You know how there's those books that everyone LOVES, and you feel as though you most certainly have to try them out and take part in the collective eYou know how there's those books that everyone LOVES, and you feel as though you most certainly have to try them out and take part in the collective euphoria? Your heart palpitates when you are finally able to check it out from your local library, and you get goosebumps as you start the first chapter...then somewhere during the fourth or fifth, you realize that you aren't having nearly as much fun as everyone else claimed to have had? This was my experience with Uglies.
I really wanted to jump all over this book. According to every must-read YA list, Scott Westerfeld's Ugly series was one to leave you chomping at the bit for more. While I do agree that the storyline is captivating and extremely frightening, I have to admit that I'm not exactly salivating to complete the series. But that being said, it was worth the read.
Uglies takes place far in the future, after our current generations, referred to as Rusties by our descendants, are extinct. The powers that be of the future have decided that most of our societal ills are a result of our differences. To avoid having their civilization meet the same hate-filled fate as ours, they decide that all people at age 16 must undergo mandatory plastic surgery and become Pretty by modifying skin tones, facial and body features, even hair. With everyone looking the same, and life becoming a party, who has time to start wars and conflicts?
Tally Youngblood is almost 16. Her best friends have all had birthdays before her, so they've all been turned Pretty and moved to New Pretty Town. Tally is biding her time until her surgery so that she can be reunited. As she's slumming around Uglyville, pulling pranks and avoiding the police, she meets Shay, another 15 year old who, unlike Tally, is actually trying to find ways to avoid having the surgery.
Shay tells Tally about a secret town called The Smoke, where refugees from the Ugly cities go to live. They are Uglies who never became Pretty, and they are learning more and more about how life used to be before the mandatory surgeries. Tally is horrified.
As Shay and Tally grow closer together, Shay finally builds up the courage to ask Tally if she'd be interested in running away with her. Fleeing the city before the surgery and raging against the system. Tally turns her down. The morning of her sweet 16 is not so sweet however, because instead of having her surgery, Tally learns that the office of Special Circumstances, aka The Specials are refusing to turn her Pretty unless Tally gives up her friend Shay and the refugees in The Smoke.
Deciding what to do about turning Shay in, with her surgery on the line, seems like a no-brainer to Tally, and as I was reading it took me a minute to get into her mind. If I had always viewed myself as so ugly that all I had to live for was this surgery, I can totally see how devastating it may be for someone to be threatening not to let me have it. Even when friendship is on the line.
The premise for this story is amazing. All of society believing that our natural selves is hideous and something that must be altered. A world where all the environmental and societal problems have been solved but the basic idea of self-love and respect for the natural human condition still remains. Crazy. And somehow believable, which is what makes all dystopias so chilling.
If anything, what frustrated me about the book was the overuse of the different categories of people. As with most futuristic books, or stories about new societies, the author makes up a lot of slang and jargon to make it authentic. I've seen it done much worse than this, but sometimes all the classifications of Ugly/Pretty/Special, yadda yadda got to be annoying.
The adventure is great to follow, and the very realistic future is terrifying.
sigh. Once again, I'm on the opposite side of the review fence. Everyone else seems to love this book. I was unimpressed.
So many things turned me offsigh. Once again, I'm on the opposite side of the review fence. Everyone else seems to love this book. I was unimpressed.
So many things turned me off. It felt as though McCafferty tried too hard to introduce a new brand of lingo and it was annoyingly basic.
There was no real catalyst for the girl's change in personality. Just all of a sudden, "I hate everything I said I loved about myself". Huh?
I did appreciate the emphasis being placed back on love and actual relationships. The freedom to choose how to live is the backstory of all great dystopian novels, but McCafferty seems to have tried a bit too hard. She tried to adhere to the formula just for formula's sake, and it was just not as riveting a story as it could have been.
I also found it a bit one-sided because there was no exploration into the feelings that the actual infertile adults were having. She basically said what she wanted to say about religion and reproductive technology, and wrapped it up under the guise of advocating for choices and reproductive rights. She made all the adults in the book sound like spoiled brats who wanted designer babies. Which, I know is also a staple in the dystopian novel, but unlike other dystopias, McCafferty's adults had REASON to be distraught. There was REASON for the need to procreate. So rebelling against the system in the way in which she chose to have her characters rebel, was kind of stupid.
The book also ended on an awkward note and left me thinking, "Ugh, there's going to be another one? What the hell for?" Bah humbug....more
As I thought, MUCH better than Uglies. It seems as though somewhere between the first book and this one, the author seems to have figured out who TallAs I thought, MUCH better than Uglies. It seems as though somewhere between the first book and this one, the author seems to have figured out who Tally Youngblood actually is. As a main character, she became much more interesting and worth my attention this go-round.
When last we saw Tally, she'd decided that the only way to combat the pretty-mind disease was to try out the anecdote herself, and that the only way to do that, was to become a pretty. As this book begins, we learn that Tally's life as a pretty is just as she imagined it would be! Parties and hanging out with Shay-la and their friends. Her reputation as a trickster preceded her life into New Pretty Town, and she's amped up to join the Crims, a trickster group. Tally soon learns that the leader of the Crims, Zane, is not only interested in her as a trickster, but in her life in the Smoke. He wants Tally to explain all about life in the Smoke and what it was like to be "bubbly and free". From talking to Zane, and a not-so-chance meeting with someone from her former ugly life, she begins to remember things. While getting "bubbly" with Zane, she finds what her ugly-self has left for her pretty-self; the Cure. She's all set to take it, but because of an emergency, she is forced to split the cure with Zane, kicking off a myriad of new problems and complications. The first of which being that she has once again, betrayed and left Shay behind.
The romance with Zane was understandable, though for the majority of the book, I wondered where the hell David was. For a while, I started to think that Westerfeld was throwing too many possible "Gale and Peeta's" if you know what I mean, but I guess I can see after completing the book what the point of it was, (no matter how Hunger Games-ish, things started to feel). There were some more strange occurrences in this installment, but I promise you that by the end, it makes a lot more sense than Uglies did....more
My ACT score was in the 20's. Nobody cares about that anymore.
My GPA has always been "above average" No one wants to hear about it.
My life has been careMy ACT score was in the 20's. Nobody cares about that anymore.
My GPA has always been "above average" No one wants to hear about it.
My life has been carefully controlled by grades, scores, ratings and rank since before I was even aware of it, all under the premise that if I scored well enough, the finances that I didn't have wouldn't matter. That without these scores, I was doomed to only achieve the levels my money would allow. The rich children would have better opportunities, but the well-scored could always level the field through merit-based scholarship.
Recently, I've begun to monitor my Klout score. Klout is an algorithim calculations based website that monitors your social media influence. Higher scores reflect the amount of people on the web that value what you talk about and share. Companies use these scores to pinpoint the best people to help market their products. For instance, a high klout score with an emphasis on Cars, may get you a free week-long test drive from a car company.
On the surface these things sound AWESOME. No more is it about "who you know", or "what you have", but it's about YOU. Who you are. What you do. Fair and impartial, technology does the work that humans have failed at.
That said, let me just start this review by admitting that the most chilling thing that hit me almost immediately, was that Imani, our main character's "score" in this book is 64... My Klout "score" is 64. We're ALREADY scoring and charting and tagging ourselves into a fresh new caste system. One where everyone is "better" because no one is.
Oh my gosh where do I even begin.
Imani LeMonde is a member of the Scored. Like most of the other scored in her high school, Imani abides by Score Corp.'s "Fitness" guidelines: Peer Group, Self-Control?, Congruity, and Rapport. She violates the Peer Group requirement flagrantly by hanging out with her friend Cady. Cady's score has been dropping drastically low due to her love affair with an unscored boy.
Imani wants to stand by her friend, but when her own score drops down to the 60's, the decision seems practically made for her. Low scores equal no college, and she has to go to college. The guilt by association stems so far that her own little brother won't let the "eyes", cameras that document and monitor the scored, see him talk to her.
In the meantime, her History teacher, Mr. Carol has assigned an essay project that could help Imani get the money she needs to go to college anyway. To apply for a scholarship, Mr. Carol would like for the scored students in his class to write an argument against the idea of the score, and for this unscored students to write in favor of it. While he himself is firmly against the score, and makes some hilarious comments on it throughout the book, he mainly believes this will open the eyes of all of his students, and perhaps get them some college money.
To write the paper, Imani secretly and reluctantly teams up with Diego, an unscored but wealthy classmate, and soon everything she thought she felt about the score, and herself begins to shift. There were mild similarities to Scott Westerfeld's "Uglies" series, spying, trusting the enemy, friendship and betrayal, but Imani and Cady's relationship was far more of a catalyst for the rest of the story, than the radically flimsy one of Tally and Shay in Uglies.
There were things about this book that I loved, mainly the ideas behind it, and that there were no real right or wrong answers. A score system could even things out, but it could also open the door to much more sinister forms of discrimination. A new caste system that would appear so right on the outside, that people won't even know where to begin to tear it down.
There were also a few little things that I didn't like however. For one, Imani is a mixed-race girl, but the cover art doesn't illustrate this at all. The subject and comparison between racism, sexism and "score-ism" is referenced a lot in the story, but I still found it really easy to forget about her heritage.
In fact, this brings me to another thing that bugged me. Imani Jane LeMonde's father is black, and his speech is littered with "Don't's" "Aint's", phrases like "family don't mean nothing no more", and talk of "The Man"... Seriously, was that to remind us that he's black? I was not a fan of that.
The phrasing used by her father wouldn't have stood out if the other words and writing in the book weren't all so thick. The subject matter wouldn't necessarily go over teens heads I don't believe, but the words used get a little technical and over-political at times.
Like others have said, the ending left MUCH to be desired. It did however, seem prime for a sequel but unlike all the other books out these days, didn't say that it would be. To not revisit this topic though, would be seriously unfortunate. I hope she does.On the whole though, I really enjoyed this short read.
While I mildy enjoyed McLaughlin's Cycler, I found this to be more her stride. ...more
First of all, this was NOT a love story. At least not as intensely as the blurb might lead you to believe. This was, however, a pretty good mystery.
TFirst of all, this was NOT a love story. At least not as intensely as the blurb might lead you to believe. This was, however, a pretty good mystery.
The book begins interestingly enough, with 17 year old Amy being cryogenically frozen along with her parents so that they can be passengers on the Godspeed, a spaceship that will take them and a couple thousand others to a new Earth. Centauri Earth is 300 years away, and before Amy can finish deciding if it will be worth it, she's already being sealed in the box.
Some hundreds of years later, we find ourselves in the head of Elder, a young man being trained to one day lead the Godspeed. Elder is quick, young, and spontaneous, much to the dismay of Eldest, the current ship leaders who is training him. Eldest wants Elder to learn of the things that ruined what they call Sol-Earth. The people of Godspeed are peaceful, similar and each dedicated to their personal stations in life. Each of them follows Eldest faithfully, and it is his job to prepare Elder to take the reins when the time comes.
Meanwhile, in the dark, dank, unknown of the ship, Amy has been woken up. Well, more appropriately, unthawed and left to die. 50 years before schedule.
From there, we start to stumble down a rabbit hole that leads to truth of the Godspeed; that the entire ship is built on lies. In a race to save the other "frozens", including Amy's parents, Amy and Elder embark on an investigation that reveals more about humanity than anything about the ship itself. And there is a LOT going on with this ship.
The use of the alternating character chapters is a tool that many authors jack up, royally. Beth Revis was no exception for at least the first half of the book, I'll admit. There were times when I got a little irritated with the switches but as it progressed, I was into the pattern and found it helpful for really allowing us to see the differences in thought between someone who has lived their entire life on the Godspeed, and someone who has seen lakes and trees.
While I did think it moved a bit slowly, the story itself was so intriguing that after a while I just didn't notice anymore. Amy's American-teen-esque tantrums and rants worked my nerves at times, as did Edler's immaturity, but both characters grew and developed in ways that made me calm down a bit. And while I pinpointed the culprit quite early in the story, I have to say that the way the author led us to the reveal was in a perfect moment of tension and action.
I found book two to be much better, but I still say this one was pretty darn good....more
OMG!!!!!!! I can never actually do reviews on these because they are so many ways to accidentally reveal a spoiler, but I will say that THIS one had myOMG!!!!!!! I can never actually do reviews on these because they are so many ways to accidentally reveal a spoiler, but I will say that THIS one had my jaw dropping so many damn times! AMAZING series..and I'm extremely annoyed that none of the libraries in my system carry the next book! I may have to break a personal rule, and actually purchase it. IT's THAT GOOD!...more
The Hunger Games is a dystopia set in a future where the United States are no longer states but 13 "districts". At least there used to be 13. The CapiThe Hunger Games is a dystopia set in a future where the United States are no longer states but 13 "districts". At least there used to be 13. The Capital destroyed District 13 basically for insubordinance. Now, to remind the remaining 12 of its power, the Capitol requires each district to offer up two "tributes" in the annual hunger games through a raffle. The tributes are one boy and one girl adolescent. The games are a fight to the death where only one tribute can remain standing. There is a TON that goes into what these games are actually about and far more than I can get into here, but know that the basis of THIS particular book is a girl named Katnis Everdeen, whose little sister Prim is chosen. Katnis steps in on her sister's behalf and becomes the District 12 tribute.
There's a love triangle between Katnis, Peeta the male District 12 tribute, and Gale, her love interest pre-hunger games. There's INTENSE death fights. Courage, bravery, and all around awesome. I did the audiobooks and LOVED them, but everyone who read the print version loves it to....more
Love is dangerous. No, not dangerous. Love is the root of every horrible thing we do. War, crime, insanity, all of it is stemmed from passion and love.Love is dangerous. No, not dangerous. Love is the root of every horrible thing we do. War, crime, insanity, all of it is stemmed from passion and love. In the coming future, this fact will be proven by science, and love will be declared a case of deliria nervosa. To save the world, scientists will develop a cure. They will remove the ability to love, from each and every person over the age of 18. They will evaluate your goals and thoughts, pair you with a similar person, of the opposite sex of course, tell you how many children you are responsible for creating together, and send you on your way. No more flirting. No more passion. No more waiting for it to happen. No more heartbreak.
Magdalena Haloway is fastly approaching the age of 18 and wants nothing more than to be cured. Her mother was given the surgery a total of three times, but none of them took. After kissing a six year old Lena goodbye and telling her "I love you...they can't take that away", she committed suicide. Lena has lived with her cured aunt and uncle in their home ever since. Lena doesn't want the disease to ever lead her to the same fate. It's hereditary, they say.
And then the unthinkable happens. First, her best friend Hana seems to be hiding a secret. Listening to unregulated music, and talking about boys even though she knows that the segregation laws between uncured boys and girls are finite. And then, in a chance encounter, Lena meets Alex, a boy who just wants to get to know her. Suddenly everything about what she's been taught, what she believes, and even who she is, blurs into an unrecognizable state.
The premise of this book is what hit me faster than the actual characters did. As dystopias go, it's very easy to see where the story is about to head, even before the author lets on. This was the case here as well. Parts of that dystopic formula just can't be done away with. But there was something about the idea that love is dangerous. Something about the a world where religion and science merge together to control the uncontrollable. Something about pushing the limits and exploring how far we really would go for the right to LOVE, was just fascinating.
Lena's story itself wasn't much different from a Katniss Everdeen, or a Tally Youngblood, at least on the surface. Alex, Hana, and the rest of the family aren't much to focus on either. The love that Lena realizes she has for them however, is the real character to watch. The way we fall in love, the way we recognize love, the yearning we feel for love we feel we've lost, are all described beautifully.
I warn you to have Kleenex handy for the ending, and patience with the cliche formula so that you can reach it....more
A classic re-imagined with YA flair in an adult package.
When She Woke is clearly a play on The Scarlet Letter, (which I never read but did see the DeA classic re-imagined with YA flair in an adult package.
When She Woke is clearly a play on The Scarlet Letter, (which I never read but did see the Demi Moore movie), set in a futuristic America that is frighteningly similar to what some may actually want to see.
In an un-named year, America has undergone a spiritual reclamation. A great drought and infertility plague has ravaged the country for years and once a cure was discovered, the fear and pain it brought about has ignited a national religious overhaul. There is an office of the Secretary of Faith. Sanctity of Life Laws have made abortion a murder charge. Things in America have gotten very black and white.
But not all things.
The Great Second Depression made the country look at where money was being spent, and they no longer saw fit to pay for the inmates in the overcrowded prisons. To cut down the amount of minor criminals housed in prison, they looked to science. Chroming was what they came up with. Through a genetic mutation surgery, now criminals have their skin colors changed to identify them. Yellows and Greens are petty criminals, arsonists, drug users. Blues are the second to worst, pedophiles and child molesters. Only class worse than the Blues, are the murderers. The Reds.
When Hannah Payne woke...she was as red as a rose. Having been found guilty of murder for an abortion she'd had, and her refusal to name the abortionist or the father, Hannah has been sentenced to fifteen years as a Red. She has been disowned by her mother, mourned by her father, and her pregnant sister's new husband Cole forbids her sister Becca to have any contact with her. And yet, Hannah refuses to name her lover. Aidan Dale. The married pastor of the country's largest congregation, and the new United States Secretary of Faith.
The tale that follows this stark awakening in Hannah's prison cell after she's first Chromed is one of pain, romance, and enlightenment. Reaching rock bottom makes Hannah take hard looks at a side of thinking that she was once a very big supporter of. She once also believed abortion was murder, that Chroming was right and necessary, and that the lines were very clearly drawn about women's roles and rights. Now, an outcast from the society she once believed in, Hannah can see some of the double standards and injustices.
The Fist, a supremisist group committed to extinguishing Chromes, is reminiscent of the Ku Klux Klan. Novembrists, a secret Canadian Feminist sect that lives by the motto "It's Personal", seeks to fight for abortion rights. There is also a look at how Chrome ghettos have emerged, Chrome discrimination reminiscent to Jim Crow, and other Chrome issues are developed quite beautifully.
Author Hillary Jordan deals with the issues of today in a far off, plain way that makes a reader calmly think, rather than get in an uproar. I appreciated that. My one complaint would have to be that towards the end of the book it does seem as though there is a mad rush to throw in as many "sins" as possible for Hannah to grapple with, so that one can dissect them all in the eyes of a truly religion-led society. I got the point, but thought it was unnecessary and redundant at that point. Hannah was an interesting companion to walk with through this book, and she kept my attention fairly well until the last chapter.
As I said, the book is clearly an adult one, as Hannah is a little over 25 years old, but as the story opens this was not clear. In fact, many of the ways in which she was treated and regarded by family and men in the beginning of the book had me thinking she was 17 at best until her age was actually stated. Parts of this book reminded me of "After" by Amy Efaw, and would be a nice companion piece to examine the choices and hopelessness.