When We Wake by Karen Healey

Sixteen-year-old Tegan is just like every other girl living in 2027—she’s happiest when playing the guitar, she’s falling in love for the first time, and she’s joining her friends to protest the wrongs of the world: environmental collapse, social discrimination, and political injustice.

But on what should have been the best day of Tegan’s life, she dies—and wakes up a hundred years later, locked in a government facility with no idea what happened.

The future isn’t all she had hoped it would be, and when appalling secrets come to light, Tegan must make a choice: Does she keep her head down and survive, or fight for a better world?

 

when we wake

I found When We Wake to be an interesting socio-political, dystopian YA read. The world building was fantastic, and Healey’s vision of the future 100 years from now felt very plausible. Some aspects of society had improved (acceptance of gender/sexual orientation), but others were worrisome (environment, displaced refugees).  Although thought provoking, at times it did get a bit preachy.

The plot itself had some twists and turns. As soon as the action ramped up, the book became a very quick read.  The pace picked up after Tegan finds out she is part of ‘Operation New Beginning’ and refuses to be the government’s guinea pig.  She fights for some resemblance of a normal life. In this ‘normal’ life, the Beatles are of great importance to Tegan.  They provide hope and comfort. I liked the many Beatles references and immediately picked up on the Beatles song titles as chapter headings.

If the fantastic cover hasn’t already swayed you, pick up this book if you want to explore a futuristic world with an action packed plot.  For those that enjoy series, there is a second book entitled, While We Run in the works (to be released May 2014).

Review: Magisterium by Jeff Hirsch

Goodreads: Sixteen-year-old Glenn Morgan has lived next to the Rift her entire life and has no idea of what might be on the other side of it. Glenn’s only friend, Kevin, insists the fence holds back a world of monsters and witchcraft, but magic isn’t for Glenn. She has enough problems with reality: Glenn’s mother disappeared when she was six, and soon after, she lost her scientist father to his all-consuming work on the mysterious Project. Glenn buries herself in her studies and dreams about the day she can escape. But when her father’s work leads to his arrest, he gives Glenn a simple metal bracelet that will send Glenn and Kevin on the run—with only one place to go.

Expected Publication- October 1st 2012

With a little bit of action, adventure, fantasy, and dystopian elements, this book has a little bit of something for everyone—except me.  It was an OK read but most of the time, I was utterly confused.   Many bloggers have pointed out the similarities of the book to Lord of the Rings (however, I have no idea if this is true as I’ve never had any interest in LOTR whatsoever!)

At first, I was intrigued by the two differed worlds of the Colloquium and Magisterium (land of magic) and how the main character Glenn was connected to both.  However, the lack of explanations really started to bother me and the questions began to rise.  I also didn’t enjoy the amount of unimportant secondary characters.   They didn’t really play a big role and it was like one minute they were there and the next gone.  In the end, the storyline pacing was just a bunch of really strange things happening really quickly one after another.  It felt like I was reading about Hirsch’s crazy dream or bad drug trip!

The ending was also not in any way satisfying.   I detest that kind of cliff hanger! I would LOVE to hear if you liked this book and why.  I’ve never read anything by Jeff Hirsch before, so maybe I just don’t get him or the story he was trying to tell.

Review: Partials by Dan Wells

Goodreads–The human race is all but extinct after a war with Partials—engineered organic beings identical to humans—has decimated the population. Reduced to tens of thousands by RM, a weaponized virus to which only a fraction of humanity is immune, the survivors in North America have huddled together on Long Island while the Partials have mysteriously retreated. The threat of the Partials is still imminent, but worse, no baby has been born immune to RM in more than a decade. Our time is running out.

Kira, a sixteen-year-old medic in training, is on the front lines of this battle, seeing RM ravage the community while mandatory pregnancy laws threaten to launch what’s left of humanity into civil war, and she’s not content to stand by and watch. But as she makes a desperate decision to save the last of her race, she will discover that the survival of humans and Partials alike rests in her attempts to uncover the connections between them—connections that humanity has forgotten, or perhaps never even knew were there.

                                                   Partials (Partials, #1)

Partials by Dan Wells is another monster of a book (472 pages) that will appeal to YA dystopian fans. My colleague passed along this ARC after giving it glowing reviews. Although I enjoyed it, I wasn’t as hyped about it as she was.

The Bad

-Too many characters. New cast members were continually added to the plot making it increasingly difficult to differentiate between them, remember what side they were on and ultimately connect with them.   It was also really challenging to visualize them due to a lack of physical descriptions.

-Slow moving. The characters spent the majority of the story problem solving, discussing what to do, whom to trust, etc.  Since I didn’t connect with the characters, I didn’t really care what their thoughts were so I found myself skimming a lot in this drawn out book. Thankfully, the book really picked up in the latter half of the book—tons of action to get your adrenaline going!

 

The Good

-Plot Twists. I found the book’s concept really interesting and LOVED the plot twists. They got me every time—especially the big last reveal!

-Wells’ world building. Wells did a fantastic job at describing with detail the future world of 2076.

-Book cover.  Partials has such an intriguing cover and fantastic tag line—‘the only hope for humans isn’t human.’  This cover grabs the reader’s attention!

Like many other YA novels, the next instalment in this series was perfectly set up with the cliff-hanger ending and unresolved questions.  I think it would be interesting to read about their future society post-virus.  Look for Partials at bookstores and libraries February 28th, 2012.

Bookit Review: Legend by Marie Lu

I saw this book highlighted on Facebook in a “What to get your Teen for Christmas” reading wish list by my local library, and I also came across it in eBook format through the popular library downloading database Overdrive. Knowing that eReader devices would be a popular present this holiday season, I was excited to dive into a read that I could share with tech savvy teens that enjoy reading on electronic devices.

Legend (Legend, #1) 

 

From Goodreads:

What was once the western United States is now home to the Republic, a nation perpetually at war with its neighbors. Born into an elite family in one of the Republic’s wealthiest districts, fifteen-year-old June is a prodigy being groomed for success in the Republic’s highest military circles. Born into the slums, fifteen-year-old Day is the country’s most wanted criminal. But his motives may not be as malicious as they seem.

From very different worlds, June and Day have no reason to cross paths – until the day June’s brother, Metias, is murdered and Day becomes the prime suspect. Caught in the ultimate game of cat and mouse, Day is in a race for his family’s survival, while June seeks to avenge Metias’ death. But in a shocking turn of events, the two uncover the truth of what has really brought them together, and the sinister lengths their country will go to keep its secrets.

Full of nonstop action, suspense, and romance, this novel is sure to move readers as much as it thrills.

I really enjoyed this book, especially since I had recently finished The Hunger Games. Dystopian fiction is a popular genre, and Legend makes a great next read for those that enjoyed The Hunger Games and are interested in escaping into what the future may be like (past 2012)! What is the world like after surviving horrific natural disasters? Are the children in the dystopian world of Legend also subjected to some sort of cruel process?  Does the government have a hidden agenda? Could a romance bloom between two characters who were supposed to be lethally opposed to one another?

Set in the Republic of America, what was once Los Angeles, California in the year 2031 we find the two main characters Day and June. Chapter one features Day perspective (in gold print), the following chapter is of June’s (in black print), and the book continues like this flipping back and forth so that the reader is able to understand their experiences and become attached to both as their characters develop.

When we first meet Day he has just seen one of the many JumboTrons displaying a ‘wanted’ add for his arrest:

WANTED BY THE REPUBLIC

FILE NO: 462178-3233 “DAY”

——————————-

WANTED FOR ASSULT, ARSON, THEFT,

DESTRUCTION OF MILITARY PROPERTY,

AND HINDERING THE WAR EFFORT

200,000 REPUBLIC NOTES FOR

INFORMATION LEADING TO ARREST

The author Marie Lu’s effort to put in unique text add-ins, such as the one above, and changing the print colour, aid in creating the ambiance for the story. Her writing style of bouncing between the two characters also creates foreshadowing, while at the same time she puts in plot twists that make this a suspenseful read you don’t want to put down.   

Like many YA titles, Legend is the first book of a planned series. Currently, the release date for the next title is unknown, but let’s hope it’s not too far away! I give it a good 4 out of 5.

Happy reading, Bookit

p.s. for more information about the author or book visit her website

Review: Rot & Ruin by Jonathan Maberry

Praise for Rot & Ruin:

“An action-packed, thought-provoking look at life–and death–as readers determine the true enemy.”– Kirkus Reviews

“An impressive mix of meaning and mayhem.”– Booklist

 

It’s no secret that I love YA dystopian novels, and the zombie infested, post-apocalyptic world of Rot & Ruin by Jonathan Maberry didn’t disappoint.  The book gained attention after being selected for the ALA Best Books for Young Adults and the winning the 2010 Cybils (Children’s and Young Adult Bloggers’ Literary Awards) in the Fantasy and Science Fiction category. Although Rot & Ruin is my first zombie read ever, it won’t be my last! The Forest of Hands and Teeth has been on my ‘to-read’ list forever, and thanks to my new interest in zombies, I will be bumping up the title closer to the top.

So what’s it about you ask?

After the First night (the night the world changed), Benny Imura has grown up in a zombie-infested town with his older brother Tom.  To avoid a ration cut, Benny is forced to find a job.  Among other jobs, he tries his hand as a lock smith, fence tester, and carpet coat salesman. Ultimately, he ends up apprenticing as a zombie hunter with his brother. After Tom brings him into the ‘rot & ruin’, he begins to understand that zombies were once human and this realization ultimately changes the way he views zombies and his brother.

The good and bad:

– Enjoyed the book’s visual appeal. The front features a creepy eye-catching cover, and the inside includes zombie-cards (a strong feature of the story). There is even a ‘zombified’ author portrait by Rob Sachetto. This is neat because the character responsible for such portraits in the story is named after the real artist, Rob Sachetto. 

-Blood and gore. As a zombie novel, I was expecting some level of gore but I must admit that some of the descriptions made me a little queasy.  I’m hoping my gore tolerance will increase as I read more zombie type stories.

-I really liked the concept of Tom’s closure jobs.

-Preachy Tom. I get that he is supposed to be the smart, wise, older brother, but a little less preaching to Benny would have been appreciated.

-Tom +Benny’s relationship. I think that their relationship was pretty realistic. I can see why there is some hostility between the brothers in the beginning, but readers get to watch their relationship evolve for the better throughout the storyline.

-After reading Divergent where most of the storyline was based on training, I felt like Benny really didn’t receive much training at all. I’m not sure how he felt ready to even venture out into the rot & ruin. He truly lacked in depth-training from Tom that would have been interesting to read about.

-Changed mindset.  Like Benny, I view zombies differently now. I never thought it would be possible to have empathy for flesh eating zombies, but Maberry totally altered my perception of what it means to be a zombie.  Throughout the story, it is banged into your head that zombies were once humans.

-Zom/Tom. I was annoyed that the word Zom and Tom happened way too many times in the same paragraph.

-I’m still confused on why everyone turned to zombies when they died—even if it was by natural causes? Why? How did the zombies really ever come to be? There was very little explanation!

Despite all my negative comments, I still enjoyed Rot & Ruin. If you like zombie stories, I would suggest you pick up this book.  The book’s sequel is entitled, Dust & Decay and was released a couple of weeks ago. It promises bigger, better, gorier zombie attacks.

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