Ella isn’t psychic, but she has always had the ability to read people very well. Many of the members in her family have a condition called synesthesia, which essentially scrambles up the senses. Her grandmother sees sounds, her uncle can taste words, and Ella can see people’s emotions as somewhat of a colorful aura. Then she meets a guy named Alec, who seems to know her from an earlier time — because he calls her Nora instead of Ella, and she hasn’t gone by the nickname Nora since she was a small child. To make matters even stranger, Ella can usually tell if people are lying to her, based on her synesthesia, but she can’t seem to “read” Alec at all. And when he starts to tell her that everything she knows about her past is really a lie, Ella has no idea whether she should trust him and to whom she might turn for the truth.
Moonbeam had a hard time adjusting to life on the outside. Ever since she was a small child, she lived inside the fence of Holy Church of the Lord’s Legion and was brainwashed to believe that everyone outside the fence was an agent of The Serpent. Even after she was freed from living in the cult’s compound, though, she could still hear the cult’s leader [Father John] speaking to her, in her mind, any time she felt uncertain about what she should say or do. Though she wanted to believe that the psychologists truly wanted to help her and her “brothers and sisters,” she had a very hard time convincing herself to let go of her long-held suspicions and to trust anyone outside of the cult. To make matters worse, Moonbeam found it particularly difficult to trust anyone in a position of authority since she believed that she held at least some of the blame for the fire.
I really appreciated the way the story alternated between “before the fire” and “after the fire” so that readers could become slowly acclimated to Moonbeam’s story rather than being overwhelmed with everything at once. Especially since that was the way the cult gained people’s trust and took away their freedoms — gradually. The most incredible thing about reading this story was knowing that it was inspired by the true story of the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, TX. Readers who found this book interesting and want to read more YA fiction about teens growing up in religious cults should check out The Chosen One and Sister Wife.
Kiva and Seth believed that they were growing up in ancient Alexandria, but it was pretty clear to me that something was off. It just didn’t seem very authentic, and I didn’t think it was because Bodeen had been sloppy with her research. As it turned out, I was right. The details were “off” because the people who set up the virtual reality program for Alexandria had been a little lazy and didn’t bother making all of the details completely authentic. As it turned out, Kiva and Seth were actually growing up on board a spaceship and their brains were experiencing life via virtual reality so that they could still learn while their bodies were sustained in torpor chambers. I don’t really feel like I am giving away any spoilers, though, since this was all revealed fairly early on as Kiva was taken out of torpor and sent along with Seth on board a search vessel, called The Tomb, to try and get a part for their failing ship.
Fans of Across the Universe, Defy the Stars, These Broken Stars, and The 100 should definitely check this one out. The main “problem” I had with this book, though, is that it has quite a cliff-hanger ending and seems to be the beginning of a series — but Goodreads doesn’t name it as part of a series! I am hoping that’s just because it’s so new.
Esta is a talented thief and a powerful Mageus who, though she can travel through time, is stuck in New York City. Why? Because the Order, a group that despises Mageus, has manipulated magic to created something called the Brink. Any Mageus who end up inside the Brink become stuck inside because crossing the Brink essentially drains their powers and kills them. And because of this Brink, magic is dwindling and dying out. But Esta is working on a way to take down the Brink. All she needs to do is travel back in time to steal a particular magical book. The problem, of course, is that she needs to get that book from 1902, when not only the Order but also powerful gangs and corrupt politicians hold quite a bit of power over the Mageus in New York City. This book felt almost as if it were the marriage of Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them and Gangs of New York… Fantastic fun! (I can’t wait until the second book in the series, The Devil’s Thief, is released in October.)
Speth was nervous about giving her Last Day speech. She had to do it right or her sponsors could back out on her, or maybe even sue her. Another lawsuit was the last thing her family needed. Her parents were already sent into servitude because of the National Inherited Debt Act and the Historical Reparations Agency when it was “discovered” that one of their ancestors had illegally downloaded a song. And now that Speth was turning 15, she would be given a Cuff so that she could be charged for every word she spoke and every gesture she made — or have her eyeballs shocked if she couldn’t pay. Speth knew it would be tough to scale back on what she said after 15 years of free speech, but she had no idea she would be tested so soon, or so horribly. As she was walking across a bridge to give her Last Day speech, her best friend, Beecher, jumped and killed himself. She literally could not react before giving her Last Day speech or she would be in breech of her contract. She couldn’t imagine how she would give that speech after what she had just seen, so she decided she just wouldn’t talk. Ever again.
But how could Speth possibly keep her vow? She didn’t really consider how she would finish her education. Get a job. Or even communicate with friends and family. It was clear that the corporations and lawyers had taken things too far by copyrighting words, gestures, and even physical likenesses… But how could Speth fight back, let alone lead a revolution, without speaking? Much like MT Anderson’s Feed, this story challenges readers to consider the consequences of giving corporations and technology too much control over our daily lives. I can’t wait to see what happens next in the Word$ trilogy.
My bestie has been telling me to read this book since it first came out, but I stupidly added it to my TBR list and didn’t really follow through. Even when a coworker and a couple other acquaintances started telling me to read it, I decided that I had a few other things I wanted to read first and put it off a bit longer. Well… That was kinda dumb! Although I will admit that part of me is actually glad I waited — because it means I don’t have to wait for the next couple of the books in the series to be published and can just keep reading! 😉
I am not a huge fan of “epic fantasy” because there always seem to be a million characters and countries to learn, but this book landed safely within my comfort zone. Sure, there were several kingdoms involved and a handful of characters to track, but it was all very manageable. I was also relieved to see that Maas avoided the “helpless damsel in distress” trope and went for a strong female lead. Growing up, I found myself gravitating to Belle rather than any of the other Disney princesses because she spoke her mind and did the saving instead of waiting to be saved. And though some people might draw comparisons between Feyre and Belle, what with the whole going to live with a beast and sacrificing herself to protect her family thing, she is really quite different. Feyre was just so amazing. She was courageous in the face of adversity, smart though she lacked education, and so selfless it hurt to see how poorly her family treated her. To avoid anything “spoilery,” let’s just suffice it to say that she only got more amazing as her circumstances became more difficult. So, yeah… If you don’t like Feyre, we probably can’t be friends.
Between the graphic violence and the steamy sex scenes, many people will likely feel more comfortable with labeling this book as “New Adult” rather than “Young Adult.” But, no matter how you choose to label it or which section of the library you choose as its home, this book/series is an essential purchase for public libraries! And, though it is still labeled as “in production” on IMDB.com, the fact that it has been picked up by German producer Constantin Film is very promising… So you may want to get a few extra copies for when the movie news psyches people up and increases demand.