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Otherworld Stories

Shards and Ashes

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Gripping original stories of dystopian worlds from nine New York Times bestselling authors, edited by Melissa Marr and Kelley Armstrong.

The world is gone, destroyed by human, ecological, or supernatural causes. Survivors dodge chemical warfare and cruel gods; they travel the reaches of space and inhabit underground caverns. Their enemies are disease, corrupt corporations, and one another; their resources are few, and their courage is tested.

Powerful original dystopian tales from nine bestselling authors offer bleak insight, prophetic visions, and precious glimmers of light among the shards and ashes of a ruined world.

384 pages, Paperback

First published February 13, 2013

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About the author

Melissa Marr

107 books12.7k followers

Melissa Marr is a former university literature instructor who writes fiction for adults, teens, and children. She is best known for the Wicked Lovely series for teens, the Graveminder for adults, and her debut picturebook Bunny Roo, I Love You.

Her books have been translated into twenty-eight languages and been bestsellers internationally as well as domestically (NY Times, Los Angeles Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal).Accolades include starred reviews on numerous books, YALSA Popular Paperbacks, IRA Notable Book Pick, Book Sense Pick (YA and adult), Good Morning America Summer Pick for Teens, Scottish Book Trust, Red Maple finalist (in both Ontario and Manitoba), and Goodreads Good Choice Award (Horror), RWA RITA award (YA).

She also write romance for adults as Ronnie Douglas.

She co-authored (with Kelley Armstrong) a MG trilogy as M.A. Marr.

In addition to novels, Melissa has co-edited several anthologies, as well as published short fiction, manga, and prose non-fiction.

She currently lives with her family in Arizona.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 486 reviews
Profile Image for Cara.
110 reviews64 followers
Want to read
February 22, 2013
I feel stupid, but I marked this book as to-read simply because Veronica Roth wrote it. Does that make me a follower?
Profile Image for Vanessa.
59 reviews46 followers
July 8, 2013
Since this is an anthology I reviewed it differently. I gave each story an individual rating and then averaged out those together to get the final rating for the book.

Hearken by Veronica Roth. 4 stars
This was a hauntingly beautiful story set in a world where bio-bombs have become a part of every day life. Our protagonist Darya has been hardened by this world. We follow her path as she becomes a hearkener-- a musically talented person with a brain implant that allows them to hear people's life or death songs. "Everyone had a death song, no matter how young or healthy they were, and everyone had a life song, even when they were dying. Everyone was both dying and living at the same time, but the death song grew louder as death approached, just as the life song was loudest at a persons birth." Veronica Roth gives us great character development and a wonderful message. This easily became one of my favorites out of the bunch.

Branded by Kelley Armstrong. 3 stars
I don't know how to feel about this one. Our MC Rayne lives in one of the human fortresses guarded from the "Outside" where supernatural beings, hybrids, and scavengers struggle to survive. ". . . the alternative is fighting for survival every second of every day until you die a horrible, violent death, your bones gnawed and sucked clean by scavengers, not all of them animal." It's a very harsh world they live in. There's a particular scene in the story that brought tears to my eyes, involving a little girl and her parents. The story was perfectly executed and the world building was great. I gave it a three because I found it hard to emotionally connect with Rayne. She was so cold and doesn't let the reader in enough. I give props to Kelley Armstrong for going the path less traveled and making her MC devious, but I personally have a hard time liking a story if the MC is too distant and almost unlikeable.

Necklace of Raindrops by Margaret Stohl. 3 stars
I enjoyed this one but would have LOVED it if I hadn't been so confused. In this world, life is controlled by a necklace of drops and once you run out, your life ends. The more of a risk-taker you are the sooner you run out of drops. This whole concept and world was super intriguing and I found it very interesting. BUT I felt that it could have been explained more thoroughly as there are some important questions unanswered. What exactly are the drops and how are they used exactly? How do they keep you alive? What are they used for? Other than that what I did like were the three alternating POVs and the ending that left me wanting more. I think that this would make a great book as long as everything gets explained more.

Dogsbody by Rachel Caine. 2 stars
This one was just kind of "eh" for me until the very end. I felt like it was mostly about revenge instead of a revolution and didn't form a deep attachment to the MC Xavier. The one redeeming aspect was the kick ass, action packed ending.

Pale Rider by Nancy Holder. 1 star
This was my least favorite of the anthology. I was very confused about what exactly was happening with the whole paranormal aspect and what exactly the "pale rider" even was. I began skimming it halfway through because it was not engaging and the insta-love didn't fit into the story at all. It just all came off as messy.

Corpse Eaters by Melissa Marr. 2 stars
Corpse Eaters was strange to say the least. A God named Nidhogg has appeared in the world and brought reptilian monsters named Nidos planning to take over. These monsters kidnap humans to eat and sacrifice to their God. This story was told through alternating point of views between Chastity and Chris, who are part of an opponent group to Nidhogg that kills the monsters. I liked this pair and found myself rooting for them the whole way through. Despite me liking the characters I just couldn't seem to grasp the whole Nidhogg and the monsters part, I just thought it was all way too weird. Also the ending caught me off guard and I would have liked more insight so as to understand certain people's decisions.

Burn 3 by Kami Garcia. 2 stars
This story takes place under a constructed biodome made to protect against the deadly atmosphere caused by the depletion of the ozone layer. Our MC goes underground on a mission to rescue her kidnapped little sister. She discovers a horrific plot that's been going on with the help of a man she meets. Although a very touching story, it was very predictable and the ending was super corny.

Love is a Choice by Beth Revis. 2 stars
This was set in the world of the Across the Universe books. It provides great insight into a younger Orion and his one love Mag. We find out how he became the recorder and the beginning of his revolution plans. I highly recommend reading this one if your a fan of Across the Universe series, I didn't enjoy it but because it's just not my cup of tea.

Miasma by Carrie Ryan. 4 stars
This was one of my other favorites. Our MC Frankie lives in a town plagued by miasma, a sickness that's airborne and seemingly un-curable leading to death. "Without medicine, civilization turned to darker ways of handling outbreaks of the fever: doctors with beaks like birds and their plague-eating beasts." Frankie works hard to hide her sister's sickness from these doctors now that it's the only family she has left. Ultimately this was about love and sacrificing for it. It ends the anthology with a hopeful ending.
March 4, 2013
It wasn't terrible, but I wouldn't read any of these authors again had I first read their work in this anthology. For the most part, the stories here needed more background to work, and a couple just made absolutely no sense in the context of a post-apocalyptic world.

For example, the first story, The Hearkeners, had me scratching my head. Ok, so you have a world in which you have to wear gas masks to protect against some attacks that aren't really defined, by people whose agendas I don't quite understand, and there are people employed by the government and are in need by the general populace because they can RECORD A DEATH SONG? PLAY A LOT OF INSTRUMENTS THAT DESCRIBES A PERSON'S LIFE? What the hell? How is that useful in any way, much less in a chaotic, messed-up world? It's like death jewelry, ok, you can pay to make your beloved's ashes into a diamond ring. Creepy, but to each his own, right? But how is that of any use whatsoever besides as a keepsake? Why are these Hearkeners so fucking special when as far as I can tell in the story, all they do it give you a keepsake of the one you loved and lost? A camera would be more useful.

Sadly, as confusing as it is, the first story was one of the more clearly and well-written ones, based on writing skill alone. The other one I remember enjoying is by Kelley Armstrong, the others are thoroughly confusing and forgettable.
Profile Image for Darla.
3,503 reviews614 followers
May 28, 2013
Entertaining and mostly authors unfamiliar to me. "Necklace of Raindrops" by Margaret Stohl was my favorite of the entire book.
Profile Image for Christina (A Reader of Fictions).
4,280 reviews1,654 followers
February 19, 2013
Basically every time I review an anthology, I do things differently. This time, since there aren't that many stories and they're a bit longer, I'm going to break it down with my thoughts about each story.

Story 1: "Hearken" by Veronica Roth
In all honesty, I was expecting to hate this story. I really was not impressed with Divergent and had no higher hopes for this short story. Well, it just goes to show that giving authors a second chance can be a good thing. I really did like this. The concept is fascinating, if not entirely sense-making. In this world, terrorism is rampant, and people are dying from bombings left and right. They've developed, for reasons that seem rather sketchy, the ability, with an implant, for certain highly musically-inclined individuals to hear a person's life music and death music. The story follows a half-Indian, half-white girl, Darya, through her decision about whether to choose to hear the life song or death song. I did laugh hysterically when Darya's life song turns out to have all of the instruments, rather than just some like most people; she's divergent, y'all! The world building opens up a lot of questions which it can't answer (How does this ability actually help anything? Does the death music actually predict when the death will occur?), but the idea itself is appealing enough that I was willing to mostly let that slide and really appreciate the story. While it does loosely fit in the post-apocalyptic category, it's REALLY loose. Darya has some depth to her, and the writing is better than it was in Divergent, if still not of particular note. 3.5/5

Story 2: "Branded" by Kelley Armstrong
Kelley Armstrong stays in familiar territory with her contribution to the anthology, in a tale about werewolves in hybrids. In her post-apocalyptic vision of the future, mankind's attempts to create super-soldiers have ultimately lessened odds of survival. The remaining humans hide behind well-guarded walls, swiftly persecuting anyone found to possess supernatural blood. Rayne's secret boyfriend has just been accused. The story is fun, and will appeal to Armstrong fans. 3/5

Story 3: "Necklace of Raindrops" by Margaret Stohl
Well, this story probably marks my final experience with Margaret Stohl. I hated Beautiful Creatures and, if anything, this is worse. In Stohl's contribution, in a dystopian future, people's lives are tied to their necklaces. If you run out of beads, you die. The other option is to drop, aka go sky diving to your death. At the beginning of the story, Jai's brother, Rama, drops. Jai is not actually bothered by this, instead embarking on a nauseatingly corny romance with Z. Even better than that nonsensical plot and the motivationless characters, Stohl writes almost solely in sentence fragments, and all three points of view read the same. 1/5

Story 4: "Dogsbody" by Rachel Caine
Caine's story follows along a classic dystopian line, with a despotic, ruthless government. Xavier, known as Zay, is recruited to work as a dogsbody, essentially a slave. This story will thrill action fans, as about half of it is an extended shoot-em-up scene. I found the characterization lacking and couldn't stop yawning, despite the action. Also, choosing to name one of the rebels Virtue is rather heavy-handed. 2.5/5

Story 5: "Pale Rider" by Nancy Holder
In Nancy Holder's contribution, another from an author whose previous work I hated, we have yet another world that makes absolutely no sense to me. Apparently, there was a collapse, consisting of explosions, earthquakes, and riots. In 8 years, the world fell apart entirely. I was already skeptical, but we've also got a hot German guy with powers and it turns into this weird paranormal thing. I wouldn't really call this a dystopia, and the writing is nauseating. 1/5

Story 6: "Corpse Eaters" by Melissa Marr
My main reaction to this story was "CHICKA-WHUT?" There's not nearly enough world building to sell this story of some Lizard King god arising from the deeps with his lizard followers. Then apparently some humans start worshiping him and they all eat people. The main characters, Harmony and Chris fight them. Yes, it's dark and creepy, but would probably work better either with a lot more background or as some sort of superhero comic. Also, the relationship between Chris and Harmony is creepy, since he previously had a relationship with her sister Chastity. In fact, he and Harmony first hook up when he thinks she is Chastity, during a drunken haze after Chastity's death. I didn't like the characters or the world, unfortunately. This was a major letdown, since I generally enjoy Marr's work. 2/5

Story 7: "Burn 3" by Kami Garcia
Well, another author has succeeded in surprising me and exceeding my expectations. Kami Garcia chooses a simple premise for her story: global warming leading to post-apocalyptic conditions. A society, within a dome, is managing to limp along, but, even beneath the glass, people suffer from burns. Garcia doesn't shoe-horn in any romance, or try to make the story overly hopeful. "Burn 3" follows classic lines, and does so without being melodramatic or boring. 4/5

Story 8:"Love Is a Choice" by Beth Revis
Yet again, Beth Revis' short story contribution is set in the AtU universe. Unlike some of the others, I actually really liked this one, which gives background on Orion. In this story, you can really see why he ended up losing his mind, and how he became so ruthless and crazy, despite his good intentions. 4/5

Story 9: "Miasma" by Carrie Ryan
Yet again, romance dominates any sort of actual world building. Carrie Ryan has some cool ideas. Something has happened to the environment, and now there's a deadly plague and creepy beaked doctors. Conceivably, this could be awesome, but it's all just there as a backdrop to an instalove sort of relationship. Pass. 2/5

Though most of these stories fell flat for me, the collection is very readable, with even the worst stories not boring me. This made it a nice easy read. I wouldn't recommend it to those who look primarily for world building, but, otherwise, it's a quick, fun read, and, unless you're OCD about such things, you can just skip the stories you don't like.
Profile Image for Christina (Ensconced in Lit).
984 reviews287 followers
March 30, 2013
I won this book from Bibliophila, Please, a great blog! Thanks to Kayla who sent this book to me.

Shards and Ashes is a collection of dystopian YA short stories, edited by Melissa Marr and Kelley Armstrong. It's an interesting set of stories-- both from the perspective of just their content, and also, from the perspective of how authors who normally write full length novels try their hand at a shorter form.

There is varying success. All of the stories have interesting slants on the dystopian world, but some struggle at a backstory in such little space like Veronica Roth in the first story Hearken. It's beautifully written, but the dystopian world is explained away as a place where random people drop bombs for no apparent reason. Branded by Kelley Armstrong, is a unique take on a paranormal type of dystopian, and probably does the best at a complete story with twists in a small space. Dogsbody by Rachel Caine may have been my favorite-- both in scope, story, and characterization. Beth Revis told a story in her Across the Universe world, which I enjoyed because I love her trilogy, but I feel that those who have not read them may not appreciate it as much. The rest of the stories are entertaining, but also not particularly memorable.

Overall, I think this was definitely a worthwhile read with some terrific stories from great authors.
Profile Image for Julie.
267 reviews117 followers
October 29, 2013
“No life is easy. It's just a different kind of hard.”

I was excited to read this mainly due to the collective amount of authors who's books I already enjoy creating this anthology of sorts. With fairly popular authors all in their own right, and based on such a popular YA theme at the current time there wasn't much choice in the matter when it came to deciding whether to purchase and read this or not.

I should begin with my actual rating of the book which is not 4 stars but 3.5 due to a number of reasons. While some of the short stories were very enjoyable, some due to the pressure of keeping the stories short lacked enough explanation; rather jumping right in leaving me a little dazed and confused. Of course, by the end pieces began to fit together but by then I could no longer enjoy the story for what it was and they were not compelling enough for me to read all over again. In addition, some stories were too short leaving me craving for more and upset because of course, there wouldn't be any. In some ways, reading this felt like trudging through mud. I would read slower and slower the further I got into it, purely because the stories were too short or too confusing and my expectations of the rest of the book fell into the lines of this constant pattern unchanging and it didn't help spark any enthusiasm.

However, some of the stories, despite their lack of longevity still appealed to me and I thoroughly enjoyed them. There were even certain quotes I loved spread throughout the pages which is why this review is not as negative as it seems. One that really struck a chord was the following: "It is always our business, the ones left behind. The business of the dead belongs to the living." I would also add that I did enjoy all the stories in this book, some more than others but still none of them were not at least a little to my liking.

I would recommend this to dystopian fans, and just fans of the collective authors in general, just so you can see the range of their writing. In addition, those who prefer short stories than reading novels, or those who get distracted from reading easily and enjoy YA and dystopian themes should pick this up and have a go. To create an entirely new world with different sets of rules can be very tricky, and I commend all the authors in their ability to do so in such a compressed amount of pages.
Profile Image for Dark Faerie Tales.
2,274 reviews547 followers
March 20, 2013
Review courtesy of Dark Faerie Tales.

Quick and Dirty: Nine heart breaking and creepy and all together compelling short stories tell the tales of the broken, the desperate and the clever.

Opening Sentence: “Black or red?”

The Review:

This is a great collection of dystopian tales – some old worlds and some new ones. Some leave you bawling and some just in awe of the authors’ ingenuity. All of these short stories have clever twists and heart-wrenching moments (whether from romance or family moments or whatnot). Although this is only the second anthology I’ve ever read, this is the best one yet. There are no confusing plots or major cliffhangers (although some stories could be expanded into actual novels).

Veronica Roth’s Hearken is about a world where suicide biobombers are normal. But there are also the Hearkeners who can hear the life or death song of someone and create beautiful music. This story is well developed and beautifully weaves all of the background information into the plot all the way until the last concluding resolution.

Kelley Armstrong’s Branded does not shy away from harsh truths or bitter realizations. In a world where paranormals are outcasts that threaten to take over the world, Rayne is desperate to escape her cage of a village. Now with a part werewolf friend on the outside, Rayne just has to find a way to escape the guarded walls and make her journey across the wasteland to find him. Although not one of my favorites because of its terrible morals, this story always had me on my toes. I never knew what would happen next.

Margaret Stohl’s Necklace of Raindrops is a sweet depression story of a world where a necklace of beads controls your life. Jai’s family has already dropped (in order to leave life with a bang, people jump out of airplanes) and that only leaves herself with her 98% full necklace. Z shows her that life can’t be lived by just going to work and coming home. I loved the writing of this story. It has a pull to it that won’t let you go until the very end. And phew. That ending. If only there was more.

Rachel Caine’s Dogsbody is a futuristic story of a corrupt government and its rebellion. Full of action and suspense, this thriller can easily be read as a movie in your head. With an unexpected twist at the end, this story kept me attentive the entire time.

Nancy Holder’s Pale Rider is an odd story. You would think that since it had mythology I would love it, but I never really knew what it was about until the last couple pages. The story was boring with an insta-love that wasn’t necessary. I wasn’t a fan of this story.

Melissa Marr’s Corpse Eaters is just plain weird. A god of some sort has taken over the United States and sends his minions out to enforce the rules. But there are some that fight against it, saving the dying from getting thrown into a corpse stew that is fed to the monsters. Although it is fast-paced, the romance between the two characters is just plain bad. I think that’s just my morals, but still. I’m not a fan.

Kami Garcia’s Burn 3 is about the world with no ozone layer and pollution everywhere. Only those who live in biodomes can survive the heat from the sun while everyone else lives underground. This is a sweet story of a girl rescuing her sister and finding help along the way. Really, this is just a nice break from the previous emotionally-intense stories.

Beth Revis’s Love is a Choice was the story I was looking forward to the most. This prequel to Across the Universe gives us a glimpse into how Orion became the book keeper on the spaceship Godspeed. This gives an insight into Orion’s only romance and the choices that came with it. For those who haven’t read the series, this is a great preview to the books.

Carrie Ryan’s Miasma is a world where evil doctors take the sick away unless you have the money to pay otherwise. Frankie works at a richer family’s estate that has a garden of flowers that keeps the sickness away. Now with her sister growing weaker by the day, Frankie must hide her sister’s stench so that the masked doctors won’t take the only family she has away. This is a classic dystopian that closes the anthology with a sense of hope for the future. Great writing and great characters.

Notable Scene:

I stand in the shadow of the Recoder Hall, watching her go. I will stay here. I will be the recorder. The Hall is rarely used, and I can stay in the shadows. As long as there’s no more trouble, Eldest won’t bother to come down here again. He hates to be reminded of the world outside his empire of steel.

And meanwhile, I will learn every single last secret that Eldest has.

When the time is ready, I will make my move.

It might be years. A decade or more. But while I wait, I will construct a plan so foolproof that, even if I die, the revolution–the freedom–Mag wants will still be ensured.

If I loved Mag the way she thought I did, I would have stood beside her and died a ridiculous, noble death. But love is a choice.

And I can choose not to love her.

FTC Advisory: HarperTeen provided me with a copy of Shards and Ashes. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.
Profile Image for Diana.
344 reviews
April 3, 2013
Creepy, heartbreaking, compelling, extraordinary and so much more.

Veronica Roth

This is one of my favorites! I love the idea of hearkens especially the idea that music could be the only thing to save the world. I just think it was really fast paced and it would be better if it will be a book. I'd definitely read it!

Kelley Armstrong

The idea of the fortress was really great. What I liked the most was the reality in it that was presented. People getting tossed outside, branding supernaturals, the hybrids and the life outside the fortress.

Necklace of Raindrops
Margaret Stohl

I got the idea of the necklace when I got to the end.`There were many details but they didn't really help in making the story more interesting. I didn't understand what was happening and I have to go back once in a while to read things again.

Rachel Caine

Wew. The story was really disturbing. While reading it, all that comes into my mind is the blood, blood and more blood. I would the story to be a bit longer because I want to know more about the world in here.

Pale Rider
Nancy Holder

I didn't understand what was happening and like in Necklace of Raindrops, I have to go back in some parts and read them again. I actually thought it was about zombies in the beginning but I was surprised to realize that it was actually about supernaturals. I was confused with the pacing and what was the main idea here.

Corpse Eaters
Melissa Marr

Another creepy story. I want to find out more about how the world turned out to be something like that.

Burn 3
Kami Garcia

The idea of the skinners really scared me. But overall the idea was really great and I really love it when I find strong heroines in dystopian stories.

Love is a choice
Beth Revis

Wow, now I know more about Orion. This is another of my favorite among the stories here. Aside from the story being set in the Across the Universe, I love how there isn't a cliche love story here.

Carrie Ryan

I enjoyed the story but I just wished the relationship of the main characters was developed more. It was lacking something for me. But I love how it ended even though it isn't a happy one.

Overall, I love the new ideas about the dystopian world that were included in this book!
Profile Image for Lelita P..
532 reviews46 followers
December 13, 2016
Namanya cerita distopia... sudah pasti idenya besar, luas, dan agak sulit dieksekusi kalau hanya harus berupa cerita pendek. Jadi ramuannya mesti benar-benar tepat agar ceritanya enak dibaca, terasa porsinya pas, bukannya nanggung atau menggantung karena premisnya mengambang.

Di buku kumpulan cerita distopia ini, ada cerita-cerita yang bagus, seru, tapi banyak juga yang meh karena idenya terlalu luas dan eksekusi sebagai cerpen tidak tepat sehingga hanya menghasilkan kening berkerut, "Apaan sih ini?"

Tapi benang merah semuanya: tidak ada yang terlalu menarik sampai bikin saya pengin baca cerita distopianya sebagai novel.

(Atau mungkin sayanya aja yang udah terlalu lelah dengan cerita distopia.)
February 17, 2020
Let me start this review by saying two things:

1. A short story is sometimes much harder to write than a story spanning many novels. You have a much more limited number of words to portray an entire idea. Dystopian short stories are to me even harder, as you have to fit an entire explanation of the end of the world and the world as it is after said end of the world (the systems of laws, population control, the classes etc), all while still trying to bring a well-rounded story out of sometimes as little as 60 pages.

2. I decided to rate each story by itself as they were all written by different authors, and then give the overall rating as an average of the ratings.

Hearken by Veronica Roth: (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

“Everyone had a death song, no matter how young or healthy they were, and everyone had a life song, even when they were dying. Everyone was both dying and living at the same time, but the death song grew louder as death approached, just as the life song was loudest at a person’s birth.”

I think this may have been the best short story I’ve read to date. It was such a beautiful premise and it left me wanting so much more. When I turned the last page I couldn’t believe it had ended. Maybe it’s my love of music that tipped me, but this story was so beautifully written. It’s a story I will go back to again and again.

Branded by Kelley Armstrong: (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

This was a story built around a fortress which was built when the world discovered werewolves, witches, sorcerers, vampires etc. The humans were separated from the supernatural and moved into the fortress.

This story was full of surprises, and a few twists and turns. I enjoyed the characters but there were a few plot holes in this short story.

Necklace of Raindrops by Margaret Stohl: (⭐️⭐️⭐️)

This story was about a dystopian society that is ruled by a necklace of gems given at birth. The person can spend their gems on what seems like “life experiences” and at the end of their gems the person has to “drop” i.e jump out of a helicopter without a parachute.

The detail in this story made me very confused. There were a lot of holes in the story and even though every now and then a little clue was thrown in, it wasn’t in enough detail to round out the story. I think if the explanation had been clearer this would have been an amazing story.

Dogsbody by Rachel Caine: (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

This story was a commentary on “big business” and it was very interesting. Corporate rules the government and instead of having a president, it is run by a CEO. Obviously the poor get poorer and the rich get richer, as in every dystopian novel society is ruled by an apparently evil man.

Massive twists and turns make it a great story and even in a few pages the main character is really believable, his cause is believable and his behaviour is believable.

Pale Rider by Nancy Holder: (⭐️⭐️)

This story was confusing. The main character is collected by a German man who awakens some kind of power in her and he then flies her to a castle in Germany where there are ghosts... or something?

It felt very disjointed and it was a bit of a difficult story to follow. It feels as if the author could have taken a few more pages to explain a little more about this world to round the story out a lot better. There were a lot of loose ends and it wasn’t brought together well at the end.

Corpse Eaters by Melissa Marr: (⭐️⭐️⭐️)

The world is now ruled by a god who requires thought about him from his subjects to maintain his power. When he arrived on earth (where he came from is very unclear) he brought with him some lizard subjects who enforce his will and take the sick and dying to some vats where they are drowned if still alive or kept until eaten.

This story was okay. It wasn’t my favourite but it also wasn’t the worse in this batch. It was pretty well explained and the twist at the end was surprising.

Burn 3 by Kami Garcia: (⭐️⭐️⭐️)

This story was set after an event called “the Burn” which saw most of the ozone layer destroyed and cities turned to ash. Most people went to live underground until the domes were created and then people moved into apartments blocks, but the domes don’t always protect the people from the harsh sun.

This story was an interesting one. It dealt with many different issues, but again I feel that the details weren’t thought out completely and because of that the story suffered because of that.

Love is a Choice by Beth Revis: (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

This story was different from all the others because it was set in a space ship heading to a new planet rather than on earth. It follows a young man who everyone was told is dead, but he has managed to hide in different parts of the ship. The leader of the people keeps them all under control by drugging the water system.

The ending of this story was completely unexpected and I appreciated that the author didn’t feel she needed to finish the story a certain way. It was quite a decent little read.

Miasma by Carrie Ryan: (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

The earth was under water for a while and now the water has receded, leaving swamps that release gas which spreads something called “the plague”. The doctors wear masks with bird beaks and bring creatures called “plague eaters” that can sense the plague on people and these people are then taken to the clinic to die.

The characters were lovely in this story. I know from Carrie Ryan’s other novels that generally her characters are great. Heroes from unexpected places are heroes that I love! And this book fulfilled that for me. There were a few things that needed a little more explaining but it was a well-rounded story in the end.
Profile Image for Tina.
269 reviews171 followers
April 28, 2016
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This review will be broken into 3 parts: one, brief summaries of the stories; two, my personal favorites; three, an overview of the anthology.


1. Brief summaries of the stories


2. Personal Favorites:
(Most are because of the character relationships.)

1. "Hearken" by Veronica Roth - Why? Because of all the stories, I think this one had the most character development and meaning. Its world--the post-apocalyptic part of it, at least--was less developed than those in the others, but the character relationships are excellent. It feels very much like a story Veronica Roth would tell--something that delves deeper into what music (and family) can mean to us. The things we may not understand about people if we view the world in shades of black and white. The life lessons we can learn if we're willing to open ourselves.

2. "Corpse Eaters" by Melissa Marr - Again, this very much felt like a story Melissa Marr would tell. There's clear back story for the characters (and their motivations), and there is more focus on them than on rebellion against this harsh world. I liked that, and the character development, and the little plot twist Marr threw in that I didn't see coming. Plus a god that eats human corpses? Oh, Melissa Marr.

3. "Miasma" by Carrie Ryan - Again, I loved how developed the world and character relationships were. Of the protagonists in this anthology, Frankie was definitely either my favorite or second favorite. Even if I didn't learn much about her sister, I could empathize with Frankie and her struggles to save what she had left in the world, and to savor what little she could gain. Plus, I love how scents were so integral to the world. Beautiful writing for a destroyed world. Would love to read more of this!

4. "Branded" by Kelley Armstrong - I definitely didn't predict where this story was headed. The plot twists were fantastic, and I loved that bit of tension of well, what exactly did Rayne plan? Though the romance was central to the story, it wasn't there to clog down the plot; rather, the romance enhanced it.


3. Anthology in General:

Not continuations of authors' series - You don't need to have read any of the authors' previous work to understand what's going on. Even Beth Revis' story, which is set in the world of Across the Universe, is made understandable for those who haven't read her books.

Diversity - Not just in the stories and their worlds, but also in the characters. Veronica Roth, Margaret Stohl, and Nancy Holder included characters of color in their stories. Several authors drew on class tension as well.

The brokenness of the worlds - There are some very unexpected elements to these stories. Definitely wasn't expecting cannibalism, haha, but yes, that's there along with the more usual questions of meaning, familial relationships, love, etc. etc.

Variety in plots - Some of the stories focused more on the worlds themselves (i.e. "Dogsbodies," "Pale Rider"), some were more character based (i.e. "Hearken," "Miasma"), and some were more romance oriented (i.e. "Necklace of Raindrops," "Branded"). That's not to say that those, and the others that I didn't mention, didn't include elements of all three... Basically, there's something for everyone here.

Challenges traditional notion of dystopic worlds - For me, at least, whenever I think of dystopian novels nowadays, they always include some society or corporation that needs to be overthrown, but it's a lot harder to explore all the nuances of the society and still rebel against it in a short story. Instead, a lot of these stories seemed to focus less on the rebellion/fixing the world, and more on how these characters survived within their worlds, worlds they already knew were dystopic. There is a definite element of "brokenness" in each world, but it's not what I'd have expected of "dystopic worlds." It's actually quite refreshing.

How does this compare to the last anthology Melissa Marr and Kelley Armstrong edited together? Good question-- here are what I perceive to be the differences. Firstly, this anthology is a lot more universal, with a lot fewer stories set in the authors' previous worlds. Secondly, I think that this anthology offers more diversity in combinations -- "dystopic worlds" can also include the paranormal, but I think that the dystopia that is included in "paranormal worlds" often gets downplayed, if that makes sense. So you have a bit of both in this anthology. Thirdly, I think there was less humor in this anthology. The dystopic worlds here are harsh, so it's hard to find lightness.

What's not different: there's an author whose stories I liked much less than the others. I think that just means I don't mesh with her writing style, so I wonder if the same will happen for other readers of both anthologies. Most stories also hint at romance, if not include it. And this anthology includes a variety of destroyed worlds (environmental, paranormal, religious, etc.), just as Enthralled: Paranormal Diversions includes a variety of paranormal creatures.

Let me know if you have any questions! Reviewing an anthology is really hard...
Profile Image for Shylee W..
247 reviews17 followers
January 26, 2013
First I would like to thank Goodreads for sending me this free Uncorrected (not for sale) copy of the book!! I was so excited when it came in the mail and I probably wouldn't have gotten to read these stories without it. I Also would Like to thank all the authors for coming together and putting this amazing book together!!

but anyways... basically there are 9 different stories in this 362 page book all the stories are about 30-40 pages. Each is its own unique idea. So for this I will be individually rating the stories!

The first story is called Hearken by Veronica Roth

This story is about special people that can adapt with an ability to hear someones life or death song in their minds then proceed to play it for family/friends if they please. Darya realized she had this talent as a child and is sent to the school to proceed to be a Hearken and when Daryas mother is on her death bed. Daryas sister pleeds her to choose to hear the Death song over the life song so she can play it for them before their mother dies but Darya doesnt know if she wants to hear people dying.

Its a very captivating story but it honestly isn't Veronicas best work. Most of the other stories were better then this one. I would not buy this if it was a full book. It is however very beautiful because of the music and instruments you are presented to and its a very cute short story.

The second story is called Branded by Kelley Armstrong

This story is about how people have found out that Were-wolfs, Vampires, witches, and other supernatural creatures exist and the humans have built this sanctuary to keep them out. All of the half breed are cast out and branded with a nasty mark and when the humans find out that Braeden is half were-wolf he is branded and sent out but not before him and Rayne make a pact for her to escape and be with him but on her way to meet Braeden things dont go as planned.

This short story however I would buy if it was full book. It was very well written and I was sad when it ended as it did because I wanted to keep reading but I couldn't. It was kind of written backwards if you know what I mean and it was a good thing it made the story so much better. This story was by far my favorite!!

The third story is called Necklace of Raindrops by Margaret Stohl

Its about how everyone receives a necklace of beads resembling raindrops and when they run out you die but you can always jump and see were it takes you. When Ramma Jais sister jumps she is thrust into having no family left and being utterly alone but shes wrong Ramma made sure his friend Z watched over her but when they fall in love Ramma does the unthinkable.

This was a perfect short story, everything about it was perfect. It was a great idea and a great story line and especially when you make the jump its unknown what happens you dont know if they die or not they could be in love on a beautiful island and its very reassureing to think of it this way. I loved Z and Jais relationship. I ship it!!

The fourth story is called Dogsbody by Rachel Caine

They load a bunch of kids from K onto a train promising great things to see but then things go wrong and Zay ends up being a dogsbody the lowest of the low at coperate but when an old friends employees Zay to a higher standard hes thrust into trusting is one enemy things can go very wrong.

This is also another short story I would buy if it were a full book. It was amazingly written and Pria is my all time favoritest character out of all characters in this book! I wish it was a full book but the ending was fabulous! I was laughing at that fucker while i was crying!

The fifth story is called Pale Rider by Nancy Holder

This story is after a apocalypse and resources are basically gone and when Dana goes on a hunt for things on here own she is greeted by Alex and he shows her a world unimaginable and strange things can happen when your with a strange guy.

Mehhh.. is all i can say. The story very confusing also kinda scary there is this ghost part and oh my god it was scary especially since it was 3 in the morning and I was reading it. I almost shit my pants. Other than that the story wasnt really anything special.

The sixth story is called Corpse Eaters by Melissa Marr

Its about basically zombies and when Harmonys sister dies and Chris is partner less for fighting them Harmony jumps at the opportunity to do something to help. Things can be very awkward when you hang around youre dead sisters boyfriend though.

Honestly this story bored me so much. I stopped in the middle and just skipped to the next one. Ooops. Sorry.

The seventh story is called Burn 3 by Kami Garcia

This little story begins with children becoming missing everyday and when Phoenixes little sister becomes one of those children Phoenix will do everything she can to get her back.

I would also buy this short story if it were a book. It was very moving and very adventurous and addicting.

Okay so the other two stories are Love is a choice by Beth Revis and Miasma by Carrie Ryan this is pretty much when I gave up. It was very overwhelming to read all the stories in one sitting and not get confused. I was just so overtaken with all the differences and wanting some to be longer and some to not be in the book at all!

Some stories were really great and makes me want to check out the authors to see they're other work but it was all just to overwhelming if you plan on reading this book I suggest you read each story in different sessions. I did like the short stories but Im not a short story gal I guess because I became irritated and just gave up. Thats why I rated it so low.

I bet I would have enjoyed it more if I didnt read it the way I did. I dunno its just my opinion.
Profile Image for Sharon Mariampillai.
2,083 reviews86 followers
July 27, 2015
The overall rating is 4/5, but the nine individual stories had different ratings.

1) Hearken by Veronica Roth
I gave this one a 5/5. I thought it was a beautiful story set in a world where bio-bombs have become a part of every day life. Veronica Roth gives us great character development and a wonderful message. This easily became one of my favorites out of the bunch.

2) Branded by Kelley Armstrong
I gave this one a 4/5. The story was beautifully written and the world building was great. It was hard to connect to the main character. I like the world Kelley Armstrong but the story is lacking if the main character is not interesting or relatable.

3) Necklace of Raindrops by Margaret Stohl
I gave this one a 4/5. I enjoyed this one. The concept and the world was really interesting. I like the alternating POVs and the ending made me wanting more. This would have been a 5/5 if it was explained better.

4) Dogsbody by Rachel Caine
This one was a 3.5/5. This was mostly revenge than a dystopian and I didn't form a connection to Xavier. Then again, I never wanted revenge on everyone. The ending made this story. It was a kick ass, action packed.

5) Pale Rider by Nancy Holder
I gave this one a 2/5. It was the least favourite story. it was the less engaging and I was very confused.

6) Corpse Eaters by Melissa Marr
I gave this one a 3.5/5. I liked the pair and I ship them. The ending was unexpected and I would have liked more information about the story to make it connect with me more.

7) Burn 3 by Kami Garcia
I gave this one a 4/5. The story takes place under a constructed biodome made to protect against the deadly atmosphere caused by the depletion of the ozone. It was a very touching story.

8) Love is a Choice by Beth
I gave this a 4/5. It takes places during her Across the Universe trilogy. I recommend this story for fans of Across the Universe. It will provide insight of younger Orion and his one love Mag.

9) Miasma by Carrie Ryan
I gave this a 5/5. This was my other favourite story besides Veronica Roth's story. It was about love and sacrifices made for love. It ends the anthology with a beautiful and hopeful ending.
Profile Image for Sarah Elizabeth.
4,736 reviews1,306 followers
September 5, 2020
Hearken by Veronica Roth - ★★★ - Bit weird. About a girl who has perfect pitch and is trained so that she can hear people's death songs. I didn't really get the point of the death songs though. Would people really pay so much and be that interested?

Branded by Kelley Armstrong - ★★★ - Another okay one. I didn't really like the way they tricked Priscilla and used her as leverage though. And I didn't really understand what they were going to do to her at the end.

Necklace of Raindrops by Margaret Stohl ★★★ - And another strange story, about a world where people's lives are controlled by beads on a necklace, and when they're all gone, you're gone. This girl's (Jai's) brother has gone (or 'dropped') and she then gets together with a boy named Z.

Dogsbody by Rachel Caine - ★★★ - And yet another odd story, about a boy trying to get revenge after a mass culling of orphans. I didn't expect it when But this wasn't exactly great overall.

Pale Rider by Nancy Holder - ★★★ - Okay, found it hard to concentrate on though.

Corpse Eaters by Melissa Marr - ★★★ - Okay, I wasn't expecting

Burn 3 by Kami Garcia - ★★★ - What body parts does she think that 'skinners' are interested in?

Love is a choice by Beth Revis - ★★★★ - This is my favourite so far, but I think it's mainly because it reminded me of Across the Universe and I liked that, so it was like going home again.

Miasma by Carrie Ryan - ★★★ - This wasn't bad, I did wonder if they were spreading the plague by trying to leave though 🤔
Profile Image for William.
285 reviews1 follower
March 17, 2014
I mainly read this because of Veronica Roth and because I'm a dystopian junkie. I'm going to rate each story individually.

Hearken by Veronica Roth
Rating: 5 stars
Easily the best story in the anthology. I loved the writing and the whole concept was interesting.

Branded by Kelley Armstrong
Rating: 3 stars
I thought the story was cheesy and I didn't like the characters. I did like how it ended.

Necklace of Raindrops by Margaret Stohl
Rating: 4 stars
This was a beautifully sad well written story. I just think that the instalove was unnecessary.

Dogsbody by Rachel Caine
Rating: 4 stars
I didn't get the whole dogsbody thing and it was a little slow, but I loved the characters and it had an awesome plot twist that rounded out well.

Pale Rider by Nancy Holder
Rating: 1 star
Easily the worst story in the anthology. It didnt make sense, had a boring plot, annoying characters, and unnecessary instalove. Plus I thought it was cheesy.

Corpse Eaters by Melissa Marr
Rating: 3 stars
This story was mainly just weird. I didn't really get it.

Burn 3 by Kami Garcia
Rating: 5 stars
I absolutely loved this story! It kept me intrigued and ended wonderfully.

Love is a Choice by Beth Revis
Rating: 3 stars
I haven't read Across the Universe trilogy, so I was a little confused at some parts. I felt that if I read this after reading the series, I would've appreciated it more.

Miasma by Carrie Ryan
Rating: 3 stars
I liked the concept, but the story itself was very strange. I also couldn't connect with the main character. However it ended good enough.

Overall, I'm rating this 4 stars because there was only 2 stories I didn't really like among the better ones.
Profile Image for Truly.
2,372 reviews
October 10, 2015

Akhirnya memang buku ini berada dalam tas belanjaan saya. Namun butuh proses yang agak panjang eh maksudnya pertimbangan agak lama sebelum memutuskan untuk akhirnya membeli buku ini.

Begini dasarnya. Pertama, buku ini merupakan kumpulan hasil karya penulis destopia yang terbilang sukses. Membaca sebuah karya saja sudah menjanjikan keseruan tersendiri, apa lagi membaca karya banyak penulis. Kedua harga buku ini teramat sangat terjangkau, Rp 59.000. Ketiga, Veronika Ruth, Beth Revis, Margaret Stohl, Kami Garcia, Melissa Marr, Kelley Armstrong, Rachel Caine, Nancy Holder, Carrie Ryan bisa jadi penulis kisah destopia yang mumpuni, namun tanpa 'campur tangan' Ambhita Dhyan serta Esti Budihapsari tak mungkin kisah yang mereka tulis bisa sampai ke tangan kita. Bagi saya nama seorang Esti Budihapsari merupakan garansi mutu sebuah kisah.

Pertimbangan lainnya, buku ini merupakan kumpulan cerita pendek. Dengan demikian maka bukan tidak mungkin ada kisah yang berkesan tidak tuntas atau nanggung kata ABG sekarang. Dan saya merupakan orang yang paling 'resek' kalau membaca kisah seperti itu. Kejenuhan mungkin saja terjadi, namanya juga manusia. Mungkin saja seorang pembaca genre destopia mendadak menjadi bosen membaca kisah yang sejenis, jika satu kisah saja membosankan bayangkan jika kumpulan kisah. Dan belakangan saya agak jenuh membaca kisah versi ini.


Profile Image for ♥ Becky  22 .
161 reviews260 followers
Want to read
January 15, 2013
I love her so much and she wrote a short story for this!!!

"My story from this collection is called "Hearken," and it's about a girl who gets a brain implant to hear the music of the dying in the midst of an apocalypse. The anthology comes out February 19th, 2013."- Veronica Roth

Profile Image for kierra.
223 reviews35 followers
December 7, 2014
Short stories. Sometimes it's good to read them, so you don't get lost in 500 pages of feelings and soap operas. But sometimes 20 pages is not enough to fully understand the dystopian world.

In the case of these stories, few times I wanted to know more about what the hell is going on. It seems like they all were written just because dystopia is in trend now.
34 reviews2 followers
April 28, 2013
In this review I will talk about why I read this book and the category this book fits into collectively, but for each story will give my opinion on quotes, characters, things I have learned and general opinions on the story. Keep in mind each review may be a little smaller than my normal review size- these are short stories after all!

The cover of Shards and Ashes didn’t particularly stand out in a shelf full of dark and murky looking novels, but on closer inspection I couldn’t help but issue this book. I had never dreamed of being able to combine a category that is often the victim of my hatred (short stories) with one of my favourite genres (dystopian). An added bonus: it was a new book, all fresh smelling and shiny, and I had to pick it up and read the blurb as I do with pretty much all new books which enter the library. The fact that one of the stories was called Corpse Eaters also drew me in, not to mention that the first story was written by Veronica Roth, author of Divergent. I couldn’t believe I could combine these interesting sounding stories with a type of book I have previously approached with much trepidation, short stories.

This book fits into the category of Short Stories. For once, I actually found this category interesting. Usually I dislike short stories, mainly because it is hard to find any that cover topics other than mystical fairy worlds or teen life, but also because of how undeveloped they always feel and how I’m left wanting more. This book, however, made me want to take on this category because it was in one of my favourite genres. I’m not going to say these stories were entirely better than most - some still left me feeling short-changed and some were undeveloped, but they were interesting because they were in worlds that seemed fascinating and left me chilled but wanting to explore some more, in a good way!
Now for the stories!

HEARKEN by Veronica Roth
This story felt to me like it would make a great novel. I felt a little bit like it wasn’t wrapped up enough, it just sort of ended. However, I did really enjoy this story and I got a good impression of an interesting world. The beginning sucked me in with a great opening. The sentence in the opening paragraph “the question was not “Black or red?” It was “Life or death?”” tricked me. At first I thought the main character was going to have to take some sort of test to see if she would live or die, or perhaps it would be a little like Divergent, and she would be sorted into a group similar to a faction depending on her answer. However, this was not the case. The question was literal - would she like to be able to hear the songs of the living, or the dying? Choose life or death?
There really was only one character to like in this story, and that is the main character Darya. The other characters were not really developed because it was a short story. Darya is a girl who has a talent for music, and so is enlisted in a school for Hearkeners, people who can hear life or death songs. (It’s a little more complex than that, but I’m going to keep it simple as not to have too many spoilers). I like the way she makes a very brave decision to choose something as mysterious and unknown as death. A quote I like from this story is
“She had been wrong to say that death was the mystery, not life.”
I like this quote because it makes you stop and think. It also sums up the essence of this story.
Something I learned from this story is to never judge people without fully understanding them. Darya’s mother seems like a weak and nasty person addicted to alcohol. When she realises that she has a “secret beauty inside her” and that she is strong and beautiful inside. This is like the saying ‘never judge a book by its cover’ (something I quite often do) and we should never do this to people. In another world, Darya’s mother could have had a very different life.

BRANDED by Kelly Armstrong
I really enjoyed this story. I’m all up for a bit of romance in a short story, because although it can’t be particularly developed it makes an interesting addition to the plot. It was good how this didn’t become the main focus of the story, and although never actually experienced the idea was always there in the background. I liked how this one really was an adventure, a daring escape from a walled society that was crumbling from the inside. I also enjoyed the concept that the Branded (who were meant to be the greatest danger) were actually just a community of people - not completely violent savages as implied by the people inside the fortress.
My favourite character was Priscilla. She was pleasantly surprising- I expected her to be a stuck up brat, the spoilt Second’s daughter who hated the supernaturals and never questioned the society. I didn’t expect her to be sympathetic to Rayne, much less did I expect her She was unexpectedly brave and strong in her own way, for going against what was probably a conflicted opinion and helping Rayne.
“Did they not realise those branded outcasts would find each other? That they’d create their own tribes, more organised, more powerful, and more dangerous than anything in this barren world?”
This quote shows the ignorance of the people inside the fortress, and portrays the classic idea of the oppressed coming together much stronger than their oppressors. It is hopeful, shows that the people in the fortress are not the only forms of humanity left, but also it is threatening as if the branded are soon to take revenge. I like this quote because it is all these things rolled into one.
Something I learned from this story was that people will come together and find each other like the Branded have done, no matter what. I also learned that nothing can sever the bond between two people who want to be together, no matter what the society tries to do.

Alright, this idea was creepy. Seriously creepy. Having a necklace with beads on it, and every time you do something that’s a thrill, dangerous, or even just bad for you (drinking, smoking etc) one of those beads gets taken. And after all your beads are gone, you are asked to drop. Drop meaning leap out of a helicopter over a sea of blackness, no parachute, and fall to your death. Nice.
An interestingly spine chilling idea, but I felt as if this was written in a confusing way that gave the reader no information to begin with (this was probably on purpose but I just didn’t like it.) The ending was unexpected and a relief to me, because that drop idea was too darn creepy to leave unexplained and the story seemed to end depressingly until I read it.
This story rushed by me in a kind of mist of not understanding, but if I had to pick, my favourite character is Jai because she seems to be a very clever person. The way she hoards her drops and makes sure to not spend them makes her seem like an intelligent person, rather than one who wastes them and ends up having to drop.
A quote I liked in this story was “I become careless. Sloppy. Happy. I suck in my breath for no reason, gasping at the wonder that is life.” I like this quote because it shows the transition from how Jai used to live, always making sure she never used up a bead, always on time for work, never drawing attention to herself. It proves how she is changing into a free person; ready to make her escape from the damaged society she lives in, ready to
Something I learned from this book was how unexpected things can happen so easily. Jai never thought she would stop carefully preserving her life, and never thought she would make the drop, and certainly never thought about what would await her below the darkness she was dropping into.
Overall, I loved the story, but not how it was written. It seemed a bit too confusing and blurry.

DOGSBODY by Rachel Caine
Dogsbody had a dramatic beginning that hooked me in but I kind of lost interest after a while… that is until the bloodbath near the end. Yay, action! The action in this story made it a standout for me, and the whole reminded me of the books about secret agents I like to read. I also think it had a clever plot and storyline. I couldn’t believe the I would have liked a little romance between the main character and Virtue, but I can’t ask for everything. Overall I really liked this short story.
My favourite character was Virtue. I always favour intelligent characters, and she was a very clever woman who had an underlying plan.
A quote I liked from this story “And that last sound, screaming in pain, as the dogsbodies won.” I like this quote because it proves how when people stand up, they can do anything. This is also what I learned from the story.
Overall this was a fascinating world that I would have loved to read more about, even if the middle was a little bit boring.

PALE RIDER by Nancy Holder
I’m sorry; I didn’t even understand what was going on in this. Pretty much a story about a German fairy and a girl who finds lost things.

CORPSE EATERS by Melissa Mar
I really liked this one. Although I wasn’t particularly sure what a nido was at first (I googled it and got an answer I doubted: “NIDO (also written 'Nido') is a powdered milk supplement manufactured by Nestlé.”) I ended up picturing them as sort of zombies. Even though this is probably incorrect because apparently they are reptilian creatures, it seemed believable for me because they are servants of a god who feeds on the dead. Thinking about them this way made the story for me. Who doesn’t love a zombie?
The writing was good, gripping. My brain just wanted to digest more about what had happened to the earth, more details of how the world had come about. I think a little bit more development in this area would have been good. I could not believe a twist at the end,
My favourite character was definitely Harmony. She seemed like a brave and gutsy heroine. She wasn’t afraid, and didn’t depend on her male friend. The idea that she had painted over her mirror, and shaved her head seemed to capture this fearlessness in the picture I built of her in my mind.
Something new I learned from this story was that no matter how much you try to hide it, not believe in it, love always exists. This is experienced by Harmony, who for the whole story tries not to believe in love because everyone she loved was killed, but eventually she has feelings for Chris even though she has denied them for so long.
I really enjoyed this story, probably mainly because of the title: Corpse Eaters. It just sounds awesome, right?

BURN 3 by Kami Garcia

I enjoyed Burn 3 quite a lot. I can’t really think of anything especially bad about this, but I also can’t think of anything that stands out. I did however like the creepiness of the underground scenes.
My favourite character was Phoenix, because she was so brave and determined to get her sister back after she was taken by the skinners. Phoenix remains unremarkable in her world, unlike her sister Sky with her blue eyes that are so unusual - and make her a target for the Skinners. Nevertheless, Phoenix takes it upon herself to rescue the sister she loves very much, and a group of other kids at the very end. She is a very responsible and loving sister and a brave character.
A quote I liked from this story was “Today I was braver than I ever could be. Today I changed things.” This quote shows the way Phoenix had previously doubted herself but now sees herself as brave and strong, It highlights her evolution as a character throughout the story.
This story did emphasise the importance of bravery and valuing our loved ones. The importance of loyalty (like Phoenix has for her sister) is shown in this story also.

LOVE IS A CHOICE by Beth Revis
Another one I had no idea what was going on in, mostly because I haven’t actually read the Across the Universe series and had no idea of the world or characters in it. Due to this, I skimmed over this story without really reading it. Probably would have been quite good if I had.

MIASMA by Carrie Ryan
I really loved Miasma. It was gripping, chilling and interesting. The idea of the beaked doctors and plague eaters creeped me out in a great way, and the love story was one of those typically adorable tales of forbidden love – a servant and the son of the house in which she works. I also loved the ending. Yay, happiness at the end in a book of heavy dystopian tales!
My favourite character in this story was Frankie. Often in short stories you only really have the main character to like, and this was the case in Miasma. I’m not criticising, because Frankie was definitely a likeable character. She wasn’t too full of herself, but wasn’t completely submissive to the harsh world around her. She was loyal to her sister, much like the main character of Burn 3, and managed to find beauty and love in a hopeless, ruined world.
“There was a time when Frankie had been brave, but now she barely found the courage to linger in the Mistress’ bedchamber and dream”
“Her sister was safe, they were both free, and for a moment Frankie allowed herself to believe in dreams once more.”
I’ve chosen these quotes not because they are inspirational but more because they show the evolution of the character. This also links quite nicely to what I learned from this book: never give up on your dreams.

Overall this is a good collection of dystopian short stories featuring strong female main characters and one male. Most of the stories were really good – mysterious and gripping, but a few were confusing.
Thanks for suffering through my insanely long review and all those spoilers!
Profile Image for Alexis.
4 reviews
February 4, 2013
Shards & Ashes, a collection of dystopian short stories penned by many of the prominent female authors in YA fiction, is an unsettling read that provides a solid sampling of the genre.

Starting out the book, we have Veronica Roth (of Divergent fame), with Hearken, the tale of 8 year old Darya, whose new-found musical aptitude has afforded her the opportunity to bring beauty to a world ravaged by doomsdayists hastening the apocalypse with biological warfare. Darya's kind are known as Hearkeners, musical prodigies trained in various instruments and at 16, outfitted with a brain implant that allows them to hear either "life songs" or "death songs" depending on their preference. While each person has both, the life song plays strongest in the healthy, and in people who are dying, the death song prevails. As in Divergent and Insurgent, an aspect of Roth's writing that sets her apart from other authors in YA fiction/fantasy is in the way she is able to tie her plot together with real science. With light cameos from neuroscience and string theory, her stories sound smarter and have an air of credibility, albeit still undeniably science fiction [think Fringe]. I'd say that Hearken is one of my top choices of the collection.

Next is Branded, by Kelley Armstrong. In a story with a more supernatural flavor, Rayne and her fellow humans live in a fortress protected from all varieties of hybrid monsters, magic users, vampires, etc. that roam the outside world. Her love interest, Braeden, has been identified as a werewolf and is banished to the outside, but Rayne, believing she cannot live without him, enacts a plan to sneak out of the fortress and find him, no matter the cost. Occasionally stilted dialogue and unlikeable characters somewhat hampers the execution of this story, but an interesting story all the same.

Necklace of Raindrops, by Margaret Stohl, is told alternatingly through the perspectives of Jai and Z, citizens of a [Chinese?] dystopia in which one's lifespan is dictated by how little they indulge in the pleasures of their world. At birth, each person is given a "necklace of raindrops," as described by Jai, with a predetermined number of beads that are cashed in for things to experience and enjoy. When the beads run out, members of this society are forced to make "the drop," jumping from a plane, with or without a parachute. Z, a reckless spender, and Jai, a conscientious saver, are polar opposites that come together through the course of the story.

Rachel Caine's Dogsbody is set in a corporation-dominated dystopia where lower-class citizens are treated as expendable labor, snuffed out at a moment's notice to pad the bank accounts of company executives. Xavier Grey fortuitously survives a mass extermination of his peers and makes it his life's mission to work his way up the ranks to seek revenge on the parties responsible. Caine does a fantastic job of setting the scene, with a few memorable metaphors that make for vivid imagery.

In Pale Rider, by Nancy Holder, Delaney and a few other teenagers have managed to survive some sort of apocalyptic scenario and are holed up in a house, using every day to scrounge for supplies. On one such supply run, Delaney meets Alex, a mysterious German man, who tells her that she is somehow involved in this apocalypse by blood and is a missing link to reversing the damage. Now, while I have liked the other novels I have read by Holder, you can probably tell by the vagueness of this description that I found the plot to be rather confusing. It's one of those "struggle through the mystery with the protagonist until the last possible moment" stories, but I found the explanation at the end too out there to accommodate this format. Perhaps this would have been better suited to being a longer novel.

A god has come to earth in Melissa Marr's Corpse Eaters, but unfortunately, he's not human. Nidhogg and his followers [Nidos] eat people, and lately, the natural death rate has not been enough to satisfy their appetites. Harmony and her partner, Chris, have been dedicated to the dangerous mission of taking out as many Nidos as possible, knowing that humans can no longer thrive on earth as long as this god and his people still live. I found this story to be a bit confusing as well, but primarily due to a twist at the end that probably would have been a bit better explained in a longer format.

Kami Garcia is one of the few authors I didn't recognize on the bill for this book, but I found Burn 3 to be the most fleshed out and engaging of the stories. Phoenix lives in a world where the sun's intensity has magnified, leaving the outside almost unlivable. Her parents killed off in the early days, she is responsible for looking after her little sister Sky, the rare blonde-haired, blue-eyed child not fatally burned by the sun. But when Phoenix comes home to find Sky has been drugged and taken from their home, she must take up with some undesirable people to find out what happened and try to bring her sister home.

Love is a Choice, by Beth Revis, is set on the Godspeed, a ship in outer space and details the progression of 19 year old Orion's plot to overthrow the Elder. The Elder, fearing mutiny from his ship's passengers, has been drugging their water supply, with only higher ranking ship workers provided a pill to inhibit the drug's effects. While inhabiting the ship in secret, Orion meets Meg, an employee that shares his vision of revolt aboard the Godspeed. Initially appearing to be a love story, a twist at the end leaves both the integrity of our narrator and the status of the revolution up in the air.

In the final story, Miasma, by Carrie Ryan, Frankie, her mother, and sister are a poor family in a world slowly being consumed by "miasma," a substance that encompasses the earth, the smell of which infects its inhabitants and eventually kills them. Before that happens, however, the infected are much more likely to be rooted out by "the doctors," masked men that arrest the sick and feed them to mutants called "plague eaters." Frankie's mother is taken [geez, kids in YA dystopians simply cannot hold on to their parents, can they?] and her sister falls ill as well. In an effort to keep the household together, Frankie dons her mother's uniform and goes to work in her place as a maid for the wealthy Oglethorpes, where she soon becomes entranced by her employer's son, Charles. While Charles may have taken notice of Frankie as well, she has bigger concerns; she can only keep the doctors away from Cathy for so long. Miasma was a nice choice to end the book with because it's the big romantic of the bunch, and ends on an uncharacteristically optimistic note for a dystopian work.

Shards & Ashes is a great sampler of some of the bigger names in YA sci fi/fantasy/dystopian fiction for those who are new to the genre, or people already well-acquainted with the genre who would like to read a bit more from their favorite authors. Or, of course, stories about orphans :).

*A courtesy copy of this book was provided to the reviewer by HarperCollins.
Profile Image for Jamie.
287 reviews
November 30, 2019
This was a great anthology. Since it is several stories I am going to rate them all separately and take the average.

Hearken - 5
Very cool idea and I liked Roth's writing.

Branded - 5
Armstrong didn't disappoint. Great world building and writing.

Necklace of Raindrops - 3.5
A little hard to follow and the main character was annoying, but the overall concept was cool.

Dogsbody - 5
This reminded me of the Knife of Never Letting Go for some reason? Anyways I really liked it.

Pale Rider - 2
I didn't like the writing and I found it very hard to follow. It felt super disconnected.

Corpse Eaters - 4
This one had good writing, but the main character was a little... Bit much.

Burn 3 - 4.5
The main character was a little flat, but everything else was great. Good concept, world building, and story.

Love is a Choice - 3
Wow, that was messed up psychologically!

Miasma - 4.5
The character's relationship felt forced. Great concept and interesting world. I liked the writing and everything else.
Profile Image for Chester Carstairs.
185 reviews74 followers
January 27, 2015
Overall rating:
3.5 stars

As a lover of the Dystopia genre, it was really a no-brainer to add Shards and Ashes in my tbr list. I was really excited to read it. And though it left me feeling meh a few times, there are wonderful stories to be found between those pages as well.

I've learned two things reading this. One, I really hate short stories. It always, always make me either want more or nauseous for being too fast-paced and leaving you so confused (and sometimes they don't. even make sense). Second, I suck at reviewing them. Not saying I'm a good book reviewer (though I'd like to think I don't suck at it) so maybe the right thing to say is I suck more than usual. In my defense, you actually have little to work with. I know, excuses. So let's just go ahead with the reviews, shall we?

Hearken by Veronica Roth
2.5/5 stars

Hearken would have been a great book. It follows the story of a girl training to be a Hearkener, who can hear either the songs of the living or the dying. The world is on the verge of being destroyed by crazies activating bio-bombs to end the world. That alone is enough to perk my interest. But because it's only meant as a short story, it ended up feeling really rushed and leaving you with a "blah" feeling.

Branded by Kelley Armstrong
3.5/5 stars

This is a short yet surprisingly good story. In Branded, the world is destroyed by wars. To make matters worse, hybrids and enhanced supernaturals experimented by the government got out after said wars and are wreaking havoc. The survivors are then forced to build fortresses to protect themselves against these creatures. Any citizen who shows signs of becoming a supernatural/is a supernatural is cast out.

In this story, we follow the adventure of Rayne, a girl who fell in love with a werewolf who was cast out. I can't say more without giving too much away but this one's definitely full of action. ;)

Necklace of Raindrops by Margaret Stohl

This would have been a nice story had it not been so confusing. In this world, everyone has a necklace of raindrops. Each drop controls an encapsulated biotoxin injected in their bodies when they got the necklace. Each drop spent releases a small amount of biotoxin in your body. When you've spent that last drop, the last capsule is released, which will get you killed.

It had a really nice storyline but the way it was written was annoying. Still, this world and its concept could make for a pretty good book.

Dogsbody by Rachel Caine
4.5/5 stars

Intense and tragic, this story follows the life of Zay. He was a kid living in one of the poorest levels of society. One day, Corporate gave all the kids in Level K a trip to a Cup game which turned out to be the last day of them all. Except Zay and a handful of other kids who survived.

Zay worked his way up the Corporate ladder with the intent of taking revenge on the people who authorized what is now called the Cup Train. But what he found up top is way more complicated than he imagined.

Short but full of action, this story put me and nailed me at the edge of my seat. ;)

Pale Rider by Nancy Holder
2/5 stars

Short and easy read. Interesting concept but not fully explored.

Corpse Eaters by Melissa Marr
4/5 stars

I really, really liked action stories. Especially when it involve badass female protagonists. This one is a little on the creepy side. With tons of action. It tells the story from two POVs, Harmony and Christian. America has been barred off from the rest of the world after a god, Nidhogg, showed up with its followers, repitilian-like creatures called Nidos. When other humans followed this god, a god who eats corpses by the way, chaos ensued.

Harm and Chris are hunters. They both suffered losses because of Nidhogg and its followers and would love nothing more than to see them destroyed. This is gripping enough that I finished it in 10 minutes!

Burn 3 by Kami Garcia
4.5/5 stars

This is my favorite of all. It's scary because the state of the world is something that may actually happen any time. And it's creepy, too! Creepy and scary, my favorite combination. I just wish the action part of the story was longer.

Love is a Choice by Beth Revis
3.5/5 stars

Short yet gripping, this follows the story of a boy who's been hiding aboard the space ship, Godspeed. Supposedly the successor of the Eldest, he was ordered to be killed after asking too many questions; but he was saved by a doctor who then helped him hide in the forgotten parts of the ship. But when he met Mag, everything changes.

I know this is in the same setting as one of the book series by Revis. I won't review this anymore. Suffice it to say this is interesting enough to have caught my attention so I'm pushing the series to the top of my tbr-list. ;)

Miasma by Carrie Ryan
3/5 stars

This is the longest story of all. Simple, tragic, and sweet, it will leave you with a bittersweet feeling.

This review also appeared on Amazon.
Profile Image for Sabrina.
1,331 reviews27 followers
July 4, 2020
Mixture of some stories I really liked and some I found a bit boring.
218 reviews
April 24, 2013
Hearken by Veronica Roth 4/5

Favourite Quote: “Everyone was both dying and living at the same time”

I liked learning about the Hearken’s and I thought what they could do was beautiful, I would love to have that gift. I like the main character a lot, I felt her feelings and reactions were realistic. However I felt the rest of the world buildings was a little too minimal, and I didn’t fully understand what had happened to the world but this story was really good for only being 38 pages! Wouldn’t have minded if this was a full-length novel!

Branded by Kelley Armstrong 4/5

Favourite Quote: “No life is easy”, I said. “It’s just a different kind of hard”

In this short the story, the world was much more developed and actually very interesting. The first half of the plot bored me but the way it ended and everything was tied up was very good. The main character was incredibly smart and the whole plan she had was brilliant! Again I would read thisif it actually was a whole novel!

Necklace Of Raindrops by Margaret Stohl 3/5

Favourite Quote: “It is always our business, the ones left behind. The business of the dead belongs to the living.”

First of all I can truly say I never saw the twist coming, like at all! So the ending was just fantastic! I didn’t really like the Jai, I found it hard to relate to her but I loved Z and Rama, their carefree life attitudes were awesome! The world the author created could have been very unique and interesting if only she used a better main character, Jai was just too dull to use in a new, refreshing, dystopian world! And that is the reason I took off two stars, one for the character and another for the world that could have been described better!

Dogsbody by Rachel Caine 2/5

Favourite Quote: “Nobody in the entire world, had nothing to hide.`”

There was just something about this short story that I just couldn’t connect too. I think it might have been the world, I didn’t think it was explained well enough and I was completely confused throughout it, because of the confusing world I couldn’t really understand what was going on in the plot. As for the characters, I felt they were to stoic and never had much of a personality. If this were to be an entire book, I would probably not have finished it.

Pale Rider by Nancy Holder 1/5

Favourite Quote: “It was as if things were melting. Evaporating. As if the world itself was losing time – or running out of it.”

I did not like this short story at all. There were numerous reasons why but these were the main ones. I felt it all very random and nothing made any sense. The supernatural element didn’t connect with way the world was almost post-apocalyptic in my opinion. As for the characters, the main character was okay but the love interest was creepy and there were not any other memorable characters.

Corpse Eaters by Melissa Marr 4/5

Favourite Quote: “Dying while fighting for a better future, seemed like a good way to go.”

I really liked this short story, the world buidling was good, everything wa explained properly and I liked the unique twist of a evil god being involved. The characters were also great, Harmony was a strong female heroine and Chris was a strong but emotional love interest. I loved their relationship together, very realistic. If this were a full-length novel, I would definitely be interested in reading it!

Burn 3 by Kami Garcia 3/5

Favourite Quote: “Thanks for reminding me, there’s always a way to right a wrong.”

The world in this short story was pretty interesting, global warning and all. The plot was okay, I liked the horror that was included in it but overall it was pretty dull. The characters, you never really get to know any of them apart from the main character, who I liked because she was a survivor. Overall this short story was okay, nothing special but not the worst I’ve read.

Love Is A Choice by Beth Revis 3/5

Favourite Quote: “You’re doing this so people can have a choice. What if they’re happier without one? There’s that old sol-earth saying ‘Ignorance is bliss’”

I think this is supposed to be a prequel to the authors ‘Across The Universe’ trilogy and I think that people who hadn’t read that series who read this short story would have a hard time understanding what was going on. The world/space ship was not explained, almost as if the author just expected everyone to have read her series! Another issue I had was there was absolutely no action at all, so it was a little boring. However I did enjoy it, and there was a twist at the end I didn’t expect.

Miasma by Carrie Ryan 3/5

Favourite Quote: “Sometimes you have to do things you don’t like, in order to make a change in the world.”

One good thing about this short story was the world building, everything was explained. However there was a case of insta-love and I guessed the main twist way before it happened. The ending was a little to happy for my liking but I can’t control what the author writes!
Profile Image for Emily.
16 reviews
September 23, 2013
Shards and ashes perfectly describe the remnants of today's world following an apocalypse, they are all that is left in the post-apocalyptic societies of the magnificent dystopian genre. This book, Shards and Ashes, uses the varied styles of many dystopian writers to bring together the main elements and ideas of dystopian literature. Each little tale is different from the one before it, although they are linked by several factors. An example being strong female main characters, who can survive in their harsh realities without a male to follow, and play a huge role in encouraging and inspiring many, me in particular.

I decided to read this fantastic collection of dystopian stories because it called out to me, the name sounded right when I rolled it off my tongue, and the new book smell was too hard to resist, even if the cover was none too special.

This book completes the three short stories from one anthology category. This category is an interesting one, anthologies can be unpredictable, strange and throw various stories both similar and diverse at you in a seemingly random order. However, this is what makes short story anthologies so fascinating to read.

STORY ONE: Hearken by Veronica Roth

Hearken (pronounced HAR-KEN not hear-ken as I was told) is a great little story that shocked me to the very core. The whole idea of people being able to hear the life or death songs of others seemed utterly astonishing, and the way Roth described it through her character's voice made it seem perfectly possible.

Stunning idea and execution, shame it wasn't a full novel of its own.

Quote: "Because what they hear...it's like hearing something beyond us. Something bigger than us." He smiled down at her. "It reminds us that there's so much more going on in this world than we can see with our eyes and touch with our hands."

I think this quote relates to more than just the songs of life and death, but our own present word. I don't think it's something I can spell out for everyone to understand, but rather something that to really understand what I mean, you must read Hearken and glean from it what you can.

STORY 2: Burn 3 by Kami Garcia

Burn 3 is a whole 'nother story of its own, and heroine Phoenix fights to keep her blonde sister safe, in a world ruined by intensified sunlight. Sky, Phoenix's sister, is particularly vulnerable to the harsh sunlight, and when Sky is kidnapped, Phoenix decides she will do almost anything to get her back.

I've only read a few other dystopian novels that deal with sunlight scorching the planet, but this (although a short story rather than a novel) is by far the best. It is engaging and seemingly complete, something most short stories seem to lack. Although I say that, Burn 3 leaves plenty of room for the imagination to finish the story on its own. A great little story this is.

Quote: "I don't have a name. Names are a way to claim people. No one can claim me."

I really like this quote because it is true. We have names because we want a means of claiming and describing ourselves and others. My name, for instance, means industrious, which is a quality I generally use... except for when the call of a book is too strong and I procrastinate against homework. If you look up the meaning of your name, you'll often find that what it means relates quite directly to you and your personality.

STORY 3: Branded by Kelley Armstrong

Branded is my second favourite story in this entire anthology, closely following Hearken. This story incorporates some more supernatural elements to it, the werewolves in particular. Branded catapulted me right into the world the author had created, and I kept wishing that it was an entire novel, rather than just a short story.

In fact, I simply cannot find the words to describe this story. Know the feeling? Ugh, I'll just have to say it's amazing, go read it and you'll understand my word-lessness. (Quite an odd feeling for one who talks so much)

Quote: "No life is easy. It's just a different kind of hard."

One of my most favourite quotes of all times. It describes life perfectly in two short sentences, and the context in which it is used is excellent. Rayne (main character) is talking to the leader of the outcast (and branded) tribe, who is asking if she would be able to handle life out there. Her response, (above) is great, and there are many things to learn from it.

I learnt so much from this anthology, about life, my goals, dystopian literature, and how much fun short stories can be to read. Fantastic anthology, can't recommend it enough.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for MaryB.
841 reviews80 followers
February 21, 2013
I think I've read more novellas and short stories this year than in all my other reading years combined. So many authors that I really love are producing bridge novels -- novels that bridge a time span before, between or after points in a series -- that I just can't resist. And they're good. Really, really good. (Of course, there are some not-so-fabulous ones but, for the most part, they're really good.)

Two of my rockstar authors, Melissa Marr and Kelley Armstrong, got together a whole pile of fabulous YA authors to put together a collection of post-apocalyptic short stories revolving around the theme "shards and ashes". Dark and at times depressing, the stories also held a glimmer of hope for humanity in worlds gone horribly awry. Of all the stories, my two favorites were by Margaret Stohl and Melissa Marr.

NECKLACE OF RAINDROPS by Margaret Stohl: At birth, everyone is given a necklace that represents their life. They can choose to spend the drops on the necklace to live the high life, travel the world, do crazy things. Then, when they have only one left...they take the drop, leaping from great heights to their death. Or they can choose to hoard the drops and live forever, guarding their treasure like dragons. Jai's entire family is dead, having spent their last drops, but she holds on to hers as if they're a life raft, unwilling and unable to let her drops go. Until she meets Z, who convinces her to live.

CORPSE EATERS by Melissa Marr: A god has come to Earth and taken up residence. He gathers strength as more people believe in him. He is the devourer of corpses and his followers will do anything to keep him fed. Harmony is part of the rebellion, killing acolytes and attempting to cut off the god's food supply. Since the death of her sister, she's become even more reckless with her life, determined to take down as many followers as she can but her partner is unwilling to sit by and let it happen.

HARKEN by Veronica Roth: The story of a girl with perfect pitch and the potential to be a Harkener, one who hears the song of someone's life or that of their death. Darya has a choice to make: does she want to hear the songs of life or death? In a world where fanatics plant bio-bombs everywhere in an effort to hurry along the end of humanity, music has become exponentially important.

BRANDED by Kelley Armstrong: When supernaturals appeared on the scene, the end came swiftly. Scientists played with supernatural DNA, creating all types of creatures, creatures that eventually overran the human population, forcing them to cower behind impenetrable walls. When Rayne's boyfriend is discovered to have werewolf blood, he's branded and exiled from the fortress but Rayne has a plan.

DOGSBODY by Rachel Caine: People from his part of town don't live long but when Zay becomes a Dogsbody, he does what he has to survive, working his way up through the ranks until he's face to face with the man who sent down the order to kill thousands. Now, he has a choice to make: does he kill him or does he work with him to take down the greater evil?

PALE RIDER by Nancy Holder: The world is turning to ashes, disappearing with no explanation. Dana runs into Alex, who claims to need her and to know something about what's going on. Magic is in the air.

BURN 3 by Kami Garcia: Goodbye, Ozone. Hello, world-on-fire. With the ozone gone, the world is dying a slow, painful death. Despite precautions, everyone gets burned. Phoenix has done her level best to keep her sister safe but it's not enough. She's kidnapped and Phoenix must risk the underground to find her before the Skinners get her.

LOVE IS A CHOICE by Beth Revis: For fans of Revis's series, this story tells the tale of Orion, his escape from Eldest and the choices he makes along the way to change the order of things.

MIASMA by Carrie Ryan: Water levels rose, the world is drowning in toxic sludge and gasses that cause disease and death. When the doctors and their plague eaters come to town, everyone hopes their loved ones won't be discovered and taken away.
Profile Image for Jodie "Bookish"  Cook.
1,717 reviews4 followers
February 3, 2017
Book Review
Title: Shards & Ashes
Author: Various
Genre: Anthology/Dystopian
Rating: ****
Review: This is a great collection of dystopian tales – some old worlds and some new ones. Some leave you bawling and some just in awe of the authors’ ingenuity. All of these short stories have clever twists and heart-wrenching moments (whether from romance or family moments or whatnot). Although this is only the second anthology I’ve ever read, this is the best one yet. There are no confusing plots or major cliffhangers (although some stories could be expanded into actual novels).
Veronica Roth’s Hearken is about a world where suicide biobombers are normal. But there are also the Hearkeners who can hear the life or death song of someone and create beautiful music. This story is well developed and beautifully weaves all of the background information into the plot all the way until the last concluding resolution.
Kelley Armstrong’s Branded does not shy away from harsh truths or bitter realizations. In a world where paranormals are outcasts that threaten to take over the world, Rayne is desperate to escape her cage of a village. Now with a part werewolf friend on the outside, Rayne just has to find a way to escape the guarded walls and make her journey across the wasteland to find him. Although not one of my favorites because of its terrible morals, this story always had me on my toes. I never knew what would happen next.
Margaret Stohl’s Necklace of Raindrops is a sweet depression story of a world where a necklace of beads controls your life. Jai’s family has already dropped (in order to leave life with a bang, people jump out of airplanes) and that only leaves herself with her 98% full necklace. Z shows her that life can’t be lived by just going to work and coming home. I loved the writing of this story. It has a pull to it that won’t let you go until the very end. And phew. That ending. If only there was more.
Rachel Caine’s Dogsbody is a futuristic story of a corrupt government and its rebellion. Full of action and suspense, this thriller can easily be read as a movie in your head. With an unexpected twist at the end, this story kept me attentive the entire time.
Nancy Holder’s Pale Rider is an odd story. You would think that since it had mythology I would love it, but I never really knew what it was about until the last couple pages. The story was boring with an insta-love that wasn’t necessary. I wasn’t a fan of this story.
Melissa Marr’s Corpse Eaters is just plain weird. A god of some sort has taken over the United States and sends his minions out to enforce the rules. But there are some that fight against it, saving the dying from getting thrown into a corpse stew that is fed to the monsters. Although it is fast-paced, the romance between the two characters is just plain bad. I think that’s just my morals, but still. I’m not a fan.
Kami Garcia’s Burn 3 is about the world with no ozone layer and pollution everywhere. Only those who live in biodomes can survive the heat from the sun while everyone else lives underground. This is a sweet story of a girl rescuing her sister and finding help along the way. Really, this is just a nice break from the previous emotionally-intense stories.
Beth Revis’s Love is a Choice was the story I was looking forward to the most. This prequel to Across the Universe gives us a glimpse into how Orion became the book keeper on the spaceship Godspeed. This gives an insight into Orion’s only romance and the choices that came with it. For those who haven’t read the series, this is a great preview to the books.
Carrie Ryan’s Miasma is a world where evil doctors take the sick away unless you have the money to pay otherwise. Frankie works at a richer family’s estate that has a garden of flowers that keeps the sickness away. Now with her sister growing weaker by the day, Frankie must hide her sister’s stench so that the masked doctors won’t take the only family she has away. This is a classic dystopian that closes the anthology with a sense of hope for the future. Great writing and great characters.
Profile Image for Paige.
198 reviews3 followers
June 19, 2013
Like albums and CDs of the past, where some tracks are good while others don't have the same vibrance or power, this anthology has some great stories mixed with some duds.

All stories are set in a dystopian society but that is where the similarities end. Definitely worth a read.

Hearken by Veronica Roth –4.75 stars
A well crafted short story about Hearkeners—those who hear the song of either life or death. The story, set in a dystopian Minnesota, centers around a young girl who has a gifted musical ability and is sent to be a Hearkener. I found it an interesting idea to tie instruments, music and actual songs/compositions with people’s lives. One or two instruments represent some people’s lives or deaths while other people are represented by an entire symphony. This story is able to tie horrible truths with beautiful discoveries.

Branded by Kelley Armstrong—5 stars
Kelley Armstrong has managed to give yet another fantastic short story again. I admit I am biased but I will be quick to admit that not all of her stories are worth 5 stars.
Borrowing from her well-developed ideas from her novels, she has a society where humans are aware of supernatural creatures. The humans tried to create super-supernatural creatures but failed, then blamed it on the supernatural creatures. Then the humans tried to create hybrid animals but failed. The failure was blamed, again, on the supernaturals. The supernaturals (werewolves, for example) have been shunned and exiled from these protected colonies. If a supernatural is caught within the colony they are branded and then kicked out to fend for themselves in the wilds.
This story is about a teenager whose love is one of the branded. It is a tale of crafty intelligence and finding a way survive at all costs.

Necklace of Raindrops by Margaret Stohl—3.5 stars
The writing of this story was good but the set up was dodgy and a bit opaque. Set in a future somewhere, possibly India or China, people dropped out of planes to die. This story follows a woman, her brother, and a man named Z.

Dogsbody by Rachel Caine—3 stars
When reading something by Ms Caine the writing is either top notch or a skunk. This story wasn’t a skunk but it wasn’t one of her homeruns. In a society where people are killed off en mass to keep budgets on par, two orphan teenagers from the dregs of society manage to make it to the top of society in less than 5 years. For revenge.
The twist at the very end was good. Unfortunately the meat of the story was labored and had several places I had to skim through because I never was firmly gripped by the story.

Pale Rider by Nancy Holder—2.5 stars
A story of the fae and the Erl King and the Hunt. This is about Fae, goblins, and human thieves and the result of it.The story has potential but spends too much time building up to a lackluster ending.

Corpse Eaters by Melissa Marr—2.5 stars
Two people attempt to battle against some new religious zealots. I feel generous giving it 2.5 stars.

Burn by Kami Garcia—4 stars
The atmosphere has a hole in it and the sun now burns things to ashes. The world is a scary and harsh place. Children frequently go missing and no one looks for them. Her little sister’s disappearance causes a girl to do what is needed to find her sister. She risks all to venture into a forbidden area to search for her.

Love is a Choice by Beth Revis—3.5 stars
Life on a spaceship is easy when you’re drugged. A young man tries to plan mutiny while hiding from the Big Brother-like leader.

Miasma by Carrie Ryan—4 stars
People are dying due to living in a contaminated swamp area. Strange doctors with their pets visit the houses to cull the sick. A girl is forced to become head of the house and tries to provide for herself and her sister.

1,993 reviews47 followers
May 19, 2018
Full of generally ok stories.

Hearken by Veronica Roth - 2.5/5 stars - Hearkeners can hear the life or death songs or people. This is about Darya growing up to be a Hearkener and dealing with her past.

Branded by Kelly Armstrong - 2.5/5 stars - Rayne lives inside a fortress - with fully human people. Her boyfriend, Braeden, is discovered to be a werewolf. This is about her leaving the fortress . Honestly, I wasn't too keen on the ending - it feels too idealistic.

Necklace of Raindrops by Margaret Stohl - 1/5 stars - not into the random Chinese words - given the number of homonyms, this is a prime example of how pinyin doesn't enhance the story. The idea could have been interesting but the execution was meh. I thought this was set up to be a story of living instead of surviving, and but it wasn't pulled off well.

Dogsbody by Rachel Caine - 5/5 stars- Corporations are literally killing people. Hostile takeover involves guns. I loved this read - at its heart, it's individuals against the corporation. Basically, the children on Z's floor are taken away. . I really liked the ending.

Pale Rider by Nancy Holder - 1/5 stars. I don't understand the "magic" they used, I'm not too keen on Dana following Alex, and the whole story just feels confusing.

Corpse Eaters by Melissa Marr - 2/5 stars. The "gods" are here and they demand sacrifices of corpses. Only, there aren't enough corpses, and they've resorted to making their own. Features Harmony and Chris - Chris wants to leave town, but Harmony wants to stay with her father. Also contains parental abuse.

Burn 3 by Kami Garcia - 2/5 stars. Phoenix's sister, Sky, goes missing. Phoenix goes to find her. The world was semi-interesting: basically, if you're out in the sun, you can get 3 degree burns. We follow children who are dirt-poor and struggling to live from day to day.

Love is a Choice by Beth Revis - 5/5 stars. I loved this, and the cool calculation in it. Our narrator was the heir to the spaceship. He was "killed" for opposing the Elder (the leader). The Leader drugs everyone with mind-altering drugs to keep them under his control. Then the narrator meets a girl, .

Miasma by Carrie Ryan - 2/5 stars, meh. There's a poisonous miasma rising from the water. People who breathe it are contaminated and get the plague. Classic poor girl meets rich boy story ending with . I was not too keen on this ending - it'll probably only be worth it as a sidestory to a main story where the .
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