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.

Sanctum: A Book Review

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Book: Sanctum (Guards of the Shadowland #1)
Author/Authoress: Sara Fine

Cover:4/5
The colours seem dark and moody but that’s a good thing since that’s what the book promises to be. The cityscape looks desolate and depressing but the girl’s pretty and fit’s into the cover perfectly.

Setting: 5/5
It was dark, gritty, and imaginative- a horrible Wonderland you could say. The city was a shadowy, hellish place. To give you a perspective on the city, let me tell you about the dark tower. The dark tower had the ability to bring back your worst fears and nightmares. And it was smack dab in the middle of the city-impossible to circuit around. If this doesn’t sound creepy and creative to you, I don’t know what will.


Plot:  4/5
(Taken from goodreads.com)

A week ago, seventeen-year-old Lela Santos’s best friend, Nadia, killed herself. Today, thanks to a farewell ritual gone awry, Lela is standing in paradise, looking upon a vast gated city in the distance—hell. No one willingly walks through the Suicide Gates, into a place smothered in darkness and infested with depraved creatures. But Lela isn’t just anyone—she’s determined to save her best friend’s soul, even if it means sacrificing her eternal afterlife.

As Lela struggles to find Nadia, she’s captured by the Guards, enormous, not-quite-human creatures that patrol the dark city’s endless streets. Their all-too-human leader, Malachi, is unlike them in every way except one: his deadly efficiency. When he meets Lela, Malachi forms his own plan: get her out of the city, even if it means she must leave Nadia behind. Malachi knows something Lela doesn’t—the dark city isn’t the worst place Lela could end up, and he will stop at nothing to keep her from that fate.
 
Characters: 3/5
Lela’s backstory would wring sympathy out of anyone: she has  overcome a lot in her short life. Shuffled from one foster home to another, she has suffered abuse from her foster parents. Lela almost succeeds in killing herself after being repeatedly assaulted by foster parent but is able to overcome her past with the help of the unexpected friendship of Nadia.

Nadia is the golden-girl with a couple of hidden secrets. Even though she’s beautiful reasonably intelligent, popular and affluent, she has a dysfunctional home life. This is what brings her closer to Lela. The girl’s unlikely friendship, while baffling to the outside world, makes sense to the two girls. Nadia goes against the pressure to only maintain friendships within her own clique to specifically keep this friendship alive. She constantly  Lela to hope for more in life than just getting-by. In her turn, Lela cars deeply for Nadia. When Nadia gets bogged down in despair and starts using drugs, Lela does her best to help Nadia save herself. She doesn’t succeed and Nadia eventually  commits suicide. The friendship between the two girls is fresh and beautiful. I can actually feel Lela’s pain when she hears that Nadia committed suicide. But then Malachi makes an appearance and Lela just starts slipping out of character. It becomes harder to empathize with her. She just is so different.  He’s bad ass but his roughness and toughness just seems to be too forced. I think ths story would have been better without the romance angle at all. Seriously, falling in love in hell is a bad idea.

Romance: 1/5
It wasn’t really insta-love but the gradual attraction between Lela and Malachi felt wrong to me. Overall, Malachi seemed drawn to Lela by her strength and tenacity in the face of a daunting situation. Which is not bad… until he dropped all his responsibilities to do everything in his power to help this “fascinating” creature. Malachi  was perfect to the point of being a Gary-Stu. He seemed to exist for the sole purpose of protecting and loving Lela .  Malachi seemed drawn to Lela by her strength and tenacity in the face of a daunting situation. Which is a good thing but then he  dropped all his responsibilities to do everything in his power to keep this creature in a safety bubble.Without Lela, he barely has any character in the book.  He knew very little about her and repeatedly had to clean up her mess, and yet he was willing to sacrifice and throw away everything for her like none of it mattered anymore now that she was in his life. Disgusting.

Action: 3/5
I know a lot of people like the action in the book but to me it was at most mediocre. More chilling and easy to visualize were Lela’s flashbacks and travel through the tower. But I guess that’s action of a different type.

Technical Terms: 3/5
The world building uses a lot of new terms and almost all of it is in the form of an info dump. It gets tedious to read and kind of detracts from the main plot. Almost everybody who reads this book tells me that they didn’t completely understand the world. I completely empathize. Sarh Fine has created an amzing world; she just didn’t describe it well.
This was probably the biggest flaw in the book after the messed up romance.

Plotholes:
Just look at the Romance and Character section.

Overall Rating: 3.5
This book has all the problems that YA books usualy have. i.e. a messed up romance and info dumping but Sarah Fine does create an amazingly dark new world with straightforward, creepy villains. The characters have a lot of potential to grow. I’d say wait until the third book comes out to start reading this series. It’s not worth the long wait for the other books.

P.S. The sequel Fractured has already been released.

Angelfall by Susan Ee

Angelfall: A Book Review

Angelfall by Susan Ee

Book : Angelfall
Author/Authoress: Susan Ee

Cover: 3/5
Yes, it’s a pretty cover but it doesn’t really say much about the book.

Setting: 4/5
The book’s set in a dark futuristic Bay Area over run by angels where humans have to struggle to survive. Maybe I’m a bit biased since I’ve lived there, but I could actually imagine what the ruins of San Fransisco would look like. You can see that there’s a serious food shortage. At one point, our protagonists eat cat food. Susan Ee’s a genius for repeatedly referring to the regression in technology.

Plot:  4.5/5
(Taken from goodreads.com)
It’s been six weeks since angels of the apocalypse descended to demolish the modern world. Street gangs rule the day while fear and superstition rule the night. When warrior angels fly away with a helpless little girl, her seventeen-year-old sister Penryn will do anything to get her back.
Anything, including making a deal with an enemy angel.

Raffe is a warrior who lies broken and wingless on the street. After eons of fighting his own battles, he finds himself being rescued from a desperate situation by a half-starved teenage girl.

Traveling through a dark and twisted Northern California, they have only each other to rely on for survival. Together, they journey toward the angels’ stronghold in San Francisco where she’ll risk everything to rescue her sister and he’ll put himself at the mercy of his greatest enemies for the chance to be made whole again.

Characters: 5/5
5/5’s are going to be very rare for me but the characters have earned this rating and more. Penryn has a very good reason for being bad-ass and it doesn’t even seem forced. She’s willing to do whatever it takes to save her sister ( Got a  Hunger Games flashback, didn’t you) and resents her mom slightly (double Hunger Games flashback). Her mom is a paranoid schizophrenic and she acts the part really well. Even underneath all the craziness, you can tell she really loves her girls. The sister starts the series off as a young, innocent girl. At one point, Penryn refers to her as a budding Dalai Lama. She’s probably the character who changes most in the series; but I can’t tell you much more without giving spoilers.  Raffe is the new Jace but so much cooler. For one, he’s not that arrogant and for another he has much better banter.

“My friends call me Wrath,” says Raffe. “My enemies call me Please Have Mercy. What’s your name, soldier boy?”

You can almost see Penryn growing on him throughout the book. More on that in Romance.We have a couple of original characters called Tweedledee and Tweedledum (I kid you not!) and like their names suggest, they are hilarious.

Romance: 5/5
The romance gets full marks for being gradual. I’m so glad Penryn doesn’t start lusting after Raffe immediately. Instead the buildup’s pretty gradual. First they’re enemies, then they’re reluctant co-conspirators. They’re not even friends until halfway through the book. When the eventual kiss comes, it’s better for how long they’ve waited. In my opinion, the lack of insta-romance makes for a better story, a more believable one for sure.

Technical Terms: 4/5
There are only few new terms (like Nephailliam and Aerie ) which are defined in this book. Even then, these terms are fairly common in other books. You can understand the whole book even without knowing a lot about Angels or the area,

Cliffhanger: 3/5
The book ends on a semi-positive note with no major deaths. However Penryn and Raffe are separated and everybody’s under the (mistaken) impression that Penryn’s dead.

“I never thought about it before, but I’m proud to be human. We’re ever so flawed. We’re frail, confused, violent, and we struggle with so many issues. But all in all, I’m proud to be a Daughter of Man.”

Action:5/5
This book has sseveral fight scenes which are vividly described. Susan Ee not only tells us how Penryn fights, she tells us why Penry fights that way. I have never been so blown away by the action. I’d give it 10/5 if I could.

Plotholes:
There are none so far but this is the first book. There’s still time.

Overall Rating: 4.75/5
Give it a chance, it’s a great book to read. A little macabre, maybe but I’d say anyone over the age of 13 can enjoy this book.