Tag: dystopian

February 13, 2014

Review: Renegade by J.A. Souders

Title: Renegade
Author: J.A. Souders {website}
Publication Date: November 2012
Publisher: Tor Teen
Series: The Elysium Chronicles {Book 1}
Source & Format: Library; hardcover
Links: GoodReads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Since the age of three, sixteen-year-old Evelyn Winters has been trained to be Daughter of the People in the underwater utopia known as Elysium. Selected from hundreds of children for her ideal genes, all her life she’s thought that everything was perfect; her world. Her people. The Law.

But when Gavin Hunter, a Surface Dweller, accidentally stumbles into their secluded little world, she’s forced to come to a startling realization: everything she knows is a lie. 

Her memories have been altered. 

Her mind and body aren’t under her own control. 

And the person she knows as Mother is a monster.

Together with Gavin she plans her escape, only to learn that her own mind is a ticking time bomb… and Mother has one last secret that will destroy them all.

An underwater world. Romance. Mystery. Intrigue. Dystopia. There was nothing in this book blurb that I would be able to resist. The gorgeous cover (although the girl is a little too done up for me) sold me on the book. Unfortunately, the premise and the blurb didn’t live up to what was inside.


In the beginning of the book, we’re introduced to Evelyn, a girl who constantly reminds herself that she lives a “perfect life,” but there’s something in the back of her mind that tells her something is off, something is wrong. The quiet, obedient girl fits into the role of the Daughter of the People. Once Evelyn figures out her mind and memories have been altered, she goes through this change that doesn’t fit her character type or personality whatsoever. Despite this quickly-moving plot, I found Evelyn to be on the blandest heroines I’ve come across. I had no connection with her at all – I didn’t care about her, about the abuse she was going through at the hands of the Mother – she just didn’t come alive on the page. 

I am glad that Evelyn made the decision to rebel once she figured out her memories had been tampered with, but the strange transition from obedient mouthpiece to strong rebellious heroine didn’t click with Evelyn’s personality. How can one person who has been so abused and brainwashed simply click into a strong, confident heroine? No. Sorry. 

Gavin was a little more likable than Evelyn, but not by much. Unfortunately, he had the same blandness that she did. His Southern accent – he threw in “y’all” every once in a while – was just irritating and did nothing to create a character which I could cheer for. I did like that he wasn’t controlling like some other YA heroes, but there was nothing about him that made him stand out. His job was to be Evelyn’s voice of reason and her object of affection in the insta-love plot element. 


I really hate insta-love. It’s actually become one my major bookish pet peeves. In the case of Renegade, I half bought it. The situation these two young people were in is extreme; I can buy Gavin falling in love with Evelyn because she healed him, and Evelyn could possibly latch on because he is the only person in this world that’s nice to her. That’s it. That’s not the basis of a fantastic romance. To me, that’s the type of romance that completely disintegrates once the danger has passed and everyone’s safe again. 

Mother was just creepy. The need for superior genetics – essentially only those with blue eyes and blond hair – and the controlling nature of this woman smacked of Hitler. I’m sorry, but I couldn’t get it out of my head while I was reading. It left such a horrible taste in my mouth, I nearly returned the book without finishing. 

I was a little upset by how sexuality and relationships were treated in Renegade. I get that it’s a dystopia and the world is supposed to be upsetting, but the nature of the government-approved Coupling upset me. Mother’s anger and subsequent reaction when she discovers someone has touched Evelyn was disgusting. The focus on being pure and waiting until the Coupling was absurd – it’s actually making me angry all over again as I write this. 


The writing was okay. The first person POV (through Evelyn’s eyes) made for an interesting perspective of this new world, but also helped the narrator’s tendency to info dump. Her first conversation with Gavin is like reading the history of Elysium. I did like how the first person worked in the chase scenes – these were the highlight of the book.
Although this book takes place deep in the Atlantic Ocean next to a North American country (unnamed), the random cultural objects thrown in threw me for a loop. Evelyn’s request for a “soy chai latte” as she watches a Citizen dragged off early in the book was just bizarre. As she walks to her Therapist, she notes a sushi restaurant. Nothing happens at the sushi restaurant. She doesn’t thrown the soy chai latte on her Mother/the Maids/Gavin in a fit of rage. There is no reason for these objects/places to be mentioned. 


This is going back to the library as soon as I can manage. The controlling Mother, her abusive government, the negative focus on sexuality and the blandness of the characters made this a disappointing read for me. 

Posted February 13, 2014 by Ellen in Uncategorized / 0 Comments
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January 18, 2014

Review: Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

Title: Shatter Me
Author: Tahereh Mafi {website}
Publication Date: November 2011
Publisher: Harper
Series: Shatter Me {Book 1}
Source & Format: Library; hardcover
Links: GoodReads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Juliette hasn’t touched anyone in exactly 264 days.

The last time she did, it was an accident, but The Reestablishment locked her up for murder. No one knows why Juliette’s touch is fatal. As long as she doesn’t hurt anyone else, no one really cares. The world is too busy crumbling to pieces to pay attention to a 17-year-old girl. Diseases are destroying the population, food is hard to find, birds don’t fly anymore, and the clouds are the wrong color.

The Reestablishment said their way was the only way to fix things, so they threw Juliette in a cell. Now so many people are dead that the survivors are whispering war – and The Reestablishment has changed its mind. Maybe Juliette is more than a tortured soul stuffed into a poisonous body. Maybe she’s exactly what they need right now.

Juliette has to make a choice: Be a weapon. Or be a warrior.

Okay. There is an immense amount of reputation and hype surrounding Tahereh Mafi’s debut novel, Shatter Me. When I mentioned it was up next on my TBR list, I heard from people who loved it. I heard from people who hated it. Which side do I fall on? Keep reading


From the first page, I pitied Juliette from the bottom of my heart. I couldn’t imagine what she had struggled through, losing her family and life the way she had. I had the impression of a fragmented character, a girl torn apart by loss and holding it together by a thread. The transition that Mafi made from this character in the beginning to the character we know for the rest of the book was rough and choppy. All of a sudden, Juliette does a 180, standing up for herself for a moment, then quietly blending back into the story. Since the story is told from her first person perspective, I was frustrated that there was no hint of this sudden (and fleeting) backbone. These personality quirks come out of nowhere and disappear just as quickly. It didn’t make for a reliable character, a reliable narrator, or a happy reader.

My other frustration with Juliette is her overwhelming tendency towards the melodramatic. Even in her own mind, every single word is over embellished and dramatic, especially some of the prose (which we will get to later). It was actually somewhat exhausting to read her story


The plot is your basic dystopian. The world is falling quickly into disrepair and a new organization, The Reestablishment, has risen and taken control. I actually found the concept of the Reestablishment quite interesting. I wish Mafi had expanded on the world-building there a little more. 

My biggest frustration with the plot lies in the love-triangle. I don’t understand the motivations for Juliette developing feelings for one of the options (if you’re a lover of Shatter Me, please help me with this one…it completely baffled me). The other option, the warm generous and kind one, I completely understood. I just don’t understand the need for a love triangle. There is enough going on in the story to keep the main characters motivated and moving forward. This was just extra baggage in my eyes.


Prose is very personal. Some people love a flowery language, describing everything in metaphors and other fabulous elements of the English language. Others like a more simple prose (possibly even this one). So, I feel that Juliette’s language choices are definitely a personal preference. She drove me a little batty (especially with all of the descriptions of men’s jawlines), but there were some hidden gems in there.


In conclusion, I come down on the dislike side of Mafi’s Shatter Me series. In the end, I’m glad I gave it a try; sometimes the books are worth all the hype. I was so disillusioned by this novel that I think I’ll skip the rest of the series.

Posted January 18, 2014 by Ellen in Uncategorized / 2 Comments
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December 28, 2013

Review: Pawn by Aimee Carter

Title: Pawn
Author: Aimée Carter {website}
Publication Date: November 2013
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Series: The Blackcoat Rebellion {Book 1}
Source & Format: Library; hardcover
Links: GoodReads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble


For Kitty Doe, it seems like an easy choice. She can either spend her life as a III in misery, looked down upon by the higher ranks and forced to leave the people she loves, or she can become a VII and join the most powerful family in the country.

If she says yes, Kitty will be Masked – surgically transformed into Lila Hart, the Prime Minister’s niece, who died under mysterious circumstances. As a member of the Hart family, she will be famous. She will be adored. And for the first time, she will matter.

There’s only one catch. She must also stop the rebellion that Lila secretly fostered, the same one that got her killed, and one Kitty believes in. Faced with threats, conspiracies and a life that’s not her own, she must decide which path to choose and learn how to become more than a pawn in a twisted game she’s only beginning to understand.

I really thought I was a big dystopian reader, but I’m having some problems lately. I didn’t love Legend by Marie Lu (when everyone else under the sun appears to) and I have so many mixed feelings about Pawn that we might as well schedule a couples’ therapy session. 


Here’s my biggest problem with this book: no one is sad that Lila died! Her mother, Celia, shows some remorse, but only when it suits her purpose (only exemplified by that last scene…yeah, that one). Her fiancee appears to be ‘over it’ and the family brushes aside a single tear and moves on. Really? No one is treasuring her favorite purse or even close to mourning her death. And only her immediate family knows about her death…what on earth?

To be honest, that completely befuddled me and got under my skin. I kept looking for some sort of sorrow (beside Celia’s weirdness) and it really disappointed me that there was no mourning for this poor girl. 

Had to get that off my chest. Kitty has a lot of potential, but I couldn’t connect with her. She does have an interesting combination of innocence and gumption that I found intriguing, especially in the first few chapters. I just wanted more from her: more struggle between her own identity and this one thrust upon her. 

I did like that there was already an established romance between Kitty and Benjy. Their relationship was a little bit of sweet in an already violent and sour world and gave Kitty some relatable motivation to wear the disguise of Lila and keep the charade up. 


I think I struggled with aspects of the plot more so than anything else. To be honest, I needed Kitty’s world explained to me in the beginning so I had a better grasp of what was going on. I didn’t understand why they were taking this test, only that it would set the class system. But what history demanded this be set up? What happened in their world? Maybe I missed this on my reading, but it definitely confused me as the plot grew more tangled. 

What I didn’t understand most of all was why the Harts decided to Mask Kitty and recreate her in the image of Lila. Maybe this is a part of Carter’s story arc for the series, but I needed to know why the character of Lila was so valuable to them. That element of the plot would have sold me on the entire novel, honestly.  


I feel that the writing was good. Kitty’s narrative was clean and easy to understand. It was a B on the typical grading scale. There just wasn’t that element, that pizzazz, to draw me in. It was too easy for me to put this book down and walk away. I wanted to be intrigued, fascinated, but that wasn’t in the cards.


Annnnd this is why I have mixed feelings about Pawn. There were aspects of it that I found interesting, but there wasn’t that shazamness about it that I was looking for. I might read the next installment if I come across it in the library, but I won’t be searching it out.

Posted December 28, 2013 by Ellen in Uncategorized / 0 Comments
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December 19, 2013

Review: Legend by Marie Lu

Title: Legend
Author: Marie Lu 
Publication Date: November 2011
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile
Series: Legend {Book 1}
Source & Format: Library; hardcover
Links: GoodReads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

What was once the western United States is now home to the Republic, a nation perpetually at war with its neighbors. Born into an elite family in one of the Republic’s wealthiest districts, fifteen-year-old June is a prodigy being groomed for success in the Republic’s highest military circles. Born into the slums, fifteen-year-old Day is the country’s most wanted criminal. But his motives may not be as malicious as they seem. 

From very different worlds, June and Day have no reason to cross paths – until the day June’s brother, Metias, is murdered and Day becomes the prime suspect. Caught in the ultimate game of cat and mouse, Day is in a race for his family’s survival, while June seeks to avenge Metias’s death. But in a shocking turn of events, the two uncover the truth of what has really brought them together, and the sinister lengths their country will go to keep its secrets. 

Full of nonstop action, suspense, and romance, this novel is sure to move readers as much as it thrills. 

I was very excited when I finally got my hands on a copy of Legend. My library only had the last two books of the trilogy, but I wanted to get started on the right foot, get to know the characters from the beginning. It’s been a while since I’ve really dug into a new series, but unfortunately, Legend didn’t match with me. 


June has gone through what has to be the worst experience in the world: she’s lost her entire family. After the first few scenes explain her story, my heart started to break for her…but then the emotional connection between us broke. She fell flat for me; I understood her motivations for revenge, but there was no emotion behind it all that kept me connected to her. She actually began to irritate me more than anything. I didn’t care about her like I wanted to, like I’d hoped to.

Day started off with more promise for me. I loved the dystopian Robin Hood of his character, and the desperation he felt in trying to help his family. Day’s worry about his family was the strongest emotion I felt in the entire novel. It was the only true believable emotion for me. 

For me, I just didn’t make the connection with the characters. There was no dragging force keeping me turning the pages to make sure they were all right in the end. They needed more oomph, more passion, for me. 


I loved Lu’s world building. The society was fascinating, making the setting vivid. I kept imagining it as a cross between today’s Los Angeles and Star Wars. I do wish that there had been more action in the war between the Republic and the Colonies. All we see in the novel is what takes place in Los Angeles – I would have loved to have seen what was going on in the front lines, how those events affected how they were living back home. The entire war between the two felt more like background than a driving force of the plot.

I’m sorry. Someone’s going to dislike me for this. The romance didn’t do a thing for me. I found it flat and forced. It could have been so much more, especially with all of the tensions already riling around, but June and Day didn’t have that spark that made me believe it. 


Lu is a master at writing fight/chase scenes. These scenes truly immersed me in the book, especially June’s first fight scene on the streets. Lu has a way of writing the battles that makes me feel like I’m standing in the crowd as well as inside June’s head all at once. 

The narration beyond the fight scenes was okay. The dual perspective between June and Day was fairly interesting, most often when they were apart from each other. The straightforward narration was simple and easy to read, a benefit especially with dual perspectives.


I wish I had loved this story. For me, it fell too flat and I am going to have to pass on the other two books in the trilogy. 

Posted December 19, 2013 by Ellen in Uncategorized / 0 Comments
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November 26, 2013

Review: Allegiant by Veronica Roth

Title: Allegiant
Author: Veronica Roth
Publication Date: October 2013
Publisher: Katherine Teagen Books
Series: Divergent {Book 3}
Source & Format: Bought; hardcover
Links: GoodReads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

The faction-based society that Tris Prior once believed in is shattered—fractured by violence and power struggles and scarred by loss and betrayal. So when offered a chance to explore the world past the limits she’s known, Tris is ready. Perhaps beyond the fence, she and Tobias will find a simple new life together, free from complicated lies, tangled loyalties, and painful memories. 

But Tris’s new reality is even more alarming than the one she left behind. Old discoveries are quickly rendered meaningless. Explosive new truths change the hearts of those she loves. And once again, Tris must battle to comprehend the complexities of human nature—and of herself—while facing impossible choices about courage, allegiance, sacrifice, and love. 

Told from a riveting dual perspective, Allegiant, by #1 New York Times best-selling author Veronica Roth, brings the Divergent series to a powerful conclusion while revealing the secrets of the dystopian world that has captivated millions of readers in Divergent and Insurgent.

Spoiler safe review, don’t worry! 

I finished this book about three hours ago, and I’m still reeling. It’s so much to take in. I read Divergent when I was beginning to really focus on my book blog, and to see the end of this series is revealing to me in so many ways. The story itself is so extraordinary, I’m not really sure where to begin…

Most settings are fairly static and unchanging. In Allegiant, Tris’ entire world is rocked, not only emotionally, but phyiscally. Everything she knows from her old life is uprooted around her. Although the plot of the second installment leads to Tris’ wish to leave the city and see what’s outside of the walls, I don’t think she is quite ready for what happens when she does. The world outside of the walls completely shakes her; it isn’t the world she envisioned, although I don’t think she ever puts into words what she has in mind. What she finds is something not too different from what she left behind, including those same “complicated lies, tangled loyalties, and painful memories” from the book blurb. The settings themselves emphasize this shaky feeling both Tris And Four (he’ll always be Four to me…Tobias reminds me of the grumpy head speechwriter on The West Wing) feel. 

The dual narrative had its benefits, especially since the plot was so emotionally charged in Allegiant. Roth used it well, using it to create tension by switching from one narrative to another right when a charged moment was about to occur. I liked seeing the perspective from Four; he has a unique viewpoint on the world, one that was especially narrow when it came to Tris. At first, I didn’t really care for the dual narrative, but as they eased into their new surroundings, it really grew on me. 

I haven’t picked up Insurgent or Divergent since I originally read them (my TBR pile is huge), but opening Allegiant and returning to their world felt so familiar. Tris and Four each had extraordinary character development throughout the novel. Their relationship went through some bumps internally and externally, but it was worth it to watch them adjust and grow as they got to know each other. Both had external struggles with family, which was something I did not expect, but added a softer quality to each of them. I just realized I have thought of them as essentially a unit since the end of Insurgent. Even though each is an unique and fascinating character on their own, to me, they stand together.

I have to say, I loved this plot. It was unique, unexpected, and lived up to my expectations. Many dystopian novels use class distinctions as conflict, but Allegiant uses distinctions and differences in a way that I haven’t seen before. The new villains add different motives and characteristics to the novel that at first were foreign to me; I wanted the battles of the factions. Instead, the journey into the new setting ended up fitting the story perfectly. Following the factions would have tread in realms that Roth had already covered.

The ending. Holy moly. It knocked me off my feet. I had to read it twice. I both loved and hated it, a feeling I haven’t had since Mockingbird by Suzanne Collins. Thinking about it now, it was the best way to end. I tip my hat to Ms. Roth.

Final Thoughts: It took me a few chapters to sink back into the world of Divergent, but once I did, it was impossible to leave. I loved it. I loved Allegiant so much I read it in one sitting. I’m on the fence about the ending, but that lovely sense of closure at the end of the series is there. I like that. 

Posted November 26, 2013 by Ellen in Uncategorized / 0 Comments
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November 8, 2013

Review: For the Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund

Title: For the Darkness Shows the Stars
Author: Diana Peterfreund
Publication Date: June 2012 
Publisher: Balzer + Bray | Harper Collins Publishers
Series: For the Darkness Shows the Stars {Book 1}
Source & Format: Bought; paperback
Links: GoodReads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

It’s been several generations since a genetic experiment gone wrong caused the Reduction, decimating humanity and giving rise to a Luddite nobility who outlawed most technology.

Elliot North has always known her place in this world. Four years ago Elliot refused to run away with her childhood sweetheart, the servant Kai, choosing duty to her family’s estate over love. Since then the world has changed: a new class of Post-Reductionists is jumpstarting the wheel of progress, and Elliot’s estate is foundering, forcing her to rent land to the mysterious Cloud Fleet, a group of shipbuilders that includes renowned explorer Captain Malakai Wentforth–an almost unrecognizable Kai. And while Elliot wonders if this could be their second chance, Kai seems determined to show Elliot exactly what she gave up when she let him go.

But Elliot soon discovers her old friend carries a secret–one that could change their society . . . or bring it to its knees. And again, she’s faced with a choice: cling to what she’s been raised to believe, or cast her lot with the only boy she’s ever loved, even if she’s lost him forever.

Inspired by Jane Austen’s PersuasionFor Darkness Shows the Stars is a breathtaking romance about opening your mind to the future and your heart to the one person you know can break it.

Even though dystopian novels are everywhere right now – especially in the YA aisle – I have to admire the creativity of the authors when they are faced with the task of creating their own world. During the first few chapters, I wasn’t a huge of the world Peterfreund created for Elliot – it was too rough, too harsh for me. When Elliot began to talk about her farming and her passion to create something to better those under her care, For the Darkness Shows the Stars changed from a Jane Austen retelling to a YA dystopian novel set in the South. I imagined huge old plantations, and that familiarity made me began to enjoy the book. As I kept reading, I liked that Peterfreund didn’t struggle to put images in her readers’ mind; she gave the basic outlines and didn’t keep reminding me that a certain character had blue eyes, another green. Instead, the setting focused on the differences between the classes, emphasizing not only what they didn’t share, but what they had in common. Besides all that, I really want to know what that ship the Cloud Fleet made looks like.

There were elements of the Reduction that confused me at first, and I almost didn’t finish the novel because of them. I wish that Peterfreund had included information like that at the beginning, to help the confused readers like me fight thier way through the story. I had some issues with the differences between Posts and freed Posts. Those who were free wanted to shake free the shackles of their old life (understandably) but those who weren’t didn’t seem to mind. Maybe I missed a big chunk of the novel where it explains this. Kai and his younger companions had an element of pride about them that those working for Elliot didn’t. Those characters had an element of loyalty. It was an interesting contrast. 

The story flowed fairly well for me, after some hiccups in the beginning. I felt that initially Elliot’s farming nature was overemphasized, almost to the point of irritating me. I got it. After I passed that point, the rhythm of the story grew on me, and I enjoyed Peterfreund’s fairly straightforward narration. The decision to keep the novel first person was good – I feel otherwise I would have been too confused, trying to decipher all of the emotions circling that particular group of characters. 

I will admit, I didn’t particularly like Elliot initially. It probably bounces back to that narration hiccup, but she, like the story, grew on me. I had to admire her tenaciousness, especially when she finally discovered her own strength. I couldn’t imagine being in the position she was – an old lost love returning, new people on her land, class barriers everywhere, and a girl trying to keep her family together after the loss of her mother. That’s more than one person should have deal with in a lifetime, and Elliot handled it with class. I enjoyed reading her inner thoughts, which, if said aloud, wouldn’t have been called classy, but I would have still admired her. 

There’s some debate in the blog world on whether or not this book is too based on Jane Austen’s Persuasion. I don’t really want to enter that debate. Although there were some blatant references to the original inspiration, I enjoyed the story on its own. It’s not Austen novel, by any means, but the tension between Elliot and Kai were enough to keep me up reading late at night when I had to work early in the morning. Their relationship had a little pride, miscommunication, and general stubbornness, all of which made it a really fun element of the novel. 

I liked the plot. It didn’t give me a book hangover. It was well-written and thought out. I enjoyed the plot twists near the end, but I never quite had that feeling that everything would/would not work out. If that emotion had been added somewhere into the story, I would have gobbled this book up like Thanksgiving turkey. 

Final Thoughts: I liked For the Darkness Shows the Stars. It was deliciously dark, with a strong female lead and a intriguing romance. I felt it was a little predictable at times, but nonetheless, still an good story. 

Posted November 8, 2013 by Ellen in Uncategorized / 0 Comments
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September 14, 2013

Review: The Elite by Kiera Cass

Title: The Elite 
Author: Kiera Cass 
Publication Date: April 2013 
Series: The Selection {Book 2} 
Source: Library 
Links: GoodReads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble 
My Rating: Two Stars

Thirty-five girls came to the palace to compete in the Selection. All but six have been sent home. And only one will get to marry Prince Maxon and be crowned princess of Illea.

America still isn’t sure where her heart lies. When she’s with Maxon, she’s swept up in their new and breathless romance, and can’t dream of being with anyone else. But whenever she sees Aspen standing guard around the palace, and is overcome with memories of the life they planned to share. With the group narrowed down to the Elite, the other girls are even more determined to win Maxon over—and time is running out for America to decide.

Just when America is sure she’s made her choice, a devastating loss makes her question everything again. And while she’s struggling to imagine her future, the violent rebels that are determined to overthrow the monarchy are growing stronger and their plans could destroy her chance at any kind of happy ending.

Kiera Cass’s America is stuck in the love triangle of her life. One on hand, we have the fabulously gorgeous Prince Maxon, who is desperately in love with her (despite his need to keep up appearances for the Selection) and, on the other, sits America’s first love, Aspen. (Does anyone else notice the two love interests’ names tend to rhyme? Maybe I had too much coffee…) With her heart tugging her two separate ways, America has to choose as well as overcome the adversity facing her from the other candidates in the Selection.

America kind of annoys me. Here’s why: what seventeen year-old-girl doesn’t want to be in a castle, with the attentions of a prince solely focused upon her? Well, to be honest, this starred more often in my eleven year-old self’s dreams instead of seventeen, but you get the point. I understand America’s feelings to a point: she didn’t want to be a part of this, she wanted to marry Aspen and live happily in the lower caste. But she’s here, in the castle… well, to get the summary, here’s my review of the first book, The Selection. In the beginning of The Elite, America appears to have made her choice. What annoyed me about her is that she couldn’t stick with it. She searches out reasons to dislike Maxon or push him away. The entire thing with Aspen (Maxon, Aspen…see!) really irritated me because she was only making things harder on herself. This isn’t a lovestruck girl; this is a girl afraid of a decision. She’s so terrified that she is pulling two people she supposedly “cares” about deeper into heartbreak and tragedy. Yay.

The setting in this novel is fascinating. Cass did a lovely job of remaking our current world into hers, but left enough behind so we would recognize it. It’s an interesting juxtaposition of old world (the palace, the gowns, the old style manners) and new (The American State of China? Third World War?). 

There’s a point in the novel where Cass shows the cost of true love to America (telling you about it would be spoilers!) and I felt like this was a real turning point in the novel. The lesson didn’t really sink into America the way it should, but I loved seeing that character make their own destiny and be happy with it. I don’t know if that’s meant to be foreshadowing to America’s close future, but it was a plot point. 

Final Thoughts: My opinion hasn’t much changed from the first book. I still reserve final judgment on America – for some reason, I want to see what she makes of the last book. If America had a little more depth, I think I would be absolutely hooked. Her flakiness and tendency toward selfishness when it comes to the men in her life is more than I can handle. I am honestly more intrigued by the setting of the novel than the characters, but The Elite is a quick, easy read. 

Posted September 14, 2013 by Ellen in Uncategorized / 0 Comments
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August 30, 2013

Review: imperfect by Tina Chan

Title: imperfect
Author: Tina Chan
Publication Date: July 2013 
Series: {Book 1}
Source:  Provided by Author
Links: GoodReads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble
My Rating: Three Stars

Life is harsh for Kristi. She’s the only Accident living in a world of Perfects. More often than not, she feels like a blemish on an otherwise utopian society. And her life is about to get worse. The government has arrested her adoptive parents and her brother goes missing. To top things off, Kristi somehow gets dragged into the mess and now she’s a wanted fugitive…

Troop is less than he seems. Teachers love him. Colleges want him. Students revere him. There’s even a hot girl after him. Life couldn’t get any better than this, right? So, why doe she feel like he’s a devil in disguise as an angel?

One of my favorite things about dystopian novels is the world-building. Each author’s world is completely different from others; I feel it is the best expression of the author’s personality. I felt that Chan created as fascinating world – still holding things we are familiar with (like waffles) but using instafications (a.k.a. text messages) and electro-slates (something along the lines of the iPhone, I think). I found myself truly engaged with Chan’s world – it was a interesting mix of old Wild West charm with the roaming bands of bandits covering the land and futuristic idealism, seen with the fanacy new gadgets and droid pets. I’m really curious to the history of this world – how did it end up this way? How did the world split off into regions from the countries we are now so familiar with? I hope Chan will explore the background story of her series as the novels progress.

It was an easy transition into Kristi’s world: the outstanding battle between Accidents and Perfects is an familiar problem. We have all experienced opposition at some point or another: Kristi’s quiet battle against those who deem her dumb because of her imperfect DNA represent the struggles that we all face against those who wish to cause harm simply because of differences. Throughout the story, Kristi shows herself to be capable and smart, but because she isn’t perfect, she is nobody. 

As with any good dystopian novel, there is a little romance sprinkled in. The romance itself wasn’t really a surprise,  but a nice addition to the novel, especially in a world so focused on perfection. I have the feeling that Chan was laying the groundwork for those particular romances to further blossom as we continue on in the series. 

Kristi’s third person limited narrative added a big boost to the story itself – it wouldn’t have been as vivid from a first person point-of-view, and a third would have yanked me out of the story altogether. All of the characters were likable and had their own personality quirks, which made it easier for me to engage with them. I felt that the characters were good role models in YA literature – even the school bully is presented with a softer side, hiding his true feelings. At the end of the novel, I felt that Troop was the most developed and interesting character out of them all – he still retained that air of mystery that’s so impossible to ignore.

There were a few times in the novel that I felt the dialogue between the teenagers was a little forced, a little more formal than I expected. I wish there had been a little more connection between Don and Maria to Kristi and her brother – to me, it would have made the story all that more engaging. But, to be honest, I know that Chan left the book with a cliffhanger – maybe she intends to explore that avenue deeper in the subsequent books!

Final Thoughts: Imperfect’s vivid creative ideas, especially in the world-building, make this book as interesting as it is. Chan gives the familiar dystopian novel and engaging twist, creating a fascinating world of Perfects versus Accidents. 

Posted August 30, 2013 by Ellen in Uncategorized / 0 Comments
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June 21, 2013

Review: Matched by Ally Condie

Title: Matched
Author: Ally Condie 
Publication Date: November 2010
Series: Matched {Book 1}
Source: Library
Links: GoodReads | Amazon
My Rating: Three Stars

Cassia has always trusted the Society to make the right choices for her: what to read, what to watch, what to believe. So when Xander’s face appears on-screen at her Matching ceremony, Cassia knows with complete certainty that he is her ideal mate… until she sees Ky Markham’s face flash for an instant before the screen fades to black.

The Society tells her it’s a glitch, a rare malfunction, and that she should focus on the happy life she’s destined to lead with Xander. But Cassia can’t stop thinking about Ky, and as they slowly fall in love, Cassia begins to doubt the Society’s infallibility and is faced with an impossible choice: between Xander and Ky, between the only life she’s known and a path that no one else has dared to follow.

I have to start with this cover. I love it! It’s so beautiful, and the vibrant green keeps catching my eye. I love how Cassia is depicted being trapped inside the bubble – which I’d guess is the rules and restrictions of the Society – and she’s pushing, pushing to get out. I feel like the green represents a birth, a rebellion. The green was so present throughout the novel, even in the trees. Cassia even feels the happiest atop the Hill with Ky instead of in Second School – the green represents her freedom. 

I had mixed emotions about Cassia. There were times she warmed my heart and others where I wanted to scream at her for her decisions. I never fell in love with her, unfortunately. I never deeply cared about her – it felt like she didn’t emerge from the page for me into a full-formed person. Instead, she remained flat on the page, like the words. I really didn’t like how she treated Xander – these boys were like toys to her. She didn’t take their feelings into consideration once (but I am going to have to check the book to make sure) – it was how she felt. I don’t know. She bugged me something horrid at times.

What was it about Ky, anyway? He appeared out of nowhere…Did anyone else feel that way? Maybe I missed something.

I would have loved to know how the Society came to be, instead of what we know and love today. Why are there so many rules? Why aren’t there any freedoms whatsoever? Tell me!

Final Thoughts: I’m undecided on whether or not I will read the rest of the series. Maybe. If I come across a copy, I will probably add it to my library stack. I don’t feel the urge to search out this book, unfortunately.

Posted June 21, 2013 by Ellen in Uncategorized / 0 Comments
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April 19, 2013

Review: Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

Title: Catching Fire
Author: Suzanne Collins
Publication Date: September 2009
Series: The Hunger Games {Book 2}
Source: Owned
Links: GoodReadsAmazon
My Rating: Four Stars

Against all odds, Katniss has won the Hunger Games. She and fellow District 12 tribute Peeta Mellark are miraculously still alive. Katniss should be relieved, happy even. After all, she has returned to her family and longtime friend, Gale. Yet nothing is the way Katniss wishes it to be. Gale holds her at an icy distance. Peeta has turned his back on her completely. And there are whispers of a rebellion against the Capitol – a rebellion that Katniss and Peeta may have helped create.

Much to her shock, Katniss has fueled an unrest she’s afraid she cannot stop. And what scares her even more is that she’s not entirely convinced she should try. As time draws near for Katniss and Peeta to visit the districts on the Capitol’s cruel Victory Tour, the stakes are higher than ever. If they can’t prove, without a shadow of a doubt, that they are lost in their love for each other, the consequences will be horrifying.

In Catching Fire, the second novel of the Hunger Games trilogy, Suzanne Collins continues the story of Katniss Everdeen, testing her more than ever before…and surprising readers at every turn.

I will tell you upfront why this book did not get 5 stars. The cliffhanger. Holy moly. I like cliffhangers only when I have the next book waiting patiently for me to drop its brother and scoop it up. 🙂

Although I read Catching Fire and the rest of the series before the first movie came out, I still remember checking Amazon every day to see when the sequels were coming to my doorstep. These books are a pure and simple addiction, cloaked in rebellion and the extraordinary character of Katniss Everdeen. 

I had a little bit of trouble with the Katniss/Peeta/Gabe love triangle – to be frank, I’m over love triangles unless they are drastically unique and unusual. The Katniss/Peeta/Gabe love triangle isn’t unusual to me, and I really wish that Collins had thrown in a little extra oomph to punch it up.

I adore the stirrings of rebellions and the simple intensity throughout the book. It adds a huge amount of oh-my-goshness about the book. Katniss didn’t intentionally stir up the rebellion, but I wonder if her unconscious actions were stronger than she had originally anticipated. I find it interesting…what if she had pretended like the others, like the ones from  District 1 who were happy/excited to be there, what would have happened? Would the rebellion have started anyway?

Food for thought 🙂

Posted April 19, 2013 by Ellen in Uncategorized / 0 Comments
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