Review: Rebel (Legend #4) by Marie Lu

TitleRebel
Author:  Marie Lu
Publisher/Year:  Roaring Book Press 10/1/19
Length:  332 Pages
Series:  Legend #4

Overview

Respect the Legend. Idolize the Prodigy. Celebrate the Champion. But never underestimate the Rebel.

With unmatched suspense and her signature cinematic storytelling, #1 New York Times–bestselling author Marie Lu plunges readers back into the unforgettable world of Legend for a truly grand finale.

Eden Wing has been living in his brother’s shadow for years. Even though he’s a top student at his academy in Ross City, Antarctica, and a brilliant inventor, most people know him only as Daniel Wing’s little brother.

A decade ago, Daniel was known as Day, the boy from the streets who led a revolution that saved the Republic of America. But Day is no longer the same young man who was once a national hero. These days he’d rather hide out from the world and leave his past behind. All that matters to him now is keeping Eden safe—even if that also means giving up June, the great love of Daniel’s life.

As the two brothers struggle to accept who they’ve each become since their time in the Republic, a new danger creeps into the distance that’s grown between them. Eden soon finds himself drawn so far into Ross City’s dark side, even his legendary brother can’t save him. At least not on his own . . .

My Thoughts

OH.MY.GOODNESS. Thank goodness we got to re-enter the story here with Day and June because they had major unfinished business in the epilogue of book 3 and there was no way that fans were going to be ok with that ending. Knowing that our amazing author Ms Lu was busy writing another story (which was also amazing), I was patient and that patience paid off.

We enter this story about ten years in the future. Day (Daniel) and his brother Eden are living in Ross City in Antarctica. The most advanced new country in the world – a society based on Virtual Reality, a Level system to keep you in classes, and as a result, a society that’s both thriving and failing at the same time. If we learned anything from the Republic, we know that there will be unrest and that will result in the wrong people coming into power and that will result in a catastrophe.

That wrong person is our main villian here – Dominic Hann – the man who rules the Undercity – the portion of Ross City that’s made up of people who don’t have levels high enough to survive. They can’t get medication, they can’t get food and shelter and they can’t aspire to be anything more.

The story we have here is one told in alternating chapters between Daniel and Eden. They are brothers who at the core love each other, but who have such different views on life because of their experiences in the past. Daniel wants nothing more than to protect Eden, and Eden wants to live his life. It’s that ‘living’ that gets them into trouble. Eden is noticed by Dominic while in the Under City and that means that he’s on a radar for skills. Skills that we were seeing in the previous books – his innate knowledge of tech and computers and his ability to make things that others can’t. That’s something that he thrives in here in Antarctica and he’s actually scored an internship back in the Republic because of what he can do. The challenge though is that his interaction with Dominic means that nothing will come to pass as it should.

Daniel on the other hand is now part of AIS which is a government agency. Like the FBI or CIA. he’s there to keep order, to hunt criminals and to protect the president. That’s one thing that he has in common with June as she’s in the Republic to protect Anden still. He is hunting Hann and when his brother gets mixed up in that gang, things get dicey.

Now back to June. The last we saw of her and Daniel was back in the epilogue of the last story. Daniel’s memory had been wiped because of illness and intervention and he didn’t have any sense of what June was to him anymore. Devastating!!! June knew that was a likely occurrence when she agreed to help him get treated, meaning that sh was going to sacrifice her love and future, which inevitably they both did. The great thing about their love story though is that even without the clear memories, Daniel still knew that June was special and this fourth installment lets us see how that plays out.

So you can imagine the excitement that we have in this story. We have the Utopia society come crumbling down because of interactions with the under city and Dominic Hann. (thank you Eden for being such a genius) and we have the potential to see romance rekindled. Add to that breaking laws, fleeing to the Republic and being back as square one where it all began. Watching governments struggle and society crumble. Far too many people die in this story and far too many truths are found to be lies.

But on the flip side, we see new relationships form, new alliances taking shape, we see the future for what it can be and that’s something that’s amazing. This is the closure and finale that this story truly needed and i’m THRILLED that Ms Lu finally got to finish it. Enjoy!

Review: Shatter City (Imposters #2) by Scott Westerfeld

TitleShatter City
Author:  Scott Westerfeld
Publisher/Year:  Scholastic Inc 9/17/19
Length:  331 Pages
Series:  Imposters #2

Overview

When the world sees Frey, they think they see her twin sister Rafi. Frey was raised to be Rafi’s double, and now she’s taken on the role . . . without anyone else knowing. 

Her goal? To destroy the forces that created her.

But with the world watching and a rebellion rising, Frey is forced into a detour. Suddenly she is stranded on her own in Paz, a city where many of the citizens attempt to regulate their emotions through an interface on their arms. Paz is an easy place to get lost . . . and also an easy place to lose yourself. 

As the city comes under a catastrophic attack, Frey must leave the shadows and enter the chaos of warfare – because there is no other way for her to find her missing sister and have her revenge against her murderous father.

My Thoughts

It’s been a while since we’ve been in this series but this second book gives us all the feels you could hope for. (definitely an overused phrase in this story though). Anyhow, like the summary says, we are thrown right back into the middle of a war – where Rafi and Frey are against their father because all he has in mind is to destroy the world for motives unknown aside from a need for power.

When we left off, Frey traded places with Rafi in the hopes of saving her love Col, and well, we know how that turned out. The bomb collar was switched from one sister to the other, meaning that identities had to be faked yet again. Frey at least had the chance to be with Col in these unusual circumstances, all while trying to figure out how they could both get out unscathed. Thankfully, Col has his allies on call and they were able to devise a plan to get them out and hopefully on the road to freedom.

The challenge here is that Frey is on the hunt for Rafi since her entire life she was raised to protect her sister. She learns that her sister is in a city called Paz, the next target for their father, both for the notion that Rafi is there but also because Paz is a city that believes in true freedom and doesn’t conscribe to the notion of dust or spying. It’s truly free. Their father threatens devastation that no one can fathom, a Rusty weapon that appears like natural destruction and then invasion.

What Frey finds when she gets there is a mess. She learns that Rafi is gone and that she’s left everything to Frey in the meantime. she’s set up an apartment, made sure she’s taken care of, but the reasoning behind it is still a semi mystery to Frey.

That’s really what a lot of this story is about. There are semi truths or incomplete pieces of information that everyone’s working with and we don’t yet know what’s intentional, what’s accidental and what the end result here could be.

There’s so much going on that i don’t know where to start otherwise. We spend time in Paz trying to broadcast that their father is evil and is trying to take over the world, yet he’s a step ahead and while he’s destroyed the city, he appears to be the first to help build it back up. There’s a secret there that they don’t yet know the motivation behind, and when we do figure it out, there’s no surprise.

Then there’s the issue of Rafi being out in the Wild, with rebels and we don’t know what her end game is. Trying to locate her gets Frey caught by a neighboring city and held captive in the hopes of securing a stronger network of allies. When she’s freed by Col and his crew, we start to see the story speed up.

there are Easter Eggs throughout this story that trigger questions. The Paz AI tells Frey about something called ‘Iron Mountain’ but there’s no context to what it is ,where it is and what it will do. When we get to the wilds, we learn that a few people have deeper insight and it could be a key to unlocking a lot of information.

Then there’s a hint that someone that the girls know of may be in the rebels, and that there’s a key link there to Rafi’s focus on being out there. She has heard rumors and if they are true then there may be hope. The way that this specific story line plays out is so shocking though that i’m glad i assumed wrong for the bulk of the time.

We are left at a point of hope, yet a point of instability. There’s no clear direction on who will win, if their father can be bested and what that will mean to the world. Relationships continue to grow and build, and there’s something solid and sweet about each friendship and romance. The depth that we get to see psychologically with everyone is really intense as well and that’s a new feature to all of the stories that i’ve read by our amazing author.

There’s an interesting idea here that we get throughout both the Uglies and the Imposters series. Originally when you read Uglies, you see that people are never happy with what they have naturally and as a result, they surgically change or enhance everything that’s possible to change about themselves. What we learned there is that it’s not always better and sometimes tech makes things worse. What we have in this series is a tease of that since most of the modifications are now illegal, with only a few Specials remaining for example, but there’s such fear and mis information on what it was that led to the need for Surg. There’s fear of invaded privacy and that you’re never allowed to be free. It makes you wonder if this is going to be our future. The way that we enhance ourselves and the way that we allow innovative technology to watch all of our activities and even help to make life easier…..just a philosophical question today about what’s good and right and worth the stress. Ponder away until we get book 3. Enjoy!

Review: The Reaction (The Program #5.5) by Suzanne Young

Title: the Reaction
Author:  Suzanne Young
Publisher/Year:  Suzanne Young 4/9/18
Length:  20 Pages
Series:  The Program #5.5

Overview

Shortly after going on a recovery road trip with Michael Realm, James Murphy returns home to bring his girlfriend Sloane a file. Her entire life–the memories that had been erased by The Program–are contained in a manila folder. James wishes he could save Sloane from her pain, but he can’t save her from the past.

My Thoughts

The way that this summary is written, you get the sense that it’ll be far more dramatic and deep than what it actually is. There seems to be a lot of build up to considering what Sloane could handle and what she deserved to know now that her world has been completely turned around. The build up throughout the series has always paid off, and sadly in this really really short chapter like object, there’s an anticlimatic ending.

I think that it’s safe to say that we all knew how Sloane would react and what it would mean….but i guess it’s nice to finally have it down on paper. Enjoy

Review: Defy Me (Shatter Me #5) by Tahereh Mafi

Title: Defy Me
Author:  Tahereh Mafi
Publisher/Year:  Harper Collins 4/2/19
Length:   352 Pages
Series:  Shatter Me #5

Overview

Juliette and Warner’s story continues in the thrilling fifth installment of Tahereh Mafi’s New York Times bestselling Shatter Me series.

Juliette Ferrars isn’t who she thinks she is.

Still reeling from the explosive events of the Continental Symposium and the secrets Warner has been keeping, Juliette has nowhere to turn and doesn’t know who she can trust. 

She’s desperate for answers, but to get them, she’ll have to face the nightmares that have been chasing her for a lifetime.

My Thoughts

WOW. honestly, let’s just start by saying WOW. Where we have gone in this 5th full length installment is a place of insanity, intrigue, lies, questionable trust, fear, love even. All of that in this compact story!

Nothing is what it seems – what happened at the symposium didn’t happen, or perhaps didn’t happen as everyone ‘saw’ it and that was done for a purpose. To make people question the stability and sanity of Juliette and to cast doubt on everything that she’s been trying to put into place. Add to that, Warner and Juliette go missing – kidnapped and it’s a race against the clock to find them.

We spend the beginning of this story still seeing relationships at a turning point. Juliette and Warner are not in a good place and while you can still feel the magnetism that pulls them together, there’s so much anger that they are pushed further and further apart. Juliette is back in a shell of her own making because of actions that were made from Warners’ direction and that scares a lot of people.

Then there’s Kenji and Nazeera – the couple that won’t admit that they are attracted to each other. It’s so nice that we can continue to see how Kenji develops following his novella. the sweet human side that we saw is really the same Kenji that we get here. Seeing how he’s not able to be tough anymore around Nazeera and how shes’ maybe willing to take a leap of faith with him, that’s makes for a great few chapters.

On top of all that relationship stuff, the way that our amazing author wrote this story is even more complex and engaging than the others. We’re used to seeing chapters change from people’s POVs but in this story we’re not only alternating who’s telling us the story, but we vary in the time that things are happening. There are memories that are coming back from when they were children, when all this started and this really lays the groundwork so that as the characters begin to see what’s been kept from them, we get to see it as well.

The key here is that there are far more friendships from childhood than anyone knew. They were friends, they were safe places, they were reasons to keep living, and yet those same reasons for crying.

When Juliette realizes that she’s an experiment, that her sister is one as well ,all that the hands of Warner’s father, and her parents – things begin to spin. FAST. Juliette is really Ella, and her sister Emmaline is the one who’s in worse shape. The girls used to be best friends with Nazeera back when they were 5 years old, and when Ella was taken from her family, Warner was there to witness it all. Even Adam had a role in this as Warner’s father kept tabs on him and pushed him into the role that he had in Ella/Juliette’s life.

This story is an insane roller coaster. People that we thought died didn’t. People that we thought were killed in past books maybe aren’t dead. People that want to die save the lives of many, and people that we love get hurt.

Omega Point isn’t safe anymore, Sector 45 isn’t safe so they are left scrambling for another place to live while everyone hatches a plan to find Warner and Juliette/Ella before it’s too late. And once they find them, depending on the shape they are in, figure out what moves to make from there.

We’re constantly debating who to trust – the Supreme Commanders’ children aren’t to be trusted, or are they? The Unnaturals (those that have special powers) find that there’s an interesting link there, and that they were all destined for a different life at the hands of someone that’s become important. Castle still knows more than he shares but never opens his mouth. Nazeera is a true wild card and continues to make us question every single thing she does, especially when ghosts pop up.

Where we are left at the end of this installment is even more uncertain. We have moments to think there may be hope for the future, but at the same time, we see that there are still so many powerful forces against them, with money and weaponry to beat them that it seems bleak. Is Ella strong enough to take control, will she and Warner reconcile? Will Castle finally share all that he knows? Will we ever get to the bottom of what the Reestablishment stands for and what can be done to bring them down? SOOO many questions and far far too long until we get the next installment to get answers. Enjoy!

Review: The Shores Beyond Time (Chronicles of the Dark Star #3) by Kevin Emerson

Title: The Shores Beyond Time
Author:  Kevin Emerson
Publisher/Year:  Harper Collins 2/12/19
Length:   512 Pages
Series:  Chronicle of the Dark Star #3

Overview

It is Earth year 2256—but the fate of the few who even remember Earth is perilously in doubt. Mina Saunders-Chang and many of the surviving humans are stranded in the Centauri system, having barely survived their confrontation with the Telphon refugees. Now everyone—human and Telphon alike—is caught in the blast zone of the Centauri supernova. And yet there’s only one question Mina is asking:

Where are Liam and Phoebe?

Having barely made it through the battle at the Centauri system with their lives, Liam and Phoebe awake on a mysterious ship in the middle of a dead universe. The ship bears the markings of a human starliner that disappeared decades ago—but even more disturbing than that is the massive alien machine floating in the starless space before them.

A machine long abandoned but now showing signs of life. A machine that has begun speaking to Liam in a voice only he can hear. . . .

My Thoughts

I honestly have no idea how our author came up with most of the stuff in this story! We are on such a roller coaster with things constantly changing, evolving. New characters being introduced, and alliances built and broken. We begin to question whether we know WHO we’re talking to, WHEN they are talking and what’s going to happen.

It’s hard to believe and often so hard to remember that Liam and Phoebe are so young. Ten i believe when we started this journey with them. I know that they’ve theoretically aged decades throughout this series, but still, being in stasis wouldn’t give them the maturity that they exhibit throughout.

When we left this story at the end of book 2, we are teased with the notion that Dark Star is connected to the humans, to the Artemis somehow, and that’s scarier than the cliff hanger that we were left at the end of book one, realizing that Pheobe wasn’t who she said she was.

So we spend much of this installment in Dark Star, whatever that is, and trying to get a sense of what this place is, what the motivation is, and what’s caused the Supernovas to happen. What’s the end game.

As expected, we are taken on an insane ride – because it seems like the Captain has more information about things than he’ll let on, and that was teased during the prologue chapter that he was featured in back on Earth. The fact that he wasn’t going to abide by the social norms, and the expectations of those in his class, well, it means that he can’t be trusted.

The chronologist plays a key role here as well – at least one of the chronologists – the one who seems to have befriended this duo. He’s given them insight into things, broken a few rules and norms where it was necessary, however the twist that we learn at the end blows the roof off of everything that we thought we had read throughout the other installments.

Dark Star is something that I could never have imagined, and something that I would fear immensely. AI is something that’s on the technological horizon (even in the now), but this is something entirely different. Building a colony, a place where millions could inhabit it, and that poses endless questions.

The nice thing about this third story too is that we’re reunited with family. We knew that there was so much disaster that had hit the streamliner, and the notion that Mina and Liam were able to stay connected and find each other again, and Liam was able to save their parents – we to see another perspective to things that’s also intense. The dynamic between Phoebe and her parents carried consistency from book 2. There’s still so much pain and hate, this need for revenge and the difficulty that her parents have with being happy with her bond with Liam. That bond proves to be even more substantial than anyone realized, and is something quite amazing.

There are so many social and philosophical undertones throughout this series that are so relevant any time you read this. How can cultures that are fundamentally different co-habitate, and should they do it? Is it even possible? How do we continue to question and seek knowledge, thinking that we have this hunger for more, but know when to stop pushing and let the future just happen? There are so many companies out there that are looking to give people eternity, to elevate knowledge and awareness and consciousness, and there’s a perspective in this story that makes you continue to question.

All in all, intense, amazing and i’m so happy that i found this series! Enjoy!

Review: The Oceans Between the Stars (Chronicle of the Dark Star #2) by Kevin Emerson

Title: The Oceans Between the Stars
Author:  Kevin Emerson
Publisher/Year:  Harper Collins 1/8/19
Length:   432 Pages
Series:  Chronicle of the Dark Star #2

Overview

It is Earth year 2223, but the Earth, along with the entire solar system, is gone.

Liam and Phoebe, having barely escaped our exploding sun with their lives, are in stasis for the decade-long journey to the rogue planet Delphi, where they hope to meet up with the rest of the human refugees, find help for their injured parents, and pass along the devastating things they discovered on Mars: that someone destroyed their world intentionally, and that that someone might still be after them, trying to finish the job.

Phoebe is carrying her own dark secret. One that finds her waking up secretly at various points in their journey, changing their path through space. One that will decide the fate of the human race, and many more besides. One that, very soon, she must reveal to Liam, whether he’s ready for the truth or not.

My Thoughts

This story keeps taking us on interesting twists and turns, showing us beings that we never knew existed but assumed were out there, links between names, times and planets etc. and each time we think that Liam and Phoebe are safe, BOOM something happens.

When we left off at the end of the first book, we were on the path to getting out of the way of the supernova, and plotting a course that would get these two to meet up with the starliner when they docked at the next waystation. Phoebe of course has her own plans and we don’t even truly know the motivation, even after we learned her secret that was teased at the cliff hanger from book 1.

The overarching trend that we see in this installment is of time jumping, making choices without knowing the outcome, trust and hope. They are faced each chapter with one of these and the outcome of each decision will have major impacts to the rest of the story.

We learn that the chronologist is truly on the side of humanity, and she shows up at key moments to save Liam and Phoebe when hope seems lost. While she lives in 4 dimensions whereas we are in three, she doesn’t have all the information and the interesting aspect is that she’s ok with that, and with the knowledge that she has and seems to have no fear. (most humans would NOT be like that)

We spend much of the story trying to determine if Phoebe is trustworthy. Once we learn that she’s not ‘human’ and that she knows the people who are chasing/attacking them and the starliners, we have to question every thought, word and action that she does to see if there’s some twisted and evil motive/motivation. JEFF, the bot that has been keeping them alive is truly skeptical, especially once he realizes that she’s the cause to their delays and that makes this story even more complex.

Add to that, we still don’t know why the Drove are infecting the stars so that they go supernova faster than ever before and what their end game is. The Drove mention the need to go back to the Dark Star, and that’s an interesting reference that we get at the end of this book – from people that we don’t expect to reference it at all!

There are little easter eggs that are dropped throughout this story. we are reminded that the first Starliner that was built (Artemis) was lost thirty years ago, yet by going through some type of time warp, Liam and Phoebe find it. We also learn that Aaru-5, the planet that the humans are going to colonize is Telos, the same planet that Phoebe is from, and the Rain of Ana was part of something bigger and far worse.

So…All in all we’ve gotten so many answers to questions that came up from the first book but then there are even more that are raised as we go into the final book of the trilogy. We still have no idea if families will be reunited, if Phoebe is on the same side as Liam or her ‘people’. If there’s even a planet to get to when this is all said and done, and when everyone will die (since it seems like the chronologist knows exactly when this will happen).

I’m excited to read on and see how this all ends – i hope you guys enjoy !

Review: Last Day on Mars (Chronicle of the Dark Star #1) by Kevin Emerson

Title: Last Day on Mars
Author:  Kevin Emerson
Publisher/Year:  Harper Collins 1/9/18
Length:   352 Pages
Series:  Chronicle of the Dark Star #1

Overview

It is Earth year 2213—but, of course, there is no Earth anymore. Not since it was burned to a cinder by the sun, which has mysteriously begun the process of going supernova. The human race has fled to Mars, but this was only a temporary solution while we have prepared for a second trip: a one-hundred-fifty-year journey to a distant star, our best guess at where we might find a new home.

Liam Saunders-Chang is one of the last humans left on Mars. The son of two scientists who have been racing against time to create technology vital to humanity’s survival, Liam, along with his friend Phoebe, will be on the last starliner to depart before Mars, like Earth before it, is destroyed.

Or so he thinks. Because before this day is over, Liam and Phoebe will make a series of profound discoveries about the nature of time and space and find out that the human race is just one of many in our universe locked in a dangerous struggle for survival.

My Thoughts

There have been a few books/series that i’ve read in the recent past that have centered around Mars, or space, or the notion that Earth can’t be the only planet for anyone to live on for much longer as a result of many many events. (YES, we are all very familiar with global warming, the effects that we’re having on the planet, the increase in severe weather etc). Anyhow, this story takes us on an interesting journey where there is so much that is unknown and so much that is uncertain, but it’s also a time when unfortunately people can’t wait to be certain to make decisions.

We’re teased at the very beginning of this story – even before the actual chapters start, with the notion that there are obviously far more intelligent beings out there, and those beings are able to not only show off their superior intelligence, but they are able to time travel to see what will happen and perhaps set themselves up to either change or benefit from the future. What’s even more interesting here though, and not entirely unexpected, there are different groups of these other beings that are absolutely not on the same side, and it’s because of their actions that things are put into motion. Yet the ‘humans’ are not aware of any of this and are the ones who will be on the receiving end of it all.

So like the book summary said, we’re years in the future when Mars was colonized because Earth became nothing but a dried up desert that wasn’t able to sustain human life. Colonies were built and developed on Mars as a stopping point while researchers worked to find another suitable planet to relocate. The time on Mars isn’t a long one, perhaps 20 years or less, but luckily they’ve discovered another planet that seems like it could be ok, however they don’t have enough information on the geography, geology, etc of this planet to be sure. The luxury of time is against them as the sun is going supernova far faster than expected and off they go.

Liam and Phoebe become our main characters, our heroes perhaps but the focus of the story no less. They are teens who are among the last to go to the starliner – a ship that’s going to take the entire population of the planet to their new home. As teens often do, they don’t listen, during critical times especially and when there’s an early arrival of a solar flare store, they steal away with a friend to watch it and they end up seeing more than they bargained for. In the form of an interesting structure that’s not on maps, and was never disclosed to anyone.

That’s where this story takes it turn for drama. There’s no time to really find out what the structure is, yet there are so many questions. Liam’s parents, who are the key researchers with the task of ensuring that there’s the ability to create moisture and clouds to sustain life on the new planet, they don’t even know what this structure is and deem it his imagination. So no one knows what’s there and that means that the trouble that Liam and Phoebe got themselves into once is only just the beginning.

The story feels like it’s pace quickens here – the timeline to departure has to speed up because the solar flare storms are getting worse and are occurring faster. Research is not yet completed and there’s no time to do so. there are catastrophes and damage being done on Mars that no one understands why and where that leaves us is with the death of a few key people, the departure of the Starliner without Liam, Phoebe and their parents, and so many open questions.

Add to that, we encounter a pair of other beings that we think are human but are clearly not – who are working against the humans. Who have the intention to kill them all, and we don’t know who they really are and what their motivations are. Liam got a hold of a device that foreshadows death and harm, and these beings seem to trigger it, but Liam and Phoebe haven’t figured out exactly how to avoid all this.

When they almost reach safety, it’s ripped from their hands. When they almost have a chance at survival, it’s also pulled away. We are left with so many questions on what will happen, who’s behind what, who can be trusted etc. And the LAST bit of this story – the Epilogue makes your jaw drop because something is revealed. A tie that links back to the saboteurs is raised and everything that we thought we knew, likely isn’t real at all.

I can’t wait to get the second book since i’m honestly shocked by where we were left off, and i really want to see how this will end! Enjoy!

Review: Shadow Me (Shatter Me #4.5) by Tahereh Mafi

Title: Shadow Me
Author:  Tahereh Mafi
Publisher/Year:  Harper Collins 3/5/19
Length:   55 Pages
Series:  Shatter Me #4.5

Overview

Juliette is still reeling from Warner’s betrayal, and Kenji is trying to balance his friendship with her with his responsibilities as a leader of the resistance against the Reestablishment. Things get even more interesting when an unexpected person from Omega Point’s past surfaces.

The ending of Restore Me left readers gasping, and this novella full of Kenji’s signature sass and big heart is the perfect story to tide fans over until Defy Me, the shocking fifth book in the Shatter Me series, hits shelves in April 2019.

My Thoughts

Every time we get a new installment, i’m reminded that it’s been a while since the previous one, and while I hate being in limbo and a bit fuzzy on details, I don’t quite have it in me to re-read everything to get fully back up to speed. So, in this novella, where we are is a bit out of sync in my mind but that’s ok. Ms Mafi does a fantastic job of grounding us in the moment in time where the world has completely turned itself upside down.

This time around we get a snippet about Kenji – what’s going on in his head personally and what he’s being left to clean up in reality. There’s always been this humor about him, the ability to make situations less dramatic, but what we find out here is that there’s even more drama and depth than we ever knew.

Juliette continues to be in such a precarious position, and Kenji takes so much of that weight on his own shoulders because he’s been closest to her for the longest time, and because it’s his nature to be overly compassionate. We see that even more so in this book, and we hear his internal monologue giving us bits of the history there to understand even more.

We really get the chance to see another side of him – the side that perhaps is covered up by all the humor that he puts out in the world. The jealous side – the part of him that wishes that he could have what everyone else seems to have – even if he has to witness first hand the pain that comes along with finding his perfect person.

This is a bit of a snack to hold us over until Defy Me comes out in about 2 weeks, we find ourselves with Kenji trying to save Juliette from the after effects of the Symposium, and Juliette then going missing – Nazeerah becoming even more a mystery and all hell breaking loose….All of this is both too much and not enough to keep the chaos on my brain at bay. I need to see what happens, who’s still alive and what impact this is going to have on the world as they know it. Enjoy!

Review: Imposters (Imposters #1) by Scott Westerfeld

Title: Imposters
Author:  Scott Westerfeld
Publisher/Year:  Scholastic 9/11/18
Length:   289 Pages
Series:  Imposters #1

Overview

Deception. Risk. Betrayal. Redemption. Master storyteller Scott Westerfeld is at the top of his game, and back to his most famous realm. A New York Times bestseller.

Frey and Rafi are inseparable . . . two edges of the same knife. But only one of them is ever seen in public.

Frey is Rafi’s twin sister-and her body double. Their powerful father has many enemies, and the world has grown dangerous as the old order falls apart. So while Rafi was raised to be the perfect daughter, Frey has been taught to kill. Her only purpose is to protect her sister, to sacrifice herself for Rafi if she must. 

When her father sends Frey in Rafi’s place as collateral in a precarious deal, she becomes the perfect impostor. But Col, the son of a rival leader, is getting close enough to spot the killer inside her . . . . 

My Thoughts

Seeing the cover of this story brings me back to a great time when I read the series that preceded this one – The Uglies. That story was ahead of it’s time with all the body mods that were possible, the reason for it, the throwback to Rusties society (which is really our time), and now we’re sort of back in it again.

Tally Youngblood was the main character in that series -a girl who did everything that she could to change how people thought about themselves and the world. She started a rebellion, and now we’re back in a time when people are primed for another rebellion, and could use her reappearance but when that doesn’t seem likely, they use her spirit.

As the summary says, Rafia and Frey are twins, half an hour apart, but worlds apart in reality. Rafia is the favorite, the one who’s meant to be the ruler and Frey is the bodyguard and the throw away. Of course though, if we haven’t learned anything in reading these types of stories – it’s always the Throw Away that has the most potential. And that’s where this story takes us.

Frey is traded to a neighboring ruling family as collateral so their father can get a hold of metal which he so desperately wants. The intention is that Frey will impersonate Rafia while she’s there so that he can get what he wants and if something goes wrong, well, then he’s only lost the spare. not the heir.

Giving Frey this kind of freedom, even though she’s essentially a prisoner, well, it’s opening her world up more than anyone could have hoped. She befriends the eldest son to the ruling family and building more than just a close friendship with him. But if Rafia isn’t what she seems, then what’s to say that Col is what he seems?

From the beginning, we’re pulled into this story from an emotional string, and then we’re kept engaged with the hope that these teens can make the world a better place. Our main characters know that how their parents rule and have raised them isn’t necessarily the best way and when they come to terms that they can be powerful as well, in a positive way, then the story explodes.

In addition to Frey and Rafia, and Col even, we have a few additional characters that truly lend good shape to the story. There’s Zura who’s a Special (if you read the other series, you would know that Specials have been modified to be military grade – stronger, faster, smarter etc). She’s proven to be incredibly helpful and perhaps one of the last remaining Victorian House Guard Specials to survive. There’s also Teo who is Col’s younger brother and a boy who’s got an interesting role in the story that we don’t fully know yet. He’s at a private boarding school in Europe when all hell breaks loose and then he goes missing and we can’t wait to see how that plays out. There’s also Col’s friend Yandre who seems to have family connections to the Rebels and we can only guess that the Rebels will be necessary (and perhaps will spawn a pop up by Tally).

What our author does well yet again is paint a picture on how societies truly divided themselves once the Rusties went away and new tech became the norm. People became far more reliant on newer and better technology to make things not only beautiful, but automated and controlled by AI etc. When that happens, as we saw in the Uglies series, people become far too reliant on things outside of themselves and society crumbles.

We go on a roller coaster with this story. Feeling heartbroken for the sisters when they are torn apart, feeling hope for Frey because she gets a chance to be someone else, and then dealing with angst and anxiety when a war breaks out and friends and loved ones are killed or torn apart. We’re left in a very precarious place at the end of this story – where one sister is forced to make a decision that can truly ruin the other one, where enemies are capturing people left and right and people are still missing. there’s almost no closure at the end of this first installment to this spin off series and that’s something that i both love and hate because i need to know more – NOW. So, on that note, i’m going to stalk Mr Westerfeld’s page to find out when the 2nd book is coming out and i’ll be back later! Enjoy!

Review: Dry by Neal Shusterman

Title: Dry
Author:  Neal Shusterman
Publisher/Year:  Simon & Shuster Publishing 11/23/18
Length:   400 Pages

Overview

When the California drought escalates to catastrophic proportions, one teen is forced to make life and death decisions for her family in this harrowing story of survival from New York Times bestselling author Neal Shusterman and Jarrod Shusterman.

The drought—or the Tap-Out, as everyone calls it—has been going on for a while now. Everyone’s lives have become an endless list of don’ts: don’t water the lawn, don’t fill up your pool, don’t take long showers.

Until the taps run dry.

Suddenly, Alyssa’s quiet suburban street spirals into a warzone of desperation; neighbors and families turned against each other on the hunt for water. And when her parents don’t return and her life—and the life of her brother—is threatened, Alyssa has to make impossible choices if she’s going to survive.

My Thoughts

I needed a change of pace for a bit and we all know that i’m a huge fan of dystopia, post-apocolyptic etc. so this fell right into my sweet spot. For those of you who follow what i’m reading on Goodreads, you’ll see that this has taken me FAR too long to read and that’s not a result of the book itself, but just that i haven’t been able to focus. This week though, i turned the corner and really invested my time in reading this story and i’m happy that i did.

It’s interesting how reading stories like this hit so close to home, especially since in this case especially it’s based on a scenario that’s so real and quite likely to happen if we don’t do something about consumption management now.

We find ourselves in Southern California, where the water/drought situation is so bad that neighboring states are now closing off waterways to Cali because those states are desperate as well. No one truly knows what the impact of all this will be but we quickly learn that water really is the one thing that keeps people sane and alive and without it, it’s an eat or be eaten mentality for society.

The nice way that this story is written is that we have chapters that alternate through our character’s POVs. not just two main characters, but essentially everyone that we meet. I personally enjoyed this because this is a situation that impacts different people in unique ways and seeing how it can either tear people apart or bring them together based on what they are living and feeling brings much more depth to the story.

Add to that, a variety of adjacent scenes that are happening throughout the similar surrounding areas for people who aren’t connected to our mains, and we get a really detailed and complex picture of what’s going on.

I really enjoyed how our main characters are all teens and maybe younger than teens, and even though they are faced with a situation that typically forces them to grow up quickly, they still remain acting as ‘kids’. We see some take leader roles etc, but they still act, talk and seem like kids and that’s refreshing. There are a few who take on personas that are not themselves and that comes to bite them in the end, but i think that it’s all realistic and natural.

There’s a great flow to this story – we see the initial shock and disbelief to what’s happening in the state, even though everyone knew that water was running scarce and that rationing wasn’t working. I feel like if/when this happens in reality, the exact same reactions will happen and things will sadly play out in a similar way. No one believes that things like this will happen to them, and no one prepares. (except for that one weird family down the street).

There are moments when we have hope – knowing that there is someone with survival skills around, knowing that there’s a Plan B to keep us moving towards. then there are moments of dispair when parents go missing, when the adults rebel and when they take for granted the fact that kids are more innocent and can just get things done. There’s the arc of fear and desperation when disease becomes widespread, when government doesn’t help, when hope is lost because a series of events happen to throw them off course.

The roller coaster in this story is wild and i think that if you take the time to enjoy this story – you’ll agree with that notion. I don’t know that i loved the way that this story ended – i think that it did part of the plot justice but then it did a bit of a disservice when the closure in some places seemed too easy. That’s just me though – i’m cynical and jaded and sometimes wish that things couldn’t all be wrapped in a pretty bow.

On that note – i really enjoyed this book and i’m glad that i finally just put my head down to finish it. well worth it. Enjoy!