01. April 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Apocalyptic, Courtney, Teen Books

Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith, read by Courtney, on 03/07/2014

Some say the world will end in fire, some say in ice. History will show that the world actually ends with 6-foot-tall carnivorous praying mantises that displace humanity from the top of the food chain. Austin Szerba is interested in the ways in which events, however small, coalesce into what we later call history. Through a fascinating intersection of circumstance and chance, Austin is in the prime position to present a detailed history of the end of the world.
Ealing, IA is your average dying Midwestern small town. The factory that once kept the town afloat shut down years ago. The local mall is nearly vacant. There’s really not a lot for teenaged boys to do. Austin and his best friend, Robby, hang out (skateboard, smoke) in the area behind the mall in the spot they’ve named “the Grasshopper Jungle”. Up until this point, the most challenging thing that Austin’s ever had to deal with is the possibility that he might just be in love with Robby, who came out of the closet in middle school. But Austin really loves his girlfriend, Shann, too. The three of them are best friends, but no matter what the situation, hanging out with them invariably leaves Austin both horny and confused.
One day, Robby and Austin are beaten up in the Grasshopper Jungle by a quartet of bullies. This is the beginning of a chain of events that put Robby and Austin in a prime position to witness the beginning of the end. It just takes them awhile to put all the pieces together and to understand their own role in them.
I’ve been struggling to figure out how to even describe this book. The plot is unusual, to say the least. On one level, it’s a darkly humorous apocalyptic tale. On another level, it’s story about teenagers figuring out who they are and how they fit into this world. On yet another, it’s about all the connections, seen and unseen, that turn seemingly isolated incidents into a greater understanding. Grasshopper Jungle is hilarious and heartfelt, apocalyptic and profane, realistic and completely outlandish. The writing is reminiscent of earlier Kurt Vonnegut works, which is a major bonus point for me. I can say with certainty that I’ve never read a book quite like this one. It’s honestly the kind of book you’ll just have to read and experience to see what I mean. I loved it.

05. March 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Apocalyptic, Children's Books, Eric, Fiction, Science Fiction

Rip Tide by Kat Falls, read by Eric, on 02/28/2014

The continuing adventures of Ty and Gemma, introduced in Dark Life. Someone has dragged under and chained a huge floating township, trapping the inhabitants inside to die. Ty and Gemma are swept into the mystery of the deaths, which soon involves Ty’s family, the infamous Seablite Gang, and those forced into a harsh existence on the ocean’s surface.

Nearly the entire book takes place above water this time, which partially is to blame for my lessened enthusiasm. Ty and Gemma face an array of characters and places straight from the set of Waterworld, or any other number of post-apocalyptic movies. There are to-the-death boxing matches, dirty dealings (and people), and a race against time which didn’t seem very hurried. A second novel can’t possibly capture the enjoyment of being introduced to a fantasy world, but even so, I can’t wait for these two to leave the surface behind, and swim down to where things are far more interesting.

26. February 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Apocalyptic, Dystopia, Fiction, Jane, Teen Books

Maze Runner by James Dashner, read by Jane, on 02/20/2014

When Thomas wakes up in the lift, the only thing he can remember is his first name. His memory is blank. But he’s not alone. When the lift’s doors open, Thomas finds himself surrounded by kids who welcome him to the Glade-a large, open expanse surrounded by stone walls.

Just like Thomas, the Gladers don’t know why or how they got to the Glade. All they know is that every morning the stone doors to the maze that surrounds them have opened. Every night they’ve closed tight. And every 30 days a new boy has been delivered in the lift.

Thomas was expected. But the next day, a girl is sent up-the first girl to ever arrive in the Glade. And more surprising yet is the message she delivers.

Thomas might be more important than he could ever guess. If only he could unlock the dark secrets buried within his mind.

11. February 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Apocalyptic, Fiction, Helen, Horror

The Stand by Stephen King, read by Helen, on 12/31/2012

This is the way the world ends: with a nanosecond of computer error in a Defense Department laboratory and a million casual contacts that form the links in a chain letter of death.

And here is the bleak new world of the day after: a world stripped of its institutions and emptied of 99 percent of its people. A world in which a handful of panicky survivors choose sides — or are chosen. A world in which good rides on the frail shoulders of the 108-year-old Mother Abagail — and the worst nightmares of evil are embodied in a man with a lethal smile and unspeakable powers: Randall Flagg, the dark man.

In 1978 Stephen King published The Stand, the novel that is now considered to be one of his finest works. But as it was first published, The Stand was incomplete, since more than 150,000 words had been cut from the original manuscript.

Now Stephen King’s apocalyptic vision of a world blasted by plague and embroiled in an elemental struggle between good and evil has been restored to its entirety. The Stand : The Complete And Uncut Editionincludes more than five hundred pages of material previously deleted, along with new material that King added as he reworked the manuscript for a new generation. It gives us new characters and endows familiar ones with new depths. It has a new beginning and a new ending. What emerges is a gripping work with the scope and moral complexity of a true epic.

For hundreds of thousands of fans who read The Stand in its original version and wanted more, this new edition is Stephen King’s gift. And those who are reading The Stand for the first time will discover a triumphant and eerily plausible work of the imagination that takes on the issues that will determine our survival.

11. February 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Apocalyptic, Fiction, Helen, Science Fiction

The Long Tomorrow by Leigh Brackett, read by Helen, on 07/30/2012

Two generations after destruction rained down upon America’s cities, the population is scattered into small towns. Cities are forbidden by law, as is scientific research.

Rumors abound of a secret place known as “Bartorstown”, where science is untrammelled by interference or hatred. A youth named Len Colter, developing an unhealthy thirst for knowledge exacerbated by the discovery of a forbidden radio, sets out on a long road. During this journey, he will change his mind many times before determining the correct direction for himself, and the benighted America in which he lives.

11. February 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Apocalyptic, Fiction, Helen, Science Fiction

Zone One by Colson Whitehead, read by Helen, on 06/30/2012

In this wry take on the post-apocalyptic horror novel, a pandemic has devastated the planet. The plague has sorted humanity into two types: the uninfected and the infected, the living and the living dead.

Now the plague is receding, and Americans are busy rebuild­ing civilization under orders from the provisional govern­ment based in Buffalo. Their top mission: the resettlement of Manhattan. Armed forces have successfully reclaimed the island south of Canal Street—aka Zone One—but pockets of plague-ridden squatters remain. While the army has eliminated the most dangerous of the infected, teams of civilian volunteers are tasked with clearing out a more innocuous variety—the “malfunctioning” stragglers, who exist in a catatonic state, transfixed by their former lives.

Mark Spitz is a member of one of the civilian teams work­ing in lower Manhattan. Alternating between flashbacks of Spitz’s desperate fight for survival during the worst of the outbreak and his present narrative, the novel unfolds over three surreal days, as it depicts the mundane mission of straggler removal, the rigors of Post-Apocalyptic Stress Disorder, and the impossible job of coming to grips with the fallen world.

And then things start to go wrong.

Both spine chilling and playfully cerebral, Zone One bril­liantly subverts the genre’s conventions and deconstructs the zombie myth for the twenty-first century.

10. February 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Apocalyptic, Dystopia, Fiction, Teen Books

Hollowland by Amanda Hocking, read by Angie, on 03/17/2012

The world has come to and end and zombies are run amok. This is the world of Amanda Hocking’s Hollowland. This is a fast paced zombie adventure novel. It reads almost more like a movie than a book and I could definitely see it unfolding on screen. There are things I like about this book. I like the heroine; I think she kicks ass and has come to grips with the world as it now is; she isn’t sentimental except about her brother. She sees things as they are and she is realistic. So often the characters in these post-apocalyptic books don’t seem to be in touch with the reality of their world and she is. I like that. I also love Ripley the zombie eating lion. I know…not very realistic, but for some reason it worked for me and I liked it. I didn’t really like the boy in this one. Didn’t get the romance angle didn’t see the point and not sure why it was in there. Didn’t make sense to me why she was attracted to him or why they got together in the first place. My quibble since all these teen books seem to have to have a romance angle. This was a fun zombie book and I am glad I finally got to read it.

08. January 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Apocalyptic, Dystopia, Fiction, Kristy, Teen Books

Allegiant by Veronica Roth, read by Kristy, on 12/15/2013

The faction-based society that Tris Prior once believed in is shattered—fractured by violence and power struggles and scarred by loss and betrayal. So when offered a chance to explore the world past the limits she’s known, Tris is ready. Perhaps beyond the fence, she and Tobias will find a simple new life together, free from complicated lies, tangled loyalties, and painful memories.

But Tris’s new reality is even more alarming than the one she left behind. Old discoveries are quickly rendered meaningless. Explosive new truths change the hearts of those she loves. And once again, Tris must battle to comprehend the complexities of human nature—and of herself—while facing impossible choices about courage, allegiance, sacrifice, and love.

Told from a riveting dual perspective, Allegiant, by #1 New York Times best-selling author Veronica Roth, brings the Divergent series to a powerful conclusion while revealing the secrets of the dystopian world that has captivated millions of readers in Divergent and Insurgent.

11. December 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Apocalyptic, Dystopia, Fiction, Kira, Romance, Science Fiction · Tags:

Allegiant by Veronica Roth, read by Kira, on 12/06/2013

This title unlike the previous 2, is narrated by both Tris and Tobias. I’m Not sure this adds that much (unlike hearing Beans narrative in contrast to Ender’s version of the same story). I’m always suspicious that the author is trying to pad their work to add more pages.  Maybe Roth is pulling a Hobbit Movie extension trick, trying to get as much out of the story as she can.  Overall, I liked this book, no it wasn’t as fast-paced as the other two, but you gained a lot of explanation.  I wonder if Roth knew where the series was headed when she published the first book.

 

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If a song was playing during the opening scenes, it could be the Who’s “Don’t Get Fooled Again” new boss, same as the old boss…

30. November 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Apocalyptic, Dystopia, Fiction, Leslie, Teen Books

Ashes, Ashes by Jo Treggiari, read by Leslie, on 11/06/2013

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In a future Manhattan devastated by environmental catastrophes and epidemics, sixteen-year-old Lucy survives alone until vicious hounds target her and force her to join Aidan and his band, but soon they learn that she is the target of Sweepers, who kidnap and infect people with plague.

This wasn’t too bad, as far as dystopian novels go.  I thought it was good, but fairly predictable to me.  Teens will enjoy it and want to read the rest of the series to see how the characters turn out.  I think I may pass on the rest of them.  Very interesting to wonder if we would turn out the past as quickly in order to get our survival skills fine tuned.

26. November 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Apocalyptic, Dystopia, Fantasy, Fiction, Tammy, Teen Books

The Death Cure (The Maze Runner Series book 3) by James Dashner, read by Tammy, on 11/09/2013

death cureThe conclusion of the Maze Runner trilogy. Our hero Thomas does not trust anyone at Wicked even though now they say the time for lies has ended. Wicked claims that it is up to the Gladers to complete the final blueprint for the cure for the flare and that they need to have their memories restored to complete the process and agree to a final voluntary test. Thomas already remembers more than anyone at Wicked knows and he doesn’t trust that the memories that would be restored would be real. But the truth is more dangerous than Thomas can imagine. Will he survive the cure?

 

12. November 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Apocalyptic, Fiction, Kira, Science Fiction, Teen Books · Tags:

Insurgent by Veronica Roth, read by Kira, on 11/12/2013

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I enjoyed parts of this book immensely – however, the romance aspect of “oh, I couldn’t possibly be honest with him” drove me nuts.  But the action was uptempo like Divergent, and the ending was good.  I was told it was a cliffhanger, but I thought it was a good ending – everybody wound up where they should be, but new things were going to happen next!  Can’t wait to read the next one.

06. November 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Apocalyptic, Courtney, Dystopia, Fiction, Science Fiction, Teen Books

The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey, read by Courtney, on 10/15/2013

After the first four waves of the alien invasion, there’s not a whole lot of humanity left on earth. Cassie has been on her own, struggling to survive. The only thing keeping her going is a promise she made to her little brother. Of course, she’s not sure that her brother is even still alive. But if she doesn’t try, then what’s the point? Cassie isn’t even sure she knows who she is anymore; she is so far from the girl she remembers herself being before her life became focused on survival. When she meets Evan, she isn’t sure about him, but is willing to give him a chance. After all, saving her brother will be easier with help, assuming that Evan really is human.
This book had a lot of hype leading up to its publication and I approached it with some trepidation, in spite of the fact that I’ve been a fan of Yancey’s Monstrumologist series. Fortunately, I found it to be quite entertaining, even it wasn’t the mind-blowing experience the early press made it out to be. Starting the story during the fifth wave of the alien invasion is an interesting place to begin. Cassie doesn’t have all that much information about what’s going on. All she can do is speculate based on what she has witnessed, but appearances can be deceiving. Fortunately for the reader, there are other narrators whose perspectives aid in the world building. I cannot say that any of the revelations came as a surprise, nor are any of the themes particularly ground-breaking. Readers will likely be more interested in the characters themselves. There are strong survival and military elements which balance out the hints of romance rather nicely. Adept plotting adds to the tension and makes for a fast-paced read. There’s plenty to like here if you’re not going into it expecting miracles.

06. November 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Angie, Apocalyptic, Fiction · Tags:

World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max Brooks, read by Angie, on 11/05/2013

The history of the zombie apocalypse told through a series of interviews with survivors, politicians, soldiers, and others. This is not the zombie war up close and personal; it is recollections told years after the hostilities have calmed down. We learn how the outbreak started, what the first responses were and how each country handled the great panic and cleanup. At first I wasn’t sure I was going to like this book. I didn’t feel like I was getting a complete picture of the World War Z. I thought the beginning was pretty fragmented and a little hard to follow. But then I got into the story and couldn’t put it down. I wanted to learn more about what happened and how the people handled it. I loved that we got a picture of the entire world and how different groups handled things differently. My quibble is that I didn’t feel like things were adequately explained. It seemed like there were some geopolitical changes in the world that must have happened before the war and we are just supposed to know what they were. I also think I would have liked less broad and more specific information. As much as I love stand alone books it seems like there was so much information that this book would have benefited from being a duo or trilogy.

**UPDATE** I watched the movie and then I thought…Did I miss something? Is this about the same thing? Other than the zombies it really didn’t seem to be from the book. So I thought I should reread the book to see if I was wrong. I wasn’t really. I think they just took the idea of the book and made the movie. Not that it was a bad movie. It was a fun, zombie flick. So this time around I listened to the book on audio. Didn’t really change my opinion of the book. Still had the same strengths and weaknesses. I did really enjoy the huge cast they had narrating. I kept looking at the list and trying to place who the person was. I think I got more out of it reading it though.

31. October 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Apocalyptic, Fiction, Leslie, Teen Books

Eye of the Storm by Kate Messner, read by Leslie, on 10/09/2013

Eye of the Storm

In the not-too-distant future, huge tornadoes and monster storms are a part of everyday life. Sent to spend the summer in the heart of storm country with her father in the special StormSafe community his company has developed, Jaden Meggs is excited to reconnect with her dad after he spent years researching storm technology in Russia.

While excited to be spending time with her dad, Jaden learns some uncomfortable truths about him and what he has to do with all of the powerful storms that avoid the community that he helped build.  Jaden has to decide if family is more important than doing the right thing.  Very good book to recommend to my younger readers.

08. October 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Apocalyptic, Bryan, Science Fiction, Teen Books

Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card, read by Bryan, on 10/08/2013

Ender, a child, is forced into a life path not of his choosing – military leader of Earth.Ender

16. September 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Apocalyptic, Fiction, Horror, Teen Books · Tags:

Engines of the Broken World by Jason Vanhee , read by Angie, on 09/15/2013

Gospel and Merciful Truth live in a cabin in the woods with their mother, who has just died. Their only neighbors are Widow Cally and Jenny Gone and the Minister, a made thing who preaches the word of God. They are surrounded by a closing fog that leaves nothingness in their wake. Merciful thinks her mother is up and moving even though she is dead. The minister is keeping secrets. The world is ending and strange things are happening.

I’m not sure I’ve ever read a book about the world ending because God is punishing humanity. Most apocalyptic books have some references to God and religion (not always positive), but I don’t think God is often shouldering responsibility for the end of the world. This is an interesting mix of horror and spirituality. The characters are confined to the cabin because of a snow storm for the majority of the book which makes it very claustrophobic. Gospel and Merciful have to rely on themselves for most of what they know. Everyone is hiding things from them or lying and it is up to them to discern the truth. I’m not sure it all makes sense; the backstory is not adequately explained in my opinion. There is a sense of mystery and unknowingness that permeates the entire thing. There is also a beauty in Merciful’s story as she tries to figure things out. Ultimately she is responsible for her choices and the decisions she makes and she accepts that. There is no happy ending for our characters; just choices, mistakes and an ending.

I received a copy of this book at ALA 2013 and from the publishers on Netgalley.com.

11. September 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Angie, Apocalyptic, Fiction, Science Fiction

The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker, read by Angie, on 09/11/2013

The Earth is slowing, days are getting longer, the planet is not in sync with clocks anymore. It starts as 56 minutes, then gradually lengthens until the days can last weeks as the Earth slowly moves towards its demise. Julie is an 11-year-old girl when the slowing starts. She tells us the story of how plants and animals withered and died, how people grew sick from gravity sickness, how the world fractured into those living on clock-time and those living on real-time, and of how the Earth died.

This is not a fast-paced, action-packed apocalyptic book. It is a slow, measured study of the end of the world. Even at the end of the world, Julie is still dealing with boys and friends and her parent’s marriage problems. She experiences friendships growing apart, her first love, her mother’s manic worry, and her father’s infidelity. This is set against the background of food shortages, species extinction, radiation from the sun and people disappearing.

On paper this seems more like a young teen novel, but it is written for adults. Julie is telling the story as an adult looking back on her life as an 11-year-old. As such, the voice is not always what you would expect from an 11-year-old girl; some of her insights are too wise, some of her foreshadowing too precise. I enjoyed Julie, but I don’t think this is a book for everyone. For those used to a different type of end of the world saga, they will probably be frustrated by the slow pace. For those wanting answers and scientific facts, they will be disappointed in the lack. We just know the Earth is slowing and the world is dying; we do not know why or how. Therefore, we just have to live our lives and hope for the best.

10. September 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Apocalyptic, Dystopia, Fiction, Paranormal, Teen Books

Elemental by Antony John, read by Angie, on 09/09/2013

In the not too distant future a plague has wiped out the population of Earth. All that is left are those who took to the water to escape. They live on clan ships, pirate ships and there is a small community on Hatteras Island. This community of 14 people has set itself apart from the others; they are different. These people have control of the elements: earth, wind, fire, water. When a storm comes up the Guardians (adults) send the children to nearby Roanoke Island to shelter. When the storm is over the kids realize the Guardians have been kidnapped by pirates. It is up to them to first make sure they don’t get kidnapped as well and second rescue their parents.

Our cast of characters includes Alice, fire element, who has a secret and who is kind of an outcast; Rose, water element, the darling of the community and daughter of the leader; Dennis, wind element, brother of Rose; Griffin, earth element, deaf and lame boy who is also a seer; and Thomas, no element, brother of Griffin and true outcast of the community who no one will touch. On Roanoke, secrets are revealed about the Guardians and the past and more questions arise. Everyone’s elements seem to work so much better there than on Hatteras. And there is the question of why the pirate Dare wants “the solution” and what exactly that is.

I like the characters of Thomas and Griffin. They are intriguing because they are different from everyone else and they share a strong brotherly bond. I like how Antony John seems to always have deaf characters in his books and how they are not shown as weaker than others, just different. I am not sure why the romance element had to be brought up. It seemed a little forced to me. There is a love triangle between Thomas, Rose and Alice that plays throughout. Thomas seems to go back and forth between which girl he likes at any given moment. In such a small community I really wondered how they planned to continue the population. It isn’t really brought up, but I kept thinking about it throughout the book.

This book left more questions than it answered. It is clearly the start of a series and as such does a great job of peaking your interest and making you want to read more. I like the fact that it is set in the real world and the not so distant future. I really want to know what is so special about Roanoke and why these people have powers and what it has to do with the original colony there. All questions I hope will be answered in future books. This is an intriguing start and I can’t wait to see where it goes.

09. September 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Apocalyptic, Fiction, Helen, Horror

The stand by Stephen King, read by Helen, on 08/25/2013

This is the way the world ends: with a nanosecond of computer error in a Defense Department laboratory and a million casual contacts that form the links in a chain letter of death.

And here is the bleak new world of the day after: a world stripped of its institutions and emptied of 99 percent of its people. A world in which a handful of panicky survivors choose sides–or are chosen. A world in which good rides on the frail shoulders of the 108-year-old Mother Abagail–and the worst nightmares of evil are embodied in a man with a lethal smile and unspeakable powers: Randall Flagg, the dark man.