Review to comeMove over Hunger Games and Divergent, I think I have a new favorite dystopian novel! Neal Shusterman’s Unwind was amazing. Dark, deeplyReview to comeMove over Hunger Games and Divergent, I think I have a new favorite dystopian novel! Neal Shusterman’s Unwind was amazing. Dark, deeply disturbing, but amazing. Brilliant, even. I really want to know where he got the idea for this story! Like the uber popular Hunger Games series, the concept behind this book was highly original. I mean, legalized abortion for kids between the ages of 13 and 17? Insane! The world that was crafted is deeply disturbing, so please don’t start reading this book thinking it’s a fluffy middle grades “Dystopian 101” level book. I have to take a moment and go off on a small tangent… When you read a great piece of fiction, it makes you think about a lot of things. I absolutely love when a book can challenge our views and opinions on controversial topics in ways that seem unimaginable and horrific. You can truly explore the dark psyche of human nature through literature, even when people are scared to express the ideas or views openly. That is great literature! So, thank you Mr. Shusterman for this book... even if others think you’re demented for creating the concepts that haunt the pages of Unwind. One of the things that makes this book so amazing are the characters. They are very complicated. Each of the main characters have been chosen for “unwinding” (i.e. a form of legalized abortion during the ages of 13-17) without their concept. Conner is a troubled youth. He’s not breaking laws, but he doesn’t do anything to make his parents’ lives easier. Bad grades, bad attitude, bad future: Perfect candidate for unwinding. Except Conner is not okay with that decision. He realizes that he wants to live. His life is his to control. Risa has the unfortunate circumstance of being an orphan. State budgets are tough and money has to be saved somewhere. Unwind. Then there is Lev. Raised as a tithe (yeah, that kind of tithe), he will be devoted as an unwind. Until Conner kidnaps him and messes everything up. I think Lev is one of the most interesting characters I have ever encountered. He starts off as this blind lamb willingly following someone else’s plan for his life. Then there is a series of very strange events that change him (not necessarily for the better). The person he becomes by the end of the book is so convoluted. His various transformations are interesting and certainly worthy of many discussions. (Please read this book so we can discuss it!) I know the author intended this to be a stand alone title originally, but I am thrilled to hear that there is more of this story to come. I hope that we get more insight into Lev because I have so many questions that I need answers for! If you haven’t figured out the premise of the book yet, I’ll spend a bit trying to explain it. Basically, America’s final great war (called the Heartland War) was between two forces (Pro-Choice and Pro-Life) that just couldn’t reach an agreement. To stop further bloodshed, a third party (U.S. military) offered a solution to the age-long debate/war. The solution was unwinding. To make the Pro-Lifers happy, no one could get an abortion. All babies must be born and raised; however, you could choose to “unwind” your child from the time they turned 13 through his/her 17th birthday. The catch? Every single piece of the body has to be reused. (Yeah, think about that for a moment!) The military thought it was such a crazy idea that both sides would see the folly in their fighting and come to more peaceful terms. But you know that seldom happens when you’re dealing with politics. Both sides loved the idea! This is pretty thought provoking stuff, and that’s not even mentioning “the scene” near the end of the book. Good golly. It makes Saw IV look like an 80s Care Bear movie. There are no rainbows and unicorns in this one, folks. This is a dark read. The subject matter is disturbing, but it’s written with great skill and care. I do not think it’s suitable for younger readers because there is a fair amount of graphic violence within the book. Do I think this book should be read? Absolutely! It would be a disservice to your country to not read this book. (Ok, that might be a bit of an exaggeration, but it is a great book.) I really hope I get an ARC of book 2, Unwholly, before August. I would wet my pants if I did. I want to know what happens next! The anticipation is killing me. ...more
The great care that was taken to develop the setting in this book was amazing. It completely sucks you in. The storTwo words: complicated and intense.
The great care that was taken to develop the setting in this book was amazing. It completely sucks you in. The story takes place in Salem in the early 1900s, which makes it the perfect setting for a super creepy story. And boy, did this story get creepy.
The characters were extremely well developed. It's hard to say what I liked about them the most. The "good guys" were more than just vampire fighting teens. They had, well, character. I won't say much about them though. I'd rather talk about the centuries old vampire out to help destroy the world. He was interesting. The way he was described and the detail given to his inner thoughts, made him terrifying. I am such a wimp when it comes to scary things, so I was really taken by surprised. Of course, I also couldn't stop reading because I was so intrigued by the complicated plot.
Since I mentioned vampires, it should be obvious that the paranormal element is strong with this one. There are also demons, witches, and warlocks. The combination of these paranormal elements is what makes this story so fascinating and complicated. You wouldn't think that a book with this much going on would be coherent, but it is. In fact, it's so well thought out that it's terrifying. Every detail fits together like a well planned puzzle.
In fact, "puzzle" is a great way to think about the plot. There was just so much happening in this book! I was rather impressed that I made it to the final chapters before I figured out what was going on. That's very impressive. I do think it's worth mentioning though, that I have mixed feelings about the shocking ending. IF this is the beginning of a series, then the ending is awesome. I mean, blow-your-mind-how-did-I-not-see-that-coming kind of awesome. And also assuming that this might be the beginning of a series, I am super curious to see what will happen next. (Read that last chapter and you'll know what I'm talking about.) That was one heck of a cliffhanger ending! Now, if this is a stand alone book, then I'm mad as hell with the ending. So many unanswered questions! I didn't have a sense of completeness when I finished the book. I felt like there must be more to come. (Which makes me think this is the beginning of a series.)
Don't read this book thinking it's a light and fluffy YA paranormal book. This is a dark fantasy... dark, dark fantasy. If you're a wimp like me, you should read it during the daylight hours for the villains in this book are what nightmares are made of. If you like a more mature book with a strong good vs evil element that leaves you questioning what you've read, you'll love The Darkening Dream. ...more
As much as I love this series, I have to say I was a little disappointed with Crimson Frost. Maybe it's just me, but this series is dragging on. I reaAs much as I love this series, I have to say I was a little disappointed with Crimson Frost. Maybe it's just me, but this series is dragging on. I really thought this would be the final book, and I was sad when I started... BUT, now I'm ready for a finale.
I know some stories can't be told in 3 or 4 books (um, Harry Potter?), but many of them can. Honestly. Yes, I love the mythology embedded in the Mythos Academy series, but it's getting stale. I felt like most of the action in the newest addition to the series was much of the same. A few new villains and twists added in, but otherwise more of the same.
Now, with that being said it doesn't mean that I didn't enjoy this book. I did. I think Gwen and her grandma are awesome, and Logan totally makes my heart beat faster. The other characters that I have enjoyed in the past really didn't have much of a role in this book. That was a little disappointing. Daphne and her beau were absent for the majority of the book. Bummer. A few new characters were introduced, so that might make the next book more interesting. I intrigued by the hodge-podge team of Reaper fighting whiz kids that has been put together. I hope Midnight Frost brings them all together in some way.
I think it's worth noting that the setting is what makes this series so much fun (in my opinion). Sure, we have yet another supernatural themed story taking place in a uppity boarding school. That cliche is still being used. However, this time the students are "whiz kids" with hidden talents and ties to mythology. You have gypsies like Gwen, Spartan warriors, Valkyries, and a few other mythological creatures popping up. I especially like how the various myth cultures are represented. In Crimson Frost, we meet a creature from Egyptian mythology and Apate. Loki is still lurking in the shadows and trying to take over the world. That hasn't changed.
What will Midnight Frost have instore for us? Who knows. Hopefully a conclusion to this series, because I really don't know how many more twists and turns can be added to the plot before it seems like we're reading the same story again. I'm already starting to feel that way. Thankfully, though, there was one heck of a surprise at the end that will make the next book very interesting. Jennifer Estep seems to have a way with those hook endings. ...more
One word: UNCATEGORIZABLE! This series is intense and amazing. Many authors find themselves facing “sophomore slump” when they write the second book iOne word: UNCATEGORIZABLE! This series is intense and amazing. Many authors find themselves facing “sophomore slump” when they write the second book in a series, but not Neil Shusterman! In fact, Unwholly is probably better than Unwind—and I didn’t think that would be possible. Aside from the fact that these books are so unique, the author does an amazing job creating his characters. In Unwind, I found myself fully invested in Lev, Risa, and Connor. As Unwholly began to unfold, I was equally engrossed in their stories. But there were new characters introduced in Unwholly that really made this book! The one that stood out the most was Starkey. OMG. He is the ultimate antagonist. In fact, I found myself so disgusted with his character and his selfish motives, that I had a hard time reading Unwholly. I would get angry as I read and had to put the book down to cool off. That is powerful writing! For an author to create a villain that is so vile he makes me angry and bitter… wow. Starkey felt real. And I’m not saying that in some super bookish nerdy way either. All of the characters in this book were phenomenal. Oh, did I mention there is also a modern Frankenstein element going on too? Yep. If you couldn’t tell, the guy on the cover is Cam—a boy created completely from the parts of unwinds. Every piece of his patchwork self was sculpted from living flesh of unwanted children. Creeptastic! Enough about the amazing characters… the plot(s) need some attention as well. First off, when you look at this book it appears to be one large dystopian plot. But it is SO much more. Each character has his/her own story that is told individually through alternating points of view. Every single character! You would think that would make this a choppy read, but it flows seamlessly (no pun intended, Cam). Ultimately, all the individual plots merge into an action-packed climax that leaves you cursing some characters and aching for others. Stunning! It was flawless. Above all of these incredible in their own right elements, the most amazing aspect of this book is the deep philosophical level that it brings. Ever since I read Unwind, I said this series needs to be discussed aloud. I still hold to that claim. In fact, I told my teacher friend that she needs to read this series to her 8th grade class (so I bought her a copy). Of course, I said to set the stage she had to build the background knowledge that the entire series centers around: who has the right to play God. If you don’t know the basis of Unwind, it’s rather complicated. In a nutshell, however, it goes something like this: America could not come to an agreement over the Pro-choice and Pro-life debate, which led to the second Civil War. In an effort to reach an agreement, the government made a suggestion they thought would be so ridiculous that both sides would stop arguing. That didn’t happen though. Instead, both sides agreed to the terms and “unwinding” was born. Pro-life wins out from conception to age 13. From the 13th birthday until the 18th birthday, parents can choose to “unwind” their children (hello, Pro-choice) as long as Science uses every single part of the body. Can we say disturbing? Keep all that in mind, and add in a character that is entirely created from the parts of unwinds in Unwholly. Now you have the philosophical elements because Cam questions the idea of having a soul. That was some seriously deep stuff in a YA novel! I loved it. Then there is Miracelina. She’s Catholic and wants to be unwound. Based on her religious beliefs and her decision to basically volunteer for suicide, another brilliant conversation about one’s soul emerged. I’m telling you, this book is brilliant and so is Neil Shusterman! This is not a light-hearted YA dystopian. It is also not a story laden with teenage romance. If you want a feel-good story that leaves you smiling, you should also probably look elsewhere. But if you want a story that will have you questioning society’s values and human nature, then you should definitely read Unwholly! ...more
When I accepted an ARC of Shadow Sight, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I knew it would be good because the author’s Spirit Guide series has received suWhen I accepted an ARC of Shadow Sight, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I knew it would be good because the author’s Spirit Guide series has received such high reviews. I also wasn’t fully certain what an “urban fantasy” would be exactly. My brain has a strange way of classifying genres, and urban fantasy is not currently in my vocabulary. All of that aside though, I can safely say that I had a lot of fun reading this book. The main character is a little quirky (along with her roommate named Jinx), which made me like her instantly. I love characters that aren’t perfect and seem to be aware of their flaws. Ivy was definitely one of these characters. She has a special gift—she can glean images (emotions) from any object that she touches. Pretty handy skill for finding your lost car keys, but not so great when you suddenly flash on someone’s worst nightmare. But despite the challenges, Ivy’s made a pretty good life for herself. She runs the psychic investigating operation Private Eye. Her special talents often lead to special clients. Enter Forneus, a demon attorney (I laughed at the irony of that stereotype) representing the Kelpies of the area. No big deal, right? Hardly! Kelpies like to eat humans, but that’s the least of Ivy’s problems. As it turns out, the Kelpies are the victims in a ghastly plot to wipe out the human population of the town. Ivy has to find a way to rescue the kidnapped Kelpie king and stop the each uisge from attacking. Not sure what each uisge are? Neither was I before reading this book! So I did a little research with my friend Google. The each uisge are similar to kelpies in that they both take on the horse-like form (or human at times) to lure their victims to the water, where they drown them and eat the remains. Kelpies, however, prefer fresh water and rivers while the each uisge are saltwater dwellers. They also have their origin in Scottish folklore, and are thought to be the most vicious of the water dwelling creatures. I think that is safe to say after reading this book! Holy smokes. If I saw one of these jokers in person I would pee my pants. No lie. Here is one of the descriptions of the diabolical monsters: “The monster was death incarnate, from the milky orbs of its dead eyes to the dripping fangs, sickle claws, poisoned spines, razor sharp exoskeleton of its legs, and dark mangy fur stretched thin over jutting ribs and hips.” I promise you, this description is all rainbows and lollipops compared to the first encounter with the beasts. You still get an idea of how terrifying this creature would be. No wonder you don’t hear much about the each uisge in mythology books! One of my favorite aspects of this book was the incorporation of so many mythological elements. There were vampires, unicorns, kelpies, each uisge, fae of all types, witches, trolls, mermaids, merrow, and many more. Don’t think that the story is choppy with so many supernatural elements, because it is not. Everything fits in very nicely and sets the stage for future books in the series. I am certain that some of these mythological creatures will be revisited as Ivy’s story progresses. If you’re a fan of mythology or paranormal books, you would enjoy Shadow Sight. There is an element of romance that begins to develop towards the end (which keeps you wondering what will happen in the next book) to satisfy the paranormal romance fans. But if you’d rather read a mythology-based mystery told from the point of view of a quirky, often sarcastic, main character, then you definitely need to read this book! ...more