Category Archives: Dystopian

REVIEW {39} Elusion by Claudia Gabel & Cheryl Klam

ELUSION
SERIES: Elusion | Book #1
AUTHOR(S): Claudia Gabel and Cheryl Klam
PUBLICATION INFORMATION: March 18th 2014 by Katherine Tegen Books
EDITION: Paperback, 400 pages
ACQUISITION: ARC from publisher
CATEGORIES: Review, Young Adult, Science Fiction, Dystopian, Fantasy, Romance, Virtual Thriller, 2 Star Rating, 2014 Release
RATING: 2.00/5.00 | GOODREADS RATING: 3.60/5.00
WHAT IT’S ABOUT: Soon Elusion will change the word and life as we know it. 
A new technology called Elusion is sweeping the country. An app, visor, and wristband will virtually transport you to an exotic destination where adventure can be pursued without the complications – or consequences – of real life.
Regan is an Elusion insider. Or at least she used to be. Her father invented the program, and her best friend Patrick, heir to the tech giant Orexis, is about to release it nationwide. But ever since her father’s unexpected death, Regan can’t bear to Escape, especially since waking up from the dream means crashing back to her grim reality.
Still, when there are rumors of trouble in Elusion – accusations that it’s addictive and dangerous – Regan is determined to defend it. But the critics of Elusion come from surprising sources, including Josh, the handsome skeptic with his own personal stakes. As Regan investigates the claims, she discovers a disturbing web of secrets. She will soon have to choose between love and loyalty … a decision that will affect the lives of millions.
Suspense, thrills, and romance fuel this near-future story about the seductive nature of a perfect virtual world, and how far one girl will go to uncover the truth behind the illusions.
MY THOUGHTS: I went into this book unsure of whether I’d really enjoy it, because virtual thrillers really aren’t my cup of tea. Dystopians – yes, computer ruled futures – not so much. But the cover of this book was just too beautiful to ignore, so when I ended up with an ARC, I knew I had to give it a go.
The first thing that I noticed, is that the concept of the story really didn’t seem that unique to me. I didn’t at any time really find myself wanting to continue reading the book so much as I wanted to finish it so I could get a review up. The writing itself was okay, I don’t think it was necessarily spectacular or horrible in any way. I did have issues with the world-building though. It’s set in a “Near Future” Detroit, but they are suffering from pollution (and something called Florapetro?) and acid rains which require 02 masks and special umbrellas to be used nearly 24/7. There is mention that the rich usually are above the pollution clouds in their penthouses and offices, so they can go without and even open their windows sometimes. While this leads me to believe there is a caste system of some type, this isn’t really explored past explaining vaguely the different Sectors the residents live in, and what they are like now. There also isn’t any explanation of why the world is so polluted, so you’re left assuming why it happened.
There were only a few instances as well, where we got to experience Elusion with Regan, the main character. Users can go into Escapes (pre-existing destinations such as mountains or Thai beaches. etc) with other people using an invite code, and no one is supposed to be able to be injured in an Escape. Users can experience Escapes in 1-hour increments and they are equipped with wristbands that have an emergency button that yanks them out if trouble occurs. But no trouble should ever occur, right?
The main character Regan lacked in my opinion, the characteristics of a kick-ass heroine. In fact rarely did she manage to do anything on her own, and required damsel-in-distress saving from either her best friend, Patrick, or the new hottie bad-boy, Josh. I really had no connection to Regan whatsoever, and never felt for her. She seemed quite gullible, and didn’t seem to have much common sense. She tended to believe what she was told, and acted really offended and surprised when she realized that the bubble she lived in was slowing losing air.
The fact that Patrick was supposed to be Regan’s best friend was lost on me. I didn’t feel any type of connection between them, and even Patrick’s affections towards Regan bordered on creepy-stalkerish. Especially considering he kind of had something going on with one of Regan’s classmates, Zoe. I never at any point wanted these two to get together.
Josh’s character wasn’t one I connected with either. He was fueled by his own personal problems – his missing, possibly Elusion-addicted sister, Nora. When he meets up with Regan, she suddenly finds her world turned upside down – not sure who to trust and believe – but she seems to put all her faith and trust into Josh… even though they barely know each other.
Overall, I just wasn’t able to get into any of the characters, and with the lack of world-building I wasn’t able to really enjoy this one. I know it’s gotten good reviews and ratings on Goodreads, but this one just wasn’t for me.

I RECOMMEND THIS TO: Fans of sci-fi, virtual thrillers where society relies heavily on technology and giant corporations willingly risk the health and safety of citizens with little or no remorse, leaving it to a group of teenagers to bring them down.

SIMILAR READS: Starters by Lissa Price | Glitch by Heather Anastasiu 
Happy Reading!
Laura

Save the Date {20} Of Beast & Beauty by Stacey Jay

Of Beast and Beauty
SERIES: Stand alone
AUTHOR: Stacey Jay
EXPECTED PUBLICATION: July 23rd 2013 by Delacorte Books for Young Readers
EDITION: Hardcover, 400 pages
CATEGORIES: Fantasy, Retelling, Young Adult, Fairy Tales, Beauty and the Beast, Sci-Fi, Dystopian, Paranormal
WHAT IT’S ABOUT: In the beginning was the darkness, and in the darkness was a girl, and in the girl was a secret…

In the domed city of Yuan, the blind Princess Isra, a Smooth Skin, is raised to be a human sacrifice whose death will ensure her city’s vitality. In the desert outside Yuan, Gem, a mutant beast, fights to save his people, the Monstrous, from starvation. Neither dreams that together, they could return balance to both their worlds.


Isra wants to help the city’s Banished people, second-class citizens despised for possessing Monstrous traits. But after she enlists the aid of her prisoner, Gem, who has been captured while trying to steal Yuan’s enchanted roses, she begins to care for him, and to question everything she has been brought up to believe.


As secrets are revealed and Isra’s sight, which vanished during her childhood, returned, Isra will have to choose between duty to her people and the beast she has come to love.

MY THOUGHTS: Some people love retellings, some people hate them. I think I fall somewhere in the middle. I’ve read good and I’ve read bad. What I love most, is just seeing how someone takes an idea and spins it their own way. How many times have you finished a book and thought that you would’ve ended it differently, or had the characters take different paths, make different choices, or put them in an entirely different world completely? That’s what I love about retellings, and this one sounds like it is going to be so different not only from the original story, but from anything I’ve read. I’m very interested and curious about this one, and will be placing my request with the library as soon as I’m done writing this post! Plus, I think the cover is really awesome!

What are your thoughts?

Happy Reading!

Save the Date {19} Starglass by Phoebe North

STARGLASS
SERIES: Starglass #1 | OTHER BOOKS IN THE SERIES: Starbreak #2
AUTHOR: Phoebe North
EXPECTED PUBLICATION: July 23rd by Simon & Schuster for Young Readers
EDITION: Hardcover, 448 pages
CATEGORIES: Young Adult, Sci-Fi, Dystopian, Fantasy, Space, Romance, Apocalyptic/Post-Apocalyptic, Aliens, Simon & Schuster, Starglass Series, Phoebe North, Save the Date

WHAT IT’S ABOUT: Terra has never known anything but life aboard the Asherah, a city-within-a-spaceship that left Earth five hundred years ago in search of refuge. At sixteen, working a job that doesn’t interest her, and living with a grieving father who only notices her when he’s yelling, Terra is sure that there has to be more to life than what she’s got.

But when she inadvertently witnesses the captain’s guard murdering an innocent man, Terra is suddenly thrust into the dark world beneath her ship’s idyllic surface. As she’s drawn into a secret rebellion determined to restore power to the people, Terra discovers that her choices may determine life or death for the people she cares most about. With mere months to go before landing on the long-promised planet, Terra has to make the decision of a lifetime–one that will determine the fate of her people.

MY THOUGHTS: I really love the cover on this book! I think it’s really pretty and doesn’t give anything away. I also like that it isn’t using a live model. Sometimes I like to picture the main character how I imagine them from the descriptions in the book, and when a live model is used sometimes it doesn’t fit what I imagined, but that really isn’t here nor there! Once I really started loving dystopian books, it was only natural that I then progressed to books that take place in space (ha, that rhymed!) I really enjoyed Glow by Amy Kathleen Ryan, and I have been meaning to finally dive into Across the Universe by Beth Revis. Being trapped on a ship in space with no way off kind of creeps me out, so of course I would enjoy books that take place on spaceships! Since it’s a genre I’m still getting comfy with, this one sounds like it’s got tons of action and suspense to keep me engaged, and I definitely want this one on my bookshelf!

Happy Reading!

Review {27} The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken

THE DARKEST MINDS

SERIES: The Darkest Minds #1 | OTHER BOOKS IN THE SERIES: Never Fade #2 (Release Date: October 15th 2013)
AUTHOR: Alexandra Bracken
PUBLISHED: December 18th 2012 by Disney Hyperion
ACQUIRED: Borrowed | Library
EDITION: Hardcover, 488 pages
CATEGORIES: Young Adult, Sci-Fi, Paranormal, Romance, Adventure, Dystopian, 5 Star Rating, Disney Hyperion, Alexandra Bracken, Series Book 1, The Darkest Minds, Review
RATING: 5.00/5.00 | GOODREADS RATING: 4.26/5.00
WHAT THE BACK OF THE BOOK SAYS: When Ruby woke up on her tenth birthday, something about her had changed. Something alarming enough to make her parents lock her in the garage and call the police. Something that gets her sent to Thurmond, a brutal government “rehabilitation camp.” She might have survived the mysterious disease that’s killed most of America’s children, but she and the others have emerged with something far worse: frightening abilities they cannot control.

Now sixteen, Ruby is one of the dangerous ones.


When the truth comes out, Ruby barely escapes Thurmond with her life. Now she’s on the run, desperate to find the one safe haven left for kids like her—East River. She joins a group of kids who escaped their own camp. Liam, their brave leader, is falling hard for Ruby. But no matter how much she aches for him, Ruby can’t risk getting close. Not after what happened to her parents.


When they arrive at East River, nothing is as it seems, least of all its mysterious leader. But there are other forces at work, people who will stop at nothing to use Ruby in their fight against the government. Ruby will be faced with a terrible choice, one that may mean giving up her only chance at a life worth living.

MY THOUGHTS: Holy cow, guys! This book seriously was more than I ever imagined it would be! Not that I didn’t have high expectations or anything like that, I’m just saying I went in hoping to like it, but came out LOVING IT!

Can we talk about Ruby, our main character who tells the story from her POV, for just a sec? I adore her. Truly, I feel like we are BFFs now, and she is telling her story directly to me, just me, like it’s a well-guarded secret. Ruby on page one is not the same Ruby on page 488, that’s for sure. The situations she encounters, the emotions she experiences that she never knew were possible make her into one of my favorite heroines  by the time I closed the book after the last page. Ruby is a very selfless person who cares so deeply for others that it could be considered one of her flaws. She wants to think the best of everyone, even when they prove unworthy of her trust. She still believes there is good in people, which she chides Liam for at times. 

Besides Ruby, we spend time getting to know Liam, Chubs, and Zu. This is one dynamic foursome, let me tell you! From younger, nonspeaking Zu, to strong, level-headed Liam, and blind as a bat Chubs we get to experience their joys and sorrows, their happiness and their setbacks. Each character is so wonderfully created with such love and detail that you literally feel like you’re in Black Betty (their minivan) with them as they try to find East River.

The pacing of the book is fast, flying by page after page with no lags or slow parts. There’s continuous action, lots of adventure, and so many anger inducing, tear jerking, want to throw the book against the wall because that SO did NOT just happen moments that it’s like you’re on an emotional roller coaster while you’re reading. From run ins with PSFs, to run ins with The Children’s League, to moments where one of them uses their superpowers or has them used against them, it’s constant up and down, oh my god moments.

The relationships between characters is very real and tangible. Nothing ever feels forced or awkward – even moments between Ruby and Clancy (Which, yeah, can’t wait to read more of, because I know we haven’t seen the last of Clancy, that weasel!) It was very refreshing to see the relationship between Ruby and Liam grow and wasn’t any of that insta-love. While both knew they had feelings for each other, they took their time (Thank you, Miss Bracken, seriously. Thank you!) getting to really know and trust each other, and even then it was stolen kisses that they shared in moments of fear and worry. There is still so much more to their relationship that we haven’t even seen yet, so I am extremely anxious to find out where they take their relationship in the next book(s)… especially with how the book ended.

As easy as it is to hate Clancy, it is also him we can thank for the strength and confidence that Ruby develops by books end. She’s managed to learn how to somewhat control, or harness and use her powers. While she still struggles with keeping her distance so that she doesn’t accidentally erase herself from people’s memories, Ruby is also able to grow her confidence in her abilities as well. She’s also learned to fend for herself, and to rely only on herself and not trust anyone until they’ve proven to be trustworthy. 

I would recommend this book to absolutely any- and everyone on the face of the planet. Even if you typically do not read paranormal or dystopian, I beg of you, give this book a whirl! You will not be disappointed. (And if you are.. well, then I am sorry. lol)
SIMILAR READS: Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes | False Memory by Dan Krokos | Beta by Rachel Cohn | Black City by Elizabeth Richards | Renegade by J.A. Souders

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Alexandra Bracken wrote Brightly Woven as a birthday present for a friend, and the story grew and flourished during a year of unpredictable, wild weather. A native of Arizona, she is a recent graduate of the College of William and Mary, where she majored in History and English. She now lives in New York City.
Happy Reading!

Review {25} The Prince: A Selection Novella

AUTHOR: Kiera Cass
SERIES: The Selection #0.5 | OTHER BOOKS INTHE SERIES: The Selection #1; The Elite #2

PUBLISHED: March 5th 2013 by HarperTeen
ACQUIRED: Own
EDITION: ebook, 64 pages
CATEGORIES: Young Adult, Romance, 5 Star Rating, The Selection Series, HarperTeen Publishing, Review
RATING: 5.00/5.00 GOODREADS RATING: 4.02/5.00
WHAT IT’S ABOUT: Before thirty-five girls were chosen to compete in the Selection…

Before Aspen broke America’s heart…


There was another girl in Prince Maxon’s life…


Don’t miss this thrilling 128-page original novella set in the world of the New York Times bestselling novel The Selection. Also features a teaser to The Elite, Kiera Cass’s hotly anticipated sequel to The Selection.


MY THOUGHTS: I really enjoyed this quick read because it let us get insight into Maxon’s life; his thoughts and feelings and relationship with not only his parents but the girls as well. It was great to see the scene where America freaks out at the beginning from Maxon’s POV. I think this was a great, quick read that gets the reader back into the Selection world, and ready for The Elite.

Happy Reading!
Laura

Review {18} Insurgent by Veronica Roth

Insurgent
AUTHOR: Veronica Roth
SERIES: Divergent #2 | Other Books in the Series: Divergent
PUBLISHED: May 1, 2012 by HarperTeen
ACQUIRED: Own
EDITION: Hardcover, 525 pages
CATEGORIES: Young Adult, 2nd book in series, Dystopian, Romance, Betrayal, Non-Stop Action
RATING: 5.00/5.00 | Goodreads Rating: 4.30/5.00
WHAT IT’S ABOUT: One choice can transform you–or it can destroy you. But every choice has consequences, and as unrest surges in the factions all around her, Tris Prior must continue trying to save those she loves–and herself–while grappling with haunting questions of grief and forgiveness, identity and loyalty, politics and love.

Tris’s initiation day should have been marked by celebration and victory with her chosen faction; instead, the day ended with unspeakable horrors. War now looms as conflict between the factions and their ideologies grows. And in times of war, sides must be chosen, secrets will emerge, and choices will become even more irrevocable–and even more powerful. Transformed by her own decisions but also by haunting grief and guilt, radical new discoveries, and shifting relationships, Tris must fully embrace her Divergence, even if she does not know what she may lose by doing so.


“New York Times” bestselling author Veronica Roth’s much-anticipated second book of the dystopian “Divergent” series is another intoxicating thrill ride of a story, rich with hallmark twists, heartbreaks, romance, and powerful insights about human nature.

*Contains Spoilers*

MY THOUGHTS: I cracked open Insurgent at midnight, saying that I’d only read one chapter. As expected, that wasn’t possible and I was immediately fully engrossed in the story. There is something about Roth’s writing that grabs me and doesn’t let me go. I think I would read anything that she writes because I love her style that much. She doesn’t give superficial thoughts and emotions from her characters. Several times in the book it is referenced that people have ‘layers’ to them. I completely agree, and with her writing she peels layer upon layer away, giving you an in depth, personal look into their minds, their lives, and their very essence. This gives us the ability to relate and understand the characters like I’ve never before experienced. It’s absolutely incredible and on a scale of 1-10 for writing, I would give Roth an 11!
While I still desperately adore Tris and Four, I really did not like their interactions and relationship in the second installment of the series. Let me clarify. Both characters go through intense emotional experiences in Insurgent. Tris is reeling from the death of her parents and dealing with the guilt of shooting Will. Four is still holding a grudge against his abusive father, and finding himself trusting his mother, whom he believed had abandoned him as a child. Four had told Tris that his mother was dead, and so begins the first in a line of lies and betrayals between the two. Both are harboring secrets, and half-truths are told, leaving each of them wary of the other. This eventually leads them to two different goals in the end; with Tris teaming up with Four’s father, Marcus, to help reveal the information that Erudite leader Jeanine Matthews was so desperate to keep hidden; and Four teaming up with his estranged mother, Evelyn, who has formed a union between the Factionless and the loyal Dauntless to storm Erudite headquarters, kill Jeanine, and form a new Factionless society, with her as the leader; unbeknownst to Tori, who’s hand kills Jeanine. I also feel that the resolution of their relationship at the end will not last. I believe that part of the first half of book three is still going to be dealing with Tris and Four figuring out exactly what they want from each other, what they will need to keep their relationship strong and continuing into the future, and they will need to figure out if they can put past hurts and betrayals behind them. If not, there may not be a Tris and Four in the future.
This book, to me, fit perfectly as a second novel in the series. It slams you with information and action from page one and never really gives you a break. There were nights where my eyes were literally half-closed, my body begging me to put the book down and go to sleep; but I couldn’t. I had to keep reading.
The ending leaves you with one ginormous cliff-hanger, and I believe that the final book will give us all the answers to questions that were left over from both Divergent and Insurgent. I think I figured out what was going on, after thinking, ‘wait a minute, why is there no “history” to the factions? It’s the characters we are reading about now, and their parents. That is as far back as the lineage goes”. After viewing the video that the Erudite were so desperate to keep hidden, more questions are left hanging in the balance, and leaves Tris wondering just what her part (and her family’s part) is in all of this. Luckily there is nothing more that she can keep hidden from Four at this point, since everything is public knowledge.
There is a lot more than just Tris and Four’s relationship that will need resolution in book three. We will need to see Four deal with his parents – either working with or against one or both (assuming he’ll team up with one of them, since they both have different views of the future of the factions) We will need to see all of the characters deal with the loss of loved ones – whether it be friends or family, because Roth takes no liberties in killing people off.
I believe that Roth has an incredibly talented and successful writing career ahead of her, and I am eagerly anticipating the release of book three next year. Overall, the series so far is absolutely mesmerizingly incredible!
[Book read 5/19-5/25/2012 and review originally posted at My Enchanted Bookshelf.]
Happy Reading!

Review {16} Breathe by Sarah Crossan

Breathe
BY: Sarah Crossan
SERIES: Breathe #1
PUBLICATION INFORMATION: October 2nd 2012 by Greenwillow
EDITION: Hardcover, 373 pages
ACQUISITION: Borrowed/Library
CATEGORIES: Young adult, Sci-Fi, Apocalyptic/Post-Apocalyptic, Adventure, Romance, Dystopian
RATING: 3.50/5.00 | GOODREADS RATING: 3.73/5.00
WHAT THE BACK OF THE BOOK SAYS: Inhale. Exhale. Breathe. Breathe. Breathe… The world is dead. The survivors live under the protection of Breathe, the corporation that found a way to manufacture oxygen-rich air.
ALINA has been stealing for a long time. She’s a little jittery, but not terrified. All she knows is that she’s never been caught before. If she’s careful, it’ll be easy. If she’s careful.
QUINN should be worried about Alina and a bit afraid for himself, too, but even though this is dangerous, it’s also the most interesting thing to happen to him in ages. It isn’t every day that the girl of your dreams asks you to rescue her.
BEA wants to tell him that none of this is fair; they’d planned a trip together, the two of them, and she’d hoped he’d discover her out here, not another girl.
And as they walk into the Outlands with two days’ worth of oxygen in their tanks, everything they believe will be shattered. Will they be able to make it back? Will they want to?
MY THOUGHTS: I really enjoyed this book, which isn’t a huge surprise considering my love for anything dystopian/apocalyptic. This book has it’s own unique spin, as Crossan creates a world without trees – – without oxygen.  The book centers around the big, bad corporation, Breathe, who manufactures oxygen and pumps it into the dome that the survivors now live under, and who are split into a caste-like system with premiums and auxiliaries, and the Resistance – aka – RATS. 
Of course there is corruption within the dome, and the RATS are trying to bring it to light, and bring the world back how it was before the Switch. Part of the RATS, Alina Moon finds herself mourning the loss of Abel, her crush and fellow RATS member. She runs into Quinn Caffery at school, in line for green flu vaccinations, and he’s smitten. But Bea Whitcraft, an auxiliary, is secretly in love with Quinn, the son of Breathe’s head honcho. Alina suffers alone with the grief of her “missing” (read: Dead) parents, and lives with her aunt, uncle, and cousin Silas – also all RATS. 
When Alina is suddenly being hunted by Breathe, she must escape the dome and make her way through the Outlands to The Grove, one of the outposts of the RATS who call an old soccer stadium home. Of course as a wanted possible criminal, she isn’t able to get access out of the dome, and so Quinn, in an act of lust, gets her out of the dome with himself and Bea, who planned a camping trip. Along the way they meet drifters, one in particular, Maude Blue who is actually the best character in the book, in my opinion. She’s so flawed and imperfect that you can’t help but love her and feel for her. With the stealing of a Breathe tank, Alina unknowingly begins a war between the Resistance and Breathe.
I think the overall theme and plot are my favorite part of the book. To me, this is something I constantly think about. Can we ever eventually log all of the forests? Will there ever be a time where the Earth is tree-less? Clearly Crossan has similar thoughts and even was able to build this world around the same question. While I thoroughly enjoyed Crossan’s writing style, I did have some trouble with the world-building, and had some trouble envisioning the dome world, and The Grove in my mind’s eye. Eventually I was able to get a sense of the world she’s created, and was able to put myself right in the action.
I have a love/hate relationship with the multi-POV as well. The story is told from the POV of three people – Quinn, Alina, and Bea, with Alina being the “Main character”. I did have some issues distinguishing the characters from one another, and sometimes had to go back and check the chapter’s first page to see which character it was “speaking”. I liked each of the characters, as they each had different challenges and inner demons, but I didn’t feel that they were totally rounded and 3D. If I had to choose a favorite, I’d actually pick Quinn. I think of the three, he’s the one who changed and grew the most throughout the book, and had the most to lose.
Another plus is that there aren’t too many obvious twists, and Crossan is wonderful at leaving doors open to be resolved in the sequel/subsequent novels in the series.
TO SUM IT UP: If you are looking for a fast-paced, action packed dystopian with a unique spin on a post-apocalyptic world and incredible characters that you’ll keep thinking about long after you end the book, then you should read Breathe.
READ THIS IF YOU LIKE: Beta by Rachel Cohn | Ashes of Twilight by Kassy Tayler | Skylark by Meagan Spooner | Black City by Elizabeth Richards | The Forsaken by Lisa M. Stasse
MY ‘SIMILAR BOOK FROM MY BOOKSHELF’ SUGGESTION: Matched by Ally Condie
BREATHE MEDIA:

AUTHOR INFO: Sarah Crossan is Irish. She graduated with a degree in Philosophy and Literature before training as an English and Drama teacher at Cambridge University and worked to promote creative writing in schools before leaving teaching to write full time.

She completed her Masters in Creative Writing at the University of Warwick in 2003 and in 2010 received an Edward Albee Fellowship for writing.
She currently lives in NYC.