After hearing and reading so many great things about The Forest of Hands and Teeth, you know I just had to read it. Plus ; Zombies! How could I resist...moreAfter hearing and reading so many great things about The Forest of Hands and Teeth, you know I just had to read it. Plus ; Zombies! How could I resist those adorable, rotting brain-eaters?
I loved this book. I went through it fast, but it stayed on my mind for a few days after. I thought of the characters and their choices, the setting, the action, what could have happened IF, etc. It had plenty to keep my mind busy. I’ll be honest, that my strong rating for this book is mostly based on my undying love for zombies and post-apocalyptical settings. I loved the slow narration, which insisted more on the setting and history of Mary’s village than on the zombies gruesome details. Of course, there were a few of those, but they were few and far between, even if their existence is a constant presence.
If there was one aspect of the book that kept me from loving this story completely, it would have to be Mary, the narrator. Her quest to “see the sea”, prompted by her mother’s tales about the “ocean”, is first poetic and inspiring. On the long run though, it got a little annoying for me; she was so desperatly obsessed with her quest that she didn’t seem to care much about her friends survival. I have very little patience for self-pity, and so Mary was, at times, a little irritating. Still, I loved the book! I had a hard time putting it down. I felt like it never stopped and the pages went by fast – too fast. It was intriguing, mysterious, and frankly, a little scary! Putting aside Mary’s ocean obsession, I thought she was an excellent narrator, reliable and intelligent, and lucky to be surrounded by a good cast of strong characters, too.
When I turned the last page, I was left with many questions about the Sisterhood and a few other things I will keep quiet about for now (no spoilers for you!) But fortunately, there is a second book to be published in March 2010! I want it now! (less)
(July 2009 review): After hearing so much praise about The Hunger Games and its upcoming sequel, Catching Fire, I was worried it wouldn’t meet my expec...more(July 2009 review): After hearing so much praise about The Hunger Games and its upcoming sequel, Catching Fire, I was worried it wouldn’t meet my expectations. Popular reads seem to be hit or miss with me, and I usually end up loving them or loathing them. The good news is, The Hunger Games definitely fell in the first category!
Of course, for some of you The Hunger Games’ idea might not sound like something new. You might first think of Shirley Jackson’s Lottery. More recently, in 1999, the Japanese Battle Royale offered a similar plot (but in a more violent and bloody way). To my knowledge though, it’s the first time such a dangerous game is written for a young adult public, and while the violence might be a little tone down, the action certainly isn’t.
I found Katniss to be a wonderful heroine. She had a strong personality, and while at times she doubted herself, she was, mainly, very confident and resourceful. She is joined by a wonderful group of characters, the most important being Peeta Mellark. With him, Katniss shares more than a past life in District 12, and the way their story is used to the Games’ profit isn’t unlike what we see nowadays in popular reality shows.
One of Collins’ strengths is her description of action and scenes; reading The Hunger Games felt a lot like watching a suspenful movie that keeps you on the edge of your seat. Without detailing too much of Katniss’ actions, Collins described just enough to bring the scenes to life, as if I was there with her – now, that’s a scary thought!
Another great aspect of this book is that it would be a great book to discuss. I think it gives an interesting view on society, and its thirst for blood. I know some people don’t believe that we could go this far, but I have my reasonable doubts, and I loved how the book touched this question with a dystopian reality that was so captivating to follow.
There were a few things I didn’t like much; the romance sometimes felt too important, and Katniss’ attitude towards it seemed either naive or simply self-serving at times. In the end though, the entertainment factor was so intense that I had to give this book a 5/5. I have the feeling that some of these problems might have been there to create some suspense for the next book, as where some of the questions that were left unanswered. The Hunger Games was a fantastic read, and I have no doubt it will be in my top 10 of the year!(less)
My experience of Delirium was really similar to the one I had when reading Divergent. Not only because of their similar dystopian setting, or because...moreMy experience of Delirium was really similar to the one I had when reading Divergent. Not only because of their similar dystopian setting, or because they are both YA fiction. What reminded me of Divergent was how much I enjoyed the story while also being left unsatisfied by the setting. I had fun reading it and went through the numerous pages in what felt like a blink, but in the end, I was left with many question marks.
If I compare Delirium to its most similar cousin Matched, I’d say Delirium had for me a more compelling story, writing and characters. This is in big part due to Lauren Oliver’s writing, which I found superior and pulled me in right from the start. Delirium was definitely a page turner, without being all action and adventure, and I warmed up to Lena quickly, even though I would have wished her to be a bit more confrontational in certain situations (at the same time, I also loved her slow transformation from “sheep” to “rebel”, so even though I wished it, it probably makes more sense that she wasn’t more confrontational).
Of course, in a world were love is a sickness, the center of the story is, indeed, a love story. I liked Alex enough and they had a cute story. But surprisingly, I enjoyed Lena’s friendship with Hana even more. Having read her previous novel, Before I Fall, I would say it is one of Oliver’s talents, to write friendships that are really true to life, even in a setting so different from ours. The bond between the two girls was complex and strong, and I’m really curious to see whether the author will explore more of this in her next novels.
This being said, I do wish there had been more details on the “disease” and the “cure”. How, and why, does a scientist come up with such an idea? How does the government convince its population that this is a great idea? How does the cure work, exactly? In a society so tightly controlled, how is it possible for Lena to ride around on her bike past curfew so easily? If teens are so “fragile” to falling in love, why aren’t they raised in some kind of boarding school with more surveillance? These are some of the questions that popped in while I was reading. I was still enjoying the story, but not as much as I could have with more information on the world-building. I was really glad though, to read in the interview at the end of the book, that Delirium is set not in our future, but in some kind of alternate-reality-present. It makes the whole thing more believable, because then I can imagine the past was also somewhat different and lead to different decisions.
Also, what an ending! It’s the kind of ending that leaves you stunned, then flipping frantically through the last few pages, hoping to know just a little more. Alas, the last pages included an interview with the author and an excerpt from the next novel, Pandemonium, which didn’t answer my most crucial questions about this terrific ending. It looks like I’ll have to wait until next year!
So, to conclude, I had a lot of fun reading Delirium and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to fans of the genre – especially to readers for whom world-building is less crucial, and readers who enjoy forbidden romances!(less)
Being one of the most hyped and waited-for book of 2010, Matched almost doesn’t need a presentation – or yet another review! Hype or no hype, I was in...moreBeing one of the most hyped and waited-for book of 2010, Matched almost doesn’t need a presentation – or yet another review! Hype or no hype, I was incredibly intrigued by its setting, a dystopian love story that seemed to carry in an interesting way the topic of free will. While the book was certainly entertaining, I think it’s fair to say that Matched didn’t match (ha!) my expectations.
I wouldn’t characterize the novel as a bad one, nor would I place it on my “best of 2011″ shelf. It fell somewhere in the middle for me. Entertaining, but with a few slow moments that didn’t made it an “un-put-downable” book.
I have to say the world building intrigued me from the start. The idea of a society controlling everything in such a way is a bit scary : work and love have been mentioned in my little summary, but it goes farther in every single detail : the clothes, the food, the hobbies… nothing is left to chance. I was fascinated by it and thought the author did an okay job of describing it all. It was detailed, while giving place to your imagination, which is something I truly enjoy when reading this kind of futuristic dystopian novels. In some parts though, I wish the author could have given us a little more meat : I’m still uncertain about what Cassia’s job of “sorting” is, for instance.
Things went downhill as the book progressed though. I just couldn’t warm up to Cassia. I found her to be self-righteous, but also a bit boring. Not only she had no appeal to me, I couldn’t see why she was attracted to Ky either. This seemed a bit sudden and unjustified to me. Maybe it was the writing, but I didn’t even see it as a love at first sight thing (since they had known each other for a while anyway). I liked Xander though.
I was also surprised by how little consideration Cassia showed for her family, when it came to her actions. She knew the consequences it could have on the ones she loves, but it didn’t seem to weight much in the balance. Meh. I think her mother’s story illustrated the difficulties of individual decisions in a much better way.
Also, and maybe it’s a question for the next novel, but… what about the non-heterosexual people? There are no mention in the book about this; there is no same-sex match, nor is there a mention that same sex couples are forbidden by law (which could have opened some very interesting, and actual, story lines). Are homosexuals against law? Has the society found a “gay gene” and eliminated it (however disturbing that idea is)? There’s no answer at all. Considering that the book’s jacket describes Matched as “a story for right now”, I found this surprising. I couldn’t stop thinking that, if I was a non-heterosexual teen reading this book, I would kept wondering : where would I fit in such a society? While some people may refuse to be “matched”, they seem destined to live a single’s life. I’m hoping the next book, Crossed - which I plan on reading - will answer this in some way.(less)
For the first 50 pages or so of Bumped, I wasn’t sure I would like it : McCafferty created a whole new language for the novel, which is used both in t...moreFor the first 50 pages or so of Bumped, I wasn’t sure I would like it : McCafferty created a whole new language for the novel, which is used both in the characters’ talk and in their day to day narration. There are new expressions (for instance, they often use the expression “for seriously” instead of “for real”), new technologies and products (MyNet, MyVu, FunBump), new commercial venues (Babies R U, the Avatarcade), etc. The author introduced theses words from the start, and there’s no guide on what is what; it’s the reader’s task to try and make sense of it. And for those first 50 pages, it did feel like a bit much. I kept wondering : what does this mean? And what is that? I remembered feeling like this to a lesser extreme when reading Uglies, a book that ended up among my favorites, so I decided to give Bumped a chance.
After that difficult start, I became more familiar with the language and was able to appreciate more of the characters and their world. I was quickly hooked to the two girls stories, two twins who couldn’t have grown up in more different worlds.
Harmony was irritatingly preachy in the beginning, but as we get to know more of her and her motivations, I found that she was more complex than I had imagined her to be. I liked that she questioned her faith, in what is not a simple teenage rebellion but an honest questioning of her beliefs. Melody lives a similar change, and though it is not her faith that hangs in the balance, she is forced too to re-consider what she has been taught all of her life. In the end, both girls have to face that the roles they have been prepped to might not be the roles they want to play… Somewhat. (Trying really hard not to spoil anything here!)
Though the two girls are at the very center of the story, there’s also a whole cast of characters that complete their lives and make it feel more real. I loved these additions, from Melody’s circle of pregnant friends to her best friend Zen. Oh Zen! Swoon-worthy, he absolutely is, but I also love that he was witty rather than broody. He’s also a solid presence for Melody when she needs it the most. My opinion about Harmony’s pick is still to be formed, though, since there is a lot more to know about him that isn’t cleared in the end.
I enjoyed Bumped more than I thought I would, and in the end, it was exactly what I had hoped Matched to be : an original yet plausible world-building, complete with complex characters, humor, mystery, and just a little love interest on the side. Turning the last page, I was left wanting more and wished I could have had the following novel to bite into!(less)
In another world, where The Hunger Games and Wither and Bumped have yet to be published, Eve might have had a better chance of standing out and blowin...moreIn another world, where The Hunger Games and Wither and Bumped have yet to be published, Eve might have had a better chance of standing out and blowing my mind. Unfortunately, Eve is part of THE genre populating the YA shelves right now, and as such, can only be compared to its fellow competitors.
Eve wasn't a bad novel. The premise of "girls being used as breeding stock" isn't new to speculative fiction, but it's still an interesting one that gives me chills all the time. And I admired that once Eve decided to go, she did, even though it broke her heart for many reasons. I wouldn't have wanted to read about her hesitating and contemplating for fifty pages.
Yet once she runs away, the novel never really commits to a specific style. It's not action packed like Divergent and Legend; it isn't filled with constant twists like Wither; it isn't witty and clever like Bumped; it doesn't have the complexity of The Hunger Games; and it isn't dark or introspective or super romancy like some other popular dystopian novels have been, either. It's a little of everything, but in such a quiet way, it makes everything a little forgettable.
The cast of characters is interesting, and the dangers Eve does encounter were realistic enough. While I wished the story had something more distinguishable, I wasn't bored by it. I found Eve to be an easy and quick novel, and the lack of complexity in the worldbuilding made it very easy to get into its world.
Also, beware : sorta cliffhanger ending! Seriously. It's like when I watch a movie on Netflix and my connection suddenly fails just as some major plot twist is going on and then I have to wait until the next day to know what happens next. This is the kind of stuff that keeps me awake at night, and it isn't cool. Seriously. It was all "Hey this is the ending except twist! It's not! See ya!" Uh.
So, I guess this sounds like a bad review, but overall, Eve was okayish. Will I be reading the sequel? Maybe. Do I recommend it? Well, I do and I don't. I didn't hate or love it, but if you are to read a single YA dystopian novel this year, there are more interesting ones to start with, for sure!(less)
In some aspects Legend doesn’t distinguish itself from most YA dystopias : teen heros battling an evil government, a touch of science fiction, lots of...moreIn some aspects Legend doesn’t distinguish itself from most YA dystopias : teen heros battling an evil government, a touch of science fiction, lots of action, a touch of danger and voilà! Those who are tired of the genre might not find it the most refreshing novel, but as someone who loves dystopia and isn’t tired of it yet, I found Legend to be one of the best dystopia novels I have read in the last twelve months.
First of all, I thought the writing was great. I’d say simple, to the point, while carrying emotions in a believable manner. The novel is told both from June and Day’s point-of-view, and I thought the author did really good in writing them in a distinctive manner – and not just because they were printed in different fonts (though this was a nice touch)!
As for June and Day, I liked them both. Day is by far the easiest to love, strong and beautiful and charming, while Jude starts off a little less likable. Because of that though, I found her journey much more captivating, as there is a real change in her behavior and her thoughts from start to finish. Day’s weakness for his family revealed his vulnerability, which made him all the more lovable. Paired together, the two had a great chemistry that didn’t feel forced.
Also, it needs to be said : yay for no love triangle! Marie Lu proves that you can write a great romance between two characters, with lots of tension, without forcing a third character into the mix. I did think there would be a triangle with Thomas, but the author used him as a mirror of society for June, which I thought was a lot more interesting.
As for the plot and the secrets uncovered, I thought they were fairly predictable as the author gives a lot of hints along the story. This being said, I didn’t feel it took away from my enjoyment : I liked how June and Day uncovered the facts and how it was, in both cases, linked to their personal history.
Legend was a fast-paced novel that I really enjoyed. Government conspiracy, technology, intriguing secondary characters also played a role in getting me hooked to this new series. While this chapter of the story concludes itself, I felt I was only reading the beginning of a bigger story – and I am really looking forward to discovering what comes next for June and Day.(less)
The first thing I thought about when starting to write this review was “Should I really tag it as dystopia?” Because in truth, Across the Universe is...moreThe first thing I thought about when starting to write this review was “Should I really tag it as dystopia?” Because in truth, Across the Universe is more science-fiction than anything else. Even the romance, which the cover hints at strongly, takes a backseat to the mystery, the ship and the characters’ own personal issues. As for the dystopian aspect, it’s a part of the plot that is not clearly revealed from the beginning, but I did feel the hints were big enough that this is not a spoiler in any way. So, yes; Across the Universe is a slightly dystopian futuristic novel with an intriguing premise.
I’m not sure why the book sat so long on my shelf. When I finally decided to read it, I got hooked to the story instantly. While the narration itself didn’t particularly stand out, I was curious about Amy’s situation. Being put to sleep sure didn’t look like fun! However, I was disappointed by the dual narration. Nothing against Elder, but his voice wasn’t particularly different from Amy’s. I think I would have preferred to discover the ship and the future only though Amy’s eyes.
I also had a few problems with the technological side of the worldbuilding. Maybe it’s because I’m currently reading Physics of the Future, but I couldn’t accept that the technology used on the ship wasn’t more advanced, more sophisticated. Parts of it were; but some parts of it were too easy, too similar to the technology we already use. Sadly, there was no explanation in the worldbuilding to justify that.
I do wish the characters were more dimensional, too, and less stereotyped. As a villain, Eldest had very little depth, but this is something that could be said of other secondary characters, too.This being said, I do think the strong point of the novel was the story itself. Even though it felt predictable and I could tell, mostly, who did what and what would happen, the pace and the twists kept me reading.
I also loved that, while Amy and Elder had a certain attraction for each other, the novel wasn’t about the romance itself. It was something happening on the side, and that never truly developed into something more. To be honest, I wouldn’t even be surprised if the author introduced another love interest for Amy, since her interest for Elder seemed to be more about curiosity, loneliness and friendship.
Across the Universe sure differentiated itself from all the dystopian stories coming out these days. I’m looking forward to reading book two, A Million Suns, which is already waiting on my shelf.(less)
I have read many good books this summer, even a few great ones, but Aftertime is the first to hit me this way. I loved it, I just couldn’t let go of i...moreI have read many good books this summer, even a few great ones, but Aftertime is the first to hit me this way. I loved it, I just couldn’t let go of it. Every time I finished a chapter, all I could do was read the next one. Littlefield created a fantastic character who, all the while being a kick-ass woman, also has plenty of faults. Cass’s life has never been easy, not even before this apocalyptic disease happened : victim of sexual abuse as a teen, she is now a recovering alcoholic who hasn’t made peace with her past yet. She has guilt about being a bad mother all the while wanting to be perfect for her daughter, and I found it impossible not to feel for her. She’s an intricate character that felt real, all the more important in a world ravaged by horrific creatures.
Talking of these creatures, I have to say that the author accomplished something amazing on that aspect. The Beaters aren’t the laughing stock of the story, like zombies often are : instead, they are scary as they should be. They also aren’t the only aspect of this post-apocalyptic universe on which Littlefield focuses. The world has been changed forever and the author really gives a lot of attention to what this results in for the survivors : clans are formed, things that used to be taken for granted become precious goods to be traded, life is an everyday battle with completely different rules.
Each new character Cass meets opens a new door for new possible story lines, and I loved that. I don’t know when (and if) Cass will meet again the Covent’s sisters, the Rebuilders, or any of those she met along her way, but each glimpse we get of these different groups is rich with ideas. Every time Cass left some place, I had the distinct impression life continued there, and I could imagine how it was. What I mean is that, even though we’re reading Cass’s story, it didn’t feel like the whole world revolved around her, you know? The author does a great job of describing her world in a realistic manner, making Cass’s story a frightening yet captivating one.
I can’t finish this review without mentioning Smoke, of course. Smoke is the mysterious hot stranger who accompanies Cass for most of her journey. He has secrets of his own, doesn’t reveal too much about himself, but him and Cass, they worked well. I believed it. More than that, I loved that while he is very present through the pages, he isn’t Cass’s main concern. They care for each other but it’s a slow, careful fall. They can be intense and the attraction is there, but Cass doesn’t lose focus from her sole objective : get Ruthie back.
I can’t say enough good things about this book! While it doesn’t reinvent the post-apocalyptic genre or the zombies-type creatures, it definitely exploits these things beautifully to explore the complexity of the human character. If like me you love dystopian universes, post-apocalyptic stories or zombies, then this is one to read. I can’t wait to see what’s next for these characters – I have a feeling I’ll have my nose in book 2 before long!(less)
Insurgent was, in many ways, a lot like its predecessor Divergent; filled with action, quick pace, lots of characters, lots of danger, little room to...moreInsurgent was, in many ways, a lot like its predecessor Divergent; filled with action, quick pace, lots of characters, lots of danger, little room to breath between all the twists and turns. It just never stops. Which is good! Never boring, Insurgent keeps you turning the pages quicker and quicker until you reach the ending, breathless.
But sometimes, there is a thing as too much action. It keeps you so busy with the excitation that you sort of forget to think about what you're reading. When I reached the last page of Insurgent, I had a very similar reaction to reading Divergent : "Oh that was so much fun! I just can't wait to see what happens next! These five hundred pages flew by!"
But then, once the excitement died down, I took a moment to think about the story and the worldbuilding, and I realized I felt largely unsatisfied. Questions I had after reading the first book are still unanswered: how can it make sense to categorize people in only 5 categories? What happened to the rest of the world? The book gives hints of maybe answering part of these interrogations in the next book, but at this point, it feels like too little too late.
I do know though that not every book has to feed your brain and make you question the meaning of life. The thrill of the adventure is sometimes sufficient to keep you hooked - which was totally the case for me here. I honestly had a great time reading Tris's story, even though I didn't care for her romance, even though I felt like she often made questionable decisions, and even though her world didn't really made sense.
In short: I was entertained, but not impressed. And sometimes, that's just good enough to keep you reading!(less)
I am honestly not sure why Bumped and Thumped haven't received more love from the YA community. I wish that they did; they offer something lighter, le...moreI am honestly not sure why Bumped and Thumped haven't received more love from the YA community. I wish that they did; they offer something lighter, less romantic and certainly different from other dystopian novels on the market. Where most of these (Wither, Matched, Legend, Divergent, and many more) offer bleak, dramatic visions of the future where romance and hope should prevail through tragedy, Megan McCafferty works on similar ideas by way of the satire. And it (in my opinion) works beautifully, offering a refreshing yet realistic take on a possible future.
Thumped offered a really nice conclusion to Bumped. The story was entertaining enough, there was a bit of humor, and I remembered enough of the previous book's new words to be comfortable with them this time. There's a great cast of secondary characters, some good and some less than good, and I love all the technologies and products appearing through the story.
There is something quite impressive about the future McCafferty has created, which seems to be both too crazy to be true, and entirely realistic. Melody's parents, for instance, were awful people, using their daughter for their own profit. I kept thinking, where do these parents come from? I can't imagine parents could do that to their own child! But then, I thought about it again, and I realized that yes, I could absolutely see it. We see worse all the time on the news, so why not? And that's what satire is a little bit, isn't it? Taking a horrible truth, twisting it a little, and forcing you to think on what it hides, what it means. The book certainly opens many doors for discussions on sexuality, faith, free will, etc.
There were a few things I liked less in the book. I found the girls to be a tad preachy, and not really likable. I also missed Zen as he was in the first book. I would say that Thumped really isn't a book for readers who want to relate to characters and live strong emotions through them; the book was, to me, more about the world it described and the ideas behind it. I also felt that the "mission", the great plot around which the book is built, was a bit weak.
Despite its flaws, Thumped was a fun book. It's short and could easily be read in one session. While it didn't make my heart beat a little faster of make me root for its characters, it certainly entertained me. Is it for everyone? Probably not. But for something just a little different and entertaining, Bumped and Thumped are nice picks.(less)
I like Hana! I mentioned in my review of Delirium that her friendship with Lena was one of my favorite aspects of the book, so I was happy to read a v...moreI like Hana! I mentioned in my review of Delirium that her friendship with Lena was one of my favorite aspects of the book, so I was happy to read a version of her story.
Lauren Oliver sure knows how to write; I connect with her words in a unique way, even though I'm still not completely sold on the worldbuilding. I like this short story, and its ending makes me want to jump right away into Pandemonium.(less)