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?

 

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

Insignia by S. J. Kincaid, read by Courtney, on 11/11/2013

Tom and his father have been traveling from place to place, grifting along the way to keep themselves fed. When Tom’s talent for virtual reality simulation games gets noticed, he is tapped by the those in the highest echelons of the US military to join their elite group of combatants who are currently fighting World War III. Tom agrees and is quickly shuttled off to the Pentagonal Spire, where these new types of soldiers are trained. He’s in for a bit of a shock when he gets there though. While the military aims to get the best and brightest, natural traits just aren’t enough in this brave new world. Each plebe (combatant-in-training) must receive a neural transplant. The brain is altered in such a way as to enhance memory and processing, while also allowing plebes and combatants to directly connect to the space ships that are doing the actual fighting in the war. Tom isn’t crazy about the transplant and realizes that he’s been manipulated, but eventually agrees to it on his own terms.
At first, Tom kind of loves his new transplant; he’s faster, smarter, better looking – everything that he wasn’t before arriving at the Pentagon. It isn’t long, however, before the drawbacks of the technology become glaring apparent. For instance, Tom learns rather quickly that the brain can be easily accessed and hacked by others, including curmudgeonly teachers, bullies, enemy combatants and the corporations that finance a plebe’s promotion to combat. Naturally, in a school full of teenagers with the same type of implant, hijinks ensue.
For me, this book had a kind of Ender’s-Game-meets-Harry-Potter (or Percy Jackson, if you prefer)vibe. Tom and his friends were, to me, strongly reminiscent of the Harry-Ron-Hermione trio. His programming professor reminded me of Snape. The bully? Total Draco potential. The virtual training and manipulation of children comes across as an updated rendition of Ender’s battle school. It’s both fun and thought-provoking. I read this with my middle school book group; everyone in the group loved it. Interestingly enough, roughly half the group said they’d love to have similar implants while the rest shuddered at the thought.

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.

22. October 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Angie, Dystopia, Fiction, Graphic Novel, Science Fiction

Punk Rock Jesus by Sean Gordon Murphy, read by Angie, on 10/21/2013

Punk Rock Jesus is about the second coming of Christ. In the not so distant future, Jesus is cloned from the Shroud of Turin. His birth and life are all part of a new reality tv show called J2. Chris and his mom Gwen are basically prisoners on the J2 island. Gwen becomes more and more unhappy with the J2 life and repeatedly tries to escape. Finally, evil Dr. Slate, the head of the project, has her fired from the show and subsequently killed. Chris rebels, escapes the island, becomes lead singer of a punk band, and becomes an atheist. His life polarizes the population pitting atheist scientists against right-wing Christians.

I found the premise of this book fascinating and not all that unbelievable. This is the perfect combination of our adoration of reality tv and the rise of the Christian right. I thought it was drawn really well and I rather liked the message of the book. I just wish the story was a little stronger. The characters all seem very one-dimensional and caricatures of who they are supposed to be. The only one with a little bit of personality and backstory was Thomas, the IRA henchman turned security guard. I thought it was a little sad that all the scientists were shown as brilliant atheists and all the religious were militant crackpots. I kind of felt like Murphy was trying to make this story as controversial as possible, not that controversy is bad or wrong; however, the strongest controversial messages are those that make you question and think. This story is so in your face that it doesn’t leave any room for anything else.

21. October 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Dystopia, Fiction, Tammy, Teen Books

The Scorch Trials by James Dashner, read by Tammy, on 10/12/2013

scorch trialsThe continuing adventures of Thomas and the Gladers. They escaped the maze and thought that they were safe only to wake up to a scarier and more confusing world. A few questions are answered but many more remain. Can Thomas and the rest of the boys from the maze survive their latest test through the hot, dry scorched desert terrain?

21. October 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Brian, Dystopia, Fiction, Teen Books

Divergent by Veronica Roth, read by Brian, on 10/03/2013

divergentDivergent, is Veronica Roth’s first book in a trilogy. Beatrice Prior lives in a dystopian world of Chicago, where society is divided up into five fractions: Candor is the honest people, Abnegation is the selfless, Dauntless is the brave, Amity is the peaceful and Erudite are the intelligent .Every year on a special day, the sixteen year old children must decide which fraction to belong to.  Many stay with the one they grew up in but others leave to a stranger environment.  Beatrice leaves her family to try to become a Dauntless.  After going through a very tough initiation, Beatrice renames herself and begins the very hard journey into this new world.

 

 

26. September 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Dystopia, Fiction, Melody, Teen Books

Insurgent by Veronica Roth, read by Melody, on 09/24/2013

One choice can transform you, or destroy you.

Every choice has consequences, and as unrest surges in the factions all around her, Tris Prior must continue trying to save those she loves, and herself, while grappling with haunting questions of grief and forgiveness, identity and loyalty, politics and love.

26. September 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Dystopia, Fiction, Melody, Teen Books

Divergent by Veronica Roth, read by Melody, on 09/22/2013

In Beatrice Prior’s dystopian Chicago world, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue–Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is–she can’t have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.

During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles alongside her fellow initiates to live out the choice they have made. Together they must undergo extreme physical tests of endurance and intense psychological simulations, some with devastating consequences. As initiation transforms them all, Tris must determine who her friends really are–and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes exasperating boy fits into the life she’s chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she’s kept hidden from everyone because she’s been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers unrest and growing conflict that threaten to unravel her seemingly perfect society, Tris also learns that her secret might help her save the ones she loves . . . or it might destroy her.

12. September 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Award Winner, Dystopia, Fantasy, Fiction, Kira, Science Fiction, Thriller/Suspense · Tags:

Divergent by Veronica Roth, read by Kira, on 09/09/2013

Enthralling and Exciting.  I did Not want to put this down.  And the book stayed with me for days afterwards.

It also reminded me of several other books – the initiation and bullying kept reminding me of Ender’s Game, and The Giver, as well as somewhat like Tamora Pierce’s Alana series (and also Tom Brown’s Schooldays, and Lord of the Flies, but Not that bad).  I enjoyed this book a lot, and look forward to the 2nd and 3rd books.  I’m even considering purchasing Amazon’s companion minibooks told from Four’s perspective – and normally, I don’t buy books, I keep my collection at the Library.

DivergentFactionsdivergent junpdivergDIVERGENT

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.

06. September 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Dystopia, Fiction, Mystery, Science Fiction, Teen Books

More Than This by Patrick Ness, read by Angie, on 08/31/2013

Seth wakes up outside his childhood home in England. This wouldn’t be unusually except Seth just died. He can vividly remember drowning, and his family moved to Washington years ago. So why is Seth naked outside of an abandoned house in England? And why is everything deserted and desolate and empty. There is no one else in this world and Seth has no idea what is going on. One thing he does know is he doesn’t like to sleep because sleep brings dreams of his life before and the reasons he killed himself.

This book is part mystery, part science fiction, part dystopian and a whole lot of fun. I think the magic of Patrick Ness is that he never really gives you all the information; you have to decide what you think is going on and what happens at the end. I loved the dual story lines as we learn about Seth’s past and his present and what may or may not have happened to the world. Very intriguing story that will leave you wanting more.

I got this ARC from Courtney who got it at ALA 2013. Thanks!

31. August 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Apocalyptic, Dystopia, Fiction, Kristy, Teen Books

Insurgent by Veronica Roth, read by Kristy, on 08/21/2013

Every choice has consequences, and as unrest surges in the factions all around her, Tris Prior must continue trying to save those she loves, and herself, while grappling with haunting questions of grief and forgiveness, identity and loyalty, politics and love.

31. August 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Apocalyptic, Dystopia, Fiction, Kristy, Teen Books

Divergent by Veronica Roth, read by Kristy, on 08/02/2013

In Beatrice Prior’s dystopian Chicago world, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue–Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is–she can’t have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.

During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles alongside her fellow initiates to live out the choice they have made. Together they must undergo extreme physical tests of endurance and intense psychological simulations, some with devastating consequences. As initiation transforms them all, Tris must determine who her friends really are–and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes exasperating boy fits into the life she’s chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she’s kept hidden from everyone because she’s been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers unrest and growing conflict that threaten to unravel her seemingly perfect society, Tris also learns that her secret might help her save the ones she loves . . . or it might destroy her.

21. August 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Dystopia, Fiction, Tammy, Teen Books · Tags:

Maze Runner by James Dashner, read by Tammy, on 08/06/2013

maze runner  Thomas wakes up in a dark box that is moving upwards. He has no idea where he is or why. In fact the only thing he can remember is his name. When the doors above him open, Thomas finds himself surrounded by kids who welcome him to the Glade—a large, open expanse surrounded by stone walls.

None of the Gladers 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 thirty days a new boy has been delivered in the lift. The boys divide all the tasks up among themselves and work together to survive in their strange environment. Some of the boys run through the maze on the outside of the doors that open each day looking for clues on their way out of the maze and the glade and possibly a way home.

Thomas is thinking he can settle in to this new world if he can just find his place, but the next day, a girl arrives in the box. The first time two people have arrived in the same month, the first girl to ever arrive in the Glade and she delivers a mysterious message that may change everything for the Gladers.

21. August 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Award Winner, Dystopia, Fiction, Tammy, Teen Books · Tags:

Divergent by Veronica Roth, read by Tammy, on 08/03/2013

divergent  In dystopian Chicago,  society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to a specific virtue–Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). One day a year all citizens who are now 16 must select the faction they will belong to for the rest of their lives. All sixteen year olds take a test to determine which faction they are best suited for but the choice is left up to the individual. Most choose the faction they grew up in, but not all.Our heroine, Beatrice, is growing up in the Abnegation faction and now must decide does she stay with her parents or does she follow who she really is? If she changes factions she will rarely ever see her parents or brother since not only are living quarters determined by faction but also career paths and marriage options.

During the initiation into her chosen faction, Beatrice renames herself Tris. The initiation is daunting but Tris also has a secret, one that she doesn’t fully understand herself but that she’s hiding on fear of death.

This book has won numerous awards including: ALA Teens’ Top Ten Nominee (2012), Children’s Choice Book Award Nominee for Teen Choice Book of the Year (2012), Abraham Lincoln Award Nominee (2014), dabwaha for Best Young Adult Romance (2012), Goodreads Choice for Favorite Book of 2011 and for Best Young Adult Fantasy & Science Fiction (2011)

19. August 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Dystopia, Eric, Fiction, Teen Books

The Maze Runner by James Dashner, read by Eric, on 08/05/2013

Thomas wakes in darkness, with no memory of the past, inside an elevator. Soon, he arrives at the Glade, which is surrounded by impossibly-high walls, and is greeted by the inhabitants- other teen boys. He soon learns that outside the Glade is a maze of unknown, deadly purpose, filled at night with horrific creatures known as Grievers. Why are the boys here?  How will they ever escape? Who is Thomas?

A decent mysterious object/device/location story is enough to get me to crack most any book. This story has a great one, in the towering form of the stone maze, which changes configuration each night. I also enjoy teen fiction, mostly because writers of it feel free to delve into the most outlandish plots and scenarios. A huge maze filled with amnesiac boys? Why not? Dashner spins a nice dystopian mystery- well enough that this is becoming a movie to be released next year. The characters are believable, and the setting is both cool and creepy. Don’t expect all the answers to life and the universe by the end, however. This is the first in a trilogy. Recommended!

30. July 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Courtney, Dystopia, Historical Fiction, Teen Books

Maggot Moon by Sally Gardner, read by Courtney, on 05/26/2013

In an alternate 1950’s England lives Standish Treadwell, a boy with different colored eyes and learning disabilities. Standish has lived a tough life under the Motherland’s rule. He lives with his grandfather because his parents have already been taken. Standish himself is constantly harassed for his difficulty with reading and writing as well as his “impure” appearance. Everything changes when a new family moves in next door. They have a son named Hector, who is everything that Standish wishes he could be: smart, brave, well-liked. One day, their football goes over the giant wall that the government has built in back of the row of houses. Hector rescues it, but discovers a government secret that threaten all of them.
Extremely fast-paced and told in an unusual narrative style, the novel comes complete with illustrations that begin as almost cute or quaint, but turn vaguely disturbing as the story progresses. This is as dark or bleak as the most ambitious of the futuristic dystopias out there, but its setting makes it far more eerie and believable. Standish is a protagonist to cheer for, in spite of his grim life. The world the characters inhabit may be ominous, but the characters themselves shine like the beautiful beacons of humanity that they are. This brilliant book is short-listed for the Carnegie Medal (and deservedly so!).

29. July 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Apocalyptic, Dystopia, Fiction, Teen Books

Dance of the Red Death (Masque of the Red Death #2) by Bethany Griffin, read by Angie, on 07/28/2013

Dance of the Red Death takes place immediately after Masque of the Red Death. I will admit that it has been awhile since I read the first book and was a little fuzzy on details. Basically, Araby, Will, April, Elliot and the rest have fled the city. Araby’s dad has disappeared and they need him for a cure to the new plaque, the Red Death. Prospero is abandoning the city and Malcontent is trying to take over and infect as many people as possible. Elliot wants to return so he can save the city. Araby is torn between Will and Elliot . Can she forgive Will’s betrayal? Can she put up with Elliot’s quest for power? The group has to go back into the city and try to save it and themselves.

I really wish I had reread Masque of the Red Death because I forgot what was going on, but it did eventually come back to me while reading. This is definitely gothic and grotesque with all the infected people wandering around and the drowned world of swamps threatening to take the city. I really enjoy the atmosphere and the world created for these books. However…love triangle! I have made my feelings on love triangles perfectly clear (they are unnecessary and stupid!) and this one is a perfect example. I felt like the back and forth between Will and Elliot really took away from the story. These people are fighting for their lives and trying to save the world, yet every other page is a scene with Araby either making out with someone or debating the merits of the boys. I would have liked more of a story about them saving the city and the people. The end seemed so rushed that I was left wondering why we needed two books for it.

10. July 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Apocalyptic, Dystopia, Fiction, Russell

Good News: A Novel by Edward Abbey, read by Russell, on 07/08/2013

Good News - A Novel by Edward Abbey  Edward Abbey is best known as the author of the novel “The Monkey Wrench Gang” and the non-fiction book of environmental essays “Desert Solitaire.”  He is also known for the 1956 novel “The Brave Cowboy” which was made into the 1962 film “Lonely Are the Brave” starring Kirk Douglas as Jack Burns, a loner cowboy who disdains modern society and the destruction of natural resources in the Southwest.  Jack Burns made cameo appearances in several of Abbey’s novels, and was a major character in “Good News.”

“Good News” takes place in the near future of the USA in which the government and economy have collapsed due to an unspecified disaster, and chaos reigns in most places.  Most of the action is in Phoenix, Arizona, which is under the control of a quasi-military dictatorship.  A group of rebels is attempting to undermine those who wield the power.  Jack Burns is on his way there with his Native American friend Sam and together they are looking for Jack’s son, whom he has not seen in over 20 years.  Jack makes contact with the rebels, and together they attempt to overthrow the dictator who runs the city, and who wants to expand his power across the country.

Although the scenario is a bleak one, this novel was quite an enjoyable read, and shows how a small group of under-equipped freedom fighters can make a difference against overwhelming odds.  The characters in this novel are realistic and charming, though the bad guys are almost cartoonish in their villainy (not unlike real life!).

I highly recommend this book as a companion to “The Brave Cowboy,” “The Monkey Wrench Gang,” and “Hayduke Lives!”

08. July 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Apocalyptic, Dystopia, Fiction, Teen Books

Inhuman by Kat Falls, read by Angie, on 07/07/2013

The world has been decimated by a deadly virus. At first the virus killed you quickly, then it mutated into something else. Now if you get the virus you may mutate into an animal and become savage or you might just die. The East has been cut off because of the virus. A giant wall divides the US at the Mississippi River. No one in the West is allowed to cross over into the East and no one in the East is allowed in the West.

Delaney Park lives in the West with her father. She has a privileged life even though her dad is obsessed with making sure she can survive anything. One day Lane is arrested. Why? Because it turns out her dad is not your average art dealer, but a Fetch who crosses the wall and retrieves items from the East. Lane is blackmailed into going over the wall to find her dad so he can do one last fetch. Across the wall is nothing like Lane thought it would be and in some ways it is worse. There are lots of people who are living with the virus as manimals (humans who have animal DNA but haven’t gone feral). There are ferals who want to kill you. And there are normal humans who haven’t gotten the virus yet. There are also two boys vying for her attentions. Everson is a guard on the wall who wants to find a cure for the virus. Rafe is an orphan from the East who has a connection to Lane’s dad. The three of them travel to Chicago, facing dangers along the way, to fetch the item that will save Lane’s dad.

One thing I really liked about this books is the world building. Kat Falls does an amazing job setting up the world in a realistic and scary way. It is a very complex world and Falls does a great job on it. I also really enjoyed Lane as a fish out of water as she adapted to her new environment. I’m not sure why authors always have to include a love triangle (definitely not needed!)…seriously why!??!? I did like the characters of Ev and Rafe, but I thought the relationships were underdeveloped. Basically Lane falls for the first cute boys across the wall and then spends the trip debating between them. I thought the story was fresh and interesting and a new take on the end of the world. I enjoyed it.

I also enjoyed meeting Kat Falls at ALA 2013. She was very nice and gave me a copy of this book with her signature in it! Yeah!