The author sets us down in the middle of this bleak, formidable world without much explanation as to how the world became this way. This isn't really an issue though, it adds another fascinating element to this unusual post apocalyptic tale. Throughout the book, there are glimpses of our own world; sky scrapers, binoculars, and other gadgets that are no longer relevant in this future society. There are brief mentions of these items belonging to "the wreckers" and I assume that refers to what would be our world as it is now. Honestly, I didn't much mind being left in the dark about what happened to put the world in this state. I was so caught up in the intensity of Saba's existence in this world and the many challenges she faced as she journeyed across this desolate and dangerous landscape to find her kidnapped brother Lugh.It seems that I use the words dark and gritty often when describing a dystopian themed book. Blood Red Road literally felt gritty, with the frequent sand storms, all the fighting in the dirt, and infrequent bathing practices. Saba was certainly no damsel in distress. She was more than willing do dish out punishment of a physical sort to anyone who crossed her. She was more of a "punch you in the face now and ask questions later" kind of girl. Normally, when I don't like the main character, I lose patience with and interest in the book. However, in Blood Red Road, while I didn't always like Saba and she often irritated me with her immature and selfish nature, her voice was so compelling I couldn't stop reading. What she lacked in manners and empathy, she more than made up for in general kick assery. She did grow as a character throughout the story, and that is always something I enjoy in a book, watching a flawed character change gradually in the course of the challenges she's faced with.There's a hint of romance between Saba and a guy she meets in her travels. I thought their budding relationship felt plausible and imperfect. I very much enjoyed watching them interact with one another. It felt more like a friendship spiced up by a mutual attraction. The relationship between Saba and her younger sister was also intriguing. While Saba was almost obsessed with finding her twin brother Lugh who she adored, she resented and despised her 9 year old little sister Emmi. And though I often wanted to feel sorry for Emmi, I was time and time again reminded that she was tougher than one might think, probably due to being raised in such a harsh environment. Emmi managed to be endearing while still showing an inner strength that is unusual for a child. I hope that in any sequels, there is a lot more of Emmi.The villain was pretty weak and unconvincing, bordering on the absurd even. He wasn't believable at all as either a king or the "bad guy" which is probably what I liked least about this book. The fight against him and his even more outlandish parents was another of the weaker points. His mother was a much more impressive and disturbing character. I'm actually surprised by how much I truly enjoyed Blood Red Road considering that I thought the main character was largely unlikable and the villain was ineffective. But the writing and the plot were more than enough to keep me reading and continue to be thoroughly entertained.The writing style was unusual but it made sense in the context of the story. The author chose to write in Saba's voice which was understandably uneducated and and rustic, lazy pronunciations and a good bit of slang. This took a bit of getting used to but it made the characters feel all the more genuine, I think. Once I got into the book, reading it became almost effortless as I became more fully invested in the story.Ultimately, Blood Red Road, like its main character, had a few flaws that were annoying, but it was so rich with action and bravado that it was an all around win for me. There wasn't exactly a cliffhanger ending but there were certainly enough questions left unanswered to warrant a sequel. I would love to learn more about the world and how it got to be that way in any future books. I would recommend Blood Red Road to fans of dystopian themed books as well as to those who like a tough female character that is not afraid of a fight.
When She Woke is a dystopian themed adult fiction inspired by Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter. And like Hawthorne's book, the main character, Hannah Payne, is publicly condemned and ostracized for her perceived crime and forced to wear scarlet as a badge of shame, yet refuses to name the man who is responsible for her pregnancy. When She Woke also explores similar themes of religion, adultery, and criminality as did The Scarlet Letter.After being convicted of murdering her unborn child, Hannah goes through a process called melachroming which entails the convicted criminal having their skin color altered to announce the type of crime they committed. She wakes to find herself in a solitary room with only a shower, sleeping platform, and a camera in the wall that will, for her first thirty days as a “Chrome,” monitor and broadcast her every move to the entire world.The dystopian society was one of extreme religious conservatism and, as such, the one aspect of this that almost didn't fit for me was that in such an almost Puritanical society, would they really rely so heavily on technology? Other than that, imagining a society built on the tenets of extreme fundamentalistic Christian beliefs was downright frightening. Hannah was forced to contend with her guilt over making choices that not only went against every principal she had been taught to believe in her strict evangelical upbringing, but also put her in the untenable position of losing her friends, family, reputation, and possibly her own life. She struggled to reconcile her actions with her religious beliefs and wondered if she would ever feel a connection to God again.I found When She Woke to be extremely thought provoking. The idea of melachroming intrigued me. There is some part of me that is not fully convinced that this is such a bad idea as it would effectively punish the criminal through public humiliation yet save the state the expense of housing all but the most violent offenders. In the book, there was a lower life expectancy for some crimes or “colors” such as Red (murderers) and Greens (Child Molesters) while those convicted of less serious crimes (Yellows) were less feared and hated but still ostracized. Right or wrong, it was certainly a fascinating concept to consider.With all of the heavy and thought provoking themes discussed When She Woke, it still managed to be an exciting and engaging read. I devoured this book in just one day, unable to put it down. I knew before the first hundred pages that I wouldn't be getting any sleep that night until I finished it. It sinks its hooks in early and never lets go as it takes you on an action packed and emotionally stirring journey. When She Woke takes a fairly clear stance on the topic of abortion, however, I don't believe it was presented in such a biased way that those who differ in their beliefs would be unable to enjoy it. When She Woke presents the story from a strongly feminist perspective and this may be off-putting for some but I found it to be an inspiring story about the struggle from oppression to empowerment. This will definitely be shelved with my all time favorites. I would recommend this to fans of dystopian themed fiction, those who enjoyed the Handmaids Tale or The Scarlet Letter, and those who enjoy fiction that focuses on socially relevant issues.
What if a group of scientists found a cure for aging? Would you want it? This cure doesn't encompass any diseases like cancer, AIDS, or even the common flu. So, while anyone receiving the “cure” would not age, they would still be susceptible to illness or injury. As the book explains, you would only be assured that when you do die, it would not be peacefully in your bed of old age, you pretty much are guaranteed that it will be nothing so easy. There are plenty of other ways to die, and plenty of other people who want to make sure you do. Drew Magary explores these issues and many of the possible results of this so-called "cure" such as overwhelming population growth, the horrific ways people abuse the “cure”, and all of the extreme religious and socio economic repercussions and then presents it in an extremely entertaining and entirely readable narrative.To say I was blown away by The Postmortal would be an understatement. The cartoon-like cover image and back cover blurb did not prepare me for how crazy-good this book actually was. I wasn't expecting it. This was so cleverly written. I was drawn in by the rich dark humor and the blunt, candid way the story is told. I would describe this as the “much cooler big brother” to all of the other dystopian novels I’ve read. I can literally picture some of these events happening within my own lifetime. And that is frightening.The Postmortal chronicles one man, John Farrell’s journey into postmortal life, after receiving the "cure". The story is told via John's personal journal and from some of the news articles and blurbs from various news feeds he included in that journal. John is almost an anti-hero, flawed in so many ways but his story is still so compelling. The news articles keep the reader updated on what is going on throughout the world and then John's journal shows how these things are affecting people on a more personal level, how they are living through and with these changes. I thought it was a very original and effective way to present a story.This world was a terrifyingly realistic place that is all too familiar. The most frightening thing about The Postmortal is that it was so believable. From the strange religious cult to the shady government dealings, and even the mysteriously malevolent "greenies" all of it followed a very conceivable logical sequence. I was both extremely entertained and terrified at the possibility that any of this could actually happen.The Postmortal was easily my favorite read of 2011. I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys a thrilling dystopian adventure as well as anyone who simply wants to be thoroughly entertained.
From the fabulous cover that draws the eye and the imagination, to the extraordinary plot that is both chilling and compelling, Anna Dressed in Blood is so full of "Win” that it is no surprise this is the book that everyone is talking about. Billed as Young Adult fiction, I believe this book will appeal to everyone, regardless of genre. Anna Dressed in Blood has all the elements of an incredible ghost story; a creepy haunted house, a violent spirit with a tragic past, and a solitary hero intent on dispatching the dead to where ever it is the dead go. If that would have been all there was to the story, it probably would have been a great book. However, Kendare Blake takes this familiar plot and twists it into something brilliant and original and definitely not just a ghost story. She adds magic, witches, voodoo myth and ritual, enough death, blood, and violence to satisfy any horror fan, and then tops it off with touch of romance. On top of this, the writing is hauntingly beautiful and keeps the reader wanting more. This is a book that can be re-read again and again, and each time the reader can find something new to love about it.Cas is the main character, but it is Anna who really draws me into the story at the beginning. She is both terrifying and alluring, capable of unimaginable violence but has this air of mystery that makes me want to understand her, figure out what happened to her to cause this much rage. Anna’s house was almost a character in itself. Dark, spooky, and mysterious, the house seems to want to draw you closer. It seemed like the house was an extension of Anna herself, eerily compelling. I wanted to explore the house, even knowing the terrible thing that’s in there. Even knowing what she's capable of. Cas’ first encounter with Anna is the stuff of nightmares, wounded and unprepared, he finds himself in the path of a monstrous goddess like vision, black veins criss crossing her skin, eyes that are black pools, the blood soaked dress, not to mention she has been dismembering people with her bare hands for over fifty years. But for some reason she lets him live. Cas quickly learns that he is no match for Anna physically, she throws him around like a rag doll leaving him bruised and battered and even more intrigued by her. Suddenly, the job he came there to do doesn’t seem quite so easy.Cas ends up being a lot deeper than he seems from first impression. His caustic wit, the way he refuses any offer of help, and how he admittedly uses people to gain information may make Cas look like a pretty shallow fellow. In actuality, he has deep seated reasons pushing people away, never allowing anyone close enough to form any type of friendship. All of this changes though when he arrives in Anna’s town. Suddenly he’s faced with a ghost he can’t kill, people who have the nerve to call themselves his friends, and a cat that won’t stop hissing at him. I enjoyed watching him grow as a character throughout the story. As his relationship with Anna builds, it seems that he’s also opening himself up to friendships with living people as well. The secondary characters were also fascinating and each one brought a little something unexpected to the story.The plot is fast paced and exciting. Not a moment went by that I wasn’t completely engaged in the story. Anna Dressed in Blood is a book that will grab you and refuse to let go, forcing you to continue reading even when you want to put the book down and cover your eyes. The author has this way of building the suspense so that I could almost feel myself tense as I waited to see what was going to happen. Throughout the book, I gasped, I laughed out loud, I teared up once or twice, I was thoroughly chilled, thrilled, and entertained. The twists and turns in the plot were amazing. The second half of the book read almost like a completely separate story, but equally as fascinating. I loved the elements of voodoo, I would have enjoyed learning more about that. There was a lot of different things going on but I never once felt like it was too much, each new plot thread just added to the richness of the story.Ultimately, I think Anna Dressed in Blood is probably the best Young Adult novel this year and will certainly be on my list of all time favorite reads. I don’t know what Kendare Blake is going to come up with to top this phenomenal debut, but I have no doubt that she will. Did you happen to see the interview she did at Down the Rabbit Hole where she answered every question with quotes from the book? How awesome is that? I predict that we’ll see some amazing things from this author, remember I said so. If you haven’t already gotten yourself a copy of this book, you should definitely do so. This isn’t one that you want to miss out on. I would recommend this to everyone.
Shatter Me introduces us to Juliette as she sits in solitary confinement in what seems to be a mental asylum, counting the days (264) since she’s seen, heard, or been touched by another human. The world outside those four walls (with 14 cracks) has gone insane, people starving to death, whole species of animals no longer exist, and the people in power call themselves the Reestablishment. The Reestablishment…these are the people who drug her away to this place for a murder she didn’t mean to commit, to a fate she’s sure she deserves, to be trapped by her guilt as much as by the prison walls. The power she holds within her very skin is one she doesn’t want and she will do anything to disprove the notion that she is a monster, even though she herself believes it. She maintains her tenuous hold on sanity by writing in her notebook and refusing to allow herself to acknowledge the thoughts that sometimes overwhelm her. When she awakes one day to find herself with a cellmate, her entire world begins to change.
The writing style of Shatter Me was like none I’ve read before, both haunting and at times a bit overwhelming. Written in an almost lyrical or poetic prose, Juliette’s inner thoughts and feelings were often uncomfortably intense, which would be understandable considering the situation she was in. Many of her words/thoughts were written and then struck out, as if she were refusing to allow herself to acknowledge those thoughts. I thought this was a powerful way to show how she was struggling to hold onto her sanity. As she began to have more human interaction, the strikethroughs became less common. It was such a fascinating progression. While, for the most part, I thought the writing was beautiful, there were also times when it felt like overkill and it became a bit tedious. Overall though, I enjoyed the unique imagery and the flow of the words.“I always wonder about raindrops. I wonder how they are always falling down, tripping over their own feet, breaking their legs and forgetting their parachutes as they tumble right out of the sky toward an uncertain end. Its like someone is emptying their pockets over the earth and doesn’t seem to care where the contents fall, doesn’t seem to care that the raindrops burst when they hit the ground, that they shatter when they fall to the floor, that people curse the days the raindrops dare to tap on their doors. I am a raindrop. My parents emptied their pockets of me and left me to evaporate on a concrete slab.” The story itself was intense and reminded me very much of Xmen. Juliette’s power is reminiscent of Rogue and many of her characteristics also reminded me of Rogue from Xmen. The plot was action packed and thrilling. The villain, Warner, was out of his mind and made an even more effective bad guy because of the hint of a hidden past that may explain why he is the wicked boy he’s become. Happily, this did not become a love triangle since Warner is simply too psychotic to engender much sympathy from Juliette. The interplay between Juliette and Adam was extremely well done. This is a romance that I can believe. Things between them tend to get pretty steamy a couple times, but Mafi reins it in and manages to keep it PG. The ending also reminded me a lot of Xmen and has me incredibly excited about the sequel.
Overall, I think that Shatter Me has lived up to all the hype. Most readers will enjoy the intense and original writing style as well as the exciting premise, a steamy romance, and a villain you love to hate. In the sequel, I hope to see more details about the dystopian world and how it became that way and more about the two factions, the Reestablishment and the people who are not ready to succumb to that tyrannical rule and of course more Adam and Juliette! I would recommend Shatter Me to readers who enjoy dystopian or post-apocalyptic fiction, fans of Xmen, and anyone who enjoys a thrilling YA adventure.
Breadcrumbs is a charming and enchanting new novel by Anne Ursu. Billed as Middle Grade fiction, the lyrical writing and interesting mix of fantasy and reality will appeal to Young Adult and Adult readers alike.Breadcrumbs is an emotional journey that follows Hazel as she navigates a dangerously magical forest on her quest to reach the Snow Queen's lair and rescue her best friend Jack. One of the many things I enjoyed about Breadcrumbs is that it evoked such nostalgic memories of my own childhood. There is an almost natural separation that happens in boy/girl friendships at a certain age and Ursu highlights this with such poignancy that it is beautiful to read.Hazel shone as the main character and her courage, loyalty, and fortitude were inspiring. I loved her whimsical nature, her willingness to trust her intuition as she faced some terrifying challenges and persevered through seemingly insurmountable obstacles. The way her character evolved throughout the story was wonderful. The quest that Hazel undertook was as much about self discovery as it was about the strength of friendship and Hazel learned something valuable with each step of the journey.Within the story, there were nods to many other popular children’s tales such as Harry Potter and Narnia and of course, the Snow Queen which inspired this novel. These mentions made sense in the context of the story and I don't feel that they were overused at all.This was an emotional and whimsical modern fairy tale with overtones of melancholy and nostalgia. This is one of those reads that stays with you long after turning the last page, a modern day classic. I would recommend this to readers of all ages and would go so far as to say that you will be missing out if you don’t have a copy of this on your shelf.
Eve is a post apocalyptic or dystopian themed YA novel that takes place in a not too distant future America devastated by a plague that has killed a large part of the population. In their desperate attempt to rebuild, the powers that be make some drastic changes and enact some rather heartless policies.Eve was full of action and suspense and I was sucked into the story very quickly, from the first chapter. There were many exciting plot twists that I wasn’t expecting and Anne Carey was none too gentle with her characters. There were a few times that I thought that events happened a little too coincidentally but it was easy to overlook those small instances when the story itself was so entertaining. I finished this in just one day, this was definitely a book I couldn’t put down once I started it.The world that Eve inhabits is a fascinating place, however, it certainly pushed the boundary of believability in some areas. There were a lot of details mentioned but left unexplained regarding the hows and whys of this world. It raised quite a few questions for me as I was reading and I thought several times that there will be some readers who will dislike being expected to just take all of these things at face value. I honestly would have liked more explanation as to why it was so important, for instance, that the two sexes be kept strictly apart, what was being done with the children from the breeding programs, and how was nobody in this society having an issue with orphan children being forced to work in labor camps, among many other unanswered questions. I hope that some of these issues are addressed in future novels.The characters were one of the strongest aspects of Eve. Eve herself wasn’t always a very likable character. But this made sense considering the absurd ideas that she was basically brainwashed to believe since she was five years old. I thought that in many ways, Eve reminded me of a typical teenager, often making stupidly impulsive decisions that she later regretted. However, in this society, these impulsive decisions sometimes had deadly consequences. The author was none too gentle with her characters and none of them made it through the book unscathed.The relationships between the characters were emotionally charged and believable. I loved the dynamic between Eve and many of the secondary characters, especially the boys Silas and Benny. It was almost a “Wendy meets the Lost Boys” kind of situation, with the boys so desperately needing a mother figure. I hope I see more of them in future installments. The romance between Eve and Caleb as well as the friendship between Eve and Arden was flawed, interesting, and seemed very authentic. Each of the characters were allowed to grow and change a little as the story progressed. None so much as Eve, who slowly grew from a naïve schoolgirl to a tough and much wiser young woman. This made sense considering some of the harsh lessons she was forced to learn from her mistakes.Overall, I thought that Eve was a thrilling dystopian that, even with its flaws, was an exciting read. Again, the characterization was where Eve excelled. The writing, pacing, and plot were also very well done. However, I’m only rating it a 3 because of the holes in the world building and because of the awful ending. I will definitely be picking up the second book in this series because, even though there were some flaws and it ended badly, I really enjoyed reading Eve and would recommend it to any fans of YA dystopian or post apocalyptic books.
Suki Michelle and Carlyle Clark have created a thrilling post-apocalyptic world. From the first chapter, I was immediately fascinated with Olivya’s world and was drawn into this dystopian adventure. This is literally an edge-of-your-seat kind of read with more and more of the inner workings of this society revealed through each action packed chapter. From the mysterious and compelling Kindred to the strange Doom-criers, there are so many unique characters each with their own stories, legends, and mythologies. With so many things going on- one might think that it would be overwhelming, but The Apocalypse Gene was so cleverly written that I never felt lost or like there was a sudden info-dump. I am truly impressed and surprised by how much I liked this.In The Apocalypse Gene, the world has been stricken by an uncontrollable cancer. Olivya’s mother is forced to turn her home into a hospice in order to survive. Olivya goes to a virtual school and her only contact with kids her own age is in a virtual community known as Cy-Chi where everyone’s avatar is supposedly as close to how they really appear as possible. This is where Olivya first meets Mikah. Both of them risk much to meet each other face to face in the very real, very dangerous Chicago streets. Each of them discover that the other is “gifted” Olivya with the sight with which she can see auras and Mikah with telempathy with which he can read and alter the emotions of others. The initial attraction that brought them together quickly grows to something much deeper and stronger and this helps to sustain them as they face some crazy challenges.The Apocalypse Gene is unlike any other dystopian I have read. The writing is superb, there’s enough action to make your head spin, and all of it flows together so perfectly that even with all of the unexpected twists and turns, there was never a point where I felt lost or confused. Turning that last page was like coming up for air. Suki Michelle and Carlyle Clark have certainly put together an unforgettable post-apocalyptic adventure. I can’t wait to read more from these two amazing writers.
I have very mixed feelings about this book. On the one hand, I really liked this story, the plot was exciting and suspenseful and the mythology that drove the plot was incredibly intriguing. I enjoyed learning about the watchers and the emmim, the mythology behind their existence was absolutely compelling. It kept me wanting to know more about them and their history. This was a book that I wanted to keep reading, despite its flaws. The action and suspense were enough to keep me fully engaged in the story even when I was annoyed with some of, what I felt to be, the weaker aspects of the book.The scene opened on the heroine attending and assisting with an exorcism. This certainly set the tone for the exciting premise. The demons were strange and otherworldly, and very cleverly written. The exorcisms may have, at times, lacked the feel of authenticity, but they were still fascinating to witness, especially the way main character, Bridget, interacted with the demons. The two priests that were also attending the exorcisms and advising Bridget were such shady characters, I didn't know which one I distrusted more. The byplay between them effectively communicated the tense relationships between themselves and Bridget.Where I sometimes lost patience with Possess was in the dialog and the characters. One of the most important factors in a book, for me, is the way the characters interact with one another. So, when the dialog is weak, or cheesy, or overdone, it takes a lot away from the story itself. In Possess, it was clearly the intention to make Bridget a snarky, angsty teen, which in itself can be tedious to read. The problem I had with this was that any time she was speaking, whether it be internally or in conversation, there was either a flippant remark or a "poor me" whiny pout. I felt like it was completely overdone and decreased my enjoyment of the book.As a main character, I thought Bridget was a whiny, sarcastic, clueless nitwit. I don't understand why the hints were presented so that the reader understood them, but apparently Bridget did not. It made me feel frustrated with her ineffectiveness as the main character. I also hated the way she treated her "friends" The snarky comments about one being fat, lazy, and gay were a bit over the top. Also, the fact that she didn't discourage the other "friend" who obviously had a huge crush on her, instead, she continued to ignore his hurt feelings as she became closer to another guy without ever addressing the issue or even attempting to salvage the friendship. There were many things like this that caused me to dislike Bridget as a main character.I guess I will be one of the very few, it seems, that did not absolutely love Possess. It simply wasn't for me. I find it very difficult to enjoy a book if I do not like the main character. So, for me, I will be rating Possess a three, because while the plot was fast paced and exciting, the fact that I did not like the main character took much away from my overall enjoyment.