Tag Archive: dystopia


the here and now The Here and Now by Ann Brashares

Published April 8th, 2014 by Delacorte Press

Buy this book at: B&N / Amazon / Book Depository / Books a Million

 

Synopsis:

An unforgettable epic romantic thriller about a girl from the future who might be able to save the world . . . if she lets go of the one thing she’s found to hold on to.

Follow the rules. Remember what happened. Never fall in love.

This is the story of seventeen-year-old Prenna James, who immigrated to New York when she was twelve. Except Prenna didn’t come from a different country. She came from a different time—a future where a mosquito-borne illness has mutated into a pandemic, killing millions and leaving the world in ruins.

Prenna and the others who escaped to the present day must follow a strict set of rules: never reveal where they’re from, never interfere with history, and never, ever be intimate with anyone outside their community. Prenna does as she’s told, believing she can help prevent the plague that will one day ravage the earth.

But everything changes when Prenna falls for Ethan Jarves.

From Ann Brashares, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series, The Here and Now is thrilling, exhilarating, haunting, and heartbreaking—and a must-read novel of the year.

 

Rating: 2 star

 

Review:

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Thank you Delacorte!

 

This book was a bit boring and not exactly that I expected. Overall, I enjoyed parts of it but a large portion of it made me scratch my head with the WTF. Warning, from here on there will be spoilers.

Characters: I did not like Prenna. She was so boring! She did not do anything really. She acknowledged over and over again “I really shouldn’t do this” only to do it a paragraph later. She was incapable of doing anything for herself and had to be bailed out by people through the entire book. Ethan was okay but he was really just a plot device to save Prenna from her TSTL. The other characters really made no impression on me because they were so pointless.

Plot: This thing had plot holes the size of the Grand Canyon. The premise of it was not bad. Horrible things happen to the world in the future and a plague wipes out most of the world and the survivors go back in time to prevent the bad things from happening….except what they are really doing is just hiding out and doing not much of anything. Boring. Prenna and Ethan also spend most of the book doing nothing. They are on a mission to save the future but then they sit around on the beach and play cards for the majority of the book. Also boring. Now for the plot holes:

– Prenna says that in the future they have no technology to speak of. They don’t use computers, they use paper and pencils. But then…how exactly did they figure out time travel?

– Prenna says that there is no new manufacturing so things like clothes are scavenged from the current time period. Except she says that the downfall of society didn’t happen until twenty years or so before they traveled back in time, which was like 90 years before the current time. So what happened in that 50 years exactly? Were there no new clothes for 90 years even though sciety only fell apart for the last 20 of it?

– This plague is described as dengue fever. The mortality rate for dengue fever is actually pretty low, by catching it early enough and getting proper treatment then you will most likely pull through just fine. It still isn’t pleasant but it is uncommon for it to be deadly. Now, Prenna explains this as the virus mutating into something more deadly. Okay, fine, but isn’t 100 years a bit to quick for that drastic of a mutation. I almost feel like the author spent most of their research time reading stuff like this: http://greenbugallnatural.com/wordpress/infected-mosquitoes-become-more-effective-carriers-of-disease/ Which has a definite “OMG MOSQUITOES ARE COMING!” feel to it.

– Prenna goes on loooooooong rants about how this was all caused by global warming. And I do mean long and boring rants. But then when they actually figure out the answer, it had nothing to do with global warming at all, it was someone from a third alternate future that carried a virus back with him and infected humans…who then infected the mosquitoes, who in turn started the plague. So what the hell did all that global warming garbage have to do with anything at all? Answer, I have no fucking clue and I don’t think the author does either.

This story was not well thought out. For an author as acclaimed as this one, I expected a lot better.

marrows pitMarrow’s Pit by Keith Deininger

Published March 11th, 2014 by DarkFuse

Buy this story at: Amazon

 

Rating: 1 star

 

Review:

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Thank you DarkFuse!

 

I have some problems with this short story. Actually a lot of problems. But my biggest one is that I’m fairly certain this story is a ripoff of another short story, The Machine Stops by E.M. Forster. Let me just show you what I mean.

Here is the synopsis for Marrow’s Pit:

 

Built to encompass the entire range of lifeless mountains, it had always, relentlessly, clanked on and on. Within, vast halls and endless corridors were filled with the sounds of metal on metal, with hissing steam, with squealing gears. In the eyes of its citizens, it was sacred, deified, omniscient. Enshrined in their mythology for innumerable generations, it had gone by countless designations, but its truest name was perhaps its plainest: the Machine.

For Ballard, the Machine is a place of tedium, and ignorance, and cruelty. He sees little use in his mundane job and secretly questions the purpose of the Machine. When tragedy strikes, Ballard is forced to embark on a paranoid journey that will take him outside of the Machine, and everything he’s ever known, over the edge into darkness, past the point of no return…toward the blackness known as Marrow’s Pit.

 

And here is the synopsis for The Machine Stops:

 

The story describes a world in which most of the human population has lost the ability to live on the surface of the Earth. Each individual now lives in isolation below ground in a standard ‘cell’, with all bodily and spiritual needs met by the omnipotent, global Machine. Travel is permitted but unpopular and rarely necessary. Communication is made via a kind of instant messaging/video conferencing machine called the speaking apparatus, with which people conduct their only activity, the sharing of ideas and knowledge. The two main characters, Vashti and her son Kuno, live on opposite sides of the world. Vashti is content with her life, which, like most inhabitants of the world, she spends producing and endlessly discussing secondhand ‘ideas’. Kuno, however, is a sensualist and a rebel. He persuades a reluctant Vashti to endure the journey (and the resultant unwelcome personal interaction) to his cell. There, he tells her of his disenchantment with the sanitised, mechanical world. He confides to her that he has visited the surface of the Earth without permission and that he saw other humans living outside the world of the Machine. However, the Machine recaptured him, and he has been threatened with ‘Homelessness’, that is, expulsion from the underground environment and presumed death. Vashti, however, dismisses her son’s concerns as dangerous madness and returns to her part of the world.

 

Is it just me or do those two things sound like the exact same story? Yeah, it did to me too. But The Machine Stops did it better.

This could have been more appropriately titled, Desperate Househusbands or a Lifetime Movie called The Cheating Wife. That’s all we hear about. The Machine and Marrow’s Pit are hardly discussed at all. It is never pointed out how Ballard’s tragic mistake is uncovered by the general populace, only that it is. We are never told about why his life is so unsatisfactory, or why that’s the Machine’s fault, but it is. We spend most of the time with Ballard running around having visions of his wife, hearing her voice in his head, and generally being terrified of everything. It was boring.

I cannot recommend this book. Go read The Machine Stops, it is a much better story.

 

allegiant Allegiant by Veronica Roth

Published October 22nd, 2013 by Katherine Tegen Books

Buy this book at: Amazon / B&N / Books a Million / Book Depository

 

Synopsis:

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

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

 

Rating: 3 star

 

Review:

SPOILER WARNING!!

I am not entirely sure what to think about this book. I didn’t dislike it but I didn’t think it was great either, it was……decent. That’s the best description I’ve come up with for how I feel about this book.

I was rather dismayed at the dual narration for a few reasons. First because both Tris and Tobias’ voices were nearly indistinguishable. A few times I found myself going back to the beginning of a chapter to figure out who was talking because I honestly couldn’t remember. That annoyed me because I’ve never thought their voices were so similar before, it seems like the author stopped trying to make them different. Second, because I knew what the dual narration meant for the larger story. Tris was the main narrator and replacing part of her story could only mean that she didn’t see the end of the story.

Most of the plot points were done fairly decently. But I didn’t really like the whole idea of striving for genetically pure people. i got sooooo many shades of the civil rights movement there. And it just seemed kind of dumb, an entire society that is supposedly so much more advanced than ours coming to the erroneous decision that our genetics create our personality and actions. Um, I took high school biology (at a public school!) and I know better than that, but these super scientists of the future who can create serums to wipe your memories or make your fears a reality couldn’t figure that one out? I didn’t buy that and it annoyed me.

I really did feel like we saw a lot of character development in this book, and I loved that part. I felt like both the plot and the characters completely stalled in Insurgent so I was pleased to see them get back on track.

The world building was alright, but still lacking a bit for my tastes. I felt like the world outside the city was much too similar to the world inside the city, so what was the point of any of it?

The bad guy was about par for the course. Not as great as Jeanine or Evelyn but a worthy adversary. Although I felt like the larger enemy was the world at large, which is too big of a target for a single book.

The biggest point that I questioned in this book was the ending. Making the choice between two bad options and I am not sure they picked the right one. Who made them the decision makers? Why did they get to choose who to save and who to sacrifice? That didn’t make it right. There were so many other options for how to fix things and none of them were even considered. I don’t really understand why that decision was made either.

I was not thrilled with this conclusion to the series, but it was okay. I enjoyed it, I shed a few tears, and I didn’t feel like I wasted my time. At the end of the day that is a pretty good way to say goodbye to this series. If it was my story I would have done it differently, but it’s not so I must just say that it satisfied me.

 

Review: Fragments by Dan Wells

fragmentsFragments by Dan Wells

Published February 26th, 2013 by Balzer & Bray

Buy this book at: B&N / Amazon / Books A Million / Book Depository

 

Synopsis:

Kira Walker has found the cure for RM, but the battle for the survival of humans and Partials is just beginning. Kira has left East Meadow in a desperate search for clues to who she is. That the Partials themselves hold the cure for RM in their blood cannot be a coincidence—it must be part of a larger plan, a plan that involves Kira, a plan that could save both races. Her companions are Afa Demoux, an unhinged drifter and former employee of ParaGen, and Samm and Heron, the Partials who betrayed her and saved her life, the only ones who know her secret. But can she trust them?

Meanwhile, back on Long Island, what’s left of humanity is gearing up for war with the Partials, and Marcus knows his only hope is to delay them until Kira returns. But Kira’s journey will take her deep into the overgrown wasteland of postapocalyptic America, and Kira and Marcus both will discover that their greatest enemy may be one they didn’t even know existed.

The second installment in the pulse-pounding Partials saga is the story of the eleventh hour of humanity’s time on Earth, a journey deep into places unknown to discover the means—and even more important, a reason—for our survival.

 

Rating: 4 star

 

Review:

I cannot guarantee that this review won’t contain spoilers for book 1, but should be free of spoilers for this book.. So if you don’t want to read spoilers only read this first paragraph please. I loved this book. I was kid of lukewarm on the first book but was interested enough to continue, and boy am I glad I did. If you get nothing else out of this review, read this series. Now stop reading or else it’s your own damn fault if you get spoiled.

Like I mentioned a moment ago, I was pretty lukewarm on Partials (book 1). I thought it was decent but nothing out of this world. But the ending piqued my interest and so I wanted to see what happened. That brings us to Fragments. From the beginning of this book you know the stakes are high. Kira has discovered a cure for RM but apart from that one child they haven’t been able to replicate it. Samm is off to parts unknown and Kira has run off to find answers that Nandita sent her after at ParaGen. And this is where our second story begins.

Kira was still such a good character. I found her to be tough, real, gritty, and has a real soft spot to her as well. At times she got on my nerves a little bit with her whole, “OMG I’m a Partial, but I love the humans!’ routine but overall I had few complaints with her. I will just say that I loved the interaction with her and Vale. I won’t say anything else about that because it would ruin it, but it was fantastic! I felt just as confused and conflicted as Kira did just reading that part.

Samm and Marcus are officially my book boyfriends. I love them both so much I can’t even put it into words. They are so different but both so awesome at the same time. I think if I was forced to choose who I like more it would have to be Samm because he made me cry in this book, but that doesn’t diminish my love for Marcus. Although Marcus did get a bit reckless in this book, but it was all for the right reasons and that was important.

The plot moved along rapidly but it was well structured so it wasn’t too hard to follow. I really liked the introduction of Afa, he was a much needed and useful character. I really liked how many answers we got in this book. But at the same time those answers created more questions so it was a good balance. I LOVED the descriptions of this world so much in this book. It felt real and raw and I could see it in my head as we went along.

And the ending…whoa, is all I have to say. Even though I finished the book hours ago I can’t get over the ending. It took me by complete surprise and made me cry. I ended up putting the book down and just sat there with my mouth hanging open for a few minutes before I could wrap my head around what happened. I am already salivating over the idea of the final book and it causes me physical pain that it isn’t coming out until 2014. I am sold on this series, completely and utterly sold.

Not very often do I do movie reviews, I leave that to my husband who does plenty of them at the dinner table. But we got both of these movies as RedBox the other night and the contrast between the two was astounding so I had to comment. And let’s just get one thing straight right out front, Side Effects was my pick. Oblivion was my husband’s pick, I am not a fan of Tom Cruise and made quite the face when he suggested it. Oh and there will probably be spoilers, so walk away now if you don’t want to be spoiled. Anyway, onward!

 

Side Effects

Side Effects is a psychological thriller released earlier this year. It stars Jude Law, Rooney Mara, Catherina Zeta-Jones, and Channing Tatum. The film centered around a young woman who was prescribed a brand new, and fictional, drug for her depresion called Albixa. She experiences some rather intense side effects from the drug and ends up murdering her husband while sleepwalking. If you are like me and not a fan of Channing Tatum you’ll be happy to hear that he plays the husband, so he’s not around for long. This movie did a great job in making me feel sorry for poor Emily. She had everything and it was all ripped away from her. She miscarried a baby, her husband is imprisoned for insider trading, then he gets back out and she can’t bear to tell him how depressed she is because she wants to start fresh with him. She drives her car into a brick wall in what appears to be a suicide attempt and thus our story begins. This starts her on a rocky path to find the right medication with minimal side effects and she insists on continuing to take Ablixa even after she starts sleepwalking. Unfortunately for everyone it is in one of those sleepwalking episodes that she stabs her husband to death and is put on trial for his murder. But everything is not as it seems in this world.

This was a very devious little plot. Admittedly I found myself getting a bit bored in the beginning because it seemed like not a lot was going on. But once the story got started, holy crap did it get started. After that, the plot twists and turns were thrown at you quicker than you can process. Even though part of the plot was a teensy bit predictable I think it was meant that way. We were supposed to be yelling at Jude Law that she’s a lying sack of garbage and not to listen to her. That kind of predictable little plot point made it so that the real twist was totally unexpected. At a certain point in the film my husband and I just turned to each other and raised our eyebrows in unison as if to say “well that was different!”.  It didn’t even end there either. It got weirder and darker after that turning point too.

This has a current score of 84% fresh on Rotten Tomatos and I think that it is richly deserved. This was a delightfully dark little film.

 

 

OblivionOblivion is a sci-fi post-apocalypse flick starring Tom Cruise and Morgan Freeman. It occurs in the year 2077 where the earth has been attacked by people/creatures they have dubbed “Scavengers”. The “Scavs” blew up the moon which sent the Earth into chaos with flood and earthquakes destroying half the planet within hours. After those initial hours it turned into all out war with the world eventually turning to the only logical solution…nuke the hell out of the other half of the world. All remaining humans have evacuated Earth to Titan, one of Saturn’s moons. Tom Cruise stars as Jack Harper who is a technician (Tech-49 to be exact) that is tasked with repairing the drones that are protecting the ocean borne fusion power generators before he and his partner will finally be evacuated to Titan as well. At least that’s what I thought the plot was. Then I read a synopsis and apparently the people of Earth have evacuated to the Tet, a space station orbiting Earth, and the generators are only to be used until they have enough power to make the trip to Titan. I honestly don’t know which is correct, the story was so convoluted that my husband had a completely different third idea of what the plot was. So this one might have to remain a mystery.

I hated this movie, it was SO BORING! Tom Cruise’s characters is a whiny bitch through most of the movie. Seriously, stop reminiscing! I get it, you miss old Earth but it ain’t coming back pal so get over it already. I was immediately suspicious that things were not as they seemed when Jack Harper says it had been 60 years since the end of the war….yet he remembers Earth from before the war and doesn’t appear to be older than say 40. Yeah, something was not right about that. But the movie was so horrendously boring that I quickly forgot about that bit of dialogue until I thought about it after the movie had ended. Here’s the things that bug me about this movie:

1. Jack Harper is a clone, yes a clone. There is no colony of human beings and there are no attacking Scavs. What attacked the Earth was the Tet, which appears to be some kind of artificial intelligence complex. They captured Jack Harper and his partner (the red head, can’t remember her character’s name) and cloned them. The Scavs are actually the only remaining human beings on the planet who are trying to bring down the Tet. Okay, with me so far?  Apparently Jack Harper was recreated as thousands of clones and those clones are the ones who launched and won the war on Earth.  Now they have new clones of Jack and what’s her name to keep everything in order and try to exterminate the rest of the humans. Still with me? Don’t get too cocky, it gets worse.

2. If they have thousands of clones of Jack who were, and I quote, “mindless killing machines”…why did they not continue to use those clones? They were apparently perfect mindless soldiers. Where did they go? Humans lost the war so they couldn’t have killed them all, where are those clones now? And since they were so effective at taking over Earth there would be no reason to deactivate them or kill them so I repeat, where did all these clones go?

3. The Tet tells Jack that he and his clones have a “history of insubordinanation”. Okay, that explains why he goes rogue all of a sudden but why didn’t he before? Some might argue it was because in this case his old wife from Earth was back and it prompted him…well then what history of insubordination could there have been? And if Jack keeps rebelling, why is the Tet, which was smart enough to annihilate Earth, not smart enough to alter the clone so that this doesn’t keep happening? If Jack keeps tapping into the original Jack’s  memories then why not make the next Jack clone a “mindless killing machine” like the old ones?

4. At the end of the movie we see that Jack has impregnated his wife before he killed himself for the greater good of humanity so they have a daughter. Why do clones need to reproduce? He was created to maintain the drones, and we know he was screwing the red headed clone so how were there not more little clonelets running around? Why did the Tet create the clones with the ability to reproduce? Why is that necessary?!

5. Oh hell, I don’t even know what five is because I’ve gotten so pissed off about numbers one through four.

6. If the Tet can create clones and had thousands of drones that are not in use, wouldn’t it be more logical to just replace the drones that are getting attacked? Why do you even need the clones to repair them? Just make more drones and then you don’t have to worry about Jackclone and his “history of insubordination”! Complete and epic logic fail.

7. This movie borrows 95% of it’s plot from sci-fi movies that are much better than this one was. I suggest watching Tron: Legacy, Blade Runner and Planet of the Apes instead of this crap..just to start.

In closing, the 54% rotten rating from Rotten Tomatoes is all you need to know. Believe the 54% they are not lying.

Review: Dualed by Elsie Chapman

dueledDualed by Elsie Chapmen

Published February 26th 2013 by Random House

Buy this book at: B&N / Amazon / Book Depository / Books A Million

 

Synopsis:

Two of you exist.

Only one will survive.

The city of Kersh is a safe haven, but the price of safety is high. Everyone has a genetic Alternate—a twin raised by another family—and citizens must prove their worth by eliminating their Alts before their twentieth birthday. Survival means advanced schooling, a good job, marriage—life.

Fifteen-year-old West Grayer has trained as a fighter, preparing for the day when her assignment arrives and she will have one month to hunt down and kill her Alt. But then a tragic misstep shakes West’s confidence. Stricken with grief and guilt, she’s no longer certain that she’s the best version of herself, the version worthy of a future. If she is to have any chance of winning, she must stop running not only from her Alt, but also from love . . . though both have the power to destroy her.

 

Rating: 4 star

 

Review:

This has to be one of my most highly anticipated book in months. I fell in love with the cover, I’m still in love with the cover. It is spectacular. I also loved the synopsis. The idea behind this book is one that I recognized could be either amazing or terrible, it all depended on execution. This was executed well. Some things probably could have been better but overall as a story I loved it.

The good:

West- She was a fantastic heroine. I found her to be smart, brave, loving, and normal. Unlike a lot of YA heroines, she believes herself to be subpar but isn’t perfect at everything in reality. We all know the heroines I meant. “Man I suck so bad, except for my perfect looks, perfect boyfriend, perfect hair, and inability to do anything that isn’t perfect.” West doubts herself but she’s reasonable in her doubt. She is a normal girl, good at some things and not so good at others. She neither believes she’s amazing or believes she’s terrible at everything. I found her very likely for that reason. I didn’t always understand her motivations but she always made me believe that she was a very girl who was trying her best to do the right thing.

Ending- I will be the first to admit it, I didn’t see the ending coming. Not even a little bit. Of course most of these kinds of books end in one way. The hero/heroine realized how wrong the system is and tries to subvert it in any way possible. That is what I was expecting but it’s not what I got. At this point I am at a loss for how the series will progress but I will be thrilled to find out. I am in for the long haul on this series and I think the ending played a large part in that. Best of all, the ending could serve as the perfect ending for a stand alone story. It was a satisfying end to that story that I wouldn’t mind if it ended right here but there’s still enough of a story to keep going with it too.

Narrative/World Building- West was a good narrator for the book, I liked her thoughts and didn’t mind being inside her head. Sometimes I thought she was being something of an idiot, but still didn’t mind her narration. The world building was good enough that I didn’t have any trouble at all picturing it in my head. I couldn’t quite get a grasp on the rules for the world but it was well put together for the purposes of the book.

 

The not so good:

Alts- Obviously the Alts were being presented as the protagonists of the book, but I felt that this limited the book in a lot of ways. The Alts are not necessarily the bad guys, we only perceive them that way because our character, West, is being pursued by hers. So since we’re supposed to be on her side then her Alt is automatically the bad guy. But if you honestly look at it then her Alt is going through exactly the same thing as West is. She also has to fight her Alt to the death and leave her family to do so. She also doesn’t know if she’ll be alive or dead in 30 days time. So ultimately they have the same path. I would have liked to see both West and her Alt and get sympathy for both of them. It would have made it less about us versus them and more about us being pitted against them unwillingly.

West as a Striker – I didn’t understand that decision at all. It seemed to come out of left field. Why did she want to do that? Why did she think that would help? And even if she thought it would help, why did she continue after being declared active? It puzzled me all the way through the book. It was an interesting part of the story but since it seemed to have so little effect on the character or the final outcome then I have to wonder, what was the point? Maybe this will be explained later on in the series but I didn’t get what the author was trying to go for.

It used the two most cliched phrases ever- “His eyes darkened briefly.” and “I released a breath I hadn’t realized I was holding.” Authors, please please please I beg you, stop writing these things! It makes me cringe every time I see them. Really it does. Enough is enough. I am banning those phrases from the English language forever.

Much more positive than negative and I can honestly say that I couldn’t put it down. I sat on my couch and ignored the world for the entire last 130 pages, with no break. I just had to see how it would end. If nothing else tells you whether I’d recommend this book, that should.

 

 

 

The Farm by Emily McKay

the farmThe Farm by Emily McKay

Published December 4th, 2012 by Berkley Trade

Buy this book at: Book Depository / Books A Million / Amazon / B&N

Synopsis:

Life was different in the Before: before vampires began devouring humans in a swarm across America; before the surviving young people were rounded up and quarantined. These days, we know what those quarantines are—holding pens where human blood is turned into more food for the undead monsters, known as Ticks. Surrounded by electrical fences, most kids try to survive the Farms by turning on each other…

And when trust is a thing of the past, escape is nearly impossible.

Lily and her twin sister Mel have a plan. Though Mel can barely communicate, her autism helps her notice things no one else notices—like the portion of electrical fence that gets turned off every night. Getting across won’t be easy, but as Lily gathers what they need to escape, a familiar face appears out of nowhere, offering to help…

Carter was a schoolmate of Lily’s in the Before. Managing to evade capture until now, he has valuable knowledge of the outside world. But like everyone on the Farm, Carter has his own agenda, and he knows that behind the Ticks is an even more dangerous threat to the human race…

Rating: 3 star

Review:

I’m not so sure what happened with this book. The premise is great, the characters are great, I’d heard such great things, but it just didn’t do much for me. Maybe it was me. Maybe it was my mood. I honestly don’t know. By the end of this book I didn’t feel passionately about it in either a good or bad way. Let’s talk about the things I can actually say I did or didn’t like.

Lily was a good character. There have been far too many shrinking violet women in YA books lately. I appreciated that Lily was fairly kick ass and willing to do whatever it took to protect Mel, her autistic sister. I also really loved the brief glimpses we get from Mel’s POV. On the negative side, it was precisely Mel’s POV chapters that allowed me to easily guess one of the “big reveals”. So in the end it was a double edged sword. Conner got on my nerves in the beginning but slowly he grew on me.  By the end I had a teensy crush on him, he’s adorable!

I really liked that we had two different kinds of vampires. On the one hand you have the Ticks, which were everything that vampires have been missing for a long time. They are monsters and I loved them. Then you have the more refined vampires that have retained their humanity…a little. Still monsters and still awesome.

I even really liked the plot, although at times it seemed a bit simplistic to me. The plan was this, escape the farm, run to Canada, hope that Canada is any safer than the U.S.  Hmm, doesn’t sound very brilliant to me. I didn’t mind it as long as what happened on the way to that plan was good and most of it was. But here’s where it fell off the rails for me, the “big reveals.” Big reveal one was not even a reveal since I had suspected as much for most of the book. Big reveal two actually surprised me but I am not sure what it actually has to do with anything about the larger plot. The second big reveal seemed to shoot the larger plot in the foot honestly.

Right now I am unsure if I’ll read the next book. I am leaning toward yes I will read it to see if the plot can recover from the nuke the author threw in it at the end of this one.

agenda 21Agenda 21 by Glenn Beck and Harriet Parke

Published November 20th, 2012 by Threshold Editions

Buy this book at: Amazon / Books A Million / Book Depository / B&N

 

Synopsis:

“I was just a baby when we were relocated and I don’t remember much. Everybody has that black hole at the beginning of their life. That time you can’t remember. Your first step. Your first taste of table food. My real memories begin in our assigned living area in Compound 14.” Just a generation ago, this place was called America. Now, after the worldwide implementation of a UN-led program called Agenda 21, it’s simply known as “the Republic.” There is no president. No Congress. No Supreme Court. No freedom.

There are only the Authorities.

Citizens have two primary goals in the new Republic: to create clean energy and to create new human life. Those who cannot do either are of no use to society. This bleak and barren existence is all that eighteen-year-old Emmeline has ever known. She dutifully walks her energy board daily and accepts all male pairings assigned to her by the Authorities. Like most citizens, she keeps her head down and her eyes closed.

Until the day they come for her mother.

“You save what you think you’re going to lose.”

Woken up to the harsh reality of her life and her family’s future inside the Republic, Emmeline begins to search for the truth. Why are all citizens confined to ubiquitous concrete living spaces? Why are Compounds guarded by Gatekeepers who track all movements? Why are food, water and energy rationed so strictly? And, most important, why are babies taken from their mothers at birth? As Emmeline begins to understand the true objectives of Agenda 21 she realizes that she is up against far more than she ever thought. With the Authorities closing in, and nowhere to run, Emmeline embarks on an audacious plan to save her family and expose the Republic—but is she already too late?

 

Rating: 5 star

 

Review:

I can see this kind of thing coming already so let’s get this out of the way. If your reaction to my rating or reading of this book is any of the following, please take note:

“But Stefani, It’s Glenn Beck! OMG, like how could you possibly rate something with that’s bastard’s name on it that high?! What’s wrong with you?!”   – Okay, seriously, just go away. It’s a good book, take a sharpie to his name if it annoys you so badly.

He didn’t even write it, he’s just slapping his name on it to make money!” – True, but it says so in the Afterword that Harriet Parke conceived of and wrote this novel. So if you want to bitch about this, stop buying James Patterson since it’s exactly the same thing. And if you do buy James Patterson yet bitch about this, just go away.

“This is all just the mindless ravings of a lunatic and it’s just so disgusting!”  – Go away please. If you are so narrow-minded that you can’t enjoy a good story because of whose name is on the cover then there is just no hope for you.

Now, if you’ve made it this far, this book was fantastic. I couldn’t stop reading it, I have kept thinking about it after I stopped reading it, I want to know what happens after the last page, I have to know what happens! This is not a difficult book, it doesn’t use big words and it isn’t overly complex but it really doesn’t need to be. It’s dark, sinister and disturbing all on its own. I stayed up half the night on a week day when I had to work just to read this. Seriously go read it, now. Don’t even finish this review, just go!

Emmeline is a sweet character and I couldn’t help but want to protect her. She has been raised in this community for most of her life and knows of no other way of life, yet she hears stories from her mother about how things used to be. Never very curious about why it all happened, she just listens to the stories and walks her energy board every day like a good Citizen should. She is paired with an older man and has a daughter, who is taken by the community Authorities to be raised in the Children’s Village. That is when things begin to change for Emmeline. Shortly after her mother is taken away because she is no longer being productive and she is re-paired with another man. It is only then that she starts to question the status quo and worry that her opportunity to learn the truth might have passed.

I really liked the way the plot of this book played out. It doesn’t really seem all that bad at first, everything is provided for you and all you have to do is your assigned job to produce for the community and produce new citizens. Seems great. But it’s not. It is confining and restricting. Unfortunately for the younger citizens, how do you yearn for freedom when you have never known it? For Emmeline it is when her daughter is taken from her, which was a heartbreaking moment. The true horrors of this community are never fully explained but alluded to. I liked that since it added to the horror of it but isn’t explicit. Everything was so bleak and dark, even the colors of everything in this world.

I can’t recommend this book enough. I don’t dare say too much about it since it might give too much away. All I will say is that this is so far poised to be my Book of the Year for 2013.

Parasite by Mira Grant

parasite Parasite by Mira Grant

Expected publication October 29th, 2013 by Orbit

Preorder this book at: Amazon / B&N / Book Depository / Books A Million

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thanks to the author and Orbit!

 

Synopsis:

A decade in the future, humanity thrives in the absence of sickness and disease.

We owe our good health to a humble parasite – a genetically engineered tapeworm developed by the pioneering SymboGen Corporation. When implanted, the tapeworm protects us from illness, boosts our immune system – even secretes designer drugs. It’s been successful beyond the scientists’ wildest dreams. Now, years on, almost every human being has a SymboGen tapeworm living within them.

But these parasites are getting restless. They want their own lives…and will do anything to get them.

 

Rating: 3 star

 

Review:

I am not sure where this book went wrong for me but I went into it with high expectations. I am a fan of Mira Grant, I find her to be a very good writer and I have enjoyed what I’ve read from her in the past. And I started off enjoying this too, but somewhere along the line it just lost its appeal and I ended up bored.

The idea behind this book is a good one although I have to admit I was skeptical about the idea that science had engineered tapeworms to treat our medical ills. These things can secrete medication, adjust metabolism, mend some injuries, and a whole host of other things. But I have a hard time believing that just in a decade from now 99% of society will be totally cool with intentionally ingesting a parasite. I didn’t really buy that but then I had to remind myself that there are people out there who buy tapeworms off the internet to lose weight so maybe it’s more possible than this wouldn’t be as hard of a sell as I believe.

The main character was interesting but she got a bit old after awhile. I liked Sal ultimately. She was in a horrible accident that left her clinically brain dead and on life support. Her family was about to end life support when she woke up against all medical odds. The company that manufactures these tapeworms suspect that her “implant” played a role in her recovery and so offer to pay all her expenses in exchange for studying how that is possible.  Unfortunately this is when I began to suspect that I knew what was going on, I looked at the synopsis and looked at Sal and thought “I hope I’m wrong about this!”

The story moved a bit slower than I would have liked but the information was interesting so I didn’t get bored. We met some new characters that I liked and I enjoyed the people we met at first. I hated Sal’s family. They were bossy, secretive and pains in the ass. More than once I found myself cringing when they said something to Sal and I thought, how could you SAY that to your daughter! I didn’t like the people at SymboGen because they were just all creepy and narcissistic. The secretive people that are determined to give Sal answers weren’t much better since they were clearly using her for their own means. By the end the only characters I liked were Sal, her boyfriend, and Tansy.

The big reveals were equally great and disappointing. The first big reveal floored me. I didn’t see it coming a mile away and I felt as betrayed as Sal did. But I recovered quickly since technically we didn’t know the character all that terribly well. But the second big reveal was awful. Remember that moment in the very beginning when I thought “I hope I’m wrong”? Yeah, I wasn’t wrong. It shouldn’t be that blatantly obvious.

At the end of the day I enjoyed it but the ending took away from my enjoyment a little bit. I am interested enough in the second book that I will definitely read it but once again I suspect I know what the plot is going to be and I pray, please let me be wrong!

Flash Point by Nancy Kress

flash pointFlash Point by Nancy Kress

Published November 8th, 2012 by Viking Juvenile

Buy this book at: Books a Million / Book Depository / Amazon / B&N

 

Synopsis:

Reality TV meets a chillingly realistic version of America—and the fame game is on!

Amy had dreams of going to college, until the Collapse destroyed the economy and her future. Now she is desperate for any job that will help support her terminally ill grandmother and rebellious younger sister. When she finds herself in the running for a slot on a new reality TV show, she signs on the dotted line, despite her misgivings. And she’s right to have them. TLN’s Who Knows People, Baby—You? has an irresistible premise: correctly predict what the teenage cast will do in a crisis and win millions. But the network has pulled strings to make it work, using everything from 24/7 hidden cameras to life-threatening technology to flat-out rigging. Worse, every time the ratings slip, TLN ups the ante. Soon Amy is fighting for her life—on and off camera.

 

Rating: 1 star

 

Review:

Short version – This book sucked.  Nothing happens.  Not a damn thing.  Then suddenly the author seems to remember they are writing a book to interest people and something happens.  Then the book is over.  Save your money and buy a book where something, ANYTHING happens.

Long version – I was really looking forward to this book, it’s embarrassing just how much.  I wanted to love it so much that I pre-ordered it months before it was released.  Then I started seeing a lot of bad reviews and had an “uh oh, did I screw this royally?” moment.  The premise interested me because it sounded a tiny bit like The Hunger Games but in a more tame fashion.  Interesting, and I was willing to give it a shot despite my sudden misgivings.

I have seen people speculating that the grammar or spelling errors might be because they got an uncorrected ARC copy…it wasn’t.  There were many times when I did a double take and said to my book “what the hell is that supposed to say…because it definitely doesn’t say whatever it is!”.  I got annoyed that they kept calling Kaylie different names.  One paragraph its Kaylie, the next paragraph (no joke, literally the next paragraph) it was Kayla. It confused the hell out of me.  There were enough characters for me to keep track of, I didn’t need one with two names.

Amy was an idiot.  A irredeemable idiot.  First, she applies for a job without having any idea what the job is.  Who does that?  Idiot Amy does.  Then, she signed a legally binding contract for the mystery job without even bothering to read it…or even skim it!  It was at that moment that I knew Amy and I wouldn’t get along.  But not only was she a complete moron, she was boring too.  I sort of agreed with the emails she got later in the book that said she did nothing and was a waste of air time.  She was a waste of book time too.  And she treated her sister like shit, then I branded her total Grade A bitch status.

The plot was just so dull.  9 out of the 10 scenarios were laughably stupid.  The book jacket says that they kept upping the ante until Amy and the others are fighting for their lives both on screen and off screen.  Wait, hold on.  Where is THAT book?  Because it sure as shit isn’t the book I just read!  The scenarios were all boring and much the same.  I didn’t see any upping the ante at all.  Then suddenly we get to the last scenario and they are breaking the law and trying to kill people.  What the actual fuck?  Boring to illegal in 2.5 pages!  But by then I didn’t fall for the bullcrap because I’d seen the same tactic in the 9 other scenarios so that made it not only implausible but also predictable.

Stupidest love triangle….square….ever.  So not only did the love triangle suck but they tried to make it a love square, which was weird and made even less sense than the love triangle.  Naturally one of the guys was the pretty boy who everyone falls in love with.  The other guy I actually liked.  But only one of them ever seemed to be interested in Amy at all, but Amy was only interested in the other guy until he did something she didn’t like and then she was all over (literally) the guy who had been flirting with her from day one.  Then they tried to throw in another person and it just got weird and stupid and I didn’t believe any of it at all.  Amy was boring, the other girl was a manipulative bitch.  What’s to like?!

And now for some notes for other authors to learn from this train wreck:

1. When you are writing a dystopian novel in which everything has changed drastically from the way we know it, explain how that happened!  And exactly what happened!  Just referring to everything as “pre-Collapse.” isn’t helpful.  I don’t know what the fuck the Collapse was or did!?  Tell me for the love of almighty Goddess!  Just a few paragraphs to explain the backstory would have been sufficient, or a prologue.  Anything!

2. Stop with the love triangles already.  Seriously, it’s gotten old.  And if you have to do it, can you at least make it interesting?  A 3 girl love triangle?  A 2 girls, 1 guy triangle?  A 3 girl love triangle?  At this point I’d take just about everything other than 2 guys head over heels in love with the most boring girl on the planet.

3. Unless your book is a comedy, if I’m laughing to the point of tears you’ve failed….badly.  Take heed.

4. If you are going to give your heroine some kind of special power, at least tell me what it actually is.  I read an entire book and I have not a clue about what Amy’s phantoms were or what purpose they served.

5. If you are writing in a character who is giving your heroine hints about what’s to come as a warning, please make sure those hints make sense.  Maybe it’s because Amy was an idiot that she didn’t get it earlier, but I didn’t get it either.  Two vague words does not a warning make.  Make it clear or I really won’t give a damn.

6. Please, stop the endless lists of designer brands.  At a certain point I start thinking that they are paying you for product placement.  Then I start to giggle.  Then when I get tired of giggling, I just skim the rest of your shitty tome.

7. If your own characters tell me how much something sucks, don’t write it.  Otherwise I will sit there and nod and go “yep character A, you’re write that’s fucking stupid.”

Don’t buy this book, I beg you.  If you absolutely have to read it then get it from the library or a friend who already wasted their money on it.  It’s not worth it.  It’s not even worth the paper it’s printed on.