Review: The 100 by Kass Morgan

The 100 Kass MorganTitle: The 100 (The Hundred #1)

Author: Kass Morgan

Publisher: Little, Brown and Company

Published: 2013

Genre: YA Sci-Fi

Source: Library

My Rating: 3.5/5

When Earth becomes uninhabitable due to nuclear war, humanity continues on spaceships.  These spaceships have strict rules, with crime being punished by death for adults and prison for those under 18; now 100 of those young convicts are being sent to Earth to find out if it’s habitable once again. While Clark, Wells, Bellamy and 97 others are trying to survive the dangers of Earth (including each other), Glass manages to escape back to her life on the spaceship only to find that has dangers of its own.

I watched the first season of the series a while back and quite enjoyed it, so when I saw the book at the library I had to pick it up to see if it was as good/better than the TV show.  Honestly I was surprised at how truthful to the book the series was, though it moves at a much faster pace (something that doesn’t really surprise me) to the point that spoiler: [the current inhabitants of Earth don’t appear in the book til the very end, whereas I remember them appearing quite quickly in the series]. The characterization and back stories were pretty much as I remembered them, to the point that at certain points it felt as if I’d already read the book.

The book is written through the viewpoints of 4 young people, all from different walks of life (guess I shouldn’t be surprised to know in the future the class system is more pronounced than ever).  It took me a while to work out who was who as I was reading as the narrative doesn’t change style and to begin with everyone is in the situation and it was only as the story unravelled I was able to distinguish which name went with who. For me this spoilt the book, especially at the start, as I was spending more time trying to work out which story I was following.

To be honest by the end of the book I didn’t feel I knew or connected with any of the characters, meaning I didn’t feel invested in the story enough to want to keep constantly reading. I think if I hadn’t already seen the TV show, I probably wouldn’t have bothered from reading the book.  While the scenario was interesting, the entire book felt more like a lead up to the main story – I know it is the first in the series, but in my opinion needed a little more action or emotional turmoil for the book to be able to stand on its own.

I don’t know if I’m going to continue reading the series, though will likely watch the next season when it becomes available. Overall, I liked the idea behind it, but just didn’t find the story or characters particularly engaging. However, if you are looking for a quick, light read and enjoy teen futuristic books, you might still want to check this one out.

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Review – The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

the book thief by markus zusak

Title: The Book Thief

Author: Markus Zusak

Published: Jan 2007

Publisher: Bodley Head

Genre: YA, Historical Fiction

Source: Library

My Rating: 5/5

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Told by Death, The Book Thief is the story of a young girl, Liesel, during the Second World War. Death first sees Liesel when her younger brother dies on the train to Germany. He follows her to her brother’s burial, where Liesel picks up a book – the first of what will become a collection of stolen words. This book ‘The Gravedigger’s Handbook’ inspires Liesel to read and understand the world around her, especially as it gets ever more dangerous when her foster family takes in, and hides, a Jew.

I’ll be honest, when I first picked up The Book Thief it was because of the writer’s name as I needed a ‘Z’ for my A-Z 2014 challenge. Unfortunately it took months to borrow it from the library so it was January before I got the chance to read it. Even though I no longer ‘needed’ to read it, I did, and I am so glad I did as this book is amazing.

Not only is it set during one of my favourite times in history, World War II (and by favourite, I mean, most interested in), but the book is about Liesel’s love affair with words. I, obviously, love words and reading, but sometimes it’s easy to forget how incredible the right book can be. For me, The Book Thief rekindled my love of reading, and desire to write about what I read.

I enjoyed every aspect of this book, from the unusual way sections are introduced (giving you a list of what is included), the way it is written from Death’s point of view, and that is shows a unique viewpoint of the start of the war, and how regular people in Germany were affected.  While I’m not sure I would say I liked all the characters, they were well-written and they all played a vital role in Liesel’s life. They all had their own histories which made them who they were, just as everyone in the world has.

I would recommend this book to pretty much anyone and everyone, no matter their skill in reading. I think a book like this could make a huge difference in young people’s lives, both in understanding the Second World War, and in creating a love of words, learning, and thinking of all sides of the argument.

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Review: Allegiant (Divergent #3) by Veronica Roth

Allegiant_DemiJacket_WetProofTest.inddTitle: Allegiant (Divergent series #3)

Author: Veronica Roth

Publisher: HarperCollins

Published: Oct 2013

Genre: YA Dystopian

Source: Library

My Rating: 3.5/5

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Allegiant is the final of the Divergent trilogy and Tris and Tobias are confronted with more violence and truth, shattering their world once again.

I know I’m in the minority, but I didn’t love the Divergent series. To me, it was just okay – obviously okay enough to read all three books, but nothing stood out to me about this series.  Unfortunately this book lowered my expectations of any future releases by Veronica Roth, and if it wasn’t for the ending I would be rating this book 2/5.

Allegiant is written in both Tris and Tobias’ voices (first person point of view), at least, that’s the intention. Personally it could have all be in the voice of one of them and be more or less the same and I often had to flick back to the beginning of the chapter to check who it was I was reading – this is definitely something you don’t want in a book, as if you are going to write in multiple points of view, each character has to have a distinct voice.  Because they didn’t, it made the characters feel flat and unreal which is a shame as in the previous books didn’t have this problem.

Roth does expand on the character’s histories a lot more in Allegiant. For the most part this was more interesting to read than the current action.  It did occasionally get a little confusing as memories and thoughts and action all reads as the same thing, not to mention thinking I was reading one point of view to suddenly find I had mistaken it, but the past worked as a way for the reader to understand the character’s decisions.  Thankfully Roth managed to include these snippets of the past without straying into information we don’t need, which kept the book succinct and meant we weren’t taken out of the action too much.

I have now read the entire Divergent trilogy, however it has been quite a long time since I read Insurgent (#2) and couldn’t remember much of what happened. I was hoping that Roth would leave a few reminders at the beginning of Allegiant, but no such luck, and so it took me a while to get into the story as I was left struggling to remember what had just happened that had caused the big opening.

Despite the sloppy writing, I found that the book was a page-turner, and quite a quick read which is what I was looking for (as I needed to get back into reading more), even though a lot of it felt quite generic for a YA dystopia.  The only thing about this book that stood out to me was the ending. Obviously I can’t write about that without massive spoilers, but it improved my overall experience of reading this book.

The Divergent series will probably appeal to you if you enjoy YA Dystopia, though I believe there are much better examples of that out there.  The series is great if you are looking for a quick read, or perhaps if you are trying to get a teenager into reading (I would advise you read the books before giving them to a young child to read).  If you have read the first two books, I would recommend reading Allegiant simply for the ending.

Review: Transparent by Natalie Whipple

ImageTitle: Transparent

Author: Natalie Whipple

Publisher: HarperTeen

Published: May 2013

Genre: YA

Source: Kindle (Amazon)

My Rating: 4.5/5

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Fiona was born invisible, yet in a world of strange mutations and powers she is the only invisible girl.  Her father heads one of America’s leading syndicates, and so she is brought up in a world of crime, often working alongside her mother.  When they do escape, Fiona is fully expecting to be caught and taken back, but until that happens she decides to appreciate the chance she has at being a normal teenager. At school she is still seen as a freak, but as she starts to let her guard down, she realises there are others who understand and are willing to accept her.

I didn’t know anything about Transparent other than the main character is invisible – I chose it because I used to read Natalie Whipple’s blog long before she got a publishing deal and I wanted to support her.  Transparent wasn’t quite what I was expecting as it is bordering on dystopian YA rather than set in the current world, but that didn’t stop me from racing through the story and desperate to continue reading the series.

Lately I have read too many YA books written in first person, but in Transparent Fiona’s voice is so strong it’s impossible not to feel you’ve lived her life right alongside her.  Not only does Fiona come across as a unique teenager, but most of the other characters are also well-defined and interesting to read about.  Despite many of them having special and unusual powers, they all come across as people I might know/have known at high school. I would say though, many of the adults in this book had so little background shared with the reader that it’s difficult to understand them and their actions. I am hoping those characters are explored further in the next book.

As well as interesting characters, Whipple succeeds in creating an intriguing and unexpected story with what could be predictable scenarios and plot points.  For me, the fact that I was continually wondering what would happen, right alongside the characters, is what made this book such a wonderful read.  My main issue was it felt far too short and I reached the conclusion much earlier than I would have liked. Of course, being the first in a trilogy means there is still more to come and I am sure I will continue reading Whipple’s books.

I would recommend this to anyone looking for a clean teenage story with a few twists.  It isn’t quite dystopian, so for those who are unsure of the genre, Transparent is a good choice as it has many of the page-turning qualities of a complete dystopian YA, without having to consider an unimaginable world (even the ‘mutations’ and ‘powers’ are explained and we could imagine it as a very similar society to Western society today).

 

Review – The Obvious Game by Rita Arens

Image

Title: The Obvious Game

Author: Rita Arens

Publisher: Inkspell Pulishing

Published: January 2013

Genre: Contemporary YA

Source: From author*

My Rating: 4/5

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When Diana accidentally starts teaching the new kid, Jesse, how to play the obvious game, she doesn’t realise that their relationship will strengthen until the secrets that she is so determined to keep hidden prevent her from realising she is not the only one hiding.

Rita Arens is not afraid to confront big topics and issues that are prevalent in today’s society.  At the beginning of The Obvious Game we learn that Diana’s mother is recovering from breast cancer. It is easy to not notice all the other issues in Diana’s life because of this, but the beauty of this novel is that it encaptures how a situation is never fully created from one issue.

While this book has a lot of hard-hitting topics, including eating disorders, I didn’t find the style preachy or in any way openly commenting on them. Instead, the novel is simply a snap-shot of what life can be like for those struggling with similar issues.  I personally loved this as it allowed me to fall into the world of Diana and, as it is told through her point of view, understand her decisions while feeling incapable of changing them, as the others in the book are.

I would highly recommend this to anyone who wants a slice of reality while retaining the light side of the struggles.  I think anyone trying to understand eating disorders especially should pick this book up.

The only thing I didn’t love was the ending, as it felt a little too neat and tidy for a book based in reality as this one is. However, I am certainly looking forward to reading more by Arens.

*I received this book free in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Review: Extras by Scott Westerfeld

Title: Extras (#4 Uglies series) Author: Scott Westerfeld Publisher: Simon Pulse Published: October 2007 Genre: YA My Rating: 4/5 Goodreads Amazon UK Amazon.com   Three years after Tally Youngblood has changed the world, fame leads to wealth as well as popularity.  Aya Fuse is 15 and a total nobody, an Extra.  Her whole life revolves […]

Review: Grasping At Eternity (Kindrily Series #1)

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What’s It About?

When Maryah’s family is murdered, she goes to live with her godmother whom she has never met – at least, not that she can remember.  Maryah doesn’t realise that her new adoptive family is actually her spiritual family who can remember every single one of their past lives; as could Maryah until she erased her memory.

Nathaniel is convinced that his family’s attempts to bring back Maryah’s memories are pointless as he tries to discover why she erased in the first place.  After all, she had promised to be with him forever and now Maryah is convinced that she hates him.  And now he has to deal with the reality that his soulmate will never come back, even though his love for her is undying and he knows he will do everything he can to keep her safe.

My Thoughts:

I have to admit I wasn’t too sure how I felt as I started reading this book.  The reason was that it started with a very sudden, unexpected, violent scene – one I think may have worked better as a Preface or told in retrospect throughout the book.  That said, that was the one and only thing I didn’t love and I read the rest of the book in one day.

The storyline sounds a little clichéd but it is anything but. I was constantly thinking and trying to work out what would happen and when the truth would come out and the reactions this would leave to.  There are a lot of characters involved, all are fully-formed and all serve their purpose in strengthening the story which is what I think makes this book stand apart from other immortal love stories.

The story is told from the point of view of Maryah, a normal teenage girl (or so she believes) and Nathaniel, an Eternal who can remember his past lives and the Mary (now Maryah) who is his soul mate. I found this a little disjointing in places but overall felt it was necessary to understand what was happening.  It also meant that the reader has much more insight into the relationship between Nathaniel and Maryah (which wouldn’t be possible with only Maryah’s point of view) making me want to believe and hope for them much more strongly.

Now, I want to read the next book as I need to know what is going to happen next and how their relationship continues (unfortunately it isn’t out yet!).  There is so much left unanswered at the end of this book, enough that it wraps up the story, but more than enough for me to want to spend many more books with these characters.

Overall rating: 4.5/5

[Disclaimer: I received a free digital copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.  All op.]inions are my own