This Aussie YA read is a mix between psychological thriller and dystopian, andThis review appears on Happy Indulgence. Check it out for more reviews!
This Aussie YA read is a mix between psychological thriller and dystopian, and I’m glad I ended up sticking through the series with Reckoning. Pan has learnt to harness her abilities for the greater good, convincing the student body that they need to escape. She really grows in her confidence and her ability to convince people, and I liked seeing her and Jen lead the charge.
While I had problems with the slowness of the middle book, Reckoning is filled with action. The plot is faster paced, with Pan and her friends focused on escape and overcoming the constraints of the School. I loved the psychological thriller elements, with Pan’s ability to invade people’s minds and to take control of them. There’s a fairly sinister plot in the background, with some scientific elements for an impending pandemic which were believable. It’s these elements that really made the series stand out for me.
However, Reckoning still retains the overall problems of the series – the third person perspective makes it hard to relate to Pan, even in the third book. She comes across as dry and expressionless, with her overlying trait – determination. That’s where the secondary characters shine with the fiesty tough girl Jen, Sanjit’s hacker skills, and Wei Lin’s kindness.
Pandora Jones: Reckoning was an epic conclusion to a unique dystopian series, with some believable pandemic elements and an interesting psychological power. Although there’s a few problems with perspective and characterisation, I enjoyed the series as a whole.
I received a review copy from the publisher....more
I really wanted to like Unwanted, as a dystopian by an Australian author, andThis review appears on Happy Indulgence. Check it out for more reviews!
I really wanted to like Unwanted, as a dystopian by an Australian author, and while it had some unique elements to it, I couldn’t quite get into it.
I’m always gunning for a unique dystopian that isn’t like The Hunger Games or Divergent, and Unwanted definitely delivered in that respect. From the sinister Erebii monsters with yellow eyes, to a crow’s eye embedded into Bea’s hand (it’s as gross as it sounds), to unique tattoos that move, I was intrigued with the world. People are divided into Dreads, who guard the walls of the city and train as warriors, and Storks, who are surrogate mothers for the city. The world building was definitely my favourite part of the book.
Unfortunately, I found it difficult to connect to Bea or the characters around her. While she’s a strong, purposeful warrior who wants to save her sisters and purge the crow’s eye from her hand, she lacked emotion and her point of view was quite bland. She’s a sniper for the city and everyone keeps on saying how she’ll earn full Dread warrior status, but I was disappointed from the lack of warrior training or action that happens in the book.
There’s supposed to be some sort of love triangle between Bea, the Unwanted Red who offers to help and her childhood friend and fellow Dread warrior, Gus. But with barely any romantic thought or development between either of these guys, I was incredibly surprised when she suddenly blurts out “I love you” with barely any setup. I did feel she developed more of a connection with the other guy too, so I was taken aback when it happened.
While the writing was solid, I struggled with the slow pacing throughout the book. It’s a rather descriptive book, focusing on Bea’s surroundings a lot which I had to skip through at times. There isn’t really a distinct plot, rather a story that unfolds as Bea learns more from Red about the city, which may have contributed to the slowness as well. It does speed up towards the last 50 pages or so where the city’s mysteries unfold.
Unwanted is an unique dystopian with it’s moving tattoos, Erebii and embedded eye in the hand, but it was difficult to stay interested throughout due to its slow pacing and execution. Although I liked the world and the setting, I found it lacked emotion and the character was difficult to connect to. It’s hard to come up with a dystopian that hasn’t been done before these days though, so kudos to the author for doing so!
Thanks to Penguin Random House for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review!...more
Pandora Jones Deception felt like a completely different story to Admission. InThis review appears on Happy Indulgence. Check it out for more reviews!
Pandora Jones Deception felt like a completely different story to Admission. In Admission, we received many different flashbacks, training and action for the students and Pan’s mysterious powers, but this one was pretty much an escape story.
There’s still a mysterious, sinister atmosphere in Deception, as Pan starts to put together things that are happening in the school. Unfortunately much of this didn’t really glean new information, until the very last pages. I did enjoy the psychological thriller aspects in the first book, but it felt like there was very little of that here. Instead, the focal point of the book is Pan and her previous bully Jen, forming an alliance, learning to trust each other and ultimately relying on each other to escape. I feel like the book skipped a beat, as Jen was a strong tormentor in the first book and I didn’t really understand why she would suddenly want to help Pan.
The main thing that prevented me from really enjoying Deception however, is that Pan is still a weak character that needs help. She undergoes a fair amount of exercise and training to get stronger, but in the end Jen is the one that really pulls her through. A bully and a weak girl with strong intuition – they aren’t exactly riveting characters, and I found myself bored at times and craved more development or complexity. The book also doesn’t explain Pan’s powers of intuition at all, and I continued to be frustrated at the lack of answers and development.
Pandora Jones Deception focused mainly on figuring out the mystery as revealed in the first book and an escape from their captors. While the suspense is still here, I wanted more reveals and character development for Pan. It does have a pretty shocking ending though, so I’ll probably read the final book.
I received a review copy of the book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. ...more
I have one problem with Red Queen: it was SO boring! I was literally sitting hThis review appears on Happy Indulgence. Check it out for more reviews!
I have one problem with Red Queen: it was SO boring! I was literally sitting here, waiting for something to actually happen other than Mare's romantic escapades with the Princes. But it was just disappointment for me.
The concept of the book was interesting, with people who bleed red or silver blood. Because of evolution, those who bleed silver can command superpowers. Mare is a red born and bred, but when she discovers her lightning powers in the royal court, she gets betrothed to the Prince so they can keep her under close watch. Which begs the question: Why didn't they just kill Mare? While reading the book, it seemed like this would have been the most convenient solution, instead of training her to become more powerful and opening themselves to a threat. Especially after I learnt they were killing off others in the background.
This was only one of my unanswered questions, which began to pile up while reading the book. How did the silvers get their powers? How did the world come to be? If Mare was suspicious, why is she being kept there? Why is Mare trusting Maven? How was the Scarlet Guard formed? There were so many plot holes, sacrificing world building and explanations in exchange for Mare's developing feelings for the two princes.
Silvers being the elite class and all of them being evil and corrupt, and Reds being honest, hardworking people was such an overused trope in fantasy novels. There was a lot of commentary about the classes and the injustice of it all, but I wanted to lot more basis for the revolution other than the Silvers oppressing the reds. After all, the world in a dystopian novel is the reason why we're attracted to reading it in the first place, and if it's not developed properly then I can't enjoy the story.
You may have guessed that most of the plot focuses on the romance. I felt no chemistry between her and the young prince Maven, even as they developed a trusting friendship. Cal, the crown prince was a much more interesting character, who would go behind the back of his fiancee to kiss Mare. I just didn't like any of the love interests because they just felt so dull and boring.
Mare was also a typical dystopian heroine which the entire red society is pinning on for hope of revolution. She learns her powers quickly through training, is so beautiful and attractive that no less than three guys like her (the third being a Gale like friend at home) and is the key to a revolution. Mare and the rest of the other characters just felt so bland that I couldn't really get into the book.
Superpowers are always good, and Mare's lightning powers and the brothers' fire was fascinating. I liked the blend of powers, fantasy and dystopian genres, although I wish they were developed a little more. I also really enjoyed the twist at the end and the last part of the book presented for the action that I'd been waiting for alll book. These last few chapters may have saved the book for me, but it was too little too late.
Red Queen borrowed heavily from other popular dystopian reads, like Hunger Games (revolution and figurehead), Red Rising (colour coded class based system) and Divergent (Mare's blend of powers). Most of the book was dry and boring and I couldn't connect to the romance, characters or the world, especially due to the underdeveloped world. You might like it if you're looking for more of the same, but after reading the fantastic Golden Son, this was just so bland in comparison.
This wasn't a bad read, I was just disappointed because my expectations were sky high.
Thank you to Hachette Australia for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review...more
I actually liked The Jewel at the start, until it devolved into a YA romance dThis review appears on Happy Indulgence - check it out for more reviews!
I actually liked The Jewel at the start, until it devolved into a YA romance disaster.
The setting and concept was actually pretty interesting, with a weird and chilling concept about lowerclass women with powers who become breeders for the royalty of the Jewel. This distinct violation of women's rights is completely wrong, but these women have to do it because their families are barely scraping by. They are pretty much torn away from their homes when they start having their period, and taught how to command their powers (or augurs), then auctioned off to the royalty where they get bought, then forced to become a surrogate for a baby and treated like a doll with no name.
With her beautiful violet eyes, doll face, cello playing and "the best augur powers in the last 15 years", Violet is just so special and privileged, yet she gets her basic human rights ripped away as she cannot escape from the Duchess, who puts a collar and chain on her anywhere they go in public. She has no say in what she wears, what she does and is pretty much forced to make a baby. It's all pretty disturbing if you tell me, and the fact that Violet was whining half the time didn't help either. In comparison with the rest of the Marsh (or poor people) she's so much better off living in extravagance, yet treated as a slave. I disliked this whole 'special snowflake' thing about her beauty, talent, intelligence all raved about throughout and in comparison with the Duchesses's niece who is ugly, desperate and god forbid, has a pimple. Oh the horrors, imagine being compared to her.
The Jewel's surrounds are absolutely lush and extravagant, with servants, ladies in waiting (who can strangely be men), endless dresses and jewellery and ballrooms. A half attempt at world building is made here and there, with the Duchesses racing to get a child and marry them off to get the most power. We're being spoonfed tidbits of information throughout, but we never really get any meaty answers which makes it frustrating. Why do the people of the Marsh have powers? Why are the ladies of the Jewel not able to produce healthy babies? How did this world become this way? You'd never know.
You see, the writing in The Jewel is actually pretty decent and kept me entertained for the most part. There were glimpses of where the plot could go, like Lucien saying he will help Violet escape, and it never arises until the very end. About halfway through, the plot reaches a standstill, fails to answer any questions, and then inserts a perfect guy who can relate to Violet's situation as a subservient slave, and makes them fall in love. After a few passing glances and one talk they are ready to give their hearts to each other and my eyes rolled out of my head.
My feelings on the Jewel are pretty much this: "too little, too late". At this point of the YA dystopian lifecycle, we've pretty much read it all, and they can all be compared to front runners such as The Hunger Games. Insert some flimsy world building and an insta-love romance and you'll be turning readers off left right and center, which is sadly what The Jewel did. It wasn't a bad read, it just didn't fully explore the full potential of the story and didn't stand out too much.
Thank you to Walker Books Australia for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review....more
While The Last Girl explored some interesting concepts of a wThis review appears on Happy Indulgence. Check it out for more reviews!
Actual Rating: 2.5
While The Last Girl explored some interesting concepts of a world connected, The Last Shot ended up being an uninspired and stock standard sequel. Most of the story involves the psychopath Jack and Danby wanting to kill him and then attempting to escape him with some other survivors.
Jack is your typical dictator who is evil and has extreme influence through his insane charisma and leadership. Being a previous stoner and someone who wasn’t very respectable, I had no idea what the appeal was for Danby. Witnessing him raise people and manipulate him to do his own deeds was scary. Like a hive mind, he uses all of his minions into gaining knowledge, eating and even sleeping for him.
There wasn’t much to the story, I felt like it dragged through most of the 400 page story and ended up skimming the bulk of the book. There’s moments where the survivors who are hunted by Jack, try and escape him by travelling through Sydney’s rural areas. This mostly involved escaping, sneaking around, locating weapons, pillaging houses and finally locating military weapons, which is something that has been done before. Besides the emotional scenes where they have to put Danby’s brother Ethan under, to make sure that Jack doesn’t find them through Ethan’s mind, the bulk of the book involved a lot of padding and could have been condensed into a more succinct read.
Using medical explanations for the people who didn’t get affected by the Snap was an interesting concept, especially when it’s set in a relatively present day world. I hope more of this is explored in the last book, especially when it comes to Jack being able to awaken people into a daze that he can control.
Overall, I think The Last Shot was lack lustre and suffered from middle book syndrome. I do hope the final book in the trilogy is more exciting.
Thank you to Allen & Unwin Australia for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review....more
As I was warned, After The End isn’t a dystopian but instead, a contemporary/dThis review appears on Happy Indulgence. Check it out for more reviews!
As I was warned, After The End isn’t a dystopian but instead, a contemporary/dystopian blend. It features an interesting outlook from a girl who thinks that World War III has happened and that her clan are the only survivors, but finds out she was lied to all along.
Juneau has lived in the Alaskan wilderness all of her life, and when her clan goes missing, she stumbles upon civilization in her search. I could not imagine how incredibly unsettling and traumatic this would be, and Juneau gets accustomed to the new world and technology a bit too quickly and easily. For someone who was brought up in the wilderness, without anyone to teach her what things are, she gets used to the idea of iPhones a bit too easily and doesn’t display signs of trauma or shock. Searching for Sky was a reverse dystopian who did this aspect really well, which influenced my thoughts here.
Sorry I tried to impress my dad by finding her. Sorry I’ve been making fun of a brainwashed girl for a delusion she can’t help. Sorry I egged her on just to make my point.
The other lead character in the book was Miles, whose character I just wasn’t convinced on. I just didn’t know what his intention was; he tracks down Juneau to bring her back to his dad’s organisation, but then he camps out in the woods with her and decides to drive her around. He just thinks Juneau is this weird girl and doesn’t believe everything she says, yet somehow he still ends up having feelings for her. I felt the relationship was quite forced and wasn’t convinced at all, given how close-minded Miles was.
I did like the paranormal aspects in the novel though. Juneau has a star on her right pupil and has powers from ‘connecting to the Yara’, a spiritual guide. She can see through people’s eyes in a fire, morph her appearance, even use people as oracles to guide her way. You’ll wonder why she has these powers to begin with, but surprisingly the ending actually gave a valid explanation for everything. I was actually pretty impressed, given my earlier skepticism. It ends on a pretty annoying cliffhanger though.
Although After The End had quite a few illogical and unconvincing parts, and a character I was slightly offended at, it still managed to provide an interesting story with an unusual girl. It really made me think how I would react if I was in that situation and what I would do when I found myself alone from everything I ever knew. An interesting concept, as long as you don’t pick it up expecting a dystopian.
I received this book from the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. All quotes have been taken from the ARC which may have changed at the time of publishing. ...more
There are two things which The Murder Complex reminds me of: the Reboot dThis review appears on Happy Indulgence Books. Check it out for more reviews!
There are two things which The Murder Complex reminds me of: the Reboot duology and a B grade futuristic cyber punk movie. It's not the first time cybernetic humans have been involved in a heavy romance where the plot revolves around saving them, which was reminiscent of Reboot by Amy Tintera. The B grade movie part comes from the cool, futuristic setting with many different concepts, but it's certainly not blockbuster because none of them are fully explored.
Sometimes we have to give up little pieces of our humanity so that we can keep on living.
The book is set in a complex, futuristic world filled where overpopulation is controlled by giving candidates jobs after they murder their match at the Initiative Center. From the beginning, the world building feels terribly familiar as Meadow is matched against another Initiative at the testing center, her test is inconclusive and she is trying to protect her younger sister Peri. All of these details, down to the train running through the city makes me think Hunger Games and Divergent, which didn't give me the best impression at the start.
Delving deeper into the book will yield some truly confusing world building that is never really explained. From the population adhering to Commandments, to areas with capitol letters such as the Ward Reserve and the Catalogue Dome, and a whole heap of other terminology like creds, wards and the Dark Time, everything is thrown around willy nilly without an explanation of what it all means. Check out this sentence for example:
"People die. Kids become Wards, and the world's a big pile of skitz, but so what? There's nothing you can do about it."
Say what? Trying to follow all of it was a frustrating and unnecessary experience.
Like many dystopians, The Murder Complex uses romance as it's focal point, completely disregarding the confusing mess of the world it built. Instead of the characters at least getting to know each other, Zephyr conveniently dreams of a "moonlit girl with silvery blonde hair" which is of course, Meadow. As soon as he sees Meadow, he's infatuated with her and the L word is dropped way too soon. Which results in a romance that feels forced, and even when Zephyr tries to kill her as a result of the Murder Complex (another concept which isn't really explained until half the book is over), Meadow doesn't stay away.
This has set the precedent then, as Zephyr intentionally smashes her head with a metal pipe as a method of saving her. And then they proceed to kiss passionately. The first time, he had the excuse of not being in control of his own body, but the second was all him. I probably don't need to say it but this is just so wrong in so many ways. I don't condone violence against women and no amount of justifying could make that okay.
"My entire life, I have been taught that darkness is death. Darkness is horror, and blood, and now, darkness is when my mother sets her monsters loose."
The Murder Complex holds no bars when it comes to the bloody violence in the book with both Zephyr and Meadow creating lots of dead bodies, torturing, jaw snapping and killing. I can understand why Zephyr is overpowered because he's a killing machine, but having Meadow being relatively untouchable because of her father's training just makes things unrealistic.
With a confusing futuristic sci-fi dystopian setting and a forced, insta-love romance, The Murder Complex couldn't redeem itself for me even with it's interesting kill switch concept. This book was bloody, violent and incredibly frustrating to read, hence my comparison to the B grade movie. It will take a lot these days for a dystopian to wow me, and The Murder Complex wasn't unique enough to capture and hold my attention. There's also a frustrating cliffhanger into the next book which I'm not reading.
I received this book from the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. All quotes have been taken from the ARC which may have changed at the time of publishing....more
The Last Girl wasn’t perfect by any means, but it was a unique, thoughtful entrThis review appears on Happy Indulgence. Check it out for more reviews!
The Last Girl wasn’t perfect by any means, but it was a unique, thoughtful entry into the Aussie YA market as a dystopian that happens in the very near future.
The concept of the book is based on danger of technology and social media binging today – The Snap happens and everyone begins contracting telepathy in their heads. Secrets, affairs, cheating and stealing are all broadcasted to everyone else and violence, death and arguments start breaking out all over Sydney. Danby is the only one whose thoughts aren’t exposed, and as the world begins shutting down with people’s minds short circuiting, she seemingly ends up as the last girl in existence.
The start of the book was difficult to get through, with many jilted sentences and skipping of events that makes it difficult to follow. I’m glad I stuck through it however because there were some deep exploration of issues as to where our world is heading. It is told in three very distinct parts – the first were Danby experiences the demise of the world as she knows it, the second where she meets pre-med student and discovers hope, and the third where she meets an extremist with scary practicality hellbent on ruling the world – who scarily reminds me of The Governor from The Walking Dead. Just give him a few years.
More often than not, dystopians tell us of the post-apocalyptic world that has happened as a result of a ground zero event. The Last Girl takes us through the apocalypse as it is happening, planes crashing, people committing suicide and going insane - a fascinating and disturbing view of the world’s end. Instead of zombies consuming the world, aliens invading or a disaster, everyone’s minds simply shutting down was an interesting way to approach the apocalypse. The book offers a pretty morbid view of the world, that it’s not outside forces that will bring the end to mankind, but human nature who choose to react badly in obscene circumstances.
Even when Danby and med student Nathan find a way to revive fallen humans, with a view to them passing on the cure and saving each other, most of these humans choose the selfish route to focus on their own needs and revive family and friends. Even worse, some of these humans waste time that could be spent saving people to indulge in drugs, alcohol and violence. It seems Michael Adams isn’t terribly optimistic in people’s altruistic abilities, with only 3 people who seemed to want to revive everyone else.
Another interesting topic explored within the book is the downside of the connectiveness of social media and technology. Instead of using it to benefit others and solve the world’s problems, the majority of us use it for frivolous activity such as porn, online shopping and entertainment. When you think about it, we’re constantly absorbed in an interconnected world of other people’s thoughts, secrets, and emotions, only in The Last Girl, it’s literally in our heads. It’s a wonder we haven’t gone crazy yet, which is what The Last Girl demonstrates to us.
I quite enjoyed the thought provoking experience offered by The Last Girl, and am proud of our homegrown talent in Aussie YA. While it takes off to a slow start and wonky sentence structure, I enjoyed the deep experience and look forward to reading the next book (cliffhanger alert).
Thank you to Allen & Unwin Australia for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review....more
Lured in by a cool concept of a kill gene running through the general populatiThis review appears on Happy Indulgence. Check it out for more reviews!
Lured in by a cool concept of a kill gene running through the general population, I thought Uninvited would be an interesting societal exploration of identified potential killers. Unfortunately, all I got was a lot of whine and self pity from the main character Davy. Bella Swan and Nora Jones has nothing on this girl, as I trudged through pages and pages of complaining and prejudging.
I just can’t believe this girl. The very second she is identified with the kill gene, she decides to lump herself in as a loser and stares at her fellow HTS carriers with judgey eyes. The ones who are violent and unfriendly are either thickset, have bulging eyes or bulbous noses. Why does everything bad have to be linked to an unattractive appearance? Think she’s got it pretty bad because she’s now a labelled killer? I’ve read plenty of starving heroines from dystopians who had more self worth than this one, and they’re the ones who really have something to complain about.
I could go on about Davy’s boyfriend Zac and supposed best friend Tori, and how they dumped her as soon as they heard the news, and how everyone and even her family boxes her away. Despite knowing Davy for most of her life, everyone suddenly treats her differently and are even afraid of her, condemning her to prison by their judgemental selves. But because Davy embodies the whole concept of judging someone she doesn’t know, and spouting self pity, I’m not going to complain about how others treat her. She creates her own problem and I’m not biting.
The book does pick up towards the very end, when Davy gets selected for special training which allows her to interact with more carriers who have the gene. I liked reading how those selected would be used by the government to execute orders, it was definitely disturbing and a violation of human rights. This part of the book was rushed really quickly though, right before the ending in an attempt to create a semblance of a conclusion. I wish there was more of a build up or something because the ending was unsatisfying.
It’s not all bad though, there was a lack of romance for most of the book. While there are some mushy scenes from the very first page, this ends quickly as Davy gets diagnosed. She does have this attraction to a HTS carrier, Sean, who wears a mark of violence, but there really isn’t too much of it until the very last pages.
Uninvited contains an interesting exploration into prejudice and societal pressures against people who commit violence, even though they aren’t proven killers. The moral of the story, is to break free of the mould that society places on yourself and have the confidence to be yourself. It’s just a shame about the amount of whining and Davy’s character really made the book hard to bear at times. She was the one dishing out the most judgement, which covered the true message of the book in that sense.
I received a review copy of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review....more
Countdown immediately caught my attention due to it’s similarities to HunThis review also appears on Happy Indulgence. Check it out for more reviews!
Countdown immediately caught my attention due to it’s similarities to Hunger Games, where subscribers tune in to watch a cruel reality TV show involving deaths on screen. However, it wasn’t just a direct copy – it took the main idea and changed it into something new and exciting.
Instead of being forced to kill each other in an arena, Countdown is a show where two criminals must compete in a series of trials in order to gain their freedom, which for Kira, is a one way ticket to a perfect life in the colonies. Kira and Rogan are held prisoner to the implants in their head, which will administer a deathly shock if they venture too far from each other or do not comply with the show’s direction. The only thing that gives them any hope of escaping is Kira’s psi abilities, where she can read people’s innermost feelings and even thoughts.
When we first meet Rogan, we are led to believe that he is a murderer and that Kira is stuck with him throughout the course of the show. As the two work together, they learn each others secrets and get to know each other intimately. Perhaps because of their forced circumstance, an obvious romance develops, which I enjoyed as it developed over the course of the novel. There are some predictable plot devices which will occur now and again throughout the novel, such as saying it was Rogan responsible for the deaths of Kira’s family,
“I feel a sense of loss if I’m not working against a countdown. Sue me.” – Kira.
Kira is a great character who is determined to win the show and her psi ability and being a master pickpocket on the streets helps her out immensely. She’s smart, savvy and can handle her own two feet even without Rogan. I liked how she trusted her intuition (which also could have been her psi abilities) which was mostly spot on when it came to people. Rogan was your typical reformed bad boy who is now trying to prove himself. I took a while to warm up to him, knowing about his dark past, but all his actions were honest and he only proved to be an asset as he kept on saving Kira.
Outside of the Countdown show, there is barely any world building going on and a lot of questions will go unanswered about how the show came to be and why the subscribers would agree to these implants in their head. We’re simply told that a plague happens that took out most of the humans, and the perfect place where there is peace and no murder, killing or crime is The Colony. This makes it difficult to connect with and would be frustrating if you thought about it too much.
Perhaps the coolest part of Countdown for me was how it explored artificial intelligence. The geek in me loved reading about how the A.I. was used in the book, especially when they started talking about how deeply ingrained it was into Countdown. The other unique part of the book were the psi abilities, which unfortunately led to a few more questions that were sadly unanswered, like how its integrated into the world.
Overall, I enjoyed Countdown with the fast-paced action and unique mesh of a cruel reality TV show with psi and A.I. As long as you don’t mind the absent world building, there are some great characters developed over the course of the novel and struggling against their seemingly impossible circumstances. It’s great how it’s a standalone too, so everything is wrapped up nicely in the end.
Thank you Harlequin Australia for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review!...more
Pawn caught me off guard with the sheer amount of corruption,This review appears on Happy Indulgence. Check it out for more reviews!
Actual Rating: 4.5
Pawn caught me off guard with the sheer amount of corruption, backstabbing, and manipulation there was. The book was like a chess game, where Kitty is wedged between two powerful people with opposing agendas. They think she’s just a pawn in their twisted game, but she ends up besting them all. And I loved every minute of it.
At first glance, Pawn sounds like your average dystopian, where it uses an aptitude test to determine what people become in life. Those assigned a ranking of III or below are doomed to a life of poverty and prostitution, while those with a VI or higher are given fame, fortune or a high ranking official status. But it’s so much more, as Kitty becomes Masked as the daughter of the most powerful family in the country, and that’s where the story really takes off.
Before today, I had never questioned the ranking system. It was there to give us what we deserved so we could make the most of our natural abilities. - Kitty
Instead of having the ruling family as a simple entity, Pawn places Kitty at the heart of the action. She becomes a part of the most powerful family in the country, with their fame, fortune, and power…and lies, backstabbing, secret agendas and assassinations for the sake of power. I was wowed by the sheer amount of manipulation, with the prime minister Daxton and grandmother Augusta wanting to use Kitty for their own agenda, while Lila’s mother Celia pushing her for revenge. It was fascinating watching Kitty maneuver through the dangerous waters, never letting anyone push her around, even with her life in constant danger.
Having Kitty ranked as a III simply because she ran out of time wasn’t really believable, as she demonstrates her strength, courage, and intelligence throughout the book. In only eleven days, she picks up Lila’s accent and behaviour and is ready to assume her life. Despite this gripe, Kitty was an easy character to get behind, with her rebellious streak standing up to those who are trying to push her around, and making sure her boyfriend was always protected.
It was refreshing to have the romance as a secondary focus in Pawn, letting the action and story take center stage instead. Kitty and Benjy’s relationship started before the story begins, that way there’s no need to develop it further without making it into an insta-love affair. Their romance is sweet and strong and even though Benjy is pretty much your cookie cutter protective boyfriend, it was great without the relationship drama. There’s no love triangle either which is a bonus – retaining your focus on the constant entropy that is Pawn.
They had taken away my face and a name, but I’d thought there was no way they could take away who I really was - Kitty
Where there’s conspiracies and a rebellion brewing in the background, there’ll be shocking revelations, deaths, and secrets revealed. Aimee Carter doesn’t hold back on this one, as the constant twists and turns are filled throughout the book. Like a Chess game, you don’t know what the author’s next move would be and the direction of Pawn was completely unpredictable.
Pawn is one of the most exciting and refreshing dystopians I’ve read this year. Although the world building is limited, it’s the intrigue behind the twisted family agendas and Kitty’s stubborn streak that kept me reading. Without the frustrating YA elements, it was even better and I can’t wait for Captive to come out.
Thank you to Harlequin Australia for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review....more
In her debut, Samantha Shannon blew me away with the highly imaginative setting of The Bone Season, where clairvoyants are hidden away within the cityIn her debut, Samantha Shannon blew me away with the highly imaginative setting of The Bone Season, where clairvoyants are hidden away within the city of Scion London and the alien race of the Rephaim holds the government in its evil clutches.
In the riveting world of The Bone Season, there are seven classes of clairvoyants, from necromancers to seers to dreamwalkers and mediums who will immediately be captured by the government should they hint at their magical powers. Paige Mahoney, employed by the Seven Seals in Scion’s criminal underworld, has a unique power of being a dreamwalker. She can leave her body and invade other people’s dreamscapes – where people’s memories are stored – possess them and cause massive spiritual damage to the victim.
The Bone Season is one to watch with its richly detailed, fantastical world of clairvoyants and Rephaims. I highly recommend it to readers who are looking for a unique read that blends magic, dystopia and fantasy. I’m really glad to hear that there are seven more after this because no doubt it will be amazing!
If you woke up to the end of the world tomorrow, how would you react? Turn onThis review appears on Happy Indulgence. Check it out for more reviews!
If you woke up to the end of the world tomorrow, how would you react? Turn on the TV, check the internet, phone your loved ones. But without electricity and disconnected lines, your next reaction would be to find the people that you love.
Sky So Heavy forces us to think about these things, as one of the most relatable and realistic post-apocalyptic books I’ve ever read. The end of the world is caused by nuclear missiles wiping out nearby nations, causing a long and cold nuclear winter. This premise is so incredibly realistic that you can actually imagine it happening like this. Through the perspective of Fin, a normal teenager in high school, we’ll witness the events immediately before and during the nuclear winter.
“Do you think it’s alright to do whatever you need to do to survive?”
We see Fin in his last few days of normalcy, by going to school, crushing on a girl and picking on a guy at school. Then, the nuclear winter strikes, and his immediate priorities become food, water, warmth and shelter, which eventually evolve into safety, longevity and survival. We slowly see him becoming a protector and a leader, as his decisions become harder and riskier. I liked how relatable Fin was, as someone who is just looking out for his younger brother. He isn’t the smartest or strongest kid on the block, but he’s determined and smart, and that’s what matters for survival. He isn’t without his flaws though, having bullied a guy at school because “everyone else did it”.
There is incredible attention to detail here, as the world slowly gets crazier when the food supplies run out. People will become territorial, scared, and they will turn on one another to protect their loved ones. The only thing that matters is survival, and Sky So Heavy reinforced this with every page.
Trying to save yourself and your family isn’t crazy. People will try to hold on when their world starts to tilt, they will grab onto whatever is in reach. Doesn’t matter if it means throwing punches at your neighbour or pointing a gun at someone’s head.
It was great to see a variety of relationships being explored in the novel, from brotherly to family love, neighbourly relationships, unlikely friends, and even a romance. It doesn’t just stop at though, with the population’s reliance on the government or the army when things go wrong also being explored.
While Fin is quite a serious character, there is a great balance of characters with his brother and the guy he bullied, Arnold. The fierce brotherly love was one of the best parts of the book, with Fin’s 12 year old brother Max being quite vulnerable and strong at the same time. I loved Max and his childish charm, with his refusal to follow Fin’s overprotectiveness, his teasing of Fin and his evil kid smile. Arnold on the other hand, was forgiving, kind, pious, and quick to help Fin when he needed it most. Although he verged on being a little too virtuous, he brought faith to the group when they needed hope, making sure they never lost their humanity. Lucy presented a much needed female addition to the group, and I’m glad the romance never felt forced or out of place.
I was so emotionally invested in the characters that I was crying at the end. I can’t remember the last time this has happened with a dystopian. The ending is left rather open though, which is kind of disappointing given this is a stand alone. I need closure dammit!
I’ve read so many post-apocalyptic stories that rarely focus on the important matters at hand – like food, water, warmth, shelter and safety. Sky So Heavy does it right, by focusing on these few key elements, but also being incredibly multi-layered and well thought out. It’s slow and there isn’t a lot of action, but it was realistic which let’s face it – not a lot of dystopians are.
Sky So Heavy brought back my faith in one of my favourite genres. If you love dystopian or post-apocalyptic reads, this one can’t be missed. Yay for awesome Aussie YA!...more
The hype is warranted – Red Rising completely and utterly blew me away with theThis review appears on Happy Indulgence. Check it out for more reviews!
The hype is warranted – Red Rising completely and utterly blew me away with the strength and fire of the main character, advanced war and army tactics and the extensive world building of clans who inhabit Mars.
Darrow is a Red Helldiver, who works in the mines beneath the surface of Mars. When his wife Eo, sings a song of a revolution, she is brutally hung and made into a martyr. Darrow is turned into a Gold, those who live on the surface of Mars and inhabit the rest of the planet to their bidding. Golds are superior in every way, from their appearance, to their strength and wisdom. The Golds enter a war game called the Institute, where those who emerge victorious will be selected for the highest ranking roles in society. Others will perish in the cruel game that is the Institute.
Red Rising revealed a world that was both futuristic and primal in nature. The technology, weapons and armour used in war are powerful, rewarding the giver with additional powers such as the HoverBoot, the invisibility cloak, and more. The war itself was vicious in nature, as those who rise to the top of the army cut off people’s food sources, murder other players of the game, pillage and rape and take others into slavery. I couldn’t wrap my head around why the Golds, supreme creatures of the planet who have a life of leisure and comfort, would choose to participate in such a cruel game resulting in death, slavery and starvation. It was a cruel mockery of the other colours who don’t have a choice of what they have to do, and those superior choose to throw it all away.
“You do not follow me because I am the strongest. Pax is. You do not follow me because I am the brightest. Mustang is. You follow me because you do not know where you are going. I do.” – Darrow
Darrow is a vicious and fiery character who learns the tactics of war quickly. Eo’s sacrifice for him, and the hope of his people on his shoulders lead him to a single goal – to become the Primus of the House of Mars, and rise to the ranks of the superior Golds. He isn’t the smartest, he isn’t the strongest, but he certainly is the most driven towards achieving his goal. Unlike the others competing to be the Primus, like Cassius and Titus, Darrow knows how to gain people’s loyalty and motivate his men. It is this resolve that drives him to his final victory, and the story is exhilarating and intense.
It took me two weeks to read Red Rising, because of it’s sheer intensity. There is a lot happening on the battlefield, as Darrow becoming a leader was not an easy journey. There will be allies, some of which will change allegiance during the course of the game. There will be enemies, some which are obvious and others unknown to the players. And there will be betrayals, secrets and manipulations because everyone is gunning to win.
Move over Hunger Games clones, for Red Rising is THE must read dystopian/sci-fi book and it is brutal, bloody and glorious....more
I loved the Legend series and was eagerly awaiting ChThis review has been posted on Happy Indulgence. Check it out for more reviews!
Actual Rating: 3.5
I loved the Legend series and was eagerly awaiting Champion as the conclusion to the series, after all the major plot points in Prodigy. While it was a beautiful ending to the series, I just found the rest of the book to be political ridden and kind of boring.
While Legend was filled with heart stopping action and world building, Prodigy with excellent character development between the two kick ass leads, Champion was mainly about politics and wrapping things up. The Republic is finally at war with the Colonies and both June and Day use their high ranking positions to protect the country and the people they love, but what I really wanted to see was more action, more kick ass fighting scenes, more June and Day. Instead, what I got were political developments and outside world building that I didn’t really care about at this late stage of the series.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s great that an author can take a dystopian outside of the immediate country and show us the world at large. We were taken to Antarctica, which was humorously set out like a MMORPG with points assigned to every action, and a map at the start of the book shows us America split up into the Republic and the Colonies. Champion was about the good of the country while the first two books were more intimate, with June and Day were focusing on their people and the Republic.
June as the Princeps-Elect, while seemingly perfect at the time, was a poor fit at best as she spent the bulk of Champion hidden away in Senate chambers and meeting with government officials when she could be kicking ass in the front lines. As she follows in the footsteps of the new young Elector Anden, we’re as bored as she is as she comes to the conclusion that politics is not for her.
I hate Senate meetings. I hate them with a passion – nothing but a sea of bickering politicians and talking heads, talking talking talking all the time when I could instead be out in the streets, giving a mind and body a healthy workout. - June
Day is struck down by illness but spends the bulk of his time protecting his brother and trying to contain he deadly plague that has broken out in The Republic. He spends a lot of time thinking about June, pouring his heart and soul out to her. These two are the perfect couple, with Day as the emotional solider led by his heart and instinct and June as your constantly aware, analysing and calculating high ranking official. I wanted more romance between them, instead of other people getting in the way *cough Anden* in the love square (yep, that’s a double love triangle).
Despite my relative apathy with the rest of the book, the ending is one that is wrought with emotion where I found myself getting teary. Lu gave us exactly what us readers were looking for, and what June and Day deserve, with an epilogue to tie it all up. It gave us something crucial that many dystopian endings do not – an element of hope, that things would work out for the better. While Legend and Prodigy left us breathless, Champion ties up the loose ends, with Tess maturing throughout the journey, June figuring out her feelings for Anden and Day dealing with his sickness.
“You drive me insane, June…You’re the scariest, most clever, bravest person I know, and sometimes I can’t catch my breath because I’m trying so hard to keep up.” – Day.
It’s with a heavy heart that we say goodbye to June and Day, but I’m kind of glad that’s where they ended up. The Legend trilogy is a series I’d recommend to everyone, for it’s amazing kickass couple, heart stopping action and military focus. I’m not sure where else Champion could have went, but that ending was perfect.
Thank you to Penguin Australia for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review....more
Lacking the revolutionary struggles of the constrained society in Divergent, and the badassery and depth of character development of June in Legend, ILacking the revolutionary struggles of the constrained society in Divergent, and the badassery and depth of character development of June in Legend, I found Reboot by Amy Tintera to be lackluster in comparison. It's already been optioned for a movie by Fox and is receiving rave reviews everywhere, but unfortunately, I couldn't see the appeal.
The concept of Rebooted humans who wake up minutes after their death stronger, faster, and with healing abilities, is appealing and unique. Those who wake up sooner after their death are more attuned to their human emotions than those who woke up later. Wren, who woke up 178 minutes after her death, is the perfect soldier. She takes on board a new student, Callum (or number 22) who is closer to human than most. He's weak, emotional, and is going to be a problem...at least when it comes to HARC, who trains the Reboots to extract or assassinate humans.
Click here for the full review on Happy Indulgence. Check it out for more reviews!
I received a copy of Reboot from the publisher via Readplus, in exchange for an honest review....more
I've never read a dystopian like The Man Who Watched the World End, one that isThis review appears on Happy Indulgence. Check it out for more reviews!
I've never read a dystopian like The Man Who Watched the World End, one that is set after the post apocalyptic events have occurred and not amidst the action. There are no other living humans in sight, aside from the narrator and his brother, and they are both old men nearing the end of their lives. In his somber, quiet and watchful existence, this man writes journal entries every day about living out the rest of his life.
The concept behind the end of the world is a new one, explored in great detail throughout the man's accounts of the past (we never learn his name). The Great De-Evolution is the event where humans have devolved, and all newborn babies were born as comatose 'blocks', without the ability to think, move or speak. The gestation rate for these babies became to climb and soon, all babies that were born became blocks. Humans began to slowly fade out, as these new blocks could not attend school, couldn't reproduce, or even think for themselves.
The narrator's only company is his brother Andrew, a few years his junior who is a block. Every day, he speaks to his brother as if he was a walking, talking human being, and acts as his care taker. In his heartfelt and touching journal entries, he reminisces about how his parents ushered him to treat Andrew with love and respect as an equal, even though Andrew isn't like him. Even in his old age, you can see the love that this old man has for Andrew, and how appreciative he is of his brother keeping him company until the end.
Despite the narrator's fixation to his house, never really going anywhere else, the book holds your interest with his stories about the end of the world. The world building is in-depth and extensive, as he covers everything from the last cricket game, prejudice against those who gave birth, blocks being maltreated and the declining importance of higher education and even religion. Other countries dealt with the de-evolution in differing ways, although the outcome was the same. This is the end of the world as we know it, with scientists failing to figure out a way to create test tube babies that were healthy and 'normal' humans dying out.
All types of food could be created out of a magical food processor that makes food out of nothing, which was a bit of a convenient way to cover that issue. The aging man doesn't need to hunt, cook or capture anything so he stays in his house and watches DVDs with Andrew. Not to mention the dangers of going outside - since humans devolved from being the dominant species, all types of animals went to fend for themselves in the wild, with some more successful than others. Animals post a constant threat to the man which is why he chooses to be holed up instead of leaving the town of Camelot and joining a colony further south.
While the concept of The Man Who Watched the World End was definitely interesting and covered in depth, there isn't much to be achieved by an old man that refuses to leave his house or look for other chances of survival. He often regrets that he didn't leave and join a colony sooner when he still had his health, and also thinks about his neighbours leaving him alone without saying goodbye. There's quite a lot of repetition throughout the book about this, and about his block brother not being able to do anything - after the 30th time of explaining why his block brother couldn't' react, couldn't move a muscle, couldn't think and speak, I thought the book could have benefited from a bit of editing.
Despite these minor issues, I quite enjoyed this book as a unique, well thought-out dystopian that is so different than any other I've read. It's more about a heart felt story about mortality, regrets and the deep bond of family love. I would recommend it to anyone looking for a different dystopian with excellent world building in the place of action.
I received a review copy from the author in exchange for an honest review....more
Reminiscent of the TV show Alias and the movie SALT, ACID is a futuristThis review has been posted on Happy Indulgence. Check it out for more reviews!
Reminiscent of the TV show Alias and the movie SALT, ACID is a futuristic dystopian featuring a kickass main character assuming multiple identities throughout the novel, with nonstop action, romance and constant twists and turns.
Jenna Strong is serving a life sentence in prison for killing her parents. Despite being the only female, she can take on even the most hardened criminals with a flick of her wrist. One day, her trusted confidante Dr Fisher helps her escape prison - while getting murdered by the ACID police in the process - who pin it all on Jenna. With the best surgeons at work, Jenna is given a new face and a new identity to start a new life...as Mia Richardson.
As a hardened criminal, privileged citizen, fugitive, extremist and saviour, Jenna assumes multiple identities throughout the novel which shows different sides to her. She undergoes major character development as she learns more about the world controlled by ACID. When she meets Max, someone who she rescues and feels obligated to accompany, Jenna's demeanour softens and her caring side comes out. The romance slowly develops over the course of the novel and Max's trust in Jenna furthers her character development, and it never detracts from the story.
Set in futuristic International Republic of Britain, the world of ACID is fleshed out elegantly in detail. ACID is the police force that controls every from the news, information, transport, and even who people partner with (Life Partners) and when they can have children. We learn more about the world through snippets from the news and letters scattered throughout the book, and the world building flowed naturally throughout the story.
While most of the book was captivating, I found it lost momentum later on. A major plot twist happens where the reader knows what is going on miles ahead of the character itself, so when she realises we're already disengaged. While the ending wrapped up everything nicely, it just seemed a little too convenient as a solution to the constrained society.
I love how this book is a standalone novel, and there's no dragging out loose ends for the sake of being a series. The epilogue gives us the perfect amount of closure, while still planting a seed to let us speculate on what happens next. Overall, ACID is a solid debut that explores some new concepts. I would recommend it to lovers of dystopian everywhere and can't wait to read more from Emma Pass.
I received a review copy of ACID as a Readplus reviewer, in exchange for an honest review....more