Uninvited: A Book Review

Book: Uninvited (Uninvited #1)
Author/Authoress: Sophie Jordan

Uninvited (Uninvited, #1)

Cover: 4/5

  I like the simplicity of the background and the clothes Davy is wearing. They contrast and really highlight the hair ( see what I did there?).  In fact, I loved the juxtaposition so much, I actually attempted to draw it. Unfortunately, the hair that I drew came out nowhere near as beautiful as the hair on the cover. And the tagline : They say she’s a killer. One day she will be. Pure genius.

The cover’s obviously pretty and the hair twisting into DNA strands at the end is super cool but…I still can’t give the cover a 5. I guess I can blame part of it on my dislike for covers with pretty girls with amazing hair on the cover. They’re a dime to a dozen, and honestly-they’re sort of cliché and unoriginal.

Plot: 2/5

Blurb: The Scarlet Letter meets Minority Report in bestselling author Sophie Jordan’s chilling new novel about a teenage girl who is ostracized when her genetic test proves she’s destined to become a murderer.
When Davy Hamilton’s tests come back positive for Homicidal Tendency Syndrome (HTS)-aka the kill gene-she loses everything. Her boyfriend ditches her, her parents are scared of her, and she can forget about her bright future at Juilliard. Davy doesn’t feel any different, but genes don’t lie. One day she will kill someone.
Only Sean, a fellow HTS carrier, can relate to her new life. Davy wants to trust him; maybe he’s not as dangerous as he seems. Or maybe Davy is just as deadly.

My thoughts: I like the whole idea of the Homicidal Tendency Syndrome. I really do. It makes sense. After all, hasn’t mankind been trying to figure out how to identify psychopaths, sadists and murderers from the beginning of time? I like the idea that it can be identified by a single gene. And I can see how that idea will inevitably lead to a mandatory test issued by the government to see if it’s citizens carry that ‘kill’ gene.
But in the book, it remains pretty much nothing more than an idea. Sure, we see how badly people who are HTS positive are treated. In fact 3/4th the book was spent in boring, repetitive descriptions of how the MC had it all- close friends, an amazing boyfriend, a close family who adores her, an acceptance into Julliard and the general respect of everybody else- and how she lost it all in one swoop when she was tested HTS positive. I can understand that it was hard for her to be treated badly and I appreciate the point Sophie Jordan tried to make: that a lot of HTS people were treated really badly even though they didn’t deserve it. But, come on 3/4th of a book? That’s way too much. There’s no action, romance or anything halfway interesting in that part of the book. Zero. Zip. Zilch. Nada.

It does pick up after 3/4th the book after Davy gets sent to a special facility created by the government for training. But it was too little, too late.

Characters: 1/5

Davy: I did not like Davy at all. She was judgemental and snobby. And it took her forever to accept that she really was a HTS carrier. In fact most of the book, her attitude is like:

I’m different. The exception.

Throughout the book she judges the HTS carriers harshly. Really harshly. And when someone judged her or pointed out that she was a HTS carrier as well, she used to get very, very angry, whiny and tearful.  Another thing I hated about Davy was her Mary-Sue’ish factor. About it- it was waaay up there. She was a music prodigy– she has an amzing voice and sheplayed the violin, piano, cello and God only knows how many more instruments. Okay, I guess that justifies her early admission into Julliard. I’m not annoyed with that part. It’s plausible even if it’s kind of out there. But here’s what I do have a problem with:

“And as if being a music prodigy isn’t enough, when you were four years old you walked into my room and finished the puzzle that had been kicking my ass for the past week.”

You have the breeding the other girls lack. Gentility, if you will

So let’s do a mental tally of what Davy’s like so far

  1. She’s pretty
  2. She’s a music prodigy and she’s crazy talented.
  3. Everybody loves her. Her parents, her brother, her friends, her boyfriend. You name it- they love her (until they find out she’s HTS positive, anyways)
  4. She’s super smart too.
  5. She apparently has ‘good breeding’ and ‘gentility
  6. She was lucky enough to be born rich unlike most HTS carriers. Not that she took advantage of it, because then she wouldn’t be sweet enough.

Kay, really how much more Mary-Sue can you get?

The side characters…well, most don’t play a major role.

Family: Her Mom and Dad don’t exist in the book until they have to sign a waiver allowing her to go to the killing school. I guess that was supposed to prove a point. Like how they withdrew their support or something but it didn’t come across like it. It seemed more like Sophie Jordan forgot they were supposed to exist at times. She did something similar with Davy’s brother. He was the ex-‘family screwup‘ (his and Davy’s word’s- not mine) and he would randomly pop up to say something ‘inspirational’ and ‘caring’ and then pop back out of the story until the next time Davy felt like she needed motivation.

 Old friends: Davy’ boyfriend passive-aggressively makes her breakup with him after she becomes HTS positive. Maybe he’s a boy but he definitely doesn’t deserve the friend part of boyfriend. But even he doesn’t even compare to Davy’s best friend, Tori. Now Tori breaks all of friendship’s major rules and then some. First of all, she discusses Davy behind her back. Then this part is where the ‘and some’ comes in- she reports her so-called best friend for having violent tendencies after Davy breaks up and slaps her previously mentioned jerk of a boyfriend. Can you believe that?

New friends: Davy didn’t really make an effort to make any new friends after she was found t be HTS positive. She thought she was above them or something. Gil was her only friend throughout. He was one character that I was rather ambivalent towards. He was a computer genius, got perfect ACT scores, was kind of a wimp physically but really loyal deep down.  A cliché. But he might grow into his role in the next few books.

Romance:1/5

This is the part of the book in which there’s a major difference of opinion. Some people like Sean. Others really, really don’t.  Personally, I fall into the second category. He’s the hot, smooth bad boy who warns the MC not to trust him, pushes her away but rescues her anyways. Yes, that one. The one who’s been featured in, what a thousand books? already. Seriously someone should write a new type of love interest. It can’t be too difficult.

Action:5/5

 Throughout most of the book, I was like Wait- what? That makes no sense at all. But I never actually gave up on the book. Somehow the action and the general fast-pace of the book kept me reading. Even when this book passed a point in stupidity at which I close most books. And because I can say that, I can say that the action in this book was pretty well written.  In that respect, this book kind of reminds me of Divergent. Or maybe I was reminded of that book only because of the part where the HTS carriers are taken to a secure facility to be trained and taught how to kill effectively.

There are plenty of descriptions of violence that aren’t sugarcoated for a younger audience. But even then, this book managed to stay within the boundaries set for young-adult. Nothing was exaggerated for the sake of evoking a sense of disgust.

This book has the most important element necessary for a dystopia: a very real sense of fear, frustration and helplessness. A sense that things are bad and they’re gonna get worse. I’ve read plenty of dystopian books that have failed to convince me that things are really that bad, but there’s no danger of that here.

Plotholes:3/5

Sophie Jordan was able to incorporate a lot of important, mature themes like nature vs. nurture, hypocrisy, how treating people as if you expected violence from them actually encourages violence, how women are generally treated as means of entertainment and how they are simultaneously patronized and feared. It was commendable that she brought in all these issues but somehow none of these issues worked their way to the forefront. They all sort of sunk into the background, pretending to be unimportant while an inane, annoying romance and a vague, shaky plot enjoyed the limelight.

Dialogue: 2/5

I searched this book, cover to cover but all I found were these meh-sentences. Nothing particularly catchy or inspiring here.

“Exactly what he wanted me to do. Exactly what they all thought I would do. Everyone in here. Everyone out there in the world. A world so afraid of carriers, it makes killers out of the innocent.”

“Never forget that we are more than the genetic code. We can be more than labels applied to us. We can be more than what others whisper behind our backs. Free will exists. We need to choose to be the best we can be and we need to help others do the same. Believe in yourself.” 

 Overall Rating: 2/5

This book came with a lot of expectations. Not just for me (although I did have them after reading Ms. Jordan’s book Firelight which was actually pretty good)  but for everyone. This book has been compared positively to Article 5 by Kristen Simmons, The Program by Suzanne Young and Reboot by Amy Tintera. All major dystopian books which have made big names for themselves. But somehow the work managed to be ordinary, bland and clichéd. Just another case of a book that didn’t live up to it’s high expectations. Kind of like The Selection by Kiera Cass if you think about it.

5th Wave: Book Review

Book: 5th Wave

Author/Authoress: Rick Yancey

The 5th Wave (The Fifth Wave, #1)

Cover:4/5

It’ pretty, isn’t it? It also fits the book pretty well. In fact, I can imagine several scenes in which the picture on the cover would be appropriate. 4/5 stars for this cover.

Plot:

After the 1st wave, only darkness remains. After the 2nd, only the lucky escape. And after the 3rd, only the unlucky survive. After the 4th wave, only one rule applies: trust no one.

Now, it’s the dawn of the 5th wave, and on a lonely stretch of highway, Cassie runs from Them. The beings who only look human, who roam the countryside killing anyone they see. Who have scattered Earth’s last survivors. To stay alone is to stay alive, Cassie believes, until she meets Evan Walker. Beguiling and mysterious, Evan Walker may be Cassie’s only hope for rescuing her brother—or even saving herself. But Cassie must choose: between trust and despair, between defiance and surrender, between life and death. To give up or to get up

Contrary to what the blurb suggests, this book is not about zombies. Not even close. It’s about aliens. Evil aliens.

For some reason (which is not revealed in this book but which will probably be revealed later), aliens decide to take over the Earth. Not content with simply being considered superior and having humans completely downtrodden, they want to remove all humans from the face of the Earth. And to do so they will go to extreme lengths. Really extreme. By extreme they mean much more than electromagnetic waves which prevent satellites and electricity from working and diseases for which there is no cure. I can’t tell you much more about the plot without give you spoilers. Just let it be known that it’s spooky, creepy and at points nail-bitingly scary. And more full of twists and turns than a road up a mountain.

Characters: 4/5

Cassie: Cassie is an overly-sarcastic and flawed (she knows it too) heroine who made a promise to her dear and departed Dad to keep her brother safe. Except he gets captured by aliens in the disguise of soldiers. So it’s her job to get him back. As soon as you read the first few pages, it’s obvious that she’s deeply paranoid and missing a few marbles here and there. But we can excuse her for that. After all, she has been through a lot. Fans of Katsa (from Graceling) and Penryn (from Angelfall) will probably love this character.

Evan: He’s the love interest. And is a pretty interesting character if I do say so myself.  Just as insane as Cassie and defintiely more dangerous. He saves Cassie’s life (this is debatable). However I really can’t tell you much without giving major spoilers. But since, I want to talk some more about this awesome character, let me give you 3 words: He’s a traitor. Okay that tells you a lot while telling you absolutely nothing. But hopefully, this hint makes you curious enough to read this book.

Ben Parish: This guy carries a whole lot of emotional burden. Ben Parish is driven by a desire for revenge against the aliens who murdered his sister, and his own guilt because he was unable to stop them. He’s crazily loyal and a pretty fierce protector. He would have made an ideal soldier but then he finds out the evil plot. Good for him, not so much for the aliens. Also, for some reason it is impossible to simply refer to him as Ben. Hence he is always known as either Ben Parish or zombie.

Nugget: He’s Cassie’s little brother and is sometimes stupidly naïve and trusting. But he’s only 5 so I guess it’s pretty much justified. I think one thing I envy him for is his blind faith in Cassie and then in Ben. Despite being so young, he’s pretty much able to hold up his own in the team and I found his POV super interesting.

Besides these gems, we also have side characters who are pretty well rounded. We have the emotionally-stunted, Annie-Oakley like Ringer (three guesses why that’s her nickname in the Army) and the brilliant survivor who used to be Cassie’s dad.

Romance:2/5

Okay, the romance in this was pretty bad. For some reason, Cassie has a huge crush on Ben Parish, a guy who she hasn’t seen since the beginning of the end of the world. …we-ird.

Then, if the romance between Cassie and Evan was a pattern of  footsteps, it would be like: one small step, one small step, a huge leap, another leap, run back as fast as possible, stampede forward (the space of four huge, flying leaps). Definitely weird. But if it’s any consolation, there was some chemistry between the two. And it wasn’t just because both of them were kind of crazy and weird.

Dialogue:4/5

This book is extremely quotable. We have the deep, profound stuff like:

“We’re here, and then we’re gone, and it’s not about the time we’re here, but what we do with the time.”

Cruelty isn’t a personality trait. Cruelty is a habit.”

“How do you rid the Earth of humans? Rid the humans of their humanity

“What doesn’t kill us sharpens us. Hardens us. Schools us. You’re beating plowshares into swords, Vosch. You are remaking us. We are the clay, and you are Michelangelo. And we will be your masterpiece.”

And there’s the badass, honest stuff which somehow just makes you proud to be human:

“But if I’m it, the last of my kind, the last page of human history, like hell I’m going to let the story end this way. I may be the last one, but I am the one still standing. I am the one turning to face the faceless hunter in the woods on an abandoned highway. I am the one not running but facing. Because if I am the last one, then I am humanity. And if this is humanity’s last war, then I am the battlefield.”

“You can only call someone crazy if there’s someone else who’s normal. Like good and evil. If everything was good, then nothing would be good.”

“When the moment comes to stop running from your past, to turn around and face the thing you thought you could not face–the moment when your life teeters between giving up and getting up–when that moment comes, and it always comes, if you can’t get up and you can’t give up either, here’s what you do: Crawl.”

And then there were sentences that were humorous in a dark sort of way. Just what you need when you’re in the middle of a book full of the scary and the serious.

“We’d stared into the face of Death, and Death blinked first. You’d think that would make us feel brave and invincible. It didn’t.”
“There’s an old saying about truth setting you free. Don’t buy it. Sometimes the truth slams the cell door shut and throws a thousand bolts.”
“What were they thinking? ‘It’s an alien apocalypse! Quick, grab the beer!”
“I would kill for a cheeseburger. Honestly. If I stumbled across someone eating a cheeseburger, I would kill them for it.”
Plotholes:3/5
The romance= Not good. Other than that, I don’t really have any complaints.
Overall Rating:3.5/5
Freakishly scary in some parts, this is what I had hoped what the Ender’s Game would be like. Anyone who’s a fan of aliens, apocalypses, survival and dystopian need to read this book. Falls in the same category as Ashfall by Mike Mullin, The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken, Unwind by Neal Shusterman or Angelfall by Susan Ee.

 

The Darkest Minds:A Book Revew

Book: The Darkest Minds

Author/Authors: Alexandra Bracken

The Darkest Minds (The Darkest Minds, #1)

Cover:2/5

There was nothing wrong with the cover …. But nothing really made it stand out (you would think that the orange on the cover would be like a flashing beacon, but no it actually isn’t). Combined with the fact that Disney was the publisher (I’m not really a Disney princess fan; not when they messed up the fairytales so much) , this book really didn’t look so appealing. So, I passed it up for a long time despite its good rating for other books with better covers (but inferior content). Moral of the story for publishers: Readers judge books by their covers. Moral of the story for readers: Trust your fellow readers and goodreads.com; seriously, they rarely guide you wrong.

Plot:5/5

When Ruby woke up on her tenth birthday, something about her had changed. Something alarming enough to make her parents lock her in the garage and call the police. Something that gets her sent to Thurmond, a brutal government “rehabilitation camp.” She might have survived the mysterious disease that’s killed most of America’s children, but she and the others have emerged with something far worse: frightening abilities they cannot control. Now sixteen, Ruby is one of the dangerous ones. When the truth comes out, Ruby barely escapes Thurmond with her life. Now she’s on the run, desperate to find the one safe haven left for kids like her-East River. She joins a group of kids who escaped their own camp. Liam, their brave leader, is falling hard for Ruby. But no matter how much she aches for him, Ruby can’t risk getting close. Not after what happened to her parents. When they arrive at East River, nothing is as it seems, least of all its mysterious leader. But there are other forces at work, people who will stop at nothing to use Ruby in their fight against the government. Ruby will be faced with a terrible choice, one that may mean giving up her only chance at a life worth living.

The plot in this book deserves more than 5 stars. It was attention grabbing and I’ve definitely never seen something like this before in this genre. If any such book exists, it’s a cheap knockoff (even if that book was written earlier)

Characters:5/5

The characters in this book were amazing. From Ruby, the main character to Chubs (I guess his designation is the sidekick but he was too smart for me to think of him as one) to Zu, the adorable little girl who was mentally traumatized enough into not speaking. Most books have one character (if they’re lucky) who stands out. But the awesome thing about this book is that there are many such characters.

Ruby: Ruby starts off at the beginning of the book knowing almost nothing about the world she lives in. But she has a good reason for this. Ever since she turned 10, she’s been stuck in a rehabilitiation camp (the concentration variety) because the adults are scared of her awesome super powers. So far this sounds like the plot to a cheesy comic, right? Wrong. Let’s just drive the stakes a little bit higher. Majority of the children in America had succumbed to a mysterious illness and died. The rest…developed super powers. Naturally everyone was scared. So they stuck their kids in camps which were designed to make the powers go away. That’s one brilliant thing about this book: The government and adults acted almost exactly like you would expect them to act in such a situation. However because this is dystopian fiction, the camps are horrible. The children in them are mistreated- the most dangerous ones are killed, the rest are treated brutally, not allowed to talk, forced to do hard menial labour, etc. Disturbingly,there are several parallels between the ‘rehabilitation camps’ and the Jewish concentration camps set up in Nazi Germany during WWII. But this really didn’t set in for me until Ruby tells us how her mom had told she would be allowed to shave when she was 12 but she didn’t actually do so until she was almost 16. In this book, Ruby is special because she is one of the last ‘oranges’ (that’s a code name for her power level and basically means she can mess with people’s minds- literally! ) and also dangerous for that reason. But here’s the catch: She has no idea to control her powers. Right from the beginning we can see how much her powers scare her. With one touch, she erased her best friends memory. <spoiler> somewhere in the middle we learn that she also erased her parent’s memory and in the end she erases Liam’s memory.<okay, relax spoiler’s over>. Ruby’s a good character. She’s nice without being too sugary. Scared enough without being a total coward. Powerful but not invincible and awkward enough without being cringe-worthy.

Liam: If Ruby’s a good character, than Liam is an even better one. Having come from a less notorious camp, he’s less troubled than Ruby and much nicer, sweeter and more naive for it. Liam is the kind of guy who has an actual personality. As soon as he meets her, Liam is all for travelling with Ruby. However this is not because of some twisted love-at-first-sight thing (thank god!) but more a reflection of his personality. He’s not the type of love interest whose life would revolve around his love for the MC. Ahem, Malcahi from Sanctum, I’m looking at you. No, Liam had much more going for him such as his need to help others and his  loyalty to his friend. Definitely a swoon-worthy romantic love interest.

Zu: It’s hard to learn about a character who doesn’t talk. I mean, can’t talk. Although no one ever says what, it’s implied that Zu was tortured and tested upon in the camp and was so affected she stopped speaking. Despite the fact that she doesn’t talk, it wasn’t exactly hard to learn about her. She’s a yellow (that means she can make stuff explode) but more importantly, she’s a loving little girl who’s interested in dressing up, needs a serious dose of self-confidence and fiercely loyal to her family (whether they’re related to her by blood or just bound together by necessity).

Chubs: Chubs is a character I really enjoyed. Annoyingly assured his intelligence was superior, a little bit (okay, actually a lot) distrustful and insecure- he’s the type of character who grows on you. And he didn’t just grow on me as a reader, he grew on Ruby too. As he came to trust her more, they had surprisingly insightful and profound discussions.

Clancy: This is a character who oozes charisma (not surprising, since he is the President’s son). At first I was kind of annoyed with him for appearing because I really didn’t want a love triangle. But there’s a lot going on underneath the polished and charming exterior of this boy. I guess you could call him the villain of the piece but I was never really able to muster up any real hatred for this character (By the way, Ruby wasn’t able to either). Sure he was petty, arrogant and jealous with a strong cruel streak. But that somehow added to his charm (believe me, I know how messed up that sounds) but somehow he managed to make it all up with a short letter to Ruby.

R-

I lied. I would have run.

-C

 

Romance: 5/5

The romance in this book was surprisingly good. It wasn’t too heavy, neither was it too light. It didn’t hurt that the characters involved in it were so brilliant either.

Plotholes: 4/5

 This book was surprisingly realistic. I mean if a virus such as IANN did exist I could imagine the world (or at least America) going to Hell in a handbasket like this. Of course there were some unhealthy messages in here. For example, Ruby’s whole relationship with Clancy but the book made it clear that the relationship was unhealthy.

Overall Rating: 5/5

No, I’m not surprised I gave this book a five star rating and you shouldn’t be either. It was amazing, I promise you and totally deserves this rating. Buy this books as soon as possible so that you can read it over and over and over again.

The Hunger Games: A Book Review

Book: The Hunger Games
Author/Authoress: Suzanne Collins

The Hunger Games (The Hunger Games, #1)

Hunger Games is one of the best known dystopian young adult books and I loved it. It seems kinds of silly to me, that I dedicated this blog to young adult dystopian books and I still didn’t have a post about the Hunger Games over here. I guess I took it for granted that everyone’s read the series (and loved it too) but recently I wished a friend of mine ‘May the odds ever be in your favour’ in and got a blank look in return. To minimize my self-humiliation I  prompted them- “You know, the Hunger Games?” and got a smile and a ‘I haven’t watched the movie yet’…
I haven’t watched the movie yet?!? <Shakes head in despair>. You poor, poor deprived person.

So, here I am, reviewing the Hunger Games not just for the sake of the people who think it’s just a movie but also for people who I know have read and loved it. Be warned, this may turn into a fangirling session.

Cover:2/5

I don’t really go for the minimalist style for book covers. So the stark black background with ugly white letters proclaiming that the book’s name was ‘The Hunger Games’ and watermarks of targets didn’t really inspire much enthusiasm for me. But I can admire how the background makes the mocking-jay pin stand out. It’s probably the most recognisable young adult series just for that golden shiny pin which appears in some form or the other on every single book in the series. And for good reason too, that pin is important. Every single event in this book eventually boils down to that pretty golden pin.

Characters: 3.5/5

Katniss: The main character that everyone loves and even if you say you don’t love her, you know deep down you really do. Ever since her father died at the tender age of ten, she’s been shouldering the full load of her family almost single handily. She learnt how to hunt with a bow and arrow (actually let’s be fair to her father, he taught her before he died) and hunts illegally catching squirrels and rabbits neatly in the eye as well as bringing bigger game down. Like expected from such a character, she’s not squeamish about blood or even that squeamish about killing human living beings. To her, they’re just bigger prey. She’s suspicious and mistrusting (even of her own mother) but once you have her loyalty or do her a favour, she’ll do anything for you and do her best to get out of your debt. And her way of classifying everyone into predator and prey- totally charming.  But she has her flaws too. Can there ever be a good character without flaws? Never mind, that’s a rhetorical question. Katniss is hot-headed and stubborn and while this makes her undoubtedly cool at some times, it gets her into trouble as well. Besides that, she has the annoying tendency to see everything in black and white and label everyone and everything as evil and good. She doesn’t see blurry lines and grey areas. Another thing that annoys me about her is her priorities- they’re seriously messed up.

Prim: Prim’s the kind of cliché sweet baby sister character who the main character has to protect. But Suzanne Collins is not content to leave her flat and two dimensional. With the help of memories and Rue, Ms. Collins manages to string together an amazing back story which not only shows just how gentle, kind and sheltered Prim is but her healing genius and  tough inner strength as well.

Rue: Rue was a fabulous character. Just small and innocent enough for Katniss to protect and wise, clever and skilled enough to stand on her own. Through her, we learn more about the Capitol and through her death we develop a hatred for it. I’m not ashamed to admit- this is one death scene I actually cried for.

Cato: Is it weird that I actually liked this brutal, brain-washed Career from district 2? His intense temper and smug arrogance made me laugh, laugh, laugh. Suzanne Collins, would you please do a short story from Katniss’s archenemy’s of the 74th Hunger Games point of view?

Plot:5/5

In a dark vision of the near future, a terrifying reality TV show is taking place. Twelve boys and twelve girls are forced to appear in a live event called the Hunger Games. There is only one rule: kill or be killed.

When sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen steps forward to take her sister’s place in the games, she sees it as a death sentence. But Katniss has been close to death before. For her, survival is second nature.

Honestly, how could I resist this plot?  It’s like a twisted mix of awful reality television, a promise of lots of action  and a chilling dystopian world. Just what I’ve always wanted.

Worldbuilding:4/5

The strange blend with old fashionedness (trains and phones as a novelty) and modern technology (mutated, genetically modified animals and food appearing at the touch of a button) that’s so common for these types of books worked fantastically for this one. The world building begins on page one of this book and continues on ’til the last page of the last book. It’s slow, gradual and inspired genius.

Action:5/5

You would think that with 24 deaths, eventually all of the action will get boring. That’s not true. Not true at all. Right now I’m thinking of death by tracker-jackers. Definitely not a fun way to go.  It seems weird to compliment Suzanne Collins on the imaginative deaths she thought up for her characters, but I have to. They were really innovative and cool in a gruesome sort of ways.

Romance:1/5

Peeta: For some reason Peeta really annoys me in this book. Despite him starring in a major part of the book either directly or indirectly, I feel that we’re not really given much information about him. Even the information we are given is in the form of telling and not showing. What we do know about him: he bakes bread, he likes camouflaging, he’s selfless, he’s a good actor (or the Careers are really dumb, either one or maybe both) he’s been in love with Katniss since he was five, he remembers everything about Katniss, he was too shy to tell her that he loved her for eleven years until he announced it on national television, he refuses to let Katniss put her life in danger for his sake, etc. etc.

I think you get my point.  A large part of his personality is based on Katniss’s. So much so, he’s almost defined by her.  If you take her away, you get a kind of cowardly guy who bakes bread and likes art. Not the dreamboat everyone thinks about.

Gale: We’re only treated to him for a couple of pages and it’s already obvious where this is heading. He’s angry, rash, masculine (which means he’s not into baking or art),  anti-capitol and truly, deeply and madly in love with Katniss although she doesn’t know it yet. Other than that, he’s remarkably similar to Peeta.<rolls eyes> Oh boy!

Disclaimer: I am sick of love triangles in which there are obvious winners and carbon copy characters. 

Plotholes:3/5

Just look up, the love in this book is riddled with plot holes.

Overall rating:4/5

I am reminded again why I do not read young adult dystopia for its strong,  gradual and beautiful romances. But I loved the world building, plot, most of the characters, and the action of this book. I would recommend reading and maybe even buying this book.

Ashfall:A Book Review

Book:  Ashfall
Author/Authoress: Mike Mullin

Ashfall (Ashfall, #1)

Cover: 1.5/5

The cover didn’t exactly drum up much enthusiasm for me. For some reason, I was reminded of Narcissus after seeing the cover. A mirror? Seriously? I know that teenagers can be self-obsessed and writers writing in first person need to have people look in mirrors so that their readers can get an accurate description of the main character,  but in the wake of an apocalypse why would people spend time staring at their face in mirrors? That’s a good question and one they don’t answer anywhere in this book because nothing like this ever happens in the book. I guess the other things on the cover are accurate enough, though.  For example, Darla really does wear a grey sweat shirt and she does have blonde hair. But I’m still hung up on the fact that their is a huge mirror which is hugely inaccurate and taking up all the space on the front cover.

Characters:4/5

The Main Characters move around a lot and rarely meet the same person twice so there’s not a lot of characters that I can really talk about. However, I can vouch for this: Mike Mullin has gone for quality over quantity. There are two main characters in the book and the author’s done a great job with their characterization.

The characterization is… realistic (there’s no other way to describe it. I hate to break it to you, but kids who face hardship don’t automatically become Enid Blyton kids. The girls don’t automatically learn how to wash dishes, sew clothes, make food and go on adventures. The boys don’t immediately launch into a crusade of adventures gone wrong where they have to rescue their friends and comfort the girls. Most post-apocalyptic books would have you believe that the kids who survive are either

a.) mean, tough kids who will not hesitate to shoot you, maim you, steal things, etc. etc.
b.) someone who the mean, tough kids care about
c.) abnormally and weirdly lucky enough not to be shot or maimed and even more lucky to find safety, shelter and food

Maybe they’re right. Survival is a tricky thing which does not really tie in with morality anywhere. But I’d like to believe that the progress we’ve made from an ape like thingy to a human over several million years can’t be erased in a day. Even if that day includes the eruption of a super volcano.

This book features a teenage guy ( words can’t describe how refreshing it is to have a strong, male main character for once) who is a real teenager. Sure, he’s selfish enough to want to stay at home and play computer games while his parents visit his boring relatives but he’s kind of selfless too. He cares for his family enough to go and make sure they’re all right even though several feet of ash cover the ground. He has a heart and he demonstrates his respect for human life over and over again as he meets several people through the course of the book. Sometimes this trait gets him into trouble while at other times it’s his saving grace.

Darla is one of my favourite female characters ever.  She is the ultimate woman (yes, woman- not girl). She’s intelligent, proactive and strong. More importantly, she’s resourceful, clear minded, determined and capable. Without her, the MC would have died several long, miserable deaths and she doesn’t mind reminding him of the fact several times. If Annabeth from Rick Riordon’s Percy Jackson and the Olympians ever grew up, I imagine she’d both look and act like Darla. In fact, I’d say Darla would be Mary-Sueish if not for the fact that she’s seriously lacking in empathy. Oh well, I guess you can’t have everything.

Plot: 4/5

Under the bubbling hot springs and geysers of Yellowstone National Park is a supervolcano. Most people don’t know it’s there. The caldera is so large that it can only be seen from a plane or satellite. It just could be overdue for an eruption, which would change the landscape and climate of our planet.

For Alex, being left alone for the weekend means having the freedom to play computer games and hang out with his friends without hassle from his mother. Then the Yellowstone supervolcano erupts, plunging his hometown into a nightmare of darkness, ash, and violence. Alex begins a harrowing trek to seach for his family and finds help in Darla, a travel partner he meets along the way. Together they must find the strength and skills to survive and outlast an epic disaster.

Now that I think about it, a supervolcano is actually a pretty novel idea for a book plot (pun intended). Mike Mullin delivered the plot amazingly well with strong characters and emotion evoking incidents.

Romance:4/5

The romance in this book was initiated by Darla and that’s a remarkable feat. In young adult books, why is it always the male who has to take initiative? Personally, I think Alex and Darla have a lot of chemistry. The romance is one of the best things about this book.

Action:5/5

 A fifteen-year-old boy left alone for the weekend. An attempt made by him to get to his family in the wake of the mother of all natural disasters. An eruption. Bandits.  Cannibals. Prison Escapees. Fighting. Snow. Choking ash.  More ash. Murder.  Rape.  More ash. Love.  Refugee camps. Escape. Marauders. More ash. This book has action of all kinds- physical, mental and emotional.  Mike Mullin must be a crazy kind of guy to imagine all of these things in the minutest detail. But I don’t mean he’s thrown in a bunch of stuff for shock value or to evoke a sense of disgust like Julianna Baggot did in Pure. It’s all plausible and beautiful in a twisted sort of way.

Plotholes:5/5

No plotholes as of yet. Or none that I could identify, anyways. I think I was a little too caught up in the story to notice any major discrepancies. Way to go Ashfall!

Overall rating: 4/5

Why are you still reading my review? This book was amazing times infinity. If you haven’t read this book yet, you don’t know what you’re missing out on. This book reminds me of why I love young adult dystopian post apocalyptic books so much. If you need a reminder or if you’re not truly into the genre yet, buy (or settle for reading) this book right away.

Three (Article 5 #3):A Book Review

Book: Three (Article Five #3)

Author/Authoress: Kristen Simmons

Note:

You may (or may not) have noticed that I’ve always tried to stick to reviewing the first book in the series. I’m not completely sure of my reasoning, but I think part of it is because I want to get new readers hooked onto a series. But I recently got Three by Kristen Simmons which is the third and final book in the Article 5 series from Net Galley (Thanks, by the way NetGalley) and I  just couldn’t hold myself back from reviewing it. Part of the reason is sentimental.  Article 5 was one of the first ‘good’ dystopias I read. It got me hooked onto this whole genre which I grew to love enough for me to actually start a blog about.

Cover: 5/5

This cover brings back lots of nostalgia. The same red, white and grey theme that was used in the past books is used again in this one. Personally, I think the colour scheme is perfect. Patriotic, dark and a little hopeless. Besides, what Article 5 cover would be complete without the city scene? But even from the cover, we can see that Three is not the type of book to lean on the success of it’s predecessors. The bright red slashes on the top add an edgy look to the cover and a whole new meaning to the title “Three”

Three (Article 5, #3)

Characters: 5/5

These books have seen the characters change and grow a lot.But what I love most about these character is the fact that they never lost their integrity. No OC’s in this book. If I didn’t know for fact that the American government wasn’t taken over by a bunch of crazy wackos who implemented several Articles, then I would have seriously thought that these characters were real people. There were no iffy decisions made by the characters for the sake of the plot and no ‘I have no idea what’s going on’ moments just so Three could have a few extra chapters.

Ember: She’s no longer naive and idealistic. By the end of this book she’s no longer in a position to judge other people. Nor does she.

Chase: Chase has grown in a way completely different from Ember. Something about the events he’s witnessed and the things he’s gone through have turned him into a more hopeful person and someone who’s willing to fight for humanity instead of against humanity.

Tucker: I knew that this guy would be an amazing character. Even though Three is not in his point of view, we can still almost feel the tumultuous roller coaster of emotions that Tucker rides through.  Who does he owe his loyalty to? Is he a traitor? Does he deserve redemption? It’s all explored in this book. I won’t tell you why he hates Chase or why he killed Ember’s mother. But I will tell you that Ember grossly underestimated him while other characters grossly overestimated him.  I’ll give you a slight spoiler. This book doesn’t give him his  happy ending (does any character in this book truly get one?) but no one will turn the last page of this book without being a Tucker Morris fan.

Chris’ Uncle: For some reason, Chris’s Uncle has an almost ‘Sirius’ like character. He’s the playful, un-serious,slightly secretive  trouble making sort of guy who is not really fit to be in any sort of parental position.Hotheaded, angry and rebellious he’s willing to sacrifice his life for the sake of his goal. And willing to sacrifice much more for Chase’s sake.

Plot: 4/5

Kristen Simmons’ fast-paced, gripping YA dystopian series continues in Three.

Ember Miller and Chase Jennings are ready to stop running. After weeks spent in hiding as two of the Bureau of Reformation’s most wanted criminals, they have finally arrived at the safe house, where they hope to live a safe and quiet existence.

And all that’s left is smoking ruins.

Devastated by the demolition of their last hope, Ember and Chase follow the only thing left to them—tracks leading away from the wreckage. The only sign that there may have been survivors.

With their high-profile, they know they can’t stay out in the open for long. They take shelter in the wilderness and amidst the ruins of abandoned cities as they follow the tracks down the coast, eventually finding refugees from the destroyed safe house. Among them is someone from Chase’s past—someone he never thought he’d see again.

Banding together, they search for a place to hide, aiming for a settlement a few of them have heard about…a settlement that is rumored to house the nebulous organization known as Three. The very group that has provided Ember with a tiny ray of hope ever since she was first forced on the run.

Three is responsible for the huge network of underground safe houses and resistance groups across the country. And they may offer Ember her only chance at telling the world her story.

At fighting back.

After I finished reading this book,  I was kind of surprised to find tears (actual tears!) running down my cheeks. I can’t believe this  is over. I just can’t. I loved this series and I have to say a huge part of it is because of the plot. It’s full of plot twists which seem to come together in the most beautiful of ways.

Action:4/5

This book takes the action up another notch. Heat seeking missiles, fist fights, guns, batons…This book has it all.
Not to mention the traitor (three guesses who it is) and all the suspense that mini-arc brings along with it.

Romance:4/5

The romance in this book is hot but tasteful. A good quarter of this book is spent on kissing (and more) and funnily enough I loved  the romance in this book. I have no idea how this  works but Kristen Simmons somehow managed to allude to everything without saying it flat out. It sounds annoying but trust me, it’s not.  The romance was sweet but not cloying. At the same time it was passionate without being hormonal.  Folks, that takes talent.

Overall Rating:4.5/5


This is one of the few books (and series) that I just wish would go on forever. New, intriguing plots. Realistic, exciting characters. Interesting worlds and fast-paced action. I really hope Kristen Simmons does some mini-stories or something that relates to this series. It goes without saying, that I’ll read her next book.  But I guess all good things must end.

Rating a book

This is how I rate the books I read:

Cover and Title

The old adage ‘Never judge a book by it’s cover’ probably comes to mind but the truth is, the cover is the first thing that is judged. And authors know it too. That’s why the cover is the first thing that is released right after the title is. And as soon as the cover is released the book gets a barrage of comments, guesses and votes by the reader. Pictures capture the average human’s mind so much more quickly and effectively than a page of writing ever will.

That’s why in my reviews, the cover appears right after the title and the name of the author/authoress. But why do I rate book covers? And on what    basis?

 First impressions are the last impressions.

  And nowhere is this truer than in the book world. If the book cover’s dull,boring,ugly or just plain weird, chances are I’m not going to even pick the book up. In the case of a book, a picture is worth much more than a thousand words. The average book consists of much more than a thousand words. And for most people (me included), if the cover isn’t beautiful, they’ll never give the text a chance.

But a cover has to be a description of the content inside. In a post-apocalyptic book which is run over by zombies, the last thing that should be on the cover is a pretty princess in a sparkling ball gown. Yes, I’ve actually seen covers like this! Not only is it pure stupid, its misleading. If you have to rely on a pretty but inaccurate cover to lure your readers in then it doesn’t matter how good your book is;You lead them there on false pretenses and your rating is going to suffer for it.

So my book cover rating is based on how pretty it is and on how much it delivers.

Plot:

The plot section of my review is divided into two parts-the plot premise and whether the plot premise is actually a part of the book.

So what kind of premise do I want? I’m not looking for miracles here. I want a fresh and new idea, a promise of some juicy adventure and a good non-cheesy introduction to a book that leaves me curious and eager to read the book. On second thoughts, maybe it would be easier to ask for a miracle. Anyways these things account for a measly 2 out of five stars. More important to me, is how in-context a plot premise is.

Too often have I seen an amazing premise completely wasted because the author/authoress focuses too much on the action. Or maybe he/she’ll focus too much on the romance or the world building. My point is, the amazing story premise is just wasted because the author/authoress wasn’t able to balance  all the aspects of a story. Or maybe, he/she did the opposite. Maybe they focused too little on the innovative and brilliant part of the plot that drew me in in the first place and instead focused on the dull and the mundane parts that everybody’s written about a million times.

Characters:

The characters can make or break a book. Sometimes they can do both at the same time (think Elizabeth Norris’ Cracked). What readers want (or at least I do) are strong, independent, intelligent characters who are relatable and admirable at the same time. When I say relatable, I don’t mean a whiny,stupid (sorry, but its true) little girl who doesn’t know what’s going on but complains about her perfectly ‘average’ appearance anyways. And when I say admirable, I don’t mean a perfect Mary-Sue who’s smart,kind, beautiful, humble, talented and gifted at the same time. No, just no.

Please remember that the characters have to be like real people. By relatable I mean that they have to be the sort of people you could imagine sitting next to in the bus or passing by on the streets. They can have some character quirks but they can’t completely be made out of character quirks. By admirable, I mean they have to be the sort of person who reminds us of the best humanity has to offer. But ultimately they have to remain human too (I mean this figuratively not literally. Even if they’re vampires or animals, they still need to be somewhat ‘human’.)

The same rules apply for supporting characters. Just because they’re background characters for this story doesn’t mean they’re always background characters. Supporting characters are real characters too. They deserve to be more than 2-dimensional. There are no small characters in books, only small parts.

Romance:

And here is where most young adult books fail. A good test for this would be to take away all the romance and examine the story afterwards. Let me try with a few well-known Young Adult books.

Twilight- if you take the love story out of this book, it becomes a story in which a girl with little self-preservation moves to a ten where it rains. A lot. Boring

The Hunger Games- without the romance, it’s a book about a evil dystopian government which hosts a Hunger Games every year. In the Hunger Games 24 children fight to their deaths until only one is left. The winner earns fame and riches for the rest of their lives.see what I mean? Even without the romance, it’s still pretty interesting.

I’m not completely against romance. I can enjoy it in small, good quality doses. What I mean to say is that the romance should never become the major plot of the book. A little romance in the background is great but you know its going to be a horrible story when the protagonist thinks something like this. ‘I think I love guy XYZ. He’s so sweet and charming. He really loves me too and he shows it in the cutest of ways. But wait, what about guy ABC? He says he loves me too. He’s a bit creepy but he’s so hawt. I can’t believe he loves me! But I can’t cheat with him on guy XYZ. He’s so sweet and charming. He really loves me too and he shows it in the cutest of ways…’ and on and on. That kind of love is unhealthy. Besides, its repetitive and boring to read about.

Action:

Some books have action and some books don’t. It would be unfair of me to discriminate between such books. Even though I’m the sort of girl who loves action, one of my favorite books Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell. And it has a distinct lack of fight scenes. In fact, it would be weird if contemporary books like Rainbow Rowell’s had action scenes.

But I’m a discerning person. If there are fight scenes, i want quality ones. No ‘he cut him with a knife’ or ‘he screamed’. I want something…a little more descriptive.

Show me; Don’t tell me.

World building:

The main rules here are:

1.) be  creative
2.) don’t infodump

And I use these as my criterion for rating the worldbuilding. At the end of the book, I want to remember the world. Use whatever means you have to. If you want to use cute and innovative terms like Scott Westerfeld did in Uglies, go ahead. If you want to create a creepy government like Marie Lu did in Legend, be my guest. If the book’s consistent with the above rules, it’ll get a high rating from me for sure.

Plotholes:

If there are any unhealthy messages conveyed in the book or any gaping flaws (holes!) in the logic of the plot, I’ll mention it here. Nothing ruins the reading experience more than plotholes. If it seems like the author/authoress is withholding essential/too much information from their readers for the sake of the sequel, I’ll complain about that too.  Depending on how bad this is, I’ll give this section a rating between 1-5.

Overall rating:

In the book-reviewing world, not all criterion are equal but some are more equal than others.

I don’t just take the average of all the above ratings. No, that would be too easy. There are some things which are more important to me. For example, I care about the plot, characters and world building more than I care about the plotholes and action. And I care infinitely more about the plotholes and action than I do about the romance and book cover. Its all adjusted for in my system.

How do you rate and rank your books

Steelheart: A book Review

Steelheart (Reckoners, #1)

Book: Steelheart (Reckoners #1)
Author/Authoress:Brandon Sanderson

Cover:2/5
The cover made me think of cheap sci-fi fics. Overdramatic and cheesy. We see that something’s blasted a hole through a metal sheet. Through that hole is a guy facing off something that looks like a cartoonish trash converter. Needless to say, I wasn’t a fan of the cover.

Characters: 4/5

I like how the protagonist was a major geek.Brandon often refers to the fact that David had made the Epics his life study. If knowledge really was the only type of power, David would be the most powerful person in the book. But forewarned is forearmed. The sheer depth and volume of information David has on hand   turns him into a capable and intelligent character. But don’t go around mistaking him for a super genius.  His awkwardness around the love interest and his horrendous metaphors (like a brick made of oatmeal) offer the much needed comic relief.

The Reckoners are an organization dedicated to killing Epics. And each member we meet has their eccentricities and quirks. Cody with his Irish affectations is hilarious and his banter with … everyone is hilarious. Abraham and the prof are wise and mysterious but each in their own ways. The group meshes well together and you can see that (in some cases, really deep down) they all care for each other.

“I trust you with their lives,’ Prof said, still writing, ‘and them with yours. Don’t betray that trust, son. Keep your impulses in check. Don’t just act because you can; act because it’s the right thing to do.

Steelheart is the Villain (notice how I’ve capitialized the V?)From the very beginning of the book we see his terrifying power and exactly how ruthless he can be.  Most of the plot – especially its mystery – is spent on figuring out what exactly could lead to his defeat, but finding this weakness feels impossible. At the end, you’re guaranteed to have a ‘Duh! That was so obvious!’ moment.


Plot:  2/5
(Taken from goodreads.com)
Ten years ago, Calamity came. It was a burst in the sky that gave ordinary men and women extraordinary powers. The awed public started calling them Epics.
But Epics are no friend of man. With incredible gifts came the desire to rule. And to rule man you must crush his wills.
Nobody fights the Epics… nobody but the Reckoners. A shadowy group of ordinary humans, they spend their lives studying Epics, finding their weaknesses, and then assassinating them.
And David wants in. He wants Steelheart—the Epic who is said to be invincible. The Epic who killed David’s father. For years, like the Reckoners, David’s been studying, and planning—and he has something they need. Not an object, but an experience.
He’s seen Steelheart bleed. And he wants revenge.

Honestly, I think the plot’s pretty refreshing as far as plots go. I’ve seen the same dystopian ideas repeated over and over again with their authors trying to claim that they’re ‘original’ but this really is. And the plot actually makes sense. We don’t have characters jumping from one place to another because it’s ‘convenient’. Like I said, it actually makes sense!  Random human beings being upgraded with super powers? That’s new (for a dystopian book; not for a comic book) . Them abusing their powers? Sensible. Them having powers (i.e. the powers don’t manifest is certain scenarios)? That’s a new, sensible plot!

Romance: 2/5
Bad news- It’s an insta love. Good news- the characters don’t realize it. Good news- the girl’s capable, intelligent and seems like an actual person. Bad news- the guy spends the entire book lusting over her. Ew. As you can see, the romance was kind of hit and miss for me. The characters were pretty good but I just wasn’t seeing the chemistry. So it’s a goo thing that I don’t read Young-Adult fiction for the chemistry.

Technical Terms/World building: 3/5

I wasn’t able to keep up with all the terms described in the book. The sheer volume is just too much! David uses a lot of strange terms to classify and categorize the superheroes (epics)  But…(there’s always a but) it didn’t matter too much; I got the basics and I could understand the rest by context. If you’re the kind of person who is driven crazy when there’s a single term on the page you don’t know the exact definition for, you’re going to be flipping back and forth a lot.

On the other hand the world that was built was supremely awesome. In fact I’d say that it pulled up this rating by a whole star!

Plotholes:2/5

David seemed to be quite blind where ever Meghan was concerned. She did a lot of weird things that he never seemed to notice. I wasn’t that surprised by the end of the book; after all, I had figured it all out ages ago. But David was surprised, too surprised for someone who had been given so many clues. (And now when you read this, you’ll be keeping your eyes peeled for the clues)

In addition, David seems too trustful of the Reckoners. Yes, they’re an organisation which has killed super-villains but in the end they’re human. David doesn’t seem to realize that they’re not the idea l he has built up in his head until the end.

Action: 5/5
The action in this book is amazing. But then I guess you’ld expect it to be since it’s a book which targets teenager guys. The weapons are cool and the fight scenes are even cooler. I could literally imagine what they looked like. They were pretty epic (pun-intended). Even more epic, there were a lot of them. I think I got an adrenalin rush just by reading this book.

Overall Rating:4

Action, a plot and awesome characters? What more could a reader want? How about less plotholes and an easier world building? Yes, I liked the book but I felt there was something missing. Maybe whatever was missing will be in the next few books.