person.
Anyway, I have to say that I completely recommend The Things That Keep Us Here. It was riveting (My God, was it riveting! I finished it in one sitting) and so completely real. Sure, it didn't make me feel all fluttery inside, but I don't think that's the point of apocalyptic/dystopian novels. I think we read them to experience what would happen, yet maintain a completely safe distance (unless of course you're reading Life As We Knew It and then realize there is no "safe" distance) from the depravity of the world....more