KEEPER OF THE LOST CITIES by Shannon Messenger is one of those middle grade novels...moreOriginally posted at Escape Through the Pages with the same rating.
KEEPER OF THE LOST CITIES by Shannon Messenger is one of those middle grade novels that I can see being well-loved. Much more of a straight-up fantasy than the synopsis led me to expect, I highly enjoyed the mythology, setting and characters in this nail-biting mystery.
Sophie is basically a genius. Only thirteen, she’s almost finished high school – and can read minds. After meeting a mysterious boy on a class trip to a museum, Sophie finds herself part of a whole new world, with new friends, foster family and a brand-new school. The bulk of the story takes place in another world, hidden from our own “real” world, where there are majestic cities like, oh, Atlantis. Yupp, Atlantis. And there are elves. Think Lord of the Rings type elves – it’s pretty neat. Sophie gets to attend a school where she takes such subjects as Alchemy, the Universe, gym (of course) and tutoring on how to control and use her mind-reading skills. While I really liked Sophie – she’s smart, curious, kind, loving, a little naive and reckless at times (but what tween isn’t?) – as the book continues it seems as though she is almost treading on all-powerful territory. Now there is a bunch of mysterious backstory surrounding Sophie that she and the other main characters are trying to figure out, so I’m thinking that subsequent books will explain her powers. I’m interested to see where it all leads.
The mystery of Sophie, these crazy fires in the human world, and some incidences in the hidden world is well spread out through the story with lots of interesting hints and dropped information. And no one is spared from the questions – I was wary of all adult characters and most of the teens throughout the whole book, trusting no one. Even finished, I still don’t trust half of them! There seem to be two different secret groups that have interests in Sophie, and any character could belong to one group or the other. While I think there are a few I am definitely safe to trust, others are still on the suspect list (at least for the reader, if not Sophie), and I can’t wait to find out if I’m right or wrong in guessing loyalties. The mystery behind Sophie being hidden in the “real” world and her past is the driving force behind KEEPER OF THE LOST CITIES. There are some interesting action scenes, but most of the story is low-key and focuses on Sophie at school learning about her new home, powers, friends/family and trying to figure everything out.
I enjoyed reading KEEPER OF THE LOST CITIES by Shannon Messenger and will definitely be picking up the sequel. I was a little disappointed in the climactic kidnapping scene (in which Sophie is mostly unconscious and conveniently rescued after days) but felt it fit with the over-all tone of the story, and Sophie does get to kick some butt running around France. I think Sophie as a character and all the questions surrounding her will endear the book to many (it did to me!), and the friendship-with-possibilities-for-more relationships between Sophie and new pals Dex and Fitz is very well done – perfect for the book and targeted audience age. With some great descriptions of new worlds, fantastical creatures and magic, KEEPER OF THE LOST CITIES is a story that keeps you reading and is over too quickly – I would have been all too happy to keep reading about Sophie.(less)
FOR DARKNESS SHOWS THE STARS by Diana Peterfreund smashed all my expectations to pi...moreOriginally posted at Escape Through the Pages with the same rating.
FOR DARKNESS SHOWS THE STARS by Diana Peterfreund smashed all my expectations to pieces. I obviously underestimated how much I should hope to love this book, because all I could do when I finished it was stare at the last page with that silly little grin you get when you’ve just been immersed in an amazing fictional world and now find yourself back in reality – but you don’t care because your time away was amazing and you know you’ll visit again.
Instead of a straight narrative, the regular chapters in FOR DARKNESS SHOWS THE STARS are interspersed with letters back and forth from our two main characters, Elliot and Kai. And they are not in chronological order, either. Rather, the letters jump about in time (four years ago, one year ago, ten years ago, etc.) as they help explain the plot in current time. The letters give the background to Elliot and Kai’s relationship, Elliot’s life and even how this new society works. And speaking of new society, the world Diana Peterfreund has created is one in the future, after Earth and its population have been devastated by what seems to be a disease of some sort, brought on by human genetic tinkering. It’s intriguing in the fact that though we learn about the world as the story progresses, it’s still very incomplete. We only find out as much about it as the characters think or talk about, and I liked that. It was very real.
While it’s mostly Elliot and her relationship with Kai that is the focus of the story, there are numerous secondary characters that are wonderfully fleshed out. Elliot’s father is a real piece of work, very controlling and quite mean. Her sister is better, but still fairly awful. I enjoyed the other members of Cloud Fleet, and Elliot of course. She’s quite a strong character, though she has her doubts and insecurities. She makes the best out of what she has to work with, and honestly cares for the people around her. It is through Elliot that we the reader question how the Luddite society is run. Her letters to Kai highlight her curious nature and the events that unfold really take Elliot through a change of not only ideals, but her very faith.
FOR DARKNESS SHOWS THE STARS by Diana Peterfreund is such a unique sci-fi in the fact that it doesn’t play out like what you would expect of a traditional science fiction story…no outer space, no cyborgs, no flying cars. Just a very interesting farming estate society with an underground idea and past of genetic modification and the experimenting that caused it to all change. The technology present is interesting and captivating, as is the slow burn reacquaintance romance between Elliot and Kai, the questions Elliot possesses about society and what is right, and whether or not humanity should play with genetics. It’s an intense, amazing read that I highly recommend to anyone.(less)
I absolutely loved Alexandra Bracken’s debut novel Brightly Woven and have be...moreOriginally posted at Escape Through the Pages with a 4.5 out of 5 rating.
I absolutely loved Alexandra Bracken’s debut novel Brightly Woven and have been eagerly waiting another book from her since reading it. When I found out that her second book would be coming out and in the dystopian/apocalyptic genre, I couldn’t have been more excited! And THE DARKEST MINDS by Alexandra Bracken certainly lived up to my expectations and I devoured it. The main character Ruby has been in a rehabilitation camp for six years, sent there when she was ten years old and exhibited symptoms of Idiopathic Adolescent Acute Neurodegeneration disease (IAAN) – and didn’t die. This disease has killed most of the children in the United States, and those that have survived show signs of mental powers, whether telekinesis, heightened intelligence, control over fire or electricity, or the ability to enter the mind of another and assert the wielders will or erase memories. But now Ruby has broken out of Thurmond and is trying to survive in a country that fears her.
Although there’s a prologue that introduces us to the reality of Ruby’s situation in the rehabilitation camp Thurmond, chapter one begins with an intense first line – “Grace Somerfield was the first to die.” (pg. 3, ARC). It really draws you into this interesting and terrifying concept of a United States that is losing its children, and terrified of the survivors. I really enjoyed the different factions that have risen up in the wake of IAAN and the back story is woven into the narrative really well. There are so many aspects of this story that I like, including the characters. Ruby is so complex. She’s a survivor, and strong. She hides in the beginning, but by the end has gained enough to lose that she makes the decision to actively fight against what’s happened to her and the other kids. Ruby’s kind of lost but determined to stay free of Thurmond and the other camps. Liam is steady, strong, capable and so protective. But he can rush into things sometimes. Chubs is the humour. He always has to find the worst possible scenario, but it keeps them cautious. He’s optimistic deep down and while he seems distrustful he has a huge heart.
The romance in THE DARKEST MINDS is quiet and believable, as are the friendships and the trust that builds between the characters. No insta-love, thank goodness. The budding romance between Ruby and Liam is slow and sweet but not without its hardships. As I was reading, I couldn’t help wondering if IAAN is world-wide, and why adults were so quick to turn on their children – especially with the majority of them dieing. You’d think even with the extra powers gained (and the Greens are just really smart! How dangerous can that be?) parents would do anything to protect their kids (and yes, I know it was the government taking most of the kids away from their homes, but there are parents in government). So many people are not what they seem and it’s hard for Ruby and the others to know who to trust and what they should be searching for besides the mysterious Slip Kid – the person who is rumoured can get kids home, or at least messages to their families.
THE DARKEST MINDS by Alexandra Bracken stays with you long after you’ve turned the last page. There are some wonderful action moments, and the whole scene in the Wal-Mart was creepy, intense and haunting. There’s also this ridiculously crazy ending that rips your heart out and the desire for a sequel. Sooner rather than later, please! Alexandra Bracken’s writing is emotional and descriptive, enough to have you mood-swinging like crazy while trying to keep up with Ruby and her insane journey.(less)
First and foremost, thank you Julie Kagawa for the vampires in THE IMMORTAL RULES. She has put her own twist on the vampire legends while still keepin...moreFirst and foremost, thank you Julie Kagawa for the vampires in THE IMMORTAL RULES. She has put her own twist on the vampire legends while still keeping them fairly traditional – no sunlight, the hunger for blood, fast and strong. Just the way I like my vamps.
Allison is awesome. She’s strong in so many ways, and yet still impulsive and petulant like any teenager. She doesn’t always make the right decisions, but she works to correct it and better herself. Allison knows she’s technically a monster, but tries so hard to still seem human and even find a balance between who she was, and who she is. She knows humans are food to her now, but it doesn’t stop her from falling for Zeke, a human in the group she comes across once outside the wall. Honestly, I don’t blame her for falling for Zeke. He’s kind, a natural leader and always tries to do the best for the group. He’s got a bit of a problem with following the groups leader, Jeb, a bit blindly, but he manages to overcome some of that. And as we find out more about Jeb and his mission to find Eden, and how he’s raised Zeke, I don’t blame Zeke for wearing blinders sometimes. And I can’t not mention Kanin, Allison’s maker. So studious, full of a need to repent and he cares for Allison in his own brash and tough kind of way. He’s very aloof, but decent.
There’s a religious background to Zeke’s group that I found was very well managed. It’s a part of the plot without being overpowering for those readers who are not particularly religious (like myself), but is present enough so that we can understand the impact that religion holds for Jeb, Zeke and the group searching for Eden. Julie Kagawa’s writing in THE IMMORTAL RULES is very gritty, and she holds nothing back. Death, gangs, gladiator-style games, the ruin that the plague has left on the world…it is all present and accounted for and not sugar-coated. The voice in which this story is told is wonderful, and is bolstered by the worldbuilding and mythology that went into the story. It’s easy to see yourself with Allison in her world, and it’s kind of depressing, though always with that edge of hope I so love to see in post-apocalyptic and dystopian books.
Despite the grit, suspense and intensity of THE IMMORTAL RULES there are moments of pure awesome that liven up the atmosphere. There’s a small poke at the myth of vampires being able to turn into bats, Allison wonders why she’ll ever need long division (even in a vampire led post-apocalyptic world math is still an annoyance), and there’s a great moment where Kanin makes a comment about a lumberjack and Allison just replies “I don’t know what a lumberjack is.” (Page 138, ARC) You’ll find the whole range of emotion and tension in THE IMMORTAL RULES and if you’re anything like me, it will keep you up reading all night because you just have to know what comes next – and that never ends, so you end up reading right through the book. Also guys, for a bit of the beginning I thought I was getting not just vampires but zombies, too. And that would have been all kinds of amazing. But no! Not quite. It’s even more awesome, and I’m not going to say anything more because it will ruin it, but ah. So good. THE IMMORTAL RULES by Julie Kagawa is definitely a must-read for any vampire or paranormal fans.
BREATHE by Sarah Crossan is a book that immediately grabs your attention with its u...moreOriginally posted at Escape Through the Pages with the same rating.
BREATHE by Sarah Crossan is a book that immediately grabs your attention with its unique, terrifying premise – what if the trees were gone? How would humanity survive, and would we be able to right our wrongs? BREATHE takes the basic, learned-early knowledge that trees provide oxygen to a whole new post-apocalyptic level. Told through three points of view, the reader goes on a journey outside of the Pod (the domed city where the population who survived now live) and into the harsh landscape that our world has become. There are conspiracies, plots, battles and rebellion to be had.
Our three characters are Quinn (privileged son of a high government official), Bea (low-class, best friends with Quinn), and Alina (low-class, member of the rebellion). Through them we experience all aspects of life in the Pod and slowly learn the truth about the company Breathe and how/why they are running the Pod the way they are. The action and mystery start immediately and continue right up to the end of the story, and revelations come hard and fast for some of the characters. The outside world is bleak and Sarah Crossan does an amazing job with description and detail. The two leaders of the opposing factions in BREATHE – the Pod Minsters and Petra, leader of the rebels – could not be more opposite. I found the Pod Minster to be a bit of a joke, and can’t help wondering what it is that keeps him in power – he’s drunk on both booze and power and I’m hoping his rise to power and continued rule is explained in the next book. And Petra I found incredibly intense to the point of harshness and brutality. The action scenes are very well done and Quinn has to make some tough choices in the end in regards to his loyalty to his father and family, or his sense of right from wrong (and what he would do for Bea, too). There was a moment of disbelief regarding the character of Jazz near the end (if you’ve read the book, or decide to read it, you’ll understand) that threw me out of the story for a bit, but other awesome elements to the story made up for it.
BREATHE by Sarah Crossan is an entertaining and interesting book that will keep you reading from cover to cover. With relateable and well developed characters, no love triangle (at least not yet, and I hope never!) but a sweet friends-to-couple romance, and a disturbing concept for a dystopian/post-apocalyptic world Breathe is a very well done debut. Moments in the story will have you trying to catch your breath along with the characters, and wondering how everything will work out in the end when things seem so lost. Well worth the read!(less)
FATHOMLESS by Jackson Pearce is the third book in her fairy tale retellings series...moreOriginally posted at Escape Through the Pages with the same rating.
FATHOMLESS by Jackson Pearce is the third book in her fairy tale retellings series and revolves around The Little Mermaid, one of my favourite fairy tales. Jackson Pearce manages to keep the darkness of the original tale while incorporating some of the well-known aspects form Disney’s version, and it works very well.
Celia is a triplet – and they aren’t just your normal run of the mill triplets. She and her sisters can see the future, the present and the past. Celia, who can see the past when she touches others, thought she had the most useless gift of the three until she helps a mysterious girl rescue a boy from drowning. Enter Lo and Jude. Lo lives in the ocean. Brought there by the angels, Lo is her second name as she has forgotten her life before the ocean. Eventually, Lo will forget even this part of her life until she one day swims away to be with the angels. Jude is the love interest in a very interesting triangle with Celia and Lo. Though Jude is a main character in the book, Celia and Lo are really the focus and the characters we come to know the most about and feel connect to. Celia’s got the best of intentions and a huge heart. She cares of Lo and is falling for Jude. She’s loyal to her sisters but has some bratty moments. Lo is mysterious, confused, compassionate but hurt and sometimes resentful. Both girls are fully realized, but I can’t say the same for the others. Celia’s sisters are present but have hardly any development, and while we get to know Jude he isn’t explored deeply either. The book mostly focuses on the friendship between Lo and Celia.
The way that Jackson Pearce ties this third book into the other two, SISTERS RED and SWEETLY, is really interesting and different. I confess that I had to go back to SWEETLY and skim to refresh my memory about certain characters, though; namely Naida, who makes an appearance (and thank goodness for chapter headings, or I would have been fairly confused at certain points as to who was narrating – Lo or Naida), and I’m not saying much more about her since it will lead to massive spoilers. Celia’s power of hearing/seeing/knowing the past comes in handy when trying to help Lo and Naida, and the mythology behind the ocean girls (mermaids, if you will) is well done and interesting. I really liked the method of keeping the girls from leaving the ocean (since they don’t have tails!) and the way twins and triplets play into the plot of this book, and the series overall.
FATHOMLESS by Jackson Pearce is an interesting take on The Little Mermaid, and a great addition to the trilogy. The romance between Jude and Celia moves at a realistic pace for teens, and the final scenes of the book are intense with a wonderful message on the power of love for your friends being just as strong as the love for a significant other and family. A highly enjoyable read, and definitely recommended for fans of Jackson Pearce’s other novels.(less)
MAGISTERIUM by Jeff Hirsch blends a mix of magic and technology into a truly unique wo...moreOriginally posted at Escape Through the Pages with a 3.5 rating.
MAGISTERIUM by Jeff Hirsch blends a mix of magic and technology into a truly unique world and adventure. The Rift divides Glenn’s world in two – the Colloquium, where she lives, and the Magisterium, the place beyond the Rift that she believes to be barren and lifeless. Until she finds herself running from her government and a visitor to the Magisterium.
The technology and futuristic world of the Colloquium is wonderful. The details that Jeff Hirsch has put into both it and the fuedal-like society of the Magisterium really bring you into Glenn’s world and help paint the pictures of the two lands in your mind. It’s easy to imagine the forests and towns, and the city. Glenn is an intriguing and interesting main character – her mother walked out on the family when Glenn was young, and her scientist father is often wrapped up in work. Glenn strives to be accepted into a program that will send her into space and the new colony planet. Her best friend is a boy she doesn’t even really like all that much, and her entire life gets turned upside down when her dad is arrested and she and best friend Kevin go on the run and find themselves on the other side of the Rift. She manages to keep a good head about her and takes responsibility when needed. She’s determined and strong and wicked powerful. Because oh yes, the Magisterium has magic it does. And also, can I just say I love Glenn’s full name? Glenora. Very neat.
The moments describing use of Affinity (magic) are wonderful. Vivid, colourful and slightly terrifying. Jeff Hirsch is a master of description. The action present in MAGISTERIUM starts early and just continues until the end. The book moves at a fast pace and is never boring. And while this book is pretty awesome, I do have to say that I was often wondering WHY the Colloquium government wants to invade across the Rift. Obviously to try and harness Affinity, but it just seemed kind of strange. They’re so far advanced technologically, why magic? And Kevin, though the best friend and fairly main character, changes so quickly. While in the Magisterium, Kevin is given memories of some other boy. And he immediately flips personalities. But then kind of flips back? I’m not sure, but it was odd, as was the eventual romance between Glenn and Kevin. Glenn’s mother also comes into play near the middle/end of the book, and I won’t say how because I don’t want to spoil it. Although if you read the book you might be able to guess early on when she’ll show up and how.
MAGISTERIUM by Jeff Hirsch ends wide open for potential sequels. I would definitely visit Glenn’s world again, if for nothing more then to get further answers to questions and experience the magic, tech and world that Jeff Hirsch has so wonderfully brought to life. I think this one will definitely be enjoyed by fantasy/sci-fi fans, and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to anyone wanting to try the genres. Great world building and a kick-ass female heroine keep the pages turning in this book, and contributes to late nights spent reading.(less)
WHAT'S LEFT OF ME by Kat Zhang is one of those books where you’re not quite sure what...moreOriginally posted at Escape Through the Pages with a 4.5 rating.
WHAT'S LEFT OF ME by Kat Zhang is one of those books where you’re not quite sure what to expect and then are completely mesmerized by the depth of detail and emotion present. I was hooked from the beginning by this unique novel, and think you will be too.
Eva and Addie are two souls sharing the same body. Everyone starts this one, but then one soul “settles” and the dominant soul is all that’s left – one soul, one body. But Eva and Addie don’t settle on time, and in fact never quite manage it. Although Addie is dominant and Eva cannot move or speak, Eva’s sill present sharing life with Addie. Though not a true hybrid since Eva cannot come forward and control their body, they are still in danger if anyone finds out as hybrids are feared and quickly taken away when discovered. I found this premise of hybrids and settled souls to be completely intriguing. Though I have to wonder at the hints of history we’re given throughout the book (wars and border closings to hybrids and foreigners), and whether hybrids were once the norm. I also can’t help but wonder if the world in WHAT'S LEFT OF ME is a completely new history for the planet, or whether at some point dual souls were a new occurrence.
The dynamics between Eva and Addie are wonderful, as are those between Hally and Lissa and Ryan and Devon, a brother and sister (brothers and sisters?) who never settled and who try to help Eva become more present in her own body. Rather than become jealous or angry at the sister/brother soul the two souls sharing one body work together and get along well. That’s not to say there are never any moments of anger, jealousy or petty upsets but what siblings don’t fight? The relationships between two souls are well realized and very natural. I enjoyed seeing the bit of romance blossom between Ryan and Eva and the questions it brings up for Devon and Addie. The two souls are as unique as if they each had their own body – how would it feel to have your body kissing someone you didn’t have romantic feelings for? It’s an interesting dilemma and I hope it’s explored more in the sequels. This first book was more about establishing the world and characters, and the major action for the series. After Addie/Eva, Devon/Ryan and Hally/Lissa are taken to a facility to deal with hybrids, the tension skyrockets and the actions begins in earnest.
Eva and Addie compliment each other so well, and you really see that in the facility. Eva is completely nurturing and cares for the other children though they’ve just met, while Addie – though she cares as well – is a bit more practical and tries to be the voice of reason. But she doesn’t hinder Eva when Eva is trying to save others or themselves. Eva will also often stop and listen to Addie and they work together for their benefit. The doctors and board members are shadowy, creepy figures (though there is of course the one that seems to have a different agenda, and you aren’t sure whether they can be trusted or not) and the more information on the intention behind the facility comes to light, the more Eva and Addie’s world is terrifying. The questions dealt with about souls, surgery and separation are mind-boggling in a good way, and I’m so curious to see where this series goes.
WHAT'S LEFT OF ME by Kat Zhang is an intense debut. With masterful characterization, Kat Zhang is developing a world where the question of what a soul is and how does it interact with the body could lead to terrifying, incredible things for Eva, Addie and their world. While the beginning of the book is a bit slower as it sets up the premise for the novel and provides necessary background information, the action does pick up in the last two thirds of the book with some intense moments and heartbreaking revelations. Definitely a solid, engaging story that will have you wanting to cry, cheer and see the hope in amongst moments that seem hopeless.(less)
Maggie Stiefvater has done it again with THE RAVEN BOYS and completely drawn me in...moreOriginally posted at Escape Through the Pages with the same rating.
Maggie Stiefvater has done it again with THE RAVEN BOYS and completely drawn me in to this amazing world of magic, psychics, boarding school boys and a sleeping Welsh king. And orange cars. We can’t forget the orange car! Despite owning a physical copy of the book, I listened to the audiobook (offered by audiobooksync this summer as a free download) and I loved it. Bill Patton is the narrator and he does an amazing job.
Blue comes from a family of psychics, but she isn’t one. Rather, she helps amplify their own seeing abilities. After seeing her first spirit on Saint Mark’s Eve (a person who will die in the next year), Blue finds herself swept up in a mystery involving four boys (Gansey, Adam, Noah and Ronan) from the local private school, an old murder, a sleeping Welsh king who Gansey is determined to find, an aunt visiting from out of town, magic and sacrifices. The book alternates points of view between Blue, Gansey, Adam and a teacher, Whelk. Through their eyes we see the mystery unfold. Blue and Gansey have the most screen time, and I loved their voices. Blue is a girl comfortable in her own skin. She knows who she is and is self-assured and intelligent, if still a bit unsure of her future at times and seems a little lost every now and then. Gansey is supremely confident and while he comes across as arrogant sometimes, he’s really not. Their first meeting is an awesome scene and I couldn’t help chuckling at it – since you as the reader know more about how tied together Gansey and Blue will be in the near future.
Outside of some awesome characterization – each of our Raven Boys and Blue are extremely well developed. It is easy to see them and get into their voices and histories – the plot in THE RAVEN BOYS is pretty wonderful. There’s this potential for a love triangle that stays up in the air so you don’t even know if any of them will get together, but it works and is perfect for the plot. There are some crazy twists that I did not see coming, at all, but in hindsight I want to facepalm because I should have. It’s one of those deals where the clues for the twists are so subtly hidden throughout the text that when everything finally does come together and get revealed you’re like “holy crap!” followed by “oohhhhh.” There is also some set up for the next book that gets thrown at you at the ending and just leaves your jaw dropped and you scrambling for the sequel – but it’s not out yet!
I was enthralled with THE RAVEN BOYS by Maggie Stiefvater from the get go. The matter-of-fact way that psychics and magic are incorporated into the world is wonderful, and the characters are all so well written. The mystery, will-it-be/won’t-it-be romance, threat of future happenings, crazy twists and reveals, and even some emotional upheaval for a character dealing with abuse all contribute to a nicely paced, engaging, hold-your-breath plot – that, while it does wrap up in the end, also dive bombs right into the next book and leaves you wanting more. I greatly enjoy Maggie Stiefvater’s writing and highly recommend THE RAVEN BOYS!(less)
SON by Lois Lowry is the final book in the series that started with The Giver and I...moreOriginally posted at Escape Through the Pages with the same rating.
SON by Lois Lowry is the final book in the series that started with The Giver and I am full of all kinds of feelings. I finished the book, and had to do that big happy/sad sigh where you clutch the book close and then proceed to rave about it to anyone close by. It’s no secret that The Giver is one of my favourite books, and I couldn’t be happier with the conclusion to the story. SON delivers everything and more. Since the story is written in three parts, this review will also be in three parts, a little differently than the way I usually do things.
First up, the beginning. Claire. When Claire was twelve, she was chosen as Birth Mother. Now giving birth to her first “product”, something doesn’t go as planned and Claire is returned to the main Community. It’s as this first section progresses that we realize Claire is little baby Gabe’s mother. I was ecstatic to see parts of Jonas’ story in The Giver from a different point of view. Claire’s observations and feelings help bring back everything from that first book, and even though Claire never mentions his name, we know that the Caretaker for baby Gabe is Jonas’ dad even before he tells Claire his son’s name. And Claire – she’s wonderful. So confused by everything she’s feeling, and all that’s happening to her now, she is still quietly rebelling against the rules of her Community, defying everything she knows for this new feeling – love. Though only around fourteen years old, Claire is so strong and intelligent. When she realizes Gabe is gone, she doesn’t hesitate to leave. Lois Lowry’s writing in this section is wonderful. You really get a clear sense of Claire’s desperation, fear, longing and love.
During the second section, when Claire has escape the community, we get a sense of books two and three, Gathering Blue and Messenger. A different community, new rules, new beliefs. Claire’s experiences in this village really help showcase and outline what was missing from Claire’s Community. Any of those subtle details you may have missed when reading The Giver – like the lack of colour, different weather, feelings and animals – are mentioned and wondered at. Claire does a lot of growing and maturing during this period and proves that a mother’s love knows no bounds. She’ll do anything to get Gabe back, even make a deal with a devil.
Part three is my favourite. It’s all Gabe. I loved seeing Jonas and Kira again, and getting to experience a grown up Gabe. This section really fills in the missing links and final pieces of the puzzle. While The Giver was an unsettling book due to the dystopian nature of the Community, Gathering Blue and Messenger slowly added in the elements of good vs. evil that SON embraces and runs with. Gabe has a huge part to play in ridding his village of ultimate evil in the form of the Trademaster – the man that Claire made the deal with to find her missing son. I had good goosebumps when reading about Claire and Jonas talking and reminiscing; no one else knows of their Community and understands what they dealt with there. Claire and Gabe meeting was tear inducing, and Gabe’s conviction to fight evil and know his mother heartbreaking and heartwarming all at the same time. His battle is maybe not the most epic of fights, but it is so important, and Lois Lowry really knows how to convey emotion and detail in such a way that you are transfixed and absorbed by the story.
SON by Lois Lowry is beautifully written and realized – reading it was like visiting an old friend. Ultimately about the love of a mother for a son, and a son for a mother, SON tackles that age old problem of good vs. evil, and how far we’d go to protect those we love most. There’s a scene and line at the end of the book that had me smiling through tears, and it’s a perfect end to the story. An ultimately happy ending, all those loose threads and questions from the previous books have been gathered and answered as much as they possibly can. Anything left to wonder about will have to be satisfied by the reader’s own imagination. (less)
ORIGIN by Jessica Khoury is one of those books that you can’t, and don’t want to, put...moreOriginally posted at Escape Through the Pages with a 4.5 rating.
ORIGIN by Jessica Khoury is one of those books that you can’t, and don’t want to, put down. There are so many secrets and questions, you just need to keep reading to find out what’s happening as quick as possible. The suspense until then is crazy.
Pia has grown up in a secret compound (Little Cam) in the middle of the rainforest, the only child amongst a group of scientists. But she’s not a normal teenager – Pia is immortal. And though she thinks she may know the end aims of the scientists who live in the compound, there are secrets to be had and more going on behind closed doors than she ever wanted to know. Pia is such a good character – I was drawn in to her story completely, and though she is at times very naive and unreasonable, this is how she was raised. Pia knows nothing of the outside world until she finds a hole in the fence surrounding Little Cam and ventures out into the rainforest for the first time in her seventeen years. Despite how sheltered and rigid her upbringing was, Pia still has a sense of exploration and wonder about her, as well as a wonderful moral compass. And despite some moments where she seems to be caving in to the scientific community that surrounds her, she manages to grow a pair near the end and the results are awesome.
The secondary characters, including Eio (the love interest), are well developed for all that we only see them through Pia’s eyes. And I have to say, this is one book where I didn’t mind the insta-love! Eio IS the only boy Pia’s ever met, after all, and he’s sensitive, daring, kind and intelligent. It makes sense that she’d be enamoured with him, and by reading the book from Pia’s point of view, it’s easy to see why Eio falls for her – she seems to defy everything you would expect of her given her past and predicted future of leader of a group of immortals.
The descriptions of the rainforest are absolutely beautiful, and I really enjoyed the details of the local tribe that Eio belongs to and the daily activities within Little Cam. Pia’s whole journey through questioning everything she has ever known is so well played out and thoughtful, and though you can kind of guess some of the big secrets hiding at Little Cam, the truth at the end is still shocking. While the science behind Pia’s immortality is interesting, I wasn’t surprised to see that Jessica Khoury threw a little bit of the magical and mystical into her explanations for certain things rather than rely completely on a scientific explanation.
ORIGIN by Jessica Khoury is a wholly original debut that will keep readers glued to the pages. While I wasn’t, and still am not, sure WHY the scientists at Little Cam and the corporation they work for want to create immortals since they themselves cannot become immortal (unless they hope to find a way…?), I was still drawn into Pia’s story; her ventures into love and life, and the mysteries behind Little Cam and her creation are completely entertaining and at times heartbreaking. ORIGIN is definitely worth picking up, and I can’t wait to see what Jessica Khoury comes out with next!(less)
BLACK CITY by Elizabeth Richards is one of those books that drags you into a world...moreOriginally posted at Escape Through the Pages with the same rating.
BLACK CITY by Elizabeth Richards is one of those books that drags you into a world and doesn’t let you go until you’ve turned the last page – and even then, you’re wishing for the sequel right now.
BLACK CITY is told through a dual point of view – our main characters Natalie and Ash, a human and a Darkling (think interesting type of vampire). This really allows you to get a good feel for both characters, but I have to admit, Ash’s chapters were my favourite. Ash is that mysterious bad boy who’s smart, kind, but can be quick to anger and oh yes, is a drug dealer (mind you, he doesn’t do it for kicks. He needs the money for himself and his father to buy food, clothes, etc.). Natalie on the other hand is independent, fairly level headed and strong, a bit prone to jealousy, but loves fiercely and will do what’s right. Ash and Natalie have this forbidden-love going on. And while I rate the book an overall 5, because I did love it and couldn’t put it down, Natalie and Ash’s romance is probably the only blip in the experience. At the beginning, it’s wonderful. No insta-love, but an insta-crush (which is fine by me!) and they snark, fight, get butterflies, all that good stuff. Until halfway through the book – boom. Blood mates. Meant-to-be! So yes, kind of wishing Elizabeth Richards had kept to the “it’s my choice” relationship, but she did manage to mesh the two concepts well in the end. Especially after a huge twist!
The beginning of the book drops the reader right into this gritty world of Black City, and the drama/horrors just continue: drugs, genocide, torture, murder, poverty, experimentation…war. The world’s history is sprinkled throughout the narrative rather than in huge info dumps, which is wonderful. I don’t need to know every little bit of backstory in order to be involved and enjoy the plot and characters. BLACK CITY is not a sunshine and puppies love story. The world that Ash and Natalie live in is pretty bleak. Ash’s people, the Darklings (he’s half) are kept segregated behind a wall, in a Ghetto. The head of their government and church rules with an iron fist as a dictator – dissenters and law breakers are not just executed, they’re crucified, and his word is law. The corruption and fear running through Black City, the government and the history of BLACK CITY‘s world is staggering. The end of the book is heartbreaking and the scenes are intense.
BLACK CITY by Elizabeth Richards is a captivating debut novel. Parallels to real world history are present in the events that are taking place and it’s crushing. There are so many glimpses of hope and future happiness only to have them overshadowed by the despair of the living conditions in Black City and the knowledge that the Darklings are still, and all-too likely will remain, segregated. With amazing descriptions, vivid imagery and emotion and characters that you can’t help but root for, BLACK CITY is a promising start to a series, and I am highly anticipating the sequel!(less)
CARNIVAL OF SOULS by Melissa Marr is a breathtaking whirlwind of a ride through an ama...moreOriginally posted at Escape Through the Pages with a 4.5 rating.
CARNIVAL OF SOULS by Melissa Marr is a breathtaking whirlwind of a ride through an amazing world full of daimons and witches and the most unique City and Carnival around.
Guys, I was completely entranced by CARNIVAL OF SOULS. The world building is fantastic. The City, where the Daimons live after having kicked out all witches to the human world after a bloody war – the only witches still found in the City are slaves to Daimon masters – is crazy realistic. The descriptions of The City and Carnival of Souls (where anything is for sale and they fight to the death in a tournament) leap off the pages and really make you feel like you’re there. The Carnival showcases the brutal yet sensual aspect of the Daimons world, and it’s that more than anything that makes it so foreign and interesting. I mean, murder is basically legal and expected. Craziness.
There are three main character point of views that really give a rounded look at the caste system and dynamics of the world Melissa Marr has developed. Mallory, who, despite being kind of the main character is my least favourite, lives in the human world with her adoptive father, who’s a witch – and she’s a Daimon (but doesn’t know it). I had a hard time getting a grasp of Mallory. She’s loyal to her dad and not afraid to go after what she wants, but I feel we didn’t see enough of her to really get who she is. Kaleb is my favourite. A contender in the tournament taking place in the Carnival, Kaleb is an assassin for hire. He’s so loyal to his pack (I adore Zevi, his pack mate, or family). He’s strong, smart and goes for what he wants. Aya, the third point of view, is an intensely independent female, the only high caste female Daimon in the fights, and she is wicked. Determined, ruthless, but caring and willing to get help when needed. She also has more secrets than I can count, and those secrets – plus some secrets from Kaleb – really propel the storyline into a shocking ending.
CARNIVAL OF SOULS by Melissa Marr is an action-packed journey through a strange new world, with magic, bloody fights, and some nice quiet moments that balance out the more intense periods. Each character twists their own plot line into the overall story creating glimpse into the big picture that will continue into the second book. Everything just meshes so well together, and the details blew me away. Definitely recommended for anyone looking for a unique, page turning read.(less)
DEVINE INTERVENTION by Martha Brockenbrough is a touching story about life after de...moreOriginally posted at Escape Through the Pages with the same rating.
DEVINE INTERVENTION by Martha Brockenbrough is a touching story about life after death and living your life to the fullest. With memorable characters, engaging writing and a well-developed plot, DEVINE INTERVENTION is a very enjoyable read.
Heidi has always heard the voice speak to her. Assumed to be an imaginary friend (but Heidi knows it’s something more, it has to be) Heidi gets the surprise of her life when she finally meets Jerome – the voice in her head. Heidi and Jerome are great characters. Jerome is Heidi’s guardian angel. He’s a teen going through soul-rehab, assigned to watch over Heidi and earn his way into Heaven (or not). Jerome is the type of guardian angel that has misplaced his handbook, breaks all the commandments for the dead (albeit unknowingly, since he didn’t read the handbook), and though he’s a bit of a screw-up, he’s loveable and smart, fun and kind. He’s had a bad go of things and Heidi’s good for him. Heidi herself goes through a lot of self-discovery over the course of the novel. She’s a loyal friend, artistic, a bit shy and very unsure of herself at times. Everything that happens to her helps her see the person she can be, and wants to be. She realizes she’s a tough cookie and to stand up for herself.
DEVINE INTERVENTION on the surface is a light read about a guardian angel in soul-rehab trying to help guide and protect a living soul and the hijinks that can occur. But those hijinks are pretty dire, and they have consequences. I really liked the depth that Martha Brockenbrough inserted into the story when dealing with Jerome’s life, death and family, and how things are not always how we see them. Heidi’s journey, too, is quite profound when you really think about it. I find it refreshing how this depth of emotion and funny-sarcastic humour from Jerome interact and mesh to create a well-rounded story. Another aspect of the novel I found really neat were the passages from Jerome’s handbook, detailing the commandments for the dead and the living. It was interesting to see a new commandment and discover that it ties in to what the characters are going through in the following chapter.
I would have liked a few more details about heaven and the system set up for the souls in rehab, since our only information is seen through Jerome and he’s not the most observant at times, and the ending seemed a bit quick and confusing once Heidi and Jerome’s point of views line up and share chapter space. Overall, though, DEVINE INTERVENTION by Martha Brockenbrough is a great debut novel that encompasses a wide range of emotion and character growth. It’s not quite what I was expecting in the best of ways, and I will definitely be looking for more from Martha Brockenbrough!(less)
THE DRAGONET PROPHECY: WINGS OF FIRE #1 by Tui T. Sutherland is such a fun book. Ra...moreOriginally posted at Escape Through the Pages with the same rating.
THE DRAGONET PROPHECY: WINGS OF FIRE #1 by Tui T. Sutherland is such a fun book. Rather than the normal human narrator, THE DRAGONET PROPHECY focuses on dragons, and a world where dragons are the main sentient creatures. Five dragonets have been raised in secrecy so that one day they may fulfill a prophecy and stop the war that has taken over the dragon clans. But they are tweens, and tired of living below ground. The action and mystery that unfurls as the five try and escape keeps the book going strong, and the reader completely enthralled.
The book starts out great with a map (map!), descriptions of each dragon clan – including sketches of each type of dragon – the prophecy that is at the heart of the novel, and a very intense prologue that gets you excited for the main story. Clay, a MudWing dragon, is our narrator for this first book, and he is so endearing. Like a big brother to the rest of the dragonets, Clay is loyal, protective, strong and optimistic (most of the time). Since he is still technically a young teen in dragon standards, his mouth tends to run away with him sometimes and he speaks without thinking, but he has a good heart and would do anything for his makeshift family. It’s very easy to connect with Clay and the dragonets – they make you cheer for them! The glimpses we get of one of their caretakers, Kestrel, and Queen Scarlet of the SkyWings lets you know that even though this is a middle grade book, we’re taking dragons here and they are vicious, and at war. There is some death, talk and descriptions of battles and a gladiator style jail. So while not over the top intensely graphic, there are some not nice activities that take place.
I enjoyed that the prophecy is very much contested, and that even by the end of the book you’re still unsure how real it is. There’s a nice mystery surrounding the NightWing dragons and how believable they really are, and some threads left unsolved involving the dragonets and their mission that will be explored in coming sequels. The descriptions of the dragons, the clans and the world they inhabit are detailed and presented well. I found it hilarious that there is a species called Scavengers in this world: two-legged creatures that have hair on the tops of their heads, stand up right and go after dragon treasure – people! An endangered species, no less. With engaging writing, good characters, some great action and mystery, THE DRAGONET PROPHECY by Tui T. Sutherland is a promising start to a new series.(less)