Originally published on Serendipity Reviews This book is not for the faint hearted. Within the first few pages you are thrown into this world forty yea...moreOriginally published on Serendipity Reviews This book is not for the faint hearted. Within the first few pages you are thrown into this world forty years in the future when unemployment is at its highest and the recession has taking full control. The book portrays an extremely realistic and frightening view of what the UK could one day become. On the death of the rock star Jimmy Earle from a recreational drug that gives you the best week of your life, followed by your imminent death, the country erupts into violence and revolt. Everyone wants to live like Jimmy and the drug Death, floods onto the streets via the cult organisation, Zealots. You get a chill speeding through your body, as the riots occur and spiral out of control, reminding you all of the violence and demonstrations that took place on the streets of the UK a few years ago. It makes you feel uneasy and uncomfortable, but you find yourself compelled to read further to find out what will happen.
The Zealots are a rather scary organisation with hints of present day terrorist groups flavouring their image. Suicide bombing is as natural to them as taking a stroll in the park; the group members are brainwashed and happy to die for the cause. With the added ingredient of gangsters, mob mentality and drugs flooding the market, you have a strong, gritty and determined contemporary thriller. A YA version of Martina Cole’s adult novels.
I didn’t like Adam to begin with. He came across as a desperate money grabbing hormonal teacher, intent on shagging a rich girl and making her pregnant. An instant turn off to any girl. I suppose if the world had turned in such a way, he would represent a major group of teenagers with the same mentality. Lizzie came across as a stronger and more likeable character. She wasn’t perfect, she had that selfishness inbred in many teenagers oozing out occasionally but on the whole she wanted to the right thing for Adam.
The idea of a drug that would give you the best week of your life is an interesting one. As the story progresses, you realise the drug doesn’t do a lot to create the exhilarating experience anticipated. A lot of it has to do with attitude and the drug takers overhaul the way they view their life – with one week to live they are determined to live it to the fullest and do everything they can. If you knew you had one week to live and you were feeling healthy, you would go utterly wild, it’s human nature.
The violence in this book is hard hitting and graphic. Not a book I would let the younger readers of YA read. In fact the content is verging on a cross over novel. There were scenes that made me flinch, enough to give me nightmares. Christian scared the hell out of me; he was sick in his mind and attitude. His gruesome obsession with the spinal cord was extremely disturbing.
I do think this is a book you will either love or hate, depending on how much violence your stomach can take. Melvin Burgess is known for his hard hitting, no nonsense Young Adult books, well this one is a classic example that the author doesn’t bow to niceties.
A fast paced, gripping story that kicks you right in the gut. (less)
I do love a Daniela Sacerdoti book! I think she is one of those authors who has really captured my interest over the last couple of years and is instantly on my Buy list. That first line really draws you in. Your intrigue and imagination are both captured at once. This is the second book in the Sarah Midnight Trilogy series and I can assure you there is no second book syndrome in this book. Uh uh! This book introduces new characters, new settings and new turn of the page thrilling action and drama. We finally get to meet Elise, Harry Midnight’s wife, who appeared briefly in the first book. On arrival her relationship with Sarah is relatively frosty. You keep thinking they will never ever become friends. Luckily as the book progresses, they begin to see the bigger picture and accept each one’s part in it. Nicholas had the most interesting character arc within this book and throws some unexpected punches into the story. Sarah changes a lot in this book. You see her so much stronger and capable than she was in Dreams. She really accepts her destiny and grows into it. We also get to see Sarah’s ancestral home, Midnight Hall, on the isle of Islay. This house could have stepped out of the pages of a Susan Hill ghost story, it was seriously spooky. Sarah learns so much more about her past while here and unanswered questions from Dreams are dealt with. We learn so much more about Sarah’s family and you get a glimpse of what Sarah could become if she isn’t careful. The battle intensifies while on the island and the conclusion of the book is extremely dramatic. Sarah’s life takes an unscheduled turn towards another journey that is necessary to end this battle. By the end of the book I was left shell shocked and lost, desperate to find out what would happen next. Book 3 seems such a long way away! The story is told from many viewpoints, some of which are in first person, while others in third. I struggled a little with that in Dreams, but recently there has been a trend within the YA market for more like this, so I really enjoyed this style this time round.
Dani Sacerdoti really is an incredible writer. She knows how to bring every image to life. You don’t have to question any scene as you can see it easily in your head, as the descriptions flow easily off the page.
If you haven’t read a book by this author yet, you are seriously missing out. This is an excellent example of paranormal YA set in the UK. (less)
Originally posted on www.serendipityreviews.co.uk Opal Moonbaby is one of the most entertaining and colourful characters I have had the pleasure of spe...moreOriginally posted on www.serendipityreviews.co.uk Opal Moonbaby is one of the most entertaining and colourful characters I have had the pleasure of spending time with. She bursts on the page like a sparkler that never dims and you can’t help but fall in love with her alieness which makes her so naïve to the ways of the world. She is innocent, yet excitable, like a new puppy. She’s the alien version of Anne of Green Gables.Her mispronunciations and cliché confusions produce deep belly laughs with each new statement. As Opal zooms from one disaster to another, you struggle to keep a straight face as such laugh out loud moments. Martha, her bestest friend, puts up with a lot. She feels responsible for Opal and takes looking after her very seriously. More seriously than Opal does. She tries to advise Opal, but Opal is having way too much fun to listen. Until it is nearly too late. I really didn’t give Martha the respect she deserved until half way through the story, when I realised how troubled she was by Opal’s behaviour and how desperately worried she was about her safety, when basically Opal was out of control. A force of alien nature! Martha is one of those children you would be proud as a parent to call your own. I loved the inclusion the Mercurials. They were very entertaining characters, especially with their long and uncontrollable hair that held all their power. I would also love a Domestipod! Opal’s imaginative dwellings should be available to buy as a doll’s house alongside the Barbie and Sindy homes. I am in awe of the powers of Maudie Smith’s imagination. How she comes up with such unique and entertaining characters and settings, I have no idea. The jokes and hilarious scenes aside, this book does have a deeper meaning. It looks closely as the theme of friendship and what makes a really good friend. Opal realises her errors as the book progresses and goes out of her way to make it up to Martha. I would buy this series for any young girl, who enjoys comical tales and knows the true meaning of friendship. A blooming, zooming, fantabulous read!
Originally posted on www.serendipityreviews.co.uk Told from two perspectives in first and third person, this book portrays a very dark and realistic im...moreOriginally posted on www.serendipityreviews.co.uk Told from two perspectives in first and third person, this book portrays a very dark and realistic image of Victorian London. The two main characters, Queenie and Ellen’s are the complete opposite of each other and yet each suffers in their own way. The author takes both extremes and skilfully blends them together. Queenie’s life is extremely hard. To have to fight for every morsel of food on a daily basis must have been indescribable. Yet she was loved. She came from a family that cared, even if they sometimes went off the rail. However, Queenie is oblivious to the love that surrounds her; she is too consumed by her need to escape poverty to see it. On the other hand, Ellen has everything money could buy; however money can’t buy the thing you need most in life – love. The clinical coldness of her father sent shivers down my spine. He really was a boneless creature. His unhealthy interest in the workings of his daughter’s body was extremely weird. Ellen’s life was cold and lonely and I just wanted to hug her. Queenie and Ellen are such wonderful characters, with strong convictions and lots of emotion. Through every sadness they suffered, you felt every bit of it through the author’s narrative. During the birth scene, I felt the strong emotions that bound the mother and child, an excellent example of the writer’s ability to portray realistic emotions through her words. The story unravels delicately as we gradually learn more about the two girls. Surprises will occur naturally within the plot as you lose yourself in the story. The chapters are quite short and you find yourself reading the book very quickly, eager to find out what happens next to each character. The descriptions of Victorian London are vivid, yet brutal and honest. The author has taken the historical information and breathed life into it, make it real and easy to imagine. I could easily see this book being televised. I really loved this book, even though it did make me cry at the end. A stunning portrayal of hidden history that needs to be told. (less)
Just by reading the extract and looking at the cover, you will know if ‘The girl who Fell beneath Fairyland and led the Revels there.’ is likely to appeal to you. It has a quirky Victorian-style narrator who talks to you the Reader, intriguing summaries at the top of each chapter and is quite as ornate verbally as the images by Ana Juan. I hadn’t read the first book – The girl who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of her Own Making – but I would say you don’t need to read it to appreciate this book. I am sure it would improve your appreciation of the story – but it’s not necessary in order to follow the self-contained plot. The storyline is complex with echoes of Greek myth and Alice in Wonderland and any amount of fairy tales. A glorious mash-up which you can read as rollicking good fun – but I think it has layers of deeper meanings too. It really does span a large age–range providing the reader is comfortable with Catherynne M. Valente’s distinctive voice. It is definitely not for lovers of sparse prose and hard-edged realism. It is a concoction full of strange and wonderful characters: Glasswort Groof, a goblin; Aubergine, a Night Dodo and Nod, the Dream-Eating Tapir, for example. The settings are equally dreamlike and lovingly brought to life. The authoress assumes her readership will cope with complex sentences and curious vocabulary – quite rightly. There is enough momentum in the story to make you want to read on and enjoy the scenery too. The core of the story has great heart. It could well be read aloud to younger listeners with enjoyment. I would highly recommend this to those who loved Lauren Oliver’s The Spindlers and Frances Hardinge’s A Face like Glass – whatever their age. Suitable for all lovers of fantasy and fine writing. An extra note: on July 27, 2011, a short prequel was published as an e-book by Tor.com, and is available to read there: The Girl Who Ruled Fairyland—For a Little While (less)
Originally published on www. serendipityreviews.co.uk The first few chapters of this book are the scariest I have read since my teen obsession with Ric...moreOriginally published on www. serendipityreviews.co.uk The first few chapters of this book are the scariest I have read since my teen obsession with Richard Laymon. They made me feel really uncomfortable, nervous and scared the beejeesus out of me. Seriously scary stuff! Beth has no idea what is happening to her and I think that captured the fear of the book. Imagine knowing you were doing something really bad and not being aware of what it is or being able to control it. The essence of good horror films right there on the page for you. I was quite surprised to discover that Melvin Burgess had written horror; normally known for his hard hitting contemporary YA books, this is a complete transformation. Within the book, he has very strong YA characters who talk like with authentic teenage voices, yet they are remarkably brave considering the situation. Half way through the book the plot takes a different direction and this becomes more of a paranormal thriller than a horror story, with strong emphasis on religion. Melvin Burgess has not shied away from the difficult topics of God and the Devil and creates a tense and dramatic battle between the two sides. I was a little upset to see something happen to a character I had invested quite a lot of time in throughout the book. It also felt a little like it was dealt with behind the scenes and I wanted to be shown exactly what had happened. Personally I would have liked to see things turn out differently, but then I am a sucker for a happy ending! A super scary horror from the King of YA.(less)
I have been waiting to read this book for ages. Lenore is a well known book blogger from Presenting Lenore who has managed to cross the divide and become a published author and I am very much in awe of her ability. When I read the blurb, I had a feeling this book would be good and it most definitely was. It can only be described as a heavenly version of The Matrix, only better. I loved the memory chambers, the idea of being able to relive whichever memories you want really appealed to me. As well as being able to relive other people's memories. Ingenious and unique - you will all be wishing that heaven was really like this. I love the detail and description used to portray such a clear picture of how heaven might operate. Or should I say the in between place where you evaluate you life by experiencing again everything you went through on Earth. I felt the author presented an excellent visual of something no one has ever seen, only guessed at. This has to be the first after life book that has really captured my attention. I loved Julian, even though on looking back over the book, I felt I really shouldn't. He was trouble and brought about the downfall of Felicia. His arrival on Level 2 changed everything again. Every little detail she had grown to believe about her very existence was instantly shattered by Julian. As the book progresses, his words and actions make her question her own sanity as well as her past memories. He had a manipulative way about him, yet you instantly understand that his actions were purely led by his love for Felicia. As a lead character Felicia kicked butt. She was very quick to come to terms with the changes occurring around her and she really shone bravely by the end. As the story progresses, you are shocked and surprised by the information revealed, leaving you to believe that everything is questionable. Even from the first chapter, I was shocked by the ending, because I had already been led to believe rather quickly that events like that were impossible. The ending was definitely a surprise for me, yet again I was stunned by what was revealed. On the whole this book was an excellent, fast moving thriller through the heavenly plains. I thought the plot was ingenious and well paced, with lots of surprises to keep me reading more. An excellent debut.(less)