16. December 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Apocalyptic, Leslie, Teen Books

Partials by Dan Wells, read by Leslie, on 05/27/2012

Partials (Partials, #1)

The human race is all but extinct after a war with Partials–engineered organic beings identical to humans–has decimated the population. Reduced to only tens of thousands by RM, a weaponized virus to which only a fraction of humanity is immune, the survivors in North America have huddled together on Long Island while the Partials have mysteriously retreated. The threat of the Partials is still imminent, but, worse, no baby has been born immune to RM in more than a decade. Our time is running out.

I love science fiction based books so this book was very appealing to me.  Another take on what could happen to future of humanity, I enjoyed reading it.  If you don’t like science fiction or apocalyptic tales, then this is not for you.

05. December 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Apocalyptic, Courtney, Teen Books

Ashes by Ilsa J. Bick, read by Courtney, on 11/05/2012

Now here’s a very interesting twist on the zombie genre…an EMP (electro-magnetic-pulse) bomb goes off, fries all electronics and scrambles the synapses in the heads of the vast majority of the population. Alex is out in the woods, preparing to release her parent’s ashes while she still can. Alex has an incurable brain tumor that has already taken her sense of smell and left her with a death sentence looming over her head. She is out camping when the EMP bomb (or series of bombs) goes off. With her is a young girl, Ellie and her dog, Mina. Ellie has recently lost her father to active military service in Iraq and has now seen her grandfather die when his pacemaker is taken out by the EMP. Alex and Ellie continue their trek through the woods, hoping to find a ranger station and get help. Along the way they meet Tom, a young soldier on leave from Afghanistan. Together, the three attempt to survive in the face of diminishing supplies, violent survivors and the brain-scrambled “zombies” who are all the more scary for their adaptive capabilities. About the only thing actually going in Alex’s favor is the “zap” scrambled her brain such that her sense of smell returns better than ever. In fact, she can smell threats coming…
So much goes on and happens here that there are about a zillion questions that the reader will have left by the end of this installment. How long can the three survive? How long can they survive alone? What really did happen to Ellie, Mina and Tom? What’s with the uber-strange town of Rule? And who the heck though it was a good idea to set off a series of EMPs anyway? Here’s hoping the next book offers more answers. I was getting pretty frustrated with Alex by the end, so I hope she pulls herself together and becomes the protagonist we all wanted her to be.

05. November 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Apocalyptic, Courtney, Teen Books

Ashfall by Mike Mullin, read by Courtney, on 10/23/2012

As the book begins, Alex has just had a fight with his family about going to visit his cousins in Illinois. He gets his way and stays home for the weekend. As he’s playing World of Warcraft, the power goes out and the noises begin. The next thing he knows, a giant projectile has crashed through the roof of his house and set it on fire. He manages to escape the burning house, but quickly realizes his problems are just beginning. Yellowstone has just erupted, and it’s the largest eruption in human history. Even though Alex is over 900 miles away in Cedar Rapids, IA, he is deafened by the ensuing noise. By this time, ash is beginning to fall from the sky and the light is diminishing rapidly. As soon as the noise dies down, Alex decides he is going to find his family. Thus begins a 140 mile trek across an ashen wasteland, populated by the occasional farm house with gun-wielding occupants, impromptu small town refugee centers and large-scale FEMA camps.
This is very dark and gritty. The threat of starvation and exposure appears to bring out the worse in the vast majority of those affected. Alex struggles to retain his humanity in the face of dire circumstances, which makes him an admirable character. Recommend this to fans of survival fiction, they won’t be disappointed.

29. October 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Apocalyptic, Fiction, Teen Books

Dead and Gone by Jonathan Maberry, read by Angie, on 10/29/2012

Dead and Gone is a little ebook novella set between Dust and Decay and Flesh and Blood. In it we meet Riot aka Sister Margaret. She is running away from the Church of Night zealots who want to return her to their life. Along the way she fights zombies and tries not to starve in the desert. Then she meets Jolt and Gummi Bear. They are survivors with a different mentality…they don’t kill. They see the world and survival as a game to be played and enjoyed.

It was nice to meet new characters in the Rot & Ruin of the world. Riot was interesting in a very damaged sort of way. Not sure what I think of Jolt and Gummi…they are interesting and fun characters but their philosophy just seems strange in the world they are living in. I am sure we will find out more about the Church of Night as they cause trouble for Benny and the gang (which I am sure they will). Can’t wait to read the next installment.

10. October 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Andrea, Apocalyptic, Thriller/Suspense · Tags:

12.21 by Dustin Thomason, read by Andrea, on 10/08/2012

It’s two weeks before the 21st of December, the end of the world for many 2012-ers. For Dr. Gabriel Stanton, a prion researcher at the CDC, it’s just another regular year. L.A. is quiet, and everything seems to be normal. However, by the end of this normal day, Stanton has discovered a prion disease that threatens to wipe L.A. and possibly the rest of the major cities in the world off the map. Chel Manu, a descendant of the ancient Mayans and a Guatemalan American researcher at the Getty Museum possesses a stolen Mayan codex that coincidently was acquired through two men who are now dead from the newly discovered prion disease. After translating the first few pages, she starts to believe it holds the secret to why the ancient Mayan kingdoms of her ancestors vanished. A race to save all of humanity begins as Gabe and Chel attempt to combine their knowledge together to understand the Mayan tragedy and discover a cure to the disease that threatens to extinguish modern day civilization.

12.21 was a great read from beginning to end. Thomason combined medical knowledge and Mayan history into an action-packed book that was difficult to put down.

04. October 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Andrea, Apocalyptic, Dystopia, Teen Books, Thriller/Suspense

The Scorch Trials (Maze Runner #2) by James Dashner, read by Andrea, on 10/03/2012

So the Gladers went from a horrible maze with creepy, blob-like creatures to a wasteland of endless desert wracked with solar flares, lightning storms and crazy humans that have the Flare, a virus that apparently eats away at the brain and makes people irrationally violent and very dangerous. The desert, better known as the Scorch, is the Gladers next trial. They must make it across the Scorch in two weeks to a safe haven – about 100 miles of dry land to cover. Even worse, there is another group consisting of all girls that went through a maze trial very similar to the one the Gladers endured and they are out to get Thomas, the main guy from the first book. I feel with this book the reader becomes more aware of who WICKED is and what the group’s role is in all of the “trials.” It was more informative than the first one as they reveal more of Thomas’s lost memories. I was certainly more excited about the second book, as it goes further into detail why the things in the first book happened the way they did.

 

08. September 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Apocalyptic, Dystopia, Fiction, Teen Books

The Kill Order (Maze Runner prequel) by James Dashner, read by Angie, on 09/06/2012

The Maze Runner had such potential that was just wasted in the later books, which became convoluted messes. I had hoped that The Kill Zone would clear up some of the confusion created in the last book of this trilogy. That’s what prequels are supposed to do afterall. I wanted to know all about WICKED and how and why the maze was created, what role Thomas and Theresa played in it, and the rational behind everything. But we don’t get any of that. If The Kill Zone was a stand alone novel I would say it is pretty decent. There was lots of action and suspense, the world ends as we know it and there is a shady government organization wiping people out. But it doesn’t stand alone and that is the problem.

Instead of Thomas and Theresa we get Mark, Trina, Alec and a bunch of other people. When we meet them they are surviving in the Appalachian Mountains after escaping from New York. Then a berg appears in the sky and starts shooting people with darts filled with a virus. Some people die right away and others take time to die and still others turn crazy. The gang decides they need to find out what is going on and follow the berg’s flight to a secret bunker. Along the way there are more villages like theirs, new crazy religious cults and all kinds of other fun stuff. This is non-stop action and pretty much every chapter includes a fight of some kind. In between the current events we get Mark’s flashbacks/nightmares of what happened when the solar flares hit and they were stuck in New York.

What I liked most about this book was the flashback sequences. I am a sucker for the end of the world and the world died pretty spectacularly in this book. Solar flares basically cooked everyone outside, then the polar icecaps melted and sea levels rose dramatically. So our intrepid survivors had to stay indoors in a flooded world. The not so great parts were the trek through the woods to find the answer to the virus. There wasn’t really any new ground covered here. Of course you had crazy people killing everyone and people who found a strange religion and cannibals and what not. What else are you going to have at the end of the world? We don’t really get any good intel on the shady government or their rationale behind the virus. And since it is non-stop action there isn’t a whole lot of character building. I wanted more from this book and was a bit disappointed when I didn’t get it. But it isn’t a bad book and if you forget the rest of the trilogy it is even a little better.

08. September 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Apocalyptic, Fiction, Science Fiction, Teen Books

Monument 14 (Monument 14 #1) by Emmy Laybourne, read by Angie, on 09/06/2012

If the world ends the perfect place to be is a megastore. It has everything you need, including riot gates to keep out others. That is exactly the situation 14 kids from Monument, CO find themselves in. On their way to school their buses are swamped by megahail. The high school bus crashes, the elementary bus saves them and drives into the local Greenway store (Sam’s Club/Costco/Walmart). The bus driver goes for help and leaves our intrepid group of kids to fend for themselves. They quickly discover that it isn’t just hail. A volcano has exploded and caused a megatsunami to wipe out the Eastern US. The volcano also caused massive weather patterns thus the hail. Then on top of it all their is the largest earthquake in history right there in Colorado. This earthquake wipes out NORAD and causes a chemical weapons leak with all kinds of nasty side effects. So the kids fortify and settle in for the long haul at Greenway.

Our group of kids ranges from kindergarten to seniors so we have a lot to work with. However, they are all your stereotypical characters: super jock Jake, bully/popular boy Brayden, popular girl Astrid, mothering Josie, super smart Alex, slutty wannabe Shalaiah, religious Batiste, Spanish-speaking Ulysses, boy scout Niko, been-there-done-that world weary Max, super whiny Chloe and of course cute kids Caroline and Henry. Then we have our narrator who I didn’t figure out was a boy until several pages in: Dean is nerdy, bookish, tall and skinny and of course has a crush on Astrid (who doesn’t know he is alive). Because this is a teen novel we have a love triangle (my pet peeve seriously), but not just one love triangle but two! Dean likes Astrid who is going out with Jake. Niko likes Josie who has the hots for bad boy Brayden. Not cool Laybourne…not cool. I think love triangles are such a crutch and weak writing and they really turn this book into a teen soap at times.

So the characters are all stereotypes but that really doesn’t detract from the story. With this large of a cast you expect stereotypes and the story moves along so well that it is fine. I wish there was more character growth in the book but oh well it really only takes place over 12 days so not a lot of time. All the disasters happen in the first couple of chapters and then the kids just settle in and start living in Greenway. I liked seeing how they organized their society and really they did seem to act like normal kids: playing, eating candy, raiding the pharmacy, but I wish there would have been more urgency to the story. Those first chapters really move and then everything slows down. It isn’t until the last few chapters when adults enter the story that things pick up again.

I feel like this was a wasted opportunity. After all, the world as they know it is ending and they don’t seem to react to it very much other than whining for mommy. We really don’t see much of the outside world either which is another wasted opportunity. They are in a huge store filled with supplies and no one wants in??? There are crazy people (affected by the chemical weapons) and we only see one trying to come to the store?? I think it would have been interesting if the kids had to defend the store or make more hard choices about people outside. Then when they finally do meet two people outside and let them in it is your typically storyline that you could see a mile away. <spoiler>Of course the Latino garden who all the kids love is going to turn into a pedophile. And of course the grumpy old man doesn’t survive. </spoiler>

This is sounding pretty negative but I did actually enjoy this book. Right up until the end that is. I like the psychological feel of the book even if I wished it had more action and less teen love drama. But then when the kids decide to make a run to Denver for rescue things turn stupid. <spoiler>Astrid has been an annoying character hiding for much of the book but suddenly she decides she can’t go get rescued because she turns into one of the crazies and she is PREGNANT! Seriously! You didn’t even know she was dating Jake until they came to the store and suddenly she is four months along. Then Dean, because he is a wuss and loves Astrid, decides to stay too. Even though his brother is going and he knows his parents are waiting for him. This is of course after Jake goes outside to do reconnaissance and runs away. He can’t take his loss of popularity and descent into druggiedom I guess. So since Astrid doesn’t have Jake she turns to Dean because of course she knows he likes her and he falls for that crap. Left a bad taste in my mouth and seemed really stupid to me. </spoiler>

In spite of all this I will probably read the next book because I want to know how things turn out.

08. September 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Apocalyptic, Fiction, Paranormal · Tags:

The Strain (The Strain Trilogy #1) by Guillermo del Toro, Chuck Hogan , read by Angie, on 09/05/2012

The Strain makes vampires monsters again. They aren’t conflicted or sparkly or misunderstood. They are killing machines infected with the vampire virus and they want to take over the world. The entire time I was reading this book I kept thinking I was reading a tv miniseries. You can see Guillermo del Toro’s cinematic stamp all over this book from the transitions to the flashbacks. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing; I like tv miniseries. And this story was strangely compelling. A plane lands at JFK and is dead; no lights, no radio, no movement. All the people are dead too except for four survivors. The CDC is called in lead by Ephraim Goodweather. He is puzzled and concerned. Then he teams up with pawn shop owner Abraham Sekarian, your typical holocaust surviving, vampire slaying old man. Abraham introduces Ephraim to the world of vampires and vampire slaying. Sure he is skeptical but reality soon makes him a believer.

First the bad: even with the cinematic quality there was a lot of filler in this book and not story filler. I am talking about weird asides about rats and HAZMAT and the eclipse. They were boring and chopped up the storytelling and frankly made the book twice as long as it needed to be. There was also a lot of tell not show. We are told what characters are doing and feeling instead of seeing them do and feel it. Always weak storytelling. The characters are stereotypes and pretty thin. Ephraim is a recently divorced dad going through a custody battle. He didn’t want to break up his marriage and has rearranged his whole life to be with his son Zack. Of course mom is mad and not budging on anything. At one point he misses a custody session because of course he is in the middle of a horrible epidemic and the psychiatrist basically blows him off saying he lost his chances for custody. Really??? The epidemic is on the news and they can’t reschedule? Seriously?? Nora is partner is of course barely mentioned other than she is his partner and he had an affair with her. Then you have the middle part of the book which is basically people turning into vampires and Ephraim being confused…for a couple hundred pages! The pacing in this book is definitely off; a lot could have been trimmed and the book shortened. And what was up with the eclipse; it basically had no point in the story but went on for chapters.

The good: I liked the flashbacks to Abraham’s story. These were interesting, relevant and exciting. I liked Abraham as a character too. He was by far the most interesting one in the whole book. I actually liked the vampires; they are evil and nasty and just want to kill you. That is what vampires are supposed to do. I kind of enjoyed the different take on the vampire tale. They don’t bite you they have giant stingers that cut your throat and suck your blood. There are little worms that invade your body when attacked and transform you (kind of like cancer or a virus). I even liked the vampire/human partnership and the vampire politics (which we just glimpse and I assume are going to be much more relevant in the next book). That all made for some exciting reading; I just wish there wasn’t so much other crap getting in the way.

I didn’t hate this book, but it made me remember why I don’t read a lot of adult books. There is just too much crap in them. This book definitely could have used some editing down to fix the pacing and the length and the characters. But it reads like an exciting move of the week that just hasn’t been edited yet. With editing this could be must see tv.

05. September 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Apocalyptic, Courtney, Teen Books

The Kill Order (Maze Runner prequel) by James Dashner, read by Courtney, on 08/26/2012

OK. There were a few things I really wanted from this book. Namely, answers that I had left over from the first three books. I knew this was a prequel, but I had no idea where Dashner would pick up the storyline. I had *hoped* that it would involve Tom and Teresa’s work with WICKED prior to the maze. But, with the exception of the introduction, Teresa is nowhere to be found and Tom is only mentioned one more time in the entire book. Instead, it focuses on Mark, a teenaged boy who has become separated from his family in the aftermath of the solar flares, and Alec, a grizzled retired soldier-type, who leads Mark and several others to safety.
So there they are, a group of folks living in the Appalachian Mountains, minding their own business, when an airship lands nearby. The occupants of the airship begin shooting darts at the people in the settlement. Many of those hit die shortly after. Others take days to die. One thing is certain: if anyone is to survive, Mark and Alec are going to need to track down the source of the mysterious airship in the hopes that it can lead them to a cure.
So, if you’ve read the Maze Runner series, you very likely have a good idea of what’s in those darts. And really, this incident is about the only thing that explains any of the state of affairs in the rest of the series. I really wanted more world-building out of this series. The first two books were so good, mainly because they created so many intriguing questions. These last two books though…they just fall flat in spite of all the action. Fans of action will be pleased to note that this installment has it in spades. Nearly every chapter includes a near-death fight or daring escape, so it moves quickly. If it weren’t for the mentions of a few “Maze Runner”-specific lingo (i.e. “Bergs”, “Flat trans”, etc.), I might have even forgotten this was part of the series. In that sense, Kill Order can stand alone. It’s just that there was so much promise at the beginning of this series that it’s hard not to be a little disappointed when the ending/prequel doesn’t meet expectations.

13. August 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Apocalyptic, Children's Books, Fiction, Science Fiction

A Hero For WondLa (WondLa #2) by Tony DiTerlizzi , read by Angie, on 08/11/2012

Hero for Wondla picks up right where Search for Wondla left off. Eva Nine and Rovee have been picked up by pilot Hailey and are taken to the human city New Attica. Now of course nothing is what it seems in New Attica (is it ever?) and Eva and Rovee soon find themselves on the run again. This delightful book is filled with interesting characters and just enough sci-fi to keep us wanting more. I love all the creatures that now inhabit Earth or Orbana. I love the sinister leader of New Attica and his bubble-headed daughters. But most of all I love the relationship between Eva and Rovee and the rest of the planet. This is truly a gem.

06. August 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Apocalyptic, Dystopia, Fiction, Romance, Teen Books · Tags:

Masque of the Red Death by Bethany Griffin, read by Angie, on 08/05/2012

Araby lives in a world filled with disease and despair, forced to wear a mask covering her face so she won’t catch the plague. She is cold and frozen from the death of her twin brother Finn years before. She spends her nights with her friend April at the Debauchery Club trying to find oblivion. It is at the Debauchery Club that she meets Will, the handsome club attendant taking care of his younger brother and sister, and Elliot, April’s reckless revolutionary brother. Elliot convinces her to join the resistance against his uncle, the ruler of the city, Prince Prospero. Araby must come to terms with her father’s role in the plague and her own desires.

This book is based on Poe’s Masque of the Red Death, which I have not read. But that did not diminish my enjoyment of this story at all. In fact, I might have to go back and read Poe’s version and compare. I loved the world created by Griffin. It is dark and dreary, filled with tattered clothes and steam carriages. Araby is an interesting narrator and a great heroine for our story. She has to balance her grief and guilt over her brother’s death, her parents’ apathy and her own desires. I like that the love triangle wasn’t a trite, messy thing (I HATE love triangles). This one worked because of the political messiness of the story. I do wish we would have gotten more information on Prince Prospero and Malcontent, but I foresee that coming up in the sequel. This is a fun book with lots of dystopian, steampunk angst.

I received a copy of this from the publisher at PLA 2012.

25. July 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Apocalyptic, Courtney, Horror, Teen Books · Tags:

This is Not a Test by Courtney Summers, read by Courtney, on 07/13/2012

Yes, a thousand times yes! This might be my new favorite zombie novel. Sloane’s life is miserable. And that’s before the zombies kill nearly everyone. Sloane had been planning on killing herself the day that the undead broke through the door of her house. Yes, she’s depressed. But that’s not even the half of it. Her mother died when Sloane was young. Her father was severely abusive. Her sister, Lily, ran away six months ago, in spite of promising to take Sloane with her. Now, petrified of her father and reeling from her sister’s betrayal, Sloane is faced with the zombie apocalypse. She winds up back at her high school with a handful of others who have managed to survive. There is distrust and in-fighting immediately and personalities continually clash. All Sloane wants to do is die. Nightmares of her father wake her up more at night than the fear of the undead.
What does one do when the world appears to be coming to an end? When you didn’t want to live in the first place? This is such a fascinating twist on the classic zombie novel. Summers, who has already proved herself an exceptional YA writer, once again shows her skills in giving voice to an all-too-common issue (the depression, not the zombies), giving this novel an added emotional charge.

28. June 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Andrea, Apocalyptic, Graphic Novel, Horror

100 Months by John Hicklenton, read by Andrea, on 06/27/2012

This book was very dark. If the sun hadn’t still been shining when I read it I may have had nightmares and/or been severely depressed. Suffering from MS, the author, John Hicklenton, committed assisted suicide the day after finishing this graphic novel. I was not surprised to learn that fact after reading and looking at the very disturbing and graphic illustrations. The entire story is about death and suffering. Mara, an earth goddess, is sent by her father (a scary looking creature who is presumably Satan) to slay the swine God Longpig (presumably all the negative aspects of humanity). It centers on her journey to find the Longpig. Mara claims the purpose of her task is to ultimately avenge her friend’s death (Jesus?).  Along the way, anyone she finds she punishes. She pretty much unleashes her wrath on all of humanity. The accompanying pictures are graphic but the composition and the usage of colors is quite breathtaking (if you can look past the death and destruction the illustrations represent).

I randomly came across this book while looking for another and am kind of glad I decided to read it. Considering this was Mr. Hicklenton’s final statement to the world, I almost wonder if he was trying to give people a glimpse of what he thought the world is coming to and what will happen if we don’t change. It was almost as if he believes in the whole idea of self-destruction is imminent if humanity refuses to change kind of view. Creepy but interesting book.

08. June 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Apocalyptic, Fiction, Teen Books

The Eleventh Plague by Jeff Hirsch, read by Angie, on 06/07/2012

The world as we know it has collapsed through war and disease. It is in this post-apoclyptic world that we meet Stephen. He is a scavenger with his father traveling the paths of the old world looking for things to trade and sell. Then his father has an accident and Stephen meets some new people; people who don’t live on the open road but have created a new town and are trying to rebuild their old lives.

Post-apocalyptic teen fiction is everywhere and there aren’t a lot of original stories left to tell. This one is definitely not an original; there isn’t anything really ground-breaking about this tale, but there also isn’t anything wrong with it. Stephen is an interesting character who wants to find a place to belong; he is struggling with who he is now that his grandfather is dead and his father is injured. He has to stand on his own for the first time. The rest of the characters aren’t quite as interesting. They all seem to be your typical archetypes for the post-apocalyptic world: evil slavers, people just trying to get by, family that wants to rule what little is left of their domain. Of course there is conflict, but it all gets resolved rather easily.

This book could actually be recommended for younger audiences (tweens) or your more innocent teens. It is a very clean read. There is only a bit of very clean kissing, no swearing that I can remember and even the violence is very non-violent. I would almost classify this as a gentle post-apocalyptic read. All the conflict is resolved at the end and everyone has their happily ever after.

05. June 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Apocalyptic, Fantasy, Fiction, Horror, Short Stories

Zombies Vs. Unicorns by Justine Larbalestier, Holly Black, read by Angie, on 06/03/2012

It is an age old question.

Zombies or Unicorns?

Are you on team Zombie or team Unicorn?

I assumed going into this collection I would definitely fall into the team Zombie category. I love zombie stories and movies and unicorns have always just seemed to girlie to me. And I have to admit that I am still on team Zombie, but the unicorns might have turned my head just a little bit.

This is a pretty solid collection of stories from some of the best teen authors of today. I love the back and forth banter of our team captains before each story. Yes, it could seem annoying to some but I thought it brought a lightness and a sense of fun and illustrated the challenge of the book. Justine Larbalestier and Holly Black were clearly having fun with this book and we should too.

As for the stories…some were better than others. Some were great short stories, some were not that great and a few I wish were the start of an actual book. So bring on the zombie apocalypse or the invasion of the unicorns. I am ready!

24. May 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Apocalyptic, Fiction, Science Fiction, Teen Books

Fear (Gone #5) by Michael Grant, read by Angie, on 05/21/2012

Michael Grant is dark and brutal and pulls no punches and I LOVE it! Fear definitely ramps up the tension for the Gone series. You can tell the end is neigh and I for one can not wait to see how this series is going to play out.

In Fear, we have our two camps. King Caine in Perdido Beach ruling through fear and intimidation and Sam at the Lake just plugging along. There has been peace for about 4 months and both sides are a little bored. But be careful what you wish for because the Gaiaphage is never done with its plots and schemes. And of course Drake/Brittney is always willing to carry them out. They have a lot to deal with in this book. The dome is changing, it is going dark. Soon they will lose all their light, which means no food. That is when the fear and chaos sets in.

I think what I loved most about this book was the character growth. I mean Astrid alone changed so much. She has always been a black/white no gray type of girl which made her not very likeable. Her genius/virgin personality and her unwillingness to compromise her principles really set her apart in this world. But the new Astrid is someone who the people can relate to and seems more human. I also loved that Sam realized that he is not a leader…finally the bumbling can stop! He is their warrior, their champion, but he is not the leader. Quinn stepped up the plate, Diana became more human, Caine learned some humility. Everyone was changing in this book and I loved it. They are growing up. I also loved the look on the outside. For four books we have been wondering what was going on outside the dome and we finally got a glimpse. I have a feeling this is going to be explored even more in the next book.

As I said Grant is brutal. There are scenes in this book that made me cringe but I get it because the FAYZ is a brutal place. I’m a little sad about the treatment of some of our mainstay characters; seems like they were thrown away in this book, but that goes back to the brutality of this world. I don’t want to spoil anything so I won’t talk about the ending or what we learn about the dome or Petey but only say OMG!

17. May 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Apocalyptic, Fiction, Science Fiction, Teen Books

Partials (Partials #1) by Dan Wells , read by Angie, on 05/15/2012

Humanity has been devastated by a war with the Partials (synthetic beings created by man to fight another war who rebelled against their creators). There are less than 50,000 humans left all huddled together on Long Island trying to survive. But humanity is not surviving; they can’t have children. During the war a virus called RM was released that killed 99% of the population and is still killing the babies born today. The survivors are immune but their children are not. In order to combat this disease the government has enacted the Hope Act which decrease all women age 18 and older must give birth as often as possible. It doesn’t matter the babies still die. The harsh dictates of the government have given rise to a rebel regime called the Voice and a civil war is imminent. No one has seen the Partials in 11 years since the end of the war.

Kira Walker is a 16-year old maternity medic. She is tired of watching baby after baby die. She wants to study the RM virus and find a cure. What she discovers is that researchers have studied every possible cure and there is no hope. Everyone is infected. Her idea is to capture a Partial and find a cure through their immunity. The government denies her request but that doesn’t stop her. What she finds will change everything; how she views herself, her world, her government, the Partials.

I have to admit that I had a hard time getting into this book. It starts out pretty slow and the action doesn’t really ramp up until the second half of the book. Once it gets going though it is pretty good. I like the implications of who is responsible for the war and RM and the downfall of humanity. Are humans culpable in their own demise? Where the Partials victims just trying to get a better life when they rebelled? I also really enjoyed the the look at what the human government has become. It is basically a totalitarian regime taking away peoples rights, for the good of the people and the state of course, but isn’t that how all these types of governments start. They send people to work camps, they search people’s homes, people disappear, they force women to get pregnant. I thought the society was fascinating and wish it had been explored a little bit more.

I guess that is my biggest complaint. There was a lot of time spent on the science of RM, which was interesting but not that interesting, but some of the world building/society stuff of the humans and partials was just barely touched on. Even some of the characters could have been more developed. Xochi for instance…why did she hate her mother so much, why did she want to rebel, what were her motivations? Then you have the Partial society which I am sure Wells is saving for book 2, but that was fascinating but just barely mentioned. I did enjoy the fact that this book, unlike other dystopians did not dwell on romantic interests even though they are present, and that the lead Kira was not a weak character. She knew what she wanted and went after it no matter what. She was determined, intelligent, strong and heroic. I liked her as a character. I am interested in this world but I am not sure I will read more about it. We will just have to see.

30. April 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Andrea, Apocalyptic, Contemporary Fiction, Science Fiction, Thriller/Suspense

The Maze Runner by James Dashner, read by Andrea, on 04/29/2012

After reading the post-apocalyptic Hunger Games series, I decided to start reading James Dashner’s Maze Runner series. There were several similarities between the two series. This book, like the Hunger Games series, is all about sacrifice, survival, and death. It is also going to the big screen. However, there were a few differences that made me like the Hunger Games much more. Although I liked The Maze Runner’s plot, I found Dashner’s writing style to be a little irritating. The creepy maze, desperation to find a way out, and suspense of the situations made me continue on, but the frequent breaks in the flow of the book (each chapter averaged about 2-4 pages at the most) seemed to chop the book up a little awkwardly. Overall, it was a good idea for a book and I am looking forward to learning what happens to the characters next.

27. April 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Apocalyptic, Fairy Tales and Folklore, Fiction, Teen Books

Cinder by Marissa Meyer , read by Angie, on 04/25/2012

Cyborg Cinderella…post-apocalyptic world…Earth and Lunar peoples at odds…strange plague ravaging the planet…handsome prince…evil queen. This is the world of Cinder and it is a fun, fast-paced adventure-filled world.

Cinder is a cyborg mechanic living with her adopted family in New Being after WWIV. As a cyborg she is not considered human but property of her family. Her stepmother hates her because she believes Cinder caused the death of her husband. Cinder meets Prince Kai when he brings her an android to fix. Soon after Cinder’s stepsister Peony falls ill with the plague and her stepmother volunteers Cinder for medical research. At the medical facility Cinder learns things about herself; who she is and where she came from. All of this is set against the political backdrop of Earthen/Lunar politics that Kai is dealing with. The moon is ruled by an evil queen who uses magic (or bioelectricity) to control people. She wants to marry Prince Kai and through that union rule Earth.

First of all I loved the character of Cinder. She is kickass and awesome. Who wouldn’t love a cyborg Cinderella who is also a mechanic. The image of her coming to the ball all wrinkled and stained and in a crashed car just made me smile. I like that she solves her own problems, she doesn’t depend on anyone else, she doesn’t whine about her situation, she just does what needs to be done. I also like some of the other characters like the evil Queen Levana. She is just so nasty and exactly what an evil queen should be like. Prince Kai reminded me of the Disney princes a bit…he was kind of bland and more like a placeholder than a real character. Didn’t leave that much of an impression on me. I didn’t really buy the romance between Kai and Cinder. I didn’t think they actually had time or motivation to develop feelings for each other more than just a simple crush or thinking the other was “hot”.

I thought the Cinderella plot was well done; however, since we knew it was there it is a bit obvious throughout the story. You know who she is and the big revealing twist of her identity is not a surprise at all if you have been paying attention. I liked the modern twists though. The foot falling off at the ball (because it is her cyborg foot), the chariot is her old car she fixed up, the dress is her stepsisters castoff and wrinkled and greasy. I thought these were charming ways to tell the Cinderella part of the story.

I did think the world building was a little generic. The story is supposed to be set in New Beijing but we really don’t get any Asian influences. However, I really did like the Lunar stuff. I liked what Meyer did with a lunar colony…they developed abilities, the way they are ruled through glamour and manipulation, they cause a plague on earth, they want to take over earth, etc.

This is a series that I think has a lot of potential. It sounds like the next book in the series is about Little Red Riding Hood so I am interested to see how Meyer ties it all together. Definitely worth the read.