Dark Parties by Sara Grant has a very intriguing synopsis – Neva lives in a city ruled by the Protectosphere. The government keeps everyone isolated a...moreDark Parties by Sara Grant has a very intriguing synopsis – Neva lives in a city ruled by the Protectosphere. The government keeps everyone isolated and under their control. Neva and her friend Sanna are determined to prove that the government is lying to them – but they have no idea what they are getting themselves into.
Okay guys. I am a huge dystopian fan. I love exploring all the futuristic worlds and rebellious characters that authors create. Unfortunately, this book fails to deliver on many levels…both the characters and plot left many things to be desired.
The Protectosphere sets up a very interesting foundation – reading about characters determined not to be controlled by their governments almost always makes for a fast-paced and exciting read. However – Neva did not make a worthy heroine. While I by no means believe that every MC has to be on the Katniss level of awesome…I do expect something. None of these characters had any consistency – one minute Neva was determined to be a rebel, the next she was terrified of being in trouble. She kept making big claims about what she hoped to accomplish – but she really never actually succeeded in being anything but timid. Sure…she played around on a forbidden computer and wandered down some prohibited hallways – but those actions do not an interesting book make. I was never able to find a consistent and believable character in her thoughts and actions.
I think the book’s goal was to be a character-driven story because there wasn’t really a cohesive plot that I could discover. Unfortunately, that basically fell flat. I followed Neva as she waffled between wanting to do something worthwhile and being too afraid to do so…and also as she fought a strong attraction to her best friend’s boyfriend. That part of the plot was awful – Neva kept saying to herself that she couldn’t betray her friend Sanna, but every time she saw Sanna’s boyfriend she was all over him! Thus, the lack of respect I had for her due to her half-hearted rebellion attempts extended to her personal life.
Ultimately, both the lack of believable characters and an organized plot line left me feeling extremely disappointed. So, while I absolutely love the genre – this is not a book I enjoyed or would recommend reading.(less)
Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi is bursting with originality. This is a really easy book to get lost in. The setting is fascinating, as are the...moreUnder the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi is bursting with originality. This is a really easy book to get lost in. The setting is fascinating, as are the different dystopian societies we are introduced to. The characters make it extremely easy to fall into the story. These are people I started caring about almost immediately. Aria, a Dweller, has grown up in a very controlled and contained environment. Perry is an Outsider – used to fighting and killing on a regular basis for survival. Just wait and see what happens when their worlds collide!
She had only a second to absorb the fact that she hadn’t touched anyone in months…
I love when futuristic books emphasize the fact that a technology increase means a decrease in emotional and physical contact. That single sentence really hit me with how true it is in Aria’s world.
I also love how Veronica Rossi plays with evolution. When Aria and Perry first start interacting, the way they describe each other is fascinating. They are so different! The environment Perry’s people, as Outsiders, are accustomed to is pretty extreme. It has caused them to make crazy animalistic changes (both physically and mentally). I thought this was so realistic. Most dystopians don’t explore physical changes to this degree. Same goes with Aria. The Dwellers do genetic experiments that have caused them to stop developing normally. Kinda creepy, actually.
Sexy hand holding you guys, Sexy. Hand. Holding. Isn’t it funny how some books ratchet up the sexytimes and manage to be satisfyingly hot – but then some books can make stolen glances and simple touches even more sizzling? Under the Never Sky is definitely one of those books. Luckily – there are totally sexytimes too. Hot you guys. HOT.
I fell in love with Under the Never Sky in the first few pages and never looked back. I am already eagerly waiting to see what the rest of the series brings! This is a book you guys don’t want to miss. Trust me. Everything about it – from the different dystopian societies to the characterization to the plot is absolutely stellar. Bravo, Veronica Rossi!(less)
All These Things I’ve Done by Gabrielle Zevin is the first of (what I think) will be a trilogy. In this book, Gabrielle has est...moreOriginally posted here.
All These Things I’ve Done by Gabrielle Zevin is the first of (what I think) will be a trilogy. In this book, Gabrielle has established a story line and a group of characters it would be extremely difficult not to become invested in.
We are a few decades into the future – and chocolate and coffee are illegal. Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on your point of view) for our MC, Anya, she was born into a crime family. She can binge on chocolate whenever she wants. Of course, downside: her father, the previous boss of the family, was murdered when she was younger. Now she feels in charge of her two siblings and ailing grandmother. Anya’s older brother suffers from a mental disability and her younger sister still has constant nightmares about their father’s murder. Needless to say: Anya has her hands full.
Of course, that was just the stress she was used to. Add in an ex-boyfriend who is seriously poisoned by a stash of chocolate she gave him and her strong attraction to a boy who just happens to be the son of the city’s defense attorney and Anya’s family starts to seem like the least of her problems.
I haven’t read any of Gabrielle’s other books, but her writing style and characterization seriously impressed me. Unfortunately, I still didn’t feel as connected to the characters as I would have liked to be. Maybe it’s because I had to way to relate to anything going on, because goodness knows that is certainly true (considering I grew up on a farm in Oklahoma versus a crime lord’s den in New York City).
But, even though I never felt a deep chemistry or a real sense that I was getting to know the characters, I absolutely devoured the book and fully intend to continue the series. Maybe with a foundation with the characters established, I’ll connect more with them in future books. I hope my thoughts are making sense - I actually feel like my thoughts about the book are a little peculiar since I enjoyed the book so much despite the problems I had with it.
Ultimately, if you’re a fan of dystopians (or even contemporaries really), I think this book is worth reading. Even though I have reservations about the lack of attachment I felt to the characters – I feel very invested in their story.(less)
Variant by Robison Wells was a really great surprise, y’all! The entire book was very mysterious and sinister – for most of the story the reader has n...moreVariant by Robison Wells was a really great surprise, y’all! The entire book was very mysterious and sinister – for most of the story the reader has no idea what direction the book will take. There are several plot twists, and a couple of them literally slapped me on the face. I haven’t felt so in the dark about where a story would take me in a long time, and it was a great feeling! I loved not being a step ahead.
Benson Fisher gets a scholarship to a boarding school and thinks he has really made it. He grew up in the foster system and definitely got the crappy end of the deal. Right now he is basically being used as free labor and he absolutely jumped at the chance to get himself into a new situation. Unfortunately, the second he is dropped off at his new school he discovers things are not right.
No adult supervision. Cameras and microphones everywhere. Three equally dangerous factions, join one or find yourself completely unprotected. Breaking the rules = detention that you don’t come back from. No way out. This is not your mama’s boarding school.
Benson is shocked at the way the majority of his peers are accepting of their prison sentence – how can people be okay with being trapped away like this? He refuses to give in and get used to it. At times, he does find himself enjoying life. Intense, all-out paintball wars, really awesome food, some great people (including Jill, who makes a lot of things seem worth it)…but the second he catches himself happy he forces himself to snap out of it. He continually searches to find a way out, which basically alienates him from almost everyone. Nobody wants to get grouped with him since they all think he is headed straight for detention (death).
The first half of the book is pretty much summed up by Benton getting used to the other students and life trapped in the school…and his constant search to find a way to run. Then all of a sudden the twists come – you won’t see it all coming. Promise.
I highly recommend this to fans of dystopians and science fiction. A complete breath of fresh air, a thrill ride and a story well worth becoming invested in. I’ll definitely be eagerly awaiting the sequel!(less)
Ashes by Ilsa J. Bick is a real genre-bender. Some parts apocalyptic, then post-apocalyptic and also dystopian. Most of all though, I thought the enti...moreAshes by Ilsa J. Bick is a real genre-bender. Some parts apocalyptic, then post-apocalyptic and also dystopian. Most of all though, I thought the entire book was written in a way that could please the most die-hard horror fans. Oh, and did I forget to mention that the book is REALLY STINKING AWESOME?
I was actually really impressed by the horror part of things. I have never read a YA novel that managed to capture a legit Stephen King-like vibe so successfully. One of the defining characteristics of horror (if you ask me) is the grossness factor. Very intense, gruesome and descriptive grossness. This book has that in spades, what with fleshy windpipes flapping in the wind and scenes with ropes of intestines being sucked up like candy.
Alex is on a trek out in the wilderness, and is hauling around enough baggage for about fifty people along with her camping supplies. Then an apocalyptic-worthy electromagnetic pulse wipes out all electronics, a lot of brains and just generally does its best to end the world. You know, the usual. I was very impressed by the scientific efforts Ilsa Bick put into this, because by the time it was done being theorized and discussed by the characters – it seemed totally legit and enormously frightening.
Alex ends up saddled with an eight year old (keep in mind: by nature, eight-year-olds are built to be annoying and as worthless as possible in survivalist situations). Then they run across army vet Tom and a rag-tag family is born. Of course, since this isn’t a happy, roast-your-marshmallows-and-sing-bonding-songs camping story, things don’t really go too well. No one is safe and anything is possible – Ilsa Bick isn’t interested in pulling punches. Never assume your favorite character is exempt.
The story has a lot of twists and turns, and just when you think things are settling in – you’ll get slapped in the face. That’s a promise. There was a second toward the end (deep in the heart of a creepy dystopian society) when I thought “Alex? Have you given up? Are you just going to settle and not fight?” and then came the slap. I should have had more faith! Never a dull moment y’all, so don’t let down your guard.
The writing, the story, the characters – everything about this novel is stellar. I have that “I-want-to-take-this-book-everywhere-and-never-let-it-out-of-my-sight-because-it-is-my-preciousssss” book high (what? you don’t have those?). The only thing bringing me down is the truly horrendous cliffhanger and the fact that the next book won’t be out until late 2012. (Oh, and Lord save me from the love triangle I see coming…)
Anyway…I leave you with a passage from the beginning that I loved:
“What no one warned her about was that when you had no sense of smell at all, a lot of memories fizzled. Like the way the smell of a pine tree conjured a quick brain-snapshot of tinsel and Christmas lights and a glittery angel, or the spice of nutmeg and buttery cinnamon made you flash to a bright kitchen and your mother humming as she pressed pie crust into a glass dish. With no sense of smell, your memories dropped like pennies out of a ripped pocket, until the past was ashes and your parents were blanks: nothing more than the holes in Swiss cheese.” (ARC page 21)(less)