20. March 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Adult Books, Apocalyptic, Dystopia, Fantasy, Fiction, Paranormal, Tammy

Annihilation (Southern Reach #1) by Jeff VanderMeer, 195 pages, read by Tammy, on 03/17/2015

annihilation  Book one of a trilogy. Annihilation is set in Area X. An area cut off from the rest of the continent for decades that has been reclaimed by nature. The first expedition returned with reports of a pristine, Edenic landscape; all the members of the second expedition committed suicide; the third expedition died in a hail of gunfire as its members turned on one another; the members of the eleventh expedition returned as shadows of their former selves, and within months of their return, all had died of aggressive cancer.

Now the twelfth expedition is entering Area X. This group is made up of four women, an anthropologist, surveyor, psychologist a biologist. The biologist is our narrator and the psychologist is the leader of the group. Their mission is to map the terrain, collect specimens, record all their observations of their surroundings and one another. And most importantly avoid being contaminated by Area X and watch for signs of contamination in others.

This mystery/adventure story is wonderfully written. The text moves you along quickly and pulls you right into the world of Area X. It is different to read a whole novel and never learn the characters names or much about what they look like. This first book brings up lots and lots of questions. I checked with other staff who have finished the trilogy and some questions are answered but not a lot. If you can enjoy reading for the way it is written and pondering about the mysterious of life and our universe then this is for you. If you need solid answers by the end of the series, skip this one.

 

19. March 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Award Winner, Children's Books, Dystopia, Fiction, Science Fiction · Tags:

The Giver by Lois Lowry, 179 pages, read by Angie, on 03/18/2015

It seems that utopian societies always have a dark side. The community in The Giver is no different; the perfect society is balanced by an absence of so many things – colors, feelings, choice. Jonas discovers this absence when he becomes the new Receiver of Memories. In this capacity he learns what really happens in his community and he finds that he can’t live with it. He has to make changes to his circumstances.

This is a really interesting book and a great book for discussions. There is the sameness of the community, the regimented lives of the citizens, the lack of choice in everything they do and the release of people from the community. I thought Jonas’s story was one many could relate to; he really grew up and into himself in the book. He learned to think and act for himself and as an adult.

I did find that when I finished the book I wanted to know more though. I wanted to know how they created the sameness — do they genetically engineer all the people to be color blind? The colors are still there obviously but the people just don’t see them. How did they get rid of the weather, the sun, the hills, the animals? I assume they have climate control, but they aren’t under a dome or anything so how does it work? How did the Receiver of Memories gather all the memories in the first place? They seem to be from many different people and places and times and at least one seemed to come from an animal (the elephant). How are they gathered and stored and tied to the community? Jonas looses them so they are obviously tied to a place. Lots of unanswered questions!

The ending is also very ambiguous and left a lot of questions. Was it real? Did he live or die? How will the community deal with the memories? Will the Giver be able to help them? Will the community change? And should the community change? Even with all the sameness and lack of choice was the community bad? Is release bad?

19. March 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Apocalyptic, Dystopia, Fantasy, Fiction, Mariah, Teen Books

Birthmarked by Caragh M. O'Brien, 362 pages, read by Mariah, on 03/16/2015

Gaia is a teenage girl who is pushed into an adult world, with adult problems, when her parents are suddenly arrested by the Enclave. This coming of age story is set in a dystopian future where global warming (called the cool age) has already scarred the Earth and several generations of survivors have hashed out a new way of life. Gaia follows in her mother’s footsteps as a midwife for a group of outsiders who live an archaic life. Bakers, carpenters and weavers are at odds with technological leftovers like movie theaters. Gaia’s life is fairly happy, despite that fact that the Enclave requires that a percentage of all babies delivered be “advanced” to the Enclave. These children are adopted into Enclave families. Though they will never see their birth parents again, it is considered a privilege because the children will go on to live rich, fulfilled lives. Gaia has no qualms with the situation until the evening her parents are arrested with no warning or explanation. As she begins to investigate, Gaia discovers a less savory side of the Enclave and starts questioning the rituals that have always been a part of her life. Leaving behind a prosperous job and the safety of ignorance, Gaia sets off to rescue her parents.

Birthmarked is neither the best, nor the worst, teen dystopian I have come across since the explosion of popularity in the genre began. The protagonist, Gaia, is a bit annoying in her blind devotion followed by startlingly sudden and inept actions. However, most of the characters are likable and the plot is simple and clear. It is an easy and fun read.

06. March 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Dystopia, Fiction, Mariah, Science Fiction, Teen Books

The Program by Suzanne Young, 405 pages, read by Mariah, on 03/05/2015

The Program is set in yet another dystopian future, but this time the plague racking the Earth is suicide. A type of death that once was a choice, has become a sickness that affects a large percentage of the teenage population. Worse still, it appears to be a communicable disease. In order to deal with this, governments are turning to The Program. Teens who are flagged with depression are involuntarily admitted to a center which attempts to cure their illness by wiping away any memories that might make the teens sad. The hero and heroine of this book both suffer through the trauma of The Program, but once they are released as having been cured, they fight to regain their memories. No one has ever accomplished this before and they must try while forced to run away from parents, watchers, and government officials who would lock them back up. Sloane and James, lovers prior to the program, not only find each other, but slowly piece together some memories of their past together because “[she] may not remember him, but [her] heart does.” The story ends as they break ties with their family and start running.

I was not impressed with this book. The plot was thin and, as a reader, I really had to put in a lot of effort to suspend disbelief. Important parts, that do not flow smoothly in any kind of arranged sense, are left up to the reader to find some excuse for. Many parts seemed added solely to add a shock value to the narrative. It is a decent book, but if you have a limited amount of time to read, I would not bother with this one.

12. February 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Award Winner, Children's Books, Dystopia, Eric, Fantasy, Fiction

The Unwanteds by Lisa McMann, 390 pages, read by Eric, on 02/07/2015

In the walled, dystopian city-state of Quill, each year brings the Purge, when children turning thirteen are sorted into two groups. The Wanteds are allowed to stay in Quill, and continue training at the university. The Unwanteds, those displaying any sort of artistic creativity, are taken from Quill to the Lake of Boiling Oil, as a death sentence for their transgressions. When Alex Stowe is taken with other Unwanteds to their fate, they instead discover their salvation- the Lake of Boiling Oil is a front for Artime, a magic refuge and school, where the artistic talents of the Unwanteds become spells capable of amazing things, including the inevitable defense of Artime when the High Priest Justine of Quill discovers the ruse.

At first, the similarities to Harry Potter were distracting, and I found some of the magical artistic powers and creatures to be a bit silly. As the story progressed, though, I was drawn in a little more with each chapter. By the end, I was enjoying it all, and wanting to continue to the next book. I just needed to keep the intended audience in mind, and let fantasy be wild. This Mark Twain Award winner is a great beginning for a creative series.

06. February 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Courtney, Dystopia, Graphic Novel, Horror, Science Fiction, Teen Books

Deadman Wonderland, Vol. 6 by Jinsei Kataoka, 212 pages, read by Courtney, on 01/14/2015

In yet another brutal and intriguing volume, Shiro tries to learn how to cook in order to cheer up Ganta, who has sunk into a deep depression.  It doesn’t really work.  In the aftermath of the prison break, the warden moves things in a new direction.  It is decided that the public will now be shown what “monsters” the Deadmen are.  Behind the scenes, prison officials are now turning regular prisoners into brain-washed Deadmen.  Every time anything gets better in this series, something devastating is sure to follow.  Still, very imaginative, if a bit disturbing.

04. February 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Courtney, Dystopia, Graphic Novel, Teen Books

Deadman Wonderland by Jinsei Kataoka, 224 pages, read by Courtney, on 01/13/2015

After the failure of their last attempt at getting a data chip out of Deadman Wonderland, Scar Chain regroups and tries again.  Ganta decides to try training and Shiro remains…well, Shiro.  DMW remains one of the darker and more intriguing manga series I’ve come across in recent memory.

29. January 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Dystopia, Fantasy, Fiction

The Last Wild by Piers Torday, 336 pages, read by Angie, on 01/28/2015

Oh how I hate a cliffhanger! Mainly because I don’t have the next book on hand to immediately start reading. I have wanted to read The Last Wild ever since I heard about it and it did not disappoint.

Kester is a boy who has been taken from his home and imprisoned in Spectrum Hall. He is unable to speak ever since his mom died several years ago. He hasn’t heard from his dad in the six years he has been in Spectrum Hall. Kester’s world is one in which there was a plague that destroyed all the animals and the food of the world. The people of the island where he lives are confined into four cities and the island is controlled by the powerful Factorium. One ordinary day in Spectrum Hall Kester discovers he can hear animals. First it is a cockroach and then pigeons. They break Kester out and take him to the last wild. There he meets the last stag and many other animals that have survived the plague. Unfortunately, they are in danger because the plague has reached the last wild. Their only hope is Kester and finding a cure. Kester sets off with the stag, cockroach, pigeons and a courageous wolf-pup to the city to find his father and a cure. Along the way he is joined by other animals and Polly, who has lived in the quarantine zone with her parents until they disappeared. They are chased by the evil henchmen of the Factorium who wants to destroy all animals no matter if they are sick or not. Kester has to find his courage and his voice in order to succeed.

It isn’t often that you read a book where the main character cannot talk. While Kester can talk to the animals, he is unable to communicate with the people he meets. This leads to some pretty interesting situations. As much as I liked Kester and Polly, it was really the animals who were the stars of this story. There is the only white pigeon who repeats everything the gray pigeons say only in a different order and often with completely different and hilarious meanings. There is the brave wolf-pup who is super courageous and let’s everyone know about his bravery. There is the cockroach named “General” who seems to sleep more than most put still claims to be the leader. There is the mouse who has a dance for every occasion. And finally the majestic stag who saves them time and again. The book is a mix of fantasy and dystopian and road novel mixed with coming of age. I loved every page of it!

05. January 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Apocalyptic, Dystopia, Fiction, Kira, Teen Books

Four: A Divergent Collection by Veronica Roth, 304 pages, read by Kira, on 11/29/2014

The_Traitor_coverFour_A_Divergent_Collection_cover  It is really interesting to see how an author constructs a backstory, or prequel, filling in information that leads up to the larger, already completed, more ambitious narrative.  We get to see Four’s day of Choosing.  We get to see him become and initiate and his relationship with Amar (and Amar’s disappearance).  With this prequel however, you really want to read the trilogy first, and then these prequel stories.  I don’t really know, if these stories would actually hold much interest, if you hadn’t already read Divergent.  The_Transfer_coverThe_Son_cover The_Initiate_cover

31. December 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Dystopia, Fiction, Kristy, Romance, Teen Books

Legend by Marie Lu, 305 pages, read by Kristy, on 12/21/2014

9275658What was once the western United States is now home to the Republic, a nation perpetually at war with its neighbors. Born into an elite family in one of the Republic’s wealthiest districts, fifteen-year-old June is a prodigy being groomed for success in the Republic’s highest military circles. Born into the slums, fifteen-year-old Day is the country’s most wanted criminal. But his motives may not be as malicious as they seem.

From very different worlds, June and Day have no reason to cross paths – until the day June’s brother, Metias, is murdered and Day becomes the prime suspect. Caught in the ultimate game of cat and mouse, Day is in a race for his family’s survival, while June seeks to avenge Metias’s death. But in a shocking turn of events, the two uncover the truth of what has really brought them together, and the sinister lengths their country will go to keep its secrets.

(goodreads.com)

31. December 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Dystopia, Fantasy, Fiction, Graphic Novel, Horror, Marsha, Paranormal, Thriller/Suspense · Tags:

American Vampire Vol 3 by Scott Snyder and Rafael Albuquerque, 288 pages, read by Marsha, on 12/31/2014

download (2)This third installment in the American Vampire series takes place during World War II in the 1940s.  Follow Pearl and Henry as well as Cash and Felicia as they battle for their very lives.  Again, Skinner Sweet, the first American Vampire makes an appearance, though he doesn’t figure as prominently in this volume as the other 2.  Still, he does not disappoint.  Ever wonder what would have happened if the Nazis had vampires?  Find out in American Vampire Vol 3.  The story is beautifully written and the art is amazing.

 

31. December 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Dystopia, Fiction, Graphic Novel, Horror, Marsha, Thriller/Suspense · Tags:

American Vampire Vol 2 by Scott Snyder and Rafael Albuquerque, 160 pages, read by Marsha, on 12/30/2014

download (1)Skinner Sweet is back in a second volume of American Vampire.  This volume takes place during the 1930s and has more about Pearl, the vampire Sweet created, and her lover, Henry.  The art is wild in the volume and Albuquerque has really outdone himself with showing vampires as they look in battle.  Enjoy this second installment.  Like the first, it promises to not disappoint!  Skinner is as sneaky as ever.

02. December 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Dystopia, Fiction, Kristy, Science Fiction, Teen Books

Specials by Scott Westerfeld , 384 pages, read by Kristy, on 11/28/2014

24765I greatly enjoyed the last book in the Uglies Trilogy. I love how Tally transforms in each book, and seeing her as a fierce and beautiful Special was intriguing. The end of the book wrapped up the series quite nicely. I can’t believe I waited so long to read these books! They are definitely one of my favorite dystopian series to date.

16. November 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Dystopia, Fantasy, Fiction, Kira, Teen Books · Tags:

Witch & Wizard by James Patterson and Gabrielle Charbonnet, 314 pages, read by Kira, on 11/14/2014

Witch_and_Wizard_CoverA fantasy novel by one of the most popular (if Not the MOST popular author – I think he has the broadest appeal).  I’d had such good luck with David Baldacci, and Nora Roberts.  Well this time I struck out.  There was way more freaking out than was necessary and also too much immediate foreshadowing “my next decision was stupid, and unfortunately, so was my next”.  I would think someone like Patterson would be good at straight out telling a story, without so much dancing around with the thoughts of the main characters.  Basically two teens wake up in the middle of the night and are taken to jail, after a new order has been elected into office.  Oh, yeah, and they both apparently have major powers, which their parents explained to them, except they weren’t listening.

08. November 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Drama, Dystopia, Fiction, Kristy, Romance, Teen Books, Women's Fiction (chick lit)

The One by Kiera Cass, 323 pages, read by Kristy, on 11/08/2014

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I’m not sure why I went ahead and read The One since I thoroughly disliked The Elite. It was a bad choice. The One is basically a repeat of books one and two of this series. America is still unsure about her relationship with the prince, the castle is still constantly attacked by rebels, and character development is still awkward and stilted. This series was such a bore/snore/waste of my time!

06. November 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Dystopia, Fiction, Kristy, Romance, Teen Books, Women's Fiction (chick lit)

The Elite by Kiera Cass, 336 pages, read by Kristy, on 11/05/2014

16248068While the Selection was fun and fluffy and romantic, The Elite was just annoying. America is one of the few Selected left, and she is trying to figure out whether she would be a good princess. She goes back and forth about this and about her love for both Prince Maxon and Aspen roughly a billion times. If one doesn’t give her attention, she gets huffy and falls into the arms of the other. She is wishy washy about pretty much everything. The plot was slow and boring, and nothing really happened except a few of the Selected got booted. Her rotten attitude in this novel made me very much dislike America.

03. November 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Apocalyptic, Award Winner, Dystopia, Fiction, Kristy, Science Fiction, Teen Books

Uglies by Scott Westerfeld, 448 pages, read by Kristy, on 10/31/2014

Uglies follows the story of Tally, a youth who lives in a dystopian world where everyone turns “pretty” when they reach age 16. This extreme plastic surgery changes people from normal to beautiful, but at a terrible cost. At first Tally both craves and embraces her society and the opportunity to become pretty, but she learns how corrupt the government is. Tally decides to defy her society, which opens up a new world of friendships, romance, and unexpected tragedies.

Uglies is the first book in the Uglies trilogy, and it brings up many themes ranging from corrupt governments to self acceptance.

I found this novel to be thought provoking, but perhaps not particularly believable. I’m excited to learn how Tally faces her mounting challenges in book 2.

06. October 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Dystopia, Fiction, Science Fiction

The 8th Continent by Matt London, 224 pages, read by Angie, on 10/04/2014

The earth in the future is being taken over by garbage and bureaucracy. Rick and Evie and their dad get in trouble with Winterpole after saving a bird whose habitat has become a landfill. Because of previous infractions dad is placed under house arrest, but not before he tells the kids about a secret formula he created years ago that would turn garbage into organic material. Winterpole found out about it and wanted to use it to make weapons (not sure how that would work) so dad and his partner split the formula and the partner disappeared. The kids are determined to find the partner and create an 8th continent out of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Then they would be out from under Winterpole’s control. They are pursued by by Evie’s nemesis Vesuvia who is the secret CEO of her dad’s corporation and determined to turn everything in the world into pink plastic.

I’m not sure how believable this book is supposed to be, but I hope not very is the answer. Everything about it seems so far-fetched and unbelievable that it was difficult to get through at times. I liked the premise however and the writing was fun and entertaining. The characters were a bit one-dimensional especially Vesuvia and the Winterpole people. This book is the first in a planned series and the ending sets up the next book nicely. Even though much of the book makes no sense whatsoever I can see kids picking it up and enjoying the ride.

01. October 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Dystopia, Fiction, Kristy, Teen Books

The Selection by Kiera Cass , 336 pages, read by Kristy, on 09/25/2014

While this book was by no means a literary masterpiece, it was nice and fluffy and a fun read in general. The main character gets drafted to be one of the 35 selected girls from across the country to compete for the prince’s hand. However, she is in no way interested in the prince because she has a love back home. The Selection felt rather Hunger Games-ish without the bloodshed and with lots of estrogen.

If you’re looking for a book with substance, turn away. But if you want an easy, fluff-filled read with lots of romance, this is the book for you.

03. September 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Dystopia, Fiction, Kristy, Romance, Teen Books · Tags:

Matched by Ally Condie, 369 pages, read by Kristy, on 08/30/2014

Matched, the first book the the Matched series, concerns a futuristic society where the government (“The Society”) controls nearly every aspect of human lives. Cassia never questions this way of life until her Matching goes awry. Cassia slowly begins to question everything, which gets negative attention from The Society and completely changes her perception of the world.

While this book was well written, I found Cassia’s constant thought stream to be a bit boring and redundant. I would have enjoyed if more action was added and if more characters were fleshed out. 

On the plus side, I love the covers of the books in this series. The cover was what drew me into the book in the first place.