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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: dystopia, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 177
1. Starters (2012)

Starters. Lissa Price. 2012. Random House. 352 pages. [Source: Review copy]

I enjoyed this dystopian novel. Callie is our heroine. Early in the novel, Callie has to make a tough choice: should she rent out her body for profit and secure a life for herself and her younger brother, Tyler? Or should she continue the day-to-day struggle to survive when every single day brings danger and risk. Callie is older and stronger than her brother. If she goes to Prime Destination, it will be FOR him, not for greed. As you might have guessed, Callie DOES go to Prime Destination, she does sign the contract which allows Prime Destination to rent out her body to others (via neurochip). IN this society, "Enders" find enjoyment and thrills by renting the bodies of teenagers. The two are linked via the neurochip, but it is the Ender, the renter, who is in control of the young (newly made beautiful) body. Callie has signed on for three rentals, it will be the third that will change her life forever...

I enjoyed this one. I did. I enjoyed getting to know Callie AND the "voice in her head," Helena. I am looking forward to reading the second book!

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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2. SALVAGE by Alexandra Duncan {Review}

SALVAGE by Alexandra Duncan Hardcover: 528 pages Publisher: Greenwillow Books (April 1, 2014) Language: English Mark on Goodreads Buy the book: Amazon Salvage is a thrilling, surprising, and thought-provoking debut novel that will appeal to fans of Across the Universe, by Beth Revis, and The Handmaid's Tale, by Margaret Atwood. This is literary science fiction with a feminist twist, and it

0 Comments on SALVAGE by Alexandra Duncan {Review} as of 3/28/2014 2:19:00 AM
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3. The Mark of the Dragonfly: Jaleigh Johnson

Book: The Mark of the Dragonfly
Author: Jaleigh Johnson
Pages: 400
Age Range: 10 and up

I quite enjoyed The Mark of the Dragonfly a brand-new middle grade/middle school fantasy novel by Jaleigh Johnson. The Mark of the Dragonfly is set on another world, one that bears a resemblance to ours, but also includes non-human races and humans with unusual gifts. Piper lives on her own in the bleak Scrap Town 16, eking out a living as a scrapper and a machinist. Scrappers salvage items from other worlds that arrive in certain areas via meteor storms (an example is a book: "Embossed on the front cover was a picture of a girl and small dog. Next to her stood a grinning scarecrow, a lion, and man who looked like he was made entirely of metal.") 

Piper has a gift for machinery, and is good at refurbishing some of the recovered items. But she longs for more. Her life changes forever when she finds a mysterious, fragile girl in the scrap fields. Piper ends up on a quest to help Anna find her home, though the two girls are pursued by a powerful and dangerous man.  

The adult quibbler in me questions how Piper's world can be similar to ours in many ways, despite being on an apparently separate planet. But this wasn't enough to dampen my appreciation for the book. I liked Johnson's inclusion of other intelligent races, coexisting with humans in the world. 

But the real reason that I enjoyed the book is that the characters in The Mark of the Dragonfly are quite strong. Piper is angry about her father's death, and determined to make a better life for herself. She struggles plausibly with doing the right thing. Anna is a bit more of an enigma, by design, but she is fascinating, too. She has only fragmented memories of her life, but she is drawn to books, and can spout various arcane bits of knowledge. There are some nice supporting characters, too, including a potential love interest for Piper (all quite PG, still suitable for upper elementary and middle school kids).

The plotting in The Mark of the Dragonfly moves along quickly, with several dangerous encounters that will keep readers turning the pages. The ongoing puzzle regarding who Anna is, and why she is being pursued, lends a more over-arcing suspense. 

The Mark of the Dragonfly wraps the initial story up nicely. No cliffhangers here. But given the depth of the world that Johnson has created, I do hope that there are future installments. Recommended for fans of middle grade fantasy with strong characters and unusual worlds. This one is going to stick in my memory, I'm sure. 

Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers (@RandomHouseKids
Publication Date: March 25, 2014
Source of Book: Advanced review copy from the publisher

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This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through Amazon links (including linked book covers) may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).

© 2014 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook

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4. Fire & Flood (2014)

Fire & Flood. Victoria Scott. 2014. Scholastic. 320 pages. [Source: Review copy]

Did I love Fire & Flood by Victoria Scott? Not exactly. I neither loved it or hated it. I was completely indifferent to it. I would say it is more plot-driven than character-driven. I would say that it is a quick read, but, perhaps more forgettable than memorable when all is said and done. I'll also say that I never once thought of stopping while I was reading it. I wanted to stick with it and find out what happened.

Tella, our heroine, LOVES her brother, Cody. Unfortunately, Cody is dying and there is nothing to be done for him. Or so readers (who avoid blurbs) are led to believe in the opening chapters. It seems Tella, and Tella alone, can TRY to save her brother by participating in the oh-so-mysterious survival game called Brimstone Bleed. The ultimate winner of the games will receive THE CURE which will provide one person with a cure for any disease. In Tella's case, it will be for her brother, Cody. But not all participants are doing this for siblings.

The games are NOT public knowledge though they've apparently been going on every six years for several decades now. Those who survive the game are NOT allowed to speak of what occurred during the games. It also seems the game has a curse-aspect to it. Those that have been invited to participate are related to others who have endured the games. Apparently, Tella's mother has a secret!

So Tella's invitation to participate arrives suddenly. She's barely heard the message when her parents intervene oh-so-dramatically. They try to destroy the device that delivered the mysterious invitation. They fail. (It would be a short book if they'd succeeded!) Tella decides to defy her parents (not a surprise) and follow the instructions and become a contender. Tella realizes that she is one of hundreds participating in this game. There will be only one winner. She's not sure what--if anything--happens to those who fail. There is not a sense of doom like in Hunger Games. And the games do not in any way appear to be publicized.

This is the first in a series. In this book, Tella endures two challenges: the jungle and the desert. The winner of the first challenge receives 2 million dollars. The winner of the second challenge receives a portion of "The Cure" which supposedly means five additional years of life for their sick relative.

Each participant chooses an egg--a pandora. The pandoras, when hatched, reveal themselves to be various mutant animals with magical powers, of course. Without pandoras, NO contestant could hope to survive all the challenges.

Tella's pandora is probably the most interesting pandora. A shape-shifting fox that can read her mind.

What would a survivor-based game be without romance?! So of course, Tella has several guys interested in joining her during the challenges...

Some characters I liked. Some characters I didn't like. I can't say that I truly loved, loved, loved any of them.

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

0 Comments on Fire & Flood (2014) as of 3/20/2014 4:55:00 PM
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5. Independent Study (2014)

Independent Study. Joelle Charbonneau. 2014. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 320 pages. [Source: Library]

Independent Study was an interesting read. I had just reread The Testing, and it was nice to be able to jump right into this story without feeling lost. Cia herself still feels lost at times because her memory of the actual testing is gone. True, she was wise enough to hide clues for her future clueless self, but, having clues--even good, strong clues--aren't quite the same as vivid memories of the horrific past. Essentially, six months have passed, I believe, and the students are getting ready to be tested again, they'll be placed into special training preparing them for future careers. They do not get to pick their "majors." They will take the classes and internships chosen for them by authorities, all for the common good of the future, of course. Most of the characters from the first novel are absent from most of Independent Study. Cia and Tomas are separated by different career paths now. Will and Cia are on the same career path--government--but even Will only has a handful of scenes in the novel. A character that some might consider minor in The Testing, plays a bigger role in the second novel: Michal. He clues Cia in on her past and gives her hope for the present and the future. What if there was a way to abolish "The Testing."

Independent Study is all about Cia seeking to discover the inner-leader inside that is strong and brave and wise and true. Is Cia a great character? Are any of the characters "great"? I'm not sure. I'm not sure that 'liking' most of the characters in a novel is a requirement for it being an entertaining read. I wanted to know what happened next.

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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6. Ignite Me - Review

Ignite Me (Shatter Me #3) 
by Taherah Mafi
Publication date: 04 Feb 2014 by HarperCollins
Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Book Depository | Indiebound

Category: Young Adult Fiction/Dystopia
Keywords: Dystopia, Revolution, Paranormal
Format: Hardcover, ebook, Audiobook
Source: Borrowed


The heart-stopping conclusion to the New York Times bestselling Shatter Me series, which Ransom Riggs, bestselling author of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, called “a thrilling, high-stakes saga of self-discovery and forbidden love.”

With Omega Point destroyed, Juliette doesn’t know if the rebels, her friends, or even Adam are alive. But that won’t keep her from trying to take down The Reestablishment once and for all. Now she must rely on Warner, the handsome commander of Sector 45. The one person she never thought she could trust. The same person who saved her life. He promises to help Juliette master her powers and save their dying world . . . but that’s not all he wants with her.

The Shatter Me series is perfect for fans who crave action-packed young adult novels with tantalizing romance like Divergent by Veronica Roth, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, and Legend by Marie Lu. Tahereh Mafi has created a captivating and original story that combines the best of dystopian and paranormal, and was praised by Publishers Weekly as “a gripping read from an author who’s not afraid to take risks.” Now this final book brings the series to a shocking and satisfying end.

Kimberly's Review:

I have such a hard time reviewing this series. I am not a fan of the series in general, but I have to admit that there is something so totally addicting, I cannot help but need to know how it all ends.

There's a lot of action in this final book which keeps the reader engaged and the pages turning. 
Honestly though, there's so much about this story I just don't get.

Like - Where is everyone?

There is only one regime in place that is ruling everything (bad guys) and one in place that oppose them (good guys). Once the rebels take that over, they can control everyone. Where are the rest of the people? (And don't tell me they all got blown up because that is a lie) Other rebellions outside of this area? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? 

How is this girl going to lead the country? Juliette suddenly decides she is the most capable of being the leader and she is going to rule. Okay, now even very young monarchs who come to power have years of training, education, learning language and politics. Juliette can barely complete full sentences and she's convinces an entire army that she should rule on pure strength alone. She doesn't make a case at all about her leadership abilities, her plans for the future, her thoughts on uniting the nation. No, she breaks things with her enormous physical strength and everyone else is staring at her going- Wow. We'll follow you.

WTF? She has declared herself supreme ruler when she can barely control her feelings and gives no indication that she understands anything about the politics, world views, different cultures and societies. 

Why is anyone letting Juliette make the decisions? Is it just because has a boyfriend who is rich and has food and shelter? Is it because she has super human strength? Juliette still does not scream leadership material even by the end of the book. 

<shakes head> huh?

Okay, let's give in for a second and forget all I said above and that Juliette is the most capable of people willing to put everyone and her followers first. Let's say she's going to unite everyone, lead them to green grass and bunnies and rainbows. Let's say it's in her and I just can't see it.

But then, what about this horrific love triangle???

Honestly, I think my main problem with the book are the characters. The three main characters, Juliette, Warner and Adam, are all thought to be  a certain way. They are introduced to the reader as a certain person and the reader believes it. That is, until the rug is pulled out and I have to re-learn everything I thought about the characters. Sometimes this technique works. But when it's done to all three of the main characters, and none of them feel justified, I have to call foul. Juliette's switch is probably the slowest, most normal of them. It starts in book one (shriveled in a corner, oh but quickly she wants to fight) and then does it again in book three. But Adam and Warner's 180 degree change was so unnatural, I feel like it was just the author's way of appeasing the mass.

If you're not familiar with the series, Warner aka Big Bad, was a really awful character. He was cruel to our Juliette and yet, by book two, everyone was in love with him. Adam, the sweet boy she knew before she was imprisoned, was left by the wayside. Now to have to justify Juliette being with Warner, she has to:

1. Make Warner honorable and awesome and loving and kind and 
2. Make Adam awful and cruel and mean and ugly. 

I'm sorry but this just makes me want to scream. Sure, maybe this was all planned. But it's such an abrupt changes of these characters make me think of one word: 

That's right.
Cyborgs have replaced the real Adam and the real Warner and they're not getting them right.

But alas, no. These changes were the real thing. (Why?!?!)

Also, there was a whole lotta drama. D.R.A.M.A Like over the top drama. I mean, I'm all about teen angst and all but sigh. It was a lot and slowed down the momentum of the book.

Kenji is my favorite character by far and he steals every scene he is in. Funny, warm and human, I love how he reminds everyone that they are alive. I also loved James, Adam's little brother. He brings some much needed innocent and comic relief, especially his fun scenes with stoic Warner. 

I have to admit that though I can't say I liked the series because I had such major problems with it, Ms. Mafi does something right. She creates a story with great dialogue. She keeps the pace going and even I had to read the whole series to find out what happens. I guess that counts for something.

Visit the author online at www.taherehbooks.com, Facebook and follow her on Twitter @taherehmafi

Please note that this post may contain affiliate links. For more details, please see our full disclosure policy here

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7. Reread #11 The Testing (2013)

The Testing. Joelle Charbonneau. 2013. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 344 pages. [Source: Review Copy]

I had not planned to reread The Testing in anticipation of reading Independent Study. But as I opened the pages of Independent Study, I felt it only fair to begin at the beginning, to go back and experience it in full, to refresh my memory so that I would be more likely to fall in love with this second book. I am very thankful I chose to spend the time with The Testing. It was interesting to see what I remembered and what I had forgotten. It was interesting to see if the same scenes still stood out to me.

For those that enjoy dystopia, I would definitely recommend The Testing. I liked Cia Vale, our heroine. I liked the brief introduction to the Five Lakes Colony. There was just enough mystery to hook me. Her dad and her brother prove even more interesting upon rereading. I liked the four stages of the test. I liked how the horror comes gradually--surely and inevitably, but paced well in my opinion. I liked the twists and turns. Overall, I thought the characterization was good, was interesting. The world-building was good, perhaps not great, but solid enough. Even though it was a reread, I found it hard to put down!

I first read this one in June 2013

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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8. Sever - Review

Sever (The Chemical Garden #3) 
by Lauren DeStefano
Publication date: 12 Feb 2013 by Simon & Schuster
ISBN 10/13: 1442409096 | 9781442409095
Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Book Depository | Indiebound

Category: Young Adult Dystopia
Keywords: Dystopia, End of series, Revolution
Format: Hardcover, ebook, audiobook
Source: Purchased


With the clock ticking until the virus takes its toll, Rhine is desperate for answers. After enduring Vaughn’s worst, Rhine finds an unlikely ally in his brother, an eccentric inventor named Reed. She takes refuge in his dilapidated house, though the people she left behind refuse to stay in the past. While Gabriel haunts Rhine’s memories, Cecily is determined to be at Rhine’s side, even if Linden’s feelings are still caught between them.

Meanwhile, Rowan’s growing involvement in an underground resistance compels Rhine to reach him before he does something that cannot be undone. But what she discovers along the way has alarming implications for her future—and about the past her parents never had the chance to explain.

In this breathtaking conclusion to Lauren DeStefano’s Chemical Garden trilogy, everything Rhine knows to be true will be irrevocably shattered.
Kimberly's Review:

This is a hard book for me to review because I loved Wither, the first book in The Chemical Garden trilogy, so much. 

Without giving too much away, Rhine has escaped the mansion only to find herself at Reed's house, Vaughn's long estranged brother.

Searching for her twin brother, and trying to come to terms with her feelings for both Linden and Gabriel, Rhine embarks on a quest that will answer her questions once and for all. But not all the answers are what she wants them to be. And some of them she wishes she never knew.

I had a lot of problems with Rhine in this book. I loved her in the first two books- independent, strong willed and wanting nothing more than to survive and go home. And while this Rhine isn't that far from the old, she is slightly different. She's been through so much and she's very damaged by the events of the previous two books. But instead of making her more sympathetic, I felt more distant to her character. Her urgent need to find her brother, and then once she does eventually find him, she doesn't scream at him all of the evil she's encountered. (This will make sense once you read the book) I was so frustrated with her! She's also super confused about her feelings for Gabriel and Linden, which just became grating on me. I'll explain.

I am probably in the minority, but I have to say that I am probably on team Linden. Yes, he's pretty dense and should have been paying more attention to the evil that was his own father. But Linden's character grows exponentially during this final book and so by the end, I was hoping that she would end up with him. He was always my favorite of the two, between him and Gabriel and though the sister wife thing does creep me out, I still think Linden is the better choice.  However, this of course proves problematic because he also has Cecily, his youngest wife still on his arm. 

Cecily has also grown. In Fever, book two, the story took Rhine away from both of them and when she returns, they've both matured. While I can't say I like Cecily, I don't mind her and in fact, I may actually have respected her by the end.

What is strange is that Gabriel is mostly absent in book three. This is supposed to be her big love interest! It really hurt my feelings towards Gabriel because he was MIA for so long. I re-attached myself onto Linden. Sorry Gabriel, but even when you were the main character in Fever, I still wasn't a fan. I don't think you had a strong enough personality, and I never really understood what Rhine saw in you.

Now let's talk about Rowan. Rowan, the brother who Rhine is after. Rowan, who is barely a character at all in book three. I'm really sorry but I don't get it. There is nothing special about Rowan and as for their deep, twin relationship, I didn't feel it. He seemed like a secondary character that just appeared for plot sake. I wasn't emotionally invested in Rowan. She searched the country, confronted dangers and evil, for this guy?

I read books two and three right after the other and they move very fast. I love how the story flows so quickly you can get lost for hours in the world. Their world is scary, mean and unforgiving. There's a lot to like about The Chemical Garden trilogy.  I love the freshness of the story and felt like the characters were always in real danger, just escaping by their skin. I love the big reveals during the end, including Rhine's revelation and Madame's secrets.

Overall, I enjoyed Sever and the entire series. While I didn't have a great sense of the characters or motivation behind them, the plot was fast and I wanted to know what happened next. I would recommend it for older YAs as well as adults looking for a dark dystopian.

Visit the author online at www.laurendestefano.comFacebook and follow her on Twitter @LaurenDeStefano

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9. THE FOREVER SONG by Julie Kagawa {Review}

THE FOREVER SONGSeries: Blood of Eden (Book 3)by Julie KagawaHardcover: 416 pagesPublisher: Harlequin Teen (April 15, 2014)Mark on GoodreadsBuy the book: Amazon Review of The Immortal RulesReview of The Eternity Cure VENGEANCE WILL BE HERS Allison Sekemoto once struggled with the question: human or monster? With the death of her love, Zeke, she has her answer. MONSTER Allie will embrace her

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10. Enter The Runaway American Dream with Non-Humans

Los Angeles, 2041 – it’s twenty-six years after a NASA probe brought back a strange disease causing many of our familiar toy-like objects to come to life. This is a new world order where cute and fearsome creatures fight for their right to exist in a world that fears them! It’s Blade Runner meets Toy Story in Non-Humans!

Get a copy of Non-Humans Volume 1: Runaway American Dream TP on Amazon.com and help support Rabbleboy.com

  • Series: Non Humans (Book 1)
  • Paperback: 120 pages
  • Publisher: Image Comics (October 15, 2013)

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11. Reread #10 The Giver

The Giver. Lois Lowry. 1993. Houghton Mifflin. 180 pages. [Source: Library]

It was almost December, and Jonas was beginning to be frightened. No. Wrong word, Jonas thought. Frightened meant that deep, sickening feeling of something terrible about to happen. Frightened was the way he had felt a year ago when an unidentified aircraft had overflown the community twice. He had seen it both times. Squinting toward the sky, he had seen the sleek jet, almost a blur at its high speed, go past, and a second later heard the blast of sound that followed. Then one more time, a moment later, from the opposite direction, the same plane.  

When I decided to dedicate my Fridays to rereads, I knew that I'd "have" to reread The Giver at some point. It is one of my favorite books. This will be my fourth time to review it on Becky's Book Reviews! I reviewed it in 2007, 2011, 2012. Honestly, I'm not sure there is anything more I can say about why this book is a must read. It has everything I look for in a great book: well-developed characters, interesting premise, good world-building, dialogue that draws me in and makes me think. 

Have you read The Giver? Have you read it more than once? Do you find the ending ambiguous? Have you read the sequels? Do you think they add to the story? Are you looking forward to the movie?

Favorite quotes:
"We don't dare to let people make choices of their own."
"Not safe?" The Giver suggested.
"Definitely not safe," Jonas said with certainty. "What if they were allowed to choose their own mate? And chose wrong? Or what if," he went on, almost laughing at the absurdity, "they chose their own jobs?'
"Frightening, isn't it? The Giver said.
Jonas chuckled. "Very frightening. I can't even imagine it. We really have to protect people from wrong choices."
"It's safer."
"Yes," Jonas agreed. "Much safer." (98-9)
"Do you love me?"
There was an awkward silence for a moment. Then Father gave a little chuckle. "Jonas, You, of all people. Precision of language, please!"
"What do you mean?" Jonas asked. Amusement was not at all what he had anticipated.
"Your father means that you used a very generalized word, so meaningless that it's become almost obsolete," his mother explained carefully.
Jonas stared at them. Meaningless? He had never before felt anything as meaningful as the memory.
"And of course our community can't function smoothly if people don't use precise language. You could ask, 'Do you enjoy me?' The answer is 'Yes,'" his mother said. "Or," his father suggested, "Do you take pride in my accomplishments?' And the answer is wholeheartedly 'Yes.'"
"Do you understand why it's inappropriate to use a word like 'love'?" Mother asked.
Jonas nodded. "Yes, thank you, I do," he replied slowly.
It was his first lie to his parents. (127)
© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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12. The Sweet Sharp Stylistic Art of Samurai Jack

When Samurai Jack burst onto the small screen in 2001, it introduced a boldly imaginative visual style to the often dreary realm of television animation. Other series have tried to imitate the flattened, angular graphics pioneered by the UPA studio during early ’50s. Samurai Jack succeeds in recapturing the essence of the UPA shorts because creator Genndy Tartakovsky and his artists understand that these highly stylized visuals require equally stylized movements.

The ongoing battle between heroic Jack and the evil shape-shifter Aku simultaneously evokes and spoofs the conventions of anime and Western live-action film. Long ago, Jack nearly destroyed Aku in a duel; in desperation, the wizard hurled the samurai far into the future, where Aku’s word is law. Jack fights robots, monsters, bounty hunters, etc. as he seeks to return to his own time, so he can prevent Aku’s rise to supremacy.

Check out the Samurai Jack DVD Set on Amazon

Make sure to click the source links since there are more images from each site!


Source: http://www.retornoanime.com/navaja-suiza-13-samurai-jack/



Source: http://squidgy.tumblr.com/post/1533854635/samurai-jack


Source: http://www.fanpop.com/clubs/samurai-jack/images/24714239/title/samurai-jack-screencap


Source: http://www.deviantart.com/morelikethis/collections/194863755?view_mode=2


Source: http://floobynooby.blogspot.com/2011/03/samurai-jack-background-art.html


Source: http://floobynooby.blogspot.com/2011/03/samurai-jack-background-art.html


Source: http://livlily.blogspot.com/2010/10/samurai-jack-tv-series-20012004.htmlsam01

Source: http://livlily.blogspot.com/2010/10/samurai-jack-tv-series-20012004.html


Source: http://livlily.blogspot.com/2010/10/samurai-jack-tv-series-20012004.html


Source: http://themagicofanimation.tumblr.com/post/38643409851/animationtidbits-samurai-jack-scott-wills


Source: http://themagicofanimation.tumblr.com/post/38643409851/animationtidbits-samurai-jack-scott-wills


Source: http://themagicofanimation.tumblr.com/post/38643409851/animationtidbits-samurai-jack-scott-wills



Source: http://animationbgs.blogspot.com/153

Source: http://animationbgs.blogspot.com/


Source: http://animationbgs.blogspot.com/


Source: http://animationbgs.blogspot.com/


Source: http://animationbgs.blogspot.com/


Source: http://www.tumblr.com/tagged/scott-wills


Source: http://madaboutcartoons.blogspot.com/2007/07/samurai-jack.html


Samurai Jack Painting Demos:


Source: http://blog.signalnoise.com/2010/09/22/samurai-jack-background-designs/


Source: http://blog.signalnoise.com/2010/09/22/samurai-jack-background-designs/
Pinterest Samurai Jack Background Art Link here.
And here…
And another link here…


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13. The Shade of the Moon: Susan Beth Pfeffer

Book: The Shade of the Moon: Life As We Knew It Series, Book 4
Author: Susan Beth Pfeffer (blog)
Pages: 304
Age Range: 12 and up

The shade of the moon is the fourth book in Susan Beth Pfeffer's Life As We Knew It series. Here are links to my reviews of the first three books: Life As We Knew It, the dead & the gone, and this world we live in. This review will contain spoilers of the earlier books. If you haven't read them, go now.

I loved Life As We Knew It. It's a post-apocalypse (while, during apocalypse) novel that I still think about sometimes, when I'm throwing away spoiled food, say, or watching a disaster movie. The main character, Miranda, started out a bit self-absorbed, but grew up over the course of the book. I liked book 2, the dead & the gone, very much, too. The second book featured a different character, Alex, and was set in New York (plenty of haunting imagery there). Book 3, in which Miranda and Alex ended up meeting, and falling in love, wasn't my favorite of the series, but I still found the world that Pfeffer created quite compelling. 

Book 4, the shade of the moon, is set 2-3 years after the events of this world we live in. The protagonist is Miranda's younger brother, Jon. Jon is living with his three-year-old half-brother, Gabe, and his stepmother, Lisa, in Sexton, an Enclave. The Enclaves are protected towns in which important people ("clavers") live, while most other survivors struggle to survive as "grubs". Basically, the clavers have rights and privileges, and the grubs don't. Jon, Lisa, and Gabe got in using "slips", special passes that Alex received in the dead & the gone, and gave to them as having the greatest need of the family. The remaining members of Jon's family, including Alex and Miranda (now married), live outside of Sexton, as grubs. 

I thought that Miranda was a little self-absorbed at the start of Life As We Knew It. But Jon is definitely worse. He's kind of a jerk, really, thinking of himself as inherently better than the grubs (some of whom are his relatives). And going along with some nasty things that his friends do, because his status as a "slip" is a bit more precarious than theirs. But starting out bad does give Jon plenty of room to improve over the course of the book. And he comes a long way. 

I think that Jon being, well, not such a nice guy muted some of the emotional resonance of the book for me. There's a scene in which Jon sees something devastating, and, well, I wasn't devastated. Because I wasn't in there with Jon, the same way I had been with Miranda and Alex in the first two books. Not until near the end of the book, anyway. 

And yet ... I read the shade of the moon in not much more than 24 hours, staying up late two nights in a row, which is a rare thing for me these days. I think that the societal aspects of the book are fascinating. How would people treat each other four years after a major apocalypse left billions dead? In a world of limited resources, would the dichotomy between the "haves" and the "have-nots" widen? Yes, I would think it would. Here's a key tidbit:

"But Jon knew better. Maybe everyone was equal, of had been before, but everyone didn't live equally. That was the way the system worked. Clavers had more because they deserved more. Grubs had only as much as they needed to survive, because their survival was important. Not essential, the way the claver survival was, but important enough to justify their being fed and sheltered. Grubs could be replaced. Clavers, except for Zachary's granddad, were irreplaceable." (Page 60-61)

Yikes! Tough times indeed. I think that giving Jon that perspective was the right choice on Pfeffer's part, because it was the strongest way to really get the point across to readers. But it did make me wonder a little why new girl Sarah, with different views, gave him the time of day. 

Pfeffer goes even further in making Jon a difficult protagonist. Without giving away any details, Jon is not a boy who treats girls well (at least at first). A brave choice on the author's part. Perhaps a learning opportunity for male readers (one can hope) on potential consequences (both for others, and for oneself, in terms of guilt). 

Personally, I think it's a testament to the power of the book, and the strength of Pfeffer's world-building, that I liked it in spite of Jon's flaws. I liked it better than this world we live in, actually. Perhaps because of the larger themes. 

the shade of the moon ends on a note of hope. Personally, I hope to see another book in the series in the future (though it's not necessary - things wrap up reasonably well in this book). Perhaps jumping forward a few years, until Gabe is a teen... 

Publisher: Harcourt (@HMHKids)
Publication Date: August 13, 2013
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher

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© 2013 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook

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14. Black City (Black City, #1), by Elizabeth Richards

Release Date: November 13th, 2012
Age Group: Young Adult
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons BYR
Source: Bought
Overall: 5 Monkeys
Interest: Dystopia, Paranormal, Series
Categories: Dystopia, Paranormal, Vampires, Romance
Read in August 2013

A dark and tender post-apocalyptic love story set in the aftermath of a bloody war.
In a city where humans and Darklings are now separated by a high wall and tensions between the two races still simmer after a terrible war, sixteen-year-olds Ash Fisher, a half-blood Darkling, and Natalie Buchanan, a human and the daughter of the Emissary, meet and do the unthinkable—they fall in love. Bonded by a mysterious connection that causes Ash’s long-dormant heart to beat, Ash and Natalie first deny and then struggle to fight their forbidden feelings for each other, knowing if they’re caught, they’ll be executed—but their feelings are too strong.
When Ash and Natalie then find themselves at the center of a deadly conspiracy that threatens to pull the humans and Darklings back into war, they must make hard choices that could result in both their deaths.
My Opinion:

I'm so glad I paid attention to the many reviews for Black City! If you think like I do, that there are so, so many new dystopian books coming out and you're getting a bit tired of them, and why don't authors just write something other than dystopias, thank think again about reading Black City

This is a book that can be qualified as Dystopia/Paranormal (much like the Juliette Chronicles by Tahereh Mafi), a genre on the rise. 

Black City is told from the two alternating POV's of Natalie and Ash (it's got to be at least the fourth book in a row I read with multiple POV's). Like any other dystopia, it's got its over-domineering government and the growing resistance, but what makes it so unique are the characteristics of both sides.

Natalie is the youngest daughter of the city's Emissary, something much like a mayor. She is human, and she's been brought up to believe that Darklings are bad creatures. Ash is a Darkling stuck on the human side of the town. He's what they call a twin-blood, the son of a Darkling mother and a human father. 
They meet under some very stressing circumstances, but through the book they manage to make it. Kinda.

We're told from the start that Natalie's got a scar along her chest, and it's this simple detail what will help Richards give the story a really great turn and closure. I won't say more about it, but that it was very well thought out.

This is a dark book, and I mean dark. The human government uses its power (and here I couldn't help but compare its Purian Rose to TGH's President Snow, they're so similar) to slowly wipe out the Darkling population. There are some pretty gruesome scenes, but it just makes the book that much better.

I just have one complaint: Somewhere to the third quarter of the book we're introduced to a new character, Evangeline. And she's a pretty important character. So much so, that it's her intervention what manages to twist the future of our characters in a significant way. I just wish we could have known about her sooner, or in a different way. Her appearance just felt too out of the blue to me.

There's a big secret surrounding Natalie's family; I loved learning it and can't wait to see how it influences the next books! Ash's secret is pretty big too, and it definitely helps make his story really interesting.

Black City's secondary characters enjoy the spotlight a lot too, so kudos to Richards for making intriguing secondary characters that readers will remember.

The book's political plot is very nicely built. Natalie will learn a lot, being the Emissary's daughter, and she'll have her own opinion made out by the end of the book. Beetle, Ash's best friend, has an important role in the Humans for Unity resistance. Even Beetle's aunt, Roach, is a character with a little of backstory.

All in all, a great read. For its 374 pages, I read it in two sittings. It was that great.
Happy reading,

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15. Middle Ground (2012)

Middle Ground. Katie Kacvinsky. 2012. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 336 pages. [Source: Review Copy]

Middle Ground is the sequel to Awaken. Maddie, our heroine, has had her one last chance to conform. So when she brings attention to herself in L.A. by speaking out against virtual school, she ends up in a detention center; her sentence is for six months. Most of the novel focuses on the detention center, and on how corrupt the system is. Will Maddie survive the torturous rehabilitation process?! Can she hold onto who she is and what she believes in most?

I really have enjoyed this series of books. I liked Kacvinsky's focus on the dangers of technology and addiction. It isn't that technology is bad if used responsibly, but, it can be so addictive. In this future world, technology is used to keep the populace content and conformable--to keep them from thinking, questioning, and possibly rebelling.

There is a romance, but, to me this is a secondary story almost.

© 2013 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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16. A fitting finale to the Silo trilogy; thought-provoking, action-packed and keeping you guessing all the way to the last page.


Review – Dust by Hugh Howey

Hugh Howey wraps up his trilogy that began with Wool and ShiftWool showed us a world beyond imagining, a world where everything was underground and the truth was hidden from everybody. Shift showed us how this world came into being and began to expose the truth. In Dust the truth must now be confronted and not everybody is ready to face it.

Unlike the previous two books Dust hasn’t been serialized which does change the pacing of the story. Unlike the previous two books I found Dust a bit slow to get started. This was partly due to the structure and also it had been a whole book since we last saw Juliette. However once things get going it is non-stop.

Juliette has returned to Silo 18 and is determined to get back to Solo and the kids in 17. Only now she is mayor and responsible for the lives of many. Meanwhile Donald is trying to prevent the plans he has exposed. But the truth will also expose Donald and it may already be too late to stop something which has planned for long ago.

What I loved about the the final book was that now that the truth about the silos had been exposed it wasn’t a fait accompli. Discovering the truth is one thing, delivering it is something else altogether. Some people do not want accept the truth, no matter what the consequences. Juliette must come to terms, not only with the truth she discovered, but the consequences learning this truth will have on others around her.

Howey delivers a fitting finale to the Silo trilogy; thought-provoking, action-packed and keeping you guessing all the way to the last page.

Buy the book here…

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17. Going Dark

I read two very dark stories in the same week. They were different genres: dystopian YA versus contemporary mystery. Both featured damaged protagonists. One kept me glued to the page. The other found me skimming to see how it ended without engaging me along the way.

The first was Julianna Baggott’s Pure. The dystopian setting is depressingly bleak. It takes place in a post-apocalyptic world where people have been fused to objects. Her world-building through choice of details made the story interesting and kept me reading. I can’t say I enjoyed it. It was tragic all the way through with no happy moments. The third person omniscient narrator traveled between co-protagonists, Pressia and Partridge, at a remove. The verbal camera also encompassed secondary characters that never fully came to life. They served as pawns to move the story forward. I never really felt a connection to the main characters, though I felt sympathy for their plight. None of the information reveals about how the story world developed were surprising. The terrible choice the heroine made at the end was treated almost clinically. I didn’t sense the anguish she should have felt. The ending was left open for a sequel.

Writers interested in learning more about world-building and unique vision should read Pure.

The second book was Gillian Flynn’s Dark Places. Her rich, narrative voice made the story fascinating to read. The protagonist is a child damaged by the murder of her family (allegedly by her brother). She was sympathetic yet tragic. I could appreciate why she turned out the way she did: a thief, a liar, a user. The story’s theme about exploiting the murder of others is strong. Flynn addressed the way survivors are cast into the spotlight and quickly forgotten and the macabre people who fixate on murders. The question of whether her brother committed the murders or not kept me turning pages to get to the truth. Four credible suspects were presented. The verbal camera moved between brother Ben, via third-person close up, the mother Patty via third person close up, the protagonist Libby via first person. In the end, the mystery was solved. I didn’t like the alternative last minute fifth suspect. There is one weird deviation to his POV at the end which didn’t add anything for me.

Writers interested in captivating narrative voice and page-turning, effective information reveals should read Dark Places.

You can learn as much from what you disliked about books as what you loved about them. Read both.

0 Comments on Going Dark as of 6/28/2013 9:35:00 AM
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18. Interview: Alaya Dawn Johnson

I actually met Alaya (‘rhymes with papaya’) Dawn Johnson at ALAN in Las Vegas last winter. She radiated an energy that was fresh and new to YA and I knew I wanted to interview her. Since then, she’s released The Summer Prince and, from the reviews I’ve been seeing, she’s been quite busy! Thankfully, I was recently able to connect with her for the following interview.

From GoodReads on The Summer Prince

The lush city of Palmares Três shimmers with tech and tradition, with screaming gossip casters and practiced politicians. In the midst of this vibrant metropolis, June Costa creates art that’s sure to make her legendary. But her dreams of fame become something more when she meets Enki, the bold new Summer King. The whole city falls in love with him (including June’s 221best friend, Gil). But June sees more to Enki than amber eyes and a lethal samba. She sees a fellow artist.

Together, June and Enki will stage explosive, dramatic projects that Palmares Três will never forget. They will add fuel to a growing rebellion against the government’s strict limits on new tech. And June will fall deeply, unfortunately in love with Enki. Because like all Summer Kings before him, Enki is destined to die.

Pulsing with the beat of futuristic Brazil, burning with the passions of its characters, and overflowing with ideas, this fiery novel will leave you eager for more from Alaya Dawn Johnson.

First, congratulations on the wonderful reviews you’ve been receiving!

Let’s start with a few short questions.

Where did you grow up?

Just outside of Washington, DC in Maryland.

Do you have any pets?

Not now, though I do have a lot of plants!

What do you enjoy watching on television?

I don’t watch much these days, but some of my favorite newer shows are Downton Abbey, Dance Academyalaya-johnson-c-alden-ford_custom-7df1507ada0d013149fb630635d806e238016ae9-s6-c30 (this Australian TV show about teens going to a dance academy…I have no idea why it’s so great, but it is), and a whole bunch of Korean dramas (in particular Sungkyunkwan Scandal and Scent Of A Woman).

 Meat or vegetables?

Vegetables! I was raised vegetarian, in fact, so I’ve never (deliberately) eaten meat.

Are there any books that stand out in your memory from your childhood?

Tons, but in particular I adored Fire and Hemlock by Diana Wynne Jones, Kindred by Octavia Butler, Tigana by Guy Gavriel Kay and The Lymond Chronicles by Dorothy Dunnett.

What book(s) are you in the middle of reading right now?

Too many! I’m reading The Passing Bells by Phillip Rock, which seems to be a proto-Downton Abbey, The Discovery And Conquest of Mexico by Bernal Diaz del Castillo (a memoir by one of the conquistadors) and Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel (the writing is so good).

There is so much complexity to Summer Prince I have to wonder how long it took you to write.

Thank you! The first draft took me about a year. The funny thing is that when I started the book, I’d somehow convinced myself that I could bang out a very rough draft in a month and then return to the project I was supposed to be working on. I took three weeks off from my life, basically, and wrote as much as I could. And I did write a significant chunk of the novel, but I realized how big and complicated the project was. I realized that I had to take a deep breath and focus on it for a much longer time than I’d thought at first. But I’m always over-ambitious when it comes to my writing speed. After the first draft, I spent about another year doing revisions. The writing could get intense–I would work for hours and only get out a couple of hundred words. But even a slow writer can finish a book if she does it consistently, and thank goodness!

What was the biggest challenge in writing The Summer Prince?

 Probably the hardest aspect of writing The Summer Prince was figuring out how to create a world that was complex and nuanced and very different from our own, integrate that with strong characters, all without breaking the story up with infodumps. Figuring out how to juggle all of those elements with some sort of economy and grace took years and many rewrites. I’m pleased with how it turned out in the end, but the complexity itself sometimes daunted me.

When I look at the title, I see you as referring to Enki as ‘The Summer Prince’ and not ‘The Summer King’. Why do you see him that way?

 A few characters in the book will reference Enki as a “moon prince” or a “summer prince.” I wanted to use that as the title, instead of the more obvious “Summer King”, because I wanted something that evoked the struggles between youth and old age that are so important in the novel. Because Enki is a character who dies young, and who chooses to do so. Calling him a “prince” gives him his power in a way that calling him a “king” doesn’t.

Which character is you in this book?

No character is exactly like me, though June and I definitely share some prominent characteristics. We are both obsessed with our respective arts, and very ambitious (though June’s attitudes at the beginning of the book are more extreme than my own). But I think I share with Bebel a more holistic appreciation of competition, and I very much admire Enki for his dedication to what he believes in, though I could never do what he does.

I tuned into some of my favorite Brasilian tunes while reading Summer Prince, but I’m wonder what songs you would put into a playlist for readers?

 So many songs! But among my favorites (many of which are mentioned in the book): “Roda Viva” by Chico Buarque, “Eu Vim Da Bahia” by João Gilberto (and everything else he wrote ever), “Sonho Meu” by Maria Bethânia, “Quilombo, O El Dorado Negro” by Gilberto Gil, “Velha Infancia” by Tribalistas (that whole album is great), “The Carimbaeo” by Nação Zumbi, “Life Gods” by Marisa Monte and Gilberto Gil, “Oba, Lá Vem Ela” by Jorge Ben, “Tudo Que Voce Podia Ser” by Simone and “O Leãozinho” by Caetano Veloso.

I have that Tribalista album. Love it!

You’ve literally turned the world upside down with people no longer living on the ground, women ruling the world and the sexual identity no longer existing as a boundary. The story questions the use of technology, and treatment of the poor. And, June’s main weapon is art. Why art?

 Possibly this is because I’m an artist, but I think that art is potentially the most powerful force in human culture, and certainly one of the most important ways that cultures express and change themselves. Think about iconic posters that have recruited for wars, or convinced people to support different causes or politicians. Art can reflect the zeitgeist, but I also think that it can create it. I’ve always wanted to write a novel about art and politics, and with June’s story I finally had that chance.

I hear you’re working on another YA project! What is it about?

 It’s very different, in some ways, from The Summer Prince–it’s set in the modern US, for one. And I’m drawing a little more on my personal experiences, since it takes place in Washington, DC at a private school in the midst of a flu pandemic. But like The Summer Prince it deals with race and class and politics and family troubles and first loves.

Obrigada!  I wish you much success and, I hope to see you at ALAN again!

Filed under: Authors, Interview Tagged: Alaya Dawn Johnson, Brasil, Dystopia, speculative fiction, Summer Prince

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19. "Gasland" and "Girl Meets Boy"

Have you seen GASLAND?

I finally watched it last night. The documentary had been on my "to watch" list since I heard about it. School and other obligations have kept me from watching a single movie for a long time.

Holy smoke. I want EVERYBODY in the country to watch this movie. The destruction of water systems, drinking water, livelihoods, farmland, human health to say nothing of ANIMAL health, is devastating. And the oil and gas companies don't seem to care because they're making soooo much money.

While I was watching the movie, I kept thinking, this is the new dystopia. We are creating the world we've seen in the Dystopian stories. It's like the world from "The Road" or from "Hunger Games." Frack enough of our countryside, and it looks possible. 

I wish I were kidding. 

And the new Matt Damon movie, Promised Land will be in Theaters everywhere January 4. We all better see it if we want to keep our country.

On a BRIGHTER NOTE, my short story "Mars at Night" is part of "Girl Meets Boy" and Kirkus Review named it one of "Best Teen Books"!! Whooeeee!  (Scroll to the bottom).

Do the two tie together? Yes...actually, the characters in my story "Mars at Night" live on. Some reviewers said they "need their own novel." Well, I've shifted and twisted them, and moved them from rural Iowa to rural Minnesota, and they have new names, but essentially, I think they will live on...and instead of fighting the invasion of hog factories ("Mars at Night") which is a moot point--it has happened; big factory farms have won except in small range-free and organic farms; what Maddie and Ben have to fight: Fracking and Frac-sand plants. Stay tuned.

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20. Reached (Matched #3)

Reached. Ally Condie. 2012. Penguin. 512 pages.

Reached is the third in the Matched trilogy. (The books are Matched, Crossed, and Reached.) I liked Crossed more than Matched, and I think I like Reached even more than Crossed. I can easily say that I LOVED both Crossed and Reached. The world-building continues in Reached, readers get to see more, learn more. It is narrated by Xander, Cassia, and Ky. New characters continue to be introduced as well. (Lei, Leyna, Anna, Oker, etc.) The time for the Rising has come. The big, big sign of the Rising's coming was the appearance of the plague. When Xander, a medic, sees a toddler with the plague, he knows the time has come, that the Pilot will start the rebellion quickly. He knows that everyone who is a part of the rebellion are all waiting to hear the Pilot's voice. Ky and Cassia aren't aware of the coming Plague and the danger that poses to everyone who isn't immune, but, they are both eager to see the Society brought down. So Reached is essentially a compelling novel about the breakdown of a society. The plague is supposedly "helping" the cause (the rebellion) for it is the Rising who holds enough of the Cure for the public, the Rising that can provide immunizations for those not yet sick. But the plague has a mind of its own not really caring about either side, and the mutations from the original plague mean the Rising is in big, big trouble for they have no cure yet to offer the public. And no cure means people dying, a lot of people dying as they wait for the scientists and doctors and researchers to find something--anything--to find a cure.

Reached is definitely the MOST exciting of the trilogy. I loved, loved, loved reading Xander's narrative. And I love seeing the characters through his eyes. I liked Ky's narrative too, especially at the beginning because it gave readers a way to stay in touch with Indie. And Cassia is still Cassia.

I enjoyed reading a trilogy series where my love and appreciation grew with each book. As much as I enjoyed Hunger Games, I can't say that I loved the other books in the trilogy to the same degree. Especially the last book in the trilogy.

Read Reached
  • If you like dystopias
  • If you like YA romance
  • If you like love triangles
  • If you enjoy reading about epidemic diseases

© 2012 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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21. Breathe by Sarah Crossen

Greenwillow, 2012.
It's dangerous to go outside.  The land is barren, the weather can be savage, and only those brave or wealthy enough even think about venturing into this vast wilderness.  But they stay close to the Pod.  If not, they face a cruel death...

The Pod.  A city encased with a protective shield.  But it contains something that you won't find outside...oxygen.  It comes at a cost, but it keeps the citizens alive.  A company called Breathe was the first to generate artificial oxygen to keep humanity alive when nature failed.  It keeps the Pod's oxygen at a minimally survivable level, but there are limitations.  No one can walk more than three mph (unless you have a tank).  Everyone has a certain allotment, and if you want more, the cost is high.  And like all cities, there exists a hierarchy.

Zone One is closest to the outside, where the Premiums live.  Quinn is a part of this society, but more than that, his father is the CEO of Breathe.  Quinn lives a life of privilege, and although he sports the Premium tattoo, he doesn't truly live the lifestyle.  He wants to be known for who he is and separate himself from his father's shadow.  It can be tough...

Zone Two is the second tier where the Auxiliaries live.  They work hard and do all they can to transcend their societal level and live more comfortably.  Bea understand this all too well.  Why?  Because her best friend is a Premium, and although Quinn doesn't know it, she's crossed the line between friendship and love...

Zone Three is the inner city, rife with poverty, stealing, and danger.  Alina has dedicated herself to stealing.  Anything she can find to help out the resistance is a challenge she's willing to take.  She knows the consequences, but she also knows some tricks about living in a world where oxygen is kept at a bare minimum.  Her training and stealth allows her to go beyond what Auxiliaries have and what Premiums believe is their right...

Their lives will meet and their survival is at stake.  Trust is tantamount, but will their prejudices keep them from aligning themselves and can they truly cross this boundary with each other? 

Crossan writes a dystopic novel not only about survival but also about political intrigue, rebellion, and human rights.  The subject in this book is new, and the reader gets to live vicariously in a completely different dystopian society uncommon in this genre.  Written in three distinct voices, Crossan allows the reader to see multiple points of view as well as in the minds of each character, making them all too real.  This is an excellent literary device, which potentially creates character bias and favoritism which is the reader's choice.  The rich characterization paired with a fast-paced plot make this another book to place in the hands of those craving more dystopia teen lit.  Recommended. 

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22. Two Paths Down the Dystopian Road - Safekeeping and Legend

Legend (Legend, #1)
Putnam, 2011

The year is 2130, and the Republic with its Primo Elector is now in control.  The citizens of the different parts of the new Los Angeles must fight against two fronts – the colonies trying to destroy the regime and the terrible sickness that decimates the poorer sectors of this new nation. 

June doesn’t know about this struggle.  She and her brother Matias live in a high rise, literally above all the chaos the Republic tries to hide.  She and Matias are some of the precious few to receive the vaccinations to ensure their health.  Although her parents died when she was little, Matias takes more than excellent care of her.  In fact, June is the only one to go through the Trial with a perfect score, leading her into the ranks of those loyal to the Republic.

Day lives a life of theft, deceit and invisibility.  Lurking in the shadows of the poor sectors, he sees the lack of food and healthcare take the population into despair.  The only way he knows how to alter the situation is to fight against the Republic and steal what should be shared with all citizens – the vaccinations needed against this new outbreak.  The Republic knows about him, but his elusiveness has created a shadow figure for them.  They know he’s there, but not what he looks like, where he lives, or how he manages to do the things he does.

June and Day’s lives will emerge one fateful night that will send them both on a quest for revenge…
Marie Lu writes an excellent dystopia novels that fans of this genre will fly through.  Her characters are colorful and jump out of the page, but it’s the future of the world as we knew it that permeates the reader’s emotional response.  Told in two voices, the reader gets to intimately know both sides of society as well as be privy to each character’s thoughts and personal lives.  If you have readers who clamor for more dystopia titles, hand them this one....


Fiewel and Friends, 2012

Radley remembers her parents dropping her off at the airport so she help with relief work for the children of Haiti.  It’s a passion of hers and has decidedly changed her life, but not as much as when she returns back to the United States.

Upon arrival, she knows something is wrong.  First of all her parents are nowhere to be found.  Secondly, the way the soldiers treat her after she lands is beyond the typical TSA thing most passengers coming back from overseas deal with.  There’s a sense of urgency, danger.  Radley returns to a different United States than when she left.   

The American’s People’s Party has taken over the country.  With the assassination of the President, the United States is left in turmoil with a renegade government trying to take control through force.  Radley realizes this right away.  Now there are curfews, bank accounts are drains, and travel restrictions are tight.  There are also APPs everywhere, catching those that break the rules and beating them.  

All Radley wants is to go home and find her parents.  But her path leads to even more devastation, both emotional and physical.  Everyone is desperate, and personal survival above others is dominant.  Little food, roaming soldiers, broken homes.  Radley has heard Canada is a place of safekeeping, so that is where she begins her trek…and also where she encounters people and places that will change her life.

Karen Hesse is a beautiful writer and this is more than apparent in this YA dystopia novel.  Her words blend with the personal photographs she uses that are scattered throughout the book.  This book is also unique in its genre.  Hesse centers her book around the journey and how the main character changes emotionally through it from the people she meets and the places she stays.  While other dystopian books have a flair of action-packed situations with daring and fearless characters, Hesse’s book takes a gentle approach, looking more at the weakness of her character and how she becomes stronger.  It will take a different reader who can adjust to this change in genre to  enjoy this pictorial novel with a nearly poetic flair.   

0 Comments on Two Paths Down the Dystopian Road - Safekeeping and Legend as of 3/21/2013 11:24:00 AM
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23. Orleans (2013)

Orleans. Sherri L. Smith. 2013. Penguin. 336 pages.

Orleans is intense and I suspect unforgettable. The novel is set after the Delta and/or the Gulf Coast have been cut off from the rest of the United States. (There being an actual wall to prevent people from entering/exiting.) The reason is simple: Delta Fever is too contagious and there isn't a cure. Everyone is infected with the fever, but each blood type responds differently to the disease or virus. This separates everyone into groups or tribes according to blood type.

Fen, our heroine, is O positive. But soon after the novel begins, her tribe is attacked. Her chieftain, Lydia, goes into premature labor because of the attack. The baby survives, she doesn't. Fen and the baby are what is left of this tribe, and Fen is desperate to provide a better life for this baby. Her goal is ambitious and dangerous. She wants to find a way to smuggle the baby out before it catches the fever. She wants to reach the wall.

Sometimes helping, sometimes hindering, Fen's ambitions is a young scientist named Daniel. Daniel dreams big too. He is desperate to find a cure. That is why he is there illegally.

Orleans is incredibly intense and impossible to put down. If you enjoy disaster and/or survivor fiction, then this one is a must read! It is extremely creepy in places, which I think will definitely appeal to some readers! But even if you don't like horror elements, you may find yourself hooked.

Read Orleans
  • If you enjoy great world-building
  • If you enjoy meeting strong heroines
  • If you enjoy survivor or disaster novels
  • If you enjoy dystopian or post-apocalyptic fiction
  • If you like darker stories with some horror elements

© 2013 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

2 Comments on Orleans (2013), last added: 3/29/2013
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24. Sever (2013)

Sever. Lauren DeStefano. 2013. Simon & Schuster. 371 pages.

Sever was certainly an intense read. If I had to describe it in just one word, I'd say it was bittersweet. This is the final book in the trilogy which perhaps explains why to a certain degree.

The novel opens with Rhine recovering, Linden and Cecily are determined to care for her. Linden may not believe the "outrageous" claims about his own father that Rhine is sharing with him and his oh-so-young wife. But. He still cares what happens to her. And since Rhine is so unwilling to go back to the mansion, and since she isn't strong enough to leave on her own, he comes up with an alternative arrangement. He has a mysterious uncle, an uncle that his first love, Rose, adored; Rhine can go to stay with him until she's ready to leave. Rhine is still determined to find her twin brother.

This allows Rhine time to contemplate how she feels about Linden, to decide if she really wants to annul her marriage with him, to make plans on how to find her brother and possibly stop him from traveling down a dark and dangerous path. While there she begins to learn more about who she is, who her brother is, who her parents were. Her parents apparently have a reputation in the scientific world--a legacy. And some of what she learns changes her...

The world Rhine has lived in has always been ugly...and Sever is a balance between hope and despair.

Read Sever
  • If you have read the first two in the series (Wither; Fever)
  • If you enjoy dystopian thrillers
  • If romance isn't the most important element in your science fiction!
© 2013 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

2 Comments on Sever (2013), last added: 4/28/2013
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25. The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey

2013. G.P Putnam's Sons (imprint of Penguin)

 They came way before, nestling into the quiet brains of the sleeping, waiting and biding their time.... Eighteen years later, they showed themselves, their ship hovering like a giant green eye in the sky, silent. Everyone watched it for ten days, hoping for some kind of communication or sign. Their unease grew, but if these aliens were trying to kill, wouldn't they have done it by now?

On the tenth day, the attack began. Electricity and power shut down by a massive EMP. At first people were thinking that it would be restored in a few hours, but it didn't happen. The mayhem grew, causing worldwide panic, and few died.

 Then the second wave hit. This was planned methodically and with precision. The result were giant tsunamis taking out cities, countries, entire chunks of the earth as we knew it. Millions died, and without any electricity there was no hope of rescue. But they weren't done yet.

 The third wave was the most deadly. They used nature to attack humanity, spreading a deadly virus that killed. If the second wave didn't kill you, this one would. Millions more were killed in this wave, with a few who lived through it because of resistance to the virus. Humans became an endangered species.

The fourth wave was the first direct assault from the aliens. The silencers...tracking down humanity and killing them point blank, no questions asked. They used drones and foot soldiers to locate colonies and wipe them out. No mercy. Whatever you called them, they were the enemy.

Cassie saw her family die, and now alone, she struggles to survive, holding the last remnants of her old life, a teddy bear her little brother loved. Beside the bear is her protector, an M-16. Cassie knows survival depends only on yourself, never any other person. One will make you invisible, two will make you a target.

Little did she know that there was a 5th wave, the deadliest of all...

Told in four teen perspectives, Yancy writes an incredibly in-depth dystopian novel that is noticeably more sophisticated. The reader walks beside Cassie, a tough kick-A girl who knows the reality even when it frightens her; her little brother Sam, an innocent kid who wants protection but becomes the ultimate pawn; Ben, a popular athletic boy who finds himself defending his life and those of others as a soldier; and Evan, who escaped attacks through isolation and ingenuity. Although it is the characters that capture the readers' attention,it is the psychology behind the attacks and how it affects survivors that gives this novel an edge, pulling the reader through the story until realization dawns on them about what exactly is happening. The pace is fast and the writing is spot on for anyone wanting hardcore dystopian science fiction. You had better buy not two copies, but three or four because they will be quickly checked out and on demand. The book trailers are equally compelling (found on http://www.rickyancey.com/ ). HIGHLY recommended!!

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