The Ship by Antonia Honeywell

I received this novel as an advanced copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

What made me want to request this novel was that another author, M.R. Carey had positive words for it. M.R. Carey wrote the book The Girl With All the Gifts, which I absolutely adored. So if an author who wrote one of my favorite books has a good thing to say about another novel, you can bet that I’m going to read it!

Lalla has been fortunate enough to have grown up sheltered from the chaos that rules over London. But things are getting more dangerous. People are killing each other for bare essentials, and the police are getting rid of anyone without an identification card. When Lalla turns 16, her father decides that the time has come for them to escape – and escape comes in the form of a ship he has built to save a mere 500 people. But the utopia that her father has created isn’t all that it seems. There’s more food than anyone can imagine, but nothing grows; more clothes than anyone can wear but no way to fix them or make new ones … and no one knows where they are going.

I so desperately wanted to like this novel that I felt disappointed in myself for not enjoying this book. It had such an interesting concept but it was just not written in a style that worked for me. The main character, Lalla, is by far the most annoying character I have ever met. She is spoilt, and naive, and just seems to miss the point. Every single person on the ship is trying to explain everything to her but she chooses to ignore their words constantly. While I think she raises valid points, she just doesn’t get them across in the right way, and ended up frustrating me (and the actual passengers on the ship) to no end. There was this really awkwardly created love story put in, and while I understand why the author chose to put it in, it didn’t really work for me, either. The author’s writing style was also terribly convoluted and confusing, making me wonder what was the point of half of the words used. It’s like the author was trying to take a concept and present it in a very impressive way. But by overdoing it, she lost the message. In the end, this novel just did not work for me.

Happy reading ~

Sunrise by Mike Mullin – Ashfall #3

I received this novel as an advanced copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

As soon as I finished the second novel in this series, I immediately began reading the final installment in this series. I just wanted to know how everything would end, because this is a really addictive book series. It also helps that all of the books are out and I know I don’t have to wait to read the next one.

The Yellowstone supervolcano had devastating effects on people everywhere. Now, after a year, the survivors are barely able to live. Communities are waging wars against each other, there are gangs of cannibals, and every force of authority has collapsed.  Only sickness, cold, and starvation remain. When it becomes clear that home is no longer safe and the adults are not coping with the harsh reality of this new world, Alex and Darla must forge a new community that can survive this disaster. If they fail, it could spell the end for the remaining survivors, their loved ones – and themselves.

This last novel redeemed the previous book and made me love the series all over again. It was well-written, well-paced, and well thought out. It was just done so well! Everything that I consider as marks of a good book were in this novel: there was great character development, a good writing style, a perfect balance of adventure and romance and suspense, and just an overall strong plot. I loved how kickass Darla was, I loved that Alex became a strong leader and developed skills of his own, I loved the various characters that were introduced and developed in this story. Every conflict that was introduced was an interesting one that raised a powerful issue, and it was dealt with effectively by the characters. While this novel may not have been as action-packed as its predecessors, it was still interesting and riveting. All in all, this was a series well worth reading, and I’m glad that this last book did not disappoint! If you are looking for a unique dystopian novel, then definitely consider giving this one a shot!

Happy reading ~

Ashen Winter by Mike Mullin – Ashfall #2

After reading Ashfall, the first book in this unique dystopian series, I found myself eager to discover what would happen next in the lives of Darla and Alex. It took me some time to get to this next book, but once I got into the story, I finished the book in mere hours. So here is my review:

6 months after the eruption of the Yellowstone supervolcano, Alex and Darla are staying with Alex’s relatives on the farm. It’s also been 6 months of waiting for Alex’s parents to return from Iowa. Enough time has gone by that Alex and Darla decide to venture on their own to find Alex’s parents and bring them to safety. But the landscape has changed since their last foray; things are more vicious, and settlements are more prone to violence as food becomes scarce.  As Alex and Darla try to survive, they begin to wonder if they will ever make it back at all.

Just like Ashfall, this novel is packed with adventure. There is not a boring minute in this story and I was racing through the pages as Alex and Darla find themselves in one dangerous situation after another. Like seriously. They go through a lot. To the point where I found myself overwhelmed by how terrible their journey was. While having a lot of action can be a good thing, it served to make me feel exhausted in this case. There was just a bit too much of it. I don’t need to have my main characters constantly getting in terrible situations; it’s okay for them to get a break or have some luck!

I also found that each chapter ended in a cliffhanger. I found that to be a bit irritating after a while. The story itself has so much going on for it, and I just want to get to the parts, without having this cliffhanger effect on every single chapter.

The last thing that I didn’t really like was Alex’s character. He is just a bit too good. He doesn’t want to do anything that is violent or terrible, and he has this righteous judgemental vibe going on that really bothers me. He just doesn’t seem to have adapted to the situation. It made me really not like him. Another thing I found weird was the steadiness and maturity of the relationship between Darla and Alex. And when I say weird, I don’t mean it as a bad thing, just as an unusual thing. Darla and Alex are both teenagers but their love for each other is portrayed as being very deep and very romantic and meaningful. I don’t know any teenagers who are capable of having such a strong and mature relationship with someone, but I’m going to chalk it up to the fact that they have just gone through a disaster.

While this novel had its high points, I didn’t like it as much as its predecessor. There was an overwhelming amount of action, and not enough character development for my taste. The story itself and the writing was still very good, so I am definitely looking forward to the next book in the series!

Happy reading ~

Ashfall by Mike Mullin – Ashfall #1

I received an ARC for the third book in this series, not realizing that it was a part of one. After reading the premise of the third book, I realized that in order to give a fair review, I needed to read the previous 2 books in the series. And that’s exactly what I am doing now:

Alex is looking forward to being alone for the weekend. With his family gone to visit his uncle, Alex has unlimited free time to hang out with his friends and play computer games. Then the Yellowstone supervolcano erupts, and Alex’s hometown is plunged into darkness, ash, and violence. Alex has to find a way to reach his family, and so he makes the harrowing trek across the country with Darla, a travel partner he picks up along the way. Together, they must find a way to survive this epic disaster.

One of the things I really liked about this novel was its unique apocalyptic situation. I mean, we’ve read about zombies and crazy viruses that kill a great deal of the population, and all that but I’ve never really read anything about supervolcanoes. In fact, before this novel, I didn’t really know much ON supervolcanoes. It is now one more thing to add to my list of things that utterly terrify me! I really liked the way the author wrote this story. He knew what to emphasize and where to ratchet up and where to take it slow. I have no qualms about the writing whatsoever. My one problem with this novel – and it might be because of the sheer number of post-apocalyptic novels that I’ve read – was that it was all just so tame. In the beginning of the novel, we see a lot of action and we get glimpses of violence and the way society can break down in times of distress. And this is a prevailing theme throughout the novel. But even during scenes where something terribly violent occurs, it seems tamped down or muted. For a teenager to go through such a harrowing experience, but to have it relegated to only a few sentences and then brushed aside just created this weird disconnect. I would get all ramped up by the action and the direction in which the story was going, only to feel disappointed when I reached the climactic moment. While the storytelling and the plot and the characters themselves were great, I wish the author had spent more time developing some of the harsher scenes so as to give the story more depth. Overall, I think this is a good start to an interesting dystopian series. I’m curious to see how the author proceeds forward in the next book.

Happy reading ~

A Single Stone by Meg McKinlay

I received this novel as an advanced copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Being part of the line is a blessing. Every family hopes that their daughter will become one of the chosen 7 to tunnel deep into the mountain and return with the harvest. These girls are the most important ones in the village; their work in the mountains makes the difference between life and death. Jena is the leader of the line. She is a good tunneler, strong and reliable, liked by all of the girls. And she has gone through extensive training and wrapping and fasting to become this way. She is proud of herself and the role she plays. But one day, Jena makes a discovery that leads her to question the way her world works. What if there is more to life than just this village?

This was a short but well-written novel and I really enjoyed reading it. It was layered and complex in a quiet way. It was subtle yet transparent as it showed you Jena’s life, the secrets of the village, and the dangers of the mountain. The writing was intelligent and thought-provoking, which I really wasn’t expecting it. I found myself rereading sections of this story, not because it was hard to understand but because it was just so powerful! This novel may have been targeted for teens and middle schoolers, but I can easily see adults reading and enjoying this story! Don’t be fooled by its deceptive slowness; this novel picks up the pace and the events roll out fairly quickly! A great story, and I’m really glad to have gotten a chance to read it!

Happy reading ~

Ascension by Michelle Bryan – New Bloods Trilogy #2

I received this novel as an advanced copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

When I read the first book in the series, I remember finding the Western theme interesting but not really liking the main character. My main complaint was that she was a bit too clueless and I wanted her to be able to put the pieces together faster. I was excited to see if the author had made the main character more mature in the second installment of this trilogy.

Tara knows that she is different from those around her but that doesn’t mean she wants to be involved with the rebellion and use her strange powers. But the Prezedant still has Ben, her only remaining kin. And she made a promsie to save him. When they finally reach the city where the Prezedant’s power lies, a masquerade ball becomes the perfect setting in which to go and save Ben. But as the planning for the epic battle begins, Tara will learn truths that will change everything she ever believed in.

I’ll be honest, I still didn’t like Tara. But there were a lot more redeeming points that kept this book in my good graces. For one, I really liked the involvement of the different secondary characters; they weren’t just filler, they actually had a role to play and they had different personalities. I also liked that the author took the time to explain more of the backstory of how things came to be and who the Prezedant is. It helped make the story more cohesive and enjoyable. Just like the first novel, the story was fast-paced with lots of action that kept it an interesting journey. I think I quite liked this novel, in comparison to its prequel. I would recommend this trilogy to pre-teen/teens who like science fiction.

Happy reading ~

The Reapers Are The Angels by Alden Bell

​There are only a handful of books that I have read that are zombie themed. Some I’ve hated, and some I’ve loved. This book definitely falls in the latter category.

For 25 years, humans have been hiding away from the dead in isolated enclaves, trying to sustain themselves in this new and undead world. Temple is one of the few that wanders this landscape all on her own. She was born in a world filled with zombies and can’t remember a time before them. But she does have memories of a past, with a kind uncle and a younger brother. As she traverses this dangerous land, Temple will have to battle against the demons within her – as well as those outside. 

This was definitely unlike any zombie story I have read. There is so much more to it than just the dangers of being eaten by zombies; in fact, the zombies really didn’t play much of a role and were only there to set the scene. The real story is about how Temple tries to survive in this world, and how the people living in this world have changed with the times. To me, this story was more about the evolution of humans in a time of apocalyptic crisis, rather than the actual apocalyptic event itself. And that made it a really unusual and interesting read. I liked that the story was told from the perspective of this teenage girl, who is so strong and so broken. The things she just assumes are normal, well….they aren’t normal and it breaks my heart to see how she takes it in her stride. This novel has definitely got a Western feel to it, and this is further accentuated by the slang and lack of quotation marks (seriously, there are no quotation marks) so consider that a warning to anyone who is particular on grammar and punctuation! Overall,a gripping story that masterfully depicts the struggles of a teenage girl in an undead world!

Happy reading ~ 

Awaken by Michelle Bryan – New Bloods Trilogy #1

I received this novel as an advanced copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

The world may be broken after the Shift, with its unforgiving sand lands and its shortage of food and water. But for Tara, it is home. It is where she lives happily with her grada and the rest of her kin, hunting and telling stories. But one event causes her to lose everything she has held dear – including her identity. She is no longer just an ordinary girl. Instead, she soon discovers that she is one of a unique breed known as New Bloods, and has incredible powers to boot! As she struggles to embrace her identity, Tara decides to go into the unknown to rescue those she loves from the grip of the merciless Prezedant.

This is a YA fiction story that has a Western influence to it. It seems lately that more and more of the books I am reading have a Western setting – not that I mind! This story is your typical YA fantasy story. You’ve got your plucky heroine, who denies everything about her identity and powers until she no longer can. You’ve got the ragtag crew of friends who are a source of comfort and help. You’ve got a budding love interest that starts off with the whole heart-pounding-really-fast-when-close scenario. And you’ve got an evil villain who pretty much stays in the shadows but is looming in everyone’s minds. The story moved at a fast pace and had a good host of characters. I didn’t really like Tara that much, because she seemed a little … slow in her ability to comprehend what was going on. I get tired of stubborn main characters unless they have something unique about them – and unfortunately, Tara was not unique. Maybe it was the fast pace, but I felt like the story lacked depth. There was nothing that made it overly special, and there was nothing that pulled at my emotions. While it was well-written, there was just nothing memorable about it. I hope the sequel deviates more from the norm because I can definitely see the potential in this series!

Happy reading ~

 

The Swan Riders by Erin Bow – Prisoners of Peace #2

I remember reading The Scorpion Rules and absolutely loving the novel, with is AIs and hostage situation. I had also liked the fact that this novel had been presented as a standalone. So imagine my surprise, when I recently discovered that the author had published a sequel this year! Naturally, that meant I had to reread The Scorpion Rules, which I did as a refresher just a few days ago. Now that I’ve finished The Swan Riders, here is my review:

Greta Stuart has always entertained the possibility of dying young. After all, she is her country’s hostage, and the first casualty in the time of war. But things took an unexpected turn, and now Greta is no longer a princess. In fact, she is no longer human. Greta has become an AI. If Greta survives the transition, she will have a place alongside Talis, the AI who controls the world. While Talis can easily obliterate whole countries and cities from orbit, for his more personal problems, he has an army called the Swan Riders: a band of humans who are loyal to Talis. Now, 2 of the Swan Riders are escorting Talis and Greta across Saskatchewan to a safe place for Greta to transition. But Greta’s fate has stirred her nation into open rebellion against Talis and the AIs, and the grassland that they are travelling through may be hiding insurgents who either want to save her – or kill her.

Like I had mentioned before, I quite liked the idea of The Scorpion Rules as a standalone, so I didn’t really understand the point of this story. However, it was a very interesting read that took the story in a very cool direction. I liked the marked change in character that is seen in Greta from human to AI. I especially enjoyed the glimpses into Talis/Michael and he soon became my favorite character in the whole story. The Swan Riders themselves were a little weird, in their cult-like loyalty towards the AIs but that was the author’s intent so… can’t really say much about that. However, there was something off about the pacing. It wasn’t that there were boring things going on; in fact, I found everything moving quite well. It was more that there was a lot of detail given to everything in the beginning and middle, but not at the end. The ending felt very rushed and I had to read it a few times because I was very confused with what exactly was going on. Eventually, I caught on and the enormity of the situation got to me … but I wish it had been clearer the first time. While I liked this novel, it didn’t do for me what its predecessor did, so I would only recommend this book to die-hard fans of The Scorpion Rules.

Happy reading ~

The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey

I’ve waited a long time before deciding to give this novel a shot. I saw the trailers for the movie based off of this book, and it just put me off a bit. I also considered this to be just one more dystopian teen novel and didn’t bother finding out about the premise. I finally caved after one of my friends chided me on my book-ego, so here is my review:

The world has finally met its match, and it is in the form of aliens. Not the aliens of our imagination, with tentacles and green skin. These aliens have no face and are interested in only one thing: the eradication of all humans. And they have a perfect plan to do so. First came the wave that left darkness in its wake. The 2nd wave led to the collapse of nations. The third wave culled the world’s population to a new low. And after the 4th wave? Well, let’s just say there’s no telling who is friend or foe. In this new world, Cassie is running away from these Others in the hopes of finding her little brother. Although she has been travelling alone for some time now, she meets Evan Walker, a young teen like herself who saves her life more than once. But can she truly trust him?

There were some things I really enjoyed about this novel and some things I didn’t like. Let me begin by focusing on what I DID like:

  1. I liked Cassie. She isn’t a girly-girl. She has some wit, she is reasonably paranoid, and she’s intelligent. Too many times, the main character goes around acting clueless and it just drives me insane! The author did a good job in making her a unique female protagonist, and gave her a voice that was refreshing to read from.
  2. This story was told from multiple perspectives. At first, I wasn’t expecting it, especially since the head of the chapter gave no clue that the author had shifted to another person’s perspective. It was also confusing because I would be reading for a couple of pages in the same character’s voice and would then realize that it wasn’t the same character, and would have to go back and reread the passage. I know this sounds like a negative but I actually enjoyed it because it made me feel more alert and in pace with the story. I also liked reading about how this novel affected other people in the story, and it helped make the big reveal come together better.
  3. I liked that the story jumped to different points in time. The constant shift actually made the story come together and made the emotions seem so much more raw and intense!

Now onto the things I didn’t like:

  1. The alien invasion plan just didn’t make sense to me. When everything was explained, I couldn’t help but wonder why the Others had put so much effort into creating the waves. There were so many simpler ways to accomplish their goals. In that sense, I was quite disappointed with the lead up.
  2. The romance aspect just didn’t work for me. If it had been a bit deeper, it would have made a little more sense. But it wasn’t. It seemed to have just been thrown in there as a prerequisite for creating a YA fiction novel. It was meh on all levels.
  3. The scheme to save Cassie’s brother was a bit boring and stereotypical. It was overly simplistic and didn’t excite or thrill me in any way. There wasn’t enough time or detail given to properly develop this scene so it left me wanting more.

Overall, this novel was okay. It was a more interesting teen dystopian novel than others but wasn’t anything to rave about. Now that I’ve given it a chance, I think I will let this series rest here, and not read the sequel.

Happy reading ~