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. 

29. August 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Courtney, Dystopia, Teen Books, Thriller/Suspense

The Violet Hour by Whitney A. Miller, 312 pages, read by Courtney, on 08/15/2014

Harlow Wintergreen is the daughter of VisionCrest’s patriarch. VisionCrest is one of the fastest spreading and most pervasive religions in the world. Fully a quarter of the world’s population adheres to the tenants of the faith. Harlow doesn’t consider herself a believer, but being in the public eye forces her to maintain a semblance of solidarity. Further complicating her life, Harlow also suffers from horrific and violent visions and hears a voice encouraging the violence. She’s been able to hide the visions from her friends and family, but when her father takes a group of high-ranking VisionCrest members and their families to Asia, the visions intensify. On her 17th birthday, Harlow undergoes the initiation and eventually tells her father about her visions. Her father freaks out and calls her an abomination. The next day, the group moves on to China. Without her father. They stay at a high-ranking official’s compound and Harlow quickly discovers that there are factions within VisionCrest that seek to unseat her father. There’s also a resistance faction that believes both groups have strayed from the true faith. Harlow isn’t sure what side she’s on, but she knows it has something to do with the voice and her visions. Either way, things will get worse before they get better.
The Violet Hour has a unique plot and style. The cult is based out of the United States, but the vast majority of the action takes place throughout Japan, China, Vietnam and Cambodia. It’s vaguely dystopian, but the world still looks very similar to the world we are familiar with. Harlow and her BFF, Dora have a sweet, solid friendship. There’s also a bit of romance involving a boy named Alex whose family was kidnapped by unknown forces (as, apparently, many other VisionCrest families have been). Alex was returned, but his family is presumed dead. Their relationship is frustrating, to say the least. Alex is involved with a girl that Harlow hates and acts alternately hot and cold with Harlow. His motivation is unclear until the end of the book. The world building in this falls a bit short. The reader discovers little about VisionCrest, with the exception of a ritual or two and discussion about the politics of its members. What they actually believe and ask of their members is unclear. Nevertheless, many readers will be willing to overlook these flaws since other aspects of the book are relatively strong.

27. August 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Dystopia, Fiction, Jane, Science Fiction, Teen Books

In The After by Demitria Lunetta, 455 pages, read by Jane, on 08/21/2014

They hear the most silent of footsteps.
They are faster than anything you’ve ever seen.
And They won’t stop chasing you…until you are dead.

Amy is watching TV when it happens, when the world is attacked by Them. These vile creatures are rapidly devouring mankind. Most of the population is overtaken, but Amy manages to escape—and even rescue “Baby,” a toddler left behind in the chaos. Marooned in Amy’s house, the girls do everything they can to survive—and avoid Them at all costs.

After years of hiding, they are miraculously rescued and taken to New Hope, a colony of survivors living in a former government research compound. While at first the colony seems like a dream with plenty of food, safety, and shelter, New Hope slowly reveals that it is far from ideal. And Amy soon realizes that unless things change, she’ll lose Baby—and much more.

Rebellious, courageous, and tender, this unforgettable duo will have you on the edge of your seat as you tear through the pulse-pounding narrow escapes and horrifying twists of fate in this thrilling debut from author Demitria Lunetta.

22. August 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Dystopia, Fiction, Science Fiction, Teen Books · Tags:

Expiration Day by William Campbell Powell, 336 pages, read by Angie, on 08/22/2014

The year is 2049 and humanity is becoming infertile. Very few babies are being born which has led to “the troubles”. In order to end the troubles, a company called Oxted started manufacturing robot babies. Parents can adopt the babies and pretend everything is normal. The children go back to Oxted periodically for upgrades so they can seem to grow. No one is supposed to know who is a robot and who is a human kid even the kids themselves. However, during the teen years the robot kids sometimes do something that breaks the veneer of humanity and the parents can’t deal so they send them back to Oxted. Doesn’t really matter anyway because all the kids have to be returned at 18 to be recycled. What a lovely future!

Tania is 11 when the book starts. She thinks she is human until she falls into the Thames and doesn’t drown. Once she realizes she is a robot she embraces her robothood (after a few days of cranky). She has made friends with John and Sian and together they form a band; later they are joined by Kieran to round out the sound. Tania starts exploring the TelNet (internet) to see what she can find out about Oxted and what is going on with humanity; however, this plot point doesn’t last very long. The novel is told through Tania’s diary entries in which she writes to a future alien Mr. Zog. Of course Mr. Zog answers her posts from the future where he is reading about earth in some kind of archive. 

The story is pretty slow and drags a lot as we are just hearing Tania’s side of the story and she is mostly talking about her day-to-day life. The idea of the book was an intriguing one but the execution was pretty terrible. None of the characters actually seemed like real people to me; they didn’t talk like real people or act like real people. Maybe it was because most of them were robots but I think it was more poor writing. The world building was atrocious. This is set only 35 years in the future, which isn’t really that long, and yet the world has fallen apart. There is no explanation as to why fertility has disappeared or how the robot babies were accepted so quickly. Other than the robots, technology doesn’t seem to have advanced very much either. Other than the fact that there doesn’t appear to be any real book or music or movies anymore because everything is digital. I also thought it was really interesting (kind of dumb) that everyone seemed to only listen to 70s rock bands???? Lots of music was mentioned throughout the book but very little of it was post-1980. Why? The end did not make reading the whole book worth it at all. I wanted more from this story and was really disappointed that I didn’t get it.

01. August 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Dystopia, Fantasy, Fiction, Jane, Teen Books · Tags:

Elemental by Antony John , 326 pages, read by Jane, on 07/29/2014

A lost colony is reborn in this heart-pounding fantasy adventure set in the near future . . .

Sixteen-year-old Thomas has always been an outsider. The first child born without the power of an Element—earth, water, wind or fire—he has little to offer his tiny, remote Outer Banks colony. Or so the Guardians would have him believe.

In the wake of an unforeseen storm, desperate pirates kidnap the Guardians, intent on claiming the island as their own. Caught between the plague-ridden mainland and the advancing pirates, Thomas and his friends fight for survival in the battered remains of a mysterious abandoned settlement. But the secrets they unearth will turn Thomas’ world upside-down, and bring to light not only a treacherous past but also a future more dangerous than he can possibly imagine.