In the fourth and final installment, With Tongue and Teeth, Romeo has been busted doing the worst possible thing, having sex with a man. The pu3 stars
In the fourth and final installment, With Tongue and Teeth, Romeo has been busted doing the worst possible thing, having sex with a man. The punishment, kill on sight. Romeo has no options left but join up with the Underground MC, which is made up of those who have escaped slavery and are living in tunnels outside the city. Romeo is devastated, until he meets Justice, the new MC’s president.
The Underground MC, along with the Amazon’s and Romeo’s own club the Outlaw MC, are all working together to dethrone Wexmen and free everyone who has been enslaved. Justice has decided that it’s time to really push back against the government by one big attack of force, erecting walls, and declaring open war. I’m not sure how many installments this series will have, but this book felt like it was creating the basis for the final stand between the rebels and the corrupt laws.
Honestly, of all of the installments I think this one was my least favorite. There wasn’t anything in particular that bothered me, I just think that the previous books were more solid. What I did enjoy was Romeo himself. So far all of the MC members have been almost indestructible. Sure at one point Deviant did something impulsive, but it was for a good reason. Not Romeo, he makes stupid mistakes for stupid reasons, and that felt really believable. It wasn’t just the first one either, getting busted having sex, it happened another time during the book too and I liked that he got called out for it. That’s not to say he wasn’t tough in his own right, he makes heroic decisions too. It was just nice to read about a character who was a bit irresponsible. One who wasn’t always perfect.
Also, this book had the best dedication! It made me laugh out loud when I read it. “This is dedicated to the biters out there. Keep life kinky.” Awesome.
Underneath his Armor is the story of Knox, or Outlaw as the club calls him, who is the President of the Outlaw MC. His history led him toward3.5 stars
Underneath his Armor is the story of Knox, or Outlaw as the club calls him, who is the President of the Outlaw MC. His history led him toward a deep passion to bring down the corrupt government that rules Mar’s society. His dedication is so great that he holds his VP, Liam AKA Lover and life long friend at arms length, refusing to give into the love that they both have for each other. Again, in my opinion, the book isn’t quite about Liam getting hurt. It’s more about allowing yourself a love you deserve, no matter how terrifying it may be.
The second installment brings us back to Mars, and really starts to get our hands dirty in the battle for revolution. While I definitely liked the setting of the first book more, I did enjoy the parameters of the world on Mars too. It’s where we first get a taste of the slaves and the breeders, and it’s a very very dark place.
I liked Liam (Lover). I liked who he was for Knox (Outlaw). I thought that their friendship, particularly how it all started was really kinda awesome. Especially when the time came that Knox needed him more than ever, Liam stood for him and had his back. Even though we didn’t get to read it, the fact that they were sent to Earth’s prison at the same time and protected and supported each other was a good representation of exactly what their friendship was about.
In this one, Underneath His Armor, I thought the strength of this story was in the friendship. Things transpired in Liam and Knox’s past that made them the men that they are today. It created the Pres and VP who created the Outlaws in the first place, and stoked that fire to give the people back their freedoms.
I think Knox and Liam are the true heart of the entire series.
Chaos Unchained is Chao’s story. He’s been busted drinking alcohol. The penalty for his infraction is 6 months in the mining prison on Earth.3.5 stars
Chaos Unchained is Chao’s story. He’s been busted drinking alcohol. The penalty for his infraction is 6 months in the mining prison on Earth. There he meets Beau, a prisoner with a goofy smile that he can’t seem to stop thinking about or seeking out. The synopsis asks if they can survive the months apart after Beau is released, but I think that it was more about finding a connection even in the worst of places.
First off, I really loved the start of the first book. The Prologue was incredibly intriguing with Chaos being sent to prison on Earth in a pod, where he was strapped down and zero control if anything happened to him as he was shooting through space toward prison. It isn’t hard to imagine the fear that would consume you, all alone in a tiny space pod that I pictured as not much bigger than an MRI machine, feeling yourself hitting meteors and so sure that you’re going to be knocked off the path and left to float out there all alone. Fricking terrifying.
Earth’s prison was pretty unique. With the jailers not caring what happens on Earth, so long as the mining is finished, I can imagine that the set up and hierarchy would be pretty close to what Mr. Cox created. Fight, fuck, or work in the mine. Chaos, being the natural badass that he is obviously becomes a fighter, which is basically what you think. If he wins a fight, those who bet on him win stuff. Honestly, I liked the set up in prison a lot, so I was very nervous for future books and what would happen when the reader joined the other MC members on Mars.
Of all of the books, Chaos was definitely the MC member that I found ‘hottest’. Beau was really cute, too. The goofy things he would say, and how cute Chaos thought silly Beau was. They were adorable. I think that Mr. Cox was pretty good at keeping his characters in character no matter what was happening. It’s not an easy feat, not losing yourself in the plot and having a character respond outside of the personality they were given.
The only thing is, and I knew this was a short story series before I started, I wished that this first book had been longer. I would have enjoyed reading more about the Prison time, rather than have a jump from the first few weeks to three months in, then again to the final days at 6 months.
Behavior Problem tells the story of Deviant, the beast, as I thought of him while I was reading. With a sister who became lost4 stars
Best one so far.
Behavior Problem tells the story of Deviant, the beast, as I thought of him while I was reading. With a sister who became lost to him, his temper is pointed at anyone who dares mistreat a woman. That gets him into some hot water with the club, and Outlaw sends him off to one of their contacts to act as a bodyguard for women who have escaped and to teach them how to ride their Hover Bikes. The women want to start their own illegal MC, which they aptly name the Amazons. There Deviant meets Tage, the extremely well dressed, well spoken, man who has helped to free the women. The synopsis of this one is pretty spot on, because it’s about learning that love isn’t weakness.
This one was just as good as the first one. The story definitely ups the ante in terms of the club’s endgame, which is saving the citizens from Wexmen. It also focuses more on the ‘women for breeding’ aspect of the world.
I think my favorite aspect of this installment, however, was Tage. I know I mentioned that in Chaos Unchained I liked goofy Beau, but Tage trumps him. Tage is white collar, prudish, and shy. Which makes for an interesting recipe when pared with the boys of the MC who are anything BUT prudish. I chuckled along with Deviant every time he made the poor guy blush, which was just about all the time.
And, the best part, we got a tiny little happy ending in this one which was great. Unfortunately that happy ending was balanced with the story taking a turn for the worst for Outlaw MC‘s heart, Knox and Liam.
Look at the cover of this book! It’s beautiful, but it also really matches the title. That is a beautiful painted sky…
Often the cover a book will catcLook at the cover of this book! It’s beautiful, but it also really matches the title. That is a beautiful painted sky…
Often the cover a book will catch my eye and make me pause, but a cover alone won’t make me read a book. If the synopsis (and my friends opinions) conflict with my initial gut response to the pretty picture, I’ll definitely put the book back. I don’t get suckered, or at least I consciously try not to. So, as much as this book is simply stunning it was the colors AND the synopsis that pulled me in and made me read. It sounded so fantastic. Two young women, running for their lives, heading out on the Oregon Trail. I mean, even the words ‘Oregon Trail’ make me excited. It’s probably stems from how many times I died of Dysentery in the computer game. Anyway, Under a Painted Sky felt like a sure thing.
Have patience in one moment of anger, and you will avoid one hundred days of sorrow.
One of the first notes I made when reading Under a Painted Sky was that it felt like Sammy seemed to get over her tragedy so fast. I mean, it was a massive loss and I thought she didn’t seem to show the pain the way I thought she should. However, as the story goes on, you see that she actually didn’t get past it. It stays with her the entire book. I began to recognize that her circumstances didn’t allow her to sit and wallow. Sammy was trying to survive, and that came first. I think that quote sums up pretty much exactly what the main character Sammy was going through; a deep sorrow that was always inside her.
Sammy’s sorrow was perfectly countered by Andy’s grit. Both girls had goals, both girls lived through tragedy. Where Sammy was learning how to be tough, Andy WAS tough. Her life as a slave had built in her an ability to survive odds that Sammy just didn’t have. She was teaching Sammy to be a rattlesnake, when she herself actually was. The two girls balanced each other really well, and both of the girls were strongly written, with characteristics that were completely their own. However, for me, Andy was the standout. Through her actions, and her stories, she was clearly the leader and she shone.
What I wasn’t expecting was for the boys (West, Cay and Petey) to be so pivotal to the story. I had no idea that they would be so vibrant, based on the back of the book. They were mentioned as an afterthought, but they were so much more than that. Just like Sammy and Andy, all three boys in Under a Painted Sky also had their own personalities, with West being the serious brooder, Cay being the ladies man, and Petey being the sweet one. Their antics made you laugh, and each of their own history’s tugged on your heartstrings. They definitely wound up being one of the highlights of the story.
I did have one small complaint. The end felt slightly unrealistic. It wasn’t wrapped up in a perfect little bow or anything, but at the same time it did feel a little over the top. The author traded one happy ending for a different one, and maybe possibly (I thought) it should have been a little less predictable.
Overall though, good. Good, with a drop dead gorgeous cover. 4 skulls.
Oh my goodness… that reading experience was seriously something special.
With every new novel Neal Shusterman really ups his game. Challenger Deep wasOh my goodness… that reading experience was seriously something special.
With every new novel Neal Shusterman really ups his game. Challenger Deep was better than even Unwind, I thought. It was deeper. That’s right, deeper than Unwind. Actually, maybe what I mean is that it was more real. It spoke to a real, very prevalent, situation. Mental Illness.
Bland Muzak plays in the Vista Lounge through speakers that are built into the ceiling, so we couldn’t grab them and rip them out if we tried. Muted brass instruments drone on like Charlie Brown’s parents. ‘Bwah-wa-wah, Bwah-mwah-wa-wah.’ Even the tunes here are medicated.
Caden was a clever kid. He was a funny kid. He was relatively popular, talented, and moderately successful kid. Whether he was a superstar or a problem child, watching him sink would have been sad. The thing is that mental illness doesn’t pick and choose, though. It affects everyone and that’s why I think it was a good idea to write this journey about a kid that nobody expected to slide into psychosis.
Shusterman has always had a way of writing his characters and their worlds in a unique way, and this was no exception. At first the Captain and his pirate ship read as a completely different story from the one taking place in the real world. The real world was one of delusion, medication, anxiety and distrust. I admittedly preferred reading the story of Caden’s illness and the reactions of the people around him, rather than read more about his made up world. However, as the book went on, and the two worlds began to overlap and come together, the more I became invested in learning the purpose for Caden’s brain to have created the ship. The more I understood, the more I wanted him to succeed. The question became HOW would he succeed. Would the end come through the Parrot or the Captain?
“They can beam people in and out of this place,” a kid named Raoul tells me. “I’ve seen it.” Rather than argue with Raoul’s construct of reality, I just tell him that I’m not allowed to talk to people with too many consecutive vowels in their name.
Oddly enough, despite the heaviness of the message, the book was also funny. Caden was funny. He was snarky, and quick witted (when that wit wasn’t dulled by medication), and I loved him. I loved him so much that when it got to the end, when I was reading in the dark at 11pm, I was weeping. It wasn’t a ‘cry’, or a ‘bawl’. I was weeping. Reading the words as tears dripped down my cheeks… and it’s not like there’s a big sad moment. They were tears based only off the emotional depth of the writing. I felt something powerful for all of those teenagers in Seaview Memorial Hospital.
I think that Challenger Deep does for Mental Illness what Fault in our Stars does for Cancer. They shed an almost positive and hopeful light on their respective subjects. They challenge us to think deeper and see wider. Books that give me fresh and hopeful perspectives on darker subjects are always my favorites, and Challenger Deep is exactly that. One of my favorites.
Living in the twenty-first century gives a person a much better prognosis for treatment, but sometimes I wish I’d lived in an age before technology. I would much rather everyone think I was a prophet than some poor sick kid.