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!]
Imagine a world where every child is assigned a darkbeast, a companion animal to which they are magically bound. When children misbehave, they are ordered to “take it” [the failing] to their darkbeast. The child and the darkbeast are tethered together with a leash, and the darkbeast magically absorbs that failing while absolving the child for their bad behavior. Sounds like a pretty cool system… Except for the part where the children, in order to become adults, have to murder their darkbeasts and offer them up in sacrifice to [the god] Bestius.
When it was Keara’s turn to kill her darkbeast, she couldn’t do it. Caw wasn’t just some annoying animal to her; he was her closest companion and she loved him. Rather than stay and face the harsh punishments dealt out by the Inquisitors who had been called to deal with her rebellion, though, Keara decided to run away from home. In addition to appreciating the message of staying true to yourself regardless of society’s expectations, I also loved the rich details about the people and the mythology of this fantasy world.
Nick Robbins just finished his junior year of high school. While walking up to the bus for the final ride home, he noticed his long-time crush, Lara Hanover, talking to his best friend Charlie. In a miracle of huge proportions, Lara was actually waiting to invite Nick to her end of the year party! Unfortunately for Nick, though, the world doesn’t exactly care that he is in the midst of a popularity/love-life breakthrough. A crazy huge storm cloud has already started rolling in — and no one knows how to make it go away. When all day, every day, becomes nighttime and the sun just can’t get through, temperatures begin to drop, plants start dying, and people begin to panic.
Nick is not sure what is going on or how anyone can stop it, but he has the feeling his dad, an energy physicist for the US government, might know. He has no idea how much his father knows or might be able to do, though, until some thugs show up and kill his dad as they attempt to steal the secret device he had been working on. Nick’s dad wasn’t allowed to talk about his work, but Nick knows the device, nicknamed “Optimus Prime,” must be pretty special if his dad died trying to protect it. Armed only with a gun his father left behind, Nick packs his car full of supplies and sets out to figure out what, if anything, he might be able to do to help Lara, Charlie, and the whole of humankind.
Happy Teen Read Week!
After a global economic meltdown, resources were so scarce and people were so scared that violence and crime skyrocketed. Leaders of Canada, the USA, and Mexico decided that they would be better equipped to reign in the criminals if they worked together, and thus formed the UNA (United Northern Alliance). Citizens of these countries were angry about the alliance and rebelled, which led to massive riots. Then Roland Harka came along. Using both charisma and force, he took over the UNA and appointed himself Prime Minister — for life. With freedoms and civil liberties taken away, communication restricted, and severe penalties for people who disobeyed, order was restored. As a result, all 16 year olds now have to take the GPPT (Government Personality Profile Test). During the GPPT, teens’ brains are scanned to reveal which teens are predisposed toward a life of violence and crime. Those who fail, often referred to as Unanchored Souls, are sent to Prison Island Alpha, also known as The Wheel.
Alenna wasn’t really worried about failing the GPPT, so she was completely taken by surprise when she woke up on The Wheel. She knows she is not crazy, and she has never been prone to violence or crime, so she thinks there must have been a mistake. But, how does she even begin to contact people back home so she can try to get herself off the island? Unless she manages to align herself to one of the two “tribes” of teens who already live on the island — and who constantly battle one another — she might not survive long enough to try and escape. This book, the first of a trilogy, is a worthy addition to my If You Liked the Hunger Games list!
Happy Teen Read Week!
If you’ve read Graceling, and/or it’s prequel Fire, you should probably do yourself a favor and read this sequel! In this story, we learn about Queen Bitterblue’s struggle to return the kingdom of Monsea to normalcy after the death of her father, King Leck. Though Leck has been dead for quite some time, his reign of terror seems to live on. And while Bitterblue is willing to do whatever it takes to help her kingdom recover from the time of her father’s villainous rule, her every move seems to be impeded by the well-meaning advisers she inherited. I very much enjoy fantasy, and especially love stories with strong female characters, so I was happy to see that Katsa [the main character in Graceling] acted as a mentor to Bitterblue.
The reason I have included this book in my Banned Books Week posts is because I have a couple of friends who thought this sequel was a bit *too* disturbing. They thought the flashbacks to King Leck’s time were too horrible, but I thought that the story sort of *had* to be disturbing to truly work. While I can certainly appreciate that some people wouldn’t want to read the descriptions of King Leck’s sick experiments and the tortures he perpetrated, I found that it helped to explain the things I already knew about King Leck and to put the rest of his story into perspective. Maybe I’ve just read too many “dark” books and have desensitized myself, but I honestly don’t believe this violence was gratuitous and, therefore, have to applaud Kristin Cashore for having the guts to give readers the whole story of King Leck and the horrible legacy he left behind.
Happy Banned Books Week!