I read Catching Fire right after The Hunger Games, so the books seem to flow into one another. That being said, I can distinguish between the two and...moreI read Catching Fire right after The Hunger Games, so the books seem to flow into one another. That being said, I can distinguish between the two and I think I enjoyed Catching Fire even more than The Hunger Games.
A little turmoil makes for fantastic storytelling and the Girl on Fire is definitely thrown back into the flames in this one. I don’t want to give anything away because it is an absolutely incredible read, but Catching Fire certainly expands upon what was established in The Hunger Games. We pick up with Katniss a few weeks after returning from the Hunger Games and what should be a happy event turns into more confusion for Katniss. Winning the games and beating the Capitol has only caused more trouble for her and I love the way that trouble is handled. After winning the games, Katniss and Peeta journey on their victory tour through the 12 districts and the Capitol. Their pseudo-relationship is tested and Katniss is faced with making some real decisions in regard to her relationship with Peeta.
The story itself is expanded upon a great deal in Catching Fire. We get a little more information on the ever-elusive District 13, as well as more reasons to dislike the Capitol. The Hunger Games gave us the Capitol to hate, but this time we get a single person to just direct our anger on and he’s definitely worthy of all the hate we can give him. There is also a lot more exploration into the ethical issues that have abounded from Katniss’ actions at the end of The Hunger Games and as she acclimates to her new life as a victor, she has to deal with those consequences and come to terms with an uprising that she is the cause for.
The characters are developed more in Catching Fire and the second half of the book really focuses on the repercussions of Katniss’ actions with the berries. Gale gets a bit more action in this one, but still not enough for me to actually like him. I’m still Team Peeta all the way and I can happily say that there is one scene on a beach where I feel quite rewarded for being on his team. I can also say that Haymitch grew on me more in this one and Katniss’ team from the Capitol isn’t so bad either. This book also made me love Cinna even more than the first one. There are so many characters that it amazes me that they can so unique. A number of new characters in the story also brings about some interesting conflicts.
The twists and turns that abound in Catching Fire may seem like too much, but I felt like the novel flowed very well, even with the consistent action. The plot advanced at a good pace and all the action didn’t take away from any of the emotional aspects. If anything, I felt like Catching Fire was more of an emotional novel than The Hunger Games. Katniss’ feelings are explored more this time around and we really get into her head. There is a scene with some jabberjays that literally broke my heart. Suzanne Collins developed her characters so well and made them feel completely genuine in The Hunger Games that I found myself very attached to them. Catching Fire only strengthened my investment in the characters.
Catching Fire will leave the reader salivating for more. The plot was interesting, fast-paced, and intelligent. I can easily say that I did not see the ending coming at all. There was one tiny aspect to it that I had a feeling would come up, but I didn’t think anything would happen like it did in the end. Katniss is a character with flaws and I love seeing those flaws because that makes her real. The love story that’s buried within all of the action is so different than most YA novels because it doesn’t control the plot. The main story isn’t some love triangle, it is more about the ethical issues that come from having a game where children are forced to kill one another. The love story is an essential aspect because it is a huge part of the characters, but Suzanne Collins found a perfect balance between that romance and action.
Overall, Catching Fire was just as good (if not better) than The Hunger Games and I highly recommend both. I read this through very quickly because I loved the story. The reader can become quite invested in the characters and I find myself dying to know what happens next. The ending is a huge cliffhanger, so hold on tight while reading and stay tuned for the third and final installment in The Hunger Games Trilogy.(less)
I was kind of late hopping on The Hunger Games train, but I finally got around to reading it and I’m so glad I did. It is probably the best book I’ve...moreI was kind of late hopping on The Hunger Games train, but I finally got around to reading it and I’m so glad I did. It is probably the best book I’ve read all year long. Suzanne Collins created this incredible story with such strong and unique characters.
The Hunger Games< is well-written, smart, and full of action. The overall image of this future society where the government controls everything is so striking. Everyone who doesn’t reside in the rich capital fights just to survive and that can obviously lead to hatred for the capital and the government. On top of that, children from the ages of 12-18 are then forced to be put into the running to be forced to fight to the death. These games themselves are torture and built for some sick sort of pleasure and I loved seeing Katniss fight the rules and become more than just a pawn for the capital to play with.
Suzanne Collins advanced the plot flawlessly and I was glued to the book the whole way through. I found myself rooting for Katniss, but not wanting to see anyone else harmed. I also found myself not liking Peeta when he’s first introduced, but he grew on me very quickly. He is such a genuine, selfless character and all his actions are for a reason. On the other hand, I found Katniss to be somewhat selfish at times and there were moments where her actions got me mad, but that was the point. She is a realistically flawed character and that makes the book so much better. I was on the edge of my seat the entire way through and the ending had me begging for the next one.
Overall, The Hunger Games was absolutely incredible. The plot as fantastic and it flowed perfectly. The entire premise of the novel was so unique and the imagery was so vivid. I loved the lead up to the games and the descriptions of the wardrobes. Everything about The Hunger Games was just phenomenal.
The world of 2041 is so unlike our world today, but it is the only environment that 16 year old Molly McClure has ever known. Molly lives in Canada wi...moreThe world of 2041 is so unlike our world today, but it is the only environment that 16 year old Molly McClure has ever known. Molly lives in Canada with her family and their quiet life is so set apart from the unrest that is constantly brewing just over the border in the US. When Molly’s grandma is found to be ill, she is tasked with making her way across the border and getting her grandparents to come home with her. Once there, Molly realizes that the US is unlike anything she has ever experienced before. The streets are dirty and she is terrified of what could be lurking in every shadow. Molly manages to find her way to her grandparents, but it’s not that easy to get them to leave their treasured home. Molly’s fight to restore her family pits her in some dangerous situations and she comes to find that her new ‘friend,’ Spill, may not be exactly who he seems. Can Molly survive the dangerous world that the Collapse has created? Will her family ever be whole again? Is Spill really a good guy? You’ll have to check out Restoring Harmony to find out.
I must be on some sort of dystopian kick because I feel like I’ve been reading them quite a bit lately. I was excited to read Restoring Harmony, but I wasn’t expecting to enjoy it as much as I did. Anthony has created a vast, dystopian world that could actually be a reality one day. The Collapse triggered the end of the world as we know it and even though Molly has always lived in that environment, she has never been fully immersed in it. Her experiences in the US ring so true and her 16 year old naiveté feels real and even endearing. The little love story between Molly and Spill is also a sweet journey. Molly doesn’t instantly fall for Spill, but is actually a little wary of him. Their relationship can be seen developing throughout the book and we can see the blossoming of something more, which is such a nice change from how things usually happen in YA novels.
This is far from a fast-paced, action book. A lot of the journey may appear to be mundane, but every single thing that Molly does is out of her devotion to her family and the life that is waiting for her. She is so determined to bring her family together and that determination stands as a beacon of hope in a downtrodden and dangerous world. The little family moments anchor the story and I was more than happy to see Molly’s journey right to the end.
Anthony has constructed a beautiful dystopian world, not just because it is realistic and vividly imagined, but because it isn’t devoid of hope. The McClure’s have been able to carve out their own little paradise and Molly only wants for her entire family to be able to experience that together. Molly’s father gives her his beloved farmer’s almanac and Anthony uses small excerpts from the book to begin several chapters. It is a very nice touch that gives the reader a little something more to hold onto Molly’s life in Canada. Restoring Harmony is very much a character-driven, emotionally based story and I loved getting to know Molly and her family.
Opening line: “When the plane’s engine took on a whining roar, my grip tightened on my fiddle case.” ~ pg. 1
Favorite line (From the farmer’s almanac): “December 24th – Other things may change us, but we start and end with family. –Anthony Brandt” ~ pg. 300 (less)
Elizabeth Scott may be known for her ability to write lighthearted romantic books with these incredibly realistic characters, but she can certainly do...moreElizabeth Scott may be known for her ability to write lighthearted romantic books with these incredibly realistic characters, but she can certainly do dark just as well. Grace tells the story of a suicide bomber who decides that she doesn’t want to die. Defying the People and the beliefs that have been instilled in her mind her entire life is beyond anguishing for her.
Grace feels shame towards herself for not whole-heartedly believing in the life she was raised to have. A girl born to die. The world that she lives in may not be so unlike our own. It’s a terrifying fact, but our world is centered around power, as is Grace’s. The power that one man possesses can destroy the lives of many and Grace lives that everyday.
On her journey for freedom, Grace encounters a young man about her age. The things she learns from him are insurmountable compared to the things she has been taught in the past. A few days and a train ride give her the startling realization that the People that raised her and proclaimed she was born to die, may not be all that better than the Keran Berj, the man ruling the land ruthlessly, ordering death with the twitch of a hand.
Elizabeth Scott has surprised me once again with this shockingly and potentially, plausibly, maybe even probably, realistic take on suicide bombers and the pain they harbor inside of them. Grace is young and should be innocent, but that is all taken from her. Stolen. And after everything that she has gone through, all she wants is life. I don’t think that’s too much to ask for, but in her world, it’s unthinkable. Unforgivable. Shameful.
The writing style is so unique here because the sentences are clipped, succinct, and completely direct. The near lack of dialogue surprised me at first, but it feels right. To truly understand what Grace is going through, we need to be in her head, knowing her thoughts and feeling her emotions. Much of the book is introspective and it’s despairing to see how much Grace has gone through in such a short time. It’s unlikely that I’ll ever forget Grace and her struggle for life.
Grace is a haunting tale of a world filled with death and destruction; Sacrifice and pain. Nothing is quite as it seems and the Angels in this world are harbingers of death disguised as young girls. It’s a story of a girl struggling to survive, but also about a bigger picture. A picture that depicts a war that has no winners and no right and wrong, only the lives lost along the way. This story will make you open your eyes to both sides of war and make you see the innocent people caught in the middle.
Opening line: I’m afraid my hair is showing. ~ pg. 3
Favorite line(s): Sometimes, I don’t think there is anything beyond what is here, what is now. I think that maybe beyond this world – this train, this desert we are passing through, this heat swelling all around – there is nothing. ~ pg. 28
To be so young and so cruel – he was the end of the world made flesh. ~ pg. 114(less)
The Scorch Trials picks up right where The Maze Runner left off and it certainly starts with a bang. James Dashner incredibly makes this installment e...moreThe Scorch Trials picks up right where The Maze Runner left off and it certainly starts with a bang. James Dashner incredibly makes this installment even better than the first. There is non-stop action and unexpected twists and turns in every single chapter. Thomas is once again thrown into this crazy environment, fighting for his life, as well as the lives of his friends.
WICKED is more involved in this one, but we still don’t really know much about them. Is WICKED good or is WICKED bad? That really is the question to ask throughout this entire book. Dashner really made me question everything and everyone. Like Thomas, I wasn’t sure what to believe.
Be prepared for more than a little creepy action going on because the Cranks sure are terrifying. Dashner vividly describes the pure nastiness that exudes from the zombie-like creatures. The short chapters kept me completely enamored with the story. It was more than a little difficult to put the book down because things just keep on happening. Whenever the action seemed to slow, Dashner did something that had my jaw hanging open. I frequently found myself asking what? How? Why? Why? Why?
Nothing is what it appears in this book and Dashner perfectly captures Thomas’ confusion, his anger, his fear, his every emotion about being thrown into this hellish world and trying to come out of it alive and relatively unscathed. His dreams about his memories were one of my favorite aspects about the book and the tiny clues they offered made me want more and more.
The Scorch Trials is a jaw-dropping thriller filled with the most insane and unexpected twists. Dashner will blow your mind with everything that WICKED puts the Gladers through and for every question raised, we get the teeniest insight into what is really going on. It will keep you on the edge of your seat and have you begging for the final installment.
Opening line: She spoke to him before the world fell apart. ~ pg. 1
Favorite line(s): He didn’t care about the others anymore. The chaos around him seemed to siphon away his humanity, turn him into an animal. All he wanted was to survive, make it to that building, get inside. Live. Gain another day. ~ pg. 136(less)
*SPOILER FREE* I finished Mockingjay just last night and having just re-read some of my favorite parts, I have to say that I’m feeling completely drain...more*SPOILER FREE* I finished Mockingjay just last night and having just re-read some of my favorite parts, I have to say that I’m feeling completely drained. Both mentally and emotionally. The closing book in the trilogy is a whirlwind of everything that made the previous two books brilliant, but this one holds a much more terrifying and foreboding tone.
Every twist, every surprise will tear you apart in some way. It’s really difficult for me to describe it if you haven’t read the book, but the characters go through hell and back here.
Where The Hunger Games introduced us to this world where children were forced to fight to the death and Catching Fire lit the spark of a rebellion, Mockingjay becomes a war zone. Happy endings are hard to come by and there is a massacre around every corner, making this book so much darker than the last two.
Instead of going into the war zone of an arena, we are catapulted into a real war zone with bombs, gunfire, and death. The politics of it all leaves us unable to trust anything we learn. Everyone has motives for doing what they are doing, but it’s a matter of figuring just what is right that is the most difficult part. All this leads to so much inner turmoil for Katniss and a box of Kleenex may be needed to make it to the end. I know I was tearing up every few chapters.
Many characters face obstacles that we could never imagine and minor characters take on roles we could only have hoped for. The lies, deceit, hatred, anguish, despair, heartache, joy, and even hope take their toll. There were a few times when I just had to take a break and pull myself together because the book was just wiping me out. The death, the carnage, and the emotional upheaval are a lot to take. Collins never lets us forget that we are in a war zone with Katniss and in war, there are no winners. Fighting a war is not easy and there will be casualties and consequences, lives lost and lives destroyed.
The war zone mentality detracts from the Team Peeta/Team Gale atmosphere that lingered in the last two books, but the relationship between Peeta/Katniss/Gale is still explored with insurmountable care and delicacy. With all that has happened, one can only hope that all of them can find some sort of peace.
Suzanne Collins did something special with this series. Not only is the world of THG absolutely captivating, it is thought-provoking and emotional. Mockingjay is a heart-wrenching finale that will leave readers thinking about it long after turning that final page. The rollercoaster ride of emotions left me drained from the intensity of a world where a girl lit the spark that ignited a nation.
Opening line: I stare down at my shoes, watching as a fine layer of ash settles on the worn leather. ~ pg. 3
Favorite line: Closing my eyes doesn’t help. Fire burns brighter in the darkness. ~ pg. 352 (less)
Fahrenheit 451 is probably the best example of a banned book, in that it is essentially about book banning itself. In this dystopian world, firemen st...moreFahrenheit 451 is probably the best example of a banned book, in that it is essentially about book banning itself. In this dystopian world, firemen start fires instead of putting them out. They don’t burn anything though, they burn books. Books have become outlawed and anyone found to have them in their homes, promptly has their humble abode blazed to ashes.
The few ‘curse words’ that are present in the book don’t really stand out at all. They make more than enough sense in the context and to ban a book simply for a few bad words is ridiculous. Bradbury presents a world that is so similar to our own that people should read it; if only to get a picture of where life could someday go.
Guy Montag, the lead character and a fireman, begins to question his own society’s enslavement to the commercialization of family, religion, and life. Instead of sitting in front of a television and talking to complete strangers that are referred to as ‘the family,’ Montag wants to truly socialize, so he questions the government.
In banning Fahrenheit 451, schools, libraries, etc. are telling students and young people to never question anything. To just stroll through life completely dependent on the government or other leadership figures to decide everything for them. I’m saying, read this book, question practices and thoughts, be independent and think for yourself. Don’t ever allow yourself to be consumed by the collective thought simply because it seems like the right thing or the easy thing to do. Be happy in whatever way you choose. And if you’re reading this, then obviously you’re a reader, so happy reading to you.
Celebrate books and the treasures that hide between the covers and never let book banning stop you from a great read.
Opening line: It was a pleasure to burn. ~ pg. 3
Favorite line: But that’s the wonderful thing about man; he never gets so discouraged or disgusted that he gives up doing it all over again, because he knows very well it is important and worth the doing. ~ pg. 153(less)
The thing about Never Let Me Go is that it is best to go in completely blind. I had no clue what the book was about, I wanted to see the movie, so I f...moreThe thing about Never Let Me Go is that it is best to go in completely blind. I had no clue what the book was about, I wanted to see the movie, so I figured I’d read the book first. Going in blind about the plot, about the entire novel, made it that much better for me.
Told by Kathy, a thirty one year old ‘carer,’ in reverent back and forth memories from her present to all the tiny, yet meaningful moments that spattered her life in the past, makes the book feel very conversational which makes it more personal; like Kathy is reliving her past with the reader. She recalls her days at Hailsham, the boarding school that she shared with others like her; with Tommy and Ruth, her two closest friends. Getting to know these three is like getting reacquainted with an old friend, but the fact that they are special never eludes the reader.
The plot for the book is not hard to guess once you begin reading it. The hints about what is going on are not very subtle at all, but the execution of getting to the final reveal is done so beautifully and delicately. Kathy, Ruth, and Tommy’s fate is inevitable. They know it, but we, as readers, will understand it more than they ever seem to. We are the ones who feel the ache of innocence lost and the heartbreak of the future to come.
Life, love, and death are all monumental moments in our lives, but this book tackles the brevity of life and the notion that we are stuck in our roles, in the lives that have already been forged for us. Hailsham students have a purpose and it may not be one we are all comfortable with.
Ishiguro goes beyond the loss of innocence and makes you question the meaning of life, who deserves it, and just how large a role fate plays in life. Never Let Me Go is a powerful, moving portrait of humanity at its best and worst; with all the splendor of childhood innocence and the harsh reality of the cruelties the world has to offer. It’s not simply a book about human mortality and loss; it is about the nature of human beings and the ethical dilemmas that could easily arise in the world we are developing. This book will make you feel something and only the best ones can do it so well. It’s been hailed as the best novel of the decade and I can only agree because this is truly a masterpiece.
Opening line(s): My name is Kathy H. I’m thirty-one years old, and I’ve been a carer now for over eleven years. ~ pg. 3
Favorite lines/passages (I've got two): “One day, maybe not so long from now, you’ll get to know how it feels.” So you’re waiting, even if you don’t quite know it, waiting for the moment when you realise that you really are different to them; that there are people out there, like Madame, who don’t hate you or wish you any harm, but who nevertheless shudder at the very thought of you – of how you were brought into this world and why – and who dread the idea of your hand brushing against theirs. ~ pg. 36
And this one:
It never occurred to me that our lives, until then so closely interwoven, could unravel and separate over a thing like that. But the fact was, I suppose, there were powerful tides tugging us apart by then, and it only needed something like that to finish the task. If we’d understood that back then – who knows? – maybe we’d have kept a tighter hold of one another. ~ pg. 197(less)
The Forest of Hands and Teeth lies at the edge of the Village that Mary has lived in her whole life. Surrounded by fence, trees, and the Unconsecrated...moreThe Forest of Hands and Teeth lies at the edge of the Village that Mary has lived in her whole life. Surrounded by fence, trees, and the Unconsecrated has forced Mary into a lifetime of fear lingering under the surface of every emotion she has ever felt. After her Mother is turned, Mary’s life takes a turn she never imagined and she begins to learn the secrets of the Sisterhood and just what lies beyond the Forest.
Carrie Ryan has this astounding ability to write about zombies, but to do so in a beautifully haunting way. Nothing about this book is quite as it seems and I was instantly pulled into Mary’s world of fear and despair. It is so much more than just a zombie story. It’s a story about hope and faith and love and loss.
Ryan writes with such fervor that Mary’s journey past the fences feels so real, like the reader is stumbling along with her, hearing the moans of the Unconsecrated and feeling the hope seep out as the days carry on. The fact that this story is so strongly about staying true to oneself, breaking free from the expectations of a devoutly religious society, finding and holding on to love and family, while holding zombies at bay by the fences, is incredible. Not many people would be able to include so many pieces of a puzzle and fit them together so flawlessly, but Ryan does.
I was entirely unprepared for the depth and emotion that poured forth from the pages of The Forest of Hands and Teeth. At times haunting, at times terrifying, but above all else, this book is filled with life; in good times, bad times, times of joy, times of despair, and times when hope triumphs over even the worst circumstances.
Opening line: My mother used to tell me about the ocean. ~ pg. 1
Favorite line(s): I sob because this is not a life. This is not the way life should be and because I don’t know how to fix any of it. ~ pg. 50
And this one:
It is a bright clear day, the sun sparkling off the ice crystals. One of those days when you can’t understand why there is such beauty in a world that is nothing but ugly. ~ pg. 69 (less)
XVI is one of those books that stick with you. Not just because it is a well-executed and thought-provoking dystopian, but because it has so many c...more4.5
XVI is one of those books that stick with you. Not just because it is a well-executed and thought-provoking dystopian, but because it has so many components that lend to its greatness. Nina, the MC and a 15 year old girl who is terrified to age that one year and become a ‘sex-teen,’ is strong, but fragile at the same time; she’s far too grown up for her years, but still just a child. Her life is dictated by the world around her – which isn’t a great one.
Julia Karr has created a Chicago of 2150 that is eerily reminiscent of the world of 1984 (one of my favorite books of all time) and she constantly reminds the reader just how much control the government has over its inhabitants. The technology is believable, at times it’s incredible and I wish I could experience it, but other times it just shows how much the government interferes in everyday life.
Nina, her sister Dee, her grandparents, and all of her friends truly have very little control over their own lives. The tier system is very much the same as a caste system and with little hope of moving up in tiers, the girls who turn sixteen sign themselves up to literally become sex slaves, only they believe they’re signing up for a better life, just with a few strings attached. Even Nina’s best friend, Sandy, is convinced that joining the FeLS (Female Liaison Specialist) is the perfect way to move up in life.
Karr throws Nina into the world of The Resistance and forces her to question all she has ever known, while introducing her to the mysterious Sal too. Nina’s only hope at escaping a life of forced sex and possible death, is in the whispered words of a dying woman. Those words drive Nina to become a stronger person, with an unbreakable determination.
At times an emotional thriller, XVI touches on many aspects of the society that we live in and pushes the limits on what could be. Tense, horrifying to imagine, but impossible to put down – I was enthralled in this future world, the technology, and the characters. All the characters are developed and no one felt flat to me. My only complaint is that the ending is rushed. I would have liked to see all of Nina’s struggling and worrying pay off in a more fleshed out way, instead of the quick wrap-up. But still, this is a dystopian that cannot be missed.
Opening line: “Nina, look.” Sandy jabbed me in the ribs. ~ pg. 12
Favorite lines: I’d choked back so many tears, they’d become a lake of sadness in my belly. ~ pg. 36
And this one:
“Personal sacrifice lies at the center of change for the better.” ~ pg. 189 (less)
The first thing you should know about Divergent is that it’s awesome. The second thing you should know is that author Veronica Roth writes one hell of...moreThe first thing you should know about Divergent is that it’s awesome. The second thing you should know is that author Veronica Roth writes one hell of a story, with some phenomenal world-building and a main character that is tough as nails, but vulnerable enough to show her softer side. In fact, there isn’t one thing about Divergent that I didn’t like.
As far as dystopians go, Divergent does something different and fascinating. Roth’s development of different factions with very basic morals and ethics seems so simple, but in reality, it opens up a world of dilemmas…all boiling down to Tris’ choice.
Tris is a character that I empathized with and understood. She’s hard on herself and doesn’t think she’s good enough for her faction – Abnegation; but she’s also unwilling to live a lie. Her flaws make her that much more human and easy to relate to. The other initiates and Tris’s superior, Four, all bring a little something to the story; friendship, betrayal, understanding, and even romance.
Divergent is a fast-paced, impressive debut that forces Tris, as well as the reader, to question what is right and what is needed. Roth’s writing is completely enthralling, pulling the reader into this futuristic Chicago where your faction is your family and one choice decides your future. The fighting, the romance, the factions, the characters, all of it ties together to create this mesmerizing world and a thrilling read. Divergent has made its way to the top of my list of favorite books of 2011. I have no doubt it will do the same for everyone who reads it.(less)
Going into Dark Parties, I expected a dark dystopian with a controlling government and an undercurrent of fear. I got that, at least somewhat; but I h...moreGoing into Dark Parties, I expected a dark dystopian with a controlling government and an undercurrent of fear. I got that, at least somewhat; but I hadn’t realized how Neva’s age and her newly minted adulthood would come into play. Many of the people living under the Protectosphere move about their day to day lives with no passion and no motivation to rebel. They do what their told, when their told. Neva doesn’t, but she isn’t the spark of a rebellion either.
I liked Neva, but I had issues connecting with her. I felt strongest about her when she was thinking about the Missing people that she writes about in her journal and remembering her Grandmother who named her. Aside from that, Neva’s strong, sure, but she’s also a bit obsessed with red-booted Braydon. I get that the guy has some sex appeal, but she wants him and a lot. All based on a kiss in the dark. It’s like that one kiss dominates her thoughts, especially since she didn’t really like Braydon before that. Her internal war between wanting Braydon and not wanting Braydon got to be a bit much.
The secondary characters like Sanna (Neva’s best friend and Braydon’s girlfriend), Braydon, and Neva’s boyfriend Ethan stood out, but not a great deal. They play their roles and play them well, but I never connected with them or with their relationships with Neva. Braydon is supposed to be all sexy and broody, but I had issues getting behind a romance between him and Neva when it was all based on that one kiss. Neva’s raging guilt pecked at her constantly too. She grows throughout the story though and her reactions towards Ethan showcase her more mature mindset. Surprisingly, it was Neva’s mother and father who struck me as complicated characters. We don’t get to know them that much, but their minimal presence bears a lot of weight in the story.
As much as I enjoyed Dark Parties, the focus on sex and procreation threw me for a loop at first. I hadn’t realized it would be such a huge part of the plot and it is. There are fewer children being born, so the government has to go to extreme measures to keep the population up. It makes sense for the plot, but I didn’t realize it would be such a huge focal point. So much so that Neva has all her friends make a vow to not have sex and give into the government’s wishes for the 16 year olds (their age of adulthood) to get pregnant.
Aside from that, I really enjoyed Dark Parties. Sara Grant has added a worthy title to the ever-growing list of dystopian young adult books. This is definitely more a utopia with dystopian elements, but still interesting and actually realistic too. It doesn’t seem like a stretch that a community would wall itself off from the rest of the world and then dictate the lives of its citizens from then on. Dark Parties feels a bit reminiscent of 1984, only with a younger audience in mind. If you’re a fan of dystopians, then be sure to check this one out.(less)
Cassia has always stuck by the rules, has always lived by the standards of her Society. So when her Matching Banquet arrives and she’s matched with he...moreCassia has always stuck by the rules, has always lived by the standards of her Society. So when her Matching Banquet arrives and she’s matched with her best friend Xander, she couldn’t be happier. But when Xander’s face disappears and another boy’s flickers on the screen, Cassia’s world is thrown into a tilt. Soon she’s questioning everything she knows and falling in love with a boy who isn’t her match. She’s defying the Society that she once trusted…all for love.
Matched has a really great premise and an interesting society, but I think the execution falls flat at times. The book starts off well enough with an eager Cassia and a super sweet Xander, but then it gets kind of boring. For a good chunk of the beginning/middle of the book, I had no clue where the story was going. Even after Cassia starts hanging out with Ky (the other boy on the screen), the plot seems directionless.
Once Cassia and Ky begin to grow close and Ky’s history slowly gets revealed, the book picks up and the purpose becomes more and more clear. Learning Ky’s history and how he is so different from all the other people in Cassia’s world is one of the things that kept me reading. That, and Cassia’s grandfather and how he really starts to peel back the blindfold that she seemingly wears. Discovering just how far this Society will go to ‘protect’ its people is a bit terrifying.
Ally Condie’s writing is almost languid and dreamy throughout the book, which is so contrasting to all the things she isn’t saying. Condie’s writing is beautiful, but this Society isn’t. All this makes Matched very much a thinking book. Condie’s inclusion of poetry works so well in the story too. She places the perfect poems, the perfect lines, and the perfect emotions at just the right spot, so the reader understands and feels the weight of Cassia’s circumstances. Dylan Thomas is the underlying soundtrack to the book and his words, along with Grandfather, emanate the unease that lingers below Society’s surface.
While Matched was not my favorite book, it is a good opener in a series. The way the book ended isn’t really a cliffhanger, but it promises a really interesting future. Crossed comes out later this year and I will be picking it up because I’m more than curious to see where things go from here.
Opening line: Now that I’ve found the way to fly, which direction should I go into the night? ~ pg. 3
Favorite lines: And when she asks me what I’m doing, I’ll tell her and everyone else that I know: they are giving us pieces of a real life instead of the whole thing. And I’ll tell her that I don’t want my life to be samples and scraps. A taste of everything but a meal of nothing. ~ pg. 249(less)
The Pledge combines the best aspects of future dystopian societies and presents it in almost a fantastical way. This future society has very distin...more3.5
The Pledge combines the best aspects of future dystopian societies and presents it in almost a fantastical way. This future society has very distinct classes that must adhere to certain rules, including only understanding Englaise and the language of their class. Derting’s world-building is excellent, if not very detailed. The first half of the book is quite information heavy and drags a bit, but once you hit the halfway mark, it takes off.
Charlie is a family-oriented girl and her adoration for her sister is one of her greatest qualities. I can’t help but love a character who adores his/her younger siblings. Angelina, Charlie’s four year old sister, isn’t around all that much, but she’s infinitely fascinating. Each scene she’s in made me want to know more about her.
Derting weaves history into her storytelling in such delectable ways that the reader yearns for more. I’m not much for history – in any form – but Derting’s way of dropping history into her character’s everyday conversations flowed perfectly and never felt like too much at once. I wanted to know more about Charlie’s world, about the queendom and the class system, about the soldiers, and those prepared to fight against their society. I wanted to know about all of it.
With an immensely interesting world and plot, I thought I’d be hooked. And I was, to a degree. Charlie’s constant preoccupation with Max – the mysterious guy she meets – in the midst of everything, grated on me though. I never saw him as anything other than a little too confident and never felt that connection that Charlie does. With everything going on with Charlie and around Charlie, I couldn’t see how this guy was dominating her thoughts. So the love interest aspect fell short for me, but the rest, the queen and the queendom, the class system, and the languages, all intriguing and well done.
The Pledge isn’t quite the dystopian I had hoped it would be, but it is still very much worth the read. Many people are going to wholeheartedly disagree with me about the love interest, and I get that; but I felt like the love interest aspect dominated too much of the story when there were much greater things to focus on. One thing I do love is – as far as I know – this is a standalone and it ends as a very complete story, with, maybe, the possibility of a companion novel somewhere in the future.(less)
Solstice is this crazy combination of world-ending dystopia and crazy Greek mythology. Right off the bat, Piper’s world is introduced as this...more3.5 stars
Solstice is this crazy combination of world-ending dystopia and crazy Greek mythology. Right off the bat, Piper’s world is introduced as this barren, desert-like landscape with scorching heat and endless, deathly summer. A good chunk of the book focuses solely on Piper and her world – her friendship with Chloe, her relationship with her mother, and the sudden attraction to not one, but two guys she’s never taken notice of before. The book feels almost like two entirely separate stories: one a dystopian and one about Greek mythology. The connection between the two takes quite a while to form, but once it does, it’s fascinating.
The mythology aspect sort of comes out of left field, but it is slowly weaved in perfectly with everything that’s happened to Piper in the past. Getting there is a bit slow going, but worth it in the end. P.J. Hoover's take on the Underworld and the gods is different from every other story I’ve read and while I found the big twist to be predictable, it didn’t detract from the story.
Some of the more sexy scenes took me by surprise because, up until a certain point, the book isn’t explicit at all, then, BAM body parts. Normally, I’m perfectly fine with sex scenes and nudity in books, but it felt almost out of place in Solstice, like it could have been there but told in a different way.
Regardless, Solstice is a one of a kind mesh of dystopian/mythology with an intelligent lead character who has more than a few life-altering realizations coming her way. P.J. Harvey’s debut is far from what I expected, but an absorbing read that tackles morality, mortality, and all of the things in between. (less)