I really love children's and young adult fiction; it's what I'm most passionate about. I also equally enjoy adult fiction, but I just don't get the chI really love children's and young adult fiction; it's what I'm most passionate about. I also equally enjoy adult fiction, but I just don't get the chance to read it as much. I named March "a month of adult fiction" and despite the fact that I failed terribly and only read two books, I'm so glad I got the chance to read Emily St. John Mandel's Station Eleven. I was a little apprehensive because I used to adore post-apocalyptic and dystopian fiction before it exploded, but when so many people started naming Station Eleven one of their favourite books of 2014, I finally bought a copy – I didn't want to miss out!
Station Eleven is a delicious, vividly rich story spanning several decades. It follows individuals whose lives are interconnected before and after a highly-contagious and fast-moving flu virus wipes out most of the world's population, leaving only a smattering of people to figure out how to survive in a new world without electricity. Yet Station Eleven isn't a story about how to survive in a post-apocalyptic world after a devastating pandemic, but how people survive with each other.
Jeevan Chaudhary is at the theatre watching a rendition of King Lear when one of the actors, Arthur Leander, has a heart-attack. Because he is a trained paramedic, Jeevan jumps on stage but he is unable to save Arthur. Kirsten, a young actress, is watching him from afar. Fifteen years later, she is part of a Travelling Symphony, a small group of travellers who create moments of happiness for the remaining settled communities, from performing dramatic Shakespearian acts to colourful melodies that spark memories. Station Eleven tells the stories – both present experiences and past exploits – of some of these individuals and the relationships they forge.
Station Eleven is so beautifully written that it doesn't feel like a post-apocalyptic novel. Sometimes in science fiction, characters can be an insignificant device through which the plot develops, but this story wouldn't be what it is without its characters – a magnificent and vast exploration of people, whether a creative young PA or a dangerous religious prophet. Station Eleven's array of characters is its strength. It also has just enough world-building to satisfy the reader, but not so much that it overwhelms or becomes unnecessary. It doesn't feel like a story with a typical beginning, middle and end – Station Eleven could keep on going if you let it.
Station Eleven is my first adult (non-classic) book of the year and it reminded me why I love fiction so much. It's beautifully written, clever, thoughtful and incredibly exciting, despite the lack of action and adventure – it doesn't need it.
WHEN I Discovered This Classic I bought The Chrysalids and The Day of the Triffids in 2013 when I visiThis post is part of the 2015 Classics Challenge.
WHEN I Discovered This Classic I bought The Chrysalids and The Day of the Triffids in 2013 when I visited Daunt Books, Marylebone, one of my favourite bookshops in London. I knew that his books were science fiction modern classics and that the two I picked were his most well-known novels.
WHY I Chose to Read It It had been a while since I read my first John Wyndham novel. I read The Day of the Triffids in April 2013 and haven't picked up a John Wyndham novel since, even though I own five now! I read an older classic in January and a children's classic in February, so it was time to read a modern classic in March.
WHAT Makes It A Classic All of John Wyndham's novels are said to be modern classics because they were published during the era of great science fiction. One of the things I noticed while reading both The Chrysalids and The Day of the Triffids was how fresh and timeless they feel – they could have been published today. The Chrysalids also tackles religious fundamentalism and eugenics, issues that are still relevant today. David lives in a world where there are 'offences' (unusual plants and animals) and 'blasphemies' (humans with something unusual about them). If something is seen as being out of the ordinary – whether it's a horse that's a little too large or human with an extra toe – it is banished from society or destroyed, and it was easy to see that this kind of thinking is still prevalent today. It's why I think science fiction – whether classic or contemporary – is such an exciting genre; it makes you think.
WHAT I Thought of This Classic I loved The Day of the Triffids when I read it and I hoped that I'd enjoy The Chrysalids just as much, but unfortunately it didn't quite live up to my expectations. I still enjoyed it, especially as it has a few unexpected twists and turns that make it exciting at times, but sometimes I found the religious aspect of the story to be a little too simple. It's perhaps because the concept no longer feels that new. I loved the adult and child protagonists; they really brought the story to life. I read an article that said The Chrysalids was also a coming-of-age story, and that encapsulates it very well. Although it's a post-apocalyptic story about living in a society where those who are seen as 'different' are eradicated, it's also about young people growing up and questioning everything they've been told. In The Chrysalids, our young protagonists are much more open-minded than their adult counterparts; they're curious, inquisitive and open to re-evaluating the morality they've been taught.
WILL It Stay A Classic If you love post-apocalyptic fiction, there's so many novels to choose from, so will The Chrysalids stand out another 50 years from now? It's difficult to say because it seems like we're in a time where science fiction isn't just read by people who would browse the science fiction section of bookshelves, but perhaps people will continue to keep coming back to John Wyndham.
WHO I’d Recommend It To People who love science fiction and want to delve into some of the top science fiction novels from the 1930s-1950s. People who adore young adult science fiction novels like The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness. People who want a quick classic to read (this one is only 200 pages).
I have been feeling a bit overwhelmed when it comes to YA science fiction, in particularly post-apocalyptic and dystopian novels, over the past year oI have been feeling a bit overwhelmed when it comes to YA science fiction, in particularly post-apocalyptic and dystopian novels, over the past year or so. There is just so many of them! And they all sound the same! How am I meant to know which one to pick up? I chose The 5th Wave because it had been receiving so much buzz. I was also invited to attend an author event, Rick Yancey interviewed by Lucy Mangan (which I hope to post about soon!), and I thought I had better start reading it.
The 1st Wave: Lights Out The 2nd Wave: Surf's Up The 3th Wave: Pestilence The 4th Wave: Silencer
What do you do when the enemy looks exactly like you? Are they still human? If so, is it morally right to kill them? Cassie, short for Cassiopeia, the constellation, is struggling with these thoughts every day. She is alone, after the vast majority of the population have been wiped out after an alien invasion, until she comes across an injured man asking for help. Is he human? Or an alien? Luckily, it's not a predicament we have to deal with, but Cassie does. And she has to start making choices.
The 5th Wave is one of the most impressive young adult science fiction novels I have read so far and although this is partially due to its memorable, distinctive characters, and partially to do with Yancey's compelling writing style, it's also to do with the fact that it is quite a hefty book. The 5th Wave consists of 91 chapters in nearly 500 pages. It's rich with detail and backstory and reasons. It's easy to say that there has been an alien invasion and then leave it at that, but Rick Yancey goes through each wave and shows us exactly what it was like for Cassie, leaving us in fear of the 5th Wave – and it's not what you expect.
The 5th Wave is split into sections and told through three points of view – Cassie, her little brother Sammy, and 'Zombie', that eventually converge into an explosive end. I loved that each character had a distinctive voice; I could turn to any page and know who is speaking, which is extremely important to me. As a reader, I cannot stand it when I find it difficult to distinguish between characters. Cassie in particular is a brilliant character (and Rick Yancey's favourite!) because she's surprising witty and sarcastic the whole way through, making the novel read a little like Zombieland, but a little more serious! (Aliens are no joke). But she can also be deadly serious when necessary:
'But if I'm it, the last of my kind, the last page of human history, like hell I'm going to let the story end this way. I may be the last one, but I am the one still standing. I am the one turning to face the faceless hunter in the woods on an abandoned highway. I am the one not running but facing. Because if I am the last one, then I am humanity. And if this is humanity's last war, then I am the battlefield.'
All three of our survivors are intelligent and contemplative. They constantly question why the alien invasion happened and where they now fit. The 5th Wave is definitely an exciting book and one I could not wait to come back to. I found myself appreciating Rick Yancey's writing, which is concise – no word is wasted, but then a sentence comes along and leaves you stunned. I still feel overwhelmed by the genre, but I have faith that there are still some stories out there, like The 5th Wave, that will blow us all away. Figuratively. Thankfully. Unfortunately, I am not new to young adult science fiction, but if I were, The 5th Wave would leave me with a new favourite genre.
Thank you Puffin for providing this book for review!
I first found out about Legend back in February 2011 and in January 2014, I read the last book in the trilogy. At the end of Prodigy, we were left witI first found out about Legend back in February 2011 and in January 2014, I read the last book in the trilogy. At the end of Prodigy, we were left with the shocking news that Day is sick; he has a brain tumour and will most likely die. But Day and June cannot focus purely on themselves – and their fraught relationship – because the tension between the Republic and the Colonies does not look set to subside any time soon. With Day battling with crippling headaches and trying to keep his brother Eden safe, he has enough on his plate to last a lifetime. And June, as Princeps-Elect, stands alongside Anden while struggling to ensure that she keeps to her own principles. Champion is the explosive finale to one of the most enjoyable YA dystopian series' out there.
Champion is just as fast-paced and thrilling as the previous two books. Legend fortunately is a believable and well-constructed series. Marie Lu chooses to follow a logical continuation rather than throw unbelievable choices into the mix; politics is tough, frustrating and cannot be sorted out at the push of a button. Anden has to stay true to his word, but that doesn't mean he does not make some controversial choices. Champion also fills in the blanks that we were left with by Legend and Prodigy – I particularly enjoyed the tense snapshots of Thomas and Metias – and it provides an ending that really does make you feel like you've come full circle. In Champion, familiar characters try to save the broken USA that we've come to know over the past couple of years, and it's not going to be an easy solution...
Day and June. June and Day. Where do I start? They are one of YA dystopia's most loved couples. In Legend, we now see, they were just two inexperienced and terrified teenagers on the run and now they are among the most revered and trusted. Although, I will admit, it's hard to believe that it's up to two young people to save the world, I cannot deny it's been a pleasure to watch them develop and mature over all three books. We see June and Day become less idealistic – and for good reason – but they are determined to be there for each other, even it isn't going to be easy, and even if they're not entirely sure that it's healthy for either of them. And even if you've not been an advocate of June and Day throughout the series, the heartbreaking epilogue is sure to leave you with a tear in your eye.
Legend was one of the drivers of YA dystopia and it's a series that I always suggest to people who love The Hunger Games or Divergent, but this finale will leave readers more satisfied than the former trilogies did.
Insignia is one of the most science fiction(y) novels I have ever read. It's a high concept story, action packed, and full of intergalactic fighting wInsignia is one of the most science fiction(y) novels I have ever read. It's a high concept story, action packed, and full of intergalactic fighting with robots, sending fellow classmates viruses (because they have computers installed in their brains, of course), and spending time in playing virtual reality video games that feel incredibly real...
I was so impressed with how detailed, imaginative, and intricate Insignia was. Not just the world-building (which, depending on what mood I'm in, can be hugely important to me), but also each individual character. S.J. Kincaid could've played it safe. Some YA authors (although it is not limited to YA) feel that because they are writing for children and teenagers, they do not have to be as detailed and technical, do as much research, or use much science (at least, make it sound like 'real' science), because children won't care or be interested in it anyway - something I feel very strongly against and believe underestimates young people. I do not feel Insignia does this at all but rather flatters its audience. Sometimes the concepts, information, and jargon could be a lot to take in at once, but the result was that it ended up being an extremely rewarding experience.
I was also very surprised that Insignia was as character-driven as it was plot-driven. I found myself equally as interested in what was going to happen to certain characters (in particular Tom, our protagonist, and Wyatt, a highly talented fellow student with a knack for advanced programming) as I was finding out what was really going on with World War III and the Spire. It is full of incredibly talented, intelligent, witty, and dedicated teenagers. There were some pop culture references that made me feel like I was reading about real teenagers that were just in an unusual situation, and little moments that made me smile, that really captured what it feels like to having fun banter with some close friends.
Although Insignia is part of a trilogy, I feel that it's important to mention that the ending will not leave you frustrated. It can easily be read as a standalone novel and does not end on a cliffhanger, which goes to show that a book does not need an open ending to draw readers back. It is going to make a fantastic movie - the rights have already been optioned - and I have absolutely no idea where the second and third books will take us.
Insignia takes 'boarding school story' to another level; a highlight of its genre. The highly technical World War III set in space, and the remarkable band of young teenagers put at the forefront of the battle, will blow your socks off!
Thank you Hot Key Books for providing this book for review!
The Snow was loaned to me by a science fiction enthusiast, a friend of mine whose favourite author is Adam Roberts. I began this book not knowing anytThe Snow was loaned to me by a science fiction enthusiast, a friend of mine whose favourite author is Adam Roberts. I began this book not knowing anything about it – not even what my friend thought of it because she wouldn't tell me! – and so I revelled in reading a book where anything could happen.
The Snow is set in a truly post-apocalyptic world: “..the snow doesn't stop. It falls and falls and falls. Until it lies three miles thick across the whole of the earth. Six billion people have died. Perhaps 150,000 survive.” We’re acquainted with Tira, our main character, shortly after the snow starts to fall. It continues and we see her attempt to survive. She keeps contact with family until the phone line goes dead, she obtains tinned food from her deceased neighbour, and abandons her house to acquire shelter and human interaction elsewhere. It seemed to me as if The Snow would follow a typical apocalyptic storyline of human survival and adventure, but it provided a level of depth that I enjoyed and appreciated immensely.
The story is told in a scrapbook sort of way, made up of illegal, censored official government documents - mainly Tira’s account of life during the snow, interviews, and government explanations. This added an element of realism to the storyline. It made it feel as if I wasn’t just reading a fictional account but authentic evidence of a cataclysmic event. I thoroughly enjoyed reading about government conspiracies, philosophically and sociologically-referenced rebellions, and even reading about Tira’s personal relationships. The Snow allows the reader to wholly understand how North America reacts to the snowfall, how it affects the nation as a whole as well as its individual citizens. The ending was, to put it bluntly, not to my taste at all, but it didn’t affect my overall enjoyment of the book.
The Snow is a wonderfully constructed and developed apocalyptic story; a deceivingly tiny book that has a lot to offer. I’d eagerly suggest it to anyone who loves post-apocalyptic fiction but wants to read outside of what is currently popular.
I chose The Day of the Triffids to be my third classic book of the year because I knew that John Wyndham's books were cult classics within the scienceI chose The Day of the Triffids to be my third classic book of the year because I knew that John Wyndham's books were cult classics within the science fiction genre. The Day of the Triffids was published in 1951 and except for the lack of modern technology, you would scarcely believe that it was not published yesterday.
I'd be forgiven for expecting The Day of the Triffids to be really quite silly. I did not mind at all, but that's just what I expected. The Day of the Triffids starts with Bill Masen waking up in a hospital bed, in silently chaotic London, England, as one of the last people to retain their eyesight. Widespread blindness has turned people either vulnerable or violent, with some attempting to enslave those who can see, turning them into personal guide dogs. But there's another menace – Triffids, walking poisonous, flesh-eating plants, who shoot to kill.
Bill Masen must simply survive in this lonesome world. He must accept the bleak future ahead, and that is why The Day of the Triffids is so captivating. I pictured the Triffids to be more bulbous than they appear in the BBC adaptation, but no less freakish. Yet, as I said, The Day of the Triffids never once comes across as silly. Perhaps it's because it is set in familiar streets, such as Piccadilly and Shaftesbury Avenue, or because the Triffids are not cartoonish monsters, but eerie, dangerous organisms that can kill a human being within seconds by blasting them with poison.
The Day of the Triffids also paints a chilling picture of how quickly social structures are altered once the majority of the population are unable to see. It no longer matters what social class you are, or where you buy your fancy clothes, just how useful you can now be. It shows just low in the food chain humans can become if a worldwide bodily catastrophe occurs. What, now, is the enemy?
The Day of the Triffids is not particularly action-packed or fast-paced, but it will have you on the edge of your seat all the same, as it's strength is in its ability to allow you to imagine how you would react while everybody around you is in despair. I'm excited about John Wyndham's The Chrysalids, which I've already purchased, and I'd also like to check out The Midwich Cuckoos.
When a day that you happen to know is Wednesday starts off by sounding like Sunday, there is something seriously wrong somewhere.
The Dead of the Night takes place not too long after the events at the end of the first book, Tomorrow When the War Began. It has been a couple of monThe Dead of the Night takes place not too long after the events at the end of the first book, Tomorrow When the War Began. It has been a couple of months since the invasion of Australia and the group of committed teenagers decide that they've had enough of sitting around waiting for something to happen and instead band together to change their dire situation.
The Dead of the Night contains many of the familiar elements we came across in the first book - action, adventure, survival, and a little romance, but I thought it was much more powerful in some ways as we have got to know each character. I think character development is always an exciting thing to read about because it enables the reader to really feel as if they are part of the story and watching as the characters grow and change. People can change, especially if they've gone through something as life-threatening and horrific as these teenagers have. In The Dead of the Night, every character does something they never thought they'd do, something that alters the way they see themselves, in particular Ellie and Fi - the two most contrasting characters. In this sequel, the group come across adults who have set up camp for themselves, much like the teenagers have in Hell. The way they are treated by this new group of people really highlights that we are reading about teenagers, teenagers who wouldn't usually be experiencing the things they have been. It made the entire situation seem much more horrifying and I wondered whether it was true to life - in an invasion, would young people be seen as a help or a hindrance?
The Dead of the Night is as dramatic as ever and threw the group into warfare, with lots of bloodshed. We again see each character deal with the ethics and dilemmas of war, and see them wondering just how far they should go to protect themselves. I feel like we're about to go on even more of adventure with Ellie and friends in the next book, The Third Day, The Frost.
Thank you Quercus for providing this book for review!
Revenge. Retribution. Vengeance. Rebellious thoughts are running through the mind of fifteen-year-old June Iparis, thirty-five days after the death ofRevenge. Retribution. Vengeance. Rebellious thoughts are running through the mind of fifteen-year-old June Iparis, thirty-five days after the death of her older brother Metias. June and Daniel 'Day' Wing travel illegally to Las Vegas in an attempt to attract the attention of, and join forces with, the Patriot rebels who aided them at the end of Legend. But the Patriots are not shy in once again asking for payment in return for help, this time in the form of murder. They want the new Elector Primo assassinated. Will Day and June willingly comply?
Prodigy maintains a fast pace and riveting examination of life in a strict dystopian society – and of the complicated nature of sedition – as in Legend, while continuing to portray an endearing, believable love story between the Republic of America's most wanted and their star military trainee. Yet not once does this romance get in the way, or take precedence over, a captivating story. It's not always clear how June and Day truly feel towards each other, torn between trusting what they grew up believing and what surrounds them now. Day questions whether June really is a dependable person despite coming from a privileged background of exorbitant wealth, while Day grew up on the streets, and June questions where her alliances lay – in protecting the Elector Primo or demolishing the system? It would be easy to write a story in which both characters transform into two people with converging beliefs, but Marie Lu shows us that our background is not so easy to escape from. It's anything but an easy ride for these two dedicated teenagers.
Marie Lu takes us through an unpredictable series of events that show that a repressive society is not always black and white, that those who at first seem abhorrent, or righteous, may surprise you. I first read Legend over a year ago and I was worried that I would no longer be able to follow the storyline, but flashbacks are seamlessly added, meaning that I was able to jump right back in without any trouble. Prodigy is a fantastic balance between an engaging plot and complex, alluring characters.
Legend is shaping up to be a brilliantly fun series that is straightforward in its traditional approach to a dystopian storyline, yet does not patronise its readers, instead taking them through the complicated political mess of living in a world unceremoniously torn in half, with marvellous characters showing us the way.
Thank you Penguin Books for providing this book to review!
Partials is a wondrous science fiction adventure fighting to reach an end goal as immense as it can be: to save humanity.
The human race is all but ex
Partials is a wondrous science fiction adventure fighting to reach an end goal as immense as it can be: to save humanity.
The human race is all but extinct, wiped out by a killer virus released by genetically engineered soldiers - Partials. Sixteen-year-old Kira is trapped on Long Island. Her community clings to survival, but what hope can they have when no baby survives for more than three days. Kira is determined to make a difference, to find a cure. Her best friend is pregnant and Kira cannot let the baby die. Time is running out, and finding the cure means capturing a Partial...
I revelled in the fictional scientific theories and evidence at the root of this novel. Dan Wells clearly put a lot of thought into the creation of Partials, the destructive virus - RM - that's causing every baby born to die, and Kira's attempt at discovering a cure. Although, the fact that it a teenager at the forefront of curing RM brought me back to reality, because, even though it is common for the teenager to be the hero in young adult novels, I couldn't help but think that these educated, intelligent adults wouldn't be as useless and obstinate as they appear to be. The politics, however, felt extremely real, and this is where the story becomes slightly dystopic.
Unexpectedly, I found myself most wanting to find out more about the enigmatic and complex Partial - Samm - who has been captured by Kira and friends. I delved into the book thinking that the relationship would be clear: humans will be the victims, and Partials are just artificially-created robots turned evil. However, like in I, Robot, it is much more complicated than that.
Partials is certainly a journey to behold. It's full of action and adventure, perhaps a little too much for me, but it also offers fascinating insight into what it is to be human. Are we the only species worth saving?
Thank you to the publisher for providing this book for review!
Genus appealed to me because it's set in futuristic dystopian London, specifically in King's Cross – now known simply as The Kross. Many of you may asGenus appealed to me because it's set in futuristic dystopian London, specifically in King's Cross – now known simply as The Kross. Many of you may associate King's Cross with Harry Potter and The Hogwarts Express, but The Kross is anything but magical. It's dirty, dull, and impoverished; a reluctant home to The Unimproved. You see, in Trigell's world, physical perfection is easy to attain – for the rich. For a price, your children can be free of disability and disease through genetic selection.
Genus is a vivid and frightening view of London. It's terrifying not because it presents a world where the human body can be manipulated as easily as anything else, but because, as a result, it creates an even larger divide between the rich and the poor. If we already live in a world where meritocracy does not exist, it exists even less in The Kross.
Genus was unfortunately unable to captivate me completely, not due to the gritty plot, which I rather enjoyed, but due to the writing style. It leans more towards literary fiction rather than the commercial science fiction I'm used to. I tend to assume that dystopian novels tend to focus more on the plot, but Genus instead zooms in on the tiny details surrounding its characters, such as Holman, an old man with an incurable (for him) ailment that means he is unable to walk properly and is permanently in excruciating pain. It was not quite as snappy as I had hoped, being more contemplative and watchful, and I was impatient to know where it was going.
If you're tired of reading dystopian novels that all sound the same, Genus may be one to pick up. It offers a fresh view of society that isn't completely far from reality and shows what can happen when perfection comes at a costly price.
Thank you Corsair for providing this book for review!...more