Review is below the PSA. The PSA does not reflect upon the book which is really quite good.
Just when I thought there would never be a good dystopian...moreReview is below the PSA. The PSA does not reflect upon the book which is really quite good.
Just when I thought there would never be a good dystopian again Under the Empyrean Sky comes along. This is a solid book - well written, perfectly paced with real life-or-death consequences. While it doesn't do anything groundbreaking with the genre, everything it does it does very well.
The thing about survival, Pop always says, is that it's not about who's fastest or strongest but who can adapt to changing situations.
Under the Empyrean Sky is set in the midwest in the aftermath of a forced agricultural monoculture (something I'm absolutely terrified of). Everybody down on earth is forced to grow an inedible variety of corn that's used for fuel and other products by the overlords living on flotillas in the sky. Golden Prolific is the most aggressive, invasive, scientifically enhances vegetable to ever exist. This kudzu vines on miracle grow times a thousand. (If you don't know about the kudzu vine get googling!).
The book drops you right into the middle of the action with Cael and his crew of scavengers, setting a breakneck pace that carries the novel. The book has a great voice, slightly uneducated with it's own slang but without being full dialect or difficult to read. It's just enough to give it atmosphere.
For me, the main flaw with this book was when it started jumping between characters point of views. The book was over halfway finished before it jumped heads and it was so jarring that I went back and had to re-read that section. I hadn't even realized it was in the 3rd person because it had followed the main character so closely. Suddenly we were in other people's heads and I was confused. I understand how this might become a necessity for the next book but I feel it should've started earlier or followed Cael less closely.
Overall, this book is good. It's been awhile since I've been able to actually say that about a dystopian. It deals with a realistic problem (invasive/monocultural plants), a controlling government, actually has family members who are involved in the story and a whole lot more pluses than minuses. It's nice to see that as a genre dystopian still has something to offer.
I received a free advance reading e-book in exchange for an honest review.
Eye of the Storm is an older middle grade dystopian novel. It follows in the recent trend of dystopian novels with a basis in science. Which makes me...moreEye of the Storm is an older middle grade dystopian novel. It follows in the recent trend of dystopian novels with a basis in science. Which makes me smile happily every time.
In the not so distance future due to climate change, tornados have become the greatest threat to mankind. Formerly regulated tornado alley in the Midwest, they're everywhere now. The storms have gotten so bad that their are roadside shelters along every Interstate, students are homeschooled via computers and playing outside has ceased to exist (okay that might be the present). The day after I finished this book we had tornado warnings in Kentucky. Let's just say this book did not help my weather-panic.
This book is near flawless. The characters, even the bad guys, have believable motivations. The pacing was spot-on, the first half of the book slowly building then the second half everything coming to fruition. Once the rising action and main plotline started rolling I had trouble stopping reading.
Probably the only real flaw in this book, in my opinion, was that I had trouble believing the characters were only 13. They were the brightest minds of their generation, but they were trying to solve scientific concepts that I had trouble grasping (storm dissipation using satellites and focused microwave energy). But honestly, in the grand scope of flaws that's something I can live with. I'd rather read a novel with smart kids than a novel that treats kids like they are stupid.
Great dystopian for the younger sect. With science, the tingles of first crushes and the terror or tornados where can you really go wrong?
On the Friday after I finished this book Kentucky had a massive tornado outbreak. Just 20 miles up the interstate East Bernstadt was hit with an F2 tornado. Five people died, many were injured and lots of families lost their homes. If you are interested in helping the people of East Bernstadt check out this link: www.helpforeb.com. Many of the injured lived in trailers so they lost everything in the storm. However I'm so proud to be a Kentuckian. People from all over the region are pitching in because we believe in taking care of our own. (less)
I find it hard to give these little stories anything other than a 3. I always like them because I like the story but they're so short I feel unconnect...moreI find it hard to give these little stories anything other than a 3. I always like them because I like the story but they're so short I feel unconnected to them in any other way.
I liked knowing what happened to Leon. Because of the title I expected to see more of the actual torture which is not really the point of this short story. (less)
Warning: This will contain some spoilers for Birthmarked that will probably make no sense if you haven't read it. But be warned.
4/5 Stars I remember li...moreWarning: This will contain some spoilers for Birthmarked that will probably make no sense if you haven't read it. But be warned.
4/5 Stars I remember liking Birthmarked by Caragh M. O'Brien. I remember the basic plotline - girl midwife in a dystopian society where they're taking babies from the poor and advancing them to the rich. Girl discovers flaws of society, rebels, story ensues. This is how Dystopians tend to go and I've read a lot of them now. But I very much remember liking this one, as vague as that memory has become because the piles of books I've read since.
So when I saw Prized on Netgalley I felt obligated to request it. Then I started to worry that I wouldn't remember enough about book 1 to read book 2.
Luckily, that was not the case. Prized started out great, throwing me immediately back into Gaia's story without forcing me to read a lot of backstory. Not remembering was OKAY because the story kept moving forward. I was relieved. The first chapter rocked, fast paced, throwing life-or-death risks and new problems at me immediately.
Then there were a couple chapters where I'm not going to lie, this book made me nervous. I get a little worried when I feel like an author's politics are showing. It's a little like your bra strap sneaking a peak to the world. There's a place for your politics and just like a bra there's a way to use them wisely and subtly that really makes an impact. I'm not going to play coy with you because I really think you're smarter than that. Because this book involves a midwife, it's the abortion issue. I like books that broach these issues with enough sensitivity that neither side of the debate is off-put by the conversation. And books bringing up the topics need to be more conversational and less soapbox.
I quickly realized it was not so much the issue itself that bothered me, but the introduction and execution felt a little clunky and deus ex machina in my opinion. Gaia has just arrived somewhere new. She's there for less than 2 days when this young lady approaches her about helping with a miscarriage. Nobody knows Gaia and there's no time spent building that trust or her reputation as a midwife. It's just thrown at you a little too quickly. It does become integral to the plot, but like I said it needs to be executed better.
Then I nearly went into panic mode when I thought there was going to be a long-drawn out love square. But thankfully Leon from the first book appeared and that shifted the balance of the book very quickly. He was angry at Gaia, a little bit bitter, and a huge reality check for our main character. His character's words and story gave me the most guttural reaction, almost bringing tears (really!).
From there I was engrossed and everything started clicking in place for me. Gaia saw herself, her flaws and her mistakes for the first time and had to face her own selfish behavior. Most YA heroines have a selfish streak (as do most teenagers & most people) but rarely is that acknowledged. Once this book hit it's stride I stayed up past midnight reading, but oddly not for Gaia but because my heart ached for Leon. He brought an honesty and bite that stopped the love square woe in it's tracks. He called her out, spoke the truth and for me made this book.
In the end I liked this book and will look forward to the next in the series. For the most part it's an intelligent dystopian, with flawed main characters that are more human than we're used to. I really like that aspect, really like the balance between the two main characters and am glad I stuck with the book through my doubts.(less)
I have very mixed feelings about reviewing this book. In some ways I liked it. But in some ways it just felt like it needed more work.
Pure is set in a dystopian future after the Detonations, a nuclearesque explosion, has ended the world. There are two sets of survivors. The Pures, protected in a dome built to withstand the bombings. They live in a safe, but controlled world. Then there are the wretches, those who survived the bombing, broken and no longer whole. But in some sense they are free (at least until age 16).
At first I struggled with the grotesqueness. I wondered if it was too much. But we're talking dystopia. The mutations set the story apart, upping the gross factor and the terror. Dystopians should be ugly and this one is. The effects of the Detonations are terrifying. The survivors are fused, literally, to their surroundings. Fused to objects they were holding, people they were touching, even to the ground where they lay. They are a combination of human, metal, wood, animals and earth.
This book had so much promise. Which is why I'm so frustrated with the second half of the book. Once you cross the 50% mark it starts getting preachy fast. I've talked before about author's politics showing, but this was so blatant. Bradwell (oddly enough still one of my favorite characters) became the mouthpiece, spouting off very thinly veiled political views. It didn't feel genuinely connected to the book, but like something the author wanted to teach us about.
That I could mostly forgive. But the attempt at romance, that's where this book loses me. I'm unconvinced in pretty much all the character's relationships. I just don't believe them. The romance feels forced, because this is YA and apparently there has to be romance. It was predictable and lackluster. No heart flutterings at all.
There were also some technical problems that bugged me as well. This book was written in 3rd person limited (At least that's what I thought). But near the end it seemed to completely lose track of it's own POV. There was a section that was supposed to be in Pressia's perspective, but for awhile jumped inside everyone's mind but hers. Obviously by that point I was already frustrated, but it irked me. If you choose to have 4 separate POVs you need to keep them separate.
And don't even make me talk about the cheesy epilogue.
There is still room for this book in the dystopian genre. It's probably more realistically scary than most of the genre's offerings, the science, while not quite believable, is not the magic of Hunger Games or Uglies but has some basis in reality. But it just lags. The character spend too much time talking. There's just something not quite there that outweighs the potential.
It seems that a lot of people liked this book more than me. I always hate when I feel like I'm missing something. But with this book, something was just missing for me.(less)
The Way We Fall, Megan Crewe's second novel, takes all the potential I saw in Give Up the Ghost and capitalizes on it. She's switched genres...more4/5 Stars
The Way We Fall, Megan Crewe's second novel, takes all the potential I saw in Give Up the Ghost and capitalizes on it. She's switched genres and found somewhere where I think she can really thrive. It's a good small-scale dystopian (but I think the scale will grow in the next book). Recently I said to myself "Maybe I should give the dystopians a rest." But I'm glad I didn't. This book proves that dystopian isn't quite over yet. It's a worthwhile book--not too futuristic and grounded enough in the reality to be a little bit scary.
The novel is written completely in letters to Leo, the main character's former best friend. It's one of the few novels where letters work. Keeping the perspective in close first-person POV also works, letting the reader piece together the puzzle with Kaelyn, not before or after her. The story maintains a perfect balance between what's known and what's unknown.
The story starts with a lot foreshadowing. A dead bird here, someone with a strange cough there, before building into the island completely shutting down with the deadly virus. Because as the reader you know it's a book about a virus, the foreshadowing builds an atmosphere of foreboding and you're looking at everything as a possible clue.
Kaelyn is a likable main character. She feels isolated and alone. Rather than whining, moping and feeling sorry for herself, she deals with it. She's in the process of trying to be the "new Kaelyn" and actively trying to improve her life. Like any teenager she occasionally falls into self-pity, but she keeps on trying to live her life. She's a little introverted, thinks too much and misses her former best-friend Leo who is currently off-island. Without being in the book, Leo's a constant presence because of Kaelyn's letter. You feel like you know him without ever meeting him.
The book moves at just the right pace--not so fast that it forgets to leave clues, but not so slow that you feel like it's dragging it's feet. Kaelyn wants to figure out what's causing the virus, why some people survive and wants to protect her family. Over the course of the novel she becomes a strong heroine, helping the community survive rather than curling up in a shell-shocked ball and avoiding the world. (Which is what most people would do).
Kaelyn wants to be a scientist so she's always observing what's going on around her. She's a teenager, but she's a smart teenager. Kaelyn doesn't hold back in the letters. They're her confessions and she records everything that she sees happening on the island.
"You know, for all the talk you hear about "Mother Nature" and the harmony of the natural world, the truth is, nature doesn't give a crap about anything or anyone.
Below is another quotation I love. To me, it just rings true. It's teenage angst but who hasn't felt like this? It's one of the reasons I find Kaelyn completely believable.
"If there is a God I would punch him in the face ten times harder than I ever kicked Quentin."
This book is a dystopian virus-sweeping-the-world done right. It keeps its scope small--focusing on the impact in one community following one girl's perspective. You see the government panic, the people panic and how when everyone starts dying the world just falls apart. But you also see the strength of the people who try to put it back together again. I kept expecting Kaelyn to give into the mope, and she did for about 2 pages before regaining her grip on reality. She's a heroine forced to become strong for those she loves. She doesn't want to save the world, she just wants to save the people she loves and protect the people around her.
The characters are what makes this novel work and stand out in the sea of fast-paced, unrealistic dystopians. The novel doesn't look down on teenagers, but allows them to be human, make mistakes and grow up over the course of the story.
I think the main reason I liked this story so much is that I found it believable. It didn't seem so far-fetched, Kaelyn felt like a real teenager and her motivations weren't grand, they were grounded. Somehow that's refreshing. (less)
3.5/5 Warning: First paragraph is poorly written dialect I spect if I writ this hole review like the books writ you werent read very far. Fortntly for "...more3.5/5 Warning: First paragraph is poorly written dialect I spect if I writ this hole review like the books writ you werent read very far. Fortntly for "Blood Red Road" Moira Young aint bad at this writting thang like I am. (Try reading with a twang it might work better).
Really I thought about trying to write the whole review in dialect. In my head it sounded like a good idea but it takes a stronger person than me to purposely misspell words. Please don't hold my poor attempt at dialect against the book. The twangy uneducated language is actually one of the best parts of the book. Young has a gift for making dialect feel natural and preventing it from interfering with the story.
Blood Red Road is a Dystopian Western (at least that's what I'm calling it. I swear in my head Saba's wearing a prairie dress the whole time). Its fast paced and action-packed, a quick fun read. Saba, Lugh, Emmie and her father live in the middle of nowhere. Literally, freaking desert with a dying lake. They're isolated and don't trust outsiders. So when four cloaked horsemen kidnap Lugh (Saba's twin) and kill their father, Saba stubbornly decides she's going to rescue her brother. I'll be honest, for most of this book I thought Saba might be in love with her twin brother. No it doesn't really go there. But trust me, she's so isolated from the world and selfish with her brother's affection that you'll at least ask the question.
This book has a little bit of everything (too much of everything). Kidnapping, cage fighting, giant reptiles, even a musical interlude. The best I can say is that it's fun. The worst I can say is that sometimes it doesn't really make sense.
The only real problem with Blood Red Road is that at times it moves so fast that it forgets about logic. Here are a few examples of what we will call "logic fails"
1. For someone who only knows her brother, her sister and her father Saba seems a little too intuitive about people. 2. Saba is excellent at hand-to-hand combat with absolutely no training. She can even beat experienced fighters. 3. There's a bird that's WAY SMARTER than Saba herself, but there's no magical explanation. (Really I love the bird but logic tells me that it couldn't possibly really exist). 4. There are giant worms that eat people. Except everyone forgets about them and they don't show up when a whole army needs to cross their territory for the final battle.
Honestly if I tore this book apart I could probably find a lot more problems. But I enjoyed this book and don't want to destroy the fun. When you read this book just don't think very hard, preferably not at all. I would recommend this book to a lot of people. It's enjoyable, fast paced, and completely harmless.
It's like the poor-man's Chaos Walking--not as smart and not as much meat. But that doesn't mean this book doesn't have a place. Probably it's biggest pitfall (among my friends) is that it'll draw too many comparisons to Chaos Walking. These books don't have similar ambitions. This book is the equivalent of an action movie whereas Chaos Walking is a thought-provoking art film. Blood Red Road has lots of violence, special effects, a bad boy love interest and that's it. I really don't think it's trying to be anything more.
Blood Red Road succeeds at what it attempts and that's being a fun read. So enjoy a mindless adventure with a dash of cheese, no harm. I'm not ashamed to admit that I did.(less)
I'm adjusting my review to reflect that the author of this book was very rude to me on a social network. I ranked it 3/3.5 & rounded it up to 4 to...moreI'm adjusting my review to reflect that the author of this book was very rude to me on a social network. I ranked it 3/3.5 & rounded it up to 4 to be generous to a debut author. I'm not going to hash out all the details of my encounter with him BUT he was rude, judgmental and did not apologize. For me that is enough for me to not be as generous and no recommend his book. So I'm lowering my rating to 3 stars for bad manners and moving on with my life.
(view spoiler)[ 3.5 + range (which really isn't a bad review I'm tired of 3 stars being a bad review so I'm giving it 4 because I'm feeling cheerful today).
There are pretty pictures of Yellowstone that go with this review on my blog. It took forever to post them there so I am waaaay too lazy to do it again. So go look if you want to see pics from my Yellowstone trip http://galavantinggirlscout.blogspot....
Sometimes its hard to review a book that's good. Not perfect or excellent, but a solid book. I liked Ashfall. It's slower than a lot of dystopians but the pace fits the eeriness of the landscape in the post super-volcano world. I read it immediately after Shipbreaker--the Printz winner--so that is a hard book to follow.
Ashfall follows the story of Alex, a teenage boy, who finagles his way out of a short family vacation to end up alone, homeless and on a quest to reunite with his family after the eruption of the epic volcano known as Yellowstone.
The world as Alex knows it ends the day the volcano erupts. Poof--it goes up in a cloud of ash and very loud noises. The new world is filled with new dangers--driven by hunger, fear and lawlessness. I like the fact that there is REAL science in this book. I read a lot of dystopians and frankly the science in most of them is almost magical (Uglies for example, which I love). Maybe this is me. I went to Yellowstone last summer so all this ash and volcanic crud gives me flashbacks to the signs (that of course I took pictures of). Ashfall feels like a book that could happen which makes it all the scarier.
Though the plot was slow at times (and trudging through ash & snow is justifiably slow) the characters are believable. Sometimes novels will take place during a major crisis (such as a serial killer killing students--Body Finder) and the main characters will just drop all the major life changing things when they meet a boy. And I go "UGH" and throw things.
When Alex meets Darla I was worried. And while there were times when they wanted to be romantical it was never in the middle of a life-or-death battle or anything ludicrous.
And even though Darla is not the main character I need to talk about her. I'm so happy that she was not a weak female character waiting to be rescued. Darla is more the type to rescue herself. That makes me happy. Sooooo happy! Darla can take care of herself folks and maybe even rescue a dude in distress a time or two. I might be more attached to Darla than I am Alex. Let me think about that. I am more attached to Darla in all her tomboy glory.
Some of the weaknesses of this book: -I didn't 100% believe the Alex/Darla relationship. But I'm also the least romantical girl in the world. But I liked that they were there own people. It felt like they needed each other throughout the disaster, but not in a mopey way. The relationship was almost a coping mechanism. -I think at least 3 chapters ended with Alex blacking out. I'm weird and notice when things repeat a lot. -I wanted it to go BOOM BOOM BOOM fast. But that's my reading style. -I had another point but it would be a spoiler. Darn!
Really good. But I am surprised it beat "Please Ignore Vera Dietz" for a Printz award. Both impressive, very different.
Will actually try to write a re...moreReally good. But I am surprised it beat "Please Ignore Vera Dietz" for a Printz award. Both impressive, very different.
Will actually try to write a review for this. But I do say that a lot. I want to stew (and try to avoid comparing them because well....they're too different but I was only comparing them because of the Printz award which isn't fair).
Very good dystopian. Fascinating dark world. No weak female characters. So lots and lots of pros.(less)
This was the type of book that I had trouble putting down--which was good because I'd been on a bit of an up and down rollercoaster with books lately....moreThis was the type of book that I had trouble putting down--which was good because I'd been on a bit of an up and down rollercoaster with books lately. Some I loved (Chaos Walking), some I felt disappointed by (The Replacements). Unwind really captured my attention, keeping me up for just one more chapter (when I am old enough to know that it a slippery slope).
The character are well developed and interesting. While we don't learn everything that led to Connor's parents decision to Unwind him, we see enough of his personality to figure it out. But what's interesting about Connor--his rash forgetting to think moments are just as prone to heroics as problems. He's just as good a kid as he is a bad kid--only in this world parents take no responsibility for their kids shortcomings.
The unfairness of Risa's situation might be the most obvious, but all three characters have been wronged by the adults who were suppose to protect them. Risa had no parents or no one to love her. Lev's parents never even gave him a chance though, raising him as a tithe on a set path with no chance to discover himself or become his own person.
The best thing about this book is the way it raises questions. I haven't researched Neal Shusterman's political views but I have a guess. However the novel never falls into preachy or political prose. It puts questions about life and the soul out there, but doesn't tell the reader what to think. As a reader I prefer open ended questions because too often people try to oversimplify these issues.
Now there were a few points that bothered me with this book that really held it back from being a 5 star read.
1. I have trouble believing that the pro-life & pro choice crowd would agree on the Bill of Life. I know they try to deal with this in the novel but to me that decision never makes sense. The whole novel is based on the Bill of Life--but this issue doesn't hold the novel back as much as it could (and maybe should) because the story is just so compelling even if the basis doesn't make much sense.
2. In the Judeo-Christian (Abrahamic) tradition there is no practice of human sacrifice. It's one of the thing that separated the God of Abraham from all the other religions of the time. So to say their are rabbis and all kinds of religions that are participating in what is essentially human sacrifice just doesn't work from a theological standpoint. Read more about Abraham/Isaac here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Binding_...
3. Unwind is not futuristic enough. Considering they have developed this whole process of Unwinding and replacing human body parts, everything else in the novel Unwind seems strangely un-futuristic.
4. Changing the names of races seemed unnecessary and intruded into the text.
Overall you can tell that I did in fact love this book. But the misunderstanding of the theology and my disbelief in the Bill of Life made loving this book harder. In fact it made me question whether I should love a book with so many flaws. But sometimes story wins over logic and that's the case with Unwind.(less)
I thought the story/concept was really interesting BUT that the characters were very very under-developed. I also felt like the author tried too hard...moreI thought the story/concept was really interesting BUT that the characters were very very under-developed. I also felt like the author tried too hard to make them teenage with all the weird nicknames like "Bouncing Bette" or "Mother Mary" or "School Bus Sam". He also tried to touch on too many edgty topics (have one girl bulimic, a teen turning to drinking, another who sneaks alcohol to a boy she likes....don't try to deal WITH every teenage pitfall because it feels like none are approached well. These issues deserve attention, not a random mention then moving on).
Because of the concept I'll probably read the next book (as long as the library has it). I enjoyed the book but I fall in love with books based on complex characters and these characters were too simple. They were good or evil, smart or stupid, without any real reason for being that way. (less)
I'm not going to change my review or rating. But if you're curious what it's like to re-read this in a snarky mood when it's less shiny or new read my...moreI'm not going to change my review or rating. But if you're curious what it's like to re-read this in a snarky mood when it's less shiny or new read my status updates. But I say all that with teasing love because this series feels like an old friends where I'm allowed to poke fun and tease it's flaws because our relationship is stable enough. Yes it's flawed. But we're friends anyways.
I'm still on a post-reading-this-book-high. I loved it. It threw Katniss in yet another impossible situation that she had to think her way out of. Reading a great book is like falling in love...a bit intoxicating...and I feel like I fell in love last night.
The thing about these books is that you care about the characters. Those are the books that stick with you, the ones where you believe the characters and love the characters. Having read a book recently that I thought lacked character development Mockingjay (and all the Hunger Games) reminds me of how characters can go so right and by the time you reach the end you don't care how the plotline ends, but about how that effects the characters.
There were points where I got very confused in this book, usually when Katniss was confused and there was a lot of choas. I had to re-read a couple of passages because 1st person + choas = confusion. I was so glad that this book did not focus on the love triangle. Yes it was mentioned occasionally but the war took centerstage. Some people may not like this. I find it slightly unbelievable when stories focus too much on the romance in the middle of life-and-death situations where the character should focus on survival. (less)