Talon: A Book Review

Book: Talon (Talon #1)
Author: Julie Kagawa

Talon (Talon, #1)

Blurb:

Long ago, dragons were hunted to near extinction by the Order of St. George, a legendary society of dragon slayers. Hiding in human form and growing their numbers in secret, the dragons of Talon have become strong and cunning, and they’re positioned to take over the world with humans none the wiser.

Ember and Dante Hill are the only sister and brother known to dragonkind. Trained to infiltrate society, Ember wants to live the teen experience and enjoy a summer of freedom before taking her destined place in Talon. But destiny is a matter of perspective, and a rogue dragon will soon challenge everything Ember has been taught. As Ember struggles to accept her future, she and her brother are hunted by the Order of St. George.

Soldier Garret Xavier Sebastian has a mission to seek and destroy all dragons, and Talon’s newest recruits in particular. But he cannot kill unless he is certain he has found his prey: and nothing is certain about Ember Hill. Faced with Ember’s bravery, confidence and all-too-human desires, Garret begins to question everything that the Order has ingrained in him: and what he might be willing to give up to find the truth about dragons.

My thoughts:

I sat down to write this review almost a week and two posts ago. That should give you an idea of just how difficult I found it to review this book.I may dislike writing negative reviews but I really, really hate writing disappointed reviews.

It’s hard to believe that this book is written by the same author who wrote the Iron King series and the Blood of Eden series. They were so good and this is so…not. At the same time, I can see that Ms. Kagawa tried to copy some of the elements which made the above series so compelling into this one. The keyword here is tried.

She tried taking the manipulative and violent nature of the fae and putting it into the dragons. And though the punishments in the book were certainly draconic in nature, the character themselves did not feel like dragons; they felt more human than anything else- too kind, to naive, too noble and too boring.

She attempted to duplicate the air of secrecy, double-crossing and back-stabbing that had us flipping the pages as fast as was as physically possible in the Blood of Eden but here too she failed. Can I just say, I saw it all coming from miles away?

The characters didn’t dazzle me or delight me either. You know they’ve been written badly when you feel completely detached even after 413 pages of reading. Part of it was the main character’s fault. She’s one of those annoying characters who aren’t really that special but has everyone tripping over their feet trying to kiss hers. Her twin brother (though promising in the beginning) barely made an appearance at all. To excuse his lack of presence, we were constantly told something like He went water-skiing with the guys’. And their relationship? Total fail. Ember constantly tells us she loves her brother, but honestly I can’t really see the love. She forgets about him all the time, constantly whines at him and resents him for the most pointless of reasons. Having a twin was more of a plot device than anything else. The secondary characters were just as bad. They appeared sporadically to be boy-crazy, make bad boy-decisions, push Ember at one of the boys and give her dating advice. They were totally inter-changeable and one dimensional.

The romance? Where do I start with this one. First of all, it’s a love triangle. I don’t get why YA authors think we like love triangles. We don’t. But we can tolerate them if the rest of the book is good enough. Or even if the love interests are interesting and different enough (take Puck and Ash from her Iron Fey series, for example). If it’s not already pretty obvious, the rest of the book wasn’t good enough.
There are two love interests- the dragon  and the dragon-slayer <cough, cough Firelight by Sophie Jordan cough, cough>. In both cases, it’s a case of ‘forbidden-love’ and star-crossed lovers. In the dragon case, the dragon is a rebel and an outlaw. In the dragon-slayer case… hello? dragon- SLAYER here. But other than these two things, the love interests are pretty inter-changeable. Both of them are emotionally-distant and stricken with a serious case of insta-love. Both of them are non-human (I’m of the opinion that the dragon-slayer is a robot; he certainly acts like one). Both of them are boring. Blah, blah, blah.

If this book was more about dragons and less about the romance, it could have been salvageable. But it’s not. I still have a hard time believing the book was about dragons and not about humans occasionally turned into lizards with wings. Where was the treasure-hording? Where was the fiery and angry nature? Where was the freaking worldbuilding?
The blurb looks really interesting but don’t be taken in by it. There’s no moral dilemma or a struggle to understand different species. There’s only cheap, bland romance between robotic, self-obsessed characters who come with pre-written scripts.

This book suffered a massive case of blandness. It was extremely formulaic and seemed like it didn’t even try to get much originality in. There was no plot. No interesting characters. No hot romance. Nothing. Nada. Zilch. Trust me, you won’t miss anything if you don’t read the book.

My Ratings:

Cover: 2/5

Plot: 1/5 (Plot? What plot?)

Characters: 1/5

Romance: 1/5 (I really want to give this thing a zero)

Plotholes: 1/5

Ending: 2/5

Overall Rating: 1.25/ 5

Will I read the next book: No way. Dragons will turn generous and caring before I read the next book in the series again. And, no I don’t mean the so-called dragons in this book. 

Book like this: Firelight by Sophie Jordan (more draconian dragons, an actual plot ,better sibling relationships, hotter love interests, -go read that instead)

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.

Unwind: A Book Review

Book: Unwind (Unwind dystology #1)

Author/Authoress: Neal Shusterman

Unwind (Unwind, #1)

Cover: 4/5

Right away the cover sets the tone for this book. Creepy, disturbing and dark. Just looking at the cover gave me chills. However, for those for you who are worried, the book is not as ghastly as the cover implies. The characters are very human. It’s just the world they’re placed into that is disturbing. One thing I love about the cover: the fingerprint identation. Identity is a major aspect of this book and what better way to represent that then by a fingerprint?

Plot:5/5

The Second Civil War was fought over reproductive rights. The chilling resolution: Life is inviolable from the moment of conception until age thirteen. Between the ages of thirteen and eighteen, however, parents can have their child “unwound,” whereby all of the child’s organs are transplanted into different donors, so life doesn’t technically end. Connor is too difficult for his parents to control. Risa, a ward of the state is not enough to be kept alive. And Lev is a tithe, a child conceived and raised to be unwound. Together, they may have a chance to escape and to survive.

Yes the plot is actually as creepy as it sounds.

Unwind by Neal Shusterman is a novel about a world gone insane (to a frightening degree) in which children between the ages of thirteen and eighteen can be legally signed over by their parents or guardians to be put through a harvest camp so that others can take their organs, tissue and blood. Yes, you heard me. Organ harvestation camps.

In these camps, ‘problematic’ children and tithes (people who are brought up for the express purpose of being donors) have all of their organs harvested (or at least 99.44%) so that they can be reused. To make this world even more screwed up, transplants are pretty common in the world. You have less than stellar vision? No problem, you don’t need to get glasses. Glasses are so pointless when you can just get a new eye. Going bald? Ouch! you better cover that spot up soon. You can always use the lustrous locks of some poor teen.

“I’d rather be partly great than entirely useless.”

This is what a boy about to be unwound says. And it reflects pretty well what society seems to think. Entirely useless children have no real place in it. They are more valuable in parts than as a whole.

So what’s the history behind the organ camps? Well apparently there was something called the Heartland Wars in which people fought over the issue of the legality and morality of abortion. The verdict? Abortion is illegal when the child is a foetus but you can always have all of their organs harvested while they are  between the ages of 13 and 18. How’s that for morality? And if you just can’t wait to get rid of the child, you could always use the ‘storking’ method. People can leave infants on other people’s doorstep and thus legally handing over their responsibilities of the child. And they’ll be forced to take it in. Perfectly legal and moral. As long as you don’t get caught of course. The problem is usually the storked families don’t want the infant anyways.

Anyways, as much as the plot creeps me out, you can see the sheer potential Neal Shusterman has created in this world. And he doesn’t disappoint. This book is crazy good in a creepy sort of way.

Characters: 5/5

The book is told in multiple POV’s. Thus, giving us a good feel for the thoughts and emotions of each character. I’ll write about them in chronological order.

Connor: He’s a troubled teen. Not particularly good but not particularly bad. He’s not vicious, spiteful or difficult. But he has quite a temper, goes looking for trouble and mostly lazy.  But his parents are also lazy and selfish. Bought in by all the unwinding-is-good propaganda, they sign him up to be unwound. And this is where the story starts. Understandably, Connor is not really into the idea. So he runs away in the middle of the night. He’s tracked by a Cop. To get away from him, he uses Levi as a hostage.

Lev is a tithe, a child born and raised to be signed off as an Unwind as soon as he turns thirteen. There’s no polite way to say this. But Lev is … brainwashed. His oldest brother is vehemently against the process, but his deeply religious parents have convinced Lev that being tithed is a great honor that he must follow through to the end. And Lev is not happy that the end will come later rather than sooner.

Disturbed by the chaos of an AWOL Unwound holding a tithe as hostage, Risa makes a plan to escape. She’s a ward of the state whose piano playing skills weren’t enough for her to make the cut. The budget cuts. And so she is signed up to be unwound. Unsurprisingly this doesn’t fit in well with her ambitons.

When these three meet, they make a plan to stay off the radar of the Cops (in the book the cops incharge are called juvenile authorities) who plan to take them to the harvestation camp (Okay, Risa and Connor do.)  Lev, who feels he was deprived of the purpose and honour of giving up his life, gives them up but immediately feels remorseful (frankly, that part really annoyed me). Thankfully, all three of them escape (there wouldn’t be much of a story if they didn’t). Risa and Connor end up in the basement of a safe house and Levi ends up in the company of an interesting kid called CyFi who suffers from something like dual personality because half of his brain was a transplant from another kid.

In the basement of the safe house Risa and Connor end up in the company of several children. One of them is Hayden. His parents divorced but were unable to decide who received custody. In pure spite, each of them signed the papers agreeing to let Hayden be unwound so that the other wouldn’t get custody. Talk about priorities. Another is Raymond. Raymond is a violent, psychopath who attacks Risa in an effort to get to Connor. He’s also a traitor. But even he doesn’t deserve the fate he receives. He’s unwound at Happy Jack Camp (that name is revolting, isn’t it?). That chapter is one of the most disgusting, horrifying scenes I’ve read. Scratch that. It is the most horrifying scene I’ve read. I almost puked. His unwinding takes place with him strapped to a table, conscious and under anaesthesia. The whole time, a nurse talks to him and warns him that he’ll lose ability and feeling in each of his limbs as they get harvested. Definitely not a scene for the faint hearted.

All three main characters grow and change so much in this book. Connor becomes responsible and trustworthy. He starts thinking before he acts (Risa’s influence no doubt). But his rough around the edges personality never truly goes away. Risa is the character who changes the least. She was never naïve, but I think her experience makes her a little jaded. Still she remains clever and full of life throughout the book. Holy Hell! does Lev change a lot? It was heart breaking to see him go from annoying little tithe to angry suicidal bomber to loyal and regretful friend. I predict that Lev’s a character to be watched throughout the series.

Romance:5/5

The romance in this book was like a little sidenote to the whole story. But you should feel assured that it was a good sidenote. The romance between Risa and Connor was sweet and intense but it didn’t take over the entire story like romance tends to do in most dystopian novels. Hello, Divergent or The Hunger Games? The character were willing and able to put the needs and necessities of other Unwinds before their own romance. And thank god each thought of theirs wasn’t nauseatingly sweet thoughts about the other.

Ending: 5/5

On a scale of 1-5 for cliffhangers, I’d put the book at about 2.5. The ending was pretty bitter sweet with each character having lost stuff important to them. <spoiler> Risa loses the use of her legs, Connor loses his arm and it gets replaced by an organ from an Unwind (which is something he feels is morally irreprehensible) and Lev gets put in jail trapped in a suit which doesn’t allow him to move at all. </spoiler>

Plotholes:5/5

This book really makes you think. It’s the type of dystopian book which has quite a few political undertones (and overtones too). I mean, pro-life or pro-choice- that’s quite a difficult decision to make. Maybe that’s why it’s so sensitive.

It speaks about identity and at points it even gets a little spiritual. Like if you are divided into parts and not really dead, would your soul disappear or would it just be spread. After reading this book you’ll practically be forced to deliberate on topics like morality and ethics of organ harvestation and how much control parents/guardians should really have.

Overall Rating: 5/5

It’s rare enough for me to give one book a 5/5 rating but two in a row? The sky must have fallen. But Unwind deserves this rating. Deep, interesting and unique characters, a twisting and new plotline. Plus it really makes you think. I’d recommend this book to everyone over the age of 13 because there is one chapter that is particularly revolting (Raymond’s unwinding). That chapter is not terribly descriptive but it is the stuff of nightmares, so beware.

 

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.

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.

Article 5 : A Book Review

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Book: Article 5 (Article 5 #1)
Author: Kristen Simmons

Cover: 3/5
The cover’s a bit chilling. You can see a girl and a guy just surveying the ruins of what must have been a great city. Initally, I thought they would be one of the few survivors of the city. However I was wrong. Either I came up with something completely random or the cover’s misleading. Assuming the second, the cover gets only 3/5. Sorry.

Setting:3.5/5
It’s set in future USA. The time’s not specified but  USA is effectively being run by a military regime whose head was a voted President. The President was voted in hopes of stabilization after a war between the rich and the poor broke out. Instead he threw the entire country into a harsh dictatorship which is based on 8 moral conducts. Failure to submit to any of these rules result in imprisonment and execution. Religion, the definition of a family and the clothes you wear are all changed by these articles.  The protagonist of our story gets locked into a detention center after her mother violates article 5 (thus giving us the title of the book). She spends most of the book trying to escape it and it’s violent head. When she finally does escape, she’s in a crazy car trip with her fugitive ex-boyfriend. Kristen Simmons does a great job of showing how chaos and panic have set in. Big cities have been deserted and smaller cities are overcrowding. Everyone has to stand in lines at the soup kitchen. Although it’s not explicitly stated, it’s heavily implied that there’s been a high rate of inflation. Food, water, gasoline, etc.  are all hard to get. But this is more because nobody has any money, than about any real shortage.

Plot:3/5
(Taken from goodreads.com)

New York, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C., have been abandoned.

The Bill of Rights has been revoked, and replaced with the Moral Statutes.

There are no more police—instead, there are soldiers. There are no more fines for bad behavior—instead, there are arrests, trials, and maybe worse. People who get arrested usually don’t come back.

Seventeen-year-old Ember Miller is old enough to remember that things weren’t always this way. Living with her rebellious single mother, it’s hard for her to forget that people weren’t always arrested for reading the wrong books or staying out after dark. It’s hard to forget that life in the United States used to be different.

Ember has perfected the art of keeping a low profile. She knows how to get the things she needs, like food stamps and hand-me-down clothes, and how to pass the random home inspections by the military. Her life is as close to peaceful as circumstances allow.

That is, until her mother is arrested for noncompliance with Article 5 of the Moral Statutes. And one of the arresting officers is none other than Chase Jennings—the only boy Ember has ever loved

Characters:4/5
Ember’s a bit of a damsel in distress. Even though she tries rescuing herself several times, she’s forced to depend on others for help. She has a bit of a holier-than-thou attitude (which kind of pissed me off but characters shouldn’t be perfect) but will do anything for the people who she loves and trusts. That’s why I think the blackmail fit her character really well. I know a lot of people were horrified by it, but I think the blackmail is the second best part of the book. Here she reveals exactly how desperate she is to save her mother. That was another unique thing- the mother had to be saved. In most books, it’s a younger sibling or best friend who has to be saved. Kristen Simmons made the plot more refreshing by making it necessary to save the mother. The mother is a bit outspoken and is brave (braver than the heroine,) yet sometimes these qualities are what gets the mother into trouble. It doesn’t really seem like she need saving, but the heroine is convinced she does need saving. And I think that’s what helps make this character most human: she thinks she knows what is best for everyone, but don’t we all?

Rachel was the kind of girl who I was sure I would hate at the beginning. She was the fake candy-floss sweet girl. But then we find out it’s all a cover. I was surprised- but this was  definitely a good surprise . She turns out to be the loyal friend and even more loyal girlfriend. It’s heartbreaking what happens to her. I hope we see more of her as the series progresses.

Sean…I think I almost prefer Sean to Chase. He’s so sweet, even when he has been blackmailed. Loyal too. I think his story is the saddest in the series, yes this includes his girlfriend’s.  But through it all, he still remains funny and lovable. Towards the end of this book, he’s almost like a brother to both Chase and Ember. I really love the banter between the trio.

Chase is swoon worthy. I’m not joking. He’s the best friend who grows up to be more (in most YA books, only the guy wants the friendship to become more). Then he becomes the dangerous, hot soldier who is such a cliche in these type of books. (look under romance for more).

Brock is the first villain. She’s like a muggle umbridge; she inflicts corporal punishment while pretending to be sweet and lady-like. There’s not a single redeemable quality in her. Gah! I intensely hated her throughout the course of the book. She didn’t bite the bullet yet, but I still have hope. There are two more books left in the series.

Tucker is the villain of the piece. And he’s Kristen Simmon’s masterpiece. From the very beginning, he seems to have a perverted, sleazy interest in Ember.

“His green eyes blazed with desire; such a different look than I’d known before. Chase had studied me, reading my feelings. Tucker was only trying to see his own reflection. Disturbing on several levels.”

But before you groan about love triangles, let me tell you that he’s only interested cause Ember is Chase’s girl. Jealousy and ambition seem to be his driving forces but eventually they lead to his downfall. Is it just me or does he sound brainwashed here?

I’m a damn good soldier. I did what needed to be done.

Romance 3.5/5
I love how the authoress takes a cliche like a love triangle with the bad boy and the sweet guy and puts both guys into one. Confused? Yeah Ember is too. She refers to the pre-soldier Chase as ‘her’ Chase and the soldier as ‘a stranger’. In the book Chase deals with PTS and this just makes him more humane To be honest, before that, the soldier kind of freaked me out too. He not only deals with Post Traumatic Stress, he deals with guilt too (you’ll find out why by the end).

“I wondered what he’d done that had been so terrible that he wouldn’t accept even an ounce of kindness from another person. It seemed impossible just then that I could ever hate him more than he hated himself.”

Both of these things put a serious dampener on the relationship for quite a while, but when it get’s going…it get’s steamy quickly.  Too quickly for me, but then to each their own.

Action: 2/5
Although there’s action in the book, it’s not very well described.  The author says stuff like he kicks, he punches, he breaks his arm. And it’s good but it’s not great. The motions are all  very vague and it takes effort to picture them. Kristen Simmons tries but in the end, it doesn’t play in your head like it does in Gone or in Angelfall.

Plotholes:
There’s a lot that is left to be explained. But I understand that this is a series and that there are two more books to go. I’m dying to know what Three is and who Roy was. Chase’s uncle is another character who I think will have an interesting story. I have high hopes for Tucker too; I predict his story will be one of redemption.

Technical terms/Worldbuilding:4/5
Though there are a couple of new terms, they instantaneously stick. I think the hardest part to get over, for me was the sisters of salvation. They are treated so badly by men, yet women are supposed to look up to them as role models? Ah well, it’s a twisted world.

Overall recommendations: 4/5
There’s something which makes this book click. I don’t know if it’s the awesome characters or the moving plotline or just the flowing writing style. Maybe it’s a combination of all three. Whatever it is, this story works and I would definitely recommend it to anyone.