“In the end you can’t always choose what to keep. You can only choose how you let it go.”
Before I start on Crossed, a little bit of background on my thoughts on Matched, the first book in this trilogy. I read a lot of mixed reviews for Matched, and things that other reviewers disliked about it were things that I actually relished and enjoyed about the story. Condie’s writing of this dystopian world is slow paced and has a mysterious undercurrent of wrongness about the society that just builds your anticipation as to how its all going to play out. I also quite liked Cassia and could understand her reasons and motivations through the storyline overall I thought it was a very solid book and was really interested to see what happened in the sequel.
Crossed starts out in a very different place. Ky has been sent to the outer provinces and Cassia is determined to find him. I was really looking forward to their journey to one another yet the way they were brought together was just unrealistic and implausible to say the least. Cassia manages to by complete fluke hop on an airship that magically takes her to the area that Ky was sent to. And then manages to escape without any planning or difficulties even though Ky only just managed to himself and no one has survived previously??? I just couldn’t buy it.
The book is written from both Ky and Cassia’s perspective as they journey to find one another, which sounds romantic and like it would build your anticipation. Unfortunately I found it jarring and really felt that it took from the overall story instead of adding to it. Amongst the unrealistic plot is a lot of poetry and prose which I thought was quite heavy handed and instead of me feeling the love between these two, I just got irritated by it and found myself skimming over those parts. Seriously I know teenagers have a lot of angst but considering both Cassia and Ky are written as quite intelligent individuals man do they have real emo tendencies!
There are also a couple of new characters introduced into the story who journey with Ky and Cassia respectively and I’m not really sure what their purpose was other to ensure that neither of them when journeying in the middle of the desert alone. Indie in particular had a lot of promise and I’m hoping that she is explored a bit further in the final novel.
Where the first book gave you good insight into the society, Crossed delves more into those opposing the society including the Resistance which is what Cassia and Indie want to join. Finding out about the resistance and the farmers plus some of the back story into the society was what I enjoyed most about this story and I’m very interested to find out how they all play together in the final installment of the trilogy – Reached.
Overall I found this an incredibly dissapointing sequel and while I will read the series to conclusion, my expectations aren’t particularly high.(less)
"In approved places, every story serves a purpose. But forbidden books are so much more. Some of them are webs; you can feel your way along their threads, but just barely, into strange and dark corners. Some of them are balloons bobbing up through the sky: totally self-contained, and unreachable, but beautiful to watch.
And some of them- the best ones- are doors." What a wonderful follow up novel to Lauren Oliver’s dystopian, Delirium. Where many sequels flounder or just fall flat, Pandemonium delivers and grows on its predecessor. The novel is split into alternating chapters of “then” and “now”. The “then” chapters complete the tale of what happens to Lena after Delirium finishes and she is fighting to escape and survive in the Wilds without Alex. The “now” chapters show Lena back in society as a Resistance agent.
Delirium left you on such a cliffhanger, I needed to know what happened next. Oliver managed to deliver a sequel where she strung you out the entire book before giving that information. Normally this is something that would have left me twitchy and irritated, however the book is just that good I never once felt exasperated at all. What you get is a book that isn’t shy of being harsh and painful. It makes you think twice about about how we behave as individuals and shows the strength and resiliance of humanity regardless of what is thrown at them. Where Delirium explores Lena’s growth and love, Pandemonium is about the darker emotions like hate and revenge all of which are still considered part of “the” disease, amor deliria nervosa.
"If he were less well trained, and less careful, he would say hate. But he can’t say it; it is too close to passion, and passion is too close to love, and love is amor deliria nervosa, the deadliest of all deadly things: It is the reason for the games of pretend, for the secret selves, for the spasms in the throat."
There were many scenes in this novel that deeply impacted me, often by what Oliver leaves unsaid, once scene in particular with Raven, Blue and Lena left me in tears it was so harsh and beautiful. The writing is just superb, I can’t fault it. Where Crossed so desperately tries to be poetic, deep and meaningful and falls short at the mark, Pandemonium delivers in spades. The story and writing is fluid, soulful you really empathise with the characters and can feel the hopelessness and uphill battle of trying to change their society.
Lena really grows in this novel, she states that the old Lena is dead and in some ways this definitely feels true. The new Lena is much tougher after surviving the wilds and joining the resistance. She at times seems numb and dead due to the shock of losing Alex and her entire way of life. There are a few new secondary characters introduced who are well done and really enhance Lena’s journey through the Wilds and I can’t not mention Julian, her new love interest. I wanted to dislike him, I really did but I just couldn’t. Julian, like Lena is all about discovery, growth and acceptance that they are different to the rest of their society. He is sweet, he is genuine and I really felt for him and could see the love blossoming between them even if Lena resisted and battled it.
I can’t sing this series enough praises. If you haven’t read Delirium yet, please go pick it up and get as hooked on it as I am. Pandemonium is a wonderful sequel and I am on tenterhooks just waiting to see how everything comes together in the final book!(less)
I was really surprised to discover that Across the Universe had a sequel at first because that book was wrapped up so very well. I was really excited to read the sequel though I wasn’t quite sure what to expect as this book was going to need a completely new direction after book 1. Beth Revis did however manage to come up with a whole host of issues for Amy and Elder to deal with in this book and I loved every minute of it!
At the end of book 1 the ship Godspeed is off the calming drugs pumped into the water supply and now there is a whole lot of angry and upset people aboard the ship. With no planet in sight for what could be countless generations there is a whole host of issues to contend with including mutiny, violence and work strikes. Elder has his hands full learning how to be an effective leader and Amy is busy uncovering the truth left to her in clues by Orion.
This book is really about change and growth and showing how the characters handle these new and stressful situations. Both Amy and Elder are beautifully handled by Revis and I found this book incredibly difficult to put down. Their blossoming romance was done well also, it isn’t just smooth sailing but they both question each other at different points throughout in a incredibly believable manner.
While I had a pretty good idea how things were going to end up before I got up to the climactic ending wow I still found it an exciting read and the cliffhanger was fantastic. I truly love this series and if you like a good science fiction then you wont be dissapointed by this trilogy thus far!(less)
"Envy hurt exponentially more than heartbreak because your soul was torn in two, half soaring with happiness for another person, half mired in a well of self pity and pain."
I chose to read this novel back in January for the Dystopian Challenge and all I remembered upon opening the Kindle document was that it was post apocalyptic. Within a few chapters I started to get a real sense of familiarity to the story and characters and when I discovered that it was a Jane Austen retelling this made a whole lot of sense, there is a real Austen feel about this novel while still managing to spin a completely new and novel story.
The story is about 2 children – 1 rich, Elliot and 1 a slave, Kai. These two are born on the same day and form a strong friendship that overtime blossoms into love. 4 years prior to this book taking place, Kai leaves to try and make a better life for himself while Elliot stays behind, bound by duty to try to protect and look after the other people on the estate before her father’s disinterest drives it to the brink of ruin. Fast forward to today and Kai comes back, as the dashing and incredibly successful Captain Wentworth still hurt and angry about Elliot’s choice to leave him and ready to show her what a poor choice she made.
Elliot is a wonderful strong female lead, one who is self sacrificing, independant and who clearly cares deeply for others overcoming many societal predjudices. As one of the luddite nobitlity she takes her role as caretaker to the reduced (generations of people on which genetic experimentation went incredibly wrong) seriously unlike many of her society counterparts. The best part about her carefully constructed charactered is how layered she is. She chooses honor over love and underneath her tough exterior is pain, regret and a tinge of hopelessness. Mixed in with these many emotions are deep seated religious beliefs and fears about innovation, science and change making her a delightfully complex heroine.
Kai/Wentworth is a very typical Austen male love interest and while the arrogance has been toned down for a more modern audience I can still imagine many of his reactions wouldn’t sit well with teens today. His blind hatred to Elliot at the beginning of the story does seem to dissolve fairly quickly with very little reason, though many reasons why he should love Elliot are still shown to the reader. His character is given depth through the ethical dilemmas he faces while apart from Elliot with relation to science and innovation. The decisions and rational behind his choices definitely round him out making him more appealing and also add a extra layer of complicaton between himself and Elliot.
The many issues dealt with in this book make it such a very interesting read and I could easily imagine reading this story for a second or third time and taking very different messages away from it. From family drama, slavery, genetic experimentation, religious persecution and pitfalls of scientific innovation, there are many important questions to ponder as a reader and this book did a great job of painting everything a delicious shade of grey and never tried to sway your point of view one way or the other.
This is such an engrossing book, I finished it within a day and it’s probably one of the best written novels I’ve read since Daughter of Smoke and Bone. If your looking for a book that makes you want to think yet still keeps you entertained then I can’t recommend this enough!(less)
"I remember the Hunt from ten years ago. How for months afterward I didn’t dare fall asleep because of the nightmares that would invade my mind: hideous images of an imagines Hunt, wet and violent and full of blood. Horrific cries of fear and panic, the sound of flesh ripped and bones crushed puncturing the night stillness."
This book is a reversal of sorts on the standard vampire style novel. In Fukuda’s world the vampires are actually classified as normal people and the humans (hepers they are called in this book) are in hiding and virtually extinct. I was expecting a dark and thrilling story from the synopsis and I was sadly very underwhelmed, instead I got a fairly shallow and frankly weird story that seems more suited to 10 year old boys or I guess someone who doesn’t mind a bit of toilet humor.
Gene is a heper who has managed to blend in with the vampires his entire life by following a stringent set of rules his father drummed into him from birth. He does this by flying under the radar and being a loner though through the narration it’s clear he is meant to be incredibly smart and athletic. His ability to stay aloof all goes ary when he is randomly picked via a lottery to participate in the Heper Hunt an event that happens only once a decade. Along with his fellow school student, the “hot girl” Ashley June, they are taken to the Heper Institute for a week of training before the hunt begins.
Probably the biggest problem I had with the story was that the whole vampire culture was incredibly weird and icky. Now I don’t need my vampires to sparkle but the tourretes like head and neck jerking, the wrist scratching and the drooling just did not do it for me! The spin the bottle memory Gene has where he gets it on with Ashley June was completely nauseating and I just wish the author had left it out because I seriously don’t even understand how these creatures procreate if armpit (or was it elbow?) pumping is part of their foreplay. The world building also had some flaws, I couldn’t understand why hepers would try to blend in at all considering they had the daylight hours free to do as they pleased – why not simply hole up at night time, that would surely be safer? Also as there is definitely more hepers than Gene passing how on earth did they not spot one another during the day – the water supply and fruit trees nearby surely would be hot spots for fellow hepers to congregate?
World issues aside I just wasn’t a big fan of Gene, for someone who considers himself so smart he has to be careful at school not to get everything right all the time, he did some pretty dumb things. He knew from day 1 at the Heper Institute that the dome housing the captive hepers went down during daylight yet he didn’t cotton on until day 3 or 4 to go and talk to them, drink some water and “hide his odour” by taking a dip in their pond. Seriously if you are dying of thirst which you would quite literally be after 3 days surely a great big pool of water near your sleeping accommodation would drive you crazy. Aside from Gene you don’t really get much of an insight into any of the other characters in the novel. You are briefly introduced to the other hunters and the hepers being held captive but you aren’t really given enough quality time with any of them to form anything other than the most generic of connections. You see a bit of Ashley June through the dialogue her and Gene share but to be honest she does some pretty stupid things too so its hard to relate to either of them.
The actual idea of the hunt was quite interesting and the story really picked up pace towards the end of this book, and I started to enjoy myself. Unfortunately like so many YA books these days it just ends abruptly without any real conclusion. This is a pet peeve of mine, when I went through high school if I handed in a creative writing project that ended the way some of these books do I would probably fail for not completing the story. Using the “there is a sequel coming” excuse just doesn’t cut it for me I’m sorry give your readers some type of conclusion please!
I had really high hopes for this book but was not interested enough to consider reading the sequel when it’s released. Perhaps this book would go down well with middle grade boys? I’m not sure but I can safely say I didn’t love it in my 30s and I would have been highly grossed out by it in my teens so not thinking this one is for the female market!
Thank you Netgalley and St.Martin’s Press for providing me with a copy of this novel for review. The Hunt is released on 8th May 2012.(less)
I wasn’t expecting much from this book other than a gorgeous cover after all the argy bargy and drama between book bloggers, the author and the publicist. I decided to give it a go anyway and to be honest I’m really glad I did! While this isn’t the most deep and meaninful book it was a lot of fun and I enjoyed it thoroughly in the same guilty fashion that I enjoy eating ice cream while watching The Biggest Loser. You know your not really meant to be liking it but you can’t help but secretly love every moment of it!
Set in Illea which replaced the USA after a large and brutal war in the not too distant future, this book is about a 16 year old girl called America. America is selected as one of 35 girls to compete for the love and marriage of Illea’s crown prince in a large marketing reality tv type affair to give the people of Illea some live entertainment and distraction not unlike the ancient Romans did with the Colleseum. While most girls are honoured to be selected from their region to compete, America isn’t. America is already in love with a boy called Aspen and is not remotely interested in marrying the prince however accepts her selection because her family needs the financial aid and publicity it affords them.
While this is a Dystopian it’s the lightest one I’ve read yet and I hope that the sequel gives a bit more background information into this world. You are introduced in this novel to the caste system of Illea – the royal family being of Caste 1 and lowly servants being caste 6. America is a singer and is of Caste 5 still considered incredibly low on the totem pole and her family while gifted in the arts find it very hard to make ends meet between work. There is also information woven into the story as to how Illea is formed after effectively World War 3, however not much information is given about the rebels that pop up throughout the story – I’m assuming to keep everything dangerous and mysterious.
America is not a particularly easy character to like. She is pretty self centred and to be frank if I had been the prince I would have gotten rid of her at the very beginning - she is really quite mean to him and he just takes beating after beating by her. The prince is pretty wishy washy and really needs a bit more of a backbone. There were some glimmers of true leadership from him throughout the book and I sincerely hope we see more in the sequel otherwise this guy is going to end up being the most whipped King you could come across! The whole interaction between the different ladies competing was actually really well done even though there is the cliche mean girl who is kept in though absolutely no one likes her except apparently the prince. It really reminds me a bit of Gossip Girl meets The Bachelor and it doesn’t surprise me that this book has been picked up for a TV series.
Overall while the writing was a bit clunky at times and the main character was a bitch, this book was still pretty addictive and I enjoyed reading it immensely. If your looking for a light hearted read between episodes of Gossip Girl or Revenge I think this book would be for you!
Thank you Edelweiss and HarperTEEN for providing me with a copy of this novel for review. The Selection was released on 24th April 2012 so check out the links below to purchase it now!(less)
"And I'm falling in love with you," he whispers. "But I would throw you in the water and watch crocodiles tear you to bits, if I thought that doing so would accomplish my goals. Do. Not. Trust. Anyone. Especially me."
The premise of this book really drew me in. It sounded like Moulin Rouge mixed into a scary dystopian world complete with a couple of sexy romantic interests - who couldn't be intrigued by that? After I first picked up this book I simply devoured it, it was so good if a little different to my original expectations. The story is based on an Edgar Allan Poe classic by the same title and while I haven't read it to see how it lives up to the original, the story definitely has a very dark gothic vibe which rings true of what Poe I have read. Araby, the central character of this novel starts of numb and disconnect buried in guilt and grief and this story really is about her discovering herself and opening her eyes to what is really happening in the world around her.
The world itself is both gorgeous and terrifying. You have the beautiful masks, aristocratic ladies with carriages and luxury apartment towers on one hand. You also have the corpses on the street, corpse collector’s, scary bats and crocodiles plus the plague infected on the other. Mixing these together is captivating and gives you a completely encompassing city background. There is an undercurrent of fear throughout the entire book - fear of disease, angry mobs, rebels, the evil prince it doesn't matter if you are rich or poor in this world, there is little happiness to hold onto for anyone.
Araby is a wonderful main character. She experienced so much in her past and this is conveyed really well throughout the novel so you connect and empathise with her as the story progresses. She starts off so numb and dead inside, choosing to forget the horrors in the world with sleeping potions, illicit drugs and roaming the debauchery club even though she doesn't actually partake in any real debauchery! Upon the disappearance of her best friend she meets the first of her 2 love interests, Will who works at the club and is just a downright lovely guy. She discovers Will is the sole provider of his 2 young siblings and will do absolutely anything to keep them safe.
Her other love interest Elliot is a very interesting character and you aren't ever 100% sure if he really is a nice guy or if he is going to turn out to be a bad egg after all. It turns out both of these guys do some shitty things and are deeply flawed yet the writing and character development is so well done that you really understand their actions and can't stop rooting for them anyway. Often in YA love triangles its really obvious which guy the girl is going to choose right from the get go but in this book your left with things not being clear cut. You simply don't really know by the end if Araby would choose Will or if she would choose Elliot. Perhaps she'll choose neither, I'm just not sure.
Araby's family is also quite important to the story. What's on the surface seems quite simple however through the story you are given titbits of information that when you piece things all together you can see that this family has gone through a lot of tragedy and there is actually a lot of love there even if it is covered by loss and grief of Araby's twin brother.
While this book is slow paced and there is a lot of subtext, you never feel bored while reading it. The book is wrapped up nicely though there are so many reveals and shocks towards the end that I simply can't wait to read the sequel which must be ages away argh! I can imagine that some people would not enjoy this, those that like a lot of speed and action would probably not like mulling over minute details and information that is interwoven into the story to provide the rich experience that is Masque of the Red Death. But if you’re looking for a story that really makes you think and one that doesn't shy away from death and betrayal I strongly recommend picking up this story ASAP!
Thank you Edelweiss and Harper Collins for providing me with a copy of this novel for review. Masque of the Red Death was just recently released on the 24th April 2012 so go pick up a copy today!(less)
I’ve read a lot of Dystopians but Eden’s Root has to be one of the hardest I’ve read to date purely because of how very gritty and real this book is. Unlike many Dystopians where you get a vague idea that at some point in the past something went horribly wrong leading to a completely different way of life and governing body, in Eden’s Root you are there from the beginning experiencing with the characters in a breaking and changing world. The main character Fi by the tender age of 14 has already experienced some traumatizing life events including the death of her brother and father to cancers and also the knowledge that her mother is soon to join them. The rise of cancers is attributed to all the modifications science has done over the decades to our food sources leading to the eventual loss of all new planatation in 2033 when Fi must help her family find the Eden complex in order to survive. I have personally seen both my own mother and my father in law sucumb to cancer way before there time and this book hits frightenly close to home.
The actual world building was very well done, you really felt you were there and part of the chaos after the government involved the military and started to ration the food. The only problem I had was that the actual story was just too long and could have done with some editing, especially in the early parts with Fi’s preparation and training. This is a long book and it took me quite a while to get through the first third of the novel and I think this is one of the story’s biggest faults.
The characters are beautifully done. Fi is a great heroine even if she is only 13 at the start of the novel. While at first I found it a bit hard to believe that she was incharge of her “family” including the adults after awhile I really did accept it, at the end of the day some people really are born leaders and Fi is one of these. Now she really grows in this story partly because of her training and partly because of the changing world around her forcing her to tackle some real moral issues. While I could imagine that some people would be irritated with her thoughts and reactions to events I thought that they rang quite true because at the end of the day regardless of how the world changes having to be involved in death, rape, pillage and all those other awful chaos activities would not be easy.
Sean irritated me a little bit, he was a bit too passive agressive for my tastes but I really liked the character of Asher. Some reviews I’ve read has put both these guys in a love triangle with Fi but I never really saw any romantic connection between her and Sean. But then Asher carries a sword around and is totally awesome so perhaps I was a little judgemental :) The family itself was nicely done if a little bit too lucky when it came to adding new members that just magically had skills the group could use. I also wonder if it was realistic how well their rules and meetings would actually work in this situation – I think I would find it very hard to always take direction from a teenager personally and I’m not entirely sure if there wouldn’t be more tension in reality.
Overall even though it took me awhile to get into this story I really loved it and I think that anyone who enjoys Dystopians/Post Apocalyptic stories should add this to their to-read list – it’s a fascinating read!(less)
This is the story of Ana who lives in the not to distant future where scientists and governments test for mental illnesses from birth and then segragates society into the "pures" who live in idyllic gated communities and the "crazies" everyone else who has predictors for mental illness, ranging from mild illnesses to the big three - depression, schizophrenia and anxiety. As you can quite safely assume the majority of the population is viewed as unpure and so are left to their own devices in major cities with the worst citizens locked up in various mental institutions that have opened up to "assist" these individuals.
Ana is born a pure with her father being the scientist who created the test to establish what mental illnesses a person has from birth. During her teenage years it is discovered that Ana's tests were done incorrectly and she does infact test positive for the big 3 meaning that she is outcast within her society and the government continually tests her to make sure that her mental health is stable. Providing she marries Jasper her childhood crush before her 18th birthday she is allowed to stay in the Pure community otherwise she has to go to the city to live. Shortly before her birthday Jasper dissapears leading her to investigate and uncover some very hard truths about the world which she has grown up in.
Let me just start off by staying what a fantastic and completely scary dystopian novel! I had read a few negative reviews about this book prior to requesting it via Netgalley - many were very offended about the authors take and description of mental illness. This outcry made me curious and I can safely say that while I have had experience with major depression (not personally, my mum suffered from it for most of my life) I didn't take offense at any point during the novel and infact I thought that it was a smart way to bring up real life issues to teens and young adults. I think what I love about the Dystopia genre so much is the ability to see where different avenues life, governments and politics can take you and explore safely how this could affect humanity - by safe I mean it's fairly clear to the reader that this isn't going to happen in their lifetime so it's a purely theoretical exercise of the imagination.
Ana's story starts off a bit slowly and I have to admit that I didn't really get into either her or the actual plot of the book until I was about a quarter of the way through. Once I got over that speed bump though boy was this a thrilling ride. The plots are actually quite complex yet really well managed for a book that isn't that long clocking in at just 432 pages. Aside from the standard dystopian ideas of controlling governments and conspiracies there is the extra thought provoking topics of mental illness and spirituality added in for the reader to mull over. I really enjoyed the actual theory of "the glimpse" as well and will be interested to see if there are more of these in the final book.
The characters are fairly stock standard however in saying that they are well rounded and I still enjoyed reading about them. By the end of the novel Ana really shows some backbone and I really enjoyed the layers and complexity of the relationship she has with her father in this novel. Jasper was probably the weakest link and I felt that some of his backstory was probably cut and edited out as not relevant which is a pity because I really felt that there was more to him than what the book gives him credit for. Cole was a fantastic character and love interest, I loved him he was so patient and kind even though he had been through such a hellish life.
There are some really confronting scenarios placed in this novel including suicidal toddlers and criminal abuse and negligence of mental patients. I found this very chilling and sometimes a little full on though it completely worked and added substance to this novel and was in context with the world building beautifully crafted by Merle. I think that this is a wonderful read for anyone who is willing to see this purely as a work of fiction or a theoretical exercise into the "what ifs" of a potential future. Perhaps give this one a miss if mental illness is a button pusher for you!
Thank you Netgalley and Faber and Faber for providing me with a copy of this novel for review. (less)