Legend by Marie Lu

What’s It About: Legend takes place in a future United States which is now called the Republic which is in a perpetual warring civil war with other parts of the nation and plagues run rampant. The story is told through the alternating perspectives of June & Day — two teens who live incredibly different lives. June lives the military life in which she is on the fast track to the Republic’s army due to her perfect scores and her brother’s high rank. Day, coming from the poor sector, is one of the most wanted criminals in the Republic and lives a life in a constant state of running from the Republic and playing tricks on them. When a horrible crime is committed that shakes June’s world, she gets put on point to track down Day who is presumed to be responsible. But what happens when motives may not be what they seem and enemies unknowingly become allies?

Legend by Marie Lu is a smartly written cat and mouse game that is adventure filled and full of surprises as the reader awaits the moment when both Day and June will figure out the true identity of each other. The tension of the relationship leaves you often not being able to breathe because you keep thinking, “IS THIS THE MOMENT? Who’s going to find out first??” It’s beyond gripping. I really enjoyed the characters of Day and June – what’s not to like about a misunderstood rebel who really has a heart of gold or a smartass, daring girl who sleuths around with the big boys to hunt down criminals…like Nancy Drew but with kickass weapons and a defiant attitude? Ok, really, love you Nance but watch your back because June could have the criminal tied up and a full confession before you even find a clue.

I think the biggest problem I had with the book was that sometimes June and Day reminded me TOO much of each other and, despite the alternating perspectives, I would find that their personalities were blending together for me. But mostly I loved them even if they totally don’t seem like they are 15 year olds. But then again, who knows how much you’d have to grow up in a world like THAT. My other gripe would be that I felt like we didn’t get to know much about WHY the world is the way it is..which I know we’ll probably learn more about in the second book but I wanted a LITTLE bit more than we were given.

Final Thought: Legend by Marie Lu is a fabulous addition to the YA dystopian canon and would highly recommend those who have just gotten into The Hunger Games. It’s full of adventure and a few surprises and twists that will leave you reeling not to mention some fabulous romantical tension, shocking betrayal, a messed up government & a future world that makes you thank your lucky stars that you don’t really live in it. It’s a great book for both teen girls and teen boys and I’d highly recommend it to reluctant male teens. I was reading it at the same time as my 13 year old nephew and he devoured it and just couldn’t stop talking about how good it was!

Learn more on Goodreads or Amazon
four-stars

Book Review: Under The Never Sky By Veronica Rossi

Aria and Perry live in two completely different worlds. Aria lives comfortably in Reverie — a very science fiction type city of enormous domes where technology allows you to do anything you want or be anywhere you want within different realms. You could be walking around the ancient streets of Rome or singing at the opera. When news that her mother, a scientist working in a top secret pod, goes missing Aria seeks answers at any cost which leads to Aria getting exiled from her home…into the Wastelands where she meets Perry, a Savage. Their journey for answers and redemption forge together as they realize they need each other to survive and to find the answers to the get them back to the ones they love.

Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi is exactly what I needed to read right now! This post-apocalyptic/dystopian novel was fast-paced, highly imaginative and made for one exhilarating ride. I loved that part of this novel was more science fiction-y than most of the dystopian reads I’ve encountered but there was still that wild, badlands feel with the “outside” world where Perry lived that seemed more like a post-apocalyptic world. The world-building was incredible in this book because of this. I was equally interested in both worlds and how they operated, what they looked like and how they became separated in the first place. Veronica Rossi built these worlds so intricately that I couldn’t shake the images that my mind was conjuring up. I am in awe of these worlds she created.

I really LOVED the characters of this novel. I loved seeing Aria come to learn more about herself through this journey. She proved to be so strong but believably so. She was still vulnerable, seemingly weak and scared when she first started it all but I loved watching her power through it all and WANT to learn how to protect herself and learn that she COULD survive in the outside world. I think the thing I loved about her is that she wasn’t some badass, superpower female lead but she was a normal girl who took her horrible circumstances and really became brave and made smart decisions to keep herself fighting. And Perry..he isn’t without flaws but it’s so hard not to like him. And their relationship…PERFECT. I loved how their journey and their inner turmoil helped them to really start to see each other for who they really were rather than the labels they had assigned to each other as “Savage” and “Dweller.” I fully enjoyed watching their relationship and tensed up quite a few times waiting for some sparks. The rooftop scene…YEAH…tension galore.

While I really enjoyed this novel and couldn’t put it down, there were a few things that bothered me about it. I felt really confused at first in the beginning. I felt like I missed a first chapter or something where things were explained about the world. There was just a lot of things thrown  at you all at one time and it really took about 50 pages for me to really get into it. I really had no context for what happened to the worlds that they were like this.

The biggest source of contention, for me, was the Aether storms. They were mentioned so frequently and I didn’t feel like I even understood what the heck they were or how they came to be. The only way I can think to explain it is if you’ve ever seen Lost. The Aether storms to me seemed like the Smoke Monster (not actually that it’s like the Smoke Monster but in how confused it made me). It just always seemed to be in the storyline and you don’t know where it came from or why it’s there but it just keeps showing up and that when it comes around BAD SHIZ HAPPENS. That’s how I felt about the Aether sky and the storms. I just didn’t get them. I hope that we come to understand it in the next book but it honestly did make me really confused that there seemed to be no explanation about them — not even a little. I didn’t need to know everything but I felt I was missing something…

My final thought: If you are seeking a fast paced, exciting YA dystopian/post-apocalyptic from start to finish..Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi definitely a good pick. The world-building was fantastic and I could picture it all. It wasn’t without its flaws..there were a few elements that made it confusing in the beginning and I wished I would understand some things at least a little bit because..well I just felt like I was missing some things. Great characters, accessible writing & lots of action from the get-go! AND HEY..no cliffhanger. I was actually really satisfied with the ending!

Review On A Post-It

* I received this book from the publisher — HarperTeen — in exchange for an honest review. I swear on my bookshelves full of great books that this in NO way shaped my opinions in this review.

four-stars

Review: Delirium by Lauren Oliver

Short But Sweet Summary: In the future, love is considered a deadly disease and must be controlled. A cure has been developed and a procedure is mandated to all upon high school graduation. Lena has been counting down the days until she can be cured…until she allows herself to become infected with this deliria and has the inability to see things the way they once were.

This was one of my most anticipated books for 2011 and I started feeling a wee bit nervous as glowing reviews started coming out. I could feel the Hype Monster breathing down my neck so I didn’t pick it up right away. I try not to let myself to be swept away too much into the hype of a book and keep myself grounded while I begin to read it. I want to allow myself to experience the book without the echos of its proclaimed greatness weighing heavily on my mind.

I’m going to be honest here — in the beginning of this book I was feeling like the Hype Monster had struck again.  I was finding myself bored with Lena and not really connecting with her. I was feeling like I didn’t want to be in her head anymore and that she was just falling real flat for me. I also was growing a little bit weary from predicting everything that was going to happen and from a whole slew of info about the world that didn’t even satisfy my curiosity.

BUT THEN…

I found myself completely and utterly immersed in Oliver’s prose and even feeling invested wholly in Lena’s life and her growth without even knowing it. It’s that feeling you get when you’ve been in the ocean for a while and you begin to walk out to return to your spot on the beach…only to realize you’ve drifted a half a mile down the beach without even realizing it…(and if you are anything like me…you end up walking aimlessly and awkwardly trying to find your towel). This is how I felt. Oliver’s flowing and beautiful prose became a current that ever so slightly tugged at my being until I found myself so swept up in the story without even realizing it…awestruck and completely enthralled by the beauty and profundity of these words.  The predictability lessened for me as Oliver delivered some twists that left my mouth gaping open wide enough to catch flies. I grew to feel fond of Lena, despite the fact that there still seemed to be nothing particularly stand-out about her.

The ending. Oh the ending. Let’s just say the waterworks were comparable to my experience reading If I Stay. What a cliffhanger of an ending and a hell of a last paragraph. Strong and haunted me all night as I contemplated Lena some more. The idea of love as a disease was chilling the more I thought about it. Love is one of those abstract ideas that you never really seem to be able to peg down but the absence and loss of it is oppressive. It’s complex, it’s beautiful, it can hurt like hell…but it is altogether a human experience. I think Oliver painted that picture so well…the characters languidly shuffling through life…deprived of the ability to really feel something. I remember rolling my eyes a little bit at the “insta-love” that seemed to be building between Lena and Alex based on nothing that I could see. But then I thought about it..and it made quite a bit of sense to me based on the fact that for the first time in her life she let herself really feel something.

My only gripe with the book that stayed put was the world-building. I wanted more. I did. I’m selfish and I wanted to really understand more of the history of HOW love suddenly was declared a disease and some of the finer details. I wasn’t always totally sold on the world based on what I had to work with but I’m hoping that perhaps more of this will be addressed in the next book.

My final thought: Delirium is one of those beautifully written books that will captivate you with its emotional intensity and leave you reeling until the final pages. I can’t say it is devoid of flaws — namely the world building and the clunky start for me– but I found myself unable to stop thinking about this book after reading it. I cannot wait to find out what lies ahead for this new and strong Lena. I can’t even begin to imagine what Oliver has up her sleeves but I know this for sure–it’s going to contain more dazzling prose…because that just seems to be how Oliver rolls.

four-half-stars

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

Title/Author: Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
Publisher/Year/Pages: Vintage 2006; 228 pages.
How I got this: Bought it.
Why I read it: The College Students group (on Goodreads) that I created/moderate picked it as the August group read and I’m just now getting to it..
Rating: See my final thought below. I give it four stars.

Set in dystopian England, Never Let Me Go tells the story of Kathy, Ruth and Tommy and their experiences from childhood and adolescence at their secluded boarding school told from the perspective of a grown-up Kathy reflecting on this time in her life. It deals intimately with your typical coming of age experiences but, like all dystopian novels, there are some very strange and mysterious aspects to their school and their lives–unexplained rules and happenings and being told of how “special” they all are.


I have to say that from pretty early on I was just completely fascinated by this society and wanted to know everything there was to know! But the way Ishiguro writes this novel was very incongruous to my need-to-know-everything-now attitude. I’ve always read reviews that describe a story as “controlled” and I’ve never really understood what that meant but this novel is the epitome of a controlled story. You get bits and pieces of this dark cloud of a mystery that is just hanging over the whole story. He’ll bait you with some enticing little tidbit that lets you in on their world and then just keep reeling you along, slowly handing out clues and small fragments of the bigger picture. It was completely effective and I was on the edge of my seat screaming, “Come on Ishiguro– I WANT THE WHOLE ENCHILADA!“..but in a good way! But in the end, this method of giving you bits and pieces was effective because I felt like, at the end, we find ourselves completely up to speed with the main characters. We are finally at a place where we understand everything that they do about their lives and I felt the emotion that they did as soon as things were revealed to them about who they were. I felt their horror and sorrow.


I was really irked because I’m normally that annoying person that figures out the twist in a movie before everyone else and I couldn’t figure this out right away! My boyfriend always groans while watching CSI with me because I always figure out the killer early on. I digress. But anyways, it took me a while to kind of figure out the mystery behind everything and why these students were so “special.”


It took me a little bit to get used to the way it was written from Kathy’s memories. It was quite jarring in some ways and she’d literally be talking about something and then skip off into another memory and then realize that she needed to finish her point from before and go back to it. It wasn’t at all in a linear manner. It takes some getting used to. Not going to lie. But then I was sitting there thinking about it, about halfway through the book, and realized that that is exactly how memories are. I often find myself going from one thing and then some other memory is triggered. After that I thought about it a bit differently. The writing itself was really accessible and craftily done but don’t let that fool you..this is an incredibly DEEP and moving novel.


I really found myself moved by this story and can’t wait to see the movie but know that I’m going to bawl like a baby considering I did after watching the previews for it upon finishing the book. The ending was so heartbreaking and moving. Without saying too much, this book would be an excellent platform to talk about some ethical issues and it raises many questions that I’ve found myself asking before. This book, to me, seemed much more realistic than other dystopian novels. I caught glimpses of our society in the proverbial mirror while reading this novel. And that is scary!

My final thought: Should you read this book? That depends. If you are intrigued because it is a dystopian sort of novel–don’t expect a Hunger Games or anything fast-paced like that. This story just isn’t that. It doesn’t have a loud rebellion but focuses on quieter “rebellions” and characters who might not try to fix their destiny or the world. If you are looking for a non-brainbusting piece of literary fiction that has elements of science fiction and dystopian society full of suspense and the inner workings of human beings, then I’d say go for it!

I’m reallllly getting into these dystopian novels! Any suggestions??

Why I’m not going to formally review Catching Fire or Mockingjay

I finally finished Catching Fire and Mockingjay, thanks to Read-a-thon. I decided I wasn’t going to formally review either of these books because:

1. If you haven’t read from this series yet,  I’m probably more likely to convince you to read it by my review of The Hunger Games rather than my reviews of Catching Fire and Mockingjay.

2. Most readers of this blog have probably already read this so I don’t feel like I have anything new to say that you haven’t thought yourself or read somewhere else.

3. I’m too lazy to write actual reviews for them.

I’m just going to give you some thoughts about each of these books and my feelings about this series!

First I have to say–damn you, Suzanne Collins, for making me feel like I was a yo-yo. One moment I’m in love with Gale and then the next Peeta and then Gale and then Peeta. I thought this love triangle was genius and well done but drove me nuts because I couldn’t decide if I was Team Gale or Team Peeta.

SPOILERS, you’ve been warned:

Catching Fire (The Second Book of the Hunger Games)Catching Fire— This was my FAVORITE out of the whole series. I didn’t think it could possibly top The Hunger Games. I loved how we got to understand the characters a little more fully and we could delve into some deeper dystopian ideas. This one was very much action packed as well and I couldn’t put it down! This was one the tides turned from Team Gale to Team Peeta.

Mockingjay (The Final Book of The Hunger Games)Mockingjay— This one was good but weaker for me than the first two. It took a little bit more to get into as it was more politically charged and lacked the amount of action as the first two..which can be ok but I just felt like it was overkill a little bit. I did find it interesting though to see the political workings of the districts and whatnot. I liked the ending but I felt like I wasn’t as enthralled with Katniss as I had been before. I felt sad for Peeta because she really never ended up choosing him because she loved him..it’s just all that was left. I wanted to see Katniss grow in that way more but it makes sense that she was just so jaded after all she saw. I went back and forth from Peeta and Gale during this book. The whole Peeta gone crazy thing irritated me but ultimately I’m Teem Peeta all the way. This book had a lot of great twists and turns but ended super preachy. I know that dystopian novels should have that element but I feel like she went overboard on that. After seeing her speak at the National Book Festival, I know her position on war and that part of her inspiration came from watching the footage on the Iraq War. Knowing all that, I knew where she was going with it all. As a side note, I was really annoyed because the end seemed rushed and then freaking FINNICK (one of my favorite characters) dies and it’s just brushed aside. I would have liked to see a little more emotion involved with all that. It just seemed so sad.

The series as a whole: One of my all time favorites! While Mockingjay wasn’t as great as I thought it was going to be, I still fully enjoyed it. The series, as whole, was phenomenal and captivated me from the start. Unforgettable characters and a great start to my love for dystopian novels!

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