I really want to give this five stars, but I'm being held back by the severe lack of Samm and what felt like a very quick resolution in the last 40 pa...moreI really want to give this five stars, but I'm being held back by the severe lack of Samm and what felt like a very quick resolution in the last 40 pages or so. Everything else about this book was close to perfect, though with most of the characters trekking across large land areas in various groupings, parts did get a little tedious. Some new characters threw wrenches into the system, making for more interesting and unexpected conflicts, and there were some genuinely surprising moments. Very satisfying conclusion.(less)
This is the type of book that, when you describe what you just read to someone else, sounds like it would be incredibly boring and yet somehow Eric Wa...moreThis is the type of book that, when you describe what you just read to someone else, sounds like it would be incredibly boring and yet somehow Eric Walters makes the day-to-day elements of living without power seem incredibly compelling. Then he ramps everything up, puts in a couple of awesome action scenes, and stops.
I'm am upset with him in the best possible way.(less)
This books starts off as a real slow burn with most of the narrative being about things that have already happened, but once all the groundwork is in...moreThis books starts off as a real slow burn with most of the narrative being about things that have already happened, but once all the groundwork is in place, it really picks up and starts to fly. By the end I wanted to metaphorically throttle Rick Yancey for stopping the book where he did. Not a lot of books literally make my heart pound (and I'm using "literally" correctly here), but there were moments in The 5th Wave where I found myself holding my breath, my heart pounding, unable to put the book down.(less)
This is a surprising read. I wasn't expecting all the science-y bits and was pleasantly surprised that the author wrote even the technical things in a...moreThis is a surprising read. I wasn't expecting all the science-y bits and was pleasantly surprised that the author wrote even the technical things in a manner that didn't feel like she was talking down or dumbing it down for a YA audience. It got a little preachy towards the end, but overall, I found this book absolutely fascinating.(less)
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)
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.
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)
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)
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)
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...
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.
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)