Glory O'Brien's History of the Future is dark, surreal and poignant. Written in a fluid and compelling style, it's really quite a literary masterpiece...moreGlory O'Brien's History of the Future is dark, surreal and poignant. Written in a fluid and compelling style, it's really quite a literary masterpiece that further solidifies my love and admiration for A.S. King's prose. To me, this book is perfect.
Glory O'Brien is quite a mess. She's about to graduate from high school and she has literally no idea what to do with her life ("I had a week until I graduated. I had zero plans, zero options, zero friends.") Her mother checked out on her family when Glory was just a little girl. ("My mother wasn't conveniently dead, like in so many stories about children, whether they jarred dead bats or were attracted to beasts in woodland castles. She didn't die to help me overcome some obstacles by myself or to make me a more sympathetic character.") She was depressed, she couldn't handle life anymore, and so she stuck her head in the oven and flipped the metaphorical switch. Damaging as it must have been to a little girl's psyche, Glory is not a complete freak. She's just perceived as one by others, who assume there must be something wrong with her, considering. And sometimes it's just easier to roll with it.
Her life tastes like radiation, because after her mom's death her dad got rid of the oven and now all they ever eat goes through the microwave. She has one friend that she doesn't even consider a real friend. Ellie is just.. well, Ellie. She's someone Glory is stuck with, someone who lives across the street and has always been there, though only in a purely physical sense. ("Was everyone stuck with geographical friends like this? Longitude-and-latitude friends?"). She loves photography, just like her mother did, and takes pictures of just about anything she finds interesting. And she gives them titles.
One day, Glory and Ellie discover a mummified (petrified?) bat, and they decide it's God. They stuck him in a jar, and eventually, this happens:
"So we drank it - the two of us.Ellie drank it first and acted like it tasted good. I followed. And it wasn't half bad. When we woke up the next morning, everything was different. We could see the future. We could see the past. We could see everything."
You might say,"Why did you drink a bat?" Or, "Who would do that?" But we weren't thinking about it at the time. It's like being on a fast train that crashes and someone asking you why you didn't jump before it crashed. You wouldn't jump because you couldn't jump. It was going to fast. And you didn't know the crash was coming, so why would you?"
From that point on, both girls can see snippets of people's pasts and futures. Their visions are really quite random, but what they reveal about the future is really quite shocking. The question is, what will they do with their knowledge?
Undeniably, this book is a retreat from the real world; an engaging, dangerously powerful and completely original vision of both the future and the past, with an insightful look at the present. Reading this book was a joy. And a joy that cannot be eclipsed. I can see myself reaching for it time and time again, if not to re-read the entire thing, then at least to savor the highlighted passages. The brilliant and memorable thoughts and observations. They're resonating deep within, and the aftertaste they leave is 60% fascination and 40% satisfaction.
Bottom line is: Glory O'Brien's History of the Future is a rare treat among YA literature, and one absolutely not to be missed. It's a smart, sharp, deftly written tale and it's filled with existential themes, dark humor, emotional resonance and artistry. You really don't want to skip this one.(less)
With his signature wit, charm and cleverness, Rusty Fischer takes the readers on yet another fan-zombie-tastic, hold-on-tight-to-your-panties action-p...moreWith his signature wit, charm and cleverness, Rusty Fischer takes the readers on yet another fan-zombie-tastic, hold-on-tight-to-your-panties action-packed journey that is just as cool, nerdy and entertaining as it is gut-wrenching and emotional.
The story picks up approximately three months after the events in book one (Zombies Don't Cry). To avoid being captured by the Sentinels, Maddy, Dane and Stamp have been forced to flee Barracuda Bay, leaving everyone and everything they knew behind. They are now "living" in Orlando, working at a local theme park in the Great Monster Makeover show, doing their best to stay under the radar and out of trouble. Well, at least that's what Maddy and Dane are trying to do. Stamp? Not so much. Ever since he and Maddy broke up, he's been partying every night, hooking up with girls (and Normals at that!) and enjoying the night life of Orlando to the fullest. As reckless and worrisome as his behaviour is, it isn't until he falls for a certain mysterious blonde that things really spin out of control, triggering a chain reaction that will put the after-lives of our zombific trio in great danger. Brace yourself guys, some seriously nasty brain-goo is about to be spilled!
Zombies Don't Forgive was SO MUCH FUN! I loved everything from the sparkly dialogues, deliciously nerdy humor (for example: Maddy finds her brain-supplier on a website called Zombies 'R Us. Her own nickname there is Living Dead Girl. Total WIN!) to the non-stop action and jaw-dropping plot twists. From the moment Val stepped onto the scene, I knew she was going to be trouble. I really loved Maddy and Dane for doing everything in their power to protect Stamp, whether that meant dressing up as survey-takers and snooping around or risking their after-lives to save his skin. Their friendship had its good and bad moments - they were annoying the not-exactly-living souls out of each other while sharing a closet-size apartment - but they were always there for each other. Even having to deal with the painfully awkward romantic situation they found themselves in (I guess you could call it a Living Dead Love Triangle) didn't destroy the strong bond between them.
I really like the fact that we got to learn a little bit more about the Sentinels in this book. On top of that, we were introduced to the Keepers (who are somewhere between the Sentinels and the Ancients). Rusty Fischer expanded the world we knew from book one, adding new, interesting aspects to it and therefore making the story even more exciting. The ending - as well as all the heartbreaking, gut-twisting events leading up to it - was totally unpredictable and eye-popping. I could not believe where the story went, though I must say it was such a brilliant development! In short, I was blown away (yet again), impressed and deeply satisfied.
I laughed a lot while reading this book, but I also worried, got angry and bawled. And I'm pretty sure I growled a couple times, too. Yes, this book is a zombielicious fun fest - hilarious, entertaining and quirky - but it's also so much more than that. It's a sweet, warm and meaningful story of friendship, love, survival, revenge and sacrifice. Not some shallow paranormal romance filled with cheap jokes and brainless action, but rather something deeper, more thoughtful and emotionally engaging. Most importantly, Fischer's characters are blissfully angst-and-drama-free. Zombies Don't Forgive is no sullen-Cullen mope-fest, it's a cool, original story that will seriously rock your boat!
In the end, despite the fact that all (or almost all) the characters in Zombies Don't Forgive are dead, cold and pretty stiff (literally speaking), the story itself has a beautiful beating heart. From beginning to the end, it's funky, fresh and full of incredible energy. And the only thing I could possibly complain about is having to wait so long for the next book in the series!
_________________________________________________________ This review will be posted on Bookish (www.evie-bookish.blogspot.com) on April 5th 2013, as part of MEN in YA2 blog event.
Loved it. A solid thriller, full of secrets and surprises. The mystery was pretty good, the tension was building up steadily all the way till the end,...moreLoved it. A solid thriller, full of secrets and surprises. The mystery was pretty good, the tension was building up steadily all the way till the end, and the ending was very satisfying, though open to interpretation! I highly recommend it ;) (less)
"Then came the little tink, tink, tink sound. I took out my buds to hear better. The tinks were like rain, only metallic. And the tinks turned to TINK...more"Then came the little tink, tink, tink sound. I took out my buds to hear better. The tinks were like rain, only metallic. And the tinks turned to TINKS and the TINKS turned to Mr. Reed's screaming "Holy Christ!". And then suddenly the roof of the bus started denting - BAM, BAM, BAM - and a cobweb crack spread over the windshield. With each BAM the windshield changed like a slide show, growing more and more white as the cracks shot through the surface. I looked out the side window next to me. Hail in all different sizes from little to that-can't-be-hail was pelting the street.
Monument 14 by Emmy Laybourne is a wildly entertaining cocktail of thrilling, fun, and claustrophobic. From beginning to end, this book is breathtakingly fast-paced and intense. If you're looking for a quick, summer read that is neither too heavy nor too gooey, this should be your next pick!
It all started with an eruption of a volcano on an island called La Palma - five hundred billion tons of rock and lava avalanched into the ocean. And it was only just a prelude to the complete chaos that followed suit. The explosion created a half mile tall megatsunami that would later be called "the worst natural disaster in recorded history". After that came the extreme weather condition that affected the rest of the country - supercell storms causing copious amounts of hail and strong winds. The final blow was delivered by the earthquake that ripped through the town of Monument, causing a toxic spill of devastating proportions. And the worst was yet to come...
"People in boats, people crying, people washed down rivers like logs on a log float, people washed up along with their cars and garages and trees and trash cans and bicycles and god-knows-what else. People as debris."
The world is in chaos. Residents of Colorado and neighboring states are urged to stay indoors and seal all windows and doors immediately. They are told to stay put and wait for help. It is too dangerous to go out. Too late for evacuation. Not only are the roads and buildings in ruin, but there is a toxic cloud rolling through the city. Chemical warfare compounds have been breeched and everyone in a five-hundred-mile radius is at risk of exposure to its deadly fumes.
Fourteen kids find themselves trapped in a local supermarket as a deadly bio-cloud surrounds the entire town. There are no mutated monsters lurking outside, waiting to devour them. No supernatural creatures, strange abilities, ghosts or any other paranormal aspects to the story. What we have here is a group of normal teenagers and kids fighting to survive in a world ripped apart and flipped inside out. It's realistic. It's raw. It's straightforward and quite believable. Convincing enough to make you pause and wonder what would you do in a situation like that. And scary enough to send a cold shiver down your spine.
Now, while I definitely had fun reading this book and thought it was a pretty decent survival story, I can't say that I was blown away by it. It's a quick and entertaining read - fast paced, captivating and at times even heart pounding. But at the same time, it lacks depth and fails to engage the reader on a more emotional level. At least that's how I felt while reading it. The character development is minimal, which isn't really surprising considering the fact that the book is less than 300 pages long and we have fourteen characters who all play a role in the story. Plus, it obviously isn't a character driven story to begin with. But I wanted to at least be able to get to know the lead character a bit. A lot happens on the pages of Monument 14, the plot races along at a break-neck speed, people are forced to think and react fast, they need to make decisions and then take actions. And they do all that, but we don't really get to see the reasoning behind their decisions, which makes some of these decisions very hard to understand and accept. That's especially true when it comes to Dean (the lead character), who often comes across as not very bright, creepy or selfish. I found it impossible to connect with him (or any other of the characters for that matter), and the only person I actually grew attached to was Niko.
I thought the plot was pretty good, too, though I'll admit that some aspect of it made me either laugh or raise my eyebrows. For instance, I really liked the idea of the toxic gas affecting people with different blood types in different ways. What made me chuckle a bit, was the way it affected people with Type B. Out of all the ways the poisonous fume could affect them, the author chose to go with failure of reproductive organs. I mean, really? I know that to a teenage boy not being able to "get it up" is a situation just as horrible (or worse) as blistering and turning into a jelly on the inside, but still.. I thought that was pretty funny. And then there were other things - things like how the kids in the supermarket reacted to people on the outside when they came asking for help - that just didn't make sense to me. Overall, though, I thought that Emmy Laybourne did a good enough job of capturing the fear and desperation of the situation.
Monument 14 is not the best of its kind, but it's definitely not the worst either. It's a good book, with an entertaining plot line and terrifying premise. As long as you don't go into it expecting a life-changing experience, you should have plenty of fun with!
Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes (Michelle Rowen) is a downright good read. Marketed as part of Penguin's Breathless Reads collection, it's a thorou...more Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes (Michelle Rowen) is a downright good read. Marketed as part of Penguin's Breathless Reads collection, it's a thoroughly captivating and deliciously readable YA fantasy novel that will appeal to fans of George R. R. Martin's bestselling high fantasy series, Game Of Thrones. Personally, I could not put this book down. Told from multiple perspectives, richly imagined and packed with eye-popping action, it's truly a breathless read, and one that I will be recommending to all my friends!
The story focuses on three kingdoms: Auranos, Paelsia and Simeros. The kingdoms managed to co-exist in peace for many years, but when a wine maker's son is killed by a lord from another kingdom, the established peace is threatening to crumble. There is a war brewing and four seemingly unrelated young people find themselves caught in the middle of it.
Impressive world building, thorough character development, intrigue, magic, action, romance... Falling Kingdoms has all that and more! At more than 400 pages, it's not what you'd call a short book, but Rhodes' sharp and concise prose makes it all-too easy to lose yourself in the story and forget the real world for a day or two. With to her skilled storytelling, she created a world that is mystical, but believable nevertheless. A visually breathtaking, emotionally stimulating, intensely gripping page-turner of a book!
As I mentioned before, each chapter of the book concentrated on a third-person point of view of a different character. I thought the third-person narrative provided a good (objective) look at all sides of the conflict, though at times I wished the story was told in a more personal first-person narrative instead. Mainly because, while third-person narrative explored the thoughts, feelings and motivations of all four main characters, it did not make their voices distinct enough. That, of course, doesn't mean that I found the characters underdeveloped, I just thought it would've been really interesting to fully explore their unique personalities. Overall, though, I thought Rhodes did a really good job juggling the multiple characters and skilfully intertwining the story lines. The result was simply amazing: the plot line was full of interesting tidbits of information, fresh ideas and surprising plot developments. The story was a complex and multi-layered one, but not overwhelmingly or confusingly so.
I really enjoyed Rhodes writing style. It was more YA and MG-friendly than your usual high fantasy book and I found it easy to read and understand. The descriptions were rich in details, the dialogues - realistic. I loved the intrigue and how fast-paced the story was. I also really appreciated the fact that Rhodes was not afraid to kill off some of the characters and trust me when I say; some of those kills were real jaw-droppers!
All in all, Falling Kingdoms is a fresh and exciting YA fantasy novel that is sure to please a wide range of reading tastes. This book has everything from action and political intrigue to magic and romance. You really don't have to be a high fantasy lover to enjoy this story. The epic scope of the first book in the series promises a fantastic and unforgettable journey and I can't wait to read the next instalment!(less)
I'm on the fence with this book. Some aspects of it I genuinely enjoyed, some I didn't like at all, but overall I can say that it was a good book. En...more I'm on the fence with this book. Some aspects of it I genuinely enjoyed, some I didn't like at all, but overall I can say that it was a good book. Entertaining, quite unique, extremely well-written and addictive, it's a fresh new take on the zombie lore, but one that is more likely to appeal to fans of paranormal romance than a typical horror reader.
It's probably best to begin by clarifying that Alice in Zombieland has very little to do with Lewis Carrol's classic. It's not a retelling, it's not even loosely based around the original tale. It's an entirely different story, and the only things these two books have in common is the similar title, the name of the lead heroine and the white rabbit theme. I must say that this alone was a little bit of a let down. I did expect to see a darker, more sinister and twisted version of Alice in Wonderland. I thought it would be quirky, thrilling, perhaps a little bit gore, and definitely totally bad-ass. Well, as it turns out, if you're looking for all that, you're better off picking up Zombies Don't Cry or ZOM-B (and the last one is super, super dark and disturbing!). I won't lie, I felt just a tiny little bit cheated. And the worst part is, if not for the faked connection to Alice in Wonderland, I would've probably enjoyed this book a lot more. The storyline wasn't bad at all, the pacing was good, the intrigue was very well thought-out and quite twisty, and the ending just totally blew me away. For the most part of the book I felt that Showalter was trying too hard to mold the story into something that would be -even only remotely - resembling Alice in Wonderland. And I thought that was unnecessary. I didn't care much for the rabbit-shaped cloud, I thought it was a forced and awkward addition that was only there to draw fake parallels between the two (totally unrelated) stories. One might argue that the connection between Alice in Zombieland and Alice in Wonderland is a more metaphorical one, and the car accident that claimed the lives of Ali's family members and threw her right in the middle of a zombie-infested world was similar to Alice's falling into the rabbit hole. Two girls, two bizarre and scary worlds. But then again, we could probably say the same thing about practically every other heroine from a YA paranormal story. Aren't they all launched on crazy adventures at one point or another? For me, the connection was just a little bit too weak and unconvincing. The last hundred pages is when the real action happens, when this story finally breaks away from the chains of being Alice in Wonderland-look-alike and morphs into something truly fabulous, heart-pounding and jaw-dropping.
Showalter's zombies are not your usual flesh-devouring, brainless zombies that roam around the town aimlessly in hope of stumbling across something (someone?) to chew on. They're infected spirits, malevolent souls that - denied eternal rest - are drawn to the light of the living people that can see them. And not everyone can see them. More over, only a certain group of people can actually fight them. See, fighting the evil spirits is more complicated than killing "normal", made-of-flesh zombies. To kill a spirit, you have to enter the spirit realm, which means disconnecting your soul from the body. I thought that was an interesting concept, though I'm not entirely sure why we have to categorize these spirits as zombies. Maybe I'm just a classical munch-on-your-brain-and-slowly-mope-around zombie kind of gal, but Gena Showalter's zombies were just not zombie enough for me. They were too clean, too neat and too ghost-like. I would have been perfectly happy calling them malevolent spirits instead.
That is not to say that I did not enjoy this book. I did, and quite a lot at that. Once I got past the things that bothered me - and thankfully there weren't many and they weren't big enough to prevent my enjoyment of the story - I actually had a lot of fun following Ali's adventures. As I mentioned before, I especially loved the last hundred-or-so pages of this book when all the juicy and exciting things happen, secrets are revealed and your heart starts pounding real fast. I thought the conclusion of this book was totally mind-blowing, and I really hope Gena Showalter will keep this awesomeness up in the next book!
I liked most of the vibrant and interesting characters in this book, with the exception of Cole. Sadly, I wasn't a big fan of his childish and pushy personality. He refused to explain anything to Ali, even though he was well aware of the fact that her ignorance would put her in danger. He didn't want to get romantically involved with her (at least at the beginning), but he couldn't stand seeing her happy with another boy, either. He was possessive, short-tempered, ill-mannered, and controlling. Personally, I didn't find him hot at all. I do like bad-boys, but only if they possess some sort of redeeming qualities and a genuinely good personality that's just temporarily hidden underneath the mask of an overly-confident, tough boy. And while Cole might still show us his more tender and caring side in the next books, for now I decided to keep a healthy distance from him. The way he behaved in the first part of the book - constantly snapping at Ali, instructing her what to do, shutting her out but not letting her move on, and more often than not being plain rude and unpleasant - that just smelled too much like a certain sparkly vampire to me (or Travis from Beautiful Disaster, if you will). And I really hope he'll show us a different, more positive side of his character in the next instalment of the series.
While I generally liked Ali, I certainly did not care for her instant attraction to Cole. I did not like the dynamics of their relationship, I thought they were unhealthy to say the least. Overall, though, I thought Ali was a very authentic and convincing character, and I definitely enjoyed following her adventures. The first-person narrative offered a really good insight into her thoughts and feelings, and allowed me to understand the motives behind her actions. She was quick-witted, quite clever, brave, determined and bold. She was not easily scared, either. In fact, most of the time she would adapt to new situations and surroundings with surprising ease.
Kat, on the other hand, was just pure awesome. She burst into Ali's life like a tornado and, despite her many personal problems, was always cheerful, full of energy and confident. A little bit over-the-top at times, but in a good way. I loved her, I thought she made a great friend and a phenomenal supporting character. I'd go as far as to say that she was one of the most - if not the most - complex characters in this book. There's so much more to her than meets the eye!
My favourite thing about this book? Gena Showalter's excellent writing style. Her prose is straightforward, direct, honest and dynamic. At times it's more lyrical, sensual and dreamy. At times it packs a strong punch. Her descriptions are vivid and precise, her insights surprisingly accurate. It's all too easy to lose yourself in the world she created, and it's practically impossible to put the book down mid-way. The pacing is perfect, the plot moves along smoothly. It's just.. an overall fantastic reading experience.
I can honestly say that I enjoyed this book - some parts more than others, but overall I thought it was a great, furiously entertaining and thoroughly captivating read. Alice in Zombieland was my first book by Gena Showalter, but it certainly won't be the last one. I can't wait to read the next instalment of The White Rabbit Chronicles and see where Showalter will take us next!(less)
A charming, intelligent and emotionally rich story, Stealing Parker is even better than Miranda Kenneally's previous novel, Catching Jordan. It's poss...moreA charming, intelligent and emotionally rich story, Stealing Parker is even better than Miranda Kenneally's previous novel, Catching Jordan. It's possibly the best thing that happened to fans of YA contemporary romance this year. One incredibly sweet, devilishly hot, sometimes even totally inappropriate (but absolutely delicious) book that is sure to disarm even the toughest and pickiest of readers!
Parker used to lead a charmed life. She was one of the best players on the high school softball team, she had friends, popularity, beauty and a perfect family. And everything was going smooth for her, until her mother ran away with another woman and Parker's perfect life crumbled to pieces. Her best friend stabbed her in the back, people stopped talking to her and she became a social pariah, "a butch softball player who probably likes girls". To Parker, it seemed that even God has turned his back on her and her family. Hurt, confused and angry, she quit softball team and lost 20 pounds. To prove that she was not like her mother, she took extra care to look as girly and cute as possible and started hooking up with different boys every night (just kissing, tho!). And then a new hot guy showed up in town and everything quickly spun out of control. Now, the reputation that Parker created for herself and all the bad choices she made along the way are threatening to destroy everything she cares about: her relationship with her father, her friendship with Drew, being the valedictorian, and - most importantly - the love she so desperately needs.
In many ways, Stealing Parker is similar to Catching Jordan. Once again we get a group of characters that defy the romantic stereotypes and a lead heroine that is feisty, witty, bold and impossible not to adore. And once again the plot involves sport (in this case, baseball), a complicated love triangle, and a whole lot of sparkly and highly amusing back-and-forth between the characters. What makes Stealing Parker even more appealing than Catching Jordan is its intensity and maturity. This book touches on some difficult and important areas such as homosexuality, religion and teacher-student relationships. Kenneally wrote a romantic story that is so much more than just that, a novel that explores many themes - from friendship, first love, trust, acceptance, forgiveness to sexuality, bigotry, addiction and rejection. And she did it in the utmost graceful, convincing and emotionally affecting way. I quickly found myself entirely engrossed in the story, in love with the characters, and unable to put the book down.
Keneally's writing style is right up my alley. Her prose is honest, very natural and fresh. It's infused with real emotions. At times you feel like a puppet and Miranda Kenneally is the puppet master - she'll make you laugh out loud and clap in excitement and then merely 2 pages later you'll be tearing up and sobbing quietly. And she'll also make you think about all the issues she brings to life in her book. Reading Stealing Parker is an all-around wonderful experience. There's not a single person I wouldn't recommend this book to.
And one last thing I just have to mention: Corndog (Will) is so adorable! I loved the chemistry between all the characters - it was charged and intense - but I definitely loved the sweet, tender, shy and innocent chemistry between Corndog and Parker the most! And I couldn't stop laughing each time Parker's dad would mess up Corndog's nickname and change it to Corn Fritter!
Don't hesitate to pick this book up. It's an incredibly well-written, beautiful story that balances romance, drama and comedy perfectly.(less)