Review: Warcross (Warcross #1) by Marie Lu

Title: Warcross
Author: Marie Lu
Publisher/Year:  Penguin Group 9/12/17
Length:   305 Pages
Series:  Warcross #1

Overview

For the millions who log in every day, Warcross isn’t just a game—it’s a way of life. The obsession started ten years ago and its fan base now spans the globe, some eager to escape from reality and others hoping to make a profit. Struggling to make ends meet, teenage hacker Emika Chen works as a bounty hunter, tracking down Warcross players who bet on the game illegally. But the bounty-hunting world is a competitive one, and survival has not been easy. To make some quick cash, Emika takes a risk and hacks into the opening game of the international Warcross Championships—only to accidentally glitch herself into the action and become an overnight sensation.

Convinced she’s going to be arrested, Emika is shocked when instead she gets a call from the game’s creator, the elusive young billionaire Hideo Tanaka, with an irresistible offer. He needs a spy on the inside of this year’s tournament in order to uncover a security problem . . . and he wants Emika for the job. With no time to lose, Emika’s whisked off to Tokyo and thrust into a world of fame and fortune that she’s only dreamed of. But soon her investigation uncovers a sinister plot, with major consequences for the entire Warcross empire.

My Thoughts

I don’t know how our author does it – yet another amazingly different series – with a basis in something htat doesn’t even resemble the other series.  It’s such a great next step.

The world that we’re in now is one in the future where virtual reality is a way to escape life and it’s a necessary thing for Emi who’s now 18, alone in the world (her father died and her mother left years ago) and she’s in so much debt that she doesn’t know what’s going to happen next.  As a bounty hunter, that’s her way to make some money since she can’t quite get a job after a hacking situation that got her arrested years ago.  That same hacking is what’s about to save her life.

Warcross is the biggest thing in the world – a game that you can go pro playing and there’s a world championship each year where you can see the best of the best play in a team situation.  Emi hacks into the game just to get a high value power-up that she can sell on the black market and ends up hacking into the game itself – causing all sorts of problems.  In doing that, her life changes forever.

Her identity which she had worked so hard to keep secret is revealed to the whole world, she’s not in the press, and she gets a call from Hideo Tanaka – the creator of the game  – which she fears means her life is over.  Quite the opposite.

Hideo is an interesting character – 18, has demons and ghosts of his own, but the most successful man in the world through the development of his neurlink glasses which allow players to play the game and even see the entire world in VR.  Its intense to think about actually.  He brings Emi to Tokoyo becuase he needs her help and her ability to hack into the game shows that maybe she’s the one who can do it.

There’s someone called ‘Zero’ who’s been hacking into the game and collecting data, and Hideo needs to stop him since he doesn’t know what the end game is.  He hires Emi as a hacking bounty hunter of sorts (along with some others) who he will put into the tournament in the hopes that they can figure out who Zero is.

Through the tournament, we get to meet a lot of characters that make the story so much better.  Emi is put on the Pheonix’s – a team made up of 3 experienced players and 2 wild cards – herself and DJ Ren.  (a well known DJ).  We start to see how close the friendships are with the players and how that really keeps things going.  especially with the competitive nature of all the other teams.

Where this story goes is an interesting journey.  We don’t know who to trust – and we don’t know who’s on what side.  The friendships that grow are great and the secrets that live within Emi tear them apart.  We see an interesting romance begin and it’s something that you really root for since it humanizes a few people, but of course there’s a lot at stake for that relationship to continue.

When we learn the identity of Zero (through a glitch) (mind you i kind of figured this one out earlier on).  we see that what we thought we knew of the hack is something completely different.  The world at the end of the book is nothing like it was when we started and it’s now up to a few to change the course of actions already set in motion in the hopes of saving everyone on the world.

I’m so bummed that book 2 isn’t out already because this was really amazing to read – especially from Marie Lu – but i’ll be patient.  Enjoy!

Review: Carve the Mark (Carve the Mark #1) by Veronica Roth

no-brainer

Title: Carve the Mark
Author: Veronica Roth
Publisher/Year: Harper Collins 1/17/17
Length:   390 Pages
Series:  Carve the Mark #1

Overview

On a planet where violence and vengeance rule, in a galaxy where some are favored by fate, everyone develops a currentgift, a unique power meant to shape the future. While most benefit from their currentgifts, Akos and Cyra do not—their gifts make them vulnerable to others’ control. Can they reclaim their gifts, their fates, and their lives, and reset the balance of power in this world?

Cyra is the sister of the brutal tyrant who rules the Shotet people. Cyra’s currentgift gives her pain and power—something her brother exploits, using her to torture his enemies. But Cyra is much more than just a blade in her brother’s hand: she is resilient, quick on her feet, and smarter than he knows.

Akos is from the peace-loving nation of Thuvhe, and his loyalty to his family is limitless. Though protected by his unusual currentgift, once Akos and his brother are captured by enemy Shotet soldiers, Akos is desperate to get his brother out alive—no matter what the cost. When Akos is thrust into Cyra’s world, the enmity between their countries and families seems insurmountable. They must decide to help each other to survive—or to destroy one another.

My Thoughts

For those of you who really liked the Divergent series, and more for the writing than the story, than you’ll love this next new series by Ms Roth.  what we have here is another Dystopia, but a story that takes us to another Galaxy to a time when things are completely different than what we’re envisioning.

As the summary tells us, we’re following the story of two main characters, Cyra and Akos who find their lives to be intertwined because of what the current has given them in terms of powers/abilities as well as where their futures seem to lead them.  See they all live in an era where there are oracles who are able to see things of the future and they are able to know who is ‘fated’ meaning who’s got a future being laid out before them.  These are usually kept secret, however when they are revealed, one family has to go into hiding and another is split up.  With those that are split taken into the the Shotet empire because of what their futures hold.

Akos is our leading guy – a boy who has an ability to take away currentgifts, and that’s especially helpful as the sister of the Shotet ruler has this power that causes pain to others however it also causes herself intense amounts of pain.

Cyra has her own issues – knowing that she’s caused the death of her mother and that all she wants is to be something other than what she is and where she is.  Being around Akos gives her the chance to be a bit more normal and of course in a book with teens, you know that it’s going to lead to some level of romance.

The story here is one of a leader trying to get ultimate power because he doesn’t like the fate that he’s been given.  Ryz – Cyra’s brother is trying to be the eternal power, trying to get his nation recognized among the Assembly which is the governing body of all planets in their galaxy however the means that he uses to go about it are quite brutal and not appreciated.

It’s a journey of cyra and Akos trying to do what’s right for them, and trying to find a way to live their lives as they want.  Akos has the motivation of trying to save his brother who was kidnapped by Ryz, however Ryz has used his currentgift to affect his brother’s mind meaning that even if he gets his brother back, who knows what we will have.

Cyra is also just trying to be herself.  She learns more about the renegades and Exiles that are feared and hated by the Shotet and we see that she’s converting what she’s been taught into action for the future.

When it’s discovered that the land that Akos is from has discovered a Chancellor who turns out to be someone that we’ve met before, we know that the story is going to get far more complex.  That same chancellor has their heart broken and destroyed, potentially at the hand of another character that we love, that we see that there’s no option than to feel her wrath as she takes her position as a leader and takes them all to the Assembly.

We’re left wondering what’s going to happen next since Cyra learns of a secret about who she is which is somewhat unexpected, and then there’s the question of who Akos truly is since he’s not what he seems.  There’s also the question about who will live and who will die, and what’s ahead for them once they reach the Assembly.

All in all, a very interesting and quite different story from Ms Roth – not at all what i was expecting from what i’ve read of hers before.  If you’re a fan of Red Rising, i think that you’ll enjoy this one.  On that note – enjoy and have a good night!

Review: Scions of Sacrifice (The Scion Chronicles #4) by Eric Kent Edstrom

2940153512365_p0_v1_s192x300

Title: Scions of Sacrifice
Author: Eric Kent Edstrom
Publisher/Year: Undermountain Books LLC 12/8/16
Length:   366 Pages
Series:  The Scion Chronicles #4

Overview

Threats old and new converge upon the Scions as they make their last stand against the forces of evil.

Scions of Sacrifice sprints head-long to an explosive climax guaranteed to leave you breathless. In this jaw-dropping conclusion of The Scion Chronicles series, Jacey races to rescue Livy from Dr. Carlhagen while enemies surround her, determined to kill her.

But when a trusted ally reveals a secret at the heart of who Jacey truly is, she gathers her allies in a desperate final battle for freedom.

My Thoughts

This series really is something else – i’m incredibly happy that i came across it.  What we have here in this final installment to the series is a continuation of the multiple story lines all weaving together and apart, all with the same end goal it seems.

In this fourth book, we have the Dr on his island with the Senator – all trying to further his end game of getting control of Jacey and also managing to get all the power in the world as he tries to put a positive spin on the Scion program and the fact that essentially carbos are illegal.  While at times things seem to be going in his favor, in fact the tides are turning since the senator has come to her sense and the Dr’s AI has gone rogue – taking matters into his own hands.

There’s also the parallel story of Jacey and her quest to save Livy.  We know that she’s on the island with the Dr and Jacey now has to figure out how to get to the island and to get Livy back.  Where we go with her though is an interesting story.  Dante becomes an ally (or does he) as does a pop star names Meow Meow and with this aspect, we learn that things are not always as they seem.  It’s because of Meow Meow’s real past that things are able to take form through this story since she has contacts and experiences and knowledge that manage to keep them on the run and get them to a turning point in the story.

The third parallel story is that of the Scions on the boat.  They are trying to get to the island that Mr Justin had set up while he was going to play the poor Dr and it’s on the boat that we actually see transformation happen with the Scions.  Summer,  a character in the first book that we felt was nothing but a twittering teenage girl with a crush has continued to evolve into a necessary leader – one who has more skill than anyone else.  We also see that the other Scions are maturing into their own people – taking on roles and responsibilities that would make anyone proud. The quick thinking that they have to employ is impressive as they try to figure out next steps for everyone in the game.

The last bit of the story lies with Belle and Vaughn – whom are now both on servers and trying to help the Scions.  Where the relationship started because Belle’s in love with him has become something greater.  She sees her deficiencies because of what he’s able to do that she feels she can’t and that actually turns Belle into a character that you want to like even more – one who has the potential to save Jacey while she’s on the run and then to be selfless enough to give up herself to let Vaughn get the power he needs to save everyone else.

We see this story take us from the Carribbean to Puerto Rico to Chicago to the barren refugee camps and then back to the island of St Lazurus.  We see military come and go, we see politicals trying to exert their power and we see a lot of the parentage of the Scions – even those who didn’t know that they were being used to create Scions.

I think it’s a fair assumption to say that lots of our friends will die in the quest to overpower the Dr and i don’t think that it’s really anyone’s guess as to who will remain.  It’s a roller coaster and there are alliances and bonds that are created amidst all the death and sadness that at least gives this story a good bit of closure.  We’re left with a sense of hope since there’s a plan that’s put into action, but of course there’s always the question of whether there will be success since there’s a lot left unanswered.

All in all, i think that this was a really unique and interesting journey that we went on and i think that it’s a series that you should all try to tack down.  It makes you wonder what the future of our world will be like since it all seems to have stemmed from an asteroid hitting the earth, setting things into motion that caused all sorts of destruction and corruption. Anyhow, enough deep thinking for me – i hope you guys check this series out and have a great day!

Review: Sister of Shadows (The Scion Chronicles #3) by Eric Kent Edstrom

no-brainer

Title: Sister of Shadows
Author: Eric Kent Edstrom
Publisher/Year: Undermountain Books LLC 12/8/16
Length:   379 Pages
Series:  The Scion Chronicles #3

Overview

Evil lurks among the Scions, waiting its moment to strike!

Sister of Shadows is the third book in The Scion Chronicles.

When a daring escape costs a beloved Scion’s life, Jacey races alone into the outside world for help . . . and comes face to face with ghosts from her past. As suspicion casts its shadow, Jacey’s friends become foes and old enemies become her only allies.
My Thoughts

This story really couldn’t get much crazier, yet some how it does.  I have to give great kudos to the author because what we have here in this 3rd installment are three different parts of the story told from different vantage points, as they are running parallel to one another.  I have no idea how he was able to keep track of all of it together, but it was nicely done.

The point that we’re at in the story is that the knowledge of what the Scions are intended for is finally getting through to the Scions, and that means that there’s not only unrest, but a lot of confusion as to who to trust and what that means for their futures.  The three storylines are as follows:

The Scions, Jacey and Dr Carlhagen

Where they split from the main story and then go on their paths is a bit into this third book.  Now that we have started to uncover exactly what the plan was that Dr Carlhagen has for the Scions, the need to take control is what they feel is most urgent.  Jacey and Humphrey some how manage to grow up quite fast and take on the leader roles, where Humphrey tries to convince everyone on the outside world that he’s Dr Carlhagen still and for the most part he’s successful.  It’s when one of the more power Progenitors comes (a Senator) early to transfer because of a terminal illness that gives her bout 4 weeks to live, that their world gets completely flipped upside down.

Not only have we lost Vaughn (Dr Carlhagen took that body), but we now are in the midst of losing Summer who’s the Progenitos Scion.  Summer however is only 14 and too early to transfer, and the Scions aren’t going to let her go without a fight.  The journey here is one where we see her and the others grown up incredibly fast, and we see how far the elder Scions can push the limits to save their friends.

Then there’s the story line with the Dr and the Senator.  They have an interwoven past and that means that they are bound by personal ties as well as their own business needs since we see that they were using each other to gain power and money – and build a second Scion school.  That’s where the Dr’s story takes him – on how he can manage to get off St Vitus, away from the school to get his new school set up and then to get the Scions to that new school.  All while some how using leverage over the Senator and the Scions (Jacey primarily since we know that he holds a torch and a grudge against her still)

Then there’s Jacey – we know that she’s our masterful leading lady, and she’s thrown herself into some interesting situations.  She manages to hide Summer, figure out a plan to get the Scions to safety and then when the tables turn on her again, she manages to somehow get off the island trying to find help from the other Progenitors, hoping that maybe they would be on her side.

So as you can imagine, there are three story strings going on here, where we are wondering how and when they will intercept.  What we know is that Mr Justin the butler truly isn’t what he seems, he’s had this other plot the entire time to get back at the Dr, and he’s given the opportunity of a lifetime.  He transfers into a Scion, and no one knows which one, which adds another layer of complexity to the story.  You don’t know when he’s going to strike and make things that much worse.

There’s a lot of military in this book – they are called in by the Senator, by the Dr, by everyone basically since the scions need to be kept a secret.  Jacey is going rogue in her attempt to figure out a way to keep her friends safe and get back one that was kidnapped.  There’s also a lot of death, losing some of our favorite characters when things go from bad to worse.  The world is an interesting place and we are only starting to understand what the initial motivation was that caused Dr Carlhagen to truly develop his God complex.

There are so many questions that have to be answered in the 4th book.  When and where are they all going to reunite and who’s going to survive?  The romance that we saw budding between Humphrey and Jacey – is that going to be something real? (personally, there was a comment in the story where Humphrey said that he loved her his whole life and that seemed random to me since i thought he hated her), and then there’s the triangle that now includes Wanda and Humphrey.  So all in all, there’s so much at stake here.  Is the world really as bad off as it sounds and will the Scions be able to help make things better or is all doomed anyway?  So on that note, i’m off to read the next book and see how it all ends up.  Have a great day!

Review: Child of Lies (The Scion Chronicles) by Eric Kent Edstrom

no-brainer

Title: Child of Lies
Author: Eric Kent Edstrom
Publisher/Year: Undermountain Books LLC 12/8/16
Length:   273 Pages
Series:  The Scion Chronicles #2

Overview

Sometimes living is the sacrifice one must make for love.

In this breathtaking second book of The Scion Chronicles, 17 year old Jacey vows to protect everyone at the Scion School from being overwritten. But when a VIP Progenitor arrives early to overwrite a 15 year old Scion, Jacey faces an impossible choice–risk everything to save her or to sacrifice her for the good of all.

Author Eric Kent Edstrom returns with his trademark thriller pacing, stunning twists, and surprising characters in this YA dystopian tale about cloning, mind transfer, and the power of loyalty.

My Thoughts

This incredibly dynamic story continues right where we left off, where we know that there was a transfer of minds and a lot of unrest and uncertainty at the school.  Jacey and Belle are still at odds, Dr Carlhagen is still trying to further is fortune and end game, and all of the Scions are at risk.

Throughout this second book in the series, we spend a lot of time wondering who’s who and who can be trusted.  This is where we see Jacey continue to come into her own, not just being a leader as we know she is already, but opening her eyes to what’s real in the world and then trying to figure out how to save those that she cares about and loves.  Humphrey, who we have learned is Dr Carlhagen’s scion proves to be made of stronger stuff, and he’s showing us that he does have a soul and a heart and that while he’s being forced to pretend to be someone he’s not, he is also working to keep his friends and ‘family’ alive.  From this, we also see that what seems like dislike towards Jacey has grown into something that’s much fonder and romantic.  (of course this makes Summer really angry because you’ll remember that she has a crush on him, but that will play out on it’s own).

Belle also plays a huge role in this 2nd installment.  We know that she’s in love with Vaughn and will believe that he’s who he says he is, even when everyone else says that he’s not.  She only wants to believe what she sees since that’s how her brain is wired.  What’s really sweet about how the author develops her though, is that we see that she goes from being incredibly stoic and selfish to being selfless in a way – with her story going in a path that we don’t truly expect.

Then there’s Mr Justin – the dr’s butler.  He’s always been a bit of a mystery – we don’t know what it is that motivates him, and i think that there’s more than just money and greed.  he’s certainly keeping his secrets, and we see bits of that coming through the story.  He’s secretive about information that he shares and people that he talks to, and we learn that he’s got his own plot to kidnap several Scions back to the mainland, but we dont’ know the end goal there.

So it’s a roller coaster of a story.  Jacey and Summer end up on the run out of the campus, and trying to survive while they are being hunted.  As we know, there’s no love between them, and getting Summer to stop being bratty and bullish is part of the challenge, but then Jacey also sees that Summer has a skill set that’s perfect for survival.  It’s impressive to see how quickly Summer’s character grows, since she’s also playing a pivotal role.  Her Proginator has come early to transfer into the new body as she is dying and everyone seems ok with letting that happen – except for Jacey.  So the clock is ticking on how to keep that from happening.

There are deaths, injuries, alliances and people returning from the dead.  All exciting and anxiety ridden.  What gets me the most is that the ending that we get here – the cliffhanger is that someone who’s found to be dead likely isn’t and now it’s trying to figure out where that person is and what’s going to happen now.  So…on that note, i’m going to track down book 3 and see what’s next for all these folks.  Enjoy!

Review: Tarnished (Perfected #2) by Kate Jarvik Birch

no-brainer

Title: Tarnished
Author: Kate Jarvik Birch
Publisher/Year: Entangled Publishing 12/1/15
Length:   217 Pages
Series:  Perfected #2

Overview

Freedom comes at a cost…

Ella was genetically engineered to be the perfect pet-graceful, demure…and kept. In a daring move, she escaped her captivity and took refuge in Canada. But while she can think and act as she pleases, the life of a liberated pet is just as confining as the Congressman’s gilded cage. Her escape triggered a backlash, and now no one’s safe, least of all the other pets. But she’s trapped, unable to get back to Penn-the boy she loves-or help the girls who need her.

Back in the United States, pets are turning up dead. With help from a very unexpected source, Ella slips deep into the dangerous black market, posing as a tarnished pet available to buy or sell. If she’s lucky, she’ll be able to rescue Penn and expose the truth about the breeding program. If she fails, Ella will pay not only with her life, but the lives of everyone she’s tried to save…

My Thoughts

This is an interesting series that we’ve got here – one that really gives you a reason to pause and wonder what else is going to go wrong.  We go on this journey of finding yoruself and your place in life and then trying to find happiness and love all at the same time.  The way that we see our main character Ella grow and change throughout gives you a reason to hope for the best.

Where we left off at the end of the first book is a place where Ella had managed to escape her home and was now in Canada, all alone since Penn was captured.  Lucky for her though, she’s found herself back with Missy – the pet from down the street back home who’s also out there in ‘freedom’ and it’s through this friendship of sorts that we take the rest of our journey in book 2.

The biggest bit to think about in this 2nd book is the fact that Ella wants not only to be free from being a pet – learn how to be her own person and live her life with her own choices, but to also have that life with Penn.  That’s the biggest problem since she knows that she has to go back for him and doesn’t know how to get there.  We go on a rather interesting and colorful journey to get there.

It’s interesting to see the role that Missy plays in this 2nd book  – i feel like there’s definitely much more to her than meets the eye, and we see that she’s far more knowledgeable and selfless than you’d ever imagine.  It’s only through Missy’s street savy and willingness to just do whatever she needs to that they both manage to survive escaping not only from Canada, but to Buffalo and then all the way to CT where they are finally able to meet up with Penn.

That’s where things get interesting of course though.  You see – they realize that there’s something dark and wrong going on with NuPet – the company that creates the pets and it’s their goal to blow the roof off what’s going on.  While they think they’ve succeeded in uncovering the underbelly of things, they realize that there is so much corruption behind it all that there’s no end to what’s being done.  It’s through misfortune, even through the good help of a reporter that we get one step forward and 2 steps back.  Ella’s being hunted, Missy offers herself up instead to give Ella a chance, and again, we find that we’re on the run with loves and friendships torn apart.

It’s sweet really – seeing that the undertone of this story is to prove to yourself that regardless of what people say, human is human and you’re able to make your choices for yourself.  you’re not to be told what to do or kept in a cage.  It’s a coming of age bit honestly, where we see Ella come into her own, and stand up to be a focal point all with the best of intentions.  I can only hope that there’s a book 3 that resolves it all and that we see that there’s a way for things to end up as they should.  I honestly don’t know how it would all play out since there’s corruption and money and government behind things, but i feel like in these types of stories, we see that there’s an emotional tug that some how makes the public take a stand and then everything works out.  I guess we’ll have to wait and see.  Enjoy!

Review: Perfected (Perfected #1) by Kate Jarvik Birch

no-brainer

Title: Perfected
Author: Kate Jarvik Birch
Publisher/Year: Entangled Publishing 7/1/14
Length:   197 Pages
Series:  Perfected #1

Overview

Perfection comes at a price.

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

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

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

My Thoughts

To be honest, I’m not even sure what i’m reading about here – or the point in time that we’re at.  There was a snippet that said ‘if you like Matched or Chemical Garden you’d like this’ and while i get where the similarities are being drawn, they are all quite different from one another and even from this series.

So as the summary here says, we’re living in an era where legislation has been passed to allow people to have pets in the form of girls.  These girls have been genetically engineered and grown and trained to be petite, beautiful and the perfect pet.  We meet Ella at the onset of this story – where she has completed her four years of training and is up for auction to be purchased as a pet.  In her mind, she’s fulfilling her duty and she’s excited to do so, but of course, what she’s been trained to expect is completely different than life itself.

She’s purchased by a congressman, the one in fact who’s passed the law, and living in his home is an interesting experience for her.  She’s rendered a bit uncomfortable by him given that he’s paying her attention in a way that’s not known, and his wife seems to hate her.  The children in the home are a different story and we see how that plays out.  In addition to that adjustment, it seems like the lessons that Ella was taught in terms of how to conduct herself, how to talk to the owners etc, is so far off from what life expects that she’s really out of her element.

Throughout this story what we have here is a tale of a girl learning to be herself, and understand what she is and what makes her happy when all she’s been taught to do is please others.  Ella really just wants to play the piano, and find happiness and love with others, but of course as a pet, one that some love and some abhor,

In learning more and more about Ella, we also get to be a bit closer to Ruby, the congressman’s daughter who really just wants a friend. she’s not the most popular little girl and having Ella is something that means a lot to her.  We also meet Penn, the son, and his relationship with his family is one that’s troublesome since he wants to do what makes him happy yet that’s contradictory to what his father wants.  With the introduction of Ella, things get to be even more complicated since they find that there’s a bond, something really special there that keeps drawing them together even though they both know that it’s a bad idea.

Where this story takes us from there is a quest for freedom, to be allowed to be happy doing whatever it is that you want, and to not have to fear every move that you make.  There’s reason for an escape attempt or two for Ella and others, and where we are left at the end of this first installment is seeing freedom almost granted for one and lost for another.  I think there’s so much more to come out of this series, so perhaps book 2 will give us that depth.  To be honest, i think that’s the biggest thing that i’m missing here – on the surface it’s a sweet book but i don’t know that we get too deep into any fragment of the story and those are often the best pieces.  So on that note – i hope you guys give it a try and enjoy!

Review: Sever (The Chemical Garden #3) by Lauren DeStefano

no-brainer

Title: Sever
Author: Lauren DeStefano
Publisher/Year: Simon & Schuster 12/31/13
Length:   400 Pages
Series:  The Chemical Garden #3

Overview

Time is running out for Rhine in the conclusion to the New York Times bestselling Chemical Garden Trilogy.

With time ticking until the virus takes its toll, Rhine is desperate for answers. After enduring Vaughn’s worst, Rhine finds an unlikely ally in his brother, an eccentric inventor named Reed, and she takes refuge in his dilapidated house. However, the people she left behind refuse to stay in the past. While Gabriel haunts Rhine’s memories, Cecily is determined to be at Rhine’s side, even if Linden’s feelings are still caught between them.

Meanwhile, Rowan’s growing involvement in an underground resistance compels Rhine to reach him before he does something that cannot be undone. But what she discovers along the way has alarming implications for her future—and on the past her parents never had the chance to explain.

In this breathtaking conclusion to Lauren DeStefano’s Chemical Garden trilogy, everything Rhine knows to be true will be irrevocably shattered.

My Thoughts

There’s so much going on in this series so far that you really don’t know what to expect.  I feel there are so many questions that it’s likely that we eon’t get a full resolution for all of the characters but i think that at least we know that Rhine is dead set on finding her brother and getting him to stop what he’s doing.  Will she get there in time though?

Throughout this final installment to the series, there are a few plot lines to follow.  First is the one where Rhine knows what Rowan’s doing and needs to get to him to understand why he is doing it, what their parents were trying to accomplish and hopefully have a better last few years since the hope for a cure is lost. Of course though, the fact that she’s under Vaugh’s watch again, likely she’ll never get free of him, we know that it’s going to be a roller coaster.  Add in Linden, Cecily and their baby, and well things are about to get exciting.

Linden surprises us all by becoming more helpful than we ever imagined.  He’s taken on quite a burden in this book since he’s got his family to protect however you can see that there are true emotions still there for Rhine as much as he wishes there weren’t. On top of that, he’s being told all of these things about his father that go against everything that he has been taught to believe, so it’s going to be a tough coming of age bit of him in this finale in the hopes that maybe he will do the right thing .

There are a few interesting things that happen in this book.  we see that a link is now shown between Rose, Madame and Linden/Vaughn.  We discover this while they are trying to escape to Charleston to find Rowan, and instead find themselves back at the carnival where all hell broke loose last book.  Here though, things are different since we learn that Madame and vaughn have a history that goes way way back, and Rose was Madame’s daughter – so it’s all a circle.  Vaughn clearly has been working to make a name for himself for so long that everything is intertwined.  If that weren’t enough, once they get away from the Carnival (they being Rhine and someone from the carnival), they find Rowan only to learn that Vaughn has his claws in him already too.

the turn that the story takes from there is a complete 180 from what we were led to believe.  There’s so much that as a reader i assumed was going to be proven incorrect, but the fact that our author takes us on a journey to dispell all that we were under the impression of with certain characters makes it that much more dynamic.  Where we end is not at all where i thought, we see more death than necessary and lose some of our favorite characters.  I don’t know if we get a happy ending here – we get an ending, but i think that it was not where i saw the story going throughout.  Sometimes that’s a good thing – reminds me of the ending of Divergent’s trilogy actually where it’s not happy – it’s just an end.  On that note, have a great first day of november!

Review: Fever (The Chemical Garden #2) by Lauren DeStefano

9781442409088_p0_v1_s192x300

Title: Fever
Author: Lauren DeStefano
Publisher/Year: Simon & Schuster 2/12/13
Length:   328 Pages
Series:  The Chemical Garden #2

Overview

Rhine and Gabriel have escaped the mansion, but they’re still in danger. Outside, they find a world even more disquieting than the one they ran away from. Determined to get to Manhattan and find Rhine’s twin brother, Rowan, the two press forward, amid threats of being captured again…or worse.

The road they are on is long and perilous—and in a world where young women only live to age twenty and men die at age twenty-five, time is precious. In this sequel to Lauren DeStefano’s harrowing Wither, Rhine must decide if freedom is worth the price—now that she has more to lose than ever.

My Thoughts

This 2nd installment takes us on a really tough route with Rhine and Gabriel now that they’ve managed to get out of the mansion and have ‘escaped’.  There’s so much uncertainty out there in the world especially for Gabriel who has almost no memory of outside the house.  We’re hoping that Rhine’s quest for freedom and her goal of finding her brother back home in Manhattan will prove to be something good.

So when we left them, they had escaped and found a boat to sail up the coast.  They end up getting as far as about South Carolina from what i’ve gathered, and when they make landfall, they are hoping for the best.  Sadly, they are nabbed quickly upon getting on land and this is where their first bit of trouble comes.

From what we knew of Jennas life before she was a bride, she worked by selling her body, and it’s one of those camps that we see Rhine and Gabriel taken to.  Rhine of course is deemed to be quite special because of her eyes and that’s probably her only saving grace because instead of being thrown to the wolves to be tasted and sampled, the Madame has loftier goals for her in having people ‘watch but don’t touch’.  So, we see that little reprive and hope that it means that they’ll be able to get to a place that’s safe but of course that doesn’t happen.

Gabriel is beaten and wounded and then hooked on a drug that literally renders him useless and that means that things will have to get even worse.  Vaugh (Linden’s dad) shows up and has found Rhine some how spurring them to go on the run again.  This time though, it’s not just the 2 of them, they have Maddie, the daughter of one of the women at the camp, and Maddie is malformed, she doesn’t talk but we see that she’s incredibly intuitive and helps them as they try to escape and make their way up to new york.

Things continue to go wrong for this group as they make their way up north, they find Rhine’s house but it’s burned out, Gabriel is still suffering from withdrawl, Rhine is molested by someone on the route north, and the moment they find part of what they’re looking for, Rhine starts to get so sick that she fears that the virus is taking her years early, and deems Vaughn some how responsible.

The moment you think Vaughn, he pops up, and well, we end up back at the mansion at the end of this installment.  It’s a complete roller coaster, still with little insight as to what’s causing the virus and early death of their generation, and we can only hope that we get that resolution when we get through the final installment.  Cecily comes back into the mix as does Linden and we see that there’s so much eye opening that has to happen and so much faith that has to be placed in places you’ never expect that it leaves us wondering if there’s going to be a happy ending for anyone.

We’re on a journey of really trying to figure out what’s right and who’s behind it.  There’s a relationship growing between Rhine and Gabriel, but given where they are in life and time, you don’t even know if it’ll be worth it.  We also learn more about Linden and his feelings and i think that we’ll see him become someone quite key in the mix since he’s really been lied to his whole life.  So all that tied together leaves us set up for a really great finale i think.  Son v. Father, and Society v. Medicine.  who will win?

Review: Wither (The Chemical Garden #1) by Lauren DeStefano

no-brainer

Title: Wither
Author: Lauren DeStefano
Publisher/Year: Simon & Schuster 12/6/11
Length:   384 Pages
Series:  The Chemical Garden #1

Overview

What if you knew exactly when you’d die? The first book of The Chemical Garden Trilogy.

By age sixteen, Rhine Ellery has four years left to live. A botched effort to create a perfect race has left all males born with a lifespan of 25 years, and females a lifespan of 20 years—leaving the world in a state of panic. Geneticists seek a miracle antidote to restore the human race, desperate orphans crowd the population, crime and poverty have skyrocketed, and young girls are being kidnapped and sold as polygamous brides to bear more children.

When Rhine is sold as a bride, she vows to do all she can to escape. Yet her husband, Linden, is hopelessly in love with her, and Rhine can’t bring herself to hate him as much as she’d like to. He opens her to a magical world of wealth and illusion she never thought existed, and it almost makes it possible to ignore the clock ticking away her short life. But Rhine quickly learns that not everything in her new husband’s strange world is what it seems. Her father-in-law, an eccentric doctor bent on finding the antidote, is hoarding corpses in the basement; her fellow sister wives are to be trusted one day and feared the next; and Rhine has no way to communicate to her twin brother that she is safe and alive.

Together with one of Linden’s servants, Gabriel, Rhine attempts to escape just before her seventeenth birthday. But in a world that continues to spiral into anarchy, is there any hope for freedom?

My Thoughts

To be honest, I wasn’t entirely sure what to make of this story since the cover art makes it look all victorian but the premise if obviously dystopian.  We learn very little of what put them into the position that they are in with girls females dying at 20 and males dying at 25, aside from the thought that there was something to do with the prior generation all being the result of artificial insemination.  They are living in a time where all of the diseases that we know in 2016 are gone, and this first generation are healthy, but their children are not.

Girls are sought out by Gatherers who are on the hunt to find brides for the wealthy and that’s where we meet Rhine – after she’s been caught and has been taken from her twin brother to Florida where she becomes the wife of Linden.

The undertone of this story is one of hope, of the quest for freedom and of building bonds where they are least expected.  Rhine has 2 other wives that were purchased at the same time she was and while they are there all for the same reason, their take on what their experiences are become quite different.  We see Rhine forge friendships with one of the wives but not the other since she can’t be trusted as we learn throughout the story.

In addition to that, we are in the story before Linden’s current wife dies and we see Rhine create a friendship there with her – so that she can become the ‘first wife’ in the hopes to gain more freedom.  In doing this, she inadvertently finds commonalities with Linden, but are they enough to keep her from trying to escape?

The other bit to this as the summary noted is that Rhine gets help from Gabriel – one of the attendants at the mansion.  Gabriel doesn’t remember anything other than the house and because of that, he doesn’t see things necessarily like Rhine does, but what he does see is that there’s something special about her that calls her to him, and not only does it get them into trouble, but it becomes the lead out of this book.

The biggest question is though what’s out there to make life better for them and is there an antidote to the virus that kills everyone of their generation.  Are we going to see Linden’s father continue to be the horror that he is or will he show some type of human side that makes us question it even more.  Will Linden finally realize that maybe his father has orchestrated everything in his life so that he opens his eyes to see that he’s stronger and more independent than his father lets on.  And i guess the biggest question of all is whether Rhine will get her freedom and at what cost?  I know that it’s not going to be easy especially since there are 2 more installments still in this series to prove out that it’s going to get chaotic, but i can’t wait to see how it all turns out.  Enjoy!