ARC Review: Defender – G.X. Todd

Synopsis:defender-cover

In a world where long drinks are in short supply, a stranger listens to the
voice in his head telling him to buy a lemonade from the girl sitting on a dusty road.

The moment locks them together.

Here and now it’s dangerous to listen to your inner voice. Those who do, keep it quiet.

These voices have purpose.

And when Pilgrim meets Lacey, there is a reason. He just doesn’t know it yet.

Defender pulls you on a wild ride to a place where the voices in your head will save or slaughter you.


I received a free eARC edition of this novel courtesy of Headline Publishing via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I was pleasantly surprised by this book. I didn’t expect to like it as much as I did, the premise itself intrigued me but I was unsure of what to expect.

What I received was a poignant story, absorbing and with a definite kick of thrill throughout. I was shocked to find how bloody and gruesome some of the scenes within it got (with violent deaths ), slightly forgetting that  I had strayed away from my usual YA genres. But those scenes definitely worked within the idea of the novel. One would not expect the semi-post-apocalyptic (??) world to be full of sunshine and rainbows.

The writing had me turning pages like a madwoman, it was honestly probably the book’s greatest asset, especially when things started to fall apart slightly plot wise towards the middle of the book. I have to admit I did skim-read quite a few pages, and yet I didn’t feel like I was lost after returning to my normal reading manner. But that issue seemed to be resolved towards the end of the book, and  I can definitely say that I thoroughly enjoyed the beginning and the end of the novel.

 I liked the concept of the voice and grew rather fond of it as the story progressed and it turned out that it wasn’t a totally awful thing. However, I feel like this book had very little explanation as to how these voices came to be and even less on how the human race had lost the ability to think in the first place. But I guess there will be future books, and I hope that these questions will be addressed within those.

Lacey was a pleasant protagonist, albeit slightly naive at times – but that could be explained by the fact that she was so isolated from all the problems that she later encountered and so took a while to adjust to everything. The addition of Pilgrim to the story definitely helped to develop her character, and I loved the wit and jokes that they shared throughout.

The lack of romance didn’t stop me from shipping Pilgrim and Lacey (and  Lacey with Alex), although simultaneously I was really glad that there were no canon relationships because it meant that the plot had no reason to stray away into realms of silly romantic drama in the midst of the whole world wanting them dead.

There were definitely a few things I didn’t expect throughout. The cat is an incident that Todd will NOT  be forgiven for, not until my last dying breath. There was also a plot twist that I really didn’t see coming, which was commendable; it left my mind reeling a little.

I will definitely be looking to read the subsequent books when they release, and would definitely recommend this novel to fans of dystopian fiction which doesn’t even try to sugarcoat the morbid reality.

My Rating: 3.75 / 5 Stars

Advertisements

ARC Review: Blood, Ink & Fire – Ashley Mansour

Synopsis:blood ink and fire cover

Imagine a world without books…
In the future, books are a distant memory. The written word has been replaced by an ever-present stream of images known as Verity. In the controlling dominion of the United Vales of Fell, reading is obsolete and forbidden, and readers themselves do not—cannot—exist.
But where others see images in the stream, teenager Noelle Hartley sees words. She’s obsessed with what they mean, where they came from, and why they found her.

Noelle’s been keeping her dangerous fixation with words a secret, but on the night before her seventeenth birthday, a rare interruption in the stream leads her to a mysterious volume linked to an underworld of rebel book lovers known as the Nine of the Rising. With the help of the Risers and the beguiling boy Ledger, Noelle discovers that the words within her are precious clues to the books of the earlier time—and as a child of their bookless age, she might be the world’s last hope of bringing them back.


I received an eARC edition of this novel courtesy of Upturn Publishing via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. 

You know the book you had read was probably not the greatest masterpiece ever written when your first Goodreads update whilst reading it says, “I can already tell that this book will take a while,” but I have to say that this novel did have a lot of potential, which may or may not have been wasted.

A WORLD WITHOUT BOOKS!? Do you mean hell.png

Because I think you do…  I found the entire concept so terrifying and yet just could not get into the story for a myriad of reasons.

I couldn’t connect with the setting, the world created was very much one dimensional despite seeming so vast – perhaps because the description was executed in an info-dump sort of way. However, Mansour’s writing style was pleasing to read; I really enjoyed the way she dropped in a few literary quotes into the story, and generally thought that her writing was beautiful at points.

However, much alike other books of the dystopian genre, Blood, Ink & Fire fell into the deep, dark realms of love-triangle/insta-love lovechild galore; complete with talk of spending the rest of their dark, dark eternity together basically hours after they just met. The romance was definitely too rushed for me to feel any positive emotions towards either of the potential pairings. If I was being frank, I didn’t particularly care for them in the slightest.

I honestly think that a good portion of the reason why I disliked this book was because it just followed so many of the dystopian tropes (but then honestly, that’s just me being horrible because after all, it is a dystopian story and it has every right to) even down to its predictability and the “My name is blabla, I am blabla years old, I did blabla,” cliché which has appeared in wayyyy too many books of the genre and personally, I’m starting to find it old…

The pace of the story was varied, and I’m not sure whether that was in a good way or not… because some parts felt awfully long whereas others I really wished Mansour would spend slightly more time on. The balance was definitely not struck. But yet I kept reading?

And I guess the ending was worth it, but also seemed like an easy way out of the huge mess that the book slowly unraveled to be? I am a mess of conflicted feelings about it.

It seems that I am largely in the minority when it comes to opinions on this novel, so I do urge you to read it – even if only for the scary premise to see whether you enjoy it much more than I did.

My Rating: 1.5/5 Stars

“You cannot change someone’s mind by lighting fires, burning their history, and persecuting their people. That will only push them further into extremism.”

ARC Review: The Loneliness of Distant Beings – Kate Ling

Synopsis: the loneliness of distant beings cover

‘It is that quick, it is that strong, it is that beautiful. And it is also totally impossible.’

Even though she knows it’s impossible, Seren longs to have the sunshine on her skin. It’s something she feels she needs to stay sane. But when you’re floating through space at thousands of kilometres an hour, sometimes you have to accept there are things you cannot change.

Except that the arrival of Dom in her life changes everything in ways she can barely comprehend. For a while he becomes the Sun for her; and she can’t help but stay in his orbit. Being with him flaunts every rule designed to keep their home in order, but to lose him would be like losing herself.

In the end they must decide what is most important: loyalty to the only home they’ve ever known, or to each other?


I received an eARC edition of this book courtesy of Hachette Children’s Group via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. 

Either I’m being really harsh on books this year, or they’re just not good books because quite frankly this was yet another slight let down (yet of lesser proportions than my previous reads, seeing as I did like quite a few things about it).

I loved the sci-fi, spacey twist on the dystopian genre… Yes, I did just say that I liked a dystopian book shocked cat gif.gif

I really liked the aspect of the lack of freedom for once, well, maybe not “liked” but definitely found the fact that people would sign their descendants up for a lifetime of what was basically slavery to a REALLY corrupt political system IN SPACE interesting. I just couldn’t completely comprehend why on earth (shameless pun) anyone would put up with some of the things happening on that ship. I think that the sci-fi twist on the typical same ol’ dystopia was really what I needed to warm up to the genre which has been an interesting discovery.

However, the book also had elements which really really annoyed me, like the ever present love triangle, which I could smell a mile off after the MC decided to descibe a guy’s moles upon their second encounter, after already being engaged to another man as per dystopian tradition. Which of course led to an overly dramatic and plot consuming insta-love/lust story which was put into the spotlight by the absence/flatness of supporting characters.

Although admittedly, this got slightly more bearable as the book went on and we met a few characters and also discovered more about some of the main(er) ones which was quite nice to see as that doesn’t happen very often at all in dystopian novels so big kudos to Ling for not forgetting to develop her story beyond the MC.

In saying that, I felt as though the main character, and Ezra and Dom were slightly immature and definitely fell a bit flat. However, the ending of the book was pleasing and it definitely provided a lot of hope for the next book to be slightly more fast-paced and action filled which would be something to look forward to.

Overall, I’d definitely say that this book is worth reading if you’d like to see something new brought into the dystopian genre, I honestly really liked the idea of sci-fi being such a key part of this story. The writing style and really well written and thought-out description were also great strength of this particular title.

My Rating: 2.5 Stars

“It is that quick, it is that strong, it is that beautiful. And it is also totally impossible.”

 

Book Review: Nirvana – J.R Stewart

Synopsis:nirvana cover

When the real world is emptied of all that you love, how can you keep yourself from dependence on the virtual?

Animal activist and punk rock star Larissa Kenders lives in a dystopian world where the real and the virtual intermingle. After the disappearance of her soulmate, Andrew, Kenders finds solace by escaping to Nirvana, a virtual world controlled by Hexagon. In Nirvana, anyone’s deepest desires may be realized – even visits with Andrew.

Although Kenders knows that this version of Andrew is virtual, when he asks for her assistance revealing Hexagon’s dark secret, she cannot help but comply. Soon after, Kenders and her closest allies find themselves in a battle with Hexagon, the very institution they have been taught to trust. After uncovering much more than she expected, Kenders’ biggest challenge is determining what is real – and what is virtual.


I received a free copy of this book courtesy of Blue Moon Publishers via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I don’t think I disliked this book, it  was incredibly true to the dystopian genre presenting the world as a wholly corrupt and grim place in a subtler way than most novels manage to do.

I was glad that the heroine didn’t suddenly decide to go fighting ALL OF THE GOVERNMENT like many others had decided to do *akhem,Divergent, akhem* but she wasn’t relatable in the slightest (her relatability  only deteriorated once Andrew was out of the question), and the character change she went through, made the whole reality/VR fiasco more difficult to comprehend because her mind wasn’t in a very good place – turning her for the most part unreliable…

Whilst I am nowhere near appreciating the genre as much as I used to at one point along the way, I liked how Stewart linked both Sci-Fi (which I adore reading if they are executed well) with dystopia to create a unique story.

Whilst the book wasn’t very long at all (which may have been its downfall if I’m being honest because a few things were unanswered after plentiful plot twists urging me to wait for sequels), but it somehow made me think about the impact that our technological advancements are having on the world in which we live. And I mean, it largely seems like we have things under control for now, but the book somewhat made me question just how far we are going to take it – and the possible effects that it could have (and man, let me tell you; they weren’t good).

The pace of the novel could have been slightly better considering its length although generally speaking – it wasn’t more than a 2-3 hours of reading altogether. Whilst I was completely captivated by the beginning chapters, this somehow declined throughout the novel up until the last two chapters, when I was so excited about finding out what was going to happe- NO. Nope, we didn’t find out what was going to happen because the book ended on a cliffhanger, and if I was being frank – that is probably the only reason that I am going to read the sequels. As well as, of course to see whether Stewart maintains the high quality of writing when it comes to style, and perhaps gives Kenders a bit more personality that I can connect to.

My Rating: 2.5/5 Stars

“Nirvana is a refuge from the real world, which has growing complications regarding the stability of our environment and life in general, not to mention a crumbling economy and massive unemployment rate”

– Larissa Kenders

ARC Review: Flawed – Cecelia Ahern

Synopsis:flawed cover

The stunning YA debut from internationally bestselling author Cecelia Ahern.

Celestine North lives a perfect life. She’s a model daughter and sister, she’s well-liked by her classmates and teachers, and she’s dating the impossibly charming Art Crevan.

But then Celestine encounters a situation in which she makes an instinctive decision. She breaks a rule and now faces life-changing repercussions. She could be imprisoned. She could be branded. She could be found FLAWED.

In this stunning novel, bestselling author Cecelia Ahern depicts a society in which perfection is paramount and mistakes are punished. And where one young woman decides to take a stand that could cost her everything.


I received an eARC of the novel from HarperCollins UK via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

This book had an awfully long start, those who surrounded me whilst I read it will definitely know that I felt the need to close my Kindle a few times to take some deep breaths and count to ten, to be able to start reading again…

However, after the initial slow incline it wasn’t too bad of a read…. I guess? I mean, have you ever just finished a book and thought: well that wasn’t bad… but something wasn’t quite right, and the more you think about it, the more flaws (isn’t this a great coincidence) you find?

So why don’t we start off with the good bits:

Celestine’s family was definitely something that saved this book for me, her mother’s development was HUGE, I mean, maybe not totally groundbreaking – but for a “perfect” supermodel… that was some cray stuff, but VERY commendable considering the circumstances.

Speaking of perfect, this book made me think quite a bit about the meaning of that word, and its impact. I mean, some of the characters seemed to have been labeled as flawed for petty (and sometimes even mundane) things… which I’m pretty sure a lot of people are also ‘guilty’ of having done at one point or another, or would choose to do the same in the characters’ situations. And I mean, surely we aren’t flawed for being human? But of course, that isn’t to say that we are perfect either, because perfection doesn’t exist, and whilst it is something to strive for (hopefully in order to improve yourself and nothing else) it DEFINITELY cannot be achieved. And that isn’t really an easy concept to come to terms with, but it’s the truth. The images of “perfect” people aren’t true… yes, there are some attractive people out there but the media still feel the need to apply a brick wall of photoshop onto them – which of course isn’t right, but it’s how our society has worked for a couple decades now, and it doesn’t look like it’ll be changing anytime soon despite efforts.

Okay, little monologue over and done with, this book gave me feels at a moment I thought wouldn’t come… I thought Celestine – better not carry on with that really, but let’s just say that Ahern threw me off my tracks for a while. I also really enjoyed the protagonist’s relationship with her sister at the end of the book – that also hit a few feels and I may have even teared up slightly.

But a few things also bugged me:

The protagonist fell a bit flat… at least at first, there wasn’t much to her other than her rather narcissistic views, and of course her slight obsession with her ONE AND ONLY… I mean the guy himself wasn’t too bad (if you don’t take into account his bland personality)… but I do prefer her second interest in the love triangle which of course just HAD to be part of the story, because a dystopia isn’t complete without it in most cases… and of course the love triangle had to be completed by INSTA-LOVE

big-wow

Yeah… I wasn’t very impressed.

Although Celestine got a bit of character development throughout the novel and actually delivered some very well constructed speeches, it all happened too quickly for me personally, it felt rushed and unfinished and I just wished that it wasn’t the case as she did have some potential, even as her ‘old’ self…

I have quite mixed feelings about the ending. On one hand I’m overly anticipating the release of Perfect next year, but I don’t think that would have been the case had it not been for the huge cliff-hanger, because just when everything started to come together the story was cut short… Also, am I the only reader who thought that the snow globe had a VERY important role at the end? Am I wrong… am I right? I guess I will have to wait and see.

I would recommend this book to fans of dystopia, and Ahern and her impressive writing style (although of course this is very different from her usual works) who are open to experiencing society in a way that hasn’t really been seen before.

My Rating: 3.5/5 Stars

“I am a girl of definitions, of logic, of black and white. Remember this.”

-Celestine

 

ARC Review: Chained – Suzanne Valenti

chained cover

Synopsis:

Terrified of the contamination and the creatures it has created, humanity hides behind The Wall. No one knows what lies beyond the wasteland. Maya has never thought much about what might still be out there, lurking in the forgotten places. But when she’s thrust into the unknown, she is forced to question everything she has ever been told. Not everyone outside died, some of them became something… else. As her heart is torn in two, every choice she makes is harder than the last. What she discovers will change her forever. She knows she will probably die, but Maya has seen enough of death and she won’t let it have her without a fight.


***SPOILER FREE*** 

– So first off, I’d like to say a very big thank to Suzanne, for not only being an incredibly lovely and talented author, but also kind enough to provide an ARC copy for me to review –

I have to say that at first I wasn’t sure what to think of the book, it is on rare occasions that I actually like dystopia books as they all seem to bear similarities which often irk me, but this wasn’t the case with Chained – it was a largely compelling, exciting read.

The characters were well developed, Maya was relatively easy to relate to and I really appreciated her relationship with Taylor (even though I felt he was slightly uhm… forgotten during a good part of the plot itself which in turn made me question indeed how strong it was, but I guess the fact that Maya was trying to fix the situation they were in made up for that fact) and the bonds she forms with certain characters later on in the novel (*queue slight fangirl dance and squealing*).

Of course, being me – I got more attached to the dog (or maybe I’d be better off describing her as a wolf as she would probably be offended by such description) in the story than the other characters because it was probably the least predictable of the characters Maya associated with having no previous experience of animals.

I liked the idea of The Wall, although obviously, I predicted it was largely the government’s way of keeping tabs on everyone and everything inside instead of just a ‘safety precaution’ as it was often described.It added to the sense of adventure present during Maya’s exploration which really quickened the pace of the book to the point where I was able to finish it in two days despite being overloaded with school work and other menial tasks.

I would definitely say this is a wonderful debut novel that is worth the read if you have the chance, particularly if you like dystopia novels.

My Rating: 3.5/5 Stars (Pushing 4 with one or two issues)

“Striving forward together, for the good of the population.”

Citizens of The Wall

Series Review: The Chemical Garden Series – Lauren DeStefano

wither cover   fever cover   sever coverShort Synopses:

Wither: 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. 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?

Fever: Rhine and Gabriel have escaped the mansion, but danger is never far behind. In the sequel to Lauren DeStefano’s harrowing Wither, Rhine must decide if freedom is worth the price – now that she has more to lose than ever.

Sever: In this breathtaking conclusion to Lauren DeStefano’s Chemical Garden trilogy, everything Rhine knows to be true will be irrevocably shattered.


***SOME SPOILERS AHEAD***

—Disclamer, the post below is very much my own and personal opinion, I am in no way trying to discourage people from reading the books—

So this trilogy left me with VERY conflicted thoughts, a bit more than half of me is still pretty much sitting here like:

irritated

Because in all honesty, the “science” part of the books (the word science being used very lightly in this particular case) was not thought out very well – let’s just face it: there is no way in all the nine circles of hell that people just start dropping dead THE MOMENT they reach a certain age because neither biology, nor disease works like that.

Another thing that really bothered me was the fact that America seemed practically unscathed by the ‘oh so terrible war and conflict’ that apparently went on previously. I mean apart from a few places being submerged in water (those being the areas which were actually quite high above sea level go figure) and ending up in poverty (which was actually rather believable so big thumbs up on that) there was absolutely nothing wrong with the place! (I guess it is explained in the end, but it still bugged me)

The main character also very much irked me to the point where I felt like tearing through the pages to take her by the shoulders in order to shake her – I mean yes, she was captured and unwillingly taken to an unfamiliar place – but holy mother of babies everywhere IT WAS A FREAKING MANSION. With people waiting on each and every of her needs, not only that but two lovely girls who she found a very hard time in trusting (of course, she turned out to be partially right, but that is all to be blamed on Cecily’s innocence which she was very quickly stripped of – thanks Vaughn). Of course, the natural reaction to being given a home within a beautiful house would be to seek freedom at every cost – but that quite frankly may just be my opinion. Throw in the good ol’ love triangle (or pentagon as it seemed) and we’re set for a disaster.

Fever managed to suffer from the weirdest case of  the infamous middle book syndrome, whilst it wasn’t a slow-paced read (DeStefano’s writing style kept it from completely falling into a ten foot deep hole) the plot didn’t really go any further than Rhine being her usual inept self. It did nothing to appease my growing annoyance with the story. Within Fever, DeStefano almost normalizes the concept of rape by her use of the brothel run by a very pretentious lady who goes by the name of “Madam”. Whilst I respect that it is DeStefano’s world, and given the circumstances many people would not care about rape or prostitution, the idea more than bugged me….

By pure luck and the help of a little disabled child and her mother, along with a bodyguard who coincidently warms up to them – Rhine manages to escape the camp a whole three quarters of the book later but doesn’t realise that her actions can be and were tracked by none other but Vaughn himself

sarcastic approval

Great job Genius!

I mean in a world where technology is advanced enough to make people who live and prosper for insanely long periods of time, and given the fact that she was knocked out cold for days having arrived at the mansion, I would’ve thought that maybe, just maybe Rhine may have considered the possibility of the potential that there may just be a tracking device within her body… Especially with her father-in-law being a scientist and her tendency to annoy him by trying to run away.

So by Sever, I was really wondering whether the book was worth reading which is not something I usually do – and quite honestly having read it, I am not sure if it was worth the effort. While the protagonist had clearly wanted to find her brother since the beginning of the first book, she does nothing in order to actually accomplish that, instead she decides to hide and engage in activities such as cleaning, gardening and relaxing – because whyever not. Linden’s uncle and his odd sense of humour was probably the only thing that made the book bearable.

HOWEVER, the third book did evoke some positive feelings in me, I think that throughout it, I managed to understand Cecily a lot more, and thought that the eventual addition of Rowan (who A- wasn’t very considerate and B – seemed to stop caring that his sister was actually alive a chapter after having met her, but I am completely willing to look past that) did make it a whole lot more interesting. Within Sever, Vaughn’s character gets some pretty BIG  development. The devil-incarnated, pure evil of a monster that we were presented with for more than two books is somewhat forgiven his wrongdoings at least partially without question, which in turn made me very confused.

Apart from DeStefano’s original and very effective writing style, another thing I actually enjoyed was the ending of the trilogy, which really gave the books some closure and for that I was grateful as from experience, some authors are just incapable of giving their stories the conclusion they deserve.

All in all, the trilogy did result in a bit of a downfall and disaster for me, however I will be looking to read DeStefano’s other series to see whether it was just these particular subjects which deserved a bit more research on the author’s part. I would recommend these books to any avid readers of dystopian fiction who are looking for an original read.

My Rating: 1.5/5  Stars (and only because it evoked really really strong emotions as you can probably tell by the length of this post)

“Because even if the lie is beautiful, the truth is what you face in the end”

Rhine