I'm thinking this is an 'it's not you, it's me' problem - going in I knew Dead Lands was an apocalyptic/dystopian novel, a genre I do NOT enjDNF @ 56%
I'm thinking this is an 'it's not you, it's me' problem - going in I knew Dead Lands was an apocalyptic/dystopian novel, a genre I do NOT enjoy, yet I was still intrigued enough (um, hello, Lewis & Clark reimagining?!) to pick up the audio from my library.
Despite spending hours with this book and being over halfway into it, I honestly couldn't tell you what it's about. Apparently the characters are not THE Lewis and Clark, but their descendants(whoops, scratch that - apparently I didn't even care enough to notice they simply shared the names. no relation)...which is not nearly as exciting, rabid bats notwithstanding. All I got was Dead Lands is set 150 (?) years in the future, a virus (??) broke out, and outsiders have managed to find their way into the community.
I wish I would have loved this one (especially since it was one of my most anticipated releases of the year!) but I never found myself invested. Once I set the book aside (or, in this case, paused the audio and set my phone down) I wasn't compelled to pick it back up.
There's violence galore and, naturally, a romance or two, though I love that Caine didn't allow it to take center stage. In fact, the romances weren'tThere's violence galore and, naturally, a romance or two, though I love that Caine didn't allow it to take center stage. In fact, the romances weren't even mentioned until the latter half of the novel and even then they didn't overwhelm the story (though there was one I wouldn't have minded seeing a bit more of!) Ink and Bone has been described as "The Book Thief with Fahrenheit 451 by way of Harry Potter." I wouldn't say that's exactly the case, more of Fahrenheit 415-meets-The Bone Season, and it's a series I'm definitely looking forward to continuing!
Emma wakes with no memories: she has no idea where she is, what happened to her, or even who she is. She soon learns there was an accident but she's making incredible progress and will be back on her feet in no time. Although Dr. Travista runs his daily tests and her husband is patient and doting, Emma can't help but feel that something isn't right. Her recurring nightmares - and, at times, waking flashbacks - feature another man, a man she knows she fiercely loved, and there's a little voice in her head that guides her in what she should (and shouldn't) say. She wants to believe Declan when he tells her stories of how they met, but why can't she remember their wedding and why would their honeymoon take place overseas when she's deathly afraid of flying?
There's always an exception to the rule and Achetype is it. I've been burned by dystopian novels so many times in the past that I nearly passed on this one, but something made me go for it and I'm so glad I did! Despite my enjoyment, it's incredibly hard coming up with the right words to describe it. In the beginning, Emma is extremely vulnerable - she readily accepts whatever someone tells her (she has no reason to believe otherwise). Over time, however, she notices small cracks in the seemingly perfect life she has with Declan and starts questioning her surroundings.
I will say that were it not for a few futuristic pieces of technology (transporters, lasers that heal cuts, etc) and a throwaway line about a war and America splitting in two, Achetype could be mistaken for a contemporary novel - probably the reason I enjoyed it so much? As Emma digs deeper into her life before the accident, we learn about a resistance but even that felt a little vague. I think the reasoning for this dealt with Emma's confusion and memory loss. Once she regains her memory, her past comes more into play and it seems the resistance will serve a larger role in the second book. As it stands, Archetype focuses more on the romance and, for once, I didn't have a problem with the love triangle. It's clear from the beginning who the 'winner' will be.
While I definitely enjoyed this novel and tore through it, my recommendation comes with reservations. This new society is very misogynistic. There's a shortage of females and only those who are able to bear children are married - usually after they are bought by the highest bidder. Girls are sent to WTCs - Women's Training Centers - where they are basically taught to become dutiful wives. Women who are not married or who are unable to have children end up doing menial work no one else wants. The women who are married off are branded so that, if she were to go out in public, men would know she's another man's property. This entire mindset would not sit well with many readers and I completely understand that!
As someone who does not enjoy dystopia, I was shocked to find myself so drawn to this novel! It's an incredibly quick read and kept me thoroughly entertained. The offhand remarks about a war made for some shoddy backstory and the way women were treated as items to be bought and sold made me uncomfortable, but there was something about Archetype I couldn't ignore. This duology won't be for everyone, but I'm certainly looking forward to Prototype!...more
Absolutely, positively, 100% hands-down a total guilty pleasure novel. I was a bit worried at first - other bloggers either didn't like or ultimatelyAbsolutely, positively, 100% hands-down a total guilty pleasure novel. I was a bit worried at first - other bloggers either didn't like or ultimately gave up on this one. You know those reads that come at a perfect place and time when the stars and planets align just right? I've been sick this past week and The Vault of Dreamers was exactly what I needed when I wanted something to read and didn't want to think. Also, DayQuil helped.
Sky Jumpers was available as a Read Now on netgalley and y'all know I can't pass up a good Middle Grade. Sadthis review will go live on the blog10/11
Sky Jumpers was available as a Read Now on netgalley and y'all know I can't pass up a good Middle Grade. Sadly I didn't make it more than a few chapters in before setting this book aside.
World War III nearly wiped out civilization. A small settlement was formed in White Rock, Nebraska - in a large crater - and has since flourished. The war was devastating, not only wiping out nearly every bit of technology, but also leaving behind deadly pockets of gas known as Bomb's Breath. Many people have died after walking into the gas, yet the kids view it as a toy. Leaping off cliffs and into the gas - holding your breath, of course! - slows your fall and feels like flying.
There was far too much going on in the chapters I read. All technology has been wiped out in a matter of years and it's up to 12-year-old Hope's class to come up with new inventions. There was some cliff-jumping, lots of exposition detailing the loss of technology, and a large info-dump explaining that this poisonous Bomb's Breath was actually the result of a green bomb - US citizens learned their lesson after WWII and created a 'green bomb' in an attempt to save people..? I didn't get it.
Perhaps I didn't read enough - admittedly I stopped about four chapters in (though that was a sizable portion of the less-than-200-page book) - but Sky Jumpers just didn't cut it. I had a difficult time grasping the idea of this new world and, quite frankly, didn't care enough to read about the new inventions these children were creating....more
The Bone Season has received an insane amount of hype leading up to its release. Personally, I'm extremely hesitant to give in to any book labeled The Next ______ (especially when it's the next Harry Potter). While I definitely wouldn't say this series is the next HP, the hype is certainly deserved!
2050s London is far different than it is today. In the late 1800s, a seance-gone-wrong (or right, depending on how you look at it) ushered forth clairvoyants, normal humans with abnormal abilities. 200 years later, clairvoyants are still on the run from the Big Brother-esque Scion. With a father in the government, Paige Mahoney has a lot to lose if her true nature is discovered. Using a false job as a cover, she spends her time in London's seedy underworld, working for a man with questionable ethics.
Some clairvoyants can read tarot cards or palms. Paige is a dreamwalker, a person with the ability to not only enter others' minds, but - as Paige discovers - their bodies as well. A rather disastrous train ride sets Scion's sights on Paige and she quickly learns there's much more to her world than she ever thought possible.
If you're a fan of massive world-building, The Bone Season is for you. In fact, there's so much to learn it can be slightly overwhelming. Initially I was a bit confused - the first few chapters are bogged down with lots of info and terms - but as the novel progressed these ideas and phrases became second nature and by the end of the book I was fully immersed.
NOTHING makes me happier than opening a book and finding a big ol' map staring at me. I absolutely love it and this one was a complete surprise. It's not as large or as detailed as some of the other maps I've come across in books (although those typically encompass entire worlds rather than a single city), but it made me feel right at home. There's also a chart in the very beginning of the book - even before the map! - that I didn't fully understand until later in the story. It breaks down the seven orders of clairvoyance and once you understand what each ability means, this chart becomes absolutely fascinating. Probably the most helpful though was the nine-page glossary. Trust me on this one: you'll need it. Between words like mime-crime, threnody, and Amaurotic, there's a LOT to learn and you'll quickly become good friends with those nine pages.
The characters were another hit and each one was beautifully crafted (particularly Warden ♥). Whether they were minor, one-scene characters or main characters seen throughout the course of the novel, I got a feel for every single one. Yes The Bone Season is a fantasy novel, but when you get down to it, these characters are still human (some of them at least!) and they're not without flaws and strengths and fears.
I don't want to give away any spoilers, but the ending seriously left me wanting more (plus the romance I was starting to suspect wouldn't happen!). While I'm a bit unsure of how the story will play out over seven books, you can bet I'll be eagerly awaiting the sequel! Don't go into The Bone Season expecting to return to the world of Harry Potter. Honestly, apart from the same publisher and series length, the two are nothing alike. If you go into it with thoughts of Hogwarts and Quidditch you will be let down. However, if you're looking for a fun and exciting new series with an excellent world and class system, The Bone Season is for you!...more
"Well maybe that's what the whole test is really about. Leaders are forced to kill all the time. Then they have to learn to live with the decisions they make. Just like I'm going to learn to live with mine."
After a devastating war nearly wiped out the entire population, those left are struggling to pick up the pieces. New colonies are sprouting up in the ruined husks of once-thriving cities. Both food and water are scarce, but civilization has pressed on and remain hopeful for their future.
Stop me if you've heard this one already.
Malencia - Cia - Vale has reached Graduation Day, the day when she'll be recognized as an adult in the eyes of her colony. Unfortunately for Cia, the day is not as joyful as she had hoped. After years of her colony being passed over for Testing candidates, four children are chosen and Cia is one of them. Those chosen for the Testing are required to undergo multiple tests and not everyone reaches the end. Not everyone survives. Those who do pass are then able to attend the University and learn skills to better their society.
Cia knows there's a possibility she'll never see her family again. What was originally an exciting affair is now solemn and filled with unsaid thoughts. Before she leaves, Cia's father shares his own Testing experience - and it's not what Cia wants to hear. Her father sometimes has flashbacks, wiped memories have been resurfacing. Cia is warned not to trust anyone, but will she follow that advice?
The Testing was hailed as the next Hunger Games - a title nearly every new dystopia series has held at one point or another. In my eyes, The Testing is The Hunger Games meets Divergent meets Battle Royale. In the worst way possible.
The book reads as though the author (who has written a few adult mysteries before trying her hand at YA) compiled every dystopia trope into story form. Threadbare backstory about a terrible (& unexplained) war: CHECK. Colony in Chicago: CHECK. No food sources or clean water, but still able to have things like cake: CHECK. Big Brother-type organization/government: CHECK. A select few chosen to compete in a series of tests/battles to determine who's fit to move up in the world: CHECK. A childhood friend who's possibly more: CHECK. A bad guy who is more than he seems: CHECK. A good guy who isn't everything he seems: CHECK. I could go on.
The most frustrating part of the book surprisingly wasn't the over-abundance of tropes. Instead, it was the utter lack of explanation. Why were these kids going through these tests? What was the point? These are supposed to be the best and brightest students in the colonies, yet the government aims to pit them against one another, provide them with weapons, and sit back while they kill each other. How does that further society? It seemed to me Cia's colony was doing just fine without any Testing candidates for those years.
Once the Testing begins, the book read like the worst parts of Harry Potter's camping scenes: Cia and Tomas are wandering around catching fish and rabbits, eating berries, cleaning and dressing their wounds. Repeat ad nauseam for the next two hundred pages. Occasionally there's a mutant creature/human (the aftereffects of the War) and a few times the pair crosses paths with another candidate. There are also groups of people living outside the borders, people who refuse to live by the government's rules. Again, I've read this same story way too many times now.
The author did very little - if anything - to bring a new aspect to an overwritten genre. The killing and brutality these children partake in is accepted because their memories are wiped at the end of the Testing. SO IT'S OKAY GUYS, SEE!
The Testing was one eyeroll after the next. The only interesting part was at the very end - and I mean the very end. In the last two or so paragraphs Cia discovers a recording she made before her memories were wiped. Suddenly she realizes what she went through and who she shouldn't trust. And there the book ends. I really ought to learn my lesson by now - Dystopia as a genre just isn't for me. The Testing only confirmed that.
Die-hard fans of the genre and those looking for a family (extremely!) story will most likely enjoy The Testing. Unfortunately, it wasn't for me. There were too many questions left unanswered and plot points left unexplained....more
For the boys in Claysoot, "live fast, die young" is a way of life. No one knows how or why, but on a boy's eighteenth birthday, he's Heisted: completely wiped off the face of the earth with no trace. To ensure their society doesn't die out, each month teens are slated, or paired up with one another in the hopes of, well, conceiving a child. The only love felt is between a mother and child; what's the point of falling in love if a boy is going to vanish one day?
Life is hard in Claysoot, and for Gray Weathersby, it just got a whole lot harder. After his older brother Blaine is Heisted, Gray can't function. His brother left behind a hole in Gray that can't be filled and a pain that won't fade over time (although Gray knows that in just one year he'll be Heisted too). After his mother died, Blaine was the only family Gray had. Now he's totally alone.
Despite a lifetime of horror stories about The Wall - those who attempt to climb over and escape return as charred bodies - Gray decides to climb and see if there's more to life than his tiny town. An overheard conversation, along with a revealed secret, make him question his entire life. Determined, he leaves Claysoot followed by Emma, his long-time crush.
TakenENRAGED me. When I first heard about this book it seemed like fun - not to mention it had a male protagonist! Within the first ten pages, however, I was entirely fed up and wanted to throw the book down. Gray is not a likable guy. At all. Or, sure, there are moments where he says or does something that were meant to make the reader feel sympathetic (he can't bear the thought of going through with a slating and have a child who will grow up without a father, when the New Girl comes along Gray pushes all thoughts of her aside for Emma, etc), but ultimately fail.
There isn't a single redeeming quality about Gray. Those first ten pages I just mentioned? They include an all-out fistfight with a girl. A girl made him angry, so he punched her. Multiple times. No. No, no, NO. This act of violence does absolutely nothing for the plot (other than point out what a dick Gray is) apart from showing Blaine is supposed to be the level-headed brother. Apparently in this case, level-headed means someone who doesn't go around randomly punching girls.
Things go from bad to worse with this book. Gray hurts people (physically and emotionally) for the sake of hurting them, there are plot twists galore, and the writing suffers from a SEVERE case of telling, not showing.
I could rant about this book until I'm blue in the face, but I'll leave you with this: don't waste your time with Taken. Go find a copy of The Village and waste two hours with that movie instead....more
"The Marked have community. Boil everything else down and that's what you're left with. That's what they have right now that we don't."
Sneak, the sequel to Swipe (published earlier this year) is what I consider dystopia lite: a middle grade-friendly post-apocalyptic novel without all the excess gore and violence of the series that are currently in the spotlight. I'd say readers are better off having read Swipe before jumping into Sneak (or at the very least have a decent amount of knowledge as to what the first book/this series' world is all about). For the most part Sneak does a decent job getting readers up to speed, but there were multiple times where I found myself lost and confused. Totally my fault, by the way. This was not the book's fault.
Sometime in the future there's a war and, once again, America finds itself torn apart. The result: Marked citizens (literally. These folks get a barcode-type mark when upon turning 13) and the Markless (who live their lives in hiding).
Sneak kicks things off with Logan Langly, the one and only boy to escape DOME facilities. He's now on the run and determined to find his sister (who has been kept in a prison for the past five years). Logan's an interesting character. It's clear he's made out to be a savior symbol; he becomes a beacon of hope for thousands of Markless who have never even met the boy. On the other hand, for countless people he's seen as someone who's made life much more miserable. Since Logan's escape, DOME has really been tightening the reins and amping up their security. Markless have to CONSTANTLY move from place to place.
One idea I thought was neat was an Underground Railroad-esque system set in place to aid Markless on their way to a safer place. This system has a nautical theme however, and I liked it! A hook meant there was danger nearby (usually in the form of untrustworthy Marked who appear to want to help), an anchor announced a secure shelter, a captain meant there was someone close who could transport Markless to the next spot, etc.
"My job is to cover our tracks," Shawn said. "Completely. I'm not about to cut loose just because of a surprise along the way. I don't work like that." And Erin looked at him admiringly. From one hacker to another. "Besides," Shawn said. "I don't like free rides if I don't know who's driving. You wanna know who's helping us, don't you? Don't you think it'd just the tiniest bit suspicious?"
There are quite a few characters packed into this short novel. Unfortunately, because of the book's length, the sheer number of characters, and the extremely quick scene changes (multiple scenes per PAGE at times!) it became a little hard to get to know this group of kids. For the most part I felt as though I was a mere spectator, watching the drama unfold from afar. I never felt that I was there in the midst of it all. With some of the more minor characters, I completely forgot about them until they were mentioned and even then I couldn't recall the first thing about them.
My biggest complaint about Sneak would be the setting. I know it takes place in the future - not sure on the exact date; it's never stated in this novel (perhaps in the first book?) - but some things just didn't add up. I get that it's post-apocalyptic. Technology changed. Yet the parents all knew (and said they grew up with) radios...and somehow the children had never heard of them before. Same with cars. I can't imagine the world could change that drastically in the span of a single generation. Also, at one point a Bible is found, yet the group doesn't know what it is and writes it off as just another book. Again, a single generation?? It doesn't make sense.
All-in-all, Sneak was a solid book and a good dystopian novel for children who want to get into the genre but aren't yet ready for the violence that typically goes along with it. Don't make the same mistake I did: I highly recommend checking out the first book before reading this one....more
The only reason this book received a star was because I thought the premise was amazing. It’s always such a disappointment when a book has a great idea, but the execution is terrible. Such was the case with Dayworld.
I first stumbled upon this book at work and was so drawn to it I began reading it that same night. In the distant future, Earth is too crowded and the government decides to allow each person one day out of the week to live. The other six days they’re in a frozen state (the book chooses the word ‘stoned’ which took on an entirely different meaning). Jeff Caird is a daybreaker – he’s able to live the entire week although he has seven individual personas/families/homes for each day.
Right from the start I was disappointed. The writing is very juvenile; normally short sentences and quick transitions means a fast read. Unfortunately, this book (my copy was just barely over 200 pages) took nearly an entire week for me to finish. It seemed unending. Not only was the writing not up to par, but the author chose names that simply confused me. Granted, odd naming schemes and sci-fi go hands-in-hand; however, Farmer decided – for some reason that was never explained other than a ‘it’s how things go in the future’ – to give some women male names and some men female names. This became EXTREMELY confusing when a character introduced Rupert as his wife or Dorothy was described as a man.
While it was interesting that each day has their own fads, Farmer took it to an extreme – and, again, for an discernible reason. On one of the days, everyone carries around teddy bears. Men, women, and children. They all walk around with teddy bears. One character paints grasshoppers and a current fashion trend is to be painted. I simply couldn’t wrap my head around it and all the ~wackiness~ became frustrating (& I’m normally a fan of wacky, quirky books – Jasper Fforde, I’m looking at you!).
Toward the end I had had enough and began skimming – never a good sign. I wound up skimming through a big, climactic fight scene. Not even a battle was interesting enough to keep me entertained. In the end I had skimmed through the final 80 pages & as I had mentioned, my copy was just over 200. 80 pages is quite a big portion of the book to skim.
Sadly, as excited as I was about this book, Dayworld was a huge letdown and I will not be reading its sequels....more
I feel like I live in a world right after the big party. Like, everything was amazing and alive and people were having the time of their lives way back when, and now when I live is like the next morning, and everything is broken and trashed, technology and ideas just lying around empty, and it's like we missed it.
The Earth Owen Parker knows is drastically different from the world we currently live in. Radiation levels have elevated to highly dangerous levels - so dangerous that humans (and animals, for that matter) can no longer live "normal" lives. Over 70% of the population has been wiped out, countless species have gone extinct, and lakes and oceans have been drained or are rapidly drying up.
In an attempt to save themselves, civilization has resorted to seeking refuge inside domed cities. While the majority of people live in these Edens, there are communities - like Owen's - that live underground.
When Owen is selected to leave the Hub and attend camp in EdenWest, he discovers he holds the key - literally - to an ancient past and what lies in store for the future.
But the body is a simple machine. It doesn't plan for you being underwater when you need air. It figures you wouldn't be that stupid, I guess. And if you were, well, then there were three billion other humans out there who probably wouldn't make the same mistake, so your genes clearly weren't worth passing on.
The Lost Code kicks things off with a bang. Owen drowns within the first few pages and when he's rescued he finds out he was actually underwater for much longer than what was originally thought. Much too long for any human to survive.
As the story progresses, Owen discovers those "scratches" on his neck are gills. He grew gills. And he's not the only one: the group of older kids in charge of the camp also have gills and they'd determined to find out why - and if these changes are in any way linked to the strange disappearance of fellow campers.
While The Lost Code was enjoyable, I had two huge issues: Owen's age and the year. Owen's age is never given, but judging from the cover, I assumed he'd be 17/18. ...the way he sounds in the book, however, I could easily mistake him for 12/13. In fact, all of the characters I'd peg for tweens or early teens. Although there isn't any sex in the book, Owen wonders whether or not his crush and her ex were 'screwing.' I don't know any 18-year old who says that. The whole summer camp setting combined with the way the characters spoke made it really difficult for me to think of them as being the age of the models on the cover of the book.
We stayed away from the Strip, but I remember being able to see the fire from my window, watching it go for days, and almost thinking it was beautiful. I mean, not actually beautiful but...you know how you feel like if the world is going to end, you want to be there to see it? You want to know what comes next?
The other issue I had was with the year the story takes place. Again, it's never stated, although there were some clues. One of the leaders reads a story to them (a little hard to picture older teens being read to). That story is The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket, the only novel Poe wrote. It's mentioned that it was ~like, 250 years old~ (Another problem I had with the novel was the overabundance of the word 'like.') I'm a HUGE fan of Poe's, guys. LOVE him. Hearing that this new world is only 250 away from one where Poe lived was mildly confusing. Poe lived between 1809 & 1849. So The Lost Code takes place somewhere between 2059 and 2099. ..2059 is only 47 years away. The Earth changed that much in less than 50 years? SEVENTY PERCENT of the population (7 billion people, y'all) wiped out in a few decades?
Also, assuming this book takes place in 2059, I'm a little confused as to why there were cryos - kids at the camp who were frozen before the world went to hell. Lilly said she was born in 2046. Seeing as how she was frozen as a teen, does that mean her parents paid an insane amount of money for her to be frozen for only a few years? This baffled me even more when Lilly (along with the other cryos) reminisce about fruits and vegetables that used to exist. Owen would have been well aware of those foods.
In the large stretches of blank ocean were little sea monster sketches. Things with serpent backs or giant mouths. Paul didn't seem like the type to waste his time doodling. Maybe he had brought in a cartographer or something. Maybe the monsters were because it got boring sitting down here drawing for hours on end.
Seeing as how the series is called The Atlanteans, you'd think Atlantis would be pretty prominent, right? HA. It's not until the end of the book that Atlantis turns up and even then it's only through odd visions of Owen's. The Atlantis aspect was what originally drew me to this book and, sadly, the parts I found myself skimming over.
I couldn't connect with any of the characters; the only person at the camp I held some interest in was Leech, the cabin bully. But even he came across as a chubby little child in my mind. I just cannot picture these characters as adults.
While reading other reviews, a few readers said they figured things out way before Owen. I can say that's certainly the case, though I hadn't realized it due to lack of interest on my part. I couldn't bring myself to care about these people. It's clear readers are meant to get emotional during certain scenes and I just...didn't.
And that romance? It was certainly a case of instalove on Owen's part - Lilly is a beautiful, older girl with green bangs. One day they're strangers, the next she's flirting with him and he starts daydreaming of them running away together.
With all the complaining I'm doing, it sounds like The Lost Code is a terrible book and it's not. It was fun and I enjoyed it. However, it's not without it's flaws and certain aspects (if the world outside the domes is so dangerous, how is it the kids are fine laying out and looking at the sky at the end?) made it hard for me to stay in the story.
Although it was amusing while it lasted, I can't see myself continuing with the series....more
When I finished The Age of Miracles I had to sit there for a few minutes to be alone with my thoughts. This book is GOOD. Really good.
On the sixth of October, the experts went public. This, of course, is the day we all remember. There'd be a change, they said, a slowing, and that's what we called it from then on, the slowing.
Julia is 12 when the slowing happens. At first no one notices anything has changed; people go about their day like normal. It's not until scientists and news anchors start taking over the television that anyone realizes something is wrong.
The experts on the television screen break the news to the world that the earth's rotation has slowed. At first it was just a few minutes, the days have barely grown longer. By the end of the book the days have grown to 50+ hours. Over two full days of light and dark account for a single day for Julia. Naturally a panic arises and people (such as Julia's mother) begin hoarding canned goods, batteries, bottles of water.
There was no footage to show on television, no burning buildings or broken bridges, no twisted metal or scorched earth, no houses sliding off slabs. No one was wounded. No one was dead. It was, at the beginning, a quite invisible catastrophe.
Despite this momentous event, The Age of Miracles is such a quiet book. I've seen it classified as YA (I suppose since Julia is in her teens throughout the book? Or perhaps because dystopia is such a huge trend at the moment), but I feel this quiet - almost sleepy, in a way - feel of the novel solidifies its place among adult fiction. Even labeling it sci-fi somehow feels wrong. Sci-fi to me is much louder, much more action-packed. You'd think a book about 50-hour days would be filled to the brim with action, but it's so much more than that. This is a coming-of-age novel. Julia takes center stage against a backdrop of disaster. Her best friend doesn't want to hang out with her anymore, she buys her first bra, she has a crush on a boy, she takes piano lessons.
All the colors of the spectrum had collapsed to a few dusky grays. There was a paleness in the classroom. That light was the light of the last small moments of a day, the thin wedge of time just after the sun has set but just before you reach for a lamp. A sudden sunset at high speed. It was 1:23 in the afternoon.
In the beginning, the slowing doesn't seem to pose much of a problem. So what if the day became longer by a mere six minutes. As the days continue to lengthen, problems arise and I actually felt a swell of terror as Julia recounted the repercussions of the slowing: first the birds die off. They simply aren't able to fly anymore; this new pull of gravity has altered their flight. The crops slowly die off as well. Makeshift greenhouses soak up all the electricity and become horrible expensive. Tides change. Temperatures rise to 135° on the days that sunlight lasts over 24 hours; California is assaulted with snow the days darkness holds dominion.
We were Californians and thus accustomed to the motions of the earth. We understood that the ground could shift and shudder. We kept batteries in our flashlights and gallons of water in our closest. We accepted that fissures might appear in our sidewalks. Swimming pools sometimes sloshed like bowls of water. We were well practiced at crawling beneath tabletops, and we knew to beware of flying glass. At the start of every school year, we each packed a large ziplock bag full of non-perishables in case The Big One stranded us at school. But we Californians were no more prepared for the particular calamity than those who had built their homes on more stable ground.
Eventually the government decides to simply ignore the definitions of day and night by declaring America will continue running on a 24-hour clock. Because of the slowing, however, Julia sometimes wakes up when it's still dark out and heads into bed with the sun high overhead. Society slowly breaks into two groups: clock-timers (those adhering to the 24-hour clock) and real-timers (people who continue to go about their day when the sun is out & sleep when it's dark, regardless of the 'actual' time). With each passing day, the real-timers fall further and further behind those on clock-time.
The story takes place over the course of a year (I believe) and what a year it is. It's frightening to see just how quickly the world could collapse. At one point Julia discusses a team of astronauts who are stranded aboard a space station and can't come home; because of the slowing, new calculations are made everyday and NASA just isn't able to take that big of a risk to try to bring them home. That's terrifying.
The Age of Miracles is an absolutely gorgeous novel. It sneaks up on you and once it grabs you it refuses to relinquish its hold. This is, without a doubt, a favorite book of mine. Not just for 2012, but a favorite book of all time. It's seriously that good. I know this is a novel I'll continue thinking about for months to come.
I wished my father were home. I tried to picture him at the hospital. Maybe babies were being born into his hands right at that moment. I wondered what it might mean to come into the world on this of all nights.
To die in childbirth seemed to me a frontier woman's death, as impossible now as polio or the plague, made extinct by our ingenious monitors and machines, our clean hands and strong soaps, our drugs and our cures and our vast stores of knowledge.
We were, on that day, no different from the ancients, terrified of our own big sky.
TRIS IS REALLY SMALL, GUYS. SHE CAN'T SEE OVER ANYONE'S SHOULDERS. SHE HAS TO STAND ON HER TIPTOES TO SEE INTO MIRRORS. SHE'S THE ONLY ONE WHO CAN CRAWL INTO TINY SPACES. SEE HOW SMALL SHE IS!!! SEE?!?!
So. I finally read everyone's favorite book of 2011...and I hated severely disliked it. I don't enjoy writing bad reviews, but my goodness this book.
From the very first page I wasn't thrilled. The story is told in present tense and I quickly discovered I'm not a fan of that. Also, since the story is told from Tris' POV, many, many things aren't explained. After some poking around, I found that fans of the book excuse this total lack of information by saying that, because Tris doesn't know about anything & since the world is seen through her eyes, the reader therefore doesn't know anything either. Ms. Roth should know better. It's one thing to leave some mysteries unsolved for the next book, but to completely forego any explanations at all? Not cool. So many things were brought up and mentioned - apparently huge things regarding what happened and why Chicago (& the rest of the world??) is in ruins - and promptly ignored.
Another issue I had were the factions. I just don't understand. Dauntless are brave and courageous and prove this by saving small children from burning buildings? Rescuing kittens stuck in trees? Nope! They get tattoos and piercings and jump off trains! ... Um. Okay.
Tris comes from Abnegation, the faction where everyone wears grey sacks (because anything else would be vain?), avoids mirrors, and spends their free time knitting scarves for the homeless. In Abnegation, children aren't allowed to speak unless spoken to and no one can ask questions (for that would signify curiosity, something only Erudite - maybe? I forget already.. - can value).
When children are sixteen, they have a Choosing Ceremony, where they are able to choose the faction they'll stay in for the rest of their lives and are accepted as adults (in Abnegation's case, this means being allowed to speak at dinner! OOH!).
Before the choosing, each child goes through a test to see where they're supposed to be. In Tris' case, something Very Bad happens. Her results are inconclusive; she's a Divergent (possesses traits from each faction). Certain factions views Divergents as a threat; under no circumstances is Tris to tell anyone what she is.
In the end she chooses Dauntless and for the next 400 pages the reader is subjected to the ridiculous initiation. This includes jumping off buildings, beating the crap out of everyone, and facing your fears (huzzah! Finally something sensible!).
As all YA is wont to do, there is the token love interest. And ours comes in the form of Four. Typical bad-boy-who-is-actually-sweet-and-sensitive. The biggest eye roll I had was their lovefest. Tris comes from a faction where handshakes are frowned upon. She mentioned only twice did she ever witness her parents kiss. Any signs of affection are un-Abnegation. However!! within a week (?? how long did the initiation test last?) she's a-okay with making out with Four, sleeping in his bed, etc.
I became somewhat interested about 50 pages from the end. When Stuff Finally Happened. All hell breaks loose and leads quite nicely into the next book, Insurgent. Spoilers abound, so I'll keep quiet for now, but let it be known there was death! & mind control! ...and bad decisions! Also, Tris is small. Just in case you forgot.
Despite not being a fan (and I was really hoping I'd love this book!!), I will admit that I love the cover. Insurgent also has a great cover - and the UK versions are great too! I'm so surprised; lately it seems that YA covers have been a huge letdown for me. Either they're uninspiring or they're just plain sloppy. This series, however, has great covers!...more