Showing posts with label dystopian. Show all posts
Showing posts with label dystopian. Show all posts

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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Saturday, July 9, 2016

Recommendation: Alive (Generations #1) - Scott Sigler: Dystopian Prison World and Suspense


In ALIVE, a girl wakes up alive in a coffin with no recollection of who she and why she was put in there. 

What intrigued me:
 Sounds like a YA version of Matrix. I love conspiracy theories. Absolutely a synopsis-buy.


This novel will mess with you

The less you know about it, the better. In order not to spoil the experience for anyone, I'll be very vague when talking about this book, because ALIVE strives from the cluelessness of the reader. After Em wakes up in coffin you know just as little as her about this world. You figure out everything with her and that's what kept me glued to the pages. It's such a simple way of encouraging the reader and getting them invested in the story, and it's absolutely works.

Sigler brilliantly manages to channel this feeling of not knowing what's going on through the protagonist Em and it's just fabulous. You won't know what's going on until it's happening, and I guarantee you the resolution will leave you gasping and yelling. If you love plot twists and mind games, this is the novel for you.

As someone who is not inherently very into most Dystopian YA on the market, this is really refreshing because it doesn't play into the stereotypes we've all read about a gazillion times before. ALIVE is truly very unique, very interesting, and very strange. 


That's how you write a leader!

I usually don't like typical leader-like characters, especially in YA. Often these people come across as awkward and not really fit for the job, but Em is among the best strong protagonists I've ever read about. The choices she has to make along the way are realistic, full of sacrifices, and just made her such a likeable and wonderfully real character.
I absolutely enjoyed the way Em navigates through the story, however, I wished at some point that the story progressed a little more quickly, simply because I was so desperate to find out what was going on. There is a lot of walking around in this and after a while it does get exhausting to read all these scenes, even though Sigler did his best to make them as enjoyable as possible. Technically, this isn't even criticism, just me being impatient.

The twist truly made me want to buy the second book instantly and read more about this interesting world. Despite it all taking too much time for my taste to unravel, it was truly a great read and I enjoyed this immensely. If you're a fan of being kept in the dark until the end and then having your world shattered into a million pieces by a wonderfully grim twist, this is the read for you.


Rating:

★★★★

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

If you're not a fan of the genre usually, give this one a try. Don't read any reviews, just get the book and trust me. It'll be worth it. 



Additional Info

Published: July 14th 2015
Pages: 368
Publisher: Del Rey
Genre: YA / Dystopian

Synopsis:
"A young woman awakes trapped in an enclosed space. She has no idea who she is or how she got there. With only her instincts to guide her, she escapes her own confinement—and finds she’s not alone. She frees the others in the room and leads them into a corridor filled with the remains of a war long past. The farther these survivors travel, the worse are the horrors they confront. And as they slowly come to understand what this prison is, they realize that the worst and strangest possibilities they could have imagined don’t even come close to the truth."
(Source: Goodreads)

What's your favorite Dystopian read?

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Saturday, February 20, 2016

[Review] Bitch Planet Vol.1: Extraordinary Machine - Kelly Sue DeConnick & Valentine de Landro




In BITCH PLANET, all women that don't match the patriarchy's standards are sent to a prison facility in space.

Violently, Aggressively Feminist

I'm not sure what to think of this. The whole book screams feminism and female empowerment. Usually that's a good thing, I love to read feminist books, but BITCH PLANET takes it a little bit too far.

Instead of focusing on the story or the characters, the whole book consists of small snippets that hardly connect to each other. One second you're learning about a prisoner's past, the other you're thrown into a completely disconnected scenario featuring the prison facility wardens. It's very hard to get into this, it's hardly possible to understand what's going on without reading up on the story online. I had tremendous problems even getting the idea, because the writing is all over the place.

There are a lot graphic scenes and illustrations that convey female empowerment, but that's it. There is no story, no concept behind this, except all men are bad and the patriarchy needs to be destroyed. This a completely wrong approach and insanely frustrated me. This would have been a great read, had there been more effort put into the characters. There is no main character, everyone gets their five seconds of fame in about ten pages and then you're already off to the next story. I didn't get the point, I wasn't emotionally invested, I had a hard enough time even trying to understand what's going on.

Hindsight is 20/20

However, not everything about BITCH PLANET is bad. The illustrations are stunning and the little advertisements at the end of each chapter are hilarious.

After finishing the book I felt like I understood a little more of what's going on and even could keep up with most of the characters. I feel like this is a book that you have to read multiple times in order to fully understand it and have the best reading experience possible. Of course, this is not the aim and you should be able to understand a book the first time around,


Rating:


☆☆

  




Overall: Do I Recommend?

The idea is awesome and super interesting, but the execution is one of the worst I've seen in a graphic novel in a while. It really hurts me to give this a low rating, but the execution is unfortunate.


Have you read BITCH PLANET?

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Tuesday, November 17, 2015

[Recommendation] The 5th Wave (#1) - Rick Yancey


 In THE 5th WAVE, aliens are invading the earth. In four surges they have already murdered the majority of the earth's population.

Teenager Cassie is one of the sole survivors, preparing for the fifth surge of the alien invasion.

I'm not sure what happened here and how it happened but this is definitely my favorite read of the year. And it's November, so that says a lot. This was my first audio book in a long time, and I'm very, very happy I chose this one.



Prose to die for

Yancey manages to write the most relatable teen girl protagonist I have encountered in YA so far. Cassie's voice is just essentially teen, her thoughts, her feelings. I can't imagine how a fifty year old man managed to pull that off. I'm honestly truly, truly impressed.
I especially enjoyed the first chapter, which is essentially a monologue, but with a truckload of depth. Cassie's feelings about the invasion are described so powerfully and so movingly that I couldn't even do anything else while I listened to the audio book. I was absolutely sucked into this strange world.

Usually I groan when authors don't jump right into the story, but Yancey is inexplicably talented at info-dumping the heck out of the reader and still leave you yearning for more. The premise, the alien invasion, is just executed masterfully. Yancey doesn't give much information about it in the first place, but sprinkles the info-dumps all over the first chapters, so you find yourself yelling at the audio book narrator to hurry up / frantically turning the pages (whichever format you prefer).

There's only one cliché in this book. And it's my pet peeve...

The only things I didn't like as much about the book relate to the (of course we have one) love triangle. I really don't like them. I'm sorry.
Yancey made it a little more bearable by setting the whole thing up from the start. Cassie's infatuation with this boy Ben from her school is mentioned very early in and I understand and it does make sense, but love triangles are just a red flag for me. I'm sorry, other authors ruined this for me.

It just doesn't seem realistic for Cassie's super crush to have survived all of this, when a huge portion of humanity died. I'm surprised that Yancey went for this, because he's so realistic in his writing everywhere else. The invasion isn't sugarcoated, it's just WAR. Blunt, ruthless war without compromises. There are more plot twists that I can count, but then Yancey goes for the most persistent and arguably annoying cliché in dystopian YA: the love triangle between the MC, the crush/ old friend, and the rebel. Man. But seriously, this is the only thing I don't like about this book.

...

On audio narration:
I listened to the German audio book from Der Hörverlag Audible, which is narrated by Merete Brettschneider, Achim Buch, and Philipp Baltus as the protagonist Cassie and her love interests respectively.  Because I loved the book so much, it wasn't a smart choice to listen to the audio book - the narration speed is much slower than my own reading speed. Mainly because I'm an insanely fast reader when I love a book. Brettschneider uses pauses frequently for emphasis, which does work in terms of narration, but I just wanted to binge-listen the whole thing. I wish there had been an option to speed the whole book up a little. 

However, the character voices are so, so, so spot on. You hardly find a narrator that can pull off male AND female voices flawlessly. Brettschneider sounds believable as a 16 year-old teen just as much as a 40-something Dad. It's a little terrifying how good she is, actually. I didn't even notice it's the same person talking. This sounds strange, but she really is that good at sounding like men. I'm in awe. She could have single-handedly narrated the whole audio book alone.

Rating:

★★★★ 


Overall: Do I Recommend?

I'm an alien enthusiast and I have read more alien books than I can count. BUT: This is by far my favorite.
It's written so relatably, so believably, and the world building is amazing. "The 5th Wave" reads like mixture of "The Reapers are the Angels" and "The Host". Just more ruthless and realistic. If an alien invasion is ever going to happen in my life time, this is how it's going down. "The 5th Wave" should be compulsory reading for all YA alien stories fan. Nevermind me while I run to the next book store to pick up a physical copy of this as well.



Additional Info


Published: April 14th 2014 
Pages: 496
Genre: YA / Sci-Fi / Aliens
ASIN: B00JAD6RPU

Synopsis:
"After the 1st wave, only darkness remains. After the 2nd, only the lucky escape. And after the 3rd, only the unlucky survive. After the 4th wave, only one rule applies: trust no one.

Now, it's the dawn of the 5th wave, and on a lonely stretch of highway, Cassie runs from Them. The beings who only look human, who roam the countryside killing anyone they see. Who have scattered Earth's last survivors. To stay alone is to stay alive, Cassie believes, until she meets Evan Walker. Beguiling and mysterious, Evan Walker may be Cassie's only hope for rescuing her brother--or even saving herself. But Cassie must choose: between trust and despair, between defiance and surrender, between life and death. To give up or to get up.(Source: Goodreads)



 Have you read The 5th Wave?

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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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Tuesday, September 2, 2014

[Review] Shatter Me - Tahereh Mafi



In SHATTER ME, Juliette gets a cellmate after almost a year of being locked up alone because she is a threat to society. 

What intrigued me: The fact that everyone and their mothers have read this.


Little Miss Perfect?

What annoyed me the most about the plot is that every two chapters Mafi puts massive emphasis on how beautiful and goodhearted and pretty she the main character but yet she does not know it- therefore everyone falls for her. The problem with characters like this is that they are neither likable, nor interesting. 

Literally every single male character her age expresses romantic interest in her at least once and compliments her. Boring. I'd rather read about a character that stands out because of their personality than their looks. 

I’m having a hard time sympathizing with superficial characters. The books that I like usually don’t spend much time explaining eye colours and hair flowing down in chocolate rivers. I want to sympathize with the characters for the character’s sake, not for their looks! Of course shortly after the first chapters, another guy in addition to the token love interest gets thrown in, and we have 

The Typical, Predictable Love Triangle

On the one hand the sweetheart Adam, the boy that gets thrown into Juliette's cell. But what a coincidence, he's not a stranger, but a boy that used to go to her school! And of course he has been in love with Juliette forever for god knows whatever reason, since they spoke about 15 sentences total before they said I love you. Yeah. 

And then we have Warner, the villain, that bad guy who most likely secretly has a good heart and is obsessed with her. I don’t need to continue reading the series to know that he’s probably gonna go through character development, turn out to be not so bad and Juliette is torn between the two. Yuck. This is simply bad plotting. And lazy writing to be honest. 

I didn't care about Juliette and the generic love triangle is both predictable and boring. The world building confused me and I simply didn't click with the book. Just not for me.


Rating:

☆☆

   



Additional Info


Synopsis:
"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."(Source: Goodreads)

 Have you read SHATTER ME?

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