YA Science Fiction/Dystopic

The book covers link to The Tattered Cover (our local indie) page for that book.

mortaldangerMortal Danger, by Ann Aguirre
I really liked this. I found both Edie and Kian very intriguing characters, and hearing how they both suffered in the past makes them very sympathetic. I also like how Edie grew throughout the book. Although the ending is something of a cliff hanger, I knew going in that this would be at least a three-book series, so I felt this first part was well developed and nicely resolved. The entire premise is fascinating.
The story (in a nutshell): Edie plans to kill herself because of her misery — but a mysterious (and gorgeous) young man stops her (Kian). Then he goes further and offers her the opportunity for amazing revenge, if she agrees to give a favor in return. Edie makes the deal…and then has to decide how to handle everything which comes next.
Feiwel & Friends, 8/14

findmewhereFind Me Where the Water Ends, by Rachel Carter
This is a satisfying and interesting conclusion to the trilogy. Although I didn’t read the second one, I was easily able to ‘catch up’ with Lydia and the others through the beginning of this one. I thought the time-travel elements were handled really well, and the paradoxes seemed understandable rather than confusing (which can easily happen in these types of stories). There were some great (and unexpected) twists in this, and I like how Lydia had to risk so much to try and make things work out…very intriguing ideas here.
The story (in a nutshell): Lydia must travel through time to stop the Mantauk Project from destroying all she holds dear (assuming she *can* stop them, of course).
Harper Teen, 7/14

afterlightIn the Afterlight, Alexandra Bracken
This is a great (and satisfying) conclusion to the trilogy. Ruby has grown through the series, but she’s still a fighter and stronger than the reader might suspect. I also like her vulnerable sides, as well — and her loyalty to Liam (and his to her) is one of the best parts of both their characters. There were losses in this part that were painful, but I felt like, overall, this was well done and thoughtful. All in all, it’s not only enjoyable but hopeful and well worth reading.
The story (in a nutshell): Ruby continues to fight for the freedom and lives of all the children affected by the virus. Things become more complicated when it appears the vaccine might do more damage than good…and Ruby realizes she might have to give up everything to save those she loves.
Disney-Hyperion, 9/14

fallstheshadowFalls the Shadow, by Stefanie Gaither
This was an intriguing look at cloning and the social and moral implications of having human ‘copies.’ I liked Cate, and I liked Violet, as well. I felt like Gaither did a great job showing what makes someone human, and watching the scientists working to exploit the clones definitely seemed inhumane. Overall, a very interesting and entertaining read.
The story (in a nutshell): Cate struggles in school because she and her sister have clones waiting for when they die — and it gets worse when Violet (Cate’s sister) does die, and their parents bring home her clone to replace her. Then, another student is murdered, and everyone seems to believe it must be Violet (the clone)…and it’s up to Cate to figure out what really might have happened. But what will she do if Violet is guilty — or if she discovers that the clones aren’t as human as she always hoped they were?
Simon & Schuster BFYR, 9/14

worldswemakeThe Worlds We Make, by Megan Crewe
I enjoyed this and found it a realistic and satisfying conclusion to the trilogy. I think Kaelyn grew realistically throughout the trilogy, as well, and her courage and fortitude were endearing. I also really like her determination to find a way to help everybody, if possible — and her compassion for all sides. Although I hated to see the sad parts (those who died of the virus), I think that was also necessary for the story. All in all, the trilogy is gritty and hopeful at the same time and definitely worth reading.
The story (in a nutshell): Kaelyn continues to be determined to find a way to get the vaccine to the CDC, even as others (both organized and not) try to stop her. Personal losses batter her, but she digs deep to find that core of steel…and then she has to decide if it’s worth it — and if it will work out, in the end.
Disney-Hyperion, 2/14

fire & floodFire & Flood, by Victoria Scott
After a slow start, this was very nicely paced. I liked the tension throughout, and the compassion Tella had for her fellow competitors. I did think she waited an awfully long time to question the circumstances which brought all of them to the Bleed, but for a first book (clearly) in a possible trilogy or series, this was definitely engaging and intriguing. I thought Tella’s strength of character was one of the best aspects of the story. πŸ™‚ The story: Tella’s brother is sick, and Tella wants only for things to return to how they were before, when he was healthy and they lived a ‘normal’ life. But her parents have moved the whole family to Montana, and her brother seems to be getting sicker…until Tella receives a mysterious invitation to participate in the Brimstone Bleed, a survival competition where the winner is given the cure to any illness. Tella sneaks away from home to join the Bleed, and soon finds herself in over her head as she’s dropped in the jungle and forced to find food and shelter while racing to an unknown destination. Will she make it — and if she does, how will she feel about beating out others who are there for the same reason she is (to save a precious loved one)? (YA sci-fi/dystopic, released 2/14, publisher: Scholastic)

landry park Landry Park, by Bethany Hagen
This was a very intriguing and unusual look at a possible future for the U.S. In this view, something similar to a caste system has been brought to the new U.S., with monetary/financial status being assigned based on each family’s use to the new world. Madeline, a member of the Gentry, is close to her coming out, but all she really wants is to attend university and learn. However, her father, who heads up their family’s very lucrative business (and the one which employs the Rootless, those at the bottom of the ‘caste’ system), wants Madeline to marry well. The tension which builds throughout the book is not intense but rather a gentle unfolding…however, the courage Madeline must show to change her future is astonishing. One of my favorite aspects is how well-portrayed her choices were. I could clearly see how hard it would be to go against the system and could therefore sympathize with Madeline throughout. The story: When Madeline begins to question the history of her world — and therefore her own future in it — the consequences might be more than she ever imagined. And how will that involve David, the boy she’s unwittingly fallen for? (YA sci-fi/dystopic, released 2/14, publisher: Dial)

countdownCountdown, by Michelle Rowen
I enjoyed this. It’s a mix of paranormal and science fiction/dystopic, though the focus is on neither of those. In fact, very little time is spent on world-building at all, and for this tale, it works. I liked the pacing and the many mysteries (which were resolved — something I really appreciate). I really liked Rogan and the growing attraction between him and Kira. The paranormal aspects seemed a little auxiliary and a touch convenient, but it wasn’t enough to ruin the story. The story: The main character (Kira) is thrown right into the game (Countdown), which happens to be a television show — with many twists. Kira, who’s been on her own for two years (since the murder of her family), has never heard of the show…or the boy who’s been chosen to play as her partner. Right away, the digicam (kind of like a talking camera) tells lies about both Kira and Rogan for the television audience — who are those who pay (on the black market) for the privilege of watching the show. Kira must figure out the truth about not only Rogan but also the show itself and its purpose. At the same time, she must find a way to survive and keep Rogan alive, as well, despite his status as a murderer, or they both ‘fail’ the game. (YA dystopic/paranormal, released 9/13, publisher: Harper Teen)

erasedErased, by Jennifer Rush
I really enjoyed this sequel. I liked the action and the revelations, though I will say that I wish the previous relationship Sam had with Dani was a little clearer…I couldn’t help feeling like the nebulousness of that relationship cast a bit of pall over Anna’s and Sam’s growing connection. Still, the romance is sweet, even though both Sam and Anna keep things from the other. The pacing is solid, making this a quick and frantic read too, which is always nice. At the end, there are still some unanswered questions, leaving room for a sequel. The story: Anna and the boys are still on the run, but a chance run-in at a drugstore reveals that Anna’s sister, Dani, is still alive. Not only that, but Dani claims they have an uncle, who is also alive. Anna seeks him out, despite the reservations of the others, but things don’t quite go as planned. Not only that, but Anna’s memories are slowly returning — along with the memories of the other boys — and the revelations of her previous life uncover things that completely change Anna’s understanding of herself and each of the boys. Can she save all of them? (YA science fiction, released 1/14, publisher: Little, Brown)

curedCured, by Bethany Wiggins
This is a very enjoyable companion/sequel to the first one (Stung). I actually liked it better mostly because the world building is complete in this one, so I could focus more on the characters and the growing story arc. This one is just as gruesome, but I really like how the cure is working for the Beasts and how the power struggle has slightly shifted. Also, there were some interesting twists in this that kept me engaged a bit more — plus, the romance was still very sweet. The story: Jacqui leaves home, determined to find her older brother Dean. She finds Fiona, who agrees (along with Bowen) to help — though Jacqui discovers they have their own motives. Fiona’s brother Jonah, who used to be a Beast, also comes along, and soon they find another member — a young man named Kevin, who has secrets of his own. Before long, Jacqui is not only fighting for the possibility of seeing her brother again, but for a cure which has become important to her and a world that might become a better place to live. (YA dystopic/science fiction, released 3/14, publisher: Walker Children’s)

hordeHorde, by Ann Aguirre
I enjoyed the conclusion to this trilogy. I liked the strategic approach Deuce took to the problems they faced, and I liked the compassion she and the others showed. The romance, as it has been from the beginning, is solid and sweet, as well. I think my favorite part was the ending (I can’t recall if it’s called an epilogue, but it had that feel). The story: Deuce and Fade continue to fight to save their world and each other, as Fade has his demons, and Deuce is worried about her family, to boot. Plus, the different groups need to unite, and she’s not sure how to corral them to fight against their mutual enemies. (YA dystopic, released 10/13, publisher: Feiwel & Friends)

stungStung by Bethany Wiggins
I enjoyed this! It’s a quick read, and although the humans-turned-Beasts are both sad and horrifying, the focus really is on Fiona and the years she’s missing. The romance between Fiona and Bowen is nicely done (though it happens very quickly — over the course of a few days), and both Fiona and Bowen are likable characters. The world set-up here is also pretty horrifying in a standard sci-fi kind of way: the scientists worried about the dwindling bee population and created a modified bee…which promptly killed all the remaining natural bees and somehow produced a bee-flu virus which turned people into Beasts. πŸ˜€ Anyway, it’s both tragic and sweet (in a strange way) to see how Fiona deals with this new world. I’m thinking there might be a sequel? The story: Fiona wakes up in a strange world that barely resembles the world she recalls falling to sleep in. Eventually, she realizes that years rather than hours have passed, and when a human-like beast comes after here — and she recognizes her twin brother in that beast — Fiona flees. Through some help, she finds herself in a military-like camp being guarded by a boy she used to know. But that boy now looks like a man, and when he discovers she’s a girl (and a girl he knew), he decides she’s worth protecting at any risk to himself…even though she has the mark which indicates she’s been infected with the virus that can turn her into a beast at any moment. As they run, they discover the governor wants Fiona too — wants her dead, that is. (YA science fiction/dystopic/horror, released 4/13, publisher: Walker Children’s)

graduationdayGraduation Day, by Joelle Charbonneau
I loved this finale to the trilogy. I think my favorite aspects are the intelligence shown by the main characters. Unlike many other current dystopics, this series focuses more on the strategies and skills involved to solve problems (rather than brute force or war). There is a rebellion, but Cia works with her group to keep the fighting down — to prevent a coup, really. I like the philosophic approach, as well, along with all the internal dialogue around justifying death (or not, as the case may be). Although this is the end, I think the door is open for more from this world, and I’m hoping Charbonneau will continue giving us a window into how Cia’s world came to be and where they’ll go from here. The story: Cia now knows that Dr. Barnes wants to keep the president from stopping the Testing procedure, and it’s up to here to do something about it (as the head of the rebellion is actually working with Dr. Barnes). She worries about the responsibility, however, when she realizes that stopping the vote might — and probably will — involve death of those currently in charge of the Testing. Can she figure out how to stop them without playing right into Dr. Barnes’ plan? (YA dystopic, releases 6/14, publisher: HMH Books)

tandemTandem, by Anna Jarzab
This is an enjoyable read, although I did feel that part of the book was unnecessarily detailed (the slow unfolding of the circumstances in the parallel universe, for example). Still, once I hit the halfway point, I stopped skimming and was completely engaged. I really liked how Sasha was such a likable and good character compared to her alter, Julianna, who was cowardly and selfish. They weren’t the only contrast, though I’m curious to see how Thomas and Gavin might compare in future books. I’m glad there’s more to come, as I found myself loving the parallel world ideas and execution here. The story: Sasha finds herself pulled into a parallel universe where her alter (double) is actually a princess getting ready to marry a rival prince to bring peace. Of course, it’s not nearly that uncomplicated, and there are many factions who don’t want the marriage to go through — and Sasha has no wish to marry some stranger in a universe which isn’t even her own, anyway. Still, as she gets to know Thomas, the boy who brought her here, she begins to care more than she wanted to; plus, her feelings (which began with pity) for Callum, the prince, also change to sympathy and friendship, and when she realizes that there are those who wish him ill, she suddenly finds herself more involved in this new world than she ever thought…and then her alter appears, and the complications and danger increase. (YA science fiction, released 10/13, publisher: Delacorte Press)

independentstudyIndependent Study, by Joelle Charbonneau
I loved this even more than the first (which I also loved). Cia is a great heroine, imo — she’s strong, smart, and willing to think things through. I like her compassion, as well, and the fact that she’s not afraid to rely on other people, even when she knows they could get hurt (a pet peeve of mine in some stories). Cia lets the people around her make their own choices, and I like that. Her relationship with Tomas continues to be sweet and yet complicated, as both deal with their supposedly-forgotten memories of the Testing period. I liked the new characters introduced in this one, as well, and the tension was fantastic (and makes me really wish the last book was out already)! The story: Cia is moving on to her next line of study, and not only is her assignment unexpected, it puts her in contact with some of the most powerful people in their land. Now Cia must learn how to succeed while still keeping her awareness of the truth — a truth which becomes more horrible every moment — under wraps. In the end, will she have the determination and intelligence needed to rid their world of Dr. Barnes and his horrible plan? (YA dystopic, released 1/14, publisher: HMH Books)

intostillblueInto the Still Blue, by Veronica Rossi
I think this is my favorite of the trilogy. I enjoyed the first one, I mostly liked the second one, but I loved this third one. What made it so strong? Well, the world building isn’t as surprising in this one — in other words, I had a firm grasp of their world. Plus, Perry and Aria had truly proven their love for each other, and their relationship continues to grow in a realistic manner. The friendships in this third one are fulfilling to read about because they do seem realistic and solid. I also like that there were a few surprises still in store — and the tension rose throughout the book, even though some of the earlier conflicts (from the first book) had been resolved. I think Rossi did a great job keeping readers invested in the people and their world. The story: Perry and Aria know their world is coming to an end, and they must find a way to the Still Blue. But sadly, Cinder has been taken, and they realize that trying to fetch him back will put them all in danger of Sable’s and Hess’s crazy plans. However, they have little choice…and the battles that arise when they come face to face with Liv’s killer and the remainder of the Realm challenge them more than they ever thought. (YA dystopic/science fiction, released 1/14, publisher: Harper Collins)

enclaveEnclave, by Ann Aguirre
I enjoyed this, mostly because of the tight world-building and fierce characters. Deuce is a strong heroine, and her slow understanding of emotions and how to deal with them made her extra likable. And Fade’s vulnerability, which he tries so hard to hide, comes through almost from the get-go, making him especially sympathetic. Their forays into the old world topside is intriguing, and the ideas behind what caused the apocalypse can be a touch frightening. Overall, it’s an exciting read. The story: Deuce comes into her name and is assigned to be a Hunter, all she’s wanted for years. But when she and Fade, her partner, are given an unusual task — and discover some startling news — they end up being cast out of their underworld community and must return to the topside. Fade lived there before, but even his support doesn’t help Deuce’s fear…though soon her determination to survive kicks in, and she and Fade — along with a couple others they pick up along the way — begin making their way out of the desecrated city and to possible safety…if such a thing exists anymore. (YA dystopic, released 8/12, publisher: Square Fish)

doomedDoomed, by Tracy Deebs
This was intriguing from the very first page. I felt for Pandora from the start, and I found the brothers equally interesting. The entire mystery was pretty captivating, and even though it became a little repetitious (and there were some definite flaws in research leading to some inaccurate details near the end), I still enjoyed the entire storyline. The story: Pandora receives a birthday message from her dad which isn’t at all what it seems — and soon she learns that by clicking on it, she’s unlocked a virus which has shut down all the technology (including electricity) around the world. Working with her new neighbors, Pandora must find a way to unravel the game her dad has included with the virus (to Pandora only) and stop him from destroying the modern world. (YA science fiction/suspense, released 12/13, publisher: Walker)

uninvitedUninvited, by Sophie Jordan
I really enjoyed this, although I did feel like Davy showed a little too much indecision near the end. Her waffling was frustrating, and it made her final decision seem weak (to me). Still, the entire premise is fascinating (and scary), and the book held my attention throughout. I will add that, as a parent, there’s no way I would behave as Davy’s parents did (as passively) — but then, if she had me for a parent, the story would never happen (ha). I loved Sean, of course. The story: Davy is on her way to Julliard (in her senior year of high school) and has led a charmed life, it seems. But everything changes abruptly when it’s discovered she has the HTS gene — which means she will one day be a killer. Davy’s yanked from her private school and sent to the dungeons of the local public school. Not only that, but she’s carefully monitored, and when she reacts like a normal teen to her boyfriend’s betrayal, her life gets even more complicated. Then things take a serious turn for the worst when other HTS youth shoot up a mall — and all HTS carriers around the country are locked up. How will Davy handle her new life? Can she make it work for her, or does she need to find a new plan? (YA suspense/dystopic, released 1/14, publisher: HarperTeen)

Black OutBlack Out, by Robison Wells
This book totally grabbed my attention. I read it in one day (yesterday), and I enjoyed it thoroughly. Of course, it’s the first in a trilogy. I liked the multi-POV, and I like the building mystery. I liked both Jack and Aubrey, and I found the rest of the characters easy to follow. The set-up was intriguing, and I think Wells nailed it in terms of where he started the story (in some ways, we come in midway through the action, but it works) — I knew just enough to not be confused but not so much that I was already bored. The story: Terrorists have attacked the U.S., but they’re working in ways the government and military don’t quite understand. Targeting landmarks rather than specific people or groups, the terrorists have created havoc in a number of cities. Meanwhile, Aubrey is just a teen girl, trying to stay afloat in her high school. But six months ago, a strange and frightening phenomenon hit her — she can disappear. And when the military comes for all the teens from her town (during a high school dance), Aubrey is terrified it’s because of her. When they’re all taken to a ‘testing’ facility, the military informs the kids that they’ve been infected with a virus — and this virus is behind the terrorist attacks around the country. Aubrey manages to fake her test results, but her old friend Jack is quarantined as a ‘positive.’ Aubrey risks everything to go and save him, but she gets caught…and soon she and Jack discover that the military wants to use them to fight the terrorists — as they all have similarly strange abilities. Aubrey’s ability works well with Jack’s (which was dormant until now)…but whom can they trust? What if the terrorists, who are also other teens, have infiltrated the military’s effort? Aubrey and Jack struggle to keep their heads above water as the country sinks further into chaos, knowing that they can’t trust anyone, but they have to find a safe haven if they want to survive. (YA science fiction thriller, released 10/13, publisher: Harper Teen)

linkedLinked, by Imogen Howson
This was really intriguing! It reminded me of both Louise Lawrence (B is for Butterfly) and H.M. Hoover (Children of the Darkness) — and since I loved both those books as a teen, I really took to this one too. Elissa is a good person, and that’s definitely part of what drew me in. Her life is challenging, but she quickly realizes that as hard as she thought it was, it was nothing compared to what her twin, Lin, has experienced. Cadan is a wonderful character, and although I could tell from the get-go that he was more than Elissa realized, it was fun getting to know him through her eyes. I also liked how Lin grew throughout, and although the author led us a bit more than necessary (ie, she explained too much about the character changes in everyone), I still enjoyed it. The story: Elissa and her parents have finally found a doctor who can cure her strange dreams and weird bruises (her body seems to manifest the pain from the dreams). However, the day before the surgery, Elissa discovers that her dreams are actually someone else’s life — she’s been experiencing someone else’s pain. Elissa seeks out this other girl, and when she finds her, she’s astonished to see her own face looking back at her. The other girl claims she’s not human, that she was ‘discarded’ and taken into science because Elissa was the human twin. Elissa can’t believe this, however, and she begins fighting for this girl…a fight that takes her away from her parents and into a planet-wide struggle. Elissa quickly realizes that she must get ‘Lin’ (Lissa’s twin) away from the people who want to continue hurting her, and she runs to her brother. When her brother’s unavailable, she settles for his best friend, a boy named Cadan, who’s long been Elissa’s unrequited crush. But as they escape Sekoia (their planet), more mysteries come to light…and the Sekoian government shows that they’re not ready to let go of their darkest secret. (YA science fiction, released 6/13, publisher: Simon & Schuster)

alteredAltered, by Jennifer Rush
I loved this! πŸ™‚ (Disclaimer: I got to read the first couple of chapters for Jen before she found her agent. I loved it then too.) The boys are all intriguing, and I thought Jen did a great job keeping them unique (as we’re meeting all of them together). I loved the underlying feelings of wrongness — and I loved when those come to light. Anna is a likable character, and her determination to do what’s right is admirable — especially as we learn how much she’s been manipulated. I like the relationship between Anna and each of the boys, and although Sam is delicious, I suspect we might see more of Anna and a different boy in the end (just a guess). Either way, I will be looking for Erased next January! The story: Anna and her dad work for the Branch, a secret government lab which uses chemical manipulation to alter humans. Anna’s dad is in charge of four boys — who live in Anna’s basement. For the past five years, Anna has been helping her dad, and she’s built relationships with each of the boys (although that’s frowned upon). One of them, Trev, is her best friend; and another, Sam, is the boy she loves. When the Branch comes to take the boys back for the next step in their training, Anna finds that she can’t let them go — and when Sam instigates a resistance, Anna’s dad begs them to take Anna too. Soon Anna finds herself on the run with the boys, confused and terrified…but the mystery has only begun, and when Anna discovers her role in the Branch and each of these boys’ lives, how will she find her center then? (YA science fiction suspense, released 1/13, publisher: Little, Brown)

SYLOSYLO, by D.J. McHale
This was very enjoyable. D loves McHale’s mg books, so I didn’t even hesitate to pick this one up when I saw it. The plot is tense and the pacing well done. Plus, I like Tucker (he’s a very likable character). My only real complaint is that it ends abruptly (and right in the middle of the mystery) — but I know that’s the pattern these days. *sigh* I’ll definitely be picking up the next one here (not only to learn more about the mystery of Sylo, but also because I like spending time with Tucker). The story: Tucker loves living on Pemberwick Island, but when a strange virus kills to of their residents, the American government sends a secret branch of the military to quarantine the island. If that wasn’t strange enough, Tucker and his best friend Quinn begin to realize something else is going on. They witness an inexplicable explosion over the ocean and discover that a new ‘energy’ pill has dangerous side effects — and then, they see the Sylo group (the military force) kill a couple of people who try to leave the island. The virus doesn’t seem very dangerous (as none of the Sylo men wear bio-suits), so why would they kill to enforce the quarantine? Unfortunately, when Tucker and Quinn take their concerns to the local sheriff, the head of the Sylo group overhears. Soon, Tucker and Quinn are being sought — and as they skirt the edges of the island to avoid Sylo, they discover their own parents working on the Sylo civilian team. Can they escape? What caused the explosion, and why are other military branches seeming to target Sylo? Even more, why can’t they contact the mainland? (YA science fiction, released 7/13, publisher: Razorbill)

the 5th waveThe 5th Wave, by Rick Yancey
This was pretty enthralling! From the beginning, I was pulled into Cassie’s story. I also like the multi-POV (though it’s mostly Cassie’s tale). The twists and turns are well done, and the tension slowly increases throughout the book. By the end, I was reading frantically — and now I can’t wait for the next one! It is a bit of a cliff-hanger, btw…but enough of the story is resolved that I didn’t feel robbed at all. I also really like how Ben, Evan, and Cassie grow throughout (though Cassie is very strong from the beginning — her growth, imo, is more about relaxing a bit and learning to trust and love). The story: Cassie is one of the only survivors left (she thinks she might be the very last). The Others came and wiped out humanity in four waves — and now, those remaining wonder how they’ll survive the 5th wave (or even what it will entail). Cassie is determined to find her younger brother, though — he was taken away by soldiers. As for Ben, he needs to find his way after running from his family during one of the earlier waves. Evan has his own unique struggles, and the three of them slowly learn the truth behind everything happening on earth now and where they fit in this new world (if they can survive the 5th wave, that is). (YA science fiction, released 5/13, publisher: Putnam)

the testingThe Testing, by Joelle Charbonneau
I loved this! I read it feverishly (one day), and I loved every single detail. I can’t wait for the next one, which is tough, considering this one hasn’t even come out yet (beginning of June). I thought the world building was solid, I enjoyed the characters, I liked the mystery surrounding their government — everything piqued my interest, to be honest. I have my suspicions about how certain aspects of the story arc will develop and ultimately turn out (ie, the romantic portions), and I’m certainly interested in finding out if I’m right. πŸ™‚ I tend to like different kinds of details than many readers, so I’m also curious to find out (once the book comes out) how many people like the testing aspects. I actually wouldn’t have minded even more details — but I really enjoyed the pacing overall, as well. It was simply good, good, good — just what I look for in a book: exciting, tense, romantic, intriguing. The story: Cia has been chosen for the Testing, the government’s way of deciding who gets to attend University to further the country’s growth. Cia’s tiny town has had no candidates for years, even though Cia knows for a fact that her older brother should have been chosen based on his gifts. But then, right before she leaves, Cia’s father (who was a Testing candidate himself) reveals some horrifying secrets about the Testing process…and Cia realizes that maybe being chosen isn’t the positive thing she always thought. She has no choice but to comply, however, and when she arrives at the Testing site, she learns right away that her dad may have been correct — and that her Testing is less about passing at the top of the class and more about actually surviving. As she goes through the various trials, Cia’s goals change, and soon she’s simply hoping she can get through it all with her mind and body (and life) intact. (YA dystopic suspense, releases 6/13, publisher: Houghton Mifflin)

lightLight, by Michael Grant
This is an enjoyable end to the series. One thing I felt Grant did better in this book was to give a little summary of each character — there are so many of them, each time I start a new book, I’ve forgotten the roles of all but the most obvious characters (Sam, Astrid, Caine, Diana). So that was nice, and the summaries were quite brief, so they didn’t interfere with the story (imo). I also like how Sam got a bit of a break, so to speak. I mean, he still had work to do and responsibility, but the weight of the world (or the FAYZ) no longer sat wholly on his shoulders. I also thought Astrid was better in this book — not as intense and annoying. πŸ˜‰ All in all, it was a solid finish, and I like the overall story arc too (ie, the entire six books) — plus, the ending was pretty satisfying. The story: Even though the kids now know the real world has gone on and their parents are right outside, they have no way to get beyond the border. And now, people are watching them, and they can see that everyone has food and hot water, and they’re starving and living in filth. Add to that, Gaia is gaining strength, and they know they have to kill ‘her,’ even though she looks like Diana’s child (who’s growing so fast she’s not a child for long). All this…and kids are still dying. Sam and Caine join forces to go after Gaia while the others work on finding food for the survivors — and Little Pete and Gaia begin their own war. All Sam and Astrid want is peace and to be together. Will it ever happen for them or anyone? (YA horror/dystopic, released 4/13, publisher: Katherine Tegan Books)

when we wakeWhen We Wake, by Karen Healy
I really enjoyed this. I read it in one day (two sittings?), and the plot and characters were very intriguing. I liked the idea of Tegan’s life not being her own — mostly because she had volunteered for the procedure on a whim and then had to live with it (very teen-like). I liked the friends she makes in her future, and I like the complicated situation (with the religious challenges thrown in too). The story: Tegan meets her best friend and new boyfriend for a protest — and ends up being killed. Over a hundred years later, she’s unfrozen, the first successful revival. Not only has she lost everyone and everything she knew, she now finds herself the property of the military — and she doesn’t like it. Plus, everyone knows about her, and the world has gotten worse since she last lived. Tegan finds herself surrounded by a small group of teens who are willing to rebel with her, and soon they’re working to figure out what’s truly going on in their world (and the plans for the future). (YA science fiction, released 3/13, publisher: Little, Brown)

renegadeRenegade, by J.A. Souders
This was pretty intriguing. What I found unique was the world-building — it was limited to the scope of the story. There were hints of what happened before and of the outside world, but it was definitely narrower than I’m used to. Interestingly, it was enough for me. I am curious about what brought them to that point and about what could happen next, but the story (and its time period) was captivating enough that I didn’t mind not knowing more. Some other pros: Evie was a strong and unique heroine. I liked how Souders made it apparent very quickly that Evie was being brainwashed (or something similar), so I knew right away that things were crawling beneath the surface. And Gavin was a great counterpart to her. He was also strong, but he was clearly at the disadvantage, and I liked how he was forced into the position of helper — and he did help Evie. Mother was nicely evil, and yet, there are hints to the reasons behind her madness (which is always appreciated), and in the end, I did feel sorry for her. The story: Evie lives in the perfect world. She’s being groomed as the Daughter to the People in a land beneath the sea where everything and everyone flows with happiness…and yet, something isn’t right. When Evie begins to realize that her memories are being altered, and when hints of her past continue to surface, she fights her conditioning. Then, a Surface Dweller discovers their home, and Evie finds herself helping him as if it’s natural and instinctive — when it should be everything but. However, as Evie continues to struggle mentally, and as pieces of her memory return, Mother begins tightening the net around her — and around Gavin, the boy Evie is trying to save. Do they have any hope of escape when Mother has eyes and ears (and weapons) everywhere? (YA science fiction/suspense, released 11/12, Publisher: Tor Teen)

the lives we lostThe Lives We Lost, by Megan Crewe
I really enjoyed this! I got to read it pre-publication, as well, and I always enjoy seeing how the manuscript evolves between the two. But even without that glimpse into this middle novel of the trilogy, I would still have enjoyed learning more about Kaelyn’s journey. This middle book is definitely darker, and you can almost feel their hope dwindling throughout the story. Yet, Megan does a great job keeping it alive just enough that you feel like they could make it. It’s hard to see Gav struggling; and Kaelyn’s own doubts and determination are truly the driving force of the book. Her ability to focus on the possibility of the vaccine even amidst the death and craziness they experience brings light into the dark world. I also enjoyed the changing relationships between her and Gav and her and Leo. Her loyalty is just as fierce as her determination. This does end with a cliff-hanger (of sorts), so be prepared. πŸ™‚ But I imagine anyone reading this trilogy will be wanting the third book desperately, regardless. The story: Kaelyn, Gav, and the others are forced to leave their island, though Kaelyn had planned to go, anyway. She discovered a vaccine and some notes by her father which could be the key to counteracting the horrible virus which is slowly taking over North America. Traveling through a disease-ridden countryside in the winter is no easy task, and it doesn’t help that someone lets it slip that they have a possible vaccine. Although Kaelyn believes doctors can be found in Toronto, they struggle to even reach that city — and renegades who want the vaccine for their own purposes are right on their trail, forcing them to either switch vehicles (not an easy task with little gas available — plus, they have to find the keys, as well) or go on foot. Plus, there’s always the threat of the virus, itself…and time seems to be running out. (YA science fiction/dystopic, releases 2/2013, publisher: Hyperion)]

middle groundMiddle Ground, by Katie Kacvinsky
I really enjoyed this! It’s the second book in the Awaken series, and I loved Awaken (scroll down for that review, near the end). This one is definitely a bit darker than the previous book. In that way, it reminds me of the Wake trilogy (interesting, no?). But I really like Maddie. She’s courageous and perhaps a bit impetuous, but she feels everything so deeply. I like Justin still too, although he’s quite intense. The story: After helping Justin and his group lead the revolution against the digital schools (which Maddie’s father started), Maddie is living away from her parents — and away from Justin, to her dismay. When she lets her brother turn her into the Detention Center (“let” because she has helped others escape), at first she’s not certain she can survive their brutal brainwashing methods. However, with the support of a new friend (Gabe) and her old friends, including Justin, she decides to stick it out for the six-month mandatory period. In that time, they work on finding a way to free all the ‘inmates’ — and Maddie discovers that her father didn’t actually know what happened in the DCs (even though he’s supported them from the beginning). Can she and Justin lead more teens into a non-digital world — and will Maddie have the strength to face the brutal choice her father puts before her? (YA dystopic/science fiction, released 11/12, publisher: Houghton Mifflin)

poisonprincessPoison Princess, by Kresley Cole
This was truly intriguing! I didn’t think I’d like it, tbh, because it’s a little horrific in places, and the prose (like with Reached) is on the ambiguous/symbolic side. However, I couldn’t put it down. In fact, when I realized it was due at the library, I thought I’d skim to the end — but I couldn’t skim! I read every word, and although I wouldn’t say I adored it (mostly because of the HUGE cliff-hanger ending), I very much enjoyed it. Do be forewarned, the angst is unbelievably high in places, and none of it gets resolved (at least, none of the aspects I was looking for), so you’ll have to get the next one (which probably won’t be out for at least another year). However, the world-building is really intriguing, and although I’m not completely sold on why Evie wouldn’t just tell the truth, I wanted to stick with her, regardless. The story: Evie is one of the elite in her southern town, but her life has already shown signs of faltering. For example, her mom sent her to a mental home for her summer vacation — and although Evie hopes she’s ‘cured,’ it doesn’t take long for the debilitating nightmares to return…even when she’s awake. The red-haired witch in her ‘dreams’ haunts Evie, and she worries when she also hears the voice of a boy — Matthew — even during the day. Then, her nightmares come true in one horrifying period, and the world and everyone in it is almost completely destroyed as water is vaporized and the earth can no longer grow living things. Those who survive are changed, as most of the females were killed (and Matthew claims the ‘Arcana’ will now rule — people, like Evie and Matthew, who have unusual abilities). Evie turns to Jackson, a boy from the wrong side of the bayou, because he’s still human (rather than a zombie-like creature or an Arcana), and begs for his help. Jackson, who has long been attracted to Evie, agrees. But he wants to know her secrets, and as their world crumbles even further — and they meet more Arcana, not all of them friendly — Evie’s not sure how many of her secrets he can handle (especially as she can control plants and even make her own fingernails turn to thorns)…she falls for him, but will he still want her when he learns the horrific truth? (YA dystopic/horror, released 10/12, publisher: Simon & Schuster)

the way we fallThe Way We Fall, by Megan Crewe
Yep, it’s here — the first five-star book of the year! I’m not surprised, as I had the privilege of reading this before publication, and it was excellent then. What I especially like about this story is the ebb and flow of emotions — it doesn’t simply get bad and then worse and worse. Instead, it gets bad, then gets a little better, then gets bad again, then there’s an uplift — you get the idea. I didn’t feel submerged in hopelessness, even though the topic is a frightening one. The characters are real and likable and relatable. The pacing is strong, and the tension, despite the reprieves, builds pretty steadily throughout the book. I can’t wait for the second one! The story: Kaelyn begins writing in her journal like she’s writing to her estranged friend Leo right after he leaves their Canadian island for the big city (New York). At first, she writes about how she wants to change and be a better person (ie, the type who wouldn’t let a friend like Leo go), but soon a strange sickness begins infecting residents of their town. Then, as Kaelyn’s dad is a research scientist with special training in viruses, he gets involved — and people start dying from the sickness. Panic rises, and people start doing stupid things…and before long, Kaelyn’s mom is sick, her young cousin is living with them (after her dad is shot), and her brother is trying to find a way to sneak off the island. Kaelyn and a couple of friends seek answers, hoping against hope that there’s a way out of the mess (other than death). (YA science fiction, released 1/12, publisher: Hyperion)

monument 14Monument 14, by Emmy Laybourne
I enjoyed this very much. First, it’s set in Monument, CO, which I loved. Second, it’s a natural disaster fic (which I also love). And third, it’s a male POV and an intriguing story. I liked Dean and his brother, and I liked how the teens interacted and were forced to make adult choices (even those who were self-centered). It’s set up for a sequel (though I don’t know if that’s the plan), and I’ll be looking for the next one. The story: Life seems normal when a freak hail storm with grapefruit-sized hail pommels Dean’s town, and Dean and the others on his bus are saved only because the middle-elementary school bus driver gets them into a local department store as shelter. Even so, a few of Dean’s peers die, and soon he and 13 others (including the survivors from the middle-elementary school bus, like Dean’s brother) are having to work together to make it. At first, they assume their parents will come and get them, but when they finally find an old television (as the internet is down) to get information, they learn that the hail storm was triggered by an enormous tsunami which has destroyed much of the East Coast. Dean and the others have more to consider when the nuclear reactor in their town is damaged in the storm, and the leaking substances alter the behavior of people depending on their blood types. Dean’s type ends up in a crazy rage, killing and destroying everything and everyone who moves against them…and the teens have to protect themselves from the outside air completely if they have any hope of surviving. (YA science fiction/dystopic, released 5/12, publisher: Feiwel & Friends)

insurgentInsurgent, by Veronica Roth
I very much enjoyed this, as well. Although it wasn’t quite as gripping as Divergent, it definitely doesn’t suffer from the ‘middle book’ syndrome (imo). The book picks up right where the last left off, which I appreciated (especially as I’d forgotten a fair amount). The relationship between Tris and Tobias continues to be challenging — but I LOVE the fact that there is no triangle in sight! πŸ™‚ Their issues are just between them and their struggles in this world — I cannot tell you how refreshing that is! The mystery of the factions deepens, and the pacing is strong. I like what Tris learns about herself throughout the book, and although she seems distant in places, I felt like her character was consistent…and although I’m not a huge fan of cliffhangers, the ending has a solid impact which makes me long for the next book (which is exactly what should happen, no?). The story: Tris and Tobias have to figure out what to do now that the Abnegation have basically been wiped out — and now that they realize how traitorous the Erudite truly are. However, the differences between the factions are stark, and those in Amity don’t mix well with the Dauntless. When Tris and the other Dauntless are betrayed, they find their way to the factionless — only to discover a supposedly-dead leader and much more organization and planning than they’d realized. When it appears that the Erudite aren’t done yet (and are working to find simulations which will overcome the Divergent along with everyone else), Tris has to choose between Marcus and Tobias — or between finding the truth and eradicating the Erudite and perhaps all factions. (YA dystopic, released 5/12, publisher: Katherine Tegan Books)

unravelingUnraveling, by Elizabeth Norris
This is very enjoyable. I thought the concept was original, and I loved the twists and turns along the way (although I suspected the first twist — but I liked that even though I was right, I wasn’t completely right). I thought the various sci-fi aspects were cool and nicely done. I liked how the various pieces of the puzzle kept dropping into place. My only complaint: it ended pretty abruptly. I’m hoping this means there will be another one to kind of finish Janelle’s story — the story arc definitely concluded, but her personal arc is the one which just ends, and I’d love to see how she does after. Ben is a great love interest, very intense and sweet. I never quite got Elijah, and he’s another whose story I’d like to see more of. In many ways, this made me think of the first book in a series (as it was very much an introduction to this world and all about world building). It’s a good set-up, though, and the tension (with the countdown) is handled pretty well. The story: Janelle is hit by a truck, and she’s positive she died — and then a classmate heals her. But when she’s fully conscious, no one else believes her, and she begins wondering if she imagined it. In the meantime, her dad (an FBI agent) is swamped with an on-going case which borders on the very strange. And her mom, who’s bipolar, is even less reliable than usual, so Janelle is playing parent to her younger brother. She chases down Ben (the boy who brought her back) and tries to find out what happened, but he’s also very close-mouthed — however, she thinks he’s lying and keeps pursuing it…and before long, she and her best friend discover a countdown, and Janelle realizes her dad’s case, Ben’s unusual behavior, and this countdown are all connected — but will they figure out how in time? (YA sci-fi suspense, releases 4/12, publisher: Balzer & Bray)

article 5Article 5, by Kristen Simmons
I really enjoyed this! I had to take breaks here and there because the tension kept building, but there were small releases here and there. The challenge was in the relationship between Chase and Ember — even when their story had a breather, their relationship was still fraught with…well, many things. I liked Ember, but I have to admit that I thought she was pretty unaware throughout most of the book. It was frustrating to watch her not really see Chase and what was truly going on — but at the same time, it did fit with her life and how it had always been just her and her mom. The story is terrifying, as it seems plausible in many aspects; I could see our country coming to something like this, eventually. The ending was definitely satisfying, though I’m glad there will be a sequel (and man, she’d better treat Chase well in that one!). The story: Ember and her mom are separated because of ‘Article 5’ in the new morality laws — the section which indicates a child cannot be born outside marriage. The biggest shock is when Chase, Ember’s old boyfriend, is one of the soldiers who comes to take her mom away. When Ember arrives at the ‘rehabilitation’ facility, her only thought is escaping and rescuing her mom…but she soon discovers nothing is that easy. The entire country has been taken over by the FBR (fanatics who dictate society’s every move), and the women and soldiers at the facility are brutal. Ember manages to blackmail one of the soldiers to help her, but when it all goes wrong, only Chase can get her what she wants…and she doesn’t know if she can trust him or not. (YA dystopic, released 2/12, publisher: Tor Teen)

under the never skyUnder the Never Sky, by Veronica Rossi
This was very enjoyable. It had a slow start (so slow that I skipped to the end and began working my way backward — until I reached a key point where I knew I could then make it from the beginning again). So my reading experience was unusual here, but one of the things I liked about the book so much was the characterization. Perry was wonderful! I loved his fierce loyalty, his ability to (usually) look to the bottom line and disregard the rest, his capability for love and devotion. Aria took longer for me to love, but I did end up liking her quite a bit. She was more of the type who let things happen to her, but it seemed like she was ready to fight for her choices by the end. The world-building was very interesting, and I never felt lost (which is a plus), even though I didn’t completely understand everything. I thought the ending was lovely (though I want more — good thing there’s a sequel!). The story: Aria lives underground, safe from the destructive Aether which destroyed the world decades before. She and her friends enjoy the ‘Realms’, a virtual world where they can experience everything without dealing with the emotional repercussions. But when Aria’s mom disappears, Aria’s desperate to find her and follows a boy she knows she can’t trust into a disabled Pod — and all hell breaks loose. The result is that Aria is kicked out of the Realms and left Outside to die. Perry has always lived outside. His brother is the Blood Lord of their tribe, and although Perry knows he will eventually have to fight his brother to gain that title, he’s waiting because of his nephew. But when his nephew is kidnapped and taken to the Pods, Perry discovers he’ll do just about anything to get him safely home — even work with a girl from Inside. He runs into Aria, and the two join forces (very reluctantly) to achieve their separate goals…only to learn that they have more in common than they could have imagined. (YA dystopic/science fiction, released 1/12, publisher: Harper Collins)

Divergent, by Veronica Roth
Wow!! Okay, this marks the third book I’ve read this year which I’ve loved sooooo much…I’m almost speechless (which wouldn’t quite be the point in a book review). To me, this is better than Hunger Games — and here’s why: 1) Tris is much more likable than Katniss (to me), even though she’s just as tough (but she’s also more vulnerable); 2) the love story is wonderful (and NOT a triangle); 3) the mystery is really well done; 4) the world building is credible and unique and intriguing; 5) although this is clearly the first book in a series (a trilogy?), I didn’t feel at all left in the dark; everything was explained for this section of the story, and all that’s left is moving on to what’s next; 6) did I mention the cool romance??; 7) it’s not as brutal (yes, it’s still pretty brutal, but to me, it didn’t seem as in-your-face as HG. So, yeah, I loved it! The story: Tris and Caleb (her brother) have reached the day when they’ll make the choice between the five factions in their city (that which used to be Chicago). They are expected to choose their home faction (Abnegation), but Tris is having doubts. It doesn’t help that her testing was inconclusive (very rare — and Tris is warned not to tell anyone about that). When Tris chooses Dauntless, her life changes in every way — and soon, it’s not only that she’s expected to risk her life and put up with brutal fighting, it’s all about her own ambition and desire to truly be Dauntless…until she starts to see that the Dauntless have just as many faults as those in Abnegation. Plus, something is stirring in their world, and Tris fears her old faction (where her parents still live) might be the target. And on top of everything, Tris is falling in love, and she wonders if that will be the greatest test of her courage to date. (YA dystopic, released 5/11, publisher: Katherine Tegan)

legendLegend, by Marie Lu
I definitely enjoyed this, as well. My only real complaint (which is pretty lame) is that I didn’t like how Day and June were at odds. I understood it (in the context of the story), but it frustrated me. πŸ™‚ Still, the pacing was pretty strong throughout, and I loved the mystery and the dual-POV. The story: Day is infamous as a criminal mastermind against the Republic — and June is one of its heralded soldiers. However, when Day seeks medicine for his sick brother, he runs across June’s older brother — and the resulting altercation brings June and Day together. June wants revenge for her brother’s death, but her guilt and confusion about Day’s role in it all grows…until she’s not sure what really happened or whom she should trust. (YA dystopic/science fiction, released 11/11, publisher: Penguin Putnam)

awayAway, by Teri Hall
I enjoyed this one (sequel to The Line). Rachel is a sympathetic character, and in this book, she definitely seemed older and more thoughtful. The pacing is fast, to the point that I wondered if all that much had actually happened when I finished the book — but then, when thinking back, I realized that quite a bit had taken place, really. It did feel a little rushed in places, but overall, I liked the resolution (which was very nice). The story: Pathik takes Rachel to his home beyond the Line, and Rachel meets the leader of their small group (Pathik’s grandfather). She immediately asks about her dad, who disappeared when she was a toddler. Pathik’s grandfather admits that her dad was taken by one of the other groups, and they don’t know if he’s still alive. However, using a strange hybrid creature, Pathik’s dad is able to catch glimpses of Daniel (Rachel’s dad). Soon, a rescue attempt is underway, but finding her dad and hoping to get him back alive only leads to discord in their group — and soon Rachel and Pathik must decide whether to stay and fight for their homes or whether to go even further Away. (YA dystopic, released 9/11, publisher: Dial)

Ashes, Ashes, by Jo Treggiari
I actually started this in the bookstore, and as I didn’t have any book-buying funds at the moment, I went ahead and asked the library to purchase it — which they did! I definitely enjoyed this. It has many elements that I love — the ‘natural’ disaster(s), the plague-type illness, the strong girl who’s vulnerable underneath, the sexy guy, a good mystery, etc. Although I suspected what was going on (as far as the plague went) early on, I still enjoyed reading more about it. Not all the mysteries were solved (as far as I could see), but I felt there was a solid ending. I liked Lucy and Aiden, and I really liked the tension and pacing throughout. The story: Lucy is surviving on her own after the plague and then a series of natural disasters have destroyed her world and killed her family. She’s heard of others living in groups, but she’s never managed to leave the little camp she’s made for herself — until the dogs come after her, and a boy (Aiden) saves her. He tells her about the place where he lives with some others, and when the rains lead to another tsunami, Lucy makes the choice and runs for the supposed safety of their group. However, she isn’t there long before the Sweepers come and take some of the members, and when two of the stolen return, something isn’t quite right. Lucy doesn’t want to return to living on her own, but she’s suddenly not sure who she can trust, and as more lies are revealed, she and Aiden decide they have to find the kidnapped, come what may. (YA dystopic, released 6/11, publisher: Scholastic)

awakenAwaken, by Katie Kacvinsky
Well, after all my ranting about not finding a book which could really suck me in, this one did! First off, I really like Madeliene, the MC. She’s spunky and stubborn and fiercely loyal (even to those who don’t quite deserve it). Second, I thought the premise was unique enough (in a world filled with dystopic books) to stick with throughout the book. In fact, it got more interesting to me as it went on (I sometimes find that dystopics have a great hook but it’s built on a shaky foundation). Third, Justin (the rebel leader) was portrayed through Madeliene’s eyes so well — he was confident and passionate and vulnerable and dedicated…their experiences together were intense and lovely and pretty realistic (imo). I loved that Madeliene was challenged in her ways of thinking and that she grew and matured — but she also remained true to intrinsic ideas she held dear. And I especially loved how she challenged Justin in his ways of thinking. I think it’s neat that I could see the truth in both their eyes, even though it seems contradictory some of the time. I’m hoping there will be a sequel, even though (for me), I could see this ending right where it did…I’m a sap for a happy ending, and I think the two of them finding a way through the muddle in their world and through their own opposing ideals for individual humans would be fantastic! The story: Madeliene is trapped in her father’s world of digital control. After rebelling a few years earlier, she’s now on ‘probation’ until she turns 18. But now, with less than a year left, she’s growing impatient with his leash — and when an online acquaintance asks her to meet him in a face-to-face study group (unheard-of these days), Madeliene agrees to go…and everything changes. She quickly learns to crave experiencing things in person, rather than online. And the rebellion she once knew makes its way to the surface again…though everything is complicated by her growing feelings for Justin, his insistence that he needs to go along his path alone, and her father’s increasing power in the digital world. (YA Science Fiction, released 5/11, publisher: Houghton Mifflin)

Plague, by Michael Grant
Yeah, I like this series (Gone, Hunger, and Lies). It’s a little surprising, since it’s fairly horrific, but still…the tension with the kids, the way they have to stretch themselves to survive — it’s all still there. This is like a science fiction Lord of the Flies, so it’s not lightweight. I’m hoping the next book will be the final book (time to answer some questions, already). And poor Sam really needs a break πŸ˜‰ The story: Sam and Astrid are fighting, and Sam takes up Albert’s task to find water. He, along with a couple of the other freaks, head out of town right when a horrible plague seems to find everyone else. Along with the sickness, flying snakes release eggs onto victims which result in parasites making their home in kids’ bodies (this is some of the horror part — very gross). With Sam away, Edilio decides to involve Caine again (Sam’s half-brother)…as all this happens, Little Pete floats in and out of consciousness and Astrid must decide if she can sacrifice her brother (who appears to be in control of the FAYZ) for everyone else. (YA science fiction/horror, released 4/11, publisher: Katherine Tegan books)

Human.4, by Mike A. Lancaster
I enjoyed this very much! I love the creepy blend of sci fi and mild horror (not in a gross way, but more in the mood). It’s a fast, easy read, and I liked the pacing, as well. I also enjoyed the mystery which unfolded throughout the book — the main mystery as well as the relational mysteries. Even though the ending was a tad nebulous, I liked how the characterization hinted strongly at what had happened. The story: Kyle lets one of his friends hypnotize him at the local talent show, but when he wakes up, he discovers that the rest of the village (with the exception of the four who were being hynotized) have changed — drastically. Kyle and the other three band together to find out what happened to them and to their now-estranged families…and what they learn changes their outlook on their past and their future. (YA science fiction, released 3/11, publisher: Egmont USA)

Ashfall, by Mike Mullin
I really enjoyed this book. I liked Alex and Darla, and I liked the very realistic setting. It was definitely grim (and gory) in places, but for me, that added to the reality of it all. In many ways, it reminded me of Susan Beth Pfeffer’s trilogy Life As We Knew It. The story: Alex is thrilled when his parents agree to leave him home while they go and visit his uncle for the weekend, but his delight turns to horror when the supervolcano beneath Yellowstone erupts — and his home is destroyed. After spending the first couple of days with neighbors (one of which completely freaks out), Alex decides he has to find his family. With all the ash, no cars will work, and Alex sets out to walk. The few hour drive is a multiple-day walk, made longer and more difficult by the increasingly bad weather conditions and the half-crazed people wandering about. Alex finally meets Darla and her mom and they begin working together — but more tragedy awaits. Alex has to dig deep to find the determination to continue on, always keeping his family at the forefront of his hopes and dreams. (YA natural disaster/futuristic, releases 10/11, publisher: Tanglewood)

Across the Universe, by Beth Revis
This is another very enjoyable read! I really liked how it was different from what I expected (that’s always fun), and I also liked the alternating POV. Elder is a wonderful character, and Amy’s frustration and fear are very realistic. The mysteries on the ship were compelling, as well. I kept waiting for something a little more, and it never quite came. I can’t even explain what I was looking for, but I felt like there was another level that never quite poked through…despite that, I still liked it very much, and I’m passing it along to my husband (who will also enjoy it, I’m certain). The story: Amy is cryo-frozen (my term) along with her parents and put on a ship which is finding a new planet. Strangely, Amy is able to think while frozen (though she’s not sure how much of it is dreams), and she’s aware when someone thaws her. Meanwhile, aboard the ship, a couple of centuries have passed, and the leader of the ship is training his successor, Elder. Elder is fascinated with Amy, and when she’s thawed, he befriends her — but everyone else on the ship finds her a freak (with the help of Eldest, Elder’s mentor). Soon, another person is thawed, but this one is left to die. Amy and Elder work together to find the killer — and in the process, discover more secrets than either ever suspected. (YA science fiction, released 1/11, publisher: Razorbill)

Matched, by Ally Condie
Why did I love this? So many reasons — including an actually well-done love triangle (where the world-building fully supports the tension there), great world-building (and world-unfolding — I love how each chapter offers a new glimpse into all the tension beneath the surface), very sympathetic characters (from Cassia, Xander, and Ky to Cassia’s family and Ky’s parents), wonderful pacing and tension — and although room is clearly left for the next book in the series, this story had a satisfying ending (to me) and felt complete. The story: Cassia is Matched to her best friend, an almost unheard-of event in their society (where most girls are matched with boys they’ve never seen before) — but even more unusual, Cassia is given two matches, and she knows the other one, as well. He’s an Aberration, which means he wasn’t supposed to be in the Match pool, but now that Cassia knows, she can’t help but be curious…and soon she and Ky are developing a friendship which seems to threaten their Society in ways Cassia can’t even imagine. (YA dystopic, released 11/10, publisher: Dutton)

Wither, by Lauren DeStefano
This is a very engrossing read! I started it yesterday afternoon and could hardly make myself stop to do anything else. It would probably be a five-star for me, but it was a little gruesome (which isn’t my personal taste), so I skimmed some of those parts. The story: In a dismal future, all diseases have been obliterated and parents can practically build their children in the lab — but a strange virus is sweeping through these perfect children, causing the boys to die at 25 and the girls at 20. After decades of this loss, society desperately seeks a cure; in the meantime, girls are stolen from the streets and married off as young as 13 to be used as incubators for more children. At 16, although orphaned, Rhine has been able to escape the Gatherers — until now. She finds herself in a mansion far from home, drugged and terrified. Within a day of waking, she’s married to a young man, as one of three girls who will attempt to take the place of his dying First Wife (who’s only 20). Rhine meets Gabriel, a boy near her own age, who’s also a prisoner of the house, and with him, rather than her ‘husband’, she begins to learn about loving another person — but will it be enough? Can they escape their prison? (YA dystopic, releasing later this month, publisher: Simon & Schuster)

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About Robin

I'm a reader, a writer, a mom, a writing coach...and someone who loves the outdoors.
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