Tag Archives: Dystopian

The Program (Program #1) – Suzanne Young

The Program (Program #1) – Suzanne YoungTitle: The Program (The Program #1) by Suzanne Young
Publishing Info: April 30, 2013 by Simon & Schuster
Source: Edelweiss
Genres: Dystopian, Science Fiction, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: May 27, 2013
Related Posts: Just Like Fate

    Sloane knows better than to cry in front of anyone. With suicide now an international epidemic, one outburst could land her in The Program, the only proven course of treatment. Sloane’s parents have already lost one child; Sloane knows they’ll do anything to keep her alive. She also knows that everyone who’s been through The Program returns as a blank slate. Because their depression is gone—but so are their memories. Under constant surveillance at home and at school, Sloane puts on a brave face and keeps her feelings buried as deep as she can. The only person Sloane can be herself with is James. He’s promised to keep them both safe and out of treatment, and Sloane knows their love is strong enough to withstand anything. But despite the promises they made to each other, it’s getting harder to hide the truth. They are both growing weaker. Depression is setting in. And The Program is coming for them.

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You know what… I’m actually really impressed with THE PROGRAM. I’m not sure why, especially since I had seen so many 4, 4.5 and 5 star reviews from my fellow bloggers but for some reason I really didn’t expect to end up liking this so much. I guess I can say that I’m happy I sort of surprised myself! THE PROGRAM was really different than I what I had originally expected. I was thinking this was going to be much more dystopian in the sense that it would be further off into the future (although I have no idea what year this was supposed to be in the first place) and that there would be much more… weird technology, I guess? Okay, I admit I’m not 100% sure what I expected, but THE PROGRAM was very much grounded in the normal world as we know it except for the teen suicide epidemic and of course, the introduction of The Program.

Despite the fact that this book revolves entirely around teen suicide and how it affects the family and friends left behind after the death, for some reason I never expected to be so emotionally involved in the book. My guess is because the cover is so cold and calculating with the stark white room. I was glad that I connected so well to really each and every character in this book. Sloane’s story was quite emotional for me. I really felt for her, for her family, and her friends. I really got to know all of the characters before Sloane’s memory starts getting wiped (which is a known process of The Program). It was crazy to think about how I would feel if I was going through this same process of losing my memories of my loved ones and my past, even if those memories weren’t always happy ones.

I actually found myself really sucked into the sadness of the story. With teen suicide being so prominent and reading about those intense and terrible feelings directly from Sloane’s POV, I really sort of internalized it all and let myself really get lost in the book for a while. That could be a dangerous thing if your emotions are easily swayed but I was still able to pull myself back out and find a happy place when I needed to. The biggest part of that emotional aspect was the relationship between Sloane and her boyfriend James and seeing how her brother’s suicide affected them both since James was his best friend. Everything felt so real and so true.

The Program itself? Pretty creepy. The concept of wiping memories just plain skeeves me out, not to mention a super-creepy worker and the head honchos who run the Program who definitely cannot be trusted. I was honestly getting pretty irate with them because everything SOUNDS like it would be for the good of the patient but you just know what they’re doing just doesn’t feel right. There’s also Realm (that’s his last name) who plays a big part in the story. He’s… interesting. I always got this feeling like I shouldn’t trust him but at the same time you could see the good side of him as well. As much as I didn’t like his character, I did… If that makes sense. He was actually pretty complex and had true feelings for Sloane. We end up with kiiind of a love triangle, but not really.

Okay, okay, I know this all sounds very vague, but I’m trying really hard not to include any spoilers! There are some great twists and turns in this plot but really overall, I think it was the emotional side that really took me by surprise and swept me away. I loved the love story between Sloane and James and her determination to remember him and keep all the memories of him that she possibly can. It’s definitely less dystopian than I thought as far as action and politics goes and more of a love story with a bit of a sci-fi element set in the future. I can definitely see how so many people loved it. I know I did! I also thought the ending was really great and I really can’t wait to get my hands on book two!

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Sloane: I actually really loved Sloane. She really felt like a normal teenager who was dealing with the tragedy of losing her brother and also her friends. She coped the best way she could and had a really solid relationship with her boyfriend James. When The Program starts infiltrating her life, her survival mode and total ferocity kicks in. I loved how much she fought for her family and friends and to keep the memories of them alive. Sloane has an extremely wide range of emotions and I totally felt them all right along side her!
James: James is Sloane’s boyfriend and I thought he was totally swoony! Maybe not physically the type I’d go for, but it’s a book. I guess I can picture him however I want haha. Anyway, I loved his relationship with Sloane and how adorable the stories are of their first kiss, first date, and first time they realized they liked each other. James was best friends with Sloane’s brother so they had always known each other so it was so cute seeing that relationship develop through the stories and memories in Sloane’s head. It was also SO interesting to see how their paths changed after The Program started messing with their lives and I loved how everything came back around.
Realm: I was a bit back and forth with Realm. I wanted to like him, but I didn’t. There were so many reasons and hints not to trust him but honestly, I could see the parts of him that truly were good. It was really interesting to see how much he was involved in Sloane’s story and I’m super curious to see what kinds of roles he’ll play in the rest of the series.

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Read it!

I really, really enjoyed this one quite a bit. I was surprised at how much I connected with it and it really stirred up a lot of emotions. Definitely recommending this one!

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BOOKS LIKE THE PROGRAM

(click on the cover to see my review!)

     Reboot      Unremembered

The Testing (The Testing #1) – Joelle Charbonneau

The Testing (The Testing #1) – Joelle CharbonneauTitle: The Testing (The Testing #1) by Joelle Charbonneau
Publishing Info: May 4, 2013 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Genres: Dystopian, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: May 23, 2013
Related Posts: Independent Study (The Testing #2), NEED

    Keep your friends close and your enemies closer. Isn’t that what they say? But how close is too close when they may be one in the same?
The Seven Stages War left much of the planet a charred wasteland. The future belongs to the next generation’s chosen few who must rebuild it. But to enter this elite group, candidates must first pass The Testing—their one chance at a college education and a rewarding career.
Cia Vale is honored to be chosen as a Testing candidate; eager to prove her worthiness as a University student and future leader of the United Commonwealth. But on the eve of her departure, her father’s advice hints at a darker side to her upcoming studies--trust no one.
But surely she can trust Tomas, her handsome childhood friend who offers an alliance? Tomas, who seems to care more about her with the passing of every grueling (and deadly) day of the Testing. To survive, Cia must choose: love without truth or life without trust.

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There has been so much buzz about THE TESTING so I’m excited that I was able to receive an ARC to review and share my opinion with everyone before the book comes out on June 4th! If you’re a long-time reader of my blog, you probably know that the whole reason I even got into YA was because I was dying for more dystopians. I was in a huge dystopian kick with books like The Hunger Games, Matched, and Delirium so you can image how excited I was when I heard several comparisons that THE TESTING was the next Hunger Games!

I will say that I can’t deny the similarities I noticed between THE TESTING and THG. Yes, it is dystopian so, okay, there will be elements in there that the “classic dystopian” will most likely contain, but I’m not talking about those. The thing that stood out to me most was watching Cia, our main character, be taken away from her family to participate in “The Testing” which if you’re not familiar with the summary is a series of rigorous mental and physical tests/situations to determine if the United Commonwealth’s smartest teens are worthy enough to move onto the University and be groomed as the nation’s next group of leaders. Where I saw the similarity and just couldn’t shake it was seeing a sort of “first half” where Cia is figuring out secrets about The Testing and getting to know her fellow candidates and a “second half” where they are all out in the “field” so-to-speak (which I likened to the arena in THG) and the students decided whether to work together or battle against each other. I can’t really say whether it was good or bad that it reminded me of THG. On the one hand, it was a book that I truly loved (still do) and both books had great female heroines and exciting action! On the other hand, I couldn’t get that comparison out of my mind and it made me feel like the story was a tiny bit unoriginal. Hard to say since so many dystopians will seem similar just because they share genres!

I really did enjoy all of the action in this book. There were some extremely tense moments, although I wish some were drawn out longer, and some shocking twist of events. The Testing is designed to truly put these kids through the wringer so it brings out the best in some and the worst in others and at times I was truly surprised to see people’s true colors!

Honestly, my favorite aspect of the book was the mind games between the Testing officials and Cia. Cia’s intelligence level is probably the highest out of all of the kids based on her assessments of the officials as well as her fellow Testing candidates. Those little twists and turns in the plot were really the most exciting part for me! No spoilers of course, but the ending totally hooked me in and has me anxiously awaiting book two! Upon finishing, I was actually really glad it ended the way it did. The ending could have gone two different ways, and in the first, I think it would have closed the book off and made for a more wrapped-up ending. The way the book actually ended definitely kept me on the edge of my seat and in anticipation of the rest of the series! I truly have no idea what is to come!

I think dystopian fans will enjoy this one! If you’re looking for a comparison, I totally saw it as a mix of the feels from The Hunger Games and Divergent. Strong stuff, right!?

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Cia: To be brutally honest, Cia is no Katniss for me, but I loved so many things about her. One thing that really got me was her truly honest and genuinely caring personality. True, she may have been a bit naive because of it, but she stayed true to her character the whole book and it created a lot of interesting situations when your characters is trusting of her peers in situations that she maybe shouldn’t be!
Tomas: Tomas was Cia’s friend from back home in Five Lakes and is our main romance in the book. One thing I really liked about him was how his character — in Cia’s eyes — was constantly changing. Cia knew him from home, but he wasn’t a really close friend until they started up their whirlwind romance in the Testing. It’s interesting to see Tomas through Cia and try to figure out all of his little secrets!

addiction_factor1Try it

I enjoyed the book… buuuut it felt a bit TOO Hunger Games-y for me. I had fun reading it but I’m not 100% sure about the trilogy…

book_recommendations1BOOKS LIKE THE TESTING

     Catching Fire      Divergent

Roar and Liv (Under the Never Sky #0.5) – Veronica Rossi

Roar and Liv (Under the Never Sky #0.5) – Veronica RossiTitle: Roar and Liv (Under the Never Sky #0.5) by Veronica Rossi
Publishing Info: October 30, 2012 by HarperCollins
Genres: Dystopian, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: April 18, 2013
Related Posts: Under the Never Sky (Under the Never Sky #1), Through the Ever Night (Under the Never Sky #2), Brooke (Under the Never Sky #2.5), Into the Still Blue (Under the Never Sky #3)

Before Perry and Aria, there was Roar and Liv.After a childhood spent wandering the borderlands, Roar finally feels like he has a home with the Tides. His best friend Perry is like a brother to him, and Perry's sister, Liv, is the love of his life. But Perry and Liv's unpredictable older brother, Vale, is the Blood Lord of the Tides, and he has never looked kindly on Roar and Liv's union. Normally, Roar couldn't care less about Vale's opinion. But with food running low and conditions worsening every day, Vale's leadership is more vital—and more brutal—than ever. Desperate to protect his tribe, Vale makes a decision that will shatter the life Roar knew and change the fate of the Tides forever.

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Can we please have a full-length novel from Roar’s POV? Yes, ALWAYS MORE ROAR. Roar is definitely my favorite character of this series. I love his humor, his loyalty, and seeing his friendships grow. He is a joy to read about and I’m so glad I FINALLY got around to reading this novella because even though we get more of the story in THROUGH THE EVER NIGHT, we really get to know Roar and Liv as a couple and their backstory in this novella.

Veronica Rossi’s writing is amazing, even in only 76 pages (or how ever long the ebook translates to based on where you purchase it). She paints such vivid pictures to begin with and then adding in the abilities of the Scires, the Auds, etc and we get even MORE vivid pictures. Her characters are amazing, fully stacked with imperfections that make them the amazing people they were before UNDER THE NEVER SKY and who they’ve become at the end of THROUGH THE EVER NIGHT. Everything is so perfectly woven and carefully plotted out but it all seems so effortless and natural.

And of course, I’ll talk some more about Roar. Seriously, Veronia Rossi? Please? Let’s have book three from Roar’s POV!! He’s easily one of my favorite secondary characters EVER (yes, ever) and I’m so glad that at least we have this novella! I really loved getting to know Liv even more and I was so sad when it ended because fans who have finished books one and two know where the story line is headed from there.

If you’re a fan of this series and you’re not quite sold on novellas, this is the novella to start with! Definitely worth it to read this one!

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BUY IT!

I just love Roar. I don’t often BUY novellas (usually I read the free ones haha) but this one is so worth the money!

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     Under the Never Sky      Through the Ever Night

Reboot (Reboot #1) – Amy Tintera

Reboot (Reboot #1) – Amy TinteraTitle: Reboot (Reboot #1) by Amy Tintera
Publishing Info: May 7, 2013 by HarperCollins
Genres: Dystopian, Young Adult, Zombies
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: April 14, 2013
Related Posts: Rebel (Reboot #2)

    Five years ago, Wren Connolly was shot three times in the chest. After 178 minutes she came back as a Reboot: stronger, faster, able to heal, and less emotional. The longer Reboots are dead, the less human they are when they return. Wren 178 is the deadliest Reboot in the Republic of Texas. Now seventeen years old, she serves as a soldier for HARC (Human Advancement and Repopulation Corporation).
Wren’s favorite part of the job is training new Reboots, but her latest newbie is the worst she’s ever seen. As a 22, Callum Reyes is practically human. His reflexes are too slow, he’s always asking questions, and his ever-present smile is freaking her out. Yet there’s something about him she can’t ignore. When Callum refuses to follow an order, Wren is given one last chance to get him in line—or she’ll have to eliminate him. Wren has never disobeyed before and knows if she does, she’ll be eliminated, too. But she has also never felt as alive as she does around Callum.
The perfect soldier is done taking orders.

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Thank goodness for REBOOT! It was just what I needed at this point in my reading line-up. I feel like I’ve read so many dystopians that have just run into each other or felt like a rip-off of another book and while I did find myself reading REBOOT and making comparisons to other books, I always felt like it was a refreshing and original story. When I made comparisons, they were minor details of the book — Like, how I felt like it read similar to Divergent, the reboots reminded me of the cyborgs in Cinder, and certain situations in the end reminded me of aspects of The Maze Runner trilogy… So if you liked all those, I surely hope you see the similarities like I did in REBOOT!

REBOOT was definitely not short on action. I was immediately hooked from page one. Our main girl Wren (aka One Seventy-eight) is the baddest reboot there is. See, she rebooted after being dead for one hundred and seventy-eight minutes. Wren got a second shot at a life, but that also meant that coming back after that amount of time made her less human, less emotional, and more focused on the missions that HARC gives her. I was totally hooked into Wren’s story and I was definitely glad that we got to read the book from her first person POV. Since she’s not as emotional as humans or even reboots with lower numbers, it was a bit difficult to constantly feel connected with her, but if this story was in third person, I feel like that connection could have easily been lost forever! I really liked hearing things straight from her head and she despite her less emotionally volatile state, she was really an easy character to get along with and to like!

Guys, there’s a BOY in this book and his name is Callum. He’s one of my favorite types of boys. You know, those almost-but-not-really-cocky guys with the full on grin that will just melt your heart and make you fall in love with him? Yeah. THAT guy. I loved him. Callum was so easy to like and he was just a Twenty-two, meaning he was only dead for 22 minutes before rebooting. Callum has a much more emotional connection to everyone and everything still and it was so interesting to see sort of a role-reversal going on. I loved that Callum was the one who was more emotional and Wren was the one who was more badass.

The plot itself is pretty interesting and definitely kept me racing through the book! I love that reboots are almost like zombies if you think about it (a virus makes them undead in a way, bringing them back from the dead) but the book NEVER has a zombie feel — it didn’t to me anyway. It’s very dystopian, very sci-fi, and not at all hokey which is how I feel with some zombie books and even some dystopians too.

I really think people are going to like this debut from Amy Tintera! I can easily see a lot of people enjoying it and I know I’m definitely excited to read book two already!

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Wren: Wren’s true nature as a reboot is to be a little cold, a little calculating, and very formulaic… But once she gets tangled with Callum, everything starts to change. I loved that Wren could be the same exact reboot for years and years and then BOOM, Callum comes along and totally changes everything. It was interesting to think of how static she had been for years and now all of a sudden, things are changing. I loved hearing her story and I can’t wait to see what kind of things change in book two as well!
Callum: Okay, Wren and I may have to fight over Callum. He was totally that confident guy with a grin that lights up his whole face and totally sweeps you off your feet. I absolutely loved his character and he made such a good opposite and balance for Wren’s character. Callum was definitely my favorite and was just the perfect romance for this book.

addiction_factor1Buy it!

This book was so much fun! I really loved that it felt new and not the same dystopian played out over and over again. Looking forward to book two!

book_recommendations1BOOKS LIKE REBOOT

     Cinder      Divergent

Mockingjay (The Hunger Games #3) – Suzanne Collins

Mockingjay (The Hunger Games #3) – Suzanne CollinsTitle: Mockingjay (The Hunger Games #3) by Suzanne Collins
Publishing Info: August 24, 2010 by Scholastic Inc.
Source: Library
Genres: Dystopian, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: March 21, 2013 (Originally read 6/9/11)
Related Posts: Catching Fire (The Hunger Games #2)

    Katniss Everdeen, girl on fire, has survived, even though her home has been destroyed. Gale has escaped. Katniss's family is safe. Peeta has been captured by the Capitol. District 13 really does exist. There are rebels. There are new leaders. A revolution is unfolding.
    It is by design that Katniss was rescued from the arena in the cruel and haunting Quarter Quell, and it is by design that she has long been part of the revolution without knowing it. District 13 has come out of the shadows and is plotting to overthrow the Capitol. Everyone, it seems, has had a hand in the carefully laid plans--except Katniss.
    The success of the rebellion hinges on Katniss's willingness to be a pawn, to accept responsibility for countless lives, and to change the course of the future of Panem. To do this, she must put aside her feelings of anger and distrust. She must become the rebels' Mockingjay--no matter what the personal cost.

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This is my second time around reading the entire trilogy of THE HUNGER GAMES and honestly, I was hoping as I went into MOCKINGJAY the second time around that I would come out on the other side with a better overall opinion of it. When I first read MOCKINGJAY, I wrote in my Goodreads review that I felt like it ended much too quickly and I was really disappointed with the turns it took. The beauty of re-reading this book via audiobook was that I wasn’t allowed to rush through anything. Here’s the thing: Whenever I get excited about ANY part in a book, I rush rush rush to read and find out what happens. I skip paragraphs of description and just read dialogue, I jump to the next page, I skim through pages so I can get to the end faster… And I totally think that ruined my reading experience the first time around! MOCKINGJAY still isn’t my favorite book of the series by far, BUT I did rate it a whole star higher on Goodreads this time around!

So that probably should have been the last paragraph of the review, but somehow it’s the first. I gave away the ending!!!! Oh well. Moving on… I think MOCKINGJAY was my least favorite of the series for a few reasons. For one, I felt like Katniss was exceptionally whiny in this book. I mean, yes, no kidding that she has a ton of crazy stuff to deal with (and I also partially blame the narrator of the audiobook because I think she has a really weird voice which is NOT how I would have Katniss sounding in my head at all) but I see less and less of her bravery and determination in MOCKINGJAY. Too many times I felt like she was giving up instead of using her “fire” (ha) to fight back.

I also really did not like the development of the love triangle in this book. I was already more on Gale’s side than Peeta’s so the whole hijacked-Peeta did not help me like him more in this book. I remember through the first read it was annoying and almost painful to read about Peeta hating Katniss so much, but somehow this time around, it didn’t feel nearly as abrasive at all.

Then there’s my issue with seemingly all final books in dystopians: The politics. I’m rarely interested in political story arcs in books. I’m just not interested in politics in real life and fictional politics often frustrate me instead of interest me. Now I get that the entire trilogy is kind of centered around this political aspect (whoops?) but MOCKINGJAY really gets into the ins and outs of how to take down President Snow and the capitol and some of it just lost my interest. Oh, and I TOTALLY forgot about the epilogue. Probably because it was super cheesy. I really could have done without that.

I’m really glad that MOCKINGJAY turned out to be a better read for me the second time around, but it still was my least favorite of the series. I really think the audio version helped me with pacing but took a little away from how I felt about Katniss as a character.
Would I re-read the series again? I’m actually not sure. Usually I’ll re-read my favorite series until the cows come home, but at least for now, I feel satisfied with going back over these books once. I may skim through CATCHING FIRE before the movie comes out and I really do feel like I can always go back to THE HUNGER GAMES and enjoy it, but I don’t know if I really want to push as far to read MOCKINGJAY for a third time.

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Katniss: This was my least favorite version of Katniss in the series. Even though I’m sure she was supposed to be somewhat falling apart in this book, I really FELT like she was and it was getting a little annoying. The back and forth between Peeta and Gale… the awkwardness that she was… It just really started to bother me in MJ.
Peeta: Just when I was starting to like Peeta in CF, they hijacked him in MJ and make him unlikable. It made it really hard for me to root for Katniss & Peeta to end up together, even after I knew how the series ended.
President Snow: I kind of feel like Snow lost some of his creepiness in this book. He was breaking down, but I wanted him to be creepy until the end.

addiction_factor1Re-read it! 

Well of course my advice is to read it… but I also think this is a good series to re-read! I actually liked MOCKINGJAY a lot more the second time around so I’m very glad I went through the whole series again!

book_recommendations1BOOKS LIKE MOCKINGJAY

     Requiem      Divergent

Requiem (Delirium #3) – Lauren Oliver

Requiem (Delirium #3) – Lauren OliverTitle: Requiem (Delirium #3) by Lauren Oliver
Publishing Info: March 5, 2013 by HarperCollins
Genres: Dystopian, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: February 24, 2013
Related Posts: Annabel (Delirium #0.5), Before I Fall, Vanishing Girls, Panic, Broken Things

    Now an active member of the resistance, Lena has transformed. The nascent rebellion that was underway in Pandemonium has ignited into an all-out revolution in Requiem, and Lena is at the center of the fight. After rescuing Julian from a death sentence, Lena and her friends fled to the Wilds. But the Wilds are no longer a safe haven. Pockets of rebellion have opened throughout the country, and the government cannot deny the existence of Invalids. Regulators infiltrate the borderlands to stamp out the rebels.
As Lena navigates the increasingly dangerous terrain of the Wilds, her best friend, Hana, lives a safe, loveless life in Portland as the fiancée of the young mayor. Requiem is told from both Lena and Hana's points of view. They live side by side in a world that divides them until, at last, their stories converge.

bookreview1** This is a spoiler-free review for REQUIEM but will contain spoilers if you have not read Delirium or Pandemonium **

I was SO NERVOUS to start REQUIEM!!!! I’ve heard quite a few mixed reviews from fellow bloggers and I was positively terrified to read the conclusion to one of my favorite trilogies/series, especially when quite a few people were disappointed in it. So where I my opinion shake out? I liked it more than I liked PANDEMONIUM but it still didn’t compare to when I first fell in love with DELIRIUM. So let’s talk!

One of the things I was the most apprehensive and yet curious about was the fact that REQUIEM is alternating chapters between Lena’s POV and Hana’s POV. I read the short story about Hana and was quite intrigued but I wasn’t quite sure how the book would shake out hearing her side of things. When it came down to it, I really enjoyed the alternating narrators. From Hana we get the view of Portland through the eyes of a Cured. Everything we see is much more organized and calm versus Lena’s passion and her messy, ferocious approach to life in the Wilds. The reason I loved the dual POVs so much was because we’re back in the Portland I knew from DELIRIUM again. I got really lost in PANDEMONIUM for a while because of the unfamiliar settings (something which happens to me often in book two…) and I felt like I was anchored back to the place I first met these characters and all of the emotions I had when reading the first book. It also pains me a little to say that I kind of liked Hana’s story line better than I liked Lena’s. I still felt a little lost in the Wilds and I think with Hana being anchored in Portland and unraveling a mystery of her own, I actually latched onto her story more than Lena’s more chaotic one.

Another thing I was nervous about was Lena’s affections for both Julian and Alex. I’ve been Team Alex all throughout PANDEMONIUM but guys… Julian start to grow on me and I did NOT see that coming. Lauren Oliver does a great job of making the reader like Julian; he’s a good guy who got himself tangled with a girl who loves someone else and sometimes you can’t help but feel for him. My feelings actually got a bit mixed up and turned around throughout REQUIEM. I wanted to root for both guys, but at the same time, my heart was still on Alex’s side. It’s a very interesting love triangle (FOR ONCE) and it’s one that I feel was actually done well because this may be the first time I almost had a hard time picking which guy to root for!

As far as the plot goes? All dystopians seem to reach a point nowadays where the fight vs. the “Society” gets a little too political for me. Since we’re seeing REQUIEM from the eyes of two girls who are closely related to the political side but still somewhat on the fringes of it, the whole resistance movement and constant battle made it a bit easier to stomach. We see a lot of battles that are lesser parts of the war and REQUIEM leads us to how this whole war wraps up. I won’t say anything specifically about the end, but what I WILL say is that it all ended a bit too quickly for me. Lena & Hana are obviously in their own worlds, telling their own stories, but I was constantly anticipating when they would collide and intertwine. I wanted a little more interaction between the two stories to really tie the whole book together. Once they finally do meet up, I was like, “NO WAY there’s still so much that needs to happen and there aren’t that many pages left!!!” I was loving the action that was going on and I wished we had spent a little more time there than in the Wilds, yaknowhatImean?

Anyway, overall, I liked the book — not quite to the point of adoring it like I did with the first book, but of course it’s a must-read for fans of the series. I can see where other people were disappointed but I did still enjoy it, even though there were a lot of things I was disappointed with.

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Lena: As much as I always love Lena, I will always miss the Lena of Delirium – What made that book so great was watching her transform from naive and cautious to taking a huge chance on Alex. Throughout Pandemonium and Requiem, obviously we see a hardened Lena and of course I still love her but it’s still just never quite as enjoyable as the first book. I did see a lot of REAL emotions come from her though, especially regarding her decisions between Julian and Alex so that really made Requiem great.
Hana: I loved hearing more from Hana in her own point-of-view instead of reading things as Lena sees them. Even though Hana is Cured, I really think we see a great range of feelings from her and even if they’re not feelings, they’re calculated ideas and thoughts which are carefully broken down into logic. The logic may not always be what Hana wants to hear, but that makes the story more exciting as well. I think it’s great to see a POV from a Cured and see exactly how the cure works and affects emotions. Hana may not be typical of all Cureds, but either way, I loved hearing from her. I really felt like her story was actually more interesting than Lena’s!

addiction_factor1Read it

If you’ve made it this far in the series, might as well complete the read! I’m still pretty disappointed in the ending and it wasn’t my favorite, but it’s worth the read to see how the trilogy ends!

book_recommendations1BOOKS LIKE REQUIEM

     Sever      Through the Ever Night

Sever (The Chemical Gardens #3) – Lauren DeStefano

 

Sever (The Chemical Gardens #3) – Lauren DeStefanoTitle: Sever (The Chemical Garden #1) by Lauren DeStefano
Publishing Info: February 12, 2013 by Simon & Schuster
Genres: Dystopian, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: February 1, 2013
Related Posts: Wither (The Chemical Garden #1), Fever (The Chemical Garden #2)

    With the clock 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. She takes refuge in his dilapidated house, though 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 about 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.

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I admit it. I was nervous to start reading SEVER. I absolutely fell in love with the beautiful writing and the insane story line of WITHER when I first picked it up in June of last year and then quickly followed it up with FEVER…. and felt disappointed. FEVER just didn’t do it for me. Where I loved the first book, I felt removed from the whole original plot in the second and I just felt lost and isolated (which I guess is what Rhine was feeling too, but even still… I don’t think the readers should feel so lost).

In SEVER, I found comfort of being back in Florida and — however creepy it may be — back in Vaughn’s territory. What I loved about this book was that it ends exactly like it should. The readers get answers that have been questions from book one, and some are answers to issues we didn’t even know existed. One of the best parts was having something shocking revealed that was hidden ever since book one, and then I thought back on it and it totally made sense – I just never knew that idea even existed! There are some amazing twists in this book that had me shouting, gasping, and crying. It was a pretty emotional journey… (see below)

I loved that we got to spend more time with some of the original characters that we were missing in book two like Cecily and Linden, and their stories are woven back in with Rhine’s. There are also some great new characters, especially Reed (Linden’s uncle — don’t worry, no spoilers!) and we finally get to learn more about Rowan, who I’ve been curious about the entire book!

The biggest question for me whenever I finish a series is “How did it wrap up?”‘ and I think Lauren DeStefano did a great job of tying up loose ends and giving us a clear picture about what lies ahead for the characters we’ve all grown to love. The only thing I was still left wanting was just a bit more information about The Chemical Gardens. I feel like we were given an explanation, but I was hoping for a little more depth and origin of the name, especially since it’s the name of the whole series. Also, Gabriel is pretty absent the whole book (for a reason, but still). I just really wanted more Rhine-Gabriel interaction to kind of solidify their relationship to make that a little more concrete. Other than that, I was very satisfied with the ending. It kind of fit perfectly and I don’t see any other way it could have wrapped up.

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Rhine: Rhine’s determination has always felt real to me. Ever since she was first brought to the mansion, she’s had a spirit of independence and the need to break free and find her brother so it never felt forced that she was always inching towards her main goal. She kept the plot moving and I really felt like Lauren DeStefano kept her actions true to her character.
Linden: Linden really started to grow on me! Obviously he’s kind of a conundrum in WITHER because Rhine is forced to marry him without zero choice in the matter, but getting to know Linden in the books shows what a kind and gentle person he really is.
Cecily: Cecily has always been one of my favorite characters. She always felt like such a real person to me with such a natural range of emotions. She did a lot of growing up in SEVER and it was so interesting to see that character development. I’d say she’s the character who changed the most throughout the whole series and I loved watching that progression.
Vaughn: Still creepy. Still love how perfect of a villain he is. Still love to hate him.
Reed: Reed is Linden’s uncle, Vaughn’s brother. He’s a great addition to this story and another lively character. I think readers will love him, so I can’t wait to hear people’s reactions to him.

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Buy it!

I thought this was a really great finish to the series. I know some people had some mixed feelings but I really enjoyed it.

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     Wither (The Chemical Gardens #1)      Fever (The Chemical Gardens #2)

Catching Fire (The Hunger Games #2) – Suzanne Collins

Catching Fire (The Hunger Games #2) – Suzanne CollinsTitle: Catching Fire (The Hunger Games #2) by Suzanne Collins
Publishing Info: September 1, 2009 by Scholastic Inc.
Source: Library
Genres: Dystopian, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: January 9, 2013 (Re-read. Originally read 5/31/11)
Related Posts: Mockingjay (The Hunger Games #3)

  Against all odds, Katniss has won the Hunger Games. She and fellow District 12 tribute Peeta Mellark are miraculously still alive. Katniss should be relieved, happy even. After all, she has returned to her family and her longtime friend, Gale. Yet nothing is the way Katniss wishes it to be. Gale holds her at an icy distance. Peeta has turned his back on her completely. And there are whispers of a rebellion against the Capitol - a rebellion that Katniss and Peeta may have helped create.
    Much to her shock, Katniss has fueled an unrest she's afraid she cannot stop. And what scares her even more is that she's not entirely convinced she should try. As time draws near for Katniss and Peeta to visit the districts on the Capitol's cruel Victory Tour, the stakes are higher than ever. If they can't prove, without a shadow of a doubt, that they are lost in their love for each other, the consequences will be horrifying.

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SO. This was my re-read of CATCHING FIRE. Since I read all of The Hunger Games trilogy before I started blogging, I figured a review is still appropriate!

First impressions upon finishing my re-read? I STILL LOVE IT. I still love the first book more, but for some reason I was thinking I was a little disappointed in CF, but then I looked back at my Goodreads rating and then I finished and I was like, “Oh yeah, that was just MOCKINGJAY.”

Once again, I was surprised at how little time was spent in the Games and how much time was spent building up to it. I was keeping track on Goodreads (like I always do) and I noticed that my comment about getting to the Games wasn’t until about 70% of the way through! And you know what’s funny is that it felt like it took forever to get there and it didn’t all at the same time. I forgot SO MUCH about what really went on in the first half (and in the Arena too, actually) because (time for a secret if you didn’t already know) I have terrible retention of content when I read. I don’t know if I read too fast or what, but I’m just so incredibly bad at remembering content after I’m done reading a book. That being said, it actually made the re-read pretty exciting! Even though it may seem boring that Katniss and Peeta go on their little Victor’s Tour and we’re not in the action of the Games for a long time, the reader is definitely not lulled into a boring recap of The Hunger Games. We do get a little bit of recap that happens naturally throughout the text so that’s an absolute bonus.

I love the way the plot twists in CATCHING FIRE and my attention was definitely held the whole book. We deal with the same characters that we got to know and love from book one and I guess some people could say that throwing them back in the Games is a cop-out and a repeat of book one, but I love it! It brings what the audience was so thrilled with in book one and is reinvented to keep us coming back for more. The the Games end with a different twist so we don’t repeat THG all over again as well as a whole new agenda for all of the Tributes.

Since the movie is coming up and we’re getting little sneak peeks of pictures and whatnot, it’s definitely helpful to have that recap of what happened in the book so I can be judgmental when I go see Catching Fire and whisper to my friends “That’s not how it happened in the book!”

ALSO, I’m really anxious to get a re-read going of MOCKINGJAY, because let’s face it. I was super disappointed with it my first time around. I’m kind of hoping that now I know what happens, I can concentrate on what’s happening as I read (or listen, if that’s the case) and not being frantically flipping through pages trying to find out how it ends.

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Katniss: I still think Katniss is a great heroine! Okay, maybe she’s a bit stubborn and dense at times, but she’s strong, talented, loyal, and always a fierce competitor. I got a little annoyed with her obsession to save Peeta in CF just because it was kind of martyrish and it got a little old and repetitive.
Peeta: You know what. I always thought I was Team Gale, but I think I’m just anti-Josh Hutcherson as Peeta and it’s clouded my vision — PEETA FANS, HEAR ME OUT. I think Josh Hutcherson is stinkin’ adorable and I’ve liked him since I saw him in Zathura and I was like, “Don’t think I’m a creep, but that kid is gonna grow up to be a cute teenager” and SEE? But my problem with him as Peeta is that I just don’t see it. And in CATCHING FIRE, there are so many references to Peeta being tall and if I’m picturing JH……. It’s just not right and it really throws the whole character off for me, although JH really does a great job of nailing Peeta’s personality which okay, okay, I guess that’s the more important part. Oh what does it matter, I’ll just end up hating him in MOCKINGJAY anyway.
Finnick Odair: Helloooooo, Finnick, nice to meet you. I’ve always loved his character and that we get to see the smooth-talking, pretty guy as well as a lot of depth that he covers up with what the Capitol wants to see. I can’t wait to see his character in the movie too.
Johanna Mason:  Another character I’m really interested to see in the movie (Jena Malone)- – I started to like her even more (and realized she’s a lot younger than I originally pictured her for whatever reason) and really enjoyed her character even more this time around! I know, I’m sorry I’m talking about actors and the movie again, but I can’t help it! Super interested in seeing how Jena Malone plays Johanna because I totally didn’t see it before I re-read CF and now I kind of think she’s perfect!

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BUY IT

I loved this series on my first read and the re-read is shaping up to be just as great if not better! Definitely one I will always recommend.

book_recommendations1BOOKS LIKE CATCHING FIRE

               

Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles #1) – Marissa Meyer

Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles #1) – Marissa MeyerTitle: Cinder (Lunar Chronicles #1) by Marissa Meyer
Publishing Info: January 3, 2012 by Macmillan
Genres: Fantasy, Science Fiction, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: January 5, 2013
Related Posts: Scarlet (Lunar Chronicles #2), , Glitches (The Lunar Chronicles #0.5), The Queen's Army (The Lunar Chronicles #1.5), Carswell's Guide to Being Lucky (Lunar Chronicles #3.1), Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles #1), Scarlet (The Lunar Chronicles #2), Cress (The Lunar Chronicles, #3), Winter (The Lunar Chronicles #4), Stars Above (A Lunar Chronicles Collection), Heartless, Wires and Nerve, Volume 1 (Wires and Nerve #1), Renegades (Renegades #1)

Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl. 
    Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.

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Yes, I FINALLY read CINDER, you guys!!! It’s about time, I know. I had put it off so long because come on. Cyborg Cinderella? Moon people? No way was I going to like that story. It just seemed impossible. But thanks to all of the encouragements and gentle aggressive prods from my fellow bloggers, I knew this was one that I really had to try before judging so quickly!

So, Cinder. Yes, she’s a cyborg. I’m not a big fan of sci-fi as far as robots and the like go so I wasn’t really sure how this would come off, but really it seemed quite natural in the story. I guess I also wasn’t really clear on what a cyborg actually was because it’s not like Cinder is a robot (which is kind of how I was picturing it) – No, she was once a fully living and breathing person, all whole and intact until after a tragic accident (which she can’t remember), a scientist put Humpty Dumpty back together again (oops, wrong fairy tale) with robotic parts, from limbs to internal wiring. Now you’d think everyone would be like “Hey, cool, you’ve got these awesome abilities!” but not in New Beijing. Cyborgs are treated as less than human, so not only does Cinder have to deal with her wicked step-mother, but everyone else treats her like dirt too.

Hey, I just met you and this is crazy.... But call me Cinder - I'll comm you, maybe

Hey, I just met you and this is crazy…. But call me Cinder – I’ll comm you, maybe

Okay, enough plot recap. Now let’s talk about how I felt about it.
Ummm. Wow! I admit, maybe it was the hype about the book that I didn’t quite make it to the five-star rating that a lot of people have given it, but CINDER truly stands on its own as far as retellings go. I was really impressed with how much we see of the classic Cinderella tale we see in CINDER, but also how original it is in its own right. I was actually really impressed with the science fiction aspects of the book — like Cinder’s cyborginess (shh, that’s a word) and even the presence of the androids seemed totally natural. I was incredibly wary about the Lunars at first – I mean, a moon nation? Nuh uh. No way — but the way they were so different yet so similar to the Earthen people made for some really interesting plot turns and even villains. There IS a lot of sci-fi in the book, but it’s done so well (and I may have even caught a Star Wars scene tucked in there?) that I think it’s absolutely enjoyable by people who don’t like science fiction or dystopians.

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The ending of the book was brilliant and really got me gripped in the last 100 pages or so. Now I cannot wait for to read Scarlet (secret: I’ve heard it’s even better than CINDER) and good thing I have amazing friends who are sending me their ARC copy to borrow!! YAY!

CLICK HERE!

AUDIOBOOK: Although my review isn’t for the audiobook, I’ve heard so many great things about it! As a little incentive to check it out, here’s a clip from the audiobook, courtesy of MacMillan (thanks!) – Just click on the image to the right to hear the sample from the CINDER audiobook! UPDATE: I’m actually planning to re-read the entire series via audio so I’ll definitely let you know how it goes!!

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Cinder: Gosh darnit, Cinder, you really impressed me! And one thing I totally wasn’t expecting was  her sarcasm and snarky attitude (although not always and not overly so because that gets tiresome) but hell yeah, Cinder you tell ’em! She was the perfect Cinderella redone and I like her new attitude and determination!
Kai: Yes sir, I can’t wait to see more of Kai and Cinder! I love the relationship that develops between them. Super impressed by the way Marissa Meyer weaves their interactions without revealing all of Cinder’s secrets to Kai.
Queen Levana: I’m supremely creeped out. And that’s that. 

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BUY IT

What a great first book in the series! I loved so many things about CINDER and it really had it all: romance, action, adventure, magic… I can’t wait for more!

book_recommendations1BOOKS LIKE CINDER

                 SHADOW AND BONE COVER

The Darkest Minds (The Darkest Minds #1) – Alexandra Bracken

The Darkest Minds (The Darkest Minds #1) – Alexandra BrackenTitle: The Darkest Minds (The Darkest Minds #1) by Alexandra Bracken
Publishing Info: December 18, 2012 by Disney Hyperion
Genres: Dystopian, Paranormal, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: December 23, 2012
Related Posts: Passenger (Passenger #1), Never Fade (The Darkest Minds #2), In the Afterlight (The Darkest Minds #3)

  When Ruby woke up on her tenth birthday, something about her had changed. Something alarming enough to make her parents lock her in the garage and call the police. Something that gets her sent to Thurmond, a brutal government “rehabilitation camp.” She might have survived the mysterious disease that’s killed most of America’s children, but she and the others have emerged with something far worse: frightening abilities they cannot control.
    Now sixteen, Ruby is one of the dangerous ones.
    When the truth comes out, Ruby barely escapes Thurmond with her life. Now she’s on the run, desperate to find the one safe haven left for kids like her—East River. She joins a group of kids who escaped their own camp. Liam, their brave leader, is falling hard for Ruby. But no matter how much she aches for him, Ruby can’t risk getting close. Not after what happened to her parents.
    When they arrive at East River, nothing is as it seems, least of all its mysterious leader. But there are other forces at work, people who will stop at nothing to use Ruby in their fight against the government. Ruby will be faced with a terrible choice, one that may mean giving up her only chance at a life worth living.

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I really, really enjoyed this book! I wasn’t quite sure exactly what I was getting into when I started and I have to say, I’m pleasantly surprised!! THE DARKEST MINDS is a combination of a dystopian world with paranormal abilities. We see the dystopian in the fact that the US is falling apart, broke and falling to shambles especially after the disease strikes the nation that takes the lives of most of America’s children. The ones who survive have been ones whose brains allow them to use incredible abilities of all kinds, one of which is our heroine, Ruby.

I really liked that we only spent some of the story’s time in the camps and quickly progressed to breaking out. I imagine the whole book could have taken place in the camps and it would have been substantial, but a far less interesting story. I think a lot of dystopian novels often have book one take place in a specific location and book two is what happens after they break free, and so often I’m disappointed in book two when that happens. In this way, I felt like I wouldn’t be let down by whatever the second book in this series has to offer!

I really loved the different abilities that we see amongst all the different kids and how well the handle these abilities. It was interesting to see the range of different gifts instead of just one. I felt like it made the interactions between the characters really interesting and like Ruby, each character had to go through figuring out how to use their ability without having it become a danger.

I also really liked the chase aspect of the story — I think since we’ve seen so many dystopians, the typical “government is after you” plot is getting a little old, but this didn’t feel like the same tired idea at all. There were many different layers of what Ruby and her friends had to run from as well as figuring out how to use these people to their advantage. The questions in the story run many layers deep!

Oh yeah and HOW ABOUT THAT ENDING. Holy cow, I was not expecting that! Boy oh boy. I cannot wait to see how the second book goes because I was just so gosh darn surprised at what just happened!

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Ruby: Ruby is a tough cookie, but she’s probably how I would end up acting if I were to be in any of these situations – She’s smart but cautious and doesn’t get too carried away with rash decisions like I feel how a lot of dystopian heroines end up. She was such a strong character but in a reasonable way and I felt like she thought out her decisions carefully. I instantly made a connection with her and I loved following her story.
Liam: Thank goodness I ended up liking Liam! I feel like so many times the characters are forced into a relationship/romance and I just never fall into sync with the concept. Ruby and Liam don’t immediately fall in love, but a trust develops between them that makes sense and seems to be a perfect way to start building a relationship. I really loved their interactions and even though they came across times where it looked like one would have to sacrifice themselves for the other, I never felt like either one felt desperate or needy.
Chubs: I loved Chubs. He was a character I wasn’t sure I’d like at first, but his character really grew and developed into someone that was nicely rounded. He wasn’t just a sidekick who’s there so Liam could have a friend – He was actually a part of the story and was important to the plot, which I love. I feel like too often the MC’s friends are just there for the sake of having friends and Chubs was not just another wallflower. He really brought some character to the book and make key decisions. 

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BUY IT! 

Wow, I really enjoyed this one. It was such an interesting combination of dystopian and paranormal and the characters were just fantastic! Looking forward to reading more of this series.

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BOOKS LIKE THE DARKEST MINDS

(click on the covers to see my reviews!)