The best way to describe this book is The Breakfast Club meets zombie slasher flick - and if that doesn't sound like your cup of tea, you should read...moreThe best way to describe this book is The Breakfast Club meets zombie slasher flick - and if that doesn't sound like your cup of tea, you should read it anyway for a surprisingly funny teen romance/adventure. Bobby, formerly of the UK, then the US, now back to the UK, is frustrated, sad, lonely, pissy, and SO very tired of her perky classmates on the pre-school year ski trip. When everyone gets off the bus at a rest stop on the way home, Bobby stays on-board, and unfortunately, so does Smitty, the class "rebel-without-a-cause". This turns out to be a good thing when their entire class turns into a bunch of raving zombies, and it's up to the two of them, plus a few other stragglers, to save both themselves and the rest of the world.
The who-dunnit twist at the end needs a little bit more (lead-up? explanation? context?), but ties up some loose plot points nicely. The writing manages to keep pace throughout the plot, amping up the action and the tension with each short chapter. A relatively breezy read, Bobby & Smitty's banter breaks up the suspense, while Alice (the popular cheerleader) and Pete (the brain) play helpful supporting roles. For a cleverly-written romp through the Scottish countryside, I highly recommend this, dare I say it?, teen zombie adventure.(less)
**spoiler alert** Having enjoyed Kresley Cole's adult novels, I was interested to see what her YA would be like. It's definitely smoldering, in more w...more**spoiler alert** Having enjoyed Kresley Cole's adult novels, I was interested to see what her YA would be like. It's definitely smoldering, in more ways than one. The heat between Evangeline (Evie) Greene and Jackson (Jack) Deveaux sizzles on the page, while the real burning fire of the Flash - the end of the world event that has killed almost everyone on Earth, turning the survivors into evil creatures called Bagmen who eat anything with liquid, or plain ole cannibals, or power-hungry militants - is gruesome enough to give you nightmares. Among the few non-evil survivors are 16-year-old Evie and the motorcycle-riding, whiskey-drinking, bad-ass bad boy Jack.
**SPOILER ALERT. PLOT DISCUSSED**
Former schoolmates from opposite sides of the bayou in Louisiana, the book opens with Evie talking about what happened in the week leading up to the Flash, the end of the world as everyone knew it. It's the first week of school and as one of the most popular and richest girls in the county (cheerleader dating the hot quarterback, etc.), Evie is trying her hardest to pretend it's business as usual. What she's concealing is the summer she spent in a mental institution, drugged and brainwashed into denying her psychotic episodes. She sees things - burning skies, plants that come alive - and often sleepwalks while having nightmares. Her mother sends her away, denying everything, and Evie is forced to play along. Everything is okay at first, but despite taking her meds, the hallucinations begin to happen all the time, and the voices in her head - voices of other teenagers - just won't stop. She also can't stop the fleeting flashbacks to a memory of her grandmother who used to tell her about Tarot; the characters were real in her grandmother's stories, not just symbols on cards. Add to all that the pressure her boyfriend is putting on her to have sex, the intense attraction and dislike she feels for new kid Jack Deveaux, and Evie is a hot mess.
Then the Flash happens, the scorching sun burning everyone and everything exposed. Evie and her mother were able to hide in their basement, but almost everyone else they know wasn't so lucky. With supplies running low, Evie makes a desperate discovery - her blood brings plants to life. Secretly tending a garden in her barn, Evie tries to not feel desperate at her mother's weakening condition, the rumors of the military and cannibals heading her way (not sure which is worse - to be repeatedly raped or murdered and eaten?), and she has no way out. Until Jack Deveaux rides up on his motorcycle one day, just ahead of the approaching army. When her mother dies in the night, Evie agrees to go with Jack on one condition - he take her to find her grandmother who Evie secretly thinks may have some of the answers to her hallucinations.
Evie has begun to realize that Tarot is real, that the voices in her head are really the voices of other teenagers who represent other Tarot characters, and that Evie herself is one of them. Along the way, Evie & Jack pick up other teenage survivors - Matthew, Selena, and Finneas - who Evie recognizes as other Tarot characters. It seems each Tarot character has a choice, whether to fight on the side of good or evil, though Evie has a hard time recognizing this battle within herself. As Evie, Jack, and the crew continue on their dangerous cross-country journey, they are fighting an uphill battle against almost everything - limited food and water, the Bagmen, the cannibals, the army they have to avoid, and most of all, their attraction to each other. Jack and Evie have an undeniable connection, Matthew loves Evie but like a brother, Selena wants Jack, while Finn wants Selena. It's all raging battles and raging hormones as the crew tries to adjust to each other, their powers, and what to do next. Both Jack and Evie have secrets to hide, and despite all they've been through, both don't quite trust each other. As Evie gets closer to realizing just who and what she really is, she realizes one of the things that scares her the most is that Jack will reject who she may turn out to be - she's not just the Poison Princess, she is the Empress, the one who will win over the other Arcana, the other members of the Tarot, by seeing them all dead with their glyphs written on her body.(less)
For fans of Suzanne Collins’s The Hunger Games and James Dashner’s The Maze Runner, have I got the series for you! Outpost, the sequel to Enclave, and...moreFor fans of Suzanne Collins’s The Hunger Games and James Dashner’s The Maze Runner, have I got the series for you! Outpost, the sequel to Enclave, and the second book in the Razorland trilogy, is releasing in September, meaning the first two gripping adventures in this young adult dystopian trilogy are going to be available.
enclave 202x300 Book Review: Outpost by Ann AguirreTo bring you up to speed, in Enclave, Deuce was born an raised in an underground community on a post-apocalyptic Earth. She is a Huntress, and together with her fighting partner, Fade, she helps find food for the enclave and guards it against the Freaks – mutant humans who act more like beasts, animalistic in their eating habits (including attacking and eating humans) to survive. Life is far from perfect, but Deuce is satisfied with her place in the Enclave. Until she finds out the Elders are more manipulative than she could have ever imagined. When one of her friends is framed by the Elders to be used as a sacrificial example to the Enclave, Deuce steps forward instead. Banished from the only life and home she has ever known, Deuce is lucky that Fade exiles himself with her. Fad has not always lived underground, and so now the two travel through the dangerous tunnels, running and fighting for their lives, in an attempt to make it topside and see what the above ground world holds. But life up there is no picnic either, and as the two travel across the wasteland, they continue to have to rely on each other and their fighting skills. Picking up two more outcasts along the way, this group of four make their way toward an uncertain future, trying to reach one of the walled communities that exist in the North.
In Outpost, having made it to relative safety, Deuce, Fade, and their friends have been adopted out into the community. Forced to act in a more feminine manner – wearing dresses instead of pants, her hair in braids, forbidden to carry her knives, and made to go to school – Deuce feels lost and strains against the constraints of the apparent civilized society’s rules. Until the community realizes the outpost has Freaks of their own to fight, and what’s worse, the Freaks are no longer the mindless creatures driven by instinct. They have banded together for the first time in anyone’s memory. In order to save the outpost, its citizens will have to rely on the fighting skills Deuce and her friends have brought with them. No one is safe yet.(less)
What I love most about this book is that it harkens back to the quirky, witty, brutally honest self-reflection, and sweet triumph of Nick Hornby's ear...moreWhat I love most about this book is that it harkens back to the quirky, witty, brutally honest self-reflection, and sweet triumph of Nick Hornby's early works, like the great High Fidelity.
Duncan, a music buff in England obsessed with the work of American song-writer Tucker Crowe, discovers Tucker's latest work, an album of stripped-down recordings called Juliet, Naked. Unfortunately, his girlfriend, Annie, doesn't love it so much. This brings into sharp relief that Duncan and Annie may or may not love each other as much as they thought they did.
In a lovely plot twist, it is Annie, not Duncan, who gets in touch with Tucker. Tucker has been hiding away in America, ignoring his cult-rock-star fandom, in order to take care of his equally gifted young son. In typical Nick Hornby-style, Tucker is exceedingly aware of his faults as a human, a husband, a father, and a musician, but still has a spark of greatness about him. Annie is just discovering what it means to have her own life and her own opinions, and as all great love stories go, these two people begin to find out it isn't too late for them - in life or in love or in music - after all.
There's something voyeuristic about reading the way Nick Hornby writes about middle-aged (or approaching middle-aged) male emotions. It's so brutally honest about hopes and fears, regrets and failures, triumphs and hopes. Though there are sad moments, overall the story is one of inspiration in many forms.(less)