Posts Tagged: dystopian fiction

Book Review- Shatter Me

08 Nov, 2011 by in paranormal YA fiction, shatter me 3 comments

Shatter Me
by Tahereh Mafi
Hardcover, 342 pages
Expected publication: November 15th 2011
by HarperCollins
ISBN 0062085484

Juliette hasn’t touched anyone in exactly 264 days.

The last time she did, it was an accident, but The Reestablishment locked her up for murder. No one knows why Juliette’s touch is fatal. As long as she doesn’t hurt anyone else, no one really cares. The world is too busy crumbling to pieces to pay attention to a 17-year-old girl. Diseases are destroying the population, food is hard to find, birds don’t fly anymore, and the clouds are the wrong color.

The Reestablishment said their way was the only way to fix things, so they threw Juliette in a cell. Now so many people are dead that the survivors are whispering war– and The Reestablishment has changed its mind. Maybe Juliette is more than a tortured soul stuffed into a poisonous body. Maybe she’s exactly what they need right now.

Juliette has to make a choice: Be a weapon. Or be a warrior.

In this electrifying debut, Tahereh Mafi presents a world as riveting as The Hunger Games and a superhero story as thrilling as The X-Men. Full of pulse-pounding romance, intoxicating villainy, and high-stakes choices, Shatter Me is a fresh and original dystopian novel—with a paranormal twist—that will leave readers anxiously awaiting its sequel.

Hmmm I have really torn feelings about this book. The first thing that struck me is how similar it feels to Possessed by Elana Johnson. Both start out with a girl in jail who gets a male roommate who ends up being someone familiar, both are dystopian with a paranormal twist. So this didn’t feel all that new to me. Tahereh Mafi’s prose and writing style was a times lyrical and beautiful and at other times the strike through verse and metaphors were distracting. So here’s the break down for me…

What I struggled with: Warner. I know some of you may think he’s got an appealing side but he is the ultimate creepy antagonist to me. He reminds me of Hitler and the scenes he was in were too violent and sadistic for me.

Suspension of disbelief- that being locked up or isolated from touch all that time Juliette would have the rage of hormones she does as well as the ability to be sexy to every man that crosses her path.

While I enjoy the good kissing scenes this felt like too much sexual tension for a young adult novel. Too much too fast. This is one for older teens, not 14 year olds.

The last part of the novel felt completely disjointed from the first. It shifts gears from dystopian to X-Men with a paranormal twist. At times it reminded me of Disney’s Incredibles. I know the scene is being set for a sequel but the ending chapters struck me as odd.

What I enjoyed: Shatter Me is engaging. Once you pick it up you won’t want to put it down. It’s interesting and unique in its style.

I love childhood crushes rekindled. The relationship between Adam and Juliette reminds me of one of my favorite books Sweethearts by Sara Zarr. I like that it shows those from a dysfunctional abusive home can still choose to be good and kind.

I liked the relationship between Adam and his brother, that even though he has a new love interest, he goes back to save his little brother and protect him.

Overall: I will be reading the rest of the series but am hoping there is a little less focus on lust and more seamless transition between the two worlds represented-the Reestablishment and the Omega rebels.

Content: moderate swearing, lots of sexual tension and heavy making out/ petting, moderate violence. Not for younger teens.


Book Review: Drought by Pam Bachorz

12 Nov, 2010 by in new YA fiction 2 comments

Hardcover, 400 pages
To Be Published January 11th, 2011
by EgmontUSA
ISBN 1606840169
4.5 stars

Ruby Prosser dreams of escaping the Congregation and the early-nineteenth century lifestyle that’s been practiced since the community was first enslaved.

She plots to escape the vicious Darwin West, his cruel Overseers, and the daily struggle to gather the life-prolonging Water that keeps the Congregants alive and gives Darwin his wealth and power. But if Ruby leaves, the Congregation will die without the secret ingredient that makes the Water special: her blood.

So she stays.

But when Ruby meets Ford, the new Overseer who seems barely older than herself, her desire for freedom is too strong. He’s sympathetic, irresistible, forbidden—and her only access to the modern world. Escape with Ford would be so simple, but can Ruby risk the terrible price, dooming the only world she’s ever known?

Drought describes a group of congregants led by Sula Prosser, a woman raised by a trapper father and no mother. Soon after Sula falls in love with Darwin West and becomes engaged to him near the year 1820, her father returns home from the woods with a man named Otto following him. Sula’s love for Darwin dies when she meets the new stranger whose blood has the power to heal and prolong life. But Otto disappears, leaving nothing more than a box behind and the child in Sula’s belly.

By now she has a following of people receiving weekly communion. Darwin West turns against Sula and her congregants, forcing six dozen men, women and children leave town and flee for the mountains. Their hope is to begin a new way of life in cabins by the lake. But their peace is short lived as the land they inhabit is owned by West. His revenge over love lost is fierce and soon the followers are enslaved by an evil landowner and his hired men called overseers.

Sula’s community are harvesters of water, spending their days scraping drops with a spoon from living leaves into pewter cups. They remain trapped in time, aging and growth, away from civilization and forced to work each day under drought conditions. If they fail to meet quota for the day they are refused food and beaten.

The story is told from the point of view of Sula’s daughter Ruby. She carries with her the ability to heal with her blood as did her father Otto. But, Ruby is different. She is determined and independent. After all the brutality she has witnessed, Ruby is done waiting for someone to come save the congregants from Darwin’s hand. She’s ready to fight.

A newly hired overseer named Ford shows interest in Ruby, he gives her hope in change. She is forced to make a choice between the life she has always known or the mystery that lies beyond the fence. Ford shows Ruby that she has an alternative. A new beginning is waiting for her. Will she continue to follow her upbringing or something that goes against all she has been taught?

Bachorz’s writing is riveting and deep. The society she portrays is reminiscent of modern day groups we read about but never live amongst. Her characters truly believe in their hearts, that one day they will be saved, all the while living in daily abuse. Drought brought up issues of faith, but it’s not the kind of faith I would consider main stream. It is faith in a human with supernatural abilities, with a cult like feeling. This fictional story had me questioning how many hidden communities exist today held under the hand of brutal leaders amongst religious offshoots and factions. Drought is a dystopian story that will leave an impression.

Readers should check into Pam’s site where she shows photos of the childhood camping spot that inspired Sula’s community and the reasons she chose for naming the main character Ruby.

Drought is fast paced and I finished it quickly. It is suspenseful and the author’s writing is brilliant. Bachorz paints such a living picture of the surroundings, the beliefs, the actions and the personalities of each character you feel you are watching events unravel firsthand. The ending is a shocker. Be prepared for a slew of gut wrenching, nightmarish moments ever present in the story. This is not a book I would recommend for children or tweens as there is vividly described human violence. There are a few minor swear words and inferences to sex. Overall, I think the themes are better suited for those 16 and older.

If you enjoyed Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan you may also enjoy Drought. It’s a book that left me thinking and pondering the conditions some humans have and will endure… wanting to know more.

Review: Matched by Ally Condie

07 Oct, 2010 by in matched 16 comments

Hardcover, 384 pages
To Be Published November 30th 2010
by Dutton Juvenile
ISBN 0525423648
4.5 stars

In the Society, Officials decide. Who you love. Where you work. When you die.

Cassia has always trusted their choices. It’s barely any price to pay for a long life, the perfect job, the ideal mate. So when her best friend appears on the Matching screen, Cassia knows with complete certainty that he is the one . . . until she sees another face flash for an instant before the screen fades to black. Now Cassia is faced with impossible choices: between Xander and Ky, between the only life she’s known and a path no one else has ever dared follow—between perfection and passion.

Matched is a story for right now and storytelling with the resonance of a classic.

I first spotted an ARC of this book at the Writing for Charity event and I fell in love with the cover. It is magical. Shimmering. Perfect. Matched is a story that will stick with you long after you are done reading. And it’s one I could happily read over and over. Ally Condie is a master. She takes a dystopian concept and gives it a hopeful poetic tone. Her writing leaves an impact and a deep impression in your mind. This is a book that I see being taught in classrooms because of the ideas it presents and explores.

It starts out as Cassia is getting ready to attend her Matching ceremony, traveling along with her childhood friend Xander and their families. The whole event sounds like a girl’s dream. A new green silk dress, and the once in a lifetime chance to meet the man you may marry. The society hand picks them for you and statistics show all will be well.

Cassia’s path may be different than her peers, after her match goes wrong and she sees the faces of two boys instead of one. Both of them live in her borough, but one has a secret. Soon the perfect face of society will start to crumble as Cassia uncovers their methods. They control every facet of life: the food, the jobs, the history, and even the chances you will have in the future to succeed. Society officials watch your every move and limit your choices. As they once seemed protective and helpful they become Cassia’s source of confusion and entrapment. Will she be able to break free and choose love over loyalty?

Matched is slow moving but immersive. I found myself falling for both of Cassia’s men. They are incredible. The families are tight knit, each of the character’s pasts are intertwined and interconnected. The plot has layers which continue to unravel and the romance element is clean and perfect. I’m looking forward to the sequel, since in the end there are a lot of unanswered questions. Overall Matched is a beautiful, thought provoking book bound to become a classic.

Visit Ally’s website here and an author interview and excerpt from Matched on Amazon. Be sure to enter to win a vintage compact necklace inspired by Cassia’s matching ceremony artifact in the post below. Also our 600 follower contest contains a signed copy of Ally’s book Freshman for President!