Showing posts with label dystopia. Show all posts
Showing posts with label dystopia. Show all posts

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

[Review] Station Eleven - Emily St. John Mandel: Epidemics and the Apocalypse

In STATION ELEVEN, an epidemic outbreak changes the lives of different people forever. 

What intrigued me: I felt like reading some dystopian.

Very Literary

I tried my best with STATION ELEVEN, but we just weren't meant to be. This one of those extremely literary books that you have to have a taste for, and I think I'm just lacking that. 

STATION ELEVEN is written absolutely beautifully with multiple POVS that each unfold the lingering pandemic a little bit more. I was fascinated for a couple chapters, but quickly lost interest when I realized that this is an extremely quiet story. And what can I say - I like my dystopian books to be gritty, fast-paced, and action-filled. STATION ELEVEN is none of these things. It's a story about survival over the years that couldn't be more niche.

If you're looking for classic dystopian lit, this might end up disappointing you just as much as it did me - STATION ELEVEN demands your full attention at all times. So many protagonists, so many details to pay attention to, so many filler chapters. You really have to be invested in the story and the characters. 


It's Not You, It's Me

STATION ELEVEN is one of those epic reads that span decades, have dozens of protagonists, and are more about the world than the characters. Add a couple time jumps in and you know exactly what kind of book this is I personally cannot empathize this for the life of me. This is very much a hard case of It's Not You, It's Me syndrome. It's undoubtedly a skillfully and beautifully written book that just oozes talent and magnificent prose, but for me personally none of this matters when I find the story unengaging. Again, this is a by no means an objective judgment of the quality of this book, this is just me having peculiar taste.

Ultimately I think the thing that just made this unenjoyable for me is that STATION ELEVEN is more about the journey and the story as a whole than what is happening in the moment. Everything comes together in the big picture - but this technique personally never works for me because I'll lose interest on the way if the journey isn't filled with plot twists and secrets and adventure.


Rating:

★★☆☆

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

STATION ELEVEN is a little too literary for me and absolutely not my cup of tea. I expected a regular dystopian story, but got an epic decade-spanning saga. You have to be in the mood for these kinds of books.



Additional Info


Published: September 14th 2015
Pages: 416
Publisher: piper
Genre: Adult / Dystopian
ISBN: 9783492060226

Synopsis:
"One snowy night Arthur Leander, a famous actor, has a heart attack onstage during a production of King Lear. Jeevan Chaudhary, a paparazzo-turned-EMT, is in the audience and leaps to his aid. A child actress named Kirsten Raymonde watches in horror as Jeevan performs CPR, pumping Arthur's chest as the curtain drops, but Arthur is dead. That same night, as Jeevan walks home from the theater, a terrible flu begins to spread. Hospitals are flooded and Jeevan and his brother barricade themselves inside an apartment, watching out the window as cars clog the highways, gunshots ring out, and life disintegrates around them.

Twenty years later, Kirsten is an actress with the Traveling Symphony. Together, this small troupe moves between the settlements of an altered world, performing Shakespeare and music for scattered communities of survivors. Written on their caravan, and tattooed on Kirsten's arm is a line from Star Trek: "Because survival is insufficient." But when they arrive in St. Deborah by the Water, they encounter a violent prophet who digs graves for anyone who dares to leave."
(Source: Goodreads)



Do you like literary books?

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Tuesday, September 6, 2016

[Review] Wither (The Chemical Garden #1) - Lauren DeStefano: Polygamy and Dystopia

In WITHER, Rhine gets abducted to be a bride in a world where women live to be 20 and men live to be 25.

What intrigued me: The blurb makes it sounds like a solid dystopian novel. I may have also seen this around quite a lot and was curious.

World building?

What initially drew me in on WITHER is the premise. It sure sounds like a dystopian novel, but with more world building and less emphasis on rebellion. However, while the latter still holds true after reading the novel, the former is exactly where it went wrong for me. There is honestly no world building in this book. Nothing is explained, there are no reasons for anything. 

I was insanely disappointed that you don't learn anything about the world as you go along, because there is nothing to learn. Essentially, this read is just about the polygamous relationships protagonist Rhine's husband Linden has, of course with a side of intrigues. 

I'll forget this book soon

I felt claustrophobic reading this, because the action mainly takes place in two or three different places total, while most of it is just in the house. DeStefano tries to hide this by adding ridiculously long descriptions of everything, from the looks of the rooms, to every single time Rhine gets dressed to look pretty for her husband.
This unnecessarily ruins the pacing and makes the first 50 pages a nightmare to read. I wouldn't have minded all those descriptions if the beginning of this didn't only consist of them. Because WITHER lacks so much in world building, it really relies on the reader liking the character dynamics, which I just didn't. 

We have every cliché ever in this, a love triangle that doesn't make sense and feels forced and instant-love-y. I would have liked this more if it only had one love interest, because I found Linden quite sympathetic. The writing itself is really good which is just more reason for why I'm so frustrated with this. The idea is okay, the characters are alright, the writing is amazing - how did this book end up to be so forgettable and ... average? Very disappointing.


Rating:

☆☆

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

WITHER has potential to be a wonderful quick stand-alone, but I cannot imagine to read three books set in this world. I wouldn't recommend it, because it bored and disappointed me.



Additional Info

Published: March 22nd 2011
Pages: 358
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Genre: YA / Dystopia
ISBN: 9781442409057

Synopsis:
"By age sixteen, Rhine Ellery has four years left to live. She can thank modern science for this genetic time bomb. A botched effort to create a perfect race has left all males with a lifespan of 25 years, and females with a lifespan of 20 years. Geneticists are seeking a miracle antidote to restore the human race, desperate orphans crowd the population, crime and poverty have skyrocketed, and young girls are being kidnapped and sold as polygamous brides to bear more children. 

When Rhine is kidnapped and sold as a bride, she vows to do all she can to escape. Her husband, Linden, is hopelessly in love with her, and Rhine can't bring herself to hate him as much as she'd like to. He opens her to a magical world of wealth and illusion she never thought existed, and it almost makes it possible to ignore the clock ticking away her short life. But Rhine quickly learns that not everything in her new husband's strange world is what it seems. Her father-in-law, an eccentric doctor bent on finding the antidote, is hoarding corpses in the basement. Her fellow sister wives are to be trusted one day and feared the next, and Rhine is desperate to communicate to her twin brother that she is safe and alive. Will Rhine be able to escape--before her time runs out?

Together with one of Linden's servants, Gabriel, Rhine attempts to escape just before her seventeenth birthday. But in a world that continues to spiral into anarchy, is there any hope for freedom?"(Source: Goodreads)


Have you read WITHER?

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Thursday, August 11, 2016

[Review] The Darkest Minds (#1) - Alexandra Bracken: Dystopian Concentration Camps and Road Trips





In THE DARKEST MINDS an illness epidemic is causing children to either die or develop supernatural abilities. The government's reaction to that is to stick all survivors into correctional facilities. After five years, Ruby Daly manages to escape.
What intrigued me: Recommended by a friend. I had no idea what this is about.

Concentration camps in dystopian YA? Yikes.

THE DARKEST MINDS starts off with pages and pages of backstory from the protagonist Ruby's childhood to establish the world. 
The concept is nothing that I haven't seen before (similar to SHATTER ME or THE PROGRAM), and it just didn't knock my socks off. Thurmond, the facility that Ruby is imprisoned in for the first 100 or so pages, is a very sloppy and uncanny version of this world's concentration camps. It's there for nothing but shock value and it doesn't even do a great job at that. 

I was simply bored and contemplated quitting multiple times because there was just nothing interesting about this because Bracken does her best to withhold as much information as she can get away with. Ruby's experiences at Thurmond are nothing but a plot device, and this book would do so much better if it had just started right at Ruby's escape instead of torturing the reader with a whopping 80 pages of info dump world building backstory that's absolutely unnecessary to understand what's going on.

Your average road trip story

I didn't find the world of THE DARKEST MINDS extensive enough to really get to me - superhero-like abilities in dystopia are very difficult to pull off and require a lot of world building to get me really into it. I crave explanations, especially in dystopian novels and the lack thereof didn't really make this more enjoyable for me. 

Essentially this is a "rebels on the road" kind of story. It really reads like an elongated road trip, and as charming as the characters are, the weak premise just can't carry this. It reminds me a lot of UNDER THE NEVER SKY, which in my opinion had the same problem - too much pointless running around instead of actual story. I found it really boring and not really living up to the promising start at Thurmond. 

Rating:

★★

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

You aren't really missing out if you skip this one. I did like the characters, but found the whole concept not groundbreaking enough to want to read the sequels.



Additional Info

Published: December 18th 2012
Pages: 488
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Genre: YA / Dystopia
ISBN: 9781423157373

Synopsis:
"When Ruby woke up on her tenth birthday, something about her had changed. Something frightening enough to make her parents lock her in the garage and call the police. Something that got her sent to Thurmond, a brutal government “rehabilitation camp.” She might have survived the mysterious disease that had killed most of America’s children, but she and the others emerged with something far worse: frightening abilities they could not control.

Now sixteen, Ruby is one of the dangerous ones. When the truth comes out, Ruby barely escapes Thurmond with her life. She is on the run, desperate to find the only safe haven left for kids like her—East River. She joins a group of kids who have escaped their own camp. Liam, their brave leader, is falling hard for Ruby. But no matter how much she aches for him, Ruby can’t risk getting close. Not after what happened to her parents. When they arrive at East River, nothing is as it seems, least of all its mysterious leader. But there are other forces at work, people who will stop at nothing to use Ruby in their fight against the government. Ruby will be faced with a terrible choice, one that may mean giving up her only chance at having a life worth living.' to
 "(Source: Goodreads)


What's your favorite Dystopian read?

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Tuesday, July 12, 2016

[Review] Alight (Generations #2) - Scott Sigler: Mayan Culture and New Planets




In ALIGHT, the Birthday Children have arrived at planet Omeyocan and are exploring it.

What intrigued me: I absolutely loved the first book ALIVE.

Solid pace and jungle adventures

What initially fascinated me with the predecessor was definitely the mystery. In ALIVE, we don't get answers until the very end, which sort of made me forgive that the book had a very dragging middle and little plot.

ALIGHT follows a similar formula: We have to wait for every bit of information to make sense, so despite the fact that there's lots of exploration and action, it still feels dragged out. You really have to be patient to get to the interesting parts of the story, which are indeed quite fascinating, but the mere fact that it takes a ridiculous time to get there frustrated me immensely.

Omeyocan is a very interesting setting and managed to fascinate me. I was a little frustrated with the characters' lack of information and didn't really like the little guessing games that arose every time they encountered something they didn't immediately recognize. Omeyocan is based in Mayan culture appearance-wise, which is to be expected if you take a look at names like Xolotl. Called that one! I was hoping for more of an alien feel to the whole planet. Like this, it just feels like your average Mayan-inspired jungle with a hint of modern technology.

All the little nods to colonialism somehow give this book a cautionary tale kind of feel. Especially with Aramovsky and his neverending missionary crusade I got tired of it very quickly.

Sigler didn't quite manage to keep my interest in this sequel. I was hoping for more information and reasons very early on, maybe a big revelation or something. Though the change in scenery is quite neat, it can't hide the fact that there isn't really much plot in this.

Too many characters and a very forced romance

As for the characters - there still are too many. I couldn't keep up with them in the first novel, and has tremendous problems remembering these people and trying to figure the relationships out. It hasn't even been that long since I read ALIVE and if it weren't for the little information dumps before each character gets introduced anew, I would have been completely lost. 

ALIGHT focuses a little more on the dreaded love triangle and I just couldn't warm up to it. There is little to no real reason why these people are attracted to each other - aside maybe from superficiality and hormones. There is no base for their relationship, which just couldn't make me sympathize with Bishop and Em as a couple, even less with her and O'Malley. Honestly, I wouldn't even have minded all that if Em was an LGBT protagonist. I will never understand books in which societal norms don't exist, yet everyone turns out to be straight.


Rating:

★★☆☆

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

ALIGHT didn't have me hold my breath and frantically turn the pages like the predecessor, but it's a solid read. A typical second book that lowered my enthusiasm for the third, mainly because it's just too heavy on the instant hump romance.



Additional Info

Published: April 5th 2016
Pages: 448
Publisher: Del Rey
Genre: YA / Sci-Fi / Space and other Planets
ISBN: 9780553393156

Synopsis:
"Alight reveals to readers the further adventures of Em, Spingate, O’Malley, Bishop, and the other young heroes introduced in Alive. In Alive, Em fought to assert herself as leader and her friends tried to comprehend their own mysterious identity; now she must wrestle not with the challenge of winning power but the grave responsibility of having assumed it, and she and her friends must contend with a grim fact: the revelation of their identity is not an answer but another question—and one with terrifying implications."
(Source: Goodreads)


Do you like books set on other planets?

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Friday, May 27, 2016

[Review] True Born (#1) - L.E. Sterling: The Plague is Back with a Vengeance




In TRUE BORN, a plague has decimated the world population significantly. Only those who are born with a natural immunity and those rich enough to get their genes "repaired" temporarily, are able to survive.

What intrigued me: I find the concept of an epidemic always incredibly intriguing in dystopias.

Reading this is like rocket science

TRUE BORN centers around the sisters Lu and Margot who are approaching the day that it will be revealed whether they are immune to the Plague or not. They go through several tests, and suddenly their father hires bodyguards to protect them and all hell breaks loose. 

This is where TRUE BORN really lost me to be honest. While I am very interested in the premise, the execution and writing are incredibly eccentric and strange. To me the whole novel reads like chunks of it are missing. Many scenes involve time jumps to get to action, and sometimes they're not even denoted as such.

I couldn't, for the life of me, keep up with the character names because new people kept appearing out of the blue and acting like they had been there all along. I caught myself going back and forth so often that I quickly lost enthusiasm and the desire to even understand this very confusing world. The premise isn't that complicated, but TRUE BORN does its best to make it seem like rocket science. Lingo and complicated terms are thrown around a good dozen times before they are even explained, and the explanations we get aren't easy to grasp either.

Generally, it feels like TRUE BORN is trying to hide the fact that it has a very simple premise and seeming to come across as taking place in a very intricate, super complicated world. I had huge problems trying to picture the world in my head because it notoriously lacks descriptions. I still can't really picture what kind of dystopian future it takes place in because there is little to no imagery.

Not groundbreaking, yet oddly entertaining

However, as tedious as this whole confusing world might sound, it frustrated me so much that I wanted to continue. I really wanted to understand what was going on and was waiting for the moment when it would all made sense, so I could find my peace with this book. This moment sadly didn't come for me and my entire reading experience could probably be most accurately described with ???.
I did find it sort of entertaining to try to find out what exactly was going on, but I didn't, at all, form any attachments to the characters. I liked the idea of this very special bond between twins, but like many things in TRUE BORN, it doesn't seem groundbreaking. There are so many little tropes and things that I've seen so often in novels of the genre that I almost mentally found myself checking off a list.
Describing swoony love interest's eye colors for multiple paragraphs? Check. Protagonist is a special snowflake and different to everyone else? Check. Paragraphs and paragraphs of absolutely irrelevant narration to hide that there's no world building? Check.


Rating:

★★☆☆

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

TRUE BORN was a really exhausting read. I didn't connect to the characters or narrative enough to say I enjoyed it. It's undoubtedly a very unique story and Sterling has a very memorable writing style. It just wasn't for me.



Additional Info

Published: May 3rd 2016
Pages: 304
Publisher: Entangled: Teen
Genre: YA / Dystopia
ISBN: 9781633753198

Synopsis:
"Welcome to Dominion City.

After the great Plague descended, the world population was decimated...and their genetics damaged beyond repair.

The Lasters wait hopelessly for their genes to self-destruct. The Splicers pay for expensive treatments that might prolong their life. The plague-resistant True Borns are as mysterious as they are feared…

And then there's Lucy Fox and her identical twin sister, Margot. After endless tests, no one wants to reveal what they are.

When Margot disappears, a desperate Lucy has no choice but to put her faith in the True Borns, led by the charismatic Nolan Storm and the beautiful but deadly Jared Price. As Lucy and the True Borns set out to rescue her sister, they stumble upon a vast conspiracy stretching from Dominion’s street preachers to shady Russian tycoons. But why target the Fox sisters?

As they say in Dominion, it’s in the blood."(Source: Goodreads)



 Do you like novels about epidemics?

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Tuesday, March 22, 2016

[Review] The Beauty, Vol.1 - Jeremy Haun: Epidemics, Beauty Obsessions, and Guns





In THE BEAUTY, VOL.1, humans are able to get more beautiful by getting infected with a sexually transmittable disease called The Beauty. When the infected start imploding all of a sudden, two detectives start investigating.

What intrigued me: Wonderful premise. I love reading about dystopian societies.




Too fast-paced

THE BEAUTY doesn't bother much with exposition, which is probably the reason why I didn't really care much for the plot until about four issues in. It's difficult to keep up with all those characters that are not introduced at all and trying to find out what their relationships are. I'm glad I even managed to catch the two names of the detectives! Therefore, because I could hardly keep up with who was who, I really wasn't as invested as I liked to be, even though the idea is really interesting and intriguing.

We're almost immediately thrown into this world, right into the storyline revolving around the two detectives Foster and Vaughn who are trying to bring The Beauty down because it's killing more and more people. The comic generally has X-Files vibe it, not only because of the protagonists looking just like Scully and Mulder, but also because it is heavy on the action and investigation side. You'll find a lot of gore-y scenes, nudity, and shootings in this.

Unflattering artwork

While the artwork is nice to look at, I don't think that it necessarily compliments the narration. There are lots of eye closeups, lots of background scenes with the characters and their families, and this is just not working very well when you don't know who all these people are and hardly any of them is actually introduced. 

Another thing that kind of bugged me is that I didn't really see the difference between the looks of the people infected with The Beauty and those who aren't. The cover artwork for the issues is way prettier than the actual artwork inside and seems to be done in a slightly different style, which is really a pity because I would have loved for this to be a little more experimental and less yet-another-detective-comic generic.



Rating:

★★½

  


Overall: Do I Recommend?

THE BEAUTY needs quite some time to kick off. With the slow start, I'm hesitant to directly say "Go read this" - I'll probably still stick around for the second volume because I just started to get interested in the story (after reading six issues). If you don't mind a slow, but fast-paced start, go ahead. I'm positive that this series will be improving in future issues.





Additional Info

Published: March 22nd 2016
Pages: 164
Publisher: Image Comics
Genre: Adult / Dystopian
ISBN: 9781632155504

Synopsis:
"Modern society is obsessed with outward beauty. What if there was a way to guarantee you could become more and more beautiful every day? What if it was a sexually transmitted disease? 

In the world of The Beauty, physical perfection is only one sexual encounter away. The vast majority of the population has taken advantage of it, but Detectives Vaughn and Foster will soon discover it comes at a terrible cost. Now, they'll have to find their way past corrupt politicians, vengeful federal agents, and a terrifying mercenary out to collect the price on their heads. "(Source: Goodreads)

Would you get purposely infected with The Beauty?

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Sunday, February 7, 2016

[Review] The Program (#1) - Suzanne Young




In THE PROGRAM, suicide has become an epidemic among teenagers. To fight this, the government has established The Program, ... but it also has a side effect: it leaves participants stripped of their memories, life-less shells that lack all sense of personality.

What intrigued me: A killer premise. (No pun intended)

...I don't get it?

I love the idea, but I think this novel severely lacks in execution. If you have such an interesting premise, the world building and characters are the most important thing to make it work. I didn't really understand why and how suicide can become an epidemic, the teenagers get depressed and then they just commit suicide as a consequence? 

That premise is just confusing to me and I didn't really get it. The protagonist Sloane mentions several times that she doesn't want to die, yet knows that she'll eventually will kill herself. Suicide isn't treated as a mental illness, but more like getting bit by zombie and subsequently turning into a mindless shell. The depressed are even called "infected". With topics like these, you have to be extra sensitive and try not to make it patronizing.

Young is simply unable to get me really invested in the story. A huge part of that are the already established relationships. James and Sloane's relationship didn't really interest me until halfway into the novel. I only started really getting invested in the story with the introduction of Dr. Warren, Sloane's therapist in The Program, who points out how her and James aren't really in love, only co-dependent on each other. Basically the whole novel explores Sloane and James' relationship: Flashbacks, filler scenes, reflection monologues etc. If you don't like him from the get-go, you'll skim a lot of this.

Weak MC and a Lot of Co-Dependency

Sloane and James have zero chemistry. I have hardly ever read a book with so little chemistry between the main characters. Neither of them really has a personality at all and they seem very exchangeable and boring. You don't really get to know either of them until half of the book is already through and by then I couldn't really sympathize with either of them. I like that Young decides to base their need for survival on their love for each other, and therefore the established relationship is necessary, but ... eh.
The love triangle is done very lazily and I'm not a fan of characters that constantly need to be protected. Sloane is always at the mercy of some guy. Either it's James, or the creepy, rape-y employee of The Program, or the other love interest Realm. The novel has a strong premise, interesting beginning, but loses itself completely trying to make Sloane's and James' love story epic. It's not epic. It's exhausting, actually.


Rating:

★★☆☆

 

Overall: Do I Recommend?

I had too high expectations. The premise is wonderful, but the novel just couldn't keep my interest for very long. It's just too long.



Additional Info


Published: April 30th 2013
Pages: 405
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Genre: YA / Dystopia
ISBN: 9781442445802

Synopsis:
"In Sloane’s world, true feelings are forbidden, teen suicide is an epidemic, and the only solution is The Program.

Sloane knows better than to cry in front of anyone. With suicide now an international epidemic, one outburst could land her in The Program, the only proven course of treatment. Sloane’s parents have already lost one child; Sloane knows they’ll do anything to keep her alive. She also knows that everyone who’s been through The Program returns as a blank slate. Because their depression is gone—but so are their memories.

Under constant surveillance at home and at school, Sloane puts on a brave face and keeps her feelings buried as deep as she can. The only person Sloane can be herself with is James. He’s promised to keep them both safe and out of treatment, and Sloane knows their love is strong enough to withstand anything. But despite the promises they made to each other, it’s getting harder to hide the truth. They are both growing weaker. Depression is setting in. And The Program is coming for them." (Source: Goodreads)

Book Trailer


What do you think about books tackling mental illness?

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Saturday, April 25, 2015

[Review] Currents - Eva Moraal

In CURRENTS, the country has been divided into two main sections after a great flood. On the one side we have the Dry, the privileged that are rich or influential enough to reside in safe, dry territory. On the other side we have the Wet, the working class that can only afford living in the more dangerous parts of the country. 

Underwhelming Language and Concepts

However, I couldn't really empathize with Nina because she's so oblivious to what happened during the Great Flood. I get that it's essential to the story that she slowly learns what happens. It's a typical feature in dystopian YA to have the protagonists slowly realize the truth, but in CURRENTS it just wasn't done well. I didn't, for one second think that there were dry lands that the Dry people managed to populate in. It's quite obvious instantly after we learn that Nina's the governor's daughter that the Dry's territory is only inhabited by rich and privleged people. Combined with Max' POV that shows the ugly side, what the Wet are going through, there is absolutely no tension. Nothing really gripped me and had me wanting to continue, the novel sort of just dabbles along. 

The story is inspired by an obviously very real problem in the Netherlands, if you're not dutch it's probably very hard to understand the concept of the story. Water is simultaneous with death in the story; I'm actually quite sad that Moraal didn't decide to include a map of the territories. It's very hard to imagine those sections when you're not familiar with the dutch landscape.

A Future That Isn't Futuristic

When establishing a dystopian future, you have to state what has happened, what everything looks like and what the poeple are going through. In CURRENTS, Moraal leaves the impressions oft he landscape completely out and just gives us the information that the country has been flooded. I would have wished for more world building, what changed in society after the flood, what new inventions there are, what things were left behind and all. We have the digital HCs, which are just a variation of an iPad, but that's it. The story is supposed to be set in the future - I want to see the future and have more detail in the descriptions.

Another main issue I had with the novel is the physical form. The copy that I was provided with had blue dyed pages to match the cover. In theory that's a very nice effect, if you're only interested in the visual aspect. Because the pages are dyed, they stuck to each other in the corners, so every time you turn a page you have to physically pull them from each other, which is absolutely annoying. I don't understand why the novel was printed with blue pages in the first place, I haven't seen that anywhere else before.


Rating:

★★★☆☆

 

Overall: Do I Recommend?

I especially recommend this if you're looking to learn a new language or wanting to practice. The German translation that I read is very easy to understand, while not seeming like middle grade literature. 
I generally felt underwhelmed and for me easy, fluffy language and a cute side romance isn't necessarily what I'm looking for in YA, especially not in the dystopian genre. It's an okay read, but not more than that.


Synopsis:
"This dramatic love story is set after the Great Flood when the country is divided between the safe, dry areas and those vulnerable to further flooding. The country s population is similarly divided, with the Dry forming the wealthy elite, and the Wet the working class scratching a living in order to survive. A resistance movement arises from the Wet. Nina is a Dry, the daughter of the Governor. In the last flood, her school was inundated and her sister drowned, and she is now forced to go to another school in the Wet area, under a false name. There she meets Max, a Wet, and they become partners for a school project.  At first suspicious, they soon become fascinated by each other's worlds and start to become friends. Yet, their situation is complex- Max's father died during the last flood, and the Governor played a questionable role in this, and Max's brother is a member of the violent resistance movement. What will happen when Max finds out who Nina really is?"

Have You Ever Read a Novel By a Dutch Author?

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Saturday, November 1, 2014

[Review] Golem - Lorenzo Ceccotti: Italy, Miyazaki, and Conspiracies





In GOLEM, Steno accidentally gets involved in a political uprising in a futuristic Italy.

What intrigued me: The description mostly, though the cover promises a unique art style, which I'm always a fan of!

Miyazaki meets Dystopia

GOLEM is a brick of a comic book. With a whopping 280 pages, I had high expectations, was hoping for a complicated plot with strong world building and great characters. Well. I only got one of these. The world of GOLEM is surely interesting, it looks like a mix between something out of a Miyazaki movie mixed with neon colors and your typical dystopian dark atmosphere. 

GOLEM tries really hard to be different, which is sadly only reflected in the art style and not really in the originality of the story. It tries very hard to be an edgy story that conveys social critique, but really can't deliver. It's just awkward to read because the basics of storytelling, the frame, is missing.

The world that GOLEM presents mainly consists of every dystopia stereotype ever, mixed with complicated names for everything to pose for further world building. The action scenes are downright horrendous to make sense of. 

More art than comic?

Sometimes the panels shift to other charcters' perspectives that don't even get introduced. Random people that just enter the story and it's just a confusing mix of arms and legs and faces. 
Sure, it's art, it's pretty to look at, but GOLEM really would have benefited from trying to stop being a piece of art and really going more intro the storytelling direction. 

Because like this, I didn't care about the protagonist Steno, without any narration from him, why would I want to read a 300 page comic? There are so many full-page illustrations that are absolutely redundant to the story, almost blacked out pages that would maybe look great as a painting on a wall, but absolutely don't work in the comic. 

The whole look of the comic is very experimental, from the traditional paneled look to overlapping images, whole-page illustrations that look like they've been painted with a chunky brush. GOLEM is surely more art than novel and I had the feeling that it didn't really try to tell a coherent story. The basis is there, we have a somewhat intriguing world with an average conspiracy plot and there weren't too many characters to confuse them all. Sometimes it didn't even need words to help you understand what was going on, but I never really had the impression that I was reading a coherent story. 




Rating:

☆☆

Overall: Do I Recommend?

GOLEM just isn't for me. It needed about 120 pages for me to even have the world established enough to get anything was happening and after that it almost became a chore to finish this. GOLEM is more art than novel, and it definitely reads like this. Have you ever tried to read a painting?


Additional Info

Published: July 12th 2016
Pages: 280
Publisher: Magnetic Press
Genre: YA / Dystopian

Synopsis:
"Set in a future, post-Eurozone Italy, entrenched in a culture of hyper-capitalism, GOLEM follows young Steno Critone as he is kidnapped during a political protest gone sour. Taken in by the band of labeled “terrorists,” he learns that things are not as they seem in society, and that he has the power to not only change the city, but reality itself.

This intensely imaginative political-sci-fi graphic novel is a visual tour de force, created by contemporary design icon Lorenzo Ceccotti, better known as LRNZ, whose design-influenced illustration provides a lush, fluid backdrop of manga-like dynamism with the cinematic scope of western comics, creating a style that is wholly unique and absolutely breathtaking."(Source: Goodreads)

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Thursday, October 16, 2014

[Review] Boy-1 - H.S. Tak: DNA manipulation, Clones, and Epidemics





In BOY-1, scientist Jadas finds out that he has been drugged his whole life to hide the fact that he is a clone. When an illness epidemic breaks out, his DNA turns out to be the key to salvation.

What intrigued me: The cover promises pretty, traditional artwork!

Likeable Protagonist

BOY-1 doesn't need much exposition to explain its world. In the not-so-distant future, humans are yet again experimenting with DNA and have made a breakthrough that will change the fate of humanity forever. 
Protagonist Jadas is an incredibly likeable main character, simply because his emotions are perfectly conveyed in the artwork and absolutely understandable, considering the situation he is in. I sympathized with him from the start, even more so because we get little bits of narration from his perspective, which I always appreciate because it adds character depth.

The beginning and world establishing didn't quite manage to convince me, because the whole line of work that Jadas is in is explained way too complicatedly. In reality they don't do more than mess with apes' DNA as a test so they can mess with human DNA later. This explanation doesn't need five confusing pages of illustrations laced with complicated scientific terms that nobody understands.

Art Compliments Narration

As soon as Jadas' secret is revealed, BOY-1 dramatically picks up the pace, jumps in time, throws you from one scenario to the next, and remarkably, I didn't have any problems following the narrative. 

However, this fast-paced-ness is probably BOY-1's biggest flaw. I would have loved to get more scenes with his girlfriend (?) and her child so I could actually understand what their relation is, since she is introduced as a prostitute in the first few pages. I would have loved backstory. I would have loved seeing more of Jadas' life, because like this it just reads like a lightspeed-paced action thriller with a bunch of cliche characters. 

From the annoyed black detective to the Chinese mafia that hardly speaks any English to the Russian pimp - I wish BOY-1 had bothered to create the side characters as carefully as the protagonist.

As for the artwork, I'm absolutely impressed. Nahuelpan took a traditional approach with little to no experimental nuances and the shadowed, angular, blue-toned look is just a feast for the eyes. it absolutely manages to convey the feel of the story and I caught myself just admiring the art every once in a while.




Rating:

★★☆☆

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

BOY-1 is a fast-paced DNA conspiracy adventure. It reads quick, and you'll soon be longing for more, and I guarantee - the plot twists will catch you off-guard.



Additional Info

Author: H.S. Tak
Artwork: Amancay Nahuelpan
Published: March 8th 2016
Pages: 106
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Genre: Adult / Dystopia
ISBN: 9781631405297

Synopsis:
"In the fast-approaching future, when the drug-addled heir of a genetic-engineering company begins to investigate his company s murky past, he discovers he is the catalyst in a terrifying global event that will transform him and forever alter the course of human evolution."
(Source: Goodreads)


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Tuesday, September 2, 2014

[Review] Delirium - Lauren Oliver




Lena lives in a post-apocalpytic world where love is a recognized disease and everyone gets scheduled to have the capability to love removed at age 18. She has no doubts that this is the right thing to do until she meets - surprise, surprise - a boy. 

What intrigued me: The fact that everyone loves this book. I liked BEFORE I FALL by her and was hoping for something similarly interesting.

Innovation? Not Found.

The idea isn't anything new, banning emotions was already a big thing in the 90s/00s, think of movies like Equilibrium, heck scratch that, this is basically a bad version of BRAVE NEW WORLD.

I know that Lauren Oliver is a great writer, but in DELIRIUM she seems to have forgotten all the basic rules of how to keep the reader’s attention. Every single chapter begins with pages and pages of reflective paragraphs about some kind of childhood memory or relationship to another character, that I as a reader, could not care less about. This wouldn’t be so bad if it was just every other chapter, if there was action that would justify these passages. But due to her talking and talking and talking I zoned out after a while. 

The big question is how Oliver is able to fill 400+ pages with nothing. Honestly, nothing happens in this novel. Lena meets Alex, they get caught, they find a place to make out, they get caught, they take daytrips into the Wilds, they get caught.

Unlikable Heroine

The protagonist Lena has such a weird way of thinking, it made my head hurt. If you're brought up in a society that stigmatizes and makes you fear a certain thing so much that it is said to KILL you, why would you then look out for it?

Because the boy is pretty? Because the boy is pretty. Sigh.

There are not many characters that I have left to rate, nobody is paid attention to besides Hana, her best friend, and Alex, her love interest. The entire world of Delirium seems to revolve around them. I liked her friend Hana, because she actually had a personality and opinions. Lena sucks up controversial topics like a sponge and copies the way of thinking of other people, she is a very flat character and absolutely not worth having her own story dedicated to. I’d rather have read about Hana. 



Rating:

☆☆

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

I had such high hopes and expectations. I wouldn’t recommend it, if you’re looking for a good dystopia. Lack of world-building, lack of plot, lack of character-depth.



Additional Info

Published: February 7th 2012
Pages: 441
Medium: Paperback
Publisher: Harper Collins
Genre: YA / Dystopia
ISBN: 9780061726835

Synopsis:
"Ninety-five days, and then I'll be safe. I wonder whether the procedure will hurt. I want to get it over with. It's hard to be patient. It's hard not to be afraid while I'm still uncured, though so far the deliria hasn't touched me yet. Still, I worry. They say that in the old days, love drove people to madness. The deadliest of all deadly things: It kills you both when you have it and when you don't."
(Source: Goodreads)


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