Prodigy by Marie Lu | Book Review

Prodigy by Marie Lu | Book ReviewProdigy by Marie Lu
Series: Legend #2
Publisher/Year: Putnam Juvenile- January 2013
Genres: YA Dystopian
Format: ARC
Source: Borrowed
Other Books From Author: Legend
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June and Day have just fled Los Angeles and are still injured and on the run with no plan except finding the Patriots to see if they will help them. Their escape has made June a HUGE traitor and she’s now wanted all over the Republic and the people believe Day is dead. They make it to the Patriots camp and find themselves involved in a HUGE plot to overthrow the Republic.

We decided to read Prodigy by Marie Lu for book club since we all had read Legend and enjoyed it and NONE of us had gotten to Prodigy. Overall, as a second book in the series, this one was really great! It was the same action-packed, cinematic story that made me fall in love with Legend but with even more world-building and some great twists. This time around though I wasn’t as in love with the characters but we’ll get to that in a bit. Overall it was one of those reads that I couldn’t read fast enough and then I got to the end and feel like I got punched in the face. MAJOR CRAZY DEVELOPMENT AT THE END.

As fun as the cat and mouse plot was with Legend, I really actually think I enjoyed the plot of this novel even MORE. It was intense, not just with action that makes your heart race, but the world became more complete. We get to see more of what is going on in other parts of the former US including the Colonies which really was fascinating and crazy (and I hope we see much more with in Champion). The way the plot became more about the political side of things made it extremely interesting as we learn further information about the people in power and what is going on. June and Day are being used to pull off some big moves with the Patriots and it begins to be hard to know who to trust — for June and Day but also for us as a reader. We see both sides, as June and Day become separated for a little bit as part of the plan, and as the reader we know things the other character doesn’t and you sit there biting your nails as the stakes become higher and higher and you don’t know whose judgment is right — June or Day’s!

One of the huge threads obviously is the relationship between June and Day. I like that there is actual THOUGHT about how plausible their relationship could be considering June was partly to blame for what Day has lost and then the obvious very different upbringing. The tension between them was so palpable and I loved that Marie Lu made it feel real and their concerns were not at all silly. HOWEVER, I did not enjoy this love triangle-ish thing. It felt too over the top for me with both of them having confusing feelings for someone else. I get that both people were a contrast of what they’d have with each other but it was a bit too melodramatic for my taste considering all the crazy things that were going on in the story. AIN’T NOBODY GOT TIME TO THINK ABOUT MORE THAN ONE ROMANCE WHEN YOU COULD DIE. I had a few eyeroll moments.

Overall, Prodigy by Marie Lu was a darn good sequel that just added more to this world and understanding of ALL the forces at work here in these shambles of the US. I loved where it went plot-wise — it was incredibly exciting, brought some interesting new characters and gave us some HUGE revelations to really propel the story forward and give us a clearer picture than we had in Legend of the inner workings of the government/state of life outside of the Republic. The ending is BRUTAL and completely sucker punched me and I’m DYING to get my hands on Champion.

Prodigy by Marie Lu book review

 

Let’s Talk: Have you read this series? Heard of it? How did you think Prodigy stacked up to Legend if you’ve read it? What did you think about the love triangle (square? Rectangle?)? DID YOU DIE FROM THE ENDING?

The Ward by Jordana Frankel| Book Review

The Ward by Jordana FrankelBook Title/Author: The Ward by Jordana Frankel
Publisher/Year
: Katherine Tegen Books – April 30th 2013
Genre: YA Dystopian — I don’t know quite how to categorize it.
Series: Yes — it’s the first book in a series.
Other Books From Author: None.

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I received this from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This in no way swayed my opinion. Pinky swear!

 

 

 

 

Manhattan has been washed out and street racer Ren lives in the Ward, the part that still remains of the underwater city, and risks her life racing to make money to take care of her sister Aven who suffers from the Blight — a horrible disease that came about because of pollution for which there is no cure. When the government asks Ren to go on a mission to find freshwater she puts herself in danger at the prospect of having more money to take care of Aven but what she finds is beyond what she could have ever imagined initially and pulls her into a mystery that could have a significant impact but deadly consequences for her.

This was one of my most anticipated books for the season because of the interesting premise, but I have to be honest, I was overall very disappointed and frustrated with this book. It had SO MUCH POTENTIAL but I spent the majority of the time either confused or frustrated or skimming over parts due to the world building and  the way some things were written — which was really sad because I was so excited and some good friends LOVED it. Within the first 100 pages I was ready to put it down because it wasn’t doing anything for me but I kept going and eventually I was hooked on the storyline and wanting to find out what the heck was going on but I was still weighed down with the same problems the whole way through.

One of the biggest problems for me was that I just couldn’t picture the world at all which is pretty rare for me. I go to NYC frequently so in my head I constructed what I thought an underwater city would look like but there were paragraphs of descriptions and I just really had a hard time SEEING it. There were also times that I just could not envision a specific scene, like a racing scene or an action scene, and it just completely drew me out of the action a lot of times because I felt frustrated that I couldn’t follow along with what was going on. I would read over paragraphs and literally have no clue what happened or feel like I missed something and then I’d read over it again but still felt lost. This is not a problem I typically have — the writing just felt kind of shaky and scenes felt kind of jumbly to me.

The other issue I had was that I didn’t understand the world. I’m a patient reader so I know I’m not going to GET a world right away and I’m good at suspending disbelief but the world building just lacked for me. We got once sentence of WHAT happened that made NYC under water and a little bit of explanation for what the Blight was but that was about it. I couldn’t understand WHY people were still living there if the city flooded? I kept thinking that people wouldn’t be inhabiting this place if something like this really happened so I couldn’t understand the circumstances in which people were living here still and I didn’t see any explanation in the text. I felt frustrated with a lot of questions that didn’t get answered. Part of that could be because maybe they became irrelevant to the plot? I think I expected more of a post apocalyptic sort of novel where we’d get a good sense the world but instead we were plunked into the story in a world with little explanation. I think we aren’t super far into the future but then I see a reference to 2054 and then I see references to boundaries and things that are supposed to be States and they aren’t like our world but we aren’t given any insight to why things were different now. What happened? I could buy it if I understood any of it. There was just A LOT there and little foundation.

Obviously I kept reading  because the plot did really start to get good and I just wanted to know ALL OF THE THINGS. There were some great twists  and a total magical sort of element that I didn’t see coming at all. There were betrayals and secrets and I was genuinely interested because it all became very entertaining. I loved that Ren was badass and a fearless racer with all the guys. I liked her enough and rooted for her and sometimes she made me laugh.  Other times she really bothered me but overall she was a good character. I loved how she cared so much for her “sister.”

 

While action-packed and thrilling with a really fresh and unique world, The Ward by Jordana Frankel unfortunately ended up just not doing it for me. It had a lot of potential but the world-building didn’t live up to what I imagined and the writing seemed kind of shaky and jumbled making A LOT of scenes hard to visualize and made the setting not quite as interesting as it could have been. I’m really sad about this because I was SO looking forward to it and many friends really enjoyed it but, unfortunately for me, the problems I had with it pulled me out of the story A LOT and I often felt frustrated or confused which severely put a damper on my enjoyment of the plot which really went in some interesting directions and kept me furiously turning the pages at points.  I probably will not be reading the sequel unless I hear that the things that bothered me got better because, like I said, the story DID interest me enough.

 

The Ward by Jordana Frankel review

 

Don’t just listen to my opinion! My friend Alexa said The Ward by Jordanna Frankel was “a pretty fantastic debut novel” and Rachel recommends it as well!

Let’s Talk: Have you read this one??  Heard of it?  If you’ve read it, did you enjoy it? Was I just the only one who could not visualize a lot of scenes that happened or the setting in general? I mean, I honestly would read paragraphs 2 or 3 times and still not feel totally clear and that is NOT USUAL for me. What did you think of the more magical twist that came up in the novel? I initially was not down with it but then it became interesting.

The Program by Suzanne Young | Review

The Program Suzanne Young Book ReviewBook Title/Author: The Program by Suzanne Young
Publisher/Year
: Simon Pulse – April 2013
Genre: Dystopian I guess? It has a very contemporary feel minus that suicide is an epidemic and the way that society deals with it.
Series: YES! This is the first book!
Other Books From Author: A Need So Beautiful series, The Naughty List series

Amazon| Goodreads | Twitter |

I received this from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This in no way swayed my opinion. Pinky swear!

 

In The Program by Suzanne Young the world is experiencing an epidemic — teen suicide. To combat this epidemic a program (called “The Program”) was created to help anybody who failed at committing suicide or anyone who is flagged as being depressed or suicidal. The Program basically erases all memories that they deem to be associated with what is making you sad or depressed. Then you leave The Program and are integrated back into society without those memories and start anew. Sloane and her friends who haven’t yet entered the program have tried to stay under the radar and keep their emotions in check so as not get flagged and taken to the program. Despite the fact they have watched so many friends and family commit suicide or come out of The Program like zombies, they know they can’t let those emotions or feelings surface.  As Sloane and her friends are slowly starting to succumb to those feelings they’ve ignored and the pressure to keep it together they know The Program will be their next stop if they can’t keep it together.

Oh my goodness — this is a series I am so excited about after finishing The Program. I know it sounds trite because we say it a lot but I SERIOUSLY could not put this book down. One of those “OMG IT’S SO LATE AND I’M NEVER GOING TO WAKE UP TOMORROW BUT I MUST READ” books. The Program was the ultimate kind of page turner for me because it had suspense, tension, an emotional investment and I was never sure what was going to happen despite picking up vibes about certain things. I appreciated its uniqueness and how Suzanne Young took a subject that really IS an epidemic in our society and amplified it — it felt unsettling and frighteningly REAL to me.

The Program is broken up in three parts — I don’t want to tell you what those three parts consist of even though you could maybe guess from the summary — but each part made me more and more invested in the story and layered that suspense even more. Each part opened me up to more emotions and explored a lot of things about this society and I became more and more invested in this story. I cried, I smiled, I felt like somebody took a cleaver to my heart and I felt extreme ANGER sometimes.  There is just SO much to this story and, aside from being wholly invested in it, it made me think a lot, too!

It was seriously scary to be thrown into this world. I immediately felt unsettled — teen suicide is like your every day thing here and, while they’ve grown numb to it in a way, you can feel the profound pain and agony of those left behind. I was emotional just thinking about my friend who committed suicide and then thinking about how in this society it is perfectly NORMAL to have lost lots of friends and family to suicide & it just made my heart hurt and gave me that “this is going to be an intense book” feeling. It broke my heart at how they had to keep a lid on their emotions because ANY sort of sign of sadness or anger or anything, even if it was healthy, was enough to get you flagged. To watch them slowly start to succumb to the FEELINGS they’ve been holding in towards those who have died and those who have come back not themselves is so painful. You just feel the weight on their shoulders. My heart was in an absolute frenzy.

And if that wasn’t hard enough, Part 2 and 3 really were equally as compelling and painful in their own right. There were absolutely agonizing moments where we got to learn how The Program operates and what goes on inside and how they “fix” you. It was anger-inducing and scary and heartbreaking. And then Part 3 is where it got bittersweet but also hopeful and intense in more of an action-packed way towards the end. It got me excited for book 2 until I remembered WAH I DO NOT HAVE IT.

Book 2, I MUST HAVE YOU because there is still so much to learn — like HOW society got to the point where suicide was this bad? Or why people were okay with this solution? Can you fully get your memories back? And, book 2, I need you most because I haven’t felt so INVOLVED and intrigued by a series in a while.

The Program by Suzanne Young was such an interesting, frightening and suspenseful story with the power to poke and prod at my emotions in the intensest of ways. Each of the three parts of this novel heightened the suspense and really added layers to my emotional connection. One of the most exciting and page-turning books I’ve read this year and I cannot even contain myself for book 2. Very unique and unsettling and I highly recommend it for fans of all types of genres as it is set in a world very much like our own but with the fact that suicide is an actual epidemic and society has allowed something like The Program to exist to “contain” it.

 

 

The Program Suzanne Young Book review

Let’s Talk: Have you read this one??  Heard of it?  If you’ve read it, what did you think? Did you enjoy it as I did or did you feel differently? Let me know what you thought!

Review: Through The Ever Night by Veronica Rossi (No Spoilers!)

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Book Title/Author: Through The Ever Night by Veronica Rossi (Book #2)
Publisher/Year
: HarperTeen January 8th  2013
Genre: YA Dystopian
Series: Yes — Under The Never Sky was the first book in the series.
Other Books From Author: Under the Never Sky (book 1)

Amazon| Goodreads | @V_Rossibooks |

I received this from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This in no way swayed my opinion. Pinky swear!

Since Under the Never Sky, Aria & Perry have been apart from each other with much on their minds. When they are finally reunited, these problems certainly don’t fade away but are magnified. Perry’s troubles with gaining the respect as the Tides leader is even more in jeopardy with Aria’s arrival and the ever increasing frequency and strength of the Aether storms threatening their land. Aria, with the weight of Talon’s disappearance on her shoulders, knows she has to find the Still Blue for Hess to even have a shot at reuniting Talon & Perry. Aria faces the hard decision between staying with Perry (even though she knows her presence is causing trouble) or  leaving to find information about the Still Blue.

Upon finishing Through The Ever Night, I can say without a doubt, this is one of my favorite series right now and one that I’ve found myself recommending more than anything else! If you love dystopian novels, and even if you are burnt out on them, this series is where it is at. Under the Never Sky was a great debut (so great that when I got this in the mail back in September I read this IMMEDIATELY) but this book was what sealed the deal for me! I will say that you should do yourself a solid and reread Under the Never Sky because my memory was a bit foggy on how things ended.

Through The Ever Night took the notion of “second in the series syndrome” and squashed it. My heart just longs for a re-read when I think about how wonderful this book was. The action was intense and heart-pounding but this story was also ridden with quiet, sweet moments and just top-notch character development. We get to know our favorites better (Perry, Aria, Roar, Cinder) but we are introduced to new and memorable characters and reunited with some secondary characters — some whom play bigger parts this time around. Every page was filled with heart and emotion it seemed because I would find myself tearing up or gripping the pages out of anger or feeling incredibly panicked for the characters we love.

Veronica Rossi just knows how to tell a story — that’s all I feel like I can say because I don’t want to give away ANYTHING plot-wise. There were twists and turns and important things to be learned in this book. I loved Aria & Roar’s journey and some of my favorite moments were in those chapters– albeit things that made my heart hurt. I also really enjoyed learning more about Perry & the Tides and watching Perry assert himself as worthy of being leader. I felt like I really learned so much about Perry through these chapters. There was also some crazy dramarama in these chapters too and things that made me MAD! A LOT of meaningful things happen in this book but we are still left with some lingering questions by the end that set up for some really incredibly things for Into The Still Blue (2014? Really, V, really?? How about now?). I loved how the ending wrapped up — just perfectly with some things resolved but still so many things to look forward to.

Vagrant little things:
1. ROAR!! If you loved Roar in Under the Never Sky (are there people who didn’t?) you are going to be so excited because it’s like double the Roar here! I really loved getting to know him more and he’s one of my favorite characters of recent. He breaks out of that “sidekick” kind of mold that comes with being friends with the romantical couple and becomes just as important. His friendship with Aria in this novel is one thing I loved the most and I loved watching them struggle and triumph together.

2. In Under the Never Sky my ONE little problem was that I just felt like I was SO lost about the Aether — like I missed something.  Like I KIND of thought I knew what it was but really didn’t understand it and I felt like Rossi did an amazing job explaining the Aether more in a really natural way that made me be able to SEE it and understand the destruction it was capable of — which we DEFINITELY see in this novel!

3. The romance you ask? AHHH. I’m not telling! Nope! I’m not! I’ll say they’ve got their share of struggles in this one but I think this is one of my favorite couples ever.

4. Aria’s growth has been one of my favorite’s to watch in YA series.

I’m going to pretty much officially say I liked Through The Ever Night MORE which I rarely ever say about a book 2. Prepare to get your workout in turning those pages furiously because this was one of those books that are the epitome of words like “exhilarating” or ” riveting” (and ummm HEARTBREAKING at moments). But Veronica Rossi balances all of that action with truly incredibly characters who you just really fall in love with even more, some really tender moments and making your heart pitter patter with Perry & Aria’s romance. It’s just one of those addictive books that make me shut out Real Life in favor for an imaginative, dangerous journey with characters I wish were real. I love the worldbuilding, I love the characters, I love it all. This series is a favorite that I’ll keep on recommending for lovers of dystopian worlds with fantastical elements.

You May Also Like: Legend by Marie Lu, Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

 

through-the-ever-nightLet’s Talk: Have you read this one?? Heard of it? Did you like Under the Never Sky better or Through The Ever Night? I have to ask..do you think there is a chance that a certain character is actually not dead??

Review Of Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

YA dystopian for Hunger Games fanBook Title/Author: Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi
Publisher/Year: HarperTeen 2011
Genre: YA Dystopian
Series: YES!
Other Books From Author: None!

Amazon| Goodreads | Tahereh Mafi’s Website
I purchased this book with my own money!

Juliette’s been locked up in solitary confinement for 264 days. She’s been locked away for incident which resulted in murder because her very touch is deadly but nobody knows why. While she’s locked away for being a hazard to the general population, the world as she knew it is deteriorating even more than it had been before. Food is rationed, the weather is strange, birds don’t fly anymore and it seems like trouble is brewing between the Reestablishment and the rebel movements. Juliette doesn’t realize just how important she could be on the outside until she finds out that though she’s been in solitary people have taken notice of her and want her use her power for their gain.

Do you ever have a book that you hear everybody talk about it and rave about it and it just somehow turns you off? Is that weird? I don’t know but that’s the case with this book. I heard too much about it and wasn’t intrigued enough by the summary and I thought I’d be let down. Then a few blogger friends told me I HAD to read it so I purchased it this past April when I went to Chicago for RT Convention and a Dark Days tour stop. It’s been sitting on my shelf ever since until Jen from Makeshift Bookmark demanded recently I read it when I asked for a rec!

I was nervous that it wouldn’t blow my mind like it seemed to do to everyone else. BUT FRIENDS, mind = blown. I mean, it kind of looks like a CSI crime scene around here. Shatter Me was pretty unlike things I’ve read recently and I so enjoyed it — the worldbuilding, the characters, the writing, the romance, the fast paced page-turning nature of the story. It was a book I stayed up until the wee hours of the morning to finish. Something I haven’t been doing lately. You would have had to pry this book from my cold dead fingers before I’d have given it up to go to bed. I mean WHAT IF I DIED IN MY SLEEP AND NEVER FINISHED IT??! Morbid, I know, but I just needed to finish it that bad.

Immediately you know this novel is going to be different from the first page by the writing style. Lots of crossed out sentences, tons of stream of consciousness type writing. It takes some time to get used to. I found that I had to reread some parts again but it was so beautiful and it totally hones in on the state of  Juliette’s mind. I felt like I was there imprisoned with her in solitary confinement. The writing just set the mood really well. You felt kind of crazy like I’m sure she did — never speaking but your brain is a lively dialogue and picture show just barreling along. I knew I was going to like this book within the first few pages. I will say that some of those elements do peter out as we get in the story but it makes sense to me as the story progresses. Juliette changes and gets out of her own head.

I found the characters (even the hateable ones — I’m looking at you WARNER) to be so intriguing and I’m excited to learn more about some of them. I’ve heard a lot of Team Warner’s being thrown around and I didn’t understand it though I’m hearing that my mind will change if I read the novella Destroy Me (which you know I have reservations about novellas) and then Unravel Me (book 2). I don’t know.

I also am incredibly drawn into this world that Mafi created — curious about how it got to the point it is, what’s up with Juliette’s special power, what Warner has planned for Juliette, where Juliette’s family is etc. etc. Everything just made me SO CURIOUS. I had a million thoughts running through my mind and I am even more anxious for Unravel Me!!

Moral of the story: When all of your blogging friends tell you to read a book, just do it. Because it might end up being one of your most memorable, favorite reads of the year! I was getting so series weary but this one is invigorating and worth getting sucked into!

 

I see why this book was SO very popular! It’s addicting and the ultimate page-turner filled with intriguing characters, a completely scary and imaginative dystopian society and a love story that didn’t feel out of place and haphazardly thrown in there like “OH HAI ROMANCE SELLS. GOTTA INCLUDE IT.”  It’s breathtakingly different and some of Mafi’s prose is just enchanting. I’ll say it does take a little bit to take to the style of writing at first but I promise you that you’ll get to a point where you just PLOW through it. Lots of feelings happened while reading this book — rage, hope, sadness, etc.

 

You May Also Like: Touch by Jus Accardo, Under The Never Sky by Veronica Rossi, Legend by Marie Lu, Eve by Anna Carey

Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi - teen dystopian

 

Let’s Talky Talk: Have you read this one? Heard of it? What did you think if you have read it? And I have to ask, did you read the novella Destroy Me? Is it worth reading?

Review: The Lost Girl by Sangu Mandanna

The Lost Girl by Sangu Mandanna - new dystopian book seriesBook Title/Author: The Lost Girl by Sangu Mandanna
Publisher/Year: : Balzar + Bray – August 28, 2012
Genre: Young Adult Dystopian/Science Fiction
Series: Standalone for now – though the other mentioned on her site that it could potentially be a series later on depending on how this book is received.
Other Books From Author: None! Debut author up in heeeeere!

Amazon| Goodreads | Sangu Mandanna’s website

The Story: The Lost Girl takes place in the future when scientists (the Weavers) have perfected a way to make an “echo” or copy of somebody that would take the place of the original human being, or the “other” as they are referred to, in the event that the “Other” died. The practice is not widely accepted in some countries and is against the law in many others so the echos have to be hidden. The echo’s life is devoted to studying their Others life so intently that, if something happened, they’d be able to take their place seamlessly. They are quizzed on their other’s friends, learn everything they learn at school and even have to get a tattoo or an ear piercing if their Other does it. Eva has been studying her Other, Amarra, for fifteen years and gets her chance to fulfill her duty when her Other dies in a car accident. She must say goodbye to the family & friends she has made and must travel to India to live and convince everybody that Amarra still lives. When she arrives she quickly realizes how hard it will be to BE Amarra amongst a family who has known her for her whole life & a boyfriend who knows her so intimately  — especially when Eva struggles to eliminate who SHE is and fully become Amarra.

The Review: Hands down one of my favorite reads of the summer and actually of the year! I don’t want to declare perfection but OH MY STARS THIS WAS FANTASTIC! It was fitting that THIS novel was the one that I read when I defied all odds and was able to actually read in the car without getting sick!

I don’t even know where to begin with this! My nails would have been down to stubs by the end of this had I not had on fake nails on from the wedding still. This debut by Sangu Mandanna was paced so perfectly that I just lost track of how fast I was reading. There were slow, tender moments and action packed, heart pounding moments that just complemented each other perfectly. I honestly had tears welling up quite a few times because Eva’s story is just so agonizing & poignant — having people think you are a monster or an abomination, having to say goodbye to those you love (especially a boy you are forbidden to love but do anyways), to have no freedom to be who you are, to live amongst people you don’t know and who aren’t quite sure how they accept you, to be betrayed, to have to make some hard decisions for the ones you love. AH. It all just hurt my soul and affected me deeply.

Her whole existence for being was to “start living” when somebody died. Imagine how hard that must be in the midst of all those emotions and feelings when someone passes? I had many questions and doubts to how a family, who knew that they paid for this echo to created, would ever fully believe that the echo was truly their loved one. There was just something so sad to me about the whole thing. A testament to how much we don’t want to let go of our loved ones.

I loved Eva — I feel like I haven’t connected with a character like this in a while. She wasn’t one of those OH HAI I’M SO KICKASS AND I’M GOING TO BE A FREAKING REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE. She was smart and she defied the Loom in little ways (by giving herself a name or going to the zoo with Sean) that just were mainly because she was just being HERSELF and letting her own humanity slip through the cracks of who she was supposed to be. They weren’t to BE defiant. She did them because they were part of who she was even though it was forbidden. Later on in the story, I just loved watching how strong she had become and how willing she was to fight for her life as hard as she tried to be Amarra. Some of the scenes at the end were just AWESOME. To be honest, all of the other characters were really great and added so much to the story. I just loved them all and loved to hate some of them.

The love between Eva and Sean just melted my heart. Talk about slow build and fiery tension that wouldn’t subside in my heart. Their love was so subtle at first and it just was perfect and tender but so filled with passion that had been long hidden but brimming on the surface as it is with children who have known each other a long while. AND THEN THE END page or so. OH MY GOD.  It’s a love with substance and it will set your heart on fire. At least it did mine. Loving someone despite who they are, loving someone despite the fact it would seem destined to fail from the start. It’s a  forbidden love that didn’t seem like the attraction was about the fact that it was forbidden.

I also love that The Lost Girl asks questions without being too preachy. If you like a good ethical dilemma weaved into your dystopian/sci-fi novels that simply poses the questions and writes the story in a way that just begs them to be pondered. Human life and it’s value. Is it ok that humans “play God” and can decide when human life “ends” to some extent. At what cost? It’s easy to understand why the parents wouldn’t want to lose their children and would want someone to replace their essence. Hell, I’ve even wished for having a copy of myself so one could do all the boring things and I could go out and have fun. It’s not a concept so foreign. But at what cost? Somebody always suffers and we see that through Eva’s life and her forced existence to be somebody else despite how much her own soul wars within to show through.  The Lost Girl gives you many things to think about while still being a “fun” and bulldozer-through-it type of read.

I LOVED the ending but feel like there is so much potential for another book or two. It ended but you could see how Mandanna could be leaving it open for more of her story. I can see the potential so clearly! KIND OF SPOILERY: Lots more to happen with Sean, what happens when she goes back to live with her familiars, what are the effects for what she did at The Loom, what happens know that the Weavers are starting to come apart at the seams and there are power struggles? SO MANY QUESTIONS.

Some tiny areas of concern for me — 1) I did have questions about how certain things worked with the echos and that whole element but I was so sucked into this novel that it didn’t seem to matter to me by the end. I mean, I still had questions for sure but not to the point where it ruined it for me. 2) I also would have loved to experience a little more of the setting — hello, it’s INDIA and I know it’s a metropolitan area but I didn’t feel like I was immersed into this new country and new culture as Eva must have been. 3) The last little bit of the ending felt a smidge rushed for me. There was the climax at the Loom and then things were revealed and decided and then it was the ending. I think a little more of a struggle was in order considering what all had went down. But I still loooooved it.

My Final Thought

Oh Sangu Mandanna, I need you to continue on with this series. I don’t beg for that often as currently I’m feeling bombarded with too many series but this is one of those stories that I just want MORE of. The Lost Girl was truly one of my favorite dystopian novels I’ve read in a while. It stands out amongst the ever growing crowd and doesn’t just give you another interesting world and a moral dilemma but it gives you a truly piercing story full of characters you will love and a romance that shines. A truly standout novel that will not quickly fade from my memory! It had it all for me — great characters, a romance to cheer for, a familiar world yet one that has elements unknown and unthinkable,  action, tension, intrigue, excellent writing!

You May Also Like: What’s Left Of Me by Kat Zhang, Through To You by Emily Hainsworth (out in October 2012), Origin by Jessica Khoury, Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro (my review)

 

Let’s talky talk: Have you read this book? Is it on your radar? Do you hope there is more to the story in the future or are you happy with it being a standalone? Any thoughts on the ethical dilemmas brought up in this story? Did the last page make you DIE like it made me???

Eve by Anna Carey

Book Title/Author: Eve by Anna Carey
Publisher/Year: HarperTeen 2011
Genre: YA dystopian/post-apocalyptic
Series: Yes. Eve is book #1. The second book Once: An Eve Novel is out July 3rd 2012.
Other Books From Author: Sloane Sisters series

Amazon | Goodreads | Anna Carey’s Website

Disclosure: The publisher sent it to me in exchange for an honest review. This has in no way  swayed or affected my opinions on the book. My honesty & credibility as a reader is more important to me than that.

It’s 2032 and 98% of the population has been wiped out thanks to a deadly virus and complications from the vaccine created to stop it. Eve is one of the survivors living in the New America and lives in a secluded all-female boarding school with other orphans where they are groomed to be teachers and artists and the like. Eve’s all set to graduate and start her training to be an artist until she learns the very shocking reality of what these schools are really about and what happens to graduates when they leave. Armed with this knowledge, she decides to escape – even if that means facing a world of unknown after the aftermath of the virus. A world she’s been taught to fear full of men, rabid dogs & gangs that will bring harm to her. 

I absolutely devoured this book. It was undeniably a white knuckles, bated breath kind of page-turner for me. I was so enraptured into this landscape that Anna Carey paints in Eve. I could see every rusted bridge,  every house that had been overcome with the wild & scenes of every day life that had just been abandoned and left there — just waiting for their owners to come back. It was grim, unsettling & downright chilling. Eve’s escape into this world, contrasted with her memories from her childhood & time at her school, highlights this even more. I read this book so quickly as I wanted to learn more about this world through Eve’s struggle to escape and find safety & answers to what she had learned her real fate was.  Every twist and turn and jolt of action had me reeling until the very end. An ending at which left me screaming, “WAHHHH!” and so very happy I had Eve’s sequel – Once – in my possession.

The romance of this book is one that I loved but I didn’t necessarily believe fully which I’ll explain below. The good part of it, for me, was how pure and innocent it felt. How it can just knock you off your feet and delude your senses. I really loved Caleb and I just got the warm and fuzzies watching her experience these feelings of love/lust for Caleb. I also thought, beyond the Caleb/Eve relationship, that I just adored Eve’s relationship with the young boys. Oh, my heart. Parts of this book, in relation to love, were just SO SO beautiful.

“I had once read, in one of those pre-plague books in the library, that love was bearing witness. That it was the act of watching someone’s life, of simply being there to say: you’re life is worth seeing.”

But, friends, I have to honest with you. I had some issues with aspects of this book despite how quickly I devoured it & how I truly did enjoy it. It’s one of those books that felt like a whirlwind summer fling. It was this passionate, dizzying and thrilling ride but when I sat down to think about it and digest…I realized I saw some major problems that I couldn’t ignore — no matter how much I had been blinded by my thrill ride with the story. It wasn’t as perfect as I initially thought it to be when I was all lovedrunk.

Eve herself confused me. I got the sense, from the short glimpse of her life at school, that she was so naive and brainwashed. So I had my eyebrows raised when she so easily got the cajones (seriously, like 30 pages in) to even get out of bed and snoop around..let alone actually rebel and try to escape. I felt like there was nothing about her that we had learned that made me BELIEVE that she’d do that.  Everything we had been shown about her seemed contrary to her character…but at the same time this big REVEAL was so so soon in the book that she didn’t even feel developed to me yet. We just knew what we were told — top student, naive, idealistic, etc.  Granted, I suppose if I saw what she did and realized my fate, that I’d run like hell too. But I just even thought she was too brainwashed and naive that she’d think there was some explanation for it and not leave like a bat out of hell.

The OTHER part of her that confused me was that, after a lifetime of being indoctrinated with this fear of men, she pretty easily trusted Caleb. I mean, yeah, she was wary but I don’t feel like she was wary enough as someone who was so fearful of men and hadn’t seen a man in so long. At the same time, I thought that maybe her being repressed from the male species for so long made her even MORE susceptible to that curious attraction that just makes you fall head over heels & giddy. I think of those times in my life and so I can KIND of see it. It still made it hard for me to fully believe because I just felt like everything we knew of her just unraveled. I didn’t believe that someone that had been so brainwashed would just get over it that quickly. And also, you are running for your life because of what you’ve found out and you are in danger yet all you can think about is a boy?? More than anything else.

I just feel like, because the revelation happened so soon, I never got to really see WHO Eve was. I just saw a girl who were were told was one way and all we see is something totally different VERY quickly..and I never felt much growth or character development that made up for that.

Also, without getting to spoilery, there were some confusing parts about the setup of this world and why things are the way they are. How did the virus come to be? What did the antidote do? Why do these girls get this intense schooling if their fate is what it is? I have a lot of why’s about the logistics of all of it that I’m hoping will be answered.

My final thought: Eve kept me turning the pages with it’s chilling premise, vivid world building & action-packed journey. I couldn’t put it down and it broke my heart in all the right places. While I really enjoyed my whirlwind inhalation of this book, there are some character development issues with Eve, the main character, that I just couldn’t ignore, and some really hole-y world building in terms of WHY the world is the way it is.  It was a good, enjoyable dystopian read that I think those who are loving  the fast paced, romance inclusive variety of YA dystopian will like — if they can look past some of the development issues.I liked it but I can’t say I thought it to be a 5 star, perfect read as many others did! I’d probably recommend some other dystopian books before this one!

 

Review On A Post-It

 

You May Also Like: Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi, Delirium by Lauren Oliver

What did YOU think about this book?? Let’s talk about it! If you haven’t read it, is it on your TBR?

Bumped by Megan McCafferty

In Bumped, by Megan McCafferty, teenage pregnancy is a career and can propel you to celebrity status. After a virus renders everyone over eighteen infertile, teenage girls become babymaking machines and the government commercializes and glamorizes teen pregnancy in order to get girls to compete to bump the most and become pros at it. Two twins, separated at birth, Melody and Harmony have lived two totally separate lives and view bumping and life in a completely different way — Melody is on the track to be paired to bump with the McDreamy of all pro bumper guys and Harmony lives in a religious community called Goodside. Will they be able to reconcile their two separate lives to form some semblance of sisterhood or are their paths too far apart?

Among the ranks of dystopian YA books, Bumped certainly stands out in its delivery and unique storyline. I’ll be honest, when I first started it I was like, “WTF is this?!” Bumped is written using the slang and the vernacular of this world. It’s like a futuristic valley girl sound with lots of twisted pregnancy lingo. At first it grated my nerves and I thought it was serious..everything was so outlandish and crazy and over the top….and the LINGO..oh man. I almost put it down. BUT THEN…it dawned on me that it was satire of sorts. This was later confirmed after I finished it when I went to the Megan McCafferty launch party for this book and heard her read aloud from it (which was hilarious) and then talk about it. The one thing about the way it is is written that I enjoyed was that you were immersed pretty quickly into the world through the use of the vernacular and the obvious instances of glorification and commercialization of teen pregnancy. It made it all quite hilarious.

If you are looking for a dystopian novel like The Hunger Games or something along those lines, this isn’t like that. On the surface it is much lighter and there isn’t any violence or major uprisings or any of that. It’s a completely ridiculous society that will make you laugh at the ridiculousness and the slang. It’s a world that is just unimaginable to me because it is so absurd…in an unusual way. While it is a bit lighter, there are still some interesting thoughts that arise from reading this. It wasn’t an “issues” book or an agenda to talk about teen pregnancy. I appreciated that it wasn’t trying to be that although it was inspired from many teen pregnancies in the news and the lack of a clear “answer” as to how to deal with it from all sides.

My Final Thought: Once I got past the prego Valley Girl slang, I was good to go and found it to be HILARIOUS. I can see how this one might not be for everyone so if you don’t enjoy futuristic satire type books, this might not be for you. It’s unlike any dystopian novel I’ve read and I really enjoyed the uniqueness of it all and the fact that it wasn’t like every other dystopian I read. It was fresh and wholly a different experience and McCafferty easily created this future society by showing us the world rather than telling us the backstory and explaining what it was like. I can’t wait to read the next book in the series to find out what happens to Melody and Harmony! Both characters changed so much! It’s much different than her Jessica Darling series but she infuses her humor and wit in this one as well!

Review On A Post-It

 


Did you read Bumped? If yes, did you enjoy it? Did you have a hard time with the slang or was it easy for you to get passed that?

Wither by Lauren DeStefano — The Unofficial Review

So..here’s the thing. I read Wither by Lauren DeStefano last December. My dear friend Steph from Steph Su Reads passed it on to me one night while we hung out because I was SUPER bummed I didn’t get it in my mailbox along with everyone else. I immediately came home, curled up next to my fireplace (my preferred reading spot in the winter) and read all night long. Literally. I read and LOVED Wither last December and here I am now writing about it. Why might you ask?

This may sound like a cop-out but I couldn’t review it. I loved it SO much that I just needed to let it be. I expressed my love on Twitter and gave it 5 stars on Goodreads and let it be done. I just finished Fever last night (OMG so good!) and I felt really strong urge to express my feelings about Wither before I do so at some later juncture about Fever. This is not a review. I’m simply going to give you my reading experience with Wither and that will be that.

Reading Wither to me was reminiscent to my childhood reading. When I was younger my imagination was so alive that descriptions in books were incredibly vivid to the point where I really felt oppressed by the weight of living on the prairie or as an orphan in a boxcar. This is how Wither was to me…at 25 years old with a imagination that rarely gets used. It made me remember why I love reading in general. The world that Lauren DeStefano creates in Wither became a very real place and the mood pulsed through my veins so much so that I don’t recall ever remembering that others went to bed and that the fireplace went out. I felt despair and anguish with Rhine in this foreign place. I felt the coldness that just emanated from the mansion where Rhine was held against her will and that need to survive at all costs. I felt the bond between the sister wives and the way they truly needed each other. Everything was just so real to me.

I wasn’t marred by my need to over analyze the plot or the choices or the style. I didn’t think about anything other the story. I just let it be like I did as a child. There was innocence in that reading. I may not have known about plot devices or climax or anything like that but I knew when I was held captive by a story. I knew that crazy sensation of shaking yourself out of the pages of the book that you were so entangled in and finding yourself back in reality. I knew the feeling of willing more pages to appear because you just weren’t ready to be done with the flimsy few pages that were suddenly left because you plowed through the book at an alarming pace. That is how I felt about this book.

Lauren DeStefano’s writing is undoubtedly beautiful and lush and worthy of being savored. My only regret is not slowing down. I mean, but how could I, I needed to know what happened. Her writing is something to get lost in. This story was something to get lost in. She wrote the characters in a way that they have stuck with me the way a select few do so vividly – wonderful wonderful Rhine with her unbreakable spirit and will to fight. Delicate, naive Cecily who just doesn’t know any better but has more strength than giving credit for. Loveable Gabriel who is certainly worthy of Rhine’s eye. Kind and nurturing Deidre who you forget is so young. Strong, fierce Jenna who is quite a mystery but recognizes the truth. Housemaster Vaughn whose evilness is truly frightening. And Linden. Oh Linden. Perhaps one of my favorite characters. For SO many reasons.  Some of these characters were able to provide that bit of beauty and hope in a world and situation that just seems devoid of life, devoid of hope for the future and devoid of true, unfettered love.

I know of some who had problems with things in the book. I know that I didn’t quite understand the world, how it came to be, why people still wanted to have children, etc. For me, I didn’t need to know or understand for some reason. I knew halfway through that I could never analyze this book to death. I didn’t want to pick it apart. I wanted to enjoy the experience. I’m not saying those of you who had problems with it are wrong. I’m not saying it is a perfect book. I’m just saying that when a book grabs a hold of me and reminds me why I enjoyed reading in the first place…it is time for me to let go and just get lost. And I did. Wholly.

If you haven’t read Wither and enjoy YA dystopian novels, I’d honestly recommend this one. The writing is beautiful, the characters are beyond real and the world is frightening. Even if you don’t read YA but like dystopian novels, I’d honestly still recommend this to you as someone who reads and reviews both YA and adult. In fact, I’d really encourage you to pick it up. I honestly would forget sometimes that I’m reading about a young girl because these characters are in a situation that makes them grow up tremendously…so if that kind of “young POV” thing bothers you..you should know it is not there. Their “age” shows through sometimes but appropriately because they are young girls being forced to be wives and mothers and confront dying at an early age.

Have any of you ever had an experience like this? You loved a book too much to review it? Have a book that honestly made you remember why it is that you love reading?

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