Tag «Dystopian»

Series Review: The Hybrid Chronicles by Kat Zhang

Series Review: The Hybrid Chronicles by Kat Zhang

Series Review: Is this series worth your time? Does it get better as the novels progress? Or does it get worse? Find out below:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for What’s Left of Me (from Goodreads):

I should not exist. But I do.

Eva and Addie started out the same way as everyone else—two souls woven together in one body, taking turns controlling their movements as they learned how to walk, how to sing, how to dance. But as they grew, so did the worried whispers. Why aren’t they settling? Why isn’t one of them fading? The doctors ran tests, the neighbors shied away, and their parents begged for more time. Finally Addie was pronounced healthy and Eva was declared gone. Except, she wasn’t . . .

For the past three years, Eva has clung to the remnants of her life. Only Addie knows she’s still there, trapped inside their body. Then one day, they discover there may be a way for Eva to move again. The risks are unimaginable-hybrids are considered a threat to society, so if they are caught, Addie and Eva will be locked away with the others. And yet . . . for a chance to smile, to twirl, to speak, Eva will do anything.

breakdown

Series: The Hybrid Chronicles
Author: Kat Zhang
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Dystopian, Science Fiction
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Dates: September 2012 – September 2014
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I think I’ve moved this series on and off of my TBR numerous times over the years. But the faces on the covers stare back at me every time I browse my library’s eBooks, enticing me to have another peek. It wasn’t until I was looking at available audiobooks that I decided to revisit the series. I loved the idea of the story (the scientist in me thought “neato!”) and it has been such a long time since I read a straight up dystopian novel that I immediately checked it out.

The Concept / The World:

The whole idea that there are two people within one body just fascinates me.  And I love the layer it brings to the character development. I think in any other novel or plot-hook, Eva would be a slightly boring character. But her struggle to find her independence while maintaining her relationship with Addie–all while sharing a body–makes her character development unique and more complex than other heroines in some dystopian stories.

The Plot:

What’s Left of Me (#1) is pretty formulaic for anyone who has ever read a dystopian novel before. And because I’ve been around the block a time or too, nothing is overly shocking or overly eventful. But again, the concept is what kept me hooked.

I felt that way throughout the series truthfully. There weren’t any big twists or revelations that had me going “WOW”. But there is a bit of an unreliable narrator thing going on with Eva so it kept my attention.

The Characters:

Like I said above, the hybrid concept amplifies the characters in a way. Eva goes through a different identity crisis than any other dystopian heroine I’ve ever encountered. It was super interesting to watch her grow and come into her own. In the same breath, she wasn’t anything overly new either but she worked for the story.

The Romance:

It was pretty refreshing that this is a subtle aspect to the plot. I think it enhances the dilemma of the concept though in some ways I wish it was utilized a little more.

My Audiobook Experience:

I’m glad I opted for the audio version. I think it just amplified the emotions of the characters more than me reading  the text would.

Series Rating: 3/5

What’s Left of Me 3/5 | Once We Were 3/5 | Echoes of Us 3/5

overall

If you’ve read many dystopian novels before, you might find this a little underwhelming. But I think the concept is fresh and that will keep readers invested.

Read if You Like: dystopian novels
Avoid if You: want more complex plot

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DNF Series Review: The Outlands Pentalogy by Rebecca Crunden

DNF Series Review: The Outlands Pentalogy by Rebecca Crunden

Series Review: Is this series worth your time? Does it get better as the novels progress? Or does it get worse? Find out below:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for A Touch of Death (from Goodreads):

A thousand years in the future, the last of humanity live inside the walls of the totalitarian Kingdom of Cutta. The rich live in Anais, the capital city of Cutta, sheltered from the famine and disease which ravage the rest of the Kingdom. Yet riches and power only go so far, and even Anaitians can be executed. It is only by the will of the King that Nate Anteros, son of the King’s favourite, is spared from the gallows after openly dissenting. But when he’s released from prison, Nate disappears.

A stark contrast, Catherine Taenia has spent her entire life comfortable and content. The daughter of the King’s Hangman and in love with Thom, Nate’s younger brother, her life has always been easy, ordered and comfortable. That is, where it doesn’t concern Nate. His actions sullied not only his future, but theirs. And unlike Thom, Catherine has never forgiven him.

Two years pass without a word, and then one night Nate returns. But things with Nate are never simple, and when one wrong move turns their lives upside down, the only thing left to do is run where the King’s guards cannot find them – the Outlands. Those wild, untamed lands which stretch around the great walls of the Kingdom, filled with mutants and rabids.

breakdown

Series: Outlands Pentalogy
Author: Rebecca Crunden
# of Books: 5 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Dystopian, Science Fiction
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple
Publication Dates: February 2017 – July 2019
Source & Format: Author–eARC

thoughts

Disclaimer: I stopped reading A Touch of Death (#1) at 21%. Find out why below…

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

When Rebecca reached out and asked if I would be interested in reviewing her series, I was definitely interested. I love a good dystopian novel and after reading the synopsis, I was intrigued by the many layers it promised.

What I Liked:

–The Action Starts Immediately–

We literally hit the ground running with two characters and are thrust into the crux of issue: the need to escape to the Outlands.

And I think some readers with find it suspenseful that we get into the thick of things quickly without much preamble, but for me…

What I Didn’t Like:

–I Felt Like I Started 5 Chapters In–

The problem I had with the fast start is that I felt like I was immediately behind. In the prologue, we see Nate in jail and then at the start of the first “chapter” (there aren’t really chapters), he’s running with Catherine through the fields.

What? Why? Who are these people?!

It was almost like the synopsis served as the exposition for this series and that in order to understand the background, you need to read it first. And I don’t like that in my books. I want a little more foreplay before we get into the crux of the issues.

In some ways, it felt like the worldbuilding wasn’t there at all and then other times, I felt like I was getting dumped on with info. It was just overwhelming for me.

Will I Finish It?

Unfortunately, this just wasn’t for me so I will be finishing my time with this series here.

My Rating: DNF

overall

As a reader who needs that foundation and worldbuilding early on, this just didn’t work for me. But others who like long worded prose and the suspense of slowly putting the pieces together might enjoy this.

Read if You Like: dystopian, fast-paced plots
Avoid if You: need strong worldbuilding from the start

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DNF Review: Top Choice by Sophie McAloon

DNF Review: Top Choice by Sophie McAloon

DNF December Review Blitz — Day 8: I’m sharing my thoughts on some book series that I have marked as incomplete as I have never finished the first novel in the series. Find out why these weren’t for me:

Synopsis for Top Choice (from Goodreads):

“…THE HANDMAID’S TALE MEETS MAGIC MIKE”

As a future leader of the female-led regime her ancestors fought hard to establish, Alice Kearns is no stranger to pressure. Being the best in a society where women are expected to be high-achieving is the only option her powerful mother has ever accepted for her. But fortunately, as of her eighteenth birthday, Ali has a place to blow off steam: she’s finally allowed into the Choice Clubs.

Filled with an enticing mix of music, drinks and gorgeous guys, the Choice Clubs were founded to ensure that smart girls wouldn’t get distracted in their real lives by anything as trivial as a shallow crush or a pretty face. Choice guys are fun, flirty, and the perfect eye candy, but Ali would never dream of actually falling for one—until she meets Tag.

Tag McPhail is Top Choice. With his mischievous grin and a body to die for, he is exactly the kind of boy that Ali’s mother believes needs to be kept contained. But after he kisses Ali at the Choice Club, she suddenly sees him everywhere—and she’s surprised to learn that there’s more to him than his perfect looks. Tag is sweeter, funnier, and smarter than Ali ever expected… and, she soon discovers, he’s also dangerous. Because Tag leads a double life: when he’s not working at the clubs, he’s part of a rebel group trying to overturn the girl power society that the women in Ali’s family worked so hard to put in place.

Getting closer to Tag upends everything Ali thought she knew. But will she betray everything she was raised to protect for a guy she’s not even sure she can trust?

breakdown

Author: Sophie McAloon
Genre: Young Adult/New Adult, Dystopia, Romance
Heat Rating:  unsure
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: April 16, 2018
Source & Format: Hidden Gem Books–eARC

Copy provided: Hothead (Book #4)

thoughts

Disclaimer: I stopped reading Top Choice at 23% (Start of Chapter 7). Find out why below…

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

How can you not read a book with the tagline “Handmaiden’s Tale meets Magic Mike”? I was so intrigued when the review opportunity for this crossed my inbox that I had to break my request rules and attempt to secure myself a copy.

What I Liked:

–The Matriarchal Society–

I love books that challenge our everyday ideals and dystopian novels are a great way to do that as they often exploit an aspect of our society. Here, we get a world ruled by women and only the educated can vote in elections. It’s an interesting concept as we currently live in a world where women are constantly fighting for equality in all aspects of life around the world.

Which is why I wish it was elaborated on more…

What I Didn’t Like:

–The Lack of World Building–

With a premise like this, you need solid world building and this one lacked it for me. I didn’t get why everyone had “Cards” or what “Top Choice” was or why society had even evolved in this direction in the first place. So I struggled to understand what the setting was and why the characters were acting a certain way because of it.

It was one of those situations that the more I read, the less I understood and the more questions I had.

–The Romance–

Again, I struggled with this because I didn’t understand where these lovey feelings came from. I understand Alice’s interest in Tag given their first few encounters as he is rather mysterious but they didn’t interact enough for me to understand where her love-driven feelings were coming from.

Will I Finish It?

I don’t think so. While I’m curious about the world and the like, the other reviews I read gave me the impression I wouldn’t enjoy the rest of the novel.

My Rating: DNF

overall

This one had a very cool concept but the execution just wasn’t at the level I wanted (or expected) it to be.

Read if You Like: like romance focused dystopian novels
Avoid if You: need strong world-building

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Series Review: Darkness Before Dawn by J.A London

Series Review: Darkness Before Dawn by J.A London

DNF December Review Blitz — Day 3: I’m sharing my thoughts on some book series that I have marked as incomplete as I have never finished the first novel in the series. Find out why these weren’t for me:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Darkness Before Dawn (from Goodreads):
Only sunlight can save us.

We built the wall to keep them out, to keep us safe. But it also makes us prisoners, trapped in what’s left of our ravaged city, fearing nightfall.

After the death of my parents, it’s up to me—as the newest delegate for humanity—to bargain with our vampire overlord. I thought I was ready. I thought I knew everything there was to know about the monsters. Then again, nothing could have prepared me for Lord Valentine . . . or his son. Maybe not all vampires are killers. Maybe it’s safe to let one in.

Only one thing is certain: Even the wall is not enough. A war is coming and we cannot hide forever.

breakdown

Series: Darkness Before Dawn
Author: J.A. London
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal, Vampires, Romance, Dystopian
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Dates: May 2012 – June 2013
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

thoughts

Disclaimer: After completing the first novel, I have opted not to pick up the sequels. Find out why below…

My Expectations:

In the height of the YA vampire craze, this series crossed my radar. I mean, those covers are gorgeous (even if they look like they belong to the Fallen Series)! I briefly started the first book but wasn’t able to finish it before it had to be returned to my library but I managed to get it soon after and pick up where I left off.

I probably should have just left it unfinished. Here’s why:

The Concept / The World:

You could almost label this book as “Teen” simply because of the drama we get for the first half of the book. It’s that petty high school drama of “who is dating who”, Dawn dealing with her boyfriend, mean girls, etc.

From the synopsis I expected some gritty, dark drama about vampires and maybe throw in some grizzly vampire blood sucking or death scenes. And the sad part is that this book could definitely have this darker direction because J.A. London has created a world that could go to that level. Instead they (because it is a mother-son author duo) decides to focus on trivial things and that just didn’t work for me.

The Plot:

With about a third to go, the plot actually turns into something interesting that can get your attention. It’s almost too little too late by that point. Which is a shame because readers probably stopped reading way before this point–and I was nearly one of them.

The Characters:

Dawn wasn’t a thrilling heroine to follow around either; I found her to be a dull character. The worst part: I was completely indifferent to her as a character because she wasn’t overly angsty or anything so I couldn’t bring myself to dislike or hate her–instead I found myself indifferent to her.

I really loved Victor though and I wish he was more predominate or even had narration parts because his character actually interested me.

Will I Finish It?:

Despite the mediocre start, I was willing to give book #2 a shot given the way things were going. I also noticed that the sequels were much smaller in size as well so they wouldn’t be big time investments. But it’s been over 4 years since I read the first book and I haven’t thought about this series besides the time I did a big TBR purge. So, no, I will not be finishing this series at all.

Series Rating: DNF

Darkness Before Dawn 3/5 | Blood-Kissed Sky N/A | After Daybreak N/A

overall

Perfect for YA Vampire fans who like the lighter reads; but those craving darker stories will need to look elsewhere.

Read if You Like: YA vampire stories
Avoid if You: want darker paranormal reads

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DNF Series Review: Insignia by S J Kincaid

DNF Series Review: Insignia by S J Kincaid

Series Review: Is this series worth your time? Does it get better as the novels progress? Or does it get worse? Find out below:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Insignia (from Goodreads):

The earth is in the middle of WWIII in Insignia, the first entry in S. J. Kincaid’s fast-paced sci-fi adventure trilogy perfect for fans of Ender’s Game.

The planet’s natural resources are almost gone, and war is being fought to control the assets of the solar system. The enemy is winning. The salvation may be Tom Raines. Tom doesn’t seem like a hero. He’s a short fourteen-year-old with bad skin. But he has the virtual-reality gaming skills that make him a phenom behind the controls of the battle drones.

As a new member of the Intrasolar Forces, Tom’s life completely changes. Suddenly, he’s someone important. He has new opportunities, friends, and a shot at having a girlfriend. But there’s a price to pay. . .

breakdown

Series: Insignia
Author: S J Kincaid
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here)

There is a novella, #1.5, Allies

Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Teen, Science Fiction, Dystopian
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: Third Person, Single
Publication Dates: July 2012 – October 2014
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Disclaimer: I stopped reading Insignia (#1) at 51% (middle of Chapter 14). Find out why below…

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

After I read (and simply ADORED) Kincaid’s The Diabolic in the summer of 2018, I was eager to check out her other works. This was the other series my library had and they had it available in audio (which is how I read The Diabolic) so it seemed like a good sign!

The synopsis doesn’t give much away but it sounded interesting enough and so I dove in immediately after DNFing another SciFi novel that just wasn’t working for me.

What I Liked:

–The Concept–

I really loved the entire concept of this story. Society is so advanced that we don’t use humans to physically fight wars; instead, they use machines to do it remotely. When I went through my anime phase in high school, Gundam SEED was my first and favourite show and they used mechas to fight; so the concept here gave me some great nostalgia.

And the simulations the kids do for training were creative and entertaining to read about.

–Despite the War and Premise, It Had a Lighter Tone–

I find most of my YA novels have a darker tone to them lately. I think part of that goes hand in hand with me growing up and where my interests lie when it comes to book. However, I enjoyed the lighter tone this novel had. Sure, Tom’s life isn’t easy and he is being recruited to fight in a war. But there isn’t murder behind every chapter or villains who will do anything at any cost. (I hope that makes sense). It’s got a more upbeat tone to it as Tom tries to navigate his new life and undergoes most challenges a 14 year old boy does in a futuristic setting.

What I Didn’t Like:

–The Lack of an Overarching Plot–

I should clarify that there are some overarching plots in this story. You’ve got Tom’s rivalry with Medusa and breached files for example. But I just kept waiting for this “big” reveal to get the plot really started. See I was halfway through and in some ways I felt like we just kept rehashing the same things over and over. I needed a little more to the plot besides Tom navigating school.

In a lot of ways, this book reminded me of the first Divergent book where you watch Tris train and find her way in her new faction. But where that book succeeds is in the inklings letting you know that something bigger is happening and as that gets revealed, you get more invested in the story. I didn’t get that sense that that would be the case here.

–I Felt a Little Old Reading This–

I’m a firm believer that you can read any book of any genre at any age; that YA and middle grade novels are not just for the targeted marketing audience. However, I do believe that there are some books you just might not enjoy if you read them when you are not  a part of the intended audience. That’s the case here.

I firmly believe if I read this book when I was in high school (ie when it first came out), this review would be completely different (namely, I would have finished the book). But as it stands now in my life, I didn’t really care for (what is petty to me now) issues that were plaguing Tom’s life like popularity and physical appearance. I crave something a little more cerebral than that when reading.

My Audiobook Experience:

Other than the wickedly long length of the audio version (it’s like 15.5 hours!) it’s a very well done production. I thought the narrator did a great job with the story.

Will I Finish It?

I don’t think so. Perhaps the text version would be quicker for me to read but the sequel’s synopsis didn’t really interest me.

My Rating: DNF

Insignia  DNF | [Allies N/A] | Vortex N/A | Catalyst N/A

overall

Perfect for fans of books in the Teen or younger YA genres! I’ve never read the Ender’s Game but what I do know makes me think this recommendation holds true.

Read if You Like: science fiction, dystopian
Avoid if You: like older (age-wise) YA titles

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DNF Review: Gunslinger Girl by Lyndsay Ely

Single Sundays: While this blog may be focused on reviewing book series as a whole, we can’t forget about the good ole’ standalone novel! On Sundays, I will review a novel that is considered to be a standalone novel. Here is this week’s offering:

Synopsis for Gunslinger Girl (from Goodreads):

James Patterson presents a bold new heroine—a cross between Katniss Everdeen and Annie Oakley: Serendipity Jones, the fastest sharpshooter in tomorrow’s West.

Seventeen-year-old Serendipity “Pity” Jones inherited two things from her mother: a pair of six shooters and perfect aim. She’s been offered a life of fame and fortune in Cessation, a glittering city where lawlessness is a way of life. But the price she pays for her freedom may be too great….

In this extraordinary debut from Lyndsay Ely, the West is once again wild after a Second Civil War fractures the U.S. into a broken, dangerous land. Pity’s struggle against the dark and twisted underbelly of a corrupt city will haunt you long after the final bullet is shot.

breakdown

Author: Lyndsay Ely
Genre: Young Adult, Dystopian, Romance
Heat Rating: Unsure
Point of View: Third Person, Single
Publication Date: January 2, 2018
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

thoughts

Disclaimer: I stopped reading Gunslinger Girl at 17% (Start of Chapter 7). Find out why below…

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Ever since I read (and loved) Vengeance Road, I’ve been eager to read YA Westerns. I had zero luck with Walk on Earth a Stranger but there was something about Gunslinger Girl  that gave me hope it would be the one. I had great luck with Stalking Jack the Ripper, the first “James Patterson Presents” novel so I was optimistic when this one came in from the library.

What I Liked:

–The Premise of the World–

I really loved that this was set in the future but had the throwback to the Western era. I will admit that I was disappointed this wasn’t a true Western at first. But what I love about the Western genre is that we often see the grittiness of human nature. There is a reason they call it the “Wild West” after all. The character’s main drive is to survive and so we see them tested in a way we don’t often do in more modern or fantasy novels.

Add to that the dystopian elements (like breeding programs and colony communities) and I was intrigued…until nothing was really done with them.

What I Didn’t Like:

–The Lack of World Building–

Truthfully, if the synopsis didn’t highlight the fact that a Second Civil War had occurred, I would have been really confused. Like I’m not sure if I would have picked that up in the material I read.

Also, the Western aspect is such a small aspect of this story. So they all carry guns and it isn’t safe to leave town to bandits? You can transpose that from any dystopian novel without the Wild West influence. That was very disappointing and it didn’t look like it would get any stronger either as the setting shifts to a carnival aspect that I wasn’t feeling at all.

–Pity is too Blah–

I was very underwhelmed with Pity’s character. I went in thinking she was some already a badass chick but that is far from the case. Even with some of the events that happen to her, she just seemed so tame. I just couldn’t get invested in her character. Perhaps she would have had some good character development later in the novel (honestly, there is a lot you could do with her) but I didn’t want to dedicate the time to find out.

Will I Finish It?

Nope. I read some reviews (both positive and negative) and decided this book wasn’t for me. I just didn’t like the way it was progressing so I’ve decided to leave it there.

My Rating: DNF

overall

As long as you know that this is a dystopian novel and not a Western, I think you might find something to enjoy here.

Read if You Like: dystopian, slower stories
Avoid if You: want a true Western

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DNF Series Review: Prisoners of Peace by Erin Bow

DNF December Review Blitz — Day 1: I’m sharing my thoughts on some book series that I have marked as incomplete as I have never finished the first novel in the series. Find out why these weren’t for me:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for The Scorpion Rules (from Goodreads):

The world is at peace, said the Utterances. And really, if the odd princess has a hard day, is that too much to ask?

Greta is a duchess and crown princess—and a hostage to peace. This is how the game is played: if you want to rule, you must give one of your children as a hostage. Go to war and your hostage dies.

Greta will be free if she can survive until her eighteenth birthday. Until then she lives in the Precepture school with the daughters and sons of the world’s leaders. Like them, she is taught to obey the machines that control their lives. Like them, she is prepared to die with dignity, if she must. But everything changes when a new hostage arrives. Elián is a boy who refuses to play by the rules, a boy who defies everything Greta has ever been taught. And he opens Greta’s eyes to the brutality of the system they live under—and to her own power.

As Greta and Elián watch their nations tip closer to war, Greta becomes a target in a new kind of game. A game that will end up killing them both—unless she can find a way to break all the rules.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Canadian Author, Cover Love
Series: Prisoners of Peace; The Scorpion Rules
Author: Erin Bow
# of Books: 2 (The Scorpion Rules, The Swan Riders)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Dystopia, Romance
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Dates: September 2015 – September 2016
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Disclaimer: I stopped reading The Scorpion Rules at 18% (middle of Chapter 6). Find out why below…

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

There was a lot that drew me to this series. It’s written by a Canadian. It has political intrigue. Its unique concept. The cover. I quick marked it as an anticipated read upon its release in 2015 but let it slip away after I read some mixed reviews.

Despite that though, I was eager to read it and that was why I added it to my 5 Year 5 Book Challenge for 2018.

What I Liked about The Scorpion Rules:

–The Concept–

The whole setting of this novel is really intriguing. Children of political leaders are used as pawns in the hopes that forfeiting their lives in order to go to war will prevent the battle from even taking place–because who would sacrifice their own child?

Like many political things, this one is convoluted and that does result in some info dumping moments. I found the whole idea straight forward though I will admit I struggled with the AI portions of the information.

What I Didn’t Like The Scorpion Rules:

–All the Characters Seem to do is Farm–

I’ve got nothing against farming (where I live is predominately farms) but I didn’t pick up this book to read about Greta and company milking goats or making cheese.

I wanted back stabbing and conspiracy theories. I wanted a little more action and drama.

Instead, I got polite teenagers doing chores. Yawn.

My Audiobook Experience with The Scorpion Rules:

I do think part of the reason I DNF’d this so quick was the audio version (though truthfully, I would have found it boring either way). While I appreciate that each of the Children of Peace had their own accents, I found everyone seemed to have a slow drawl that proved to be distracting. When we would get those info dumping moments (usually when the teens are answering something in class or talking to each other), I just couldn’t concentrate on their words or the importance of what they were saying. I also thought the that narrator sounded to old to be Greta’s age so that was off-putting as well.

Will I Finish The Series?

Nope. I read the synopsis for Book 2 and I don’t think much really happened to get to that point.

Series Rating: DNF

The Scorpion Rules DNF | The Swan Riders N/A

overall

If you like slower books that take their time or want a book that is completely unlike any other out there, check this out.

Read if You Like: LBGTQ characters, slow novels, lots of detail about the world
Avoid if You: want action, want conspiracy theories

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Have you read this? Should I return to this series? Leave a comment!

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Trilogy Termination: The Chemical Gardens by Lauren DeStefano

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Spring 2017

Trilogy Termination Blitz: I finally finish some trilogies I started years ago by reading the final book! But don’t let my delay in finishing them deter you from picking them up…or should it?

Miss the Introduction Post? Read it here!

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Wither (from Goodreads):
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.

When Rhine is kidnapped and sold as a bride, she vows to do all she can to escape. Her husband, Linden, is hopelessly in love with her, and Rhine can’t bring herself to hate him as much as she’d like to. He opens her to a magical world of wealth and illusion she never thought existed, and it almost makes it possible to ignore the clock ticking away her short life. But Rhine quickly learns that not everything in her new husband’s strange world is what it seems. Her father-in-law, an eccentric doctor bent on finding the antidote, is hoarding corpses in the basement. Her fellow sister wives are to be trusted one day and feared the next, and Rhine is desperate to communicate to her twin brother that she is safe and alive. Will Rhine be able to escape–before her time runs out?

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?

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Cover Love
Series: Chemical Gardens Trilogy
Author: Lauren DeStefano
# of Books: 3 (Wither, Fever, Sever)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Dystopian, Romance, Science Fiction
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Dates: March 2011 – February 2013
Source & Format: Public Library–Hardcover; eBook (Sever)

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I can’t remember how Wither crossed my radar all those years ago. I might have been browsing my library’s new catalogue items when the cover caught my attention. These covers are some of my all time favourites…well, not Sever so much but they are beautiful.

For Wither and Fever, I was the first one to read them at my library. I made sure my name was first on that holds list and I pretty much read them on their release date. But my not so great experience with Fever stopped that trend when it came time to read Sever the following year.

The Concept / The World:

As a scientist myself, the whole premise is what drew me to this story.

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.

Talk about intriguing!

It adds a layer of desperation to this series. There is nothing more thrilling in a novel than watching what happens when people are pushed to their extremes. It also creates the potential for a great villain (which we get here!).

And while this series doesn’t focus too much on the science of it all (not really until the last book), the premise itself creates a unique backdrop for this story.

The Plot:

Don’t go into this series thinking it is more science fiction than it is romance. While the romance isn’t the primary focus, it drives the plot more I find than the science of the world (which acts as a backdrop more than anything). It’s hard to pinpoint the main genre of this story.

And I think that might be this series problem: it’s hard to define.

I really enjoyed Wither for its unique premise: a girl thrust into a dire world she desperately wants to escape. Learning about Rhine’s world was probably my favourite aspect of that book.

But Fever has a completely different feel–it’s darker and lacks the romanticism underlying in Wither. But it also had a plot that seems to lack direction other than the passing of time. Sure, you get little bits and pieces of information but nothing is really done with it all. I found myself getting bored; especially when I was so absorbed in the world I had seen in Wither. It was a big disappointment for me.

Sever has that same slowness to it as well. I thought with the intense ending of Fever that it would continue that thrilling pace…but not so much. I would have DNF’d it if it wasn’t for it’s decent page count and my desire to see how this was all going to wrap up. Sure, it had its surprises but by that point I was past caring.

I think what this series needed was a more definable overarching plot-line. Perhaps it is just a result of me reading these books over the span of the course of years (thus missing the finer details), but I felt like each book was its own plot and world, only briefly linking to the one before it. There isn’t a complex plot to this series–or at least one that gets teased enough to keep you interested. I suppose the “cure” is the complex plot but it takes such a backseat for 80% of the series that it doesn’t contribute much to the notion.

The Characters:

Rhine doesn’t do much for me as a main character. It’s hard because you do learn a lot about her and her circumstances; I just wasn’t finding myself rooting for her throughout the series. She’s jaded and even though I understand why, she was just so “blah” to me as a character.

I think my biggest problem with Rhine is that she lets everything happen around her. And yes, she does have some pretty difficult situations and circumstances to navigate. Vaughn sure doesn’t make her life easy. But unless it was to save her own butt, she takes the meeker approach and that bored me. I just wanted some tenacity and not “meh”.

Truthfully, Linden was probably my favourite character. I’m not particularly sure why but I really felt for him as the series progressed.

The Romance:

This one didn’t do much for me. I’m sure my dislike of Rhine contributed to me not enjoying her romances. Not that she really had any. I suppose a better way to phrase the romance would be “love interests” that potentially could go somewhere.

But I wouldn’t suggest reading this series if all you wanted was a romance. There are much better science fiction romances out there if that is your main draw to this series.

Series Rating: 3/5

Wither 4/5 | Fever 3/5 | Sever 2/5

overall

This series is one of those missed opportunities for me. It has a cool premise but the execution just falls short for me. Perhaps, seek out a second opinion because I feel like I am in the minority. But if you want a science fiction novel that isn’t overly complicated, this is an interesting series to try.

Read if You Like: jaded heroines, light science fiction
Avoid if You: want more romance, want a more complicated plot

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Fresh Fridays: The Divinity Bureau (#1) by Tessa Clare

Fresh Fridays: On Friday, I review a brand new series (ie. only has one book released so far) to see if the series is worth keeping up with. Here is this week’s offering:

The Divinity Bureau Series

Other books planned to be in the series:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for The Divinity Bureau (from Goodreads):

The Hunger Games meets Romeo and Juliet in a stunning debut about a forbidden romance between a young activist and a government employee working for a corrupt bureau that controls the population by deciding who lives and who dies.

Roman Irvine is a disgruntled IT Technician for the Divinity Bureau, a government agency that uses random selection to decide who lives and who dies. In a world where overpopulation has led to pollution, a crippled economy, and a world in crisis, he has accepted the bureau’s activities as a necessity. That is until he meets April McIntyre.

April has every reason to be suspicious of Roman. He works for the Divinity Bureau, which sent her father to an early grave. However, he is also sweet and loyal, and unbeknownst to her, he saved her life. As Roman and April fall deeper in love, the deeper they are thrust into the politics of deciding who lives and who dies. Someone wants April dead. And the bureau’s process of random selection may not be so random after all.

breakdown

Series: The Divinity Bureau
Author: Tessa Clare
# of Books: 2
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No, The Divinity Rebellion is set to be released November 2018
Genre: New Adult, Non-Contemporary New Adult, Romance, Dystopian, Science Fiction
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: September 21, 2017 – ongoing
Source & Format: YA Bound Book Tours–eARC

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

This book first crossed my radar after I read a review for it over at Darque Dreamer Reads. The synopsis sounded like something I would enjoy (I love anything with a Romeo and Juliet vibe to it!) so I decided to keep an eye out for it. And wouldn’t you know that a review opportunity came up and I just knew it was a sign that I should read this book.

The Concept / The World:

First off, the premise of this book is just plain intriguing! Overpopulation and resources is something you hear about in the news every so often but it’s something you don’t think will ever happen (at least in your life time). But what if it did? One of the main reasons I love dystopian novels is that they take these ideas and take them to the extremes to explore what could happen.

And that’s where this novel truly succeeds. Tessa Clare has done an amazing job crafting this world to parallel current trends in the world despite this taking place in the distant future. One thing that really struck me in particular was the fact that Roman (our hero) has a masters degree but finds himself in a minimum wage job struggling to make ends meet. (I feel ya!)

However, I did feel like we got a little bit of info-dumping at the start of the novel. It stifled the flow a bit and so it took me awhile to get into the story; but once you get past that, things even out. It’s an easy world to understand though despite all this.

The Plot:

I’d say the first half of this novel is predominately focused on the romance–something I should have remembered from Darque’s review. While I enjoyed their romance and chemistry, I needed more action to keep my attention. Everything just felt mundane to me.

As it was, my interest had waned by the halfway point which is when all the political drama happens and we get to the gritty part of the story. By then I was just skimming because I found that the plot wasn’t as exciting as I wanted it to be.

The Characters:

Roman was definitely a highlight for me. He’s such a refreshing hero to have in a dystopian story because he is the everyday man. He’s not this overly confident guy who oozes charisma or is an action star prodigy. He’s definitely charming in his own way though. His heart is in the right place, even if he makes the wrong choices but you couldn’t help but root for him.

April is flawed in her own way too. She’s incredibly impulsive and lacks maturity despite her age. She’s got a fighting spirit though which I always like.

The Romance:

Again, this is a huge focus of the novel and it does a lot of good for the story as well. The clashing of these two really emphasizes the world and its problems. You’ve got a rich girl who has been shielded from the realities of the world and a poor boy who strives for more but can’t get there. But watching their love grow despite everything was really sweet.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I started this book thinking it was a standalone but I started to suspect as I got further into the novel that it would have a sequel. I’m curious to see how this will all be wrapped up but I don’t think I will be picking the sequel up.

My Rating: 2.5/5

overall

In a lot of ways, this book reminded me of the classic 1984. The characters are at the whim of the world around them and they slowly start to rebel in their own way. But for most of the story, we are focused on their everyday lives and how they are constricted by this oppressing world. It’s not a bad thing if you know to expect that. I just wanted a little more action and conspiracy and thrill.

I really think readers of Lauren Oliver’s Delirium Series will enjoy this one!

Read if You Like: world-building, dystopian, slower starts, romance
Avoid if You: want physical action, want less romance

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Series Review: Perfected by Kate Jarvik Birch

Series Review: Is this series worth your time? Does it get better as the novels progress? Or does it get worse? Find out below:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Perfected (from Goodreads):

Perfection comes at a price.

As soon as the government passed legislation allowing humans to be genetically engineered and sold as pets, the rich and powerful rushed to own beautiful girls like Ella. Trained from birth to be graceful, demure, and above all, perfect, these “family companions” enter their masters’ homes prepared to live a life of idle luxury.

Ella is happy with her new role as playmate for a congressman’s bubbly young daughter, but she doesn’t expect Penn, the congressman’s handsome and rebellious son. He’s the only person who sees beyond the perfect exterior to the girl within. Falling for him goes against every rule she knows… and the freedom she finds with him is intoxicating.

But when Ella is kidnapped and thrust into the dark underworld lurking beneath her pampered life, she’s faced with an unthinkable choice. Because the only thing more dangerous than staying with Penn’s family is leaving… and if she’s unsuccessful, she’ll face a fate far worse than death.

For fans of Kiera Cass’ Selection series and Lauren DeStefano’s Chemical Garden series, Perfected is a chilling look at what it means to be human, and a stunning celebration of the power of love to set us free, wrapped in a glamorous—and dangerous—bow.

breakdown

Series: Perfected Trilogy
Author: Kate Jarvik Birch
# of Books: 3 (Perfected, Tarnished, Unraveled)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Dystopian
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Dates: July 2014 – April 2018
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook (Perfected); Netgalley–eARC

Tarnished & Unraveled were provided via NetGalley

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I initially had this series as a pass after reading a few mixed reviews. But then I saw the audiobook at my library and decided to give it a second chance. I was intrigued by the concept and I seem to have great success listening to dystopian YA worlds (The Lone City Trilogy for example) so why not?

The Concept / The World:

The idea that girls are bred as pets for wealthy people is an interesting and unique dystopian spin. I’ve read books where girls are bred for surrogates (The Jewel) or girls are sent off to marry older men to repopulate the world (Wither) but nothing of this variety before.

What’s the purpose? Why has society come to this?

Unfortunately, we don’t really explore this too much, especially in Perfected (Book #1). I think we get one line in Perfected that gives us the history of why they started breeding girls (or at least where the idea originated from). So in that respect, I was a little disappointed because I wanted to learn more.

However, I find the sequels do a better job or highlighting the various issues of having “pets”. The focus shifts to questions about what makes someone human and allusions to owning humans (ie slavery). It gets more of a social conscience as the story progresses and that definitely appealed to me as a reader.

The Plot:

I’d have a hard time telling you the exact plot for Perfected  (Book 1) because there isn’t too much of one. The synopsis is a touch misleading because the kidnapping aspects seems like it would be the main plot-point but it isn’t. It’s a crucial moment in the novel but it isn’t the main story.

Perfected is mostly about Ella losing her naivety about the world. She’s been at her “kennel” for 16 years and told the world is a certain way. But as she lives in the real world, her ideology changes and she grows as a person. It isn’t terribly exciting but I did find myself entertained nonetheless. I love good character progression and Ella–though she makes some mistakes–is endearing in her efforts.

Compared to the first novel, the sequels (Tarnished and Unraveled) have much better pacing and are constantly introducing new elements into the plot. I didn’t find myself getting bored or lost in the mundane everyday life of a pet. Ella gets tested and she has some hard decisions to make and I loved watching that journey.

The Characters:

Like I said, Ella is naive but given the circumstances of her life up until the start of Perfected, it makes sense. I think people might forget that a little. She’s the very definition of sheltered and so she has a child-like approach to the world. I found as the story progressed, she evolved and the gears started turning for her a little more. She broke out of that shell and I liked that. Sure, she makes some silly mistakes but I find she is constantly learning and evolving as a character and you can’t ask for much more than that.

I also really liked some of the side characters as well, especially as the series progressed. There’s one character who completely captivated me with her story and I think she provides a nice complement to Ella with her someone jaded personality and approach.

The Romance:

Truthfully, I wasn’t totally sold on the romance between Ella and Penn. It’s one of those situations where they connected over one thing (music) and the rest is developed “off-camera” away from the reader. It’s cute but it just seemed fluffy to me. But it is a good catalyst for driving the plot forward, especially in the sequels. It isn’t a huge focus moving forward so I appreciated that and I even appreciated the sweet moments later on.

My Audiobook Experience for Perfected (#1):

I was only able to read Perfected as an audiobook and I’m glad I did. I think getting Ella’s tone of voice as she narrated her story helped me understand her character a lot more. I could understand her struggles and developed sympathy for her character which allowed me to enjoy the story more. Having that voice in my head as I read the print versions of the sequels helped me establish her character as well.

Series Rating: 4/5

Perfected 3/5 | Tarnished 4/5 | Unraveled 4/5

overall

Despite a slower start in Book #1, I found this series grew exponentially as the sequels evolved. It’s an intriguing concept and world and I think if you take the time to establish everything in the first novel, you’ll appreciate the great sequels.

Read if You Like: light dystopian, romance
Avoid if You: want stronger world building, action

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