Its a real thrill when you start a book without any real expectations and you find yourself completely blown away. That’s what The Unquiet by MikaelaIts a real thrill when you start a book without any real expectations and you find yourself completely blown away. That’s what The Unquiet by Mikaela Everett was for me and I have found this review a hard one to write because I just want everyone to go out and read it, though at the same time I hesitate to recommend it as I don’t feel that this book will be to everyone’s taste. In fact I would almost be inclined to think that this book would not appeal to the vast majority of young adult readers, at least the bloggers and fandoms that I follow. So with that possibly over gloomy outlook I will get started!
The story is told by our protagonist Lirael who starts off at the shy age of nine herded along with many other young children through the portal taking them from their Earth to its parallel. You see in this universe there are two Earths though its laws of science and nature have proven that while both exist, this is an impossibility, and so one Earth is dying. Lirael and the other children have been taking from the dying Earth (Earth II) to live in “the cottages” where they teach these young kids how to kill and even more importantly provide them the ability to learn everything they can about their doubles. You see, Lirael is a sleeper agent and her purpose is to kill her alter ego and take her place, ready and in position for when they take over the one Earth that has a chance of surviving.
The name of this book “unquiet” is just such a wonderful poetic description for this novel. It is unquiet, it is unsettling and it can make you uneasy and while that doesn’t make for pleasant reading it certainly makes an impact on the reader. Though this book is fairly psychological in nature with a strong underlying question of what is good vs. what is evil, what I found fascinating was how it made me reflect on issues in the world’s current political climate. We may not in the Western world breed warriors from toddlerhood, but the scary fact is that in other countries this is not rare or extreme – just take a look into ISIS or Malema and the EFF party of South Africa to see some underlying truths in the premise of this book.
I saw one review that gave this novel a poor rate as they felt to rate it well would be condoning genocide. While everyone is entitled to their opinion I think it is naïve and a little sad to think that fictional exploration into one of the darker sides of humanity should mean an automatic fail. Human history is littered with Holocausts and genocides of numerous cultures and races to the point where it is well researched with warning signs and stages. I loved that this novel walked you through each step in this genocide process and humanely questioned the ramifications it places on the individual, the society, the victims, the rebels and the perpetrators. I loved that it asked the hard questions and explored what governments are willing to do in the face of extinction and even better, it handled the outcomes with stark poetic prose that ultimately leaves one wondering exactly what happens behind closed doors to provide us the freedom and safety we take for granted.
This book sent me down the rabbit hole along with our protagonist and I must say it took a while for me to resurface. I read it in one sitting as I quite simply had great difficulty getting this book out of my head. I most certainly tried putting it down at midnight desperate to get a few hours shut eye before work the next day, yet an hour later still wide awake thinking about it and unable to drift off, I admitted defeat and instead finished it in the early hours of morning. It’s been weeks since I read it and I still get goose bumps writing this review because this book is unique and certainly a stand out on the YA books I’ve read in 2015. I loved every unquiet and uneasy minute of this one. ...more
I was super excited to get this book, I haven’t seen the TV show but keep waiting for it toFind this review and others on my blog Tea in the Treetops!
I was super excited to get this book, I haven’t seen the TV show but keep waiting for it to start showing here in Australia on free to air TV (apparently channel GO acquired the rights). So I started to read this with great anticipation and I think I must have built it up too much… it was a flop.
I think the main issue I had with the book is that I really felt it was being written with the specific aim to be turned into a TV show. I have no idea if this is actually the case but I could imagine that this book would adapt really well. There are 4 main characters and a number of secondary characters in the story which I believe is the main reason I found it an unenjoyable book. We got the same small window of time from multiple viewpoints and I just felt that it didn’t manage to hold my interest and it only got really exciting at the very end.
The characters have been set up well however that is really all the book was able to do given the large number of protagonists, you got the foundation of some slightly cliché people but that was it. I didn’t have a favourite and I wasn’t at any point desperate to find out what was going on for any of them. In the world of passionate YA fandom I think this is a little bit sad and as mentioned before the characters do seem a bit cookie cutter/cliché.
Glass: rich girl and star crossed lover in love with a poor boy
Wells: the son of a powerful and disliked leader
Clarke: the goodie two shoes who has been wrongfully incarcerated
Bellamy: the bad boy who actually is really a good guy
Ok so now I’ve got the bothersome bits of my chest , I’ll get to what I liked which was the fabulous premise of this novel! In the past something bad happened on Earth and the world went apocalyptic with a scant 2000ish humans escaping to space where they live on 3 (I think?) spaceships that have been bridged together. Things are tough and getting tougher out in space and the smallest infraction can lead to the death penalty, or in the case of minors a jail sentence until you turn 18 and you crimes re-evaluated. 100 of these minors are sent down to Earth on a mission to see if humans are now able to survive on the surface of the planet. Its a great idea it’s like a mix between Lord of the Flies and Wall-e very interesting and such great potential I’m not surprised it was picked up for television.
I’m not sure whether or not I’m going to give the sequel a go I’m really tossing it up at this stage. Perhaps I’ll try season one of the show and then make up my mind. Don’t let my thoughts deter you though, if your looking for a short post apocalyptic novel and are more into the story than the characters you will probably really enjoy this. ...more
This series has to be one of the most underrated YA trilogies I can think of. I picked up AFind this review and others on my blog Tea in the Treetops!
This series has to be one of the most underrated YA trilogies I can think of. I picked up Awaken on a whim when going through my dystopian phase back in 2011 and simply adored it. I felt that it was such a believable scenario considering how humanity is with its addiction to screen time and the fear mongering seen in all avenues of media. I simply loved Awaken and I also loved it’s sequel – Middle Ground. I loved it so much in fact, that 17 week pregnant me decided to name my then unborn daughter Madeleine as the name really grew on me while I was reading it.
Fast forward 2 years and I find myself with a 15 month old Maddie of my own and a copy of the final book in this series, Still Point. It had been so long I wasn’t sure how to really get started on it, I barely remembered what had happened at the end of book 2 and I was both excited and worried about how I would connect with the last instalment of this story. Reflecting back now that I’ve finished reading it, I think going in with a break was probably a good thing and I quite enjoyed the ending, though I imagine there will be many who will come away from this book feeling deflated or unimpressed with how things wrap up.
The final book takes place with Maddie back at home trying to reconnect with her father and assist Justin and the Digital School Drop Outs from the inside. Not a lot actually happens action wise throughout this story it predominantly focuses on character development and plot conclusion. Maddie is defiant and strong as ever and romance takes a definite back stage to her emotional journey and relationship with her family. Justin is thought about a lot however isn’t around for much of the story and we are introduced to a new character, Jax who agrees to assist Maddie with her plans to publicise the harmful side effects of Digital School.
Being the final book in a trilogy its very hard to write a review without giving away too much of the story so my apologies if this review doesn’t cover things in too much detail, there is so much I want to say but you will have to read it yourself to find out what happens at the end. I will say that there are a lot of revelations for Maddie and much of what you thought is turned on its head in terms of character motives. The ending with the voting of whether Digital School should remain the only choice available to students, was well done and I was hooked on this book from beginning to end.
This book is just such a great story for today’s western civilisation. The questions surrounding quality of life when digital use is constantly on the increase, addiction to screens and its susceptibility with young children are just a couple that would make this series a great platform for classroom and family discussions. A great novel and series in general – it should definitely be added to every ones to read list immediately! ...more
The Jewel was completely different to what I expected when I first picked up this book andFind this review and others on my blog Tea in the Treetops!
The Jewel was completely different to what I expected when I first picked up this book and I don’t mean that in a bad way. Underneath the glamour and pretty dresses of this debut dystopian novel by Amy Ewing is an undercurrent of systematic human abuse, forced surrogacy and political exploitation that makes this book anything but the fluffy read the cover would suggest. This is the 2nd YA novel I have read recently that included forced pregnancy in teenage girls and I find the very idea confronting though for this reason alone I think its worth an avenue of exploration in a futuristic/dystopian genre.
The book centres around our protagonist Violet and the book starts with the ominous line:
“Today is my last day as Violet Lasting”
From there the story takes you on a journey of a teenage girl, now only to be known as Lot #197, who was ripped from her family upon puberty and taken to a special boarding school for future surrogates to learn how to control the auguries (magic manipulation, though magic is not really a central focus of this novel) along with etiquette and how to be a proper “seen but not heard” surrogate for the aristocracy who live in the Jewel. The Jewel is one of 5 areas in this city which is cut off from the remaining world, and this particular zone houses the wealthy land and business owners plus the political rulers. All the surrogates come from the very poorest region – The Marsh where poverty and hunger are rife. To some this selection to be a surrogate and live surrounded by wealth and beautiful things seems a small price to pay, though many of these young girls can sense the wrongness of this even if they can’t verbalise or pin point what exactly the problem is with the exchange.
The political slinging matches and the world building in this novel is excellent. There is no brain dump of information on how things turned out the way they did but slowly as the story evolves you get a general idea, though there is still enough mystery to ensure your audience will rush out to buy book two. The verbal and nonverbal exchanges between the ladies with surrogates in this novel just brought the book to life. I found myself reading over the comments and text quite slowly making sure I picked up any nuances and hints I was meant to get out of the dialogue. I could never quite tell whether or not the Duchess of the Lake, Violet’s owner, was meant to be seen as the good guy or whether she too was a villain. The fine line, subtlety and shades of grey in some of these characters was extremely well crafted.
The downside of this story was the unfortunate instant attraction and ridiculous romance between Violet and Ash. Ash is not even mentioned until over half way through the story and in all honesty I couldn’t really see the need for him at all. If this was meant to be a bit of a star-crossed romance then his intro into the Lake family could have happened from the get go instead of so late in the plot surely? While Ash seemed lovely it definitely dampened my enjoyment for this novel and I wasn’t that disappointed with how things ended up during the finale of this book.
Probably the best part of this novel was the very last page of this story where I was totally taken off guard by a major plot twist and I can’t wait to find out how this changes things in the sequel. While this book is by no means perfect I think it stands out from the crowd of YA debuts and is worth getting your hands on a copy. ...more
I was very excited to read Elusion. Apart from a beautiful cover it sounded a bit like a YA version of Tad William’s Otherland series and I simply lovI was very excited to read Elusion. Apart from a beautiful cover it sounded a bit like a YA version of Tad William’s Otherland series and I simply love this idea of entering into Virtual Reality that is so advanced you feel like you are quite literally in another world. Other than it’s unique and exciting concept, Elusion just didn’t really work for me.
The story centres around our protagonist Reagan who is very much in mourning after the death of her father – the creator of Elusion. Her best friend Patrick is the lead designer after her father dies on the Elusion project and the book starts with the media announcement that Elusion is being rolled out as a product across the country after a successful 3 state trial launch. From then on Regan starts trying to solve the mystery of Elusion which has some loud opponents questioning it’s very safety, and the mystery of her father’s death. With the help of a new guy at school Josh, Regan is determined to get behind the firewall and get the answers she’s desperate for.
I’m not really sure where to begin with my problems with this book so I’m just going to vent it all out. Firstly Regan, gah!!! She really annoyed me! At the beginning of this book you got a lot of inner dialogue about how close she is with her best friend Patrick. Patrick basically grew up with her and was like a son to her dad who mentored him and brought him into the Elusion project. For basically no reason at all, she goes from being devoted and loyal to him to getting more and more suspicious, yet in the same breath decides she should trust a total stranger with a questionable past with all of her secrets. This aspect of the book probably got to me the most, poor Patrick was so vilified and yet he never really did anything to deserve it in my humble opinion and to make matters worse he even stayed loyal to Regan through all of it.
Regan also starts distrusting her mother who is seriously not coping with the death of her father, yet her dad who clearly had a lot of secrets and was keeping things from her she never once seemed to question. I was completely dumfounded by the relationships in this book it just seemed totally wrong.
Josh was a very useless two dimensional character and I couldn’t really see the point in his being in the story at all other than to provide a love triangle and it wasn’t even a good love triangle :( The whole romance aspect of this book just didn’t click with me either. It was quite clichéd and I didn’t feel any chemistry between Regan and Josh or Regan and Patrick for that matter.
The world was interesting and bleak though there was lots of references to oxygen masks, something called florapetro and acid rain though no background was given to how the world got that way or what this florapetro actually is? I’m assuming that pollution got so bad that this is it for the world of the future hence the need for Elusion which provides everyone with Escapes back to how the world once was. They also had super long work days 12 hours on, 12 hours off and school kids are doing that too which I totally don’t understand either considering since many young kids can barely handle the 9-3 school day let alone double that!
The last part of the novel that I just couldn’t suspend belief over was that Regan’s dad built a firewall into the Elusion system. Now a firewall is a fairly common thing in internet security terms, what got to me is that this firewall is actually a real, physical wall in the Elusion escapes and apparently if you can find the wall you can get past it with absolutely no technical skills whatsoever. Now I never studied IT but I did work for Internet Service Providers and web hosting companies for over a decade and I quite simply found this concept completely ridiculous. If I’m honest I found the idea childish and it was a real disappointment for a number of reasons which I wont mention here as I don’t want to provide any spoilers.
I’m giving this book 2.5 stars as I loved the concept and it was a fast read. I also really enjoyed reading about the Virtual Reality and the Elusion escapes if only the rest of the story was actually plausible. It also ended on a cliff-hanger and I probably will pick up the next book simply because I want to know what happens next so I guess even with all the problems I did get suckered in! ...more
The Murder Complex is set in the future like most dystopians and boy is this oneThis review can also be found on my review blog - Tea in the Treetops.
The Murder Complex is set in the future like most dystopians and boy is this one creepy screwed up world! In fact I don’t think a world has disturbed me quite so much since reading Neal Shusterman’s Unwind and that is saying something. This story is centred around 2 characters – Meadow and Zephyr and each chapter is told from alternate points of view.
Meadow lives with her family on a house boat and has been trained from a young age to survive and to kill. The story starts on the eve of her 16th birthday. In this society your 16th birthday is your chance to catch a train to a testing centre for initiation and if you come out of the centre alive you leave with a job. Meadows older brother Koi made it home but didn’t get a job, with him mysteriously saying he just “couldn’t go through with it”. From this point on things just get more and more gruesome, I found it a depressing world to read about with dead bodies everywhere, dark hours where people are slaughtered and no one seems to do anything about it. The very idea that 16 year olds have to kill in order to have a job and these kids don’t seem to flinch about it I found quite depressing.
The other main character Zephyr is a ward of the state, meaning his parents are dead and he’s effectively an orphan. These guys are considered pretty much the lowest on the society totem pole and it’s their job to clean up dead bodies all day. Yes that’s right, children have the role in this world to clean up the dead…. Zephyr has dreams about a silver haired girl (surprise surprise it’s Meadow) and fate has them come together shortly after Meadow starts working in the rations department. After a series of events including Meadow discovering Zephyr is considered ultra important by the government, Zephyr trying to kill Meadow without any recollection of the event, and Meadows family disappearing, the 2 of them get together to try and solve the mystery of what is going on.
I think one of my biggest problems with this book is that I can’t imagine the sequence of events that lead up to this type of world actually happening. Or perhaps I should say I can’t imagine enough people in power allowing it to get this way. I also really struggled immensely with the storyline of Meadow’s mother. Her whole character simply doesn’t add up in my book and after the big reveals towards the end instead of me getting really involved in the climax I was just thinking “are you for real??!”.
Meadows father I would also summarise as just a tad bit on the crazy side, and my guess is that Ms Cummings does not have children because I can’t imagine anyone other than sociopaths really being that involved and at the same time that cold to their children.
The last thing I took issue with is that I guessed where things were going well before the end and it seemed so similar to a whole slate of YA novels, which was a bit disappointing to me. The world while original had a “very same, old same old” climax and I think anyone that reads a fair bit of dystopia will be in the same boat where you can see how things are going to wrap up a mile off. The blood and gore in this book was also just a little too overdone leaving me pretty certain I won’t be picking up book two. ...more
You will always be a monster - there is no turning back from it. But what kind of monster you become is entirely up to you.
I loved The Immortal Rules and am excited to say that The Eternity Cure is a fantastic, solid sequel. You pick up from where book 1 leaves off with Allie on her way to rescue Kanin, instead of being led to Kanin she comes across Jackal her blood brother who offers her a proposition she can't refuse. Together they look for a cure for the original Red Lung disease before continuing the search for Kanin their sire who may or may not have been driven mad by the insane vampire Sarren who has taken him hostage.
This book starts off a little slow and while I liked getting thoroughly re-established into the story as it had been a year since I read The Immortal Rules, it was perhaps a bit too slow for my liking. Once I got through about 20% however the story really picked up and it was just brilliant.
I loved that it continued its dark gritty themes of morality and ethics and this is further delved into by reintroducing Jackal as a main character in this book. Jackal, along with showing an alternative way of life for a vampire to what you are used to with Allie and Kanin, also provides some great comic relief with his fantastic wit and sarcasm. I also really loved that you are taken back full circle to New Covington in this story and Allie has to deal with people from her past she never expected to see again.
While in New Covington you get further insight into vampire politics and I think this was a great way of adding further embellishment into the world building that was done so well in book 1. You also see first hand what the original red lung disease does to a human population and find out more about the mole men who live in the tunnels (ewwwww!).
Allie once again is a fantastic heroine who shows she can be completely unscrupulous when needed but with a constant battling inner monologue of her trying to do the best she can to stay someone she can live with. She is introduced again part way through the story to Zeke her romantic interest from book 1. Zeke has grown up since we saw him last and like book 1 this romance is a slow smouldering one. I will admit that I found the romance a little awkward between these two at first however Zeke once again grew on me and I loved some of the agonising, torturous moments and situations that came up for these guys in this book... seriously there is one part that I was so devastated for Allie I was not in anyway expecting how things turned out but again it was a great twist!
The story wraps up with some serious OMG moments and really set up the scene for the third book. I am devastated that I have to wait another 12 months to find out what happens next because I think this next book is going to be brilliant! If you haven't read this series I urge you to pick it up now it's definitely worth it - I only take half a teacup of this rating for the slowish start.
Read my review of Book 1: The Immortal Rules here.
Thank you Netgalley and HarlequinTEEN for providing me with a copy of this novel for review. The Eternity Cure is being released on the 30th April 2013....more
Such a lovely novel that managed to uniquely blend a futuristic dystopian settingThis review also appears on my book review blog Tea in the Treetops.
Such a lovely novel that managed to uniquely blend a futuristic dystopian setting with a sense of old fashioned proprietary. This is a companion novel to Peterfreund’s For Darkness Shows the Stars and I loved how the 2 interlocked though you could very easily pick either book up and read them as a stand alone.
Persis Blake lives on an island, Albion - one of the only 2 islands that is left of the world after it was utterly destroyed by mankind’s technological advancements. Both Albion and Galatea have lived without further political issues for generations until the island of Galatea has a revolution against the aristocracy (aristos) by the island’s general population known as regs. When the revolution takes a sinister turn by forcing the captured aristos to take drugs robbing them of their minds and “reducing” them Persis along with her best friend the ruling monarch of Albion decide to take action.
This book manages to create the most totally cool historical court, filled with palmports and sugary flutternotes (think emails that zoom through the air like a paper plane to you!) and crazy fashion. I think I could definitely live on Albion with its beautiful weather and gorgeous beaches along with the fabulous technological advancements and affluent society. Such a completely different world to For Darkness Shows the Stars its amazing that they all live on the same planet!
Persis was a fantastic character I really enjoyed her she was the ultimate undercover spy, strong and smart on the inside and frivolous to extremes to the outside world. I also really enjoyed the rest of her league though felt that they were a little bit 2 dimensional. I think they were more added to the story just so that Persis could fulfil her mission requirements rather than provide additional storylines and characterisation. Justen the love interest in this book grated on me, he seemed a bit too dense for someone who is meant to be brilliant. I also wasn’t a fan of the baddy in this book, it was extremely obvious from the get go who the bad guy was and I like to feel a little empathy for my villains and unfortunately I didn’t feel anything at all for them in this book.
I found this book so enjoyable, its only problem that while there was a lot of action at times it just seemed to drag on and on and overall I think the book seemed just a bit too long. I simply love this world and really hope that another book comes along and really knits the 2 stories together, that would be amazing! ...more
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. ...more
I’ve read a lot of Dystopians but Eden’s Root has to be one ofThis review was originally posted at Tea, Daydreams & Fairytales on 19th July 2012.
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!...more
About once a year I hear about a book and for some reason I decide I most desperately have to read it and I build it up into the most awesomest book ever. Then I read the book and am thoroughly and incredibly dissapointed with it. Last year it was The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer. This year it’s Skylark, I didn’t mind it, but boy did it fall way short of my expectations. The premise seemed so original and unique – part dystopian, part fantasy and part steampunk but the story was just way to uninteresting and the characters fell too flat for this book to be rated any higher than “average”.
Lark is well and truly over waiting for her harvesting. In this society older children and teens are “harvested” for their magical energy which keeps the protective dome energised around their city and ensures that their mechanical devices continue to work. Once children have been harvested they are allocated to their adult role in society and they start their careers immediately.
The first third of this novel sets the scene for how this city runs and explains how magical energy can only be harvested once out of youngsters. When Lark is finally harvested you discover that she isn’t ordinary – she is renewable meaning that after her first harvesting, her magical energy reforms so that she can be harvested over and over again providing a now renewable energy source to her people. She quickly discovers that the process of harvesting is actually incredibly cruel and that those in charge mean to keep her as a human battery, forcing her to flee for a fabled city of renewables outside the dome.
The middle of this novel is about Lark’s journey in the wilderness where is meets a strange boy Owen who helps her on numerous occassions from death. You discover the creepy zombie like people who are burnt out on magic and the strange magical hot spots that can take you to different places and different times. Unfortunately the majority of Lark’s journey is really quite boring and you just get a straight running commentary about what is happening to her at every moment. As there aren’t really any other central characters other than Lark for the majority of this section I found that it just dragged on for way too long.
Things started to really pick up in the last 3rd of this book though to be honest it was a case of too little too late for me. Some interesting things really do happen that I wont spoil for you but again it was so obvious who the bad guys were and who the good guys were – there was no complexity or layering of the supporting characters and I really found that lacklustre.
I found Lark to be quite a frustrating main character she just seeemed to continuously make poor choices, trusting the wrong people then totally not trusting clearly good individuals. Yes she was young alone and completely out of her element but I really found it hard to feel any sympathy for the girl. Oren was the real gem in this book, I’m not sure if I just like the silent savage type character who so needs a wonderful romance to open him up to a different way of life but he was complicated and interesting. I couldn’t say that there was any real romance between the two – in fact this book is really quite devoid on romance which isn’t a bad thing though I’m sure that this will be picked up in subsequent books in the series.
Overall I found that I procrastinated reading this book too much and felt at times I had to force myself to continue reading it. I’m not decided at this stage whether I will be continuing with the series – the premise and worldbuilding did hold some promise so I am hoping that book 2 might be vastly improved.
Thank you Netgalley and Lerner Publishing for providing me with a copy of this novel for review. Skylark was released on the 1st August 2012....more
"And I'm falling in love with you," he whispers. "But I wouldThis review was originally posted on Tea, Daydreams & Fairytales on the 3rd May 2012.
"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!...more
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!...more
"I remember the Hunt from ten years ago. How for months afterwardThis review was originally posted at Tea, Daydreams & Fairytales on 5th May 2012.
"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....more
"Envy hurt exponentially more than heartbreak because your souThis review was originally posted at Tea, Daydreams & Fairytales on 4th August 2012.
"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!...more