Luke and Emma are two people so damaged by grief and anger that new love is an impossible dream--but with God, all things are possible. I highly recom...moreLuke and Emma are two people so damaged by grief and anger that new love is an impossible dream--but with God, all things are possible. I highly recommend this poignant story of shattered dreams, painful secrets, and God's transcending grace. (less)
OK, I took my time reviewing this one because I had mixed feelings. I was caught up in the story, but for some reason it depressed me too much. The pr...moreOK, I took my time reviewing this one because I had mixed feelings. I was caught up in the story, but for some reason it depressed me too much. The premise is that in this dystopian world, love is considered a disease, and everyone gets "cured" around their 18th birthday. The "cure" sounds something like a lobotomy, after which people just wander through life, placid as cows, not much caring what happens. Beyond creating a loveless world, it seems a neat way for the government to control people, and there are hints that it is just that.
The heroine, Lena, is counting the days to her 18th birthday and living in fear of love, because her mother was incurable and ended up committing suicide, and it's left a taint on Lena and her family.
Of course, then Lena meets a boy...
Anyway, there are some nice twists and turns along the way, and an ending that definitely lets you know there's more to come. I bought all three books, but I found that I wasn't keen to read the next one. Maybe it was just my frame of mind to begin with--I've loved books like the Hunger Games, with future worlds that were just as awful, but somehow this one really seemed grim. (less)
Too often when I read Christian fiction, the Christian message is pushed so hard that it feels preachy. Here, the author does a great job of weaving t...moreToo often when I read Christian fiction, the Christian message is pushed so hard that it feels preachy. Here, the author does a great job of weaving the Christian worldview into a story with a flawed main character who doesn't always feel like doing the right thing. I also love the historical aspect of the story--this is about a time when Christians truly suffered for their faith. (less)
As a girl, Karra Willo saw her father executed by the aliens who invaded her homeland, simply for preserving the literature of her people. She watched...moreAs a girl, Karra Willo saw her father executed by the aliens who invaded her homeland, simply for preserving the literature of her people. She watched, helpless, as her family was driven to poverty. Her brother Jem turned to the Homelander Front, a resistance organization, then she sold herself into prostitution, servicing the hated Nevians. The Nevians brought with them another form of alien, without corporeal form. The Moloch thrive by exploiting the minds and emotions of victims whose suffering and hatred make them easy prey. Karra becomes host to such a creature and it seduces her to kill, then threatens her precious, innocent daughter Chalatta. Now, wanted for murder, Karra must risk everything to gain freedom, not just for herself, but for her daughter, who is not yet tainted by the bleak realities of a world enslaved by aliens.
Patricia Scholes is a friend of mine, a counselor and a minister whose prayers reach the heavens and change things. She works with young people who have endured trials most of us can't imagine. I met her first as a writer, and her stories have always intrigued, challenged and entertained me. I was one of the first readers to enjoy this story in its early development, and I got to reread it more recently when it was nearing its final draft. It's rare that I find a story interesting enough to keep me riveted for a second read, but I was thoroughly entertained both times. Serious fantasy fans 13 and up will enjoy this, though parents may want to read along with younger teens so that they can discuss the more mature themes. Don't look for this to read as "Christian allegory;" the worldview is fine, but this is meant for a wider readership; the message is redemptive without being "religious."(less)
Again, I read all three books in this series within just a few days, so they kind of bleed together. I loved the series as a whole and highly recommen...moreAgain, I read all three books in this series within just a few days, so they kind of bleed together. I loved the series as a whole and highly recommend it. The love story was satisfying, the adventure thrilling, and the battle scenes were so vivid I felt I was in the middle of them. I knocked off a point on this one because it wasn't as tight as the first book, again, I think probably because the author was probably writing under deadline. Still a great read and highly recommended.(less)
I liked By Darkness Hid so much that I bought the rest of the series and just kept reading, so at this point, the three books kind of blend together f...moreI liked By Darkness Hid so much that I bought the rest of the series and just kept reading, so at this point, the three books kind of blend together for me. I'll just say that I enjoyed this one as well. I liked the development of some of the minor characters, and the relationship between Vrell and Achan felt very real to me. It got silly now and then, but these characters are teens, and really, even with adults, what relationships don't get silly sometimes. This book didn't quite have the same finesse as the first, probably because at this point the author was writing under deadline and didn't have the luxury of being a perfectionist. Still, I thoroughly enjoyed it.(less)
Wow! This is an amazing debut novel--it's no surprise it's gotten such great reviews.
Lu sets her story in a future United States, only they're not so...moreWow! This is an amazing debut novel--it's no surprise it's gotten such great reviews.
Lu sets her story in a future United States, only they're not so united anymore. Day is a child of the Colonies, the poor areas where people struggle to find food and plague patrols come and mark the doors of houses where the infection has spread. At age ten, every child has to undergo thorough testing, called the trials. Those who pass are put into jobs suited to their abilities. Day failed his trial; failures are supposedly taken to labor camps, but Day figured out that was a lie. He escaped, and he's been taking vengeance against the Republic for the many wrongs perpetrated against his family. His family has been told he's dead, but he watches over them and helps them when he can. One day the plague patrol comes and marks his family's door. Day has to help them. He breaks into a Republic hospital to steal a cure...
June is a child of the Republic, the only person ever to receive a perfect score on her trial. She has been whizzing through the education set for her. Her parents died years ago in a tragic accident, and all she has is her brother Metias, an officer in the Republic's military. Metias is slated to guard the hospital on the fateful night, and after his confrontation with Day, he ends up dead. June, helped by Metias' friend Thomas, who is also a rising star in the military, is granted a commission: to hunt down Day, her brother's killer.
The remarkable twists in this story will leave you dizzy but exhilarated. I highly recommend this book, and I can't wait for the sequel! (less)
Once again, Condie speaks with a fresh voice. This takes up where Matched left off, with Cassia now in a work camp, trying to figure out how to get aw...moreOnce again, Condie speaks with a fresh voice. This takes up where Matched left off, with Cassia now in a work camp, trying to figure out how to get away to find Ky, and Ky being a human target for the Enemy in an outer village. The rest of the story is pretty much a quest; find each other, find the Rising. There are a few hints along the way that some of the people they know are not what they seemed. Basically in this book we peel back the layers on the characters and find out some of the secrets they've been keeping. It's a good middle book, though not as self-contained as I would like. Now I'm frustrated that I have to wait a year for the conclusion!(less)
OK, I'll say up front that a lot of the elements of this story have been done before. But still, I liked the way this author did it. We start off with...moreOK, I'll say up front that a lot of the elements of this story have been done before. But still, I liked the way this author did it. We start off with Cassia, who is just 17 and pretty well content with the world she lives in. She's happy to be Matched with a young man she knows and loves, though until now she hadn't thought of him in a romantic light. And he loves her. She's also proud of her skill at sorting, the ability to pick out patterns and connections in streams of data.
She's lucky. She lives in a Society that knows how to take care of its citizens, guiding them in every aspect of their day-to-day affairs and assuring them of a long, productive and healthy life, and a peaceful death on their 80th birthday. Cassia and her family attend her beloved grandfather's death and though she misses him, she is glad that he was able to die before the infirmities of age set in. No dementia, no cancer, none of the horrible, unexpected, painful deaths that happened in earlier ages.
Then something happens--it seems Society made a mistake, and the data she received about her Match was actually about another young man, against all odds, another young man she knows. And likes. And as she takes a closer look, she begins to wonder whether the mistake was a mistake at all. Maybe this other boy should really be her match. Maybe Society doesn't really know what's best for people, after all...
I love the way the story is told, little by little, revelation by revelation, as the heroine begins to sort the data of her life and see patterns and connections she never suspected.
Read my reviews of the first two books of the series, and you pretty much know what I'll say here. At this point I really did feel that the publisher...moreRead my reviews of the first two books of the series, and you pretty much know what I'll say here. At this point I really did feel that the publisher could've done more in terms of edits. At this point, the popularity of the series, no doubt, led them to just push things out on a timeline rather than focusing on making it as tight as it could be. Even so, the author had done some very nice world-building and it shows in this third book of the series. And again, while the author definitely does NOT espouse a Christian worldview, Christian parents and teachers should know this series because it's very popular with the target readers. There are lots of great talking points for kids who want to learn about different worldviews, and it's a fun story, which makes the teaching palatable. (less)
More along the lines of the first in the series. At this point I thought the author could've benefited from a stronger editorial hand, but it's still...moreMore along the lines of the first in the series. At this point I thought the author could've benefited from a stronger editorial hand, but it's still great fun. Again, Christian parents and teachers can use the trilogy as an opportunity to talk about different worldviews. It's a popular series, and kids should read it and think about the ideas it presents. (less)
I'm very impressed that the author was so young when he produced this first in the series. Definitely not a Christian worldview, and I am pretty sure...moreI'm very impressed that the author was so young when he produced this first in the series. Definitely not a Christian worldview, and I am pretty sure he's proud of it. Still a very fun read. Christian teachers should read the series owing to its popularity. There are lots of teaching points that can be used to educate young Christian readers about different worldviews. I actually wish the movie had done justice to this book. (less)
Sometimes I make unfounded assumptions, as I did when I picked up this book. Because of the title, and because the characters' unique gifts were calle...moreSometimes I make unfounded assumptions, as I did when I picked up this book. Because of the title, and because the characters' unique gifts were called Graces, and because the use of the word "grace" in that kind of context usually comes from people of my faith, I assumed that this book would have Christian underpinnings. Fair warning to people who might make similar assumptions: it doesn't.
That said, I did like the book, though a few passages cause me to recommend parental guidance for young Christian readers.
Katsa, the main character, is Graced with the gift of killing, at least that is what is commonly believed after, at a very young age, she kills a dirty old man who touches her in a way her young mind finds threatening. The Graced in this world are objects of fear and scorn for most, but they are usually drafted into the king's service if their gifts can be useful--and Katsa's gift is very useful to a bully king who likes having his own personal assassin.
Katsa also works secretly for The Council, a covert group she heads along with Prince Raffin. The council seeks to help people who are in trouble. She's sent out to rescue an elderly member of two neighboring royal families, who has been kidnapped and now languishes in the prison of another king. In the process she encounters Po, who is also Graced, apparently with the gift of fighting, though he is no match for Katsa. Well, no match as a fighter, anyway, though he does seem to be a good match in a more romantic sense. Po causes Katsa to rethink her position in the king's service, and soon they're off on a new adventure, trying to figure out who is behind his grandfather's kidnapping.
The story is full of grand adventure, interesting twists, including discovering the true nature of the main characters' gifts, and the characters are easy to care for and root for, even though Katsa has done some horrible things in the name of her king.
The ending is a nice surprise, though some readers might prefer to see more loose ends resolved, especially since it appears this book is not part of a cohesive series. Cashore's other books do revisit this world, but apparently not to carry on the story of these characters.
I didn't see anything occult or especially dark in this book, though the world is definitely corrupt. The morality of the characters is a little gray at times, and Christian parents and mentors should read ahead and be ready to discuss certain values issues that arise in the book. (view spoiler)[For example, there are a couple scenes of strongly suggested sexual intimacy between the characters, no graphic heavy breathing, but there are frank references to the loss of Katsa's virginity, and Katsa remains determined throughout the story not to marry. Also, though Katsa does eventually take some responsibility for the things she does at the command of her king, her early view of her actions is very amoral. (hide spoiler)]That said, I was caught up enough in the story that when I finally found time to actually dig in yesterday, I kept reading into the wee hours to see how it ended. Discerning adult readers who enjoy young adult fantasy will like this, and parents who are open to reading books with their kids that show different values and world views will find plenty to enjoy and also talk about.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
My sister persuaded me to read this trilogy, and despite the fact that I was put off by the basic premise, I couldn't help but enjoy them. This series...moreMy sister persuaded me to read this trilogy, and despite the fact that I was put off by the basic premise, I couldn't help but enjoy them. This series is definitely NOT from a Christian worldview, and explores very NON-Christian spirituality, so I wouldn't recommend it for Christian kids unless their parents are confident of their discernment. That said, discerning readers, especially those who mentor or teach the target readership, should read these. They are deeper than they seem, steeped in Middle Eastern mythology, and they are very, very funny. Read the footnotes; Stroud has a dry, crazy wit that made me laugh out loud. More historically and culturally astute kids will love them, so those charged with discipling these kids should know what the kids are reading. There are lots of talking points in the context of a wonderfully entertaining story. (less)