Wither (The Chemical Garden, #1)
Author: Lauren DeStefano
Publication Date: 3/22/11
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
At age 16, Rhine Ellery has four years to live. Thanks to a botched effort to create a perfect race, all females live to age 20 and males live to age 25. On the cusp of her 17th birthday, Rhine attempts to flee, but what she finds is a society spiraling out of control.Review:
Oh boy, do I have problems with this new crop of YA dystopian/post-apocalyptic lit! I am starting to think that the authors who attempt to explore this genre have no understanding of what it takes to write such books. Just making up some new horrible way people are treated in a future society and adding in some angsty love triangle isn't enough!
I don't want to sound too lectur-y, but these new, young writers probably do not realize that to create a dystopian/post-apocalyptic society that is believable, they need to: 1) understand how our current world works; 2) be able to identify cultural, political, economical trends that can possibly affect humanity in a major way in future; 3) realize that when they set their eyes on extrapolating a certain trend, they need to have their characters react to it in a logical (in terms of human psychology) way.
Let's take Wither
. About 70 year prior to the beginning of the story, humanity got itself into a huge bind. Playing with genetic engineering, scientists created a new, improved type of people, cured of decease, with longer lives, etc. Only the offsprings of these new people have some side effects - females now die at the age of 20 and males - of 25 (this number thing is weird, but ok, I am not going to linger on it). What happens now is that young girls are kidnapped and sold into polygamous marriage to procreate. The main character of this novel, 16-year old Rhine, is now one of 4 wives and is scared for her future...
You know what my problem is, right here? The notion that barely out of teen years young men would be so preoccupied with procreation. Why would they care to make babies? They will be dead in a couple of years! Why would anyone in this world care to have children or place a value on them if they never see them grow, if they never were raised by their own parents?
Such a strong pro-procreation scheme requires a lot of conditioning IMO, some structure that makes young people accept the idea they need to waste their precious years on being pregnant and producing children. You need some older people to think-up and maintain the procreation cycle, because mostly older people care about this sort of thing. Throw a couple of dozen of teens on an island, tell them they only have four years to live and see how many will think about the next generation. There are some "first generation" people around in this novel, who can live their lives until old age, but I never found them very influential in this world DeStefano created. More often than not they are domestics, and not evil masterminds.
Then the whole structure of this world is just unbelievable. Why do these people want to give birth to children when there is nobody to take care of them and so many of them run wild? Why do they kill young girls if they are so valuable as wombs? Who actually makes these young people work if they know they are about to die? What motivates them to go to work? None of these questions were answered convincingly to me.
The entire dystopian/post-apocalyptic premise is faulty in my mind. My rant here only pertains to a fraction of issues I have with it. There are great reviews, like this one
that explore holes in the world building in terms of economics, politics, etc.
You might think I am too nit-picky, question everything, but I just read Paolo Bacigalupi
's short story "The People of Sand and Slag" in which people eat sand, regrow their limbs and embellish their bones with blades and I totally bought it! When written right, any, even the most outrageous premise, can make you believe in it.
I am sure there will be some people taken by Wither
. They will like being shocked/disgusted/titillated by the scenes of polygamy, the main character's constant fear of being raped and impregnated, 13-year old girl having sex with her much older husband (and liking it), mentions of Kama Sutra, etc. I personally found some aspects of this novel distasteful.
Instead of Wither
I would recommend The Handmaid's Tale
and The Children of Men
which deal with similar themes, but in a more responsible and sophisticated way.2/5 stars
Author: Ally Condie
Publication Date: 11/30/10
Publisher: Dutton Juvenile
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.Review:
First thing first. I think Ally Condie
owes at least half of her seven-figure paycheck to Lois Lowry
. The entire dystopian world is lifted directly from Lowry's The Giver
. Almost everything interesting in Matched
is very familiar - the idea of highly controlled Society (the Community in The Giver
), the prearranged Matches, uniform clothing, the pills suppressing emotions, predetermination of everyone's life course, euthanized elderly, regulated personal possessions, the precision of the language, the family structure. The list goes on and on... What Condie adds of her own is too often doesn't make much sense - people are not allowed/can't write, but they know how to read and operate computers; Matches and procreation are controlled but teens can still snog around a bit; and what is the sorting job all about, I still have no idea. I am not the biggest fan of The Giver
our there, but that novel had a horrifying, structured, world hiding behind its simplistic language. What hides behind the words of Matched
is sheer emptiness. And boredom and unoriginality.
If all "borrowed" dystopian ideas are stripped away, what is left is a tepid, G-rated teen romance affair with an obligatory love triangle and magical love connections. Even the male love interests are the same old tired cliches - a sweet and loyal best friend type and a mysterious, hurt, emo type quoting poetry. Yawn! Yawn! Yawn!Ally Condie
's writing is serviceable enough. So are the characters. No male character requires a restraining order against him, no female - a head check for putting up with abusive crap. But is this (and a pretty cover) really a recipe for success these days? There is nothing in this novel to get excited over. There is no urgency to Condie's writing, no passion. Just dull characters, dull relationships, dull conflicts, dull conversations...
I can't whole-heartedly recommend this book to anyone, it simply doesn't offer anything new or noteworthy. But some fans of lukewarm-romance-driven stories like Birthmarked
or Beautiful Creatures
might enjoy it I suppose. 2/5 stars
Author: Susan Ee
Publication Date: 5/21/11
Publisher: Feral Dream
It's been six weeks since angels of the apocalypse descended to demolish the modern world. Street gangs rule the day while fear and superstition rule the night. When warrior angels fly away with a helpless little girl, her seventeen-year-old sister Penryn will do anything to get her back.
Anything, including making a deal with an enemy angel.
Raffe is a warrior who lies broken and wingless on the street. After eons of fighting his own battles, he finds himself being rescued from a desperate situation by a half-starved teenage girl.
Traveling through a dark and twisted Northern California, they have only each other to rely on for survival. Together, they journey toward the angels' stronghold in San Francisco where she'll risk everything to rescue her sister and he'll put himself at the mercy of his greatest enemies for the chance to be made whole again.Review:
Well, I guess I got schooled again. Clearly I can't hold on to this particular reading prejudice against self-published books any more, because here it is, a self-pub that is not equal in quality to similar books released by major publishers, but, in fact, better than probably 75% of those books. Angelfall
is a competently-written and competently-edited novel.
If you are a fan of UF and post-apocalyptic adventure stories like Blood Red Road
and Under the Never Sky
, there is hardly any doubt you will enjoy Angelfall
. It is a dynamic, practically unputdownable, even though very familiar, story. A pair of beings - a human girl and a wingless angel in this case - ally to achieve their separate goals. They are reluctant and unnatural partners in Angelfall
's world almost completely destroyed by angels. But, of course, they learn to respect and trust each other. I am not going to elaborate any further. You get the idea, I am sure.
Everything I am fond of in novels of this sort is there: self-reliant, courageous heroine who loves her family and is ready to sacrifice everything for them - check; romance secondary to survival - check; action, gore and moderate violence - check; a unique, fresh and twisty mythology (Ee does something rather interesting with the angel lore here) - check. Some compare Angelfall
to Daughter of Smoke and Bone
, but I personally wouldn't go that far. These two books are completely different beasts that only have a word "angel" connecting them. Daughter of Smoke and Bone
is a more literary, more complex and better written work, whereas Angelfall
is a more commercial, easier to digest story, and I see nothing wrong with that. Give me more good genre fiction!
There is only a couple of things that bothered me in this novel. First, I feel there had to be a tad more information about the angel-orchestrated apocalypse. You see, the attack happened about 2 months prior to the book's beginning, but the description of it is very murky, as if it happened centuries, not weeks before and nobody remembers the details anymore. I have only the vaguest idea of what exactly happened and how it unfolded. I wish this was addressed better in the novel. Actually, some info-dumping about the apocalypse in the beginning of the book, in the barest and slowest part of it, would have been quite appropriate.
And again, connected to the same 2-months post-apocalypse timeline, the human civilization seems to have digressed too severely over this rather short time. Surely, considering that a huge percentage of human population has been wiped out, there is still enough canned food in ruined Wal-Marts to prevent people from doing some very atrocious things they do in this story for food. Plus, the main character's survival skills appear to have developed too quickly as well.
Other than that, there is nothing to complain about, really. Angelfall
is certainly a page-turner and it gets better and better as the story progresses. I am not surprised everyone who's read this novel is so excited about it and its sequel. Angelfall
is a stellar entertainment. Now I only wish I had an opportunity to hold a hardcover of it in my hands. How and why this book was never published the traditional way is a mystery to me.4/5 stars
Author: Paolo Bacigalupi
Publication Date: 5/1/10
Publisher: Little BrownBlurb (GR):
In America's Gulf Coast region, where grounded oil tankers are being broken down for parts, Nailer, a teenage boy, works the light crew, scavenging for copper wiring just to make quota--and hopefully live to see another day. But when, by luck or chance, he discovers an exquisite clipper ship beached during a recent hurricane, Nailer faces the most important decision of his life: Strip the ship for all it's worth or rescue its lone survivor, a beautiful and wealthy girl who could lead him to a better life.…
In this powerful novel, award-winning author Paolo Bacigalupi delivers a thrilling, fast-paced adventure set in a vivid and raw, uncertain future.Review:
So, a reread after a dystopia-overstaffed year, and Ship Breaker
still stands out. Actually, this novel has by far the best conceived vision of our future in terms of realism. Nothing much far-fetched or impossible here.
This future is grim and rusty. The planet's natural resources are exhausted, the global warming is happening, Antarctica is gone, cities drowned. Nailer, the main character, makes his living stripping old ships off of their metals which will be then sold to big corporations to be recycled over and over again. His life takes a turn when he comes across a wrecked ship whose only survivor is a girl who is the heir to one of the biggest corporation in the world. Nailor has to decide what to do about this girl - to help her or take advantage of her strained circumstances...
However, the reread highlighted the fact that, compared to Bacigalupi's adult works (pretty much all of which I devoured after reading Ship Breaker
), this book is a tad juvenile, middle grade almost, and it touches only the surface of the issues the author explores so well and so thoughtfully in his adult fiction. Reading Ship Breaker
for the second time, I just wanted more, because I knew how much more there was to this world Bacigalupi imagined.
I am not trying to dismiss Ship Breaker
's accomplishments. Judged on its own, this novel is one of the strongest in the genre of dystopian YA. But if you are first a fan of Bacigalupi's adult work, I am afraid this book might just not be enough.
If you are new to Bacigalupi, go ahead, take a gentle dip into his dark imagination, Ship Breaker
is a good primer. What he offers in his adult fiction is much uglier and more terrifying. 4/5 stars
Under the Never Sky
Author: Veronica Rossi
Publication Date: 1/3/12
Blurb (GR): Since she'd been on the outside, she'd survived an Aether storm, she'd had a knife held to her throat, and she'd seen men murdered. This was worse.
Exiled from her home, the enclosed city of Reverie, Aria knows her chances of surviving in the outer wasteland - known as The Death Shop - are slim. If the cannibals don't get her, the violent, electrified energy storms will. She's been taught that the very air she breathes can kill her. Then Aria meets an Outsider named Perry. He's wild - a savage - and her only hope of staying alive.
A hunter for his tribe in a merciless landscape, Perry views Aria as sheltered and fragile - everything he would expect from a Dweller. But he needs Aria's help too; she alone holds the key to his redemption. Opposites in nearly every way, Aria and Perry must accept each other to survive. Their unlikely alliance forges a bond that will determine the fate of all who live under the never sky.Review:
My opinion about Under the Never Sky
is similar to the one I have about Unearthly
. I am not going to claim that these books are ground-breaking or Printz
-worthy. But in their genres, dystopia/post-apocalyptic and PNR respectively, they are as good as it gets. They are well written and entertaining, with characters and relationships that do not annoy and make you roll your eyes.
The summary of Under the Never Sky
does this book a disservice. It is accurate enough, but overwhelms you with weird names of things and places. I'll try to explain the plot in a, hopefully, simpler way.
In a distant future, our (I assume) planet is ravaged by strange climate changes that make living on the surface quite rough. A big part of the population now exists inside huge, self-supporting, sealed from the outside domes. This group of people finds its only relief from the tediousness of the confined, sterilized living in virtual realities. The other half of the population barely survives outside. Food is scarce, climate dangerous, the living is primal, only the fittest survives.
Aria belongs to the sheltered kind, Perry - to the savage kind. When Aria is expelled from the security of her dome, she joins Perry, and together they ally to reach their separate goals.
While Under the Never Sky
is hardly super-original, whatever genre tropes are used in it, are done exactly to my taste.
The novel has dual narration, but the choices Veronica Rossi
made here work just right. 3rd person helps her avoid the customary similarities between her characters' voices. The switches between the POVs always happen when it is the most advantageous, no repetitiveness, no excessive navel-gazing (also, very frequent whenever 2-POV structure is used).
Another plus, Under the Never Sky
is more of an adventure story, rather than romance (thank you, Jesus! I mean, Harper Teen). The love story line is strong, but the romance is slow-burning, not angsty, not overwhelming. The priorities are straight here - there are more important things in the characters' lives than a few days-long romantic relationships, things like families and loyalties.
Finally, the characters. I really liked Aria and Perry, especially Perry. There is a soft spot in my heart for a guy who is understanding of and helpful during the special lady days (aka periods).
Basically, Under the Never Sky
, in my eyes, is a perfect mix of adventure and love, sci-fi and romance, entertainment and heartbreak. I am definitely coming back for more. 4/5 stars
Author: Veronica Roth
Publication Date: 5/3/11
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
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.Reviews:
We all know why Divergent
was written. There is no doubt 99% of dystopias published during the last year or so have been trying to at least partially replicate the success of the
trilogy. Public wants to read more dystopian stories, publishers want to sell them, authors want to write them. Everyone is happy.
I have read a few new dystopias recently and liked or disliked them to various degrees. There are dystopias for any taste, dystopias that emphasize separate aspects of the
trilogy. There are dystopias that bank on romance (Matched
). There are dystopias that take the shock value route (Wither
). And then there is Divergent
that caters to the crowd who wants more action in their dystopias. And action this novel delivers!
In a few words, Divergent
is a one long initiation trial. Beatrice Prior is a member of a society that has been maintaining its peaceful existence by separating its citizens into 5 distinct factions. These factions are formed on the basis of virtues they cultivate in their members - Candor values honesty the most, Abnegation - selflessness, Dauntless - bravery, Amity - peacefulness and Erudite - intelligence. At 16 all citizens take a test that is supposed to help them decide if they want to stay with the faction into which they were born or transfer to another faction forever. Beatrice's test results are inconclusive and puzzling. Ultimately she decides to abandon her own faction (Abnegation) and her family and enter another (Dauntless). But of course, the transfer is not easy. The initiation trials are grueling. Divergent
is essentially a depiction of Beatrice's road to becoming a Dauntless, both physically and emotionally. Beatrice's unusual test results come to play too, and in a major way.
This emphasis on multiple trials and exercises is the strongest and the weakest part of the story. Veronica Roth
has a special talent for writing great fighting scenes, pulse-raising and adrenaline-pumping scenes. Her imagination in terms of inventing different tests and challenges seems to be limitless. Something exciting happens to Beatrice every day of her trials. But that is also the weakness of the story. About 85% of the book is dedicated to action and exercises. The actual story starts only around page 415 of this 500-page book. Only then stakes are raised and real action begins. If you ask me, 400-pages is a lot of prep to finally get to the meat of the story.
Don't get me wrong, I liked the book (3 stars means "i liked it" on Goodreads). Divergent
is good entertainment. I liked it, I was engaged in the story, I was even excited quite often. But something was missing for me. The novel has good characters, but they are not quite
as interesting and compelling as they could have been; it has a lot of action, but the justification for the amount of violence involved is not quite
adequate; it has a cute romance, but it never quite
makes your heart contract in that sweet, painful way (you know what I am talking about, don't you?); the concept of factions is a unique one but not quite
plausible; the explanation what a Divergent actually is is not quite
climactic; finally, except for one plot twist (p 415), the story takes a rather predictable road.
I liked Divergent
. I liked it more than Matched
. I liked it less than Blood Red Road
or Ship Breaker
. It entertained me. It promotes all the good things - bravery and self-sufficiency, friendships, honesty, determination. It is all about girl empowerment. But as the same time it isn't particularly thought-provoking or chilling. It never truly touched my heart. It is a write-by-numbers dystopia.
The verdict? I guess, you'll have to see for yourself?
P.S. While I am on the subject of dystopias and have your attention, I want to recommend one of my most favorite dystopias that doesn't get nearly as much acknowledgment as it deserves. Please, check out Neal Shusterman
You will not regret it. 3/5 stars
Author: Veronica Roth
Publication Date: 5/3/11
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
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.
This book is getting so much hype, I think my blood pressure was running high before I even began. Basically, this book is 486 pages of action-packed fun. While I have a few gripes with it, this book basically delivered what you are all hoping it will.
Beatrice (Tris) Prior lives in a future Chicago where everyone is divided into six factions: Abegnation (the selfless), Dauntless (the courageous), Erudite (the knowledge-seekers), Amity (the hippies, oops, I mean the peaceful), and Candor (the honest). At sixteen, each young person is put through an aptitude test which determines the faction they will join for life--usually the one in which they've grown up. Tris, however, ends up in a different faction and this book follows her initiation trials in the Dauntless faction.
I read an interview somewhere in which Veronica Roth
said she wanted to write a standalone. I get that--the YA market is saturated with series, but by dropping us into this world and then concentrating on Tris' trials, I felt like I was missing that undercurrent of rebellion. I'm sure this book will be compared to Hunger Games
more times than anyone can count, but hey! that's a lot more flattering than comparing every vampire book to Twilight
. Anyway, in Hunger Games
, you could feel the rebellion growing. I was constantly wondering what was going on in other districts--and Suzanne Collins
made us worry
about it all. In Divergent
, this element was lacking. I loved most of the book, but the climax and wrapup (if you can call it that) are only in the last 50 pages! This is an instance where I wish the author had built up the tension a little more, maybe given us a few other characters in different factions, and saved the ending scenes for a second (or third!) book. I just laughed a little bit thinking about how this book could've used a little dose of Matched
to slow it down...
I hated the name of the male love interest. I don't want to spoiler it for any of you so I'm putting it in here--> view spoiler
in original Goodreads review.
I keep trying to discuss this book with people so I can't wait till all you GR friends of mine get into it, too! You'll love it. Well, at least "really like it." I did.
Blood Red Road
Author: Moira Young
Publication Date: 6/7/11
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry
Saba has spent her whole life in Silverlake, a dried-up wasteland ravaged by constant sandstorms. The Wrecker civilization has long been destroyed, leaving only landfills for Saba and her family to scavenge from. That's fine by her, as long as her beloved twin brother Lugh is around. But when a monster sandstorm arrives, along with four cloaked horsemen, Saba's world is shattered. Lugh is captured, and Saba embarks on an epic quest to get him back. Suddenly thrown into the lawless, ugly reality of the world outside of desolate Silverlake, Saba is lost without Lugh to guide her. So perhaps the most surprising thing of all is what Saba learns about herself: she's a fierce fighter, an unbeatable survivor, and a cunning opponent. And she has the power to take down a corrupt society from the inside. Teamed up with a handsome daredevil named Jack and a gang of girl revolutionaries called the Free Hawks, Saba stages a showdown that will change the course of her own civilization. Blood Red Road
has a searing pace, a poetically minimal writing style, violent action, and an epic love story. Moira Young is one of the most promising and startling new voices in teen fiction.
Have you ever wanted to read a bleak quest novel narrated by a rough and ready Elly May Clampett from the Beverly Hillbillies? If so, this one’s for you! Just kidding. Er, sort of. The narration style of this will certainly alienate some readers but after the first 15-20 pages, I didn’t really notice it anymore. In fact, it actually felt comfortable. Saba, the protagonist in this work, lives in a barren dustland with her Pa, younger sister Emmi, and her twin, Lugh. Saba’s narration is due to the fact that she and her siblings have lived an isolated life and never learned to read or write, which seems typical of basically everyone in the story. It’s never totally clear how our world has morphed into Saba’s world or where all the “Wreckers” (presumably us) have gone, but Young’s world stands on its own. (and frankly, at the rate our disposable culture is going no one has to try very hard to convince me that our world will be shit in the not-so-distant future) The descriptions of the sandy dunes, the blowing winds, and the overall bleakness of the landscape made my lips dry and my throat raspy. It’s probably best to keep a cup of ice water nearby—you’ll want it. Trust me.
After a group of men on horseback come to their home, kill Saba’s father, and kidnap her twin brother, Saba is on a mission to rescue Lugh from the danger he is in. For me, the best part of the story is Saba’s journey from the time she leaves home until she leaves Hopetown. (this makes up roughly the first half of the book) I mean, wouldn’t every YA book be a little bit better with more cagefighting? Think on that. I absolutely don’t want to ruin any of the storyline for you. I want you to be as surprised as I was—and there were several moments when I was super excited to find out what would happen next.
This novel has a very strong set of supporting characters. Saba is supported in her mission by her sister, Emmi, whom Saba undervalues and disregards for much of the book. Emmi shows her worth several times over, and I’m hoping that she will be an even larger part of the rest of the series. I had a smile on every time Epona showed up in the story--any fellow Zelda lovers will know why. (cue me watching 20 minutes of people playing the ocarina on Youtube) Epona, Maeve, and Ash are all Free Hawks, a gung-ho group of female warriors who raid and harass authority. They show up several times in the story, and will likely be part of the series to come. In addition, Saba’s love interest, Jack, is along for most of the journey. I can see how the romantic elements of this story might annoy some people or feel unrealistic. However, I thought Saba’s naïveté in some respects balanced out with her tough exterior. She fumbled a bit, they both did, but I believed it in this world where people are lacking human connections. The love that frustrated me the most was that between the siblings. Saba is willing to risk her life more than once to save her brother, who we only get to know for the first 10 pages or so. Emmi, on the other hand, Saba is willing to just dump off several times in the story. Young does
give an explanation for this but it just comes off as Saba being absolutely one-minded about saving Lugh and her self-involvement. She really does come more into herself by the end of the story—and I hope she continues to become the woman she could be in later series installments.
Zach Galifianakis does a comedy bit wherein he describes “suggested looks” for his stylist to go for including the “person who writes on alpaca message boards,” “the homeless professor,” and “the lighthouse attendant.” His beard really lends itself to all of these looks. Anyway, I was thinking about how to describe this book and here it goes…
Just give me the Wizard of Oz
quest with grit and less happy fun times.
Just give me The Road
with teenagers and a fantasy vibe.
Just give me a post-apoc Dune
not in space and with less bizarre shit.
Just give me The Fellowship of the Ring
set in Mordor without the overly burdensome description or any of the fantastical beings.
Just give me House of the Scorpion
but instead of opium, it’s chaal and there isn’t any cloning.
The last one is probably the most accurate but please don’t get the idea that I think this book is overly derivative. Pretty much everything is derivative these days and that is not always a bad thing. I love all of the books I compared this one to and Moira Young
did a fantastic job of telling a gripping story. I agree with other reviewers who argue that the first half of this book is much more solid than the latter half. That’s true, but I was enthralled the entire way through. My gripes with the novel were few but the most glaring was the number of coincidences. In real life, plans don't go off without a hitch and people don't show up at the exact moment
you absolutely need them.
I think this book stands out in the YA dystopian scene and it is a solid 4 star read. I’m crossing my fingers here but I think the second and third books have immense potential to be 5-star reads.