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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: Dystopian, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 195
1. Book Review: The Selection By Keira Cass

For thirty-five girls, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime. The opportunity to escape the life laid out for them since birth. To be swept up in a world of glittering gowns and priceless jewels. To live in a palace and compete for the heart of gorgeous Prince Maxon. But for America Singer, being Selected is a nightmare. It means turning her back on her secret love with Aspen, who is a

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2. Red Queen: Review

I am sad to say that Red Queen is yet another bland and wholly unexceptional entry in YA fantasy. What starts out with potential is ultimately unable to fulfill the promise of its premise. Here you have the story of a common girl, Mare, a Red, who finds herself in a position to make an actual impact against the brutal oppression of the supernaturally powered Silvers, and yet the story is one long slog fest of tired trope after another. The writing is competent, yet far from stunning. But it was the convenience of the plot that first got my hackles raised. In the space of a single day Mare: is selected from obscurity to get a job serving in the castle after a chance run in with one of the princes (he is obviously instantly enamored of her) is sent out to serve the most important families in the... Read more »

The post Red Queen: Review appeared first on The Midnight Garden.

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3. Thursday Review: WHEN WE WAKE and WHILE WE RUN by Karen Healey

Summary: When We Wake--and the companion/sequel While We Run--are the newest spec fic/sci-fi books by Karen Healey, whose books The Shattering (reviewed here) and Guardian of the Dead (reviewed here) I really enjoyed. If you're already a Karen... Read the rest of this post

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4. TURNING PAGES: RITE OF REJECTION, by SARAH NEGOVETICH

The Pineapple Express, she is expressing, and, at least on TV, there is extreme weather and pouring, driving, spattering rain. Here at home, it's just... like... raining. Which sometimes, despite all drought-without-end claims to the contrary, it... Read the rest of this post

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5. Book Review: The Last Wild/The Dark Wild

I read both of these books together, so I'm going to do what I rarely do and review them together. If you haven't read the first book, you might want to stop after my review of The Last Wild, because my review of The Dark Wild will, of necessity, have spoilers for the first book.



The Last Wild
by Piers Torday

In a dystopian future, all animals have died out from an illness called "red-eye" that mutated to spread throughout the animal populations. The only animals still living are a few hardy species like cockroaches. Even the bees are dead, which means that there are no more food crops. The only food left is a synthetic food called Formul-A, and the only supplier of Formul-A is the Facto corporation, essentially giving them control of the remaining human population.

Twelve year old Kester Jaynes has been incarcerated in Spectrum Hall Academy for Challenging Children for six years. The Academy is just as horrible as its name makes it sound: the children live regimented, restricted lives, and breaking the rules is punished by solitary confinement. Kester can't even complain: he hasn't been able to speak since his mother died. The words just won't come out.

Kester keeps company with a cockroach at lunch, but one day he's surprised to hear the cockroach speaking to him in his head. Shortly after that, one hundred pigeons break through his window and help him escape from Spectrum Hall. Kester discovers that Facto lied: the animals are not all dead. There is a group of them — a Wild — still living on the edge of civilization, and Kester has a unique ability to talk to them through a kind of mental connection. Between the red-eye virus and the cullers sent out by Facto to kill any remaining animals, the Wild is in grave danger. Kester sets off with the pigeons, the cockroach, a stag, and a wolf cub to find his father, who used to be a vet, and try to find a cure for the red-eye.

If all this sounds a bit unbelievable, it is, but that's ok. This isn't the kind of book that has to be realistic. The characters and the situations are somewhat exaggerated, like you might find in a Roald Dahl or a Lemony Snicket book, with the same kind of dark humor found in those books.

The main characters are Kester and a girl named Polly, whom he meets along the way, and various animals. Kester and Polly are good characters, but the animals are really the best thing about this book. Torday has done an outstanding job of giving the animals unique voices that really fit their personalities. Kester develops through the story, as he learns to be self-reliant and to take responsibility.

The pacing is good, and the plot keeps you turning pages, as Kester, Polly and the animals go from one situation to another as they try to make their way to the city to find Kester's dad. The Last Wild is a unique and interesting book, and a good read. I've read a lot of books, and I can honestly say that I haven't read anything quite like it.

Diversity?

There isn't really any diversity that I saw in the book. In fact, in a few cases I was bothered that some of the villains had impediments or physical characteristics exaggerated in a negative way for comic effect. For example, the evil headmaster stutters.

Who would like this book?

Middle-grade readers, particularly those who like animal fiction. Be aware that The Last Wild is a dark book, and there are deaths; some animals are killed by evil people in front of Kester and Polly. Sensitive children who are bothered by such things may want to give it a pass.

I suspect that this book would have strong appeal for fans of the Warriors series. It's a very different kind of book, but I think that Warriors fans would appreciate not only the animal characters, but also the dark conflicts in a dangerous world, the Wild community, the theme of personal sacrifice, and the well-paced plot.






The Dark Wild
by Piers Torday

Kester and Polly have saved the Wild, and helped Kester's dad find a cure for the red-eye virus. But the Facto corporation isn't going to give up their control of the world and everything they've worked for so easily. Selwyn Stone, the head of Facto, wants something more than to kill all the animals. He wants what Polly has, the secret she swore to her parents that she'd never reveal.

Other factions are also after the secret, and Polly escapes into the city to protect the secret. Kester sets off after her, to help and protect her, but before he can find her he discovers another Wild — an army of bitter, angry animals living under the city, who are determined to destroy the human race. Kester is caught in the middle, and must try to find a way to stop the Dark Wild, while also saving Polly and the animals of his Wild from Facto.

The Dark Wild is a gripping read, and just as thrilling as The Last Wild. In the first book, Kester had to learn to be a leader, but in this one he learns something much more difficult: the value of loyalty, personal heroism, and sacrifice. Other characters develop as well, particularly the wolf cub, who is beginning to grow up and become an adult wolf.

It's also just as dark as the first book, if not more so. In one painful scene, Kester, as a prisoner, has to watch Selwyn Stone taxidermy a squirrel who had been one of Kester's friends. The squirrel was already dead, killed earlier in the book, but it's quite a horrifying scene.

Some things are not resolved by the end of the book, so there may be another book on the way.


FTC required disclosure: Review copy sent by the publisher to enable me to write this review. The bookstore links above are affiliate links, and I earn a very small percentage of any sales made through the links. Neither of these things influenced my review.



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6. The Mime Order: Review

Well, this one took me completely by surprise. I had enjoyed The Bone Season, but with reservations, considering how long it took me to really understand the incredible world Samantha Shannon has built for us. It took me very little time at all, however, to disappear into the pages of this second installment of the genre bending series. At once futuristic and Victorian, The Mime Order is a fantastical, dystopian, paranormal murder mystery, and I couldn’t get enough of it. This a lush and opulent storyworld, one that unfolds in intricate detail and rewards the reader for their patience. It is perfect for character readers and for anyone who would love a series that offers a “crash course” in the nuances of its world (like me! I am one of those people!). Reading this, and even though it is third person, I felt like I was walking with Paige through... Read more »

The post The Mime Order: Review appeared first on The Midnight Garden.

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7. "The Giver," The Godmother


I was on a recent business trip and wandered into the airport bookstore. Always dangerous. I can rarely keep my purchase contained to just one book, even when I'm traveling. This time I was able to squeeze out with one literary magazine, a terribly thick nonfiction book, and "The Giver" by Lois Lowry.

I picked up "The Giver" because it had the gold Newberry Medal Award sticker on its cover and a fascinating illustration of an old man (not to mention the bare tree limbs that also look like crackles of lightning that merge with the old man's scraggly beard). It wasn't until after I read the back cover that I noticed that next to these copies of the book was another grouping with the same title but a cover that had the two hot teens on it with the blurb "Now a major motion picture!" 

Being the book snob that I am, I almost put it back. I just don't like jumping into a book because it is already popular or because a movie is coming out. In fact, it almost ruins it for me. I like to find a book and love it all on its own long before someone tries to ruin it by making a movie of it (which I will inevitably get super excited to see, then afterward complain about all the details the screen version got wrong). And I never, if at all possible, buy a copy of a book that touts "now a major motion picture."

"The Giver" was a fairly thin novel, so when I settled into my flight I pulled it out first. What piqued my interest the most was that I knew absolutely nothing about it other than what the lovely jacket with the old man on it had hinted. I love going into books like that, don't you? When there are no expectations, no preconceived ideas, no pre-knowledge of plot lines.

As I got into it I saw that it was another dystopian YA book, but it was well done. Interesting. Held my attention. But the focus was a bit narrow and it ended somewhat abruptly and left me a little unfulfilled. I couldn't help but compare it to "Matched," "Hunger Games," and "Divergence." It had the same feel, but not quite the complexity of the others. 

On the other hand, it felt ... clean. Clean like contemporary furniture or modern architecture. The plot line was direct, not overly embellished, and structurally sound, with a beauty coming from the complexity of its spare but perfect balance.

"The Giver" felt like the grandmother, the genesis, of all the others. The forbearer.

When I got home I did some research on Lois Lowry and I found that she is indeed considered the godmother of this type of book. I also found out that she wrote three subsequent novels of a similar vein with different characters, and then a fourth that wove all of their stories together. But the most interesting point was that she wrote these four books not as a preconceived series, but as what I can only describe as sister-books, related but individual, between many other novels and publications over some 20 years.

This may all be old news to many of you, but it was a delicious revelation to me.

I'm glad I found "The Giver," in spite of the fact that I must give credit to the movie for bringing even this Newberry Award edition to my attention. Because without the film, the book wouldn't have been in the airport for me to find.

I'm eager now to pick up "The Giver"'s mates and, I must admit, I'm curious about the movie. 

But I'll be sure to read all the books before seeing the film, so that I have plenty to complain about at dinner afterward.
***

Have you been moved by "The Giver"? Eager for or dreading the movie adaptation? 
OR
What book has recently surprised you?

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8. Visions of the Future: A Post-Apocalyptic Blog Tour, featuring Caragh O'Brien

First of all, huge thanks to Gina Gagliano at First Second/Macmillan, who set us up with Caragh O'Brien on this blog tour--Tanita and I are both fascinated by the topic and love a good post-apocalyptic vision of the earth. (Um, in fiction only,... Read the rest of this post

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9. Strong Female Characters in Dystopian Worlds

I want to talk about strong female characters in dystopian worlds, but right off the bat, I’m going to be difficult and say, “Whoa. Whoa. Whoa. What do we mean by strong exactly?”

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10. Do You Write for the Market? Or Yourself? Or Both?


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Do you write for the market? Or do you just write novels, picture books and articles for yourself?

You’ll hear the advice both ways:
Write what you want to write so you can write the truest book you can write.

Write with the market in mind.

It depends on your writing goals.
If your writing is self-expression and you have other means of monetary support, then please yourself!
If your goal is a career as a writer, and becoming a writer who makes a living wage, then the answer is more nuanced. It’s not just write for the market; you must write what you want to write. But you must also find your audience.

Writers who have a long career seldom start off with a bang. (I once went to a conference where every speaker had sold his/her first book to the first editor who saw it. I went home and cried.) Instead, it’s a slow build of an audience who comes to your work one at a time. This means your writing is improving while your audience is growing.

However, this doesn’t give you the pass on considering the market and your audience.

Consider Your Audience

What is your audience reading? What is popular? That’s often the question that writers ask themselves and it’s a valuable one. Knowing the current market is vital. But you must go deeper and ask, “Why is my audience reading this type of book?”

For YA literature, for example, dystopian literature has been wildly popular for the last five years or so. Why? Because in times of upheaval, people reexamine their identity and challenge the very foundations of civilization–which is exactly the task every generation faces as they come to adulthood. Who are they? What will their life be like?

Are dystopian novels dead? This is an interesting take on how the genre is overrun with cliches.

Are dystopian novels dead? Click on the image for an interesting take on how the genre is overrun with cliches from uzerfriendly.com


Perhaps a simplistic reason, but the idea here is to look under the surface of what is popular to find the reason for the popularity. Once you know the deeper reason, then address THAT in your next book. And do it in a new, fresh, exciting way.

When I approach an editor’s revision letter, I do the same thing. I don’t do every thing the editor asks for. Instead, I look for the deeper, perhaps unspoken concerns, and address those. Editors don’t need to be right; they just need to provoke you to move from your stubborn position and do something even more wonderful than they ever imagined. That’s what I’m asking you to do here. Look at trends in the marketplace–and transcend them. Find a way to answer the deeper concerns in a way that only YOU could do.

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11. The Maze Runner Series by James Dashner

The Maze Runner (Book 1) Age Range: 12 and up Grade Level: 7 and up Series: The Maze Runner Series (Book 1) Paperback: 375 pages Publisher: Delacorte Press; Reprint edition (August 24, 2010) If you ain’t scared, you ain’t human. When Thomas wakes up in the lift, the only thing he can remember is his name. He’s surrounded by strangers—boys whose memories are also gone. Nice to meet ya,

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12. TURNING PAGES: NIGHT SKY by SUZANNE & MELANIE BROCKMANN

It's not every day you read a book that reads like... a movie. Though the book took a little more than ninety minutes to get through, from start to finish I kept muttering "movie." Even the cover has cinematic aspects (though I don't love it, and... Read the rest of this post

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13. The Body Electric: Review

Raise your hands if you enjoy any of the following: Conspiracy theories! Fighting the man! Technology in the future! Androids! What it means to be a human! …or embodied! …or an individual subject! Playing “catch that allusion” re: sci-fi as a genre! Because The Body Electric thinks about all of these things, and if these are things you are also interested in thinking about, you’re in for a good time, I promise. While I wasn’t totally in love with everything in this book (and I’ll get to that), the book does a lot of things right: it entertains many interesting questions, features solid world-building, and is written beautifully. And those aspects were enough to make my readerly experience a positive one. Here’s the premise: our heroine, Ella Shepherd, lives in postwar Malta in the new city of New Venice, the site of a new global government. Shortly after Ella discovers that she... Read more »

The post The Body Electric: Review appeared first on The Midnight Garden.

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14. TURNING PAGES: ROSE EAGLE, by JOSEPH BRUCHAC

It's a blustery, rainy day, and I have hot tea and lemon and have just finished a novella I've been looking forward to for weeks. All is well in the Wonderland treehouse, people. Happy, happy times. I'm generally not attracted to prequels as much as... Read the rest of this post

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15. Guest Post by Isaac Solomon, Author of Emanuel Stone and The Phoenix Shadow

Today, Isaac Solomon is visiting with a guest post about terrorism and social media.  What do you think?  What are your thoughts on social media and what’s the impact on organizing social rebellion?

“How terrorists will utilize social media in the World of Emanuel Stone in 2024.”

By Isaac Solomon

EMANUEL STONE AND THE PHOENIX SHADOW

In the dystopian world of 2024 with widespread lawlessness, social, political and economic chaos, terrorists will have ‘ramped’ up the use of social media in all its forms to further their sickening agenda. The effectiveness of mass communication for evil is documented in recent history; the Arab Spring, the UK riots and dozens of conflicts internationally are galvanized simply by the use of social media.

Cheap and accessible

Social media’s convenience, affordability and global reach – platforms including YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, television and audio recordings are key tools used by terrorist groups who have developed sophisticated mass media communication strategies. No doubt by 2024 other media will supersede the top three.

Target audience

In the broken world of Emanuel Stone social media is employed as a means of recruitment, manipulation, indoctrination and control of converts/followers. Preying on the vulnerable and disaffected, using an age old tactic terrorists of the future will exploit fears while promoting selfish vanity and pride to destabilize society. Research has shown that troubled adolescents demonstrating obsessive-compulsive behaviour, depression, generalized and social anxiety, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, introversion, and other maladaptive behaviours tend to suffer more from internet addiction.

Anonymity

Cyber warfare thrives in the shadows and secret places. Even with increased security IT measures, extremists of the future will devise greater means of anonymous communication. With access to substantial finances, intellectual capital and political support in some instances, it is likely that fanatics will continue to use and develop comparable technologies that may even supersede some national capabilities. Highly advanced hacking software, disposable mobile phones as well as embedded information are strategies that will escalate.

Fuels societal dysfunction

It is not unreasonable to foresee that terrorists of 2024 will go all out to captivate the minds of people young and old – and for this social media in all its forms visual and aural will continue to be a key weapon of warfare. So well they employ the old adage: ‘Monkey see, monkey do!’ What people watch, write and listen to is what they will eventually play out.

About the book:

“Tragedy often gives birth to courage.” In the beginning life was sweet for the Nottingham teenager Emanuel Stone, until a gruesome triple killing changed his young life forever. Plagued and tormented by terrifying dreams and nightmares, Emanuel struggles in his grief to find meaning and hope. In the chaos and near anarchy of 2024 will his young heart ever heal? Will there be a purpose for his life after all? Meanwhile, thousands of miles away from the mountains of Peru to a sleepy Scottish village, a drama of love, betrayal, deceit and intrigue is unfolding. In a bizarre twist Emanuel finds himself unwittingly drawn into a vortex of international terrorism. Just who are the old man and the stunning blonde in the apartment next door?

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16. TURNING PAGES: THE LAST WILD BOY, by Hugh MacDonald

This novel reminds me of Lois Lowry's THE GIVER, Margaret Atwood's THE HANDMAID'S TALE and, peripherally, BUMPED by Megan McCafferty. It has echoes of the style of AMONG THE HIDDEN by Margaret Peterson Haddix and Jeanne DePrau's THE CITY OF EMBER as... Read the rest of this post

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17. Book Review: Rebel Heart


Rebel Heart
Dust Lands Book 2
by Moira Young

Warning: this review may contain spoilers for the first book, Blood Red Road. If you haven't read Blood Red Road, I highly recommend it! It's about an incredibly tough heroine on a quest to save her brother in a post-apocalyptic wasteland. 

In Blood Red Road, Saba had one goal: find and save her twin brother Lugh from the people who took him. Saba knew that once she found Lugh, everything would be all right. But everything is most definitely not all right. Lugh and Saba have both been changed by the traumatic things they experienced, and the bond that connected them their whole lives seems to be broken and unrepairable.

Saba and Lugh, along with younger sister Emmi and another young man, Tommo, are on their way west to start a new life. Jack, whom Saba recently discovered is her heart's desire, separated from them to take a hard journey to deliver bad news, but he promised to meet them in the west. Saba is desperate to go west and find Jack again, but the group is stuck in the Waste, waiting for an injured horse to heal.

Then word comes that the Tonton, so recently defeated by Saba and her friends, have a new leader, who is cleansing the land of everyone except his own followers, killing or driving out the weak and the old, and taking the young and healthy. What's worse, Jack has been seen with the Tonton and may be one of them. Saba can't believe that Jack would be a part of such horrors, and she's determined to go back and find the truth, and help if she can.

Like Blood Red Road, Rebel Heart is a roller coaster of a story that grabs you and won't let go. Saba is one of the best YA heroines I've ever read. She's tough, oh yes, she's tough, but she also has heart and depth and an unshakeable resolve. Saba is a flawed heroine. She makes mistakes, she's not always kind, and she sometimes lets her single mindedness blind her. But Saba is a person who cares deeply, and would do anything for her family and her friends.

As with the first book, Rebel Heart is told in first person in Saba's distinctive voice and dialect, which is a little difficult to read at first, but it doesn't take long to seem natural, and it's such an integral part of the book that it's hard to imagine this book without it. The entire book is also written without quotation marks. All dialog is simply written out as part of the text with nothing to set it off. This also seems odd at first, but you get used to it and don't notice it. The biggest effect, to me, is that with the breakneck pace of the novel, the lack of quotation marks to slow the eye down contributes to a feeling of going downhill without brakes.

Overall, Rebel Heart and its predecessor, Blood Red Road, are excellent books that will have strong appeal to anyone who enjoys dystopian YA literature. Although more post-apocalyptic than dystopian, there are some dystopian elements in the Tonton society ruled by their new charismatic leader, the Pathfinder, and the book has a dystopian feel to it.

Rebel Heart ends on a bit of a cliffhanger, and the third book, Raging Star, is due out May 13. I can't wait to read it!

Who would like this book:

Anyone who enjoys young adult dystopian books and who doesn't mind the unusual punctuation and dialect.

Rebel Heart is a 2013 Cybils Awards Nominee. The first book, Blood Red Road, was the 2011 Cybils winner for YA Science Fiction & Fantasy.

Get it from:
Audiobook:

Rebel Heart is available as an audiobook from Audible.com. I haven't yet listened to the audiobook, but I did listen to the audiobook for Blood Red Road and thought it was very well done. Narrator Heather Lind did an excellent job. There appears to also be a version narrated by Moira Young, but Audible tells me it isn't available in my area, so I suspect it's the Canadian version. The links below are to the Heather Lind narrated version.
FTC required disclosure: Reviewed from purchased copy. The bookstore links above are affiliate links, and I earn a very small percentage of any sales made through the links. Neither of these things influenced my review.

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18. Meet a New YA Star, Tora From “Burn Out”

Seventeen-year-old Tora Reynolds is one of the last survivors on Earth when the sun starts to burn out way ahead of schedule. She is tough and sarcastic which has helped her to survive, yet she also has a vulnerable side that comes out when she comes across fellow survivors.

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19. Spotlight–A Girl Called Fearless by Catherine Linka

A Girl Called Fearless is the debut novel by Catherine Linka.  It looks awesome, and I’ll have a review next week.  Check out the blurb; it hits shelves tomorrow.

Avie Reveare has the normal life of a privileged teen growing up in L.A., at least as normal as any girl’s life is these days. After a synthetic hormone in beef killed fifty million American women ten years ago, only young girls, old women, men, and boys are left to pick up the pieces. The death threat is past, but fathers still fear for their daughters’ safety, and the Paternalist Movement, begun to “protect” young women, is taking over the choices they make.

Like all her friends, Avie still mourns the loss of her mother, but she’s also dreaming about college and love and what she’ll make of her life. When her dad “contracts” her to marry a rich, older man to raise money to save his struggling company, her life suddenly narrows to two choices: Be trapped in a marriage with a controlling politician, or run. Her lifelong friend, student revolutionary Yates, urges her to run to freedom across the border to Canada. As their friendship turns to passion, the decision to leave becomes harder and harder. Running away is incredibly dangerous, and it’s possible Avie will never see Yates again. But staying could mean death.

From Catherine Linka comes this romantic, thought-provoking, and frighteningly real story, A Girl Called Fearless, about fighting for the most important things in life—freedom and love.

You can read an excerpt here

CATHERINE LINKA was almost thrown out of boarding school for being “too verbal.” Fortunately, she learned to channel her outspokenness and creative energy into writing. A passionate traveler who has visited Iceland, the Amazon, and the Arctic circle, Catherine has seen five types of whales in the wild, but no orcas. Yet. She doesn’t believe in fate, but she did fall in love with her husband on their first date when he laced up her boots, because she had a broken hand. A Girl Called Fearless is her debut novel.

The post Spotlight–A Girl Called Fearless by Catherine Linka appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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20. Book Review and Giveaway - Glaze by Kim Curran

Title: Glaze
 Author: Kim Curran
Published:  12 May 2014 by Jurassic Park
Length: 293 pages
Source: author
Summary : Petri Quinn is counting down the days till she turns 16 and can get on GLAZE – the ultimate social network that is bringing the whole world together into one global family. But when a peaceful government protest turns into a full-blown riot with Petri shouldering the blame, she’s handed a ban. Her life is over before it’s even started.Desperate to be a part of the hooked-up society, Petri finds an underground hacker group and gets a black market chip fitted. But this chip has a problem: it has no filter and no off switch. Petri can see everything happening on GLAZE, all the time. Including things she was never meant to see.As her life is plunged into danger, Petri is faced with a choice. Join GLAZE… or destroy it.
Review:  Glaze-the next level of social media. A chip is inserted into your head, and you are on Glaze. You can see everyone's names and stories. You can see the history of an object. You are connected to everyone all the time. Petri is fifteen when she is charged with inciting a riot. As a punishment, she isn't allowed onto Glaze until she's twenty-one, as opposed to the standard age of sixteen. Unable to take being left out, Petri goes to some hackers to get a  chip inserted on the black market. But this illegal chip means she can't get away from Glaze even if she wants to.
I really enjoyed Shift and Control, and I'm looking forwards to Delete coming sometime soon. When I heard about this, the concept and the author made me sure i'd have to read it.
I loved the world of this. It's scary how we're progressing ever faster towards it; google glass is putting our data in front of our eyes, it's only a matter of time before we get data in our heads. And the dystopian element of a company having all the data and controlling you is something that intrigues me a lot. 
The pacing is really good. There's always something happening, and the ways the plot develops keeps you hooked. It was a little predictable as to who did –the thing-- but the reasoning behind it was harder to see, and I still enjoyed reading. 
The characters are all varied and really well done. I loved Petri, and her desire to fit in is not an unfamiliar one for anyone. I didn't really feel anything for any of the romance in this, but i'm glad that it didn't detract from the plot. I liked the characters by themselves though, from the resourceful hackers to the  friendship and to the real social dynamics of the school to the slightly crazy Mimi.
The best thing about this book is the way it connects with contemporary life, the way this kind of thing could happen if the way we’re going is taken to extremes,, and that this is a book about our reliance on the internet and what happens if we let this internet connectivity control our lives.


Overall:  Strength 4 to a fast paced dystopian with a great world and a look at what happens if technology goes too far.



Also, because I forgot on Saturday, there's a tourwide giveaway happening of one of 75 hardback copies of Glaze, plus other stuff like signed copies of Shift & Control, Glaze Bookmarks, Glaze badges and a meet with Kim Curran or Skype chat if you're not able to come to London. Enter!!


a Rafflecopter giveaway


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21. Review: A Girl Called Fearless by Catherine Linka

May Contain Spoilers

Review:

I love a good dystopian, so when I saw A Girl Called Fearless, I thought I’d give it a shot.  The premise seemed interesting, and I was curious about how the world would look through the protagonist’s eyes.   Ten years ago, a chemical used in cattle feed was found to be the cause of a deadly cancer that killed every woman in their child bearing years.  Only young girls and old women were spared, as well as a handful of women who had already suffered, and been cured, of reproductive cancers.  With so many victims of the disease, and medications to treat it in short supply, men were forced to stand by as their wives and daughters succumbed to the deadly tumors invading their bodies.

 

Avie is sixteen years old.  She comes from a wealthier household, and attends an exclusive prep school in California.  Her father has promised that she can finish college before he’ll arrange a Contract for her, which will bind her to her husband.  When her father’s company faces bankruptcy, however, he contracts her to Jessop Hawkins, a millionaire who hopes to start a career in politics.  Panicked at the thought of being Hawkins’ wife, Avie makes a run for Canada and the safety of its borders.  Along the way, she gets caught up in a protest against the repressive government, and unwittingly holds the key to its downfall.

I loved the premise of this story, but the economics didn’t make much sense to me.  Avie’s father sells her to Hawkins for 50 million dollars.  Fifty.  Million.  DOLLARS.  If girls regularly earn that kind of payback, you’d think that their guardians would treat them a little better.  Having a lot of girls in this situation would make sound economic sense.  Since there are so few women, there is a gold mine in having daughters, but that didn’t seem to be the case.  It is suspected that Avie’s friend was killed by her older husband, but only after producing a son.  It didn’t make any sense, in this context, for any man to risk injuring the proverbial golden goose.  He spent a fortune on this possession, and if he has daughters, he can sell them when they are older.  If he has a lot of sons, he has to spend another fortune helping him acquire a wife.  Even if a woman was so incompatible, in this world it is perfectly accepted to turn around and sell the woman’s contract to someone else, so why, why, why would any man kill his cash cow?

With women of childbearing age in such short supply, men feared for the safety of their daughters.  The Paternalist Movement was born from that, and this political group has been slowly stripping away women’s rights for the last ten years.  Avie’s dreams of attending college come crashing down when the group pushes through a law prohibiting women from going to college, for the sake of their safety.  Avie already lives in a cocoon.  She has a bodyguard who drives her to school and lurks around in the background, watching over her and making sure she and her friends don’t cause any trouble.  She is constantly under surveillance; everywhere she goes, including her own home, is monitored with security cameras.  She’s not allowed to speak to Yates, her best friend from childhood, because it’s not proper for unrelated men and women to speak with each other.  Young girls are routinely kidnapped, so they aren’t allowed to go anywhere without security, though I wonder about the lives and fates of girls from more meager backgrounds.  Could their fathers afford to employ bodyguards for their daughters?  Did they go to school?  I don’t feel that these questions were adequately answered.

After Avie’s father informs her that she’s been contracted, Yates urges her to run.  He’s part of Exodus, a group seeking to overthrow the Paternalists and restore the freedoms that have been denied to women.  Avie resists at first, but after she meets Hawkins, she’s terrified.  He’s a horrible man, and she’s afraid of what will happen to her once she’s his.  When she discovers that one of her friends from school is spying on her, at Hawkins’ direction, she realizes that running is the only option left to her.  With Yates’ assistance, she flees, knowing that Hawkins will never rest until his Retrievers have hunted her down.  There are rumors that the US government is withholding needed medical exports into Canada until they close their borders to US refugees, so the clock is ticking.  Avie has to get to the border soon, or her only escape will be cut off.

I couldn’t put the book down for the 50 percent.  After Avie thoughtlessly imperils the safe house she’s staying at, I couldn’t help but reflect about how short-sighted and impulsive she was.  I wasn’t even sure she was running for the right reasons any more.  Was she fleeing her contract with Hawkins for herself, or to be with Yates?  Her motivation for her actions started to bother me, and she seemed shallow and thoughtless, even given her over-indulged childhood. 

Overall, A Girl Called Fearless is a great concept, but it faltered in its execution.  I didn’t ever connect with Avie, and I constantly questioned her motivations.  Was she acting for herself, or was she hoping to be with Yates?

Grade: C+

Review copy provided by publisher

From Amazon:

Avie Reveare has the normal life of a privileged teen growing up in L.A., at least as normal as any girl’s life is these days. After a synthetic hormone in beef killed fifty million American women ten years ago, only young girls, old women, men, and boys are left to pick up the pieces. The death threat is past, but fathers still fear for their daughters’ safety, and the Paternalist Movement, begun to “protect” young women, is taking over the choices they make.

Like all her friends, Avie still mourns the loss of her mother, but she’s also dreaming about college and love and what she’ll make of her life. When her dad “contracts” her to marry a rich, older man to raise money to save his struggling company, her life suddenly narrows to two choices: Be trapped in a marriage with a controlling politician, or run. Her lifelong friend, student revolutionary Yates, urges her to run to freedom across the border to Canada. As their friendship turns to passion, the decision to leave becomes harder and harder. Running away is incredibly dangerous, and it’s possible Avie will never see Yates again. But staying could mean death.

From Catherine Linka comes this romantic, thought-provoking, and frighteningly real story, A Girl Called Fearless, about fighting for the most important things in life—freedom and love.

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22. Book Review: Raging Star (Dust Lands Book 3) by Moira Young


Raging Star 
(Dust Lands Book 3) 
by Moira Young

New Eden is a paradise: a fertile land surrounded by post-apocalyptic wastelands. New Eden holds promise and hope for the future, and one man, DeMalo, who calls himself The Pathfinder, has a vision of leading humanity into that future. DeMalo feels that the future belongs to the strong, that only the strong and healthy can bring about a utopian future. In DeMalo's New Eden, those not strong and healthy enough to be among the chosen are either exiled, enslaved, or put to death.

Saba and her friends, including her twin brother Lugh and younger sister Emmi, have gone underground, and this small band of guerrillas fight back against DeMalo in any way they can. Saba secretly meets with Jack, her love and heart's desire, who gives her strategic information uncovered by his group of rebels. The only problem is, Saba can't let anyone in her group know that Jack is still alive, because some of them hate him and would kill him on sight, including her brother Lugh.

Saba loves Jack, but then why is she so drawn to DeMalo? Why does the heartstone warm when she's near him, as well as when she's near Jack? DeMalo is smart, charismatic, and seductive, and he runs New Eden with a tight control. Saba's Free Hawks will have to be smart, too, and find a new way to fight back if they hope to defeat DeMalo.

Raging Star is the conclusion of the trilogy that began with Blood Red Road, and it may be the best of the three. Raging Star has the same driving plot, awesome characters, and distinctive voice as the other books, but it goes deeper in exploring the themes. The huge gray area between right and wrong is explored in a thoughtful way. DeMalo truly believes that what he's doing is good and right. He's trying to rebuild and repopulate the Earth, turn the deserts into paradise. Is it so wrong to eliminate the weak in service of that goal? Yes, he kills people, but Saba and her group have killed also in fighting back against DeMalo. DeMalo is charismatic and convincing, and it's hard for Saba to know what's right. And so the girl known as the Angel of Death is left trying to find a better way.

We did wrong today at the bridge. An' he's wrong. He is wrong. What's right must lie somewhere else. Between us maybe. Or beyond us.
Saba also keeps secrets: from Jack, from Lugh, from everyone. She does it with the best of intentions, but she discovers, as many have, that the more you lie, the more you have to lie to cover your lies. Other characters also have secrets, and the weight of secrets threatens to destroy the group.

Saba has always been a great character. She's a survivor and a fighter, who'll do whatever it takes to save the ones she loves. But what if fighting isn't enough? What if you're in a fight you can't win? Saba experiences some real character growth as she tries to resolve her dilemmas. It's also great to see Emmi come into her own in this book, and become more than just the little sister.

As with the other books, it's hard at first to adjust to the dialect and the unusual punctuation. The entire book is written without quotation marks. Dialog just flows in with text. However, it doesn't take long to get used to it, and before too long it seems so natural you don't even notice it. I could hear Saba's distinctive voice in my head as I read.

Altogether, Raging Star is a moving, gripping, and sometimes heartbreaking book. Both the plot and the character arc will keep you turning pages.

I do have one complaint, and that's the cover. The picture of two random people against a green background just doesn't do anything for me. I assume they're supposed to be Saba and Jack, but they don't look anything like I imagined these two, and in fact they really just look like someone snapped a photo of two random people walking down the street in any modern city, and Photoshopped over a vaguely post-apocalyptic background. I didn't care for the cover of Rebel Heart, either.

Diversity?

I didn't notice a lot of diversity in this book. Saba is described as dark, but that's in comparison to her golden brother Lugh, so it's not clear whether she is actually dark skinned or just a dark haired caucasian. Other characters are described in ways that don't make clear their ethnic origins, at least not that I could tell.

One of the characters is an older man who wears dresses. He's a likable character who plays an important role in the rebellion.

Who would like this book:

Teens and adults who enjoy dystopian and post-apocalyptic books with strong female protagonists. Recommend this series to fans of The Hunger Games.

Get it from:
Audiobook
FTC required disclosure: Review copy sent by the publisher to enable me to write this review. The bookstore links above are affiliate links, and I earn a very small percentage of any sales made through the links. Neither of these things influenced my review.

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23. Review: Graduation Day by Joelle Charbonneau

May Contain Spoilers

Yeah! I managed to knock another series off my TBR pile!  Graduation Day picks up right where Independent Study left off.  Cia has just been forced to kill a rival classmate, and she is suffering from guilt.  She is terrified of being caught.  She doesn’t know who she can trust.  When she stumbles across a bigger plot to bring down the President, she’s not sure she can carry out the mission she’s been given.  Her task, handed to her by the President?  Kill the ardent supporters of the Testing in order to end the cruel tradition once and for all.

Setting aside the implausibility of the plot – I don’t think many world leaders would task a teenager with offing their opponents – Graduation Day is immensely readable.  Getting inside Cia’s head as she works through the weighty issues confronting her makes this a hard book to put down.  Everyone has an agenda, and you are left guessing who is trustworthy the entire time.  While Cia desperately tries to keep up appearances that she’s just an ordinary university student,  she must decide which side she is on.  Does she do as the President has asked, and commit morally abhorrent acts to end the Testing?  Can she murder someone in cold blood?  Is there anyone she can recruit to assist her in her deadly task?

Most of the plot revolves Cia’s preparations to carry out her new assignment.  She wonders if there is another way to accomplish the end goal, without having to take lives.  Do the people on the President’s list really deserve to die?  What happens if she’s caught?  Is she willing to die herself, to end the Testing?  As she gathers followers and intelligence about the Testing, the people on the list, and even the President, she questions whether she can end the pointless deaths of hundreds of the brightest young people the Commonwealth has to offer.  But when she learns what it means to be redirected, watch out!  Cia’s resolve is firmly solidified, and nothing will keep her from her final goal.

I thought the ending was a bit of a muddle, and I’m not convinced that conditions will really improve for the citizens  Cia fought so hard for.  I don’t understand why Dr Barnes acted as he did; there must have been some other way to prove his point, without resorting to the pact he made with his political rivals.  I also found the way the Commonwealth seemed to exist within a vacuum problematic.  There are little tidbits dropped about world powers outside of the Commonwealth, but nothing concrete or substantial.  Surely there would still be some kind of diplomatic presence from other countries in Tosu City, if only to keep an eye on the government and make sure they weren’t planning to destroy the world again.  The politics didn’t really work for me, though I still found Cia’s predicament engaging and difficult to step away from.

If you enjoyed the first two books in the series, you will also love Graduation Day.  Cia really comes into her own as she puzzles out the plots swirling around her, makes her plans to end the Testing, and agonizes over who she can really trust.  I really enjoyed this journey with her; it was just as nerve-wracking for me trying to figure out who deserved to be trusted, and who didn’t.

 

Title: GRADUATION DAY (The Testing #3)

Author: Joelle Charbonneau

Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers

Pub. Date: June 17, 2014

Pages: 304

Find it: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Goodreads

In book three of the Testing series, the United Commonwealth wants to eliminate the rebel alliance fighting to destroy The Testing for good. Cia is ready to lead the charge, but will her lethal classmates follow her into battle?

She wants to put an end to the Testing

In a scarred and brutal future, The United Commonwealth teeters on the brink of all-out civil war. The rebel resistance plots against a government that rules with cruelty and cunning. Gifted student and Testing survivor, Cia Vale, vows to fight.

But she can’t do it alone.

This is the chance to lead that Cia has trained for – but who will follow? Plunging through layers of danger and deception, Cia must risk the lives of those she loves–and gamble on the loyalty of her lethal classmates.

Who can Cia trust?

The stakes are higher than ever-lives of promise cut short or fulfilled; a future ruled by fear or hope–in the electrifying conclusion to Joelle Charbonneau’s epic Testing trilogy. Ready or not…it’s Graduation Day.

The Final Test is the Deadliest!

About Joelle:

Ever since I can remember I loved telling stories. As I grew up, I started performing those stories on the stage. Creating vivid characters and singing wonderfully complex songs were my passion. I graduated from Millikin University with a Bachelors Degree in Vocal Performance and then continued onto DePaul University for my Masters Degree in Opera Performance. From there I went onto perform across the Chicagoland area in a variety of Operas, Operettas and Musicals. I also started teaching acting classes and private voice lessons to pass my passion along to the next generation.

Not exactly the path you’d expect a writer to take.

I’d never dreamed of writing a novel. But I loved to read. Then one day I had an idea and I started to write. I found my passion for creating characters lived on the page as well as the stage. It is my hope that the characters I’ve created resonate with you and make you smile.

I still teach voice lessons and sing for the occasional professional event. But the rest of my time is spent with my husband and son while dreaming up new and interesting stories. I hope that someday I hear yours.

Website/Twitter/Facebook/Goodreads/Pinterest

Giveaway Details:

3 sets of the complete series along with a Graduation Day pen and a T-Shirt. US Only

1 T-Shirt US ONLY

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tour Schedule:

Week One:

6/9/2014- NightlyReading- Review

6/10/2014- The Book Cellar- Guest Post

6/11/2014- Curling Up With A Good Book- Review

6/12/2014- Fiktshun- Interview

6/13/2014- Manga Maniac Café- Review

Week Two:

6/16/2014- Magical Urban Fantasy Reads- Guest Post

6/17/2014- K-books- Review

6/18/2014- Tales of the Ravenous Reader- Interview

6/19/2014- Parajunkee’s View- Review

6/20/2014- Two Chicks on Books- Guest Post

The post Review: Graduation Day by Joelle Charbonneau appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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24. Book Review: Chorus by Emma Trevayne


Chorus
(Sequel to Coda)
by Emma Trevayne
Note: Chorus is the sequel to Coda, and this review will contain spoilers for Coda. If you haven't read Coda and want to avoid spoilers, you might not want to read this review. If you're looking for an awesome YA dystopian novel with a unique premise (controlling the population with addictive music) and a diverse cast, go forth and read Coda! You won't be sorry.
Eight years have passed since Anthem led the movement to defeat the Corp and stop their use of mind-controlling music tracks on the population of the Web. During the battle, the Corp used Anthem's own younger sister and brother, Alpha and Omega, as pawns to try to stop him, and exposed them to the addictive music while they were too young for their minds to be able to handle it.

As a result, Alpha, known to her friends as Al, still has flashbacks of that day, flashbacks which incapacitate her in a seizure-like state. Determined to find a cure, Al is in Los Angeles studying neuroscience. She loves her life in L.A., and other than the flashbacks, life is good, until a message comes in from the Web that Anthem is dying. Those who lived under the Corp's mind control tend to have short lives anyway, and Anthem's years as an energy source for the Corp have shortened his life even more. Al has to leave L.A. behind to rush home to be with him. And something else is not right; Al is getting anonymous messages, and someone is stalking her. Someone who knows too much about her.

Coda was an excellent, unique, and suspenseful dystopian story. Chorus is no less gripping, but for different reasons. Chorus is much more a personal journey of addiction and love and loss. Oh, don't worry: Chorus does have its share of danger and suspense, but Al is not Anthem. She doesn't want to lead a fight; she just wants to go back to L.A. and work on her cure.

It's Al's poignant personal journey that really makes this a book you can't put down. She struggles with addiction, and every day, every minute, she resists using the tracks, for fear that if she tracks she'll damage her brain beyond her ability to find a cure. Being back in the Web exacerbates the addictive urges, and also stirs up old feelings that increase the flashbacks. Al's boyfriend from Los Angeles, Jonas, accompanies her to the Web, along with two other friends. Al's relationship with Jonas is sweet, but there's a tension there, too, from the secrets that Al's been keeping from him, including her flashbacks.

The second half of the book becomes much more externally suspenseful, as both L.A. and the Web are in danger from an unexpected threat. And when bad things do start happening, when it becomes clear that something is seriously wrong, Al must find within herself the strength to fight to save the people she loves.

Diversity?

Coda did a good job with diversity. Anthem, the main protagonist, was bisexual, and there were other diverse characters, including some people of color, although both of the ones I noticed were minor, if important, characters. Overall, Coda gave a sense of a diverse society where things like sexuality and race weren't issues.

Chorus seems to have fewer characters who are from groups under-represented in YA fiction. There is one same-sex couple who are minor but important characters, and a couple of characters from Coda that I'm pretty sure I remember are dark skinned — Mage and Iris — although I didn't see any physical descriptions of them in this book. If you come to Chorus after reading Coda, as I did, you'll probably read into it the same sense of a diverse society, but if you read Chorus without having read Coda, I suspect you won't come away with quite the same impression.

Who would like this book:

Dystopian book readers, fans of Coda, and anyone who likes a good character-driven story. 

Buy Chorus from Powell's Books

Note: I decided to give the Powell's affiliate program a try. I've been an Amazon affiliate since the 90s, but I've become increasingly concerned about their market share and dominance in the industry. I don't think that Amazon is a demon, but I also don't think it's good for one company to have so much power and influence. I've heard good things about Powell's (even long before it got the Colbert Bump) so it seemed like a good way to go.

FTC required disclosure: Review copy sent by the publisher to enable me to write this review. The bookstore links above are affiliate links, and I earn a very small percentage of any sales made through the links. Neither of these things influenced my review.

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25. (Not My Favorite) THE QUEEN OF THE TEARLING by Erika Johansen

I wrote this review awhile ago and posted it on Goodreads, then forgot to add it here. But now I'm at the beach with no computer, so I'm posting this from my phone. Sorry for the formatting!!  There are some spoilers, if you don't want to read them, skip from spoiler tag to spoiler tag. Review by AndyeI wanted to like this book, SO MUCH.  Like...you have no IDEA how much I wanted this book to be

0 Comments on (Not My Favorite) THE QUEEN OF THE TEARLING by Erika Johansen as of 7/9/2014 11:11:00 AM
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