Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

Review: Scythe by Neal Shusterman

Posted November 27, 2016 by Lily B in Reviews / 19 Comments

Review:  Scythe by Neal ShustermanScythe by Neal Shusterman
Series: Arc of a Scythe, #1
Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers on November 22nd 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Dystopia
Pages: 448
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Publisher
Rating: 3.5 Stars

In a world where disease has been eliminated, the only way to die is to be randomly killed (“gleaned”) by professional reapers (“scythes”). Citra and Rowan are teenagers who have been selected to be scythe’s apprentices, and—despite wanting nothing to do with the vocation—they must learn the art of killing and come to understand the necessity of what they do.
Only one of them will be chosen as a scythe’s apprentice. And when it becomes clear that the winning apprentice’s first task will be to glean the loser, Citra and Rowan are pitted against one another in a fight for their lives.

I didn’t know how to start or write this review, I didn’t think it was easy to put my thoughts together for this book, as you see, it was a bit complicated.

The book is about a Dystopian world set in the Age of Immortality and what happens when the mankind has achieved about literally everything, including immortality.

There is a group or an organization of people called the Scythes, who are professional reapers that glean people by random and they are the only ones that can cause permanent death.

After both Citra and Rowan run into Scythe Faraday during his gleanings and he sees something in them that would make both a great apprentice. It’s unusual for a Scythe to take on more than one apprentice, but Faraday takes a risk anyway. Unfortunately, only one of the two can become a real Scythe and earn the ring – so both Rowan and Citra have to pass three tests before being granted the ring.

When a Scythe at the annual Scythe enclave points out that it’s unheard of, Citra and Rowan now face an even greater risk of one of the winners being forced to glean the loser and puts a lot of things at stake.

I thought the concept was interesting. I liked the world that the author had created and I kind of wanted to know more about it. It felt just a tad bit confusing at times. I did not understand how revivals in the world worked. I get that people could not die, but some of the deaths seemed really unrealistic for people to come back from no matter how you swing it.

The pace of the book itself was a bit slow and well over 400 pages, at times I found myself completely dozing. Most of this  book is about Citra’s and Rowan’s apprenticeship and it moves at a snail pace.

Half the time you are just waiting for something, anything to happen.

The romance was awkward and felt forced. There was no need for it. There is no build up. So if you are a lover of romance, I wouldn’t recommend this book based on that. It plays a really minor part of the whole picture.  I felt like the author threw it in as an afterthought because he believed that somehow it’s a must to have romance in books – it isn’t and it could have done without it. Really, I would have been okay with just friendship in this.

The format and the writing of the book is well put together. The character development was really well done as well. Both Citra and Rowan end up being shaped by their experiences and their training and both in the end come out completely different people with a different kind of purpose.

There is a conflict going on between the Scythes with those who believe in a different kind of gleaning and their ‘leader’ was a monster. I think that is where the book got a little weird for me. I understood the purpose of showing those kind of monsters and what happens when you get the power to kill people, but it was still hard. That being said, yes, there was lot’s of killings in this book and the author tried to paint a picture of what happens what you get the power to kill people. The mass murdering was just absolutely hard to read.

Overall, it was interesting and a decent start. Hopefully I will get to pick up book 2, and hopefully it will move at a quicker pace.

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Review: The Diabolic by S.J. Kincaid

Posted November 9, 2016 by Lily B in Reviews / 23 Comments

Review: The Diabolic by S.J. KincaidThe Diabolic by S.J. Kincaid
Series: Stand-alone
Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers on November 1st 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Dystopia, Science Fiction
Pages: 416
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 3 Stars
Heat:half-flame

A Diabolic is ruthless. A Diabolic is powerful. A Diabolic has a single task: Kill in order to protect the person you’ve been created for.
Nemesis is a Diabolic, a humanoid teenager created to protect a galactic senator’s daughter, Sidonia. The two have grown up side by side, but are in no way sisters. Nemesis is expected to give her life for Sidonia, and she would do so gladly. She would also take as many lives as necessary to keep Sidonia safe.
When the power-mad Emperor learns Sidonia’s father is participating in a rebellion, he summons Sidonia to the Galactic court. She is to serve as a hostage. Now, there is only one way for Nemesis to protect Sidonia. She must become her. Nemesis travels to the court disguised as Sidonia—a killing machine masquerading in a world of corrupt politicians and two-faced senators’ children. It’s a nest of vipers with threats on every side, but Nemesis must keep her true abilities a secret or risk everything.
As the Empire begins to fracture and rebellion looms closer, Nemesis learns there is something more to her than just deadly force. She finds a humanity truer than what she encounters from most humans. Amidst all the danger, action, and intrigue, her humanity just might be the thing that saves her life—and the empire.

A science fiction, standalone novel that uses politics and religion to build a unique, brutal world, but ultimately falls short.

Nemesis is a diabolic, a genetically engineered humanoid that is built with one purpose in mind and that is to protect the person they are bonded to until their very last breath.

When Sidonia, a senator’s daughter is called to court as a hostage – because of her father’s meddling in trying to bring back the study of science – Nemesis finds herself impersonating the one person she would give her life to make sure she is safe. Nemesis thinks she is heading to court to her death, but ends up finding an entirely different, vicious reason for why she was called to court along with the other heir’s of the ruling families.

It’s been a while since I read a science fiction novel, let alone a young adult science fiction novel, so when I saw The Diabolic, I knew I had to read it right away. Unfortunately the book started off on a rocky ground for me and continued to crumble along. It did not help that it sounds like it is in fact a standalone and has left me with more questions than answers.

I didn’t really know how to rate this book, and I didn’t really know how to review it. Even as I sit here and write it now, it has taken me a few days to chew over my thoughts and try to put them out there as a written word.

I liked the fact that the setting of the book took place in outer space, but where the setting could have really shined – it barely played a big part of the book. The story is that the emperor has suppressed the education of sciences, so the current technology used by the people is so old they don’t even know how to fix it. All these ships that carry people through space break down and cause a rip in the space itself – they call it malignant space that closely resembles a black hole and people are scared that as it expands it will eat up their existence.

But this is just a background story that sets the brutal mood of the book. Most of the story takes place on Chrysanthemum, which is where the Emperor lives and I believe it’s a ship? I found that a little unclear.

I felt like the author was trying to make some sort of political and religious statement here as both play a large part and NOT in a good way. The people are very religious and devout and the political control these people with an iron fist to the point where the emperor and his followers have no qualms when it comes to killing a lot of innocent people. There is a statement that the author makes that the moment people expand their knowledge and discover their capability there is a political revolution and they try to overthrow the current government and that is something the emperor is so afraid of that he even killed his own family members to get to where he is today.

There was a lot of killing, brutal killing and a lot of innocent people and animals alike die in the hands of more powerful. I don’t know why I didn’t like this, it didn’t settle well in my stomach and maybe it’s because it hit too close to some kind of a twisted reality that we are trying not to acknowledge, and I hope that is not the case, but that turned me off from the story.

I didn’t understand Nemesis character. Was she a machine or a human? She has no tear ducks, but many times it mentions that her eyes blurb when she doesn’t blink. She is suppose to have one mission in life and that is to be a cold heartless killer in order to protect the one person she is bonded to. Okay, but as the story goes on, Nemesis has a conscious and she can think, act, and even feel as we grow to find out. This baffles me a little, as the other Diabolics in this book don’t seem to exhibit similar traits. What made her so different?

I was also a bit confused about the issues in this book. It mentions people now knowing even how to fix the current technology, but how did they survive this long on such old ships? Things break down, period, even the ships they live on should be able to break down and they should be able to fix them – so this idiot didn’t make sense to me. If they didn’t have the basic of knowledge on how to fix their ships, then they couldn’t have survived as long as they did – even the ships they live on would have broken down. Even general maintenance need some sort of knowledge.

I felt there were a lot of holes. The romance was meh to me at best. I felt when it finally happened, it was a bit quick, but I guess these two deserved each other.

Overall, I was hoping to be more impressed and I wasn’t. The writing was good, but the pacing faltered at times. I spent have the time wondering if it was over yet or when it will be over. I felt there was a lot of holes left in the story and the ending happened kind of quickly, things just fell together for the characters a little too well.

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Review: Every Hidden Thing by Kenneth Oppel

Posted October 13, 2016 by Lily B in Reviews / 33 Comments

Review:  Every Hidden Thing by Kenneth OppelEvery Hidden Thing by Kenneth Oppel
Series: Stand-alone
Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers on October 11th 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Historical Fiction
Pages: 368
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 2.5 Stars
Heat:one-half-flames

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

The hunt for a dinosaur skeleton buried in the Badlands, bitter rivalries, and a forbidden romance come together in this beautifully written new novel that’s Romeo and Juliet meets Indiana Jones.
Somewhere in the Badlands, embedded deep in centuries-buried rock and sand, lies the skeleton of a massive dinosaur, larger than anything the late nineteenth century world has ever seen. Some legends call it the Black Beauty, with its bones as black as ebony, but to seventeen-year-old Samuel Bolt it’s the “rex”, the king dinosaur that could put him and his struggling, temperamental archaeologist father in the history books (and conveniently make his father forget he’s been kicked out of school), if they can just quarry it out.
But Samuel and his father aren’t the only ones after the rex. For Rachel Cartland this find could be her ticket to a different life, one where her loves of science and adventure aren’t just relegated to books and sitting rooms. Because if she can’t prove herself on this expedition with her professor father, the only adventures she may have to look forward to are marriage or spinsterhood.
As their paths cross and the rivalry between their fathers becomes more intense, Samuel and Rachel are pushed closer together. And with both eyeing the same prize, their budding romance seems destined to fail. But as danger looms on the other side of the hills, causing everyone’s secrets to come to light, Samuel and Rachel are forced to make a decision. Can they join forces to find their quarry—and with it a new life together—or will old enmities and prejudices keep them from both the rex and each other?

Every Hidden Thing is described as a story of Romeo and Juliet meets Indiana Jones. It’s a story about two paleontologists and their kids in search of the Black Beauty or “rex” one of the biggest dinosauria to be discovered at its time in North America. It is also loosely based on a historical event called “Bone Wars

I don’t know where to begin. I hate, HATE writing bad reviews so I am going to make this as positive as I can.

Samuel and Rachel are the children of two feuding paleontologists. Both of their father’s get a hint from the same source about a possible massive carnivorous dinosaur, awaiting to be discovered in the west in the area called the Badlands. A lot becomes at stake as the two families compete as to who is to find the dinosaur. Samuel and Rachel find unlikely in each other as their father’s behaviors drive them to form a force in hopes of recovering the bones themselves.

What did I like about this book?

  • The story-line was interesting. I like that Oppel went out of his way and did a bit of research into both the Native American culture and the Bone Wars before including it in his book. It added substance to the book and made it slightly more believable.
  • The writing in itself was pretty good and consistent. Nothing in particularly dragged and I managed to get through the book fairly quickly.
  • The book was about discovering dinosaurs and working in the field, which I found fascinating especially given the time period and the territory wars between Native American’s and the white man.

 

So why the two and a half stars? POSSIBLE SPOILERS AHEAD, READ AT YOUR OWN RISK.

  • I disliked the characters tremendously. I absolutely hated the fathers and the two main characters alike. The adults in this book had been just very childlike, and although I don’t doubt that maybe there was some truth to it based on history, the behavior at times were downright disgusting. Honestly, I disliked all the characters so much I am surprised I finished this.
    Rachel’s father was especially horrendous in his actions, especially when he sawed off the dead Native American’s head and then at one part of the book ironically insisted that he was not a savage. Their actions sometimes made me sick.

“We  could give him a good trashing,” said Daniel Simpson.

I looked at him in revulsion; at the same moment my father sternly said. “That won’t be necessary. We’re not savages. What you can do is fetch the heads. They’re in the storage wagon.”

  • The book is from the point of view of Rachel and Samuel and I just couldn’t get behind these two characters. Rachel was in no way someone I could relate to and Samuel I just generally disliked. There was instant love on Samuel’s behalf, and Rachel was about as emotional as a dry wall. There was no substance to her character outside of her passion for going to a university.
  • The romance was horrible. Samuel fell in love with Rachel quickly and could not understand why she did not reciprocate his feelings. He acted as if he was doing her a favore at being in love with her and basically called her emotionless and plain looking to her face. Once again, I found myself struggling to finish this book at that point. I found the behavior disgusting and childish and I was starting to wonder if Samuel was younger then he was suppose to be because he sure as hell acted like he was.
  • To top it off the two decide to ditch their father and their childlike behavior and join forces by running off and getting married. What? Why? How does this make any sense? The romance felt forced to begin with and all the sudden these two are getting married? Of course after they get married Samuel’s behavior towards Rachel turns absolutely crappy when he starts to realize they got married too young and he might not be able to support her. So he gets pissy and moody and treats her like crap. She knew how he was before she got married to him so it absolutely makes NO sense that she decided to go through with it anyway. And oh god, he gets super pissed off because she doesn’t want to have his babies… what? what? what did I just read?!
  • Also, there were super awkward sex scenes, farts and armpit hair. Need I say more?

I got a little more passionate and irritated as the review went on, I apologize for that. It could have been better, it had the potential to be fantastic, but it fell flat. I came into this book ready to love it, expectations were high. When I think of Indiana Jones the first thing that comes to mind is archeology, adventure, action, danger and passion. Indiana Jones this book was not.

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Review: Dangerous Lies by Becca Fitzpatrick

Posted November 15, 2015 by Lily B in Reviews / 0 Comments

Review:  Dangerous Lies by Becca FitzpatrickDangerous Lies by Becca Fitzpatrick
Series: Stand-alone
Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers on November 10th 2015
Genres: Young Adult
Pages: 384
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4 Stars

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Stella Gordon’s life is a lie.
She does not belong in Thunder Basin, Nebraska. As the star witness in a murder trial against a drug dealer, Stella is now in the Witness Protection Program. The small-town locals can never know who she really is. Not even Chet Falconer, the one boy who makes her want to reveal her true self. She knows that telling the truth will only bring violence to this safe haven.
Despite how hard Stella tries to stay under the radar, danger is fast approaching. Criminals have a way of getting rid of witnesses, and Stella may have made the one mistake that could lead the cold-blooded men hunting for her right to her doorstep.

Estella Goodwinn has witnessed a terrible crime and upon agreeing to testify against the man who is sitting in jail, she must enter the witness protection program in order to keep her from the dangerous crime world the man is involved with. Because Danny Balando is pissed, and his connections in the cartel will want to find the girl who tossed him in jail.

I am completely stunned by this book, Becca Fitzpatrick really blew this one out of the water for me. She took the main character, made her utterly unlikable and through careful character development and growth, swiftly changed how I felt about Stella. At the beginning I wanted to grow at how inconsiderate and ungrateful Stella was. These people were putting their lives on the line to protect her and kept hitting the wall of snob that this character came built with. I wanted to throttle her. I literally put the book down for a few days because I was so angry at how she was handling her situation. After calming down, I plowed on, because despite my utter hate for Stella’s character, Becca Fitzpatrick’s writing was absolute perfection. Her way with words really knows how to pull you in, and her talent for writing really shines through the book. Once I was engrossed and trapped, I could NOT put this book down.

Mystery, secrets, lies and the mix characters of Thunder Basin, Nebraska made this book a real page turner. I loved seeing Stella grow and develop as a character. I love seeing her shed her jaded ways and accept Thunder Basin for what it was and the people surrounding her as friends. I also came to admire her as a character. In the end, I saw her for what she was, at the beginning a scared and lost girl who lashed out at everyone because she was losing her identity and growing into a strong and remarkable woman. I was glad to see her refuse at being pushed around when she ran into her troubles with Trigger and proud that she took action instead of letting the guy get away with everything he was getting away with, just because of who he was to the town.

I admired the way she treated the character’s close to her, including Inny and Chet. The growth of trust and relationship building between her and Carmina, the woman who took her under her wings when she entered the protection program.

There was just so much going on, never really a dull moment. The secrets and lies Stella told really were taking a toll on her and made her question her morals.

Learning about Carmina’s past, really made you feel for the character. It’s devastating, it’s poignantly sad and it touched my emotions on so many levels. It left me a bit startled that after everything she went through, she wasn’t a more jaded character.

The romance in this was slow-burn and I loved it. I was so glad because it was such a refreshing change from all the recent insta-love. Because of Stella’s previous relationship that she had to leave behind, and all the lies she has to keep secret, her and Chet’s relationship starts as friendship that very slowly blooms into something more. It was believable and fantastic because I totally adored Chet. He has his own share of demons in the closet, things in the past that he has to live with because a part of the town does not seem to want to let him forget. He is such a strong, moral character with a heart of gold. The way he felt he needed to take care of his brother was both as heart breaking as respectable. The ending only made me love him ever more.

Chet was a good guy – a great guy. He didn’t deserve the deception and heartache that would come from getting involved with me.

 

Despite Stella’s mother being a sorry excuse for a human being and bringing all this trouble coming down on top of her daughter’s head, there was still a strong sense of family in this book, especially when Carmina and Stella started to form a deeper bond. The care was obviously there, especially a moment that moved the bonds of their relationship and made it stronger.

Another part wanted to hug her. Maybe even shed tears of gratitude. She had my back. I wasn’t alone.

 

I didn’t like Stella’s mother’s character, she was a junkie who Stella as a minor ends up taking care of because the drug addiction and depression was so strong she could not function as a normal mom.

A glimpse of blue sky, a singing bird on the windowsill. Or, in my case, not having the weight of caring for my mom dragging me under. What if Thunder Basin was my chance to come up for air?

 

I think the only reason I did not give this book 5 stars is because everything happened in the end so quickly, all the actions and the sense of forbodding that was happening in this book exploded and wrapped up rather quickly. I was also confused with what happened to Reed, the author never really touched on that in the wrap up.

Outside of that. I really enjoyed the masterfully writing that kept me turning the pages late into the night. Even if it did give me a couple of black circles under my eyes, it was totally well worth it. I adored it all and can’t wait to see what Fitzpatrick has in store for me next.

I leaned my back against the wall and shut my eyes. I rested a hand on the windowsill and let the cool air wash over my clammy skin. I breathed deeply, trying to plant my feet solidly in Thunder Basin.


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My problems receded into the shadows and life seemed simple again. I felt cool, sweet relief. Tonight Thunder Basin didn’t feel like a prison. It felt like a set of open doors at the end of a long, painful road, beckoning me closer.


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This review was originally posted on Night Owl Book Café

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