Agnes resides within a cult at Red Creek but she doesn’t realize that she’s part of a cult. She’s the eldest of several siblings and is responsible for taking care of their family because their mother is severely depressed. Agnes sneaks to the Outside once a month to retrieve insulin for her younger brother Ezekiel, even though she knows it’s against the rules. Her sister Beth, the next eldest sibling, is a rebel and doesn’t like the rules. When Beth is caught kissing a boy, she’s disgraced by their father and the community. Agnes has been betrothed as a sixth wife to a middle-aged man and before she gets married, she has to teach Beth everything so she can then become the family caretaker. The middle-aged man decides to marry Beth instead of Agnes to straighten Beth out. In the meantime, a ferocious virus is spreading throughout the world and eventually arrives at Red Creek. The Prophet releases an infected dog during a church meeting and, after a few people are bitten, he tells them about his revelation; the Rapture has arrived and everyone must move into the underground bunker. Agnes escapes with Ezekiel and is heartbroken that she’s left the rest of her siblings behind. She knows that the bunker would be a death sentence for Ezekiel because there’s no insulin for him. This is a riveting story about cults, self-worth, self-importance, bravery, love, loyalty, and sacrifice. The author’s note explains the cult background information being from a nonfiction book of a survivor who escaped a true cult. A wonderfully written and all-encompassing story about love, sacrifice, and different faiths, 5 stars!
Meri misses her mother every day since an accident took her life. She also tries to emulate and understand her mother’s artwork. Meri wants to become an artist too. Her friend Rose was able to help her get an interview to be considered to participate in the City Art Program that Meri’s mother was such a big part of before her death. Meri has a successful interview but notices strange and suspicious things happening around her. Among them, she sees someone drop paper, a traitorous and wasteful act. Her curiosity gets the best of her and she thinks she’s figuring out some of her mother’s painted clues, so she goes to sights that she believes her mother meant for her to go to. She’s given a piece of paper with the word verify written on it and talked to by a young man. She eventually learns what truly happened to her mother and the underground she was a part of in the last eighteen months of her life. Meri falls down the rabbit hole! Action, intrigue and friendship pull the story along, 4 stars and I’m ready to read the sequel, Disclose.
A cop, Tim, from Florida needs a change, so he leaves and heads north to see where life takes him. Luke Ellis lives happily with his parents until they’re shot, unknown to him, and he’s kidnapped. He’s taken to The Institute where children are experimented and tested on for telepathic and telekinetic abilities. The treatment isn’t kind and any empathy they do get seems to be for manipulative purposes only. Stephen King’s writing tends to pull me completely under and into the story and I became immersed in the children’s Institute lives and their well-being and mistreatment. The characters are laid out and built up with depth, as is the author’s way, and I was rooting for Tim and Luke the whole time. Another aspect of Mr. King’s writing is the philosophical pondering that always takes place when I read his books. The Institute made me stop and think about the greater good and how perspectives differ drastically. The children of the Institute had quirks, talents, and innocence until the experimenting drained them of everything. Thought-provoking and intense dystopian, 5 stars!
Dystopian and sci-fi mix that I couldn’t put down!
Thanks to NetGalley and MacMillan Publishing for the opportunity to read and review Marie Lu’s newest book, Skyhunter!
Talin lost her ability to speak years ago when the Federation attacked her home and her vocal cords were burned by a chemical they released. She learned sign language, along with her mother, so they could communicate. She becomes a Striker, a Maran soldier that fights the Federation, and she’s extremely good at it. She becomes a Striker because another soldier saw her worth and helped and supported her. His name was Corian and he has a wonderful, strong set of values and character. The two of them make a fantastic fighting team together. A Federation soldier finds his way to Mara, causing suspicion, since no one knows whether or not he’s a spy. The minute Red arrives, the danger from the Federation amps up. This dystopian book opens up a new series that promises suspense, action, intrigue and an array of interesting characters, 5 stars!
The Ballads of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins, the prequel to the Hunger Games series, we meet a youthful President Snow. We get to know his goals and family. Coriolanus Snow wants to be a mentor for the Hunger Games. He does become a mentor but he’s disappointed with who he gets, the girl from District 12. He assumes she’ll be weak and unhealthy and be one of the first to die in the games. What he gets is a complete surprise. The action starts well before the games and many odd characters are brought into the story. Coriolanus has integrity and is honest with himself about his actions and who he truly is, even though he sees himself and his family a bit above others and he wholeheartedly believes in helping himself. He realizes variables and factors of human nature as he continues to do his best to support his charge, Lucy Gray. His arrogance pushes him to choose himself above anything or anyone else. By the ending, I’m saddened and appalled by his selfishness. A great read with many nods to the future of the Hunger Games, 5 stars!
A fun sci-fi dystopian story, This Vicious Cure by Emily Suvada, alternates between Cat and Jun Bei, giving insight into each of their thoughts. Cat is inside a simulated environment which is really in Jun Bei’s mind since Jun Bei took over. Both realities are under duress and fighting to fix its own problems. Memories have been wiped, so Cat is new to most, except for feelings of familiarity. Jun Bei wants to fix the Panacea mortality cure and goes to severe lengths to accomplish her goal. For the first time in her life, Jun Bei feels guilty about harming people and regrets the killing she’s been responsible for in the past. Cat can see everything in the environments she’s in and everyone can see her. She looks perfectly real and solid and she’s undetected unless someone tries to touch her because their hands will go right through her image. The science fiction aspect of this series is fascinating. Embryos were created with specific genetic material to make people great coders/hackers. Thirty generations were created, mixed and born within a short period of time. Only two embryos were grown into people who were born and raised to be coding geniuses, Dax and Mato. The Panacea cure/vaccination will make people immortal while the Hydra virus has been mutating people into Lurkers through the tech panels in their arms. The series comes full circle with a satisfying ending, 5 stars!
Young adult dystopian!
Thanks to NetGalley and Simon & Schuster for the opportunity to read and review How We Became Wicked by Alexander Yates.
The story opens as Astrid notices the lighthouse that has been unlit for a long time, coming to life. She wakes up her neighbor Hank. The community is annoyed at Astrid because she keeps talking about the light being on in the lighthouse. She thinks they’re upset because they’re hiding something. The story felt somewhat drawn out and not as exciting, dangerous or suspenseful as I would have liked it to be. This could have been a truly scary story if it was built up more. I did like how creepy the wicker’s comments were because they were spoken so calmly. 3 stars for this young adult dystopian
I enjoyed this book more than any other Pintip Dunn book (that I have read). The concept is unique and the character growth and depth is profound.
Thanks to NetGalley and Entangled Teen for the opportunity to read and review Malice by Pintip Dunn!
Alice begins to hear a voice that’s telling her what to do. She soon realizes that the voice belongs to her future self, and is warning present time Alice, about a future virus that is going to destroy the world. Future Alice wants her to kill the virus maker. As the story unfolds, I kept thinking that I had figured out who the virus maker was, but I just kept getting hit with one surprise after another! The story concept is interesting and I especially like the mystery surrounding the virus maker. Bandit is intriguing but I want to know more about Zeke. Alice goes through a whirlwind of back and forth time travel, possible futures and the shocks and surprises that are thrown at her. This is the absolute best Pintip Dunn book I’ve read! 4 stars!
The Burning Shadow by Jennifer L. Armentrout, published by Harlequin Teen, picks up where the first book in this series left off.
Evie learns more about her past but she still struggles with the reasoning behind her mother’s choices. Luc and Evie grow closer as danger builds mysteriously in their community. Luc and Evie discover information about the Luxen, Arum, Hybrids, Origins, Trojans and the actions of the Daedalus, who want to eradicate the Luxen, Hybrids and Origins. They also learn more about her parents’ motives. It made me sad when certain people died because of their great characters.
A heads-up to potential readers of graphic sexual content. I think the next book in this series will be called Brightest Night because of a character quote at the end of the book. I enjoy the mystery and suspense above all and the dystopian aspect adds intensity to the story. 4.5 stars!
Thanks to NetGalley and Simon Pulse for the opportunity to read and review Girls with Sharp Sticks by Suzanne Young!
It took me a minute to get into the book because I was annoyed at the submissive behavior of the main character, Mena. As I read on, I realized that submissiveness is the reason behind the story. The teen girls are taught to listen without question and do everything in their power to please and appease others. Disturbing but so on point with gender discrimination. The poem entitled Girls with Sharp sticks encompasses everything about this story, including the book’s namesake. As I read and reread the poem, found on pages 154-156, I feel disgusted, hopeful, saddened, angered, afraid and then a little cautiously hopeful at the end. It sums up the story concisely. POWERFUL. A thought-provoking read, 5 stars!