Review: The Lens and The Looker by Lory S. Kaufman

Lizzie     Oct 10th, 2011     Dystopian, Fantasy, Reviews     0 Replies

Reading level: Young Adult
Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: Fiction Std (March 16, 2011)
Source: Received from publicist
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1936558025
ISBN-13: 978-1936558025

It’s the 24th century and humans, with the help of artificial intelligences (A.I.s) have finally created the perfect post-dystopian society. To make equally perfect citizens for this world, the elders have created History Camps, full sized recreations of cities from Earth’s distant pasts. Here teens live the way their ancestors did, doing the same dirty jobs and experiencing the same degradations. History Camps teach youths not to repeat the mistakes that almost caused the planet to die. But not everything goes to plan.

In this first of a trilogy, we meet three spoiled teens in the year 2347. Hansum almost 17, is good looking and athletic. Shamira, 15, is sassy, independent and an artistic genius. Lincoln, 14, is the smart-aleck. But you don’t have to scratch too far beneath the surface to find his insecurities.

These three “hard cases” refuse the valuable lessons History Camps teach. But when they are kidnapped and taken back in time to 1347 Verona, Italy, they only have two choices; adapt to the harsh medieval ways or die. The dangers are many, their enemies are powerful, and safety is a long way away. It’s hardly the ideal environment to fall in love – but that’s exactly what happens. In an attempt to survive, the trio risks introducing technology from the future. It could save them – or it could change history.

When I first started reading this book, it wasn’t all that interesting to me. I thought the premise sounded genius, absolutely fantastic. The concept of History Camps was so cool, something that, even though it is reserved for misbehaving children in the book, I would love to go to! I mean, living as they did in the fourteenth century, but without the concern for disease! Maybe I’m weird but I think that would be so cool.

But the beginning just wasn’t interesting to me. It took a little less than a hundred pages for the story to finally pick up and then I couldn’t put it down.

I liked that the story didn’t focus on just one character throughout. It touched on the perspectives of Hansum, Shamira, Lincoln, and even others who appear during the book. It did so in a way that it wasn’t confusing but rather refreshing. There are so many YA novels out there today that don’t even bother giving you a glimpse at other character’s point-of-views, or do so in a distracting and confusing way.

There wasn’t as much as action as you’d expect, seeing as it takes place in a time where survival was a struggle year round, unless you were handsomely wealthy. However, the action that was there, was executed finely and had me on the edge of my seat.

Allow me to touch on the cover for a moment, too. It’s definitely eye-catching but at the same time, it is almost kind of . . . classic. I can’t even find the right word for but it reminds me of book covers from the ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s which is a great thing to me. I adore it, and the cover of the sequel, The Bronze and the Brimstone, which I’ll also be reviewing soon.

Lory is an author that can’t wait to read more of. Even though I don’t know too much about the fourteenth century, I felt like I was right beside Hansum, Shamira, and Lincoln as I read The Lens and The Looker. He’s great at creating visuals and I’m excited to see where the story goes next.

Review: Glow by Amy Kathleen Ryan

Lizzie     Sep 14th, 2011     Dystopian, Reviews, Romance, Science Fiction     0 Replies

Reading Level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin (September 13, 2011)
Source: Won from publisher
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0312590563
ISBN-13: 978-0312590567

What if you were bound for a new world, about to pledge your life to someone you’d been promised to since birth, and one unexpected violent attack made survival—not love—the issue?

Out in the murky nebula lurks an unseen enemy: the New Horizon. On its way to populate a distant planet in the wake of Earth’s collapse, the ship’s crew has been unable to conceive a generation to continue its mission. They need young girls desperately, or their zealous leader’s efforts will fail. Onboard their sister ship, the Empyrean, the unsuspecting families don’t know an attack is being mounted that could claim the most important among them…

Fifteen-year-old Waverly is part of the first generation to be successfully conceived in deep space; she was born on the Empyrean, and the large farming vessel is all she knows. Her concerns are those of any teenager—until Kieran Alden proposes to her. The handsome captain-to-be has everything Waverly could ever want in a husband, and with the pressure to start having children, everyone is sure he’s the best choice. Except for Waverly, who wants more from life than marriage—and is secretly intrigued by the shy, darkly brilliant Seth.

But when the Empyrean faces sudden attack by their assumed allies, they quickly find out that the enemies aren’t all from the outside.

When this little beauty arrived in my mailbox, you should’ve seen me. At first, I wasn’t really sure what it was. I wasn’t expecting anything for review. When I opened it, I was jumping up and down, so excited at what I was holding. From the second I discovered what Glow was, I knew I needed to review it. I entered a giveaway the publisher was holding for ARCs—and low and behold, it arrived several weeks later!

From the first page, I knew this would be a good read. The main characters, Waverly and Kieran, captured me. They seemed like they were really in love. However, I wished there would have been more time to see their apparently very strong relationship. By the end of the second chapter, there was a war going on. Don’t get me wrong, I love that it is fast-paced. But the beginning felt rushed so it could get to the main story.

That aside, Glow kept me on the edge of my seat with every turn of the page. Ever since I saw Zenon on Disney when I was younger, I wanted to live on a space station. It wasn’t until I was a little older that I realised how human nature, no matter big the ship is, will not let that happen without there being more problems than it is worth. And that is the case in this book.

Humans, when desperate, will do anything, including kill.

This book was so thrilling to read and yet, left me with chills more than a few times. It is one of those books that, if you’re not careful, you’ll end up being awake until 4 AM and you’re holding a finished book. It’s just that addicting. And the setting couldn’t be more perfect. Space! And not just space, but as the book begins, we learn the ship has been inside of a nebula for a few years. A nebula!

Can you tell that I have a soft spot for books set in space?

I really do. And I wish there were more of them. Especially if they’re as intriguing as this one. Definitely pick this book up as soon as possible—you won’t regret it.

Review: Divergent by Veronica Roth

Lizzie     Jun 4th, 2011     Dystopian, Reviews, Romance     0 Replies

Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 496 pages
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books (May 3, 2011)
Source: Purchased
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0062024027
ISBN-13: 978-0062024022

In Beatrice Prior’s dystopian Chicago, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue—Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is—she can’t have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.

During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles to determine who her friends really are—and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes infuriating boy fits into the life she’s chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she’s kept hidden from everyone because she’s been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers a growing conflict that threatens to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves . . . or it might destroy her.

Debut author Veronica Roth bursts onto the literary scene with the first book in the Divergent series—dystopian thrillers filled with electrifying decisions, heartbreaking betrayals, stunning consequences, and unexpected romance.

I’ve noticed a pattern: I read a lot of dystopian novels.

And it seems like everyone these days is jumping on that bandwagon, following the viral success of Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games. Most of them are the same: government oppression, control, and citizens on the brink of civil war.

Don’t get me wrong; I am a sucker for dystopian. Offer me one and I will kiss you. But after a while, it starts to get boring.

After the numerous reviews and raves I read about Divergent, I knew it was simply a must to pick this one up, which I did within just a few days of it coming out.

Divergent is one fantastic novel. Tris instantly became one of my all-time favorite characters in YA. She is strong but at the same time, you can tell she is vulnerable. She knows her limits but will still push beyond them. She’s brave but her fears still present themselves throughout the book. I adored Tris as the main character. Christina, one of Tris’s friends who is also an initate into her new faction, reminded me of a friend in my own life; she was kind, funny, and caring.

Now, Peter on the other hand… He bothered me immensely. Peter is also one of the initates to her new faction. He is highly competitive and will quite literally do anything to be in the number one spot in the rankings. Literally. You find out quickly how determined he is to get rid of anyone who gets in his way. Over the course of the story, I kept saying things out loud whenever he came onto the page: Physco. Crazy. Something’s wrong with him.

I loved that Veronica made you realize that more was at risk for Tris than just becoming factionless: her life was in danger.

The thing that probably bothered me the most was, once the romance between Four and Tris began, it seemed to move quite fast. Prehaps that’s just me though. It was slow getting to the romance but once it got there… whoosh! It felt ridiculously fast.

There are so many layers to this story, more than I could ever cover in this review. I love all of those layers though. Quite simply, Divergent is my favorite book of 2011, so far. Do I recommend it? Yes! Did I love it? Freaking yes! In fact, I’d say this was a combination of Matched (though not quite as romantic) and The Hunger Games (though with a smidge less action), in perfect harmony. Roth is an amazing writer; I’m dying to know what she’s planning for the next two books of the trilogy, and to see what she will write in the future.

Review: Delirium by Lauren Oliver

Lizzie     May 3rd, 2011     Dystopian, Reviews, Romance     0 Replies

Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 448 pages
Publisher: HarperCollins (February 1, 2011)
Source: Purchased
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0061726826
ISBN-13: 978-0061726828

Before scientists found the cure, people thought love was a good thing. They didn’t understand that once love—the deliria—blooms in your blood, there is no escaping its hold. Things are different now. Scientists are able to eradicate love, and the governments demands that all citizens receive the cure upon turning eighteen. Lena Holoway has always looked forward to the day when she’ll be cured. A life without love is a life without pain: safe, measured, predictable, and happy.

But with ninety-five days left until her treatment, Lena does the unthinkable: She falls in love.

Well, before I get to the review, I just wanted to say Happy May! I can’t believe we’re already five months into the year. =O I don’t know about you guys, but I’m dying for the beautiful summer weather. I know I promised this review would be up on April 25th 26th, but school prevented me from otherwise being able to have it up on time. So without further ado, my review of Lauren Oliver’s beautiful novel Delirium.

Lauren Oliver is one of my favorite authors. She has a way with words that sucks you in and keeps you reading. Before I Fall, which I read for the first time shortly before this book, had me crying, laughing, raging, and smiling through the entire story. I love the concept of that novel; it made me appreciate things more, because you never know whether you’ll have a tomorrow.

Delirium revolves around 17-year-old Lena just a few months before she is cured of the delira—of love. She doesn’t want to end up like her mother, who commited suicide because she had fallen in love and was never cured, so she is obediant and excited to finally be able to escape the curse that is love. That is, until she meets Alex. From there, her entire future is at stake as she falls hard for him.

The first half of Delirium, I felt like I trudged through it. It wasn’t particularly interesting to me. Sure, there were enough interesting parts to keep me reading until the story finally, really began. The setting was one of my favorite parts of the book; Lauren’s writing helped create a stunning visual. As the story progresses, you start to see changes in Lena, big changes that go against everything she’s ever been taught, that ultimately lead up the thrilling cliffhanger conclusion that had me shouting, angry that that was where the author decided to end it.

The twisting, stunning love story that is Delirium is an adventure I had fun being a part of. I absolutely cannot wait to get my hands on a copy of the next book of the trilogy, Pandemonium, which is expected out in February of next year.

Review: Across the Universe by Beth Revis

Lizzie     Jan 7th, 2011     Dystopian, Reviews, Science Fiction     0 Replies

Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 416 pages
Publisher: Razorbill (January 11, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1595143971
ISBN-13: 978-1595143976

A love out of time. A spaceship built of secrets and murder.

Seventeen-year-old Amy joins her parents as frozen cargo aboard the vast spaceship Godspeed and expects to awaken on a new planet, three hundred years in the future. Never could she have known that her frozen slumber would come to an end fifty years too soon and that she would be thrust into the brave new world of a spaceship that lives by its own rules.

Amy quickly realizes that her awakening was no mere computer malfunction. Someone–one of the few thousand inhabitants of the spaceship–tried to kill her. And if Amy doesn’t do something soon, her parents will be next.

Now Amy must race to unlock Godspeed’s hidden secrets. But out of her list of murder suspects, there’s only one who matters: Elder, the future leader of the ship and the love she could never have seen coming.

If I had to review this in two words, those words would be: freaking awesome.

I was so excited to receive this, completely unexpectedly back at the beginning of November. I was also scared, because I was holding my expectations very high and didn’t want to be disappointed. I waited about a month before I finally picked it up, and I will tell you that I devoured it without regret.

The world Amy wakes up in is the close quarters of the spaceship Godspeed, which was sent off for a new planet 250 years ago. Everything about the ship is strange, at least to our standards. The people all look alike, act alike, are alike. The only ones that are different, are crazy and institutionalized. I could not get the sense of sickening dread out of the pit of my stomach every time I read Amy’s prespective. Could you imagine waking up in a world completely foreign, unexpected, and claustrophobic place like that of Godspeed when you expected to be on a new planet with wide open spaces and fresh air? Not only that but knowing that you will be much older than your own parents when they are finally awakened? I wanted to cry for Amy and everything that she lost.

Everything about this book is swoon-worthy. The setting, the time, the characters . . . the guy. ;) Beth’s writing is fantastic and kept me entirely engrossed all the way through. I enjoyed the sick, twisted little mind games that she played. I was never, ever bored reading this. I really appreciated that, while there is obviously a flicker of romance between Elder and Amy, it didn’t dominate the story and there was no pointless making out at random times just for the sake of having a make-out scene.

If you like novels of the sick kind, ones with totally unexpected twists and a little romance tossed in, you will definitely like this book. I am so grateful that I was given the chance to review it but I will be going out on January 11th to get my own hardcover too. :) There are so many layers to the story, so many little twists that will surprise you, haunt you, even scare you. You truly have to read it to appreciate its awesomeness though. I absolutely cannot wait for the next book!

Review: Sapphique by Catherine Fisher

Lizzie     Dec 20th, 2010     Dystopian, Fantasy, Reviews, Science Fiction     0 Replies

Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 464 pages
Publisher: Dial (December 28, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0803733976
ISBN-13: 978-0803733978

The only one who escaped . . . And the one who could destroy them all.

Incarceron, the living prison, has lost one of its inmates to the outside world: Finn’s escaped, only to find that Outside is not at all what he expected. Used to the technologically advanced, if violently harsh, conditions of the prison, Finn is now forced to obey the rules of Protocol, which require all people to live without technology. To Finn, Outside is just a prison of another kind, especially when Claudia, the daughter of the prison’s warden, declares Finn the lost heir to the throne. When another claimant emerges, both Finn’s and Claudia’s very lives hang on Finn convincing the Court of something that even he doesn’t fully believe.

Meanwhile, Finn’s oathbrother Keiro and his friend Attia are still trapped inside Incarceron. They are searching for a magical glove, which legend says Sapphique used to escape. To find it, they must battle the prison itself, because Incarceron wants the glove too.

*Note: This review contains no spoilers of Sapphique but may spoil Incarceron if you haven’t read it. Read my Incarceron review here.

I absolutely loved Incarceron so when I was able to get my hands on a copy of Sapphique, I was SO excited. I was also a bit nervous because I knew it was not only the sequel but also the closure of the series. But I can honestly tell you that it was amazing in every way!

Now, Finn is out of the Prison and preparing to take up his duties as Prince of the Realm, but he runs into some problems… like a strange character who claims that he is the real Giles. The author makes even you begin to doubt that Finn is the real Giles, that everything you thought you knew about the Realm and Finn isn’t the truth. There’s so much more evidence that supports the Pretender’s (as he is called in the book) claims. I had my own doubts as well but none that I could say without spoiling it. ;)

I loved that even though Finn has escaped from Incarceron, there was still a storyline that focused on Keiro and Attia’s own attempt at escape. I loved every second of their journey, especially that so many more levels and depths of the Prison were searched and discovered than in the previous book. You get to see an even darker, twisted side of Incarceron. If you’re thinking, “How could Incarceron get any more twisted than it already is?” then I’ll just tell you this: It does.

When you start this book, you’re once again tossed and yanked and ripped into the pages and taken on an incredible adventure. I had such a hard time putting this book down, that some nights I’d be up well passed 2 AM reading it because it’s so awesome. I don’t know how Catherine does it but I can tell you this; She is a master. Her writing is enthralling and interesting, and keeps you interested long past the last page.

Granted, while this is the finale, I still felt like there was a lot to be tied together past the end. Easily, I think a third book could be added and have so many places to go. As a finale, though, it was one of the most satisfying endings I’ve read in a long time (and yes—even more satsifying than Mockingjay’s ending!). Overall, I loved just about everything about it. I even ended up liking Claudia more than I did when I finished Incarceron. It’s bittersweet to see the end of this amazing series so soon but so amazing that so much action and adventure was packed into just two books!

Review: Matched by Ally Condie

Lizzie     Nov 29th, 2010     Dystopian, Reviews     0 Replies

Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 369 pages
Publisher: Dutton (November 30, 2010)
Source: ARC won from publisher
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0525423648
ISBN-13: 978-0525423645

Cassia has always trusted the Society to make the right choices for her: what to read, what to watch, what to believe. So when Xander’s face appears on-screen at her Matching ceremony, Cassia knows with complete certainty that he is her ideal mate . . . until she sees Ky Markham’s face flash for an instant before the screen fades to black.

The Society tells her it’s a glitch, a rare malfunction, and that she should focus on the happy life she’s destined to lead with Xander. But Cassia can’t stop thinking about Ky, and as they slowly fall in love, Cassia begins to doubt the Society’s infallibility and is faced with an impossible choice: between Xander and Ky, between the only life she’s known and a path that no one else has dared to follow.

I love dystopians. A lot. I’ve loved dystopians long before I ever even knew that that was what they are called. I love that every single book is different, each one presenting a future that is eerie or lovely or both. I don’t remember when I first heard about Matched but I know as soon as I did, I needed to read it. Early last month, I received an email from Lenore telling me that I had won the Penguin Dystopian prize pack she had for her Dystopian August conclusion, which included an ARC of Matched. Of course, I almost died with excitement.

Matched is a beautifully written addition to the dystopian genre. I’ve heard people complain that it isn’t like The Hunger Games, and no, it’s not. It doesn’t involve the bloody violence or the descipableness of the Capitol or deranged mindset that Katniss develops over the course of the story. And why should it? It’s a completely different book. Don’t dive in expecting that kind of book because you’ll be disappointed.

I loved Matched! It kept me reading until the very last page. I felt like the characters could’ve been a bit more developed over the course of the story, particularly Cassia and Ky, but since there will be two more books, there’s plenty of time for that. Easily, I could tell you that the Society is never a place I’d like to live; I mean, you don’t get to choose who you get to spend the rest of your life with. And rarely get to eat cake! That is enough to kill me, right there. Just kidding, haha. ;)

The fact that the citizens of the Society have no choices is frightening. You aren’t even allowed to challenge that; you’re considered a criminal if you do. The world Ally Condie has created is one of those that is both eerie and beautiful. Hey, no crime! But hey, you don’t get any choices about your life either! See, eerie and beautiful. I have to say—since I finished this novel, it has haunted me. I cannot stop thinking about it! The ending will definitely leave you dying for the sequel.

I cannot wait for the next book!

Check out the amazing trailer, which is probably my most favorite book trailer EVER!:

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