Tag Archive | futuristic

Review : Crossed

Crossed by Ally Condie
Pages : 367
Genre : YA, Dystopia, Science-Fiction
Series : Matched, Book 2
My Rating :

What it’s about :

Cassia will do anything to reunite with Ky, the love too soon taken from her life by the Society. Following his trace into the canyons, Cassia meets new allies and new enemies as she focuses on her simple plan : once she finds Ky, they’ll join the Rising and fights against the Society. But before she reaches the rebellion, Cassia will learn that even the ones the closest to her may have some surprises of their own…

My Thoughts :

I’ve mentioned already on this blog how for a while, I wasn’t sure I wanted to read Crossed, even though I said I would in my review of its predecessor Matched. I will spare you the long story of how I changed my mind 20 times and ended up reading it anyway – and with a teeny tiny bit of excitement, to be honest.

So, was Crossed fun to read?

Somewhat. I did get through it, and I read most of it in a day. It was an easy read, the pages turning quickly as time flew by. Condie’s writing was generally pleasant, although some of her prose sends my eyes on a rolling carnival. But that’s okay, because these excessively flourished sentences are sprinkled along the chapters rather than being the core of her writing. I can live with that, and I know other readers will absolutely love it.

Where her writing fails, though, is in having a dual narrative. I couldn’t tell Ky from Cassia. It wasn’t too bad when they were each on their own with different people, but once they reunited, I couldn’t differentiate the two. If I picked up the book in the middle of a chapter, I had to turn a few pages back to see who was talking.

Plus, I wasn’t a fan of Ky to begin with. He is tortured, and dramatic, and not my kind of guy. I prefer Xander much more, but he was almost absent from this book. (I heard he was the one narrating with Cassia in the next book though, so I’m looking forward to that.) On the other hand, I like the new additions to the cast, mainly Indie. She was an intriguing character, one of the things that kept me reading.

I will say that this book really felt like the “middle book”, the journey between the Big Event that started it all and the Big Event that will conclude it. For a while, I felt like all they were doing was walk, walk, walk and not much else. I feel that Reached will probably be more exciting and more of a page turner, and I’m fairly certain, now that I am two books into the series, that I will be reading it. I think.

Maybe?

Probably.

Series Reading Order :

  1. Matched
  2. Crossed
  3. Reached (coming November 2012)
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Review : Wither

Wither by Lauren DeStefano
Pages : 358
Genre : Ya, Post-Apocalyptic, “Dystopia”
Series : The Chemical Garden, Book 1
My Rating :

What it’s about :

Rhine grew up knowing her days were counted : in her world, males die at 25 and females at 20, and young girls are viewed as prized possessions, their only worth being their capacity for making babies.

Rhine is 16 when she gets kidnapped and married, along with two other girls, to a man she has never seen before. Despite her new home’s wealth and luxury, she has only one thought; to escape and find her twin brother. When she discovers her new father-in-law is using her sister wives as experiments, she knows it’s time to put her plan in motion.

My Thoughts :

First of all, I’m not sure dystopia is the right tag for it, hence the quote marks at the top; I use it more in the sense current YA literature uses it, as in “any post-apocalyptic society”. But, to be honest, Wither is more of a futuristic post-apocalyptic novel than one about a dystopian society. There is a distinction and while I do find it blurry at times, it’s an important one. If you’re not sure about this, I highly recommend this post at Giraffe Days.

Second of all, this is a bit of a generous 3 stars rating, mostly for “entertainment” value. Wither is not a bad novel and I can see why so many enjoyed it. It’s a terrifying world, and while many of us, I’m sure, have stories of grand-mothers or great-great-grand-mothers who had their first babies in their teen years, it doesn’t make Whither‘s world any less chilling. Plus, DeStefano’s writing was pleasant and had some great moments.

I was mostly interested and Rhine and her sisters’ story. The romance side, a little less. There is a form of love triangle in place but Rhine’s feelings are so unclear that, until close to the end, I wasn’t sure if there was a love triangle, a simple romance or just friendships. It was a bit refreshing to not have the romance being front and center for once, and I appreciated that.

I have read as many negative reviews as positive ones, many of which questioned whether Wither’s world made sense or not. These can easily be found on Goodreads and are worth the read if you like to discuss world building. I have to say that I did find it a little shaky; I would believe that if the world was in such a crucial need of babies, more young women would voluntarily offer themselves to marriages like the one Rhine is trying to escape. I’m not sure there would be such a need to kidnap young girls, and even less to kill a bunch of them… Unless I’m missing something?

I think it’s lucky that Linden (Rhine and her sister wives’ husband) was mostly a decent human being. Or not. I have a hard time wrapping my mind around this one, to be honest. My first thought was that I was glad that he wasn’t forcing himself on these young girls; it would have made a horrible situation even more horrible if violence/rape was part of the deal. But then, what choice do these girls have? Sure, Rhine resists and isn’t forced into it, but then you have Jenna, who sleeps with him even though she despises him. It was all a bit icky, really. Just because I don’t want the difficult parts of life to be glossed over, doesn’t mean I don’t find it really hard to read at times – this was one of those times.

I’ll be reading the sequel because I do want to find more answers to my questions, and I’m hoping the author might offer some in Fever. But I was so torn about this novel while reading it, that I feel like this review is not going into a specific direction, negative or positive. So I’ll just sit comfortably in the middle, thank you very much.

Series Reading Order :

  1. Wither
  2. Fever
  3. (coming 2013)

Review : Divergent

Divergent by Veronica Roth
Pages : 487
Genre : YA, Dystopia
Stand Alone
My Rating :

What it’s about (summary from Goodreads) :

In Beatrice Prior’s dystopian Chicago, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue—Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is—she can’t have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.

During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles to determine who her friends really are—and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes infuriating boy fits into the life she’s chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she’s kept hidden from everyone because she’s been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers a growing conflict that threatens to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves . . . or it might destroy her.

My Thoughts :

Divergent has received rave reviews all over the book blogging world, so there’s no doubt I was a bit scared to pick it up. Fortunately, this successful dystopian novel worked quite well for me, and it ended up being a captivating book filled with adventure that was hard to put down.

I was really happy I wasn’t the one who would be raining on everyone’s parade, to be honest, because I hate writing negative reviews. But while I enjoyed it and am now waiting with great curiosity for the book that will follow, I have to say, I didn’t fall completely in love with it either.

One of the most interesting aspects of dystopia is, of course, the world-building. In a way, dystopia is world-building : it automatically forces the questions of what happened, and why, and how? So I was a bit disappointed that I couldn’t completely buy into Roth’s world. The idea is interesting, true; but I have a hard time imagining a society where people can fit into such precise factions. Is it me, or are people far more complex than that? I could have accepted it, if it had been a practice heavily enforced by the government, but since political forces aren’t extremely present for most the story, I couldn’t see how it had come in place, and why it was so easily accepted.

The other thing that really kept me from enjoying it completely was the lack of numbers, and details of how the world lived outside of Chicago. Are the United-States still a country? Do other cities have all the same system? Is it all over the world? If not, how does this system interacts with the outside world? Do people ever move out to other cities, or is Chicago all that’s left in the world? I can live with minimal details; I don’t need a complete history of the world from now until the beginning of this story. But all of these questions could have been answered in a few sentences, and might have helped me find the setting more plausible.

I don’t want to give the impression that I didn’t enjoy the book though, because I did. And oh, did I love Beatrice! She was such a great character : hard, selfish at times and selfless at others, showing courage when she was scared, definitely different from most female leads in current YA novels. I also appreciated that, while she had a definite romantic interest for a certain guy very early in the story, it didn’t take all the space. She lived her own adventure, which he happened to be part of, rather than at the center of.

Also, there was so much going on in that ending, it definitely ended this part of Beatrice’s story on a strong note!

All in all, it was a really fun book and I am really looking forward to the next one. Veronica Roth has a great talent for action scenes, which made this close to 500 pages book a surprisingly quick read. I could easily have read more, and seeing how I enjoyed it, it is no surprise to me why so many fell in love with it.

Series Reading Order :

  1. Divergent
  2. Insurgent (coming 2012)

3 Reviews : The Secret Year, Sixteenth Summer and Girl Parts

Sometimes there are books that, without being bad reads, I don’t have much to say about. So mini-reviews are the way to go!

* * *

The Secret Year by Jennifer R. Hubbard
Pages : 192
Genre : YA, Fiction
Stand Alone
My Rating :

What it’s about : 

For a year, Colt and Julia had a secret relationship. When Julia dies in a car crash, Colt doesn’t know how to deal with this secret grief. Then Colt receives a notebook written by Julia, for him. Reading it, Colt hopes he can find answers to his questions and finally move on.

My Thoughts : 

I know this has been a popular among readers of contemporary YA fiction, but it just didn’t work for me. The story line reminded me a little of Looking for Alaska, without John Green’s wittiness or his likable characters. I didn’t like Colt, or Julia, or anyone in their friends and family. It’s a short read that felt long since I didn’t care for any of them, especially since Colt didn’t seem to give much thought about anything else but his own grief – which I never felt. So the idea was interesting but all in all, it left me cold and close to bored, constantly waiting for something to happen.

Also, this is something some readers might want to know beforehand, but the book has a lot of teens having casual sex, drinking, slashing tires and fighting. The author mostly doesn’t go into details, but this type of events occur again and again along the story.

* * *

Sixteenth Summer by Michelle Dalton
Pages : 283
Genre : YA, Fiction, Romance
Stand Alone
My Rating :

What it’s about : 

For Anna, a summer at the beach is simple routine. Having lived on the island all of her life, the summer only means more beach, tourists, and days spent working at her parents’ ice cream shop. But then she meets Will, and for the first time, she hopes this sixteenth summer might be a special one…

My Thoughts :

Sixteenth Summer was a nice and quick read. It’s a simple romance under the sun, filled with cute moments, ice cream, beach and the sea. I think it could have used some more tension : everything goes so perfectly all along, it’s really cute but there’s no wondering what will happen next. They get together really early in the story, and there’s a hiccup or two, but it’s pretty much all rainbows and sunshine (and ice cream: I’ll give credit to the author for making me hungry all along!) It would certainly please readers who want a predictable, cute and happy love story. 🙂

* * *

Girl Parts by John M. Cusick
Pages : 218
Genre : YA, Fiction, a bit Futuristic
Stand Alone
My Rating :

What it’s about : 

After David witnesses a girl killing herself live on the internet, his parents provide him a Companion, a robot who looks like a young teenage girl, but who will shock him (literally) if he tries to touch her too early in their relationship. Then Rose, David’s Companion, crosses paths with Charlie, an outsider with a good heart, and all their three lives become tangled together.

My Thoughts : 

Girl Parts was a short and funny story, which despite some advanced technologies pretty much took place right now. There’s character development, an interesting idea, and a bit of humor that presents itself like a satire of the present times – while still being realistic enough. Ironically, I found Rose, the Companion, to be the most likable and human character, but I still had fun following the guys around. The writing was good, I was intrigued by the technology, but sadly the story wasn’t as memorable as I would have liked it to.

Retro Friday Review : Santa Olivia

Retro Friday is a weekly meme hosted at Angieville and focuses on reviewing books from the past. This can be an old favorite, an under-the-radar book you think deserves more attention, something woefully out of print, etc. Everyone is welcome to join in at any time!

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Santa Olivia by Jacqueline Carey
Pages : 341
Genre : Dystopia, Sci-Fi, GLBT
Series : Santa Olivia, Book 1
My Rating : 

From Goodreads :

Loup Garron was born and raised in Santa Olivia, an isolated, disenfranchised town next to a US military base inside a DMZ buffer zone between Texas and Mexico. A fugitive “Wolf-Man” who had a love affair with a local woman, Loup’s father was one of a group of men genetically-manipulated by the US government, engineered to have superhuman strength, speed, sensory capability, stamina, and a total lack of fear.

Loup, named for and sharing her father’s wolf-like qualities, is marked as an outsider. After her mother dies, Loup goes to live among the misfit orphans at the parish church, where they seethe from the injustices visited upon the locals by the soldiers. Eventually, the orphans find an outlet for their frustrations: they form a vigilante group to support Loup Garron who, costumed as their patron saint, Santa Olivia, uses her special abilities to avenge the town.

My Thoughts :

I read Santa Olivia in 2009 and loved it so much, I couldn’t write a review for it. I wanted to do the book justice, and in the end, I never found the right words. Go me!

This book was a great experience for me on two levels : first for the book itself, and secondly because it was one of the few books that both the Man of the House and I read, which means we got to talk about it. He is a huge fan of Carey’s fantasy series, but this book was my first time reading her, and I just fell in love with her writing. There is something different about it, something I couldn’t pinpoint but, combined with great story and characters, made the book a compulsory read for me.

While not the most original out there, the idea, a kind of “superhero-meets-government-conspiracies” story, was really intriguing. But what hook me into the story, really, was the character of Loup. I’ve met few characters that had that quality of both puzzling me and being easy to figure out. And I know it does sound contradictory, but it’s still true. The fact that, physically, she wasn’t completely “normal” made her motivations and her reactions clear enough; the fact that she wasn’t “normal” also placed her in a different spot than the rest of the characters, or than the readers, meaning that her reactions were often different than what you would expect from a “normal” person.

The romance between Loup and Pilar also plays an important part in the story, and I loved how contemporary it felt. For me, that relationship was one of the really strong points of the book : everything Loup felt, I felt through the words. Also, I loved having a non heterosexual main character in a book, without the book being all about dealing with sexual identities. It is part of the story, a really important one, but it’s really not the only focus, and while books dealing with GLBT issues are a necessity, I believe it is also necessary to show that a GLBT character can have a story outside of his/her sexual identity – that sexual identity, while important, isn’t the only thing defining an individual.

I did think the book had some faults. I felt like some aspects of the setting weren’t fully explored or explained, that many questions were left unanswered. At the time, there wasn’t a second book planned, so that really puzzled me. I still loved it though, because sometimes when it comes to books, I’m just irrational like that : I see the flaws and I choose to ignore them. I’m not the only one, right?

Although Santa Olivia is NOT a teen/YA novel, it would be really on trend with many YA books currently on the market :  it has a dystopian world where a disease made most people sick, it’s a bit futuristic without being full-on sci-fi, there’s a government gone bad, action, a strong female lead, etc. But since there are many YA readers who are, like me, of grown up age, I think it might be something that would interest some of you too! 🙂

I’m placing this one on my shelf and planning on re-reading it soon, hopefully, as book two is on its way for October. Yay!

Series Reading Order :

  1. Santa Olivia
  2. Saints Astray (coming October 2011)