Review: The Revolution of Ivy (The Book of Ivy #2) by Amy Engel

TitleThe Revolution of Ivy
Author:  Amy Engel
Publisher/Year:  Entangled Publishing 11/03/16
Length:  202 Pages
Series:  The Book of Ivy #2

Overview

Beyond the fence. I am still alive. Barely.

My name is Ivy Westfall. I am sixteen years old and a traitor. Three months ago, I was forced to marry the president’s son, Bishop Lattimer—as all daughters of the losing side of the war are sold off in marriage to the sons of the winners. But I was different. I had a mission-to kill Bishop.

Instead, I fell in love with him.

Now I am an outcast, left to survive the brutal savagery of the lands outside of civilization. Yet even out here, there is hope. There is life beyond the fence. But I can’t outrun my past. For my actions have set off a treasonous chain of events in Westfall that will change all of our fates—especially Bishop’s.

And this time, it is not enough to just survive…

My Thoughts

The path that this story has taken is a sad but expected one. If you recall from the first book, we are living at a time where nuclear war has ‘destroyed’ America, likely the planet, and there are only small groups of people assumed to be living in communities spread out all over the place. We are in Westfall, somewhere i’d guess in the middle of the country, a town that was established and founded by the Westfall family but where leadership and governance is by the Lattimers. In the first book, Ivy was forced to marry Bishop, a Westfall marrying a Lattimer, but what no one expected and understood is that Ivy and Bishop are not at all like their families, so what society hoped would happen is the polar opposite.

We saw the relationship develop and solidify between Bishop and Ivy in the first book, however there was the underlying threat that we were aware of, that Ivy’s sister and father had this master plan to kill Bishop, then his father and then to take control of the city. Ivy had always followed what she was told because she didn’t know better, secrets were kept from her that she didn’t even know existed, and when she’s with Bishop and her eyes are opened up, she quickly realizes that life is very different and she’s been given the gift of freedom and ability to see what’s real on her own.

Along with this though comes the issue that she’s been tasked to kill Bishop and she’s some how fallen in love with him. So to save him, at the end of the first book, we see her sacrifice herself which ultimately turned into her being put out of the community, to the other side of the fence, with the intent for her to die. Ivy however will not die.

The journey in this second book is one of self discovery, seeing through Ivy’s eyes what it takes to survive, to become your own person and to live by making your own opinions and thoughts, not living by what others tell you. Trust and Loyalty are the only things that matter outside the fence and that’s something that’s hard for her.

On her quest to freedom, she of course almost dies, injuries from her release, the return of a man who was put out for raping a young girl chooses to attack Ivy as well, and she’s left for dead. When she’s discovered by Caleb and Ash, two people who’ve lived their whole life outside the fence, we see the story start to turn, and we have hope. She’s able to find friends, shelter, food, and family. That’s something that she thought she had with Bishop but that’s a life that’s gone. Or is it?

I really enjoy how our author paces this story – there’s so much growth and turmoil that happens that we get to see how that develops and then when the dust starts to settle, new challenges arise. The biggest of course is the return of Bishop. We know how he felt about Ivy, and we know that he didn’t truly believe that she was going to kill him, so it’s no surprise that he turns up, but the question becomes what will that mean for everyone.

Why is he outside the fence? What did he do and what does that mean? Will he and Ivy be the same since we know that they have both changed, and we know that Ivy has put up walls against him. What does all this mean for Westfall, and of course what’s going on with Ivy’s sister and Father?

All of these are questions that we beg to have answered in this story, and of course they all are. I think that the way this story resolves itself is realistic yet a bit quick. but i think that’s what it calls for. I can tell you that not everyone that we have read and endeared ourselves to survives, and that’s ok since that’s life. But i can tell you that story lines are tied up and we see what the present looks like. I’m sad this is a 2 book series v. a trilogy so now i have to find a new story to dive into. Enjoy!

Review: The Book of Ivy (The Book of Ivy #1) by Amy Engel

TitleThe Book of Ivy
Author:  Amy Engel
Publisher/Year:  Entangled Publishing 11/11/14
Length:  227 Pages
Series:  The Book of Ivy #1

Overview

What would you kill for?

After a brutal nuclear war, the United States was left decimated. A small group of survivors eventually banded together, but only after more conflict over which family would govern the new nation. The Westfalls lost. Fifty years later, peace and control are maintained by marrying the daughters of the losing side to the sons of the winning group in a yearly ritual.

This year, it is my turn.

My name is Ivy Westfall, and my mission is simple: to kill the president’s son—my soon-to-be husband—and return the Westfall family to power.

But Bishop Lattimer is either a very skilled actor or he’s not the cruel, heartless boy my family warned me to expect. He might even be the one person in this world who truly understands me. But there is no escape from my fate. I am the only one who can restore the Westfall legacy.

Because Bishop must die. And I must be the one to kill him…

My Thoughts

I’m a fan of this genre, looking into the future when we know that man kind will wipe out society as we know it, and when things return back to what it was like before technology, with different rules in place to keep peace, it makes you realize that maybe we’re all going to be lost and up a creek without a paddle if that day ever comes.

So we start this story in a point that’s roughly 10 years into the future from where we are now, which is kind of scary. Nuclear war has wiped out much of America, and there are so few people left that we know of because of what happened, and that means that there are only a few left to live in a town that was itself once divided.

There was war in this town to determine how it would be run, some were for democracy and some were for one ruler who was president and set the laws. That side one, and what it means is that there are families who draw a line in life. As a result of this divide, there’s a tradition that every year olds marry someone from the other side in the hopes that war will be avoided since it means that everyone would be warring with their loved ones, and there’s hope that marrying people off at a young age will allow for a higher chance to have more children who are healthy and can revive the country.

The president’s son has managed to delay his marriage because he’s the President’s son, but as such, he has to marry the daughter of the founder of the losing side. The irony here is that the Westfalls, the losing side, have a daughter that’s the same age as Bishop, but he delays his marriage to wed the younger daughter. As we all know, it’s always the younger daughter that’s been the spare in life, and that means that her value is unexpected, undervalued, and well, everyone thinks she’s less worthy. Everyone except for Bishop. We learn his motivation later in the story and it gives you hope.

Ivy is our leading lady, sixteen and forced to marry a man she doesn’t know, whom she hates because of who he is and what his family has done to hers, and at the same time, there are pieces of this tradition that give her freedom. That get her away from what her father and sister have been forcing her into, and gives her the opportunity to grow her own wings.

Bishop is the son of the President, a boy that everyone looks to as the future of society, and a boy who has different feelings on how things should be than his father, but he’s biding his time so that he’s able to make changes.

The development of their relationship is on par with what we see in other stories in this genre. Bishop isn’t what we expected and as such, he gives Ivy time to adjust, gives her a chance to get comfortable with him, to let some type of relationship grow and develop and hopefully make it into a marriage that’s more than in just name only.

The challenge here though is that Ivy’s family has revenge in their minds. They want to take power back from Bishop’s family and the only way to do that is for Ivy to kill Bishop and then for her father and sister to kill the President and take power over. The journey that we go on here is one where we hope there’s a way to change minds, or to avoid doing things that will go too far, but we also know that will never happen.

There are similarities of this story and several others though where there’s a fence that surrounds their community. The fence is the edge of civilization, and outside of that is deemed unsafe, uninhabitable and that’s where they put people out who break laws. From what we’ve seen in other stories, there’s far more out there than anyone knows, and it’s far more civilized, but that’s not for book 1 i don’t think.

What we worry about here though are the hopes and dreams that both Ivy and Bishop share. They both crave to know what’s out there, to see the ocean and to be free. That means that some how we know that they will go outside the fence but we don’t know the circumstances and if they will succeed, survive etc. What we do know though is that this story lets us off at the fence. One on one side and one on another, with limited hope of resolution or success. Too much is at stake for anyone to go against beliefs, but too much is at stake to sit and do nothing.

So on that note, i can’t wait to get into the second book here since i’m really curious how things will turn out. People are planting ideas, people are planting lies, and those who are in power are abusing it for their own worth. I can’t wait to see what’s next. Enjoy!

Review: Reveal Me (Shatter Me #5.5) by Tahereh Mafi

TitleReveal Me
Author:  Tahereh Mafi
Publisher/Year:  HarperCollins Publishing 10/8/19
Length:  68 Pages
Series:  Shatter Me #5.5

Overview

This fourth companion novella to Tahereh Mafi’s New York Times bestselling Shatter Me series is narrated by fan favorite character Kenji Kishimoto!

The explosive revelations in Defy Me have left readers reeling and desperate for answers. This fourth and final novella in the series will bring readers back to the world of the Shatter Me before the final novel installment hits shelves in winter 2020.

My Thoughts

The summary here doesn’t do anything for the story – you really have no idea what it is that we’re going to walk into, especially knowing that we were left with some INSANE revelations in the last book. Whatever it was that they thought they knew about each other, about the Resistance, about what it was that Anderson had tried to do, well the story is far more complex. Adam and James are pawns just like Ella and Emmaline are. Warner is caught in the middle again as are everyone else and it’s a mess.

As you’ll remember, they had safely made it across the country to Castle’s daughters complex. A place that no one knew existed because no one knew she existed and it’s a sanctuary to recoup and figure out what the next move will be. Told from Kenji’s point of view, we see how this will play out.

Remember that he was drugged and kidnapped by Nazeera (who could still be playing both sides) and then his plane is shot down by the Resistance to get him to safety. All part of a plan that he wasn’t informed about.

The biggest thing here is that you know that Kenji is driven by emotions and that’s part of his powers. He’s able to put others at ease, but what happens too is that he’s doing that by not letting his emotions take hold of him. We haven’t seen what would happen if he can’t control that and there are moments in this novella that we come close.

Because Kenji is so invested in his friendships, in his relationships, he’s the one that takes the latest rounds of information the hardest. Adam and James didn’t come with them from Omega Point and that can’t bode well for their futures because we learned who their father is and that makes things dicier. Kenji’s emotions bottle up and then explode when he learns of their fate and that takes the story on a fast turn of anger, fear and distrust.

Add to that the feelings that he had for Nazeera at one point, and the fact that he doesn’t know what her motivations are. This turns quickly into a love / hate relationship and while i would love nothing more than to see them together, we don’t yet know what’s possible.

When things seem like they can’t get worse – they’re in hiding from Anderson (shocker – he’s not dead), Adam and James are in limbo. No one knows who to trust, what their futures will hold and who’s going to be able to save them. Juilliete and Warner are finally in a good place but will that last? Will anyone find happiness and what will the world look like when this all comes to a head.

The last scene is an intense one brought to us via screams from the sanctuary, the world changing physical structure and form, the sun becoming something that no one understands, and Julliette on her knees screaming her sisters name. All of this begging for questions to be asked on what’s to come next, and now we have to wait a few months to see how this plays out. I don’t know if i can be patient but i guess i have no choice. Enjoy!

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!