I am pretty sure the only Ann Brashares books I had read before this ARC were from the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series. It looks like I never reviewed them on this blog, though, so I can’t simply link to what I thought of them. Instead, I will quickly summarize by saying that they are basic contemporary “chick lit” books. They primarily dealt with friendship, dating, and body image — and they were both realistic and well written enough that I’m not surprised to see that they’re still popular. While this book was also well written and has a romantic element to it, it was VERY different in that it has a science fiction angle.
Prenna James is an immigrant, but she didn’t come from another country — she came from another time. She, along with the rest of the people in her tight-knit community, traveled back in time from a future in which global warming had destroyed the world. Warmer temperatures melted the polar ice caps, caused massive floods, and also allowed mosquitoes to thrive. Even though cancer had been cured, human existence was threatened by a blood-borne plague reminiscent of AIDS. Prenna’s time-traveling community has many rules, but the most important rules are to blend in, to avoid making any changes to “the past,” and to avoid intimacy with outsiders. Despite worries about getting in trouble, Prenna has a hard time following the rules. She just can’t understand how they can just sit by and watch people destroy the world instead of trying to make a difference. Plus, of course, there’s the fact that she’s falling for an outsider named Ethan…
This was one of those audiobooks where I didn’t really feel like I completely “got it” but I kept on listening anyway. It won a 2014 Printz Honor, so I figured it must have literary merit even if I wasn’t feeling it, right? Either way, I now have the ability to “booktalk” it to any library patrons who might ask what it’s about, and that is always key.
Standish Treadwell lives in an alternate reality in which “the Motherland” [England?] is in a race to the moon and operates much like WWII Germany — with ghettos of people segregated from the rest of the population and forced to work in labor camps for mere scraps of food. (Especially since I had just listened to Rose Under Fire, the constant deprivation and brutality definitely reminded me of the Holocaust.) He lives in Zone 7 (one of the poorest areas) with only his grandfather, since his parents ran away in an attempt to escape the totalitarian regime. Standish attends an all-boys school in which teachers openly favor kids from well-to-do families and those who come from families of government informants. It’s not uncommon for kids to pick on or beat up on one another, and teachers often discipline via corporal punishments like caning. Though he seems to be concerned that he has a learning disability of some sort [dyslexia?], Standish is quite clever and determined to figure out a plan to stand up to his government for the good of all mankind.
People have been telling me to read this series since the first book came out. And, although I trust the opinions of the people who kept recommending it, I kept thinking about how often I get frustrated waiting for the next books to come out in all the series I read. I get so caught up in the characters that waiting for the next book in a series is like waiting to reunite with a friend who just moved away and won’t be home to visit for at least another year. I don’t get desperate, per se, but it’s not fun to have to keep on waiting all the time! So, I purposely waited to even get started. For real. I just refused to start this series until I knew the third book was almost out. And, boy, am I glad I decided to wait!
Beatrice Prior was born into a society divided into five factions — Abnegation (the selfless), Amity (the peaceful), Candor (the honest), Dauntless (the brave), and Erudite (the intelligent). Although she was born into Abnegation, her society came up with a selection process by which teens could choose to stay in their given faction or to move to a different faction. In preparation for making her choice, Beatrice went through a simulation that was supposed to narrow down which faction would be the best fit. Something went wrong, though, and Beatrice’s test proctor informed her that her test results were anything but definitive; Beatrice was Divergent. She didn’t know what it meant, but the proctor made it quite clear that being Divergent was dangerous and that Beatrice should not tell anyone about her results. I don’t know that I can summarize the rest of the series without getting into spoilers, so I will just wrap things up by saying that fans of other dystopias like The Hunger Games and Delirium will not be disappointed.
I use Grammarly’s plagiarism checker because I’m afraid the Armstrong Fancy Gifts Corporation is hacking my brain to hijack my book reviews! ;-) Seriously, though… Listening to this story made me wonder how close we are, technologically, to having nanobots capable of invading people’s brains to control the things they do and say. A lot of this story was pretty gross — with graphic descriptions of nanobots “down in the meat” — but it was so intriguing that I just couldn’t stop listening!
The basic premise is that there’s a nano-war being fought — with Charles and Benjamin Armstrong [conjoined twins and owners of the Armstrong Fancy Gift Corporation] on one side and a bunch rogue teens who call themselves BZRK on the other. The Armstrongs are fighting for a better world, if you believe what they say — but their plan involves mind control and the removal of free will. BZRK is fighting for people to remain free from mind control, even if it means that some people will make bad decisions that lead to war and general unhappiness. Nothing is ever black and white… especially when it comes to gray matter.
I am so grateful that someone let Susan Beth Pfeffer in on the “secret definition of trilogy” [as Scott Westerfeld put it when he wrote the dedication for Extras]. I was not OK with leaving the Moon Crash Trilogy as it ended in This World We Live In… I needed to know what happened next! Luckily, Susan Beth Pfeffer listened to her fans and kept writing even when her publisher wasn’t [initially] interested in a fourth Moon Crash book.
Miranda’s younger brother, Jon, is now 16 years old. As the baby of the family, he has gotten used to a life of relative privilege. Even when food was extremely scarce, people made sure he was fed. When work needed to be done, others worked harder so he didn’t have to. And when Alex had only 3 slips to get into an enclave — which would provide more safety, food, and educational opportunities for the people within — everyone agreed that those slips should go to Jon, his stepmother, Lisa, and her baby, Gabe. Many clavers got in simply because of the money and power they had before the moon crash, so Jon’s so-called friends often remind him that he’s a “slip” and could be kicked out if he doesn’t play along/act the part of a claver well enough. Since his “job” is playing soccer and his status as a claver gets him as much food, booze, and trouble-free mischief as he wants, though, Jon is often all too happy to play along.
People in White Birch, including some of Jon’s own family members [Miranda, Alex, and his mom], are known as grubs and often work for clavers in the capacity of domestic servants, drivers, and greenhouse workers. I was extremely uncomfortable with Jon’s hateful attitude toward grubs and how cavalierly he acted despite his family’s position, but I could see how easily a teenager might dissociate for the sake of fitting in and surviving in such a harsh reality. As much as I hated Jon and the things he did, it made all too much sense that a spoiled kid raised in a post-apocalyptic world would turn out this way. Luckily, Jon experienced some decent character development and the ending left me feeling like there was hope for Jon and his family… and maybe even a fifth Moon Crash book! ;-)
After finishing the entire trilogy [Delirium, Pandemonium, and Requiem] PLUS the novella collection [Delirium Stories: Hana, Annabel, & Raven], I suddenly realized that I have never reviewed a single one of these stories. I didn’t even have any of them started/saved in my drafts. What?!? I don’t know where my brain has been, but this is a problem I need to fix!
Imagine a world in which people were promised a “cure” that could take away all heartache. Peace and happiness for all as long as everyone has a simple procedure? If it sounds too good to be true, that’s probably because it is. Lena has been raised to believe that love is a disease [Amor Deliria Nervosa] and that life without love is the safest and most stable way to live. People don’t fall in love and get married anymore — they get paired based on government-imposed ratings and compatibility of interests. It’s safer and easier to just fall in line, but Lena has a hard time forgetting the mother who could not be cured and whose last words to her, before committing suicide, were “I love you.” Only a few months before her own procedure, Lena has a chance encounter with a young man named Alex. Despite government assurances that all “invalids” [non-cured people living outside of society] have been taken care of, she’s pretty sure Alex *is* an invalid. And when she starts experiencing symptoms of the Deliria, she also starts to question everything she’s ever taken for granted. Is love really a disorder? Does the government really have everyone’s best interests at heart? And, most importantly, should Lena go ahead with her own procedure or follow her heart?
In post-apocalyptic North America, two countries have replaced the former United States of America — The Republic and The Colonies. Fighting against both of them is also a rebel group that calls itself the Patriots. Though it isn’t clear if The Colonies are any better, readers can easy ascertain that The Republic is not so much a republic as a totalitarian regime. This story is told from the alternating perspectives of characters named Day and June – Day is an independent anarchist who refuses to work for the Patriots but still does everything in his power to sabotage The Republic in their war efforts against The Colonies; June is a military prodigy who got a perfect score on her entrance exams and has been fast-tracked through military training school.
I think the duel narration was a great way to make readers more sympathetic to characters on both sides of the spectrum and to gradually unfold details about what, specifically, is happening both around the country and in Los Angeles [where both Day and June live]. The truth is, while life is clearly better for some people in The Republic, no one is truly free.
There are a lot of series that have sequels/conclusions due out this year, but Shades of Earth (Across the Universe #3) is definitely the book I was most eager to read this January. And, to think, I didn’t even realize how much I enjoyed science fiction before I read Across the Universe! (Granted, this is not “hard core” science fiction, as my husband pointed out, but it counts well enough for me.) You all should know by now how much I hate spoilers, so:
If you’re still with me, I will assume you finished A Million Suns [how did I manage to NOT review that book?!?] and already know that Godspeed was orbiting Centauri-Earth. You know that some of the people aboard Godspeed don’t want to leave the ship and that Amy and Elder plan to bring along anyone who wants to make a go of life on the new planet. Things rarely go as smoothly as planned, so it was no surprise to me when the shuttle experienced a difficult landing and that the thawing of the Earthborns caused strife. Add that to the fact that there are pterodactyl-like animals and some sort of aliens attacking the new civilization, and you’ve got an action-packed story that won’t disappoint!
When I read The Giver, Gathering Blue, and Messenger, I thought it was a trilogy. I had thought the story to be pretty well wrapped up at the end of Messenger, to be honest. I was more than happy, nevertheless, to find out I was wrong. Not only am I a big fan of Lois Lowry, but I have a major weakness for dystopias!
This story begins in the same society as The Giver, but Jonah is not the main character. Instead, we see the society through the eyes of a young girl named Clair. We are with Clair as she gets her work assignment — to be a birthmother — and also when the delivery of the “product” she was carrying goes wrong and results in a Cesarean. Although she is made to wear a mask and can’t see the baby, she manages to find out that her baby, #36, was a boy. A son. Her love and longing for her son is unheard of in that society, so she has to pretend not to think about him and can never admit that she dreams about being able to raise him as her own. I can’t say much more without major spoilers, but rest assured that this tale will reunite characters from all of the books in the series while demonstrating the lengths to which a mother will go for her child.
When I read Unwind, I thought it was a stand-alone book. And, apparently, even Neal Shusterman didn’t originally intend for it to be a part of a trilogy. But then, he couldn’t get this world out of his head and decided to tell the rest of the story. I, for one, was thrilled when this book was announced and could hardly contain my excitement when it finally arrived on the library holds shelf! For anyone who is unfamiliar with the first story, though, I would recommend you quit reading this review and start reading that book.
Connor, Risa, and Lev are all alive and doing as well as can be expected. Sure, they lived through their time at Happy Jack Harvest Camp without being unwound, but that didn’t exactly give them back the lives they had before they were scheduled to be unwound. Lev, for instance, has permanent damage to his entire body because of the chemicals that were used to make him a “clapper” [before he changed his mind]. He now spends all of his time on house arrest or working with high-risk teens, to keep them from behaving badly enough that they will be sent to a harvest camp. Risa and Connor both got hurt in the explosion at Happy Jack, but ended up with very different results. Connor woke up with an arm that used to belong to a kid named Roland, but Risa was able to refuse a new spine and now requires a wheelchair. Though Connor has been presumed dead, he and Risa were actually saved by the ADR (Anti-Divisional Resistance) and taken to a place called the Graveyard. They are now helping to run things and doing the best they can to take care of the teens in this AWOL sanctuary.
With the addition of some new characters — an AWOL named Starkey, a tithe named Miracolina, and a “rewind” named Cam — this story goes beyond a mere sequel and delves even deeper into the moral implications of unwinding. I found this book to be absolutely fascinating and cannot wait until the third book is released. [UnSouled is scheduled for release next fall!]