I have always been drawn to the cover of Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi, but although the idea of a girlReview originally posted on Once Upon a Bookcase.
I have always been drawn to the cover of Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi, but although the idea of a girl who's touch was deadly was really intriguing, I'd kind of reached a point where I just didn't want to read any more dystopian. Thankfully, though, I bought it for the Ramadan Readathon, though a little warily, and it turns out I should have bought it much sooner. It's so bloody good!
Juliette has been locked up in an asylum for almost a year for the safety of others. She hasn't been touched, because her touch can kill. On top of this, she lives in a world that is slowly dying, due to climate change and humans' abuse of the world, among other things. The Reestablishment is in control. They promised they would make things better, but instead they make things worse, limiting what people can have, while they want for nothing. Warner, a leader of a section of the Reestablishment sees an advantage in Juliette's touch, and wants her on his side as the Reestablishment wipe out those who stand against them. But Juliette will not be forced to hurt, to kill. She will not become a monster.
There isn't a huge amount I can say about this book without spoiling the story. Not a huge amount happens, this is very much a first book in a series, setting things up for future books, but that doesn't stop it from being absolutely gripping. The writing is beautiful, and that's partly down to the way Juliette thinks. There's very little that's good in her life, so she find the beauty in the smallest of things. Her life is just so heartbreaking. But Mafi definitely has an extraordinary way with words, and her descriptions are just gorgeous.
The romance in the book is also beautiful. It's intense, but also slow burning, because of the situation Juliette is in. But there is so much passion, so much, and it's not all down to desire. It's a passion that comes from love, not from lust. There's a bit of lust there, too, sure, but it's a love that burns so brightly. It's magnetic and hypnotic, and so much wow. And it's different, because I've rarely read anything that is so intense unless it's an adult book that culminates in a sex scene. But this is mostly feeling, and but it's so strong it sparks in the air. It's just so, so wonderful.
The ending of this book is brilliant. It's just so exciting! It almost had me bouncing in my seat with excitement over where things will lead. There are discoveries, and there is a world Juliette never dreamed of. Although, in the great scheme of things, not much happens in this book, I have a really strong feeling that this trilogy is going to be one of the most exciting dystopians I've read. It's addictive and beautiful, and so, so gorgeous! I can't wait for the sequel, Unravel Me....more
5 to 1 by Holly Bodger is a fantastic feminist YA novel that looks at how having one gender superior to anotOriginally posted on Once Upon a Bookcase.
5 to 1 by Holly Bodger is a fantastic feminist YA novel that looks at how having one gender superior to another is no good for anyone.
In the not too distant future, things have changed in India. No longer happy with the worth placed on baby boys over baby girls, women of a certain area have revolted, and created their own country within India, Koyanagar. Here, women rule and men serve. Due to how things were before, when unborn girls were terminated, or girls who were born were abandoned, there are still far more males than females in Koyanagar - five boys to every girl. So when a girl turns 17, five contestants are chosen from the eligible boys of similar age, and they are to undergo tests to help the girl choose the best husband, who will help her produce healthy baby girls and who will serve her well. Sudasa doesn't agree with the system. Women rule, but to her, their is no choice. A woman must find a husband, and she can only choose from the five contestants, and her grandmother, one of the founding members of Koyanagar, seems to have more control over the "randomly" selected contestants than is legal. Sudasa just wants freedom and choice. Contestant Five has no interest in becoming a woman's lapdog and treated as nothing. He has his own plans. But when neither have much of a choice, who knows what the outcome will be?
Oh my god, this book was SO good! I was absolutely gripped by 5 to 1! With Sudasa's chapters in verse, I absolutely flew through this book! Due to work I was unable to, but it could quite easily be read in a day. This future Indian country Bodger has created is so scary. The description of India as it was - as it is now, to a lesser degree, as Bodger tells us - is awful. The President of Koyanagar makes a speech before the tests, and in this speech, we discover how Koyanagar came to be, and why. Due to over population, a former prime minister f India said that people had to limit themselves to one child. But:
'"The citizens didn't want any child. [...] They wanted a child who could carry the family name, inherit the land. [...] They didn't want a child whose dowry would empty their safes to fill the pockets of another. They wanted a male child."' (p20)
But after horrendous acts of gender selection, the country eventually had more boys than it did girls. Boys who needed wives, so they could have their own sons.
'"Suddenly a girl--any girl, even a poor, worthless one--could be sold to the highest bidder. And that's if she were lucky. Some girls were stolen out of their childhood beds. Others were raped, fated for ruin."' (p20-21)
Horrific. And so Koyanagar was formed. The patriarchy was turned on it's head, and Koyanagar had a matriarchy. Better, right? Wrong.
As Sudasa tells us, her life is one without choice.
I think that's enough of a taster about the world Sudasa and Contestant Five live in. There's more, but I don't want to spoil the story too much. Either way, it's highly thought-provoking. Not just because of how terrible Koyanager is, but because it's set only 39 years in the future. When I'll be 67 - just let that sink in. A dystopia set in a future it's possible I - and you - will still be around to see. There's enough history given in this book to see that things could change so much, so drastically in such a short period of time. As shown in the link I shared above, Bodger made some exaggerations to the ratio, but it's still terrifying to realise this is something that could happen - in our own lifetimes.
I also love how with 5 to 1 Bodger is saying that there is no way but equality between men and women. Feminists aren't after superiority for women. This is a country where women are superior to men, and still, everyone but the rich and powerful suffer. A gender imbalance, either way, is not helpful to anyone. The only way to sort out problems like in Sudasa's India are for women, girls, females to be valued just as much as men, boys, males. Only when women are worth just as much as men, when we are all equal - not superior - will things even out.
5 to 1 is brilliant, but I did expect more when it came to the tests the boys had to go through. The tests themselves aren't that exciting. I was expecting more dangerous, harsher tests - as Sudasa says, the contestants risk death - but the risk comes from the outcome of the tests. A woman will choose a husband, and the ones who aren't chosen end up living a harsh existence, where death is likely to be in their immediate future, but I thought the tests were going to be more than they were. 5 to 1, only set over three days, is more about how unfair Koyanaga is in the opinions of Sudasa and Contestant 5, rather than from us seeing too much of how terrible it can be. It's more a book to get you thinking than to shock you through the events that are on the page. I would also have liked to see what Koyanagar - and the India before Koyanagar - thought about LGBTQ people and how they were treated, what their options were, but there was no mention at all, which I'm unhappy about.
But as I said, 5 to 1 is such an amazing story! A fantastic debut novel, and a wonderful book to get people to think about gender, feminism, and equality. I highly recommend it!
Thank you to Knopf Books for the bookseller reading copy....more
I thought Denton Little's Deathdate by Lance Rubin sounded pretty good when I first heard of it, but it eOriginally published on Once Upon a Bookcase.
I thought Denton Little's Deathdate by Lance Rubin sounded pretty good when I first heard of it, but it exceeded my expectations! This is a fantastic book; a dystopian novel with a difference!
In a world a few generations in the future, everyone knows their deathdate - the date they will die. Due to some scientific discoveries, doctors can now determine the date of your death using blood and hair from when you are born. For Denton, his deathdate is tomorrow. It hasn't really bothered him too much that he will die early, but once his deathdate is imminent, his life is turned on it's head. Experiencing a lot of firsts, a lot of confusion, and a fair dose of teenage angst, Denton is now wishing he had more time. But when a strange purple splotch appears of his thigh and starts to spread, he knows his time is coming. If he hadn't enough to worry about, a strange man appears at his funeral, telling him he knew his dead mother, and he should trust no-one. With Denton's death just around the corner, what could he possibly have to be wary about?
This book! Oh my god, this book is brilliant! As I said above, this is a dystopia with a difference - for the most part, it doesn't feel like a dystopian novel at all, but rather a contemporary fantasy/comedy (comic fantasy isn't quite right). It's literally set just a few generations into the future, as Denton's grandfather remembers a time when no-one knew their deathdate, so it's a fairly recent thing, but to Denton the whole idea of people not knowing when they could die is completely bizarre to him. How could you live when every day could be the day you died? For the most part, he's quite calm about him impending death, accepting of it; he's known it was coming, and it's ok. At least it is at first.
But he has other things to worry about, like the possibility that he might have maybe cheated on his girlfriend with his best friend's sister, who has maybe always hated him. And he can't quite remember if he did and/or why, due to getting completely off his head on alcohol - an experience he can't say he enjoyed as he can't remember most of it. As you can tell, for the most part, Denton Little's Deathdate is a pretty normal YA contemporary novel, one that's pretty funny too. Denton's best mate, Poalo is awesome! He is one of the major highlights of the book for me, because he's always coming out with something hilarious! He literally had me laughing out loud, and I love him! I kind of wish he also had his own book.
But then the book takes a turn. It starts off gradually. Questions are raised in his mind about his mum, after the appearance of Brian Blum, who also warned him about being followed and to stay away from government officials. There's a cop who keeps appearing and acting strangely. And suddenly the book has a thriller feel to it, and you're sitting on the edge of your seat, not quite sure how it's going to go! Will Denton die with all these questions? Is dying maybe the best thing that can happen right now? What is going on, and what are people not telling him? It's so exciting and awesome! Who has ever heard of a teen-angsty, hilariously funny, fast-paced, exciting dystopian? I love it!
But there's even more to this book; amidst the comedy and thriller side of things, it's also really thought-provoking about life. How you live it, what really counts. How would you live your life if you knew when, in the future, you were going to die? How would you live if you didn't know if you'd die today, or tomorrow, or a week or a month from now? What would you do with your last few hours? Why aren't you doing those things all the time? Not all these questions are covered or asked in this book, but they're what it made me think as I was reading. Our lives matter, no matter how short or long - shouldn't we make it count? (This might also be due to the fact that my Nan's funeral was four days ago, so I've been thinking about how best to live, anyway. Yes, I chose to read this book at a really awkward time - I wanted a comedy - but it worked out for me.)
This really is an amazing and wonderfully surprising book! There are certain aspects of the book I worked out early on, but this didn't diminish my enjoyment of the work, nor did I have any clue where exactly this story was going to go! It ends on such a fantastic cliffhanger, and with the teaser from the sequel included at the end, oh my god, I cannot wait for the next book! It's going to be brilliant! This is one hell of a debut, and deserves to be a hit! Beyond the sequel, I will definitely read whatever else Rubin writes!
Thank you to Simon and Schuster Children's Books for the review copy....more
When I first heard about The Name on Your Wrist by Helen Hiorns, it sounded like a really intriguing story,Originally posted on Once Upon a Bookcase.
When I first heard about The Name on Your Wrist by Helen Hiorns, it sounded like a really intriguing story, but I had no idea just how brilliant it was going to be!
Corin lives in a world where around the age of two or three, a name appears on everyone's wrists, the name of their carpinomen - the person they would have an anima-vinculum, a soul bond. In short, the name on your wrist was your soul mate, and at a certain point in the future, in your late teens/early 20s, you went on a search to find them. However, Corin is against this whole soul mates thing. Why can't she choose who she wants to be with? Why should she have her whole future mapped out in front of her, without a choice, just because of the name on her wrist? And what happens if she starts making decisions for herself?
The Name on Your Wrist is an incredible debut! It's so unbelievably clever, and so well thought out! But it doesn't get overly complicated. There was an answer to every question I had, a quite detailed answer - this a full and realised world, and it's quite obvious that Hiorns has one hell of an imagination. I got completely lost in this story of Corin, who has had quite a few knocks in her life - the death of her father, her mother acting like nothing happened, her sister's mental breakdown, humanity proving her right over and over, being let down over and over. Corin is so cynical of pretty much everything and beyond pessimistic, it's almost like she doesn't know how to be positive. But she's also quite strong, with quite the backbone, meeting all judgements head on with sarcasm and insults of her own. But then she starts getting to know Colton, a boy at the Education Centre, and things change slightly for her.
But this is not a love story, despite capinomen and anima-vinculum, despite Colton. This is anything but. The Name on Your Wrist is actually quite a tragic story in the end. Dystopia generally comes in trilogies or series, with the first book setting up the world, and having the main character start to see the cracks and wanting things to change, before that change starts in the following books. The Name on Your Wrist is a stand alone. There is no follow up book, and its 261 pages. This is not a story of the oppressed fighting back. This is a snapshot of life in a world without choice, a snapshot where Corin discovers the truth, a snapshot of her realising that this is just life.
The main focus of the book is, should humanity have a choice? In Corin's world, the government decides where everyone lives and what career they will have. No-one has more than two children, and wealth is distributed evenly. And, of course, you end up with your soul mate. Of course, I'm sure you, as I did, answer the question with of course humanity should have a choice. But when put up against the state of the world now, where we do have choice, and it throws up all kinds of questions. There are quite a few opinions expressed by Corin in this book, and it seems like they could be Hiorns own opinions. This could be wrong, they could just simply be Corin's - about humanity and how we treat the world - but, either way, they don't come across as preachy. Considering the world Corin lives in, and considering the world, the opinions shared are just really thought-provoking. What is better? Some parts of this dystopia world are thought to better, even by Corin herself... but would they be? It's really, really clever how much this book gets you thinking about the world now, while scaring you with this awful-seeming future. Perhaps we're living in dystopia?
There's one part of this book that I thought was very well done. Hiorns has obviously thought things through when it comes to world building. As I said, all my questions have been answered. One question was, if everyone has a carpinomen on their wrist, what about gay people? This is not an LGBTQ novel, but this question is answered too. Gay people can have soul mates of the opposite gender, an asexual anima-vinculum, and live a very close but platonic life together, and sometimes, people have soul mates of the same gender. Well, what if you have a same-sex anima-vinaculum but you are not gay? This is touched on too. It's awesome to have this kind of area looked at, and also to have a dytopia based on relationships where same-sex relationships are a non-issue (well, just as long as you stick to the name on your wrist - but that is an issue with the world they live in).
The Name on Your Wrist is UKYA, but it doesn't feel like it. I've touched on this in reviews before, that UKYA tends to have a feel to it, a certain kind of style. Although The Name on Your Wrist is most definitely a British book, with our wonderful vocabulary, it feels like an American novel. This works for me, because I tend not to really enjoy the "otherness" that I feel when reading some UKYA. So I'm really quite happy about that.
The Name on Your Wrist is an amazing novel, and I will definitely be keeping an eye out for whatever Hiorns releases next!
Thank you to Corgi Children's Books for the review copy. ...more
I knew I had to read this book as soon as I heard about it. As a woman, I knew it would make me rage, I knewOriginally posted on Once Upon a Bookcase.
I knew I had to read this book as soon as I heard about it. As a woman, I knew it would make me rage, I knew it would sicken me. But I was in no-way prepared for how absolutely horrifying it would be.
In a world where woman are genetically engineered, designed to perfection, with the soul purpose to please men, freida and isabel are starting their final year. At the end of the year, it will be decided if they will be a companion to a man, being his wife and baring him sons; a concubine, living out life in a harem, providing sexual gratification for any man who wants them; or a chastity, a nun-like woman who lives a life of quiet selflessness or as a teacher at the School. There are only ten men who can choose from the 30 available girls - only ten will become companions. Everyone is eager to be the most beautiful, and competition and cattiness is encouraged, as is self-hate and the desire to always look better. In this final year, while all are excited and eager to see what the outcome will be, isabel starts putting on weight and neglecting her appearance. frieda cannot believe what her best friend is doing, but if she wants any future for herself, how can she be seen to feel anything but disgust for her friend?
My little summary barely scratches the surface about what you'll find in Only Ever Yours' pages. The first half of this book is dedicated to showing just what nasty and cruel bitches girls can be. The venom that comes out of the girls mouths, disguised as advice to help their peers improve, is disgusting. Beauty is everything. Making others doubt their beauty is paramount. Judging everyone is not only encouraged, it's a class. Two girls will be put against each other, and the rest of the class will discuss their physical strengths and weaknesses in comparison, no holds barred. It's the bitchiness between girls at real schools heightened to unimaginable degrees. And yet... it's not that far away from what happens at schools, from what a group of women will say when flicking through a magazine and judging celebrities. And the self-hatred, oh my god. If someone is prettier than you, then you are not pretty enough. You are ugly. You are failing. Failing is not an option. So you starve yourself. Or you make sure you use the Vomitorium if you're eating too much. Or you take medication to help you sleep, because dark circles are inconceivable. Being beautiful means you're popular. Being beautiful and popular means you'll be liked by men. The lenths these girls will go to to be liked by the Queen Bee megan are attrocious. And that's without touching on how they're supposed to behave. Women don't cry, women don't get angry, women don't get hysterical. Women are agreeable and happy and pleasant and calm. Inappropriate behaviour will be punished.
In this part of the book there is a lot of talk about the purpose of a woman - to please a man, but the main focus is on the competition. This comes out more towards the second half of the book, and it's then when the book gets even more disturbing. You might have noticed none of the girls names start with a capital. Women are subhuman and are not deserving of a capital letter at the beginning of their name. Women having wants? What? Women are not here to want, they are here to please, in any which way a man requires. "Feminist" is a dirty word. frieda. Poor frieda. She tries so god damned hard to do what's right, to be popular, to be beautiful, to become a companion. Her conscience constantly fights with her desire to get the right life. She is brainwashed and manipulated. She is so desperately unhappy, but she has no control.
The last third of this book is where it becomes horrifying. O'Neill does a marvellous job of building it up - just when you thought you couldn't be any more disgusted with this world and it's treatment of women, O'Neill throws something else at you. The ending is absolutely terrifying - not just forwhat happens, but for how the characters feel. I finished this book absolutely numb with shock. I am so far beyond righteous indignation, so far beyond disgusted. I am overcome with anguis for frieda, for isabel. For the women of this world, no matter what they think of the world they live in. I know better.
I did not enjoy this Only Ever Yours, but it's not a book to be enjoyed. It's a book to shine a light on the treatment of women. Of how they are seen in society. Of how they are judged by men and other women. Of what worth is placed on a woman, if a woman has any. It's hard-hitting, it's thought-provoking, and it's absolutely incredible. I don't think I've ever read a book quite like it. No review I could write could ever do it justice. It's a brave book, and it's a triumph.
I was really looking forward to reading Into the Still Blue by Veronica Rossi, and I'm happy to say it was aOriginally posted on Once Upon a Bookcase.
I was really looking forward to reading Into the Still Blue by Veronica Rossi, and I'm happy to say it was an enjoyable end to the series.
I've said it before, and I'll say it again; to me, the Under the Never Sky trilogy is like the beach reads of the dystopian genre. They're light, easy reads that you can fly through without much thought. While reading Into the Still Blue, I was halfway through before I knew it. Things get moving quite soon after starting the book, but it's odd, it kind of feels like, in a way, that not much happens. Yet, when looking back, quite a bit does. It's the light easy, flow of the story, like floating in the shallows of the sea and softly being drifted to shore by the waves, it's kind of misleading. I really love the feel of the book, flying through it without much effort, but I considering the various things that happen in the book, I feel it shouldn't have been so easy.
There is action and some quite upsetting moments, and although I was interested in all that was happening, wanting to know the outcome - will they rescue Cinder? Will Cinder survive what he must do, if they do? Will they get to the Still Blue? Will they all survive? Will the Aether get them first? - I wasn't really all that anxious or upset or shocked by anything. Considering the things that happened, the battles and the violence, the race against time, and so forth, I should have been sitting at the edge of my seat urging them to move, desperate for them to survive, and I simply wasn't. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed the book, but for the end of a trilogy, for the final book, you expect to feel more. It shouldn't have been a relaxing read, it should have been an exciting, heart pounding thrill of a book. I should have been wowed. And for not being that kind of a book, as it's a final book, it left me a little disappointed. This was ok for the first two books, but I just expected more from a book that wraps everything up.
As I said, it is an enjoyable read, and there was a good, satisfying ending - but again, one that didn't leave me wowed. Fans should definitely read it if they loved the first two, but maybe don't expect fireworks when it comes to emotional involvement.
I've read at least one review of Through the Ever Night, heard how awesome it was, and have been convinced IOriginally posted on Once Upon a Bookcase.
I've read at least one review of Through the Ever Night, heard how awesome it was, and have been convinced I need to read it soon. But before I do that, I knew I had to catch up by reading Roar and Liv, a prequel short story to Under the Never Sky, and I loved it.
In Under the Never Sky, we meet Roar while he's searching for Liv, and discover he's looking for her because she ran away when her older brother Vale, Blood Lord of the Tides, was giving her in an arranged marriage to the Blood Lord of another tribe in return for food for the Tides. Roar and Liv covers this story; of Vale announcing his intentions for Liv, and the journey that's made to take her to Sable, Blood Lord of the Horns. I remember at the time not being wowed by Under the Never Sky, but looking back on the story, I feel nothing but love for it. And had the same reaction to Roar and Liv (Can I just say, I can't get enough of Roar's name?)
Roar and Liv, narrated by Roar, is not a surprising story, as we already know what happens through reading Under the Never Sky. What it does is show us what leads to those events, and how they panned out. We get to meet a very strong, determined young woman in Liv. It was just fantastic getting to see her, and how Roar reacts to her. He is so enthralled and so in love. And then Vale has to go and put a big ol' spanner in the works, by arranging a marriage between Liv and Sable. Both Liv and Roar are distraught and angry, and want to fight. Roar is losing the one he loves, the same for Liv, but she's also losing any choice in how her life pans out. There is a lot of anger, fear and sadness in this story.
We also get to see just what a git Vale can be. It seems to me that he doesn't only have the the Tides best interests at heart, but also likes reminding people he's the one in charge, the one in power. He enjoys hurting people he disapproves of or fears (read: Roar and Perry), and putting them in their place. He's sneaky, and strategises ways to show he's in charge and to do what is expected of him as Blood Lord, but also cause as much pain as possible to those he wants to hurt. I disliked him in Under the Never Sky, I hate him in this.
A fantastic story that shows more of the characters we love, the ones we don't, introduces us to Liv, and pulls at the heartstrings. If you enjoyed Under the Never Sky, you should definitely read this....more
I was so excited to hear that Annabel was having a short story of her own, that we would get to meet this woOriginally posted on Once Upon a Bookcase.
I was so excited to hear that Annabel was having a short story of her own, that we would get to meet this woman, this mother that was so full of love in a world that forbids it. And now I've read it, I got a lot more from the story than I expected.
Because it's Lauren Oliver, and because it's set in the Delirium world, I didn't bother reading the synopsis before I bought it. I bought it on the trust that I would love it - and I did, so much! But I didn't expect the alternating chapters of Then and Now, like with Pandemonium. I didn't expect to see both Annabel as a young girl, and Annabel in prison day after day. It was brilliant to see who this woman was, the spirit she had, the enormous love she felt for her children and her husband. And, in contrast, to see what 11 years in the Crypts had made her. A woman who was kept going by the love she felt and the hope that she would see her family again.
Annabel was around when the cure first became mandatory, and it was such an eye-opener. How quickly things change; Annabel is Lena's mother, and to think of how Lena's world is, to know that when Annabel was a child, her world was much like ours, if only starting to make the scientific and political changes that led to love being defined as a disease. That's two generations, and the whole world - or at least America - was turned upside down.
'But that's the problem with love--it acts on you, works through you, resists your attempts to control. That's what made it so frightening to the lawmakers: Love obeys no laws other than it's own. That's what has always made it frightening.' From Chapter 4.
We got to see Annabel fall in love with the man she would marry, the father of her children, and it's just as beautiful as when Lena fell for Alex, but without the fear. It was complete and utter joy. Despite the fact he had already been cured. She reveled in the fact that her own cure failed, which she is completely certain of the moment she know that one of her matches is the man she has loved for so long. This all encompassing love she feels has to be kept secret, and you can't help but feel sorry for her, yet inspired.
'But from the beginning , I knew that in a world where destiny was dead, I was destined, forever, to love him. Even though he didn't--though he could't--ever love me back.' From Chapter 10.
Finding out what life was like inside the Crypts was also awesome, in such a depressing way. Again you are in awe of her, this woman who's life has been taken away from her, yet who's fire has yet to be quashed, who has determination, and hope, and fight. Brave, courageous and fearless, Annabel is a woman to admire.
Annabel is a perfect addition to the Delirium series, and a brilliant, beautiful story of the strength of a woman who loves....more
It's hard to know how to even start writing this review. The final book in a trilogy I fell in love with bacOriginally posted on Once Upon a Bookcase.
It's hard to know how to even start writing this review. The final book in a trilogy I fell in love with back in 2011, finally in my hands, finally read, and all I can think of to say is... wow. Quite simply beautiful!
Lena and the rest of her Invalid friends are continuing the fight, but now the fight is super serious. Teaming up with other Invalids and the resistance in other parts of America, they know now is the time for some major action. They may be uncured, they may be free to love, but they are not free. This is not the life they should have to live, so they're going to take the life they deserve. Amongst all the planning and the travelling, Lena is having some issues of her own; Alex, the love of her life, doesn't want to know, but Julian, lovely, kind, sweet Julian, is still there, waiting, but not forcing the issue. Life for Lena simply isn't easy.
At Portland, a cured Hana is getting ready to marry the man who will become Portland's new mayor. She is aware of the plans of the Cureds, of how they plan to wipe out the Invalids once and for all. She is expected to play the part of dutiful wife, smile, wave and support her husband-to-be. But... she feels things. She's not quite sure what those things are, but something isn't quite right. Has Hana truely been cured, or is she "defective"?
I love that this story is told from the points of view of both girls in alternating chapters. You know what's coming towards each side at various points, know the plans, and are increasingly excited and nervous for these two characters you love, and worry about their survival. Yes, I did say "love"; despite being cured and having changed quite drastically, there's something about Hana that you can't help but love. It's a bit of an eye-opener too; despite questions over whether the cure has worked right for her, she is still cured, and seeing how the cured think is brilliant. It seems feelings are muted, but they're still there; Cureds can be happy or sad, scared or suspicious. Life as a Cured is simpler, cleaner, clearer, but not completely numb. It was awesome of Oliver to show us this, but also necessary, because Hana has her own story too, a subplot that interweaves with the main, but still separate. She has a life, a future, and problems of her own, and it's not as plain sailing as you would think.
In Lena's chapters, half the story is more about her feelings and issues regarding the two boys in her life - or not in the case of Alex. Though planning, strategising and the lead up to the action is all taking place, there is no real action for quite a while. I don't want to say too much about what happens regarding Alex and Julian, I feel this is something you should discover yourself, but it was great seeing Lena going through so many new feelings. She feels torn, and she doesn't know what to do. For her, for Alex, for Julian. She remembers lines from The Book of Shh describing the effects of love, realising that she is going through exactly what it says. The Book is right about some things. Is this life happier than a Cured one?
Requiem is as beautifully written as you would expect of a novel by Oliver, but this time round, I noticed it more. It's just so gorgeous; the imagery, the contemplation of feelings, how she describes most things. Oh, you could get lost in her descriptions, it's just amazing. But you could also die from a heart attack during the action! My god, the action is unbelievable! And again, I don't want to say too much about it, but you know, it's the final book. It's pretty epic!
And the ending! Oh my gosh! It's just perfect. Not all questions are answered, and even some smaller issues aren't resolved, but despite this, I think it's brilliant. There are no happy-ever-afters in anyone's life in the real world, nothing gets all sorted perfectly and tied up in a neat bow. Life continues, and life is messy, and you don't always know where life will lead. Requiem's main plot points and issues are resolved. It has an ending, a satisfying one, a fantastic one, but one that says living doesn't just end with the turn of a final page for anyone. And the final, final few paragraphs are just so beautiful; inspiring, empowering, motivating. But that's true of the whole book, really, the whole series. Fighting for what you believe in, fighting for your right to freedom, fighting for love. Requiem has finished off a beautiful trilogy that will forever have a place in my heart as one of my favourites.
Lauren Oliver, I have two words for you; thank you.
Thank you to Hodder and Stoughton for the review copy....more
I remember when I wrote my review for Under the Never Sky, I felt a little disappointed, yet I couldn't remeOriginally posted on Once Upon a Bookcase.
I remember when I wrote my review for Under the Never Sky, I felt a little disappointed, yet I couldn't remember what I was disappointed about until re-reading my review. All I really remembered was reading a book that I really enjoyed. So after reading a number of positive reviews for Through the Ever Night, I was excited to read it myself. And I loved it!
The Aether is behaving unpredictably. Winter is over, and so the Aether should be calming down, but instead, it's getting worse, with storms striking every few days. Finding the Still Blue has never been more important, lives depend on it, so Aria makes the decision to go off and search out information about it, with the help of Roar. Now Blood Lord of the Tides, Perry has to stay at the compound and look after his people, whose lives are getting all the more difficult with the damage caused by the Aether. However, the Tides are beginning to doubt Perry because of his association with Aria, and Perry discovers leading the Tides isn't easy.
Aria and Perry don't spend as much time together in this book as they did in Under the Never Sky, as they both have different responsibilities, but they're both finding their individual tasks more difficult than they thought. It was brilliant to see each character away from the other, seeing just how strong they are on their own, yet just how much they feel for each other, as proved by how they struggle with the separation.
Seeing Perry with his tribe is just wonderful. No-one could care more about a group of people, except maybe Aria. He has a tough challenge ahead of him, and it's brilliant seeing him take up his role and taking it so seriously, every single option thought through, and doing what he feels best for the tribe, despite sometimes being disagreed with. We get to meet or get to know better members of the Tribe, and find out exactly how the tribe works. Being Blood Lord isn't just something that comes to you with a chain, it's something that has to be earned, through the loyalty and trust of the tribe's people. You can't help but feel proud watching Perry tentatively take his first few steps as Blood Lord.
Aria has come on leaps and bounds since her days in Reverie. She's stronger, more determined. She is more of sure of what's right; no matter who a person is, doing the right thing for them is what Aria is all about - Outsider and Dweller alike. Roar and Aria get on so well, they're such fantastic friends, and it's just wonderful the support they give each other at various points of their journey. Unfortunately, I can't talk too much about what their task involves, because it's kind of spoilery, but I can say we do meet a few blasts from the past, as well as a few new people.
I am so thrilled to say that the reasons behind the Aether and the Unity are actually explained in this book. I didn't really understand why things were the way they were when I read Under the Never Sky, but thankfully, Through the Ever Night gives a thorough explanation of all that happened in the past. Which is necessary because of the events that happen in this book. There is a great amount of action in various ways, and lots of excitment! A race against time, hugely sad moments, and powerful relationships! It's fantastic!
As I said, I loved Through the Ever Night, but it was only after accepting that I wasn't going to be blown away by this book did I really start enjoying it. I know that sounds strange, but I'm going to attempt to explain what I mean. I have read a number of dystopian novels now, and a lot of them have been so brilliant that they have taken my breath away. And there has been one I didn't like at all. The Under the Never Sky trilogy goes no-where near to being one I don't enjoy, but it doesn't take my breath away either. I know there are a number of people who absolutely adore this series, but it doesn't have exactly the same impact for me. There's something missing that I can't quite put my finger on that stops me from being completely wowed - yet I really love this series! For me, the series is the perfect beach reads of the dystopian world. Don't take that as a bad thing or a criticism, I love beach reads. When I think of beach reads, I think of enjoyable, light romances that bring a smile to my face, but aren't earth shattering. And sometimes, I'm in the mood for a beach read over a epic romance. The Under the Never Sky is the dystopian equivalent for me, and thinking of the series in that respect, it's fantastic! As a dystopian beach read, I adore this series, and I think it's amazing! Make sense?
An awesome sequel, and I am SO excited to read Into the Still Blue, the third and final book in the trilogy! If you loved Under the Never Sky, you definitely need to read Through the Ever Night!
Coda was first brought to my attention when I was talking about LGBTQ YA Month on Twitter and seeing if anyOriginally posted on Once Upon a Bookcase.
Coda was first brought to my attention when I was talking about LGBTQ YA Month on Twitter and seeing if any authors would be interested in contributing. Someone flagged up Emma Trevayne and her novel, and after speaking to her, I knew Coda was a book I had to read. I didn't expect it to be just as fantastic as it was!
Because of the way Coda is written, I'm going to review the book as a whole first, and then discuss the LGBTQ aspects after. So, the story. Music is dangerous. Controlled and encoded by the government, the Corp, all music is a drug; aural drugs that it is compulsory to listen to. The Corp wants its citizens addicted, and if it find a citizen isn't tracking - listening to music on their home music consoles or at the clubs - often enough, guards are sent to encourage them to do so. Middle aged becomes "old" when addiction causes so much damage to the brain that people end up sitting on sofas with the desire only to keep tracking and sleeping until they're dead. This is the world Citizen N4003 - or Anthem, as he calls himself - lives in. A world he hates. But he has a love for real, true unencoded music that he plays with his underground band. If they're found out, they're all dead. Anthem lives in constant worry of what will become of his nine-year-old twin siblings, Alpha and Omega, and his constantly high father, who won't last that much longer, if he's ever caught. But the music is in his blood, it's what keeps him going in the world he despises, and can't give it up. When a friend and band mate dies mysteriously whilst tracking, Anthem and his band decide it's time to make a stand, to show the world what real music is and to fight back against the Corp. But the Corp has secrets and plans far worse than anything he could imagine. Are they really strong enough to win this fight?
Coda is one of the most amazing dystopian novels I have ever read. Why? Because I'm pretty sure it's the most disturbing. The arrogance and malevolence of the manipulative Corp is unbelievable. This is a dystopian novel, so certain aspects are expected, but what's not expected is how the Corp goes about things.There are moments when the Corp is honest about what's going to happen, because they know there is no way anything can be done to stop it, and it's just shocking. There's no sugar-coating and making things seem less than they are. Its honesty told with smug satisfaction and enjoyment over Anthem's reactions. They exude power and hold the lives of everyone in the palm of their hands. One small misstep, and that hand will crush. They are absolutely terrifying.
The story of Coda is told in a style I've never really come across before. It's very much a "show, don't tell" story, in that things are never really explained - there's no pause in the story to explain to the reader how things work, or why things are as they are. At first this is a little confusing, because I didn't really understand certain things, but now having read the story, those things were small in relation to the whole story, and as the story progresses, you know exactly all the why's and how's of pretty much everything by witnessing it, rather than being told. It was very different, but refreshing way to read, discovering and understanding as you go, rather than having all the information passed to you on a plate. I think I might actually prefer it. There were a few things I did have a little bit of a problem with, but I think that's more to do with me rather than the story of Trevayne's writing. There were some of the techy aspects I had some trouble getting my head round at. Because technology and I aren't the most intimate of friends, there's one how I never really understood - how the music actually affected people. It's encoded, but people aren't machines. It has something to do with the chips everyone has in their bodies, but I didn't quite get how that would cause a physical reaction, and cause physical damage to the brain. As I said, this is just me, and it is something that's covered through the "show, don't tell" writing style, it's just something I never completely understood. I just accepted that music did have the effect it does, and it didn't spoil the rest of my enjoyment of the story.
Coda has a cast of brilliant characters, all of who play their own role - no one person who is given a name is unimportant - and they're all so varied and so real. But it's Anthem that shines, because he's so human. He's not all "we're going to fight, and we're going to win!" He's unsure, he has doubts about what they can do, he doubts his own abilities, he worries about what his actions will mean for other people and so really thinks and considers a lot. He is all for change, but he's also full of despair about the world his little brother and sister are living in, and what they may end up living in if he fails. His love for others is brilliant, he cares so little about what happens to himself, but so much about others that it's them he tries to be certain of things for, as their lives are at as much risk as his own. Anthem's a fantastic character, and one you can't help but warm to.
And now the LGBTQ aspects of the book. Anthem is bisexual. His sexuality isn't any kind of deal in regards to the story of fighting against the Corp. This isn't a book about a bisexual teen, it's a book about a teen who just happens to be bisexual. Yet his sexuality isn't included in the story as an afterthought; it may not be important to the story as a whole, but it's important to the character of Anthem. It doesn't define him, but it's a big part of who Anthem is, his past and present, and has a part to play with his relationships with people. Scope, one of his best mates, is someone he has been mates with since they were children. They were also a couple. Their relationship as friends and their relationship as a couple have brought a closeness between the two that is beautiful to see and needed at certain points. Who better to rely on than someone who knows all there is to know about you? It also affects his relationship with Yellow Guy, Scope's boyfriend. Yellow Guy knows they used to go out, and that they're still close, and shows his jealousy whenever something is said or happens between Scope and Anthem that a naturally jealous person would automatically not be too happy about.
Another thing to mention is that although the world of Coda is just so wrong, it is a world where sexuality isn't a big deal. Nobody thinks anything of it; the world has progressed to the point where homophobia doesn't exist. There is a point where someone tells Anthem that she asked a woman to talk to him as she thought he might like some "company", but she can arrange it if he would prefer a man. She doesn't bat an eyelid at the idea of him being bisexual. Although sexuality isn't something to even spare a second thought on, it's still a world where you would like your private life kept private; Anthem doesn't like that this woman has been made aware of his sexuality when it's none of her business.
Coda is a simply incredible dystopian novel, and a completely wonderful debut! It could be read as a standalone, but I'm pleased to say a there is to be a sequel, Chorus! A fantastic story, and one that deserves to have huge buzz surrounding it! If you only read one debut novel this year, this is the one to read!
Thank you to Running Press UK for sending me a proof copy....more