Tag Archives: dystopian

ARC Review – Until the Beginning by Amy Plum

22445886Title: Until the Beginning

Author: Amy Plum

Rating: ★★★★

Synopsis: When Juneau’s clan disappeared, she lost so much more than her friends and family. She soon discovered everything she thought she knew about her life was a lie. Her people’s gifts were actually secret abilities that others wanted, desperately enough to kidnap an entire village.

Juneau and her new companion Miles’s cross-country journey to find her clan has led them to a game preserve in New Mexico. Now Juneau’s people are finally within reach, and she will stop at nothing to save them. But she has a target on her back too, because unbeknownst to her she is the key to unlocking everything. To rescue her people – and herself – Juneau must discover what she, and her abilities, are truly capable of.

I read an ARC of this which was provided by a friend!

River’s Review:

I was SO excited to read this because After the End was one of my fav books from last year and I was DYING to find out what happened next! Well this was a really good conclusion to the two books and I enjoyed reading it so much!

We start EXACTLY where the first book left off and Miles is sleeping. Of course the author toys with us but he pulls through and they continue on to save Juneau’s clan. All our favorite characters from the first book show up, and there is an epic battle at the end.

While I loved this book a lot, I didn’t love it as much as the first book. There were some VERY sweet (and some very sexy) moments between Miles and Juneau, which I loved, but other than that the interactions between everyone fell a little short. Overall I actually think this book should have been longer and fleshed out a little more. I also would have liked more tension. The first book was so amazing because of all of the tension and the WTF IS GOING ON MOMENTS?!

I did like Miles’ character development though. It was so solid and he really grew into such a different person. I wish there’d been a much larger show down between him and his father though, I would have loved more!

I guess I just wanted more from this. And I’m sad that it’s over. But I still loved it a lot! And I really can’t say much more without giving away a lot of it. So I guess if you loved the first one you might be a little disappointed with this. But only a little.

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Book Review – Exile (The Book of Ever #1) by James Cormier

22961594Title: Exile (The Book of Ever #1)

Author: James Cormier

Rating: ★★★★★

Synopsis: Centuries after the Fall, the United States has been wiped away. The crumbling remains of the great American empire are home now only to savage, lawless tribes and packs of ravening Damned-the twisted children of the apocalypse. Most of those few who survived humanity’s destruction spend their short lives in a violent struggle for survival. But some light still flickers in the darkness: the Blessed of Bountiful live in seclusion, relying on walls both physical and spiritual to protect them from the Desolation that their world has become. Among them are the Saints, those few men and women born with superhuman abilities that the Blessed see as gifts from God. The violent apostate tribes of the Northeast Kingdom have always been a danger, but up until recently its small size and the vigilance of its people have made Bountiful an unappealing target. As attacks on the community grow harsher and more frequent, however, even the steadfast Blessed are forced to start preparing for the worst. With her home’s very existence threatened, seventeen year old Ever Oaks, a Saint with the power to heal, is forced to make a difficult choice, one that may come to define her people’s future…

Huge thank you to the author for providing me with a copy of this book for review. In no way is my review biased due to this. My opinions are my own.

River’s Review:

I will admit that I don’t often review indie or self pubbed books but I made an exception for this one because the author is local (MA) an it just sounded interesting. I haven’t read a good dystopian in awhile and I thought why not.

I’m SO glad I read this! I loved it! I was so INVESTED in it and didn’t want to put it down. It’s very well written and really touched a lot of things that I love about dystopian, sci-fi and even fantasy. I love it when dystopians are SO dystopian that they’re thrown back into the stone ages.

Ever Oaks and her village are Blessed. They’re survivors of The Fall (the end of the world basically) and some of her people are gifted with super-human abilities and deemed Saints. Ever is a Saint with the power to heal. She lives in a very, VERY religious society where men are in control and women are basically owned by their father’s and husbands. We know this is the future but it feels so very much like the past.

Ever is a good girl, a godly girl, but she does what she wants and when her village is attacked by the outside tribes who live savagely and witout God, she joins the quest to find her people a new home. She leaves with three other men to head north to find a new home. What they find instead is a powerful enemy, the truth about The Fall and Ever’s destiny.

When I first started this the religious part threw me for a loop. I’m not a fan of traditional religion and while this is very much based on Christian belief it was never preachy and I loved how much of the society and customs were based in this old belief system. I never once felt anything negative towards the religious aspects of this book and usually when I read books with religion in them I can usually find something that makes my stomach twist the wrong way. But this was beautiful and the intent of the religion in this book was not to preach as you.

I loved the world building in this. There were times that I felt elements of The Walking Dead, other times elements of Divergent. Never did this feel like it was trying to be those. It just felt very familiar and I liked that. So often dystopian novels try to make things TOO different and crazy and I’m just left wondering how that could have happened or WHY that happened. But this book had a wonderful set up and world build and when the story took unexpected twists and threw in some sci-fi elements I was ready for it and enjoyed it greatly.

The unexpected twists were SO good. I thought that this was going to be a journey book (which is part of why I picked it up, because I’m a HUGE fan of survival and journey stories) and while it was, it wasn’t in the way I thought it was going to be. I thought I had it pegged and then there were two twists that made me SO happy that this WASN’T predictable and made me love it even more.

And let’s talk about the romance for a second. While the beginning was a little bit fast (Ever and Jared spend a day together and at the start of the day she was annoyed with him and at the end of the day she admitted to having some different feelings towards him… thought they DID go through a lot together in that one day) I liked how it smoothed out and grew. The book isn’t heavy on romance, but man, when things did come together I felt that flutter that I get when two characters I’m rooting for finally kiss.

Overall this was a GREAT book and if you’re a fan of Divergent, The Birthmarked Trilogy or dystopian survival stories then you’ll want to check this out. I can’t WAIT for the next book!

Late to the Party ARC Review – Firefight by Brandon Sanderson

15704459Title: Firefight

Author: Brandon Sanderson

Rating: ★★★★

Synopsis: They told David it was impossible–that even the Reckoners had never killed a High Epic. Yet, Steelheart–invincible, immortal, unconquerable–is dead. And he died by David’s hand.

Eliminating Steelheart was supposed to make life more simple. Instead, it only made David realize he has questions. Big ones. And there’s no one in Newcago who can give him the answers he needs.

Babylon Restored, the old borough of Manhattan, has possibilities, though. Ruled by the mysterious High Epic, Regalia, David is sure Babylon Restored will lead him to what he needs to find. And while entering another city oppressed by a High Epic despot is a gamble, David’s willing to risk it. Because killing Steelheart left a hole in David’s heart. A hole where his thirst for vengeance once lived. Somehow, he filled that hole with another Epic–Firefight. And he’s willing to go on a quest darker, and more dangerous even, than the fight against Steelheart to find her, and to get his answers.

Huge thank you to Random House Canada for this ARC!

Sam’s Review:

I have to admit something: I wasn’t huge on Steelheart. Parts of that novel felt so clumsy put together (especially considering how rad the opening was) and I had a hard time enjoying the cast and the world-building. Something felt off, and I couldn’t entirely put it on my finger what was rubbing me the wrong way.

Thankfully, Firefight actually worked for me this time around.

David finally stopped being a tool in this book. He finally became a protagonist I didn’t find myself wanting to smack around due to poor decisions. He still makes some precious decisions in this book, but I found him and the cast of this novel to be so much more well developed. Hell, I even loved the secondary cast. I loved Val and Mizzy, and I always enjoyed their back and forth, along with their treatment of David. I thought David’s self revelations in this story worked well to develop the plot and push his character further. I even loved Megan in this book! I loved how challenging her decisions were and how it wasn’t that simple for her. I also love that she shatters David’s visions of her and that’s she’s not as she appears.

The action and drama in this book work well too in Firefight. The world is crumbling around everyone and yet there’s a sense of determination instead of hopeless. The Reckoners are in rough shape, but by damn do they attempt to keep it together. I have to give the characters in this book credit considering the Epics they faced and encountered were pretty one-dimensional, but they were the scary kind of one-dimensional.

Oh and that ending? Actually pretty fantastic and it makes me sad how long I’m going to have to wait for Calamity to hit. In typical Sanderson fashion, this book ends with him getting ready to knock down the house of cards. Curse you, Brandon Sanderson!

ARC Review – Captive (The Blackcoat Rebellion #2) by Aimee Carter

21911561Title: Captive (The Blackcoat Rebellion #2)

Author: Aimee Carter

Rating: ★★★

Synopsis: For the past two months, Kitty Doe’s life has been a lie. Forced to impersonate the Prime Minister’s niece, her frustration grows as her trust in her fake fiancé cracks, her real boyfriend is forbidden and the Blackcoats keep her in the dark more than ever.

But in the midst of discovering that her role in the Hart family may not be as coincidental as she thought, she’s accused of treason and is forced to face her greatest fear: Elsewhere. A prison where no one can escape.

As one shocking revelation leads to the next, Kitty learns the hard way that she can trust no one, not even the people she thought were on her side. With her back against the wall, Kitty wants to believe she’ll do whatever it takes to support the rebellion she believes in—but is she prepared to pay the ultimate price?

Huge thank you to Harlequin Teen and Netgalley for this ARC! 

River’s Review:

Man, I remember liking the first book SO MUCH and this one just… what happened?! Kitty was annoying and Knox was a dick and half of the political stuff just didn’t seem to make any sense. All Kitty and Knox did was argue and fight and threaten to kill each other (srsly Kitty, enough with the ‘if this happens I’ll kill you!’ ‘if that doesn’t happen I’ll slit your throat!’) And there were set-ups and double crosses that made me think ‘how does that even work?!’ and I just had no idea where any of this was going half the time.

I guess a lot of it just felt forced to set up the rebellion that happens at the end. And to give us a new aspect of the dystopian society to experience. Most of this book takes place in ‘Elsewhere’, which is a place that Kitty got taken to to ‘hunt’ humans in the first book. Elderly people, IIs and IIIs, Extras. But there are also other horrors in Elsewhere… such as a human butcher shop! Now, I actually like the dystopian society in this book (well, not like it, but I think it’s one of the more interesting ones and I guess less annoying ones out there), but I felt like this book was just trying to force the issues a bit sometimes.

And I guess that’s my biggest complaint about this book. Everything feels a little forced. Middle book syndrome? Possibly.

I really hope the last book makes more sense and wraps things up in a satsifactory way!

Sam’s Review:

Admittedly, I liked Pawn, but I wasn’t in love with it the way a lot of my friends were. Pawn definitely had some refreshing elements within the water-down YA dystopian genre, but it wasn’t without some glaring flaws. Captive, however, is definitely a good book, but goodness does it take it’s sweet time to get interesting.

Part of Captive‘s problem is that it suffers from the middle book syndrome that some trilogies face. This book is all build and exposition, and not enough in terms of getting to know the characters more, feeling a lot less personal in my opinion. Kitty is still a fun protagonist, but she had her moments in this book that really irked me, and her obsession with Knox, yes I get it, no I don’t think it’s worth it. In one chapter alone his name came up over fifteen times and it was a lot of Kitty being obsessive and it got a bit borderline irritating for me. I get it, he scorned you! Let’s not keep thinking about it and may be do something about it!

A lot of the political intrigue that made the first book interesting was quite lost here. In fact, there were numerous instances where I was raising my eyebrows or just shrugging off what was happening because it didn’t make sense but the book wanted you to roll with it. Some of the political stuff also felt heavy handed, which I didn’t think was necessary given that Carter really well established how the dystopia worked in the first book. Elsewhere is interesting, quite creepy, and I loved the atmospheric elements to it as a place. I loved a lot of the description and when you learn what is actually happening there, it’s quite creepy and I think the descriptions painted in this novel is quite graphic, but really interesting.

I’ll give Captive points for being a very atmospheric book, but when it was about Kitty and Knox squabbling, I found myself groaning because that’s all it felt like it was. I wanted more relationships to be built in the story (and more Benyj! He’s interesting!) and I wanted to get more personal conflict as well, which I felt like the book kept swaying back and forth on. This definitely is a middle-book and it suffers from the problem of being the ‘middle book in a series’, but hopefully Queen will make up for all of Captive‘s shortcomings.

ARC Review – The Walled City by Ryan Graudin

21416862Title:  The Walled City

Author: Ryan Graudin

Rating: ★★★★

Synopsis: There are three rules in the Walled City: Run fast. Trust no one. Always carry your knife. Right now, my life depends completely on the first. Run, run, run. 

Jin, Mei Yee, and Dai all live in the Walled City, a lawless labyrinth run by crime lords and overrun by street gangs. Teens there run drugs or work in brothels—or, like Jin, hide under the radar. But when Dai offers Jin a chance to find her lost sister, Mei Yee, she begins a breathtaking race against the clock to escape the Walled City itself.

Huge thank you to Little, Brown Books for Young Readers & Netgalley for this ARC!

River’s Review:

This book is beautiful and dark and dirty and sexy and terrifying. I loved the setting, loved the writing, loved the atmosphere and the plot. The characters worked for me, and I loved their relationships, but I didn’t really connect with them. Also, this book is told from multiple POVs, which is something I am never a fan of. It was okay, and I didn’t get lost in the voices, so that was nice.

The biggest issue I had with this book is the lack of world building. Apparently the Walled City was a real place, located in Hong Kong. I REALLY wish that this would have been a part of the story. I have very little background in China and Hong Kong’s history, and I really don’t know how many other people are going to know that this was a real place. The first half of the story had me struggling with a time (it seemed very historical… like I kept picturing Edo-era Japan) and when modern things (cars, guns, airplanes) started getting thrown in I was like WHOA. So yeah, some history would have been REAL nice.

And because I spent the first half of the book thinking that it was a historical setting I had A LOT of trouble wrapping my head around all of the modern stuff that came up later, and even picturing it taking place in modern times. And whenever Dai would use some modern slang or phrases I was jarred out of the book and I really hate it when that happens.

Another thing that bothered me was how there were never any mentions of actual places. There were fictional city names, but then there were vague references to ‘the homeland’ or ‘his country’ and like… the Ambassador has a Japanese name, so I’m thinking that he’s from Japan, but anytime his country is referred to it’s very vague and I don’t know why it was done this way. It was another thing that unsettled me when trying to anchor this story into a place and time.

Overall though this is worth reading for the beautiful writing and the dark setting alone.

ARC Review – Blackbird by Anna Carey

18710739Title: Blackbird

Author: Anna Carey

Rating: ★★★★

Synopsis: A girl wakes up on the train tracks, a subway car barreling down on her. With only minutes to react, she hunches down and the train speeds over her. She doesn’t remember her name, where she is, or how she got there. She has a tattoo on the inside of her right wrist of a blackbird inside a box, letters and numbers printed just below: FNV02198. There is only one thing she knows for sure: people are trying to kill her. 

On the run for her life, she tries to untangle who she is and what happened to the girl she used to be. Nothing and no one are what they appear to be. But the truth is more disturbing than she ever imagined. 

Huge thank you to HarperTeen and Edelweiss for this ARC!

River’s Review:

Can’t really say much about this without giving things away, but it was much better than I expected! I hated Carey’s Eve trilogy (well, the first book, I didn’t even bother with the rest of them) so I wasn’t sure if I was going to like this. I will say this, Carey’s writing is so pretty. I loved it. And the second person narrative was weird and different and meshed well with the story.

Girl wakes up on train tracks, has no idea who she is. She’s covered with scars and blood and a fresh tattoo on her wrist. She has a bag with some instructions and supplies inside. She follows the first set of instructions which leads to a domino effect of other events that just keep things moving and don’t stop. She’d being chased around LA, hunted by someone. She gets help from unexpected people and slowly her memories start to come back.

I loved how twisty this was, how it was constantly moving, and how you had no idea what was really going on. I flew through the first 50% of it and was just like WHAT IS HAPPENING? But not in a bad way. When she finally started to piece things together it was almost too unbelievable to be true but… it’s not. And it was nothing like I thought it would be.

I really can’t say more, but don’t trust anyone, and get ready to be all OMG I HAVE TO WAIT FOR THE NEXT BOOK FOR HOW LONG?!?! when you get to the end. Because I don’t even want to think about how long I have to wait for the next one…

 

Joint ARC Review: The 100 & 21 Days by Kass Morgan

17333779Title:  The 100

Author: Kass Morgan

Rating: ★★

Synopsis: Ever since a devastating nuclear war, humanity has lived on spaceships far above Earth’s radioactive surface. Now, one hundred juvenile delinquents — considered expendable by society — are being sent on a dangerous mission: to recolonize the planet. It could be their second chance at life…or it could be a suicide mission.

CLARKE was arrested for treason, though she’s haunted by the memory of what she really did. WELLS, the chancellor’s son, came to Earth for the girl he loves — but will she ever forgive him? Reckless BELLAMY fought his way onto the transport pod to protect his sister, the other half of the only pair of siblings in the universe. And GLASS managed to escape back onto the ship, only to find that life there is just as dangerous as she feared it would be on Earth.

Confronted with a savage land and haunted by secrets from their pasts, the hundred must fight to survive. They were never meant to be heroes, but they may be mankind’s last hope.

Huge thank you to Little, Brown Books for Young Readers and Netgalley for these ARCs!

Sam’s Review:

This book had so much potential, and yet it was so vague and nonsensical at the same time. I wanted so much more for this story than I got — I was hoping for a story about survival, struggles, crime, and post-apocalyptic goodness — or at least that is what is advertised. This book was a glorified “science fiction” romance novel, which is not a bad thing if that is what you are expecting. Since the book doesn’t advertise this part, well, that’s really what your getting… and then the science fiction kaboomy part at the end.

Everything about this world is vague, which is really frustrating. We don’t get a sense of what kind of dystopian world the story has or entirely what the issues are. Yes it’s about repopulating Earth since it’s completely inhabitable, and yes let’s send some criminal teens to see if it can produce life, but that’s really all we get! Furthermore, Clarke is perfect in every way and all the boys love her and that is apparently characterization. Seriously, everyone was either super perfect or very vapid in terms of personality and again, it’s a case of wanting more than what you get. I had a hard time connecting with any of the characters, which is never a good sign.

You know what kept me reading though? This is a total popcorn book. One that is so insane and ridiculous that you cannot stop reading because everything keeps getting crazier. I mean, there is so much romantic dramalama and admittedly, that for me was entertaining. Plus the book is an easy read and surprisingly a page-turner, even if it isn’t very good. Admittedly, it also makes me want to watch the television show just to see if all of the romantic aspects get amplified into intense steamy teen dramaland.

Admittedly, The 100 isn’t very good. If you wanted an easy popcorn read, then it’s perfect for those seeking a mindless experience. Those who are looking for a book to be more stimulating on the science fiction front should steer clear.


 

20454076Title:  The 100: 21 Days

Author: Kass Morgan

Rating: ★★ 1/2

Synopsis: It’s been 21 days since the hundred landed on Earth. They’re the only humans to set foot on the planet in centuries…or so they thought. Facing an unknown enemy, Wells attempts to keep the group together. Clarke strikes out for Mount Weather, in search of other Colonists, while Bellamy is determined to rescue his sister, no matter the cost. And back on the ship, Glass faces an unthinkable choice between the love of her life and life itself.
In this pulse-pounding sequel to Kass Morgan’s The 100, secrets are revealed, beliefs are challenged, and relationships are tested. And the hundred will struggle to survive the only way they can — together.

Sam’s Review:

So, admittedly, this book was much better than the first one. In a lot of ways, that’s still not saying much. Again, it’s still very much a page-turner and it’s definitely popcorn fiction, and while I completely devoured this book, I’m still at a loss for words as what I’d even say is enjoyable about it.

Since this is a direct sequel, you can’t jump right into Day 21. There’s just as much melodrama here as there was in the first book, but I will give this one more credit than the first — the characters felt a lot more fleshed out in this instalment, and were much less shallow than what we got prior. The book also fixed another issue I had with the first, which was the world-building. This book is mostly set on Earth and we get so much more world-building this time, and yet… Morgan leaves us with more questions, someone which are confusing, perhaps?

A lot of the “surprises” in this book felt so predictable and tacked on, particularly when it comes to the Wells/Clarke/Bellamy love-triangle. In fact, I totally predicted the big spoiler with these two, but my hope was that Morgan wouldn’t go in that direction, and did. I still don’t entirely understand the appeal of Clarke as a love interest considering she still has some of the weakest development. I’d even argue Wells and Bellamy got a bigger boost to characterization than she did, which is kind of a shame since she’s one of the most important characters.

To be frank, a lot of the characters still don’t gel with me. I really don’t get the relationship between Glass and Luke, especially considering how horrible a person Glass is (and how much the book ADMITS she’s a horrible person). The melodrama between all of the leads was just too much at times, and I was really annoyed by the fact that the ending is the only time we get some information about the Earthborns. Otherwise, it’s more “Here’s the Hundred fighting. Here’s the Hundred making out” and I wish I could say I was fine with that, but I need more work with! When the book was focusing on the science fiction aspects, I did want to know more, but like the first book, it still felt like only a sliver of the actual plot that was happening.

I’m not sure if I will read the next book in this series (providing their is one), but I still have this crazy desire to watch the show, if just to see how they approach the science fiction aspects and the CW-style melodrama. This series is really an odd duck, but chances are if you loved the first book or the show, you’ll probably love this sequel as well.