**spoiler alert** This book is creepy. Religious fundamentalists and other conservative crazies take out the president and most of the Congress in a o...more**spoiler alert** This book is creepy. Religious fundamentalists and other conservative crazies take out the president and most of the Congress in a one day attack, leading to the quick destruction of human rights and freedoms until life in the United States (or at least the Northeast) becomes a new caste system where healthy women of child-bearing age are regulated to being a rent-a-uterus for the wealth older gentlemen who engineered the system.
At first it seems like some far fetched, but as you slowly get fed the crashing of society in the handmaid's background story and learn how she went from being a happily wedded woman with a small daughter to an indoctrinated professional babymaker, the story becomes more real, like something that could happen any day now under the right circumstances. It's a tragic and depressing story with only a few glimpses of hope here and there.
The ending was brilliant. The tale just stops at what one would usually consider to be the most action-packed part of the story, when the nameless handmaid is taken away for treacherous deeds against society. This is followed by the transcript of an educational speech from centuries later of a professor trying to analyze these tapes retelling a story of handmaid during this time and determining who made them. It obvious that the story we just read was the transcript of the tapes, as the flow of the story jumps back and forth and is written in a very conversational manner. It also gives you a glimpse into what happened after her "arrest" - that it was really an escape of sorts and though we don't know what actually, definitively happens post story, the wrap up is fascinating.
Margaret Atwood always has the most creative way to tell stories, in formatting, language and characterization. This is no different. Despite being a story told by a nameless protagonist with very few big action moments, the story is bizarre, original and gives you plenty to think on and appreciate.
The intrigue is increasing as more violence and conflict start breaking apart the non-so-happy FreakAngel family. With the inclusion of a couple of di...moreThe intrigue is increasing as more violence and conflict start breaking apart the non-so-happy FreakAngel family. With the inclusion of a couple of different mysteries, both in the past and present, and yet another of the 'angels going rogue, the story is well setup for an interesting volume 4.(less)
I wasn't really sure where this series was going to go after the end of book one, mostly how the author would drag the storyline out for another two b...moreI wasn't really sure where this series was going to go after the end of book one, mostly how the author would drag the storyline out for another two books. I was pretty giddy with stupid excitement when I found out exactly how things were going to last another two books, and the final line of "Catching Fire" literally gave me chills.
I still love Peeta and Katniss is still a strong, inspiring character. I'm glad that, despite the adversity she faces regularly, she never falls apart into a whiny teen stereotype. The love triangle stays nicely in the background for the most part and I was genuinely surprised a number of times regarding the direction the narrative took.
I'm very much looking forward to reading the third book, but will be sad when it's all over.(less)
**spoiler alert** Hero returns and is a little bit psychotic, Dr. Mann potentially finds the answer to what saved Yorrick and Amperstand, and Agent 35...more**spoiler alert** Hero returns and is a little bit psychotic, Dr. Mann potentially finds the answer to what saved Yorrick and Amperstand, and Agent 355 beats down some former enemies that believe a necklace leaving its homeland caused the mass death of the males. And of course there's the ninja assassin trying to steal the monkey on behalf of a different researcher that just might be Dr. Mann's mother.
The story picked up once again and raced forward. All the characters became even more viable and vivid. I'm glad the ninja came back into the story and I hope to see her again. She was a more interesting, if indifferent, adversary than the other "ring", all the crazy "Amazons" and the Israeli militants that have been attacking them through the other volumes.
Yorrick lost his magic ring and immediately came down with... a case of botulism. Perfect fake out done very well. The artwork was gorgeous as always and I'm looking forward to continuing the series.(less)
**spoiler alert** Within pages Scholes creates a full bodied universe with adversaries and heroes, though by the end you still might not know who is w...more**spoiler alert** Within pages Scholes creates a full bodied universe with adversaries and heroes, though by the end you still might not know who is which. To set the scene, Scholes opens his debut novel with the event that will follow the characters around and set into motion the underlying shockwaves that carry forward the story for the next four hundred pages. Within the first 50 pages, Windwir is destroyed by some mystical force that destroys the entire city and the thousands of people within its borders. As the center of the Named Lands, Windwir acted as the seat of power for the Androfrancines, an order that collected knowledge from the “Old World” and maintained within the confines of the large library that made up most of the city. The Androfrancines act much like a religious order of our own world, except instead of peddling gods and religions, they seek to find and protect knowledge, leaking it out to the general public in slips and pieces as they think the general populace can handle it. In the destruction of Windwir, the world loses most of the knowledge of the old as well as the group that maintained peace within the world. As everyone attempts to figure out who could have caused such destruction, sides build towards inevitable war.
Even though the story bounced between view points with three or four characters telling the story through their eyes in each chapter, the novel flows effortlessly. Moving from one character to the next doesn’t jerk you out of the action or takes much adjustment because all of the characters are so well-developed. Even the characters that have awkward “fantasy” names that are not common in the real world have distinctive traits that soon turn them into individuals after being introduced. The story is centered around four distinctive voices with others leading detail as needed:
Rudolpfo – the gypsy king of the Nine Folds Forrest, an honorable man who prefers sticking to matters of his own territory, but seeks to honor his “kinclave” with the Androfrancine order
Jin Li Tam – a daughter of the house of Li Tam, a familial network that subtly attempts to affect change within the Named Lands, acts as a spy for her father
Neb – a teenage orphan of the Androfrancine order who was leaving Windwir with his father to enter the old world for research
Petronus – an old fisherman who is much more than he pretends to be with an emotional stake in the destruction of Windwir
Through their eyes, the story unfolds – war begins, mysteries unravel, loyalties change and somehow the mythology becomes more and more complicated as the entire world gets involved in the aftermath of the destruction of this one city.
Lamentation defeats the boundaries of genre classification. Yes, I compare it to epic fantasy, but at the same time there are mechoservitors – metal men used by the Androfrancine order for maintaining their library – and steam powered technology, magic seeping in through the cracks, and human drama reflected in the tribulations of a post-apocalyptic world as it falls apart. Though it begins in a slow steady pace that builds up a world almost as real as our own, Scholes has no hesitation in running at full speed, developing the world as the action powers the story along.
This is the first of a five novel series with the third book, Antiphon, coming out in September. There is no way any words of my own can justify how fantastic this book is. I highly recommend it and its sequel Canticle (review to follow tomorrow) to anyone who enjoys getting lost in well constructed, beautifully written worlds full of action, mystery and intrigue. This isn’t Lost. Questions get answered as often as they get asked, though theorizing and putting pieces of the puzzle together along with the main characters is part of the fun. (less)
**spoiler alert** This final volume left me devastated. I knew there was no way for this to end happy, that in war people die, but my god was this dif...more**spoiler alert** This final volume left me devastated. I knew there was no way for this to end happy, that in war people die, but my god was this difficult to get through at times. Yet at the same time, it's so well written and the pacing is so on that it's even harder to put down. The confusion and discombobulation of Katniss is so easy to fall into along side her, the fear and the pain stemming from everything she has to go through.
This book made me hate adults, which is kind of sad because I am an adult (sort of). But with the exception of Katniss' mother, all the adults in this series are puppetmasters, never telling the trust and always pulling everyone's strings to manipulate them to do things that they (the adults) don't want to do themselves. It's very upsetting.
And in the end, the one person I didn't think would possibly die... does. That's what finally got me. Everyone else, to me, had a clock over their heads that was quickly running out of time, except one.
Obviously after a night's sleep, I'm still not over this. It's so good yet so painful. I'm going to have to rethink how I recommend this to others.(less)
Wither isn’t exactly your standard post-apocalypse or dystopia novel. It’s mostly contained within the...moreRead the full review at Working for the Mandroid
Wither isn’t exactly your standard post-apocalypse or dystopia novel. It’s mostly contained within the walls of a single location. There’s no real fighting for physical survival, but rather a more mental fight for personal freedom. This is a world where females die at 20 years old from an unknown and unsolvable disease and male die at 25. The last remaining “natural” generation is hitting their golden ages and people fear for the continuation of the human species as well as worry about who will care for all these orphaned children. Naturally the world has fallen apart, split between those who want a cure and those who feel that science is what caused this mess in the first place, so we might as well suffer the consequences. But these are all secondary things happening in the background.
This is a story about Rhine, a 16-year-old girl who grew up in Manhattan with “natural” parents until they were killed by a terrorist explosion on their laboratory. She has a twin brother, Rowan, though he never appears except in her memory. As the story begins Rhine has been snatched up and sold to a wealthy doctor in Florida to be a wife for his 20-year-old son, along with two other girls. The son, Linden, is a naive young architect, who is watching his true love die from the inevitable sickness that comes at the age of 20.
Rhine is an amazing character – strong in her own way, determined, passionate and yet soft and empathetic. While there were some choices that she made with what I thought was questionable motivation, I could still see why she chose to act the way she did. I can understand the Stockholm syndrome that made her begin feeling for Linden. He was kind, generous and, above all, completely oblivious. It’s hard to hate someone that is as dumb as he is to the ways of the world and I think Rhine’s empathy was the only thing standing between him and a punch of reality to the face. Though he is older than Rhine by a few years, he always seemed to be much younger, the product of such a sheltered lifestyle.
DeStefano has a wonderful way with language. I wish I still had the book on hand so I could quote passages, particularly from the beginning when both Rhine and the reader are disoriented and confused by what’s happening. Even in first person narration, DeStefano is able to create not only a three dimensional world, but multiple fully developed characters. While Housemaster Vaughn is mostly a token bad guy, the author’s description of him oozes slime and menace. Even the bratty youngest bride, Cecily, has redeeming qualities and the reader feels for her when her plans backfire.
And then there’s Gabriel. In retrospect, he’s not in the book that much, but in his short time, he made an incredible impression on me. As a servant in the household, he bonds with Rhine and a quick affection develops. It wasn’t the sort of insta-love that annoys me in so many other YA titles, but the sort of affection that develops between two people in a similar situation who can bond over shared dreams and fears. We don’t know a lot about Gabriel, but he was always there when Rhine needed him most. That dependability might have made me swoon a time or two, but you can’t prove anything.(less)
This probably would have gotten five stars from me if I hadn't just finished and loved Dearly, Departed. It came across as a good combination of other...moreThis probably would have gotten five stars from me if I hadn't just finished and loved Dearly, Departed. It came across as a good combination of other YA dystopians.
If it was up to me, I'd give this book six or seven stars. It made me both love and hate robots all at the same time and now I'm a little afraid that...moreIf it was up to me, I'd give this book six or seven stars. It made me both love and hate robots all at the same time and now I'm a little afraid that my car might one day try to kill me...
Bick manages to develop characters very quickly, despite often giving them a bank vault of secrets that they aren’t sharing. Alex, defeated by her prognosis and the amount of experimental treatments she’s gone through, is ready to die and yet she’s still an incredibly strong, smart and competent protagonist. Yes, she gets into scraps, but it’s not usually her fault. I wish the other YA books I’ve been reading lately had female protagonists even just half as awesome as Alex.
Of course there are two boys. Thankfully neither one is an asshat nor is a saint who can do no wrong. They come across as actual, potentially real-life boys complete with flaws and talents, fears and compassion while also remaining two distinctively different characters. I developed a fondness for them both, and worried for their well-being whenever they weren’t on the page. I cannot remember the last time I liked both boys in a YA title.
The writing is descriptive without going overboard. There is rarely a dull moment, which is saying something when over a hundred pages of it involve tramping through a vast forest with a whiney 8-year-old. About two-thirds of the way, the book takes a giant shift from action adventure zombie horror story to something more like a sinister creepy mystery story, and somehow Bick manages not only to make it work, but to keep the steady pacing and maintain the horror of the entire thing, just hidden a little more beneath the surface, the entire time.
On a side note, I really like what Bick did with the ashes theme. Not only is it in reference to the ashes of Alex’s parents that she carries around, but also the ash in the sky that leaves the moon a haunting color of green and the ashes of the world that no longer exists. I could go all English major and start talking about how the mention of removing cold ashes on a camp fire to reignite the flames was also a metaphor for learning how to live a life in a changing world, but I’ve been out of college for a few years and nobody wants to hear that.(less)
This book is bizarre. The concept of it shouldn’t work and yet somehow it does. Marion manages to retu...moreRead the full review at Working for the Mandroid
This book is bizarre. The concept of it shouldn’t work and yet somehow it does. Marion manages to return some sort of humanity back to the zombie lit cannon, which seems wrong on so many levels. Our protagonist, simply known as R, is likeable even when he’s eating people. The story is told from his first-person point-of-view, which means there’s a fair amount of philosophical wonderings on the meaning of life and what went wrong in the world to cause the devastation that surrounds him. Despite having lost everything, he’s still compelled to keep moving on by the virus that has taken over his being.
Honestly after the first chapter, I had no idea where this story would take me and the suspense in its short 250 pages never stopped. When I’d feel I had a handle on how the rest of the book would go, it surprised me yet again. Yes, there are a few ideas that called for an even farther suspension of disbelief than already required for a tale about a bunch of zombies. Once or twice these occasions were jarring enough to make me wonder why the author made the literary decisions he did, but he always managed to keep the pacing steady and the characters realistic (or at least as realistic as things in this situation can be). For the most part, the characters’ decisions made sense and the relationships being built seemed authentic and fit well within the whimsical nature of the story.
Marion tells an epic story on a small scale, somehow fitting so much into such a short book. I think that’s what allowed it to work as well as it did – had he dwelled on more of the philosophical issues and the small things happening beyond the R’s immediate point of view, everything would have become more repetitive. I did still have a bundle of questions by the end that had gone unanswered, but they weren’t entirely pertinent to the storytelling at hand. By the end, I didn’t even really feel like I was reading a book about zombies, since that aspect of the character seemed secondary in comparison to the person.(less)
I’m going to attempt to be rational about this book and write a fair and balanced review. This is going to be difficult, however, because I just finished it and all I want to write is “OMG I LOVE THIS BOOK!” over and over again with excessive amounts of exclamation marks and yet I know the book has problems. Crossed is the sequel to Matched, a book I read earlier in the year that I enjoyed, but was one of those books I loved more the farther away I got from it. I didn’t do it any favors by reading it right after The Hunger Games series either. The more I thought about the world building, the concepts Condie put inside, and the potential for character growth beyond the stock YA cast, the more I enjoyed Matched. I mean, I gave it a B- in my initial review.
This is not the case with Crossed. I’m on the verge of breaking things in frustration of not having the third book. Yes, I had a few issues here and there that might have been fixed for the finished version, but OMG I LOVE THIS BOOK!
Warning: Spoilers for Matched ahead
I finished my review of Matched with the following words:
I'm left with a lot of questions, mostly background and about all the things that are only hinted at with passing comments. I want to know more about the global situation. I want more world building. I want more Ky being awesome.
And guess what? Ally Condie gave me everything I wanted and so much more. There’s background and world building, views of life outside the Society, the absolutely horrible things the Society is capable of, and above all else, a lot more of Ky being awesome because half of the story is told by Ky.
By the end of Matched, Cassia – our plucky female protagonist – was on her way to a work program with the intent of sneaking out of the Society to find Ky, who had been ripped from his bed in the middle of the night and shipped off to what is essentially boot camp for death. Crossed picks up a few months later when Cassia is almost done with her work program and desperate for a way out to find Ky. He is currently acting as a decoy farmer in an outer province, helping the Society divert the enemy (cleverly referred to as the Enemy) in some long-standing war. Essentially he’s living in an abandoned village with other people deemed not worthy, waiting for a bomb to blow him up.
A lot of convenient plot devices occur and Cassia finds herself in the outer provinces with a boy who knew Ky and promises to help her on her way to find him. Adventure ensues. People are dramatic. A lot of poetry is thought about. In context, I should not really like this book. It’s romance-y. Everyone is pining after each other. And yet…
For a book that doesn’t take place in any of the Society world I found so fascinating, this book hooked me from the beginning and didn’t let me go. I was horrified by what Ky had to go through, anxious to see when Cassia and Ky would be reunited (I stayed up until 1am one night in hopes I would be able to reach their reunion before I went to sleep), and eager to see what happened after. The rebellion alluded to in Matched acts as a strong catalyst in Crossed, driving the action of the story once the inevitable reunion is made. Also, can I say how glad I am that the separation wasn’t dragged out for the entire book? That was a huge relief.(less)
My reaction to this book is a little weird. I really enjoyed reading it and wanted to get back to it whenever I had to put it down, but yet after fini...moreMy reaction to this book is a little weird. I really enjoyed reading it and wanted to get back to it whenever I had to put it down, but yet after finishing it completely, I realize not a lot actually happens and I'm disappointed.
This book has left me both speechless and wanting to scream out curse words. It's exponentially better, in my opinion, than Divergent and now I desper...moreThis book has left me both speechless and wanting to scream out curse words. It's exponentially better, in my opinion, than Divergent and now I desperately need the unnamed third book in the series. Wtf, Veronica Roth? Crazy pants.(less)