I read Ann Aguirre’s Enclave last year and have already talked about how much I liked it. It had zombies, which I love (which? whom? Two sentences intI read Ann Aguirre’s Enclave last year and have already talked about how much I liked it. It had zombies, which I love (which? whom? Two sentences into this review and I’m already feeling all existential). It also had a kickass heroine (Deuce), a boy I could root for her to be with (Fade), and excellent worldbuilding. At the time I reviewed Enclave, I spent a paragraph pouting about how far away the release date of Outpost was. Then, though I read and loved Outpost when it was released, this stupid thing I do every day called a job stole all my reviewing time. Thus, now that it’s a new year and I’m trying to be a better blogger (swearsies), this was the first book I went to.
Ann Aguirre is a master of pacing a plot. When I first started reading, I was afraid this would be a book in which we’re info dumped a lot of stuff about the zombies and the world they all live in, but man was I wrong. A lot of stuff happens in this book. A lot. But it also feels like just enough. We see the characters going places and doing things, things I can’t talk about without spoilers. There were scenes in this book that had my heart pounding because I legitimately didn’t know who might live or who would die. The characters we spent a book getting to know are now shoved to the actual edge of the world that remains for society, and living on that boundary means that not only is there plenty of action, but we also get to learn new information by being shown instead of told. This is especially helpful because not everything that happens in this book is happening physically. It’s a different kind of survival Deuce is fighting for – one that requires looking more than five minutes ahead – and that’s reflected in how this book moves.
I said in my review of Enclave that Deuce was amazing because she felt like a real person, and Outpost only enhanced that for me. Deuce is learning a lot about society and herself and how different life underground is from life topside. We see a lot of character development for Deuce, but we see it through the things she does. She’s fighting, physically and emotionally, for her place in society and society’s place in the world. We go out with her and see more of the world and fight her fights right alongside her. It’s not always pretty – when I say she’s fighting I mean it – and her struggles were frustrating for me. But that’s where her realness came in for me. I didn’t always like what Deuce was doing or how she was acting, but I understood her.
My one complaint when I reviewed Enclave was that I felt like the romance between Fade and Deuce sort of fizzled. Outpost made me feel stupid for ever saying that. I thought the problems they had were addressed in a smart way, and I also thought it was done in a very real, relatable way. Deuce and Fade, though grownups in their world, aren’t emotional wizards because they didn’t live in a world where that’s important (Deuce even more so than Fade). But their relationship was touchingly done and all the growth I saw in Deuce, I really liked seeing Fade go through his own.
What really made Outpost a standout for me was the background cast (especially getting to see Deuce grow into her family). I liked what happened with Tegan, and I liked that while she and Deuce are opposites in a lot of ways, Tegan has a lot of Deuce’s strength, even if she doesn’t show it in the same way.
Stalker, for me, was the biggest improvement from Enclave. I really appreciated the fact that his past wasn’t just glossed over. I also appreciated the fact that the world of Outpost is not the world of today (mostly safe and somewhat prosperous). It’s a morally complicated universe, and Stalker is the best reflection of that. He wants to change and improve, but can he ever really shake off a past when as dark as his? Part of me doesn’t think so. I still don’t like him. I still think that he is not and never was a serious love interest for Deuce. I still think that if he were to be eaten by a freak, I wouldn’t grieve much.
But I also think that he’s a reflection of Deuce’s struggles with her own humanity, and so I’m glad he played the part in this book he did. Does Deuce succumb to the base of society, where survival and power the only things that matter? Does she become Tegan, and turn her back on the outside dangers? Or can she find somewhere in the middle? It would be so easy to turn off her emotions and pick the perfect caveman-esque partner, a hunter with strength and physicality that she doesn’t have to feel anything for. She’s not struggling with liking Stalker, she’s struggling with the burden of all of the feelings she suddenly has for other people.
I was surprised that I liked this book so much. And the last line? Good lord. I need Horde, and I need it now. I can’t wait to see where Deuce’s journey takes her.
I read Incarnate rather early…I think last August. And thus much of it had flown out of my brain when I started Asunder nearly a year and half later.I read Incarnate rather early…I think last August. And thus much of it had flown out of my brain when I started Asunder nearly a year and half later. I did remember that I cried a lot for the sadness of Ana’s life. And that I adored Sam. And there were dragons.
While Asunder had much of the same elements of Ana discovering who she is, it took it a step further with the mystery of reincarnation and Ana’s newness and how the mythical creatures of the world are also involved.
And OH MY GOD. I loved the well….no spoilers…but PHOENIXES!!!! I am soooo excited for the next book when I hope we get ALL THE ANSWERS! And see some Phoenixes!
Sam was still adorable and I loved all of his interactions with Ana. And the drama that he has collected over 5000 years. There were times when I thought maybe it was a little unbelievable but then I remembered FIVE THOUSAND YEARS, and figured they were all do a little drama.
I hated the council and pretty much everyone who wasn’t a friend of Ana’s. I can even kind of see where they are coming from. I mean, we get one life (as far as we know) and death generally scares most people. So, the idea of dying and never coming back, which Ana represents for them, must be terrifying. But still. They were all such jerks.
I absolutely loved Ana’s take charge attitude in this book. She was going to find all the answers and make it safe for everyone. I love that she turned into this mother-hen-protector even though she is HOLYCRAP younger than most other characters. I think my favourite line in the whole book was when she says to Sam, “I’ll protect you from the Dragons.” It was just so…adorable and really summed up her new protector role and her love for Sam.
I did find…hrmmm, how to explain without spoiling. Not spoiling is so hard. But lets say that every clue Ana and Sam acquired generally disappeared before they had an opportunity to fully use/explore/read/understand it. And after awhile I was just like, “so why do they keep finding them??” And I don’t know, it just annoyed me. Also, even with the accumulated drama of five thousand years, not EVERYONE has to be in love with Sam. Just saying.
But overall, I highly enjoyed this book and the new characters and new twists. I think I especially like Cris. His story was interesting and I loved where he was at the end of the book and what that means for the world and the rest of the story. Eager to learn more about that and, hopefully, see PHOENIXES!!!!
I remember the fortunate moment when I got an advanced copy of Marie Lu’s Legend in my hot little hands. I was excited. Very excited. It ticked many oI remember the fortunate moment when I got an advanced copy of Marie Lu’s Legend in my hot little hands. I was excited. Very excited. It ticked many of my boxes. Dytopian? Check. Crazy smart heroine? Check. Learning to see like from another point of view? Check. Zombies? No. Alas. No zombies. But that’s ok, because I didn’t miss them (much). In fact, the only box it didn’t tick for me was nice, readable black font. I liked June, I liked Day, and I thought the plot was fast paced and engaging. My one complaint at the time (other than the font color), was that I thought it was short. Like another fifty pages could have really added something to the characters. I let that go, though, knowing we were getting Prodigy (and of course the not-yet-titled third installment). And, dear readers, Prodigy delivered.
I am going to get this out of the way and say that, once again, I didn’t like the colored font. That seems like a stupid complaint, but type face (and covers) play a big part in a book’s experience for me, and I found the color to, after a while, make it hard to read. Not as hard as Legend, which featured yellow font to Prodigy‘s blue, but still. And it’s something I am glad I was prepared for, stilly though it may be.
But on to the meat of things. June. June June June. I love June. I liked her a lot in the first book because she was the kind of girl who, even when her entire world is falling to pieces around her, keeps her head. It wasn’t precisely easy, but she somehow manages to make it work. I admire that resourcefulness in her. I admire her perseverance. And I especially admire that she could and did change her mind. I liked June in Legend, but couldn’t love her because there wasn’t much to her. We got the base of June in the first book, and then in Prodigy we got t see why she does the things she does – what makes her tick.
We got to see June’s inner workings by seeing her in action. And boy, the action. Marie Lu’s greatest strength, I think, is her world building and plotting. So many things happen, but it doesn’t feel piled on. Both the reader and the characters have time to absorb and figure out what the latest developments mean personally and to their plans. And the action that happens? It matters. None of it feels convenient or as a way to move a relationship along. It’s all sort of deliberate, if that makes sense.
But for all that success at plotting, Marie Lu did something in this book that is both annoying and brilliant all at once: she introduced a new love interest for June that left me feeling some genuine conflict. I liked Day in the first book. I thought he was a good guy with the makings of a great man. I liked the balance of his strength and his sensitivity, especially as involved his family. And I really liked that we got to see him afraid. And I found I enjoyed all of those things in Prodigy as well. He and June have excellent chemistry on the page (and in one scene in particular). But…all that said, I really loved Anden. I thought he and June had even more chemistry than she and Day, and I found their scenes together to be some of the most compelling in the book, made even moreso by June’s genuine confusion about how she is reacting to Anden and about her compatibility with Day.
I will say it’s frustrating, getting to know a couple and becoming invested in their relationship only to have an entire book suddenly question it. That’s the very reason I usually hate love triangles, but this added a needed emotional connection to a series that was otherwise largely plot (I refuse to call this a love square because of…well, because of reasons). I thought it showed me a lot about June and the struggles she’s already having with herself. And, for the first time in a long time, I feel like I can trust and be happy with whichever path June takes. Mostly because I trust June.
And that’s just the major players. Razor, Kaede, and the rest of the supporting cast all managed to add something to the book without feeling like soapbox characters – characters put there to conveniently espouse a certain point of view. There was plenty of opining, to be sure, but it all felt natural, something I thought was an improvement between Legend and Prodigy. The Patriots were suitably complicated and the right and wrong course therefore suitably grey. I will confess to wishing that the Patriots were a little more likable, but it’s a dystopian world and nothing can be perfect.
I’ve said before that my favorite thing about getting to read a book by a debut author is watching their storytelling and writing grow. Marie Lu’s certainly has. She took the fast paced, exciting plot of Legend and managed to grow her characters into something more in Prodigy. I cannot wait to read the final installment and find out what the heck is going on and what June’s going to decide to do about the world, herself, and her boys (maybe but not necessarily in that order?).
The first time I read anything written by Alaya Dawn Johnson I was fourteen years old. She wrote my most favourite fanfiction of all time. I’m not goiThe first time I read anything written by Alaya Dawn Johnson I was fourteen years old. She wrote my most favourite fanfiction of all time. I’m not going to go into details here but it was Sailor Moon, and involved chickens, and accidental nudity and traveling between worlds and magic and painting.
She also wrote another amazing one without any fantasy that involved Shakespeare and peaches.
To say I wanted to get my hands on this book a lot is an understatement. So when it was at ALA this past January, I snatched it up like nobody’s business.
Basically I loved this book. And I don’t know how to describe this love. The writing was dense and beautiful. The world was exotic and familiar and futuristic and crumbling with age. It was timeless.
The grittiness of the characters, the starkness of their sexuality and the friendships. The people were just so well rounded and well written. The characters were all complicated and their relationships were all complicated. A friend asked me if there was a love triangle in this book and…well…I honestly don’t know how to answer that. If I say no they could call me liar but yes isn’t the right answer either.
The characters and their relationships with each other were not black and white. Rivals were also friends who helped each other. Friends were in love with the same person but still wanted the best for each other. And I loved, loved, LOVED that no one was defined by their sexuality. Girls had sex with boys. Boys had sex with boys. Girls had sex with girls. No one had any problems with this or tried to define it as anything other than people being in relationships. It was awesome.
June, the main character is an artist. A grieving artist who starts the book off angry at the world. Or, angry at herself for not being enough to keep her father alive and taking it out on the people around her. I really enjoyed watching her progression throughout the novel. She went from being a bitter teenager, to a rebellious artist to a passionate activist. When through it all she just wanted to create beautiful things that MEANT something to the world. She was never perfect but always felt like someone real. Someone who wasn’t sure which direction she wanted her life to take and kept making mistakes and I just wanted to be her friend. Though I was pretty sure she was to cool to be friends with me.
And Gil was such a darling. They balanced each other out quite well. And I loved, loved, loved that both Gil and June were in love with Enki but in very different ways and in ways that didn’t stop them from being friends or from being in love. It wasn’t really a love triangle because no one was trying to win.
And Enki. He was a perfect mix of mysterious, untouchable (even though he touched everyone), and inhuman. And yet, really, really human? Like an Every-man character. He was so different in his sameness.
I can’t describe him. These three worked so well together though.
It’s a complicated story about love and loss and bitterness and the newness of being young and jadedness of being old. And life. At it’s core I thought the book was about relationships and connecting with people and the important of being alive and together. Being connected to people and to the world.
There’s a lot I haven’t gone into because there is too much to cover. I will simply say in the grand sea of dystopia YA The Summer Prince feels like a completely new take on the genre and is one of my favourites.
The Lost Code, the first in the Atlanteans Trilogy, is like a summer read out of my past, with a modern YA twist. I mean, it takes place at a summer cThe Lost Code, the first in the Atlanteans Trilogy, is like a summer read out of my past, with a modern YA twist. I mean, it takes place at a summer camp, like all the best R.L. Stine books. A summer camp with more going on than meets the eye, also much like an R.L. Stine book. But it also has this dystopian setting just outside the camp, giving it this weird feeling because everyone in the camp knows it’s a lie, a lie that cannot last.
I thought the world building here was excellent. Like, a summer camp out of the 1990s smack dab in the middle of post-apocalyptic world where the Earth is tearing itself apart shouldn’t make sense, but it did. And it worked. And I liked that you never quite knew everyone’s motivations or loyalties.
Now, all that being said I did have a couple things I didn’t like. The plot moved along rather slowly and while it was nice to build the mystery of everything I really just wanted the characters to DO something. And the main character, Owen Parker, read a little young to me. I don’t remember if his age was ever mentioned, but he was among the older campers. And, age aside, he read (to me anyway) like the main character of a middle grade novel. While most of the characters around him read like young adult characters.
Does that even make sense? There was nothing wrong with his characterization, it just wasn’t what I was expecting from a young adult post-apocalyptic novel. I’m hoping he grows more with the books, and we see him become “older” and more of a leader. We got to see glimpses of this near the end of The Lost Code, but I would’ve liked more.
Leech, one of Owen’s mysterious cabin mates and a bit of a bully, was a very interesting character. I liked how he seemed to have the best situation out of anyone in the camp but things weren’t all that they seemed in his life. I’m really, really looking forward to seeing more of him in the rest of the series.
As for the love interest, Lilly, I liked that she was a little older and had probably the most personality of any of the characters in this book. I really enjoyed her story and how out of place and out of time she felt. She kind of represented the whole camp that way. A thing from the past that did not fit into the world surrounding it. I’m not quite sure where I hope her story goes. I liked that she wasn’t automatically part of the mythology but she still could be. Though, I can also see this leading to a love triangle in future books and I’m not cool with that at all.
I had the pleasure of meeting Jennifer Bosworth during the Fierce Reads tour and was glad that I was able to read Struck before the event. It was a fuI had the pleasure of meeting Jennifer Bosworth during the Fierce Reads tour and was glad that I was able to read Struck before the event. It was a fun, fast read with sci-fi, post-apocalyptic, and paranormal elements. But somehow they all worked very well together.
The first thing you need to know is that this book is a stand alone. Woot! Or, at least, it works as a stand alone. I’m not sure if there’s going to be more to Mia’s story. But I like that there could be, or not, and either way I’m happy with it.
Other than that, my feelings about Struck are so “meh” that it’s difficult to come up with anything to say. I liked it, but didn’t love it. I liked the characters, but didn’t fall in love with any of them or form a deep psychological bond with them as I sometimes do.
I liked the mythology and the conflict. I liked that there was always more than one thing going on. Like, there’s an evil priest and groupies and there’s another group of strange people who seem better than the evil priest but still not good. And there’s this other guy telling Mia to stay away from everyone. And then there’s her family troubles and the small problem of a part of Mia desperately wanting there to be another storm. She wants the lightning.
I liked a lot of the imagery in the book. Especially that of the lightning scars. There’s a bit near the end where Mia is hit by lightning and she imagines the scars that cover her body moving onto her face and into her eyes. I really liked the image that put in my head of the red veins creeping across her face.
Other than that nothing really stands out. So, while I have not one complaint about this book, it was a fun read, I don’t really have anything that I loved about it either.
I will say, I do really like the cover. And I like that Mia isn’t a pretty, pretty dress for no reason. Also, it has a very decent book trailer. And I don’t generally enjoy book trailers.
If you’ve read Poe, then you should know the story of the Masque of the Red Death. It’s a short story that describes a sweeping illness across the lanIf you’ve read Poe, then you should know the story of the Masque of the Red Death. It’s a short story that describes a sweeping illness across the land and how its ruler, Prince Prospero, tries to outrun it by hiding out with a few hundred of his closest friends. But he soon learns, you can’t outrun Death.
While you can see the story Poe created in the book Bethany Griffin wrote, she also makes it her own by giving the illness a name, giving the country its set in a backstory, and focusing not on Prince Prospero, but a young girl who feels she doesn’t deserve to live anymore named Araby Worth.
At the beginning of the book, I felt like I was reading about a robot. Araby was essentially a blank slate who lived each moment only by blinking and breathing and refusing to feel a single thing. She’d cut herself off from the world and the tone of the book reflected that. Told in stilted sentences and jumps in times and places, Araby describes the devastated world around her in the wake of the Weeping Sickness.
A lot happens in this book; more than I thought would happen. Araby is kind of tossed around between two factions of the increasingly coming war between Prince Prospero and Reverend Malcontent, just because she’s the daughter of the scientist who created the air masks that can save lives and is also friends with the Prince’s niece. Slowly, she becomes more aware of herself and what’s happening around her, and toward the end of the book, actually starts to make a stand on where she wants to be in the upcoming fight.
The book tries to set up a love triangle, but honestly, there’s no contest. Simply because one of the guys is a jerk. And he never stops being a jerk. I have no idea why Araby puts up with him because he’s just a huge jerk who might be insane. If she starts liking him in the next book, I will throw it at the wall.
Overall, this was an interesting idea that became a fascinating world. The tone was a bit depressing, as was Araby, but it was still interesting enough to finish. And I want to read the next one just to see what happens next, which is always a good sign. If you like Poe, depressing main characters, and hints of steampunk dystopia, then I recommend reading this book.
Elizabeth Richards Black City was one of the books I was most excited about picking up at BEA this summer. I read Black City pretty stoked and 100% reElizabeth Richards Black City was one of the books I was most excited about picking up at BEA this summer. I read Black City pretty stoked and 100% ready to love it. The cover is pretty, and I’d heard the concept was a neat take on the supernatural craze that has swept up so much of YA. For the first 160 or so pages of this book, I was into it. Really into it. Could not think of anything else into it.
There were a lot of good things about this book. I liked that the characters were flawed in a way that made sense with how they were brought up. I liked that both Ash and Natalie had their prejudices and were ignorant about the other’s life. I thought the world building was fascinating, so much so that I looked past the random and somewhat excessive use of exclamation points and the weird Britishisms that crept in from time to time. I thought that there were some cool stories hanging out in the background, the kind that would help a trilogy make sense. The background cast was interesting, and they all had histories and personalities that made them more than stereotypes of the role they were in.
I thought that the atmosphere of the first 160 pages of this book was stunning. It was moody and dark and mysterious. There were things I wanted to know more about (like the breakdown of the regions being governed), but I was confident that we’d keep getting subtle context clues and not suddenly have a history lesson info dump randomly one chapter. In short, the beginning of this book was everything I’d hoped it would be and then some, which is why what happened around page 160 was such a colossal letdown.
What was most frustrating about this book to me was that we had the potential to really see two characters get to know each other. Ash and Natalie were from two COMPLETELY different worlds (hell, two completely different species), and the only things they knew were the stereotypes that each of their social complained of. Natalie was spoiled by the luxury she lived in (for all of the problems that came with it) and Ash’s problems had turned him into a detached jerk. And it made sense – perfect sense! – that these two characters would turn a physical attraction and a fascination into something more grown up and awesome. I would have been so down with THAT story that I’d be crying with joy as I told y’all about it.
But…no. Instalove. Instalove in the most awkward and random and out of nowhere manner. I expected there to be an element of Fate and Destiny because this is a fantasy novel and, honestly, I would be bummed if that element were totally absent. But even I didn’t expect it to the degree it happened. After that point, I felt like Black City turned into a completely different, not nearly as awesome book. Suddenly Natalie, who up until this point has shown a fair amount of open mindedness and common sense, ignores everything she knows about Ash and turns her back on her (only) friend because her (only) friend doesn’t like him (with good reason, had everything Ash let said friend believe turn out to be true). She doesn’t question the feeling. We’re suddenly thrown into this whole “You have literally awakened my heart so I have forgotten everything that came before.”
For 100 pages, I was ready to tear my hair out. I couldn’t make sense of what had happened. I wanted the Black City of the first 160 pages back. And then…the twist. In theory, the twist should have turned the whole instalove aspect on its head. I started to get my hopes up again. Ash (and to a lesser extent Natalie) suddenly has to question whether this instalove is real and the difficulties of a relationship with Natalie. Once again, we are back to a plotland I want to roll around in and never leave.
In order to decide if what he feels is real, Ash needs to make out with someone else. I was with him. This is a confusing time! You are confused! Make bad choices and make reader-me happy with some delicious conflict! Natalie sees and obviously she reacts just as I want her to react which is basically, “I understand and all, but screw you.”
But that plot, for me, didn’t sustain itself. Ash starts thinking and realizes, no, he DOES in fact love Natalie for who she is. This is where my problems came back and then some. Ash has admitted, as has Natalie, that they know very little of each other. They are clearly attracted to each other. They are clearly interested in finding out more. But he LOVES her. And why? Because of the way she clacks mints against her teeth and because of her bravery (and one more reason ala mints that I can’t remember). So, two of those reasons are automatically silly. Bravery. Ok. That makes sense. Only as a reader, I had seen only a few instances of Natalie being brave. The very start of the novel and once more. I had, however, seen several instances of her not being brave. Of her being scared and succumbing to that fear (which is something I actually really liked about her character).
In the end, instalove prevails, only without the supernatural element. I tried to argue myself out of feeling this way about the love story of this book. They are teenagers, I told myself. They are young and stupid and they don’t know what love is! But we’re told that they do. We’re told that they’re in love. The Romeo and Juliet risk everything kind of love.
And maybe in the end, my intense problem with the love story in this book is that I am the type of reader who does not find Romeo and Juliet at all romantic; who found it, rather, to be a story of passion but not of great love. Who found it to be the story of what happens when passion rules every aspect of your life. Romeo and Juliet is a tragedy for a reason. Only I know I’m not going to get that kind of payoff in this series because Ash and Natalie are very likely going to end up together. Which would be fine if I understood why; if this book went beyond the passion.
Even with all that said, if the world building of the first 160 pages had been sustained, I might have enjoyed this book more. I thought the idea of Black City was that awesome, but the idea faltered along with the love story. Too many things happened. There were, as I said above, enough subplots in this book to span at lest another installment of the series, but they all played out in a mere 340 or so pages. A LOT of things happened in this book. I felt like every time I turned the page, some new, crazy action was rushing at me. In some places, this worked very well. In others, it happened at the end of a chapter and the next chapter was several days later. It made the pacing a bit of a rollercoaster, but not an awesome kind. I kept start-stop-start-stopping, and it started to get frustrating the further into the book we got because more and more things just kept piling on.
Overall, Black City has oodles of potential. So much potential. Elizabeth Richards obviously has some seriously boss imaginings going on in her brain. That potential, though, is what makes this review so hard to write. I wanted desperately to love this book. I was loving this book. The middle, though, is a mess. The “meat” of the love story is a mess. It’s scattered and jumps around which means that the plot ends up scattered and jumping around. All of the awesome backstories and worldbuilding get completely swept up by the instalove tornado.
In the end, I just didn’t enjoy this book. Will I read the sequel? Yes. Because Elizabeth Richards DOES have boss imaginings going on in her brain, and I think this series is salvageable. Hell, this book was an ARC so maybe changes have happened. Without those changes, Black City, though it started with a spark, fizzled to a dud.
One of my very favorite things is reading books by debut authors. I love to see that first glimpse into a new imagination and a new voice. And then, eOne of my very favorite things is reading books by debut authors. I love to see that first glimpse into a new imagination and a new voice. And then, especially because so many YA debuts are the first in a series, I love to see that author’s talent grow. When it comes to Veronica Rossi, I’m not sure how much higher she had to climb. I read Under the Never Sky by random draw, closing my eyes and just picking from a stack. When I first pulled it out, I was a little disappointed. But then I read the first chapter and I could not put it down. Under the Never Sky had almost all of the things I love in a book: a mysterious plot, a mysterious boy, a lack of a love triangle, a girl who is struggling to figure out her place in the world, and an awesome world in which to do that. Also? The title is so pretty.
I loved the world-building in this book. It made for interesting, diverse characters. It made for awesome descriptions and visuals. And, most importantly, it played perfectly into the plot. I loved the contrast between the pod people (as I called them in my head) and the people of the wild. And the wasteland with its storms? Brilliantly written and exciting to read about. It was a fertile ground for these characters to grow in.
I thought the plot was well paced. There was action and emotion and humor and it all came at just the right time.I felt like everything that happened happened for a reason, and that each event and each page of the book was building somewhere. I liked the mystery in it, and I liked the fact that two people from two different worlds had two mysteries to solve. I’m not normally a fan of dueling points of view, but there were distinct voices for both Perry and Aria. I thought one of the best things about this book was watching two people from opposite ends of the spectrum find their way to the middle. This was so important, because though we get glimpses of other characters, the vast majority of this book is Perry and Aria.
I really liked Aria’s journey. She was brave from the get go, and smart. I liked that both of these things lead her to be a little manipulative, as is seen from the very first chapter, in the pursuit of what she wanted. I thought that she felt real. She was unlikable at times, but in a good way. In a way that meant she had somewhere to go as a character. Aria had the most character growth of any character I’ve read in a while. And what was fascinating was that Aria was all alone. She loses her only real friend right off the bat and we know her mother has been missing from page 1. It made Aria’s journey more complicated, because she’s been thrust into the ether with no backup. It made me admire her refusal to give up that much more. I loved where she ended up, and I really loved watching her get there.
Perry was awesome. If I were stuck in a zombie apocalypse (and no, no zombies here), I’d totally want a guy like Perry. He could hunt and he could fight and he was brave. But, for all his prickliness (and there certainly was prickliness), there was a lot of depth to him. We knew he had sympathy and feeling from the beginning, and we saw more and more of that come out as the book went on. His relationship with his family was one of the most interesting parts of the book, as was his relationship with his friends. It showed us a side of Perry that he wouldn’t even admit in his own mind.
But the real strength of this book was Perry and Aria together. They genuinely disliked each other in the beginning, but they got to know each other. Not likes and dislikes so much as who the other was. They were attracted to each other, but that was only a part of it. They made each other better, more whole. I felt like, at the end, here are two characters who together could do anything. They started out on completely unequal footing, but by the end they were partners. It was a great evolution.
I think Under the Never Sky lived up to its title. It was beautifully written, the characters were excellent, and I loved how the romance grew and was shown to us. It was a great first installment, a great debut, and I can’t wait for it’s sequels.
Article 5 was one of those books that drags you along through the muck and trees and rocks until you’re sure you can’t take anymore, but then you findArticle 5 was one of those books that drags you along through the muck and trees and rocks until you’re sure you can’t take anymore, but then you find that you like the muck and trees and rocks and soon after that, you find yourself screaming, ‘Bring it on!’ to whatever else is out there because you’re stronger than you thought you were and there’s no way something as trivial as a few hardships are going to take you down. Seriously. That’s what this book is like.
It’s been three years since the war ended. The nation is changed. There wasn’t much given about this “new world”, but one thing is certain – it can’t be better than what was there before. What starts off as citations for an unnecessary number of things becomes instant arrest by the ever-present military. The government is trying to build a ‘perfect’ society. Think Germany after WWI but with more rules. It’s socialism and militarism and 1984, all rolled into one.
Ember Miller lives with her mother in Louisville. A new Statute comes into law, which forces them apart and puts Ember on a journey that changes her forever. Chance, the boy she loved years ago, comes back into her life, but not like how he was before. He’s different. He had to become different because he was drafted into the ‘Morale Milita’, the enforcers of the Statutes, forcing him to leave Ember.
This book is gritty and rough and doesn’t take prisoners. For most of the book, I found myself grinding my teeth in anger at the utterly unjust way people (i.e., Ember) were treated. The powerful kept all the power and forced everyone else under their boot.
Chase is an enigma, who needs to fight demons of his own before he can be any help to Ember. I found myself half rooting for him and half wishing Ember would leave him behind because he’s certifiably crazy. In the end, though, his true self comes out. You can kind of see a hint of it in the character interview I did with him a while back.
What I really want to know, now, is more about this government. Who is in charge? Who makes up these Statutes? What’s their end game? How can they be taken down? Will they be taken down? I really want answers, so of course the next book isn’t coming out until next year. *sigh* I only have so much patience and it’s all being taken by other book series. This waiting game will surely kill me.
Until that time occurs, however, I suggest you read this book and then get back to me with what you think are the answers to my burning questions. It’s much more enjoyable in purgatory when you’ve got friends to share it with.
When I first heard about this book I was very excited. A dystopian starring descendants of the current English royalty? Awesome. Royalty in danger, hiWhen I first heard about this book I was very excited. A dystopian starring descendants of the current English royalty? Awesome. Royalty in danger, hiding amongst the common people to save their family and retake the throne? It’s like the what I love about fantasy in a dystopian setting. Yes, please.
Unfortunately I was mostly disappointed. Sigh.
The book had the potential to be all that I was hoping it to be. The prose was decent, the characters intriguing, the world building and the setting were all awesome but it was just lacking something. Everything felt so incredibly rushed.
Before we knew it people were dead and Eliza was out on the streets. Then she barely had any time to take in being on the streets before she was in the army that wanted to kill her. And after two days in the army she was in love with someone. To me, it felt like I was reading an outline of a story that could have been great if there had been more to it.
I still mostly enjoyed it. It’s fast read that never really stops moving the plot forward and if there’s a sequel, I’ll probably read it but I don’t know. I was just wishing for more. Especially at the end when Eliza becomes this great leader and such. I needed more of that. I wanted to see her realize that she had truly embraced her royal lineage and would make a great Queen if things went sour.
A lot of the individual moments in this book were good but over all I wanted more from the plot and the character development.
It’s been noted by my blog partners that I like to read the scary books. This is a true statement. There is something about being terrified by the wriIt’s been noted by my blog partners that I like to read the scary books. This is a true statement. There is something about being terrified by the written word that I can handle much better than I can visually. It’s one of my quirks. Last year’s most scary read for me was Ashes, this year it’s Ashfall. Both terrified me because, you guys, they could really happen and if they did, it would be really, really bad.
Alex’s world is changed forever in an instant by the eruption and his quest for survival begins. I thought Mr. Mullin did a great job of creating a fifteen-year-old boy from Iowa’s voice. Alex is just a kid. He’s kinda geeky. He does Taekwando. His younger sister bugs him, he’s not that thrilled with his mom or his dad. He’s normal, but what he sets out to do is extraordinary.
Ashfall is written in first-person narrative, so when “the event” takes place, we as the reader know what Alex knows and it is scary and confusing. Very little is known about what is going on outside the immediate vicinity, and the devastation surrounding him is catastrophic. Beyond the physical damage that occurs, it’s really the rapid devolution of human beings that is truly terrifying.
The dangers Alex faces are many: lack of food and water, exposure, the inhalation of ash, to name a few, but his biggest threat is other people. Mullin has created a stark setting and takes his protagonist on a journey that left me questioning the fragile balance of humanity in which we as a species cling precariously to.
I’m not a scientist, nor is Mullin, but he did a lot of research for this book and because of that he was able to create a frightening world that has left me anxiety-ridden for days. The extreme changes to the physical world were such an unbending obstacle that I found myself wondering if Alex was just going to lie down in a pile of ash and die. I wouldn’t have blamed him, but that wouldn’t have been much of a story, so Alex does not give up. Ever.
I love this kid. The transformation of him leaving boyhood and becoming a man was such a great read. It does take some time once Alex sets off to find his family to where he’s not the only character in the story, and reading up until then was a bit slow. That isn’t a knock on the storytelling ability of Mr. Mullin as it was very necessary for Alex’s growth and for the reader to see how horrifying an event the eruption truly was. Everything changes completely. Once Alex “finds” Darla, the story really took off for me and for Alex. Darla is a fantastic character. She’s smart and self-reliant and vulnerable in all the ways Alex isn’t. I loved the juxtaposition of these two.
I won’t lie to you, Ashfall is a book that caused me great anxiety, (seriously, I’ve made most of the people I know discuss what we are going to do when the supervolcano erupts. My husband isn’t with me yet on my idea to move to the Smoky Mountains and buy a farm to live off the land, but I will continue to work on him.) but one that I whole-heartedly recommend. What Alex and Darla experience is nothing short of hell. You’re eager to read, aren’t you? Trust me, you want to. It’s a post-apocalyptic nightmare to be sure, but it’s also a haunting story about the power of love, in all its forms.
Surprise, surprise! I’m reviewing a book that scared me because of its horrifying plausibility. I’m such a glutton for mental-punishment. This time thSurprise, surprise! I’m reviewing a book that scared me because of its horrifying plausibility. I’m such a glutton for mental-punishment. This time the damage was caused by Megan Crewe’s chilling novel, The Way We Fall.
The Way We Fall is told from sixteen-year-old Kaelyn’s point-of-veiw in epistolary form via journal entries to her former best friend, Leo. Kaelyn and Leo have had a falling out a few years prior and Leo has just left for dance school. Kaelyn regrets not patching things up with him and begins her journal with the intent of giving it to Leo when he returns home for his first visit, but before that can happen, the outbreak does. Kaelyn continues to journal, documenting the “fall.”
I will admit I had a hard time getting into the story with this format, I felt very distant from the story for some reason. I know this method is usually a very quick way to get readers ingrained in a story, but something just fell flat for me. I almost gave up, but I’m really glad I didn’t because about half-way through the story, it clicked for me. Kaelyn’s experiences and the way she openly documented them became something I cared about.
Kaelyn and her family (dad, mom, older brother, uncle, and young niece) live on a small island off the coast of mainland Canada, which allows for the outbreak to be controlled, even if the means at which it is seems extreme. The disease comes on very subtly, it’s symptoms very bland in their nature. An itch, how benign. We all get them and I guarantee by the end of the book you’ll be scratching like a fiend, I certainly was. The slow-moving paranoia that begins to grip the island and the actions of the “islanders” and the “mainlanders” as the disease begins to take lives will have you questioning your own morals and the lengths you would go to survive.
Crewe creates an intriguing cast of supporting characters that allows for Kaelyn to see the full spectrum of humanity. She is enough of an outsider in her community to be able to tell the story with a sense of detachment that it doesn’t get weighted down with maudlin sentimentality. Not that Kaelyn is unfeeling, quiet the opposite, but she leans toward a more scientific mind, thus allowing her to “report her findings” to Leo instead of losing herself in despair.
Now that I’ve probably bummed you out, let me say that this is a very lovely story, at its core, filled with hope. Confused? Well, through all of the horror and loss (and there is a lot of that) Kaelyn finds her strength and discovers who she is. She allows herself to become a protector and reaches out to others, forming a budding friendship and falling in love. The romance is really sweet and made me a little wistful for that first rush of love. Even under the extreme conditions Kaelyn and her love interest are faced with, love really does find a way. Too sappy of me? Eh, probably, but I really did get heartchokey with them a few times.
The Way We Fall is the first book in a trilogy, so you’re not going to have all the answers at the end, but you’ll be okay. It was a good place to stop and catch your breath, but know that there is still so much left of the story, because, holy moly, things are really, really bad on Kaelyn’s little island.
I’m not sure what about this book made me want to read it. It certainly wasn’t the cover. This is one of those books that I had to make myself read deI’m not sure what about this book made me want to read it. It certainly wasn’t the cover. This is one of those books that I had to make myself read despite the cover. Possibly I had the impression from a description that it took place at a boarding school and was about kids with powers. Kids with powers at a boarding school is one of my all time favourite tropes I will read almost anything with this set up.
Plus there’s that random line, “her only comfort the bones of dead animals.” Like…what??? So, yeah, I needed this book. And the very nice people at Penguin Canada were awesome enough to pass it along.
So, first of all Holbrook Academy is not a boarding school. It’s more like an asylum. For troubled teenagers. With guards and strict teachers that make you call them Uncle and Aunt. And there’s solitary confinement. Basically it’s a place run by crazy people that think they are helping crazy people who aren’t actually crazy.
Plus, outside of the “school” is basically a dystopian setting. Like, really. People live in locked communities, and there’s all these shortages and basically everyone is trying to delude themselves into thinking that the world isn’t ending. This was my favourite thing about the setting. I loved that it had this almost typical dystopian setting and somewhere else you could imagine a group of kids getting together to fight some sort of evil overlord, but that’s not what this story was about. All that dystopia was in the background. It was a nice change from a lot of books that I’ve been reading lately.
Also, there was a lot of mystery and distrust between all the characters. You never quite knew who was doing what or why. Or what was up with this crazy trail of clues there were following. The mystery was well done, and I liked how it was all solved in the end.
I liked the main character, Faye, she definitely had problems and didn’t have any idea what she was doing or what was going on but just kept trying to struggle through it. I liked that she didn’t just take everything lying down. That she was actively trying to solve the mystery of her past and why there was so much attention on her.
The other characters I found were a little flat, or not all there. I wish we’d had more of them at any rate. Especially Kel. I liked him, but I feel like we didn’t get to know him as well as I wanted to.
Other than that, I really enjoyed this book. So, even if the cover completely turns you off, like it does me, I urge you to give it a try anyway. The cover makes sense with the story. I promise.
I totally had something else on the schedule for today but then I read this and I HAVE to talk about it! I don’t even care that it’s not out for fourI totally had something else on the schedule for today but then I read this and I HAVE to talk about it! I don’t even care that it’s not out for four months. It’s the best book I’ve read this year and everyone needs to read it. And love it and want it and stroke it and hug it….sorry. Got a little creepy there.
Okay, so, confession. I’ve never read Persuasion. I know. I KNOW. I will, I promise. I just…haven’t…yet. I’m not really sure why. I’ve seen two movies and I love all of Austen’s other works, that I’ve read. But I haven’t. So, that’s where I coming from when talking about For Darkness Shows the Stars.
Which was just beautiful and wonderful and so damn good. I’m not entirely sure I can be coherent about this. Okay, so before reading the book, I knew two things about it. One, it was written by awesome-killer-unicorn-lady, AKA, Diana Peterfreund. And two, it was a sci-fi retelling of Persuasion. One of these things is misleading and it isn’t the idea that the story is going to be full of strong females and angsty goodness.
It wasn’t all that sci-fi. I feel like if this had been published last year they would’ve shouted “DYSTOPIAN” from the rooftops. I was totally expecting this version of Wentworth to be a starship captain and for their to some interplanetary war going on in the background of all the angst and romance. But…yeah…no. If anything the book is more of a post-apocalyptic story with some sci-fi elements. Most especially genetic engineering. This isn’t really important to the story, I just want everyone to have the proper expectations.
I don’t even know where to start with what I liked about this book. Everything? The letters that had previously been written between Elliot and Kai as they were growing up? How they were shown to us out of order and the entirety of their relationship revealed all slow and restrained but with such passion and caring and knowing that I could not help but fall in love with the idea them.
Elliot is smart and practical and wants more than anything to protect her friends and loved ones from her father’s controlling cruelty. Kai is smart and reckless and passionate and wants so much more than to be stuck on a farm for the rest of his life fixing broken equipment and making things run smoothly, and he recognizes that despite her responsibilities, Elliot wants more than that as well.
I loved the character of Ro, who could say so much by saying so little. Which, now I think about it, is what was really amazing about this book. You got so much from so little. I’m pretty sure Elliot and Kai never kiss in this book. They barely touch one another. But their emotions and their relationship and all these feelings I’m left with is so much more than anything else I’ve read recently. There are scenes when all they do is stare at one another. No words or actions necessary and I was still jittery with a NEED for them to work out their problems and just be happy and together.
There’s so much more going on though. There’s class prejudice and slavery and a group of people stuck on an island with very little technology and no way of knowing if the rest of the world is still out there. Recovering from some sort of genetic engineering mistake that made the majority of people become simple minded and unable to speak more than a couple syllables at a time. And all that was great and I’ll probably appreciate the world-building a lot more the second time I read it…this first time was all about Elliot and Kai though. All the mystery of how society as we knew it came crumbling down isn’t important. All the family drama, for me, existed simply as a way to pull these two apart and then bring them back together. All this stuff that I usually love in books just didn’t matter. I needed to know how Elliot and Kai ended.
And, I’m don’t want to spoil anything here, but of course, there’s a love letter. And…well…let’s just say in the course of reading this book I have decided that kissing someone’s knuckles is the most romantic action on the face of the planet.
I loved this book dearly and look forward to months of forcing people to read it!
I like boarding school books. There has always been something about them that interests me. Kids being away from their homes and parents creating littI like boarding school books. There has always been something about them that interests me. Kids being away from their homes and parents creating little microcosms of society. I think they provide a perfect setting to showcase the best and worst about us. I was drawn to Robison Wells’s Variant for this very reason.
The creepy factor of Maxfield Academy hits you in the face straight away. There is this hair-raising feeling about it that never goes away; there is something really wrong with this school. Really wrong, and Benson is thrown in with no protection. He only has his wits, and luckily enough for him he’s a pretty smart kid. Variant is written in first person, so you aren’t privy to anything that Benson doesn’t experience, and it’s such an unsettling feeling. This book written in any other perspective wouldn’t have worked. The uncertainty of everything makes it such a thrilling read.
Benson is a great character. You really feel for this kid. He just wanted a better life for himself, he did what he thought was best, and now he is literally fighting for his life. You feel his outrage at the injustice of the situation, the frustration he feels with the other students, and the desperation for freedom. Adding him to the delicate balance that was being maintained at Maxfield Academy, by a very interesting cast of characters—the tag line on the cover is so true, was just enough to shatter it. The plot’s tension builds and builds, winding tighter and tighter. When it finally comes to a head, you’ll be blown away at what’s going on. It’s really messed up. Gloriously so.
Admission: One of my personal pet peeves is cliffhangers. I get that there is a need to have an element of mystery and/or suspense leading into the next book, but ending a book on half a scene just irks me. Variant is the first in a series, and it most certainly has a cliffhanger. I had to leave the writing of this review for a few days after finishing so I could simmer down a bit. The ending really was an “OH, *MAJOR EXPLETIVE*!” one. Now that I’m over my initial frustration (by the way, it was a very good ending and something I didn’t even remotely see coming) I can say that I enjoyed Variant. I quickly became invested in Benson and his situation, and by the end all I wanted was for him to just be safe. I just really, really need the second book. Badly.
Some of you might not know that I’m a NSYA (Not So Young Adult). It’s true and I did it. You know, that thing adults do when they worry about “the kidSome of you might not know that I’m a NSYA (Not So Young Adult). It’s true and I did it. You know, that thing adults do when they worry about “the kids.” I did it while reading Ashes, by Ilsa J. Bick. I lost myself in reading this story and then somewhere about halfway through, I remembered that I blog for a YA book review site and that I was going to be reviewing it. I began asking myself if I would let my daughter read it and at what age. Then I thought about when I was a YA and read a ton of Robert McCammon books (horror fiction that totally dates me) and one of my very, very favorite books to this day is his novel Swan Song, a post-apocolyptic horror fest, that I still read once a year. That’s when hypocrisy slapped me in the face.
We meet Alex, the main character in Ashes, after she’s left home on a mission. Well, more like a personal quest. Told in third-person limited (a favorite of mine) it didn’t take me long at all to be lost in this very visceral tale. I liked Alex immediately. She has a bit more grit to her than an average 17-year-old. Her life hasn’t been the greatest the past few years and it’s hardened her, justifiably so. Very quickly we get to the big event, the electromagnetic pulse, which is another plus for me. I get irritated when books take too long setting things up. Ms. Bick sets the scene and throws us right into the action and once the action starts, it doesn’t let up.
The reader knows more than the characters at this point, thanks to the summary, but one of the aspects I enjoyed most about Ashes is that the characters don’t figure things out right away. They do what I would assume we would all do, fumble around a bit, put things together based on what we know, and conjecture. Basically they wing it and it makes the drama all the more real. They are lost and don’t have a clue what’s going on, they only have themselves to rely on, and it reads really, really well.
I don’t want to give any spoilers away because I want you to enjoy the mystery, and by “enjoy” I mean be scared out of your mind. This is a pretty frightening book. Alex doesn’t just have her own situation to deal with, she’s got other survivors, those who have “Changed”–and want to eat her–and those who haven’t–whose intentions are questionable at best. Who the true “animals” are is a toss-up, and oh yeah, most of the world is dead. Scary, right?
We do get a bit of a love interest, but this isn’t a romance novel. This is a stark tale about survival and how life can change in an instant and then change again just as fast. The violence is graphic, but not gratuitous. The pain and loss the characters suffer is staggering, but not contrived. Ms. Bick has plotted out her story, and her amazing cast of supporting characters (all of whom have tremendous potential down the road), very carefully. By the time I finished my jaw was hitting my chest and I was desperate for the sequel.
If you feel that you are ready to read a book that deals with a lot of blood and guts and some moral dilemmas that gave even an old bird like me pause then, Young Adult, I say check out Ashes when it’s published by Egmont USA on September 6, 2011. It is the first in a trilogy, so going in you should know that you won’t have all the answers when you finish, but you will be very excited for the next book, and can begin tweetstalking the author like I have demanding hints. Let’s suffer together.
I was really excited for this book. I’m not even sure why. I hadn’t heard of it previous to going to Comic Con but when it was talked about at the HarI was really excited for this book. I’m not even sure why. I hadn’t heard of it previous to going to Comic Con but when it was talked about at the HarperCollins panel I decided it must be mine. Luckily they were giving out copies on Sunday so I snagged one. (Though I didn’t have time to meet the author.)
I thought Eve suffered a little from a lack of world building. There seemed just enough to get the story going but not quite enough to have everything make sense. I’m really hoping this is addressed later in the series.
The relationship between Eve and Caleb is very well done and I was thankful that it didn’t go from fear and distrust to love overnight. Eve has to take her time to learn the truth about men as she’s been lied to all her life about them. Though my favourite relationship in the book is definitely between Eve and her friend Arden. They clashed so well at the beginning and then were forced to go on the run together. It was interesting to watch their friendship unfold.
Arden was one of the most believable characters in Eve. She was tough and knew what she was doing in this world. Lied when she had to and didn’t feel bad about it. A perfect foil to Eve who’d bought into the lies the government had told her all her life and was generally a nice, naive person.
So, while this wouldn’t be the first dystopian I would recommend it was definitely a fun read full of excitement and a potentially interesting world. I’m reserving total judgement until I read the rest of the series. It could really go either way.
Zombies! If a book has zombies in it, there is a 99% chance I will read it. Even cameo zombies! Even zombies you can’t be positive are, in fact, zombiZombies! If a book has zombies in it, there is a 99% chance I will read it. Even cameo zombies! Even zombies you can’t be positive are, in fact, zombies! Because zombies are fascinating and awesome. Also because I think I’d do rather well in a zombie apocalypse (and the internet quizzes I’m always taking agree with me, so clearly I’m right). Zombies, in short, rule. When someone recommended me Ann Aguirre’s Enclave, they had me on the hook at that beautiful little z word. And boy was I ever glad to be reeled in.
I pretty much loved the world building in this novel. It read in a new way for me, in the sense that as the character got to see more of the world, the reader got to learn more about it. We experienced her expanding worldview with her. We got the isolation she lived with without enduring a million pages of exposition. We watched the cracks appear as Deuce discovered them. We saw the world fresh through her eyes as she discovered things she never knew could exist. This method was perfect for a novel like Enclave because it kept the general air of mystery and creepiness (Which, let me tell you, was very well done. This book was really creepy without feeling bleak. Hard to do in any post-apocalyptic novel, let alone one with crazy things that want to eat you). Deuce couldn’t possibly know everything so we didn’t get to. It left me wondering in all the right ways without it feeling like a hide-the-ball scenario.
Something in particular I thought was well done was the method of naming the new society members. It ‘s total fate/chance where your drop of blood falls, but what you do with that name and how you view the way you were named? It was fascinating. I found it especially fascinating for both Fade and Deuce, and how they interpreted their names told me a lot about them.
The way the universe was built really fed into the way the plot moved too. The action in this book was perfectly paced. And there was a lot of it. Deuce has feelings, obviously, but she’s also a huntress and so the emphasis o the action and her in it told me more about her than a million pages of her inner-thoughts ever could.
I really, really loved Deuce. Deuce was a strong and capable with a good dose of insecurity and desperation to prove herself. And also, good lord did this girl have her priorities straight. She knew what was important to her. But she also did her best not to judge people who might not feel the same way. She wasn’t cold or impersonal about it – in fact, Deuce is an incredibly loyal and affectionate girl. She’s wonderful at seeing past other people’s ideas and rumors and…all of the random crap that people think about everyone else. Deuce was one of those characters that felt real, like you could talk to her and she’d be a real person and not someone’s idea of that person. That’s a little bit weird now that I write it down, but that’s how it felt for me.
I also really, really loved Fade. I loved that his backstory was so apparent without ever being fully explained. And I loved that we SAW the kind of person through Deuce’s eyes. She knew what everyone said about him, of course, but seeing that unravel and watching the real Fade emerge was amazing.
The one thing that bothered me in this book was that, while the plot stayed intense, the romantic plot sort of fizzled. I wouldn’t exactly say a love triangle was introduced, because I honestly don’t think there was (another boy shows up, sure, but I don’t think we’re intended to take him seriously as an option for Deuce. She sure as heck doesn’t. Not really). It’s just that this great buildup sort of reached a high point and then just plummeted. I understood why, which works in the books favor at least. Still, I would have liked to see a little more resolution to what was actually a surprisingly important hunk of the plot.
My stalking of goodreads/amazon/the internet in general has at least helped me in this regard, because Enclave is the first installment of Ann Aguirre’s newest series, the Razorland books. And yay. Because if there was no sequel to this – if this had been the one YA book in a sea of sequels without one – I would have cried. Because I loved this world and these characters and the way it was all put together and I need more of it. Now. This second. September of 2012 (when Outpost will be released) feels like a million years from now. But don’t let that deter you. Enclave and its characters and world are worth that wait.
Prior to actually getting my greedy little hands on Veronica Roth’s Divergent, I’d been anticipating it for a while. Caitlin was practically salivatinPrior to actually getting my greedy little hands on Veronica Roth’s Divergent, I’d been anticipating it for a while. Caitlin was practically salivating to get her hands on the book, and her desperation was infectious. Then I read the first 100 pages and I was done for. I knew I had to have this book in my hands right. that. second. And guys, it was seriously worth the wait. For reals worth the wait.
There have been a plethora of dystopians lately. And yes, some have been better than others. I think Divergent might be among the best. The thing that made this book pop for me is that it seemed like such a unique concept. Almost all dystopian novels play off one thing: the tie that exists between people. Because they’re young adult, it usually has something to do with love or physical appearance. In a lot of novels (read: Delirium or Uglies) this can really work. But Divergent did something that was really fresh for me: it focused on our inherent personality traits. The book just wasn’t matching people with a job or a family unit or a mate. In fact, no one was really matched at all.
Fundamentally, this book was about making people choose the type of person they wanted to be. Not who or what job or anything else, though there are elements of that, but whether you are selfless or kind or adventurous or smart. And that choice made it fascinating. Even if the tests said, “Kate, you are x,” that doesn’t mean I’m stuck being x. Every character in this book made the ultimate choice for themselves. It didn’t mean it worked out, it didn’t mean they fit, but they got to make the pick. I loved that so, so much. Obviously there would be elements of society that then restrict you – only selfless people can be in government, etc. – but the idea that you take a 16 year old and say “Ok, what kind of person do you want to be?” was amazing.
This choice made reading about Beatrice so much more fascinating. She was weighing the pros and cons of who she wanted to be. More than that, she was realizing that there was something in her she might never have expected. And I loved Beatrice. I think that she is the perfect catalyst for where these books are going (and, as much as I want to, I can’t say more because I will spoil everyone). She wasn’t perfect by any stretch, but she was good at things and the book didn’t shy from that. For me, that was the only thing about this book that really brought Hunger Games comparisons. Only, though, because Katniss had her strengths and her weaknesses and the reader was never asked to see her for anything but who she was. The people watching the games might, but the reader knew Katniss. I knew Beatrice when I read Divergent. Everyone else had an image and an idea of her, of Tris, but I knew who Beatrice really was. It made me connect with her on a whole new level.
The supporting cast was great as well. I loved that in a society where people choose who they think they are, that there were such a broad spectrum of personalities even within one “type.” Some of them broke my heart. Some of them made me smile. And some of them (OMG Four!) made me swoon.
Four. I have to talk about how amazing Four was. Because he was amazing. He was everything I want a male lead to be. He was supportive and helpful, but he recognized other people’s strengths. And he also didn’t hide from or moan about his own weaknesses. Four was borderline perfection.
My only complaint when I was reading Divergent was that Four’s background, which is a big mystery of the novel, felt a little out of place for me. Not that I didn’t love the idea of it and the plotting. But I think there was a tiny hole in the ultimate reveal of that mystery that, again, I can’t talk about here without spoiling the fun. I’ll just suffice it to say that I wish we’d gotten a little more explanation about the nature of the mystery, but I’m hoping next book will help me there.
And…the next book. I need it. Right now. RIGHT NOW! I haven’t been this stoked by a series in a long time. Seriously. If you haven’t read this, please do it now. Even if you don’t like dystopian novels, read this. As good as this book was, I think the sequels are going to be even freaking better and you aren’t going to want to miss out.
I’ve mentioned here my tendency to judge a book by its cover. It’s bad, I know. I’ve also mentioned my tendency to pick books by their titles (Never SI’ve mentioned here my tendency to judge a book by its cover. It’s bad, I know. I’ve also mentioned my tendency to pick books by their titles (Never Slow Dance with a Zombie…come on, you HAVE to read a book with that title). And I find most books I’m judging by these standards on the new teen release shelf at Barnes and Noble. Last week, I was perusing and came across The Maze Runner, by James Dashner. The cover looked cool, but it was the title that grabbed me. I love mazes – Halloween is awesome just for corn field ones. So I bought the book and read it last night. All of it.
Maze Runner opens with Thomas standing in a box. He can’t remember anything but his name, and he has no idea how he got there. From this box, he is pulled into the world of The Glade. There, at the center of a large, always changing maze, a collection of boys (all of whom appeared mysteriously just like Thomas), have formed a society with their own jobs and tasks and rules. The number one rule: Don’t Go Into The Maze. Because waiting out there in the ivy covered walls are Grivers, strange, robotic slug like creatures whose sole purpose is to kill Gladers.
When I reviewed Michael Grant’s Gone a few weeks ago, I talked about how much I loved a book that was built around plot and a character rather than a romance. That was one of my favorite things about this book. It was nice to again see a character who had a romantic inclination, but it wasn’t the sole purpose or function of his life. Maze Runner actually has a lot of similarities with Gone. It’s another sort of dystopian, Lord of the Flies on speed set up, with no discernible way out of this prison that the characters live in. But Maze Runner is Gone two years down the road, once order had been established. It shows that with determination and grit, kids will band together and do what it takes to survive. And it is Gone without the sometimes children’s lit feel.
Talking about the characters in this novel is hard for me, because I loved all of them. I loved Thomas. I loved Teresa, even if she was more of a presence than anything else. I love, love, loved Newt and Alby and Minchoo and oh God did I love Chuck. I even loved Gally, the semi-villain of the novel’s beginning. I loved how different each of these characters was while still having a sort of root strength inside of them. I loved how they were all tied together so well despite being so different. And I especially loved how Gally was genuinely messed up. He had a very real trauma and very real suspicions, and watching his mental deterioration was almost heartbreaking even as he was being a total ass.
One of my favorite things about this book, though, was that the setting became a character in itself. The Maze is tricky and dangerous. The walls move, there are terrifying beasts and dangers within, and it seems to be mocking its captives throughout the novel. And…it offers no way out except over a cliff. More than the maze, though, are the creators of the maze. These creators are a total unknown to the characters, but you get a sense of who they are and what kind of things they’ve done and you get a sense of unease with them while still wondering if maybe all isn’t quite as it seems.
I’ve talked a lot about how important suspense is in a plot-driven novel, and Dashner doesn’t disappoint. There are so many clues dropped throughout the novel – little hints, tiny snippets of conversation that turn out to be so important for the later puzzle. Again, as a novel targeted toward young adults, there is a certain amount of predictability in this, especially when Thomas is trying to remind you that something has been mentioned before, even if he can’t remember what it is. But the mystery was still enough that things slipped past my notice, and at the novels conclusion, I had no idea what was going to be happening next.
The ending of the novel was perfect. Maze Runner is the first of a trilogy, but the ending still felt like an ending. The epilogue set up the sequel brilliantly, establishing a whole new level of suspense without feeling like a cliffhanger. And it went so fast. When I first read it, I thought it was too fast. But, having gone back and looked at how long the ending actually is, I just realized that it felt fast. It felt intense, and I really liked that.
Maze Runner was another smart book. It took the idea of kids trapped and took it to another level – it let them actually take care of themselves. They didn’t degenerate into pig hunters or junk food eating disasters. These kids are survivors, and I loved that more than anything. Even when total panic would be the default, there was always someone around to keep control and help others stay sane. And this ability was admired and rewarded. Hard work was rewarded too, as was skill. It’s good to see such examples for the actual young adults reading this book. Hell, I felt like a lazy bum reading about the hard work these kids did on a day to day basis.
I highly recommend The Maze Runner to all of you for a good, suspenseful, and thrilling read. I’m eagerly anticipating the next two books.